Being Carrie Marin

Meet Carrie Marin, my newest sim:

TS3W 2013-03-23 22-04-13-11Carrie is an adventurous bookworm who loves to travel and write about her experiences. Her goal in life is to reach the highest possible Visa level (3) for all three countries featured in The Sims 3: World Adventures. So far, she’s doing great! – she has attained Visa Level 1 in Egypt and is currently completing quests to try and do the same in China.

Carrie achieves Visa Level 1 in Egypt

Carrie achieves Visa Level 1 in Egypt

I created Carrie because I was getting frustrated with the family I had been playing in The Sims 3. It is currently comprised of 3 adults, 2 teenagers, a child, and 3 horses – quite the headache! One of the adults has been ignoring his life goal of completely exploring 6 tombs in each of the 3 World Adventure destinations; I’m concerned he’s going to be unable to achieve it. Another adult randomly had her progress toward her life goal reset, which makes me question whether it’s worth the effort to bother with that goal at all.

(The Jockey: my sim still has her levels in the Riding skill, but lost the progress she’d made toward winning/earning $40,000 with her horses. I’m disinclined to try and get it back because I’m frustrated with how the game handles equestrian competitions and don’t find them particularly fun, anyway.)

And I’m saddened because one of the teenagers has been neglecting the horse she adopted as a child, to the point where they have lost their friendship. There just isn’t really much room for the horses in any of the sims’ lives anymore. I find myself too caught up in keeping the sims’ needs met and getting them to school/work on time and perhaps occasionally fulfilling a wish or two to play that game the way I’d like to. I’m not having fun with it anymore. There’s just too much going on at once: too many different goals and needs and relationships, etc. to juggle. It’s very disjointed!

So, I’ve gone to the complete opposite extreme: one young-adult sim with no children and no pets. The pro is that there’s a lot less to juggle, less risk of something like an important relationship slipping through the cracks. The con is that I spend most of my time playing the game on fast-forward, often waiting for her to finish sleeping or to get out of work.

Carrie's workplace.

Carrie’s workplace.

Pretty much everything Carrie does is focused on achieving her life goal. She works in the Journalism career, currently as a Professional Blogger (level 4). She has 3 close friends, all of whom she met and maintains a relationship with at work. She also writes novels for extra income. Her home is small and simple, her meals light and inexpensive, and she rides a bike instead of spending money on a car. If something in her house breaks she fixes it herself, simultaneously saving money on the repair and improving the Handiness skill she’ll need to disarm traps and complete future quests successfully. You can bet that as soon as she’s saved enough money to go on vacation, she’ll be on the next plane abroad!

Carrie's simple yet cozy home in Riverview.

Carrie’s simple yet cozy home in Riverview.

And once she arrives, Carrie hits the ground running by taking whatever work is available. She easily befriends the locals, making much-needed connections and learning the information she needs to complete quests. She’s never lonely because she feels comfortable talking to pretty much anyone. She doesn’t have a significant other, children, etc., so she can make her own choices – including when and with whom and how she wants  to socialize.

I wish I could say I play this game because it’s fun, but at best that’s only part of it. My “reason” for playing Carrie the way I am is because I actually want to play World Adventures, including all the built-in quests and tomb exploration and so on – it’s a nice touch, different from my typical experience playing The Sims 3 (and 2, and the original).

But it’s also an escape: when I’m playing The Sims 3 I don’t feel. I’m caught up in what’s going on for my sims, and I can ignore reality: the fact that after over a month I’m still not fully unpacked and I’ve been neglecting things I once considered my biggest passions in life (e.g. music) and I have to medicate my rats even though all three of us hate it, etc. etc. etc. Like the game I abandoned (temporarily, or so I’d like to claim) my life feels too disjointed, too many different interests and goals and relationships to juggle them all. Something ALWAYS falls through the cracks. I feel completely unmotivated to try to do any of it – either my heart isn’t in it, or I can’t imagine myself being successful. The weight of my anxiety about not doing schoolwork and my depression from doubting whether I’ll ever achieve my life goals and feeling isolated is unbearable.

So, I play The Sims 3 instead.

And what am I playing? A single sim who focuses her energy on one thing, and uses her different interests to support each other. Her job funds her travel. Her travel gives her something to write about. Reading is fun, relaxing, and educational – and relatively inexpensive (as long as she doesn’t decide to buy the book). Reading also helps her be better prepared to travel, better able to make connections with others, and a better writer. Forming interpersonal connections meets her need for socialization and supports her goal of gaining Visa levels – essentially, being accepted into diverse communities. Add a knack for photography and martial arts (two skills one can and kind of needs to learn while in Egypt and China, respectively) and Carrie Marin is unstoppable!

Carrie enjoys some delicious falafel.

Carrie enjoys some delicious falafel.

Carrie swims in the public pool with several other sims from her neighborhood.

Carrie swims in the public pool with several other sims from her neighborhood.

Carrie spends the afternoon reading at the library.

Carrie spends the afternoon reading at the library.

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The Complexities of Language, Gender, and Identity

gender

I’ve been finding that the diverse language already available to describe one’s gender identity still doesn’t quite fit with how I perceive and wish to express myself. Even the very concept of gender identity is a bit uncomfortable for me because gender is a power hierarchy. It places men above women, and people who successfully conform to the gender binary above those who cannot or will not do so. I can acknowledge where I fall in the hierarchy – I believe doing so is a first step toward changing the system to be more egalitarian – but I feel disinclined to identify with “my place” in it. How can I do that, when I believe it shouldn’t even exist? (I suppose the same differentiation can be applied to other social/power hierarchies such as class and race.)

The term “gender identity” also assumes that it is possible for one to have an innate sense of oneself that is not shaped by outside forces (i.e. culture). We identify with what we know, and what we know is our culture. Ozy Frantz argues that many people simply identify the way they are raised, allowing their self-perception to be shaped by culture and never questioning it.

girl-or-boy-predictions

The child hasn’t even been born yet and is already being put in a box!

I would argue that even someone who does not identify the way hir culture dictates ze should builds some part of hir identity upon not conforming. If I say I am queer or gender-fluid, I am saying that I do not fit into the gender binary – a concept of myself I would not even need to have if it were not for the influence of culture: people treating and expecting me to behave a certain way based on their perception of my biological sex. Someone who is transgendered and/or transsexual might not identify as trans (e.g. trans-woman), but hir self-perception is shaped by cultural norms for the gender/sex ze identifies as (e.g. woman).

300px-Woman_Montage_(1)

multicultural images of women

Speaking of the term, “woman,” what does it refer to, anyway? Is a woman:

  • a person who was born with ovaries, fallopian tubes, a uterus, a vagina, labia, a clitoris, and mammary glands capable of developing and lactating if/when she becomes pregnant?
  • a person who menstruates?
  • a person who perceives her body as female and believes it should have some or all of the above parts, whether she was born with them or not?
  • a person who values and actively conforms to the norms associated with females in her culture?
  • a person whom others perceive as female, treat accordingly, and expect to behave a certain way?
  • a person who is or wants to become a mother?
  • a person who falls lower on the gender hierarchy (than a man)?

Of course, I’ve had to rely on other culturally-laden terms in order to compose the above definitions. The term “female” is part of another cultural binary – sex – which assumes human bodies generally take one of two forms, complete with specific anatomical features, hormones, chromosomes, etc. The term “mother” is also complex and becomes even more so when one considers reproductive technologies. picasso_mother_and_child_1905_Is a mother:

  • the person whose egg is fertilized to create a new human?
  • the person who becomes pregnant with and gives birth to this new human?
  • the person who provides and cares for this new human?

Of course, for both “woman” and “mother,” the answer can be any or all of the above (or something else); these definitions need not be exclusive. We don’t even need to agree on which definitions to include! That’s actually the point I’m trying to make here: these terms are so complex, they can be applied to a wide range of individuals who are more different from each other than they are similar. For many if not most cases, only some of the definitions will be accurate.

A similar analysis can be applied to the terms “man” and “father” as well. Conflicting concepts of masculinity add to the complexity of such an analysis.

Creating A New Vocabulary

I have come to the conclusion that the best way for me to be able to explain my understanding of myself (as an embodied individual whose body has cultural meaning and socioeconomic repercussions) is to make up new words and define them precisely the way I want to.

Noun or Adjective?

One thing I find interesting about the terms above – “woman,” “mother,” “man,” and “father” – is that they are all nouns. Terms used to classify people along other aspects of identity such as race, class, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability/disability, education level, etc. are often adjectives – or, one has the option of using either an adjective or a noun. When it comes to gender, the terms are nouns – except that “woman” is sometimes used as an adjective, e.g. “woman president;” you would never hear of someone being called a “man president.”

Using a noun to classify someone seems to imply that that dimension of hir self is more important, innate, or central than the other dimensions. Your race, age, etc. might describe you, but your gender defines you. Frankly, I see no reason why gender should be any more important than any other aspect of someone’s identity, or where ze falls in various socioeconomic/power hierarchies. For many people, it’s not.

My New Adjectives

  • mamutva reproductive system

    mamuva reproductive system

    mamuva – naturally possessing functional mammary glands, a uterus, a vagina, ovaries, etc.; may or may not menstruate (depending on age, weight, etc.)

  • mamuva’ididentifies as mamuva, whether hir body conforms to the definition or not
  • mamvanormal – values and actively conforms to the norms associated with being mamuva and/or mamuva’id in hir culture, including dress, mannerisms, etc.
  • mamvaseen – perceived by others as mamuva; treated, addressed, described, and expected to behave according to the relevant cultural norms
  • pentestum reproductive system

    pentestum reproductive system

    pentestum – naturally possessing a penis, testes, scrotum, etc.

  • pentestum’ididentifies as pentestum, whether hir body conforms to the definition or not
  • pentumnormal – values and actively conforms to the norms associated with being pentestum and/or pentestum’id in hir culture, including dress, mannerisms, etc.
  • pentumseen – perceived by others as pentestum; treated, addressed, described, and expected to behave according to the relevant cultural norms

Describing Myself

Now that I have some new adjectives to use, I can better describe myself. I am a person who happens to be mamuva and is usually mamuva’id; I am happy with my body the way it is and take pleasure in it – both through currently-available experiences and when thinking about its potential to grow and nurture another human being. Sometimes I feel pentestum’id and wish I could (temporarily) morph my body to match. I do not consider myself to be particularly mamvanormal or pentumnormal. Perhaps I am somewhere in between, choosing which norms I’m comfortable with at a given moment and attempting to ignore the rest.

If I experience gender-related dysphoria, it is not because of my body. It is my response to being mamvaseen and particularly to the expectation that I am or should be mamvanormal. I actively reject many if not most of the norms associated with being mamuva in my culture because they would limit me to a decorative, nurturing, and supportive role in society – while also making it easier for me to fall victim to predators and to believe I deserved to be victimized. No thank you!

sexism-picture

legs on display, unprotected, in high heels that make it difficult to run away – all part of the daily grind

I would much rather be seen as a person, an equal, someone who can do whatever ze wishes with hir life. I refuse to be placed in a subordinate position in a hierarchy that should not even exist in the first place.

Which brings us to the term “woman” one last time. I do not identify with that term as a means of describing a person physically, psychologically, or hierarchically. But I can identify with women as a political group – a group of people who have been systematically oppressed, devalued, etc. in diverse cultures for millenia. They have not been passive victims by any means – they have always worked to live the most personally-fulfilling, meaningful, and at times world-shaping lives possible within the constraints placed on them by society. And we continue to do so, building on the progress toward equality made by our mothers (and fathers), grandmothers (and grandfathers), great-grandmothers (and great-grandfathers), etc.

A1SGQ7DCEAAy-Mq.jpg large

sometimes we have to make the same progress over and over and over again

Moving Forward

The adjectives I created are intended to be mutually-inclusive; you can combine them with each other and with other adjectives (e.g. intersex, queer, etc.) however you see fit. That said, the list is nowhere near exhaustive. If you think of an adjective that should be on the list but isn’t, please let me know in comments!

How would you use these terms and others to describe yourself? I’d love to read about it in comments. Or, if you’re inspired to write your own post about it, please link back to this one. The pingback will allow me and other readers to go read and comment on your post. I hope we can spark a conversation about this topic that can go far beyond my blog.

Sick

I’d gotten used to my nose being stuffy, runny, etc. It just seems like a constant.

For a few days, I noticed I was sleeping more than usual. I thought it was the depression, and the drugs I’m taking for it – which both cause drowsiness.

On Friday I had a bit of a scratchy/sore throat. I thought it was from not brushing my teeth. I went to bed anyway.

On Saturday my throat was KILLING ME and so was my ear. My nose has been trying to drown me. I can breathe through it for maybe a few seconds at a time.

2013-03-19

It’s gotten to the point where all that exists is my nose and dry mouth and did I mention my nose? It’s sapping all my energy – which is bad for schoolwork. Ugh.

I just want to sleep. But that’s hard because of the constant discomfort. Yuck.

Anxiety

I’ve changed my tagline to: “living successfully with depression and anxiety, one day at a time.” I don’t always feel the “successfully” part, but as long as I’m still alive to keep trying I’ll call it a partial success.

I spent much of Wednesday frozen with anxiety. I was worried about my pet rats’ health, terrified of my pending piano midterm, unsure whether I’d be able to catch up on schoolwork, and ambivalent about attending an information session.

My mom is planning to have knee replacement surgery on both legs – so all I’ve been hearing from her are her thoughts and anxieties about recovering from the procedure, what she‘s going to need from me, and that I shouldn’t do the overnight walk on June 1. It seems like she keeps finding excuses to invade my space, interrupt me from what I’ve been doing (including schoolwork), bombard me with all this … stuff, and then leave again. I feel like I have no boundaries, no space for my Self: my thoughts and my emotions. The worst is that she’s trying to get me to change my mind about a decision I’ve already made, something I strongly feel the need to do. My walk inconveniences her a hell of a lot less than her surgery inconveniences me, but I’m not trying to get her to change her mind. I respect that she’s made the decision she needs to make. You’d think she could pay me the same courtesy!

To say I feel fragmented would be too gentle: I am being violently torn and ripped to shreds.

I tried talking to her about my anxiety (on the way to the info session) and she got mad at me. The conversation became about why she’s frustrated with me because I seem to be working against myself. Many of my behaviors are self-defeating but that’s not the point – in that moment, I did not need to be corrected. I needed empathy. But all she’s capable of is demanding empathy from me. She had the nerve to say, “don’t embarrass me at the meeting.” Right. The only function my not-so-awesome emotions serve is to embarrass her. Not, you know, to indicate that I have needs that aren’t being met.

On Thursday I took the rats to the vet, who said they were very healthy. They do seem to have caught something, though, so he gave me an antibiotic for them. That helped calm my anxiety about them … until this morning when they refused to take the antibiotic. I really don’t want to force-feed it to them. Worse, I have plans for tomorrow that will take me away from home, forcing me to rely on – you guessed it! – my mother to keep them medicated. I doubt she’ll be any more willing to manhandle a rat and force medicine down his throat than I am.

On Thursday I was also able to catch up on the work for my online class, in which I’d fallen behind – though, less so than I’d thought. I’ve even started working on an assignment that’s due next week! That also does a lot to relieve my anxiety – though now I’m plagued with uncertainty: should I try to get ahead in that class to give myself more time to do the larger and more challenging assignments to come? Or do I focus on work for my other classes? The “work” for my online class is so fun and engaging I actually feel guilty doing it – like I’m playing a game instead of studying!

Update: I completed the assignment due next week. It was fun and challenging; the feeling of accomplishment is awesome!!!

And always, there is the pending PIANO MIDTERM! (cue ominous music)

It seems like taking action helps me calm the anxiety. For now, “taking action” with regard to Mom means avoiding her, because I don’t even know where to start trying to talk to her about this stuff and all talking to her does is cause me more stress. I don’t have the time or energy to deal with her right now. But I took the rats to the vet and that helped, and I caught up got ahead on work and that helped, so maybe if I actually practice piano that will help, too!

I’ve also finally started taking the anxiety medication my psychiatrist prescribed. It’s too soon for it to have kicked in, but hopefully it will help – at least keep me from becoming paralyzed.

This sounds really awesome! Who *doesn’t* use Wikipedia? Making women, people of color, and others who are typically marginalized more visible in *the* online information source is some excellent activism. Thanks for the info & opportunity!

First 3-Month Review

I wanted to take another look at the more important posts I’ve made in my now-3-month-old blog – not just rehashing them, but finding the connections among them that can lead to new insights. Toward that end, I have organized the posts primarily by theme, but also (somewhat) chronologically. The themes include:

  1. Medication
  2. Web Mandala
  3. Stigma
  4. Limits and Boundaries
  5. Gender
  6. My Inner Menagerie
  7. My Healthy Side

Medication

I started out a day with depression with my search for the right medication (much as I do each morning). As I see it, the role of medication in treating (my) mental illness is to “take the edge off” the symptoms so I can live each day and do the important psycho-therapeutic work I need to heal. Both aspects of my treatment are an ongoing process; I’ve reflected on my experiences with medication (and mental health care providers) in the following posts:

Web Mandala

Web Mandala 2012-12-13My earliest non-medication-related post was the Web Mandala I colored. In short, the star-burst in the center represents everything good about me: my strength, creativity, spirituality, intellect, life energy, determination, etc. – while the grey pillars on the corners represent my mental illness. It’s hard to say whether the pillars are invading, or the star-burst is driving them away. Which interpretation is more accurate really tends to change from day to day. The point is that they are both present in the same moment and in the same person: both the illness, and everything I need to overcome it.

Stigma

I wrote Mental Illness and Mass Shootings after the tragic events of December 14, 2012. Writing that post helped me to develop a stronger awareness of the stigma associated with mental illness. That stigma poses a real danger to people with mental illnesses and to society as a whole.

blogformentalhealth20131As part of my commitment to helping end this stigma, I have pledged to Blog for Mental Health in 2013 and joined the Mental Health Writers’ Guild.

Limits and Boundaries

Christmas Eve was An Emotional (and functional) Roller Coaster for me. I was happy while enjoying music and holiday traditions with people I love. But I had a lot of difficulty coping with lack of sleep, feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks I needed to complete and stressed about my pending move, loud noise coming from my roommate’s TV, guilt and frustration over my mistakes, and insecurity about playing viola. I might have also felt some ambivalence about spending the day with Banji, due to the emotional effects I experienced while she was living 14 hours away.

In my post: “We all know it’ll never happen, so why do we waste our breath?” I described the other stress and difficulties I experienced during the winter holidays, including cancelling plans at the last minute. At the end of the post I made 2 New Year’s Resolutions:

  • to figure out my limits
  • to set and enforce clear boundaries

I’m not particularly confident that I’ve been doing either of those, but I have been making at least a small amount of intermittent effort. Continuing work on My Efforts to be Codependent No More and Detachment should help. I just need to stay focused – which is not always easy!

Gender

genbenjanI wanted to focus on gender-related issues during January, so I called it Gender Bender January and planned to write gender-related posts multiple times per week. I learned that keeping up with a theme-based posting schedule is hard! – and not always in line with what I need this blog to be. Gender-related issues do play an important role in mental health, though – particularly for me – so I think it is an important topic to come back to.

One gender-related issue I’ve written about since January is the ideal of the slender body, to which I say: “FUDGE THAT!” I felt liberated while reading a chapter of Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body by Susan Bordo (1993, University of California Press). The messages about the body that the article exposed have been hurting me my whole life, but I was finally able to get angry at them instead of at myself. On February 13th I recast them as the enemy and allied with my own body – cellulite and all! “FUDGE THAT!” was my first post to be reblogged by someone; I consider that a great honor. 😀

My Inner Menagerie

2013-01-11-02On January 10th I began a multi-post process of connecting with different aspects of myself that I generally would prefer to remain hidden.

The Dark Horse represents my difficult emotions – especially anger – which tend to cause me a lot of pain, but can be valuable allies if only I can harness them.

The Critic voices my self-criticisms, doubts, and insecurities – often very harshly. Although it tends to hurt me, the true problem with the Critic is that I have not accepted it as part of myself. If I can own those thoughts, I can word them in a nicer way and use them as constructive feedback.

Mushussu-Sirrush, dragon of chaos. Drawn in mechanical pencil. Colored with oil pastels.

Mushussu-Sirrush, dragon of chaos. Drawn in mechanical pencil. Colored with oil pastels.

Mushussu-Sirrush is the chaos in my life, some of which stems from early childhood experiences and much of which is self-inflicted (for example, by allowing my home to become cluttered). In that (February 5th) post, I expressed my feelings about the 15th anniversary of my father’s death and explored the theme of chaos.

wyvernOriginally, I did not want to draw the Wyvern because it is a dragon that spreads disease and death; I prefer Anne McCaffrey’s portrayal of dragons as allies. However, I cannot deny that disease and death have both had a profound impact on my life. If I have to deal with something and often experience painful emotions related to it, I might as well take some time to make it something I can see – and make it as ugly and mean-looking as possible. At the time I did not want to color it in, but every time I look at the image online I want to add color to it.

The Ostrich in my poem, Trapped, represents the part of me that fears change and believes that I cannot recover / free myself because of some aspect of who I am. The Ostrich thinks I would have to change my very nature to be free.

Li-Ying comforts her husband; though sad herself, she thinks she can only imagine what he must be feeling.

Li-Ying comforts her husband; though sad herself, she thinks she can only imagine what he must be feeling.

I featured several secret aspects of myself in my post, Ending a Life. I’ve summarized the ones I consider most important here:

The Comforter  is the part of me who places others’ emotions and needs before my own, believing that their needs are more important.

Surrounded by the guests at the funeral, Elaine is completely unable to connect with them. All she can feel or think about is her sorrow.

Surrounded by the guests at the funeral, Elaine is completely unable to connect with them. All she can feel or think about is her sorrow.

The Ghost represents my reaction when I feel too overwhelmed by my own painful emotions to connect with others; when I feel alienated from them and from the life energy around me.

Ruth pours drinks for the guests to enjoy, feeling detached from "their" sorrow.

Ruth pours drinks for the guests to enjoy, feeling detached from “their” sorrow.

The Servant is the part of me who sees the good in death: it ends the suffering of the person who dies and allows them to move on, and it allows loved ones to mourn, move on with their own lives, and sometimes have aspects of their lives that are better. This part of me feels detached from others’ sorrow but at the same time obligated to participate in the rituals that have meaning for them, but not always for me.

Yuan cannot even bear to be present at her grandfather's funeral. She escapes to the kitchen and plays with her imaginary friend instead.

Yuan cannot even bear to be present at her grandfather’s funeral. She escapes to the kitchen and plays with her imaginary friend instead.

The Deserter is the part of me that wants to leave this world – and all its pain – behind. It is the part I struggle with regularly to remain engaged in my own life.

So far, I’ve been doing fairly well: I’m still here. But I’d like to be doing better; I’d like the struggle to be easier.

I revisited the Deserter on March 5th, literally taking a walk with it in darkness (i.e. at night). In the process, I came to understand that the Deserter is extremely frustrated with the lack of stability in my relationships.

My Healthy Side

On January 30th I was challenged to look at myself in a more positive light, and responded by considering two “What If …” questions:

  1. What if  instead of seeing myself as a person who struggles with depression, I see myself as a person who successfully lives with depression – one day at a time?
  2. What if  I have recovered from depression?

These questions give me a break from focusing on pathology and turn my focus instead to my strengths, the characteristics I already have and need to overcome depressive symptoms, possibly even the disorder in its entirety. Focusing on the ways in which I live successfully with depression, the ways in which I am already living the recovery I seek, also requires me to take personal responsibility. I can’t cower like the Ostrich: hoping someone will save me from the predators, and wishing I could be someone/something else. I need use my existing strengths to protect and free myself.

overnight.org

theovernight.org

I have been interested in the Out of the Darkness Overnight for a couple of years now, and on February 7th I finally committed to walking this year. The final push I needed came during one of many instances when suicidal thoughts invaded my mind, but this time they asked a very useful question: What do I have to live for, besides other people? I replied with little things that I enjoy, many of which are sensual. That post serves as a very useful reminder of what is truly important to me; it can help me stay grounded.

When I realized what it would take to be able to complete the Overnight, I didn’t shy away. Instead, I recognized the changes I need to make to my lifestyle to be healthier and decided now’s as good a time as any to start acting on them.

Week 1 of training for the Out of the Darkness Overnight

Week 1 of training for the Out of the Darkness Overnight

Although it took me almost a month to really start training, I remain determined to take action to improve my own quality of life – and achieve a goal I can be very, very proud of!

Last, but certainly not least, there are strategies I can use to rewire my brain to focus more on the positive: my positive attributes, positive things that happen in my life, positive aspects of interactions with others, etc. It can be hard to do this, especially if I’m having a bad day. Even on the days I find difficult, I can find 3 things that are positive – or at least one:

I’m still here!

Taking the First Steps

I finally started training for the overnight! Here’s how things have been going:

2013-03-04-calOn Monday I made my first efforts to actually WALK. It was a beautiful day: sunny, with gorgeous blue skies, not terribly cold, but a bit windy. Fox and I walked about 0.8 miles from his home and then came back the way we came, for a total of approximately 1.6 miles – a 10th of what I need to be able to do in 85 days.

I would have been able to go farther if it hadn’t been for time constraints and the difficulties I had when we were going uphill for the second half of our walk. The exertion caused me to breathe more heavily – that was fine, I would have been surprised if that hadn’t been the case. My nose was stuffed and I had no way to clear it, so I was forced to breathe through my mouth and cope with post-nasal drip. The resulting discomfort hampered my enjoyment of the walk; I learned that I should always carry tissues. A decongestant might not hurt, either.

On Tuesday I walked 2.8 miles in a loop near my house, despite being rather tired. I had to push myself, my muscles and joints hurt, and I got a blister on my heel. I was struck by how far a mile is when one has to walk it, especially if one is in pain. However, I think I found a relatively healthy balance between pushing myself to complete the walk and knowing my limits; I took breaks as necessary.

I took off from walking on Wednesday and Thursday. My plan on Wednesday was to give my blister time to heal. On Thursday I thought I would walk – but the weather was gross, so my only walking was the trek across campus.

Week 1 of training for the Out of the Darkness Overnight

Week 1 of training for the Out of the Darkness Overnight

On Friday I decided to do some strength training with my fitness ball. It comes with a workout guide including instructions and illustrations for:

  • Ab Crunch – central abs
  • Oblique Twist – central abs, obliques
  • Jack Knife – central abs, obliques, lower abs, lower back
  • Pelvic Raise – central abs, lower abs, glutes
  • Outer Leg Lift – outer thighs
  • Push-Up – central abs, chest, shoulders, triceps
  • Opposite Arm / Opposite Leg Lift – central abs, lower back
  • Hover – central abs, lower abs, lower back

I am a beginner, so (per the instructions) I did 12 reps of each of the exercises above that are in bold. I tried, but was unable to do, the Hover. Balancing on a giant ball is hard.

Most people "fall off the wagon." Apparently I fall off the ball!

Most people “fall off the wagon.” Apparently I fall off the ball!