Kid Friendly Hiking

(I wrote this 5 days ago, and as is my custom, thought “I will post this after I proofread it in a few minutes…” Yep.  5 days ago.)

I’ve missed you all!  Right now I am sitting in bed, all nice and clean, rehydrating and keeping my feet up.  I’m pretty sure I am going to lose a toenail because my feet apparently think that a 4.8 (actually 7.5 — and we didn’t even get lost!) mile, kid-friendly hike is equivalent to a marathon.

We’ve had a lot of shit going on lately but things are getting a lot better than ever.  With all the crazy family drama going on (outside our little nuclear family), we’ve become so much closer with each other within our little nuclear family and have been getting to see my 16 year old step-daughter a lot more than before.  We were going to go camping “in the wild” per the 6 year old’s request yesterday but with a chance of bad storms in the forecast, we decided that for a first time camping trip, we would camp in the backyard, so we could escape to the house if storms hit.  The tents were set up and ready just in time for the storms, so the sweet older sister suggested camping in the living room.  (She did, the little sister wound up in our bed.) So, we decided that we would go for a hike today.  We did some research and found a kid-friendly hike that was a moderate 4.8 miles and had 2 waterfalls.  Little G (6 year old) is pretty tough and has been on several pretty long hikes, so we figured it would be fun, even if it was hot.

Apparently, the travel guide writer doesn’t have kids — or know any– because there were tears and sore legs and tired tiny bodies and dehydration (due to a miscommunication about who was bringing how much water) and a very tiny waterfall due to the dry season.  We were all salty at different times, literally and figuratively (if you don’t have a teenager around to keep you up to speed, “salty” means cranky or testy or whatever we old people call it).  And I’ll soon get to see if G takes after her parents or if she gets poison ivy — the trails were COVERED! (Edit: She apparently doesn’t!  At least not this time!)

But — there is always a but — it was great.  Don’t get me wrong, I am freaking exhausted and I am going to be sore as hell tomorrow and there were A LOT of tears and scraped knees and whining and headaches.  But I learned that horse fly bites don’t hurt nearly as much as I remembered from childhood.  I got to tell G all about how awesome it was growing up with 45 acres of woods, 6 ponds and a lot of time unsupervised and about the times when we all got to swing on grapevines in the woods with her Pappy. The scenery was beautiful and it didn’t rain.  I watched G power through a really hard hike, I saw her sister be patient and wait while we dried tears, and I was reminded again how amazing my husband is (gentle and optimistic and adventurous and strong).

We all learned a lot about enjoying the journey, not just rushing to get to a destination.  We learned that we are tougher than we think.  And we learned that we don’t give up when something is hard.  (G was learning these lessons for the first time, but it never hurts for the rest of us, even Ironmen, to be reminded!)

On the way home, we were discussing the hike with the most appropriate cliches we could think of.  I was pretty proud of my “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, but J won with his “sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug”.  G thought that “today we were all bugs and that hike was the windshield.” But I’m not so sure.  I think that hike was just one adventure of many in this big crazy roller coaster we call life.  And I can’t wait to see what’s next.  Just because something is hard doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t do it!  Just ask a 6 year old who has already recovered from her most recent adventure.

Back to the dark

Hello, folks. Long time no type. Yeah, I’m not doing so well lately. We’ve been busy unpacking a U-Haul full of 40 years of emotional baggage and I am worn out. “We” is my husband and I. We are good. Our relationship is fine and things are ok there, but he is starting to deal with things from his childhood that he has just shoved behind trying to be a high achiever, complete multiple Ironman triathlons, be the top in his career field, etc. Now that he has done all those things, there’s nowhere to hide all that stuff anymore. Dealing with all of this means that we’re having to set new boundaries to make our little family as healthy as possible. And it’s pissing people off. Now, (and I hear this has something to do with maturing and approaching 40 years of age) I am to the point where I don’t really care about the opinions of those who are being critical of us right now. They can continue to say negative things about us, but it’s still exhausting to deal with all that AND still be civil. If you know me in person, you probably know that I am not a fan of pretending that I like you if I don’t. So this is tough for me. (And before you worry about me putting this out there, I seriously doubt the people involved in this even read this blog. They know about it, but they never really follow stuff we do unless they can somehow make it reflect on them, and this blog isn’t big enough for that. It’s cozy. And nothing I say here names names or is untrue, so suck on that, energy vampires.)

 

In the interest of having a professional to support our undertaking, we started seeing a therapist. I am a big believer in having someone to talk to and having someone to offer advice on how to navigate rocky crossings in life. She was supportive about creating the boundaries and we followed her advice. But what I took away from the most recent visit was not constructive for me at all. The quote was repeated several times and expounded on. And while I don’t disagree with the sentence itself, the follow up explanations hurt. (Maybe because it is true?) I don’t like criticism, and I know no one really does, but I try to take it to heart and understand where the truth in it is. But that’s not always a healthy place for my psyche. With my depression and my bitchy self-talk, it goes from “Hmmm. That’s interesting.” to “I am a terrible person and there is nothing I can do to make things better.” in about the span of a single breath. And now I am stuck there.

 

“Children come first.” Well, yeah. Obviously. I love my daughter more than anything and I would die for her and I have lived for her, even when I didn’t want to. “Children come before your relationship with each other, before your job, and before yourself.” Ohhhkay. I’m not necessarily disagreeing with this, but I don’t think it’s that absolute. My relationship with my husband is pretty damn important for my child’s healthy, stable environment and as an example of what she should expect in a relationship (love, communication, compromise, taking time for each other…). It’s also important because it will still be there when she has moved to college and off into the world as a (big goal here) happy, well-adjusted adult who contributes to society. My job is what pays the bills. We had a really really rough time financially in the last few years and we are still struggling to get back on our feet. We’re doing it, but it’s stressful and not easy. I am the higher earner in our family and while my employer and my coworkers are AMAZING in being flexible when needed, I still have a fairly unpredictable schedule. If a sick puppy or an asthmatic cat or a patient who has been hit by a car or a patient I have just diagnosed with a serious disease comes in at 5:30, I may be there til 7:00 or later. I love my daughter. I love my patients. I (usually) love my career. And people think I’m good at it. This is part of my career. It’s not every day, but it’s often. And it’s busier and worse in the summer. When we tried to explain the nature of our jobs, she shrugged and just repeated “Well, children come first.”

 

So, all this work I have done to make it ok that I have a career and don’t stay at home with my (healthy, smart, happy) daughter and to make it ok that I take time to exercise and work on my mental health was completely undone. My inner bitchy voice is louder than ever. I don’t see any kind of solution and now I know that I cannot be a priority. Time to run after work? That’s selfish and you should be with your family. That voice is always there, but I had really really started to quiet it. Now it has a bullhorn. I am distracted and guilty when I am at work when I “should be at home”. The other drama hasn’t helped. Learning that the people who claimed to be helping and begged to watch my daughter were actually telling others that I just couldn’t take care of my little girl and they always had to care for her was another huge blow.

 

TLDR: When people say that you should take care of yourself and you can’t pour from an empty cup and you should be kind to yourself, they are full of shit and are probably talking behind your back.

 

I know that isn’t always true. But my tenuous self-worth and my high-achiever personality and my anxiety and my depression won’t really let me see otherwise right now. I am taking my medication more religiously than I have ever taken anything. (I’m looking at you, birth control pills.) But I am back in that dark space. I have no energy. I have no interest in anything (typing this was a struggle). My husband is worried about me and he can’t help. Don’t worry, you guys. I’m not suicidal. I know how that feels and I am not there right now. I just can’t will myself out of this. I know I need rest and I know I need healthy food and I know I need exercise, but all that feels so daunting. I tell myself “just take one step. nothing else, just one step. you’re not obligating yourself to anything beyond that. just a step” but even that isn’t working. There’s a fog in my brain and I can’t hold a thought more than 10 seconds. My acting skills are on point at work, but I’m too tired for them at home.

 

I’ve beat this before and I will beat it again. I don’t share this to bring you down, sweet reader. I’m just committed to sharing this mental journey with you and right now the scenery is pretty ugly. I’m not even sure that’s the right word, ugly. I can’t even see scenery. It’s just grey and dull. I appreciate any good thoughts you can send my way. If you’re where I am, let me know. Hang on to me, because I am going to start climbing back up any day now, and I am happy to help pull you up with me. I was strong before and I am still the same person, so I know I can do this. Once I have a minute to rest.

 

Hahaha. Maybe this was therapeutic. I may have found the mental image to be my walking stick on this journey. “Once I have a minute to rest” triggered it.

 

When my husband was doing one of his Ironmans, I joined him during the last half of the marathon. He hadn’t taken in nearly enough nutrition and he was fading. He was walking and said, “I just need to sit down for a minute.” I looked at him and said, “No. You can’t sit down right now or you won’t be able to get back up. Let’s just keep moving. You don’t have to move fast; you just have to keep going.” Then I handed him a cup of flat Coca-Cola and we kept walking. He finished (and immediately signed up for another).

 

“Let’s just keep moving.” Right now, I think I’ll go grab a Mexican Coca-cola before the rest of the journey.

Edit: I don’t want it to seem like I’m blaming this therapist. She’s been doing this for 30 years and I’m sure she’s great. My psyche is the problem in this scenario, I think. 

My muscles love me. My knees hate me

You guys!!! I ran 3 miles today. After work. After a stupid busy Satuday. It helped that it was sunny and 60 degrees, but still! 

My muscles were so happy. They were all “Omg. I have missed moving! This is great! I love stretching and getting blood. Yay!!!”  

But my knees were saying something less family friendly. Every step was “F~€k you. F~€k you. F~€k you. F~€k you. ” It was very consistent, I’ll give them that. 

To be fair to my shitty knees, I am running in the same shoes that I trained for and completed my Ironman in, so they have many miles and no cushion in them. Don’t fuss. My new shoes have arrived and I will be wearing them next time. 

Here’s hoping this is the start of a beautiful new/old habit!! And that this kicks my brain in gear because I don’t want to have to find a therapist. 

I want to hug you all right now but it’s probably just the endorphins and the lack of oxygen to my brain since I forgot my inhaler. But still. Love you all!

Well, hello there again.

I’ve been visited by Depression’s BFF lately. Anxiety wasn’t really invited when she first stopped by, and she sure as hell has overstayed her welcome. Both Depression and Anxiety make it hard to get out of bed and function in the real world. When Depression sets up camp, I don’t want to get out of bed because what’s the point? Nothing matters. Nothing is worth getting out of bed for. I have no worth and I’m DEFINITELY not worth expending that minuscule amount of energy that I have left in my body. When Anxiety is here, I want to cover my head and curl up into a tiny ball of raw nerves that vaguely resembles the shape of a female adult human. Depression makes it hard to function because I just have no energy and no desire to do anything, even things I love doing. I live in a foggy brain that can’t make sense of the world and the sunshine. And everything feels so. damn. heavy. Anxiety makes it hard to function because every nerve in my body is ready at a moment’s notice to send out signals to run or fight or have a heart attack. Some of those nerves think it’s fun to misfire and send out those signals all day long.

I know, just KNOW in my heart that something bad is happening or is about to happen. I forgot something important or I made the wrong decision or I have a terrible disease or someone I love has something bad happening to them or the car repair is going to be super expensive or I forgot that something is coming out of the bank account or I forgot to turn off something I should have turned off or I will never get everything done that I need to do or why can’t I concentrate on anything right now or my patient is dying or I messed up that routine surgery when everything seemed totally fine but probably isn’t fine or I am going to be fired or I am going to be sued or someone is mad at me or someone is judging me or …

Actually, all those “or”s should be “and”s because all those thoughts are going through my mind at the same time and my body is pumping out crazy amounts of adrenaline and cortisol. And it is exhausting. It’s probably similar to trying to make sense of that paragraph o’ run on sentence. Welcome to my brain when Anxiety is visiting! I just want to cry all the time, but not because there is no point to being alive, like when Depression is here, but because there is just too much and I just can’t deal with all of that at once for days at a time.

Honestly, I’m pretty good in the moment when something is happening. I can deal with unexpected problems in surgery and I can deal with bad news when it is delivered and I can perform in front of big crowds and I can handle an actual emergency when it happens. (Afterward, I shake and sometimes cry, but not until that shit is under control.) I cannot deal with the constant onslaught of hormones that Anxiety brings with her. Our bodies aren’t really meant to. Those hormones and on-edge nerves are meant for sprinting, not marathons.

Anxiety is getting the hint and is starting to pack up her bags to leave, but I am worn out. And I really don’t quite know how to deal with her. She’s visited off and on since I was a teenager, but she didn’t move in with me like Depression did. I have learned some coping mechanisms for Depression (and finally found a medication that helps) but I’m still struggling with Anxiety. Exercise probably helped a lot and since I still have done nothing in the way of making that a routine again, it let Anxiety just invite herself right in.

I do have a half marathon coming up in April. Once I can quiet my mind enough to look at a training plan, I might just be able to get Anxiety out of here for awhile. You all may get tired of it, but I will try to post my workouts daily on here, for accountability.

Um… There will probably be many days (if you follow this blog and don’t “unfollow” when you see the phrase “post daily workouts”) when you think “Oh, she just forgot to post or she was too busy” and I love you for giving me credit like that. In reality, I probably found some way to rationalize not exercising that day.

I love you all and if you have any suggestions for dealing with Anxiety, I’d love to hear them. (Suggestions from experience, please.) Comment away!

Redirected Resolutions

Happy New Year! So, how excited are you all to be starting a new calendar year?!?!?!?! I have mixed feelings about the whole “It’s a new year. Everything starts anew” idea. On the one hand, it’s really just the next day of the next week of the next month of the next year in a reeeeeally (hopefully) long story of a life. On the other hand, it seems like a convenient time to re-evaluate goals and give ourselves permission to forget the failures of previous year and start again with new enthusiasm.

On that note, I was totally planning on getting this year started right!!!!

You caught that, right? “planning” Yep. The new year had different plans right off the bat.

January 1, 2016:

Me: Yay! It’s a new year. THIS year, I am definitely going to re-start training for the next triathlon AND I’m going to eat healthy AND finally get the house organized AND be super organized with meal planning and stuff AND get the mini-me’s room organized AND really be a great veterinarian AND make time for friends AND get places on time AND save lots of money AND make my house look like something out of a magazine that is super chill but really awesome….

The Universe:   Hahahahahahahahaha.   Hahaha.   Whew.  Haha.

 

January 1st I was scheduled to work; it’s my holiday to take care of hospitalized patients. I planned to go run after doing the treatments at work (even though I am still recovering from the virus-progressing-to-bronchitis fun times as is tradition for me this time of year), then head home to get started on the big cleaning day.

 

I woke up with a headache. Not unusual lately. I apparently sleep on my right side, because all fluid in my whole head was lodged in the right side, especially the sinuses. Usually this gets better the longer I am up (being mostly upright and walking around and all…). Not on that day. My headache got worse and worse. I took NSAIDs and a decongestant when I got to work, drank 2 cups of coffee, ate a little something, drank plenty of water… Nothing. Just getting worse.

Got home, after not running, and took more NSAIDs, drank more water, and hid my head under a blanket. Nothing. Plus I was freezing. I took a super hot shower, which made my sinuses feel better but I still had a headache and while standing in the shower, I suddenly felt SO SLEEPY that I almost fell asleep standing up. In the shower. I got out of the shower and went straight into bed without even drying off. Woke up in 45 minutes. Headache was mostly gone, but it was still hovering around the edges and my body felt dead tired.

I made it back to work, came home, ate a sandwich and went right back to bed.

 

I’m still feeling like my body is tired and I am still coughing up my lungs, but the headache is mostly gone.

I learned 2 things that day:

1) I have a wonderful little family. My husband and daughter didn’t expect epic things from me that day. They snuggled with me when I needed it; they did their own things when I needed a nap; they took care of their own dinner.

2) My resolutions needed to be adjusted.

 

Apparently the Universe and my body got tired of trying to nudge me toward a healthier mindset and decided to just shove me in that direction. I don’t have my goals quite right. Turns out, I don’t need to push myself as hard as I can. (Now there’s something that IS REALLY, REALLY hard for me to get my head around.) I need to take care of myself. There it is. My new goal.

Take care of yourself.

Woah. Such a cliché little phrase of 4 words. But that day, it meant something.

Take care of yourself. You only get one go at this. No one but you is expecting you to be perfect and to do everything.

You want to exercise because you know it helps you feel better? You should definitely do that. You want to beat yourself up because you didn’t run as fast or as far or as often as you planned? No. Not this year.

You want to eat healthier because you want to fuel your body with good stuff instead of junk that makes you feel cranky and sluggish? You should do that. You want to mentally berate yourself because you ate too many cookies at work and you worked too late to make the meal you planned and now you’re having a PB&J for dinner? No. Not this year.

You want to organize things so that you can find them easily (since your memory is not so good lately)? Good idea. You want to get frustrated because your stuff doesn’t look like a magazine or pictures on Facebook and Pinterest? No. Not anymore.

Take care of yourself.

I have a hard time setting aside time for me to take care of me. It feels selfish and I have a really long list of things I “should” be doing instead. But that’s silly. I know, I know. I’ve heard the whole “you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others – that’s why they say that in the pre-flight instructions” stories and all the little inspirational quotes. And they’re true and they sound good. But I never actually internalized them. They were just another thing to put in my “you should do this” file in my brain <– which is totally disorganized and often misplaced (the files in my brain, not my brain itself. Thank god that thing is encased in bone or it would have been lost a long time ago!)

My body and my spirit were telling me to take care of myself. I am important and, although I am unique and irreplaceable, I don’t have to do everything. And, even though this is REALLY hard to admit, I can’t do everything. I just can’t. And you know what? That’s not a failure or a weakness. It’s just a fact. I can do a lot of awesome things, but I can’t do everything all at the same time. I’m going to have to pick and choose what I can do. (It’s hard for me to even type that). And the way to decide what I am going to do is to take care of myself. Number one. And not in the “look out for number one” kind of way. More of the “I need to water and nourish this tree so it can provide fruit and shade and protection for others and so it will be able to weather the storms” kind of way.

So I have rested and slept and snuggled with my family and I haven’t put any pressure on myself this weekend. Each day, I still made a to-do list because if I don’t make a list, I feel confused and directionless and like I’m forgetting everything I wanted to accomplish and it’s just not good for my brain. But this time, my list just had 2 tasks on it: one was something I needed to get done that day, but was very attainable since it was just one thing; the other was “Take care of yourself.”

Each day that may be different. The past few days, it has meant that I needed to rest. But tomorrow that may mean I try out the online yoga site I looked at or I might go run or swim after work, even though there are lots of things I “should” be doing then.

Today’s to-do list says:

1.Take care of yourself.

  1. Do laundry.

If I have energy and the desire, I’ll also clean up the kitchen and plan meals for the week.

 

If not, that’s ok.

It’s not even on my list.

 

You know that ridiculous scene…

Hey there, people!! I have been so busy doing productive things and being fit and having tons of energy that I haven’t had a chance to sit down at a computer!!!   Hahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahaha. Oh my. Whew. Not even close.

I’ve been a slug. This “Sad Woman in Spandex” still has the propensity to be sad, but hasn’t worn any spandex in MONTHS. Months. I did wear some leggings during the hilliest half marathon ever. But I only wore the leggings because it was cold and I hadn’t run in MONTHS and knew there would be serious chafing issues without them.

So, I’m still struggling to find my mojo. It’s around here somewhere and I’m pretty sure someday I will find it again because I get glimpses of it every now and then, like in those blurry Sasquatch photos. And, I am witnessing mojo-finding happening right in front of me. Just not BY me. Not directly.

 

You know those scenes in action movies where the hero is getting absolutely beaten to a pulp and then, all of a sudden, he rallies? He finds this strength and a big burst of energy, and he not only defeats the guy kicking his ass, but he saves the whole world at the same time. You know that scene. The one you secretly love because it feels so great, but you also roll your eyes at because, seriously, that DOESN’T happen. I mean, really. It’s up there with having never-ending bullets or all the bad guys having bad aim or all the enemies only attacking the hero one at a time… It’s fun and makes for a great story, but it just isn’t real.

 

Except that it is. I am seeing it in front of my own eyes right now.

 

You may know that I have gone through some… rough patches. I wasn’t the only one affected by the publicity and notoriety of the Incident. I was the sympathetic figure in whatever fantasy the media created. For me, the Incident ended up being liberating. I didn’t have to hide my depression anymore; I could be honest and just be me.

It didn’t have the same redeeming effects for my husband. He was vilified. The media skewed the story (and sometimes downright lied) to make it seem as though he was abusive. People he thought were his friends turned their backs on him. He left his job and was bullied, slandered, libeled, and harassed via social media.  It broke his heart and his faith in humanity.

He ended up taking a position in a city 100 miles away. We were all going to move there, but when I couldn’t find a job, we ended up renegotiating things and moving all our stuff BACK home. He still works there (doing great things!) and for a while was there all alone most of the time (and this is a man who does NOT like to be alone.   When he was a kid, he used to lie down in front of the door to keep people from leaving, and I’m not convinced he wouldn’t do that now…)

It was hard on him. Really, really hard on him. Where I came out of the Incident with a silver lining, all he got was rain and hail.

It was a miserable couple of years for him. He tried to be tough and just power through it, like he does. “I don’t have the body of a runner? Ok. I’ll run 10+ marathons and a couple of ultras.” “I don’t look like a triathlete? Ok. I’ll do 4 Ironmans.” “Oh no! I wrecked at mile 16 of my first Ironman and broke my bike? Ok. I’ll splint that shit with duct tape and a stick and keep going even with my broken bones.” That’s my guy!   That’s why when he got off the bike at that first Ironman and asked me, “Can I do this?” I responded with, “Can you walk? Then go!!”  Because he can and will do whatever he sets his mind to.

It’s been heartbreaking to see his spirit broken and the light in his eyes a little dimmer. His laugh had just an edge of bitterness and he didn’t laugh as easily. I was watching the hero of the story being beaten to a pulp.

But now, I’m watching that unbelievable scene. You know the one. That rally. That second wind, that rush of adrenaline, that light appearing in the hero’s eyes, that comeback. The hero broke those chains in the dungeon or found that sword that was buried or got his sonic screwdriver working or stood up when the bad guy started gloating.

And you know the feeling you get when you watch that scene in the movie theater? With the full surround sound, Dolby Digital, 3D experience. When your heart swells up into your throat and you want to jump up and cheer (but you usually don’t because, well, people…. But sometimes someone else does so you do too and the whole theater goes wild cheering?)

Well, let me tell you, it’s even more amazing when you see it in person.

The hero is back.  He’s winning.  And I’m cheering him on.

One of those days

Today is one of those days. I’m anxious. I’m sad. I dread going to work and having to deal with people and having to think and make decisions. I feel like I can’t really think. I didn’t sleep well, I haven’t been eating well, and, aside from the morning after my last post, I haven’t convinced myself to exercise. 

I’m not sharing this for sympathy, although feel free to feel sorry for me and my first world problems… I share this so that you will you know that there are days like this. I am so much better than I was a few years ago, but I still struggle. Sometimes it’s mild, but sometimes it’s hard to force myself out of bed to go through the motions. 

One big difference now as opposed to before is that now I know that things will be ok and that there is hope. I know that once I start moving again, things will fall back into place. That’s a really hard thing to see when you’re depressed, even if your depression is pretty well under control and it only rears its head every now and then. 
I’m going to keep plodding along today, knowing that things are going to look a lot better once I crawl out of this day.