Progress

Last night’s class was great! Whereas in the past I’ve been terrified to show imperfection and extremely critical of myself, last night I was eager to receive feedback. I was uncomfortable about the class watching last week’s video of me acting as therapist in my small group, but the instructor pointed out something I’d facilitated without being aware of it. This element had been very effective in supporting the goals for the group: free expression and interaction among members.

Then we broke up into groups for hands-on experience, with the task of dealing with “problem group members.” The instructor recommended lyric analysis; for once(!) I immediately knew which song I wanted to use. Another group member was a bit better prepared and group consensus seemed to be for her to go first, so she did. I’m kind of wishing I’d gone first because the instructor came in while she was leading and gave a lot of useful feedback. The whole thing got video recorded, which meant (unbeknownst to us) that there was not enough memory left on the device to record a second mini-session. (Spoiler: So there’s no video of me leading.)

I left plenty of room for one of the other group members to go next, but there was an awkward silence as we all looked at each other. So, I volunteered. Perhaps I could have been a bit more direct about my desire to take a turn leading, but that’s working against an entire childhood, much of my adolescence, and even some of my (young) adulthood spent learning to step back and “give the other kids a chance.” (Including teachers refusing to call on me unless I tricked them into thinking I wasn’t paying attention.) I may have taken it to a bit of an unhealthy extreme, but I’m working to correct that…

I felt so good to go because I wanted to go, not because I had to. I felt ready. I presented the song in the way I felt comfortable with and that left me free to focus on connecting with the group members as we sang. I facilitated a verbal discussion that helped one of the group members come to her own conclusions that were supportive of her therapeutic goals, despite initial rejection of the primary imagery in the song. I tried several strategies to engage a silent group member without losing the ones who were participating. Even though she was quite successful in remaining disengaged, I felt good about the creativity I’d employed and eager to keep working. She later told me that it had been very difficult for her to resist engaging with the group, and that the only way she’d managed was by diligently avoiding eye contact with everyone.

Best of all, I felt accepted by and connected with my small group-mates, and comfortable in the class as a whole. I feel like I’m back on track and more alive than ever!

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!

Rewiring My Brain: Focus on the Positive!

Today I learned a potentially-valuable tip: every day, reflect on 3 good things that happened. According to this article about the ‘Tetris Effect’, over time the brain will learn to focus on and remember more positive experiences, helping one to feel happier. I figure, it certainly can’t hurt, right?

  1. Steph’s Soapbox re-blogged my post: FUDGE THAT!!! – mmm, fudge? don’t mind if I do …. This is the first time one of my posts has been re-blogged; I consider it quite an honor. I put a lot of thought, effort, and planning into that post – and it most certainly paid off! I feel like I’m becoming a better writer every day.

  2. I had a very enjoyable class. We got to talk to the author of one of our textbooks via Skype! He told us a very interesting and engaging story. I felt like I was able to learn a lot from the class, and contribute to it in a meaningful way. I got to enjoy this experience because I persevered in my (eventually successful) attempts to get out the door, even though I was running late. Again, the effort was well worth it.

  3. I had fun playing with my rats! They’re so cute, especially when they put their noses up to mine. 😀