Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bringing in the New

My husband was looking at my calendar last night and noticed that it comes to a halt in August of 2014. That's when life as I knew it ended. Things like keeping track of a calendar were pointless. I had nothing to schedule, other than doctor's appointments; I was becoming sick. At one time it was filled with yoga teaching dates and lots of subbing. And then it all ended. When that chapter ended, I walked into, or was dragged into a new life that I hadn't asked for. I had no other choice than to let everything that was important to me go.

My life has changed again, and now gladly, joyfully I can say that it's time for a new calendar. My days are becoming busier. I'm subbing again at yoga studios and teaching workshops and soon will be adding my own yoga class at a studio.

The new healing centers/yoga studios that are showing up in my life are beyond beautiful and tranquil. Yesterday at an interview, I sat and marveled at how without my being aware of it, I had drawn so much beauty and love into my life. My surroundings were gorgeous.

I'm a new me. I was broken and now I've rebuilt myself and my life. I'm more grounded than ever, and I have more love, friendship, and support than I have ever had in my life. Such goodness exists for me, if only I can remember that on the bad days.

Now it's time to buy a new calendar and get my life organized on paper. A change is coming, it already has.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hi, I'm Jamie

I was imagining a conversation between two people who haven't seen each other in years and how they might introduce themselves, and for some reason I had them re-introducing themselves based on the religion that each is practicing now. That imaginary conversation took me to a feeling of restriction inside myself. For most of my life I wanted to introduce myself as a Jew, Catholic, Buddhist, etc. I needed to feel part of a people or an organized religion to inform me as to who I am. I still feel a bit of envy over one of my dear friend's religious faith, it is so beautiful, pure, and confident.

How would I introduce myself to someone I hadn't seen in twenty years or someone I'm meeting for the first time? "Hi, I'm Jamie." That's it I'm Jamie. I do yoga; I have wonderful friends; I write; I have bipolar disorder. Basically I think it all comes back to "I'm Jamie." Being Jamie feels expansive. I'm no longer part of any group, and somehow that's all okay, because I still exist as I am without labels. I suppose you could strip away the Jamie and we would come to something even deeper, richer. But for now I think I'm going to stick with the beautiful essence of being an ordinary human being, having a not so ordinary experience of life in this world. For the first time in my life I don't feel the need to call myself or be anyone other than I am, Jamie. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Test of Time

Needless to say, I fell off with the "I'm going to write a new post every day" commitment. I'm learning that some things that may feel like good ideas at the time don't serve me, like writing a new post every day. It put too much pressure on me, I simply got caught up in the good feelings of writing posts and wanted to maintain that joy.

In the past, if I had a good feeling about something, I assumed that it was God inspired and that it was the right thing to do. I'm learning more each day that that kind of thinking isn't solid, because sometimes I feel a lot of energy and good feelings behind certain thoughts and later find that they weren't inspired by something Higher, they were merely impulsive. I'm learning that a good way to test decisions that come from the gut and those that arise out of impulse is to check in with the idea several hours later and see if I still have the same gut feeling that it's the right thing to do. When its an impulsive decision I will notice that the energy has been sucked out of it with time. When the thought or decision is right on the money, it stands the test of time.

The test of time may not be true for you, but I know that it is for me. I love that feeling of energy and excitement that comes from new ideas and I know the disinterest that comes from ideas that soon fizzle out. I can keep my thoughts better in check now and not run off with the thrill of so called "great ideas." Like I said, what's great now may be boring or utterly ridiculous a few hours later.

Coming up with fresh ideas to write about daily was unrealistic and yet I'm finding that I can be more gentle with myself about letting it go. It didn't happen, I already botched it the first day that I didn't write. It's okay, I'm writing now and I understand myself better than I did even a month and a half ago when I started the blog, and that is amazing and solid.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Emerging from Depression

For the past several months I have been experiencing a deep depression, probably one of the worst I've ever had. Last week, at last, I felt the despair lifting due to a combination of medication readjustment and doTERRA medicinal oils. Finally, I feel like myself again. I'm not scared to be home alone and my every minute isn't filled with a despair that fills like it is pulling me through the ground beneath my feet. I don't know if I will ever feel that kind of depression and hopelessness again, I can only pray and take my meds, use the oils, continue practicing yoga, and do the things that I know I must to stay healthy.

At this point, the feeling better time, some people with mental illness decide to stop taking their medication, but not me. I truly want to feel better and I know that I need the meds to help me to stay stable. Taking pills every day is a small price to pay for emotional and mental stability.

I don't miss the hell that was mania, which left me so mentally, emotionally, and physically ill that there was no choice other than hospitalization. And I certainly don't miss clinical depression.

Although I've been depressed, I never lost sight of all of the good in my life. I have a wonderfully nurturing and supportive family and friends who I adore. I recently became a life coach, I've got a new article coming out soon through Author magazine, and I've started back to teaching yoga; I'm giving a workshop on yoga and journaling, and I'm completing an e-booklet about my experiences with bipolar disorder. Those are all good and positive movements forward in life. Although I was aware of all of this goodness in my life, it didn't take away the agonizing despair. I believe that bipolar disorder is truly a chemical problem more than a psychological one.

The sun is shining, the temperature warm, and at last I'm ready to embrace my life again.  

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Commitments Part 2

When I started writing this blog I committed to posting something new every day. That didn't happen. That was a commitment that I made to myself, not to someone else. I knew I couldn't maintain what I had committed myself to. There are days when I feel uninspired and depressed and on those days it's next to impossible for me to find anything to write about.

The birds are chirping outside my window and a soft breeze blows in. I feel good and calm. I have compassion for myself and I'm sorry that I set myself up for "failure" with this commitment. But I didn't really fail, one of the main themes of the blog is embracing ourselves flaws and all. So, there's no failure with not being able to come up with something new on a daily basis.

There are times when we need to let go of commitments that don't serve us or others, and sometimes so that we don't let other people down, we keep commitments that may seem good for the other person but ultimately aren't good for us. This is where discernment is important. My yoga teacher asks the question, "does it uplift," and I think that's a pretty great place to start self-inquiry. Is this commitment going to uplift me or bring me down. Maintaining the blog every day would uplift the part of me that wants to keep in touch with people, but the part of me that needs to know I'm okay even if I can't perform that day suffers because I'm working under the illusion of perfectionism.

I don't have to be perfect, you don't have to be perfect. We have to show up and do our best and have the wisdom to know when to stop and when to rest. The past few days I've rested from the blog, and that my friends is self-kindness.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Honoring Commitments

The other day I became stressed out by the thought of everything that I have to do this week and the thought of every appointment that I had to reschedule to make my week work. I was on overload. Old familiar thoughts and feelings began moving through me. I didn't want to show up or I wanted to call and cancel everything on my calendar, which I used to do quite frequently. But that's not who I am anymore, it's not who I've chosen to be, and I feel good about that. I stick to commitments and have been doing so for the past few years. It didn't happen naturally, it was a conscious change.

I decided that I didn't want to get myself into anymore situations that I would, ultimately, run away from. And I don't make huge leaps, like converting to religions which is something I did in the past. I keep what I always come back to, I keep the activities that are solid, that I have proven I will stick to.

Yoga and writing are both means of self-expression for me. I can't run away from them they are intrinsically linked to who I am. Life coaching is something that I have wanted to do for several years, so that's another solid for me.

I will not be a quitter like I was in the past. That's not the identity I choose for myself. Even if I'm scared and I don't want to show up for my commitments, I do it anyway because I choose to handle my commitments with integrity.

I canceled therapy this week, but there was no way around that cancellation; I know that I will be there next week. I'm not going anywhere although I've traveled far.

Monday, March 2, 2015


I just found this piece that I wrote when I was two weeks out of the hospital. It's interesting to me that

I thought I wasn't manic anymore, but what I've written sounds slightly grandiose.

What do you think? Here it is:

I read books for the newly diagnosed, watch Stephen Fry’s documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, do whatever I can to educate myself about this illness, and eventually find a nearby support group.
As I park my car in the First Presbyterian parking lot, I realize that this meeting is where I am supposed to be, where I belong. It’s not as though I’m about to attend my first AA group, a group which isn’t applicable to me. I’ve gotten out of the psych hospital two weeks prior; my diagnosis is Bi-polar I severe, recurrent with psychosis. My mania was undeniable, no getting around the fact that the diagnosis fits me. I can walk into this group knowing that I’m in the right place, which is oddly comforting  that I have a name for what is ailing me, yet disconcerting that I am truly mentally ill.
As I walk into the room, before group has officially begun, I hear talk about Halloween, Six Flags and insane asylums. I know instantly that I have found the correct meeting room. These are my people. Quirky, smart, creative, morbid, and at times crazy as hell.
Before I’ve even taken my seat, I feel that I should, or at least want to, run the group. However, the group facilitator seems quite knowledgeable, wonderful and qualified  to run the group, whereas I have absolutely zero qualifications. But my master’s degree in counseling and the few talks and articles that I’ve given and written confirm, in my mind at least, that I should be running the group. I love the attention and, as I mentioned repeatedly during my hospital stay, I’ve got the master’s degree in counseling, so obviously I should be in charge. The fact that I’m newly diagnosed and am in the process of educating myself about my illness has no bearing on me.

In my heart I want to take over the group because the grandiose side of me needs to be seen; needs to be the best; needs respect and admiration lest I disappear and am forgotten about forever which is my deepest fear. My heart and mind screaming out please don’t leave me. Please see how wonderful I am and celebrate me as I believe I should be celebrated. If I’m not seen I don’t exist.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Changing My Identity

I’ve changed identities, names and hair colors many times. Sometimes I just want to look in the mirror and see someone other than me looking back.
       It’s a Saturday night, my husband and I are watching a Swedish film. Not sure what prompted it, but I take an inventory of my appearance. Skin tight grey pants, form fitting white v-neck sweater, black three inch wedge boots, and short bleached blonde hair. My outfit accentuates every curve, and yet it is tasteful. I feel good in these clothes for the most part, except for the other part of my personality which lives at the opposite end.
          Four years ago, I covered my hair with a wig, my shirts covered my collar-bones and elbows, skirts several inches past my knees. I was a different person. I had become an Orthodox Jewish woman, having converted to Orthodox Judaism. The uniform that I agreed to wear as part of becoming a Jewish woman never felt right, although I willingly morphed into Davida Shira, the name I had taken at the time of my conversion.
       I felt like I was wearing somebody else’s clothes. At times I would walk by a mirror and catch a glimpse of myself wearing pantyhose and sandals, baggy clothes, and a synthetic wig, and wondering what the hell I was doing, because the image looking back at me in the mirror definitely was not the real me.
     I have converted four times to three different religions; I converted twice to Judaism. The first conversion wasn’t valid in the eyes of the Orthodox community. In my late teens to mid-twenties I was a devotee of a guru. The same guru that Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about in Eat, Pray, Love. My spiritual name was Madri, meaning: happiness, joy, a good wife.
   I was adamant when I took on a new name, I never wanted to hear the name Jamie ever again, I wanted to erase myself.
   I have been a runner, running from one identity to the next. Always sincere in my intentions, but ultimately unable to continue what ends up being a charade. The real me, Jamie, the one I’m running away from always breaks through again.
          There is the pious woman Davida Shira, the devotee Madri, the Catholic convert Veronica, the woman who took refuge in the Buddha Tenzin Dalma, and when I wasn’t completely Orthodox my chosen name was Hadassah. I picked the name Hadassah because of the movie Yentl and, yes, I realize that was a ridiculous reason to pick that name. I just really thought it was beautiful.
Get a new name, subscribe to a new religion or philosophy and become a different person. 

         And then there is Jamie, the real me, the person that I always end up coming back to.