If I Can Have Less Stress Please

Before last year I worked in the customer service and sales industry my entire life. There always seemed to be not much to distinguish which came first: my foul mood or my cranky customers. Did they give me a foul mood or are they cranky because I am in a horrible mood? I feel like that is representative of life in general. I want to believe that if I put out goodness I’ll get back goodness, you know, the whole Karma concept. However, I have been thinking even further that when I put out gratitude and good vibes I feel them more in my soul. Maybe, fake it til’ you make it?

With fibromyalgia and the tense pelvic issues, I am supposed to be stress free. That can be one of the most important things when dealing with chronic illness, which to me feels very ridiculous to me. Most people can’t be without stress. Life can be filled with extraneous stress that I can’t control. Also, what a luxury is it to have a disease that requires me to cut out all that is stressful in my life? I come from a long line of working people: fire fighters, truck drivers, oil field workers, and stay at home moms. These are people who had no time to complain or feel over stressed. It is a tradition of self-sacrifice mindset I am working against. Physical and spiritual toughness is something valued not just in the culture I came from but all over. It is hard not to feel shame when I need down time or to take care of myself in seemingly extravagant ways. If I didn’t have these health issues I am sure I would be just like all the other strong Oklahoma women, who soldier on through all sorts of stress and against all odds no time outs to speak of, but I do.

I have no choice. See if I have too much stress or over exert my body I end up in debilitating pain. I have fibromyalgia which knots up my muscles so much my doctor called them waves, because they feel like waves to the touch. When they are knotted like that it is hard to move my limbs. Also with more stress this pelvic problem gets worse so I am doubled over in pain. So I am far more productive if I don’t take in stress. I am more productive over all if I take breaks. To that end, I have to embrace this new Oprah- Zen – hippy-fied- mindful – self-care mindset, and I don’t have the luxury of feeling guilty about it anymore. I must embrace it as if it were how I was raised. So I thought I would share some of the things I am doing to embrace my new more stress free lifestyle.

  1. I don’t talk politics with people who yell. Actually, I don’t talk to anyone who yells. I just can’t deal with that anymore. Passion can be portrayed other ways. I’m just done allowing that in my life. I’ve learned it’s not productive to talk back when people are that upset.
  2. I don’t watch the news. I know that is a horrible thing to say but I have the internet. I can read. If anything big is happening in the world I see it there. The news is always bad. I don’t want to constantly be upset about things I cannot change. So many times I take the news into my heart and it stresses me out. I know enough trust me. I get the news from places where people write thoughtful discourse. I research candidates for elections and when I have a chance to vote I know how to get informed.
  3. I cultivate my social media feeds to be stress free. If someone is spouting hateful stuff I can’t listen to it anymore. I have added a lot of people who inspire me; people who are general trying to recognize what is good in our life. Facebook is less good for this. On Facebook I am friends with everyone, but I have chosen not to have certain people’s posts go to my Facebook if they are usually political and usually mean.If you would go through my Instagram feed however, you would think I am an extremely cultured and calm relaxing person. I follow many yogi’s, body positivity advocates, and nature lovers. I also follow National Geographic, NASA, Bookriot and DailyOverview which are amazingly insightful and beautiful. I love being able to view the gorgeous pictures and read about people all over the earth trying to live better lives. Everything is beautiful on Instagram. Isn’t that the point? I don’t really get Twitter. I just try and fill my feed with funny people there.

 

  1. I’m also trying to recognize what is good. I am trying to everyday be more grateful for the life I do have. It starts with the little things. Instagram is a great place for this. I take a picture of something and write why I am grateful. It makes me feel good to look back on my feed when I am having a bad day. To remember what had me so tickled the day before.
  2. I am embracing this mindful thing everyone keeps talking about. When I am with my husband my mind is fully with him. When I am walking down the Philadelphia streets I am embracing and now fully becoming part of the crazy. I am enjoying my walks, looking at all the people and dancing at stop lights…yeah I am doing that. When I am doing yoga, I am listening to my body more deeply every time. I am also making a show of most things. I have dinner by candlelight. I sometimes even have breakfast by candlelight because it makes me feel special. Actually, I really like candles so these days I am using them a lot. I am in a dark room right now, typing by candle light and laptop screen! I am trying to make life as pretty as I can. It might sound superficial but it makes the minutes better. Why not?
  3. I’ve added meditation to my prayers, sometimes guided sometimes not. It’s helped me slow down and really feel blessed, even when I am in pain. Something I am learning with yoga, meditation, and prayer is that my body, my mind, and my breath are all interconnected. If I slow and deepen my breath then my body loosens and my mind is more clear.

Is there something in your life that you have changed in order to take the stress off yourself? These are just a few of the things I am doing. Is there something you do that makes you feel better about yourself and the world? Please share. I need all the help I can get. I am guessing we all do.

What a Miracle is my Body

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This is me after a seven block walk. I sweat profusely.

So much of my life is built around distracting from my endometriosis pain right now. I watch TV or listen to music while reading. If I engage my mind enough then I can ignore the pain. It is only partially successful.

I realized, as I walked to the library, that distraction is how I’ve always gotten through exercise. I don’t like to sweat. It is uncomfortable, although I am working on that distaste. Exercise has always caused pain in my ankles and I’ve never been good at it. Today, I walked in the heat as fast as I could manage to the beat of my Lady Gaga Pandora channel. I used the beat of Pitbull’s Shake Senora to move faster and faster. By the time I made it to the library I was dripping with sweat and my pants were sticking to me. If there were such a thing as tiny men, they could have slid down my cleavage like a slip and slide.

This is in total contrast to my yoga experience. Every move in yoga has to be thoughtfully carried out. For one, my balance, as it stands, is horrible. Some of the poses require me to be on one foot or one knee. I have trouble with standing on two feet or balancing on both knees. I am learning and practicing over and over, but seriously have to concentrate. I have to feel every part of my body and muscles I didn’t know existed. Normally when exercising, I would try to ignore pain in my muscles or work through it, using the adage “no pain, no gain” or more likely I’d give up. With Yoga, if there is pain—I am doing something wrong. Not only do I have to concentrate on my muscles, hand and foot placement, and balance, but then there is the breathing. Yoga just isn’t the same without the breathing. The deep breathing brings in a sense of calm that I have never experienced with other exercise.

It amazes me the contrast. I love the difference. I believe that is why I love yoga. I love how I can totally immerse myself in the activity. I breathe in and out slowly and deeply. I free my mind of anything that doesn’t have to do with the pose at hand. When it is really good and I have focused enough towards the end of the practice I am more aware of what my body is doing than I have ever been.  By focusing intensely on what I am doing and making sure it feels good.  There is gain with no pain. Don’t get me wrong I feel strain on my muscles but I don’t feel pain.

I have always ignored my body because I have been told no pain no gain.  I wasn’t very good at sports because of my bad ankles, and I was never the type of body I wanted. I got told repeatedly by society, my family, and even “friends” I was the wrong body type. When I repeatedly fail at something, I tend to forget about trying it again. I have hated my body because of what it could not do. It could not be good at aerobics, softball, or volleyball. Even worse, It could not be skinny. Don’t get me wrong, it was thin at one time, just not the thin that was popular in my youth. It was curvy thin. I hated it. I wanted to be the woman who could wear pleated pants and poufy shirts a’ la Different World. I wanted to be Lisa Bonet.

I surely didn’t want to be me, with my curves and very strong muscled legs. I wanted to be like a reed in the wind. Then I became known for my curves and then abused because of them, and then I wanted to be a bulldozer, not a human.  So more and more I retreated into this body, and wore it like a coat, a covering for my soul but not something that affected my soul.  IF I could distance myself from my body then I would not be responsible for it or how it made other people think about me. I thought I’d focus on what I was good at, reading.

Recently, I have distanced myself so far from my body because it seemed mean to me: the pain my body brings me, the interruption to my day, and pushback of my goals. My body has been a bitch for quite a long time. (While some of that has been caused by me ignoring her, most of it hasn’t. Endometriosis can’t be exercised away. It can only be burned away or excised by a doctor). Trust me it wasn’t hard to get mad at my body.

Yoga has helped me to forgive her. Yoga has helped me see that this body people made fun of, that wasn’t good at sports, had weak ankles and poor balance – even she could be loved. At first yoga was another distraction from the pain but as I got into it, and as I started awakening the understanding of my bodies minutiae it started easing the pain. I started to realize that just like any love I had to actively participate in the caring for the object of my affection in order for it to thrive. Those balance issues are still there, but it works my ankles and they are getting stronger. I am so aware of my body, I can tell when I am going to start sweating. I feel the heat from within and I welcome it. For the first time in my life I welcome the sweat. What’s more is that the first time I did it, I was really bad at it, but the more I practiced –miraculously- I got better. For the first time in my life I got better at exercise. Each pose takes time to master, but when success comes I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my body.

It is only recently through yoga and my families help have I been able to figure out a way to celebrate what my body is capable of. I am super stretchy, more than the average bear. My body likes yoga, it craves it. I am a good swimmer. I am a good dancer, with a natural rhythm. My legs are super strong. I ride bicycles with ease. I am double jointed in my fingers, I do a mean downward dog, and I am working my way up to hour long yoga sessions. I am resilient. I fail at these poses but keep trying.  I am able to heal pretty easily if I take care of my body. I am finally able to see what a miracle is my body.

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Oh, and I can give good cuddles. Look at him smile. That’s some good cuddling.

 

 

You Can Take the Girl out of Oklahoma…

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This was how Oklahoma welcomed me. 

 

About a month ago I went to visit my family in my native state of Oklahoma. I was inspired by my family to move more and to enjoy the simpler things that I sometimes ignore. My family is extraordinary and every time I am around them it is as if I have been given new life. Sometimes it reaffirms who I am. Being away from my home state for so long sometimes allows me to forget what I have inherited and how deep those Okie roots run: the laid back sense of humor, master story telling, and the vein of gumption that runs through all of us.

It’s that tenacity and live wire like energy that is contagious. Inspiration to move and accomplish the physical is everywhere.

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Going to the grocery store with Mom is like an aerobics work out. I was still getting out of the car and she had a cart inside already. 

In the mornings Mom and I would do our perspective exercises. She does a video by Gilad, a very handsome, bulging, swarthy man. She’s done various videos of his for years. I don’t enjoy the aerobic videos so I went over to the corner and played my Pandora music channel and did yoga. This concurrent clashing music didn’t even bother us. At one point we discussed how this could be a metaphor for our relationship.  I said it is funny how we clearly like different things but still hang out because we love each other so much.

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We are so proud of my beautiful, smart, strong sis.

I was encouraged to walk by my sister Katie because she walks everywhere. We trekked all over the OSU campus before I had to take my shoes off and sit until someone brought the car to me. My feet were done but she was still going. I feel after 40 you shouldn’t have to suck it up.

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Yep, we even fed a horse! These people live super special lives.

My brother and his wife have a handsome five year old son named Caleb and he inspired everyone to get physical. Katie and I even risked and failed at cartwheels. That family spends most evenings outside in the sun after dinner riding bikes or watching Caleb ride his big wheels up and down the driveway. I got to ride bikes, slide down slides, fight imaginary wolves and run through the park. Caleb and I even had a session of yoga together. That was so fun. There are these children’s yoga videos on YouTube, and he loves them. A fifteen minute video story of going to an amusement park with a Hispanic penguin had me sweating!

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First time on a bike in years, can you tell?

 

While some of these attempts didn’t work out so well (one slide left me with a swollen and bruised thumb, another with two skinned knees, the cartwheel left me with a slightly sprained ankle, and I also got kicked in the head more than once while rough housing,) the fun that I had was more than worth it. I will never forget this trip because I learned I miss being playful. It is absolutely the best exercise. I miss that idea that my body is here so I might as well see what it can do. Seeing what my body is capable of is an activity I have neglected and it is actually fun. My new fitness goals are: being able to perform a cartwheel, AND get enough arm strength to walk only on my hands while someone holds my feet by the time I go back to Oklahoma. We tried it this time. While I could hold my brothers legs while he walked the living room, I couldn’t quite walk on my hands. I will though mark my words. I am doing planks every day.  If I can walk on my hands then maybe there is even a handstand in my future! Now that is exciting! Won’t my nephew be so proud of Aunt Danielle?

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I felt like this was the appropriate image for a mic drop…

Back Baby Steppin’

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This is me socializing in the park. Even my lunch dates require exercise now!

There so many exciting things are happening in my life right now. I am volunteering at the library, getting to know new people, writing more and exercising more. I have not had an episode of pain in two weeks. I am delighted. My husband is relaxed and I am making very small progress on all areas of my life. I am cooking, walking, and stretching a lot more. I am in the zone.

Something that is helping me besides being pain free for two weeks is this new deal I have with myself. If I do not write at least an hour a day, then I have to forgo my modem and give it to my husband to take with him to work. Without the router I have no internet and no TV because we have no cable. So I have nothing to research with while writing or entertain me while I clean. This is an even bigger motivator to jump start myself than the writing I am already doing. Once I get writing I get more excited about the writing. So this is just a jump start to get the fingers moving! It has worked. This week I have written every day.

I have also met my pedometer goal every day and done yoga three times. I even tried to do a yoga video called Power Yoga with Rodney Yee. Rodney Yee is a yoga instructor born in my native state of Oklahoma. (I just found that out!) He is a very handsome man who apparently only owns pants. These pants are made of spandex and are usually neon colors. I like his calm voice and dulcet tones, but I think I want to branch out. I think that I need something called Half Power because I had a lot of trouble doing those yoga moves so quickly. Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog —  Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog…sweaty sweaty sweaty sweaty but I was done when he got to Half-moon pose and fell over because my knee didn’t like it very much.  So I stopped but was proud of myself for attempting and making it about half way through. It’s been a long time since I even put in an exercise DVD. Actually I think last time I put a video in it was a VHS tape.

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Lynne my library lunch date!

I am also cooking more so my husband and I are eating fresh vegetables and fruits. I got back into making smoothies and eggs with veggies for breakfast. Leftovers for lunch and for dinner I am cooking fresh salads, veggie filled pastas and I make delicious veggie tacos.  I am not saying I haven’t had weird pizza roll dinners once or twice but I have been making great strides to getting my healthy habits back.

It feels like I am just bragging in this post but I feel as if I must after what I have been through lately. I am now looking forward to progressing but more importantly, the most encouraging development is coming back to the program feels inevitable. If I have to put my exercise plan on hold for a month because of pain and there be no doubt I will get back to it when I feel better, then that means I am officially a person who works out. It am not a poser. I am the real deal.

 

I’ve learned my lesson????

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A picture from the longest walk I’ve taken so far. I hope I rebound quickly so I can get back to this length.

I have been very angry. The kind of angry that just has to burn itself out because it has no release valve. I know that God is teaching me something I don’t fully understand, and I can’t promise it won’t be the last time I have to learn it. Over and over again I am reminded that I have no control over certain aspects of my life. I have no control over my uterus and ovaries and their near constant assault on my life.  I have no control over my doctors and their ability to relate to how much pain I am in, and very little control in what steps they will offer to relieve this pain. I have no control over how my loved ones react to my inability to accomplish my responsibilities. Worst I have no control over when the pain comes so plans are almost near impossible. I’ve been stewing on these things because I’ve not only been plagued by the normal endometriosis and adenomyosis pain but I got sick with pneumonia for a while. When I was in pain and also sick, I had time to soak in my anger and sadness. I didn’t have a lot of brain power to tell myself how lucky I am or figure out a way to make myself feel better about my predicament.

Sadly, my anger lasted a lot longer than the sickness. I get a little unreasonable when I am stuck in 700 square feet for more than a month. The only place I could go was the doctor’s office, and of course that was dreary. Also, coming out of one of these episodes feels like recovering after an ugly storm hits. Luckily I survived but now I have to rebuild. Working in a creative field takes a certain frame of mind, and the intermittent pain interrupts the process because I can’t think. So when the storm clears I have to get back my mojo so to speak. Not only that, but I have to go back and reread what I previously wrote and think about how to continue from there. The really messed up part is just when I am ramping up to start writing again, then I get another tornado of pain.

It is a mad rush to get up to speed and then try to make progress in all areas of my life. I have been trying to lose weight for years and that is another problem. I have been doing yoga and walking, but after this episode I had to start all over. I was up to three miles three times a week and three yoga sessions. After the episode I had to start all over and was having trouble doing the seven blocks to the library and the twenty scant minutes of yoga. It is like my body resets back to slack ass mode as a default.  My lungs get smaller, my legs get weaker, and I lose all the stretch I have gained in my yoga practice.

I am thinking about how often this happens to me and it still grates on me.  I know I am lucky. I have a great life other than this: a loving, fantastic and sexy husband, a deeply close lovable family, and friends that would give their ovaries if it meant I’d have no more pain. Bitching about this part of my life doesn’t feel right somehow. I feel guilty for being so upset, but a friend set me straight.

It’s okay to mourn not just for the loss of progress, but the lost time in my life. I miss out on time with all those people I love, and joy and discoveries while I am in so much pain. It isn’t just the progress I am making on my goals to be regretted; I am missing valuable experiences and moments. Time I won’t get back. I wish that I could just bounce back from these episodes as resilient as my fellow Oklahomans do after their storms. A high expectation but I still wish I could be stronger. What I wish is not really relevant because I still have to figure out a way to move on.

Unfortunately that means that I need to allow myself to just be upset so that I can move on. If I don’t just realize that I am going to have these feelings and not feel guilty about it then I can deal with the feelings and move on. This is my reality for now… Mourning it is okay. Feeling shitty about how my body has rebelled on me is natural and inevitable. For now I will have to just realize this is my life now. I will be going through this over and over again until I get help. I need to go with it and realize that rebelling against my feelings is just a waste of more time, and beating myself up about my feelings only gives me another reason to feel bad.

Part of what I am learning the more I go through this process in culmination with more and more yoga is how to be more kind to myself. Regretting that I am not stronger or what I have or haven’t done is not only a waste of time, it is mean. I am literally being mean to myself. It is like self-torture akin to pushing your own cuticles back but more insidious. I am as strong as I need to be to live and to get back up after being down and out for a month and that is a feat in itself. As a woman I was taught to be durable, as an American – resilient, and as an Okie – never to complain but sometimes those three things together make life harder than it is. Sometimes misery needs to be vented and recovery time taken. Rather than over and over pointing out what I can’t do or what qualities I like, perhaps it would be best to acknowledge how hard things truly are and that surviving is enough. My husband says, “Hey, you bled for a month and didn’t die-that’s extraordinary.”

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Seeing the quirkiness of Philly is always motivating to move more.

What Gives Me Hope

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Brad took this pic and emailed it to me saying, “My wife is so pretty.”

Today was a very good day. I woke up with no pain, husband made my favorite breakfast, and I got to volunteer with full energy, and then walked home as if I hadn’t a care in the world. It was one of those days when I have felt extraordinarily lucky to be alive because I have no pain. If I hadn’t had all these health problems I don’t know if I would feel this blessed, or maybe I am just extremely smart.

I don’t mean to brag, but I believe people who can see the good stuff, the sometimes referred to silver lining, are the smart ones. You know how they say that most comedians have gone through a dark time. I know that makes sense. Sometimes we have to go through the fire to appreciate the soul soothing rain. I know that I have read other people with chronic pain talking about how blessed and lucky they feel on the good days. It is just natural to soak it up, tilt your head to the sun, when you live in the shade most of the time.

Right now I am typing but also writing letters to my family and dancing to a Pandora channel filled with Korn, Metallica, and AC/DC. That’s my feel good music. I think that any day I feel up to dancing is a good day!

I wish I felt this way every day. I wish “Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap” could help me get out of my chair and giggle and dance when I am doubled over in pain, but as good as that song is…

I know my family and friends have been worried about me. It is hard when they are so far away and they call me when I am in agony or what’s worse when I am on drugs that make me talk like Kermit the Frog on drugs. It can be excruciating to watch your loved one go through pain. I know because my Mom has chronic pain. She is strong and hides it better than I do, but she is in some form of pain most of the time.

Going through the endometriosis and adenomyosis has helped me to understand how it feels to be her. Even if you are surrounded by tons of people it can be lonely, because no matter how much you explain it…no one will know what it feels like to be you.  Also, they may not always believe you are in pain or to the extent you are and that is isolating and insulting. The cool thing is most people will believe you and those people might ask what they can do, and I have some suggestions that I might have wished for if I knew how much it helped. Now I know how to help my Mom because someone helped me.

My husband has been so awesome.  Being in pain, you would think, would make me want to be rubbed or massaged, but it hasn’t. I just want to be held. I just want two arms around me, and his strength and presence. I don’t know if that what everyone wants, but that is what I want from my husband. He holds me and I remember he is there and I am not alone.

Also when I neglect something because I have been curled up like a rolli polli all day, husband doesn’t even skip a beat, he says, “Of course you didn’t do the dishes/laundry/inane chore because someone was stabbing you in the ovaries.” Small tip here for those husbands and wives who think it’s understood. It’s not. Say the words.  We feel guilty, and shitty, and useless because of the pain. When you say the words, “Of course I didn’t expect that,” it helps and relieves so much. Absolution is a powerful thing.

He also helps me have things to look forward to. He makes plans for the future with me, like dates and vacations.

Distraction from the pain is essential. My husband entertains me with reading material, music, and my favorite action movies.

Friends and family also distract me. When I start moaning and groaning about my horrible life. It is wonderful when they listen, acknowledge how shitty the pain is, and then distract me by asking me about something else in my life. If then they transition to a funny story about themselves or even distract me by letting me help them with a problem that is awesome. It really helps to stop marinating in my problems and usually that is the only thing that kicks me out of my grief – hearing someone I love’s problems. I love my friends because this is what they do. They show me I can handle it. While it might not be dancing to AC/DC, I usually leave the phone call giggling and feeling blessed and that is what I need more than anything: hope. I hope for the good days. I hope for friendship. I hope for more laughter and dancing.

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

For those of you who also have chronic pain what helps you? How do your friends and family help? What do you wish they’d do?

The Ocean is Worth It

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We were right there in the sea! 

Have you ever gotten off the wagon? It’s not easy getting back on. Hubby and I went to Cozumel, Mexico for our honeymoon. While there we enjoyed the snorkeling. It was the most beautiful, serene, exiting time of my life. If you have never been, what you do is basically float with your head in the water and have a tube in which you breathe into the open air. The minute I put my mask into the water, I was in another world. A world with no sound, beautiful shades of muted blue and sand, and exotic fish I would have never had the chance to see: It was akin, in reverence, to walking on the moon. Had I the capability to talk I would probably have gasped audibly but I had no medium to express my awe.

We floated all the way out to the buoy before we came up out of the water and then swam slowly back. When we both popped up near the ladder to go back up to our hotel my husband said, “I think we were made for this!”

I giggled and said, “Two chubby people floating in the ocean, who would have thought!” The only downfall from this blissful foray into the ocean was climbing out of the water onto dry land.

I had the flippers still on, and I had to climb up this steel ladder, much like a ladder out of one of those above ground pools. Except, this ladder is halfway in the ocean and covered with slime.  It took several attempts to get up the three steps to finally reach the platform. My legs were a particular form of Jello that made it gut wrenchingly hard to get out of the water at all. My feet kept sliding off and I would plop down into the ocean time and time again. I would then have to collect my breath and then lift myself out of the ocean again and again.

The platform was half out of the ocean. The waves hit the large cement platform most of the time, so it too was covered in slime, but this didn’t stop me from laying down like a beached whale to catch my breath from the physical exertion of pulling myself out of the ocean.

That is how getting back on the wagon feels. The exertion of overcoming the doubt in my belly, the stiffness in my muscles and the weakness in my pallet can sometimes leave me beached on my bed with doubts of my success. I came back from vacation and was sick so my eating habits were atrocious and I didn’t exercise for two weeks because I was extremely sick.

Last week I was getting back to my yoga, walking and veggies. Before my fall off the wagon I had only been vegetarian for about two months. Grocery buying and recipes weren’t cemented in my mind so I again had to reacquaint myself with what to buy and how to cook it. I only walked a mile that first day, and I was up to three miles before. So my one mile left me aching and sore like someone had beaten me with a baseball bat. I was a whining wimp.

I was disheartened but Brad pointed out that I was just getting over being sick and having my “Aunt Irma.” These assurances made me feel better, but I also realized that I had gotten back on the wagon almost like it was second nature. I didn’t think about it as if it were a choice. I just did it. I never stopped doing yoga except when I was sick, and even then I did it once. After I got better, I got the right groceries, and I started walking. Done. No hemming or hawing. I didn’t have to think about whether or not I was going to exercise or eat right. I just did it.

I guess I am just gonna have to remind my body that this is the way life is now. I am a healthy person, who does healthy things. That is who I am now. I climb up the ladder. I will probably be climbing that ladder my whole life, but more time in the ocean is worth it.