Experiments in Health and Wellness

by a Human In Recovery

June 2013: 28 Days To A New Me – Round 2, Day 10

Since it’s been over two weeks since my last post, the few of you who have been following this journey of mine may be wondering whether I’m sticking with my program. Let me assure you that I am. As a matter of fact, it’s part of the reason I’m not posting here or on my Human In Recovery blog more frequently. The other two factors are lack of regular access to a functional computer and that I’m battling life circumstances and mental health symptoms, which make using my phone to blog even more of a challenge than normal.

I’m posting a bit more regularly on my Human In Recovery FB page and the apps I’m using to track exercise and nutrition are tweeting @HumanInRecovery – I think. Twitter and I remain mere acquaintances instead of social confidants, so I’m not really much of a tweeter. I have also been uploading short videos onto the Human In Recovery YouTube channel. I’ve missed posting days 6, 7, & 9 (nothing recorded for day 8), but I’m working on getting those put together and posted soon.

June has been more challenging for me, all the way around, in most areas of my life.

During May, I still had my adult daughter and her boyfriend staying here, so it was easy for me to just go walking or swimming while everyone else was still sleeping, secure in the knowledge that my 4 year old was safe and cared for while I focused in self-care. They moved out a week and a half ago.

When the 28 Days began in May, my SO was out on the road doing his long-haul truck driving job, so, I had a routine established for meeting my daily 15 minutes of physical activity goal in place when he came home. Since we only get to have him home less than a week every four weeks or so, it’s a pretty high priority that as much time and attention as possible are given to him, our relationship and our family. Therefore, when he wound up home a week early, due to the foibles of his previous co-driver followed by the transition to another new co-driver whose home time was already scheduled, it was during the beginning if June’s 28 Days.

In addition to that, there is the added stress of what amounts to four months of extended home times combined with shortened road times because of co-driver turnover (he’s with his fourth co-driver and third fleet manager since February) and the financial strain of it all is reaching crisis proportions: we’re facing potential eviction, service interruptions, and loss of property in a storage unit because we haven’t been able to stay caught up on bills or save ahead for rent. Anxiety and frustration over these things shortens his fuse and disrupts my sleep, increasing our relational stress and the symptoms of my fibromyalgia and depression/hypomania.

Two thirds of the way through May our laptop got broken and there’s no money for replacement or repair. The hand-me-down, hand-me-over, XP laptop that was given to me has a third party wifi administration app that won’t accept alpha characters in the access key to our internet, which is one of the services that could get interrupted at any moment.

On top of it all, even knowing all of this was looming on June’s horizon, I thought it would be a fabulous idea to increase my commitment to an hour’s worth of exercise daily AND track all of my eating. Meaning that just as every situation and circumstance that triggers my binge eating, I committed to go public with a record of what I eat, at the same time as I lose the regular Childcare to enable me to exercise goes away I make a greater commitment to exercise EVERY DAY.

Now that I think about it, I can see this is part of an overall lifetime pattern of self-sabotage. I’ll have to chew on that one a bit and process it on my main blog.

Not all is doom and gloom though. I have some really good things to report.

1) I have completed daily food and activity logs, using My Fitness Pal, which is available in app form and online, with interfaces to Facebook and Twitter.

2) With the exception of Monday of this week, June 11th, I have been in motion a minimum of 1-2 hrs. everyday and logging/recording my walking and swimming activities with the Map My Walk app (also available online and with other social media interfaces).

3) I’m having my little girl be more physically active by walking with me and I’ve taken her swimming twice in the past week.

4) I’m getting more consistent with housekeeping!

5) I’ve lost three more lbs. in June, so far, for a total of 11 lbs. missing in the past month.

6) My sleep is improving, my pain is decreasing, my stamina is increasing, and my moods are leveling out.

7) I’m doing a better job at connecting with other people, not just to get support and encouragement, but to offer it as well.

8) I don’t spend nearly as much time on the couch or in front of the television as I used to.

9) The way I feel about and treat my body is less negative and more constructive. I’m less averse to my reflection than I used to be.

10) For the first time in an incredibly long time, my emotional reactions and responses aren’t at the mercy and whim of the emotions, words, and actions of those around me and I’m able to be less defensive, more intentional, and grounded in my interpersonal interactions.

Committing to the daily actions of the 28 Days To A New Me process in the midst of everything is one of the most challenging things I’ve done for myself in the last 23 years. It reminds me of the 12 Step meeting closing mantra:

“Keep coming back. It works, if you work it. So, work it because you’re worth it!”

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28 Days to a New Me: Day Seven – Shifting focus (lessons from week one)

It’s the end of my first full seven days on this 28 Day to a New Me journey of commitment and accountability. YAY! I made it and survived.

Truthfully? I’ve done more than survive, I have thrived! Although, if I would have been asked last night how I was feeling, I might not have said I was doing more than surviving.

In today’s video I shared that I had a realization about weighing myself at the end of the day, metaphorically speaking. I shouldn’t do it. Just as conventional wisdom says not to weigh oneself at night because the accummulation from the day can cause the numbers on the scale to be higher than in the morning, weighing myself and measuring how “well” I did throughout the day, often is filtered through the accumulation of fatigue, remnant negativity from adverse encounters, unresolved frustrations, etc. Since a good night’s sleep for me us typically 4 -6 hours in length and my average night’s sleep for the past 20+ years is generally closer to 4 hours a night, usually interrupted, if I wait until I’m near exhaustion to evaluate how my day went, my perspective is skewed toward the negative.

Today’s email from the Author of the just published e-book, 28 Days to a New Me: A Journey of Commitment, Robert Kennedy III, had this to say:

“You are almost complete with your first week and you may be tempted to look back to see how much you accomplished.  Well, take a moment and do that.  Great, that’s enough :-).  Looking back is necessary but since we are forming habits, we don’t want you to get in the habit of looking back.  We want you to take those lessons, good or bad, and then move into your action for today.”

In my video for today I stated that I am shifting my focus and instead of evaluating how well or not well I feel the day went, I’m going to do a gratitude list. I have decided to make this post a summary of my lessons learned from these seven days and be grateful for every lesson.

1) Starting from a position of fear and self-doubt caused me to set the bar too low and to expect too little of myself. I’m far more capable, innovative, creative, and interesting than I ever gave myself credit for.

2) Not valuing myself and my needs meant that I was always prioritizing everyone and everything else. Taking the transitional “baby step” to attach doing something for me with doing something else I saw as a priority was the primer needed to start my engine and get going on taking care of me, for me.

3) Being so caught up in my own lack, pain, and overwhelm created a wall of insulated isolation between myself and others. Conciously and consistently making the effort to encourage others and being mindful of how sharing my journey can benefit them, sends that encouragement back to me. Just like in the kids’ song, Love is Like a BoomerangLove is like a boomerang, and all you have to do is send your love around the world and love comes back to you.

4) Newton’s First Law of MotionAn object at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by a force. An object in motion remains in motion, and at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a force. (Thank you Wikipedia). I was a body at rest and the force that acted on me was the force of change wrought by engaging in a community of encouragement, support, and engagement with other people who were in motion, pursuing their dreams.

5) Pain and resistance are not meant to be avoided, they are meant to be used to propel you in a new direction and strengthen you. Pain indicates a change is needed, resistence is also known as strength training. Instead of defining myself by my pain I am learning from it. Instead of absorbing the resistance and becoming immovable, I’m pushing against the resistance and getting stronger.

6) Setting an intention, then taking steps to make it happen, will manifest change. For example: Last night, I was completely frustrated, exhausted, and at the end of my limits – or so I thought. I attended part one of a two night meeting and by the end of it, I was completely NOT wanting to attend the one tonight. However, by setting my intention to shift my focus today and seek gratitude, I made different choices throughout the day. By the time the meeting came around, I was open, relaxed, and engaged. I came out of the meeting feeling the same way as when I went into it.

7) Strangers are friends we haven’t met yet. 

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At some point, I will expound on these lessons. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy today’s video. Thank you for joining me on my journey.

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28 Days to a New Me Day Five – All activity is NOT created equal

Happy Cinco de Mayo everybody. Interesting thing about this day that came across my Facebook news feed this morning:

“Happy gringo taco and beer marketing day!!!! -One American traveler, after spending a lackluster Cinco de Mayo in central Mexico, learned from a shopkeeper that it was just “a gringo holiday made to sell Mexican beer to Americans.” ‘ ~ Cinco de Mayo on Infoplease

Yesterday, when I mentioned to someone at church that it was Star Wars Day, she scoffed that people can make a day of ANYTHING! Which seems pretty true in the culture I live in, anyway.

I wonder why that is? Is it possible that in the lives of most people, in my society at least, there is so much striving to support lifestyles that people don’t truly enjoy and appreciate, so they don’t see any reason to celebrate just being alive every day? There are many who feel as if every day is a struggle for one reason or another. I know I’ve lived a significantly large amount of my life that way.

I don’t need to go into details at this moment. If you want to explore the TMI FYI on me, you can head over to my primary blog, Human In Recovery and start with the December 2011 archives to get a better understanding of what I’m talking about. Suffice it to say, I have struggled with what I have frequently considered more than my fair share of trials and troubles – consequences of less than good decisions on my part and the part of others in my life.

I’ve always kind of figured that my early life with the disruptions, dysfunctions, and chaos was simply by chance. I attempted to fight against family patterns, however, as I progressed, I found myself repeating them with my own personal little spin. The harder and harder I fought – with resentment, bitterness, frustration, and, let’s face it massive amounts of self-pity and an overdeveloped sense of the unfairness of it all – the deeper into the pit of depression, toxic co-dependency in ALL of my relationships, binge eating. I was in a negative feedback loop of monumental proportions.

I kept looking for fixes: therapy, education, groups, religion, 12 Step Recovery meetings. The thing is, most of the time, these actions and activities weren’t about fixing me, they were about manipulating and controlling situations, and the people involved, in order to let me stay the same and make my life easier. It has taken me over 20+ years to reach the point and to be the person I am today, on both the inside and the outside.

None of the external changes I attempted ever really “took” or lasted long. I could intellectualize, analyze, and give the proper and expected responses. Yet, even as I would go through the motions and pay lip service to the accumulated knowledge, none of it really “sank in” until I was able to reach the point where I finally had to admit that it wasn’t everyone and everything else in my life, it was me that was broken and I was powerless to get me out of the mess I had created as long as I relied on my own will, my own understanding, and continued to focus only on my pain and misery.

The Day Five motivational video for the 28 Days to a New Me series is called, “Not By Chance, By Change.” Robert said something that struck right at the heart of what I’ve done for the past two decades:

“A lot of people wallow and whine inside of themselves, but they never commit. They never make a commitment to change.”

As recently as two months ago, if I had heard that statement, the internal whine would have started up right away. Perhaps, even as recently as a few weeks ago. I would have pointed out all the obstacles, barriers and challenges I have: finances, physical health, mental health, family structure and relationships . . . and probably a lot of other things.

All of these things are real and valid concerns and issues in my life. They really are. But, somewhen down the line, probably in early adolescence, I concluded that I was more committed to my problems than I was to overcoming those problems. They defined me, they factored into every decision ever made to change my life, simply because each time I decided to do something to better my life, I went into it believing at the deepest levels that nothing was going to change.

What’s different now?

Change-happens-when-the

The pain of staying the same outweighed my fear of the potential pain that changing would bring.

Let me put it this way.

The pain and fatigue from the fibromyalgia, as far as anyone has been able to determine, is for no apparent reason. The root cause of it is not identifiable. Pain and fatigue cannot be measured in tangible terms. Although, new technology, fMRI can track the neurological pain responses in the brain of someone who doesn’t experience fibromyalgi and in the brain of one who does and identify that there are measurable and significant differences in the pain response mechanisms. However, it’s still subjective and specific to the one who experiences it.

The pain and fatigue of exercise is also subjective, but it has an identifiable cause and has been proven to have beneficial effects on the mind, body, and spirit.

I let the fibromyalgia define me and slowly, over the course of two decade change who I was on the inside in the way I thought and the actions I took or didn’t take. That life of a morbidly obese, anxious, depressed, sometimes manic, emotionally toxic person did not happen by chance. It happened by change.

That change continued until I had virtually lost two of the most important relationships in my life, the relationships with my adult children. That change continued until I recognized that the behaviors and actions of my youngest child, now four years old, were not conducive to her learning and growing up to be the healthy, functional person I dream of her being. Some of it may be just normal development for her ages and stages. Some of it may be organic, since I and my family have histories rife with mental illness, substance use and abuse, and probably an undiagnosed personality disorder or two AND her dad and his family have histories with those things themselves, it’s likely some of it is programmed into her DNA. Spiritually speaking, I do believe there are such things as generational curses, in the sense that the behavioral and thought patterns, the conditioned responses to challenge and conflict, and the cause/effect cycles from decisions put into play in prior generations, have a cumulative impact and effect on the current generation. Especially if the people in the generation preceding it were unconcious of it and unwittingly perpetuated the patterns.

The pain at the prospect of never having the possiblity of functional and healthy adult relationships with my children and the fear of living out the end of my life the way I witnessed my maternal grandmother live hers out, became greater than the pain of doing the hard work and looking inside of myself to see my own culpability and responsibility to make a difference in my own life and, hopefully theirs.

My life is being forged by change, not by chance.

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28 Days to a New Me: Day Four – May the 4th be with you

Apparently, for some inexplicable reason, to me anyway, today is Star Wars Day. I first learned of it when I logged into the book of faces and a number of my friends had posted, May the fourth be with you. I have enjoyed the Star Wars movies, both trilogies, however, I doubt I can be considered a true “fan.” That being said, it’s kind of impossible to ignore, so, I decided to pay homage to it.

Moving on . . .

In the accountability group I’m part of for the “28 Days to a New Me,” a project with a book of the same title being released on Amazon in a couple of days, the founder and author, Robert Kennedy III, provides a short daily video, focusing on a different aspect of maintaining and following through on the commitment made for the 28 day period. My commitment is physical activity for 15 minutes each day. Other people have a variety of other commitments from eating green, reading books, intense physical training, and developing habits to overcome or manage other challenges in their lives.

Today’s video spoke about living in the world of reasons vs. the world of performance: a concept he learned about through working with a personal business coach.

The fact is that each and every one of us face challenges on a daily basis, some days (weeks, months, and years) more than others. Injury, illness, mechanical failures, grief, loss, and the list goes on . . . and on, and on, and on.

These things rise up and disrupt our flow, trash our plans, and generally seem to happen at THE. WORST. POSSIBLE. MOMENT. Especially if we have committed to doing something that is life changing for ourselves. I know because it has happened to me each and every time I have decided to take steps to get healthy –  mind, spirit, and body. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

For example: A little over a year ago I decided that the only way I was going to be able to get and stay motivated to attain more physical health was to walk the Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon that takes place here every May. Since I didn’t have the finances to pay for my own full registration and I also wanted to do something to “pay it forward,” AND I knew I needed training and suport, I decided to join T.E.A.M. in Training, a fundraising branch of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “We train to beat cancer!” A dear friend of mine had been going through a different form of cancer, as had an extended family member. In my mind, cancer is cancer. I realize there are a myriad forms of it and not every one is the same or has the same expected outcome. However, to me, anything I could offer to benefit cancer research in one area, has the potential to impact cancer research in other areas. At least that is my understanding.

After signing up, going to the initial meetings, and getting assigned the group I would be training with, I found out that the coach was a lady from my past who had been a significant influencer for me the first time I conciously made an effort to affect change in my life, way back in 1989. She is an amazing and beautiful soul and it just seemed like THIS. WAS. THE. THING!

Then, one morning, I was rushing my little girl out of the apartment door so I could get her to her Early Head Start program in time for me to make it to my job on time, instead of late, as had become my pattern in recent weeks. The apartment was a cluttered mess, as usual. For some reason, even though it was before Daylight Savings Time, I turned every light in the apartment out, before opening the door and without turning on the light in the entryway to our apartment. She stopped still, in front of me, quite suddenly, and I felt myself beginning to fall. I was close to what I weigh now, around 270, and she was probably about 30 – 35 lbs. I put my hand up to the short wall between the dining area and the entryway to keep myself from falling and felt something really bad happen in the center of my lower back.

I didn’t have insurance then and I still don’t, so I never got an official diagnosis. What I do know is, based on the continual symptoms I’ve had since that day, I probably herniated a disc or two. That put an end to my T.E.A.M. in Training dreams.

Now, retrospectively, I can see that the injury itself didn’t put an end to my dreams. Self-doubt and fear did.

I didn’t believe I could actually raise the money required to stay with the program before I would be on the hook for having to pay a minimum portion of the goal donations myself. I didn’t believe that I had the capability or the capacity to establish and build enough relationships with people who would pledge and donate on my behalf. I was also afraid of failing. I was afraid of failing to meet the commitment. I was afraid of failing myself. I was afraid of failing so many others the way I’d already failed so many people in my life, up to that point.

Then there was the physical fatigue and pain from the training I was being told about. I was fearful that the training would compound the fatigue and pain I already experience with the fibromyalgia.

There was also the additional expense of needing to get the kind of shoes and supports that I needed in order to train as well as a second pair I would need for the event itself. Due to my size and physical condition, I needed to go to a specialized shoe store to get shoes that fit correctly and specialzed arch support fitted to me. That first pair cost $100 and I had no idea where the money was going to come from to purchase a second pair.

All of these things were valid reasons and concerns. However, at the end of the day, the question is, “Did I do it, yes or no?”

No. Regardless of the reasons and excuses, fears and doubts, valid and invalid, I did not perform. I didn’t recommit every day to perform. I didn’t reframe my thoughts to capture the fears and doubts and wrestle them into motivation to prove them wrong. I focused on my lack and what I thought I couldn’t do, so that’s the reality I created for myself.

Last night, when I realized that there would not be anyone here to stay with my four year old so I could go walking AND that I had a busy day planned, which would challenge both of us and max out my physical, emotional, and social limits, I again started to experience those same old doubts and fears. Only this time, I posted how I was feeling in the group and got them out of my head. Then, I decided that even if I had to patchwork quilt my minimum 15 minutes of activity together today, I was going to make my commitment.

I got one response from a fellow group member:

I believe God will honor your efforts to committed and renew your strength . . . I’ll be praying for Him to make a special way.

A short while later I found out my oldest daughter would be coming to spend the night. So, when my eyes popped open, against my wishes this morning, the realization sank in over the course of about 20 minutes that I COULD go walking this morning and still get out the door on time to make it to church.

The “force” was with me.

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28 Days to a New Me: Day Three – Housework IS physical activity

Yesterday I mentioned that I do not enjoy walking for walking’s sake. I need to have a destination. Honestly speaking, I’m not a physically motivated person. I’m more the epitome of “couch potato.” I really identified with my bloggy pal, Amy West when she wrote this:

You know what my favorite activity really is? Couching. Sitting my lazy ass on the couch, computer in my lap, second-screening something on TV or listening to music. . . . couch. It’s got an indent at one end of it that’s the exact shape of my ass.

I’m the stereotypical Biggest Loser fan who sits on her couch, season after season, watching and listening to all the contestents and the trainers, while frequently eating things that would wind up in a Temptation Challenge. I see aspects of me in most of the contestents’ personal stories: whether it’s hard-knock life circumstances, physical injury/health concerns, and certainly in story after story of those who are so emotionally shut-down and cut off that they either have their walls so high that even Bob, Jillian, and Dolvett have difficulty scaling the heights or they’ve buried themselves underneath so many layers of self-judgment and taken in every negative message available that they’re succumbing to The Swamp of Sorrows. If I remeber correctly, I think I actually submitted an application to the show at some point in the first three seasons, or maybe I just started to and never got through my own resistance.

Resistance. Yeah, that is really at the crux of many of my issues. There’s this resistance and I don’t understand why or what the root of it is. I just know that, in the past, I have given into it in its myriad, diverse forms.

So, here I am, at the end of Day Three, having reframed my expectations about what is “acceptable” physical activity.

I’m almot 44 years old, weigh close to 270 lbs, and am 5’3″ on a good day. Garfield and I could be undertall twins. Factored into all of that, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia I received in my late teens/early 20’s. Back when I would go out dancing at 10 p.m. and close the bar down, while being the only sober one in the joint because I spent the major portion of the night on the dance floor, with or without partners, who could be either gender, I didn’t care. I just wanted . . . NEEDED to dance. I would drink several pitchers of water while everyone else was dowing beer (Yuck! A taste I never acquired). I might occasionally have a mixed drink or two, but usually only if someone else was buying, since I had other financial priorities. Every Friday or Saturday night, occasionally both nights, I would dance away all the stress and tension of the week . . . then spend the next 24 – 48 hours as the only one with the symptoms of the world’s worst hangover.

Eventually, the painful consequences, as well as a second pregnancy where i subsequently wound up single-parenting a second child, put an end to the late night dance parties. I switched to worship dance and fellowship with spiritual seekers and others who participated in Messianic Dance. Physical movement as part of my expression of faith filled the need for self-expression through movement. However, after going all out in worship dance, I would experience the same kind of deep-seated fatigue and lightning strikes of shooting pain and bone deep aching in my body.

I let go of the seemingly irrepressible part of me that ALWAYS wants to move whenever music is on (it doesn’t even have to be “good” music, or so my daughter informs me) and I have been suppressing it for years.

Gradually, I just stopped moving. The depression that had always been Right. There. waiting to take over, slowly and insidiously infiltrated every aspect of my being. Except for the happy, excited, sure I was going to get it done and change my life moments. Which retrospectively, I can now identify most of those as manic/hypomanic episodes where I had this overwhelming sense that I had all the answers and could make the Worst. Plans. Ever. be The Very Thing To Turn My Life Around. In between were times filled with self-doubt, panic, and anxiety. I desperately grasped at anyone and everything to fill me and fix me. Of course that couldn’t ever happen because people and things just can’t do that. It has to come from a soul deep, spiritual connection and internal belief and acceptance of Divine love and acceptance.

And so, my internal reality began to shape my external reality. And not just in the physical shape of my body. It also shaped the physical environments I lived in. Oscar Madison had nothing on me. Chaoctic clutter in my living environment is an apparent manifestation of the internal chaos and clutter.

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Now, that I’ve worked long and hard on the internals and have achieved a level of self-acceptance because I’m opening myself back up to Divine love and acceptance, the old tapes still play, the old patterns still exist, and the old habits are still entrenched, but there are holes in those walls and the cracks are showing. I think this is playing a huge part in me following through to actually get into the 28 Days group and everything else that is happening as a byproduct of my participation and engagement.

Therefore, I’m starting with small commitments and being propelled into much greater action. I walked another two miles after completing yesterday’s commitment. I also had a very difficult time sleeping last night and woke up this morning groggy and heavy-limbed, aching and fatigued. It didn’t help that my oldest daughter wasn’t here to be with my four year old so I could actually get outside, put on my headphones and walk it out.

So, I had to work with what I had and get creative. For sedentary me, washing dishes IS physically demanding for me in my current state AND they needed to be done before they piled up any worse. The New Me gets housework done too.

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28 Days to a New Me: Day Two – A Purposeful walk . . . and unlikely gratitude

Welcome to Day 2 of my 28 day journey to a new me.

If you are anything like me, exercising and fitness just for the sake of exercising and getting physically fit, is not a great turn on. As a matter of fact, for me, it is a HUGE turn off.

I’m not exactly sure why. I know that exercise does good things for my mind, spirit, and body. Somehow, though, that knowledge isn’t enough to motivate me just by itself. Perhaps it is part of the lifelong habit of not taking care of me because, somehow and for some reason, I don’t feel “worth” taking care of.

I know that healthy mom makes for a healthier child and since I want my four year old to be healthier than I have ever been, as well as “naturally” able to make healthier choices than I was able to teach her older brother and sister, who are now adults, to make, you might think that would be motivation enough. Well, it isn’t. Again, I’m not exactly sure why it isn’t motivation enough for me to get off my kiester and get moving, I just know that it isn’t.

Being somewhat task oriented, I have to identify a task that needs completing and know that I can somehow incorporate taking care of myself into the process of completing that task. Today’s task was to apply to get Luna into the full-day pre-kindergarten program at our neighborhood school for next year. She has already been accepted into the local Head Start Program to be in a classroom next year, which is a fabulous program. However, there are a couple of reasons I want to put her into the neighborhood school.

I have this dream, or goal, of building community relationships with other families who are nearby, which we don’t currently have. Having her be in the neighborhood school with kids she will progress into kindergarten, then elementary school with, will help me to do something for her that I never had a chance at and that my other children didn’t get to experience: stability of relationships with people outside of the immediate family, which will, hopefully, follow her into her adult life.

Part of this vision is that I will walk her to and from school each day, thus getting myself physically active at least five days a week and teach her to do the same. I hope that establishing the routine of walking to and from school each day will also serve as time and opportunity for us to bond and engage in being present, aware and interactive with our surroundings and each other.

That being said, we also live in the Pacific Northwest, where it gets cold and rainy . . . the kind of weather that can trigger a fibroflare of pain and fatigue, which can make it problematic if I have to walk very far facing the elements. I also don’t own rain gear (go figure) and know myself well enough to know that if the weather is too icky, I will definitely use the fibromyalgia fatigue and pain as an excuse not to walk outdoors. Thankfully, we have an EXCELLENT transit system here and the nearest bus stop to our home is approximately 3 blocks away and the bus line that goes to her school has stops within a block of the school going in both directions. So, even when the weather or the fibromyalgia rise up to dissuade me from leaving the apartment, I know I have zero excuse to prevent me from making sure I get her to school.

Knowing that she has a place in the local Head Start Program is reassuring and something to be extremely grateful for, which I am. However, the two nearest locations aren’t necessarily “ideal” to support my dream and vision for how I want to raise Luna in the near future.

Day two of my journey, included me taking steps to make this dream, as well as my other dream to become employable as or build a “saleable” portfolio as a “professional”  writer, more of a reality.

How so?

Well, first by writing about these things here on the blog. It adds to my content portfolio. Secondly, in today’s market, having the skill to write good content is essential. However, there is this concept of “branding,” which current wisdom dictates that I be able to express myself in other mediums as well, such as video.  Creating yesterday’s video taught me a lot. Today’s video built on what I learned yesterday. It is approximately twice as long, six minutes, and it incorporates music, which is available through the Splice app that I used to create it. I hope you enjoy it, I think it came out rather well.

Oh, and you’ll have to watch the video if you want to know what unlikely thing I am grateful for . . .

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28 Days to a New Me: Day One or How I managed to get my butt in gear

It’s been a long while since I posted in this blog. That would probably be that it’s been a long time since I really committed to putting me as a priority. I originally started this blog as a means of holding myself accountable to taking care of me. Obviously that didn’t quite happen. So, what was missing?

Accountability and community.

Knowing that at least one other person is engaged and willing to hold me accountable to following through on my own goals is a critical component, for me at least. However, the life I had built for myself was one of isolation and social avoidance. I had let go of most of my previous friendships (or they had let go of me) and the few supportive relationships I allowed myself to have were from paid professionals – specifically paid professionals who were standing in my many parenting gaps with my now four year old daughter, Luna. So, while their roles were/are supportive of me as a mother, which acknowledged I need to pay attention to me as a person, their focus has been on Luna’s social and emotional development, which is as it should be.

Paying for gym memberships, signing up (then backing out) of T.E.A.M. in training to raise funds and awareness for Lymphoma and Leukemia, and a myriad of other external tools didn’t do the trick for me. There weren’t any personal connections prior to my signing up for those things, no relationships outside of those arenas. Emails, general pep talks, and group training schedules just plain did not work for me.

In March I joined an group of supportive and encouraging people called Dream Stoker Nation. There were people whom I knew and already knew who I am, in a personal context, in this group of people. They were all pursuing their dreams, which are as dynamic and diverse as they are. I was happily welcomed into this group. One member, who is NOT someone I knew in a personal context, Robert Kennedy III, was talking about his e-book that is close to publication, 28 Days to a New Me. It sounded interesting, and as I’ve done so many times with so many things, I explored it and signed up.

More emails I probably won’t look at as they fill up my electronic inbox. Yeah, good move.

However, I was in the process of opening my primary blog, Human In Recovery, up to guest bloggers and invited Robert to join me in that endeavor. He did so with enthusiasm, insight, and caring. He also continued to post his personal progress toward his dream in our Dream Stoker Group. He did something else too. He would post questions and his updates which are designed to get people to state their intentions and goals, to commit to a course of action. He asked us to join him in accountability.

And so, on the final day of the calendar for April, I took the leap and committed to participate with a closed group of others in an online accountability and support group for engaging in 28 Days to a New Me.

Then I found out what the expectations were.

  1. Identify a single, doable, measurable goal to focus on for 28 days. Explain how you plan to achieve said goal.

Easy peasy. Erm, not so much. My manic mind swirled with the possibilities. Finally I settled on 10 – 15 minutes of some kind of physical activity each day, to be done first thing after I get dressed. Uh uh, not specific enough. Oh well, I don’t want to underset the goal with only 10 minutes, but because of the fibromyalgia, I don’t want to overcommit and not follow through. No worries, this is a judgment free zone. Go for the 15 and if you don’t quite get there, it will be fine, we’ll still encourage and support you. 15 minutes it is, then. Woohoo!

2. Post proof.

Um, say what? How do I do that? Being the wordsmith I am, I could write about the activity without ever actually doing the activity. That means video. Really, actually show my face and possibly body, on video, huffing and puffing my way through 15 minutes of activity? No one wants to see that, I’m sure. However, I couldn’t figure out any other way to accomplish said task.

Well, thanks to modern technology, you really don’t even need a computer or any technical skills in order to do such a thing. Who knew? I didn’t. Well, I suspected, but had never really seen the need for me to figure that out. Video blogging, vlogging, was not ever anything I could imagine myself doing in a million years. However, I was aware that YouTube has an app for my iPhone called YouTube Capture. So, I downloaded that. I used it to record a couple of quick vids at the beginning and end of my walk.

As I was walking, I took pictures of flowers, trees, and an urban farm that were along my path. I also took a couple of sceen shots showing the weather/temp, and my phone’s stopwatch showing the extra minutes I had walked after my 15 minute timer had gone off.

Once I got inside, I searched the app store for a video editing app and found an app called Splice. I watched the first video tutorial then played around with my first project. Once I was relatively satisfied I used the YouTube Capture to upload the video, then posted the link into the group.

Here is the finished product and proof of Day One of 28 Days to a New Me.

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