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Weekend of firsts

15 Sep

There were a lot of firsts this weekend.

I went to the north shore to see my friend JB and her husband. That was a first – I hadn’t been to visit them before. JB and I were friends in college – well, we knew each other in college. I don’t think we were close at all. But Facebook has changed that in recent years. We talk fairly often and she invited me up. And the north shore is always fun, so I figured why not.

I think the last time I was on the north shore was at least 10 years ago. I think the last time was when my ex-husband and I were up there probably in 2005? Or before? Craziness. It’s so beautiful there with fun things to do. Why has it been so long?

Anyway, I drove up Friday night after work. Last week at work was a crazy week. Between my regular job and my part-time job, I worked about 55 hours and didn’t get home before 8:00 any night. Needless to say, I was tired. But I knew we’d have a short weekend, so I figured how bad could it be?

Bad, but not as bad as it could have been. I was so tired. Just before I got to Duluth, I was focusing on how much I needed to focus on driving. Past Duluth, it’s a two lane state highway with zero lights. That was fun. Especially when the car in front of me turned off the road. So I had no one in front of me to be a guide. But I made it safe and sound and without accidents. Whew. But, another first…driving up there alone.

Saturday we went to Split Rock Lighthouse. Another first. I had never been there. And it’s kinda considered one of the top ten landmarks in the state to visit. So we toured the lighthouse – which involved for me a small panic attack about climbing into the actual lighthouse. It’s a spiral staircase. Open heights bother me – the sheer drop on one side makes me dizzy. But I couldn’t go down because there were people behind us. So I continued up. In the lighthouse, I was a bit dizzy but not too bad. My legs though hurt – I think all the muscles tensed up during the panic attack. And then we had to climb down. JB was awesome and supportive. I went slow and tried not to look down the left side.

Then we hiked. Confession: I don’t think I’ve ever been on a hike. I mean, I’ve been outdoors. But not walking and climbing on trails. There are 12 miles of trails at Split Rock; I have no idea how far we went. But you can see the lighthouse here:

002

And we kept going after that and looped around back to the lighthouse.

Then we went back to JB’s house and canned. I’ve never canned before but have wanted to learn. So I was excited to learn! They canned a ton of crap every year – spaghetti sauce, salsa, pizza sauce, roasted tomatoes. I helped (kinda) with salsa and spaghetti sauce. And I feel like I learned enough to be able to try it on my own! Think of the money I could save – once I make the investment in equipment that is. Bonus: they sent me home with some salsa, spaghetti sauce, and pizza sauce. Score!

Sunday we went to Tettegouche state park and did a short hike. Another first – I don’t think I’ve been to Tettegouche before. Stunning views of course:

004

Lake Superior is so breathtaking. And awesome in the awe-inspiring sort of way. Those of you who live on or near oceans know this far better than I do. But Lake Superior is just to big, so majestic, so POWERFUL. I don’t think I could ever go on that lake. Especially after you hear about the shipwrecks.

Then sadly, I had to leave. Drove home by myself. I stopped at Betty’s Pies – another first! I have never eaten there. But I’ve heard so much about it that I had to stop. And the pies? Well worth the hype and then some! I got blueberry and Great Lake Crunch. I didn’t keep all of them though even though I wanted to. But they’re so good!! (OMG I just found out you can buy them online!)

So it was a great weekend. And I could feel myself relaxing the whole time. The tension in my shoulders and my headaches went away. Ahhhhhh. Of course, now they’re back. Boo.

I’m looking forward to going up there again soon – JB said she’d teach me to snowshoe!

Does therapy end?

25 Aug

As you all know, I see a therapist. How often I see her depends on what’s going on in my life. Sometimes it’s every week, sometimes it’s once a month.

nuts
(I don’t think that ever happened.)

I saw her a few days after I moved. There were a lot of transitions going on then that I was nervous about. We scheduled a time for a few weeks after that, which I had to cancel. We rescheduled, and then she had to cancel. I saw her Saturday, which was about 6 weeks after I last saw her. Before my appointment, I was thinking what I wanted to talk to her about. And I realized – I didn’t have much to go over.

So we talked on Saturday about that. To her, it’s a good sign when patients start forgetting appointments or don’t have much to say. Almost every situation I talked to her about ended with “so I did this and this and it got better”. I have tools. I’ve learned that there are situations (like MOVING) that make me stressed and anxious, but I know how to get through them. There haven’t been any new situations or issues that I’ve really needed her guidance for a while.

But I know there will be. And I believe that everyone really could do therapy forever. The danger though is that therapy becomes a crutch, and a person doesn’t really learn how to with things on their own.

So does therapy end?

We decided yes, kinda. Because I don’t have much to say lately, I have and use good tools and self-talk for coping with situations, and I don’t want to give up my Saturday mornings, we decided to stop the regular schedule appointments. Well, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with that, so we’re going with every two months for now. (Of course, I can still call her and go see her if I need to in the meantime.)

But overall, it made me feel good. I’ve come a long way in the last 8-9 years. (Which is how long I’ve been seeing her.) I’m MUCH less anxious than I was when I starting seeing her. (For those of you who have met me in the last 5 years, you have no idea – this is less anxious!) I’m luckily to have found a therapist I really connect with. And I’ve worked hard to learn these new skills and tools to be able to cope. So YAY ME!

Tough week = yoga

20 Aug

This week has been tough so far. Apparently the universe hates me this week. Or my biorhythms are just way off. Who knows. But I decided to do a bit of yoga when I got home to try and clear the brain and body.

I have a subscription to YogaGlo which is awesome. yoga galSo many videos to choose from, so many ways to filter. I chose a basic one for 30 minutes that focused on stress reduction. I’ve used yoga before for that and it’s always worked well for me. I haven’t been in a habit of it for the last year or so. I’m hoping to focus on getting back into it after I get running on a regular basis again. (One step at a time!)

A strange thing happened when I started it today. It sounds weird (although not if you do yoga)…I felt the energy moving. I felt it going into places in my body that have just been closed off and tense. I felt my breathing deepen – far deeper than it has been in a while.

And it’s made me realize a few things. One, yoga really helps me. Even 30 minutes helps me. And two, boy have I been stressed. You’d think running would beat a lot of that out of me but apparently not yet. So I think this weekend, I’m going make a list (yay lists!): what am I so stressed about? And what can I do each day to help counter that?

Besides cocktails, of course. ­čśë

manhattan-cocktail

How terrible

12 Aug

I think everyone is still a little sad and shocked from yesterday. The death of Robin Williams is so tragic. There really are no words.

But people still try to say things. And the things that are pissing me off are the people who talk about his suicide as selfish and the people who talk about him not keeping a bit of the laughter he gave to others.

Clearly, these people are lucky to not have anyone in their lives that suffer from severe anxiety and/or depression. Because if they did, they would understand a little bit better and be a bit more sympathetic.

Depression lies. I’ve said it before, the Bloggess has said it before (and in a far better way than almost anyone can), Wil Wheaton has said it before, Allie has said it before. When you’re in a depths of an episode, you believe what your brain is telling you. And it’s not telling you the truth. And asking for help in that moment is the hardest thing to do. Even doing the one thing that could turn the downslide around seems impossible to do.

Selfish? No, what Robin Williams was not selfish. It was sad and tragic. My heart goes out to him that he felt nothing else could be done, that he felt so much pain that killing himself was the only way to end it.

Keep a piece of the laughter? Yes, he gave a lot of joy and laughter to others. But it’s not like he choose to not keep himself happy. This is an ILLNESS, people. When will our society start accepting mental illness as a real medical issue and start treating it as such?

I pray for his family and friends, all the people whose lives he touched. I pray that he now finds the peace that eluded him in life. I pray for anyone who has lost someone to this because this is probably bringing back all those feelings again. And I pray for anyone who is suffering from any sort of mental illness.

If you are one of them, like me and a lot of people I know, please get help. Call a professional if you can. Call the National Suicide Hotline. Call a friend. Even when nothing else seems possible, when all you can do is lie in bed and cry, please please please try to reach out to one person and say “I need you.”

And always remember, depression lies.

We all have that one thing…

5 Aug

We all have that one thing. You know, the thing we’re totally vain about? The one thing about ourselves that we love? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. For me, it’s my hair. It’s not GREAT hair – no hair modeling pictures or anything. But I have thick hair. That’s what most people comment on – that and the color but we’ll get to that. And for the thickness, that’s just good old genetics at work. But I get a lot of compliments on my hair – always have – and recently lots of people have been asking about my hair care routine. So here are my tips for hair aka what I do about my hair.

1. Get a good stylist. I go to Jennifer at Mezzanine Salon. She is fantastic! She knows me, she knows what I like, what I’ll put up with, how far to push me in changes…absolutely the best stylist I’ve ever had. She’s the one who convinced me that going brunette (from my natural color with blond highlights which is what I had) would look great. (My natural color is a dirty dishwater blond. I think? It’s been a while since I’ve seen it.) She’s been good at making small, palatable changes with my hair. And finally in January I realized that her changes were always good even if I was skeptical at first. (Because I’m proud of my hair and draw a lot of confidence from it, I’m always hesitant to change it.) And I trust her completely. So I let her know that the next cut and color were up to her. I had complete faith in whatever she thought was best. So we talked about it and in February, she cut off 6 inches and added red to the brunette. I love it! Since then, because then she was still a little nervous about how I’d take a major change like that, she’s added more red each time I color and some blond highlights that look better than they sound. So, bottom line…find a stylist you love and who understands you and your likes/wants.

You know how I’ve talked about how important it is to talk to your dance teacher? Same thing here…talk to your stylist. Jennifer lets me ask a ton of questions – what does this product do, how do I style that, I have this problem when drying my hair…it’s great. I try to tip well to compensate for all my questions.

2. Invest is good styling tools. I use a $20 hairdryer from Target, but I bought a professional grade flat iron and curling iron. Regular Target-type flat irons and curling irons just can’t compete with the thickness.

3. Use good product. Haircare is the one place I won’t go cheap; I buy salon brands. And after using salon brands for about 6 years, I can see a difference in my hair. It used to be big and kinda frizzy; I had to use a flat iron every day to try and tame it. (Not like 80s mall hair big – just poofy due to the thickness.) I’m a big believer in Bumble & Bumble products. They work for me and my hair.

4. Don’t wash your hair every day. Even the idea of that one was super hard for me to get used to. Until I went brunette and realized my color will last longer (and therefore I wouldn’t need to color as often) if I didn’t wash it every day. I wash it about every three days give or take. Except I do wash my bangs every day unless I’m pulling them back completely. They get greasy gross if I don’t.

So my routine…

*wash hair (B&B thickening shampoo – it’s not really to thicken my hair, it just means it’s not as heavy as others)

*use conditioner (B&B Super Rich conditioner – lots of moisture)

*spray on B&B Tonic

*rub two pumps of Moroccan Oil into the ends

*dry completely (or almost completely – it takes about 15 minutes to dry my hair completely so sometimes (often?) I get lazy and stop at “dry enough”).

*use flat iron.

*spray bangs with hairspray (B&B blue can)

On the non-wash days, I curl it with a curling iron to get some body and bounce and to hide the dirtiness. And on day three, it’s usually a ponytail or a bun.

Once a week I do a hair mask. I got out of that habit in the last year or so, because it’s awkward to live with someone and walk about in a hair mask. Brings the vanity to the forefront. Especially awkward when the person you’re living with has no hair due to cancer. I used to use the B&B Quenching Masque. But it got expensive for me (I have to use a lot due to the thickness of my hair). So I started using coconut oil, which works almost better. Wash hair but leave out conditioner, rub about 3 tablespoons into the ends, wrap in a towel, let sit for 30-120 minutes. I leave it almost two hours. I usually just watch a movie while I’m waiting. Then wash as normal.

So there you go! For those of you who have asked, that’s what I do. And I am by NO MEANS an expert. I just have listened and learned over the last six years. So now I sound like I know what I’m doing.

(And did any of us ever think we’d see the day where I was talking about something about myself I’m proud of??? Oh how far we’ve come…)

Refocus…AGAIN

10 Mar

OK, so every year at New Year’s, I try to refocus. But this year, January was super busy with work, then I got the flu. So now I think I’m over the flu (mostly, anyway). And I’ve gained about 10-15 pounds since Thanksgiving.

So starting today, I’m refocusing again. Food and exercise. Must lose those pounds and get back to where I was, ideally where I was right before I broke my foot. I think that was when I was in the best shape – the thinnest and the strongest and the healthiest.

The thing is I’m not very good at the long haul. I tend to get discouraged and quit when I don’t see immediate results. Dancing is the only place where that’s not true. In dancing, I can wait for the long term gain. But elsewhere in life, not so much.

Every Sunday, I do the crosswords in the paper. And the horoscopes are right next to the crosswords, so I read mine(Virgo), just for fun. But here was today’s:

horoscope

A timely reminder right? Each decision, each day. I can do that.

Down with the flu

25 Feb

Remember I said I got a cold last week? Wednesday night, I got a sore throat. Thursday, I was a bit stuffy and kinda achy. Friday I went to work but left at noon because I wasn’t feeling well. When I got home, I took my temperature and had a fever of almost 100.

Over the weekend, I cancelled all my plans, including my dance lessons. (That was tough.) Saturday, my fever got to over 101. Other than going to the grocery store and paying a bill, I literally did not move off the couch the whole weekend.

the-flu

Which would normally tough for me. But I didn’t mind it all, which tells you how crappy I felt.

Yesterday morning, my fever had broken and was normal, so I went to work. I decided to try and see my doctor or go to urgent care if he wasn’t available. Luckily, he had an opening in his schedule, so I went to see him.

Turns out my cold was the flu. Still is, actually. He told me that while he wouldn’t tell me I had to stay home or I’d die, his preference was that I go home and not go to work again until Thursday at least. He’s worried about it turning into pneumonia, strep, or a staff infection. So I’m not contagious, but I’m susceptible to other germs right now.

So I’m home today. On my couch. Thank god for Netflix and Hulu! I watched the whole “The Borgias” series over the weekend (which was really good). Today I started season two of “House of Cards”. Which is really good. Especially the plot twist in the first episode – WHAT WAS THAT.

I’m not antsy yet, which tells me I’m still not anywhere near 100%. The downside is that I’ve had to cancel a bunch of dance lessons, so I haven’t had one since February 12 other than one exchange lesson last week. Two weeks without a lesson with my teacher. And two weeks of no parties or group classes. I miss it.

But I need to get well. I need to not go to dance so I get better faster. I need to be careful about how much I work so I don’t overdo it. Because being sick really gets in the way of living my life.

Relaxing is hard

11 Feb

I took yesterday and today off as vacation days. And they’re really hard days.

I have a hard time relaxing. I always feel like I should be doing something. The idea of just sitting and reading, or watching a movie, or just knitting is very hard for me to grasp.

relaxing
I can’t do this.

You see, before I started dancing, my life WAS just sitting around on my ass not doing anything. I’m much happier now as an active person. And my life now is super busy with work, the part-time job, and dancing. So I don’t get a ton of time to just relax. So when I do get more than a half hour, I’m not sure what to do.

For me, I feel incredibly guilty if I just watch movies or read all day. At the end of the day, I have horrible guilt that I should have done more that day.

But I desperately need these two days. I’m tired from having a crazy January with lots of overtime and dance camp. My boss even noticed that I seemed a little run down and encouraged me to take both days. He knows that I only take time after dance events or if I’m going somewhere. I don’t take time off just to be at home often.

I’ve been talking to my therapist about this issue. I mean, I really should be able to just have a day or a half day of nothing. So for me, it’s finding the balance between getting stuff done and just hanging out.

So yesterday, I went to the gym. Then I read for a while, then I watched movies while knitting. (Thank god for knitting…it really makes me feel like I’m not wasting time.) And by the way – did you know the Ken Burns documentaries are streaming on Netflix now??? I cleaned out some files. I went to dinner with a friend and went to the group class at the studio. All in all, not a bad day. Still felt a little guilty though.

Today, I made brownies and watched a movie. I’m not sure what to do this afternoon. I’d like to go to the gym, but it’s so cold. (One below with a wind chill of 18 below.) I could read more. I could do my taxes – not exactly a day off activity but still needs to be done. I could watch more movies while knitting.

I’m really struggling with what to do with my day that will be relaxing and yet not make me feel like a slug that’s wasted a bunch of time.┬á I know, first world problem, right? It’s so hard to be me – what to do with all my free time today?

What happened to December?

12 Jan

You may have noticed that I had just a few posts in between Thanksgiving and now. I had one about Showcase in early December because my friend AD asked me to write that. Other than that, I had a merry Christmas one, a happy new year one, and one about setting goals for 2014. There’s a reason for the lack of posts.

December was very difficult for me. I had a major anxiety/depression episode that started around Thanksgiving and went through Christmas. It wasn’t due to one particular thing – just a lot of little things. The main thing was the holidays – that’s always a difficult time for me. Plus, I’ve been missing Mr Big a lot lately – apparently I’m going through yet ANOTHER layer in grieving the end of that relationship. (I wonder how many more layers there are?)

So I talked to my therapist, I talked to some friends, I did some of the tricks I have to help with this. It was so bad for a while that none of that helped. But right after Christmas, I started to feel better. I jumped on that feeling and kept at it with the tools I have. And I’ve been feeling so much better since new year’s really. Just in time for work to get CRAZY busy – like crazier than it has been in years.

Although I’ve been feeling better this month, it’s just been too busy for me to even think about writing. Which makes me sad. But I think this week will be the last of the crazy craziness, so I should be able to pick up writing on a more regular basis soon. I’m thankful that I have you readers, and I hope you’ll come back.

Oh, and starting the 20th…DANCE CAMP!!

 

Time to refocus

1 Jan

Happy new year!

Here we are again. As I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of resolutions. But I know I’m not perfect, by any means, unlike Calvin:

calvin-and-hobbes-new-year

(I love that cartoon.)

So looking back at what I wanted to focus on in 2013 and setting the focus for 2014…

Physical health
I did get back to the gym on a regular basis. I certainly ran more. But then I broke my foot. I was in such great shape prior to that, and it’s been hard to get back into a regular routine with any sort of endurance. But this week has been good. So for 2014 I’ll keep working on going to the gym regularly, building endurance, and running more.

Food
My eating didn’t change much this year, although I somehow got a little sugar addiction lately. Boo on holiday food. So let’s refocus on that for 2014: more veggies!

Writing
My writing was definitely done in waves. I had stretches of lots of blog posts, and then nothing. (See: lack of posts in December.) So there’s the focus for 2014: more consistent blogging.

Dancing
Breaking my foot really made me appreciate dancing. Prior to that, I was going to more groups and practicing on my own. After I broke my foot, I practiced a lot because I was working on checking out. But since then, I’ve struggled to get into a routine. So after the holidays, it’s more group classes, more practicing on my own, and still appreciating it.

Creative hobbies
I stopped baking for a while in the last few months for various reason. I packed my grandma’s recipes, so I can’t go through those until after July. But I’ve baked more this week and will continue to do so. I did learn to crochet but didn’t practice, so now I need a refresher. I certainly knitted more this year and will continue to do so for 2014!

Relationships
No movement there. Meaning no action taken on my part to have anything happen. Stupid Mr Big still in my brain. But steps have been taken this week…more on that soon.

Money
I’ve made some progress towards my financial goals, although Christmas was not planned for as well as it should have been. Oops. So I’m going to take the first six months of 2014 and refocus on money.

Mental health
This year, I realized that my issues are like a chronic condition. I will always have them; I can only cope with the flare-ups. And I’ve done a better job of that lately. This will always be a focus for me though.

At the end of the day, I still strive for this:

peace

And hope to remember this:

light of your being

I hope 2014 is everything you want it to be. Happy new year!

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