A Quick Update

If you’re new here, or it’s been awhile since you’ve read my about page, I just updated it. I was holding back in previous versions, trying to put a shiny face on the beginning of my journey. No more. I’ve finally embraced that I have a story to tell, and that my accomplishments of the past two years are worth sharing. So take a look, I hope you enjoy it!

Simplify, Simplify

If you follow me on social media at all, it’s no secret that I am a Sarah Wilson fangirl. I Quit Sugar pretty much changed my life earlier this year, and I’ve been on a long streak of low-moderate pain.

I first read this post a couple weeks ago and it’s been kicking around the back of my brain ever since.

Coincidently, over the past couple of weeks I’ve had three or four pairs of shoes wear out, my hairdryer broke, I lost one of my favorite earrings (but only one, of course), and I’ve been struggling to find the time to keep my apartment clean to my (admittedly somewhat-high) standards.

That’s when I realized that I just plain have too much stuff. Probably because I live in a bigger apartment than I need. It’s a gorgeous vintage place, to be sure, but I don’t think we need this many hallways.

For example, this hallway that separates the kitchen/dining room from the rest of the apartment.
For example, this hallway that separates the kitchen/dining room from the rest of the apartment.

Anyway, the new plan is that as things wear out or run out, I’ll replace only what I need, rather than what I want and what I need/want. I’m pretty sure I can get by just replacing one pair of shoes, and I definitely don’t need a hairdryer.

In a time when so many of my friends and contemporaries are buying their first homes (or buying their first Upgraded homes!), I’m pretty excited by the idea of downsizing. Simplify*, baby!

* This is where I should admit that I hated Walden when I read it in high school. In fact, read should be in quotation marks because I only read every third page of it. Sorry, AP English teacher whose name I forgot.


Ardently Adventuring

A couple weeks ago I was talking about the addictiveness of the Pomodoro Technique with the woman who introduced me to the concept. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s been in the back of my mind ever since. I thought about it again this morning as part of the larger concept of self-care/life optimization.

I’ve reached the point where I’m constantly experimenting with new ways to take better care of myself. Quitting sugar has been a huge improvement for me (and two weeks from today I can consider myself an official quitter), and just this morning I decided that my next experiment is to make the first hour of my day computer-free.

This process of experimenting with new quality of life improvements feels addictive too. The more changes I make that lead me to feeling, for lack of a perfect word, better, the more I want to try other things. As I feel happier and more energetic, I want to spend less time in front of the computer, etc.  I’m choosing to me curious about this rather than judging it good or bad.

Have any of you had similar experiences?

Discipline and More Discipline

This post could potentially be subtitled, “Don’t do what Margaret did”, or maybe just, “Oops”.

I was talking with a client recently about how regimented we need to be about self-care. Has this ever happened to you? I had started to feel much better recently; I felt stronger, I had more energy, and my sleep had really improved. So I started to get a little bit lazy about my self-care. I would skip my nighttime meditation one day, skip my walk another, and I did a pretty poor job with my diet.

Then came the wrist flare-up. It wasn’t nearly as bad as a couple of them have been, but it didn’t respond to my go-to treatments. For about a week I just had to grit my teeth and live with it. It definitely brought home to me that for all my hard work so far, I’m still in a transitional period- my body still needs to build reserves. So it’s back to being regimented with my efforts. In fact, I’m actually experimenting with a couple of new radical self-care ideas.

There’s a bit of a silver lining to this tale of woe; I find that I’m not discouraged by this. It’s kind of fun to try to think up new ways to treat myself better. Plus, once I got back on track I seem to be recovering pretty quickly. That’s definitely a sign of progress in my book.

To my fellow adventurers, keep up the good work!

New Look

I’m doing that thing bloggers do sometimes (besides wear blazers with jeans and sneakers) and messing around with the appearance of my blog. I’ll probably be playing around with it for the rest of 2014 or so. Feel free to let me know what you think, but please only do it in the comments of this post. Thanks!

Good vs Bad! (or not)

One of the most deeply ingrained habits that I’m trying to change right now is my tendency to categorize things as good or bad. Kale is good, sugar is bad, or joy is good, anger is bad, or my favorite, my injury-prone side is bad, my not injury-prone side is good. I’ve been making these kinds of judgments for as long as I can remember, I bet that most of us have. I just accepted these kinds of thoughts as facts and didn’t really examine them further.

It was actually in my first oncology massage class that I started to question this. I think that every oncology massage instructor who is awake will at some point tell students to never refer to a client’s compromised side as the “bad” side. The sides are treated and untreated (assuming this even applies). That was straightforward and easy to accept. Don’t call part of a client’s body bad.

But what about my own body? Do I have a “bad” side? My left biceps femoris is weaker than my right, so is it bad? I’ve certainly referred to it that way in the past. It’s not bad to have a weaker side though, it’s a consequence of going through life. It’s something that I am working to change, but I’m not going to refer to parts of my body as “bad” until I somehow achieve perfect balance. I’m going to try to re-frame that for my clients too. Maybe you have a weaker side, a less-flexible side, a side that hurts more; and that’s what we’ll call it.

I think that the same can be said for food: some are (much) more nutrient-dense than others. I’m working to cut way down on my sugar intake, but I’m doing it because my other health issues seem to decrease when I do that. Not because I have judged sugar and determined it is bad. What about our emotions? What happens when I judge that some of my emotions are bad? Will I still let myself experience them fully? Because that doesn’t seem to be how I roll. I don’t want to get too deep into either of these topics because I am neither a nutritionist nor a mental health professional. I’m just someone trying to live the fullest life that I possibly can.

I think that the more I am able to let go of this instinct for categorizing everything in these terms, the kinder it will make me. Towards myself and the people around me. Is anyone else out there trying something similar? I know of various people who have inspired me with their blog posts about this. It’s still kind new to me. So much of this is, really. Which is such an exciting place to be at!

With Gratitude

My heart is full of love and gratitude as I type this post. I am grateful to my clients for allowing me to be a part of their journeys and for enabling me to do something I truly love with my life. I am grateful to my friends and colleagues for all their support during a year with a lots of ups and downs. I am grateful to my family for believing in me, especially in those times I doubted myself. I am grateful to you, the people who read this blog, for engaging with me on this grand little adventure. Finally, I am thankful for the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with my parents for the first time in a decade.

I'll be busy snuggling with this guy for a week, so I'll be slow(er) to respond to comments.
I’ll be busy snuggling with this guy for a week, so I’ll be slow(er) to respond to comments.

Hibernation Powers, Activate

And so it begins
And so it begins

Last night we had our first snow accumulation of the season in Chicago. I’m not a big fan of snow, but I usually get a little bit excited for the first snowfall or two. Not this year; last night I looked out my window with resignation. I don’t think I fully recovered from last winter, and now this year it’s starting early. So what now? It’s a good time to scale back a little on the demands I place on myself, that’s what.

I’m trying an experiment this late autumn/winter. I’m allowing my pace to slow down a little. I’m going to give myself a minimum of one day a week where I really let myself rest (and I’m going to try to make it two), where I stay cozy and work or nourishing myself for the rest of the week.

Today that means I have chili cooking on the stove and a dear friend coming over later to share it with. My music is super happy-making (the hair band station, don’t judge me) and my slippers are the fuzziest. I have also chatted with family and played my guitar. I think tomorrow will be easier because I took it easy today.

Let’s all try to treat ourselves and each other a little more gently this year, I’ll bet we could use more kindness and care. How about you, friends and readers? Do you plan to scale back? How will you nourish yourself in this season of darkness and cold?

Feelings Monday

I woke up this morning feeling bruised and fragile, and with an inability to get settled. The only thing that sounded appealing was to get under the covers and have a good cry. As the morning went on and I got ready for work, I kept getting more and more agitated. I knew it had something to do with a conflict I’d had the day before; one that involved realizing a person I love and admire thinks less of me than I had realized. It wasn’t pleasant, but I thought it was handled.

Once I actually got out of my apartment, I realized that it wasn’t handled. I was sad and not acknowledging that fact. I realized that I needed to sit and be sad for a bit. I thought back to a conversation I had last week with my friend and colleague, Amanda Leuthardt, about the difference between acknowledging feelings and acting on them. I was attempting to ignore my sadness, and it was trying to come out on its own.

The solution to this agitation didn’t take much, but I wouldn’t call it easy. I found a quiet place to sit and gently said hello to my sadness. I acknowledged and accepted it, and sat with it for a time. I changed positions a couple of times, until I got comfortable (in my original position, no less). I felt a little nauseous, and like something was stuck in my throat (as an aside, it is way past time for me to read up on Chakras, because I bet this is straight out of a textbook). I just kept sitting, and allowing things to surface. Eventually I shed a few tears, and then felt my breath change. The nausea and throat congestion were gone, and I felt at peace. The conflict still happened, and I still feel a little sad about it. I no longer feel agitated or restless, and I can go about the rest of my day feeling grounded and centered; I can let go of the weight of the aftermath.

It took a lot of time, effort, and help from various professionals to get to a point where I could access this tool. It’s an ability I hope we can all find. I think of it as approaching my feelings with a gentle, “Hello ___” rather than a sword or a shield. This is powerful, powerful stuff, and I am so grateful to be learning more about it all the time.

Finding the Words

When I was a child and a teenager I loved to write. Mostly poetry and short stories, some of which were even well-received by people other than my parents! Somewhere along the trek toward adulthood I lost the passion and instinct for it. It was probably mostly a college thing; science textbooks and lab reports didn’t feed my creative abilities the way fiction did.

Starting this blog was a nice way to ease back into writing, but things didn’t really click fully into place until I started using this as a place to tell little stories again. Suddenly, blogging went from being nerve-wracking to exciting. The final piece has been the clarifying aspect of my mindfulness and meditation practices.

I had this realization as I was walking a new route to guitar class this week. And idea for a creative writing project popped into my head, and I refined it as I walked until I reached a place where I could write it down. Then after guitar class, the first line of a poem came to me. It feels so satisfying to have that part of myself back! Hopefully I’ll write a couple of things worth sharing on here.

Welcome back, words, I missed you.