Running into the void...how jogging helped me quit smoking, and how I'm using it now for mental and physical strength.Read Now
When I quit smoking in the spring of 2011, it was sudden. Although I was building up to it gradually over a couple of years, the way that I did it was quickly and with a lot of focus and energy. I decided I was done and went forward into the storm of mental chaos, physical discomfort, addiction repatterining, and an overall sense that "I am greater than nicotine" and "I will win in this situation."
One of the great helps that got me through this massive life change 9 years ago (yowza, just realized I'm almost at my 9 year anniversary!) was running. I'm not a fan of running at all. When I was 12 I was good at it. Then at 15 I picked it back up for a few months. After that, I would usually go for a run when I finally feel bloated beyond control, or when our family decides to sign up for another annual Turkey Trot event. Typically my knees start to hurt and my mind wanders.
But when I quit smoking, my mind NEEDED a place to put all of its energy into. The challenge of getting farther than I had the previous day, or week, was met with gusto and take charge attitude. Interestingly enough, I feel the exact same in this current crisis. Last week I decided to run to get out of the house and give myself a huge physical challenge (and yes, I was also at the point of over-bloated madness from my brother's amazing homemade cooking). I went out and ran 2 miles. Just like that. Now, I will say that I was clearly jogging at a pace slower than a person walking at some points, but I DID IT. It took me roughly 25 minutes. I was a little judgmental about that time being long, until I thought, "you haven't run 2 miles in several years." So yeah, then I gave myself the pride I deserved.
I've done a cry run within the past week as well. The news that day suggested we might be home schooling well into fall 2020. That hit me so hard it was unbearable. I craved my old life back in that instant. It was very hard to imagine the next 6 months being happy and easy. The tension in the house was high as well, with a lot of personalities and time on our hands, sometimes it just felt like I couldn't have any time alone, or find solace peacefully by myself. I started running, and just ended up sobbing. Sobbing and talking out loud. And I ran 2.5 miles at 24 minutes. The joy and peace I felt afterward was astounding. I was able to communicate to my family members how much more help I needed, and the feelings I was going through.
Last night I ran 2 miles in 22.5 minutes.
The similarity of quitting smoking and being shut in by the Covo is striking.
Both times, I was searching for control.
Some things are definitely out of my control: world economy, what this virus is, how it will end...
Yet some things are in my control: how I react to the stress, how I communicate, how I choose to thrive.
For now, I'll aim to keep running into the void of the unknown, while training my mind and body to preserve and persevere with strength and focus.
Screen time with kids. Ugh. Am I right? Trying to navigate how much information comes to my son in a digital viewing format can be an overwhelming task as a parent. When he was 3 years old we decided to get tougher on our time allowance (which was fairly limited to PBS kids and Disney movies already) and created a firm 1 hour a day of any kind of screen. At his 6 year old check-up, our pediatrician said that 2 hours a day at that age is fine. Really?! Ok. My husband and I decided to keep it at one hour, but that was 6 months ago. During the stay at home month (so far) of the Covid crisis, we have days where the screen time gets completely out of control. We are playing Wii together, watching school assignments, doing educational games and online fitness, watching movies, and letting him choose kid friendly tv shows. What is one to do?
Well, I say lean in to it, but keep control. As we enter month two, we are getting smarter and more diligent. We've decided to pull back in some areas, and push forward in others. The pulling back is being done by scheduling Wii days and movie days. We are also putting the screens down and doing more analog projects, such as art projects and cooking. Keep in mind, those were being done a lot in the beginning, but the slacker stress has a way of kicking in when you least expect it. However, we keep trying and taking it all one day at a time.
The way that our family has fully leaned in is by taking on one of our "we should" statements that has come up frequently over the past few years, and putting it in to action. This one is "we should have a YouTube channel." So, we are doing it! My son and I were reading a book that had in it "Owie Kazowy." We loved it so much and he said "that should be the name of my tv show!" I couldn't have agreed more. He is choosing the focal points of the channel (so far those are Hot Wheels cars and tracks, stuffed animals, our dog (Violet), and outdoor adventures. For a shy kid, he is really starting to come to life when he is on camera. It is a fun family-focused project and is serving to stir up our creativity and collaboration as a collective collected inside the home.
In my mind, the development of this new brand will be a way to include lessons about social media management, and the greater rules of online behavior. He is learning how to film, edit, and curate content. He is engaged in coming up with ideas and excited to share his creations. Also, he is increasingly conscious of maintaining privacy, while also sharing content. We are all excited to see where the Owie Kazowy project takes us, and I'm equally grateful to have a collaborative focus on something positive that can be developed and shared with others during this time (and beyond).
I have always loved to dance! That is why I majored in it at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA). That journey was very trying and taxing (and filled with unitards, leotards, fasting, Diet Coke, and lots of wild stories about parties) and I don't really recommend studying dance at a conservatory for those who abhor mental challenges of endurance, or couch potato types. However, I DO recommend at home cardio dance for EVERYONE. There are a ton of options on ClassPass, YouTube, and as of late, Facebook Live. Get your best workout clothes on (ranging from tight leggings to baggy sweats), put on socks and supportive shoes, press play, and make yourself happy and healthy at the same time. For more information on the psycho-physical effects look here.
For this week, I'm highly recommending The Fitness Marshall's current short Speed Set. It is so fun and really helps to get the cobwebs out of the brain and body. Grab your glass of water and get to it!
During the summer of 2019, I collaborated with my friend, Rebecca Burnett from Love Life,Live Vegan, on a short comedy film with a vegan theme entitled Two Friends Meat. We worked on a shoestring budget, raised funds through Kickstarter, and ended up winning an audience award at the Southern Maryland Film Festival! One of our rewards to our funders was a cookbook with plant-based recipes. The recipes were compiled by the cast and crew and Burnett designed the cookbook. After our piece was done with its film festival circuity, we decided to make the cookbook available to the public. Please enjoy this FREE download!
Whether it is for 1 minute or 20, I know that I have to make the time to meditate every day. Although I have dabbled with self-taught meditation since my college years of reading Herman Hesse, hugging trees, and learning mindful tactics as a performer, it wasn't until Fall 2019 that I started a legitimate practice. I bought 3 journals from Habit Nest. One was for dieting, the other mornings, and the last meditation. By far, the meditation one is the best. The journal is a great resource for maintaining accountability, providing philosophical musings, and creating space to empty thoughts.
During the months that I had the journal I meditated EVERY day. It changed my life. I had less stress, was more calm, able to adapt to my son's behaviors (normal 6 year old stuff, but still...), and general things that used to annoy me. I loved this journey and would feel less successful if I only did 5 minutes on any given day, as I started to really enjoy the 15-20 minute sessions. But in hindsight, even the 5 minute days helped tremendously.
The app I used (and still do) is Insight Timer. It is so great and I recommend it. I also found a series on Audible called Reset Your Day Meditations.
It isn't hard to meditate, in fact I have grown accustomed to the process and crave the time when I don't have it. Due to the current state of staying at home and being around my family, I find it hard to schedule me time/me space to do my daily meditations. And when I don't get it in, I suffer. My family suffers. So, what does one do?!?
What I've found that helps is to schedule it and then communicate with my husband that I'll need 5-20 minutes at so and so hour in order to get my meditation in. Just taking the initiative to find the time can be hard enough on some days. But trust me, your mind will be so grateful when you give it the love it deserves. Enjoy your life by giving yourself compassion, kindness, and precious moments in order to reset, and set, the mind, emotions, spirituality, and self-worth on the right track.
Maybe you are like me, and for the past 4 weeks-ish you have been exercising, trying to meditate daily (okay so maybe every few days), and then overeating at night time while you watch Tiger King? Or perhaps you are able to keep your diet under control thus far, and have not actually gained the 5 lbs that I have. Gah! There you go, there is the truth right there. I realized this weekend that I have reached a weight that I have only seen before when I was pregnant. One could also say that my mid-40's age and perimenopause (unconfirmed, but suggested by the nutritionist I saw once) add to this poundage of portly success. However, I know that I am simply over-eating. Even though I committed to being fully vegan for Lent this year (yes, it was hard, but actually quite fun and I learned a whole lot about what temptation truly means, but I'll save that for another post), I was able to munch on nighttime snacks of chips, sips of beers, delicious tapenade, Tofurkey and Violife sandwiches with Vegenaise until my heart, but not my waistline, were content. And of course, this isn't all about being cooped up inside the house for the majority of the day. The main thing is stress. Anxiety. Worry. The fear of the unknown. So today, I made a change. Because that is what I can do. What I can control right now are my actions.
Today I cooked a healthy and delicious Greens Soup from a recipe by Little Green, run by Christy Halvorson Ross. I have done multiple cleanses through her website and guidance, and highly recommend that everyone do one. I've never made it past 7 days, but still congratulate myself on that! My parents tried once and got to 3.
I used some fresh greens from our Aerogarden to make this soup even more delicious too! Here's to another week of home life, but with renewed commitment to taking care of myself with thoughtful cooking, eating, and mindfulness. Just by making the choice to slow cook, use the ingredients that I have in the house, and slow down, I've set new intentions to stave off the dreaded Covid 15, within this time of Covid 19.
My advice is to know your hourly rate (break it down by actual hours you work/what you were working before distance-based). Then decide exactly how many hours per week you need to make time for, and DO NOT go over your budgeted time. Clearly decide how and when you will develop your remaining class plans, how much time is needed for grading, if extra time is needed for online prep, etc. Most of all, know that your time is valuable and hold yourself accountable for being an amazing teacher, while simultaneously staying happy and healthy. 🙂.