Spaces in-between

We exist in parking lots now.

We have a routine that we do almost every day now since Covid hit. After lunch, we put on sunscreen and bike helmets and we walk or bike or scoot to a parking lot. The kids will ride or scoot or run or kick a ball in the parking lot.  And I will walk laps around the perimeter to try and get some exercise for the day.

We’ve started searching for more unused pockets of space in our town. Little spaces that are forgotten or neglected or just empty. The elementary school parking lot that has been vacant for months now. We venture down to the park-and-ride train station parking lot that is vacant on weekends. In the past week, we found this new-to-us section of parking lot in an apartment complex. The kids were delighted; they gathered pine cones while I walked laps around them, going nowhere.

They are spaces meant for waiting. They are spaces for the in-between, where cars sit and wait to be turned on so that they can take their occupant from point a to point b.

So here it is where we play or bike or scoot or walk or run so that we may pass the time and wait until we can be turned on again and we can continue our journey from point a to point b.

parkinglot

It’s a great way to stay in shape

I’m not a gym person.

But I just joined a gym for the first time in my life. I was offered a free year pass by a friend, and I figured I’d check it out.

See, I have this thing where I don’t like exercise. Especially exercising in front of other people. Basically, if I’m not doing yoga then I’m one clumsy lady, aaaaaand I’d rather not have an audience if I’m going to fall off the treadmill or drop a weight on my big toe.

I’m also cheap, and I don’t feel like I should have to pay to exercise. Hello, come on in to my bodily torture chamber and pay this cover charge so you can publicly injure yourself and then either shower in a foreign stall with wonky water pressure, or walk out all sweaty and gross and hurting. Bring your friends!

To make matters funny, this particular gym has a Cross Fit focus, and so it seems to be extra Gym-y. Like, the young ripped bros at the front desk are way too enthusiastic and speak like John Paul Jones from the Bachelor franchise, brah. One of them in particular seems to enjoy getting a rise out of me, and so the most recent time I was there, he felt the need to come up to me while I was on the elliptical to give me a high-five. My eye-roll was so exaggerated that my Apple watch also counted it as part of my workout.

**Ping!* It looks like you’re doing an eye-roll workout. Let’s close those rings!

The gym is a foreign environment with an entirely new language and I’m just a fish out of water. Observe the day I came in for my complementary session with a trainer:

Bro: Hey! So, uh, what’re your fitness goals?

Me: Ummm…I’d just like to feel human again.

Broseph: Alright, alright, alright! Sounds tubular! What’s your current fitness regimen like right now?

Me: Well, I do yoga once a week and I attempt to run from zombies. But running is a loose term.

Brodan: Zombies, ha! Right on, right on. So you dig the cardio, yeah? You ever tried weights?

Me: Not unless you count my kids. And dig is a strong term.

Broweena: Hahaaha, that’s hella lit, or whatever the kids are saying these days. Let’s get some goals down and we’ll get started! Exclamation point!

At some point he noticed my Shamrock Run shirt from last year.

Brodude: Whoa, you did The Sham?!

Me: (I look down at my front). Uh…yeah. Just the 5k.

Bronathan: It’s not just the 5k! That’s a real accomplishment! Right on!

Me: Thanks. I mean, we stopped for beer and donuts in the middle…

Brotina, not hearing me: Is there any way you’d want to form a team with us? We’re always looking for cool stuff for motivation!

Me: Well, I actually sign up with my MOMS Club…

Brodrew: Whoa, right on! You should bring your mom friends here!

At this point it’s the end of the session and I’m ready to leave. I mean, I was ready to leave a long time ago, but now it’s the end of the session.

Me: Yeah, no, thanks. Look, I’ve gotta go. Thank you…

Broana: Right, right, no prob. Hey, look, you’re doing awesome! Have an awesome day!

You too, man. You have the awesomest of days.

You too.

 

Suspended in Joy

For those of you who know me, you know I’m not a risk taker.

I like rules (as long as the rules aren’t dumb, but that’s for another post), I like feeling safe and warm and cozy. Preferably with hot chocolate and a good book.

But I also like doing new things and pushing my comfort zone…within limits. My MOMS Club group found a photo from another chapter where they did this spunky thing called aerial yoga. This sounded right up my alley.

We’re spunky, too. We said.

We can do that even better. With more flare. We didn’t really say.

Fuck those bitches. We’re already signed up. Now I’m just making things up.

I was excited to go. I figured it’d be fun and that I’d probably do okay because I’ve been doing yoga on the regular for a solid 15 years now. Am I the most athletic person? No way. Do I have any upper body strength to speak of? A big fat nooooope. Is my core strength completely shot from surgery and having two kids? You bet.

But hey, let’s give this a shot. We had a private class all set up, so this was a safe space in which to potentially make a fool of myself.

Ohmigosh, you guys. Once we got into those hammocks and I was enveloped by the silky fabric (meaning: no one could see my face), I was grinning like a giddy kid on Christmas morning. The teacher ran the class pretty much like a typical yoga class, so there was time when we were doing normal yoga stretches and breathing, only suspended in pure joy.

It felt awkward, for sure. But it also felt so liberating! Something about swinging and hammocks awakened this inner child in me and I just felt so free. You know that part in Eat, Pray, Love when the wise man in Bali says to smile with your mind, your heart, and even in your liver? My liver was smiling lobe to lobe.

There was something about the hammocks that felt very cocoon-like, womb-like, and very primal. (I have several different metaphors churning around in my head so bear with me.) During shavasana at the end of class, I could peek out and see everyone else’s silhouettes. We all looked kinda like a family of bats hanging upside down in peaceful, creepy sleep, or like corpses caught and wrapped in colorful spiderwebs, spinning slowly and silently, also creepily. I wiggled and squirmed around, completely enveloped and feeling safe and relaxed, and it was warm and sweaty, and at the end I emerged – was born from the hammock – feeling new and different, albeit sweaty and sore. (So I guess my two emerging themes are both about change and transformation: one about sleep, death, corpses…and one about cocoons, wombs, rebirth and metamorphosis. Joking aside, the symbolic implications of this experience were extremely palpable for me. My high school English teachers would be pretty proud.)

I pushed my body to do things I wasn’t sure I could do. The teacher demonstrated an acrobatic move at the end and I wanted to give it a try even though it kinda wigged me out. I needed help getting positioned on the damn hammock, which cut into my side fat like that string you use to tie up a turducken (I don’t cook, clearly), and my movements were far from graceful, but I DID IT! I was inverted and pulling myself up and sliding through and hanging by one leg and I’m just proud of myself. And it was all safe, in this controlled environment. Pretty perfect for me.

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Even before the night was over, I could tell that my body would be screaming in protest at all this…exertion. I wasn’t wrong. My triceps are shot and my side fat (ok, fine, love handles) is bruised and I learned that I have these things called “lats,” and guess what – they hurt too. And don’t even give me crap about toxins leaving my body – the pain is still here and I think it’s camping out for a few days.

But. This kind of soreness – the kind where I’m not injured, just hurting – is the best kind. It’s proof that I did something awesome with my body. I actually used it and pushed it to do cool stuff I didn’t even know I could do. Total empowerment, not even kidding.

So I’m writing this to capture the feeling I felt last night and continue to feel today. Maybe I need to go back. Maybe I need one of those things installed in my house. Not creepy in the least.

I didn’t even know aerial yoga was on my bucket list until I crossed it off.

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Quick anxiety update: it’s flare-up time. (Relapse time? Outbreak time? Really unsure what terms to use here, and I’m the mental health expert. Better get on that.)

I’m on my second week of dealing with early morning anxiety…..again. It goes like this: something will wake me up early in the morning. Take your pick – husband, cat, bladder. Neighbors. Traffic. Kids, but very rarely. Go figure. And then something sparks this burning fire in my chest that I can’t extinguish in order to get back to sleep. So I toss and turn in anguish and waste 1-2 hours when I desperately need sleep, but can’t get it. Lastly, my kids wake up, and then it’s all over. The anxiety slowly fades and is replaced by exhaustion as the day goes on. Makes me fantasize about going full Walden.

I’m hopeful to report that I think I’m getting better at squashing this more quickly. The past few mornings I’ve actually been able to get back to sleep and wake up for the day not feeling like such a zombie. It’s this magical combination of self-talk, physical relaxation techniques, and distracting myself by thinking about something – anything – not about me, my body, sleep, or the present moment.

(Update: I started this post yesterday, and this morning I actually slept all the way through the morning and woke up naturally and feeling rested. So there’s hope!)

Now I’m going to outline things that help me – specifically, things whose helpfulness I tend to forget – to fight this anxiety monster that creeps into my bed (or tries to) each morning. This is not meant to be preachy or self-helpy, but it’s rather to help…me. Because, just like depression, anxiety lies. It lies to me and it makes me forget what normal and healthy feels like. It makes me forget what coping skills actually work and it lies to me about there being joy in the world, and that it’s within my reach.

  1. Sleep

The biggest one by far. If I don’t get enough sleep I have very little motivation to face the day. The sleep that anxiety steals from me in the mornings sets up my entire day to be complete rubbish and it’s really hard to get back on track. That makes naps vital on some days (when I can get them), and I’ve been working very hard to get to bed at a time that ensures I’ve allowed for at least 8 hours of sleep. Even though I don’t always get it, I have to carve out room for it. Have to.

2. Exercise

I’m not a person who really enjoys exercising, per se, but this week I’ve been feeling the urge to move my body. I tend to get that feeling when I’m super angry, or when I’m jumping-out-of-my-skin-anxious. I’ve realized that when I exercise, I don’t have room for the jitters. I actually get real-time relief. That’s why I made sure I got out there and ran from zombies, even in this smokey heat wave we’re having. It felt so. good.

3. Music

I’ve written about this before, but the act of singing, like really singing, is so stress relieving and this is one that I forget about all the time. So if you see me running (from zombies) and I suddenly stop to belt out a well-timed lyric and bust a move, then you know what’s going on.

4. Laughter

This usually means social contact, but sometimes a really, really good show or standup routine will fit the bill here. I recently watched Iliza Schlesinger: Elder Millennial on Netflix, and man it was exactly what I needed. I might just watch it again. Also, The Bloggess is the reason I started blogging in the first place, and I realized that I was no longer getting her updates for some reason. That has been remedied.

5. Taking time to get out of my head and space out

Having kids all day everyday, this often takes the form of me being on my phone. This usually comes with a lot of guilt, but I’m trying to tell it to fuck off. As long as the kids are safe and cared for, I am taking lots and lots of tiny micro breaks throughout the day just so I can slip the phone back into my pocket and be present for 20 more minutes when I previously thought I couldn’t. I kinda felt like I needed permission to do this, and only realized that after my therapist had given it to me unsolicited.

6. Having something to look forward to

It has been a godsend to join my local chapter of MOMS Club and automatically have events lined up for me on my calendar each month. It sounds so mundane, but it keeps me going. I’m constantly looking forward to the next thing, and being able to feel excited anticipation is a powerful enemy of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

There you have it. These are the main coping skills that I often forget are available to me.

Side note: while writing this over the course of two days, I have been interrupted a total of eleventy billion times. Another antidote to anxiety is being able to get into a flow state, and in order to do that you need to cultivate calm and stillness. Yeeeeeah. This is one reason why it’s SO HARD for me to put myself to bed at a reasonable time, because stillness only happens WHEN PEOPLE ARE UNCONSCIOUS. My point: I reeeeeally miss flow states. Please tell them to come back and visit.

 

Blog awards, food stories, and zombies

Once upon a time, a much simpler, more stressful time…a darker time, even…I got nominated for another blogging award!!!  It made me happy, and I said thanks, but then I entered a whirlwind of hard work directly followed by immense joy and haven’t really surfaced since.

Now’s the time to properly give thanks where thanks is due.

Without further ado, a huge thank you to Food Stories for ve’s Illuminating Blogger Award!!

A comment on me being nominated for this blog:

I think it’s hilarious.  For several reasons.

1. Ve’s blog is called Food Stories.  I assume this refers to the making of food, which I loathe.  It takes too long, it’s messy, I am not that good at it, and it takes too long.  I’m hungry.  I do like telling stories about eating food, though, so I guess we’re good.  I’m also once of those people who takes pics of yummy food whilst on vacation (hint of future blog posts to come, perhaps?).

2. The blog award is for “illuminating, informative blog content,” and I was awarded it through a comment on my post about how I used my investigative journalistic skills to expose a 20 year old lie I had been told by ruining the ending of a movie for all those who are seriously behind in their movie watching.  How’s that for illuminating, informative content?!  Take that, Brian Williams!  Next, I plan on single-handedly getting my ass down to Cuba and closing Gitmo.  Full report and book deal to follow.

….apparently “several reasons” turned into just two, cuz I can’t remember any more.

——–

Now I must share one random thing about myself:

Since settling into a more sedentary lifestyle after college and grad school, I have made more deliberate attempts to stay active.  I have been doing yoga for 9 years now, and it has become close to a religion for me.  It’s how I take care of my mind and body.  I hate more rigorous types of exercise that are just exercising for the sake of exercising, most of all running.  It’s boring, it’s hard, and it brings back horrible, traumatic memories from middle school PE.  Running can go run right off a bridge.

Interestingly enough, exercising has suddenly taken on a whole new meaning now that I am engaged.  I’ve never, ever had a goal of wanting to lose weight and that won’t change now,  I just suddenly have more motivation to look even more awesome.

Brian is a great motivator for me, and we run to the gym once a week together.  When mental images of me looking kickass in a wedding dress are no longer doing the trick, you know what does?

Zombies.

I imagine having to run from fast moving zombies (think 28 Days Later) and it actually gets me to keep running and to run faster.

Not only am I gonna be The Hotness in my dress, but I’ll also be ready for The End Times.  Booyah.

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Now it’s time to nominate some fellow bloggers!!

My first pick is the best, most awesome blog in terms of actually being illuminating and informative:  Let Life in Practices  This is the kind of blog that I wish I had the time and patience to write.

I am also nominating the blogs that I look forward to reading the most, and that makes them illuminating to me:

Speaker7

Sweet Mother

The Waiting

Family Haikus

Raising My Rainbow

Please check out these amazing women’s blogs!!!!