Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"We're all just hanging by a thread."

All-righty. It's time for some mo' big-picture wordthoughtvomit from yours tru. Topic: chronic conditions.

So. Chronic illness. Diabetes, SAD, gout, EDNOS, chemical dependency, chronic pain, insomnia, generalized anxiety, bipolar II, arthritis, scoliosis, hypertension... Chronic illness touches us all, even the seemingly able-bodied and youthful--even *gasp* MYSELF. So if we're all shouldering this universal burden in one way or another, how do we all manage to "make it work" rather than slump over, defeated?

I've been dealing with shoulder/arm pain for over a year now due to an injury from a Bally Total Fitness hip-hop class (I already know how absurd this is; you don't have to point it out to me). I've done physical therapy, massage therapy and just bought a spinal traction device off of eBay. At a certain point I realized, "I might just have to deal with this for the rest of my life. Sh1t! FML! #ugh"

At the same time, I'm coming to grips with facing my mental health baggage--my tendency toward anxiety and depression. I've accepted that this is how I am. This is me. I'm high-strung. I'm dramatic. At any time I can spiral down to the depths of fear-induced irrationality. Aight. So be it.

The tough thing about chronic illness is that you have no control over it. All you can do is resolve to address it, rather than live in denial and face even worse aggravated consequences down the road (e.g. When Tracy Morgan disregarded his diabetes and nearly lost his sight).

It would easy to be consumed with thoughts of "Why me?" or "Woe is me" or "I hate myself for being the way that I am." Right? To be the victim of your own illness?

Living with a chronic condition is tiring because it requires constant upkeep and maintenance. E.g. to avoid depression I need to eat well, exercise aerobically on a regular basis, take twice-daily Vitamin D supplements, journal, pray, make sure to socialize--there's no break! Tending to chronic illness requires me to constantly being on my A-game because a slip-up means that my illness will take the reins and I'll be in bad shape. And it'll be my fault. Ack, I have to do what for the rest of my life? There's no chance of waking up and magically being absolved of anxiety. It just doesn't work that way.

So I guess what I wanted to do with this post was encourage folks that may be tired of having to deal with their ___[insert disability/"condition"]__. I feel you. It sucks. It's exhausting work.Our bodies and minds betray us at the most inopportune moments.

Just do one thing for me, though, will you? Be really, really, really patient with yourself. Please.

Be as compassionate with yourself as you would with a close family member living with a chronic condition. If you slip-up on your low-glycemic diet or have anorexic thoughts or skip your PT exercises for a day or find yourself despite EVERYTHING still feeling sad and anxious and unable to sleep--just...don't be too hard on yourself, okay? I write this just as much as a reminder to myself as I do to it to you. Just everyone go love themselves. K?


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Post-GRE Catharsis Post

AHHHH words cannot express how elated I am to be done with the GRE! I prepped for three weeks off & on, did four practice tests and have been waking up at 6:30ish for the past seven days (ugh, it was TORTURE) cuz I had to get to the testing center by 7:30AM today.

It's always crazy scary to embark on high-stakes endeavors, like when I decided to go live in Mexico for ten weeks. So trying to get into graduate school it's like WAAAAHHHH, please let me not mess this up. There's a lot riding on this. And it's tough to be honest with myself but really really I am so excited at the possibility of being in UW's MPA program, but I'm trying to temper my excitement just in case I don't get in this time 'round. They only admit 220 students a year!

But ya know what? I'm not eaten up with anxiety or fear of being rejected. I figure that if I'm not ready for the program, then I'm not ready. I'll redirect--keep looking for a job and do all of this soul-searching/discerning all over again. As much as it seems that peeps may lock into a profession and ride it out until retirement, I'm kind of excited that my generation basically hops onto whatever--I mean, seriously, opportunist much? ;) I'd like to think of it as a form of flexibility and spontaneity and adaptability.

Anyway, I had a point that I was going to get to. These high-stakes moments where I'm doing something kinda crazy and out of my control are the moments where I'm just smacked in the face with the reality of how loved and supported and blessed I am. I'm so thankful to have a big huge TEAM of people that pray for me and text me to ask me how things went. Like, it does loads for my peace of mind and self-confidence and makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside! I mean, here are some examples:
  • My aunt and uncle lent me their laptop for a week so that I could do practice tests (mine was incompatible)
  • My parents paid for the cost of taking the GRE and emphasized that they believed in me, and not to put so much pressure on myself because it cost so much
  • My grandma kept asking me every Tuesday how it went, until the actually Tuesday of the test when she called me and told me to watch "Modern Family" to relax afterwards
  • My peers (Lydia, Faith, Hillary, Rachel) and my family (my aunts and uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents) were all praying for me, even though I know their schedules are already packed 
  • My parents took me out to dinner at the RAM to celebrate
All I can really do in response is say THANK YOU, LORD, THANK YOU, GOD, THANK YOU, LORD. Everything went well this morning. I was able to roll out of bed with plenty of time, enough to enjoy a nutritious fiber-filled breakfast (oatmeal) and prepare my thermos of chai. Traffic was virtually non-existent and I arrived with 20 minutes to spare. During the actual test I didn't get frazzled, even though some of the questions definitely stymied me. And the cherry on top: My multiple-choice scores were higher than I got on any of the four practice tests. Ugh, so much #winning, I don't know what to do with myself. I AM NOT USED TO SO MUCH SUCCESS WITHOUT AN EQUALLY PROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF STRUGGLE.

All I can say is that this has to be by the grace of God alone. Admittedly there have been plenty of moments in the past months full of flailing and anguish and discouragement. But this one good day--wow, I'm going to hang onto it. I'm just so happy that no matter what I can just enjoy life because I'm supported unconditionally and my life is in the hands of a God that is ordering my life "just so."

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift my soul. Teach me to do your will, for you are God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Psalm 143

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

I'd like to make a dedication to all the single ladies..

Do you know what really sucks? The constant pressure to be in a relationship. If you're a woman over the age of 22 and haven't got a fella on the brink of proposal, it's like there's something wrong with you. Okay, first of all, WHAT THE HELL. At social gatherings I feel my stomach knot up because I know that my aunt whom I haven't seen in four years--the one that's walking right toward me--is going to ask, "Is there anyone special in your life?"

I rue the day that all of humanity decided to reduce women to being babymakers and nothing else--like that's our only major contribution and accomplishment in all of history. There is nothing wrong with me if I don't manage to ensnare a man with my sexual wiles and then cling to him for dear life, never to let go.

Let's talk about the term "spinster." I'm sure it immediately conjures an image of a little old lady crocheting her own blankets in a decrepit old house, rocking chair and all. Again, the implicit assumption here is that if you don't get married THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU. i.e. no one would deign to love you for the rest of their lives because you are that. fucked. up.

All I can say to that is "no." Okay, if you're a woman over 50 and never married, I don't want you to be moping around feeling shitty about yourself like you're "not good enough." We need to change this paradigm, and we need to change it now.

I understand that not too long ago, getting married was, like, physically necessary. Women hadn't property or income so they were totally at the mercy of men, be they fathers, husbands or sons. I get that. Praise the Lord that we're in the 21st century and a woman can be economically self-sufficient.

So now marriage is a choice for women rather than an inevitability. Great. I am all for this. So why are so many women chasing after marriage as if their lives still depended on it?

Some look to marriage as a means of salvation. "Oh, if I just got married, everything would be better." It's the draught of fairytale happy endings that keep these women in drunken, delusional bliss. Getting married solves everything. You gain a purpose (being a good wife and mother), someone who will love you forever (validation and affirmation--YAY!) and you're ready to rock this gig out until the day you die. Yep. I get it. It's a template for your life. It's a track to lose yourself in and have satisfaction and meaning.

Some think of marriage as a status/prestige thing. It's like you belong to an elite club where you have bitchin' dinner parties with other well-to-do couples and drink your fancy dessert wine beneath a crystal chandelier. Especially among twenty somethings, getting married is, like, the "thing," so you'd better not miss out because you'll get left out. Harsh but tru.

Some people want to get married because they're pretty lonely and insecure. Now, I'm not judging peeps for feeling insecure or lonely. Not at all. I get needy lots of the time! But marriage to some supposedly guarantees that you'll never feel alone again. This is somewhat problematic because in marriage you can actually become even lonelier if your spouse is neglectful, self-absorbed, absent-minded or worse--emotionally abusive. Marriage is simply NOT the cure for loneliness!

So okay, I've made a lot of generalizations and now it's time for the postmodern pluralistic stuff. Every person is a stupid, unbearably unique snowflake and in marriage it all depends on individual personalities and motivation and character. Not all women are getting married for the wrong reasons. I've actually seen a few people get married for the RIGHT reasons. And I'm really happy for them (this statement is irony free). They deserve congratulations (really). The purpose of this post was NOT to shame married people!

I suppose the purpose of these unfocused meandering paragraphs is to say to women, It's OKAY if you're single. Nothing is wrong with you; on the contrary, EVERYTHING IS RIGHT WITH YOU. Don't let your relationship status dictate whether you're "satisfied" with yourself or confident in yourself or if you're "worthy." There are just way too many women out there feeling bad about themselves for being single and frankly it is unacceptable.

If you're reading this, whomever you are, I just want you to know:
You're gorgeous.
You have so much going for you.
You have so much to offer the world.
Don't let shitty passive-aggressive comments about the bareness of your left ring-finger get to you. Mrs. or Mr. Right, whether they exist or not, whether or not they're "coming for you"--just...You know what? Damn them. Damn it all to hell because you are fucking amazing and you don't have time to sit around thinking about inexistent hypothetical future scenarios. You've got too much life to live.

YOU JUST DO YOU and I guarantee you that someone will be impressed.

Love you all and thanks for reading.

Monday, October 01, 2012


I'm bored and restless. Can my life start already?!