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.

Thank you @gaiam for seeing all of us @ybicoalition @nataliecummingsyoga @thefeistyyogi @greentreeyogala @melmelklein

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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.

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.

 

Trying To Break Out Of Gloom Soup

Pick me up in the city - Find the closest park
Pick me up in the city – Find the closest park

I’ve been depressed trying to recover from this ear infection. I am still having intermittent pain and hearing issues. This one was a really bad one. It has made me depressed. There are several reasons for me being down: the solitude, still getting used to a new city and being away from my family and friends, the lack of progress on my goals.

I have never been shy about the fact that I am not a morning person. I think I hate mornings even more when I have been putting off all my responsibilities. It is so overwhelming when they pile up on me. I get up and look around at the dirty apartment, and remember how long it’s been since I exercised, and how many meals I haven’t cooked.  It just adds to the depression, thinking about how I haven’t done anything. Looking around the apartment at dirty dishes, in my pajamas, right after my husband leaves for work, I usually end up on the couch nursing my coffee watching TV. Sadly, from that position it is easy to just not do anything at all. Hour after hour turns into just one more and then I will start writing, exercising or cleaning. It doesn’t help that I am still getting over being sick, that’s a real good excuse. I realize how pathetic this sounds.

I think that I am depressed and lethargic, but I need to get my gumption moving. I have been feeling very sorry for myself. I have been in this place before. The marinating phase, where feelings lead to more feelings. It is similar to the relationship phenomenon where you are fighting about something small and then all the things you have ever fought about start coming out. The “marination” is when I am feeling bad about myself about one thing and then “ALL the things” I have ever failed at collect in a soup at my feet for me to soak in. I have to say it is so easy to marinate in those feelings. I don’t know why it is so easy. Maybe it is easier than continuing to try and continuing to fail.

I could re-site all those quotes I’ve found on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. You know, how you should keep failing in order to succeed, or any of those quotes. I do try to always be positive in my soul and on this site. Those quotes are so inspirational, and sometimes they work when I hear them. Sometimes, however, they really piss me off because they make light of how bad failure feels. When I am sitting around in stinky pajamas, watching Farscape and crying, I don’t want to be told to keep failing until I succeed. Failing hurts.

Breaking through the hurt is hard. For me I have to marinate until I get sick of myself, so disgusted that I do something about it. It is just a ping in the brain that ignites action. I think that I am lucky that it comes. I worry someday that it won’t. It might be the shame, or the chicken chow mein scent coming of my body, but I always have come out of it.

Trying to cheer myself up by getting silly in the flowers.
Trying to cheer myself up by getting silly in the flowers.

So the other day I decided to take the bull by the horns and start making plans so that I wake up with a mission. At night I have more energy than in the morning. I decided to put that to use and start by making a list of tasks I wanted to accomplish the next day. I really do love lists and love checking things off. When I write something down it isn’t nagging my brain over and over, and then when I check things off I feel like I have really done something. Keeping track of my accomplishments reminds me I have done things, and I am capable. So, I am planning out all the food I am going to prepare the next day and all the tasks I am going to accomplish.

So far this week it is working out. I am writing, and cooking and cleaning. I am also paying more attention to my diet so that I can have more energy. I am journaling how I feel after each meal. I don’t know why it is working, but it may be because writing helps me with everything. I am immersing myself in the inertia of every day. I can’t say that I am all smiles and puppies now, but I am working my way back to healthy, at least the almost healthy I normally am.

The Ear Debacle

You'll understand this picture after reading this blog
You’ll understand this picture after reading this blog

I have been very sick. I tried to get rid of my ear infection by myself. That was a bad move. I tried the vinegar water thing and ibuprofen for about a week before it swelled shut. Brad finally put his foot down and told me to go to the doctor.

Monday morning I woke up early to go to the urgent care facility here. I forgot to take my ice packet and my ibuprofen because I wanted to get there and get help. I rushed out of the house at eight Monday morning, took a quick cab, and then sat there for three hours. I asked the front desk if they had an ice pack and they said no. By the time the nurse came for me I was crying involuntarily. It was very weird, like my eyes were watering by the bucket.

The doctor who finally saw me, said that I had to go to the emergency room or an ENT by the end of the day. She prescribed an antibiotic, and two different kinds of pain pills but said I needed to go to the ER because she couldn’t see the inside of my ear. She tried four times to shove the ear magnifying thing in my ear. I was openly crying by the end. The only small good is that the doctor somehow magically conjured up with an ice pack for me.

I called a cab, and then I called my husband and bawled. I am sure the cabbie thought I was crazy. I didn’t know what to do. I was asking Brad what I should do and he said he was going to come home. He decided that he wanted to be there for the next step. So I went to Walgreens to get the medication and then walked home to meet him.

I took the medicine and the promptly feel asleep on the love seat. Brad asked if I wanted to nap before going to the ER but I wanted to get it over with. We walked to the ER, and then waited for almost two hours in the heat. I was sweating so much I took off my shrug and wrapped it around my head, and I don’t like to show my upper arms in public. I then was shuttled into a very large closet to sweat privately with my husband who maintains that my anxiety caused me to start talking like a crazy person (I still don’t know what all I said) and then I fell asleep in a sweaty lump on a plastic wrapped mattress bench.

I woke up to them stuffing a cigarette butt into my swollen ear. They called it a wick and they said it was the only way that the new drops they were prescribing would get into my ear.

After that I don’t remember much, I know I cried a lot. I won’t even talk about when I had to go to the ENT later that week for a follow up and had a panic attack due to some traumatic nose cauterization in my youth. Grandma says I need to suck it up.

I was in a lot of pain that day and I was thinking about all the distress I have put on my body. I was feeling particularly abused and used when I went to bed that night. Brad started to slowly take his fingers and softly circle my face.

I was so in awe by the contrast after the poking and jabbing the whole day. Literally they shoved hard plastic sticks in my ear several times. I started bawling again so grateful for this gesture. Then my husband responded by teasing me profusely saying, “I know, it’s horrible. I should stop touching you.”

I think what I have taken from this situation is that I need to be nicer, more gentle to myself. I should have gone to the doctor earlier, and I will never, ever go to that urgent care again.  More than anything I need to hold onto my husband and show him every moment of every day how he is wonderful. In a world where everything, even healthcare, is jarring and painful, it is really comforting to have someone who treats you as a special fragile human being.

I have some good news.

These are my non-skinny jeans.
These are my non-skinny jeans.
  1. Things are going slow but they are going in the right direction. I bought a size down in pants about six months ago and they were tight but now I am able to wear them loose. Brad and I accidently left our scale in Boise so I haven’t been able to weigh myself, but this tells me I am losing inches. Also, I went down two inches in my bra size which reaffirms that. I practically skipped out of Lane Bryant after finding that out!
  2. I am walking up to two miles without having to do nothing the next day.
  3. I bought boots!!! I finally got my calves small enough to buy a two pair of knee high boots! This has been a lifelong goal. I know it sounds shallow to have a goal for a pair of boots, but I have always had large calves. Even when I was in the single digit sizes my calves were abnormally huge. I am built like a tree and I have shied away from shorts, boots, or ankle bracelets. Moving to Philly was like the last straw. I have been living in Boise, Idaho and, while some people wear boots there, sneakers, Tevas, and Birkenstocks are common place. It is a land of exclusiveness and mountain people. Here I have only run into one person on the street wearing tennis shoes. It only intensified my need for boots. I felt like the only one who didn’t have them. So I finally had the guts to measure my calves and they finally allowed me to order boots from Torrid! Thank you Torrid!
  4. With that ballsy move, I also order a pair of “skinny” jeans. I confessed to my long time best friend Brandi, who is also plus size, how nervous I was to try them on. I didn’t want to look like humpty dumpty. She didn’t know if they would look good. She too had never bought any because she figured they would look bad on her. So we both thought skinny jeans were only for skinny people. If you look me in my regular boot cut and my new skinny jeans I think that I look just as good in them. I would go even further to say that I look slimmer in the skinny jeans.
  5. I am getting back into my yoga practice which is good for my muscles. I have been having headaches and when I wake up my right arm has been going numb when I wake up. These things I am hoping to fix these problems with the yoga practice. I am just proud to keep it up, even though I am not feeling so well.
Me, in my skinny jeans.
Me, in my skinny jeans.

Because I met some of these goals I have to set new ones now.

  1. Get down to the next size at Lane Bryant and Torrid.
  2. Cook at least all our weeknight meals. Brad and I have been eating out too much due to the excitement of being in a new city with new tastes.
  3. Double my yoga practice, right now I am only doing it about twice a week. Slow and steady is the way I am choosing to go.
  4. Get up to three miles of walking.
  5. Eat more consistently during the day, with protein and carbohydrates. I have had a couple of close calls with low blood sugar, which means I need to be testing more.

Reaching a few of my short term goals has made me feel more confident. When I think about losing inches in my bra size I get giddy with pride. Things don’t work that way normally for me. This is the first time I have ever lost a size. I hope this sense of accomplishment will push me forward into more accomplishments and more weight loss.

That’s More than Four Miles!

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At the Christmas Village

Yesterday I walked a record breaking 8, 533 steps. I am proud of myself and extremely sore. Last night I cried. This is life in the big city for me. I love it here in Philadelphia, but you wouldn’t think so the way I have gotten grouchy, cranky and weepy. Two things are going on. I am exploring a beautiful city with amazing architecture, history out its ass, and sweet friendly people. The other thing that is happening is I am trying to fit two middle aged lives into a one bedroom apartment.

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Seeing into the future: I will conquer this

The latter is the most difficult. Brad and I had a three bedroom apartment. Each of us had their own office complete with our own closet. That autonomy made our marriage rather pleasant. There were times when we got stressed with each other, cranky at life, or just needing space and we could just retire to our separate spaces. This has ended. The idyllic existence is over. We must truly cohabitate as every inch of space in our apartment is being assessed and planned. Mountains of stuff are being crammed into spaces we used to have plenty of space for. I am moving boxes to one side of the apartment and back because there isn’t an extra room where we can leave them for when we need them. There is just one room, and then another with the bed in it. Brad has an awesome new job and all the pressures that go with that so he isn’t able to help at all really. I have been here a week and a half and frankly it is already driving me crazy. I keep saying, when the apartment is finished, when we are all unpacked, and organized I will feel better, but will I? Will I?

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My Gorgeous Man in his Work duds

 

Hubby and I were single for a long time before we found each other. We both had plenty of time to ruminate in our own company and to know what we liked and didn’t. We like our own space. I think it is getting to him too, me always being around, probably worse. He is an introvert. They desperately need their own space, but here I am. I am there in the morning when he wakes up and every minute of every day he is here. It is probably brutal for him. I think that is why we are both grouchy. It is part of the reason.

The other part is the physical activity. We are both worn out. Our life pre move was sedimentary other than for the occasional yoga. Now Brad walks to work and back. We walk to everything now like stores and restaurants. This is such a good thing because we need the exercise, but it is kind of like trial by fire. Between unpacking, moving furniture, trying to find the grocery store and just being a general tourist, my feet are wondering what the heck I am doing. Every day is a new physical challenge that I don’t really think about when I am walking, but boy does my body feel it later.

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The Beautiful Capital

 

I have been doing this for about two weeks, and before that we were on a cross country trip. Yesterday Brad and I walked all over. It was one of my favorite days in a long time. I got to go to the park, walked through the fancy Rittenhouse area, see my husband’s work, visit Christmas Village (an outside holiday market), ride on a horse drawn carriage, and walk through the city hall. I almost made it to the elusive 10,000 step goal, the closest to that goal I have ever gotten. Throughout the entire day, I had a huge grin on my face. I took a picture with a Santa on a motorcycle for crying out loud. When we got home, we relaxed with a couple of burgers. We were both exhausted. It was a big day, but winding down our bodies hurt and we began sniping at each other. A couple snips later I was in bed and crying and saying how tired I was. Brad felt so bad he rubbed my feet so I could sleep. It’s a rollercoaster with me. We started joking that maybe I should start taking naps. When Danielle gets tired apparently she gets grouchy.

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Well, ya know…Santa

I have figured out my plan for fitness. One day I will walk all over trying to find a particular thing, like a grocery store or drug store: there is my cardio. The next day I will move boxes and clean the house and that will be my weight training. It is working out. I just hope my body gets used to it soon, for my marriage’s sake. Mandy my friend from New York advised me, “The greatest way to stay active is by necessity.” Those words are so true, and I hope they lead me to a healthier lifestyle.