Tagged: health

grandma’s got no nose

My grandmother’s health has been declining over the past few years. It’s been in small stages. She’s fallen. She’s developed arthritis. She’s become forgetful. She can’t start sentences without stopping to correct herself. She’s become slovenly. She’s frequently light-headed and has intense, reoccurring bouts of shoulder pain. My mother takes her to the doctor to soothe the aches and check on the pains. These trips used to be infrequent but with each day, there seems to be a new ailment that needs to be mended and monitored, so now the ventures are commonplace.

And now my grandmother has skin cancer. Specifically, Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a particularly rare and aggressive form of cancer that is not playing around.

It started when my mother noticed a growth on my grandmother’s nose. They went to the doctor to get it checked out. There was a series of appointments and a biopsy. That’s when they got the cancer diagnosis. They were referred to another doctor. Between doctor visits, the growth grew in size and severity. Like I said, this cancer doesn’t joke. It spreads fast.

It was decided by her doctor that the cancer had to be cut out. There was a possibility it could even spread to her lymph nodes. I worried because her surgery was scheduled about two weeks after her latest appointment. What if the cancer got worse in the mean time?

Surgery day came and while I was at work, Mom texted me with updates. The cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes but the doctor did take a large chunk out of my grandmother’s nose.

Afterward, they spoke with a plastic surgeon who offered some not-so-great options for reconstructive surgery, including pulling her forehead skin down or pulling her cheek over and using the tissue to fill in the gap in her nose. These methods would mean multiple surgeries, all of which would require my grandmother to go under anesthesia again, and at her age, it doesn’t seem like a good idea.

It’s especially not a good idea because not only has my grandmother lost her nose but she’s essentially losing her mind as well. My mom told me she suspected my grandmother is suffering from mild dementia. I could have told her that. I’ve noticed it for years now. I don’t know if my mom has only started noticing it due to being around my grandmother so much due to the multiple doctor visits or if she’s just been in denial and can no longer refute the obvious.

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doctor deep throat/ /gratitude

This past Tuesday, I went back to the ENT for my post-op checkup. He removed my bandages and said I was a fast healer. He handed me a mirror and I tried to look at the damage but I couldn’t actually see anything. I hadn’t shaved since the surgery so my beard was covering up a good portion of the incision. But the fact that I couldn’t see a jagged, raised scar was good. It didn’t even bruise like it did during my last procedure.

After he cut away my bandages, he opened the door and raised his hand for a goodbye shake. Slightly annoyed, I told him I had a few questions. I had waited for an hour to speak with him so I didn’t want to be ushered out after 7 minutes. I asked him what caused these cysts and he informed me it’s a birth defect that I’ve had all my life. They just don’t typically form noticeable, protruding lumps until between the ages of 19-30. He also informed me that he took out a part of my hyoid bone, which is where the cysts can stem from. So between the excision and my age, the chances of it coming back are unlikely. Thank goodness.

I asked about various scar treatments and if the numbness under my chin was normal. He told me it was ’cause he had to cut a flap open underneath my jaw to get to the cyst. “You’ll start to feel some itching when the nerves reform.” Yuck. My mind raced with all the questions I wanted to ask him but his presence towering over me caused all those questions to fly right out of my incision.

“Well, I guess that is all,” I said.

“Just give us a call if you think of anything else,” he said with a handshake and then that was it.

I went back to work the next day. I’d gone back to work that previous Saturday but I really shouldn’t have. I felt terrible with a mixture of antibiotics and lethargy coursing through me. It still hurt to talk and my voice was reminiscent of someone who’d been smoking for the past 50 years. But I needed the money so I went in. But I felt much better during this shift. It didn’t hurt as much to talk and my voice had almost returned to normal. I’d also taken my last antibiotic the day before so I’d hoped the majority of it was making its way out of my system.

During my shift, I passed by a familiar customer. I greeted him and he asked me if I’d been on vacation.

“Not quite,” I said. “I had surgery and I spent last week in bed recovering. So, I guess it was a vacation of sorts.”

“Ah, well we missed you,” he said, referring to him and his wife. That was really nice to hear. In fact, he acted like he was more glad to see me than some of my coworkers were. It just reminded me that sometimes we don’t always feel like we are noticed or appreciated but there are people out there who do see, who do recognize, and who do feel it when you’re missing.

After my shift was over, I wanted some kind of milkshake or other creamy confection to soothe my throat. I went to a fast food place and thought, “Well, while I’m here, might as well grab a little dinner.” ‘Cause I’m logical like that. Actually, my reasoning made sense to me. I hadn’t eaten for about 4 days while laid up in bed with what felt like a butcher knife in my windpipe so I figured a couple of grease-coated calories wouldn’t kill me. I wasn’t sure what I wanted so I just stared at the menu and listed off things to the cashier that I thought sounded good.

“I’m gonna just combo all this up for you so it’ll be cheaper,” she said. Another nice thing. It was small and maybe she’s supposed to do that kind of thing but I took it as a kind gesture from a girl just tryin’ to help a brotha out.

And I needed all the help I could get ’cause I had to pay for the surgery. Even with insurance, I had to pay a large chunk out of pocket to meet my deductible. When the lady at the front counter at the doctor’s office asked me if I wanted to pay a little bit on it along with my co-pay, I told her I wanted to go ahead and take care of the whole thing.

All of it?” she asked with wide eyes.

“Yes, ma’am.”

I’m fortunate I had the funds to pay for the whole thing. And it isn’t going to break me to part with the money. I’m struggling, for sure, but I recognize and am grateful for the fact that I do have some in savings and was able to take care of it without it being a huge burden on me. I’m terrible with money and one day it’ll all come crashing down on me but over the past few years, I have at least tried to be more conscientious of my spending and my bank account. And I think I’ve done better. It’s still a process because spending, much like eating, is how I soothe myself.

But overall, my recovery and transition back to work was nice. I encountered some kind people and I just want to recognize that because it doesn’t happen often that I have something good to say about my surroundings.

Here’s hoping those goiters are gone for good!

sore throat diet

I came down with a sore throat about two weeks ago. It was the worst sore throat I’ve had since I can remember. It was hard to swallow, which made eating nearly impossible. Not only did I not want to eat because of the pain, I also had no appetite so not eating didn’t bother me.

But now that I’m feeling better, eating isn’t painful, and my appetite is coming back. But I don’t want it to.

I lost about 6 pounds in 2 weeks. It might not seem like a lot but I’ve been dieting and exercising since January and I usually only lose about 4 pounds every 2 weeks. But I lost those 6 pounds by not eating or exercising. I just slept in bed the whole time. Easiest 6 pounds I ever lost. And while I understand it was probably mostly water weight and muscle, when I finally went back to work and got dressed and could go down another notch on my belt, it felt satisfying.

It was nice not to worry about food for a change, not to have to count calories or wonder how long I’d have to exercise to burn off what I’d just eaten. It was all about my warm sheets, no sleep, and spitting up saliva all night. It was a pleasant trade-off.

The sickness helped me break through the 30lb mark. I’m now down 33lbs since January. While I’m happy with my progress, I wish I had a bit more of a healthier attitude about it all.

That’s not to say I’ve been unhealthy. In fact, this latest bout of weight loss has been, in my opinion, one of the healthiest ways I’ve done it. I have a set number of calories I can have each day and I stick with it. I work out 4-5 days a week, usually a low impact exercise that lasts 30-45 minutes. I still have sweets occasionally. I’ve even had a bit of fast food here and there, as long as it fits into my allotted calories. I don’t feel deprived. I don’t feel I’ve pushed my body to the extreme as far as physical exercise. I’m taking things slow and steady. I’m trying to be sensible and not restrict myself to the point of madness. And so far I think I’ve done a good job.

But this sickness has reminded me that I still desire quick fixes, that I’m not entirely resistant to a weight loss shortcut, no matter how unsustainable. I wanted to keep my restricted diet. I wanted to see how far I could go on a can of chicken noodle soup and a bowl of mashed potatoes, which had basically been my diet over the past 2 weeks. But it was just a thought. I didn’t go through with it, partly because I am tired of chicken noodle soup and partly because I know it’s not healthy. I knew I needed the strength to help me fight this sickness and 500 calories a day wouldn’t help with that. But the thoughts were still there.

On the other end of the spectrum, being sick also reminded me I’m not above overindulging at times. Because I hadn’t eaten very much for several days, when my throat starting feeling better, I overindulged in a few foods. I reasoned that I had a few extra calories I could consume due to my lack of eating in the days prior. And really, it makes sense. I’ve been trying to create balance in my diet. If I eat too much one day, I try to scale it back the next. I even try to do that from meal to meal. Big breakfast? Small dinner. And vice versa. But as much as I enjoyed those extra helpings, I felt guilty.

Despite over 2 months of developing solid eating habits and consistently exercising, it only took 2 weeks to get out of that routine and I’m already dreading getting back into it. I’m still not feeling that great so working out is not on my to-do list right now. But I’m trying to stick to my calories, so at least I have that going for me.

I just feel bad that I have to put so much thought into these types of things. Sneaking in an extra slice of pizza or feeling I can allow myself another cup of ice cream always leads to disaster. Anytime I loosen the reigns, I end up losing control. It takes such an incredible amount of concentration to stay on track and a lot of the time it’s exhausting. And so when I stop exercising or don’t think about calorie counting, it feels good, freeing. But each and every time that happens, I gain all the weight back. So while it sucks, it’s necessary to keep up with what I’m eating and how many times I exercise. The sickness was a break of sorts, but now I’m ready to get back into my old routine. The hard part is gonna be actually doing it.

in sickness and in stealth

Last Wednesday, I was minding my own business when I felt a sore throat come on. This was odd because I usually wake up with it. But I actually felt it happen in real time. I wasn’t too concerned because I’ve had minor throat irritation before but it usually went away by the next day. But this one didn’t. The next two days passed by and I took some over the counter medication to try to nip it in the bud before it became too bad.

It didn’t get any better. My throat became so sore it was hard to swallow or even move my head around. I also lost my voice.

I reported to work like normal since I didn’t have many paid vacation/sick days left and I certainly didn’t want to waste them unless it was absolutely necessary. I only had a few days of work and then three days off, so I thought I’d be able to make it through and then take my days off to recover.

I made it through but things continued to get worse. I developed a nasty cough and a runny nose. I felt dizzy. I made an appointment to see a doctor. But that meant I actually had to get out of bed, get dressed, and go out in public. That thought usually pains me even when I’m not feeling like crap so it was exceptionally difficult that day.

Not only did I feel (and look) terrible but I saw a lot of old acquaintances while out. The nurse at the counter of the doctor’s office is the mother of my high school classmate.

While I was in the waiting room, one of my high school teacher’s walked in. My former teachers usually don’t recognize me so I kept my head down and she never seemed to notice. Even when the nurse called my name to be seen, my teacher didn’t turn her head in recognition.

And when the doctor came in to see me, he commented that he hadn’t seen me in about 5 years.

“I see on my notes here the last time you came to see me that you were studying animation,” he said. “Whatever happened to that?”

The dreaded question.

I had to explain that nothing ever happened to that, that I no longer felt passionate about animation, and that I had “retired” from drawing.

“What are you doing now?” he asked.

“Working retail,” I said. My already small voice had faded even more.

It’s always embarrassing to have to explain how my big dreams of being an animator fell through. And I always worry if people think I’m padding the truth, like I actually failed or dropped out. No, I graduated. I was just too much of a coward to do anything with my degree.

And when I went to get my prescription filled at the drugstore, I saw my former co-worker there. Hadn’t seen him in ten years. He asked what I was up to and I explained, in the same sad, small voice, that I was working in retail.

It doesn’t help that I’m also fat now. These people who haven’t seen me in such a long time now see me as overweight, balding, and working a crummy job folding shirts for pennies. The years haven’t been good to Bran. More like, Bran hasn’t been good to Bran.

I graduated from college about five years ago and that’s an ample amount of time to run into a lot of old friends and past acquaintances, to explain to each and every one of them of my shortcomings and failures. And it has sucked each time. And each time I have to explain that I’m basically doing nothing with my life, I feel that fire of shame in my chest. But over the years, the pool of former friends has dried up and I’ve had to explain myself less and less. But even after all these years, there are a few stragglers that still show up in my life and I have to bust out the explanations one more time and feel the fire again. I hate it and it’s just another reminder of my pointless existence. As if I needed a reminder.

It’s all perception. I know I’m harder on myself than anyone else is. I’m sure the doctor and the co-worker probably didn’t think twice about my life update. Sure, I’ve gained some weight since they saw me last. Sure, I’m not in the best occupation right now. But does that make me beneath them? Of course not. And did they think that? I’m sure they didn’t. But the paranoid part of my brain felt like they did look down on me. I always have this suspicion that everyone thinks I’m trash and I hate having to confirm it every time I see them.

One of the annoying things about living in a small town is it feels like I’m always on top of everyone else. Or, more specifically, it feels like everyone else is always on top of me. It’s suffocating. There’s no privacy or anonymity. Everyone knows me and my business. I just wish I could have sneaked in and out of the doctor’s office and slipped in and out of the drugstore, ninja-style, and then nose-dived into the safety of my bed, and cuddled up to the comfort of my penicillin and pillows.

the chub stands alone

My kitchen is in ruins.

My mother decided she wanted to redo our entire kitchen so last week, she had a business come and take out the cabinets, counters, sink, and dishwasher. We still have our fridge and stove but that’s it. Never one to be without coffee, Mom set up the coffee maker and microwave in the dining room. Every time I go for a cup, I feel like I’m in a hotel room. And I feel like I’m camping when plating my food on foam plates and eating with plastic utensils.

Mom estimated it will be like this for another week or so since the company is still building the replacement cabinets and need to put down new floor covering. Mom’s also started painting the kitchen so it smells like plastic and fumes.

All the cutlery and other dishes are stacked in the living room, which makes it hard to move around in there. Things are piled on the dining room table and in the corners. It makes the room a little bit smaller. It feels like my world is closing in.

We’ve been eating out a lot. It’s just easier. The problem is I was going to start dieting around this time. I told myself I would get back on track once I went back to the retail job and stayed there for about a month to get back into the swing of things.

I gained a lot of weight, all the weight I lost in 2012 specifically, while I was at the finance job. I was stressed and food soothes me. But I knew once I went up two pant sizes I needed to get myself under control.

But I don’t even want to.

I enjoy greasy fast food. I know it’s horrible for me and the calorie count is absurd but I don’t care. I’m still stressed because the retail job is slowly tanking. Our hours continue to get cut more each week and we are in the midst of a serious shoplifting problem. With the hours being scaled back, we are understaffed. There are entire departments that are not covered, which allows shoplifters to literally go in, take what they want, and leave completely undetected.

I honestly felt okay about the job when I went back. It was never my intention to stay there forever but I was okay with not trying to find a new job right away. I thought I’d work there while I focused on publishing my book and then once that was done, I could focus on a job search. But at this point, I should probably be looking now. I just hate looking. It’s so discouraging to go through all the classifieds and online job postings and not find anything interesting or attainable.

I feel like a smoker who knows the habit is bad but enjoys smoking and doesn’t want to quit. Every time I bite into a double cheeseburger, I know it’s going to make it harder to button up my pants but I’m all about that instant gratification and future consequences be damned.

I’m stressed about work and I’m stressed about my book and I’m stressed about not fitting into my clothes anymore and I don’t have the money to buy new ones and I’ve also been struggling with other stuff like being lonely and disconnected from society. It’s a lot to try to deal with so I eat to help me not deal with it.

I hope to one day get myself together again. I just don’t know what that will take. I’ve been on this journey so many times before and it’s both exhausting and exuberant. But each time, there’s a little less joy and a little bit more concern, wondering when I’ll slip again. Because I always do. Even when I bounce back, I always do.

surgery was a good time

I put my hospital socks on the other day and paced around the house. It brought me back to the time when I had an operation to remove a golf-ball sized cyst in my throat.

I sat back on the hospital bed as all these men in scrubs came in with their clipboards and told me they were going to take good care of me.

It was nice hearing that, like I mattered to someone. It was a warm feeling when I took to the cold hospital floor.

I’d like to go back to that.

yogi bear

Most people wouldn’t think of me as a tree-hugging hippie because I’m always eating garbage and I never go outside. But I wish I was more into nature and organic food and peace and love for all man, man. The problem is I don’t like bean sprouts and people are assholes.

As the days go by and my anxiety and sadness worsens, the inclination toward medication becomes more and more likely. I’ve been pondering taking some kind of anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication from around the time I was a senior in high school. These medications actually alter your brain chemistry and to me, that’s a scary thought. Sure, it might change me for the better but what if it changes me in other, not-so-good ways?

One of my high school classmates was on anti-depressants for several years and he said he didn’t like it. The medicine only dulled his depression and numbed his senses but didn’t really make him feel better. And sure, many factors could have contributed to his feeling that way: medicine type, dosage, his own brain response to the medicine but it didn’t make me feel better about venturing into the Prozac Nation. I don’t want to turn into Britney Spears. Did you watch her documentary? Total robot.

And for the same reason I try to stay away from drugs, sex, and alcohol (even prescription glasses as silly as that sounds), I don’t want to be dependent on something to get through the day. I don’t like the feeling of knowing I have to be connected to something at all times. What if I miss a dose or can no longer afford it or they stop making it? Is it going to send me back into a downward spiral and cause me to crash harder?

That’s when yoga entered the picture. Yoga seems like such a peaceful and relaxing practice. And it’s supposedly not only good for your body but your mind, and in many instances, your soul. Bingo. Sounds perfect for me because I’m hurting in all those areas and it taps into that crunchy granola side of me hidden behind the layers of potato chip grease and synthetic fibers. What a perfect and natural alternative to anti-depressants.

Several years ago, I bought a book called Yoga for Depression and read two chapters before I put it down because I really wanted to better myself! Eh. I picked it up again a few months ago and managed to read ten chapters before I put it down because I was really committed this time….Eh. So, as I read the book, the author wrote about her journey with yoga and I got the impression she relied on yoga the way people rely on anti-depressants. She said she felt sluggish and out of sorts if she missed even one day of yoga. Was she dependent on downward dog? Did the effects of yoga not last longer than a day or two?

I understand yoga, just like physical exercise or any other positive behavior, takes some time and dedication but it seems like a lot of trouble to experience a fleeting feeling of contentment. Are the effects of yoga not cumulative as I imagined? Do you not feel better overall?

Another problem I have with yoga is the five million types of yoga out there. Which one is best for me? I’ve experimented with various yoga programs over the years but none of them felt right so I eventually gave up on it.

A few months ago, I switched my focus back to yoga. I wanted to re-dedicate myself to becoming more emotionally and spiritually stable. I found a few DVDs and as I tried them, I concentrated on my breathing like the soothing lady voiceover said to do. But as I went through the DVD, she kept saying, “At this point you might feel like (blah blah blah) and I kept thinking to myself, “Oh, God, I’m not feeling any of that,” which then sent my semi-serene state into a tizzy. I wondered what I was doing wrong, why I wasn’t feeling these sensations the soothing lady voiceover said I should probably be feeling. Did I break the yoga? Or was it because I was too broken to find bliss?

I realized yoga actually gave me more anxiety than it alleviated so I took the DVD out and gave up. Again.

I still have the DVD and should probably give it another shot but I also feel like I’m too stressed to de-stress, if that makes any sense. I’ve got so much going on in my mind that I can’t concentrate on chilling out. It’s almost as if I need to get rid of some of the stress on my own before I can really focus on doing right by the DVD. It’s like gastric bypass patients that actually have to lose weight before getting the weight loss surgery. The problem is I’m too mentally famished to shed some of this excessive agony by myself.

The whole thing feels like a mess. I’m not sure what’s going to work for me anymore. Pills or poses? As much as I’ve tried to hold off on actually considering medication, maybe I really should take a serious look at it. Should I Namaste with yoga a little bit longer or become a Lexapro at pills? I don’t know what’s right for me. And will I be dedicated to either one enough to see positive results?

ab(stained)

Y’all, I’m so behind on my writing. This happened a few months ago and I jotted some notes down but I’m just now getting around to posting this…I mean, I have a book to write but I’ll never get to it if I can’t get all this other mental clutter out first.

ANYway.

A few months ago, I met a high school acquaintance for dinner. We spoke fairly regularly for a few years and then she got married and we drifted apart. I never thought her marriage would last and sure enough, when we started catching up with each other over enchiladas, she told me she had been divorced for about two years.

Ironically, the divorce was the best thing going on in her life. Shortly after she and her husband split, she realized she never loved him the way she should have and wasted nine years of her life with him. But she did get a free house, car, and dog out of the deal so it wasn’t a total bust. But other than that, she felt inadequate and turned to alcohol and random sex partners to ease the hurt of being alive.

The more we talked, the more I realized we were basically the same person, Siamese twins conjoined at our crippling insecurities. I felt bad for her and felt even worse when I had no advice to offer up. Usually I can dole out a few words of wisdom and guidance that soothes whatever aches the person I talk to but with her, I had nothing because I’m going through the same problems.

She doesn’t have a job and lies in bed all day and drinks. She said she stays, at a minimum, buzzed, and at maximum, blacked out drunk. She has one night stands. She has no purpose, no guidance, no one to love her. She thinks she’s disgusting, which she’s not. She’s a very pretty girl but all she can see is the “big girl she used to be.” I also understood that. No matter how much weight I’ve lost or will lose, I’ll always feel like the fat guy.

I wanted to both hug and throttle her but couldn’t because 1) I don’t like touching people and 2) I know I wouldn’t have gotten through to her. I think she’s just going to have to go through whatever she’s going through and either become numb to the whole thing or finally snap out of it somehow. I didn’t think there was a cure for what ailed her. There was only control. She can control her symptoms. She can minimize the hurt but if she’s anything like me, and I believe she is, the pain will never go away.

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this is why i’m fat and poor

I used to never look at my checking account. I spent money like I assumed it would always be there. I bought stuff I didn’t need. Sometimes I bought stuff I didn’t even want because buying things made me feel better. And buying food always made me feel best.

I avoid stuff. I’m good at it. I like to ignore subjects that make me feel uncomfortable. I always reason with myself that I’ll deal with it when I’m emotionally ready. But I’m never emotionally ready. I bury it deeper inside until it resolves itself or until it becomes unavoidable and I actually have to face it.

My pants get tighter and I tell myself I’ll start dieting the next day. My funds dry up and I say I’ll finally publish my book and hope to make a good bit of money from it. But at the end of the day, I go to the grocery store and stock up on candy. I eat it. And then it starts over the next day and the next week and the next month and the next year.

One of the things I’ve been ignoring the most is my student loans. I’ve been clueless about them ever since I first applied for them. My parents never dealt with student loans before and didn’t know how to help me with them so I just went for a company my college recommended.

And then when they came due, the minimum monthly payments were too high so I deferred them and then used forbearance. I couldn’t find a stable job and the money just wasn’t there. I eventually settled into my retail job and was fortunate enough to be promoted to a supervisor, which gave me a decent pay raise. About that time, my deferment and forbearance was exhausted and I had to start paying them back.

I set up automatic payments from my checking account so I wouldn’t have to look at it or deal with it or think about it. I didn’t even know where to go to check on my balance.

My mom has always dealt with the family finances. For example, my dad gives my mom his paycheck and she pools their money together and distributes it to the appropriate channels. Maybe I’ve inadvertently started to think of my mom as a bank, collecting and lending money as she saw fit and never bothered to develop my own financial independence.

Well, better late than never.

Last month, I really had a talk with myself about how much money I spend on junk. I spent money ’cause I was in pain and it was a self-medicating measure. And that’s why I can’t get mad at myself over the wasted money over the years. I didn’t mean to be wasteful. I just meant to be okay. What’s done is done and I can’t get upset over spilled savings. No matter where I was, here I am now.

I downloaded a few financial apps to my phone and researched my student loans. It was a bit disheartening to see exactly how much I owe back and how little of my monthly payments are actually going to the principal but at least I know now and from this point onward, I have a better idea of where my money’s going.

With this new job, I’m making a bit more money and I’m hoping it gets better soon enough so I won’t have to quit and lose that pay increase. In fact, at this point I should keep the job no matter how much I hate it because this is what being an adult means. I got myself in this financial mess and I have to get out of it, even if it means several years of scraping by and being poor and skipping cheeseburgers so I can use that saved money to chip chip chip away at those loans.

Ah, chips.

No, no, wait. Focus.

It’s really a win/win. I’m saving money and calories. And I’m pretty proud of myself because I haven’t spent any more money than I’ve absolutely needed to this year. Sure, we’re only 18 days into the new year but I’ve really concentrated on doing better. It’s one step at a time, one day at a time. And I feel good about it so far. I hope I can keep it up!

one-step program

I always feel I do better when I’m making goals and working toward them. When I wake up with no direction, I usually get nothing accomplished and feel terrible at the end of the day. It’s difficult to make goals sometimes because I am an all-or-nothing type of person. Moderation is a hard concept for me to grasp because if I’m going to do something, especially something I don’t want to do, I want to see fast results. Otherwise, it’s easy to give up.

There are some days when I feel I have to starve myself, work out until I’m dizzy, write ten chapters and read an entire book in a day for me to feel like I actually did something productive. And that’s not healthy because trying to meet such high standards on a daily basis only sets myself up to crash and burn. And I always do. And that makes it harder to get back on track.

But there are other days when it’s like a switch has been flipped and I can understand and utilize the idea of doing and eating and experiencing things in small portions. I can have a slice of cake and not feel guilty. I can do moderate exercise for half an hour and feel like I burned some fat. I can write a chapter in the book I’m writing or read a chapter in a book I’m reading and I feel like I accomplished something. It’s during those times that I do my best and feel my best.

For a time last year, I woke up and made daily goals, usually involving exercising, reading and writing. I’d write during my lunch break at work, exercise when I got off work, then read before bed. Sometimes I wrote a lot and read a little or exercised a little and read a whole lot and didn’t write very much and there were days when I didn’t get around to doing one thing on my list because I got too busy or felt lethargic. That was okay because the majority of the time I accomplished most, if not all, the things I planned to do. When I had a goal to strive for, I had direction. When I had direction, I actually got stuff done. And that felt good.

This is the time to get back into that mode, to make goals and strive toward completing them, to get stuff done. If I fall short on a few things, that’s okay because I can always make it up the next day. It’s a tired expression but every day really is an opportunity to do better. I just have to remember that and not beat myself up if I can’t get it all done in one day.

It’s a one-step program, taking things one day at a time, one goal at a time, one accomplishment at a time. It’s all about patience and persistence. It’s about always reminding yourself of the good your doing, how the small things add up to big changes. And that takes a lot of energy and when you don’t have much to begin with, it can feel overwhelming. But it’s worth it. I just have to keep that in mind.

I’ve done all this before. Not once but twice. And I can do it again.