Tag Archives: mental-health

anticipate


anticipate v. regard as probable; expect or predict

Rake

The OED gives neither a positive or negative connotation to this word, but in my mind and life, this word takes on a negative feeling. It’s most likely due to the combination of Catholic guilt, Italian superstition and past catastrophic health events, but I don’t like to anticipate anything – good or bad. I think of anticipation as similar to those cartoonic situations where Bugs Bunny or some other character is running elatedly about, celebrating something with glee and rapture – and then suddenly steps on a rake and gets knocked to the ground. Or the ever joyous pile of leaves on the sidewalk awaiting a young jumper – who jumps only to find large boulders hidden underneath, creating hurt and harm so suddenly. I suppose you could say I don’t like to count my chickens before they hatch, or, to finish off the bad cliche – put all of my eggs in one emotional basket.

Being this way takes the fun out of a lot of things. And you can bet that having a child makes it even worse. What was once just a fear of not having enough fun or perhaps something being more disappointing than expected turns into an anal retentive, overly cautious, daily, mental shit show that I silently grapple with from minute to minute. I don’t want to anticipate anything being wonderful because it could, possibly, be not so wonderful. Or I don’t want to anticipate something being awful, because life surprises me quite often (at least it goes both ways, right?) I am like some perverted fortune teller in my own life trying to predict how I can prepare to feel before I even get to the place in time where I have to feel it. I always prepare for the worst and hope for the best…which is another way of saying that the fun is never as fun as it could be or I have prolonged “the bad” by bringing it on earlier through worry and negative anticipation.

As a child I didn’t have this problem – until catastrophic things happened in my life (ie. brother with leukemia, dad with a brain tumor, etc. etc.). When I think about all of the bad that happened, I remember the sadness and questioning why, but I also remember that proverbial rake hitting me in the face because I didn’t anticipate anything. When it first happened, I was around 8 years old. I was living an idyllic 8 year old life filled with Cabbage Patch Kids and Jem & The Hologram birthday parties. My scope of pain and anguish spanned about as far as not getting dessert because I didn’t eat my peas or losing one of my best friends to the new girl at school… and then WHAM – brother sick, rake in the face, go to live with family – friends, Sundays as a healthy kid spent reading The Babysitters Club on a pediatric oncology ward while my brother gets chemo, closed doors because another child has passed away –  kinda WHAM. Sort of blows the shit out of anticipating comfy Saturday morning cartoons and trips to the Dairy Queen.

So I probably learned this fear of anticipating the good that might be coming down the road way back when I was 8. I know by the time I was around 17, I was still able to anticipate positive things without fear – until my dad got sick and I couldn’t go away to school. That was what really caused the fear of positive anticipation –  or fear of enjoying the present – I have today. I suppose it isn’t all that bad though. I have an incredible work ethic because of it. Somehow in my brain, being prepared and working really, really hard counteracts the fear with a sense of accomplishment and keeping busy keeps me in the here and now. But in the back of my mind I know that you can give it all you have for years and years, nearing your goal, seeing the finish line and in your final moment…even a split second of celebration, you can step on that rake again. As a mom, this manifests itself into worrisome thoughts about my son. If his poop is a little to soft, I worry he is getting sick. If he’s not saying a hundred words like the doctor wants him to, is he developmentally delayed. All of a sudden the rake in the yard is a physical being in my life and some days I am afraid to enjoy him because it could all go wrong at any time and this time it will hurt the worst of all.

I have found one vein of wisdom that runs through all of the religion, philosophy and self help I have sought over the years – and that is to live and be concerned with the present. From Buddha to the bible, it is the only solution the universe offers me. Do more down dogs, pray more often, breathe deeper, run farther, hug harder, laugh louder – all of the things that keep me solidly in the present and out of my mischievous, anticipating thoughts. Even if it was bad before and there is more bad headed straight for me, there is always a minute, a moment of peace before it where it isn’t so bad – perhaps a single split second of wonderful. Because even with all the bad that has happened, there are still all of those comfy Saturday mornings, trips to the Dairy Queen and warm hugs from my son. They are quieter and smaller, but they are indelibly there. I couldn’t have planned those moments or prepared for them. I can only surrender to what will be the story of me and string together the moments where I am present and happy like a charm bracelet for my brain. I can measure my fears and heartbreaks in rakes and stones if I am constantly searching backwards and forwards in anticipation. I might collect a handful or two before I die. But if I strive to be here in the present, the millions of peaceful moments and split seconds of wonderful will far outnumber them.

Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes.

People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present

– and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future.

– Audrey Hepburn

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locomotion


locomotion n. movement, motion, moving

chariots-of-fire-w1280

About a week ago my one year old took a dive into the bottom of my bed frame and opened a quarter inch gash in his forehead. Being new parents, we took our blood covered toddler to the ER immediately, where they closed his wound with 2 stitches – all the while, my son trying to continue the sprint he started at home around the empty emergency room. Later in the day, as I went for a jog to clear my head a little bit, it occurred to me that locomotion – specifically running – has been an ever evolving practice in my life.

One of the first things my mother said when my son started walking is that I never walked as a toddler – that I only ran. So it seems my son has inherited this trait from me. He walked for a few weeks and then quickly gained speed and now it seems he only runs. When I was about 4, I was put out into the yard because, understandably, my mother had had enough. I ran, played tag with neighbors, rode my big wheels and usually returned to the house at dinner time covered entirely in hardened filth. My parents bought me roller skates – the great old kind with the key – and I taught myself to roller skate on the gravelly concrete, knocking the wind out of myself quite a few times but keeping myself busy for hours. I was always moving.

When I was in the first grade, my school’s CYO started a track team and my parents were very enthusiastic about getting me signed up. My father had run the Steeplechase in high school and was tall and lanky and loved to run. After or before practices in Votee Park he would race me and I still crack up thinking about the time he lost his footing and fell flat on his face. Saturdays were always my track meet days as a kid. My mom would pack up a picnic lunch and lawn chairs and we would head to a day long track meet with other St. Anastasia Blue Knights. Back in those days there was no stigma about little girls and body weight. We were put into heats based on our weight, and since I was rather portly, I ran against older, faster girls. I placed a few times, but it was just fun to run as fast as I could for 50 or 200 yards. Although, the relays were the most fun. For an 8 year old, learning how to pass the baton mid sprint was learning the true meaning of team work.

In high school, I was a sprinter at a very competitive sprinting high school. Running became more of a worry on my mind, juggling a part time job and school work. Like so many things as I grew older, running became much more complicated. I had to make certain splits to qualify for the invitationals on the weekend and to be in scoring heats for inter mural competition. The girls that sprinted at my high school were thoroughbreds – the best in the state, even the country. I was always in their dust. I used to have nightmares the night before meets thinking about the starter pistol and the blocks that could add whole seconds to your time if you tripped up. Perhaps it was this complicated mind game that led me to injury and not competing. Nonetheless, my sprinting days ended in high school, but the way I would run as an adult began.

I attended Providence College – a division 1 distance running school and I am pretty sure everyone ran – in between beers and keg stands. Providence was a great, hilly city for running and I remember my long runs to the East Side near RISD and Brown. Running became a way to get out of my head. Where sprinting and competing once caused me stress, going out on the road and not worrying about time or distance was heaven. After a few weeks of conditioning and getting used to a slower, natural gait, running became my haven during some difficult times. It still is to this day.

When I was young, I wore shorts and a t shirt – nothing wicking. My sneakers were the fanciest thing I owned. I remember my first pair of New Balances and how great they felt when they were so new and bouncy. I used to have a bright yellow Sony Sports Walkman loaded up with a mix tape of music that I had recorded off of the radio. These days my 34 year old body needs a lot of gear to get up to a 5K distance a few times a week. I don head to toe wicking layers under a wicking, thermal fleece that has 3 zip up pockets – one for my Iphone, one for tissues, and one for my wicking gloves, which inevitably end up coming off mid run. I wear a head band, ear buds and if it’s sunny, sunglasses. I top it off with an occasional knee brace or compression cuff for my groin..all so I can be comfortable while running…a sad imitation of what once came naturally.

My son’s running has earned him 2 stitches in his forehead…a fitting entrance to a life of locomotion.

I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way.

I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way.

And where does the power come from to see the race to its end? From within.

– Eric Liddell, Chariots of Fire

 

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voulu


voulu adj. lacking in spontaneity; contrived

How many words do you know that end in a “u” like this one? I don’t think I know any others, hence the reason I chose it.   Voodoo ends in an “o” but that doesn’t count. It’s the “u” that makes this word special. For some reason this word makes me think of the Lululemon shopping bags they give out – because spending 80 dollars on something you are going to sweat in should come with a little free inspiration. So in the spirit of spontaneity, I am going to ponder some of these sayings from my shopping bag as an exercise for today’s post. Now some of these quotes are well known and wise, while others sound like they came out of the mouth of some type A, female, yoga freak psycho…so I’ll include both varieties.

Do one thing a day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Okay. I think have this covered. I wake up and deal with a screaming child that’s usually covered in urine and jumping on a crib mattress. I also face several different kinds of poop – baby, dog and if I’m not careful, some other kinds when we go to the mountain for a walk or run. Poop is very scary. I don’t know if Eleanor got the verb in her quote right though. Am I supposed to drive the wrong way down the highway or drink bleach? I suppose in the Lululemon yogaverse I’m supposed to do a head stand in class and be in the moment while fearing that my $80 tank top will flap down and expose my flabulous belly…

“Salt + High Fructose Corn Syrup + Butter = Early Death”

What if I dip a carrot in it?

“Friends are more important than money.”

Does this hold true if you go shopping with friends? I would think that the two would cancel each other out. What if you wanted to buy a special present for your friend and you have no money? What if the friend is dying and it’s the very last thing you can do for that person before they expire? What if you and your friends have no money and you can’t buy food? No, wait. What if you and your friend have no money and you need to eat but the only way to get money is to not be friends anymore? What’s more important then? Gotcha Lululemon.

“This is not your practice life. This is your actual life.”

Shit. I thought we were just practicing and I’m already sucking at this. Well, I’m going to stay in bed and eat donuts all day since I’ve already screwed this up.

“Visualize your eventual demise. It can have an amazing effect on how you live in this moment.”

So this morning while munching on half of a banana I visualized my death. Hm. Now let me go do something that scares me. Hand me the bleach and a donut because this ain’t practice. Tootles! I’m going to drive the wrong way down the highway now!

“The world moves at such a rapid rate that waiting to implement changes will leave you two steps behind. DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW!”

This is the last quote because the bag is yelling at me now. Unfortunately, I know people who live like this – many of them. I had never really met anyone who was like this until I moved to NYC and worked on 5th Avenue. They are the perfect young ladies in the Chanel boots with perfect teeth and pencil skirts. They carry their lunch in little Lululemon bags and talk about their Wall Street boyfriends and where they ate dinner last night. They can take you down with one swipe of their perfectly manicured paws in a meeting and then pop 3 Aderalls in the ladies room 30 minutes later. They are on top of their game all of the time – except they are ALL THE SAME. Like little fembots from an Austin Powers movie waiting to shoot you with their boob guns.

The thing is, if you are constantly forcing yourself to change, eventually, you will not be the same person. Change is good on a small scale. No one is perfect and I think trying to be a better person or eat less fat is a fine thing to strive for. It’s a matter of what you are changing and for whom. So DO IT NOW is a dangerous thing. If anything, Lululemon should be a little ashamed of this quote on their bag. Yoga is about being in the present, meditation and self acceptance – at least when you are doing it right. This element is important even in Bikram, which is pretty intense.

So here is a quote that would be more fitting to be on a yoga bag:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi

The world would be a better place if we spent less time on changing ourselves and more time trying to change the world around us through our deeds and actions. This is the change we should DO NOW.

Namaste:)

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