Just a girl and her clam. Prepping to teach one of my Build an Awesome Brand Workshops!
Well hello!!! Another month has come and gone, and so now it’s time for ALISON’S STATE OF AFFAIRS! Yes, yes, I know I’m sharing a lot with my Year of Awesome calendar, and also my Awesome with Alison Podcast, but the purpose of my state of affairs, as I see it, is to kind of report back on the principles I’m working on applying and take stock of it all!
If you’d like to read February’s it’s right freaking here.
And NOW the report!
Books Consumed in MARCH: Wild by Cheryl Strayed, still consuming: Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life by Dr. Wayne Dyer
Number of cheeseburgers consumed: 7
People who had no choice but to listen to me: 15
I just taught one Build an Awesome Brand workshop
Ounces of Diet Soda: But really, should I try to count next month? MEEEH.
Times I cried under my desk: NONE!!!
MONTHLY REVIEW AND REFLECTIONS: I’d say the biggest conclusion I came to in the month of March was, “Go IN before you go OUT.”
About 3 years ago, every day for six months I had an anxiety attack. Every, single day. It could have been longer than six months, I honestly don’t remember.
Anxiety attacks look different for everyone, and I’m not trying to get technical so please don’t try to correct me, but here’s what I mean when I say an “anxiety attack.” My skin crawled constantly, and my muscles were also almost always clenched. And at one point or another during the day, maybe if I thought I had disappointed someone, or there was too much pressure, my racing thoughts, heart and breath would just become TOO MUCH. And then I’d just lose it for a while. Maybe 5 minutes, maybe an hour.
Sometimes I’d curl up in the space between my bed and wall, hyperventilating, and sometimes I’d sit in my car rocking back and forth.
I’d be unable to catch my breath, or unable to stop panting, and then I might start pulling my hair—not pulling it out, but pulling it hard so there would be pressure on my head other than my thoughts. Sometimes I’d tap my forehead with my fingers, and occasionally I’d just smack my forehead against the wall, really hard, just one time, kind of to SNAP out of it.
I wasn’t trying to hurt myself, I just didn’t know what else to do. I’d say to Eric, “I wish I could just shove a spike through my brain so it would stop.”
I’d sit in my car, rocking, skin crawling, thinking about how selfish and privileged I was. How nothing was wrong and I was so self-centered, and sometimes I’d think, maybe I should just ram my car into a wall.
Then it would pass, and I’d pull myself back up and GO GET SOMETHING DONE.
I just had to keep moving, and keep creating. Keep achieving. Go go go.
This was almost exactly three years ago. I can talk about it with so much ease and openness because it feels like it was a different person. But at the same time, I know it was totally me.
I was growing online, getting the biggest contracts I had ever gotten, and also I was happy. I really was happy. I was dancing like a fool and making cookies, I loved my husband and my tiny one-year-old Rad and 3-year-old Ginger. Nothing I shared online was fake, I was sharing the good and the bad, the party and the messy office and doubts. I really felt awesome, other than the fact I was having a total break down once a day. I UNDERSTAND it sounds nuts, and obviously I was nuts.
But having anxiety and meltdowns was normal for me. I’d been doing it my whole life. So when it escalated to that level, I was like that frog slowly being boiled to death, I didn’t jump out, because I didn’t notice just how F-ING hot the water had gotten.
There wasn’t any particular breaking point. Getting help was a long and slow process. I saw a counselor, for a while, tried some medication, but didn’t like the way it made me feel. Of course I read lots of books and wrote. All the things I do. But I just kept going, going, going. Throwing bigger and bigger parties, creating bigger and bigger projects.
I had Fiona, and you can read about my pregnancies here, but it wasn’t until last year that I think I started to REALLY get to the root of the problems. And by problems I simply mean flawed thinking and awful mental habits.
I think I’m going to write a book about it, of how I got from there to here, but for now I want to talk about “mindfulness.” Last month the Awesome Attribute for Alison’s Year of Awesome was “Mindfulness.”
And I’ve always been an introspective person. I LOVE asking “why” and you know, having my existential crisis.
But being “Mindful” is WAY different than being thoughtful. In fact being mindful is the exact opposite. HAHAHA.
March wasn’t without its trials. My grandma (my mom’s mom) passed away, I had lots of work, but nothing flashy to show on Instagram—which can lead to panic that I’m now “boring” and not “doing anything” haha, and also we hadn’t yet secured a sponsor for our charity event (more about that here), even though I had totally promised all these people (including the charity) that I would.
So, death, work pressure, huge pending event, kids, life, and still—I was ok.
Guys, I wasn’t just “ok” I was kind of AWESOME. I felt ease, I felt joy, I was able to be a support to my mom, I was able to travel to the funeral without freaking out about how much work I missed, because my mind was clear and able to realize what TRULY mattered. I grieved, I cried, but I kept going, and it didn’t feel so hard.
And I really do think the mindfulness has everything to do with it.
In the past when things got hard I would go OUT, go out and do, go out and accomplish, go OUT for validation and OUT for approval. But being mindful is all about going IN.
Watching your thoughts, without judgement, observing them. Going inward for strength, inward for calm.
So now what I’m trying to do is when I start to feel the emotion of anxiety, maybe through crawling skin I go IN. Which usually involves something like this:
ME: Oh hi creepy crawly skin! How are you?!
SKIN: HEY GIRL! I’m good, but you’re not doing anything, so you should probably DO something or you’re going to have to peel me off! RIGHT?! Right.
ME: Hmmm, cute. So why do I need to do something?
SKIN: Well, your job is to DO THINGS, so there’s that, but also if you don’t DO something how will you know if you’re of any value?
ME: What if I have value even if I’m just sitting here?
SKIN: That’s ABSURD! DANCE MONKEY DANCE!
ME: But what if, this type of anxiety is a bad habit? A habit I have that helps me accomplish what I want, but still is simply just a habit?
SKIN: Um, I don’t care. And it doesn’t matter because how are you planning on getting anything done?
ME: With ease. With love. OR I won’t get anything done, and I still have value and worth.
SKIN: (slowly starts to creep and crawl just a little less)
It doesn’t always work but it sure as hell helps.
And so my new mantra, when negative thoughts, feelings, or reactions arise is to STOP, and instead of go OUT, go IN.
Go inside, to the core of YOU. And that has nothing to do with what you’re doing, accomplishing or getting done.
On my Instagram stories I shared myself sobbing to Moana the other day, hahaha as she sings to the Lava Monster Te Ka:
I have crossed the horizon to find you
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
You know who you are
Here’s why that moves me so much: I am not my anxiety, I am not what I do, I am not the number of people who “buy” what I’m “selling,” I am not the feelings I have, I am not the thoughts that race through my mind. I simply AM. But Moana can only see this in others, after she has found it in herself, which she does right before she encounters Te Ka. She sings this song:
I have journeyed farther
I am everything I’ve learned and more
Still it calls me
And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me
It’s like the tide; always falling and rising
I will carry you here in my heart you’ll remind me
That come what may
I know the way
The call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me.
GUYS I DON’T CARE I’M QUOTING DISNEY MOVIES IT IS TRUTH.
March was all about listening to the call inside me. And like the tide, it rises and falls. Sometimes it is loud and sometimes it is quiet.
But I started this essay sharing about my anxiety, because I know that those emotions and feelings drown out that call. We can’t HEAR or FEEL who we are.
And I don’t want you to think, that if you feel like that frog, like I did, and you’re slowly being boiled to death, that sitting still will magically help you.
Sometimes we are the Lava Monster guys, and we need someone to remind us, that is NOT who we are. And well I guess that makes me Moana, right now, so what I’m saying is, this is not who you are, you don’t have to suffer.
Sometime we need to be reminded, and that’s why I share these incredibly personal things. The girl dancing in the clam up there is the same girl who thought her only option might be to ram her car into the wall of a parking garage. I’m not ashamed of either. I am everything I’ve learned and more.
And know this: you wouldn’t even be attracted to reading something I write, or BE HERE, if you didn’t have that inkling deep below that you do NOT have to hold on to your suffering. You can feel inside that not only were you made for greatness, but you are great.
Or as I like to say, only you can be you, and you are already as awesome as you need to be.
And I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you find it.
So for me, March was all about going IN, getting still, and feeling ease and joy in who I am, regardless of what I do and do not accomplish. And I’ve come pretty far to be able to do that, don’t you think? I wish and hope the same for you, and know that being mindful, and going IN will help. You might still have to go OUT and get help, but the strength to do so is in you.
I’m looking forward to April and the theme of Resilience, and I hope you are too! I’ll see you next month to return and report on it, or I’d love if you subscribe to my newsletter so we can help each other out all month long.
So much love and Disney sing alongs,