Posted in mental health, mindset, physical health, thoughtfulness

What doesn’t kill you

We’ve all heard this before:

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Except: no.

It’s not inherently or necessarily true.

So many things that literally or figuratively try to kill us don’t leave us better or stronger.

Cancer didn’t kill me. (Hooray!) Am I stronger? Certainly not physically. I trained with a trainer for several years after treatment ended and was never as strong as I was the day I was admitted to the hospital.

Still waiting on the potential long-term side effects. It’s only been 12 years, and those are estimated to kick in after 15 to 20.

I’m sure my gut flora was completely wiped out and may or may not ever recover. (There’s a growing body of evidence that gut bacteria are ridiculously important to our physical and mental health.)

Mentally stronger? Eh. Sometimes negative situations help you to learn and grow, and sometimes they give you PTSD. Life doesn’t need to be at “trying to kill you” level in order for you to learn and grow.

What makes us stronger? Productive challenges.

Things that are hard, that challenge us but aren’t off the deep end. Sometimes we can create these ourselves. Certainly life offers us ample options for growth.

The thing is: whether you choose to grow or choose to become withdrawn or bitter has little to do with the scope of the challenge.

So. Let’s get rid of this saying, shall we?

Posted in about me, meandering

Just a little silliness

This is the fourth time this has happened.

One of my eyelashes is really long.

Just one.

I don’t know what makes this happen, but I get a disproportional amount of joy from my long eyelash.

People try to pull it off to prevent it from falling into my eye, thinking it’s one that fell out and got stuck in the other lashes.

When it curls down, I can see it.

I tried to take a picture so you could see it, too, but it didn’t work.

I have no idea why it grows like that, why it doesn’t always grow like that, if it’s always the same lash (or even over the same eye—I don’t remember), or why it’s so delightful.

But it is, so I’ll go with it.

Joy in the little things. Even if they’re really weird.

Have a great weekend!

Posted in connections, gifts, vulnerability

Advantages to living out loud

The Climbing Daddy needed a run. I wanted to take pictures of some of the fantastic thunderheads we had that day. We went to a local park with small mountains/big rocks where he ran, I photographed, and we were both happy.

(Thunderheads are big, puffy clouds that are common during monsoon season here.)

I got a few good shots—mostly of cactus and trees, though one or two of clouds—and posted them on Facebook. (I’ll share them here on Sunday in my weekly photos post.)

The next day, I got the text in the above image.

Dear Heat’s Camera,

Are you seeing the clouds right now?!

-[friend’s name] eyes

If I wasn’t an “oversharer” on Facebook, I wouldn’t have gotten the tip to head outside.

(I did go out, and the clouds were amazing—added bonus for heat lightning!—but there wasn’t anywhere good to shoot from at home. We need to build a crow’s nest for just such occasions!)

This lesson has been a long time comin’. I’ve always been socially anxious and also introverted. (You can be introverted without being socially anxious; I’m not.) I’ve spent decades working on being more comfortable talking to people, and while I’m still not good at cold-starting conversations, I can hold up my end most of the time. (If I’m comfortable with you, I can and often will talk quite a bit.)

I’ve learned that in being somewhat transparent about my experiences with depression, I’ve given others someone to whom they can say, “Me, too.” That point of connection, especially in darkness, is priceless. (Every post on this topic, whether here or on Facebook, elicits at least one person reaching out.)

I’ve learned that in being open about my experience with cancer, friends who know someone diagnosed will ask me for advice in how to help them navigate their new minefield. (Unfortunately, this happens at least once or twice a year.)

I’ve learned that in talking about health- and wellness-related topics, people are more often comfortable asking me questions… which helps them on their path.

And, as in the example above, I’ve learned that if I’m just open about things I’m trying, places I’m going, things I’m thinking, sometimes someone else will have a tip for me.

I know I’ve done that as well—saw something and thought, “Oh, This Friend is into That Thing. I wonder if they know about This Thing that I just saw!” And I’ll let them know about it.

Sure, sometimes there are duplicates, but rarely are there so many that I feel anything negative about it. How lovely that people see something that reminds them of me and they take time to tell me! And, fortunately, all of the “somethings” so far have been positive.

Every now and then, it even leads to a tangible gift: a kitchen tool or a yard tool or a book or some other small miscellaneous thing that is perfect for whatever random project I’ve dreamed up.

It works in reverse as well. I had a new friend who posted on Facebook that they were looking for a roof shingle or two at the same time that we were getting our roof replaced. Perfect! If she hadn’t said anything, I never would have known.

So hobbies and stories and struggles and dreams and new pursuits and ditched pursuits will all still be shared, because I know that some of it reaches people who need to be reached … and sometimes that someone is me.

Posted in education, mental health, mindset, parenting

Mental health days … for kids

A law was passed in Oregon that students’ absences due to mental health issues can be excused.

But until I looked it up and read about it, all I knew was that “mental health days” are now excused.

Having a legit mental health issue and “taking a mental health day” are two very different things, in my opinion.

The point of the law is that mental health problems are just as legitimate as physical health problems and should be treated as such.

I agree.

I wonder if there’s a better name for them to make their purpose more clear.

But.

Before I read and learned about it, this conversation happened.

“Kids can take mental health days now,” someone said in a passing conversation.

“Maybe we should make school so that they don’t need to.”

She laughed. I didn’t.

Kids taking a day off from school just because they need a break is evidence that there’s a flaw in the system.

No, being stressed is not something that kids just need to get used to. Instead of making life worse for younger people, why don’t we make it better for everyone else? (And return it to better for younger people…)

Wouldn’t it be better if kids were disappointed when school was over? If it was a place they looked forward to going on a regular basis? If it helped them feel competent, useful, creative, intelligent?

(Wouldn’t it be better if more workplaces were like this, too?)

And, as I just hinted at, this problem is not limited to schools. Or kids. We, on the whole, could make everyone’s days better if we all got on board with that… Just a little “we instead of me” thinking…

Posted in exercise, food, mental health, mindset, motivation, physical health, tips

Goal-setting, goal-pursuing, and real life

With most things, there’s a fine line between “not hardcore” and “too many excuses.”

Setting a reasonable, realistic goal is critical in walking this line.

For most people most of the time, “hardcore” is not the way to go. It’s not sustainable. If you’re in a situation where it’s critical to be all in and right now, then do it. But that’s not most of us (psychologically) most of the time.

For most people most of the time, setting small goals—goals that maybe even seem like not goals at all because they’re so small—is the way to go.

Set a small goal. One small goal.

Relentlessly stick to it. No outs. No excuses.

Once that’s a habit, repeat the process.

In time, you have a whole new set of habits. It takes time, but it’s doable and it’s worth it.

Imagine you started that process a year ago. You’d have three or four or six small changed habits. You’d be so grateful to yourself for starting.

Imagine yourself in a year. Do what you need to do to make one-year-from-now you as grateful as you would be now to one-year-ago you if you had started then.