I’m Acute Sick.

It might be cute, but it sure ain’t pretty.

Acute sick is weird. I am more likely to think that I am on death’s door when my throat is sore than I am when say, my toes and ankles look like I got donor extremities from Poppa Smurf. #POTSFeet

Not a lot makes sense when you don’t feel well. Clearly, your body is otherwise occupied, by you know, fighting space invaders that are causing you to drip from all your facial orifices.

But I want to write my blog and not skip it!

So, here you go, these are the random musings, I mean, “notes” that I wrote for this blog on my iPhone Notes app:

~There is a crow living on our roof. He is gigantic. Like a mutant crow, and he’s taken up residence somewhere in our chimney. Is the flue closed? Is it even possible that he (she) and his (her) domicile could come crashing down into mine? Are crows supposed to be that big? Is there an enchanted sorceress nearby that I should be worried about? Are all accessible spindles secure?

~Jello really needs 6 hours to set. If you are desperate, you can eat it in 4 and it’s not awful. Just slimy-er. More slimy. Shouldn’t slimy have an “e” in it? Slimey-er? Whatever. It’s lemon, and I can barely swallow, so do I care?

~Watching my Netflix queue in alphabetical order seems like a fun way to jazz up my day. I watched Anita, a documentary about Anita Hill’s 1991 testimony in the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court vetting. Then I watched The Beautician and The Beast, a classic Fran Drescher film from 1997 which is pretty much The Nanny if Mr. Sheffield were the dictator of a made-up Eastern European country…and played by Timothy Dalton, a.k.a. James Bond. This made for an interesting afternoon. And I wasn’t even taking cough syrup…

~Shoot! I was doing laundry and I wasn’t pay that much attention when I put stuff in the dryer. Why do I even buy stuff that can’t go in the dryer? I wonder if Suki would wear this t-shirt.

~It looks like it might rain. I think I heard thunder. Nope. The neighbors are just dragging their trash cans to the curb. Wait. Nope. Totally thunder.

~I make really poor food choices when I’m sick. In addition to not-fully-formed jello, today I’ve had a bagel, a can of root beer and an apple.

~My horoscope warned me this was coming. It actually said, “Your body will need a break soon.” Why don’t I pay more attention to the stars?!

That’s what I’ve got for you today, Chronics. Maybe by Tuesday I will have more interesting sentences to string together. Happy Weekend! I promise not to sneeze in your general direction.

 

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Memorial Day Weekend

Remember when I said people who run love to talk about how they run? (https://iamchronicallywell.com/2015/05/07/the-cult-of-running/)

And how I said I was one of those people now?

Last week I was super excited to tell you about how I met my goal of reaching a mile in under 15 minutes doing my run/walk intervals. (https://iamchronicallywell.com/2015/05/21/gangsters-i-mean-runners-paradise/)

This week I am super excited to tell you that for the first time ever, I ran outside and not on a treadmill!

My family has a condo at the beach in New Jersey (yay NJ beaches!) and we went up for Memorial Day weekend.

Now usually, I am not a fan of the Holiday Weekend. People are everywhere, and they tend to be kind of crazy. It’s like in taking a holiday from their everyday lives they also decide to take a holiday from being human. I actually saw someone videotaping themselves using a selfie stick and an iphone as they biked down the middle of the road. Like with cars and stuff.

In general, I don’t like loud and I don’t like pushy.

NJ beaches on holiday weekends are loud and pushy. (Also kind of anytime? Except when they play the National Anthem at 11 am every day on the boardwalk. Then it’s eerily quiet- as it should be #Respect)

Part of me was like, “That’s it, I’m just going to stay inside all weekend, whatever, I can see the ocean from my house, I’m good.”

But another part of me was like, “Girl, you are a runner now. Get out there and run.”

So I did.

My very friendly non-running mom rented a bike and came with me. The super nice bike rental lady wanted to know why I didn’t want a bike too.

My mom said, “Oh, she runs.”

Nice bike lady said (standard non-runner response), “Why would you want to do that?”

To which I replied, “Because I can.”

Which made my mom laugh super hard, which made me laugh super hard, which made the nice bike lady look at us like we were nuts. It was probably a mix of insane universe-gratitude, relief, and comic hysteria, because yeah, I can run now.

We set off, and half an hour later had made it to the local library and back, a neat 1.2 miles. We capped it off with a 1 mile walk down the boardwalk, just for funsies.

Here’s what did not happen on this excursion (all of which I totally thought was absolutely going to happen):

~I did not polymorphous light erupt (see What’s POTS in the sidebar).

~I did not throw up.

~I did not have to use the icky porta potty.

~I did not faint.

~I did not trip and fall on my face.

~I did not get run over by crazy Memorial Day weekend bike riders. (This was touch and go for a minute. Who knew drinking and biking was a thing? #ShouldNOTBeAThing)

~Emergency vehicles and their workers did not make an appearance at all, in any capacity, during this time period.

Here’s what did happen on this excursion:

~I remembered to breathe.

~I remembered to pace myself.

~I switched from walking to running based on how I felt (I ditched the podcast for this one).

~I went further than I thought I could.

~I went on to have a perfectly normal day afterwards. No crashing and burning.

~I did a happy dance in the elevator on our way back to the condo.

YAY!

Now, just to let you in on a little secret, this did not just magically occur. First off, there was the 8 months that I have been inching my way up to this point #Progress. As for the day itself, when it comes to planning, I am a grade-A overworrier. I err on the side of being overprepared. I get it- someday I will get to the place where I do not need to load up like a pack mule just to run a mile. Someday, it will really just be me and my running shoes out on an open road. But for now…

This is what I had with me and/or wore:

~A hat.

~A long sleeve shirt.

~Long pants. (Thank goodness it was only 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Not sure how I will handle this once it’s warmer. #AllergicToTheSun #HidingFromSunlight)

~Running shoes.

~Armband cell phone holder.

~One eared headphones (headphone?) so I could listen to music and be aware of my surroundings at the same time. (Highly recommend this- look on Amazon.)

~Water bottle “tool belt” containing 3 bottles of water and 1 bottle of Gatorade (7oz./bottle), I.D., dried fruit bar, and tissues (my nose runs when I run…it’s jealous of my legs? #BadJoke).

~Condo keys on a bungee cord on my wrist.

Even with all that, I still felt like I was forgetting something. I carried nothing that would prove useful if say, an unplanned tsunami hit. Though the water bottle tool belt *might* double as a floatation device if I needed it to.

You know what, laugh all you want, I totally do not mind being this guy:

 

My mom asked if it was hard to run with all that stuff.

I actually didn’t notice? I was too busy jumping up and down in my head.

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What did you do this Memorial Day weekend? Do you have big plans for the summer? I’d love to hear all about it!

Gangster’s–I mean Runner’s–Paradise

Exciting News, Chronic Readers!

I have officially run/walked a mile in less than 15 minutes!

In all technicality, it was 14:58…those 2 seconds make a difference, trust me.

This means my latest running goal has been met!!

My previous goal was to get to 2 miles in less than 35 minutes by my birthday way back in February. I completed that goal and then set about to working on this one.

I have been stuck in the same run/walk pattern for a while. Just to recap, I follow the NHS Choice Couch to 5K podcast (available for free on itunes), which tells you when to walk and when to run, starting slowly and building up to 30 minutes of straight running. It’s meant to be a 9-week program, but factor in chronic illness, and 8 months into it, I am still on the Week 4 pattern. Which is fine by me. I have “been there, done that” when it comes to pushing myself too hard too soon, and all it did was land me right back in bed, exactly where I didn’t want to be. So I’m taking a page from the Tortoise, not the Hare’s, book, and giving that “Slow and steady wins the race” thing a try. So far, so good.

ANYWAY.

I have been listening to the Week 4 podcast 3 times a week for 2 solid months now. I started out modifying the pattern to be slightly less of a jump from the previous podcast (90 seconds to 5 minutes? Yeah, I need another step–or 3– in there…), so that has added to my time in Week 4-Land. I have pretty much memorized the soundtrack. The first time I listened, I totally didn’t mind the kind of lame, grocery store-esque quality of the music, but by the 24th time, I am SO SICK of it.

So, in order to rid myself of blah-music overload, I decided to allow Spotify access to my name and public profile on Facebook (and whatever else it may be pilfering from my online prescence…) and get an account so I could make some super fun run/walk playlists. I still play my podcast so that it can tell me what to do, but I play my playlist loudly over it from another device simultaneously. I’ve got a system down.

Let me tell you, exercising to the right kind of music makes all the difference.

*The right kind of music is simply defined here as music you actually like.*

I have a confession to make, Chronic readers. 100 years ago when everyone used AIM and Myspace, and when Facebook let you write in your interests instead of choosing them and linking them to your profile and whatever it is that you have to do now, I succumbed to peer pressure and filed in my music preference as such:

***I love ALL kinds of music!! 🙂 EXCEPT country and rap!!***

(Nontraditional punctuation added for emphasis and realistic reenactment purposes)

Didn’t everyone write that? (You know you did. Come on. Really.) It was such a dumb thing to write because even if you didn’t like country and rap, were you saying that you liked Disco? Did the lyrics (or lack thereof) of Enya speak to your 13-year-old soul? Were pulsating club beats punctuating your ride to school with your mom? I’m not so sure you were that evolved. If you were, many apologies.

I don’t know why everyone collectively decided to shun country and rap as being something unlikeable, but I do know that I really, really love country music, and I really, really don’t mind (some) rap music.

I have always loved country music, and my love is so deep and so vast, that I am going to have to write an entire blog post about it another time. It just won’t all fit here.

My appreciation for rap and hip hop came much later, around the time that they invented “radio edit” and “clean version”.

#IJustDontLikeCursing #SorryNotSorry #ITryToGetTheMessageThough

I also appreciate these versions of pop songs.

#BritneySaysWorkWork #DontCallMeB****WhenImBuyingYourMusic

ANYWAY.

The point is, I actually do like ALL kinds of music (*** 🙂 !!! ***), and yes, I include rap, country, hip hop, pop, disco, Enya, pounding club music, and a whole lot of other things when I say that.

That’s a good thing, because if you want to run/walk a mile in 14:58 when you’ve got a medical condition (or even if you don’t, I guess, #WouldntKnow) it’s going to take Reba McEntire (Going Out Like That), 50 Cent (In Da Club), Biggie Smalls (Big Poppa), Pitbull (I Know You Want Me), Sia (Chandelier), and Walk the Moon (Shut Up and Dance) to get you there.

Follow it all up with a Donna Summer chaser, because She Works Hard for the Money, and so do you!

 

What kind(s) of music do you listen to Chronic Reader? Do you have any suggestions for my ever-evolving playlist? What’s your go-to workout song? I’d love to hear from you!

Live from Hollywood! This is Dancing with the Stars!

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Dear Dancing With the Stars,

I love you.

Not in a stalker kind of way (promise), but in an I-will-give-up-my-Monday-and-sometimes-Tuesday-nights-until-the-end-of-time-for-you way. And I have, for 10 years (save those few seasons I completely blanked on- I had no idea Donny Osmond was even on this show, let alone won it?)

As the epicness of Year 10, Season 20 comes to a close tonight, I’ve been reflecting on all the many, many things I love about you, and I thought I’d share a few.

Sequins. Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, shall we. You sparkle, DWTS, quite literally. From rhinestones to body glitter, I’m quite sure you can be seen from space. I love that you make everyone look pretty. I love that it’s not just the ladies who are bedazzled, but also the NFL’s all-time rushing leader. Props to you, Emmitt Smith, you look ravishing in jewel tones.

Len Goodman. Life would be empty without a 10 from Len. I know the powers that be brought in Julianne Hough as a “bonus” judge to ease us slowly into the transition of giving this lovable old man a break to enjoy his retirement. But I just can’t let him go. (And neither can ABC, apparently, because he’s still hanging around…) I like Grumpy Len. I like that he keeps DWTS honest- without him gently guiding us in the ways of ballroom (Sample quote: “This was not a Viennese Waltz, it was a theatrical hodge-podge!”) the show would just be, well, theatrical hodge-podge.

Tom Burgeron. Needs to host everything. For ever and ever. I’d like to get an offer in now to MC my 30th birthday party. Do you think he’d be ok with getting paid in cake?

The Pros. Derek Hough(!) Sharna Burgess (!!) Cheryl Burke (!!!) The Chmerkovskiy Brothers (!!!!) and all the rest. I wish so much that my local dance studio was populated by this nurturing, colorful cast of characters. It’s probably better that it’s not because I’ve got to work, blog, take my dog out, and stop to eat every once and a while. I don’t know that I’d be able to do those things if dance lessons by these awesome pros were accessible, because I’d be there ALL THE TIME.

The Celebrities. Ok. Probably half the people who have competed on Dancing with the Stars are only vague celebrities. I am still trying to figure out why being on the Bachelor/Bachelorette shows seems to immediately qualify you for entry to this dancing competition. There are no hot tubs here! Oh, but when they get it right! John O’Hurley (He was robbed! Season 1 Team O’Hurley 4evah), Drew Lachey, anyone who has ever been popular in the NFL, anyone who has ever won an Olympic medal, Danica McKellar, Amber Riley… I cannot speak of Kelly Pickler, Amy Purdy, Meryl Davis, Noah Galloway, or Rumer Willis without getting needlessly emotional…Ugh. LOVE IT.

I could go on and on, Dancing with the Stars, filling pages and posts with my incredible admiration of you. But alas, your finale starts in like, 55 minutes, and I still have to do dishes and walk the dog, so I’ve got to make this short…

Thank you for being my favorite show. Thank you for showing us your sparkle. Thank you for making me want to sparkle. Thank you for making me want to dance. ❤

Love, Nic

P.S. To show me that you love me too, please let Rumer and Val win tonight! #TeamValenRue 🙂

FacePaint for GrownUps

I am in awe of people who are good with makeup.

This is because I am not one of those people.

I can handle the fact that lipstick is for lips and eyeshadow is for eyes, but beyond that, I just can’t seem to figure it out.

It doesn’t help that there’s this thing called contouring now.

80b8a87a852be2f85e227788b68d96c0

(Now, of course, is a relative term because I happen to know from perusing my mom’s back issues of 1980’s hairstylist magazines that Linda Evangelista kind of invented it long before any of the Kardashians were even born.)

01edf32ed8d114281de8afceb338712c

Makeup users tell me I should use bronzer. It could change my life forever, they tell me.

I tried it once. If the life-change they were referring to was that I would now be prime Oompa-Loompa girlfriend material, I wish they would have been more specific at the outset so I could have saved myself $7.99. #NotMyThing

Dream_Terra_Sun_Bronzer_model

Desired Result

 

Actual Results

I love to look at makeup in its packaging, the way that I like to look at art materials at the craft store. It’s so pretty. The pinks are so pearlescent, the reds so rosy, the jewel tones so bright and vivid. Why would I want to mess up such perfection by trying to actually use some of it?

MAC_elitedaily

Like any autodidact worth her salt, I have tried very hard to learn how to use makeup properly on my own. I’m an expert researcher. I have done the Millennial version, which means I have watched countless hours of YouTube beauty vloggers try to explain to me how to navigate liquid eyeliner. I’ve gone old school, too, just to be well rounded, and rented Beauty School textbooks from the library. I learned about the quadrants of my face and how to expertly clean my makeup brushes should I ever, you know, use them.

I have become a walking “Those who can’t do, teach” cliché in that I can tell my sister exactly what to do to enhance the blend of her foundation, yet I rarely wear any myself.

I could pull a Chronic Card here, and say that my lack of energy adds into this conundrum.

It’s exhausting to put on a “face” and even more exhausting to try and get the stains off my pillowcase after I’ve faceplanted into it an hour later because I tend to do that a few times daily to “recharge” (#RechargingDoesntActuallyHappen #WakeUpMoreTired #Whyyyyy).

So, ok, it wouldn’t make sense for me to wear makeup everyday. But I would like to know how to do something should ever a special occasion arise.

Google images is a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, it’s nice to have ideas about what to do.

Yet, chances are, that picture has been retouched, and I’m left wondering if my time would be better spent learning to use Photoshop instead. #AheadOfTheCurve #Maybe?images

Sometimes, even when you try your best to look like the picture, it just doesn’t come out that way, no matter how many times you rewatch a vlog for step-by-step instructions.

This is especially true concerning perfect eyebrows. I wanted my eyebrows to look like this:

Tips-to-Get-Perfect-Eyebrows-For-Eye-Makeup

 

Instead, I ended up looking kind of surprised. All the time. #TooSkinnyBrows

Update on that: I’ve had to hide my tweezers from myself for the past month so as to grow back my eyebrows before it’s too late and my over-tweezing habit becomes permanent. I don’t care to comment on this further. #SoCranky

Perhaps more important than the how of makeup is the why. What is it that I hope to gain from having mad makeup skillz?

(Yes, I used a “z” to pluralize skill. I’m trying to speak the language of my generation, ok? Chill. Or, chillz. You know. You knowz. Whatever. Whatevz.)

I want to learn to be better with makeup because sometimes I want to feel like an enhanced version of myself. I know what I look like in the mirror most days. It’s not so much a joke as it is a poignant character study to say that I match the standardized off-white walls of my house. Most days I feel pretty blank. But I know that that is not who I am on my insides.

No.

Inside of me is a much more colorful person, desperately trying to get out.

I mean it.

My spirit animal is Rainbow Brite.

images

And Company…

 

Seriously.

I would dye my hair like this, tomorrow, if I didn’t think it would take So.Much.Effort to keep up with:

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~Or~

images

Hair is too much of a commitment, so I would love to know how to actually work those little spongey eyeshadow brushes so that I could do this:

images

And have my moment of color-wonderful-ness and then do something different tomorrow.

images

I would love to have the creative know-how to do that!

 

How about you, Chronic Readers? Do you wear makeup? Would you consider yourself good with makeup? Do you have a favorite feature that you like to play-up?

Also, do you happen to know how lip liner works?

…Could you tell me?

Mmkay. Thanx. 🙂

What’s Your Chronic-ological Age?

I have 5 grey hairs on my head.

Correction: They are white.

Yep, for some reason, my genetically gifted markers of Aging skipped right over the Gandalf the Grey phase and jumped headfirst into born-again Gandalf the White territory.

My initial reaction to this finding?

I am waaaay too young for this. I mean, it must be some unfortunate miscommunication in my melanin producing glands because I’m only…

Wait.

How old am I?

Chronological age is weird. Personally, I feel like what we think of as “chronological” age should really be called “societal” age, because all of the things we think of as happening at a certain age (example: Being “over the hill” at 40) aren’t caused by the number itself, but by the societal implications we’ve attached to it.

If you ask around enough, or read enough articles online, you realize that as much as the powers that be want us to think that every 18, 21, 25, 30, 40, 45, 50, etc. year-old is more or less the same in terms of what their life looks like, it couldn’t be less true.

I have a pretty small social circle, but among us the variation of what “25/26” looks like is gigantic. Some of us are married and have kids, some of us travel around the country for work, some of us went to college, some of us didn’t, some of us live in our own houses, some of us live in our parent’s basements, some of us are unemployed, some of us have our dream jobs, some of us blog about chronic illness twice a week…

In general, no one realizes this when you are 16. When you are 16, you think that everyone’s life is, or should be, pretty much the same. You think that if your life isn’t like [fill-in-the-blank] then you are hideously different and it is the End of the World.

Luckily, we get to grow up a little, and hopefully, around age 25-35 you catch up and realize that it is a whole lot of bologna to think we should all be at the same place at the same time.

(Side note: Am I the only one who thinks we should be phonetically spelling baloney by now? I mean really, Webster’s. Declare it already.)

People get to have their own lives, their own ideas and ideals for that life, and whether or not you have checked off society’s never-ending check list for your age group is not going to make or break you.

This is a huge relief for everyone, but it’s especially nice when you realize it and apply it to a Chronic Life situation.

Because, special spoonie that I am, I get to have my chronological age, my societal age, and my CHRONIC-ological age.

Chronics have their own timetables. We just do. Chronic time moves differently than non-chronic time. Some times are slower, some times are faster, and some times feel like they didn’t happen at all. Personally, due to health crises of monumental levels, I have pretty much zero memory of the year 2008 and most of the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013. (Apparently, consciousness is essential to memory making.) So, in a way, I need to shave at least 2 years off my age, because they didn’t really happen…at least not for me.

Also, strangely, there is a phenomenon among people who have experienced “heavy” things (emotional, traumatic, etc.) in their lives, in which psychologically, some part of them gets “stuck” in that time period. It takes a lot of time and effort to get unstuck from wherever that left you. For instance, it’s not uncommon for Chronics to get psychologically stuck in the year they got sick.

Personally, some part of my brain/mind/psyche/spiritual experience (did I cover all my bases there?) is going to be 13 for a long time. It’s like someone pressed pause, and I’m waiting for my life (high school, “normal” growing up experiences) to begin.

Now, let’s NOT get weird and take that statement literally. (As in, DO NOT TAKE THAT STATEMENT LITERALLY.)

It’s not an overpowering feeling, just a slight tug at the edges of my mind that occasionally makes me feel like I am living Jennifer Garner’s part in the quintessential chick flick 13 Going on 30. Like, I woke up today in 2015 and I’m not altogether sure how I got here. My Chronic timeline doesn’t line up with the standard Roman calendar system.

It’s not just an aging backwards, Benjamin Button sort of thing, as it can go the other way too.

There have been really specific times in my life when I have felt that I don’t line up with my real age because I feel so much older than it. My mom used to say I was born 30. (All this mention of 30…here’s hoping when I actually get there, it lives up to the hype.) My maturity level was off the charts even as a little kid, and I didn’t really have much use for the societal conventions attached to say, age 5. I was too busy trying to find someone to competently discuss feminist archetypes in Disney fairytales with me to be fingerpainting. (*EXAGGERATION* but only a little 🙂 )

This aging forwards was also hit by the Chronic-bus, because, as many of you know, we end up dealing with a whole lot of <stuff> beyond our tender-hearted years when Chronic illness comes into play.

So how old are we really, Chronics? How old is old enough for grey hairs? How young is young enough to still find comfort in stuffed animals? Are you “too old” if you go to bed at 9pm or “too young” if you leave for a party at that hour?

DOES ANY OF IT REALLY MATTER?

My chronological age is 26. My CHRONIC-ological age is 110 and 13 at the same time. My societal age is probably closer to 18. All of it makes sense, at least to me.

And those white hairs? No way am I going to pluck those suckers out. Apparently, the universe has decided I’m old enough to have earned them.

The Cult of Running

It’s official, Chronic readers.

I’ve crossed over the other side.

I’ve joined the Cult of Runners.

Allow me to present Exhibit A:

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I’ve wanted to purchase a pair of real running shoes for a while, since like, January. Chronic life got in the way there for a while, so I kept putting it off. I was waiting to feel better. But, as we’ve all learned one way or another, if you wait to feel better before you do something, you are going to be waiting a long time my friend.

So. Shoes.

After reading 99 books and 9,000 web articles about running and running shoes, I decided to go to City Sports, as it is the official shoe store of the Boston Marathon. I figured you should go big or go home, right?

Right.

My research already led me to the conclusion that my feet are flat (SO. FLAT. Like, Great Plains flat. Like, you could put a level on my foot and the little floaty thing would land dead center.) and I overpronate, which means that my flat, flat feet tend to roll inwards on account of them being arch-deprived. I feel like I gained brownie points with friendly neighborhood sales associate Doug for using the correct terms.

SPEAKING OF friendly neighborhood sales associates, I don’t know if this happens everywhere (it probably does), but the people who work at City Sports are serious athletes. Their muscles practically ripple out of their work t-shirts, which all happen to be one size to small, just in case you were wondering what their pectoral muscles look like. If they work on commission, I can only imagine that they are set for life, because it is impossible to say no to them, whether because you think that if you buy shoes, a hat, and some gum, maybe they might invite you to join the store’s running club (since you have the gear now!) or because they are just walking Fit-spiration. Just so you know, beforehand. Be prepared.

Anyway, I went to a “real” running store because it’s important to get the right pair of shoes. My only requirements for this (major) purchase were that 1) they fit correctly, 2) that they cost under $120 (running shoes are pricey), and 3) that within those aforementioned parameters, I get the loudest, brightest, most ostentatious pair they had.

Because, why not?

I mean, if I am going through all the trouble of becoming a runner, why on earth would I want to blend in?

My shoes definitely fit the bill. Comfy, stabilizing, affordable (plus I had a coupon!), and if you can’t see them from space, at least you can see them coming from down the block.

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Something funny happened once I put them on, though…

I can’t stop talking about running.

I don’t know if you know someone in real life who runs, but chances are, they love to chat about it. Even if they are not a chatty person, they will talk about running. It’s a weird phenomenon whose intensity level is second only to people who are into CrossFit (It’s high on my social anxiety nightmare list to get trapped in an elevator with someone who has just come from the “box.”).

Background: Prior to October 2014, I hated running. Scratch that, because when I started running, I still really kind of hated it. So, like February 2015-ish? Yeah, when I could get to 2 miles in under 35 minutes without initiating cardiac arrest, I started to think it was kind of ok.

ANYWAY back to the story.

Like most people who had gym class in elementary/middle school, I have a whole host of bad running memories and experiences. Add in to that the fact that I have a chronic medical condition that seriously affects my heart rate, blood pressure, and ability to regulate, well, everything, and you can bet that I was the kid who was hiding in the bathroom when it was time to run the dreaded mile in gym class.

Do they still have the Presidential Fitness Award? I will have to ask someone if this is still a thing.

Hey, Someone, is this still a thing?

Every year, gym class would culminate with the running of the Great Mile, the main piece of the Presidential Fitness program/plan/award/thing. For my school, that meant running 6 laps around the field. For me, that meant running 3-ish, and then getting really creative about how to get out of the rest of them.

There was a huge stadium light fixture at one end of the field, and with the gym teacher across the field, it was a perfect hiding place. I was skinny and it was probably 2 of me width-wise across, so I would run ½ a lap with a pack of people, and then stop at the light, willing myself to be invisible. When the pack of people came around again, I’d join up with them. Sure, I was on Lap 4! I just forgot to yell out my last name and lap number when I came around the previous time!

My other scheme was to tie my shoelaces too tight. This would cause my feet to turn bright red, and so, around lap 2 or 3, I’d have to go to the nurse because “my feet were swelling” and it could be the sign of a serious problem.

Eventually, the course was switched to running 3 laps around the whole school building. This was even better for me. Because the gym teacher could only be in one place at a time, she enlisted Moms to help out.

Let me tell you, Moms love me.

So I would stop and have a chat with Mrs. So-and-So, usually about how archaic and inhumane it was to make children run, and what-do-you-know we talked so long class was over!

If you were out sick, or didn’t finish in the 30-minute class period, or missed it for some other reason, you were supposed to go before school started for a “make-up” mile.

I’m going to let you guess whether or not I ever told my mom that I was supposed to report for running duty at 6:30 am, 5th through 7th grades. Strangely, I somehow managed to pass gym anyway. In 8th grade, I debuted my shiny new doctor’s note (“Please excuse Nicole from all physical activity. Also, she should be allowed to drink Gatorade and eat pretzels and take frequent bathroom breaks.”) and it didn’t matter any more.

High school gym class was much more tame, and we only ran one or two laps around the tiny auditorium. Then, one day, we had a sub, one of the coaches for a sports team, who made us run a mile. She also happened to teach us how to take our heart rates before and after. Afterwards, I couldn’t catch my breath, and I had counted my heart rate to be over 200, long after we finished. I didn’t have a POTSie diagnosis then, and had no idea what this meant. When I told the coach, she told me I must have counted wrong.

eye-roll

Yeah, so there was that.

In general, I used to think that I didn’t like running because running was awful. Period. It just was, everyone thought so, and if you didn’t, then what kind of weirdo were you? I’m quite sure I have mean-girled quite a number of runners, before I saw the light and converted.

So, you know, sorry about that.

Now that I know that my heart rate can indeed reach the 200s and that this is NOT A GOOD THING, and I’ve read my books and done my research and figured out how to be a kind-of active POTSie person, I have chosen to willingly run.

I can see my 12-year-old self sticking out her tongue in disgust at me.

Whatever, 12-year-old self. Seriously. Gosh.

To come around full circle, after I put on my magical new running shoes, the transformation was complete. All of my previous running experience melted away into the great depths of The Past.

I’m not just a person who runs, not any more. Nope, now I am, officially, a runner.

And I would just love to tell you about it…

You are getting veddy, veddy sleepy…

*Nic Note: I’m back, Chronic Readers! I hope I was gone just long enough for you to miss me, and not long enough that you’ve forgotten completely who I am. If you need a refresher, please see the About Me page to the left 🙂 Without further ado…

Alternate Titles for Today’s Blog:

Self-Hypnosis and You!

You Too Can Be Awesome-Just Tell Yourself You Are!

Apparently, I am very impressionable.

One of the many projects I am in the midst of is to transfer our home videos from VHS to DVD (I know, I am like, a decade behind most people on this front). It’s been really fun to watch Baby Nic and Co. What’s particularly funny to me is that, as a younger sister, I don’t really have my own personality until I’m nearly 4. For a good amount of time, I am pretty much a robot child bending to my big sister’s will. Sample dialogue, circa my 3rd birthday when I am opening my presents:

Baby Nic: “My very own pretty ballerina doll! It’s just what I’ve always wanted!”

Sissy: “Niki, do you think you might want to share that with me?”

Baby Nic: (handing over the toy that was apparently just what I have always wanted) “Ok.”

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

When I would try to reclaim the toy later, she would calmly and very convincingly say, “You gave that to me, don’t you remember, Niki?”

I lost quite a number of Barbie dolls this way.

Now, as much fun as it would be if this post were a really long anecdote about the dynamic between my big sister and me (and the possibility that she could be a criminal mastermind if she put her mind to it), it’s not really. The point is not that I was a pint-sized accomplice who could be counted on to not spill the beans about the fact that Sissy cut her own bangs and hid the evidence behind the couch, or why I was left suspiciously holding the empty box of cookies in the kitchen. Nope, this is just a lead-in to convince you that for some reason, some part of my brain is hardwired to be really receptive to the power of suggestion.

I’m a big fan of guided mediation. Listening to someone else’s voice gently encouraging me to calm my mind really seems to work for me. The problem is finding a tape (Ok, recording. I call everything a tape. I grew up in the 90s. Old habits die hard.) that I actually want to listen to. I don’t want to just go to the beach to stare at some randomly placed palm tree that is swaying just so in the light breeze.

palm-tree-beach-006

#Generic

 

In fact, I actually don’t like the beach much, because sand is awful and I’m allergic to sunlight. So I’m changing the visual in my head anyway, all the while trying to let my brain follow itself down the rabbit hole of someone else’s making. It’s not exactly relaxing.

What’s an impressionable Chronic girl to do?

Make her own guided meditations, that’s what.

I made the first one a while ago, but when I was on blogging hiatus, I stepped up my game. Armed with my trusty tape recorder (with actual tapes, haha) I have recorded myself reading scripts of my own creation, in the hopes of banishing my anxiety over sitting still for too long (because all my blood flow stagnates and I tend to feel really gross, say, in movie theaters), my laughable spatial awareness issues (Sample line: “I am aware of my own personal space and where I am in space in relation to people, pets, and inanimate objects.”) and any and all problems I can think of (“I am now sitting down to transcribe medical reports. I hear the dictators clearly and transcribe their words correctly.”).

I even play Enya music in the background so that it feels legit.

And, thanks to that impressionable nature that once had me handing over my birthday presents to the carefully worded directions of my older sister, it feels like it’s really working. This may be a stretch, but it feels like maybe because I am the one talking to myself (yes, I realized I just graduated to a new level of crazy in that I am recording myself talking to myself) that the things I am trying to cement into my subconscious might actually be taking root.

Making your own guided meditation is not hard. The only thing you need is some sort of recording device. You could use your iPhone memo recorder, or order an old school tape recorder and some cassettes from Amazon (preferred method of the technically challenged, a.k.a. Me.).

I’ve found it is best to set the scene first. Don’t just jump in with “I am a superhero who is capable of fighting bad guys with just the power of my mind,” because your mind needs to be in a place to internalize the information. I like to start with the typical, “Take a few deep breaths. Direct your attention to your feet. Working your way up, release any tension you feel in your body.”

Make sure to speak slowly. I never realized how fast I talk until I was trying to talk myself into a deeply relaxed state. Give yourself a minute to catch up to your words, so count to 5 or so in your head between sentences.

Then, by all means, dive in. Use positive statements like, “I am comfortable in social situations,” instead of “I don’t freak out in social situations.” For some reason (of which I am sure there are numerous pseudo-intellectual articles on the internet to explain) it just works better.

Keep it on the shorter side- I find myself falling asleep if I am super relaxed for longer than 15 minutes.

When you’re done telling yourself what you need to hear, end by slowly waking yourself up, similarly to how you got yourself calmed down in the first place. Add a few “Inhale. Exhale. Feel yourself coming back to the present moment,” type sentences and you are good to go!

 

Have you ever tried guided meditation, Chronic readers?

Do you feel like you’ve got an impressionable mind? (If your big sister is currently or was at one point in possession of your favorite childhood birthday presents, you probably do. Welcome to the club!)

What sorts of things would you like in your perfect meditation script?

I’d love to hear from you here in the Comments section or over on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/iamchronicallywell