Tuesday, August 30, 2011
VALERIEMAMA posted an excerpt from the writings of mythologist Joseph Campbell, and the words were very moving. The excerpt is about what makes us truly happy. Here is a snippet:
"What is it that makes you happy?
Stay with it, no matter what people tell you.
This is what is called following your bliss."
You can check out VALERIEMAHA's blog post here:
Monday, August 29, 2011
I found a baby squirrel on Thursday, about an hour before I had to go to work. His eyes weren't open yet, and he was 4-5 weeks old. I looked up in the tree he was under and saw the nest, about 30 feet up. He had fallen to the sidewalk below. He looked to be in good shape, expect that he was covered with fly eggs, hundreds of them. This is a condition called fly strike. Once the eggs start hatching, they start eating the animal they have hatched on. I bathed him immediately and picked off as many of the eggs as possible. I didn't have time to take him to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center before I went to work, but with years of wildlife medicine and emergency veterinary skills under my belt from having worked at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, I knew how to care for him in the meantime. I put him in a cardboard box with a T-shirt and took him to work, so I could feed him every 4 hours.
I knew that something had to be done about the remaining fly eggs and that even a couple hatching could be fatal. I had 2 choices: do nothing to prevent the maggots from living and risk him dying by getting eaten by them, or use an off-label drug that I had on hand at home to prevent the maggots from living. One of my veterinary toxicologist colleagues and I researched the drug, and found that it has been used on squirrels before without incident. So, we figured out a dose, and I gave him the medication when I got home from work that night. When I woke up to feed him, I noticed he had a head tilt and was circling to the left. I have seen this thousands of times before, because this is how animals behave when they have head trauma. Head trauma is very common in baby squirrels that have fallen from the nest. He still ate fine, and I took him to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. I told the tech that I had used the drug on him, but he was acting a bit neurological.
I felt so guilty that I may have harmed this baby squirrel that I had been fighting tears ever since I woke up and saw him with the head tilt. A head tilt is not a sign of toxicity from the drug he was given, nor was he having any other signs of drug toxicity, but I still felt really bad. I told one of my co-workers (who is supposed to be a friend) about the scenario and she told me that she would have done the same thing and used the drug. I felt slightly better knowing that another experienced veterinary professional would have done the same thing. Then, when the overnight tech came in, I was updating her about the squirrel and telling her about the head tilt. From across the room, my supposed friend yelled, "Yeah, nice job, baby squirrel killer!" Of course, she followed this by the reversing agent, "Oh, just kidding," when she saw the look on my face. And then, she proceeded to call me a "squirrel killer" a few more times throughout the night.
Later, I started to ponder what I get out of this friendship. This is a person who I think is a lot of fun and she has the same crass sense of humor that I have. She is very dedicated to animal rescue, a trait that I greatly admire. However, she admits herself that she can't keep a secret, therefore, I never tell her anything that I don't want to be repeated to another person (which would be almost any personal detail). Secondly, she talks about people behind their backs, and then acts like a friend to their face. This is a bold-faced untrustworthy person. Therefore, she doesn't really know me and I don't really know her, because all of our conversations end up being superficial and hollow. Still, I don't actually dislike her, but I need to decide at what capacity I want to allow people like her into my life.
As someone who abhors hollow interactions, I was always very open with everyone who I considered a friend. However, a lot of people will throw something back in your face the moment they get a chance. Sometimes this is done to manipulate, and sometimes it's done just to get a reaction. Sometimes I'm not even sure why people do something like calling someone who is obviously over-sensitive a "squirrel killer." It's not so much that she called me that, but more that I would have expected her to be honest with me in the first place if she really thought that. I will be 33 in a couple of weeks, and I think it's time that I don't have people around me who will say things to try to purposely hurt my feelings. I feel fortunate that I have come to recognize this issue at all, as most of my peer relationships had been shaped by bullying in the past. I had a warped sense of what a "normal" friendship was, and it has only been over the past 2 years or so that I have totally cut people off who are not good for me (then again, who hasn't had these people in their lives?). There are those people who are obviously forced and fake, and those people are fairly easy to avoid. Then are those who seem so genuine, until you start to pay attention to how they talk about and treat other people. Some people are outright malicious, and then there are the people who just may not know any better. In any case, I have become pretty keen on picking up who is genuine and who is not, even before they start talking badly about others or sharing things about others that they shouldn't be sharing.
I know I can be very sensitive, whether it is a crowd, noise, lights, or teasing comments. I have learned that all of my true friends find my over-analyzing over-sensitivity to be a good thing, and they tend to share their problems with me because they know they will get an honest answer. They also know that I will never repeat anything to anyone else. The people who may superficially seem like friends use my sensitivity to get a rise out of me, or perhaps to manipulate. It isn't that I have some sort of expectation of what a friend should be giving to me or what I can gain from a friendship. I just want mutual sharing. I have come to realize that the people I define as friends are those with whom I can share anything, and they can share with me, and we both know that it will stay between us. My friendships have not come to be defined by the amount of time that I spend with the person, but rather by how much we each know our true selves. Not the selves that are put on for public display, but who we really are deep down.
I have learned that I am really not capable (as in physically incapable) of hollow social interactions, so I would rather not talk at all than to force myself to be fake with them. I have now gone to the other extreme--if someone is not a close friend, I really don't speak with them at all. Of course, at work, I may end up having to do some superficial conversations, but I am extremely closed off during these interactions. This is probably why some co-workers think that I have no social life or hobbies (most don't even know about my main hobbies, playing the saxophone and kickboxing). I feel like if I share anything about myself, I have to share everything. This may or may not make any sense, but it is the way I interact with people, so I avoid shallow interactions as much as possible because it drains me to try to think of what not to say. Shallow conversations feel dishonest to me, in a way, because I have to put on such a fake face to interact. It's one thing to have a brief conversation with a co-worker in this manner, but it's another to try to mold a friendship this way.
I thought I had done a pretty clean sweep of the people who I don't want to be close to me, but it seems I may need to empty out some more. I would prefer to find some kind of balance to have some of these people in my life in some capacity, but I'm not really sure how to do it. I am already upfront with people if I think they're being sh**ty, so I can't really become much more honest. It makes me feel a bit cynical to look around my circle of friends and decide who needs to go, and I would say that I don't hate any of these people, either. They can have good traits, and even still be good people overall, but that doesn't always mean they will be a good fit as a friend for me.
"A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same."
Sunday, August 28, 2011
I didn't deserve to lose this week. I didn't track (at least not accurately) on several days. A couple of days, I did not track at all. I worked out a lot and was active as usual, but I didn't follow my formal workout plan very well. Nonetheless, I lost 1 pound this past week. Kind of goes to show that not only does the scale sometimes go up when we don't expect it, it can go down unexpectedly, too. This is one of the reasons that I measure my overall weight loss by the month, not the week. My net loss in August was 1.6 pounds. Considering I was not especially diligent this month, I will take any trend in the downward direction.
I have a goal to be at a 50 pound loss by November 1st, so I better bring it over the next 8 weeks. I tend to have a month or 2 of big losses, and then a month or 2 where I am more relaxed about my eating habits, therefore having smaller overall losses. Here has been my loss pattern month-by-month since January:
*January 2011: -8 lbs (-8 lbs total)
*February 2011: -8.9 lbs (-16.9 lbs total)
*March 2011: -4.2 lbs (-21.1 lbs total)
*April 2011: -6.7 lbs (-27.8 lbs total)
*May 2011: -2.2 lbs (-29.6 total)
*June 2011: -0.2 lbs (-29.8 total)
*July 2011: -6.8 lbs (-36.6 total)
*August 2011: -1.6 lbs (-38.2 lbs total)
I think I'm due for a month or 2 of nice losses at this point.
Things that were good about August:
*Weight is still headed downward and have almost reached 40 pound total loss
*Finally posted Nerdrageous Blog! entries and am working on more of them--the Nerdrageous Blog! entries help me review kinesiology stuff and formulate ideas
*Was very active on SparkPeople
*Exercised a lot!
*Celebrated 1 Year SparkVersary on August 21st
Things I could stand to improve upon:
*Food tracking and eating within my calorie range--frankly, I'm lucky to have had a net loss at all this month, but I guess that's what happens when you burn 5,000+ calories per week on a consistent basis
*On that note, I need to get a handle on the stress eating by choosing a constructive way to deal with the stress, such as writing or playing my saxophone
*Following my formal workout plan more closely--I was very active, but often chose to do an activity other than the one I "should" have been doing that day
August wasn't a bad month overall, but I backslid a little bit in some areas. Such is life, and I am working hard to make weight loss a natural part of my life. Some days, weeks, or months will be better than others...but I own the consequences.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Image from http://www.marcird.com/_blog/blog/post/Fit
I FINALLY had talked my boss into getting me a sit-stand adjustable desk station at work. I was actually trying to get them for everyone, but he said since I had been "the most vocal" about it that I would get one to test it out, and then others may get them later if there is interest. The desk arrived this week and someone else even set it up for me, so it was ready to go when I got to work on Wednesday. Needless to say, I was pretty excited. It easily raises up to stand or lowers to sit without any equipment, and I can even adjust it while I'm on a phone call. My desk was manufactured by Ergotron ( www.ergotron.com/ ), and there are a lot of options available. My adjustable work station attaches to an existing desk, but they also have work carts and arms that attach to walls. The model I have was around $500, so not too bad. Some options cost the upwards of $1,000.
I think the desk station will take some of the dread factor out of going to work. I am a very fidgety person, so sitting is hard enough as it already is. I've only worked 3 shifts since having it, but I can already tell a big difference. I have arthritis in my spine, and it affects most of my joints. Sitting is the most exacerbating activity I do to make my joints stiff and painful, and it takes several hours after leaving work to feel better. My back already feels better from not sitting for 8 hours straight. My knee is not constantly flexed, which has been an aggravating factor with my knee pain. For some bizarre reason, it's kind of difficult to be nice and helpful when you're really uncomfortable. Hopefully I will start to like my job a little more and feel a bit more compassionate if I'm not glued to a chair for 8 hours straight, being in pain.
Here is where I stand when people call screaming at me to save their pets.
Sitting all day is bad for anyone, even if we are sitting with good posture. When the trunk is flexed, circulation to and from the lower body is hindered. Ultimately, this could lead to deep vein thrombosis. Sitting upright also causes tightness in the hip flexors and can cause the pelvis to be tilted forward. This can contribute to back pain. Sitting too much can lead to overall inflammation and metabolic problems, probably because it contributes to sedentary lifestyle combined with disrupting blood and lymph circulation in the body. "Sitting disease" is coming to light and more and more workplaces are bringing in adjustable standing desk stations to increase productivity and workplace health. The website juststand.org has a lot of information about sitting versus standing and the science behind the health issues caused by sitting too much: juststand.org/tabid/674/Default.aspx .
Even schools are starting to rethink the tradition of sitting all day. We have always thought it traditional to sit all day and that it is a sign of attentiveness and discipline to do it well. Adults have a hard enough time sitting all day, yet it is expected of children. Having adjustable workstations for kids makes a ton of sense. They would be healthier mentally and physically with being able to stand. There are movements to bring standing desks to schools:
The added bonus is that I will burn more calories standing versus sitting. I used the calorie calculator at juststand.org and I will burn an additional 460 calories by standing during my 8 hour shift. I have also been doing lots of calf raises and isometric lower body exercises (like holding squat, lunge, and plie positions). I'll be building rockin' legs while saving lives! Thus far I have been standing for a majority of my shifts and taking short sitting breaks.
There are also treadmill desk options, but these usually cost at least $2,000. I had originally asked for a treadmill desk, but was shot down immediately. With the treadmill desks, you can just walk slowly all day (some of them have built-in limits of about 3 miles/hour). Treadmill desks are certainly ideal, but the expense probably puts most employers off. I have also seen people do a homemade treadmill desk by building an attachment to put on the treadmill console, however, it wouldn't really be adjustable to sit and stand.
I would like to get an adjustable station for home use, too, but since my next computer will likely be a laptop, I'll see about that. I don't sit at my desk at home unless I'm at my computer (usually Sparking!). In the meantime, I may actually just do a set up where I stand only. I can stand or fidget for hours on end, so that may be a better option for home.
And I said I loved my desk so much that I wanted to marry it...SCHWINNER! said she wanted to see pictures, so here you go:
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I bet you won't believe the real secret behind why I am having success...and why I know I will continue to have success. This windbag of a blog entry actually reflects months of introspection (Ha! More on that later...) and journaling, so pardon the length of the blog.
I am not a shy person. You can probably tell that from reading my blogs or communicating with me. Actually, I tend to be known as one of the most brash and frank people that anyone knows. I am, however, an introvert. I have always been extremely sensitive to noise, lights, and crowds. If I am in a large crowd, I can feel my energy draining away. This has been viewed as an abnormality that must be fixed so I could be "normal." Even psychologists chalked up my desire for quiet as attempting to recover from trauma, and after healing for long enough, I would "come out of my shell." At some point, I would get over wanting to spend hours in my room writing stories (well, some things never change) and would become more "social." Other kids would go hang out with large groups after school, and I just wanted to go home and play my saxophone for a bit (huh, some things really don't change). However, I actually had a tight-knit group of close friends when I was a kid. I tended away from large groups, but I had play dates with others all the time. But then, just like now, I needed a lot of "me" time to recharge.
A major part of our identity stems from whether we are an introvert or an extrovert. Both terms are thrown around casually, but these deep-seated personality traits tell us a lot about who we are. Introverts get their energy from introspection, quiet, and solitude. Extroverts are energized by being around people and feed off the energy of others. Introverts tend to get their energy sapped by being around large groups. People tend to confuse introversion with shyness, loneliness, or disinterest. Since introverts tend to be quieter, the perception may be that an introvert is not engaged in a situation or is just "too bashful" to speak up. Extroverts, on the other hand, tend to talk a lot more and very actively seek social interactions. I am NOT saying that I think that extroverted people are somehow inherently toxic. Introversion and extroversion are simply personality traits that are neither good or bad in and of themselves. Whether an introvert or an extrovert, I believe it is important to know what end of the spectrum we fall on so we can better understand how we think and what we need to nurture ourselves. Namely, it's about not trying to force ourselves into being something we're not.
For those familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test, I am an INFJ (Introvert-Intuitive-Feeling-Judging). I was talking to my dad about the Myers-Briggs personality types, and it turns out that he is also an INFJ. This kind of goes to show how much of our personality is probably genetic, as I was not raised by my dad. I do think that this personality type is very accurate for me (and probably fitting that only 1% of the population has this type--I always did have to be the outlier). The Myers-Briggs test is based on psychoanalyst Carl Jung's theories on personality, and is widely used to assess personality types in jobs and schools. The test measures the four traits of introversion-extroversion, intuition-sensing, thinking-feeling, and judgement-perception, and these traits are measured on a continuum. I wish I had paid more attention to my personality type sooner. I had first taken this test as a teenager, and even after getting a degree in psychology, I did not utilize this tool. No personality type is better or more desirable than the other and the test is, of course, not fool-proof, but it is known for giving insight into how we think. Over the past couple of years, I have gotten to know my personality type better (typically classified as "The Counselor"), and I have molded my life to foster my personality type.
(Image from http://poofygoo.blogspot.com/2007_05_01_ar
Is this what an introvert looks like?
We live in a noisy, busy, 24/7 country where silence is anything but golden. It can be truly challenging to be an introvert when the norm is to be highly "sociable." I have allowed people to convince me that my introversion was a deficiency that I must overcome. Over the past two years, I have truly learned to embrace my introversion and to nurture it. Does this mean I have purposely become some kind of hermit? No, not at all. I have awesome friends, I just no longer have that circle of insignificant acquaintances (mostly toxic people) buzzing around and wasting my time. I used to expend a great amount of energy attempting to be more "outgoing," but I just ended up being "fake nice." "Fake nice" really takes it out of me, so now I don't even bother. Now, if I don't have anything nice to say (or anything at all), I don't say anything--literally.
I'm not sure what it is about me that screams "partier" or "schmoozer," but people have constantly expected that I would be a lot more social than I actually am. I have been teased about being "friendless" (ironically, by toxic people who I've rejected as friends). This is probably because I am now a fairly private person and I don't talk about my life with people who I don't know well (or who I may not want to know well). When I would attempt to be more "social," I would talk about myself a lot with whomever, even though I didn't want to. Rejecting the introvert in me has had some very serious consequences throughout my life. I would go as far as to say that my major depressive episodes were triggered by failure to recognize and accept my introversion. I believe it was an interplay between having too much time around other people and allowing toxic people in my life in an attempt to be more "social" (i.e. "more normal"). Instead of giving myself the solitude to recover after trying to help people all day, on top of being at a huge university all day, I would go out with large groups of people to a bar, because that's what "normal" people do. If I told certain "friends" that I would rather stay in, either with them or by myself, for some quiet time, I would get an eye roll and a, "God, you're boring." (In retrospect, why were they my friend if I thought I was so boring?).
(Image from http://timemasternews.wordpress.com/2010/0
My work poses the biggest challenge for my introversion. I have a co-worker that sits right by the door to our office, and every time I walk into work she turns around and chirps, "HEY, HOW ARE YA?!?!?!?" in a fake uber-chipper voice that sounds like a chipmunk on meth. I want to respond with, "Let's be honest, you don't care, and I don't care about you, so let's not pretend we do, 'kay?" But a lot of people in America take silence as rudeness, and even the shallowest social interaction is better than "nothing." My current job has posed the biggest issue with trying to embrace my introversion. It seems that almost everyone I work with wants to chit-chat between phone calls (what little time exists between them), and I prefer to take advantage of whatever silent time there is to recharge. It takes everything out of me to talk to people on the phone all day trying to help them (on some days, with a real emphasis on the "trying"). Needless to say, there isn't a lot of quiet time in a call center with 10-20 extroverts in it. My co-workers think I'm bitchy, not because of what I've said to them, but because of what I don't say. It had gotten to the point where a couple of co-workers started teasing and bullying me. I talked to my "supervisor" about it, who blew me off because she is friends with both of the offenders. I went to my boss-boss, who immediately let me move to a different desk in the call center where I would not be directly between the bullies. I told him frankly that when I come to work, I am here to work and I don't really want to socialize with my co-workers. He told me I am well within my rights to blow off whomever I please, so at least I have some support from the higher-ups. Being able to have a little more "me" time at work makes my job a bit better, despite some of the organizational issues at my job.
(Image from http://neuroish.tumblr.com/)
I still get the toxic people, especially at work, trying to worm their way into my life. The best way to keep them out is to not tell them anything at all. I have built up a shameless fortress around myself, and I finally feel okay about it. I just smile because that day I may have met my mother for tea, met a friend for coffee and a walk, met another friend for a swim, and then go to kickboxing with my brother. Far from friendless or anti-social, my life is richer than ever; the toxic people just don't get to know about it. Embracing my introversion has allowed me to prioritize my time to spend it with people who truly matter to me, and that has made my social life as rich as I could ever hoped for.
It took a while for me to realize that all of the changes I have made in the past year have been thanks to getting to know my introverted self better. Accepting and nurturing my introversion has allowed me to be healthier overall--my stress is reduced, and making healthy food and exercise choices are much easier. My stress and emotional eating habits are much more easily kept at bay because I now understand how to reduce my stress levels by creating an "introvert-friendly" environment. I have stress-reduction and coping plans in place. Rather than turning to food to reduce my stress, I carve out time by myself to write, play my saxophone, exercise, or just space out. Rather than trying to turn myself into an extrovert to bring me out of my shell, I had to let the introvert out. I am able to be passionate about the things I want to be passionate about, and distance myself from the things and people who I do not care about. I have more energy now, because I allow more time to myself. I feel like I am even more caring with my friends than I was before, and am better able to be sympathetic with my callers at work. It has only been recently that I truly feel like I am really myself, and who I am meant to be. Being who I am meant to be means I can become the person I really want to become.
I think that understanding our basic personality traits of introversion and extroversion helps us to develop coping mechanisms and to ultimately understand how and why we make the choices that we do. Although it is a popular magazine and not a scientific journal, I thought this article in Psychology Today gave a pretty good overview of introversion and how to cope in a world (or at least a country) where extroversion is the norm. My dad had shown me the article, and I swear it sums me up perfectly:
If you have never taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, here is a link to a free online test:
A good link for thorough descriptions of the personality types is here (although you'd have to pay to take the Myers-Briggs on this site, so I would use the free one for the test):
As for the toxic people who still keep trying to "fix" me or for those who go as far as to bully me, maybe I should be a little more ingenuous with them:
(Image from http://dump4free.com/preview.php?ID=3538)
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