I’ll put my pieces back together

I’m going to give you a heads up – this post is one of my most personal ones to date. This one is right from the pages of my journal so here goes…

Yesterday something really interesting happened while I was meditating at my boyfriends place. I found that I totally allowed myself to become absorbed by the meditation. It made me wonder what had been holding me back all the times I have been meditating over the past year. My best try at explaining the feeling is this: it’s like I am on edge and have to “protect myself” while meditating. This on edge feeling isn’t particular to meditating; it’s practically constant. I cannot fully allow myself to become absorbed by meditating because what if … what if while I’m sitting by the water I’m disturbing someone by taking up too much room on the bench…what if someone needs to grab my attention… what if someone storms in my room and criticizes me while my defences are down. It feels as though I am constantly trying to defend myself from being emotionally attacked.

It so sucks to realize this. I feel like I’m about to open a dam that will never be able to close again. My dam blocked out the tears. My dam blocked out the emotions.

Also, it’s important to mention that yesterday I was meditating in a new space. Normally I find it hard to meditate with someone else in the room but he actually allows me to be myself and feel. It’s like I’m ok. – every time I read that I choke up. It’s such a powerful, strong need of mine that has been unmet for so long. I’m not doing anything wrong. He makes me feel safe.

I’m also finding that while I’m in his apartment I have this worried feeling like I’m doing something wrong or being annoying. I have briefly talked about this in my blog post “how to explain rejection sensitivity dysphoria”. I wonder if that feeling will ever go away. It’s like I have a lifetime of being told that I’m annoying; to stop tapping, to stop breathing so loud, to stop chewing so loud, to stop being “hurricane Alyssa” and leaving my stuff all over the place. That shit adds up. It’s like I’m not allowed to take up space; I’m not allowed to just be…

Being in this apartment and working here I am catching myself thinking “wait- you’re okay with me taking up space?! It’s okay if I sit here!? It’s okay if my bag is here?!” Man, it’s exhausting. And I’m catching myself actively trying not to take up space which is exactly what I don’t want to do!

Okay, Alyssa…

It’s okay to feel.
It’s okay to take up space.
You’re going to feel emotionally safe one day. It’s just going to take time.
AND you’re going to practice taking up space.

I swear I have the feeling capacity of about 10 people.

Anyways, I wish that you all can’t relate to this but unfortunately I’m sure that you can. Find the people who love you for who you are! Take up space my friends <3

p.s. On a lighter note I just launched my new website! You can check it out here: https://www.coachalyssashaw.com/

Outward appearance of success

Do you appear put together and successful?

I was having a conversation the other day and I was explaining that I have ADHD and what it is like working with my clients. She was so surprised that I have ADHD because you “cannot tell” since I appear so put-together. Everything about my ADHD is internalized unless you know me well enough or read my blog. The reality is I am in pain. I struggle every.single.day. You don’t know how hard it is for me to do the simple task of showering, drying my hair, straightening my hair, putting makeup on and deciding what it is that I want to wear. Not to mention deciding what it is that I want to eat all day!

Sorry, that all sounds so depressing but it is true! I was joking the other night that my boyfriend puts a lot more attention and care into his appearance than I do. The whole reason why I bring this up is because he doesn’t actually care more about what he looks like. It just appears that he does! All of this is not to say that I don’t enjoy looking good. I always feel better when my hair and makeup is done and I am wearing comfy clothes that make me look and feel good! The whole process of getting myself ready to appear “put together” and successful is what is so painfully hard!

Why did I want to blog about this? I am listening to the ADHD Women’s Palooza and while listening to the session “The Mysterious Paradox of Being a High Achiever With ADHD” with Linda Roggli and Casey Dixon I was inspired to pause and write this post!

There is an illusion that if you look put together you ARE put together and the kicker… everything is easy for you!! What I am trying to say that it is grossly unfair to women and anyone with ADHD who has to try extra hard to do anything and everything to look at them and think that being put-together and outwardly successful means that everything comes easy to them.

Women are just EXPECTED to know what the hell is going on and organize everything “just so”.

The reality is we have trouble with our executive functions (activation, focus, effort, emotion, memory, action) so we end up overcompensating and burning ourselves out trying to keep it all together. It is EXHAUSTING.

As women, there is an internal and external pressure to meet a certain standard all the time throughout every aspect of our lives (work, home, children, spouse/partner, friends, etc.).

I am almost always on time but what you don’t see is what it takes and all the effort that I have to put in so that I am on time.

Anyways, I feel a bit like this has become a b!t#$ fest but if you are a women with ADHD, let me tell you… I get how hard it is to stay afloat!

My biggest advice to you is to be true to who you are and embrace your unique self. This means respecting who you are, your wants, your needs and at the end of the day, fully charge your battery by putting yourself first! I’m just going to repeat that: PUT YOURSELF FIRST… you deserve it! <3

Why it’s important to re-sparkalize when you have ADHD!

Re-sparkalize! You know when you are in your space and you just aren’t digging it anymore… Your productivity is lacking and you just don’t want to do the work. I just went through this today! My office is situated at the back of the house and does not get the beautiful sun throughout the day nor the interesting street traffic. I was cold and under-stimulated in that back office and knew that I needed a change!

I decided that I could sacrifice one hour of my day to do the old switcheroo and move my desk to my bedroom (yes, I know. Not ideal for work to be in the bedroom) in the front of the house.

Check out my new beautiful office view! Could you blame me for wanting to re-sparkalize?!

So… What in the world is re-sparkalizing?! My teacher at the ADD Coach Academy, Barbara Luther, uses this term. Re-sparkalizing is when you make your environment (the things around you) more interesting and exciting so that you can in turn be more excited and motivated to be your most productive self! This also applies to re-sparkalizing tasks or processes. Let’s say that you aren’t getting into that morning routine that used to get you jumping out of bed. Maybe it’s time to take a second look at your routine and figure out what needs to be adapted (re-sparkalized).

Reasons why it may be time to re-sparkalize

  1. Your productivity just isn’t where you want it to be.
  2. You find another room or space calling at you.
  3. You skip over or forget tasks that used to come so easily to you.
  4. You are in a never-ending frustration loop!
    • The situation may need some re-sparkalizing! It’s important to dive in and take a look at what might be getting you frustrated to begin with. That way you can better see where you may need to re-sparkalize.
  5. Creativity!
    • Sometimes when our creativity isn’t where we want it to be, it may be because we are in a cycle of automation (get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to bed, repeat). If this sounds familiar, it may be time to add some sparkle to your life!
  6. You feel like you are juggling too much.
    • If you are feeling this way, take set an hour aside and do the following:
      • Dump (write) all of the things/tasks that you are doing onto a paper
      • Next, take a step back and recognize all that you are doing!
      • Once you have realized all that you are doing, ask yourself these questions:
        1. What can I delegate?
        2. What can I hire someone else to do for me? Example: clean the house, a nanny to pick up kids from school and start dinner, laundry service. Obviously this is something that you need to be able to afford but it’s worth thinking about!
        3. What can I completely remove from my task list that isn’t actually as important as it seems?
        4. Where can I get some help? Yes, these seems like delegating but it’s different because this could be something like asking a friend to do your grocery shopping together to make it more exciting.
        5. What am I doing for other people? Yes, it’s nice to be there for other people but does a boundary maybe need to be implemented? Are you doing too much for others? Can you say “no”?

How to re-sparkalize

  • Re-organize your furniture
  • Beautify your stuff!
    • You don’t necessarily have to spend money to do this!
    • This is an opportunity to get creative!
  • Check out second hand stores for new furniture/decorations. I personally like to use an app called Varagesale to find second hand furniture or anything really!
  • Create a home for your things
  • Start planning!
    • …wait. Plan to re-sparkalize?! Definitely! If you want things to be new and exciting in your life you’re going to have to actively plan! My last blog post can help you out with that!
    • This could mean planning an exciting trip or planning to spend time with friends and family.
  • Journal. Journaling really helps to figure out what you want and need. The reason why this is so important is because if you don’t know what you want or need how can you figure out where you may need to re-sparkalize?
  • Start a new hobby or activity

Looking to throw some sparkle into your life and not sure how to make that happen? Do you feel stuck? It may be worth considering working with an ADHD coach! Follow this link to schedule a free, 30 min, get to know you session with yours truly! No strings, no commitments!

Stress & Anxiety

Last week at the Adult ADHD support group that I co-run in Montreal we had a guest speaker, Sheila Southon. She works at the Yellow Umbrella Wellness Centre and is a Chopra Certified Instructor, Naturotherapist & Counsellor. Sheila came to speak with us about the effects of stress on your body and practicing mindfulness.

There was one slide in particular that caught my attention. The slide was originally from Dr. Deepak Chopra. I’ll do a summary of the info here. It isn’t nearly as pretty as her slide was but you’ll get the idea:

Reactive Responses to Stress

Fight

  • Chronic judgement/criticism
  • Social exclusion
  • Verbal attacks/gossiping
  • Blowing up
  • Being mean

Flight

  • Avoidance
  • Being unreliable
  • Appeasing/flattering
  • Complying/sabotaging
  • Depressive symptoms

Freeze

  • Being unresponsive/unavailable
  • Avoiding social situations
  • “Going along” with powerful figures
  • Not getting involved

Have you seen these three words before? I have! Fight, Flight and Freeze are usually related to anxiety. I started to wonder.. is there a relationship between anxiety and stress? Is the huge rise in anxiety that we are all seeing/experiencing really stress that we are labeling as anxiety? Can I tackle my stress and in turn help deal with my anxiety? I do know that implementing systems in my life like using a planner, making a routine have helped with my anxiety but is it really just helping to manage my stress which looks like anxiety? I guess it doesn’t matter which it is as long as the symptoms are diminishing!

At the end of the meeting I chatted with the speaker and I mentioned that I cannot fully allow myself to become engrossed in the meditation. I become very uncomfortable and I feel the need to open my eyes. She then said something that was a huge “aha moment” for me:

It might be that you don’t feel safe.

Stay tuned for the next blog post all about what the speaker said to me and why alarm bells went off!

How do you feel about the above “symptoms” of Fight, Flight and Freeze in relation to stress? What are you thinking about what I said about what I thought was anxiety really being stress? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts! <3

Fun experiment—> Freezies!

I don’t know about you, but I am SO SICK of looking at the ingredients in things such a popsicles, ice cream, snacks, etc. and seeing mostly crap with lots of sugar!

What am I going to do about it?! Well, I’m going to experiment! A few years ago, I was working on a food truck and one of the things that we would make were freezies! They were dead easy and the best part is you can freeze ANY sort of liquid you would like!

These are the freezie flavours I’m experimenting with today:

  • Earl grey
  • Hibiscus
  • Chai
  • Lavender & honey

Here are the steps for hibiscus:

Steep your hibiscus — just like you would if you are making a tea!
Steep the hibiscus in warm water (just like tea!) and then strain it!

Wait for your “tea” to cool down and then pour it into your freezie bags. I like to use a measuring cup because the spout is so easy to pour from!
I decided to use a measuring cup because it is easier to pour into the bags! You also need to wait for the liquid (hibiscus tea) to cool down!

Poor the cold tea into the bags

Annnd.. voila! They are super colourful and beautiful and ready to dive into the freezer!

I’ll let you know how they taste when they are ready!

I’d love some flavour suggestions! I’m thinking of trying a coconut lime or something along the lines of that!

Diet

So I just checked out what the word diet is defined as. Before I tell you, take a second and think about what the word “diet” means to you.

***one second.

Diet: “The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.”

Is this what came to mind? My assumption is that you were thinking of diet in terms of “going on a diet”; following strict rules of what you are and are not allowed to eat with a certain goal in mind. Isn’t that interesting? A diet is what you HABITUALLY eat. The way that we currently use the word “diet” is almost inaccurate.

Let me get you thinking about something else… have you ever heard of “bad gas” in terms of putting it into a car? This happened to my sister a few months ago. She gave us a call saying that “my car is making a chug chug noise, I can’t accelerate properly and I just filled up the car with gas.” Our guess was that she got “bad gas”. Are you seeing the picture I’m trying to paint for you? My sister accidentally put “bad gas” into her car and it wasn’t running properly. Her car was not designed to run off this formula of gas. Have you ever thought about what you are putting into your car (body)? Why you may feel sluggish and not “accelerating” properly? I have been paying A LOT of attention to what I have been eating lately and minus some sort of food allergy/intolerance that I have, I have been feeling really great! Our bodies were not “designed” for all of the middle aisles of the grocery store. Stick to the outer aisles (fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat) and I can almost guarantee you that you will be feeling better!

Okay, this information is all fine and dandy. But how will I implement this into my life?! I have created a new page on my website where I will be sharing with you exactly how I have started to help myself. Check it out: feeding yourself with ADHD.

When you give your body the proper fuel that it needs, you too can run at your full potential!!Fuel + Body.png

p.s. I am so immature.. every time I would type “bad gas” I would laugh because I would flash back to the time my mom was explaining to my grandma that “[insert my sister’s name here] has bad gas”

As you know, everything in life comes at a cost; my schooling isn’t cheap! I love sharing my personal experiences and what I am learning at school with you! If you like my content, please consider buying me a coffee. Thank you for your support!

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The bad ANXIETY is baaack! & Whole 30 diet

Let me just start this off by clarifying that I experience anxiety everyday. That said, I have good anxiety and I have bad anxiety. Good anxiety happens when I am super excited and I have things to do. Anxiety actually helps to get me going! Bad anxiety happens when I am overwhelmed, confused, don’t have a direction and I am beginning to suspect: not being true to myself.

This day, March 10th, did not start out to be the best. I arrived home late last night and my internal clock woke me up at its usual time! I did not mind, I enjoy being up early. This just means that I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked strike one.

Since I was super sleepy and it was a Saturday after all, I decided to skip my workout routine and just get on with the long list of things that I wanted to accomplish that day. Strike two. 

I have been having some serious issues with auras on a daily basis for probably two weeks now. I get these black lines above my left eye. It’s starting to drive me crazy and is really becoming worrying – I am going to have to make an appointment with my dreaded doctor. This really drove up my anxiety which has been building all week. Strike three.

In baseball talk – normally strike three is you’re out. Lucky for me, I am pretty used to my anxiety so in Alyssa land strike three means keep on puttering along! I say puttering because keep in mind my anxiety is rising, I just have yet to reach my limit.

puttering anxietyI am also having some annoying stomach problems. I am not sure what is causing my pain and irritation so I have been trying to figure it out. When I don’t know the cause of the problem, I cannot think of the solution. So I end up ruminating all day. Not healthy. My guess is that I have a food intolerance or allergy and it is causing my stomach issues and auras. I’ve been taking out books from the library and searching on websites. That has also been causing me a lot of anxiety and stressing me out a la max. Strike four. 

I received a recommendation to try “whole 30”. This is basically an elimination diet where you focus on eating whole foods. I am trying to eliminate gluten and dairy to see if either of those are causing my stomach issues and auras. Why would this cause me anxiety? It is all BRAND NEW INFORMATION and I don’t know how to process it! Luckily,  I bought the whole 30 plan and I was able to go onto their website and choose from a list of recipes which I wanted to eat each day for my first week. This was a serious lifesaver and super cool! But, like I said, it’s all brand new and it took me some timewhole 30 to figure out (which, dun,dun,dun… caused me anxiety). The really neat thing about the whole 30 plan was I could modify the schedule to only select from a list of recipes where there weren’t any mushrooms, asparagus and other food that I didn’t like! Once I decided which meals I wanted to eat.. are you ready for this..?! The system created a grocery list for me! Right down to the grams for the meat that I needed to buy!! Long story short, I ended up spending my day setting myself up for this week in super crowded grocery stores and trying to find ingredients that I have never used before. Andddd that was strike five. This is my new limit. I was struck out!

Today reinforced for me how important it is to ground myself before I start my day. I need to feel settled and okay with how I am feeling before I begin. I did not do that today and my anxiety is through the roof. In the mornings I need to exercise and meditate; get my thoughts in order and my breathing on a good path so that I can have an example of the state that I can be in for the rest of the day.

I am actually really, really proud of myself though. Instead of completely shutting down and sending myself to bed I put myself on the elliptical, nourished my mind with a podcast, did a quick yoga video and listened to a calm guided meditation track.

I came up with something for myself while meditating (clearly I wasn’t doing a good job). I am going to come up with 5 affirmations/positive reinforcements to tell myself while having anxiety attacks. I will breathe in and on each inhale I will say an affirmation to myself and on the exhale I will breathe out the anxiety:
1. I am strong; exhale anxiety
2. This will pass; exhale anxiety
3. Nothing is as black and white as I make it seem; exhale anxiety
4. I am enough; exhale anxiety
5. I am trying my best; exhale anxiety

I am not very good at grounding myself using my body (my feet etc.) so I figured it would be a good idea to try and ground myself using my thoughts. Lets see if this works!

I am not out of the woods, my anxiety is still currently at a dangerously high level but I am working on getting myself back down to planet earth and out of my head!

What tricks do you use to get yourself out of your head and your anxiety to a stable level? I would LOVE to hear them! I am always trying to come up with new ways to manage my bad anxiety.

Blinded by Anxiety

My plan was to set myself up with routines and schedules BEFORE I got a job so that I wouldn’t be overcome with everything i needed to do in the mornings before heading to work.

Well, I thought that I had my routines and schedules down to a science. Boy was I ever wrong!!

This morning was my first day of work and I had to be there for 10am. I was freaking out that I was going to forget something or run out of time to get ready and was blinded by anxietyspinning in circles like a nut case.

This is when I realized that I REALLY need to have prompts to tell me what to do because my anxiety completely blinds me when I have somewhere to be first thing in the morning.

When I can take my time to get where I need to be then I am completely okay. I don’t forget things like to do yoga after I get off the elliptical. That’s what happened this morning; I was buck naked about to get in the shower and I realized that I forgot to do stretches and weights. Silly me! There was no way I was putting my sweaty clothes back on. Yoga would have to wait until the afternoon.

All this said, it is INCREDIBLE how anxiety can completely blind me. I get into this completely frazzled state and am running around like a lunatic, not actually accomplishing anything!

I know that I am time blind and my anxiety skyrockets when I have somewhere to be. I brilifreak out that I am going to forget something and I have to keep checking the time.

Guess who is going to re-download the app Brili (you can also use 30/30) so that I can stay on track?! Yes, it is for kids – but, let’s face it! I am a grown up child 🙂