More madness in Boston. I can’t wait for all of this to be over.
I’m having a hard time processing the Boston Marathon bombings. My husband was sick yesterday and we were both home, but I’m still shaken by the horrific things that happened here in Boston. I’ve walked that now-blood-soaked stretch of Boylston Street hundreds if not thousands of times. I fell in love with my husband 100 feet away from the Boston Marathon finish line. I had dozens of friends and coworkers who ran yesterday. Luckily most of them were out of harm’s way at that exact moment. I know people who were either 5 minutes too fast or too slow to be torn apart. One of the family member’s of the team running to support my work was hospitalized; I don’t know the extent of her injuries. I know that in the coming weeks and days I will find out about more connections that I have to victims of this tragedy. Boston is a small city.
I didn’t even know my mom was in town until I received her text reassuring me that she and my stepdad were okay. She had walked through the doors of a building across the street just seconds before the second bomb exploded.
I know that it’s important to focus on the positive things that happened. The bravery and selflessness of Bostonians was amazing. I saw countless tweets from people offering food, shelter, rides, and anything else to runners from out of town. I heard the stories of heroes who rushed into danger to help the victims. I am so grateful that medical supplies and staff were so accessible to the injured.
The images on TV were horrifying, and I’m glad that networks have edited the footage that is playing today. I saw too much blood yesterday. The images of missing and shredded limbs will continue to haunt me.
I feel an empty place in my heart that is begging to be filled. My brain keeps telling me that there must be something I can do to fill that void. I feel like I’m in shock.
So, this is another week that I’ve altered from the original book. The author of “52 Small Changes” assigns a week that’s focused on keeping dirt outside of your living space. She suggests setting up a transition zone, removing shoes before entering the house, keeping air filtered and windows closed, etc. I disagree with the author’s fear of contamination. Once it’s warm enough, I will keep every window open and my back door open. I live in a one-bedroom apartment and it’s really not difficult to keep it clean. I should probably dust more often, but this is not a huge priority in my life.
I decided to focus on doing some exercise first thing in the morning. I’ve never understood the people who can get out of bed and go to the gym before work. I think they are mutants. Also, I am wicked jealous of them. In my fantasy life, I get up every morning and do an hour of yoga before starting my day. In my reality, I’ve recently started washing my face every morning. I need to start very small with this morning exercise habit. Every morning this week, I’ve done 5 girly push-ups and 25 crunches before running out the door. I plan on increasing the numbers and maybe adding some other exercises and stretches as the weeks progress.
This was a momentous week for me with one of my other goals — I cut out caffeine completely. I’ve spent weeks weaning myself from coffee to tea, and on Wednesday I finally pulled the plug. My caffeine headache was nearly debilitating, but only lasted one day. I’ve been drinking herbal tea — mint, rooibos, chamomile, etc. The first night without any caffeine, I slept for 11 hours. The next 2 nights I slept for 10 hours. Apparently, I was sleep-deprived! I don’t feel like I have my energy back yet, but it’s only been 5 days.
I’m still working hard on my other goals — drinking water, walking as much as I can, keeping a daily journal, staying positive, and taking my vitamins. I started running again, but the snow and cold have made that less frequent than I’d like.
The week 6 assignment was pretty self-explanatory. I’m very good at taking my vitamins every day and I’ve gotten my husband into the habit, too. Each day I take a multivitamin, 500 mg of vitamin C, 2000 IU of vitamin D, and a super omega-3 (fish, flax, and borage oil.) The author of “52 Small Changes” also suggested a daily probiotic, but this is something I haven’t tried yet.
The week 5 assignment is about cultivating a positive attitude. This is something that I’ve been working on consistently for a few years. It’s not my natural state, so it definitely requires some effort. I’ve learned that I fall prey to a number of mental distortions — all or nothing thinking, personalization, overgeneralization, etc. If you’re interested in a great self-help approach to curing depression, I recommend David Burn’s “Feeling Good“. I was able to make a huge amount of progress once I learned to be more aware of the internal dialogue that was making me miserable. The fancy name for this is cognitive behavioral therapy, and like any therapy, it only works when you are ready to change.
My favorite book about positive thinking is Dale Carnegie’s classic “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living“. This book was first published in 1948, and it’s by the same author as “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. This book is full of really great, practical advice for handling anxiety and depression. Back then it was called worry, and the premise of this book is that it’s something we do to ourselves. The modern mentality is so victim-oriented — we’re all so stressed out by the world around us. Carnegie tells the stories of people who were dealing with WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII. None of them were victims of anything but their own mental attitudes. It’s powerful stuff.
I haven’t been blogging, but I have been working on my 52 small changes. I found that I needed to modify the week 4 assignment. The goal for this week is all about keeping a food journal. I actually tried this method earlier in the year, back in January. I used myfitnesspal.com on my Kindle. For 25 days, I counted each and every calorie I consumed. Instead of feeling in control and motivated to eat healthier, I found myself depressed and reliving dark memories. I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder, but I have had periods of horribly disordered eating along with some body dysmorphia. This means that I don’t have a realistic concept of my own weight and looks.
My life felt like it was spinning out of control during my senior year of high school. I felt like I wasn’t good at anything, so I decided I would be good at being skinny. I was thin to begin with, and I used my self-discipline to become even thinner. I read every book I could find on anorexia. I guess these novels are supposed to act as cautionary tales, but like many people with eating disorders, I used them as inspiration and tip guides. I restricted eating. I tried purging and laxatives. I counted each calorie and measured my waist and hips each day. I started going to pro-ana websites. My mom finally took me to the doctor, and was horrified to discover that at 5’6″ I weighed 112 lbs. I remember how much it hurt to walk barefoot, like the fat pads in my heels were disappearing. I don’t remember how or why I gained the weight back. It was probably to get my mom off my back.
I gained weight during my freshman year of college due to depression. I would binge on gross stuff and never leave my room. I lost that weight when I transferred schools, and kept on losing when I got involved with my ex-husband at 21. He was so horrifically bad for me. I was miserable with him, but felt as if I didn’t deserve any better. Between my mental anguish, being too poor to buy food, and my unresolved body image issues, I was in dangerous territory again. By 23, I was down to 108 lbs. My veins bulged through my translucent skin. I got some help for my depression and started gaining back the weight a little at a time. My favorite weight was 118 lbs, but my ex said he liked me better when I was over 120 lbs.
The rest of my 20′s was spent living with the ex, smoking enormous amounts of weed to numb myself, and feeling really terrible about my life. My weight bounced around in the 120s. When I started dating my new husband, I decided that I was done with my eating disorder. I didn’t want to worry about weight ever again. I wanted to live my life and enjoy it. I wanted to be healthy! Keeping the food journal was just too close to my unhappy past. I’m 133 lbs right now. Would I like to lose 10 lbs? Absolutely! But, am I willing to risk the mental stability I’ve gained? No way in hell! I decided to shift my focus to keeping a daily journal — not food related. I’ve been using Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal. I’ve found that the limited space keeps journal writing from feeling overwhelming, and the dated pages keep me on track. In the past, I only kept a journal during particularly bad times, so it’s nice to have a record of my happy times for once.
Last week’s goal was all about finding ways to be active throughout the day: walking instead of driving, taking the stairs, etc. I decided to get back into the habit of walking to and from the subway for my work commutes. Walking both ways equals about 4 miles which is a really decent amount. So, that’s at least 20 miles of walking each week. And I always walk fast!
Work forced me to add some activity into my week. It was school vacation week in Massachusetts and that means craziness at the Aquarium. The members of my department take turns working in the plaza tent during vacation weeks. That added up to 13 hours of standing, walking, etc.
It was a stressful week and by Thursday I was feeling really overwhelmed. I went for a 2 mile run Thursday night. It hurt like hell, but the lump in my throat that made me want to sob finally disappeared. I also managed to do the Ballet Beautiful 60-min Classic Workout on Sunday — my only day off.
I am so excited about tonight!!! I was invited to observe Boston Ballet’s company rehearsal this evening. I’m not quite sure how I managed this, but the invitation I received mentioned my status as a long-time student with Boston Ballet School. I took my first class there in 2005 or 2006, so I guess that makes me a long-time, if horribly inconsistent, student of the school. I can’t wait to see the pros in action! Hopefully, they will be working of pieces from the upcoming show, “All Kylian”. I absolutely adored Jiri Kylian’s “Black and White” and I’m looking forward to seeing more from this choreographer.
I have more to update, but no time right now…
I get so frustrated with myself sometimes. There are so many things that I want to do… but I’m not doing them! It’s especially hard when I start comparing myself to other people. I need to remember that we all travel on our own individual paths and what is right for one person may not be right for another. It’s difficult, I’m a competitive person by nature. But if I can’t love and appreciate myself for who I am right now, I’ll never have the self-confidence to achieve my goals. I’ve grown and changed so much in the past few years, and I often take that for granted.
I want to throw myself into things: ballet, grad school, motherhood. But without a solid foundation, anything I try to build up will simply collapse and bury me. It’s hard to be patient. I’ll be 31 in less than a month, and it feels like I’m running out of time. I feel like I’m 10 years behind — I just finished my undergrad last year, I’m at the very beginning of a career, I don’t own a house or a car. Meanwhile, my biological clock is ticking… loudly.
All I can do is work on my patience and keep my focus on the small things. My fortune cookie the other night was quite prescient with its reminder that, “When weaving nets, all threads count.” I’m still working on building up a strong center and a balanced life. My path is one of slow and steady progress.
This week’s challenge is to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. This one is a no-brainer for me because I can’t function on less than 7 hours. I take my sleep very seriously – I’ve invested in a memory foam mattress, memory foam pillow, and down comforters. I make it to bed between 10:30p.m. and 12:00a.m. every night and I wake up at 7:00a.m. I also nap on weekends and days off when I can. My husband makes fun of me, but he’s also seen me when I don’t get my 8 hours… and it can get pretty scary.
It seemed more important to focus my powers of self-improvement on my coffee addiction. I have the lamest coffee habit: one medium coffee each morning. I just hate that I can’t function without it. I’ve quit coffee before, and I always feel better when I do. I wake up easier, I don’t crash in the afternoon, and my energy feels consistent throughout the day. It’s hard to quit because I really love the taste of coffee. I don’t like drinking decaf, because I know the chemicals used to decaffeinate coffee are really nasty.
I can’t afford to spend a week in misery, so I’m slowly cutting down. This week I’ve been getting a small coffee instead of my medium. Next week I will be switching to black tea. I don’t drink soda, so it really is only my coffee for caffeine intake. I’ve been doing well with last week’s challenge. I’ve only missed my hydration goal a couple of times. I’ve been hitting my minimum of 65 oz. and I am starting to work on drinking a little extra to make up for the super dry air (indoor heating plus dry winter air.)
I’ve been sick AGAIN, which means no dance progress. I’m starting to feel like it’s time to give up that dream, but I pulled some runes and the message I received was to keep moving forward. I really hope that I feel better by Saturday. There is a beginner ballet class at a different school that I have wanted to check out…