Posted in ebb & flow, mental health, mindset, physical health

You don’t have to be amazing

A meme crossed my path. All caps, lots of colors — the kind of design I might be into…

YOU DID NOT WAKE UP TODAY TO BE AVERAGE

I have a couple of thoughts about that.

1. Math.

2. Maybe you did.

By definition, we can’t all be above average.

If we’re using the math-based definition, typically accepted as the mean, we can’t all be higher than it because then, by definition, it would be raised.

If we’re using the definition that makes “average” somewhat synonymous with “normal” or “usual,” we still can’t all better or different than that. If we’re all different than normal, then the definition of normal changes.

And maybe you did wake up today to be average. Maybe life has been terrible and to have a typical-for-other-people day would be amazing. Maybe so many out of the ordinary things—good or bad—have been happening that you’re ready for calm. Maybe for any one of a zillion reasons, finding a groove and hanging out in it for a while would be lovely.

I know a lot of people who would love to hang out in a comfortable groove for a while.

We don’t have to be The Best Ever at everything we do. Within the bounds of lots of asterisks (that I’m not going to ramble about today), doing a good but not amazing job at work is good enough. Being a good but not as good as you feel like maybe other parents are parent is good enough. Preparing decent food for yourself and whoever else you’re feeding is good enough.

Get some exercise. It doesn’t have to be hard core. Eat healthy food. You’ll feel better. Get enough sleep. Or as close as you can get. (There are so many hurdles, some of which we can’t control.) Love your people. Accept that sometimes, life isn’t going to permit all of those things to happen every day.

And when you have energy or drive to do more, do it. Don’t let other people steal your energy. If you want to spend time creating something beautiful or different or silly or useful or just plain amazing, do it, and don’t let the haters tell you that’s not how you should spend your time. (I hate the “too much free time” means of dismissing people.)

But waking up to be better than average every day? That’s stressful. Let that shit go, even if it’s in all caps and lots of colors.

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 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.

 

Posted in cancer, know better do better, mindset, motivation, physical health

Rock the Pink?

The Climbing Daddy, The Kid, and I went to a Phoenix Mercury game over the weekend. It so happened that it was “Rock the Pink” night. I was not excited.

They honored breast cancer survivors, which was nice, and every seat had a pink Rock the Pink rally towel on it. Pre-recorded interviews with some of the players were aired during halftime and, much like the overwhelming majority of breast cancer-related PR, it made me angry.

I’ve said this a bazillion times and I’ll say it a bazillion more: early detection is not prevention.

Repeat after me: early detection is not prevention.

Early detection is not prevention.

Getting a scan doesn’t prevent breast cancer. It begins a diagnosis.

There are a few cancers that will give you some benign heads ups before turning cancerous. Breast cancer isn’t one of them (as far as we know).

With early detection, you have cancer. You’ll have one or more of: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation; you’ll acquire all of the accompanying baggage.

If you’re lucky, you’ll only have tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. (I had really good insurance when I went through mine, but the totals were around $250,000.)

You might lose your memory, your mobility, your fertility, your friends, your spouse, your job, your energy, your hair (and other facets of your appearance, some of which don’t recover). And, since early detection isn’t a guarantee, at the end of all that, you might still lose your life.

You’ll lose peace of mind.

Weigh that against prevention.

Prevention is inconvenient because carcinogenic things are cheap, easy, convenient, tasty. Preventative habits are not the norm in the US, so they’re cumbersome and require solid planning to maintain.

But there’s no surgery, chemo, radiation; few potential negative short- or long-term side effects, and I’m stretching for the examples I can think of.

It’s worth it.

(And it applies to all the cancers, not just breast cancer.)

Posted in about me, differences, ebb & flow, meandering, physical health

I used to be a night owl; now I’m just tired

I was always a night owl.

As a kid, I would sleep until 15 minutes before I needed to leave for school. Clothes on, breakfast in, out the door. Saturdays, I would sleep until 10 or 11. (Marching band at Saturday morning football games killed that.)

Nights were always my best time. Best for thinking, for writing, for talking, for pretty much anything (except maybe sleeping…).

But then I became a teacher. And for decades now, I’ve gotten up way earlier than I would like.

(And yes, I became a mom, but The Kid is also a night owl and has been since Day 1. That has been much less an issue than the gig.)

Regardless, I don’t sleep in any more. I don’t do late nights well any more. I don’t consider it a function of aging, as many people do. I consider it a function of repetition. I think if I’d had a job all these years where I could go to bed at 1 and get up at 9, I’d be much better at sleeping later than 6. (And I’d be sadder than I already am that The Kid reports to school at 7:05.)

I’m getting better at going to bed earlier so I can wake up at 6 and feel decent. But it’s hard, because the late evenings have always been My Time, and now they’re sleep time. But they’re sleep time because I need to go to work, not because My Time is at another time.

Adulting would be less hard if my work schedule and my Me schedule were more closely aligned. (I’ve thought for a long time that life in some ways must be simpler for morning people, since life is structured on their schedule much more often.)

It’s also hard, because night used to be when I could focus well and work on things that required a lot of brain power.

Now, I can sometimes get in good evening work, if I’ve gotten enough sleep and the day hasn’t been too arduous, but mostly, I’m just tired. I do the majority of my writing now in the early afternoons, after I’m home from work but before I pick up The Kid at school. It’s not ideal—that’s definitely an energy dip time for me—but it’s pretty consistently available, and I’m grateful to have it.

I do much better writing on Sunday mornings. The Kid is usually with The Tall Daddy, and I’ll often wake up an hour or two before The Climbing Daddy, and I can use that time to write.

But most of the week, I get up and go to work. I can’t hang out and write. (I don’t even get up and exercise in the mornings. I’m not an early-morning exerciser. Or an early-morning anythinger.) I’m not getting up earlier than I already do, because I can’t (won’t?) get to bed earlier than I already do.

So now, I’m not a night owl, and I’m not a morning person. I’m just trying to get to bed early enough to be a well-functioning teacher/mom/wife/friend/writer/exerciser everythinger.