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life

On Showing Up

On Showing Up

I have a strange love of blogging when I am anxious…it’s like all the super creative juices get flowing and BAM! The inspiration hits me and you are reading one jazzy blog post.

Not this time folks, you’ve got yourself a “Tessa forgot her book before boarding her plane post and refuses to check her emails for three glorious hours.”

Anyways I digress and I am sure the editor of I Am Tessa, Amanda, would warn me that this is not the ideal way to start a blog.

Life’s been a bit messy, beautiful and overwhelming more so than ever before. I mean 22 year old running a nonprofit, operating in two different cities between two time zones with 4 schools, 1600 students, 4 ASSET Coaches, 2 interns….you get it.

I love running ASSET. I love equipping schools with the tools to help their students work through anxiety. It’s important work, but it’s probably the furthest thing from “easy work”. Some days it feels damn near impossible and I’d really like to cry about what I’ve gotten myself into, but instead I show up.

I show up.

Again.

And again.

And when I feel I’ve had just enough of showing up to the hard stuff, I show up some more.

A couple of weeks ago, I jumped on a call with one of my dear friends, Pavel.

Pavel, right now is showing up in Uganda running Mindfullwe, an organization equipping community members to be lay health workers to fill the gap of under resourced mental health services.

Pavel and I like to consider us honorary team members of each other’s organizations. If an organizational role could be “head cheerleader”, Pavel would fill that for ASSET and I’d be that for Mindfullwe.

We talked about how tough it was for Pavel to live in Uganda coming from Denver, and launching a brand new mental health organization—but my friends; he is showing up amongst the damn near impossible.

Pavel’s Tough Shit: Moving to a new country with no family or friends. Building partnerships with government organizations. Re-designing a training manual originally for India for Uganda. Fundraising. Kick-starting a mental health organization. NOT EASY.

Mine: Running a nonprofit for the first time. Fundraising. Building school partnerships. Writing curriculum. Training teachers. Onboarding coaches and interns. Launching a case study with the largest school district in Colorado. Living between two places. DIFFICULT.

We found ourselves reflecting that it was strange for two VERY anxious people, Pavel living with OCD and myself with the super-rad cocktail of anxiety disorders, chose one of the most anxiety-provoking life choices: entrepreneurship.

We called ourselves masochists. Laughed about it. Slightly cried about it (or at least I did).

During our call, I realized something that my very brave friend, Pavel and I, do well is we show up even when life scares the shit out of us.

Maybe one of the beautiful things about growing up with such severe anxiety disorders is that I’ve known nothing but showing up, again and again and again? If I’ve wanted to do anything, ever, in my life, I’ve had to show up despite how anxious I was feeling.

Bless the anxiety disorders once again.

So what is this “showing up” she speaks of?

Showing up is saying, “I see you pain, I honor you tears, and I am afraid of this seemingly impossible situation, but I am doing my best (whatever that is) and that is all anyone can ask of me.”

Showing up is never about being perfect. It’s meeting the pain with all you’ve got; all of your heart. I think when we meet the tough stuff with the whole heart, the unexpected happens and mountains move. Not because it was easy, but because we simply had the courage to do something most wouldn’t: honor the fear and meet it with love.

I am about to show up to ASSET’s partner school in Harlem on their first day of implementing our curriculum. Am I excited? Kale yeah! Am I anxious? Slightly. Is it going to go perfectly? Nope— nothing ever does on the first day. Will I show up despite all of this? Damn straight.

And I’ll do it again, and again.

Because that’s all we can ever do is show up—it’s all we can ask of ourselves.

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Tip: It's easier to show up to tough stuff when you borrow a dog to come home to. 

 

How I Continue To Ditch Anxiety

How I Continue To Ditch Anxiety

I'm not going to lie, I still live with anxiety.

Those mental worries lately have me face-planting into dark chocolate all while I throw spinach or kale into every dish I cook and hook myself up to an IV of kombucha (or as I prefer to call it 'buch.). I've been reconnecting to my breath as tears shed. But mostly I find myself on my knees wondering, "why the hell did this anxious gal choose to be an entrepreneur and publish a book?" 

When I wrote, I Am Tessa, I eloquently word-vomited my entire life's story of growing up with anxiety. But now I find myself as a young adult trying to figure this out and want to scream aloud #adultingishard. Something I am continually amazed by is that my 19 year old self figured it out: life is only hard if we choose to see it as such. Focus on the messy thoughts and messy life happens. *pats self on back*

Yet I find it very easy to return to messy thoughts, to dive into gluten-free paleo cookies (because that must mean they are healthy, correct?), or to flight my fears by doing as many push-ups or burpees till my body gives out. What I've realized is that I, myself, and I believe many others do to get so caught in the day-to-day that we forget to see the magic around us. We forget to take time to do the little things or we do them without much thought. 

When I do experience anxiety, it's because I have gotten lost in past mistakes or am worrying about futures ones. So it's the little acts of health, friendship, and love that ground myself down and continue to ditch that pesky fight or flight response. 

These tips are what I've found to be of help lately: 

1) Hydrate

Simple and sweet. There are little things we forget about throughout the day that actually sends our bodies into the stress response like not enough water. I'm also currently obsessed with the 'buch (kombucha). That's right folks this green juice gal has gone rogue on fermented tea—all hail good gut health, which brings me to my next point...

2) Take Care Of Your Gut

There's a reason our gut called our second brain and we have those "gut feelings". Some foods that keep me healthy and happy: sauerkraut (put it on avocado toast, I dare you), bone broth, eat yo' veggies and fruits, and did I mention grab a glass of 'buch?  P.S. you can even make it yourself! 

3) Move With Ease

Let go of the phrase "no pain, no gain". Tension-based movement also tells our bodies to engage the stress response. Soften. Focus on your breath. Move how it feels good for you. Trust me, it's a lot more fun to wiggle your way through yoga than just hold a pose. 

4) Be Mindful Of The Magic 

As I poured all my worries onto my dearest mentor the other day, Kate, she responded with, "But Tessa, look at all that you've manifested!" It took me a moment, but as I thought it over and realized that there are so many small moments of magic that I overlook (and I know I am not the only one). The small magic moments can simply be a friend I've been thinking about then they text me spontaneously. Or for me, it's the number 88. Shows up everywhere, maybe it's because I am aware of it, but I like to believe it's my magic reminder that I am right where I am supposed to be.

There is so much life happening as a child, as a teen, as an adult, but isn't that beautiful? Scared and excited share a fine line. Which side of the line will you choose? This gal is choosing excited with a little help from the tools above, sweating it out in yoga, and calling upon friends and mentors for emotional boosts.

Join me?

Grab your copy of I Am Tessa on Amazon!