Saturday, June 4, 2011

Job Searching

I've been spending the past few weekends job as you can guess, the stress is getting to me. But there's a silver lining to this story. I'm getting better at breaking down big jobs into smaller tasks. For example, completing a whole online job application, plus resume, and detailed cover letter is a total pain. I dread doing it, and in the past I would have wasted time just hoping that some random person would walk up to me on the street and offer me a dream job. Alas, that hasn't happened yet. So here I am filling out the dreaded job applications. But I have a new strategy, break down the application into manageable parts. I make teeny tiny goals, so that I can get through the goal and keep my motivation high. For example, I make lists of possible references and contact them. Then I may write the first paragraph of a cover letter. Slowly but surely I get the task accomplished, and it doesn't feel like the big bad application that I thought it was!

Another good strategy is to switch tasks every 45 minutes, so that you don't get bored. I get lots of small projects accomplished (like writing a blog post in between job applications!) and I don't feel like I've been toiling away all day without being productive.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I had a great day today learning about acupuncture on the West Bank. Chris and Kathy showed me a behind the scenes glimpse of how they run their practice, and I even got to talk nutrition with one of their patients. The best part was reminiscing with Kathy about our favorite food trucks in Portland...Thai from a Vanagon and delicious pizza from a '70's camping trailer.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hidden Stressors

The older I get, the more I realize that there are many things that I do not have control over...the weather, the traffic, whether Whole Foods is out of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. I know that I cannot control the humidity and therefore I am able to stop complaining and just turn on the AC. It's not my job to control the weather, I just have to react to what it brings.

However, in between the things that I have control over and things that I don't have control over lurks a hidden stressor: things that you think you have control over when really you are helpless. This includes a wide variety of garden variety annoyances that crop up everyday and I'm forced to battle back against not only these unseen forces, but also my own attachment and need for control.

So the question for today is, 'What do you do when you've done your best to prepare for a certain outcome, but life still throws you a curveball that you didn't see coming?'

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Posts

Well it's been a while since I've written. I'm still trying to find my blogging voice I suppose. I'll just have to keep writing and see what happens!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Blog Reincarnation

Well, I can't believe that I haven't updated this blog in six months. Time flies when you're rearranging your life I suppose. Since my last post I have: finished my Masters degree, gone on a 100 mile solo backpacking trip, lost touch with my best friend and confidant, and moved to New Orleans.

I'm quickly getting settled into my phenomenal new city life. I love the energy of this city, the beautiful houses and history, and the laid back attitude of everyone here. I'm in the process of starting my own business and finishing the licensing requirements to become a Registered Dietitian. That means working full-time for no pay, while trying to make money and start a business in my "free-time."

Which brings me with to the main reason for this blog. So far, the focus has been on nourishment and meditation. Lately I've had time to reflect on the reason that I've been writing this blog or more precisely the reason why I haven't been writing. And that reason is stress.

Stress. Stressed out. That pretty much describes my life. There used to be reasons for my stress: hard family life, high pressure undergrad degree, demanding corporate job, etc. But lately I feel myself stricken by bouts of anxiety for seemingly no reason. I mean, sure--I move all the time and leave loved ones behind, not to mention the pressures of graduate school and application processes. But there's something bigger at play. I feel addicted to stress. Seldom a moment passes where my mind isn't shaking or where my acupuncturist asks me, "Are you a weight lifter?" because of the muscle tension that I carry around all the time. So I try to meditate, and I try to nourish myself, I try to exercise. I try everything. But I'm still left with that shaky feeling.

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my adventures in stress reduction and provide a space for others stricken with the same stressed out Western lifestyle to watch and maybe laugh at my attempts to be more "centered." So every morning I'll be posting a stress reduction tip. Maybe something about nutrition or meditation, or maybe something just plain crazy--something to appreciate or inspire me. Then I'll post later at night to comment on how that particular stress reduction technique worked over the course of the day. Feel free to join in and post your own comments on how the tips work for you.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Upon Awakening

Last week I posted about a rough morning. You know, one of those days where it feels like a real challenge to peel yourself out of bed to face the day. I had another tough morning on Saturday. I had been overseeing the Bastyr Film Festival the night before, so I hadn't gotten much sleep. Of course I was signed up for a weekend class (what was I thinking?!?) so I was attempting to wrench myself from the covers on Saturday morning for yet another day on the Bastyr campus. Fortunately, the class was "Meditation & Medicine" taught by Joel and Michelle Levey. Wow! Sitting in their class was truly eye-opening. They gave us some great insight and wisdom, including how to start your day!

I tried this meditation, and set the intention to be present for the day. Boy did it work! My whole outlook on the day has changed. As soon as you wake up, before you move or get out of bed, they instruct you to wiggle your toes and set an intention. What a great way to re-frame the day. Instead of dreading getting out of bed, I felt gratitude that I was healthy and able to move. I left the meditation sessions feeling light as a feather. Of course, now that Monday has rolled around I'm feeling challenged to stay true to my intention, especially since I'm behind on my schoolwork after spending all weekend blissed out! But I'm practicing, and I hope that sharing this meditation will help you make more of your mornings enjoyable instead of arduous.

Morning Meditation-Joel and Michelle Levey
In the first moment that you are Awake,
Reach up and touch your heart (or wiggle your toes!)
Be mindful of the flow of your breath
Flowing In... Flowing Out....
Be mindful of your heart beating
Be mindful of your hand touching our heart

Within this flow of mindful presence
Listen deeply into what your heart's deepest wish,
prayer or aspiration is for this precious day and
Clarify this intention...
Dedicate yourself to "living on purpose" and staying true to
your deepest intention for this day
and carry this intention into action
as you go about the flow of moments and actions of this day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Exactly how you should not start a morning

As the morning light drifts into my bedroom, I wake up hesitantly. The pillow is cushioning my head and the comforter is heavy on my skin. This is my armor. The day looms before me, a shadow of an angry storm cloud bearing down over innocent hikers on a mountainside.

Thinking of all the work to done, emails to check, cars to drive in circles, etc. My bare feet tread the hallway carpet, shuffling and dragging towards the bathroom. For once, I wish that I'd awaken happily and jump out of bed eager to face the day, but it seldom happens that way. My silent journey continues from the bathroom to the kitchen. I gather the empty glasses from the table and they clink together merrily. The rush of running faucet water interrupts my thoughts for a moment, then I silence the stream to heighten my senses again. I love the stillness of the morning. Nothing is yet trembling under the weight of the day. In the stillness there is time for reflection.  This time of reflection is the perfect time for meditation, and yet I don't know how to meditate.

At six-thirty yesterday morning I attended a meditation/yoga class. I'm reasonably sure that I didn't meditate, but then again maybe I did. Most of the class was spent in yoga poses, and I struggled to breathe "correctly" even though the instructor didn't say anything about how to breathe. She didn't say that I was breathing incorrectly, but I felt that I was breathing wrong.  How is it possible to breathe incorrectly? Apparently most of us are inept at even breathing on a daily basis, according to the internet and my psychology professor. The instructor of this class approached me after the session and told me that I'd done very well, but I didn't really believe her and muttered a brief thanks without making eye contact. Then I rushed off to my car, as I was already late for my class--nearly 15 miles away in Kenmore.

So I've enrolled in a class for this weekend which promises to:

"provide an introduction to the five categories of meditation, including theory and practice of each. Faculty will present an overview of research regarding the clinical efficacy of meditation. Implications and practical clinical applications of meditation will be considered as well as the neurobiology of ordinary and extraordinary health. The course will also include a survey of interesting topics/readings regarding neuroplasticity, mindfulness and mastery of attention, neural development and executive cognitive functions, and complementary styles of meditation."

 I realize that the class will start tomorrow. I feel intimidated and already behind in my work. The assigned reading has sat on my coffee table for days now as I delicately avoid even looking at it.  I love to try new things and challenge myself. But somewhere along the way I get discouraged before I even begin. I desperately want to meditate, to quiet the inner voices that squak at me from the moment I wake up in the morning to the last breathe of cool night air. All day these voices pick at me and ask annoying questions like, "Why didn't you finish that yesterday?!" and "How are you going to make it through the day without taking a nap?" I'm looking for a solution to my everyday fears and habits.

Tomorrow evening I will start that journey, and of course I won't even start out on the right foot. I have seven million other things to do, seeing as how I'm also running a "Film Festival" (with hopefully several hundred people attending) tomorrow night at exactly the same time as my class.  How much more distraction will it take before I become incompetent at everything instead of good at multiple things. Well, tomorrow will be the test.