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Prioritize your needs

Hi all! As promised I’m back with a post between the spring semester ending and summer classes beginning. I literally cannot believe another semester is done. It feels like just yesterday I was frantically deciding whether to change my major from Neuroscience –> psychology or outdoor education and last minute sneaking my way into classes.

The decision was made and I’m good with it. While I’m extremely interested in a outdoor education, having a solid background in outdoor adventure groups and communities growing up it’s something that I’m really passionate about. On the other hand, it isn’t something that I felt like I wanted to major in “enough” to put myself in a position of taking that many more classes. The way I see it is, if that is the direction my life is meant to go it will happen regardless and psychology is also a great background to have for the field of outdoor ed/adventure therapy.

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Throwback to Mt. Isolation (september 16′). 12 miles, 5k vert gain. One of my favorites thus far. The suck was real but so was learning to love the process.

One year left, one year left. I keep telling myself this on repeat and it helps. It’s not that I’m “bad” at school. I’m for the bulk of my college career a straight A student minus the period I attempted balancing school + work + treatment. Rather, it doesn’t feel right. I enjoy learning, I love it and feed off of it. Increasing my knowledge base and understanding of both the material I’m studying and the world in general makes me feel grounded. However, sitting in a class full of other students with numerous stimuli and distractions doesn’t jive well with my brain. I can rarely focus and while that was okay the past two semesters, I’ve been apprehensive about the upcoming school year. So I’m doing something about that and choosing to be proactive and supportive of my needs rather than just being in la-la land and pretending I’m a perfectly productive student in the classroom.

. Four FULLY ONLINE summer classes. There is the money honey. I honestly dig online classes, I feel that I’m able to grasp the material equally as well if not better than in-class lecture format because I’m not wasting time sitting in classes unfocused and angsty only to go home to teach myself everything I supposedly just learned in class. I feel very uneasy in classes/on campus which fascinates me because it’s only been like this throughout my time at my current university. It could be the school (size), it could be that my mental health is in a different place now than before and I tend to actually feel my feelings, not feeling like I fit in AT ALL, a combination, or none of the above.

Life is said to be this balancing act – a see-saw if you will. I agree with this, there are good days and bad days, days of growth where you thrive and break down walls, then there are days when the going gets tough and honestly I think the best way to manage these days is being able to take care of yourself. Life isn’t giving in or giving up. It’s not hiding from the world or holding yourself back. It’s owning up to yourself, being present, and showing up in the world.

As I mentioned in a couple posts back when discussing the process of overcoming an injury, “count your rainbows not your thunderstorms.” – Alyssa Knight

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In addition to this, I think it’s being capable of accepting and honoring where you are at now, which may be an entirely different place than a month ago, a year ago, or two months in the future. As human beings we constantly are growing, evolving, and increasing our depth of understanding – having the mental flexibility to allow this and accept/be okay with it is HUGELY IMPORTANT.

I am not where I though I would be at 23, almost 24 years old and that is okay. There is no universal law saying that I need to be doing X or have accomplished Y by the time I’m 24. These are my own self-imposed guidelines/goals/expectations. They are the feelings that strip enjoyment out of life. The feelings of being a failure because I decided that I don’t want what I once thought I did, or wondering why I’m unable to roll with the punches the way society expects me too.

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I’m not abnormal. Heck, what even is normal?! I’m working with who I am to develop the best version of me.

There are days where I have to take a step back from everything and just try to enjoy the little things. Focusing on small stuff helps keep the big stuff more manageable. In the past year I’ve come a ways in terms of being able to recognize when I need to do this instead of keeping pushing through which inevitably leads to either becoming burnt out and/or increased anxiety/panic attacks.

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Enjoying the little things – favorite space in my bedroom – lilacs, star dish with sea shells and tea bag quotes, a few pictures, my globe (in the back), and a card a dear friend gave me.
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Close up. Oh hey Panda 🙂

SO what have I been up to in my week off from school? A whole lot of nothing. I’ve worked pretty minimally, enjoyed the sunshine and warm temps, spent time with friends, and given myself space to prepare for the hefty load of classes in my near future (tomorrow!).

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Sports psychology/mindset reading
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I biked and she ran 🙂

I think that while I still deal with anxiety on a regular basis I’m much more accepting of it and I understand it better than I ever have. Taking time to just be and really pursue the things which light my soul on fire have been absolutely essential to my mental health. That and forcing myself to do things which while sometimes uncomfortable are only going to help me grow. I believe that there is a difference between doing things which are uncomfortable but promote growth versus things which are just not good for our personal needs (e.g online vs. in-class courses). I believe understanding where to draw the line for yourself and prioritizing this is the base of the pyramid in terms of self-care.

Prioritizing is knowing what you stand for. What are your goals? What makes you tick? What are you willing to put up with, sacrifice, leave behind, etc. etc. Learn to maximize everything that will help get you to your end goal. Look at the end goal and determine what needs to happen to get from now –> then. Focus on that stuff.

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos — the trees, the clotuds, everything.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

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Cultivating your power

Hi all!

This post could also be titled, “that fitness thing: round two”… If you’ve been a reader for some time now you might remember a post back during the summer titled “that fitness thing”, I talked about my routine at that point and gave insight into what I was doing inside the gym. If you don’t remember or you’re a new reader (hello!) , that’s a-ok because that post is history.

Let me explain.

Lifting is an integral part of my life. I LOVE it. I feel strong, powerful, capable, and in the zone when I’m lifting. It focuses me. It helps me push myself and grow. It’s therapeutic and is a great method for getting some angst and extra energy out. But that’s “it”. For the longest time I tried to convince myself that I wanted to focus on lifting from a competitive angle. That I should be competing because, well, I can lift a good amount for my size. As someone who has been on and off involved in competitive sports since age 5, convincing me or me convincing myself to pursue that isn’t much of a challenge. I’ll accept quite easily.

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I’m on the left although Erika & I were twins at this stage of development… national jump-rope competition circa ~ 2007/08.
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2011 Vermont Spartan Beast
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2012 Peak Ultramarathon

The challenge lies in truly gaining my interest. Sure, I might absolutely be head over heels for something (e.g lifting), but there is a very big difference between loving something and wanting to pursue it competitively. It’s deeper than it may seem too… isn’t everything in life? It’s not just wanting to pursue it competitively, it’s trusting myself. I was an endurance athlete. Why did I all of a sudden begin to pursue a strength sport? I mean, that happens, it’s not uncommon. It seemed legit to me. I was missing something though, while I was lifting lifting and more lifting I was still going to kickboxing, doing metabolic workouts, running – I couldn’t give that up. I didn’t want to give it up. On the other hand, I knew that I wanted so badly to compete again. I felt very confused during this time. Stuck in a place which while it was working for me… it wasn’t really working for me.

The truth of the matter is: I want lifting to be the thing which helps me be a stronger endurance athlete. It’s my therapy. It keeps me grounded, centered, and balanced. As of right now I don’t want to pursue it competitively.

In my last post I talked about why I love running. After a bunch of events in 2011 and 2012 I dealt with a handful of injuries from a combination of over-training, under recovering, and still dealing with a subtle grip of my eating issues. I stopped running cold turkey, relapsed, got stuck mentally, went into treatment, changed colleges, and forgot about running. I left it behind. I wanted nothing to do with it. I felt like it was my past, something that felt and sounded bitter. But the thing is, we tend to go back to what we love. I’m at a point now where I understand and accept that it wasn’t running which left me injured, nor did it lead me to relapse. There were so many other factors involved. It was running while not taking care of myself as either an athlete or a human being. Accepting that has been groundbreaking.

As I mentioned in that post, running feels amazing lately. I swear each time I lace up my shoes and hit the road it gets better. I know that will unlikely happen forever, there will be tough runs, either physically or mentally, but the fact that I’ve consistently felt at my prime is a very big sign that I’m moving in the right direction for me. Nothing feels forced. It’s very natural. It’s almost creepy because up until a couple months ago I hadn’t been running much if at all… for years.

I recently came across a quote. It’s such a simple set of words yet it made everything clear to me. Almost if, upon reading these 9 words the entire world made sense again. That seems crazy, but realizations can be crazy.

“Self care is how you take your power back.”

Oh, hey. That makes sense. Yes, yes, yes. It’s so obvious. Those 9 words staring me right in the face like a deer in the headlights. I keep complaining that I’m not “happy” or “fulfilled”. I’m an anxious ball of energy. My mind races, circles, catastrophizes, and I move forward but not necessarily in the direction I WANT to me moving. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I miss competing. I miss my niche. I miss having that one thing that is not only my escape but my passion and drive. What differentiates me saying this a year ago from saying this now is that I realize what was missing: self care.

You can push until you can’t push anymore, but if the energy which drives the engine is negative, anxious, depressed, over-worked, stressed, and unsure deep down then the engine will only produce so much force before something breaks down. Our greatest goals cannot be forced.

If you haven’t picked up on where I’m going with this post yet it’s that I am going back to my roots. I’m going back to pursuing endurance sports, more specifically, running.

“That fitness thing: round 2”… that’ll be my next post..

“your mental health is a priority
your happiness is a priority
your self-care is a priority
your existence is a priority”

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Pursue the dream that YOU see

Hi guys! I’m popping by today to say hello, post some pictures from fall and winter hikes, share a couple recent favorite quotes, and give a minor school and life update. I’ve missed posting on the blog. I haven’t felt the motivation to do so, I’ve considered writing something up but nothing felt genuine. I haven’t been sure of my current path, where I’m headed, and needed to take space for myself to determine where I want to head.

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Mt. Isolation on a stormy day

It’s January 24th! What does that mean? It’s the first day of classes for the spring semester… except they were cancelled today due to a darling snowstorm. You know when the first day back is a snow day that it’s going to be a good semester Winking smile School updates are an interesting bunch and I am keeping it simple (for now). I’m changing majors, and no I’m not mentioning to what in this post. This has been an on and off thought for a long while now. Don’t get me wrong, I love neuroscience. It’s cool. I understand it. I’m good at it. Those three things however don’t cut it, at least not for me. I don’t feel as though I’m becoming prepared to enter the real world. I feel like a good student. Something is missing, classes feel off, my mind doesn’t ever stop wondering what else is out there. If there is one thing I know about myself from an educational perspective, it’s that I’m a lifelong learner. I believe that experience is the best form of education. Only though trial can one truly truly learn how to both interpret material but also execute the learned material. There’s input and there’s output.

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View from Wildcat A peak

“It is your thoughts and your thoughts alone that determine what’s possible for you now.” – Marianne Williamson

One point I will mention is how aware I’ve become of my feelings. Aware and accepting of. Over the past several months I’ve noticed a shift in mindset. I still overthink on a regular basis, but I let less stresses wear down on me. The way I approach stress has been from a different angle. Instead of trying to shove it down a hole and cover it with hobbies, life, and miscellaneous tasks… I’ve been working through it by doing the things which set my soul on fire and feeling my feelings in the process of these activities. Stressed about my major, jobs, career and life aspirations, needing extra quick cash, my inner demons… I ponder it hiking, snowboarding, running. I think through the stress while I’m in my least overwhelmed state and things almost automatically seem “less bad”. I have more control, more awareness, and more clarity or the situation at hand.

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Mt. Tecumseh summit

“Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that- that’s what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.” – Amy Poehler

I’m learning to trust my instincts. I’m learning to simplify things, keep my problems as straight forward as possible, work with the negatives and the positives simultaneously, and keep moving in the direction that I want to be moving towards.

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The Wildcats

“There is a voice inside of you
that whispers all day long,
‘I feel that this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.’
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
or wise man can decide
what’s right for you – just listen to
the voice that speaks inside.” – Shel Silverstein

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Summit of South Hancock

I’ve always been the person to keep adding more and more things. Adding to the point of feeling as though I’m a hamster running around it’s wheel, locked inside of a cage. I’m great at saying “yes”, both to things which serve me and are supportive to my life and at things that either don’t support me or are simply too much. Multitasking is another skill, however almost to a detriment because I keep feeling that it’s leading to me being productive in the sense of quantity but not quality. Letting go of things is something I’m not as skilled at. Letting go of “extra baggage” is crucial for growth. Letting go of negative behaviors, toxic relationships, things which no longer serve a purpose = essential for moving forward. I’m tired of feeling like I need to escape my life. I want to feel the strongest feelings in my life and be okay with them, cherish them, process them, and keep going. I’m working to grow myself into a place where I constantly want to be present in my life.

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” – Robert Greene