Belly of the Beast – Boxing

Like this, but a little leaner and with less hair.

Like this, but a little leaner and with less hair.

Last night I had a fantastic experience at boxing. To explain it, I’m going to have to give you a little backstory, so bear with me. First, my regular boxing instructor (who I call TI on this blog) is on vacation this week. I’ll call the fill-in instructor “Kurt”, because he reminds me of Kurt Sutter of “Sons of Anarchy,” minus the ponytail. It’s been an interesting change. TI favors rap music for our work-outs, Kurt likes classic heavy rock (Motley Crüe, Guns and Roses), both are tough, and both work us hard. Their work outs are fundamentally the same, but with slight variations – variations which have been leaving me a whole new set of sore muscles the next day.

The class is set up in circuits. You pick a partner and then one person works combinations on the heavy bag and the other does floor work, after a one minute or two minute round, you switch. The heavy bags are set up in an “L” shape around the room. All of the boxing regulars, of which I am proud to be a new member of, have their preferred bags. The bags do have slight variations, but I think it is more about habit. You just get used to working out in a certain area. My spot of choice is along the long side of the L near the corner. Last night I got in as usual, headed for my regular corner, picked a partner and started warming up.

As we moved into the full workout, Kurt asked me if I would be willing to switch. We had a full class that night and he thought the class had split unevenly. He asked me to move me to another bag over on the short side of the L. I, of course, agreed. On that side of the studio, there are three heavy bags close together. I had the center bag. On either side were two gentlemen I’ll call Adam and Jim. I see them both at class a lot. They are both big guys – they tower over me. They are obviously good friends, and for some reason I think they were (or are) roommates. They both work out hard – especially Jim; Adam has a back injury so he is taking it a little slower these day, but both are powerhouses.

The first combination was an easy warm up – Jab, Cross, Uppercut, Uppercut. Jim, Adam and I quickly fell into the same rhythm. They throw harder hits than I normally do, but the sound of us all hitting the bags at the exact same time made me hit harder – and faster. You know how a low bass can make your sternum jump? The sound of us hitting in sync did that to me… but at the same time, I was part of what was making the noise. It was so powerful! I couldn’t stop grinning.

It didn’t happen every round, but a lot of times it did. When we got into the harder combinations, there were times that it sounded like being inside a cannon. The bags are so close together that when we were doing hooks, our gloves would brush one another’s. Jim kept having to step to the right and Adam to the left and I had to keep my shoulders a bit tighter to keep from hitting each other. At one point, Kurt, the instructor, came over behind us and yelled “It sounds like thunder over here!” It did. He was obviously delighted – so was I.

Kurt also likes to jump behind the bag and hold it while giving you tips on form or shouting encouragement. (Think of any coach in any boxing movie… like that.) He came over and said, “I want to get back there and encourage you guys, but I am pretty sure I would get hit!” That was a compliment – and it’s true, he might have. When we were synced up, it was awesome.

I worked so hard last night. For most of the combinations, they were pushing me to hit harder, faster and to keep going, even when I was tired. On the other hand, I am smaller and lighter and I know during some of the speed rounds, I was pushing them. At one point I laughed and said “Shoooooot that is fun!!) (Yes, I actually said, “shoot.” I was being dainty while boxing my guts out. ha!)

The guys laughed at me. They probably didn’t think it was that big of a deal. They work out on those bags all the time, and I have to think that anyone between them would fall into their rhythm, I don’t see how you could avoid it. But I am not used to working out with other people. It was like a team sport – something I have absolutely no experience with. For the first time, I understood the appeal a bit. When everything is flowing right, everyone wins.

After the class, Kurt came up to me and said, “Way to sweat! Good job over there!” I was pleased as punch. As a person who grew up hating sports and not understanding the appeal of a gym, I have to say, I never thought I would view “Way to sweat” as a compliment, but it was and I took it as such!

And I’ll tell you what, if I get the chance to get that bag again, you better believe I will!

The Call of the Gym

Not my bag, but I regularly haul one around that looks a lot like it!

Not my bag, but I regularly haul one around that looks a lot like it!

Recently my boyfriend Julian and I were spending the day running some errands. We were having a nice day, but somewhere in the middle of Costco, I lost my good mood. I’m not really sure what happened. I’m not a huge fan of crowds. I don’t mind speaking in public in front of people, but large groups of people milling about can get under my skin, and Costco can be crazy. Or it might have just been a little “shopper’s fatigue.” In any case, I started feeling grumpy, and my good mood disappeared. (I do hope whoever found it, dusted it off and enjoyed a very pleasant rest of their day!)

Julian saw I wasn’t quite myself and asked me what was up. I said something I never thought I would say in my lifetime. “I need to go to the gym.” In that moment, I wanted to feel better and the only thing I could think of that would give me immediate results was working out. Fortunately I had signed up for a class later that day.

Before I started losing weight, I thought gyms were stupid. In my mind they were expensive, embarrassing, sweaty levels of hell that only the super athletic dared to tread. I have a friend who loves the fitness classes at her gym and would often talk about how great they were. Frankly, I thought she was nuts. About the only thing that sounded more hellish than working out in a gym… was working out with other people. Double yuck.

…and now for my birthday I bought myself an unlimited membership to a fitness studio, where all they offer is classes… and I love it.

I was thinking about this the other night. Just why do I love going to my studio so much? Here’s what I came up with:

  • Okay, the first and most obvious thing is that working out releases endorphins. Endorphins reduce feelings of pain and improve positive feelings. So basically, it changes your body chemistry. All I know is that when I am done, I am sweaty and happy. My voice lifts, my eyes are brighter and I’m tired but feeling great. But you know, I heard about all this happiness before I started working out and it in no way motivated to try it for myself. What I didn’t know was…
  • The atmosphere in the studio is great. I was always worried about people who were better than me judging me or just feeling stupid because I didn’t know what I was doing. What I have found is the opposite. If anyone judges me, I haven’t seen it. Instead, everyone I have met, from the instructors to my fellow classmates have been nothing but supportive, helpful, and fun to be around. Some of my instructors are tough, but they also take the time to come over and show me how to improve my technique. My classmates laugh with me and are great about offering a high five or a boxing glove fist bump after a particularly hard round. There are people at all levels, from the classic blonde who works out like a machine to the older guy who dutifully huffs and puffs his way through. All sizes, sexes, colors and fitness levels seem to be there. It’s great.
  • At the studio, I am responsible for no one but myself. In my day to day life, my job and my former volunteer work, I’m a manager of people. I am responsible for their happiness, their work, their problems, and so on. I enjoy being a leader, but it is also really nice to go somewhere where the only person I need to worry about is me.
  • The zen-like state of exercising is awesome. The classes I like the most are so hard that I don’t have time to think about anything but what I am doing at that exact moment in time. There is something really freeing in that.
  • I am feeling more self confident every time I go. The joy of being a beginner is that it doesn’t take much to see an improvement! 🙂 But seriously, every class is an opportunity to improve and I can feel that. Each time I leave, I feel a little stronger and a little better. It’s not just brawn – it is also brains. I love school and love learning, and this is a version of that.
  • I’m meeting some new people. Like most people over 20, my social circles are pretty developed. I don’t meet a lot of new folks. There are people at this studio that I already knew slightly and a lot more I haven’t met yet. We don’t have time for long conversations or anything, usually it’s no more than a few minutes between classes, but it’s nice. I have an amazing circle of friends, I am not looking to expand that, but getting these new acquaintances is fun.
  • I can work out regardless of the weather. I love biking, kayaking, hiking and walks, but last year I felt like my blog became a constant weather report because unless the weather was good, I couldn’t work out. Now it doesn’t matter. But I am frequently biking to the classes which is fun!
  • I don’t have to run. I still haven’t found the love for running. I do it, but I haven’t discovered the runner’s bliss that so many of my fellow bloggers have. That’s okay – I can get a great work out that I enjoy. I am determined to keep the weight off and get stronger, but I can only do it if I find things I enjoy. For me, this is it right now.
  • Working out keeps the thunderclouds at bay. Whether it is a short term case of grumpiness or helping with my depression and anxiety, exercise is a healthy way to keep all that to a more manageable level. I’ve mentioned before that one of the side effects of depression and anxiety is body aches. They also really undermine your motivation and make you feel tired. Recently I was under a big cloud and ended up canceling two of my classes. After actually making it to a third class, I realized that canceling the other two had been a mistake. I felt so much better afterwards, I wish I had done it sooner. That’s when I made a vow that it is okay to cancel if a special event comes up or if I am just plain out sore and exhausted, but if that soreness and tiredness is from mental stuff rather than physical, I have to get up and go to the gym. It’s just worth it to feel better.

 

 

Photo credit: Dean Jarvey from flickr

Yoga Expectations – BLOWN!

Yoga in the Mountains By Tomas Sobek

This is what I would like to think I look like… (note: I don’t… yet)

A little while ago I wrote about the Yoga classes offered at the fitness studio I attend and how it hadn’t been the experience I had been looking for. However, there had been a fill-in instructor that night and a few other wonky things, so it wasn’t really a fair trial. I decided to go back and give it one more try. I wasn’t expecting much though. In fact, I was so sure that it wasn’t going to be class I would enjoy, that I was already composing a blog post in my head about not liking it – on the way to the studio!

See, I like the idea of Yoga – particularly learning to be more flexible. As I have mentioned before, flexibility is not my strong suit, so this is an area I’d like to work on. However, there are some aspects of modern Yoga culture that just don’t sit well with me.* I’m not going to go into details because I know a lot of people are passionate about their Yoga, but essentially, when I walk out of a class I want to be smiling and excited to go back. So far, none of the Yoga classes I’ve taken have done that for me. That isn’t to say that I was ready to write off all Yoga entirely, I know there are many different kinds and flavors – and instructors – and that can completely change your experience. But I was completely prepared to write off the classes at my Studio as more that just “weren’t for me.” More than prepared – I was planning on it!

I am so, so glad I gave it a second try though. I went last night and had a blast. That’s right – I had fun at Yoga. The regular instructor is a hilarious pixie who keeps the class moving, but keeps things light. She cracked little jokes as she lead us through the traditional Yoga poses I am used to, but also a mix of positions I’ve been learning in Pilates and a few things that seemed more like Dance moves. The music was a mix of regular songs (some I knew) and a lot of what we did was roughly choreographed, without being rigid. I don’t have any problem with the ambient new age style music that I usually hear during Yoga, I listen to it a lot at work. It is great for eliminating distractions, but there was something about doing Yoga to Tom Petty that really drove home that this class was a little different. I’m sure some people would hate it, but for me, it was a perfect fit. Sure enough, when I walked out of class that night, I was grinning ear to ear.

* Yep, I totally went for that pun.

Photo credit: Tomas Sobek via flickr

Side Effects and Society – A Light Bulb Moment

so distant by Andreia BohnerA few weeks ago my General Practitioner put me on a new medication. One of its potential side effects is drowsiness. I mentioned to her that I was concerned about that – I have enough problems with getting enough sleep and being tired/grouchy the next day, I didn’t need a medication that was going to add to that! She had a simple solution:

Take it at night.

In retrospect it seems incredibly obvious. If I take the medication at night, the drowsiness takes place at night giving me the added benefit of helping me get to sleep! By the time I get up in the morning, the side effect has passed. Brilliant! The thing is, I never would have never thought of taking it at night. I’ve somehow been trained that you take medication in the morning. You just do. Medications are kept in the medicine cabinet and you take them right before you brush your teeth in the morning along with your multivitamin. I don’t even know where that routine comes from, childhood, I guess.

It’s interesting to me because I have been doing a lot of thinking lately on societal conventions / family norms and how we just accept them as fact without necessarily thinking about whether they actually work for us – for our own lives. When to take medication seems like a small, silly example, but it speaks to a bigger theme I’m seeing in my life – that some of the things I’ve just accepted as “the way things are” don’t have to be that way. In fact, they were set up by someone with completely different goals and aspirations than me. So, I’m starting to think about that. I’m in my forties now. Life is pretty stable. It’s time to take stock and look at things – even little things – and make sure they fit how I want to live. If it isn’t how my mother or my aunts would have done it, so what! They have their own lives – and I have mine. Time to make it mine!

 

 

Photo credit: Andréia Bohner on flickr

Falling Out of Love with Fall

Hermes admires some Fall decor.

Hermes admires some Fall decor.

I used to love Autumn. Summer was my enemy. It was always too hot, too sticky and too sunny. When the weather started to turn, I was in heaven. The cooler nights and walking through falling leaves made me happy. I felt settled. This year, all that has changed.

This year I embraced summer. I ran, hiked, biked, kayaked, swam – even tried stand up paddleboarding. For the first time since being a kid, I’m actually tan. I’ve loved being this active and being out in the sun. Autumn, however, has come very suddenly to the Midwest. For the past week or so it’s been cold, rainy and windy. Since getting a dog, I feel much more attuned to the seasons. I am outside every morning and every night with him and I notice the shortening of the days more than I used to. I see the fading flowers and the landscaping changing, and I notice the flocks of birds moving south. I keep an eye on the weather. I watch out for thunderstorms (since my pooch is petrified of them,) and I now have to dress for the temperature. I’m already adding more and more layers.

I’m finding my mood is getting dark too. I talked to my therapist about it and she suggested reframing the season, to find things to love about autumn again. I thought it was good advice – it doesn’t make sense to try and fight Mother Nature, she always wins. So, replaced all my desktop photos of the lake this summer at the cottage with photos of pretty Fall foliage.  I took my hot pink toenail polish off and replaced it with a silly OPI color called “Wooden Shoe Like to Know?” I’ve started putting funny little Fall window clings on my door – not as decor for people coming in, but to make me smile when I leave. I bought some new candles in scents called “Harvest Apple” and “Flannel” and have been lighting them when I get home. (No “Pumpkin Spice” though… I have to draw the line somewhere.) I’ve even started pulling out my favorite sweaters.

I’m trying. Sometimes “fake it ’til you make it” is all you can do. I am very grateful for my fitness classes right now, though. Last year I had trouble staying active this time of year, this year I am actually ramping up. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

I Suck at Pilates – and I Like it Anyway

The studio where I take my boxing classes offers a lot of different fitness classes. I decided awhile back to buy a three month unlimited membership, so I can go to as many classes as I want. I wrote awhile ago about trying Pilates for the first time. I went again last week.

So far in all the classes I have taken there have been a few people who are older or less in shape than I am. Not so in Pilates. The gals (and so far it has all be ladies) who take this class look like they are all in their 20s or early 30s and are super fit. In fact, I’ve come to realize that I am the older, less fit person in the room! I should note that there is absolutely no reason why men or anyone else shouldn’t take this class, it really is a great workout. The studio where I go seems to have a really nice cross section of ages, races, and genders, and I see it in other classes. Perhaps it’s that Pilates has gotten a bad rap? Maybe that’s why women who all look like former dancers take it? (Or perhaps 2 classes isn’t much of a sample and I’ll see something different when I go the next time.) In any case, I don’t actually mind being the “older” “kind of out of shape” woman. The fact is, I suck at Pilates.

And I don’t care.

It was something like this - but without the ball, and our faces were down. That whole thighs off the mat thing? Not happening.

It was something like this – but without the ball, and our faces were down. That whole thighs off the mat thing? Not happening.

That’s kind of a new thing for me. I tend to be an overachiever. I like to be in the top percentile. However, as I continually find in all my fitness adventures, that just isn’t going to be the case for me. I did not grow up doing sports and I’ve never been anything like athletic until very, very recently. Also, bendy, I am not. In fact, you could say that between an ironing board and I, the board is going to have the easier time in Pilates! At one point the instructor led the class through a pose I could not do. Normally I can get (sorta) close, perhaps with a modification, but this time I just laid there. I was trying – with all that I had I was trying – but nothing was happening! (Everyone else was able to do it, naturally.) Instead of being frustrated or angry, I just started cracking up – my face planted in the mat.

The beautiful thing about being bad at something is that there is only room for improvement. I am enjoying “the beginner’s mind”, as they say. I mean, why not? As adults it is too easy to get hung up when we aren’t good at something. Instead, I am just going to enjoy the process – or the bridge position – as it were.

However, I also tried “Glow and Flow” yoga, and that didn’t go so well. There were a lot of weird things going on though. First of all, there was a fill-in instructor. Secondly, it was the first time I had taken two classes in a row. They offer yoga right after boxing and I’ve noticed that a lot of people do multiple classes. So when I saw someone staying for yoga after boxing one week, I asked her about it. She said, “It is great for stretching out all the muscles we just pounded together.” I liked that idea, and the following week, I stayed. I ended up being at the back of the room, and usually when I take a new class I like to be right up front. However, there were several of us from boxing staying, and I ended up near them. (Honestly, I get so sweaty during boxing, I thought it would be good to be by “my people” rather than risk offending the noses of the yoga-only crowd.) The acoustics in the studio are kind of rotten, which is one of the reasons the instructors normally wear head mics, but, of course, that seems too tech for yoga. Net result? I was super tired from boxing so I couldn’t think, plus I couldn’t really hear, I couldn’t really see, I didn’t know what I was doing, and frankly, neither did anyone else. You could tell even the die hards were struggling to follow along with the instructor. Nothing wrong with her, but it wasn’t their usual. There was a whole lot of looks that clearly said, “Umm…. what? Oh… okay.” So, it wasn’t fun. But again, that’s okay. I don’t have to like everything. I won’t write it off based on this one experience, I’ll definitely give it another try, but if it doesn’t click for me, I am okay with that.

 

 

My Boxing Coach Gave Me An Actual Compliment!!

Gloves and wrapThat’s right, I got an actual compliment from The Instructor (TI) in my boxing class!! Understand that TI is a nice guy. He’s funny and he’s encouraging. He’s also a Welshman who yells like a drill sergeant. All the other coaches at the studio use head mics to be heard over music and sounds of people working out. Not TI, he just bellows.

While in class TI walks around and helps people with their form or encourages them to work harder. This usually means variations of, “C’mon you can do more than that!” or, my favorite, “Keep moving! This isn’t yoga!” When he helps me he’ll say something like, “There you go. You’re getting it.” But it isn’t an actual compliment as much as an acknowledgment that I’m trying.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to modulate my effort in class. The first few classes were so hard that I just did what I could do and sort of limped my way through, happy to just get through to the end. Once I started getting a little better, I realized that all my energy was going to the first part of class, but by the end I was completely worn out. So, I tried holding back a little at the top of class and about halfway through pushing out as hard as I could – but that’s a lot trickier than it sounds. Once you get used to holding back, it’s hard to suddenly pick up, especially since make no mistake, the class is tough. Last night for whatever reason, I just went all for it. And that’s when it happened, I was working a combination at the bag and he walked over, watched for a second and said:

Beautiful.

AHHH! I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know if it was on my form (which I kind of doubt since I am still working on that,) or if it was because I was really going to town on that bag. I have to say, it made my night – and just that one word helped me keep pushing through the class. At the end I was slowing down, of course (and so was everyone else,) but it felt great.

You know what that means of course… now I have to give it everything I’ve got every week. Whew.

 

Photo credit: Maxim Pierre via flickr

This Is Life

My heaven.

My heaven.

Recently I took a week off and went up to my cabin. The cabin is a fantastic place for doing what I love; I spent a part of each day hiking with my dog, kayaking, biking, cooking, napping and reading. It’s a little like heaven. The cabin is also good for thinking. There are fewer distractions, plus it is much easier to think about life when I am well rested and relaxed then when I am running from one thing to the next.

Yesterday I wrote about coming to accept that I don’t have a “big dream.” That was something I spent a lot of time thinking about. One morning I took the kayak out and spent time thinking about passion. We all are familiar with people who have always known what they wanted. They have a drive and a passion and go after it with determination. Then there are others that have dreams that they wish they could do, but have accepted that they may not become reality. I have a dear friend who recently said that if she was given millions of dollars she would open a wildlife sanctuary in Africa. She said it with such conviction that I was impressed, even though we both know that for a variety of very good reasons she probably won’t make it happen in this lifetime.

Then there is me. When I thought about what I would do with millions, my first thoughts were mighty mundane: install insulation in the attic, build a sleeping porch on the cabin, take a trip to Ireland, and so on. What didn’t pop up was some big dream. It is frustrating because I am a planner. This is why I am very successful at my job. I am very good at identifying goals, mapping strategies, making budgets, setting goals and figuring out the best way to achieve them. Not having a big goal or an endpoint is difficult for me. I keep struggling because I feel like I should be working towards something… I just don’t know what.

Then a thought hit me… what if I had already achieved my goals? I have a pretty darn good life; I have an amazing network of people I love and who care about me in return, I have not one, but two, houses filled with books (and one is by the water!), I have a silly but awesome hound dog and my life is filled with doing things I love. The last couple of years I have been working on my weight and my health, and I finally feel good about that too. Sure, not everything is perfect: I never have enough time with my loved ones, one of the houses… no both houses, have roofs that leak, my dog has had a string of very expensive illnesses, and so on. But what is perfect? There isn’t such a thing. Even if you have the perfect house, for example, entropy will come in and things will break (or the roof will leak.) It’s true with everything in life – stuff happens, things go sideways, and even if they don’t, we change ourselves. So what was “perfect” five years ago may not be perfect today.

It slowly came to me that I have been spending a lot of time thinking about “what’s next?” (it is originally why I started this blog,) and I haven’t been taking time to enjoy what I have right now. And at that exact moment, I looked up to discover that I had paddled halfway around the lake in deep thought staring at my knees! I hadn’t been enjoying the beauty around me. It brought home the point perfectly. After that, I tried to take off the thinking cap and instead be very “in the moment” and really enjoy the rest of the trip.

life movesLater, when I got back to the cabin, my first thought was from Ferris Buller’s Day Off. Remember this:

But it didn’t quite fit with how I was feeling. It’s not that life is fast or short or long, it’s that This Is Life. Right now. Everything I do is part of my life. Even the things that don’t seem like “life” like going to the grocery store, sitting at a doctor’s office, brushing my teeth – it is all my life. I’m not just putting in time waiting for something better to come along, this is my life right now, the good, the bad and the ugly.

I’m not saying that I’ll never have a big life changing dream. Anything can happen. But I keep running in mental circles trying to build a foundation for an unknown future, and frankly, it’s exhausting. I’m realizing I need to bring my focus my closer. I can work on smaller goals – like fixing at least one of the leaking roofs and figuring out how to spend more time doing what I love. I have what I need, it’s more of a matter of enjoying the here and now.

This Is Life.

Happiness isn’t Made with a Cookie Cutter

Lack of passion

Oh, shut up.

I’ve been thinking a lot about passion and happiness. It started with a question – if I wanted to change careers, what would make me happy? It seems like it’s a pretty straightforward question, but I didn’t know the answer. When you think about it, it’s ridiculous how we choose careers. Unless you know from birth what you want to be (and some people do have passion like that,) it’s hard to know what to pick. There should be some kind of “try out period” where you can sit in on different jobs and see what they are like before you commit. (And no, I am not talking about college.)

Trying to narrow this down I asked myself a couple of questions: 1) What would I do if money wasn’t an issue, and 2) What do I enjoy doing now? The first question wasn’t about a career, it was more about how would I spend money if I didn’t have to worry about earning it. I didn’t mean the lotto, because that’s a whole different kettle of fish, I just meant if whatever it was that I did paid “enough” what would I do? Most of the things on my list were pretty practical – I’d remodel the downstairs bath, I’d get another kayak, I would take more fitness classes. The only thing that really popped on my list as “extravagant” was that I would travel more.

Then I looked at what makes me happy now. Again they were simple things: walking with my dog, being on the water, spending time with people I care about, reading books, cooking and so on. I quickly figured out that while there are a lot of things I love, none of them were things I wanted to do as a career. I love to cook, but I don’t want to be a chef, I like paddling around in my kayak but I am not looking to become a guide, and so on. In fact, what it seemed like I would be best at was being retired!!

That’s when it hit me – I had gone through this same cycle when I was in my 20s and in college. I was trying to decide what to major in. My passion at that time was community theatre – as a volunteer, I didn’t want to be a professional actor or stagehand. So ultimately I decided to find a career that I enjoyed, but that was also stable, interesting, challenging and could support my “theatre habit.” I ended up in marketing since it beautifully combined my love of art and writing.

Now that I am in my 40s, all that holds true. I might be on a break from theatre, but the basic premise still holds true – I want a job that I enjoy and that I am good at that will support my lifestyle. I don’t have one huge dream to chase after, instead, I know what I want in my life, and I have set up my career to support that.

I admit that part of me feels like this is a let down. That somehow I should have this big… goal in my life, some grand dream. I don’t though, and you know what? That is okay. I can love riding my bike without having to race in a triathlon. I can have a career that I am proud of, without it being my “lifelong dream.” I can be good in business without feeling like I have to start my own. We push ourselves so hard to go big, to be the best, but how about just enjoying what we have right now?

That seems so unAmerican, right?

I’m tired of feeling like I am not meeting some kind of expectation because I’m happy with some fairly simple things. And I am tired of justifying those simple things. I’m fixing my life, but not by making any big changes – instead, I’m simply finding small ways to enjoy what I have now even more.

 

Anxiety and Me

Here’s what my anxiety looks like:

  • It’s the hyped up, heart racing jittery rush of being over caffeinated. It’s as if I consumed a half dozen expressos, a couple of candy bars and few handfuls of PopRocks. My breath feels short, I’m sweating and I have a stress headache.

    I'm so disappointed...

    I’m so disappointed…

  • There is a nagging feeling I have forgotten something, something really important. It’s a “I’ve left the oven on in Patrick Stewart’s condo and it’s going to burn down if I don’t turn it off soon.” kind of feeling. (You can pick any celebrity here, or anyone from whom it would be devastating to hear the words “I’m not angry, I’m just really disappointed in you.”) The problem is, I don’t actually know what it is I have forgotten. Truth is, I haven’t forgotten anything, but that reality doesn’t change how I feel.
  • I’m distracted, irritable and frustrated. I react too quickly. I want to punch the coworker who stands to close, sneer at the woman wearing that obnoxious shade of purple and scream at basically everyone on the road at the same time I am. While this is happening, I am perfectly aware that it is all me, so I try to be nice, I try to be calm. (It isn’t easy.)
  • At the exact same time, I am fragile. I am afraid of offending or hurting someone – particularly the people I care about.
  • I have a hard time settling down. I’m thinking about everything… and nothing all at once. My brain latches onto a thought and I run it around and around in circles in my brain, gnawing at it, until the thought becomes completely abstract. It loses meaning. Then another thought pops in.
  • I rush through things I should enjoy. I can’t relax in the garden, I have to hurry through it… though I don’t know why. I go for a walk on a beautiful morning, but I don’t enjoy it. All I can think about is getting back home, even though there is no reason to hurry.

The good news is that my anxiety isn’t debilitating. I can go to work and function just fine. At most, my coworkers might notice that I am a bit more quiet and considerate. I am aware of when anxiety is getting to me, so I take special care not to say, or do, anything I will regret. However fortunate I am that I can still work and take care of what I need to, it’s still hard.

The last couple of days I have been struggling with this. I went to boxing class last night hoping that I could work some of it off. Boxing is so intense that I was hoping I could release some of this uncomfortable energy. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as well as I had hoped.

To start with, there is a reason why boxing is called “the sweet science.” It isn’t about just flailing away at something as hard as you can. There is a level of concentration required in how you hit. If you aren’t being deliberate, the bag will start to spin. As my instructor said, “Now you are hitting him in the back of the head… that isn’t so bad for street fighting, but it’s not allowed in boxing.” The class was a good distraction, (it’s hard to think about anything but the class,) but it didn’t give me quite what I was looking for.

The other problem was that I tired. My whole body was exhausted. I think the SUP class I took earlier in the week was harder on me than I realized. I didn’t feel as strong in the class as I usually do, and at the end I was completely exhausted – but not in that giddy “I left it all on the floor” kind of way that I usually do.

In fact, the best moment of the evening was when I was riding my bike back home from class. I was tired, but it was a beautiful night and the ride felt great. As I neared home, I decided to go an extra block and take the long way around, just for fun. I found out that the street leading to mine is one long, slow downward hill. I had this beautiful moment of sailing down the road at my top speed – wheeeee! Plus I knew that my house was at the bottom and I didn’t have to go back up! (Which is what I’m usually thinking about when I am coasting down a hill!)

So, I am just going to take care of myself this weekend and try to relax and remind myself of this quote by TS Elliot:

quote-T.-S.-Eliot