Tuesday, November 15, 2011
For those of you who read yesterday's blog, thank you so much for the prayers...you don't know how much that means to me!
Anyway, my doctor checked me out today, and feels like everything is stress related, with the possible exception of me having trouble swallowing. For that, I will have to go to the hospital for a barium test, as he's worried about what that could be. But he doesn't feel it's serious, regardless...so I am glad he feels nothing is seriously wrong. He did ask me to keep an eye on my hands shaking...if it gets to a point where I can't control my hands, or is happening ALL the time, THEN it becomes something to worry about.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I am going to the doctor tomorrow for a variety of symptoms I've been suffering over the past several months. I've been experiencing shortness of breath, heart palpitations, shaking hands, trouble swallowing, and some weird red spots on my left arm (they look like blood-red freckles). I'd attributed the majority of the symptoms to stress, but when the spots came on my arm, then went away, then came back yesterday, I looked it up and several resources said to get to a doctor right away. So I called my doc this morning and they said they could see me first thing in the morning.
Of course, I love the internet, because I can find information about EVERYTHING under the sun....but of course, too much information is what sometimes results. So I'm either just fine and just very stressed...or I'm dying of lupus or leukemia or several other conditions I can't pronounce.
So, I am going to have a nice glass of wine to calm me down, so I can maybe get some sleep tonight, and then see what happens in the morning. I hope it's nothing serious. I'll fill you in once I know.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Yesterday, I did something I didn't ever think I'd do. I competed in a Warrior Dash, which was held in Huntersville, NC. If you're not familiar with a Warrior Dash, it's a race (usually around a 5K distance) where there are 11 obstacles sprinkled throughout the course. For example, crawling through the dirt under barbed wire, jumping over dumpsters and tires, climbing ropes and rapelling, wading through mud, running through fire, etc. (go to WarriorDash.com if you're really interested in seeing all the obstacles you've got to tackle).
Believe me, I didn't go looking for this race. One of my friends from work mentioned she and her hubby were going to sign up, and she asked a few of us at work if we might be interested in joining them. And I, being the person who doesn't think through things thoroughly all the time, immediately said "Yep...I'll do it with ya!"
So, after registering, I mentally planned to hit the US National Whitewater Center a few times before the event, so that I could practice climbing the rock wall and get my upper body into the shape it needed to be in. But you know what they say about the best laid plans...so the "training" I'd planned just didn't happen. Life got in the way and all of a sudden, I realized about 3 weeks ago that I was SO not prepared. But it was what it was, and so the best I could do at that point was just to be as ready as I possibly could be. I kept repeating my newly adopted mantra to myself..."Feel it, breathe it, believe it"...and just let it go.
Thursday, as the news of Hurricane Irene started heating up, we were told that we would be getting winds up to 30 mph here in our area on the day of the event. That kind of worried me a bit, because one of the last obstacles is running through a ring of fire. So I was worried about the wind possibly making the flames be a bit out of control. I told myself that if it looked too out of control, I'd just go around it and take the disqualification....I mean, let's face it, I knew I wasn't going to win any prizes or anything. I'm so damn slow at everything I do! I just wanted to be able to complete the event...that was my only goal...so that I could say I'd done something like this. And I ended up finding out that several people I knew were doing the event, so I was excited about doing this with people I knew.
We got to the event around 12:30 p.m., as our wave wasn't scheduled to start until 2:00 p.m. We got our packets, pinned on our bibs, hydrated...we were ready to go. Someone told us it was OK for us to start early, so one of my friends and I decided to go with the 1:30 p.m. wave. We just wanted to get it over with, and it was SO hot out...we figured we'd do better to go earlier.
When the race started, I took off...it was a nice trail run for the first mile or so, not too hilly or anything. But there was no shade for that first part, and there wasn't a lot of wind, so I was sweating bullets. The first obstacle was alternating crawling through dirt under barbed wire and jumping over walls...I nailed it!
The second obstacle was also kinda cool...running through a "junk yard", where you had to jump over tires, then over dumpsters, then over tires and then over taller dumpsters. Nailed that, too! Two down, nine to go!
The third obstacle was climbing the "Warrior Wall", where you had to climb a rope up the wall, swing over, and climb down (without a rope). That was a little scary for me, because I couldn't see the footholds coming down, so I felt like I was going to fall...it was about 10 or 11 feet tall, I'd guess. But I did it. My heart was really pumping after it, though...probably because I was kind of scared...so I had to walk a bit instead of run.
Next came the "Teetering Traverse", where you basically have to cross over a "teetering" track that's about 5 feet off the ground. There was one scary section, because the board you had to cross was narrow, so I was afraid of losing my balance. But I nailed that one and felt pretty good. But I was really thirsty at that point, so I stopped at water station and downed 2 cups of water.
At that point, the trail went into the woods, so it was shaded. That felt better, but it was still pretty darn hot. Unfortunately, those 2 cups of water were too much, and I got a stitch in my side from it, so I had to walk some. Oh well...at least I was still moving.
The next obstacle was the "Blackout", a pitch dark, low-to-the-ground tent that you had to crawl through. That wasn't a hard one, but it was rough on my knees, as the dirt was really scratchy from the small rocks in it. It WAS a little scary not being able to see AT ALL. But I made it through that one successfully.
Next came the "Chaotic Crossover", where you had to crawl across nets. That one was a little tough, because the nets would swing and sway with every person's movements, and there were quite a few people on there at the same time. So I had to go slow in order to keep my balance. And I had a hard time figuring out if I'd be more successful using hands and feet, or hands and knees. I made it through successfully, but lost some time due to those things...but I was still moving, so I felt good.
Then came the "Assassins Escape", where you had to climb up steps and drop down via a fire pole. Easy! Nailed it!
Then came the "Deadweight Drifter", where you had to trudge through waist-deep water and over several logs. This was actually my favorite, because the water felt great after being so hot and sweaty! I did good on this one.
The "Horizontal Hike" was next. This one didn't look so bad at first...you had to climb up and over a wooden contraption that was sort of "arch" shaped. But there were no grips for the feet, and my shoes were wet from the previous obstacle. So my feet kept slipping...when I got the top, you had to sort of crawl straight across, only you couldn't really crawl, because it was too spaced apart for that...so you kinda needed your feet. Again, I felt like I was slipping, and then I looked down and realized it was about a 10 or 11 foot drop. That's when I actually totally started freaking out. I was dropping the "F" bomb like crazy, I started shaking, and I literally froze. I could NOT figure out how to get across without killing myself. The girl next to me was as scared as I was, so that made me feel like less of a wuss. Her boyfriend, and the guy who was manning that particular obstacle, talked the both of us down. When I finally made it to the bottom, my heart was going a mile a minute and I felt very shaky and unstable. I looked at what the next obstacle was...running through fire...and thought, "No way in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks can I do that right now!" So I stepped off to the side so that I could catch my breath, and so that I could take the opportunity to watch how others tackled running through the fire.
Once I calmed down, I decided it was time to tackle the "Warrior Roast" by hurdling over. It was basically a big circle on the ground with flames coming up from it...it wasn't too windy, so I just hurdled over twice and that was that. Success!
Finally, the last obstacle presented itself....the "Muddy Mayhem"...where you have to scramble beneath several rounds of barbed wire. It wasn't too bad, though I was completely covered in mud, of course. But that was it...I was done...I could see the finish line! Woo hoo!
As I ran through the finish line, I grabbed some water and all I wanted to do was rinse off the mud. They had some water trucks where they were hosing everyone down, so I ran over and stood there with a huge bunch of people and got hosed down warrior style. It felt great.
And I felt great. I had just done something I'd never done before, and something I didn't think I could actually do. I really did not think I would be able to do the whole thing...but I did! My time (53:35:25) wasn't great, but I respectably fell in the middle of the pack. That's cool with me...I'll take it! My friends all completed the event successfully as well. No one got injured, and everyone had a great time. We all agree that we felt completely BAD-A$$!
After I got home, I was completely exhausted. I wasn't expecting the fear that I experienced during those two obstacles...especially the "Horizontal Hike". But Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." Those words could not have been more true than they were for me during that event. I could've stopped when the fear set in, but I didn't. I faced the fear and carried on. I hope I can continue meeting fear head on like this in other areas of my life.
I am a warrior!
Saturday, August 13, 2011
One of my favorite newer music artists is Kerli. I absolutely love her music, though many of you may not have heard of her because she hasn't exactly hit mainstream yet. She reminds me a lot of a cross between Bjork (though not QUITE as eccentric) and rock. Her first release is called "Walking on Air", and it's about her desire to be a musician, even though everyone always told her she'd never amount to anything. She then goes on to prove them all wrong. She says in the song:
Do you know what it's all about
Are you brave enough to figure out
Know that you could set your world on fire
If you are strong enough to leave your doubts
And you'll be walking on air
And you'll be walking on air
I love those words, as I can apply them to most everything right now.
At work, my boss has told me that I'm great at what I do, but I need to work on my self-confidence. In his words, I need to "own my role" and stop letting people walk all over me. But this is the way I am in all the things I do...I've always felt I'm not QUITE where I should be on most things. So how do I undo the way I have done things for the past 39 years? "Feel it, breathe it, believe it..."
In my yoga practice, I'm really working on trying to open my super tight hips and shoulders, as I'd like to be able to work towards more advanced poses. Structurally, there are simply some poses I'll never be able to achieve due to structural issues with my hips. But darn it, I should be able to eventually achieve Firefly pose! And if I can work on my shoulder flexibility as well, then I should be able to finally achieve Bird of Paradise. Right? "Feel it, breathe it, believe it..."
In my running, I sure would love to be able to complete a 5K in 30 minutes or less. And a 10K in an hour or less. I've got a half-marathon coming up in November, and I'd love to finish in 2.5 hours or less. Can I do it? "Feel it, breathe it, believe it..."
I entered the Warrior Dash, which is in 2 weeks. It's an 11-obstacle course that spans 3.08 miles. I'll be running through mud pits, jumping over junkyard stuff, rapelling, climbing rope walls, running through fire. I'm SO not ready! I'm SO scared! "Feel it, breathe it, believe it..."
I've also got an upcoming 125 mile bike ride at the end of September that I'm doing for the National MS Society...125 miles over 2 days. I haven't been able to spend a lot of time on my bike. I'm worried about being able to do the distance. "Feel it, breathe it, believe it..."
And finally, we've got a Biggest Loser competition that's about to start at work. I'm one of the organizers of the competition, but I've also joined a team with four other ladies. I joined because I haven't been very successful at losing the last 10 lbs I need to lose by doing it on my own. So maybe, if I remember that others are counting on my losses to help the teams overall percentage of weight loss, then I might actually finally do what I need to do. Can I do it? "Feel it, breathe it, believe it..."
So...that's my new mantra. Whenever doubt starts to creep into my mind, for any situation, I am simply going to try and remember to say these words. Maybe, if I say them enough, I will actually believe them and see myself soar!
"Feel it, breathe it, believe it..."
Monday, August 01, 2011
On my way to work this morning, I heard the Aerosmith song, “What It Takes”. Part of it says:
Girl, before I met you,
I was F.I.N.E. Fine…
Tell me what it takes to let you go…
The song is about a guy who’s had his heart broken by a girl, and he’s having a hard time getting over it and letting go. But when I was listening to it, I couldn’t help substituting the word “stress” for “girl”.
A few blogs ago (“Things Happen” on 6/23/2011), I talked about the opportunities that have opened up for me in terms of my yoga teaching. Throughout the month of July, I’ve been working hard to put the pieces into place, and things are really coming together nicely. But as many of you probably know, making something happen – even something you REALLY want – can be stressful. Though it’s a “good” stress, it’s stress nonetheless.
In addition to the yoga things I am trying to work on, things have gotten crazy busy for me at my full-time job. All of a sudden, it seems like everyone’s in a panic on my project, and we’re all freaking out about how to get a tremendous amount of things done in what is probably too short a timeframe. This is, of course, also stressing me out – and this is what I’d term “bad” stress.
Then there are a plethora of other things that I’ve been trying to juggle over the past month, so add that in to the above, and you’ve got a really stressed out Melanie. Whether it’s good stress or bad stress, it can manifest itself in the body in a variety of ways. A few examples are hunched and/or tight shoulders, erratic breathing, mood swings, insomnia, etc.
For me, the stress has manifested itself in the form of full-blown panic attacks and insomnia. My running and yoga practice usually keep me in check when I’m stressed. The combination of these two things has helped me to significantly manage my stress over the last several years. However, they’re not working for me this time and I’ve been struggling over the past week to figure out why.
Have you ever noticed that a song or a quote (or something along those lines) will present itself to you just when you need it? Sometimes we miss it, especially if we’re fully caught up in whatever it is we’re going through. But I have always tried really hard to look for these “signs”, because when I see them and heed them, it always helps.
Today was one of those days. I heard that Aerosmith song, and immediately my mind made the song mean something to ME, to what I’VE been going through. After pondering it for a little bit, I realize that the reason my running and yoga practice haven’t been helping is because I haven’t been able to let go. While I’m actually running or practicing yoga, I’m focused on what I’m doing and feel great. But immediately after, I go right back to fretting over everything going on, and worrying about how I’m going to get it all done (and done well). In essence, I’m not taking what I learn during my runs and yoga practice with me “off the road” and “off the mat” when I’m done.
What about you? Do you have a hard time letting go of stress? How does it manifest itself in YOUR body? When something presents itself to you as a way to help, do you see it and do you take hold?
It takes practice, commitment and patience to learn to deal with stress, especially in our society where we feel like we have to DO so much. And it takes perseverance to establish and maintain the habits that will help us lead more relaxed and manageable lives. So don’t beat yourself up when you have a period of time where things feel like they’ve gone off-kilter. Just pick yourself back up, dust off the debris, and re-commit to do what it takes to let the stress go. You’ll be glad you did.
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