Kicking my cold

Yesterday, I left work early because I was feeling sick. Well, correction, I wasn’t feeling sick, I actually felt like I had been hit by a truck. I had an awful headache and my entire body hurt. My ENTIRE body. Combing my hair hurt. Yesterday sucked.

Today, even though I’m not feeling one hundred percent better, I’m back at work. When I got out of bed this morning I still had a mild headache and some aches, but my head felt clearer and I had way more energy than I did yesterday. I could have reasonably stayed home, but I knew that the only way for me to start feeling better was to actually get out of bed and rejoin the real world. Staying in bed will only do so much for me.

It takes a lot to knock me out. I rarely take sick days because I hate feeling unproductive. On one hand this means that I’m very efficient when working on my to do list, but on the other hand it means that I sometimes push myself harder than I should. In the last few years, I’ve been getting better at taking care of myself, but I’ve also started to realize that sometimes taking care of myself means giving into my workaholic side.

Let me break it down for you. Like I said, I woke up this morning still feeling a bit sick, but I forced myself to get out of bed and go to work because I knew lying in bed wouldn’t make me feel better. It would have made me feel even worse because I would have been lying there worrying about everything that I still needed to get done and everything I was missing. I would have felt anxious and out-of-touch with the world, which would have probably just extended my illness.

Basically, lying in bed all day yesterday helped my body heal and today coming into work is going to help my mind heal. My mental and physical states are so closely linked that neglecting one for the other is honestly just going to make things worse.

I feel like a lot of people don’t seem to understand how taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body, and vice versa. People will force themselves to go into work even when they’re physically ill, not realizing how you’re physical illness will lower your cognitive facilities. Other people will force themselves into exercise routines or diets that they hate, not realizing that they’re destroying their mental health for the sake of their body, Everything is intertwined and you have to find the right balance to keep yourself healthy.

For me, that means sometimes getting up and getting things done when I’m not feeling my best. For others, that might mean taking an extra day off during an illness to make sure everything is ship shape when they head back into work.

I feel like this is a huge issue in our culture, the idea that when it comes to health everyone is the same and that one aspect of health is more important than the other. Basically, I believe that we all have to experiment with our lifestyles to find the balance that works for us. Make sure you listen to your doctor, of course, but honestly you’re the only person who can decide if your lifestyle is good for you.

-EMS

Running, Meditation, and Being Antisocial

I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying muay thai! Finding an exercise that you enjoy is so important. Exercise can feel like such a chore, so finding an exercise routine that’s fun makes it so much easier to stay active and healthy.

For me, my exercise of choice is running, which is very surprising considering how much I loathed running when I was a kid. I did everything I possibly could to get out of running.

I don’t know if you remember middle school P.E. class. I absolutely hated that class. I understood that it was incorporated into our education to keep us active and healthy, but the actual activities they made us do were awful. We did the pacer test, which is literally running back and forth across the gym to these timed beeps, and the mile test, which was literally us running a path around the school. These activities were boring and I was often sub par at them. As a straight-A student, getting a C on anything was absolutely devastating. No wonder I avoided gym like the plague.

In high school, I managed to get out of gym because I was in the marching band, which at Evergreen was considered a sport. I loved marching band! The activities we did like running and push-ups and marching drills had a purpose. I actually had the opportunity to engage my mind and was never given a failing grade. Marching band was infinitely better than P.E. Unfortunately, the time commitment and unavoidable drama in the marching band was what kept me from pursuing it in college. I wanted to focus on my studies and my writing, so marching band was the first thing to go. I barely exercised at all while in college and never went running. I just wasn’t motivated to go out of my way to exercise.

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Me right before my first 5k

It wasn’t until after college that I decided to give running another go. If you remember my very first post on Seven Degrees of Smudde, Acting on Impulse, I talked about how I decided to sign up for a 5k randomly. Everyone at the animal shelter I was volunteering at was talking about the race and lots of my friends on Facebook were talking about running 5ks and marathons and obstacle courses. I was feeling a little lost after graduating from college so I decided to give it a go.

One day I just started running. I ran everywhere. I ran the track at the gym, I ran the walking paths at the park, I ran the mini-track at the local elementary school. I ran in the sun, I ran in the rain, I ran at night. It became an obsession and I often felt guilty if I skipped a day.  I needed to be ready for my first 5k.

Well the 5k came and went and I still felt the need to run. Running had become an addiction. I needed to do it to feel healthy and productive. If I went too long without running, I would start to feeling groggy and weighed down. I just wouldn’t feel like myself. 

Nowadays, I try to run at least two times a week and go to the gym at least three times a week. I’ve noticed that running can do a number on your knees and ankles so I try to break up my running with other exercises, like the stair stepper or jumping jacks.

I know why I like running so much. Just like you with your muay thai, my runs are my time to get away from the world and focus 100 percent on my body. It helps me clear my head and prepare to tackle big projects, at work or at home. I can also do it at my own pace now and I’m not graded for my abilities, like I was in school. That makes running so much less stressful.

I also like running because running is one of the few activities that I can do completely by myself without seeming weird. People don’t bother me while I’m running.

Let me break it down for you.

If I go to a movie by myself, people will think I’m a weirdo. If I go to dinner by myself, people will think I’m a weirdo. If I sit down on the bus and open my book, people still think it’s okay to talk to me. Same goes for writing at work.

But, when you see someone running with their headphones in, you know not to bother them. They’re doing something important, something impressive, and they should be left alone. If you interrupt them they might lose their pace. No one seems to think that about reading or being by yourself. It’s only while I’m running that people aren’t bothered when I don’t stop to say hello or make small talk.

Call me anti-social, but I also like having a time during the day when I know no one will bother me. Running, to me, is the purest form of me time. A time when I can completely ignore other people, give them the cold shoulder even, and I won’t offend anyone. It’s nice to have that time set aside. It’s nice to know that I can give in to my loner tendencies during my run and no one will start talking behind my back about how rude I am.

I absolutely love running. It’s one of my favorite things.

-EMS

The Derailing Power of a Migraine

This week I had planned to write about the drawbacks of competition. I had planned to write about how comparing myself to others while running just took away from my own enjoyment. It was going to be beautiful and deep.

Instead, I’m going to write about migraines and how much they suck.

A migraine is the reason this post went up so late, and, yes, I am willing to do a punishment to make up for that, Daniel.

According to Wikipedia, a migraine is a neurological condition characterized by a headache that is often accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light, sound, and smell, and sometimes vomiting. About one third of migraine sufferers will also experience auras, which are “sensory disturbances.” No one is quite sure what causes migraines. It could be environmental triggers, genetics, or a combination of both.

Now that I’ve given you the technical description, let’s talk about how awful migraines actually are. That description does not even begin to scratch the surface.

I spent this week in Seattle for work. This week was stressful to say the least and because I was in a strange hotel I barely got any sleep. I also drank lots of free coffee while at the conference and ate tons of…what’s a diplomatic way to say this….well…lots of crap. I got home yesterday around 7:30. unpacked, took a shower, and then was hit with a migraine.

As I said earlier, migraines can be passed on through genetics. My dad, sister, aunt, and cousin all get migraines so I know I’m genetically predispositioned for them. Combine that with this awful week and it’s not surprising I ended up with a migraine.

It started when I came out of the shower to look at something on my husband, Michael’s, computer. I couldn’t look at the screen. Now I could make out what was on the screen, but I couldn’t focus on anything. I felt like I was drunk, but without the fun, tingly feeling that comes with alcohol. I recoiled from the screen and immediately closed my eyes.

Next came the aura. Auras for me are visual and often come before the headache arrives. The auras look like tiny flashing lights in my vision that clump together into larger shapes. Yesterday the lights were in one straight line right above my right eye. I took some painkillers and waited for the next wave of symptoms, all the time unable to focus on anything.

I started to feel nauseas, but not like normal nausea that just makes your stomach gurgle and your throat gag. This nausea starts at the bottom of your stomach and pulls up, as if your body is trying to reject your entire digestive system. You can feel it in you throat, in your ears, and behind your eyes. Everything feels sick.

I laid down on the couch and covered my head with a blanket to avoid the light, which felt like needles in my eyes. The headache had finally started and, like most migraines, it was only on one side of my head, the right side to be exact. It was sharp and pointed, like a hot nail pressed into the back of my skull.

I stayed on the couch in hopes that the migraine would go away and I could get back to my life, but to no avail. I finally got up and stumbled to bed, but not before the tingles started in my hands. Now when Wikipedia says an aura is a “sensory disturbance,” it means it can be any of your senses, including touch. My auras are generally visual, but I sometimes get numbness or tingling sensations in my fingers or head during migraines. It is bizarre to say the least.

I crashed at 8:30 and woke up at 7:30 this morning, with a freaking migraine. Granted my migraine this morning was manageable. I made it to work and lasted the entire day, but guess what? My post didn’t get written until well after the fact.

Stupid migraines.

-EMS

Selfishness can be a little bit Selfless

This is a pretty confusing world we live in.

We’re constantly bombarded with the idea that we should follow our dreams and passions, and yet the fear of failing our families, friends, and communities keeps so many of us from doing just that. People can get so wrapped up in what others think or need they never stop to ask themselves: what do I need?

I found your mathematical solution for how to be a good person hilarious and very insightful. The idea that we’re all fighting for the same thing, our collective happiness and prosperity, is wonderful. Not only does it make complete sense, it supports a personal philosophy of mine

Taking care of yourself is just as important of taking care of other people.

I think we live in a society that in some ways glorifies the idea of selflessness. Don’t get me wrong, being selfish is rarely a good thing and having empathy for others is always better than being a sociopath, but sometimes I wonder if we take it too far. If our desire to be selfless takes away from our own happiness and, in turn, from the collective happiness of our race.

I’m going to borrow your idea, but instead of time I’m going to pretend we can quantify happiness. How do you measure happiness? In smiles? In laughter? In cups of coffee? Wait, that’s a song from Rent.

I digress. Let’s just pretend happiness is measured in smiles.

Now, let’s say after work you usually go home and read for a while. It helps you wind down and it makes you smile. Well, one day you’re on your way home and you’re excited to pick your book up again, but you get a call from a friend. Your friend is really upset. They just had a fight with their significant other and need some support.

Okay, you say. You love your friend and you can always read tomorrow.

You’ve given your smile away to your friend and that’s okay. Sometimes, someone needs that smile more than you.

No loss or gain for the human race.

Well what happens if that friend calls the next day? And the next day? And the next day? You haven’t had a chance to read in days and now you’re feeling frustrated and run down. Now, you just don’t have any smiles to give away and neither of you have smiles.

That’s a loss for the human race.

See what I mean?

I think our culture sometimes puts a lot of value on being generous and empathetic and selfless, but we never talk about the fact that it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to be a little selfish time to time, even if that means someone in your life might be upset or disappointed.

You can’t give other people smiles if you have no smiles to give.

This is a philosophy I’ve developed over the last few years and it’s something I have to remind myself of every day. It’s difficult and I have to be realistic with my limits, but it’s made me happier and in turn has allowed me to be more selfless.

Selfish is such a dirty word. According to the dictionary selfish means devoted to or caring only for oneself. Selfish isn’t inherently a bad thing, it’s just how our society views the word. According to that definition, my craft projects are selfish because I do them for myself as a form of self care.

But wait, most of my projects, despite being done for selfish reasons, result in beautiful gifts for my friends and family.

See? Selfishness isn’t always selfish.

-EMS