Happy Stuff: Making a Bad Day Better.

Yesterday was a tough day. It was one of those days that you sit in a room by yourself in silence and then out of nowhere this question makes itself known; Who am I and what am I doing?

This isn’t such a rare thought for me to sit on, but spend too much time sitting on it and you’ll be no one and do nothing. The question arose in me because this week has been rough for me health-wise. And when it’s your fourth day in pajamas- no matter how awesome your pajama pants are- it makes you consider your existence in that essential kind of way. I’m like, dude, why am I here? And feeling like a human wasteland is just not a good feeling. But also, it’s more a thought derived from our egos and it is mostly untrue. In a clearer head I know that my existence matters and everyone who is alive matters. That is true. One of the shitty goals of the ego is to make you feel separate– from earth, from society, and from God. The truth is that we’re connected to all of these things and that our existence matters.

So there I was feeling all down on myself and I’m like you know what? This is crap. I’m not going to sit here and feel sorry for myself. I’m going to do something happy. And strangely I felt this weird desire to run. Strange because mostly I hate running. But if I had energy, I would have put on those professional looking running clothes that my sister and brother wear when they go jogging and feel the wind in my face. But the truth is, I’d probably tire myself out getting dressed before even getting out the door. Plus it’s so hilly here, I’d probably vomit after the first hill. My fatigue level has been rough this week, which I think contributes to those existential crisis moments of Who Am I and What Am I Doing and Am I Going to Live on my Siblings Couches Forever? But you have to cut life into slices. Sometimes you take it by the week. Sometimes by the day. And yesterday, by the hour.

Sometimes you have to reach out for help, so I texted Gabe “Life is hard!” and he texted back, “Yeah, it is!” And I remembered, oh yeah, everyone’s life is hard. Haha. Then I was like, OK, I need to bring some happy energy into this room. And the quickest way I know how to do that is through music. So I started looking for energetic happy music to start. I was g-chatting with my friend Emily and I was like ‘Dude, I need some good music. Happy stuff. What movie has a great soundtrack?” And Emily responded “Beauty and the Beast.” Which made me 1. Laugh out loud. 2. Play that song “There must be more than this provincial life! and 3. Remember why I love Emily so much. So then I was like OK, more music. And I kept listening to different things and put together a playlist of upbeat stuff. And I don’t know how, but somehow Tom Jones “It’s Not Unusual” made its way onto the playlist, and if you can imagine a scrawny girl in her pajamas blaring the one and only Tom Jones and dancing like an idiot to that weirdly catchy tune, well then, maybe I’ve made you smile. Because soon I was laughing at myself and what a hilariously tragic day it was.

Next, I took out my favorite sharpie pen and decided to do arts and crafts, because it’s fun and, well that’s the only reason. The thing is, I’m pretty terrible at drawing and painting. But, I enjoy the process of creating. And in the last two years there is one thing I discovered I’m decent at; drawing straight lines. So I have all these pictures at my mom’s house, a few in frames and a few in a folder, of white paper with black vertical lines. Mostly because it’s all I can do and also it requires focus and patience and time, not unlike actual good artwork. And there’s something fulfilling about it. The more lines you draw, the more disorienting it becomes on the page as you continue. Like the lines in your peripheral vision become blurry and then start to move on their own. It’s weird. And fun. I show you.

First You Draw a Couple Lines

Then You Draw a Couple More

Then You Draw Them Till You Feel It’s Done

And that is the art of drawing straight lines. If you’re thinking ‘What is this hippie shit?” I hear that. It’s mostly meaningless. But I like how long it takes. And that it’s simple and looks that way but also requires patience and focus and something about it makes me usually feel a little better. SO LAY OFF ME AND MY LINES OKAY?! Jokes. This one is for sale for 1 dollar and is titled “Welcome to America.”

After that, I received an email from a stranger who told me she reads my blog and that it makes her laugh and she felt the need to reach out and tell me that. I was like dude, the Universe works quickly! I was doubting myself and then this stranger writes me and tells me to keep it up? Cray cray. Thank you for that email Annie wherever you are. Whatever convinced you to write me, pay attention to it, because that just happened to be something I needed to hear at the time that you sent it. Yay for serendipitous universal connections!

And then after that, I came across a video of a rather large dog riding a bicycle and I was like, holy cow, dogs are incredible. And if this doesn’t make you smile you may want to check yourself because there is a very real possibility that you are a robot. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just good information to know about yourself. Just watch.

A Dog Riding a Bicycle

And if that didn’t do it for you, then maybe you’ll appreciate this dog that dances better than you.

And if THAT didn’t make you smile, maybe this picture of a really cute baby I know will.

Dude, just look at her feet.

Something about this photo just makes me happy every time I look at it and I’m pretty sure it’s her feet. But who can say. Anyway, after the drawing, and Tom Jonesing, and dog cycling and baby photos, I felt a little better. Then I thought of the many ways this day could have unfolded; it’s very easy to fall into a sad day and stay that way. It has happened to me countless times. But I am realizing just how big our role is in the outcome of our days. I had a friend in high school say to me once: “Do you the know the difference between a good day and a bad day? ATTITUDE!” And I remember wanting to punch something when I heard that, but also, it’s kind of true isn’t it? Perception plays a huge role in our lives. If we look at life as against us, we’ll find opposition. If we look at life as for us, we’ll find peace. There will be good and bad days for the rest of our lives. There will be reasons to laugh and reasons to cry. But when given the choice on mediocre days, and we do have a choice, choose the laughter. It’s more fun that way. And most importantly, pay attention! The universe gives us signs and symbols all the time. It is up to us to piece it all together.

Health, Happiness, and More Happiness.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; The Game!

When someone asks me what Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or Fibro) is, I never really know how to put it. I usually want to ask “How much time do you have?” I remember once while being crashed on our couch at home, my mom read off a list of CFS symptoms and 5 minutes went by and she was still reading them off. It was almost laughable. I ran out of fingers and toes marking the ones I had. Since I’ve got the time, I’m going to put the long list here. You can make a game out of it; every time you come across a symptom that you have, take a pill! See? Being sick can be fun. I’m going to keep this list in my back pocket, then it will be accessible whenever I need help explaining the effects of the condition. Feel free to do the same. Ready? Go.

Pain●generalized muscle pain ●new onset headaches ●aching, burning shooting pains anywhere in the body  ●arthragia without joint swelling ● frequent and intense pain in upper spine and neck area ●abdominal pain. Post-Exertional Malaise and Fatigue●Flu-like or hangover feeling following minimal physical or mental exertion, sometimes immediate, sometimes delayed several hours or a day or more and associated with immune activation, with sore throat, tender lymph glands, general malaise, increased pain and cognitive symptoms ●Feeling worse after exercise, rather than better ●Taking a prolonged time to return to pre-exertional function level ●Lack of endurance. Autonomic Manifestations Orthostatic Intolerance:●Neurally mediated hypotension (NMH) i.e. problems with regulation of blood pressure and pulse, especially when standing still; with symptoms of dizziness, light-headedness, slow response to verbal stimuli; an urgency to lie down ●Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) i.e. Excessive heart rate during 10 minutes of standing still; blood pressure drop upon standing; light-headedness, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, irregular breathing, visual changes sweating, headaches. ●Delayed postural hypotension i.e. blood pressure drop after many minutes of standing, rather than upon standing ●tilt table test abnormalities Other autonomic manifestations: ●Palpitations with or without cardiac arrhythmias ●24-hour Holter monitor results with oscillating T- wave inversions and/or flat T-wave ●breathing dysregulation ●shortness of breath ●intestinal irregularities ●irritable bowel syndrome ●diarrhea ●constipation ●alternating diarrhea and constipation ●abdominal cramps ●bloating ●nausea ●anorexia ●urinary frequency ●painful urination ●excessive urination at night ●pain in lower abdomen. Immune Dysfunction●A general Ill or flu-like feeling, more frequent in the acute onset stage of the illness, less frequent in the chronic stages, most notably post-exertionally ●tender lymph nodes ●recurrent sore throat ●new food sensitivities ●new chemical sensitivities ●hyper-sensitivity to medications and their side- effects ●allergies. Sleep Dysfunction●frequent awakenings ●nightmares or agitated dreams ●non-restorative sleep ●variations in sleepiness and energy throughout the day ●hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) ●Restless legs syndrome ●periodic limb movement disorder (jerking or twitching during sleep). Neurological/Cognitive Symptoms●Easily confused ●Slow information processing ●Difficulty retrieving words●Occasional slurred speech ●Occasional dyslexia ●Difficulty with mathematics ●Easily distracted ●Forgetfulness (primarily short-term) ●Attention deficit ●Inability to focus vision and attention ●Inability to cope with fast-paced tasks ●Overall feeling of “spaciness” or “brainfog” Motor Disturbances:●Loss of muscular coordination ●Muscle weakness ●Muscle twitching ●Loss of balance and clumsiness Overload phenomena: ●hypersiensitivites to light, sound motion, odors ●Inability to block out background noise and focus on conversation●Informational overload with inability to multi-task ●Motor overload, with staggaring and weakness ●dizziness ●numbness●tinnitus (ringing in the ears) ●nausea ●shooting pain ●Overload may cause temporary immobilization. Neuroendocrine Manifestations ●loss of thermostatic stability (fluctuations in body temperature; fluctuations of cold and hot in different parts of the body; intolerance to extremes in air temperature; low body temperature) ●night sweats or other sweating episodes ●weight change, with loss of appetite in some patients or abnormal weight gain in others ●loss of adaptation to situations of overload ●anxiety●worsening of symptoms under increased stress (physical or emotional).

In other words: No, I don’t think that taking a magnesium supplement will make me all better. But thank you anyway. :)

Health, Happiness, Game On.

Night Life.

Once again, I’ve been up all night unable to fall asleep. Restlessness, achy legs and a moving mind have kept me up. But you know what the best remedy for insomnia is? Waking up! So I’ve been up reading poetry by Rumi and writing a little most the night. Here’s one.

A Still Heart

I have a friend
who closed shop on love.
When asking her what led her here
She placed one hand on her heart
And the stronger hand on her head.
“My memories,” she said. “My protection.”

She couldn’t forget
All the hurt
That broke her
Times before.
So she made up her mind
–eliminated risk,
Climbed in a benign box.

I grabbed her hand
The one on her head
and looked into her
with my third eye.

I have seen what love can do
It had killed me a few times, too.
But what she considers protection
In other light was a prison.
Hadn’t she heard?
The heart will continue to break
Until it breaks open.

All her memories
can do for her now
Is make her heart stand still.
And living things–
they die this way–
We are meant to move.

Health

Happiness

Insomnia.