Listen, I have pants on okay?

Sometimes when people ask me hard questions,  I give a pat answer.

Co-worker: Have you seen the stapler?

Me: I have pants on. What more do you want from me?

 I put these on today. 

I put these on today. 

Usually I’m making a joke. 

Sometimes though, I’m not joking at all. Sometimes I’m using humor to cover the truth that, on this particular day, I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, took a shower, put clothes on and drove to work. 

Hell, I even plucked my chin hair. 

There are days when those basic tasks feel far from basic. 

There are days when everything feels just a bit harder. I don’t know how else to explain it. The difference between snowshoeing on unbroken snow and on a well-worn path, maybe. In both cases, you’re following the same path - but in unbroken snow, those steps take a lot more out of you. You’ve got to work a lot harder to get where you want to go. 

On those days, the self-judgement and guilt that follow is relentless. At least for me. 

Many days, I battle a constant feeling of “why does it feel so hard to write one *&^&^^% email?” 

Why does everything feel so hard? 

Why can I not just buckle down and get things done? 

I just, as of last week, completed a fitness product (Stronger You: The Ultimate Fitness Guide) that I began in January. My goal for completion was March, then April then….well, August. The disappointment I feel in myself for taking so long to finish far outweighs the accomplishment of completing something.  

Sure I finished, but it took me forever. 

I don’t always know how much of those delays are laziness and how much are my weekly, sometimes daily struggle with this thing I’ve spent the past decade plus trying to understand. That thing is dysthymia, also known as persistent depressive disorder. I write about it often on this blog because….well….I believe we need to talk about it more. 

Last week, I wrote a post about fears, and I mentioned that my greatest fear is that I’ll never give to the world all it is that I feel I have in me to give. That I’ll spend so much time spinning my wheels worrying about what I should do, that I’ll never get around to the doing part.  

A friend of mine took a screen shot of that last line and told me to post that sh** somewhere I could see it everyday. 

Some days life is as simple as making a list and checking off the boxes of tasks that you want to get done. 

But some days, life isn’t that simple. 

I’ve said before that sometimes I don’t know where the depression ends and I begin. And that’s the daily frustration. 

Sometimes I lose interest in things like music, books, my guitar, exercise. Many days I lack productivity and on many more days, I’m overwhelmed with an overall feeling of inadequacy. I spend so much time thinking and feeling that I should be more. Dysthymia is sometimes referred to as mild depression, because you still function - until you hit a major depressive episode, as I’ve done in the past. 

The trap is that you feel like you should just snap out of it. Recently, I read in a post on dysthymia which mentioned the prevailing myth that a person can just look on the bright side. 

Stay positive! 

Stop being such a Debbie Downer!

If you’d just look for the good things, you wouldn’t feel this way!

Recently, I heard the expression that there are only good days and great days - no bad days. And that expression really wounded me deeply. Because it made me feel like I just don’t try hard enough to see what’s good. It played into those feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem that hit me so hard some days. 

I was relieved to see that concept written as myth, because so often, I feel like a failure for not snapping out of my funks. For not being able to counter a tough situation with straight out gratitude and positive thinking. Mind over matter they say.

And I say, what is wrong with my mind, that I can’t make anything matter?  

It was myths like those above that prevented me from seeking treatment for most of my life. It’s myths like those above that often still give me the greatest heartache at the end of a long day. I don’t always know and understand what I can and cannot control. I don’t always know how much blame is mine. And that is so, so, so, very hard. 

I treat my depression the best I can. I have an amazing therapist, an amazing spouse, I take my medication and I work hard to make the lifestyle changes I know can help. I exercise often, try to meditate, work to let people in to my life and my struggles and try to be open and honest about the struggle. 

That last one is harder than it sounds. 

Sometimes people think that depression is only obvious sadness; that it’s crying in the middle of your living room floor or bursting into tears when your boss looks at you sideways.

Those are often side affects of major depressive disorder, which is it’s own unique monster. I’ve crossed paths with that one before, but it’s the “mild depression” and I beg, beg, beg to differ with the idea that any depression is mild, that clips me at the knees. 

I wrote this post today because I got up and put pants on - but for some reason - perhaps the reason that I can seldom see but always feel - putting pants on felt like an accomplishment. 

So today, and many days, both behind me and probably ahead of me, the best I could do in a day is put pants on. 

But I’m going to do my best to celebrate those pants. And maybe even, if I can find it in myself, bedazzle the shit out of those pants.

 

Believe in your worth

Believe in your worth. 

I jotted down these words in my notebook as the speaker continued his presentation. I circled them, drew stars around, and more than anything, tried to do just that; believe. 

In my worth.

Worth.

I looked around the room at the other fitness professionals and wondered how many others questioned their worth. I don't think I was alone in chewing hard on this phrase - but looking at so many of my colleagues, in their twenties and thirties and mostly men - felt like I was in the minority.

I could be wrong, but I think women struggle differently with worth than men do. Not always of course - but often. 

The speaker was talking about finances - about literally believing in the value you provide to others and being willing to ask for money to be paid appropriately for your time, skills and knowledge. But it can be really difficult to believe your skills are worth someone else’s money if you struggle to believe in your own worth as a person. 

Researcher Brene Brown says that the practice of worthiness is about vulnerability. I mean, she does study vulnerability for a living so of course she says that…But she goes on to say that worthiness is about recognizing the voice of “never enough” and finding the courage and strength to persevere anyway.

Good enough

When I first started to hang a shingle as a photographer, I constantly battled the “good enough” mindset. Working in a camera shop, I saw plenty of photographers who were charging money for their work, and, in comparison, I didn’t think mine was that bad. 

But I still didn’t think I was good enough. When the local AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates hired me to take pictures, I refused to take their money. I was so surprised that they hired me that I accepted season tickets as my payment.

Season tickets that I didn't need because I had a pass to shoot the games from the dugout...

I mean you can't make that stuff up.

kimlloydfitness.jpg

I battled the same crisis of confidence over a decade later when I made the switch to fitness. I quit my job at Bates to take an unpaid internship in another state so that I could feel like I was good enough to do this fitness thing.

And yet still, at the end of almost every day for the past 40 years, I lean on the bathroom sink and look in the mirror. I scan my face, my crows feet, my laugh lines, that two inch chin hair that good lord, how have I missed plucking that?

And I struggle to believe that I'm good enough.

I write this post today, not because I want anyone to tell me that I am good enough - in fact - please don't. That message needs to come from within me. Just as it needs to come from within all of you.

It's up to me to work on my own worthiness. To meditate, to practice self-compassion, and to let go of comparison with others. But we all need a little help and support in keeping each other accountable for that kind of work too.

Sometimes I write what I call a head-nodding post. Nothing earth-shattering here. Perhaps just something that you read on your smart phone on your lunch break and think yeah - me too. I also feel that way. 

And maybe you think hey - me too - I'll work on the too.

Be strong. 

Be kind. 

Be gentle. 

What's the worst thing that could happen?

Fear is defined as "an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat."

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Or so says the Google when I look up the definition. 

One of the strategies for dealing with fear is to create a worst case scenario situation. I'd like to take this moment to differentiate between using a worst case scenario to eliminate fear, and jumping to irrational conclusions when someone is five minutes late. 

Text to Sheila: Why aren't you answering?

                        Are you in a ditch?

                       How will I know if you're in a ditch?

                       Me: googling the traffic on the highways

Text from Sheila: My ringer was off.

We call my alter ego Worst Case Scenario Wilma. 

But apparently, imagining a worst case scenario is also a useful strategy in managing fear. I remember using this strategy in high school when I was afraid I would fail a Trigonometry test. 

As it turns out, the worst thing that happened was that I failed them all, and realized my calling was in writing, as opposed to arithmetic. 

I decided to put this theory to the test of some current things that scare me. 

1. Heights.

I’m terrified of heights. Like, I watch something on t.v. where they show someone on a ledge and my legs feel funny. I suppose the worst case scenario isn’t actually heights, but falling off the ledge. Into a canyon. Thousands of feet down. To my death. Like Wile E. Cayote. 

That seems pretty bad. 

2. Snakes 

The worst case scenario if I encountered a snake would be….well….I'm too busy blacking out from panic to know what else might happen. 

3. Tarantulas

See above, but magnify it by 17,000. Then multiply that number by a billion.

And add infinity.

That.  

4. Looking stupid and falling on my face

Last year, Doug brought an Improv coach in to one of our team meetings. I had been wanting to take an improv class for a long time, but I when the exercises started, I felt like I was 15 all over again. I was terrified of looking stupid, and was self-conscious about everything I was saying and doing. 

Improv really requires you to let go of judgement and just react but I couldn’t. Stop. Overthinking. I've also really wanted to take a stand up class, but I have a similar fear.

If I run those two activities through the filter of what's the worst thing that could happen, well, I guess the truth is, the worst thing would be that I never tried, right? 

Which brings me to my last point.  

5. Not fulfilling my potential 

All kidding aside (though I am not kidding about the above), one of my greatest fears is not fulfilling my potential. I have a strong sense that I’ve got more in me to give to this world than what I’ve given to this point. I don’t know if that comes in the form of coaching, teaching, writing, or mentoring, but I feel like I’ve got more to give. 

As someone with a strong propensity for overthinking, I’m afraid I’ll spend more time spinning my wheels about what I should be doing that I’ll never get around to actually doing. 

Once again, the worst thing I can do is too much thinking and not enough doing. 

6. Elevators

What’s the worst thing that could happen if I got stuck in an elevator? 

Hahahahahahaha...ah....

You don't ever want to see that. 

Trust me.

 

 

Oh the stories we tell ourselves

Ever had someone completely call you on your bullshit?

I have.

Just the other day in fact. 

My number one skill, aside from dominating the sports category in Trivial Pursuit, is kicking the ever-loving crap out of myself.

I do it in multiple ways - physically at the gym, mentally at the end of the day, sometimes the beginning, and at least a handful of times in between.

 If I really wanted to be like Wonder Woman (this one came from Ireland - thanks Susan), I'd learn to be nicer to myself. 

If I really wanted to be like Wonder Woman (this one came from Ireland - thanks Susan), I'd learn to be nicer to myself. 

I do it for a multitude of reasons - because I didn’t do something as well as I thought I should have. Because I did do something I thought I shouldn’t have. I set high expectations and often come up short. 

Recently, I’ve been feeling badly about a lot of things - I’m not sure that it matters much what those things are.

And so a friend of mine called me out.

I mean called. Me. Out.

My private email signature has the following quote:

“One must be compassionate to oneself before external compassion.”  - The Dahli Llama 

She wanted to know, and I'm quoting her directly "what kind of b.s. is that quote when you don't feel that you deserve kindness for yourself?"

Um...well....

I told her that I have the quote on the bottom of my emails because I want to remind every single person I send an email to how important it is to embrace kindness for themselves. And I want to remind them that they are worthy of kindness and compassion.

And that unless they can do that for themselves, they’ll have a very difficult time doing it for someone else.

She just stared at me, unblinking, as I said this. 

"Yet you rake yourself over the coals over every mistake you make and every perceived flaw you can find?" she was somewhat incredulous. 

I didn't know what to say. 

The best I could come up with, after a lot of reflecting, is that I often look for ways to validate that I’m not a good person. Someone offers positive feedback and I brush it off - someone offers constructive or negative feedback and I use it as confirmation for that strongly held belief; which is ultimately, that I’m not deserving of kindness.

We’ve all constructed belief-systems about ourselves. That we’re unlovable, undeserving of happiness or kindness, that we don’t deserve success or love - I mean the list goes on and on. But just because we believe it doesn’t mean that it’s true. 

I don’t know what negative beliefs you might have about yourself. 

But today I’d challenge you to take a look at some of those belief systems - take a long, hard look at those old beliefs - and pretend, just for a half a second, that they aren’t true. 

I know, it’s tough right? 

It’s ok, try it anyway.

And I’ll keep trying to challenge my long-standing beliefs as well. 

Be kind. 

When you just don't feel like it

Not gonna lie - the hardest part about writing? Doing it when I don’t feel like doing it. 

Kind of like today.

I got up early, sat down at my desk and opened up a blank document. As I watched the fog roll over the meadow in my back yard, I did more staring than I did writing. I started, I stopped, I got up, I paced, I sat down again.

Finally I packed up my stuff and drove to my local Starbucks so that I could get at least an hour of writing in. 

I don't always manage to write when I don't feel like it, so what made me do it today?  

Well, according to my recent research on motivation, it’s probably meaning. And mastery. It’s important to me - very important to me - to become a good writer. I've always known that. 

It’s also very important to me that I write a book someday. 

I've known that too. 

My long term goal isn't what motivated me today though. Today, it was important to me that I get up and write a newsletter to all of you, because it's my goal to write to you every single week. 

So even though I really didn’t feel like writing today, I persisted because my goal has meaning to me. 

When I solicit suggestions for topics to write about, motivation is at the top of the list. Followed by finding time to workout. I understand not feeling motivated - I wrote a post awhile back discussing that anxiety and depression is often the fear of wasting your life but no urge to be productive. 

That can be a really difficult river to row some days.  

It’s the reason that finding your “why” becomes so important. 

I think what's changed for me recently when it comes to finding my why for writing a book, is this - I want my dad to be around to see it’s publication. 

I don't think I've always been aware of that. 

Now, he’s a very young 71 (almost 72), and there are no guarantees, but he’s had faith in me from day one that I’d write a book. I’m not writing the book for him - but I’m feeling very motivated to put something together and get it published when he can see it and feel proud. 

So what do you do when you just don't feel like doing something? 

Find the meaning in it for you. I mean peel off layer after layer after layer. 

And then peel off some more layers. 

It's not the possibility of success and money that fuels me to write my book. It's seeing a proud look on my dad's face and having him throw a sideways hug and telling me he's proud of me. 

What is it that gives you meaning? 

I'd love to hear from you.