Letting Go of Perfect

Letting go of perfect ~Paula Carrasquillo

source: Creative Commons by gnuckx

After posting Sociopaths, Approval and Victim Perfectionism yesterday, I thought I’d share how I discovered the root cause of my perfectionism, which I believe primed me for being a perfect target for the sociopath from my past.


Most of my adult life I was a perfectionist. I allowed myself very little wiggle room when it came to making mistakes. My perfectionism led to little mistakes becoming huge mistakes and little victories becoming completely diminished in my mind. I beat myself up over bad stuff and never gave myself any credit for the good stuff I created. Thankfully, I now understand the source of my destructive perfectionist thinking, and it has made all of the difference in finding my path in life.

As a child, I was a carefree and happy person. Despite my parents’ divorce and a few moves in elementary school, I was always able to push through the little and the big things with relative ease. I bounced back from change and disappointments like a spring.

At the age of 12 (puberty actually), my spring broke. One day I had an itchy and flaking scalp; the next I was being dragged to the doctor feeling completely ashamed. Psoriasis! Even the name sounds gross, huh?

I hated being associated with this condition. I hated when my friends would see my scaly elbows and say, “Ooh! What is THAT?! What’s wrong with you?!!” I had never gelt like such an outcast; it was crushing. I hated being preoccupied with hiding my little scaly patches on my knees, elbows, back and hairline. I hated avoiding activities like dancing for fear the costume would fail to cover me “just right.” I hated that my freedom seemed to be taken from me.

Early in my treatment, I knew that there was really nothing the dermatologist could do to help me. Sure, there was always a new lotion or cream to try. But they were just band-aids. And some of this crap stunk! I got so sick of it all. I stopped all prescription lotions and creams sometime in my early 20s. I became a Palmer’s cocoa butter girl. It helped to a degree, but because I felt helpless and like I had zero control over my skin, I pressured myself to expect nothing but the best in every other area of my life.

I had to get the best grades. I had to have the cleanest room. (If you had as many sisters as I do, you’d understand this one.) I had to have the best job. I had to be the perfect weight. I had to be the perfect wife. I had to be the perfect mother. I had to be perfect.

Period.

Being a perfectionist can lead a person to behave self-destructively. Perfectionists can suffer from a multitude of conditions including anorexia, bulimia, drug or alcohol abuse, binge drinking, obsessive compulsive disorder, and/or depression.

In two words: perfectionism sucks!

Why and how did I figure out that my inability to overcome my troubles stemmed from trying to be perfect? Like most people in denial about bad habits and addictions, I had to hit rock bottom. Once I did, I was finally determined to change and to never put my life and future at risk again. To accomplish this, I had to take a good hard look at myself in order to fix myself.

I inventoried my entire past, beginning with my childhood. I created a timeline of my happiest years and my most depressed periods. During happy times, my psoriasis flair ups were few. During unhappy times, my psoriasis flair ups could be best described as volcanoes, which left me feeling out-of-control, which led to me trying to fix myself with perfectionist thinking, which always failed, which led to extreme feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred, which led to self-destructive behaviors.

What a vicious cycle.

I soon realized that I had to shift my perception of the disease or continue being controled by it. I had to embrace my psoriasis (I’d be lying if I said I fell in love with psoriasis, but I have gotten as close to “being in love” as possible).  More importantly, I had to become dedicated to learning as much as possible about what psoriasis really is and how flair ups can be prevented in the first place.

While educating myself, I discovered and embraced mindful techniques and approaches to managing my condition. Yoga helps. Meditation and manifestation help. Sticking to a vegan/plant-based diet helps. Eliminating alcohol and sodas helps. Writing  helps. Talking about it helps. And the best part? Although I still have psoriasis (there is no cure), I do not allow the appearance of my skin to control me anymore. Flair ups happen, and that’s okay.

Through practicing simple acts of self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-love, I have been miraculously cured of my perfectionism and all of the distasteful side-effects related to that disease.

If you are a perfectionist and are tired of never reaching the peak of your potential, find out the source of your perfectionist thinking. Taking a good hard look at the source is the best way to eliminate this toxic thinking from your life and to start living more joyfully.

Namaste!
Paula Carrasquillo
yogi. author. advocate.

Become a Loyal Customer by August and receive FREE integrative health coach services

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Paula is an It Works! distributor! Select the image to shop Paula’s It Works store.

Invest in your future self, get a FREE integrative health coach, and begin transforming your mind, body, and spirit today!

I have been using the It Works! botanical body applicator for about three months. After 45 minutes and my first application, not only was my skin softer and firmer, the appearance of the cellulite on my thighs seemed to disappear like magic. I couldn’t believe the results and wished to pass along the chance for others to look good and feel good, so I decided to become a distributor.

In addition to offering Loyal Customers access to other It Works! products at a reduced price, I am offering 60 days of integrative health coaching services designed to nurture your mind, body, and spirit at no cost. FREE! Zero dollars! That’s $700 worth of products and services for a fraction of the investment.

By signing up before the end of July as a Loyal Customer, you will be taking advantage of the following:

>> 40% off the cost of wraps as a Loyal Customer
>> Firmer, softer, and visibly younger looking skin after your first application
>> Personalized health coach support for 60 consecutive days

Namaste!
~Paula

www.WrappedInCompassion.com

Easy tips to help you lose weight @commdiginews #exercise #weightloss #healthtips

Read my latest submission to Communities Digital News: 4 simple tips to start losing weight

BETHESDA, Md., June 28, 2014 — Overweight and unfit Americans know they are fat. They must, because memberships to gyms and fitness centers have reached 54.1 million, which represents a 6.4% year-over-year increase for the past five years.

Yet, this increase in gym memberships has not correlated with a decrease in the percentage of overweight and obese Americans. Those numbers continue to grow. According to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, roughly 69.1% of American adults 20 years and older are overweight or obese, an increase of almost 15% in 2 decades.

Weight loss is not easy nor is it cheap. Not every American can afford a gym or studio membership considering the average cost of gym membership hovers around $55/month. Yet, even those who can squeeze fitness into their budgets are not maximizing their return on investment. Read more.

http://www.commdiginews.com/health-science/4-simple-tips-to-start-losing-weight-20490/#pVvFI8csdxodjkEU.99

Yes, that’s my butt

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Select the image to learn more and become one of my first loyal customers!

It Works! wraps are infused with a botanical-based formula of natural ingredients, contain no animal by products, and were not tested on animals.

I have very sensitive skin due to psoriasis, which I have struggled to control since the age of 12. The It Works! wraps not only toned and tightened and diminished the look of cellulite on my most shameful body part (my butt!), the wraps also did not irritate my skin. Rather, the active ingredients of tea tree extract, horse chestnut, jojoba and a host of other natural ingredients had a calming and soothing effect on my often irritated and reactive skin.

With a single application, you will see and feel amazing results. Personally, I was amazed at how tightened and toned my upper thighs felt and looked. I didn’t feel as self-conscious as I usually do about walking around in shorts after a single application! It was very freeing.

In combination with a healthy lifestyle of exercise and mindful food choices, It Works! wraps provide long-lasting improvements to skin texture and appearance of cellulite.

I have been applying the wraps bi-weekly. I will post more pictures as my courage strengthens. In the meantime, consider getting started with your own wrap regimen by becoming a loyal customer. Learn more at my It Works! site and contact me if you have more questions.

Namaste!
~Paula C.
http://paulacarrasq.myitworks.com/shop/product/111/

letter to a sociopath who thinks he's god

A Letter to the Sociopath So He Can FINALLY Stop Worrying About Me

letter to a sociopath who thinks he's godDear Sociopath,

I feel so silly writing this. Why? Well, I know how much you always worried about me, and no matter how much I told you it was unnecessary to worry, you still worried. So even after you read this letter, you’ll probably continue to have those same worries, but I hope not. What kind of life is it to worry about little old me who isn’t even in your life anymore? I hope this letter, filled with details of my recent happiness, helps to ease your worries.

So here goes:

Remember that love story you kept begging me to write when we were together? Well, I wrote it!! And can you believe I am nearly finished a much longer follow-up book? My second book should be even more enlightening for those who found my first book so helpful. I know you’d be proud of me. After all, you always said I had a lovely way with words and shouldn’t waste my talents and skills. You were even able to talk me into deleting that silly family-related blog I started when my son was first born, explaining to me that I should focus on something more practical and worthy of my talents. Well, guess what? I did that too! Isn’t this a great blog? I even came up with a catchy name for it, too: Paula’s Pontifications. Pretty cool, huh? I thought you’d be impressed.

I’m sure you could never forget my son. You know my son, the gorgeous and lovable little 5-year-old boy you so generously allowed to play with your dog. (That was incredibly selfless of you, by the way, to let my child play with your delicate dog.) Regardless, he is doing incredible! He loves yoga and karate and wants to be a soccer star when he gets older. All those fears you had about me raising him wrong and your worries that I was jeopardizing his well-being, well, you can now rest assured that he’s safe and well-protected. He starts 3rd grade in a few weeks, and although he is the youngest in his class, he keeps up easily, even though he hates writing, but I guess we all can’t be perfect. Thanks for caring so much. Oh, and don’t worry about him being sad because he is missing you. He doesn’t even remember you.  Isn’t that great? No worries there, either. No loss of sleep for my little boy. Kids are so resilient, huh?

Best of all, I never had to sell my car or file for bankruptcy! I know how very concerned you were about me losing everything when I left you. After a few career bumps and obstacles, I was able to land an even better-paying job than I had before. Plus, with my increased writing and editing experience, I get an occasional freelance job. I think I am pretty close to making double what you were making. Isn’t that awesome? If you were still with me you could have definitely become that house boy you always dreamed of becoming. The chances of me ever becoming pathetic and dependent have narrowed considerably! Again, you can let go of all those worries and fears you had about me sabotaging my career. With over 100,000 words published online, I’m sure my marketability will continue to grow. I’ve truly been blessed in many ways over the last 30 months. Thank you so much for worrying that I would fail. You can stop now, because I didn’t fail. Instead, you can celebrate and have a maté for me!!

Oh, and your biggest fear about me self-destructing? You can finally let it go!!  I was able to quit drinking! Remember all those AA meetings you found and wanted me to attend because the ones I was attending were too far away from your house and you felt they took away too much of our time together? Well, I beat my alcohol dependency without AA meetings. I took what I needed from those meetings and worked with my husband who was more than willing to sacrifice some of his days and nights to hold my hand and pick me up when I fell down, real and figuratively. And since I no longer need alcohol to get through my days, I even kicked my depression and am no longer on any type of mood-altering medications!! I know how much you hated that I took medicine. Well, no need to worry about it anymore. I am whole again and better than before.

And remember all those times you tried to get me started with a workout routine? Well, I have one now! I don’t know what got into me, but one day I just went to a yoga studio and haven’t looked back! Maybe it has something to do with doing it on “my” time and not “our” time. It would have been impossible for my husband and me to have scheduled matching workout routines. After all, who would take care of our son if we were both at the gym at the same time? (Flexibility, collaboration and partnership…in case you need to know for the future. You’re welcome!) But anyhow–back to yoga. It has changed my life!! My entire body and mind and spirit have been transformed! I don’t even recognize myself some days. I know you tried to push me when we were together. Sorry our workouts didn’t work out. (I’m so funny now, huh? I even got my humor back!) But be happy for me now. I found something I love, and I begin yoga teacher training next month. My goal is to one day teach yoga to trauma victims, specifically I want to help women who survived and escaped abusive relationships, relationships that compromised their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. We all deserve to be whole again.

I’m sure you’re dying to let me know how proud you are of me, huh? No worries there. My husband, my son, my sisters, my parents and the wonderful and amazing new friends I have made are repeatedly telling me how proud they are of me.  Don’t worry, I am 100% appreciated, just what you always hoped for me.

So that’s my happiness in a nutshell. I hope you finally found what you’ve been looking for, too. Oh, but you already told me that you had found what you were looking for. I hope that’s still working out for you. I know how much it sucks to lose people you once loved.

Namaste!
Paula (a.k.a. Pumpkin. You might remember me by that name.)

(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/33284484715793320/)

yoga pose

The Most Important Part of My Healing and Continued Growth

yoga poseYoga! What is yoga and how can it help you?

I refer to yoga a lot. I have only been practicing yoga for 19 months. I began in October 2011 with a single goal–to heal my knee. I had been living with a bum knee since a car accident in 2002. Nine years of chronic pain was long enough, I thought, and I really wanted to avoid surgery. (I hate the idea of being cut open.)

I read and researched various therapy techniques and approaches to healing the type of injury I had sustained. I finally stumbled on a few testimonials from folks who had tried Bikram yoga.

Well, what do you know!? There was a Bikram studio just around the corner from my home, a studio I had passed many, many times and had never given a second thought.

I walked in one day, talked to the owner and signed up. The studio offered a deal for beginners: $20 for unlimited classes your first 7 days.

Being the skeptical, stubborn and determined person I am, I took 6 classes my first 7 days and couldn’t believe the results!

Not only did I heal my knee, I also realized that my overall health and well-being was getting healed along the way.

My mental and emotional health didn’t miraculously change in those first 7 days of practice. Not even close. It took about 6 months of dedicated attendance before I could feel, really feel, myself becoming a more focused, patient and life-loving person.

Yoga taught me how to listen to my breath, which led to listening to my heart.

(The following list of benefits was taken from this page:
http://yogalutionstudio.com/about-the-studio/what-is-yoga/)

A disciplined pracitce of yoga brings transformative effects:

Strengthens the body
Focuses the mind
Boosts serotonin levels
Decreases anxiety, depression and fear
Improves sleep
Enhances the immune system
Stabilizes blood sugar levels
Releases muscle tension
Prevents premature aging and illnesses

Yoga is the portal to preventative healthcare and a long healthy fulfilling life.

Remember, you don’t have to be flexible to benefit from yoga. Yoga is not a religion and isn’t intended to replace your current spiritual path. Yoga is meant to supplement whatever path you are on.

Namaste!
~Paula

(image source: http://pinterest.com/pin/223420831486804355/)

#2 Bikram Yoga: Half Moon Pose

Half-Moon Pose: Bikram Yoga from www.bikramyogakw.com/about/series/English (Sanskrit) pose name:
Half Moon Pose With Hands To Feet Pose (Ardha Chandrasana with Pada-Hastasana)

The first part of this pose (far left) LOOKS really easy, doesn’t it? As mentioned in my #1 Bikram Yoga post, all of the poses are easy as long as you breathe!

Touted Benefits

  • Improves abdominal strength and spine flexibility.
  • Releases stiff shoulders.
  • Firms and trims the stomach and waist line.
  • Aids in recovery of slipped or ruptured disc.
  • Improves circulation.
  • Strengthens the biceps of the thighs and calves.
  • Stretches the hamstrings and invigorates the entire nervous system.

Actual Experience

This posture has three parts corresponding to the images above.

Far-Left Image: Before bending to the right or to the left, the yogi stands with feet and knees together and arms extended above the head, interlocking all fingers except the index fingers, which point side-by-side to the ceiling. Lifting up through the spine and ribs, the yogi then stretches to the right, pulling the left side down using the strength of the right hand. The pose is repeated on the left side.

When I attempted this pose for the first time, it felt like my sides were being pulled apart. If I go to yoga feeling the least bit hungry or nauseous, this pose somehow takes that feeling away almost instantly! My waist IS trimmer and my thighs and calf muscles are more defined.

Middle Image: With arms extended above the head,  the yogi stretches up out of the spine, relaxes the head toward the ceiling and eventually to the back of the room, and leans back, shifting all weight into the heals.

One word: gravity. This part of the pose is all about gravity. There is no need to force ANYTHING in this posture. I am so far away from reaching the reach of the middle image above, but I still feel the benefits and felt improvement in my flexibility after the first month of practice.

Far-Right Image: Arms extended above the head, the yogi stretches up and hinges the body forward with a flat back. Once the fingers touch the floor, the yogi bends and loosens up each knee for a few seconds. The yogi squats down and wraps the arms around the backside of the calves, gripping the heels from behind so the baby fingers touch side-by-side. Finally, the yogi pulls on the heels and locks out the knees for a deep forward-bending stretch.

This final part is a relief from the previous backward bend. My calves and thighs are stretched to the maximum, and my arms and shoulders are strengthened equally.

Namaste!

Why Bikram yoga? Because it heals!

I’m often asked two questions from friends who discover that I practice Bikram yoga:
1. How did you get started with Bikram yoga?
2. What keeps you going back to Bikram yoga?

How did you get started with Bikram yoga?

bikram yoga poses found here: http://www.bikramyogainstitute.com/Once upon a time, I was a runner. I ran track in high school and earned an NCAA letter running cross-country in college. (Go FSU Bobcats!) As the years progressed, my knees took a beating, and I always HATED running during the winter months. Then in 2002, I was in a car accident and tore my medial meniscus in my right knee. I underwent arthroscopic surgery in 2004, but I never fully recovered my mobility 100%. Needless to say, I stopped running and resigned myself to low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and elliptical workouts.

Unfortunately, nothing I tried ever gave me the same “high” as running. I longed for something that challenged me and provided the same physical and mental stimulation I had once taken for granted with running. I began reviewing various workout options offered at health and fitness clubs: Zumba (too much like a stage performance), Pilates (too expensive), karate (too much competition from my son), boxing (too dangerous for the longevity of my face as it appears today), spinning (too much emphasis on the lower body), swimming (too much body hair to worry about), etc.

But I NEEDED to do SOMETHING to get fit before 40 and feel good about myself again. So, I started doing what anyone would start doing in my situation: I Googled. I did a simple Google search for “exercises that heal the body,” which resulted in a list of meditation-related sites. As I read through the pages, I refined my search to “exercises that use meditation and movement to heal.” From these results, I learned about Tai Chi, Qi-Gong (pronounced chee-gong), and yoga. This lead me to Bikram yoga, which lead me to Bikram Yoga Rockville just around the corner from my house.

Why do you like it so much? What keeps you going back to Bikram yoga?

Where to begin…

  1. The runner’s high – Yes.
  2. The obvious effect on my body – There is no doubt that I have lost weight and toned up tremendously since starting my practice 6 months ago. Who would walk away from an exercise that gives them the runner’s high AND helps them lose weight without actually running?
  3. The increased energy upon leaving the hot room – After spending 90 minutes in a room heated to 105 degrees, you would think a person would be so drained and lethargic that he wouldn’t be able to think of anything other than relaxing. Bikram yoga has the complete opposite effect. I leave the room feeling more alive and energized than when I entered. I may be thirsty but not ready for a nap, that’s for sure.
  4. The dichotomy of the experience – The postures and breathing exercises build upon each other consecutively. Although I feel like my sides are breaking in half-moon pose (#2 in the image above), I am feeling euphoric 45 minutes later coming out of my first camel pose (#22 in the image above). There is a distinct yin/yang or pain/pleasure moving between the agonizing task of holding a position and the peaceful release and “letting go” of savasanas (periods of rest and stillness).
  5. The people (yogis and trainers) – There is nothing more enjoyable than to share a “workout” with good people, really good people.
  6. The healing qualities – Each posture works a different muscle group, body part, and/or organ system. From stretching my muscles to working to balance my digestive tract, together the postures heal me. How have I been healed? I’ll be writing a post for each of the 26 postures and breathing exercises over the next 60 days (that’s an average of a new post every 2 days). Each post will detail the touted benefits and the actual benefits I have experienced.

Until then!

Traveling Yogi & Roller-Skating Queen

I have reached day 20 of my 30-day challenge. This past weekend I traveled north to attend my niece’s birthday party. Much to my joy, there was a Bikram Yoga studio just a few minutes from my in-laws home. So, before the party, I was able to get in a practice at Bikram Yoga Exton (BYE).

The Exton location has only been operating since November 2011. The ladies’ locker room was nice and spacious and VERY clean. The studio is also large and easily accommodated the 30+ students attending on Sunday. Kristin Sapp, the owner and instructor, became certified in 2011 and has some amazing abs, as you can see! Her clientele is growing rapidly, and soon she hopes to offer more classes to her already busy schedule.

Everyone I met at BYE was ecstatic about the opportunity to practice with Kristin and had individual stories of improved health and well being. One student told me that her mother recently completed a 60-day challenge in just 38 days (by doing doubles) and lost an amazing 20 pounds!!! (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to, folks. 🙂

Immediately following the class, I showered, dressed, and navigated myself to the roller rink where my niece and family were celebrating. Thinking I’d get an opportunity to rest and enjoy watching the kids (including my son) have fun skating, I was quickly informed that my skate rental was already paid for by my brother-in-law, so I had better “go get laced up!”

(Note: Once upon a time, I was a Girl Scout. Before leaving the troop, I earned my one and only badge in…can you guess? Yes, Roller Skating! I have always been proud of that silly little badge and make a point of telling everyone about it whenever I get the chance. Of course, I couldn’t keep quiet about the badge at roller rink, now could I? I told my son and he told his nephew who told his brother who told…You get the idea. I never guessed I’d be put to the test at a birthday party attended by 27 10-year-old kids!)

To start, I enjoyed a free skate with the rest of the guests as we listened to Rhianna, Adelle, and some other musicians I can’t remember. It was fun and very relaxing. Then the lights went up and the MC announced the start of the races. (Races? I’m not going to race a bunch of kids and beat them and feel like a cad for doing it. No way was I going to be THAT parent.) But somehow I was talked into racing the boys wearing in-line skates (seems they’re much faster than traditional roller skates) and a few of the other parents.

Around the first corner, I was behind a pretty fast kid and thought for sure I could take him in the lane. Suddenly, some other kid cut in front of him knocking him down in front of me. In a split second, I thought, “Oh, hell. I’m going to roll over this kids head and hurt him. I better just spread my legs and pray.” Amazingly, I missed hitting any vital parts of the boy like his head, guts, or other parts which can go unnamed. However, I ended up falling face first over top of him. I asked if he was okay. He muttered, “Yeah, but my fingers…” All I heard was “fingers” and immediately got up to finish the race. (If it was JUST his fingers, the kid could suck it up, right?) I finished last. The kid didn’t finish. He had his fingers wrapped in band-aids. I was sure to let his mother know that I was the one who damaged her kid’s fingers. 😦

Then the next game was announced…The Limbo!! My intention was just to help my son get under the pole. But somehow I became a participant. And the poll kept getting lower and lower, and more and more kids were eliminated. Then it came down to two: me and a skinny, little 10-year-old girl who is in training to be an Olympic figure skater. I had no chance! And for once this evening, I was correct. I just couldn’t squat down low enough. Broke my heart! But the party was awesome! Happy birthday, Bella! 🙂

Day 1: A pedicure’s life

Day 1 yoga toes

Day 1 yoga toes

Yesterday was day 1 of my 30-day Bikram Yoga challenge. Some may think I am doing this to lose weight, which makes sense. Most people who add extra days of exercise to their already busy calendar are doing it to get into shape or lose weight over a short period of time. For me, it’s not about losing weight or getting into shape. (I’m sure both will happen naturally, but it’s not the goal.) The goal for me is to just do it, like the Nike ads and Yoda encourage. So there will be no before-and-after pictures of my tush and belly squeezed into my pants and sweaty bra. Sorry.

However, because I love and I know other folks love before-and-after photos of weight loss and or makeovers, I will capture and present before-during-and-after photos of the pedicure above.

I have zero predictions of how well the pedicure will survive. I don’t know how much punishment it will receive from the sweating and sliding of toes across the mat, rug, and towel. I don’t know if the paint will chip gradually or peel off one practice unexpectedly due to falling out of a pose or getting stomped on by another yogi’s toes. I have no idea.  It’s going to be as much of a surprise to me as it will be to you.

Oh, some of you may be asking, “Paula, why did you choose such a God awful color?” Good question. Thanks for asking. Here’s why:

“Colors mean more to us than simply pigment. They are forms of energy, and as such speak to us and interact with us on a nonverbal level. In a very real way, life is color. Color affects every part of our lives, our emotions, our health.” (from The Meaning of Colors)

Lavender symbolizes femininity, grace and elegance. I want to be reminded of these qualities as I struggle each day with my motivation and desire to meet my challenge.

Namaste!

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