Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Space

There is a space between making a decision and finally seeing the outcome of that decision.  Sometimes the space feels like it is barely noticeable and sometimes it stretches out and feels like an eternity.  Waiting, prepping and trusting that when the time comes I will be able to actually follow through with that decision.  

What am I talking about?  Adam and I made the decision months ago to move, actually we had been talking about the decision for a long time, but we didn't know how Sterling would handle navigating a new space without his vision.  When Sterling passed away there was nothing holding us to our home, except we didn't have a place to go yet.  New jobs could potentially take us to different parts of the city.  The focus was on  tiny steps, cleaning out closets, going through stuff in the attic, many trips to Goodwill, half-price books, etc...   

Tomorrow we are making a furniture donation, and we recently moved things around to get ready for that.  There are vacant spaces in our house, it feels even larger now, we moved one chair out of our bedroom and the difference is significant.  Post it notes are coming off the walls, little notes we have left each other over the years, decorations are coming off the walls, slowly our home is becoming a blank slate again.  

I am a big fan of purging and getting rid of things, I feel lighter and better.  However, both Adam and I hit a place on Sunday after looking at apartments and understanding what 650 square feet looked like, where we were overwhelmed.  That space of feeling overwhelmed and just wanting to hide for reality allowed us to talk out our emotions and alter some of our plans.   It was an uncomfortable day, it was the day when we saw where this decision might lead and the reality of how many more steps there are until we are settled.  

I woke up Monday morning, and hid in bed for about an hour before going grocery shopping and getting the day started.  I took that space to stay cuddled up in bed, listen to Adam's breathing and try to tell myself it would be okay.  Because as much as this house no longer fits, I love it, there are so many great memories and things about it that are wonderful, but I still can't quite see what I am moving to.  Hence as Adam and I get rid of more and more things, that space I feel internally is becoming externalized.  

It is space to grow, to change and to let go.  Space, vacancy is pretty uncomfortable for me and now I see it in a lot of places in my home.  The space is also what needs to be leaped across in order to make a change.  It is leaping into a sea of possibilities and doing my best to fill the space with exactly what I want instead of just something.  It is taking the moment to pause, and remind myself I am worth patience and time.   

Question of the day: Where is there space in your life and are you taking the moment to pause, to fill it with what you want?




Monday, January 23, 2017

What does it equal?

Adam and I are going through a massive purge in our home, working to get rid of about two-thirds of our stuff.  It has been interesting going through some of the stuff that I have held on to throughout the years.  

I recently stumbled on a high school notebook filled with Anatomy and Physiology notes.  I really enjoyed that class but I couldn't understand why in the world I hung on to this notebook.  When I opened the notebook the notes on pain were dog eared.  My Anatomy and Physiology teacher had spent years researching pain, and therefore a lot of these notes were pretty extensive about which nerves are responsible for transmitting pain, and the various biochemical reactions.  However the thing that caught my eye was "chronic pain = bad."  

It was in a section of notes comparing the difference between acute pain and chronic pain, discussing the lack of homeostasis involved with chronic pain.  I immediately started laughing and told Adam apparently I held on to this notebook for years, for this moment.  A moment when I could laugh at how simple I found life, how easily I split things up into black and white.  That moment when I could laugh that chronic pain sucks, but it not necessarily "bad."   

I think it is safe to say I have a bit of experience with chronic pain at this point, so what does it equal?  I could still discuss the biochemical reactions, the nerves transmitting signals, which parts of the brain interpret those signals, ect... 

However chronic pain = pain, it is not good or bad, yes it might mean some part of the body is not functioning like it used to, but that doesn't mean it is bad or broken.  It means that I take care of myself differently then I used to, it means I have additional information about what my body needs and how to treat myself.  To be honest it also provides me motivation to move, to keep going and to continue pressing on.  I have reprogrammed my mind, I have decided that pain does not mean I am bad, and I continue to execute that program everyday.  

Sadly this is not a skill that "I can set and forget,". It is a skill that is tested time and time again, it is the skill of accepting personal authority.  No one can tell me, it is okay to push it or it is okay to rest; no one can tell me the impact that will have on my well-being.  Each and every day is a new day, and I get to decide what to do, sometimes I need to talk it through, sometimes I ask for advice but in the end I make the decision.  I make the decision which workout to do each day, which foods to eat and what to do with my time.  

The day my doctor gave me my diagnosis was pretty unsettling however at the same time I remember feeling hope, the hope that I could do something.  Hope that I could help my body, it was information that would lead me to be able to live an amazing life again.  That day my doctor gave me back my authority to relearn to take care of myself, she helped me see that I just had to gather additional data to navigate my life.  

Yes I smile through the pain and I laugh at the little jokes provided by my past because I have hope and I keep my focus on gaining more skills in taking care of myself and learning how that will help others.

Question of the day:  What is an equation you once believed that has been rewritten?  How has your personal experience expanded the world from black and white to multi-colored?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Invisible

This post has been simmering for a couple of days, a recap of the race weekend.  I didn't want to rush it and this past week has been a little bit of hustling to catch up and finding time for recovery.

The first race was on Saturday, so my alarm went off around 3:00 AM, we were supposed to be in the corrals at about 4:00, and it takes me a bit of time to get moving in the morning.  After Ashley and Adam got dressed, we headed downstairs to grab me a steamed milk and to make our way to the race area.  It was pretty chilly and thankfully Ashley had bought a blanket for us to sit on in the corral and to wrap ourselves up in.  The official start time was at 5:30, but since I was in the last corral we wouldn't start until a bit later.   Ashley and I spent the time chatting and Adam practiced different breathing to stay warm.  

We made it to the start line, heard a little banter and we started.  It took time to find a place in the crowds we were comfortable, and watched people run around us.  The race felt a bit rushed a claustrophobic to me, I didn't feel like there was much time to take in the sights.  My focus was really on finishing the race, on getting to that finish line, so my experience for the start of the race was a little biased.  

At one point in the middle of Disneyland, a bit of a panic started as someone shouted we were two minutes behind pace.  So our group started running, I wanted to get away from the crowd and the anxiety, I wanted to finish.  I was also confused because the last mile marker we passed, stated we were two minutes ahead of pace. So I ran, I ran without thinking about my breathing, or paying attention to my body until we hit the next mile marker that said we were ahead of pace.  The crowd calmed down around us, and we started walking again completely confused about the miscommunication.  Shortly after exiting Disneyland I started feeling bladder spasms.

Then the moment came when we got passed by the Pacers and I told Ashley to go on without me, I couldn't keep pace anymore.  Adam and I started walking slower and slower through the back lots.  Finally a little after mile 5, I stopped, I stopped right in front of a group of people cheering us on.  The tears started, tears for the pain, tears of gratitude because I made it, tears for pushing my body in a not gentle way and tears for the multitude of emotions I felt during the race.  As Adam and I stood there waiting for a medic, I was keenly aware of how invisible my illness is.  I kept hearing the crowd cheering us on, not to give up, to keep pushing and finishing wasn't worth the cost.  

There was nothing visibly going on with me and the tears quickly stopped.  I have gotten amazing at smiling through pain, I have learned to breathe through the pain and I have learned when it is time to stop.  Standing there I wanted to shout at the people, that even if they couldn't see I had a reason for stopping.  I wanted to tell them how hurtful it can be to tell someone to "keep pushing."  I wanted to tell them there was nothing wrong with not finishing a race, that it is okay to honor my pace.  So Adam and I talked about our favorite things about the race, we talked about the fact that each mile is an accomplishment and he thanked me for stopping, for playing with my limits and for listening to those edges.  

Sunday was a new day.  The beauty of my illness is that I never know what a new day will hold.  So I woke up again at 3:00AM and got ready for the half-marathon!  Ashley was in a different corral then me and so we spent the time waiting for the race individually.  I crossed the start line at 6:30 and with a giant smile I started walking and looking for that first bathroom stop.  (LOL, it had been a long wait in the corral tha morning).  I stopped to take a few photos, I got super excited when I saw Darth Vader and shot a brief video for my friend.  Looking at the race photos, I have a giant smile on face, just taking in the music, the sights and my breath.   

I had to stop at almost every bathroom and there was usually a line, so I sent Adam some photos.   I couldn't believe as I left Disneyland that I was still feeling great and had more in me to keep going.  Then, I saw Adam waiting outside to cheer me on, drinking his coffee, and I had to run up to him!!  I was so touched and excited to see him, that he went to the effort to look at the race map and try to estimate when I would be there.  I had a few tears in my eyes as I left Disney property and entered the streets of Annehiem.  

I crossed the 10K marker and was so overjoyed.  I knew my body could do it!  A little before mile 7, I started having some discomfort in my joints and took some time to stretch and adjust my gait.  Then I was passed by the pacers and let out a sigh of relief, surely they would be picking us up soon.  I was limping by that point and was ready to be off the course.  However I wouldn't get picked up until mile 9.   I walked 9 miles!  I walked 9 miles!  I honestly couldn't believe it, I earned that medal.  I pushed my body farther then I ever expected, no bladder spasms, a bit of muscle soreness and a lot of pain in my hip and knee.  

The person that helped me on the bus, told me he had never seen someone so happy to be "swept."  I smiled and told him, you have no idea what I accomplished today, the finish line didn't matter.  

Ashley finished, despite face planting at mile 11 with a new personal record.  We had a lot to celebrate a lot to be be grateful for!!!

The beauty of these races is the state of joy they can put you in, as long as you take deep breaths and look around you from time to time.  There are people cheering, epic music and characters everywhere, it is Disney Magic!

Question of the day:  What are you proud of today?  Take a moment to share it and don't keep it in that invisible space.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

7 miles in...

Way back in 2014, I looked at Ashley and said "I will do it again."  Seven miles in, 10 miles in, 13.1 miles in and even shortly after the finish when some of my tendons were protesting and I was having trouble walking.   I had no idea what was coming, optimistically, foolishly, happily (all these words and more come to mind) less then a month later we signed up for another two races back to back.  I recently looked back at my journal from that day and there was no doubt that come 2016 Ashley and I would be crossing the finish line together for both the 10K and half-marathon.   

I spent a great deal of time feeling angry with that aspect of myself, that woman that imagined and believed I was capable of so much.  She made this plan, she expected my health and fitness to continue an upward trajectory.  She was in a place filled with light and was able to expand her focus to countless possibilities.  In a few months I would feel plunged into a pit of narrow focus, as health became my priority.  I wouldn't even show up to race in January 2016, though Ashley kept me with her and I celebrated her crossing the finish lines from a cozy bed.  

In June of 2016, I met that optimistic, foolish aspect of myself and signed up to race in 2017.  Though there was doubt, that certainty that I could do it was gone. Now the idea was to see what would happen, to allow myself to be open and to keep my focus on my health.  

This past week I have found myself angry again with that woman who signed me up for these two races.  I did my best, I followed the training, listened to my body and I still have no certainty about how my body will perform.  I know my limits, I know I am capable of finishing the 10K in a good solid body, I know that completing the half marathon would be too much.  But I also know that it is common for me to hit walls and need to stop.  While I was packing and starting to feel the excitement of the race I started to crave finishing both races.  I could feel that desire to prove that I was still who I used to be.  

Failure is right there, the word, not an action.  The mind lying to me and telling me that I am a failure, for not being able to complete this challenge.  The mind telling me I have made no progress, the mind wanting to keep me in a dark pit.  That is not what the darkness is for, the darkness is not place where perfection lives, it is not free from failure or pain.  Darkness a place to reflect, to recover, to take time to grow and it is a place to leave.

I decided to write her a thank you note, a note to that woman that I have the pleasure of meeting again and again, the dreamer, the creator and the faithful.  She would understand the anger, she has gone through it again and again.  She understands the pain and glory of goals, she sees the spectrum.  She understands that "success" may not equal joy and "failure" may not equal grief.  

Writing my thank you note brought light to the lies the mind is telling me, and allowed me to realize that I was feeling more than just anger.  This was never about the race, this has always been about discovering what is possible and spending time with some of my favorite people in the world on a giant playground.  The light of honoring each other's pace and our own pace and knowing that in the end we will laugh AND cry together.  

Question of the day: What aspect of yourself do you notice meeting again and again?