Adrienne Masler

Lessons in Home-Grown Magic

May 11, 2015
by amasler
2 Comments

Coming Out of the Mental Health Closet

Perhaps 2 months ago, some insights and realizations I’ve been slowly collecting for months and years finally clicked into place. I’m depressed and burnt out and have been for about 4 years.

In the immediate aftermath of this blinding realization, I only knew one thing for sure: I needed to cut WAY back on the activities of daily life. I was overwhelmed by finally identifying what was going wrong and it knocked the wind out of my sails. For several weeks I found it difficult to think clearly and logically, never mind getting up and taking action. At present, I’m not actively coaching or doing anything to build my practice. I’ve also asked for help from my partner, family, and friends and am blessed to have received it. My number one job is to take care of myself so that I can rest and recover from burnout and heal my mind.

The story of how I came to be depressed is also the story of how I could remain blind to it for so long. I want to tell this story in full and do it justice, but for now I will say that my whole world turned upside down when I found out I was pregnant despite having an IUD. Things changed so dramatically in both my inner and outer life that I lost my sense of continuity and the deep self-awareness I’d had up until that time. See, I expected my life to be difficult given these radical new circumstances, but I had no inner gauge for how hard was too hard. When people would ask how I was, I’d shrug and tell them I was doing as well as could be expected. I really believed that and had no way of knowing that in saying so, I was lying to myself and others. Dismantling that lie took years, and there are many reasons for that. I’ll share more about that process in the future.

Both my doctor and my counselor agree that depression is an accurate diagnosis. The most important things I’m doing to take care of myself are getting acupuncture regularly, going to counseling regularly, asking for help with the logistics and responsibilities of daily life, drinking plenty of water, and knowing when to call it quits for the day so I don’t undo my progress. As things improve, I’ll build on this foundation. I’m not currently on any medication or supplements; it doesn’t seem to be indicated at this point and I want to proceed with caution if it’s recommended in the future.

I haven’t told many people because figuring out that I’m depressed was such a shock to my understanding of myself and the choices and plans I’ve made. A couple months out, I’ve adjusted and can more or less wrap my head around it. Having done that, I want to start sharing my experience with depression and my journey from this point on. It’s my hope that putting my story out there will help others and become part of a badly-needed conversation about mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

This post is meant as an FYI to those who haven’t heard from me in a while and are wondering what’s going on. It’s also an invitation for questions and conversation about depression and postpartum depression in general and my situation in particular. If you have support to offer, I will gratefully receive it. If you need support, I’d be happy to listen to your story and share the resources that are helping me so far. Reaching out can be hard, but it’s not as hard as the daily struggle with depression. None of us are alone unless we choose to be.

March 18, 2015
by amasler
0 comments

The Biggest Problem With Being A Control Freak

Hi, I’m Adrienne and I’m a control freak.
Does that surprise you as much as it surprises me? Card-carrying control freaks are probably grabbing pitchforks and torches to come after me right now.
I never meant to become a control freak. I’m certainly not a Type A. I have a vision of myself as relaxed, easy-going, and enthusiastic about all the right things.
In fact, it wouldn’t be fair to call me a control freak across the board. I’m pretty relaxed about what my son does, don’t feel the need to direct every minute of his playtime, and I trust him to know his own limits. I look out for the ways to best support my clients, but they’re all grown-ups and I can leave the responsibility for them doing their own work squarely in their camps. (You’re all awesome, by the way, and I’m honored to be your coach!) I’m certainly not obsessive about the state of my house or the way housework gets done.
But when it comes to other areas of my life, I certainly am a control freak. I have expectations about how my relationships function and if there’s ever a hint that one won’t function exactly that way, I freak out and start trying to fix it to my specifications. I don’t just want to live my life in a state of flow, I want to make the flow happen right now, which of course makes it impossible. I don’t just want to live my calling and make a difference, I want to feel supercharged in every moment. When that inevitably fails, I beat myself up for not being creative enough.
Broken egg with angry face on floor.

Birth of a control freak: You broke me! How dare you! Never. Again.

And that right there is exactly the problem: creativity. The thought behind my being a control freak is, “If I don’t know what is going to happen, the outcome will be bad.” Now, I’ve been surprised by some truly wonderful things in my life, but anytime I’ve been surprised by something bad, I’ve turned into a control freak. A relationship I thought would last forever goes south? I start trying to control my relationships. I’m not sure what I want to do and spend years in trial and error mode, most of it miserable? I start trying to control my calling and contributions.
What happened here? I’ve lost the sense of good possibility. The Universe failed me once, so I’m going to take the reins and make sure that never happens again. Can anyone say “trust issues”?
But…
As I keep saying, we each get what we ask for with our whole hearts. My being a control freak is a way of saying, “Don’t let anything bad happen to me again.” My imagination is focused on avoiding anything I’ve determined in advance will be bad. I’m so busy being fearful that I’ll lose what I have that it’s hard to even think about having more. I’ve effectively shut out any good surprises, because all surprises (good and bad) come in through the same door.
Which makes me think about Pandora’s box. Hope was in the box too. Where’s my hope? I’ve been, to use an old phrase, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Instead of asking what my lesson was from those “bad” things that happened to me, I allowed my fear and pain to turn me into a grasping, uptight control freak. Interesting to note that when anything “bad” immediately and obviously turned into something “good”, I haven’t become a control freak.

Diagnosis: Clinging to fear, unsupported faith in my own ability to control my life in every way, and lack of imagination.

Prescription: Revive imagination in my life, especially where I’m being a control freak.
How? Stay tuned…
Is there some part of your life where you’re being a control freak? What’s underneath that?

February 8, 2015
by amasler
0 comments

Do You Love Yourself?

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day when this question came up, and his answer was no, but he’s working his tail off to be a better person.

The resulting conversation reminded me of my own objections to being told to love and accept myself first. “Isn’t acceptance tantamount to complacency? Won’t I just be stagnant if I start with loving myself before I’ve actually done anything?”

I think those objections are pretty common. (Tell me where I’m wrong?) But… I’d also never seen them addressed to my satisfaction, either. Maybe I’ve been blind/deaf, or maybe I just never encountered someone who explained it in a way I could understand, but when I finally stumbled, bit by bit, onto the explanation for WHY loving yourself is so important, I was breathless.

Complacency

Once upon a time, I worked as a lifeguard at my local YMCA. Between the general challenges of running a non-profit exercise facility and some personnel challenges specific to this location, the only changes the pool area had seen in years were basic maintenance and repairs. And it showed: The paint was dull, stained, and peeling in places. We were constantly having to mop up puddles from the low areas of the deck so people wouldn’t slip. There was no good place to store equipment, and certain supplies were old and falling apart. Most of my shifts were during lap swimming hours, so I had plenty of time to observe how the place was slowly disintegrating around me. The thought that crystalized and stuck with me was, “If you’re not going forward, you’re going backward.” The pool at the Y gave me a visceral lesson in the importance of choosing growth… because if you’re not growing, you’re just fixing things as they break, working hard just to stay in one place.

The world keeps changing around us, and even the activities and emotions of daily life will slowly break us down over time unless we’ve chosen to orient our change toward growth. Decay is a sign of neglect, and neglect is born of complacency. Complacency is a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better (thank you, Merriam-Webster). In other words, to be complacent is to deny the reality of change.

Acceptance

Acceptance is the ability to look at yourself, others, and the world around you and say, “This is the way it is.” True acceptance isn’t an emotion; there’s no resignation, satisfaction, or complacency involved. On the other hand, to be unaccepting, to say that this thing that is should not be, is to create resistance. Resistance and friction inhibit growth. Acceptance never proclaimed change impossible or undesirable, because the inevitability of change is something to be accepted as well as the reality of the present situation. Acceptance precedes growth because it removes mental and emotional obstacles to growth.

Love

Have you ever watched someone who really loves their work? Your grandma in her garden or kitchen, perhaps. Your neighbor who babies his classic car. The mom or dad you know who was just born to be a parent. Anyone in any profession who just seems more alive than the people around them. What do these people have in common? They’re proactive. The classic car guy isn’t going to wait until something breaks to tune up his ride. Grandma isn’t going to wait until her garden is bone dry and choked with weeds to cultivate it. A loving parent tries to anticipate their child’s needs and seeks to care for and understand their child day in an day out. And if you ask anyone like this why they do what they do, their response will boil down to one word: love.

Love makes things grow. Love gives you joy, inspiration, energy, creativity, motivation, persistence, and so much more.

I just realized that whenever I’ve been in love in this way, whether it was taking care of a sick child, comforting a friend, writing something powerful, coaching, singing, hiking, or some other experience, I feel it in my hands. It’s like love takes over my hands and makes them gentle and strong at the same time, able to do whatever needs to be done.

Motivation

There are 2 kinds of motivation in the world: forced and what I’m going to call “organic” motivation. Forced motivation could be having a proverbial (or actual) gun to your head, but more often it looks like what we fondly call willpower. “I should eat salads, but delicious cheesy Mexican is off the table.” “I should work out.” “I should go back to school.” And then you go out and use some combination of carrots (bribes/rewards) and sticks (self-punishments) to try to force yourself to comply. People who are used to living this way often think that forced motivation is the only kind, and that they won’t have any motivation at all if they stop using their willpower.

Organic motivation, on the other hand, flows naturally into your life when you love. When you love someone or something, you act to take care of it. This looks like taking care of a sick child, walking your dog, my boyfriend tinkering with his computer, not minding in the slightest when your friend needs a place to crash for a week and then gets sick while he’s staying with you. It’s simple, straightforward, and powerful. When you love, loving action is the path of least resistance. When you love, it would be difficult to stop yourself from doing what your loved one needs when it’s a need you can honestly fill. When you learn to love yourself this way, you won’t need carrots and sticks anymore.

Do you love yourself?

Loving yourself might mean developing a new relationship with yourself, a new habit for interacting with and taking care of yourself. It’s simple but not easy, and I’d love to explore this with you if you’re longing to love yourself but aren’t sure where to start.

January 30, 2015
by amasler
0 comments

I Just Want to Write

From the time I was very young, I’ve been utterly convinced that I have a mission in life. But I’ve never yet been able to really grasp it. I’ve become a seeker, always on a quest to learn more about myself and about the world and to finally understand my mission. In my head, I picture me running this race I don’t know the distance of. Every time I think I’ve gotten close to the finish, the line has moved. But I’ve always believed that there is a finish, and it’s that magical moment when everything becomes clear: I am on Earth to do (this one specific, challenging, engaging, life-changing project). There’s another race to run after that, obviously, because then there’s work to be done. But I ache for the first finish line because I just want to roll up my sleeves and get to work already.

Lately I’m wondering if I haven’t been thinking about it all wrong for years. Maybe my mission isn’t something concrete and definable. Maybe I’m a seeker and always will be. Maybe my mission isn’t to find work to do, but a state of being.

Not everyone is born with this crazy-making sense of drive and murkily-defined purpose. I know there are others out there like me, but most people will probably read the first couple paragraphs and think I’m crazy. That’s ok. But one of my very firmly held beliefs is that everyone is born into this world with something to learn and something to share. I’ve done a lot of learning. You could even say I’m addicted to it. But I haven’t done a lot of sharing. At least, not the kind of sharing I really want to do. I’ve been putting that off, thinking I wouldn’t have anything impactful or important to share until I found my mission. But hey, this journey is important too. Maybe there’s something about it that can help someone else.

This is a weird and oddly personal post for a business blog, I know. There are surely many, many marketing mavens and blogging gurus who would tell me so. But this is what I want to be putting out there. I love coaching. Adore it. Coaching changed my life and I am positively giddy every time I’m able to help someone else change theirs. Lately though I have a growing sense that coaching is only one piece of my puzzle, that there’s something beyond that, something deeper that I’m meant to share. I still have no idea what it is, but my craving to share is growing exponentially.

So. I’m taking a bit of a risk and putting this whole confusing, messy process out there, publicly. I’m not sure what will happen. Probably I’ll write my way to greater clarity in front of some kind of audience, and hopefully there will be something touching, useful, or maybe even eye-opening for at least one person in my musings. I don’t know if I’ll write my way into that niche everyone says I’m supposed to have. I don’t know if this blog will remain my primary forum for writing like this. Quite possibly I am just not able to imagine the next incarnation(s) of this blog right now.

And that’s ok. Right now, I don’t need answers. Right now, I just want to write.