Making everyday count.

I had to take a little break from writing posts, because I really didn’t have that much to write about. I haven’t smashed any personal records, I haven’t had any grand breakthroughs. What I have been doing is taking care of myself, looking at the situations and people which weren’t having such a healthy influence on my mood and life, and then looking at how I can work on surrounding myself with less negative, more positive.  So while that doesn’t look very productive on the outside, it was really important for me.

While I was having this Mini Re-evaluation Of Everything Ever, I found some really useful ways that help me.

One of them was starting a journal. In this journal, I’m only allowed to engage in positive self-talk. I am not allowed to put myself down. And every day, in this journal, I must write down 5 ways that I made that day count. There’s a couple of reasons that I think everyone should do this:

  • It’s a really good way of showing yourself that even when you feel like you had a terrible day, that day was not wasted. Maybe you learned from a mistake? Maybe it just made you appreciate good days better?
  • It shows you that there are so many little things that you have to be thankful. Sure, some days are going to count because you have done something unbelievably productive, like cleaned your entire house. Others will count because you reached a goal or a milestone. Some days will count because you just had the most important or meaningful day of your life. But some will just count because you met up with a friend for coffee, or watched a good film, or read a good book, or were on time for work or college. The small things count, and they add up to most of your life. 
  • It shows you that getting work done is not the only thing that counts. Enjoying yourself, taking care of yourself is important too.

While continuing on this Mini Re-evaluation Of Everything Ever, I realised that a lot of situations in my daily life make me feel overwhelmed, stressed, or can even be massive anxiety triggers. So I made another list. It’s a list for when I recognise that I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, that I’m getting that tight feeling in my chest again, that I need to find a way to separate myself from that situation before this overwhelmed feeling becomes a problem. This list is full of things that I can do to make myself feel better, to unwind, to distance myself from an unhealthy situation, or even just to take a break. It’s full of things like:

  • Drink a cup of green tea, coffee, hot chocolate.
  • Pay attention to your breathing.
  • Listen to some music.
  • Read a book.
  • Go for a run.
  • Walk the dog
  • Watch some videos on youtube.

I’m really working on paying attention to how I’m feeling, to how I react in situations, to how I’m dealing. It’s so important, so vital, and it’s past time I started taking care of myself.

 

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A bad week.

It’s January 26th.

26 days ago, I set up this blog. 26 days ago I had no idea that I would find such a kind and supportive community on wordpress. 26 days ago, I had no idea that I would start to feel compelled to blog at random points throughout my day. I had no idea that sharing my successes on this blog would make me proud. I had no idea that when I felt discouraged or disappointed, that this blog would help me work through it all, and give me a sense of clarity.

But 26 days ago, I felt a lot more hopeful that I do now. I need that clarity right now. 

26 days ago, I felt I could take on the world. 26 weeks ago, you were my best friend. Remember you said you’d never hurt me? I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Have you?

I’ve always been one to put myself under a lot of pressure. It’s not always the healthiest of mindsets, it makes me have quite a hard time when I feel I have failed, or let myself down. But I’ve learned to move past these perceived failures pretty quickly, and learned to see them as opportunities to learn from what went wrong, or learned to form some new perspectives, to become more accepting of myself because I am not perfect.

But what do I do when I can’t move past them? What do I do when I can’t dismiss the failures and inadequacies I see in myself as my mind playing tricks on me? What do I do when other people point them out to me on a regular, if not daily, basis? What if the idea that I’m not good enough is constantly reinforced by the people around me?

I’ve been asking myself these questions all week. Because I genuinely don’t know any more. The people you surround yourself with should build you up, not kick you when you’re down. The obvious solution to all this would be to simply leave the people who don’t make me feel good about myself behind. I’m not sure I can do that though, because in my head, there are 20 good memories in the past for every bad memory with them right now. And these memories are so entangled and intertwined with my perceptions of the people in them that I really can’t straighten them out enough to look at the facts. I can’t decide if I need them, or if I need to get rid of them. And I can’t shake off the knowledge that I would never have made any of them feel like this. And I was always there when they needed me, when they were not ok. Even when I was not ok myself.

26 days ago, I felt I could take on the world. 26 weeks ago, you were my best friend. Remember you said you’d never hurt me? I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Every time you open your mouth.

Daily prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/26/daily-prompt-numbers/

Mirrors and reflections

Today’s Daily Prompt was “Look in the mirror. Does the person you see match the person you feel like on the inside? How much stock do you put in appearances?”. Funnily enough, I wrote a post on this topic a few nights ago, and published it without really proof reading it… I’ve been meaning to edit it, but on seeing this prompt, I have decided to re-jig it a bit and re-publish it today. This post is really important to me, so I really want to make sure it says exactly what I mean. Here goes, take 2!

Every morning when I get out of bed, as I begin to get ready for the day ahead, I look in the mirror, and examine what the night’s sleep has done to my hair, my skin, my eyes. Some of my first thoughts of the day are ones that criticize my appearance. How many of us is this true for?

The more I think about it, the more I realise that there is a lot more to this simple morning ritual than just a bad way to start my day. It’s just the first moment of hundreds throughout the day where I monitor my body, and judge whether it looks acceptable. At the gym, when I’m out for a run, when I sit down in a lecture, when I walk out the door… Every time I readjust the way I’m sitting, or rearrange my hair has become an apology for looking the way I do.

Almost every day I ignore the fact that my body is capable of so much more than being looked at. That I am capable of so much more than being looked at. I ignore the fact that my body has kept me alive through the night, that a part of my brain ensured I was still breathing when I was sleeping, that my heart kept beating. I ignore the fact that I feel more energetic than when I went to sleep because my body healed itself and recovered as I slept. I just look at my body in the mirror, and seek out ways in which it is not up to scratch.

I ignore how lucky and privileged I am in that waking up warm and dry, having slept in a bed last night, is something so ordinary to me that I don’t even give it a second thought. I ignore that I am healthy enough that I can get out of bed. I ignore that I can walk across a room unaided. I focus solely on my appearance.

I don’t mean to imply, in any way, that acts or thoughts concentrated on body image are vain or self centred or selfish. That is the last thing I’m trying to say. I find that spending time taking care of myself and working on my appearance can be very empowering. I believe that you should step out the door feeling invincible everyday, and if make up, clothes or beauty products help you achieve that feeling, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  But I also believe that we should never feel that there is something wrong with the way we look naturally. I don’t think any aspect of society, magazine, photo-shopped image, advertisement or beauty company has the right to make us feel that way.

But they do. Every single day.

Which makes me wonder what kind of world we could live in if society didn’t teach us that our worth is determined by our aesthetic conformity to an externally determined standard, if we didn’t learn, from a young age, to self objectify, and to see ourselves in terms of how of how aesthetically pleasing we are to others. Maybe then, some of the hundreds of billions globally spent on beauty, could be put to better use. Maybe the thoughts and time and energy we put towards body shaming and comparing ourselves to others could be channelled into making real improvements in the world.

But of course, that kind of world won’t just form over night. It will take a long time, a lot of small changes which will add up. It will take a lot of people raising their voices, speaking out against the way society tries to make us all feel, and supporting people who are already doing this.

When there is some aspect of my life that makes me uncomfortable, I try to change it. This time, I wasn’t sure how at first. But I decided that I will develop a more critical way of examining the images and messages that have an effect on my self esteem. I decided that I will think more when buying new beauty products, and every time I do buy a beauty product, I will donate an equal amount of money to a charity which works on improving the lives of other people. I decided that I will work on letting go of any thoughts about my body that are not empowering or positive. I decided that I would learn to focus on all the things my body is capable of that don’t involve being aesthetically pleasing to others, and that I would start a notebook full of photos, facts, and times that show what I am capable of. I decided that I would run a mini marathon for charity, and kick ass. I will channel the energy and time and money I usually spend on self hate into something constructive. I decided I would challenge the power I let mirrors and appearance have on my life. 

My happy place.

There are 344 days remaining in the year. Describe what you’d like to be doing on day 211. June 30th.

That was today’s Daily Prompt!

On day 211, I’d love to wake up early, and go for a run in my favourite place, a trail that runs along the coast, half an hour from my house. The trail runs along cliffs, through tunnel walkways of climbing plants, down hills, along an old wall built from cement mixed with mussel shells and down to to a cove, with sea stacks and caves. It runs up hills, over a steam, past light houses…  It’s the most beautiful place I have ever seen. Even just thinking of this place calms me down when I’m anxious.

It’s my happy place.

I don’t know why I don’t visit there more often. Maybe it’s the travel, maybe it’s that when I have the time, I spend it doing other things, maybe it’s the weather, maybe I’ve just become too invested in the mundane things that fill my time…

I don’t know why this prompt was chosen to be about day 211, but I also don’t know why I would wait for that day before I do want I want to do. Don’t save things for a special occasion. Every day of your life is a specially occasion. Wake up with excitement, wonder what the day has in store for you. Make every day memorable. Give everyday the best you have.

Progress, and a good day

Today, after college, I got on a treadmill and kicked ass. This was despite walking to my bus stop, and nearly getting the first bus home because I felt like I didn’t have the energy for a run. At the last minute, I turned around and decided I did. I was right.

I ran 10km in under an hour for the first time, and was 3 minutes and 13 seconds faster than my previous personal best. I’m still 14 minutes and 47 seconds off my goal time, but today, I made a lot of progress. I am closer to reaching my goals now than when I got out of bed this morning. So it was a good day.

I realised that most of the things that limit me and hold me back are in my head. I am capable of a lot more than I give myself credit for. I definitely need to work on having a more self-positive mindset. I need to believe I can do things, reach goals, and if I put in the work, I will. I need to stop being so discouraged with myself.

Every time I run, I try to remind myself that 8 months ago, I could only run 1 kilometre, and my legs hurt for a day after that attempt. So when I feel like giving up, I think of where I can be in 3 months, or 6 months, or a year if I don’t. The future is exciting.

Becoming your own hero/ heroine.

I can’t remember ever having a hero. I guess the closest thing would have been my admiration for my parents and grandparents. My dad was the biggest and strongest man in the world, when I was 5. I distinctly remember asking him which was bigger, him or the sun.

A hero or heroine, to me, is someone who would save me when I’m at my weakest. It would be someone who I would admire, someone who I would want to grow up to be just like. It would be someone brave and fearless, who would fight for everything they believe in. Someone who would believe in, and fight for me.

I have learnt about, and known of, and met many people who have met one of these characteristics, some who have even met two, or three. But when it comes to all of these traits together, for me, I believe there is only one person who is capable of all this.

Me.

And by this, I’m not trying to imply I’m perfect, or flawless. Heroic, to me, is not synonymous with perfect, or flawless, I am neither of these things, nor will I ever be. And I’m ok with that. In fact, I’m more than ok with it. I don’t even believe there is a such thing as perfect. There is no set definition of perfect to which we must all conform. Even if there was, and there were things about us that didn’t conform to this definition, then they would be personality traits that made us different. And I have never thought that being different was something that should be improved upon.

I believe the best thing we can do for ourselves, is to become our own heroes, or heroines, by striving to be the best version of ourselves that we possibly can. By constantly being, or working to become, the kind of person that we admire, believe in and are proud of.

Live a life you are proud of. Be your own hero.

Prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/daily-prompt-hero/

Being outside, looking in

Something has to crack to let the light in. 

When I started to crack, I wasn’t so comfortable with what the light shone on. And, left ignored, the cracks only became deeper, and bigger. It took a long time before I was ready to stop and face the fact that everything was not OK. I was not OK. And once I did that, I no longer saw the cracks as a nuisance, but as a way for me to learn, and reflect. The cracks were a way out, an opportunity to step outside and look in at myself, look in at my life, and see what was wrong.

Given the choice, I would always like to be told what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. It’s not pleasant that way, but I believe it is essential. Anxiety attacks were never pleasant for me. In fact, they were the most terrifying times of my life. But to me, they were also a message. They were a message to me that something was wrong, that there was some aspect of my life I needed to step back and look at, then change.

It took me a long to realise this, to realise that my anxiety attacks were something I could learn to control. That was my first step towards a solution. It was a long journey, full of baby step, and days when I felt that taking one step forward would only result in me falling two steps back. Some days, I even feel myself drifting backwards again, some days, I fall all the way back.

It is because of this that I set resolutions that would change so many aspects of my life in 2014. Along the way, I have come to realise that investing time in myself, in my dreams, in reaching my goals is so important. There is no one aspect of my life that I can allow myself to be completely fixated on. Balance is important. Living the life I want to live is important. I am important.

Prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/daily-prompt-outside-2/

My time for thinking.

I think best when I’m lying in bed, before I go asleep. It’s at that time that I think back on the day’s events, on my plans for the next day, on my feelings, on conversations I have had. It’s because I am alone that I can do this. During the day, it can be very easy not to face how you feel, to fill your time by doing things, seeing people, going places. I love this half an hour before sleep because it gives me the chance to breathe, think and plan.

It’s in this half an hour that I have made some very important realisations. It was where I first realised that it was totally ok for me to start standing up for myself. I realised that I am never obliged to take shit from people. If someone is doing or saying something that I am not comfortable with, it is totally ok for me to tell them to stop. Calling someone out on their bullshit should not be something I feel I need to apologise for, provided it is done in a polite, patient, respectful and constructive manner, and is neither condescending nor aggressive.

But on the other hand, without distractions, it’s very easy to over-think things, and come to less empowering realisations. Sometimes when I’m lying in the dark, I start to worry, or the enormity of what I have yet to undertake to achieve something hits me, and I feel overwhelmed. Other times, all the emotions from a long day overcome me. The reason I think so well before I sleep is that I can focus solely on myself, no one is there demanding my attention. But at the same time, no one is there to tell me to relax, that everything will be ok. I’ve realised that it’s up to me. 

In times when it seems that so much work must be done in a short space of time, or when your goals seem discouragingly far away from where you are at now, it helps to try to calm down, and get some perspective. In a year’s time, will this matter? 

Then look at what you can do to get everything back to a place where you feel in control. Usually this involves resolving to make progress every day.

Go to bed each night confident that you are more prepared than when you woke up this morning. That is my motto lately. If, at the end of a day, I can say that I am a little closer to my goal then I was before, then that day was both productive and worthwhile.

Prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/daily-prompt-best/

What makes me happy.

I’m very lucky in that so many things in my daily life make me happy.

Spending time with friends, my boyfriend, my family, books, running, mugs of green tea, chocolate, how I feel after a training session, cuddling, learning, writing, making friends, cooking, sunshine, walks, music, talking….

Anything that makes me feel empowered and strong.

But today, I despite the presence of so many of my friends, I didn’t feel empowered, or strong.

Today, I came 3rd (out of 3) in a race. The girl who came 2nd has never beaten me before. I didn’t feel jealous or resentful or bitter, I just felt that I could have done better. That I should have trained harder, tried harder, pushed harder. That I lack some strength that I need to improve. I felt like I let myself down. 

I think that messing up and making mistakes (I did plenty of both today) is important. It helps you to grow, to learn and to avoid the same mistakes in future. But still, this initially hit pretty hard. I started to question myself a lot.

Usually, when I face a problem, I find that it’s not really the problem I’m facing that is the problem, it’s my attitude towards the problem. So today, instead of continuing to beat myself up, I tried to change my attitude.

Here’s what I think we forget sometimes:

You are not made of or defined by numbers. You are not a ranking, a percentage on a test, a timing, an amount of likes on a photo, a number on a scale, a number of reps. By all means, if you work hard to reach a number-goal, celebrate that it is an achievement, one of many, but never let it become and all-defining characteristic. You have more substance than numbers.  You are memories, thoughts, actions, a friend, a partner, part of a family, late nights, long days. A number cannot define your infinite worth, and you shouldn’t allow it to control your happiness. 

So instead of looking for an excuse, I have started looking for a solution. I’m already thinking of ways I can improve, things I can learn from, ways in which I can do better. Maybe losing this race was what I needed. It gave me a push, and challenged me to redefine what makes me happy.

Prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/daily-prompt-happy/

Challenges and expectations

I have always had very high expectations of myself. Most of the time, they are helpful. They make me strive to do my very best in all that I do, and they ensure I never do things half way.

But sometimes, this is my downfall. I can be very impatient with myself, especially when I am new to things. I expect myself to grasp them quickly, and sometimes become impatient with myself when I don’t. I put myself down when I don’t see improvements in something I am doing. And while I would be the first to comfort a friend over things, telling them that everything takes time, that this is only natural, I find it difficult to adopt these attitudes towards myself.

But I’ve really been trying lately. I’ve been taking time out to breathe when I get frustrated with myself.

Be patient. It took generations of the best and brightest minds of their time to understand even the most fundamental of concepts.

I need a space where I can concentrate on what I have achieved so far, on what I am doing to work towards my goals, to record and celebrate the milestones along the way. I need a place where I can concentrate on myself. I need to learn to focus on what I am achieving, instead of what I expect myself to achieve, or what I see others achieving.

So this was the idea behind this blog. To develop patience, while still challenging myself to push my boundaries 😀

New Years Resolutions

I like New Years Eve.

It’s a holiday that is centred around new beginnings, a fresh start. It’s a chance to reflect on the year that has just passed, to learn from your mistakes, and move on. It’s a time of great hope.

Putting 2013 behind me is very important for me. 2013 was a year where a lot changed for me, for the better. I graduated from  school and began studying  Science in college. I made new friends, learned a lot about myself, and became a lot stronger.

But I also spent a lot of 2013 afraid.

I was afraid to say no, afraid to say yes, afraid to speak my mind, afraid of trying new things, sometimes even afraid of trying at all. I was afraid of failing, afraid of how I felt, afraid of talking about my feelings, and afraid of what was happening inside my head. I was afraid of losing control, and when I eventually did, I was petrified.

So these are my resolutions, and goals. Some are for 2014, some are for the rest of my life.

  1. To run a mini marathon.
  2. To run 10km in 45 minutes.
  3. To run 5km in under 20 minutes.
  4. To pass first year science.
  5. To go to society events in college.
  6. To be happy, healthy, fit and strong.
  7. To be confident.
  8. To become closer to my friends.
  9. To stop biting my nails.
  10. To practice self care regularly.
  11. To let go of thoughts that do not make me feel empowered and strong.
  12. To waste less, and learn to live on what I have.
  13. To be more open, to engage with people and life more.
  14. To spend more time outdoors.
  15. To learn to drive.

I set up this blog today so that I can track and document the changes in my life over the next year, and beyond. 😀