Posts Tagged ‘health’

I get up, journal and eat, then head out the door. Music pumping, breezes blowing; I greet the day, the weather, my own thoughts, whatever they all might have for me. 


Read Full Post »

It’s official, friends: after six weeks of working at my kitchen table and sitting on a hard wooden chair for six to eight hours a day, my body has had it. 

I started feeling twinges in my IT band earlier this week, quickly followed by serious soreness and tightness a few days later. It freaked me out – because, as y’all know, I love to run, and especially right now, it’s vital for my mental and physical health. I texted a couple of friends in a panic – one a dancer, one a longtime runner. Buy a foam roller, they both urged. Stretch it out. Rest. 

I’m taking their advice (thank goodness for Marathon Sports, my local running store). But I still need help. This wasn’t an issue until it really was, and I don’t want it to either continue or get worse.

This is the current setup: my work laptop, either set flat on the kitchen table or propped on a double stack of books as a makeshift standing desk. It helps to stand sometimes, and moving around when I can is important (plus online yoga). But I can’t type like this all day, and I need all your best work-from-home ergonomic advice. I live in a studio apartment, and I don’t have a “regular” desk or room for much new furniture, so this is going to be a case of working with what I’ve got and getting creative.

How do you avoid tight shoulders, sore tailbones, repetitive stress injuries, etc., when working from home? I’m really asking. And if you’ve got recs for products that work – laptop stands, etc. – let me know. I’m all ears.

Read Full Post »

As with so many other aspects of our lives these days, my yoga practice has gone online.

I discovered yoga about 10 years ago, when a friend invited me to some classes taking place in the Center for Contemporary Arts in downtown Abilene. I was (and remain) a bit intimidated by people who can twist their bodies into pretzel-like shapes, but I fell in love with the poses and breath work, and with McKay (the instructor’s) warm, practical, down-to-earth approach to yoga. When I moved to Boston, I immediately started taking classes at Healing Tree in Quincy, just down the road from my house. And when I moved to Eastie last summer, I found and fell in love with The Point.

Right as the social-distancing plans were ramping up, I went to a Sunday night restorative class at The Point. I had a hunch (correct, it turned out) that it would be my last chance for a while. There were three of us plus Taylor, the instructor, and we spread out with mats and blankets and bolsters, and tried to breathe deeply by candlelight. I felt it might fortify me, somehow, for whatever was coming next.

Since then, I’ve been dipping into Yoga with Adriene on YouTube and taking virtual online classes from both The Point and my friend Erin’s studio, Savin Hill Fitness. I like Adriene’s calm voice and occasional Texas twang (and her dog, Benji). I like that her videos are there for me any time. But I also like the virtual classes: even though we’re not in the room together, it helps me to know there’s a live instructor on the other side of the camera. The best part, when I’m taking from an instructor I know, is getting to wave at Erin or Izzy or Renee at the beginning or end of class.

Yoga is, of course, often silent and individual, except for the instructor’s voice. But for me it is also about community. It’s been a way for me to ground myself in the places I have lived. And even though I’m doing it solo on my kitchen floor these days, it’s still providing a bit of connection. Not to mention some seriously needed stretching, core work and deep breaths.

Are you doing yoga (or other workouts) online these days?

Read Full Post »

slippers tea journal

Two weeks ago (give or take), my husband caught his annual spring cold. (He struggles with seasonal allergies, but this was a different animal altogether.) I plied him with tea and spicy soup, slept in the guest room for two nights to avoid the germs, and thought I was in the clear.

Last Sunday, I started coughing and sneezing. On Monday, I woke up feeling generally crummy. Yep: I caught the cold. And I still had to force myself to call in sick.

I always feel absurdly guilty taking a sick day if I’m not deathly ill – not battling a stomach bug or the flu or something more serious. This time, even though I felt awful, it really was just a cold. Did I need a sick day? Would my colleagues think I was a total wimp for staying home? Shouldn’t I just get dressed, trudge to the subway, and power through?

I looked at my work calendar. No meetings; no urgent deadlines. I had a dozen or more sick days stockpiled (since I take them so rarely). Plus, it was grey and cold outside. And I knew – and could hear my mother’s voice saying – that I’d get well faster if I stayed home to rest.

So I emailed my boss, turned off my computer, and crawled back into bed. (As J pointed out, my colleagues were probably grateful I didn’t share my germs with the entire office.)

The next day, I felt no better – if anything, a little worse. I debated with myself, called in sick again, and then proceeded to have a minor existential crisis. Could they get along without me at work for a couple of days? (Of course they could.) But if that’s true, is my work really that important? Am I doing anything truly worthwhile? Am I replaceable? Related: what kind of world is it where we have to apologize for taking care of ourselves? Why can’t we just admit it when we’re sick and need a little TLC?

(I do know that paid sick time is a privilege. My husband doesn’t have it, since he does fee-for-service therapy work. Believe me, I’m grateful to have sick days. I just tend to freak out a little bit about taking them.)

Once I decided to call in sick, though, I was able to slow down and take care of myself. I made a spicy chicken curry on Monday night, and chicken enchilada soup (in the Crock-Pot, lest you think I got too ambitious) on Tuesday. I’ve been mainlining tea and water and honey-lemon cough drops. I padded around the apartment wrapped in my robe and leggings, catnapping and reading (and coughing). I spent a couple of evenings curled up on the couch, knitting and watching Mary Tyler Moore.

I talk a lot about self-care and gentleness – but I’m not always good at practicing it on myself. (That’s part of the reason I chose gentle as my word for this year.) I get sick so rarely that I sometimes forget what it’s like to be forced to rest. And – though I could have done without the cough and congestion – I admit that it can be good to slow down, be totally unproductive, and take care of myself.

Last week, self-care looked like listening to my body: hot showers, fruit smoothies, lots of tea, propping myself up on an extra pillow at night (so I could breathe). It looked like stepping back from the to-do list and all the expectations I place on myself. And on Thursday, it looked like a glass of wine and a long chat with a friend after work (those re-entry days always feel extra-long).

This week, I’m easing back into my routine and taking it slow. And trying to remember – again – to be gentle with myself.

Do you struggle with self-care – even when you’re sick?


Read Full Post »

My one little word for 2014 is light.

light cafe window

I love the light. I am a sunshine girl, a sky-watcher, a relentless photographer of sunrises and sunsets.

sunset cape cod

I crave the light this time of year, when I have to augment the real stuff with some artificial light, just to get me through the short, dark days. Winter light in Boston can be hard to find – though I love those days when a brave blue sky arches overhead and sunlight glints off the snow.

I love the light – watching it, capturing it, basking in it. But that’s not the only reason I chose this word.

I want to be lighter this year – to foster a sense of joy in my daily life, rather than getting bogged down by financial worries or the daily commute. The big things in my life – my marriage, my job, my church, my family – are so good, and I want to savor them, enjoy them, embrace the light in them.

I’d like to be lighter on my feet, quicker to adapt and change course when a situation doesn’t go my way. I’d also like to lighten up on myself when I make a mistake – apologize, do my best to rectify it, and let it go.

I’d also like to be a few pounds lighter, a little leaner and healthier. To that end, I am continuing to take yoga classes and making an effort to eat something green every day.

Finally, I’d like to infuse some light into my writing – to hold it more lightly, embrace a bit of whimsy, enjoy the process rather than agonizing about the possible outcome of every piece. That’s difficult for an overthinker like me, but important.

Have you chosen a word, or made resolutions, for the year? I realize I’m a little behind the curve here, but if you’ve made any shiny new plans, I’d love to hear about them.

Read Full Post »

(Editor’s Note: My husband, Jeremiah, offered to guest post for me about a recent eye-opening experience, which dovetails nicely with yesterday’s post on being seen. Enjoy!)

I have one of the best jobs in the world. Because I’m a family therapist, people invite me into their homes to dream with them, listen to them, help empower them to change their lives. I witness forgiveness, empathy and healing with couples of all ages and situations. I identify the strengths of teenage guys and participate in their passions; I have one teenage client I dance with, another who’s teaching me to draw, and another who plays basketball with me.

My job is also incredibly humbling. Why anyone would trust their secrets, pasts and traumas to a 20-something is beyond me. And I ask many things of my clients that I wouldn’t do myself.

For example, I’m working with a recovering alcoholic who decided last week to write down his guilt and fears each night, put them in a balloon, and send them heavenward. One of my new clients this week blamed her boyfriend for refusing to come to therapy; by the end of the hour, she was encountering questions like “What happens when you’re not in a relationship?” and staring down loneliness. If anyone, professional or otherwise, intruded that deeply into my life after knowing me for an hour, I’d be furious.

I joined a gym this week, and as a new client, I consulted with a fitness specialist about my health goals. We began by discussing my previous experience with gyms, then building a workout plan to motivate me to hit the gym consistently.

The specialist then asked about my diet. I admitted to eating one too many McDonalds/Wendy’s cheeseburgers recently, and made excuses for eating only two meals a day. Sometimes I see eight clients back to back with breaks only for driving, which means I skip lunch regularly, but I’ve always been insecure about eating too much because I’m afraid of becoming overweight. Not that I told the specialist that —after all, he’d only known me for 20 minutes.

The specialist then measured my body fat percentage (embarrassing) and had me do several exercises. I completed the first one, which involved staying in an upright pushup position for 90 seconds, but my core started burning about halfway through. I didn’t give up, but he wasn’t fooled, saying, “I saw you struggle with that.” Few people ever see me struggle, and even fewer get to call me out on it.

Finally, he asked about my posture: a back injury from a car wreck and sitting in a chair for eight hours a day have done no favors to my spinal column.

After learning about my physical faults, the secrets I’m unwilling to share and the emotional scars I cover up with excuses and fake smiles, he still wanted to work with me. He was honest, explaining that change wouldn’t happen overnight—in fact, I think his estimate of cutting my body fat percentage in half, losing 10 pounds and adding muscle tone in just five months of consistent healthy eating and gym usage, was a bit generous.

As I listened to him talk, I realized: This is my therapy. This is me putting myself in the other chair, letting someone listen to and take care of me for an hour each week. And it’s something I need. When my trainer asks, “What kept you from meeting your diet goals this week?” I’ll either have to avoid the question, deflect it with a simple, universal answer like “laziness,” or confront my deep insecurities. I hope to be encouraged, challenged and empowered to make my life better.

What are some traditional and non-traditional therapy experiences you’ve had? How did you overcome the initial fear of releasing your secrets and insecurities to your therapist/trainer/guide?

Read Full Post »

Today I have to tell you about my friend Serenity.

We’ve never actually met in real life, though I hope to remedy that someday. She fought cancer a few years ago, while pregnant with her third son, and won – by which I mean, she was declared cancer-free, and Jake was born healthy (and has remained so, I’m happy to say). Serenity has been fighting the cancer again this winter, first with surgery and then with a few rounds of chemo. And through it all, she has remained her honest, brilliant, loving, optimistic, thoroughly plucky self. The woman’s got spunk. And she can write.

If you are the kind of person who prays, please join me (and others) in praying that her cancer goes away and never comes back. And if you enjoy thoughtful, funny, sparkling, well-written posts about books, Hollywood, family, travel, the writing life and “trying to matter,” head on over and check out her site. And drop her a comment. And let her know that you’re thinking of her, as she fights her way through this journey.

Happy Love Thursday, all. May you treasure those you love today – and from me to you, here’s a midwinter bouquet.

Read Full Post »