I’m Not Okay

I am not okay.

I am all over the place, you guys.

My mood changes daily, but often by the hour.

I am so scattered and internally, my mind is going in a million different directions at once. I start so many things that I struggle to go back and finish. Articles. Text messages. Podcasts.

I’m taking in so much information and I’m getting interrupted way more than normal because my kids are home and all over me. I can’t remember what I read where.

I’m moody. Way moodier than normal. I read too much news, I get anxious. I chat with friends, I’m uplifted. I see beauty in the human spirit online and I’m inspired to paint or write. I do yoga and I’m energized. I think about extended family, people’s inability to lead or plan ahead or follow directions, and all that I can’t control, and I fall into despair.

I microwaved some lunch, and when it beeped, I opened the fridge.

Since September, my autonomy from my kids had really begun to increase, take shape, make me feel like I was getting back to myself again. My kids were going to school. I was going to the gym. Heck, I was exercising more regularly that I have ever done in my entire life. I was going to the gym and yoga and pilates and sole sisters (walk/jogging) every week. I was doing Whole30. I was feeling pretty great.

And then extremely quickly, I lost it all. All of it. And while I’m a tried-and-true introvert, this is giving me ptsd from when I was stuck at home with newborns. I’d be okay if the time at home was my own. If I could do what I wanted.

I was unemployed when I was pregnant with my first and I did okay. I read a lot. I watched tv and movies. I ate whenever I wanted. I napped whenever I felt like it. I took walks. I did chores. It wasn’t the best, but I’m good at entertaining myself. I like my own company.

But now…I am constantly breaking up fights. I can’t hear myself think. I can’t read when I want. I can’t watch tv with adult themes. I can’t exercise. Fuck napping. Basically in order to do what I want, I need separation from my kids. Bottom line. On top of all that, I’m supposed to teach them shit, too. All while being scared out of my mind.

And so I try and do whatever I have to do to get by. One day at a time.

I’ve taken to locking myself in other rooms of the house. Oh yeah, because not only is my time gone, but also is my space. My kids rule the entire first floor, and my bedroom is now a home office where my husband works. I’ve taken to locking myself in my son’s room so I can nap or do yoga or chat with friends. It’s what needs to be done so I can continue to get through these days.

I don’t know how long it’s going to take until we find a new normal, or if we’ll ever find one. Because this is NOT. NORMAL.

And so. I’ll get by. One day at a time.

I’m not okay.

And right now, that’s okay.

 

Whole30: Whisper-screaming

I don’t know what happened, you guys.

My tiger blood packed it up and left town (along with the great weather we were having), leaving me feeling super cranky, tired, and rundown. I’ve been needing naps and craving sugar.

Rawr.

On Monday, not only did I have my annual GYN/cancer check up, but I also had a headache. (On the upside, everything came back normal!!) Oh yeah, and speaking of my ladybits, my hormones decided to start the flow right around here because their timing is impeccable.

Last night I had my regularly scheduled yoga, and so I screamed out of the house as soon as my husband got home. It definitely made me feel a bit better and took the edge off; the yoga helped too. I tried my hardest to get to bed early last night, but night terrors prevented that. Yaaay.

And get this- last night I had my first food dream since this whole shindig started. I dreamed that I was at a bar with M (my Whole30 friend/coach/guru/emotional punching bag), and we ordered croissants and beers. It was loud, dark, and I had forgotten about the diet. Halfway through my dreamy snack, I looked down and, through the haze, realized with a jolt what I had done. OH SHIT! I screamed. M, WE CAN’T HAVE THESE!! She shrugged and kept eating. Thanks a lot for your subconscious dream abandonment.

I woke up with tension in my jaw, a clear sign that my body is trying to grind my neuroses between my teeth again.

So today, in an effort to turn things around, I went to the gym and did some good rage workouts. You know, the loud music, grimacing, and whisper-screaming obscenities to no one and everyone in particular. It definitely helped. Aaand today’s weather isn’t horrible.

I’m trying my best, you guys, but this is definitely starting to get old, like my eggs.

Gratitude Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

I baked this and will consume it shortly.

Here is my top ten list of things for which I am thankful:

  1. My family: my husband, and all he does to support me without question. The kids, and how freaking adorable and amazing they are. I’m very lucky.
  2. Health. Mine and my family’s.
  3. That we have everything we need. Food, clothes, shelter, clean water.
  4. My friends. They support me emotionally, they don’t judge me, and they make me laugh.
  5. My extended family. I know I am loved, and for that I am grateful.
  6. I have freedom and choice and privilege. I try not to take these for granted.
  7. Creative outlets, like writing and painting and singing. They make me feel alive.
  8. Entertainment (books, TV, movies) that awakens me emotionally and spiritually, and those that release stress by making me laugh.
  9. Opportunities where I can be alone. I like to recharge and explore my relationship with myself.
  10. Yoga. It is my happy place; it is my place of worship, where my body is the temple and I get to say thank you for taking me through this life.

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Keeping the Cray at Bay: Some thoughts on small-town yoga

I have been doing yoga for a long time now, and I’ve figured out the hard way that if I don’t do yoga frequently, it makes me feel something something.

Recently, I’ve been signing up to do yoga through our local parks and rec. It’s cheap, it’s local, and there isn’t another way to do yoga in this town unless you’re selling your soul to the gym gods. That means joining a gym. I tried to make a joke but I’m tired.

Apparently, signing up for an exercise class via P&R if you’re under 40 means that you’re the youngest lass in the class…by like 15 years, at least.

Do you know what this means?

Unfortunately, it means that the class is pretty too very much easy for me. But at least yoga is an individual sport where I can just do an extra twist or add a limb in there and make it a little more of a workout.

On the upside, this means that I look like a friggin ROCKSTAR! The instructor takes all this time explaining the pose and how to use all these props to keep your shoulders in their sockets and I’ve already got both my legs behind my head.

Seriously, though, there are several poses that I can do that the instructor can’t, which means several times she’s been describing the pose while I’m already doing said pose, and I’m spacing-out-while-trying-to-concentrate-and-not-fall-on-my-ass, and she points to me and says, “Just do what Melissa’s doing.” And then I snorted. I was flattered and surprised; it was a flatprised snort.

On another random note: This instructor’s look and voice quality reminds me strongly of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, and you guys, I cannot express how calm and safe that makes me feel. She’s middle-aged, female, blonde, and her voice is calm, steady, earnest, and full of wisdom.

Before discovering this class, I remember saying that I really wanted to be able to do yoga to the commanding female voice-energy of Cate Blanchett playing Galadriel in Lord of the Rings.

Frooodooo…..now dooo down-ward facing doooog. AT ONCE!

But Dr. Ford is a close second. Or maybe not even second, just…different. Her energy is exactly what I need right now. What a lot of us need, I think. It’s protective. It’s quietly empowering. Right now, for me, it’s pretty transformative.

Another random thought: Just last night my yoga-teacher-Dr.-Ford-doppelganger said….aahhh crap and I forgot the exact wording, but it was something like:

The way you practice having balance is by losing it.

And maybe it was my headspace at the time, or the way she said it, or both, but it was one of those quotes that just hit me, you know? Probably because it works on both literal and figurative levels.

So, I’m not sure what my point is except that I enjoy yoga and it makes me feel great.

In short, it keeps the crazy at bay.

The cray at bay, if you will.


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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.

Cancer, Yoga, and Becoming a Parent

I wrote this guest post on a friend’s blog in 2014 when I was pregnant with my first kiddo. It serves as a good reminder about how mindfulness and physical activity remain crucial elements of my mental health and self-care regimen.


NaBloPoMo Day 24

Crazy Good Parent

yoga

I started practicing yoga soon after I had surgery to treat ovarian cancer. The surgery was my only treatment, as my kind of cancer wouldn’t respond to chemo or radiation. The cancer had fully engulfed my left ovary, which they removed, and my right ovary remained, although my surgeon said they scraped cancerous growths off its surface.

“We can’t promise anything,” was the answer I got when I asked about my fertility status. Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a mom, in this passive way of knowing – I didn’t have to think about it, I just knew. Well, nothing made me realize just how badly I wanted to be a mom until there was a distinct possibility that I couldn’t.

That was 11 years ago; I was 20 years old.

Now, at age 31, I am happily pregnant with my first child, and I am counting…

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Fill Your Bucket

This post I originally wrote on November 19, 2012 – almost exactly 5 years ago. While my life looks a whole lot different now, I still make sure that I fill my bucket. In fact, now that I have kids, it’s even more important than ever.


NaBloPoMo Day 17

Psychobabble

The other day, one of my clients started to ask me a personal question in the domestic violence support group I run.  I could feel it coming.

“Hey Melissa, I don’t mean to pry into your business, but I was just curious…”

My blood pressure started to rise.  I could feel my armpits start producing more sweat than usual, which meant that I’d soon soak through my shirt and be stuck to my cheap office chair until lunch.  My face started to get hot, and I knew, I just knew, that my face was starting to turn red.  I hate that.

So which question was it going to be?  Was I married?  Did I have kids?  How long had I been doing this work?  Do I know what it’s like to be a victim of violence?  Did I have to use a prescription strength deodorant?

“…how is it that…

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Fight Club and Yoga Pants

The other day:

Brian: You look like such a mom right now.

Me: Excuse me?!

Brian, sensing danger:  You know, very…motherly.

Me: What makes me look like a mom?

I look down at myself.

Brian: Well, you’re wearing your hot yoga pants and-

Me:  THESE ARE YOGA KNICKERS!  THEY STOP JUST BELOW THE KNEE! And I just came from yoga, so I’m not lazy.  And these aren’t even stained.  NEXT!

Brian:  And, and you can see that black fabric just by your neckline…

Me:  You mean my sports bra?  Being able to see my bra makes me look like a mom?  I think you have me confused with a hooker.  A very sporty hooker.

Brian:  Well, you look great carrying Dylan around.  I love you.  You’re pretty.

Me:  Look.  If you ever see me trying to buy a pair of mom jeans, tear them out of my hands and burn them on the spot.  You got me?

Brian:  But what if you tell me how comfortable they are?  And that they’re on sale?  What then?!

Me:  Distract me with chocolate and then burn them.  And if I say those things, just remind me that I said I would say those things.  You know, like in Fight Club.

Brian:  But I thought the first rule of Fight Club was-

Me: -to never let me buy mom jeans, yes.

Brian: And to not let your stuff end up owning you?

Me: That too.  Now tell me I’m pretty.

Brian:  You’re pretty.  Here’s a muffin.

How I Combat The Crazy

Heyo, Psychos!

I wrote a fabulous guest post on Crazy Good Parent!!  Please go check it out here.

Thanks so much to Janice for allowing me to share my story about how cancer, yoga, and impending parenthood are all intertwined for me.

Running from Zombies

I hate running.

I hate it with the fire of a thousand suns.

In high school, when we had to start running on the regular for gym class, I wondered what I had done wrong to deserve such punishment.  Surely they couldn’t make us do this?!  And then I looked around, and I found that some of my friends actually liked it. They were competitive.   They were fast.  They were nuts.

I will never understand those people.

Fast forward to now, where for the past 2-3 years, I have actually started working out with some regularity, not counting getting into yoga after my cancer surgery in 2003.  I started doing yoga a few weeks after surgery when it was a struggle to get up from a sitting position, and now I’d say I am at least at an intermediate level.  I’m pretty proud about some of the kickass poses I can do.

So, 2-3 years ago I added in some elliptical stuff.  Basically, I re-watch episodes of 30 Rock while I fake run on a very loud machine in my tiny apartment complex exercise room.  Now that my calves are pretty buff, I wanted to switch things up a little bit and try some…running.

Now, I’ve actually tried to run in the past, but it basically turns into what I like to call a walkjog.  I just don’t have the physical stamina for any sustained motion that propels me forward with any speed.  Also, being the true artist that I am, what’s my motivation for this torture?  It’s almost like I’d need something chasing me.

And with that, enter Brian, my husband-to-be, who is always motivating me to better myself and always has my well-being in mind (and only chases me in the romantic sense):

B: What are you going to do when the zombies get here?

Me: Well, if they are slow zombies, I’ll sprint past them and jam the close ones through the eye socket.

B: First, you can’t handle bodily fluids.  How will you manage to ‘jam the close ones’ accurately enough and with enough force?  Second, what if they are 28 Days Later zombies?

Me: First, you’re right.  Bloody noses make me gag, and forget about mucous.  I will use my samurai swords and just decapitate ’em like Michonne, because she’s badass and had the right idea from the start.  Second, fuuuuuuck.

B: Exactly.  Let’s start running.

——

But I can’t just run, and I certainly can’t just run with Brian.  We’ve tried this before, where he’s motivating me by saying all these sweet things as we’re running side by side, but all it does it make me giggle, and I have a bad habit of giggling when I run…and then I can’t stop giggling, which means I have to stop running.  That’s right ladies and gentlemen, I am a 5 year old.  And if I ever have children, I don’t know how I’ll be able to keep them alive (especially since kids bleed out so fast), but that’s another blog post altogether.

The answer was clear:  the app called Zombies, Run!

It sounded perfect.  You’re a runner, a gopher in this post-apocalyptic world where people with British accents tell you when to run to evade a zombie mob.  If you’re lucky enough to survive the mission, you pick up stuff along the way and bring it back to base.

This was it.  This was my motivation.  Plus, I could never disobey someone with a British accent.

Last Thursday, Brian and I gave this app a try.  We keyed up the first mission and started power walking down the street.  It was still a bit light out, but the sun would go down soon.  British man and lady were describing our surroundings and I was told I found and picked up some water.  And then – I could hear them.  The Brits could see the mob closing in on me and told me to run…I looked at Brian and he nodded to me as I felt an adrenaline surge and picked up the pace.  They were 50 meters away, their breathing heavy, low moaning.  Then 20 meters away.  Fuck, this was scary!  I swear I could feel their ragged breath on the back of my neck.  And then –

Zombie mob evaded.  Good job Runner 5!

Sweetness!  This was actually kinda fun!

B: Jesus, Lady!  I’ve never seen you take off like that!

Me: Well, they were going to GET ME!

And so on the mission went…we had to pass the old hospital, hoping to find supplies and rejoin Runner 7.  In real life, we had turned between two ag fields and were running between two rows of olive trees…it was much darker now.

Suddenly, the Brits could see Runner 7!  She was running to catch up with us…only she was different.  Oh shit, she’s a zombie and there’s more behind her, RUN!

So we do it again.  Remember when I said I lack stamina?  I was already pretty wiped at this point, but I gave it my all.  Seriously, I ran even after I didn’t think I could run anymore.  And this time, I was seriously freaked out because Brian had run ahead, I couldn’t see him anymore, and I could hear and feel these monsters getting closer and closer…

And I became Zombie Runner 7’s nighttime snack.  I was so pissed I nearly collapsed in the dirt.

—–

Fast forward to the day after, and I could barely walk.  Seriously, my legs would painfully cramp up if I transferred any weight to my toes.  Had this really been the zombie apocalypse, I would have died on Day 2.  Or Brian would have carried me, because that’s what husbands-to-be do in dystopias.

So I won’t give up; I plan to run more missions, because damn, it’s motivating!

Why don’t I ever see them stop to stretch on The Walking Dead?!