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.

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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.

Funk

I’m not really doing Lent this year.

My colleague and I were talking about Lent yesterday and he asked what I gave up this year. I told him nothing. And that I had thought about what I haven’t had and just saying that’s what I had given up. I thought I hadn’t had wine, but then I remembered, oh yeah, I have had wine since Lent started. Dang it. The wine was good, though.

I got a hair cut on Tuesday. I took a great run on Monday. My day got away from me yesterday and I wasn’t able to run. I’ve been sleeping okay, after I take something to help me sleep. But the kid still likes to wake up super early.

Self care exercise, hair cut, and sleep aren’t cutting it. I’ve been in a funk since late last week. Energy way down. I feel like sadness is emanating from my pores. Maybe I need to change my meds.

Being in a funk to me feels like being stuck in mud and not sure what to do about it. It feels helpless. I’m starting to feel like I am cycling through the downer part of my bipolar cycle. Or maybe I’m in the descent to it. I have some ideas of how to feel better immediately, but those ideas are things that aren’t necessarily good for me and would probably lead to the manic side of my bipolar cycle.

I’d like to get off this ride and just be normal. For now, you’ll find me doing this, I guess. I need to go find a wall to rest my undersized plump elbows on:

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Tell me a joke? Make me laugh? Please? Leave me a comment in any case. They don’t show up until I approve them, so if you don’t want me to publish it, I won’t.

Thanks for reading.

Getting Better

At least, at running.

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Hooray! Sub 9-minute miles average! My fastest average yet, and 8 mile run is pretty great, too.

I hadn’t run in a week so I was happy to be running, I bought some new running gear, and I’ve been lifting weights. And it was gorgeous outside. All were good contributors to this time.

I thought I was running kind of slowly, but I guess it’s gotten easier to go faster? Kind of magical.

 

Feelings

I chatted with someone this past weekend who said he “wasn’t into feelings.” After some questioning, I understood his comment to mean he is uncomfortable or annoyed by people who are over-sharers of their emotions and feelings. That’s understandable, but for a while I was beginning to wonder how self centered he was!

As a person who struggles with identifying how I feel, labeling my emotions correctly, and then sharing my emotions with others, I was reacting to this guy by thinking, “wow, is he only talking to me about this because he knows me well enough to know that I don’t talk about my feelings all the time?”

This wasn’t a heart to heart by the way. He was merely making conversation.

I can’t stop thinking about it, though, as this is so central to the work I’m doing in my life now.

If you search for images on emotions or feelings, you’ll find A LOT of images.

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Wouldn’t it be funny if I printed this out and started pointing to the face of how I am feeling when I talk to someone? I’m afraid even if I did that, no matter what I say in conversation, I’d still point to “Happy” unless I am either mirroring their emotions or trying to prove a point, usually through a joke.

I find other people’s feelings to be fascinating. Especially when I see someone who is willing and able to exhibit strong emotions.

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I’m also a seeker of the best word or phrase when deciding on expression. This chart is a great example of what I may go through, when I feel a certain way and I try to muddle through the nuance of how to describe it.

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I think it’s a really good chart! I may print it out and see if it helps me pinpoint my emotions more readily.

I noticed that I keep using the terms feelings and emotions interchangeably. That’s not exactly correct, but I do have trouble with identifying both. Emotion describes how your body is reacting to a stimulus, and a feeling describes how your mind interprets that emotion. And, I have to add, your thoughts are the rationalizing of what to do and behavior is what you do eventually with the thoughts and feelings. Hence, the wise advice of thinking before you act.

My issues stem from questioning my emotions and the feelings they evoke. My default is to think WAY too much, question myself WAY too much, before I act (or not act). I squash my feelings so I often deny myself from letting my emotions evolve into feelings. I play it safe because my whole life has been a series of good results (mostly) when I kept my feelings to myself and bad results (mostly) when I reacted to something. In other words, I have been a lot less likely to make a fool of myself or hurt others if I keep my stronger, truer emotions to myself. I have been a cool, collected person. I deny myself so much eventual happiness this way — maybe?? — which is of course severely frustrating.

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Thank God for running. And meds. And therapy.

Thanks for reading.

Irked.

I’m having a silly work issue and no one believes me when I told them the system wasn’t working.

Even Josef didn’t fully believe me. Said he was playing devil’s advocate by suggesting it was operator error. If it had been operator error, I would have known that earlier than the two full days and nights of trying to work through the issue. I don’t pretend to be a genius, but come on, don’t treat me like I’m stupid.

I’m so angry right now. Frustrated. I even cried a little.

I feel like the little girl I used to be, trying to explain something to the adults and older siblings in my life and no one believes me. I’m not being petulant or trying to cover for my lack of efficiency. I am WELL aware of my lack of efficiency — but this issue was standing in my way, making my lack of efficiency even WORSE, thank-you-very-much.

It’s a crap feeling and makes me want to run away, frankly.

Time to look at those ocean pictures again, I guess.

When I Want to Run Away, I Look at the Pretty Ocean Pictures

It would be so nice to go stare at the ocean right now. My heart is crying for it. Heal me, Ocean, I want to say to it. Tumble me like a rough stone and make me smooth. Let me form a seat in the sand and let the waves form a back-and-forth blanket over me. Let my tears join the sea.

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I know the water is heavy and the sand can rip away my skin. I know there are creatures in the ocean that would just as soon eat me for dinner.

But that almighty weighty crash and stinging salt breeze whipping through my hair would do wonders for me now.

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It’s an ineffable primordial feeling to respond to the sea, a feeling I carry from my earliest memories. My son surely has a similar set of feelings imprinted.

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I especially love the wildness of a summer storm on the sea. While I wouldn’t care to be there for a hurricane, there is a thrill to seeing Mother Nature doin’ her thang.

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And then, this magical thing happens:

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The whole place is simply that: magical. Food for the soul.

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Ahhhhh.

Summer can’t get here quickly enough.

Fasching Weekend in Helen

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It was a date weekend for Josef and me, and there were activities all weekend. Between costume changes and making new friends and staying up way too late each night, the weekend flew by!

My sister gave me Jem and the Holigrams earrings for Christmas this year, and this was the perfect occasion to wear them. I met this group of ladies who had stumbled upon Helen and found out about our party Friday night. I don’t really know what my costume was, but my wig and tights matched.

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I was very tall that night. Josef’s suit is made in the same material as the Bavarian flag. He was playing music between the sets of the live music.

That feather boa looked great, right? I danced with my friend Sue, and after the song ended, I smelled something funky. I wasn’t sure what it was, only that it smelled horrible. I left the dance floor in a hurry in order to leave the smell. BUT IT FOLLOWED ME. In the words of Cathy of the comic strip in the same name, ACK!

I made Josef smell me, and he smelled it, too. BARF.

I couldn’t last all night smelling like this. The culprit was the feather boa. The good thing about the location of the party was that it was possible to go home and change, so I did. I don’t have any pictures of my second costume, but the only thing it had in common with the first costume were the shoes, tights, and earrings. The dress, the boa, and the wig were set out to air out.  I’ve had the boa since college, and apparently when you store them for a long time and then introduce body sweat, what results is the nastiest smell I’d smelled in a long time. And that’s saying a lot as the mother of a young child who has had diapers in the recent past.

I changed into a white dress and wore a silver wig. And the party went on.

The next day was the tubing parade, and I put on my unicorn outfit!

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Here’s our whole group as we set out on our adventure.

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That night there was yet another party, and I went as a cat.

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It was fun, but I was pretty tired out. Plus I was developing a pretty bad sore throat. We invited folks over to our house, where they all made fun of me because I had no voice.

On Sunday, right before we left to go back to Atlanta, I helped Josef move some furniture. We were moving a futon, and I was walking backwards with it. Bang! went the side of the futon on my shin. I reacted to it hitting my shin by straightening my legs, and OUCH! went my lower back. Son of a gun, it hurt! Between my throat, shin, and now back pain, I wasn’t sure how I’d deal with a small child once we got back to Atlanta. I worried about work the next day, too.

I wound up calling in sick, got the child to school, went back home and slept all day. I’m much better today. My back is 95% better, my throat still hurts a lot, my shins still hurt, and I have a barking cough. I really want to go run but I think I’d better heal some more.

And today is Valentine’s Day, so I am sending lots of love to the readers who take the time to read this!

Thanks for reading.

This Weekend, I Get to Be a Unicorn

More info to follow. I don’t have a picture yet.

It’s Fasching season in Helen. Fasching is German Mardi Gras or Carnival. Costumes are encouraged, and it doesn’t take much for me to want to dress up in a costume. TWIST MY ARM, GAH!

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That’s me with the rainbow hair above.

Hmm, maybe I should get into cosplay? Funny how there are two cow costumes in those pictures. We should have coordinated better to get the cows together.

Anyhow, tomorrow I will tubing down the river in Helen with a bunch of crazy people also in costume. I’ll be skipping out on taking shots of schnapps this year. To more than make up for that, I’ll be going as a unicorn.

I learned this morning that the unicorn has been the national animal of Scotland since 1300. So I am representing my people.

Cheers, my dears!

Thanks for reading.

Perspective Is Reality

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Yesterday I wrote about Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. It’s a lot of work to shift how you feel/think/behave. You have to put in the work to be flexible enough to change your perspective in order to make the first move toward re-framing your thoughts.

Take the illustration above. Aside from being funny, it illustrates such an important reminder that we shouldn’t necessarily believe everything we think. Both of these people are correct, but they are also wrong. Memories can be false, all the information cannot be known, other people’s motivations can drastically differ from our own, etc. There are lots of reasons we come up with different assumptions, certainties, and beliefs about how things are. This, of course, is frequently the basis of arguments between people over any given issue.

What is correct? I’ve come to believe it’s arbitrary most of the time.

That’s why I believe it’s more important to be kind than to be right.

This is the way to good relationships. Agree to disagree, and respect that conclusions were reached the same way but with differing results. Whether we’re talking politics, raising children, what happened in a car accident, what was decided in a work meeting, or a number of other topics, we can never assume everyone believes things exactly the same way.

Again, flexibility is what is needed here. Flexible thinking. Flexible certainty.

But Susan, you say, how can you stand for anything if you have to be so flexible with your thinking? How can you be certain of anything at all?

Well, reader, I think it’s perfectly fine — in many cases — to be set in your ways and have solid beliefs you cling to in order to make sense of the world. This is what makes you who you are.

It’s what you do with your beliefs (behaviors) that matters. If you feel, for instance, that you’re worthless, think that everything that happens to you is solid proof that the world is out to get you or that your life has no value, and behave angrily/sadly/dejectedly/anxiously OR act as though nothing’s wrong, as a result of those feelings and thoughts, you’re most likely bound for a mental disorder. I speak from experience, so this is my own interpretation and even validation of this counseling model helping to get out of that cycle.

My therapist has hit the point home: we cannot control other people, places, and things. There is so much out of our control. Most things IN life are out of our control. Not to say that we can’t try to take control to work toward a desired outcome. But, too many times in my life I have assumed responsibilities that weren’t mine: trying to make others happy, carrying their burdens far more than I should have, trying to please everyone I lived and worked with to the detriment of my own happiness. The underlying motivation of this behavior was fear of not being loved and the fear of others confirming that I wasn’t valuable. My core belief was that I didn’t matter, so I tried to build myself up by trying to be perfect. This meant I didn’t share my feelings, and in fact, questioned the validity of my feelings. My feelings were so out of line with my thoughts and behaviors.

Sit there and be a good girl, even though you want to scream out in frustration right now.

When you see someone at work, and they ask you how you are, smile and say, “great, how are you?” even though you feel like slipping through the cracks in the floor and disappearing forever.

Perception is reality. When others see you as upbeat, happy, successful, then they perceive that you are until you show them differently. It takes a LOT of energy to spend so much of life trying to portray yourself as having it all together when you certainly don’t.

Frankly, I got too tired to uphold it all and I started caving in under the pressure. That was when the mood disorder really hit hard. Everything I touched seemed to crumble in my hands, and no amount of emotional duct tape and glue could hold it up. My work was suffering, my marriage suffering, my ability to parent, my ability to keep times and dates straight, etc. It affected every realm of my life.

I had to start working on how to perceive myself. That’s the shift in thoughts I needed to make. I had to make my insides match my outsides. While I am not there yet, I am getting closer. I speak my find far more often, ask for help more often, say no far more often. I ask for forgiveness a lot. Changing my thoughts on my personal values is changing my feelings and behaviors.

That’s my stream of consciousness for today. 🙂

Thanks for reading.