Sunday, September 23, 2012

Can I Get a Witness?

I spent the morning in tears. And just when I thought I was done...nope.

I had been "keeping it together" all week (just barely). Classes Monday-Saturday. I was on dorm duty Friday and Saturday nights. This morning was the first time all week that I could simply breathe, with no place to be and no coworkers or students to be near. And so the floodgates opened. It is what it is.

At some point it dawned on me that part of the tears were because I'm pissed. I'm pissed that I don't have a witness nearby. Someone who I can laugh with and cry in front of. I just want to let my dreads down and not feel so guarded. It's the challenge living in a closed community. My coworkers are my neighbors. They are the people I break bread with in the dining hall. They are not the people I hang out with. I haven't found those people yet. Oh right... it's only been 6 weeks.

The dilemma is that after 6 days of classes, meetings and 1-2 nights of being mother hen, I just don't have the physical or mental energy to "be on". The warm, inviting, verbose Natasha who has "Talk to me." tattooed on her forehead has morphs into an aloof woman of few words. "Please, shut the hell up" is written in invisible ink. It must be invisible ink, because they still see "Talk to me" when I really just want to be left alone. Since I want to be left alone, I just stay in my apartment. Unfortunately, there is no else here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

That moment...

You know that moment between when you lay down for the night and fall asleep? That moment when there are no distractions and the thoughts you haven't had time to think want to be heard. I've been avoiding it like the plague. Those are the moments I think about how much I miss my mom. Those are the moments I think about how much I miss my friends, family and church in NC. Those are the moments I worry about my dad.

I don't like those moments. So I don't go to bed. In some irrational attempt to not have those moments, I busy myself until late in the night. When I hit the bed, I'm so tired I fall asleep almost immediately. Success! There's just one problem. When I wake up the next day, I'm completely whipped because I didn't get enough sleep. Enter unfocused, cranky Natasha; not a good look for someone who just started a new job. Coffee helps me stay awake, but it doesn't clear the fog.

Today ends the first week of classes. By Thursday, I could clearly see the effect of this on my thought process. It is crucial that I stay at the top of my game. Last night, I got a good night's sleep. I woke up this morning clear headed and ready to start the day; and dammit if all those thoughts that were reserved for the night came rushing to the front of my clear head. I guess being sleepy and busy all day helped me to avoid it. The downside is I simply can't function this way for any continued period of time.

I've also developed what I'm calling a "grief gut". It is not cute. Not at all. And I'm pissed about it. Looks like a beer belly, but comes from too many sweets and no movement. I'm too tired to work-out.

The job is good. I'm meeting some nice folks. The kids are good. I get to be geeky and social on a daily basis; and anyone who knows me knows that makes me smile. It just sucks that it all had to start in the midst of one of the worst personal times of my life. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness comes and goes, but joy (if you let it) stays in your heart.

The past few days have not been happy. There's the "normal" stuff I wrote about a few days ago. But the biggie was that the mom of a dear friend died a few days ago. Having just passed the 2 month mark of my own mother's death, I had some serious wounds reopen and ooze with grief-filled puss. My heart breaks for her and her family. There is nothing I can do or say to make it better. I can't get there to support her in person. And that sucks. It sucks monkey balls - King Kong sized. It's a pain to physically be one place, but to have my mind and heart hundreds of miles away. It's a pain to have to attempt to focus on the task at hand, when all I can do is think about our moms, our families and our hurt.

There has been no happiness. Actually, there has been some, but not nearly enough to outweigh the pain. There has been lots of frustration, sadness, anger and indifference.

Where does the joy fit in? It's the joy in my heart that has sustained me through it all and will continue to sustain me. I know from personal experience that it will get better; that I will be better.

Recently, a new co-worker said to me "You're always so happy." My reply was "No, I'm always smiling. There's a difference." It's the joy, the knowing, that allows me to smile in the midst of it all. It allows me to be in the moment and appreciate a good joke. It allows me to expend a large amount of emotional energy just to be cordial. While I have spent a good amount of time in another world, when my mind, body and heart are all in the same place at the same time, it is then that I have returned to my joy-filled place. And that is what keeps me on this side of sane.

Monday, September 3, 2012


I just woke up from a nap. I was in the middle of working and started to feel ill. I though it was the Indian food I had for lunch haunting me.


It was the nights of not-enough-sleep finally catching up with me. I haven't had a full night's sleep since I got here. 3 weeks later, it caught up with me. I don't have trouble sleeping through the night; once I'm down, it's a wrap until the morning. Rather, I have a hard time getting to bed. Not falling asleep... getting to bed.

As a former health coach, I used to preach the importance of getting enough sleep. I can feel the effects of not getting it. I don't feel as sharp mentally. I don't have the energy I need to exercise. There really is no good reason for being up so late. Most nights I'm attempting to work. I say attempt because my mind is mush and I still keep going. I have no TV to watch, so I troll FB or other random sites before going back to attempting to work. In the moment, I know I'm actin' a hot mess. The therapist in me tries to talk some sense to my pseudo-manic self... to no avail.

And here I am. Weeks later, a physical and mental zombie in need of a nap (and maybe a third cup of coffee). So what in the hell am I going to do about it? I am committing to be in bed by 10:30pm every night; 11:30 for nights I'm on dorm duty. Most days I have a class that begins at 8am. I need to be sharp.

I need to take care of me. I need to rest.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Through the healing power of gratitude, I am whole.  
(link to Daily Word website with entire affirmation)

The one word that jumps out at me is gratitude. It has been said that focusing on what you're grateful helps to turn the mind around. The brain cannot hold two opposing thoughts at the same time. It is impossible to hold thoughts of gratitude and complaint at the same time. There are books, blogs, etc. that speak about keeping a gratitude journal; writing down 3-5 things each day that you're grateful for. I did that once. It's nice to not be a complainer for a few moments each day. It was also a pain when it seemed as if I were stretching just to have 5 on the list. 

I can honestly say that as I sit here thinking about all that I am grateful for, that the list is quite long. And in spite of it all, I still whine. I still have moments of envy, anxiety and depression. I'm working on it. Life will never be perfect. However, it is my hope that the very long list of things/people/experiences I'm grateful for can, in my mind and heart, overshadow the stuff I whine about.

Funny how this stuff all works together. I decided to attend my old home church (All Saints' UMC) via podcast today. The sermon is from a few weeks ago, but is what I needed to hear today and fits in with today's post. I love the internet.

"Eating In Silence"

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Let Go, Let God

Last night, I decided to start writing again as a way to manage all that is going on within and around me. Immediately, I got caught up in the minutiae of it all - what to write about, where to find the prompts, should I commit to a year, do I focus on the grief, the adjustment to my new life in NH (being part of the 1 percent), life of a boarding school teacher or some combination thereof? I finally settled on using the title or subtitle of the Daily Word as my springboard. Then I went to sleep.

This morning I wake up, open the iPad and the title for the day is Let Go, Let God. How appropriate. No need to worry about how this is going to take shape. No need to worry about all the details. Right? So why did I spend the next 30 minutes trying to find the perfect app to write/edit in, on the off chance that I'm offline when it comes time to write my post for the day? Because I really don't want to do this; that's why. I prefer to keep the lid on the Pandora's Box that is my heart/mind. However, I know that if I am going to make it through this term (especially) with my sanity intact, I need to write. I need to let go.

It is my intention to make it a daily practice. To take 5-10 minutes out of my day to decompress, reconnect, reflect or be random. There is a lot of anxiety swirling inside and it needs to be released. I am going to trust that the prompts I need will appear on the days I need them. This will last as long as it needs to.

I let go. I let God.

Easier said than done. Classes begin on Friday. Students start arriving on Tuesday (football team is already here). Already, I worry about

  • Meeting my advisees and their parents and hoping they feel comfortable leaving their children in my charge
  • The working relationship that will develop with the other dorm faculty
  • The first day/week of classes. I haven't felt this underprepared in a very long time
  • My ability to carve out time to do stuff just for me. 
  • Making friends 
  • Cracking under the self-imposed and unspoken institutional pressure for excellence
  • Unexpected and untimely tears. I just passed the 2 month mark on August 28th
Wow. It's a very different experience seeing my worries in black and white versus swirling around in my head. I guess that's step one in letting go. As I continue to look at this list, I see the clear distinction between those I have some control over and those I do not. For those I can't control, I let go. For those I do, I let God. Well, that's the plan.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I guess I'm a Methodist now...

I've been to All Saints' UMC every Sunday, except one, since my first visit on September 18th. Tomorrow, I become a member.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Insanity Day 1

Last week, I watched a family member as he sweated and sweated and sweated some more doing the Insanity DVD. It's a Beach Body creation (the same folks who do P90X). Did I mention there was lots of sweat? And an inability to catch his breath. Lots of water breaks. Nothing fun. 

I got home and thought to myself "I sooo want some of that". Fast forward to last night. I get my copy of the  DVD, along with the calendar and fit test spreadsheet. I was amped. This morning I got up at did the fit test. Wow.

Here's what I tweeted immediately after finishing the fit test.
The fit test kicked my ass. I'm kinda scared to see what tomorrow brings. But I'm ready for it. As Shaun T says, it's time to Dig Deep. :)

Oh yeah, here's the obligatory Day 1 pic taken in the bathroom with my cell phone.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

So, I went to church today...

And it was good. I've been feeling a bit un-anchored lately; like I'm floating alone in the middle of a massive ocean, directionless with no land or other boats to be seen. Not the best feeling in the world. I needed get anchored and I knew where I needed to be.

So this morning, I got up and walked to church. Yes, I walked. All Saints' United Methodist Church holds their worship service at the Elementary School down the street - a short 7-10 minute stroll down street from my house.

It always amazes me (yet never surprises me) how I tend to get what I need when I need it. The community of members were very welcoming. The ritual of the service was very comforting to me. It reminded me of the time I spent at The Riverside Church in NYC and my one visit to a Catholic church in Newport, RI. I've come to accept that I prefer "boring" church. I think I'll be going back next week.

As an educator and counselor, the work I do is for a higher purpose - to subtly or radically impact the lives of those in my path. I don't take that charge lightly. What's crazy is that I haven't been personally connecting to the power that charged me with the task. And I know better. Connecting recharges me and reminds me of why I do what I do. It keeps me grounded.

Whether it's the Kadampa Center or All Saints' UMC, the connection to God is there. I am, after all, a Bible-based Buddhist. :) All Saints' UMC was simply where I needed to be today.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

50 lbs.

It's official - I weigh 50 lbs less than I did on my birthday two years ago. Go me!!!

That is all.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Moma

Yesterday was my grandmother's birthday. She would have turned 93. I had been dreading yesterday for months. As her birthday grew closer, I got more anxious. I knew I had to teach and had vivid images of me "losing it" while reviewing how to solve quadratic equations. As a former grief counselor, I know that it can sneak up on you at the most random times and especially on important anniversary dates.

I needed to be proactive - the alternative was lots of tears at "inappropriate times" and lots of bad food. Lots of it. I wore jeans and a black top and put a bright yellow (faux) flower in my hair. The flower made me think of her and smile throughout the day. It brought me back from the edge and helped me not be so annoyed with my students. One little fake flower from Wally World. Who knew? I picked up my sis from the airport in the afternoon and hung out with her and her mom for a few hours. I went to a networking event and connected with a good friend in the evening.

I think having a busy day helped. No need to plan being sad. I did have my moments. In the morning with my coffee and, of course, in the car - that seems to be my spot for Moma-related tears. On the drive home last night, I reflected on the day. It seemed as if for HER birthday, she gave me several gifts. I had a few a-ha moments related to my soon-to-be new business, our relationship, and my love-life (or current lack thereof). More on that another day. Maybe.

What I know for sure is this year will be filled with several "the first ______ without her." Hmmm.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Last night I watched people in NYC and DC celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden on TV. All I could think is that somewhere in the world, at least one person is now in mourning. I'm talking about a loved one, not his ideological followers. No matter how deplorable his actions were, there is someone, somewhere who loved him in spite of it all. I send some healing energy to that person.

And I send lots of love and healing energy to all those who lost someone on 9/11 as they deal with reopened wounds and mixed emotions.