Wellness 6— Dealing with Frustrations

Frustration is like a low electrical hum that permeates your entire being. It seems like every time things start progressing and you’re really feeling good about your efforts, something — or perhaps a bunch of little things — gets thrown into the path to distract you or make you stumble. You know what I’m talking about.

  • Job frustrations. Those days when nothing seems to go smoothly and you’re mentally exhausted long before 5 o’clock.
  • You didn’t meal prep and ended up eating poorly all week. Ohhh the guilt.
  • The static cling in your clothes made you look as if you had been vacuum sealed. >sigh< It wasn’t pretty.
  • You’re sure you got a record number of spam phone calls this week. Can’t they make a phone that blocks ALL the callers who aren’t on your contacts list?
  • The card reader at the gas pump was iced over. That was a first.
  • The potholes on your route to work have multiplied, expanded, and gotten deep enough to do the backstroke in. And everyone driving in both directions are trying to travel on the one narrow center strip of road.
  • How about the persistent spring snowstorms this year? You know you should be enjoying mild spring weather, driving with your window down, but instead you have it in 4 wheel drive and are valiantly trying not to slide off the road.

Taken singly these things really aren’t much. However, it all adds up when you aren’t paying attention. You may be tired from a restless night and one thing after another piles onto your shoulders throughout the day. 

So what do you do to decompress at the end of the day? Cocktail hour? Commiserate with a friend or your spouse? Meditate? Or just plain turn your back on it all and enjoy your evening? Personally, I like to come home at the end of the day and get a big hug from my husband. There’s just nothing better than that. Then I turn my back on it and leave it behind me. Tomorrow is a new day and the eternal optimist in me knows it will be a much better day.

We all have our own ways of dealing with our stresses. And isn’t it nice when you finally feel that electrical frustration vibration leaking out of your body and your mind. You may feel drained afterwards but it’s still a relief. You may even get a ‘second wind’ and have a  fantastic finish to your day. The important thing is: you made it and you are stronger for it. Yes you are. Think about that. 

Each and every day that you have gotten through whatever cropped up and learned from it— no matter how insignificant it seems to you in the bigger scheme of things— you have become stronger and smarter.

You might have guessed that I dealt with all the things above this week and much, much more. The cherry on top of this story happened today when we went to a nearby town to do our grocery shopping and get some lunch. We sat down in the booth in the restaurant and ordered our meal. As we were enjoying our tea and ice water the waitress came over to tell us that the sprinkler system had activated in the kitchen. All the chemical fire retardant had sprayed the entire kitchen, including the fry-o-lators, and ruined the food. They didn’t know how long it would be before they were up and running again. And the kicker: our meal was almost ready to bring out. We were polite and reassured her that it wasn’t her fault and we would go back another time. This was actually more funny than frustrating, even though we had not eaten breakfast and were hungry. 

What I took away from this week was that I need to remember to use my de-stressing tools when necessary. For me this is not only the husband-hug, but it’s also taking a quiet moment to recognize that whatever the stressor is, it’s just a small blip in the bigger picture. Taking a step back and adjusting the view is very effective. Other tools that I like to use are getting out and walking or working in the yard and garden. It’s been a tough spring here so I haven’t been able to employ those tools much, but it’s getting warmer and the snow is melting away so I expect to do these things daily very soon. Another tool in my wellness toolbox that didn’t get used last week was meal prepping. I didn’t do it and it had a bigger effect on me than I expected. I learned a valuable lesson from that. 

At the end of Wellness week 6 I am stronger and smarter. Even though the week felt like an epic failure to me I recognize that I learned a lot. I will use this as motivation to move forward. What did you learn from your week?  👩🏻‍💻

Wellness 5— Motivators

Let’s take this week chronologically and focus on motivation and activity a bit. There are motivators–of which we all have many— relating to health, family, goals, finances, etc. Then there are motivational tools– which I learn from and use to keep me focused.

I find that a fitness tracker motivates me to pay more attention to my activity level throughout the day. I’ll compare the two I have for you:

  • The Motiv ring fitness tracker that I ordered arrived about two weeks ago. It’s waterproof so I can go swimming and kayaking without worry of ruining it. My Fitbit Alta is not waterproof and is sometimes irritating in hot weather. 
  • I love the sleep tracker on both the Motiv and the Fitbit as it lets me see if what I do before bedtime each evening is helping or hindering my sleep and I can change my habits accordingly. However, the Fitbit is bothersome on the wrist at night and lights up when I’m restless making me wakeful. The Motiv ring is very comfortable, doesn’t light up, and I forget that it’s there which allows better sleep.
  • I like the Fitbit app better as there is a community of people that you can connect with, groups you can join to discuss your fitness journey, and challenges that you can do with a group or solo. I like to learn from what others are doing and I find their stories motivating. It’s nice to see their various levels of activity and how supportive they are of each other. The Motiv app has only two free workouts and no community pages, although there is an option to invite people you know, by email, into your ‘circle’.
  • You can clearly see your tracking information on the Fitbit by tapping the screen. There is no screen on the Motiv and you have to access your information on the app. I don’t see this as a big deal or an inconvenience for myself as I always have my phone with me. I can understand how this might not work for other folks though.

Both trackers have their pros and cons for me. If Motiv should come up with community pages for their app I would probably make the switch complete and stop using the Fitbit app.

Self improvement books are motivational. Just a few days ago I began reading another self help book. The premise is good in my opinion. It’s about arising a little earlier each morning in order to begin your day with a positive and affirming routine in order to effect beneficial changes in your life. I do like to read an occasional self improvement/self help book. They have nuggets of wisdom that you can extract and apply to your life in order to effect small changes slowly that will stay with you over time.

On a side note: It amazes me when young people write self improvement books. I know their intentions are good, but they just don’t know or comprehend the limitations that  come with an aging body. They have the “no excuses” mindset and are adamant that literally everyone can and should be able to do everything they recommend. I would like to see how they would approach writing the same book 30 or 40 years from now. I think they would be much less rigid in their thinking and more inclusive of medical issues and the age factor.

On to the week’s ups and downs:

Monday: I forced myself to walk on the treadmill (aka hamster wheel or dreadmill) for 12 minutes. Completing an activity as simple as this is a boost for the mind even if it’s a struggle for the body. The muscles can well handle it but there is still the fatigue and the complete lack of motivation that the treadmill inspires. It’s a struggle but I keep my end goal in mind to prod myself into action. I’d much rather be out walking in the woods although having a book to read while mindlessly marching on a spinning rubber mat is a big help. Gotta keep that motivation going and that end goal in sight.

Tuesday: I didn’t make notes for Tuesday. Maybe we didn’t have that day this week?   It’s a mystery. 🕵🏻‍♀️

Wednesday: A wicked storm— heavy wet snow, sleet and rain. I had to drive in it and there were cars off the road everywhere. When I arrived home I was so fatigued that I slept thru two movies. That was a huge disappointment for me. I had taken the day off because I wanted to accomplish some tasks at home and perhaps do something fun and relaxing. Things never seem to go as planned. When the storm cleared we walked around the fields and woods. I was still exhausted though. Some days dealing with this fatigue is overwhelming. 

Thursday: Motivation is slipping at this point. I was headachy and tired most of the day. My doctor is away for a month and I don’t really want to see someone else about this. To top it off I had a horrid dream the previous night about choking on phlegm. I’m pretty sure a sleep study is what’s needed here.

Friday: Feeling a bit better. I managed to get in three short walks. 20 minutes on the treadmill on lunch break with an easy pace, then another ten minutes on it at the end of the workday, and finished up with a walk around the fields at home after supper. It was nice to feel the muscles working. I’m so glad it’s Friday and the weekend looms ahead. There are so many projects I want to get done.

Saturday: Yard work! It seems that spring is finally arriving in fits and starts. A little raking and cleaning up gets the muscles working and the blood flowing. Just what I needed. 

Summing up the week: 3 days of walks and a morning of yard work. Alright! I can feel good about that despite the ongoing struggles with fatigue. I’m beginning to get some much needed activity. The motivators form a foundation which can be built on and revised as I progress and begin to see changes in myself. More endurance, better habits, increased strength, and redefining goals are all part of the process. I’ve learned to be flexible and allow myself the hours or days I need to rest and recover.

Why do you get up every day and do what you do? What are your motivators? What gets you back on track when you’ve wandered off? What sort of motivational tools do you employ?  👩🏻‍💻

Wellness 4— Ups & Downs

I should have told you in the first Wellness post: This won’t be just about the good things and the upward progress I intend to make, I’ll also be including those things that are frustrating, and/or setbacks, because a wellness journey is never all positive.

The roller coaster metaphor for life is very true. I recognize the importance of the down times in order to appreciate the up times, and for the most part I enjoy the ride. Even when you’re in the down times you just know inside yourself that it won’t last and better days are coming. It’s not always a period of days or weeks though—- it’s the occasional crazy or just plain frustrating few hours that can make you wish you had stayed in bed. I could probably write a book about those days but I’m afraid whoever read it would be banging their head on their desk by the end! 

Read on for this week’s ups and downs…….

ACTIVITY. I never laughed so hard. The husband and I spent a couple hours one evening dancing to Prince Radio.  Two middle-aged, out of shape fuddy duddies busting a move and just about in tears with our laughter. Oh my. And to top it off, he was quite sore the next day. The memory of that makes me smile every time I think of it. Do you have a memory like that? Memories can be great tools. I like to use them during those down times to remind myself to smile. It’s very effective.

The raw, rainy weather predicted for the weekend hasn’t been consistent. While it didn’t rain yesterday it sure was cold and gray. I did some indoor and outdoor chores but have yet to go walking. Today the sun is playing peekaboo. I should really work on more of those dreaded tasks that I love to avoid. (Or perhaps I’ll keep avoiding them and work on my accessories line instead!)

Does going up and down the cellar steps to do laundry qualify as activity? What if the dryer gives a massive thump when you turn it on and it dies? I lugged the wet laundry upstairs and hung it on the porch. I didn’t trust the gray clouds not to rain on it so didn’t hang it on the clothesline.

FOOD.  Yes I ate some food. Nothing noteworthy so far this week, except the wonderful fish & shrimp chowder the husband made. That and some saltine crackers was very warm and filling in the tummy.

The rest of the week was the usual: lots of veggies, some fruit, lean meats. I’m right at that time of year when I still like making hearty stews and such, but I’m also looking forward to making lighter summer fare and using fresh produce from our gardens.

My guilty pleasure this week was a homemade chocolate pie in a graham crust. Made using an old fashioned recipe (cook the pudding from scratch) and decadently rich. I enjoyed each bite because I know I won’t make another for probably a year. Pies in our house are usually only a winter happening, and mostly either apple or pumpkin.

Today’s meal prepping will include venison stew meat made into a nice gravy with peas and onions. This is great over rice or mashed.

MIND/SOUL. It’s been so nice to see and hear all the wildlife upon waking this past week: turkeys gobbling, deer meandering across the field, two fat gray squirrels chasing each other, a woodpecker close by— banging on a tree. And the husband amongst it all lighting the fire to boil the maple sap. We are very blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Not only do we get to enjoy abundant wildlife, but we have gardens to grow our own vegetables, trees to tap so we can make maple syrup, wild berries to harvest, and the ocean & lakes that gives us marvelous seafood and fish. It makes a soul sing.  

On the other end of the spectrum on the work front are the occasional rude people who have high opinions of themself and behave like children. You hand them the required paperwork and they commence loudly, verbally sighing and growling like the child who doesn’t want to eat his vegetables at the dinner table. The mumbles and complaints continue the entire time they’re filling it out, and then they sit and disparage the magazines in the waiting area because they don’t know what else to do with all that righteous unhappiness they hold inside. This behaviour is invariably from those who are well educated or wealthy. I guess being smart and/or rich doesn’t make a person pleasant or happy. It’s times like these that I bring up those memories that make me smile and know that I’ll be going home at the end of the day to our haven away from the world.

To sum up the week:

  • Memories are a great tool for the wellness toolbox
  • Make your home a haven away from the world, a place you don’t need a vacation from
  • Grumpy people may take it out on you but it’s not about you at all

Savor your moments, whether it’s being with someone else, meditating by yourself, or enjoying a great meal. Recognize that the downs always precede the ups and use the tools in your toolbox to get through them.   👩🏻‍💻

Wellness 3— Not Active Enough

FOOD.  Crunchy things. How I love salty, crunchy things. I’m going to need your help with this one. Is there anything in the world that is salty and crunchy that’s actually good for you? Crunchy in a dry way, like all those wonderful processed chips and snack mix type things. Not crunchy in a moist sort of vegetable way. I’ve tried dehydrating veggies in the past, just because this seems to be the logical choice when you love veggies. But I must admit there was nothing tasty about it.  If you have any other suggestions I would love to hear them. (Please don’t suggest popcorn, nuts, or rice cakes!)

The goal of topping up on veggies was easy this week. For dinners I made sure to max the veg portions and cut down a bit on the meat to make it more balanced. We had boiled dinner for St Patricks day and there was enough leftover to have for lunches at work all week. Yes, all week. My husband cooks enough for ten people even though we are only two! That’s okay— leftovers are great for meal prepping. Simply add other items to come up with new meals.

A new dietary trial: My husband is an advocate of a daily banana. He suggested that eating one every day would help with my painful digestive issues. So at his advice I’ve sliced a half banana into my cereal each morning. Yummy and decidely filling. Another small step on the road to wellness. The verdict is still out on this as more time is needed. I’ll try it for awhile and see how I feel. Do you have a ‘banana/gut experience’ you’d like to share? –Keep it clean please–

ACTIVITY.  The cold windy weather this week certainly doesn’t make me want to be out walking after work. There is still too much snow and ice in the yard, woods, and fields to do anything at all. As you can see from the photo though, it won’t be long now. The activity portion of this wellness journey is off to a slow beginning for sure, at least in terms of getting outdoors and active. My whole being is yearning for warmth and sunshine and tired muscles. (Perhaps I should have taken the name WinterSlug or TheHibernator instead of BrassMermaid!) It’s difficult to watch the sun get higher in the sky each day and know spring is right there, but be so restricted by all that ice and snow. >sigh< Even though the temps are mild today, the wind is very boisterous. We sat on the porch for just a few minutes before we were driven back inside. Tomorrow is supposed to be much nicer and I’m looking forward to spending the day mostly outdoors.  

MIND/SOUL.  I’ve continued focusing on other things in the meantime. Like taking time to tackle nagging tasks.  The one task that I dreaded the most was setting up the label printer for my jewelry & accessories line. I’m happy to say it’s done and functioning after a bit of growling and disagreeing with the equipment. These things never go as smoothly as you’d expect. The fun part is designing and producing the jewelry and other products and getting it all ready to sell.  When I can zero in on something that I find absorbing and pleasing then the world drops away. Creating objects, writing, reading…… these are all undertakings that are thoroughly engaging and relaxing. Often, I come up from a session and need to go outside to see that world is still turning. What gets you so absorbed that you lose track of time and the world around you?

I hope your own wellness journey is progressing along at a healthy clip. Where have your sneakers taken you this year? 👩🏻‍💻

 

Wellness 2— Small Steps Toward Balance

This past week I chose a few small steps to commit to. Since I love vegetables I’m going to incorporate as many as I can into most meals. I had a good time singing along with 70’s country radio on Pandora while making a quiche full of veggies and some kielbasa. (Have you noticed that when you sing with the radio while you’re working in the kitchen then you almost unknowingly get in a few dance moves too?) I like a quiche that is mostly veggies with some meat and then glued together with the egg mixture. I don’t much care for a quiche that is mostly egg mix with a few veggies floating around in it.  You can see from the photo that the meat rose to the top during baking while all the veggies sank to the bottom where you can’t see them. Regardless, it was darn tasty. 

Kielbasa may not be the best choice of meat to use, but this is where the balance comes in for me.  The balance of healthy goodness with something not exactly healthy, but yummy, that also brings satisfaction. Because if you’re not satisfied then you crave something else and the vicious cycle of not getting what you want, then eating something else to get satisfaction, spirals out of control. This has been an issue for me in the past. I think if you eat mostly healthy you can incorporate the less healthy elements into it and be okay.  I try to make meals look appealing too. Sometimes you want a ‘wow’ type of presentation, like a platter of finger food arranged artfully and with good color— a plate of cucumber chunks hollowed out and filled with a lemon-chive neufchâtel cheese with smoked salmon on top and a sprig of herbs, with perhaps some cherry tomatoes scattered about the plate. Sometimes you want a visceral comfort presentation, like a hearty stew bubbling in a cast iron dutch oven on a cold day– it will fill you up, warm you up, and completely satiate you. Can you smell it? 

Fruit isn’t really a food I go looking for, but I like it well enough if it isn’t a melon. Since giving up coffee I’ve substituted orange juice for it. I’m trying to make this more of a habit but find that I forget it some days. Good habits take perseverance so I’ll need to keep working on this. I already drink a good amount of water throughout the day and wanted to incorporate something natural and healthy. Normally I don’t drink soda or sugary beverages (except for hot cocoa in the winter). Coffee and water has been most of my fluid intake (though I am fond of bubbly wine 😇 in moderation). 

The area where I need the most work is activity. Working a desk job takes its toll. 40 hours a week of sitting can be mentally and physically wearing.  I never thought I would say that about an office job. I mix it up by taking breaks to walk around the office and lifting the sit/stand desktop to get the blood circulating a bit, but it isn’t nearly enough to get through the workday. Some days I feel as if I’m going into a coma. In my younger decades I worked in factories and at physically active jobs and went home exhausted every day wishing for the physical relief of office work. Coming home each night sweaty, dirty, with hair full of metal dust and in need of a shower, made me wish I could dress nice for work and come out clean at the end of the day. I guess there are advantages and disadvantages to every job. 

We are always seeking to better ourselves and our situations but we need to remember that we will eventually find the things we don’t like about every situation and even about ourselves after we reach our intended goals. There is always room for improvement. I wish for a bit more activity where I could be up walking around during the workday. But truth be told I haven’t felt well for nearly a year and even a lunchtime walk downtown has been too much. Gasping for air on the return walk uphill to the office is not pleasant and shows me just how far my deconditioning has come. Sad but true. I intend to change that this spring beginning with short walks.

Today was perfect for taking a walk— mild 40’s temps, sunshine, barely a breeze. I didn’t go far but it felt good to stretch the muscles and get the heart rate & breathing up. It feels like spring has finally arrived even though it’s going to get cold again tomorrow for awhile before the real warmup. Tomorrow promises to be a busy day with errands and meal prepping for the work week (more music and bopping around the kitchen!). In order to get more walking in I’ll park further away from the entrances. Every little bit helps. 

Last but not least in my balancing act– the one thing that is imperative for me— my hour at the end each day. I might read, or watch an episode of Downton Abbey, or do some bible study, or make notes about my day, etc. I never miss my hour. This sets the example for how I want my other good habits to be: an imperative part of each day which will not be compromised. Baby steps now are my only choice on this road to wellness and that’s okay. Fatigue still plagues me to the point of being forced to lay down, but I’ll rise to the challenge. My spirit is strong and I have too much I want to accomplish to give in and give up. 👩🏻‍💻

 

Wellness 1– The Journey Begins

As I unfold from winter and reach toward spring the desire to begin a new path to wellness preys on my thoughts. Winter has taken its toll on my body, like always, and it becomes more pronounced with each year that passes. The cold and I are not on friendly terms, so I tend to be indoor oriented and sluggish all winter. I emerge much the same as a bear does, groggy but glad to be awake again. Add to that some health issues that I struggled with for most of last year and you can see why wellness thoughts have sought me out like a predator seeks prey.

Now it’s time to refocus my attention on outdoor activities, fresh air & sunshine, and building some muscles to support the flab. In order to achieve a thorough wellness of body and mind, I’ll need to balance the physical efforts with other activities that bring me peace and serenity. This is not about losing weight. Nor is it about how many steps I can take in a day, even though I do use my Fitbit as an activity motivator and a tool to check on my sleep patterns. This is about taking small steps to getting strong and improving my health. I would love for you to join me and post about your goals, your journey, and what tools you use to help you along.

The first thing I can tell you about here in post #1 is that I gave up coffee a few weeks ago. I’m very surprised that I don’t miss it. Seriously.  I thought I would be miserable without my morning coffee that I’ve been drinking each and every day for the past 30+ years. What I discovered is that I have much less stomach upset, decreased bouts of nausea, and have almost achieved zero intestinal cramping. I’m truly amazed that this beloved, yummy, warming morning beverage could have caused so much bodily upset. This one small step that I thought would be so difficult actually turned out to be effortless and quite an eye-opener. I think perhaps it was more the habit of it that I was dreading losing. It was the one thing I did faithfully every day, without deviation, to begin my day. I’ll confess that giving it up has allowed me to reclaim valuable time each day, time that was previously spent not feeling good enough to do anything, or running to the bathroom with stomach cramps. Then spending time waiting to feel better or to feel like I could go out without needing to be in close proximity to a restroom. All from coffee. Wow. What is your observation of your own coffee habits?

Wellness encompasses mind, body, and soul. As I travel along my path I’ll be writing about my adventures in all these areas. Let’s talk about your journey as well. 

  • What motivates you? 
  • What do you struggle with? 
  • How have you overcome challenges?
  • What do you do just for you that fills you with happiness? 

Join me as I document the journey. Please share your thoughts, experiences, successes, failures and most difficult challenges.  We could learn a lot from each other. I look forward to hearing from you. 👩🏻‍💻

I see you, and so does everyone else.

You are surrounded by glass windows and a glass windshield. Everyone can see you. You must know that. Apparently some folks believe they are invisible when they are behind the wheel of their car. I’ve seen drivers doing a lot of stuff as they pass by going in the opposite direction. And I’ve seen some funky things happening in cars behind me when I glance in the mirror.

Don’t misunderstand. Most of the time when I’m driving I don’t bother to look at people in other vehicles. I’m more concerned with the vehicle itself and our spatial relation as we pass on the road.  But as you and I well know, sometimes actions catch your attention.

Like the gentleman traveling behind me one day while vigorously brushing his teeth. I had to keep glancing in the mirror because he had his windows rolled up tight and I wondered where he was going to spit it. Yuk. I never did see the outcome of that. And that’s okay with me!  

Then there was the lady styling her hair with both hands. How do you steer with no hands on the wheel?

How about the man who was texting with both hands? He had his wrists resting on top of the steering wheel and that was how he kept it on the road.

I like to catch a glimpse of people who are singing and obviously enjoying themselves. That’s a bright spot in my day and lifts my spirits. I always smile to myself. And those who are laughing with a friend bring a smile as well. It’s nice to see random moments of happiness as I pass through the world. Especially in this age of tension. 

Sights I can well do without, but unfortunately see more often than anything else, are people mining for gold in their nose. I’m always astounded by the length of finger that can fit up there!

These things can be a bit distracting, but you really do need to keep an eye on the vehicles around you in case you have to do some defensive driving. Part of that is gauging how you should react to other drivers’ actions and whether they are paying attention. 

I would love to hear what you’ve seen in passing. Share your observations with me?  👩🏻‍💻