Leave the Gym Resolutioners Alone

Sass & Balderdash

We’ve all seen them. There could be one next to you right now on the treadmill holding on for dear life and hiking up a level 15 incline. You may have spotted one inquisitively eying a BOSU ball, wondering what manner of cruel and unusual punishment a semi-circle could possibly deliver. They’re the Resolutioners who have taken your gym by storm this January to get started on their weight loss and fitness goals, and they haven’t received the warmest of welcomes.

I used to be a Resolutioner. In fact, I can say with confidence that “losing weight” or “eating better” was probably my staple resolution from the year 2003 through 2011. When it comes to my New Year’s resolutions, it was probably only surpassed in frequency by “This year I’m going to have a boyfriend,” or “This year I’m committing to not being so quiet and weird.”

I never stuck to it. I’d show up to the…

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The Art of Making Plans

I’m a planner, always have been, always will be. I find it extremely difficult to ‘just go with it’ and my daily routines give me peace of mind. The funny thing is, I have managed to surround myself with friends and loved ones who loathe planning, and don’t understand that I NEED it to function.

Part of my desire to plan everything out stems from my battles with anxiety. At a young age, I learned that people are flaky and that I should avoid getting my hopes up too high. I was burned many times by ‘friends’ who found better things to do than follow through with me.

After several years of being let down, I decided that it would be best if I made plans for myself only. If I formed a routine and plan out every aspect of my day, there would be no more disappointment. As I got older, however, I learned that even the best made plans go awry. Accidents can happen, workloads fluctuate, and sometimes my own immune system can betray me. My plans to go swimming could be nullified by a thunderstorm or a trip to Disneyland may fall through due to a freak runny nose!

Instead of living in a bubble of carefully planned out activities, I began to make open-ended plans with many people, including myself. That way, someone could flake out on me and I’d have a backup option. If worse came to worse, I could read a book or watch a movie by myself.

My anxiety began to subside when I finally accepted that I could not plan anything or everything about my life. I learned that it was fair to set goals and have dreams, but only hard work can bring those to fruition. I can plan so much, but a college could reject my application or someone might snatch up my dream house. The only thing that I can truly plan for is how I react to a situation.

I have the ability to allow a flaky friend to ruin my whole day, or I can make new plans and have a wonderful time. I can let the anxiety over take me because I don’t have plans, or I can accept that sometimes it’s okay to have plans with myself only.

I think that the art of making plans is unrealistic and unnecessary in this day and age. We are always on-the-go and involved in the lives of hundreds of ‘friends’ via social media. There will always be an event to attend or a plan to be made. You may end up sticking your neck out for someone, only to be flaked on, but that is the risk you must take to enjoy new experiences.

I used to be an anxious planner, but I have learned to be mindful and accept that everyday has the potential to bring new friends and new ‘plans’. And at this point in life, I use the word ‘plan’ loosely because I am always redefining what a plan is to me.

First Regret, Then Love

I used to think that regrets didn’t exist, that if I led with my heart, my mind would follow suit. As I get older, I am learning the true nature of regrets and handling the consequences of my decisions. In this life, we must make mistakes to learn and grow and sometimes we are given the opportunity to correct our mistakes.

I recently made a decision to end a relationship that was healthy, happy and full of love. The issue that led to the break up was rooted in my fantastic ideas about in-laws and relationships with parents. I made the error of thinking that the relationship with my potential in-laws was nonexistent…in reality, it was just a different type of bond than I was used to. My regret stemmed from ‘quitting’ on my boyfriend before I had really discussed my feelings with him. Instead of us conversing and working together, I gave up. I regret not putting in 100% of the effort that my ex deserved.

Fast forward several weeks and I discovered that I had a hole in my heart. Realization set in that my ex was the only person who could fill the void that I was feeling. I was regretting my decision and it was time to ask for his forgiveness. As it turned out, he did not see himself with anyone else either, and we fell back into our relationship like two puzzle pieces. He sympathized with my feelings and embraced them with compassion and understanding. I did make a poor judgement call, a mistake and a regretful decision. However, I would not have realized just how special my relationship truly was until it was no longer mine.

We have to learn from the mistakes we make, and embrace the consequences that follow. My consequences were heartbreak and loneliness followed by understanding and forgiveness. I may not be perfect, and my boyfriend may not be perfect, but together we make less than perfect perfection. I had to regret my actions first, before I was able to appreciate the love I was shown. To quote the Lumineers:

I don’t know where I belong
(Hey!) I don’t know where I went wrong
(Ho!) But I can write a song

(Hey!)

1, 2, 3
I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart
I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart

A Glutton for Punishment

“Let’s be friends” is often blurted out mid-breakup in attempt to save face and grasp at the remnants of the love you once shared. Whether it is, or is not possible to remain friends, my ex and I were determined to try.

For some back story, our relationship had been healthy, productive and full of love and friendship. Why breakup you ask? About two years in, I realized that I had not been able to form the bond I desperately wanted with his parents. They are both wonderful and kind people, but there was a cultural disconnect and a language barrier at play. While I was extremely satisfied with all other aspects of the relationship, the missing bond with my potential in-laws felt like a deal breaker…

During the breakup itself, there was no anger or resentment. Instead, I was met was kindness, understanding and compassion. My ex was able to put himself in my shoes and sympathize with the way I felt. We agreed to terminate the relationship but swore to remain friends. Three coffee dates and dinners later, we had found ourselves at a crossroads. I was beginning to move on and replace my new found free time with a freelance job and blogging. However, my ex seemed distracted and unmotivated.

The worse part of a breakup is having the routine of talking/texting/seeing each other on a daily basis become instantly non-existent. However, my ex and I were determined to make ‘friends’ work. If you can’t date someone you love, you might as well be their friend so they will still be a part of your life. What it’s turned into, though, is like having cake and eating it too…

I would be lying if I said I still wasn’t attracted to my ex. For several years, he was my rock and my comfort. He had the ability to make all of the bad thoughts disappear and replace them with laughter and joy. He knew how to console me mid-panic attack in a way that I didn’t even realize would help. He just ‘got‘ me. So, having him in my life as a friend finds me constantly questioning why I’m not still dating him.

I am a glutton for punishment because I push away people who are perfect and beautiful in their own right, simply because they don’t meet my unrealistic, perfectionist desires. I wanted to have a different sort of relationship with my potential in-laws. This ideal relationship (in my head) was based on previous experience and my own fantasies. And, before I even took the time and effort to achieve what I wanted, I quit. I gave up something ‘beautifully un-perfect‘ for the chance of finding something that I now realize is unattainable. Hindsight is 20/20 and there will always be flaws in myself, and in those I love. However, I am learning to accept myself for who I am, and I am learning to give others that chance as well.

“Let’s be friends” is an extremely hard concept to agree to, and to follow through with. Friendship is working for us at this point, and I am thankful for that. And when the next relationship opportunity comes along, I will have a wonderful friend by my side to help prepare me…or even join me once again.

On Writing

When I decided to start blogging, my first fear was that I would run out of ideas, within the first week I may develop a severe case of writer’s block. However, the converse has happened and I can’t imagine not writing. Now my fear is that there may not be enough time in my day for all of the writing I’d like to accomplish. Instead of having a goal of one entry per day, it seems as if I will need to limit myself to one post per day!!

One of the reasons it took me so long to commit myself to a writing project was the risk involved. My daily journal is only shared between myself and my therapist, but my blog is available to anyone, at anytime. The main difference between the two is the risk of judgement.

Failure is involved.

Despite the reassurance from my therapist that her office was a ‘judgement free zone’, I still felt like a failure when I didn’t journal every day. I know, I know…quality over quantity, but I couldn’t help but try to compete against myself. Life is always a competition when you are a perfectionist. And I’m not worried about competing against my peers, no, I am my own worst critic.

I wrote an essay in high school entitled: “Failure”. To be honest, I don’t remember what the purpose of the assignment was. Nor do I recall exactly what was occurring in my life at that point to merit such negativity. But, the resulting essay shut the critic up inside me. For one 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper, I was the winner!

“Failure is not an option, it is a choice. Failure is not hard to come by; one must simply quit or deny the chance to succeed. Failure is also different to each person. When I swim, my goal is to come in first place. If I come in second, I have not achieved my goal and therefore I have failed. However, second place may have provided me with a record time. Depending on my coach’s standards, setting a new personal best would have constituted as a success. Although, I would still consider second place as a failure. But, I digress.

In modern culture, failure is spoken of in casual conversation. Epic fail, referring to anything that was unsuccessful or embarrassing, incorrect or not up to par is tossed around by our generation as an insult or admission. There are many quotes about failure, but most of them failed to meet my expectations. Therefore, I will fail to verbalize any of them to you.

Many people fail because they believe it is too hard to try, and never get the chance to succeed. These types of people are called failures. Not being able to do something doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you incapable. Not trying to do something, conversely, is a failure. Most politicians are set up to fail because they only reach and respond to a certain group of people. Therefore, they have failed to address the issues and concerns of the whole. Musicians can fail as well. They may release a bad album or perform terribly while on tour. But I do not consider them to be failures because they are still putting out the effort.

Failures are loosely named because they have let down society as a whole. Murders can be called failures because I don’t think anyone really cheers for that behavior. Those who commit crimes of a lewd nature are also failures, or at least had a failed sense of judgment at the time their crime was committed. The point that I am trying to make is that a wide variety of people can fail.

I could have failed today by not presenting this essay, but because I tried, I have not failed. Effort is this difference between failure and success. We can all fail, and be let down by the failures of this world. That is what fail means to me, now it’s up to you to decide what it means to you.”

Panic

I have been asked to describe a “panic attack” by friends, family members and social workers alike. While the physical attributes include racing heart, nausea, headache, and so forth, there are deep emotional and spiritual attributes that vary from person to person. The emotional response throughout and after a panic attack can always vary from peaceful resolution to exhaustion and deeper depression.

I once had an attack that was so severe, I ended up having my parents drive me to the hospital. You may be curious to know what my trigger was…I dropped a chicken nugget and got ranch on my shirt. That may seem ridiculous to the sane minded, but to myself and those that may also suffer from anxiety, this was commonplace. What began as crying uncontrollably divulged into hyperventilating, moaning “I’m okay!” and I found myself wishing that I could just stop breathing, and the panic would dissolve.

The miserable truth about panic attacks is that you just have to ride them out and acknowledge the feelings that are dredged up. For instance, I was not crying over the mere fact that there was ranch dressing on my shirt. In fact, I was crying because I loathed myself for making a mistake in front of other people, and not being perfect. Harsh, I know, but that is how mental illness consumed my mind, my feelings, my everything.

Once I finally calmed down enough to go home, a migraine kicked in and I drugged up and slept for nearly 12 hours. Like I mentioned before, panic attacks can be exhausting. After my worse attack, I realized that I needed to devise a plan to prevent another trip to the hospital. The best way, I thought, to help myself would be to verbalize my feelings. If I put pen on paper or fingers to keys, I could write a guide for myself to reference when I felt the panic bubbling up. However, I ended up writing a sort of poetic tribute to the emotions and feelings that I experienced the night before. So here it goes:

“The boundaries crowd in and I scream until I suffocate. Choking on the pressure and demand of this world. Then I was cleansed. I was, I am, I will be free once more. Calm in the world and ethereal. Floating above the trials and tribulations. Passing by the negativity and dislike. I am myself and I was shaped by the storms of loss and neglect, of mourning reprise. Live. Love. Cherish. For hope and for peace. To be myself. No longer repressed by childish thoughts and actions.

The haze swirls around my head, enveloping my senses and contorting the reality. My reality is blurry. I have no focus. I have lost my sense of direction. I speak and the words do not come out, a scream but nothing escapes me. I need a renewal. I need a fix, I need to be fixed. I found my drug, I used my drug, and I came back for more. I lost my sense of feeling, loss was no longer painful, relationships had no meaning. The weights and measures no longer had any presence in my life, I let go of everything. Out of whack, out of balance, and out of control. Spinning, spiraling, the cars are honking, the lights are flashing. My heart is pounding , my head is pulsing. The flashbacks are coming, bad thoughts, angry thoughts, make them stop. MAKE ME STOP. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Breathe, relax, enjoy. REPEAT. Continue to love and to try. There is no other escape, your bridges have burned; all that’s left is prescribed and diagnosed. Take a pill, take a chill, and breathe again. Caaalllmmm.

Here am I, come find me, drift with me. Float on the waves of feeling, the over-reactive currents and the under-reactive undertow. Find my balance. Help me balance. Lead me, hold my hand, be my compass. Stand like a tree, let the breezes pass through. Sway with happiness. Shed away the browning leaves. Rebirth. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Renewal. Strength.”

Nobody can explain exactly how it feels to experience a panic attack. Doctors can diagnose the physical symptoms and a therapist/psychiatrist can analyze your feelings, but only you will know exactly what is plaguing your mind. To verbalize feelings is to give them reality and life, and some feelings are irrational and do not deserve to be made real. My writing had given me clarity and peace at the time, but there are some days when it still hurts to read over my own writing. It hurts to relive the experience, to address irrational fears, and to descend into that darkness once more. There are also days where it feels bizarrely therapeutic to re-experience my past. It is on these particular days where I can feel proud of myself for the changes I have my in my life.

“About Me Section: The big to-do as a writer”


A funny thing happens when you are asked to talk or write about yourself. Do you risk verbalizing a memory where you were the hero, and come off as cocky? Or do you simply rattle off facts such as age, family background, hobbies and pastimes? If we are going to be honest with ourselves, we must strive to share the dirt, and the grit of our lives. I am who I am because of the adversity I have overcome, that we have all overcome. At some point in my life, I realized that no one is truly interested in my facts. This revelation came some time around high school, when I discovered that I didn’t make friends by sharing my daily routine or my weekend plans.  We are a voyeuristic people who hunger to discover that some other person has a shittier life than our own.

When you are asked to ‘tell about yourself’, you are expected to discuss the issues that send you running to the doctors, filling prescriptions and crying in rooms filled with motivational posters and abused tissue boxes. As children, we wanted to know about our friends’ home lives…what occurred behind closed doors. We may have been interested to know what our school teachers did beyond the hours of 8:00-3:00 PM. But, it wasn’t until high school that teachers fully introduced themselves at the first class meeting. To make matters more uncomfortable, those same high school teachers required you to write an essay about yourself and present your story to the class. We learned to bury the gory details and share only facts because judgement hurt. It hurt then, and it will continue to hurt when you are asked to give details “About Me”.

As adults, we still may find ourselves curious about what is happening in the house across the street. We may want to know the extenuating details of our lover’s past. But, few individuals will grant us access to their full life story, gory details, heroic endings, or deepest fears. I want to be one of the few. I need not know my audience, I’m at peace knowing that am not loading up a ‘new friend’ with bullshit. I am agreeing to be fully transparent “About Me”.

     For starters, I am including an “About Me” that I found in the archives of my digital receptacle:

     “My name is Zoë Lapinski and I was born and raised in Lake Forest, CA. I spell my name with umlauts, not with a ‘Y’. From the age of preschool to eighth grade, I attended Abiding Savior Lutheran School. I went to Trabuco Hills High School where I played water polo and swam all four years. I was on the Principal’s Honor Roll as well and I enjoyed challenging myself through AP and Honors classes. My interests include discovering new music, hanging out by the pool, and spending time with my family. I am an extremely talkative person and I love hanging out with friends, and meeting new people. In the future, I hope to open my own bakery/coffee shop combo with my brother, Zack.” (Circa 2012)

     Sure, the blurb above gives you solid and truthful details about my past, but it does not give you any inclination as to my beliefs, feelings, or living breathing personality. However, I rewrote this blurb to give you are more accurate description of who I am:

     “My name is Zoë Lapinski and I am a freethinker. I believe that there may be a higher power governing my life, but I haven’t made my mind up about who and/or what that power is. I take refuge in the Nembutsu and currently find myself relating and indulging in Shin Buddhist teachings. I have a pet fish named Prinicipe; I bought him solely to break my baby fever, and remind myself that I am needed. I have accepted that life is unpredictable, yet I still wrestle with schedules and impossible plans. Sometimes I find myself making arrangements guaranteed to fall-through, just so I can pity myself in their unfulfilled aftermath. I have been in therapy for several years because I convinced myself that I should hide my emotions and tears to the point that I became synonymous with champagne, unpredictable and explosive. I am able to see myself clearly after a panic attack has shaken the nonsense up and out of my head. I love myself, but I’m not yet in love with myself. (Yes, there is a difference between the two.) My maternal instincts have always ruled my heart and I risk the utmost dependence on anyone who will let me into their lives. I am afraid of empty houses, being left and being lost. I have a fantastic view of my future, that is, I fantasize a dream life with any male who tells me they love me. I am learning that I am a ‘catch’, and that I do not need to give myself away because some guy tells me that he wants me.” (Circa 2015)

     Details make all the difference about a person, but I can only share so much in one sitting. As I mentioned before, I agree to be transparent and truthful, both for your reading pleasure and for my own emotional growth. Thank you for reading “About Me” and I hope you buckle up and enjoy the ride.