It's March! Let's Talk Yin Yoga, Guided Meditation, and Other Stuff...

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Happy Day-Before-Friday and first day of March! March has always been one of my favorite months, even though there is a very tough anniversary tomorrow. Where my life always seems to find direction in February, March is where it seems to gain momentum. I'm actually pretty jazzed to see where this month goes!

I did get another email from my ex-husband last night, funnily enough while I was at my Yin Yoga class, and we'll talk about it briefly at the end of this post, but I don't want to keep devoting endless screeds on here talking about it. I'm exhausted, and while I want to expose what's going on and keep everything out there, 99% of my life is doing other things besides dealing with my ex. 

So let's talk about that!

Since my move to Georgia, my anxiety has increased tremendously, and became profoundly worse when my kids went back to Chicago, with a pretty gnarly bout of depression attached to it. Because I have a generations-long history of substance abuse on both sides of my family, I am very reticent to reach for pharmaceutical help when it comes to my anxiety and sleep issues. While my addiction switch hasn't flipped with alcohol or pain killers when I've had to be on them, I am petrified that something like benzos or other habit forming anti-anxiety drugs will flip it. Both of my parents had substance abuse end their lives, so let's be clear, I am a genetically ticking time-bomb. 

Also because of my family history, I am very physically active, probably almost too much, and at almost 39, things hurt. I have a chronic hip injury that will one day need replacement, a spine full of bone spurs, and the general brokenness from being an athlete for 32 years. Again, I don't want to eat Advil like Skittles, so I was looking for something to help with pain and aid in recovery so I could still push myself. 

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Enter the life saving practice of Yin Yoga. You can get specifics, here, but in a nutshell Yin Yoga is a gentle practice of holding poses for extended periods of time to condition your connective tissues. I prefer a gentle practice like this or Hatha Yoga over things like Vinyasa Flow or Ashtanga Yoga. The more athletic practices stress me out. 

Whereas Yin doesn't ask you to push, it asks you to let go. You get into a pose, for example, like a simple forward bend, and you just breathe and let go as your body naturally releases whatever it's holding on to. Some classes and videos incorporate a little guided meditation into the usually hour long practice in order to help your mind let go of whatever you're carrying around, and typically the body will follow. 

I have to admit, when I'm stressed out, I really struggle in the first half of my class. Last night, I just had too many things spinning around my brainspace and I was probably feeling the bad email juju waiting for me on my phone. However, by the end of my class, I felt fantastic and light. It feels like you've just had an intense full-body massage. 

There are also weight-loss benefits to having a regular gentle yoga practice. You don't have to kill yourself baking in a hell room in crazy poses. You can get your science on and read the comprehensive study, here. To summarize, people lose up to 30% more weight with a regular yoga routine. I've lost a considerable amount of weight since starting a regular practice last fall. It's believed the stress reduction limits the amount of cortisol in the body which is a hormone that likes to make you hold onto fat, as well as eliminating food and alcohol cravings. Personally, I can tell you there are huge differences in me week to week depending on how much I'm able to practice. On weeks I'm busy and traveling a lot and can't get to class, my anxiety increases, and I eat and drink garbage, then I feel like garbage, and it begins the irritation/release anxiety cycle. 

When I'm able to get to class twice or more a week, I crave hydration, better food, and I want to smell like lemongrass. The lemongrass thing is weird, but I think you know what I mean. My anxiety  also exists at a more quiet and manageable baseline. 

I am not a very good at-home Yogi and need the guidance of a class, but I've seen great videos you can check out on Amazon Video and YouTube. 

After some of my Yin classes, I participate in a Guided Meditation class. Guided Meditation is a form of mind-focus that utilizes imagery to either relax or focus. Sometimes it's called 'self hypnosis'. I love this because, I have a brain like a hamster on a wheel, so I can't just sit in a quiet room and go blank. Even with guided meditation, I'm going through lists and tasks in my head for the first 10 minutes, but having someone talking to you helps keep you in the moment and bring you mind back to the place of focus. 

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I suffer from horrible insomnia. Again, I am not a fan of medications for this because of my family history, and the one time I was on Ambien, I drove 26 miles and had no memory of it. So I stick to herbal tea (Yogi Caramel Sleepytime is LEGIT) melatonin, and benadryl on tougher nights. To help me relax and fall asleep, I play my guided meditation playlist on Spotify. My favorite is "Guided Meditation for Restful Sleep" by Bonnie Groessl. It definitely gets me to sleep much faster than if I let my mind wander and end up Googling answers to strange questions I think about. 

Both of these combined have helped other things that make me anxious like driving long distances and competing. It's also made me procrastinate less. I'm still a tightly wound nutcase, but at least now I'm able to recognize when I'm amped up, start breathing, and focus my way through it. 

I've been having some acute bouts of anxiety lately with what I've written about the last month or so, and I am seeing a physician later this month to see if there are some medical interventions possible. While my yoga and meditation practice has helped tremendously, it's not appropriate for acute in the moment anxiety and panic. 

Hopefully, these can help you whether you just want to relax a bit, or you're looking for ways to manage some everyday anxiety. Again, if you're having legit panic or extreme anxiety, you have to talk to someone and get better interventions. This will help take some of the edge off, but if it's bad, it needs to be paired up with other treatments. I know dealing with medical stuff is expensive and a hassle sometimes, but you wouldn't put off seeing the doctor if you had a gaping wound... 

Speaking of gaping wounds...

I got another email last night. This time at 8pm so it's not late or anything (eyeroll)... but not any less bonkers. I read it after my yoga class, and it just made me so tired. Like, dude, just stop. What are you fighting for? What is your end game, here? What are you trying to win? 

This is why I ignore him so much. He doesn't deserve this much rental space for free. So it puts me in this space of where I need to be vocal and public about it, but I'm tired and just want to ghost the fucker. So here's his latest screed...

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Lol, WUT. I just... I'm... I... Uh... well... Huh? Wouldn't you lead with a bombshell like this instead of pivoting to it? Yesterday's email was all about me 'cycling' and starting a public rage-war because he didn't 'want me anymore' because I abused the kids that weekend and I'm just like my mother. Now it's because I'm a sick two timer who broke the family's heart? I can't keep up. I'm being kept from my kids why? Like it's just a vague, "BECAUSE!" This lunatic needs to pick a damn lane, already. 

Again, even if every single one of these 'festos was 110% rooted in fact, it doesn't at all justify abuse and harassment. Call me a depraved piece of shit and move on. Key words here... MOVE ON. 

And Eric? Sweetheart? We are a group of freaknasties and catladies established in 2010. If you're going to be the #1 fan of this site and podcast, you need to be up to date on the lingo. 

Anyway, here's my response to his email. 

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Well... the internet never forgets. I wrote about that weekend here. I acted like a hellbeast the whole time I was back because I was miserable with the man in his disgusting house. I got through it because it was important to my daughter to have this united front birthday party. I behaved so badly, I was embarrassed for myself, but I couldn't hide my utter contempt and disdain for the man. I came home reeking of smoke and a backache from sleeping on one of the nasty livingroom couches. Even after all of that good 'co-parenting' juju the month before, I can't fake it til I make it with him on ANY level. None. Zero. Zilch, and I behaved accordingly. 

I wrote about that earlier this week. Because of the way he is, I can't even 'go along to get along' so to speak. Blended families, co-parenting, and everyone raising children as friends is a great concept, but never possible for us. Ever. A few visits ago, I bribed him into letting me see the kids by taking all of us out for a big expensive dinner. It was fine, we had a fun time with the kids. When I dropped everyone off at the house, he followed me to my rental car and tried to move in for the kiss... he got a Duggar kinda side hug. He went into a rage. 

New Year's Eve we agreed to bury the hatchet and try coparenting in the new year on the right foot. By the time my plane landed, I was bombarded with pics and texts berating me that I couldn't enjoy a nice night with my family because I was too busy sucking my boyfriend's dick. 

In that blog post, I was pretty frank about where my decision to come back to Chicago put my relationship. I changed the entire plan we agreed upon. We hadn't made a new plan or even knew what the future held for us, but our love never stopped being rock-solid, and it still is. The rest is nobody's business. Especially my ex's. 

And for the record, there was no car to drive because it was in the shop. So.... 

I was such a monster my last time back, because it was a stark wakeup call to how much I've grown, matured, and changed as a person over the last five years. I know exactly who I am and what I want. I can't tolerate behavior that goes against any of that. We did have a conversation about perhaps getting a huge house and raising the kids together (I went along with it because whatever, it was 2 days I had to get through for my kid) and it was like this realization washed over me as I looked around the conditions of his house... it was the same filth I walked into when I met him 15 years ago. He has not grown, matured, or changed and he never will. If this fantasy of his played out... I'd be working like a dog to maintain perfection while he endlessly picked me apart about how I fell short and needed to do MORE. I would become an alcoholic within a month. I cannot tolerate the man sober. It's a two-drink minimum to be in the same space.

Fuck that entirely forever. Never. Again. 

I don't want to be nice to him, I don't want to need an IV of wine to cope,  I don't want my hair to smell like smoke, and I don't want to share shit with him. So the meltdown began soon after I returned from that weekend, and here we are. Only this time, I'm not going to keep trying to make things copacetic for the kids. I'm not going to wait for him to 'turn it around', I won't rejoice and have hope when he can string together a few days of acting 'normal'. 

As I wrote earlier this week... there will be no trust. Ever. I was wrong to have hope for so long. Hope is going to get me killed. 

Anyway, fuck him!... well not literally... Tomorrow is that hard anniversary for me, so that will be tomorrow's blog topic. It's actually the post about love I wanted to share on Valentine's Day I postponed because of the Parkland shooting. It feels like a great way to end the week. I also have to put on human clothes and have a pretty important meeting with a television network, so if you have some good juju to sprinkle my way here in Atlanta, I'll accept! 

This weekend is also full of adventure. I'm beginning Krav Maga on Saturday, so basically, I'm gonna be a trained assassin. Look out...

Have a lovely day, trolls...sorry...I had to...

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Jennifer Gulbrandsen