Sick

Every time I miss a few Tuesdays/Thursdays I feel like I have to explain why. I know that’s not the case. I know that either a) you don’t care lol or b) you completely understand my absence and are just happy to see me around on IG or in your comment section. Nevertheless, I brought my excuses with me today.

We’ve been on the road a lot for fun & work, but more than that, I’ve been sick.

Being sick when you’re an adult is complicated. When you’re a kid, your parents called the school, planted you on the couch with the remote, and made sure you had ginger ale/chicken noodle soup/tissues/etc. Yeah you probably had homework and classwork to make up, but the pressure was minimal.

Being a sick adult SUCKS. First of all, there’s no one to take care of you. (Yes, I have a husband and yes, he steers clear of me when I’m sick.) You feel like dog poop, but you have a JOB and a WORK LOAD and DEADLINES. There’s pressure to show up and perform and get your stuff done without excuses.

I powered through most of my cold because we were on a business trip and I pretty much had to. When we got home and it was the tail end, I finally decided, ‘screw it, I’m taking a half day’, and that’s what I did on Tuesday.

But still… it was only a half day. Should I have powered through and just lived with my cold and kept doing my work? Or should I have taken a day off SOONER and rested and nursed myself back to health? Quite honestly, I think society pressures us to go with option one.

(Yes, I tried to think about my coworkers’ health, too, but I’m married to one so that was kind of a null point.)

This ties into self care. We feel pressure to ignore the illness, keep our nose to the grindstone, and work through the pain (or snot or hacking). First of all, ew. But secondly, that’s not healthy! We struggle to admit we need a day to revive our health- sometimes physical and sometimes mental. I think it’s really hurting us.

And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you feel a tickle in your nose and you elect to stay home (or even work from home), but that’s not me. And it’s not the person I’m married to. We show up regardless and not in a good way; we’re never our best in that state.

Just some food for thought today. I’m too busy to get sick, but that never stops the germs. And in the future, I need to take the time to slow down, rest up, and kick the cold to the curb with rest and medicine- not emails and meetings and ignorance.

What do you do? Are you good about recognizing what you need and taking that time for yourself?

Your Mental Health & Mine

Originally today was going to be a rant-y day. I had stuff to complain about and dramatic stories to tell. My post was all queued up and ready to go but to be perfectly honest, I’m not feeling it right now.

(I won’t keep you in suspense. I was going to talk about my week without K, the absurdity of “hate-reading/-watching/-following”, and my love for Amazon clothes. Very random.)

I haven’t gotten a good rant out on here in a while, and I tried to come up with something (a.k.a. the hate-follow thing), but I’m really not into it. That’s not to say I’m not irritated about stuff (the government, work situations, internet trolls, etc.), but writing is my outlet and I don’t want to funnel that toxicity through my brain & into my hands, forever etched in words here. I’m trying to find ways to acknowledge and give a nod to these feelings, then let them go without making any kind of permanent, negative impact on me. Less time focusing on drama, more time figuring out how to improve myself, my world, and myself in the world.

That sounds kind of hippy and I’m ok with it… I’ve drawn most of this from recent yoga and meditation classes, as well as other efforts to keep my mind aware and present.

In my life I struggle BIG with anger and jealousy and full-body sadness sometimes. It’s not an ocean that I drown in, but those feelings come in huge waves that knock me off my feet. I feel broken and less than and like a failure of a human when I allow these emotions to overcome me. I thought the answer was building a wall against the bad and trying to flood the inside of my mental fort with happiness.

The last few guided meditations I’ve done have kind of been the opposite. I’ve been focusing & letting those events or people or feelings IN. Taking notice of them, acknowledging that they had a place and a purpose, and then letting them go. Or sending good energy toward them. Or just simply accepting that I feel that way and being ok with it.

All of this in my head with no check list to mark or line item to cross off. That’s a tough pill to swallow for me, honestly. I like physical, concrete solutions and closure. But just because it’s happening inside my head, why on Earth should that mean that it is not real? 😉

And this has helped my daily attitude and my reaction to other people and events outside my control. I still get angry and sad and jealous when my environment is less than ideal, but more often now I don’t scold myself for feeling that way or release those emotions on the people around me. (Sometimes I still have terrible reactions and forget to apply awareness to my situations. I’m not perfect, I haven’t perfected this whole mind over matter thing.) I’m trying to live with my emotions, in the moment, and release them before moving on to the next moment.

I have a good memory and I’ve always held grudges- this practice helps me to “release” those grudges. I internalize problems, both mine and those I love- this awareness helps me to recognize the problem and empathize with them, but not to carry the weight when there’s little I can do. I have a lot of pride and, despite my introvert tendencies, I have FOMO sometimes- but when I’m aware of what I’m doing and what needs to be done to accept the situation, I’m a little better at just letting things go.

Don’t take this as a ‘yay, me’ post. I screw up & fall short all the time, but it helps decrease my anxiety when I filter out the drama and (try to) remain in awareness of my strong emotions. I once wrote a post about my mental diet, and adhering to the limits I’ve set for myself in regards to outside noise helps, too.

I’m sharing this today because I think anxiety and depression is wide spread and hopefully this is helpful for someone. Your brain is an organ and it’s important to monitor, exercise, nourish, and heal your brain (just like your heart or lungs). And when it is unhealthy or tired, you should take care of it. I’m a big believer in meditation, awareness, therapy, medication, etc. Take care of yourself and do so without shame.

Shoutout to my incredible local yoga studio, Be Yoga. I get so much out of my practice and participation there.

And to my blog friends and physical friends, when the world is crushing and you’re feeling out of control, I’m one email, text, or phone call away.

A Mental Diet

After I wrote my fall TV show post I started thinking about all the shows I’d like to watch, but can’t. It’s a funny thing to say considering I’m an adult and I can technically do whatever I want (within reason/the law), but similar to how we know we shouldn’t each donuts and ice cream and cake for dinner every night, I know there are shows I shouldn’t watch.

This is not a moral or biblical “shouldn’t.” It’s a mental health kind of “shouldn’t.” If I drink Mt. Dew & eat potato chips for every meal I know I will be physically unhealthy. If I binge on Game of Thrones or This Is Us or Criminal Minds I know I will make myself mentally unhealthy. And like food, we all have a different threshold for “too much.” We all prefer different flavors- we all process those foods (or shows) differently. I don’t enjoy pie, but a lot of people love it – I don’t enjoy GOT, but a lot of people love it.

I think it’s important to know what you can and can’t do mentally. I have never enjoyed violent television shows. I don’t like anything that fixates on the drug culture (Shameless, Breaking Bad, OITNB) or anything with violent or rape undertones (The Handmaid’s Tale, OITNB, Game of Thrones). It doesn’t both me one bit that people enjoy these shows- I just know that I don’t.

In my early twenties I used to love Law & Order SVU, CSI, and Criminal Minds. In my teens I watched General Hospital, Grey’s Anatomy, and other dramas. Somewhere along the lines I realized that I internalized the drama, fear, suspicion, and paranoia that the characters in these shows portray. I let it affect me and I carried it with me. When K would leave for business trips I’d have terrible dreams about kidnapping and murder. I honest to God believed someone was living in our attic. (And I love to be alone- having him gone was not the issue. My brain was the issue.)

So I stopped watching shows like this.

This mental healthy “diet” isn’t restricted to television. There are songs and artists that I avoid for emotional reasons. (I’d guess many music lovers are nodding their heads.) There are books I know I shouldn’t read or I should space out. (Thrillers make me shake- my body actually quivers while I read them. Holocaust and slavery-era books completely destroy me.) Obviously there are movies I’d never touch. I watched Django: Unchained with my family once and I felt sick for a week.

Perhaps it sounds silly at first, but if we’re careful about what we feed our bodies nutritionally, why wouldn’t we keep tabs on how other stimulants make us feel?

We all feel things extremely differently. It’s why menus & Netflix & the TV Guide have so many options. I would challenge you to pay attention to how television shows and songs and movies make you feel. I know that I shouldn’t have a milkshake every night, but once is a while is totally fine. I know I can’t read a book like The Handmaid’s Tale every week, but every so often is fine. Knowing what’s good for you in all forms of ingestion is important to your health.

So pay attention to how television shows make you feel. Do you walk away from Grey’s Anatomy feeling dramatic and bitchy? Do you walk away from GOT with a little bit of rage? Evaluate how affected you are and how your personality differs after you take in a program or movie. Set some limitations for yourself and find a healthy mix.

(Or maybe I’m just crazy 😉 Are you completely unaffected by shows? I’m genuinely curious.)

Wear the D@mn Shorts

This is a tale of self-confidence…

Last weekend we’d planned to spend some time with friends lakeside. The Friday before the trip I started brainstorming outfit ideas. I was thinking my cute swimsuit paired with my cut off high-waisted shorts.

‘But your thighs are so flabby and chunky. That’ll look terrible- all that cellulite and the scars. You should pick a different pair of shorts,’ I thought to myself.

Let’s pause my story and insert that I try very, very hard to encourage others to treat themselves kindly. It makes me mad when my mom nitpicks about herself or when my 10 year old cousin complains about her “fat” or when my friends are getting down on themselves.

“You aren’t fat, you have fat. Everyone does. It’s why you’re alive.”

“Don’t you dare talk badly about your arms/leg/tummy! That’s how you lift groceries or get from A to B or nourish your body!”

“You look great today! And who’s so important that you’d take their opinion over mine?!” 😉

Those are a few of my go-tos when it comes to encouragement.

But for whatever reason, that Friday afternoon I was hating my husky, pale, chicken-pox-scarred thighs. I’d like to say it was a fleeting thought, this discouraging self-talk, but it browbeat me into 30 minutes of outfit changes.

It’s funny… The internet is notorious for highlighting people’s “perfect lives.” That said, some of the most body-positive, encouraging, beautiful-inside-and-out people push their perfectly imperfect & totally embracing messages via social media (looking at you Lindsay, Aubrey, Chelsea, Dana, Christina). And I’m am 100% on board with that.

And yet I fall victim to my “zitty face” or “flabby tummy” or “chunky thighs.”

I’m usually extremely comfortable in my skin. My body is relatively healthy. I was given working limbs and organs. I am able to care for myself and others. Overall, I got very lucky with the skin I’m in. But we all have moments of weakness.

Fortunately, our moments of weakness happen at different times. When I’m feeling poorly, someone else is sending out positive vibes meant for me. So when you’re feeling badly, just know that someone is sending out those positive vibes for you, too. (Might I suggest any and all of those ladies up there! ☝️ )

I don’t think anyone is always positive and encouraging, but someone somewhere is always sending out some good vibes. So go seek it- it’s 100% meant for you. Someone loves you. They love your wide hips or your small shoulders or your pointed ears. Whatever features make you cringe in the mirror, I guarantee someone thinks nothing of it and loves you completely. And you should, too.

What I’m trying to say is: wear the damn cutoff shorts, my friends. ☀️

Fly Me to the Moon (or don’t… please, don’t)

It’s painful for me to admit this, but some time in the last four years I developed mild flight anxiety. I have an overactive brain that tends to visualize everything that could go wrong (although, scientifically, the things I imagine probably can’t go wrong). I’m not going to go into it because I know that I’m being dramatic and I don’t want to put my false mental images of doom into your head, too.

But, you know, just let it be known that I have flight anxiety.

Here’s where I imagine all this anxiety stems from… In 2010 I totaled my car on some black ice and it took me 2 years to get comfortable behind the wheel again. In 2012 I flew to India and we hit turbulence that dropped the plane and nearly shook me from my seat. Traumatic events tend to shake me to my core and send my imaginative brain into overdrive.

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Two weeks ago K and I flew to San Antonio for a business trip. (Details about our trip are happening next week hopefully.) I have flown a few times since India, but the anxiety gets worse with each trip. I was seriously dreading these flights.

The self-talk that happened in my head during our time in the air was unreal. I channeled Chelsea and repeated to myself, “You can do hard things.” I prayed like a mad person. I turned my ear buds all the way up and tried desperately to lose myself in books. Every once in a while I panic-grasped K’s hand or thigh.

When the smallest hint of turbulence rocked the plane I told myself that the flight attendants were still standing and smiling and passing out drinks- it’d all be ok.

Before our last flight home I looked up the dangers of turbulence on my phone. (I knew this was a risk… sometimes ignorance really is bliss.) Turns out, turbulence is very rarely the cause of air troubles. It’s totally normal and does not bring planes down. That little bit of knowledge helped immensely on the last flight. (All our flights were smooth- my brain had the turbulent issues.)

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Of course, when I really boil it down, what the hell am I going to do if something were to happen on a plane? Like, really. What exactly are my options? I jokingly told K that if something goes wrong and we’re taking a nose dive to the ground, please punch me and knock me out. Neither one of us can figure out if I’m kidding about that still…

But back to the point… I survived our flights and, though I was mentally exhausted, I found ways to cope with the stress I was feeling and walk away confident and happy (to be on the ground ).

So how about some mediocre advice from an inexperienced* flyer…

  • Create a playlist and bring a book that will grab & keep your interest. Dave Matthews Band calms me down when driving in stressful situations so I loaded up my Amazon Prime playlist with some DMB for the flight.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Watch the flight attendants. Chances are they’re laughing and smiling and jovial, even when buckled up and bouncing along in the turbulence. Be friendly with them, too. They’re your biggest allies in the air, especially on longer flights.
  • Repeat to yourself, ‘I am brave. I am OK. I can do hard things.’ (You’d be surprised how effective this is. )
  • If praying is your thing have a laid back, honest conversation with God.
  • Research flight and turbulence. First I read this article, then I found this site: http://www.fearofflying.com/ . It actually has a ‘program’ to cure those with flight anxiety. I’d be lying if I said I’m not looking into it…
  • Some people drink alcohol or take relaxers. If that works for you, cool. I’m pretty sure I’d have just started crying uncontrollably if I’d been drinking. I needed my brain to be clear and strong for the trip.

It sounds backward- and maybe this just helps me- but looking out the window helped me relax. The beauty and the stillness of the sky/clouds/ground below was helpful.

(* truthfully, I’ve been flying my entire life… I started when I was a toddler and I’ve been around the world… so, you know, I’m kind of experienced… just inexperienced with this newfound anxiety)

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It’s weird… I’m not afraid of heights. I’m not afraid of death. I’m not afraid of travel. I just hated the feeling of the plane dropping out from beneath me like it did on the India trip.

It’s funny, but I suddenly understand Lylee’s irrational fear of thunderstorms.

So let’s open the floor for outside advice 🙂 Do you get shaky on flights? How do you entertain yourself on a plane?

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