Mic check

I’m back with a long overdue update! I basically dropped a pretty big detail about my life and dipped over a month ago.  So where am I now or how am I doing?

The most noteworthy update pertains to my physical activity. For much of 2018, 2019, and the first quarter of 2020, my physical activity was sorely lacking. I barely got a full 30 minutes of exercise daily. Since late April of this year, I’ve now basically averaged over 30 miles weekly (a combination of walking and hiking). For someone who was basically sedentary, it feels equal parts insane and amazing that I’m logging athlete-level mileage. My body and mind feel strong and I am super geeked for the future hikes I’ll be going on. 😄

Given how active I’m becoming, I decided to splurge on a smart watch! I went with the Garmin 645 which has a killer feature I want to call out – live tracking which means when I’m out on a jaunt, I can share my path with anyone! It gives me a sense of safety that can’t be beat. That said, if I lose cell service, which is very likely given the canyons and mountains I like to hike, the live tracking becomes useless and I may consider investing in a satellite communicator. Another cool thing about the smart watch is the various metrics being tracked like my heart rate and fatigue. As I get fitter, my resting heart rate has been (slowly) dropping and I feel like I have a front row seat to my personal transformation. My goal isn’t to be a runner or compete. I just want to have the stamina to hike 20 miles in a day if I so choose. I’m not very far off that goal by the way. The longest walk I’ve been on was a little over 16 miles so I’m keen to see how I progress as the year goes on.

I’d be remiss in not mentioning the riots happening in America. I was affected more strongly than I anticipated and ended up needing some time off work. Thankfully, my employer and manager have been incredibly sensitive to my needs and I feel very fortunate to be part of a company that cares about me personally. This year has been filled with a lot of hurt and I’m grateful that my job isn’t adding to the pile.

Another big thing I’ve been working on is reframing. Reframing is a key tool in DBT therapy which has been helping me tame my emotional storms. In my lay person terms, reframing is about choosing to apply a different lens to a situation. Importantly, the lens you choose to apply when reframing has to be one that “lets you move forward freely… not the one that’s weighed down by your own self-criticism and fear of inadequacy.” It’s an interesting exercise and I feel happier when I employ this technique.

That’s all folks! Lots of sunshine, exercise, and self care. 🌞

Therapy

So I’ve started therapy (again). Several years overdue and this time, I’m paying attention.

The quarantine, passing of my father, earthquakes, and work-related stressors all came together to form a perfect storm of triggers that first sent me to dark places I haven’t been since my ill-fated stint at graduate school. I was able to realize that I was drowning and desperately needed help. So, I asked for help. I now have meds to coax my brain to behave and therapy for cultivating the necessary behavioral changes.

To say these two things have been life saving is an understatement. I feel alive again for the first time in a long while and excited about things again. I no longer self-censor as aggressively as I used to and my husband has his vivacious lover back!

Not all the credit belongs to external forces. M has been a big motivating factor and has been my biggest cheerleader through the worst of it. I feel like I have a renewed enthusiasm for life, living, and I can’t believe it. I spent way too long in the grays and I now feel I can see in Technicolor. 🤗

Anyway, now I’m rambling. I wanted to brag about something else these changes have wrought: my renewed interest in being outdoors. Since the month of May, I’ve walked or hiked over 90 miles and it’s just barely half over! The best part is I’m putting up these numbers in a completely sustainable way!! Being outdoors also means more pictures so expect some photo posts shortly.

Working through the suck

Today started off weirdly. I _know_ that I need certain routines to get me off to a good start but I let my anxiety around something work related get the better of me.

I wasn’t fully present during meditation practice today and wasn’t as productive as I wanted to be. In short, I was frustrated. But my day has ended on a positive note. I confused in M and we went on an abridged lunch walk where I vented. Then, sometime later in the evening, we went on a longer walk where we just talked and moved in silence.

I feel better about my day and proud that I forgave myself for not being at 100%. Some days are just going to be worse or better than others. It’s life.

Putting in the work

After having a rough start to the whole stay-home-forever-due-to-coronavirus thing, I believe I’ve turned a corner in the past two weeks.

I attribute my positive change to the following:

  • Daily meditation/yoga during the work week. This was an initiative by a co-worker and once I started attending regularly, it helped me feel more connected to my coworkers and part of something larger than myself. It also helped to keep me from doing not-work which, for a high strung personality like myself, is huge!
  • Daily exercise in the form of walking outside for at least 40 minutes during my lunch break. I cannot stress enough how important it has been to feel the sun on my skin while walking. Talk about an instant mood lifter! As an African who works a white-collar job, I’m predisposed to not getting enough sunlight and I was definitely on the borderline w.r.t. my vitamin D levels.
  • Medication. Getting on my prescription medication has helped me be calmer and more open to possibilities. Before starting, “no” was my frequent answer to M’s insistent asks to accompany him on walks. Now my default mode is “Sure”! I feel more even and it’s made the lessons I’m learning from meditation sink in a bit better.
  • Daily affirmations. This is a more recent development but I’ve found that my mood is improved after I repeat and meditate on select affirmations. I have my group’s engineering manager to thank for this but I cannot stress how affirming it feels to be nicer to myself and essentially gas myself up. Being kind to myself is something I’ve started doing a lot more and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Overall I feel like a new person with a renewed interest in truly living again. I feel like I’m seeing the world and myself with fresh eyes. It’s fascinating.

My anxiety is still there and in fact, I’ve had very vivid dreams lately about some of my big triggers. The good news is I now have tools to de-escalate when I feel a bout of anxiety coming. For processing particularly disturbing dreams, I’ve taken to taking the sting out of them by acknowledging that

  • I’m likely blowing the interaction out of proportion. I have a history of seeing things (particularly my work output) in the most critical light possible and I now take the time to affirm that I do know my shit and to err is only human
  • It’s okay to be scared and feel the feeling. That I now know what I need to do feel better.

Overall, life has felt amazing despite the scary news in the world. M and I are closer than ever and I feel so blessed to call him my husband. I’m closer with my and his family. I’m opening up more with my coworkers and feeling more confident about sharing my perspectives. I look forward to my continued awakening.

Gratitude Day 4

My office is doing a gratitude challenge and I’ve found it very helpful to keep my spirits uplifted in these trying times. There is indeed truth to counting your blessings and being present enough to be thankful for the little things.

Today, I feel very loved and I’m grateful for a spouse and lover who knows the way to my heart and shows me daily that he loves me. 😀

Unwell

After weeks of a general feeling of malaise, my illness has finally manifested. Elevated body temperature, mild headache, moderate body aches, a scratchy throat / coughing.

I am hoping to be able to wait this thing out. I doubt I have the flu or the virus going around but I’m slightly worried.

Stressing

Back in the saddle and I’m not okay. My patience is fraying and it’s hard to paste a smile on my face and be present.

Work stressors are a recurring theme for M & I. We’re both struggling but still being supportive of each other. There are interesting parallels to our individual situations which is helpful for me to be able observe and adjust _my_ own reactions when I’m in similar situations.

This, too, shall pass.