In the Laugh Because Otherwise You’d Cry Category

I saw an image yesterday that made complete sense to me as being a symbol of how I deal with tasks and problems in my life.

I’m particularly terrible — but getting better at!! — prioritization.

So let’s say there’s something terribly stressful going on. If I could just DEAL with it, it might very well go away. But, I allow myself to see something else that can be done more easily, and so I go on the path of least resistance, thinking I could relieve some stress by knocking something else off of my to-do list.

It doesn’t really work, though. My stress doesn’t actually dissipate despite lessening the burden with the item of less importance crossed off the list. My coping mechanism is a joke in that case.

Anyway, here’s the image. This is so me.

Me dealing with my life problems

“Yep, that’s a tornado. Yep, it’s an issue. But, dang it, I’ve GOT to mow the lawn, so I am going to do that instead so I’ll feel better about addressing something that I’ve been needing to deal with!”

 

 

 

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Making Mean Faces

The other day, I was picking up a prescription from the pharmacy counter at Publix.

I’ve always thought of prescriptions as a rather personal thing. You know the pharmacist has a lot of power with all the information they have in their database. They know why you may be taking the drugs they’re issuing you. It seems most folks uphold the modicum of privacy when it comes to transactions at the pharmacy counter, leaving a respectful distance (albeit framed by impatience!) between themselves and whomever is waiting ahead.

I was mid-transaction. I’d signed for my prescription and was about to get the goods and pay, when a man around 50 years old basically sidled up NEXT TO ME. My defense mechanisms sounded the alarms. I had a grocery basket on the counter in front of me for my drugs to go in after I’d paid for them as I still had some shopping to do. The encroacher put his basket on the counter NEXT TO MINE. The hell? All of this silently went down and I shot the dude a nasty look to tell him to step away, but he wouldn’t even look at me. He instead gazed at the pharmacist. I paid, being sure to cover his view of my card PIN, and shot him one final withering glance that told him where he and his drugs could go, and I walked away. Creep.

Why do I write about this? Because I have never been one to make mean faces at people to show my disdain for them. I never would have done that in the past. I might even get to the point where I could vocalize my displeasure to future encroachers to not stand so close to me. (“Don’t stand, don’t stand so, don’t stand so close to me.”)

Seriously. Dude. Back the F off.

This means I am changing! This is ultimately a good thing, I think. I hope.

It’s kind of fun, expressing myself with my real emotions rather than spending energy covering them. In the past, I would have tried to rationalize the man’s behavior rather than instantly concluding his behavior was inappropriate and doing something to let him know it. I would have told myself to calm down, that maybe he has some sort of social disorder or mental disorder. I’d try to find some way to forgive him for this lack of respect. This time, though, I didn’t process all of that and instead shot him a mean look. It would have been ideal if he had seen the mean look, but at least I did it. I let the world know I felt.

Feeding Myself: Dance

For Christmas I received a gift card for 4 classes at a local dance studio. I’ve been aching to attend a formal dance class for well over 2 years, and I finally went last night. Prompted by avoiding the massive dose of pollen outside, I ditched my plan to go for a run and instead went to a dance class. I’d wanted to do one with more movement, but I was able to go into a stretch class instead. I love stretching, so I was happy to go; I’ll go again soon to a movement class.

Ever the worrier about new places and things, I got there early and told the front desk attendant, I’m new. She kindly helped me out, gave me a quick tour, etc. The studio is really nice! It has a very swanky locker room area, 4 studios, and a good assortment of classes. It doesn’t have Zumba, but it does have Cardio Salsa, which I watched the tail end of as I waited for my class to begin. Will definitely be trying that one!

Stretch class was challenging, but all my stretching on my own paid off. There were only a few times I felt weak, but my abs and back are so much stronger than they’ve ever been in my life, and I felt like I was properly flexible, too. It was a challenge, but not over my head. I can only get better.

It was a little hard to see my physique in the mirror, though. Although I’ve been running, my midsection and thighs and upper arms looked enormous compared to most women in the room. There was a clearly professional ballerina behind me who was tiny tiny tiny, and the lady next to me was tiny tiny tiny and the instructor was tiny, too. I decided to turn my mind to my strength and not my looks. I even smiled, as I remembered how wonderful it felt to be in a real studio and letting my mind go to follow the instructions. I also had to laugh at the obscene amount of sweating I was doing under the very warm light right over me. I also kept spotting hairs from my head all over the floor. I was awkward in these ways, but again, I felt strong. Capable. And I didn’t want it to end. The hour flew by and it was time to go.

I can’t wait to go back. I’ve needed this.

Really Listening

Lean in, says my heart.

I have something to tell you.

Your feelings? They are telling you something. Listen to them.

Those places you described as starvation areas in your life? Feed them. Feed them well and regularly. Hear them cry to you to be fed. Feed them and you in turn will feed yourself.

It doesn’t make you crazy or less-than to wish to spend your time doing what feeds you. How will you ever become who you are meant to be otherwise?

This need to come alive and grow in a new direction? You are ready. Your hard work is paying off. Use your privilege of being alive and use your powers for good. Fear not.

Listen to the Mustn’ts by Shel Silverstein

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be

Being Assertive

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“For no one can fill/ those of your needs/ that you won’t let show.” – Lean On Me by Bill Withers

I’ve always been a humble sort of person. Someone told me in the last year that I’m the least pretentious person he’d ever met. Another friend said I’m so easy going that if someone couldn’t get along with me, then the problem was definitely with the other person.

It’s true that I don’t carry ulterior motives, try not to over-bill myself, and what you see is what you get.

Usually.

Sometimes, however, when you’re this kind of person, others sometimes walk all over you. And because you’re laid back and go-with-the flow, you don’t get out of shape about it.

And when you’re this kind of person already and you get depressed or anxious, you think you *deserve* to get walked all over.

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Until you get fed up.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I will go to bat for anyone else any day and never for myself. I see solutions to other people’s problems so clearly and know how to help them. Or at least advocate for them.

I’ve been working for months on telling others how I feel even if it scares me. There are still plenty of things I can’t say out loud even though I think they are true. I told a friend the other day that some of his behavior was scary to me. At the risk of losing a friend and of course questioning whether I had done the right thing, I did it anyway. That was probably the biggest example of me building the muscles I need to build in order to be more assertive like I’d like to be.

I have two minor, silly examples from the last 24 hours when I have been assertive.

  1. Last night at dinner, I placed an order exactly as the restaurant had told us in the past to order it. It’s a barbecue place, and even though I don’t eat meat, they have a salad I like, and it comes with two hard boiled eggs.  My son loves hard boiled eggs, too, so we started ordering an extra side of eggs for him. Last night, I ordered the salad (which comes with eggs, as you now know), and a side of hard boiled eggs for my son. My salad came out, with eggs on it, and the server said, there are your eggs. I was a little baffled and she flitted away before I could ask her if my son’s eggs were coming. Another server happened by, and I asked if she could confirm if the salad was supposed to come with eggs or if I happened to always get eggs when I’ve ordered it in the past, just in case, you know, they make it without eggs now. She said it comes with eggs (as I thought), so I told her I’d order a side of eggs. She looked pained and unsure that I was being truthful. The other server came by a few minutes later, set down the eggs in a little bowl, and said condescendingly huffy, “you were supposed to pay for them, but here are your eggs. Enjoy,” and walked away scowling. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, and I very badly wanted to assure them this was how I had placed my order, but they were busy and frankly I didn’t want to talk to either server again. But, I am glad I stood up for what I wanted, for what I ordered. In the past, I hadn’t. It wasn’t the first time they didn’t understand what I was ordering. I did decide to kill with kindness by cleaning up the table to make it very easy for them to clear: silverware together, trash gathered, wiped up crumbs, etc.
  2. I got a haircut a few weeks ago. It looked pretty when I left the salon, because, duh, it always looks amazing when you leave the salon. I had told the lady who cut my hair that I typically didn’t have time to blow dry it and that I needed a cut that would dry okay. Fast forward to pretty much every day since the first wash after my haircut. I don’t like it. It looks dippy and I don’t feel pretty. I want something else. Counter to what I would have done in the past, which was settle for the haircut and just deal with it, or go to an entirely different salon (avoidance), I called the salon owner and simply told her I had very patiently tried to get used to it, but that I hadn’t been able to really love this haircut. She can see me tomorrow! And I even asked if she’s going to charge me, and she said, of course not! Phew. So glad I asked.

Again, these are tiny examples but they signify progress I have made in being more assertive about the things I want.

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Thanks for reading.

Publix Half

I think I last wrote on Wednesday that I had ruled out doing the half marathon. In a wave of anticipating regret if I didn’t run it I decided I *did* want to run a half marathon on Sunday after all.

Follow the dotted line on this picture if you’re interested in seeing the half marathon course.

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I bought a bib from someone who couldn’t run, so I paid a lot less than I would have by signing up last minute, and I got to run as a man, haha!

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It turns out Charles is exactly 3 days older than I am, as we were born the same year. I really doubt it, but the girl who sold me his bib said I ran about the same pace he would have run. He threw his back out or had back surgery so he couldn’t participate after all, and I kept thinking, “I’m running this for you, Charles!” like I was some sort of hero or martyr.

The girl I bought the bib from was going to run with me, but she also had to bail because she was very sick. 😦 We were going to take MARTA together. After I learned that, I quickly made other plans to catch a ride with another girl, who I had run in a group run with a month or so back. This turned out to be a great plan, as we were able to talk the whole time! She was funny and she’s a fellow mom, so we got to vent about life post-baby but also talk about how much we love our boys!

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It was around 40 degrees outside so we hung out inside the Omni for a bit, taking the opportunity to pee and stretch as much as possible, but also avoiding the cold for a long as possible. My bib was in corral B, which meant I would have been able to start like a minute sooner than she would have in corral C, but I hung back, suddenly nervous about running by myself. Who knew I was so needy? I definitely had had my freak out before getting a bib about getting to the race by myself (this is one of my hangups, as I can get quite worked up about parking places and running late!), but then I was able to make a plan A (MARTA with bib girl) and then plan B when that fell through. Where there’s a will!

I had been worried about getting to her house by the time she wanted to leave, and after that I didn’t really worry about time or even what to do. She’d run this race twice before, and she just knew things, so I just followed her lead and didn’t worry! Now I know what the deal is with this race so maybe I can guide someone next year.

Downtown Atlanta is so pretty, so that was nice to enjoy:

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The race was pretty good! The course was gorgeous, ran through some really historic parts of town (including Ebenezer Baptist, the Carter Center, etc.). We ran places I’d driven through a million times and through neighborhoods I’d never laid eyes on.

My time included a potty break where there was long line, a few water stops, and jelly bean stop. There were green jelly beans all over the road after that stop, and I couldn’t finish the ones they handed me. There were all kinds of handouts, which was nice in some ways, but a little too much in other ways. I would have needed a serious goody bag or a sherpa to collect and carry all the food they handed out. And runners are trashy! There was so much trash on the ground!

The police and other volunteers along the course were so sweet to cheer us on. I tried to thank them as much as possible. Many folks turned up to cheer on their friends, but they also cheered everyone else on. I got a little teary when the marathon course split from the half, as I was super proud of the marathon runners soldiering on to twice as many miles as we were running. They seemed so heroic to me! Maybe that will be me next year, too. Hmmmm.

My friend and I stayed together most of the race, she got a burst of energy the last mile, so she ran on ahead. I was so proud of her as I know she’d trained up to this race more so than I had. She also had time to snap a shot of me after I crossed the line, sweet!

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It was all in a all a great experience and I’ll run it again, definitely with someone I can talk to the whole time to make it fly by. I’ll try to run it AS myself next time, too, haha.

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Thanks for reading.

Energy, Where Are You?

Earlier this week I was feeling great, motivated, and ready to kick butt. I lifted weights pretty intensely two nights, then did major stretching on day 3, and then ran 7 miles yesterday. It was pretty cold outside yesterday and I had wanted to run a longer distance, but I was stopping to walk too often to keep going.

My mind is especially racing today and I want to either go to sleep or go do something different than routine. My body is sore, which is something that felt good the first few days this week but now makes me feel like I have the flu. Not good.

I was planning to run in the Atlanta Publix Half Marathon this Sunday, but I haven’t purchased my entry and am feeling overwhelmed physically by what would be a really busy Sunday if I were to run in it anyway. I did register for a half in Knoxville in April, so that will happen soon enough.

There’s a friend’s baby shower Sunday afternoon and another friend whose baby I need to go meet that has stuff for the girl with the baby shower. It should be something to look forward to, but thinking about it makes me feel ragged right now. Anticipating exhaustion is exhausting.

And I’m running a 5K next weekend with friends, which I hope will be easy as it’s less than half the distance of what I run usually. It will be my first 5K where I’ve actually been running a lot before I take to the course. I will be the seasoned runner compared to the old me, who, at age 23, could never run and then still run a 5K in about 30 minutes. I’m trying to decide whether to stay with the group of friends or try to be competitive against myself. I’ve gotten myself down to 8 minute miles a few times.

Oh, but that thought makes me feel tired. Pushing myself seems like the worst thing I could do right now.

I’ve been pretty grumpy today, too. Maybe I need sleep.

Thanks for letting me whine at you. Here’s to hoping for an energetic Friday where I can get stuff done.

Inputs

Ever want to cover your ears and go, “la-la-la-la-la?”
My senses get overwhelmed all the time lately. There are too many things competing for my attention.
Some attention grabbers are external: take for instance a moment last fall. My son won’t sit still, my phone is ringing, the waitress wants to take the order, and we’re at dinner with new friends as I’ve discovered I’ve lost my brand new credit card that I had just used to pay for parking. Okay, deep breath. This situation all worked out and I somehow kept my cool and even laughed through it. The phone call was my bank letting me know someone had found my card and had called them to report it. Dinner turned out fun and ended with ice cream. My son was a holy terror but somehow managed to eat his dinner and we didn’t get kicked out of the restaurant. And we made new friends.
If you’re like me, the attention grabbers that reside inside my head are the real stressors. I can’t diffuse them with as much ease as I did at the restaurant. On the outside, I have it all together, but inside it’s like being inside a movie theater and all the walls have come down between each theater and all the movies are playing at once. Loudly, with lots of vibrant colors to draw attention.
It doesn’t really matter what makes up the inside inputs, but it does matter how I control them.
I get overloaded more easily these days, trying to attend to all the things I need to do, need to remember, need to address, or want my attention. I compulsively, I admit, check email far more often than is healthy, and I treat it like I am the phone operator trying to connect all the calls coming in.
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Look how easy and glamorous I make this look!
At work, especially, I treat email like I am on a game show and I must reply quickly and exactly right or I can’t progress. The problem is, I was in the middle of answering another question when I stopped to check my email. I ran a report to answer the first question and checked email as I waited for the report to run. Then a colleague approaches and asks a question, which I try to answer on the spot, because I already know from experience I will never do if I keep interrupting myself. Which I will and do.
Same thing happens when I am home alone (home with family is a whole OTHER story). I start some laundry and then feel smug in how productive I’m being. Then I feel a rush of energy and decide to make something to eat. I look through the items on hand and realize I am going to have to either get creative or go to the store. That makes me feel tired so I end up grabbing an apple instead and sit at the table, chewing away as I look at my phone, meaning to reply to an email or RSVP to an invitation. Instead, I see new emails and posts on Facebook and Instagram, read articles, watch videos, and basically follow a rabbit hole far past the end of the apple.
I realize the washer is done so I get up to transfer the clothes to the dryer. Oh, there are clothes in the dryer, except they are all wrinkly, so I run the dryer for a while to fluff them up. I notice the trash is full, but I don’t take it out. “Later,” I promise it, as if it’s longing for its destiny to land in the dumpster, a thought that makes me laugh out loud. I register that the dishes need to be done, but I will wait on those until after I eat, so I can do them all at once. I may eventually turn on the tv, completely forgetting the laundry, a meal, emails, the trash, the dishes, and lots of other things. If I turn on the tv and lie down, it’s over: I’m taking a nap.
I’d make a terrible phone operator.
Putting A Call Through
A telephone operator putting through a call at a switchboard circa 1930. (Photo by Keystone View/FPG/Getty Images)

How do you deal with too many inputs in your day-to-day life without getting overwhelmed?

Thanks for reading.