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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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Why I love running & WHAT is my college major?!

Hi all! Happy Friday Smile I’m really excited that it’s almost the weekend, mainly because I’m heading off for a hike on Saturday with a friend who I met via social media (how cool is this community of people?!) and Sunday is a run day!

In my last post I talked about how I changed my major, but didn’t get into the nitty-gritty details… read: what I changed to. Since starting I’ve been Neuroscience, and I’m now a senior, on the five-year plan. The five-year plan is extremely common at my school, especially as a transfer from community college. Focus Sarah, focus… anyways, my major is now psychology. This was a hard pill to swallow at first. Mainly my ego was extremely against this because the two majors are very similar (same department) yet so different. I felt that neuroscience was “harder” because it sounded intense. That is point blank one of the worst decisions to stay in a major… because it sounds more appealing to your ego.

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Descending Mt. Hancock

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I have loved my psychology courses at this point. Don’t get me wrong I’ve also loved most of my science coursework – genetics, anatomy & physiology, and biology. I did well in chemistry but the lab gave me anxiety. This SHOULD have been my “aha moment” that something just wasn’t right for me, but that didn’t happen, and to be honest that’s ok. I enjoy the lecture portion of science courses, but feel very uncomfortable in a lab. I’m not sure why, it’s just not my niche. Besides that, the neuro curriculum is very great for pre-med/vet/phd, which for forever was my plan. I thought I wanted to pursue medicine. It seemed like a great fit – I want to help people, I’m very interested in disease processes and holistic health, I am good at school, and I get along with people well. Great. I’ll graduate, go to medical school, become a doctor, and work in healthcare. Ok ok ok, I can do this… this is the plan… no detours aloud.

It didn’t feel right.

I’m not sure what the “plan” is, and quite frankly I don’t think I need to know what the plan is. I think being accepting of not knowing is the best place I can be in right now. I’m open to what happens. Sure, I am anxious, very anxious, but what is meant to happen will happen and I am focusing on that. I’m going with the fact that I enjoy psych coursework, understand it, and can use it in a wide variety of ways post-grad. I’m also super happy that I was able to take courses such as behavioral neuroscience and drugs and behavior for neuroscience which also count for the psych degree, and allowed me to really understand the physiological mechanisms in the brain.

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Just call me the bird whisperer

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A quote I posted a while ago has really been speaking to me lately: “You must go on adventures to find out where you belong.” – Sue Fitzmaurice

Yes yes yes. This is so true, at least for me. Experience has been the best teacher. Experience has allowed me to be accepting, vulnerable, open, and thoughtful. Here I am mainly talking about recent experiences which have opened my eyes to what else exists in the world besides the goals I’ve had my mind so intensely set on achieving, and therefore limiting my perception of the bigger picture. I’ve processed A LOT in the past six months. I’ve cried, journaled, questioned, experienced a plethora of emotions AND felt them versus shoving them down and away into a deep dark hidden black hole. I want to understand my dreams, not just on a superficial level, but on the deepest level possible. I am working to understand what motivates me and sets me on fire instead of what enlightens my ego.

This is where hiking, running, and fitness come into play. For years I have considered the gym to be a part of me, but more in a sense of my place to unleash my energy, not a place to explore my life purpose. I used to be very involved in the outdoors. I also used to run a lot. Both of these, outdoors and running, have made minimal appearances in my life up until last summer. Sure I’ve been in the gym lifting and taking some group fitness classes but not much else. I felt very in shape but missing connection. Since getting back into being outdoors, mainly with hiking, and adding running into my mix, I have felt more alive than I have in years and quite possibly… ever.

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Mt. Jackson. Winter wonderland.

I truly believe that things come and go as we need them. I got myself back into hiking and running for a reason – clarity and understanding, The two activities for me are not just a form of fitness but a form of being true to myself and are activities which set my soul on fire. I’ve talked about hiking on the blog before so right now I’m going to focus on running. I was a sophomore in high school when I first started running, and to be completely honest, at that point I didn’t love it, I did it as a means to work out more and it was a coping mechanism entirely intertwined with my eating disorder. Fast forward to graduation and I found myself training for my first Spartan Race and excited about the experience yet still very stuck in my head. After playing around with racing for a few years I ended up dealing with a considerable injury which sent me over the deep end with where I was mentally. Since this time I haven’t run much. Sure, I would do a mile or two here and there but nothing beyond that. After getting back into hiking and being outdoors over the summer, I began running again. In the beginning it was slow and low mileage, to test the waters and make sure I was adding it for the “right reasons” as I’m now much more aware of when I’m doing things which are maladaptive coping mechanisms.

In the past couple of months running again feels entirely different that it did when I began in high school. It’s freeing, therapeutic, enlightening, and bliss. I love it. I can’t even explain it. It’s like the feeling I had before my first Spartan but without being in my head. It gets me out of my head and helps me process, kind of like hiking does. It feels good, but most importantly, I feel good. Right now I am enjoying the process of getting back into running and allowing myself the space I need to understand why this activity is becoming more and more a part of my life again – but with positive attributes instead of negative ones. I think that all along I’ve been an “endurance junkie” (I mean look at my past life aka childhood with competing in jump-rope) but have never understood the meaning behind it and therefore it was never something beneficial towards my growth as a person. I’m now understanding this side of me more, and I’m very very open to exploring this part of my life which I closed myself off from for so many years. Another point I will add is how both hiking and running increased my ability to step back and look at my education as a big picture versus being hyper-focused on my ego’s goals. These two things have given me the space to find my thoughts.

For me, running is clarity, therapy, adventure, and a challenge. It allows me to push my physical limits and also helps me grow into a space where I feel the most “true to myself”.

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” – Deepak Chopra

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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