THE PROBLEM(S)

In 6 months, I will be 29 years old. When I was 28, I set a goal to open my own business by the time I am 30. I am dedicating the next 6 months to my health and the following year to opening my business and buying our first home. This is my American Dream. 

That’s it! I have had enough of this unhealthy lifestyle. I am done with the nausea, lack of energy, fatigue, low sex drive, migraines, bad, bad, BAD mood swings, lack of an appetite/binge eating cycle, back pain, anxiety, depression…it all stops here! I am realizing that I have access to all of the tools I could ever need – it’s the excuses that need to stop. This year is the first year of the rest of my life and I am going to make it count! I am taking control of the one area of my life I have ignored forever – my health. And I’m going to do so as naturally, as simply and as smart as possible. Getting healthy is the next big step in my personal American Dream Making journey.

When I sit back and take a look at my truth, I realize quite a few things about myself that are not so easy to swallow. But I know that without taking this personal inventory, I can’t really expect myself to learn and grow and ultimately, feel better.

Everybody has a story and mine has not always been a happy one. Because, or in spite, of this, I realize that I have looked the most frightening challenges of my life straight in the face without flinching – not even a bat of an eye. Yet, my true challenges in life are the simple, everyday things that healthy people do practically on auto-pilot (think: eating regular meals, getting dressed daily, keeping up with laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, etc.). I stand tall against my greatest fears, yet crumble when it comes to keeping anything on a consistent track. This includes managing my moods so that they are consistently stable.

Maintaining homeostasis is incredibly difficult for me. It’s as though I always prepare for the worst to happen – if “the worst” happens, it feels normal; if not, it feels like something is wrong or going to go wrong at any minute. When I encounter negative stimuli (regardless of how small the molehill), my negative emotions are easily triggered. My attitude, thoughts, words and actions swiftly turn negative. Okay, I will call it what it is… I get downright mean. Since I wear my heart on my sleeve, my emotions become prominently evident in my body language, vocabulary, connotation, tone, and behavior. I feel physical symptoms, as well.

It seems like my temperature rises and I can feel the heat flush in my face. I feel a tingling sensation – something like adrenaline – coursing through my entire body. My teeth and/or fists clench. I hiss venomous words at my most precious loved ones. I lose sense of all positivity and feel very ugly inside. Anger (expressed through screaming, stomping, slamming doors, becoming rough with movements) is not easily softened by my own attempts or anyone who tries to come near me. Anger usually gives way to sadness (expressed through crying until exhaustion) and if I don’t pull out of it soon enough, zoning out/shut down is inevitable (where everything stops—I feel too weak to physically move, I go numb mentally and literally zone out (stare into space or at the TV) until I fall asleep).

Living life like this is not only unhealthy, it is exhausting, for both my family and me.

I am tired.

I am worn out.

I am not happy. And until I heal from the inside out, nothing will be able to make me happy.

Because of this, my relationships are strained and my parenting is negatively impacted.

My heart aches. My self-image suffers. My authentic self suffers. My soul suffers.

It is time to finally break free of this terrible cycle and take control of my life by taking control of my health.

I invite you to follow my journey over the next 6 months in what I am dubbing “The Me Project” – my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pursuit for health and happiness.

WILL succeed.

My Merry-Go-Round

Okay, so clearly I have a problem with consistency. I feel like I’m running in circles with my fists tightly gripping the bars of a merry-go-round that I can’t quite get the hang of riding. I know that the goal is not only to be able to ride the merry-go-round without falling off, it’s to be able to enjoy the ride, too. Attaining that goal is not as easy as it sounds. There are more factors at play than meet the eye. First, in order to get the ride moving, you have to put in the effort of getting it started. This requires holding onto the bars, taking a running start and then hopping onto the platform. Then, you get to spin around and around as the circulated wind rushes over your face. Eventually, the ride will stop unless the passenger hops off, runs with the merry-go-round and hops on again. That is, unless a fellow adventure-seeker comes along and then you can either work as a team to gain some serious speed, or take turns enjoying the ride while the other maintains its momentum.

[I can see how a merry-go-round is a metaphor for a lot of things in life.]

The merry-go-round in my life is a metaphor for living a balanced, happy and healthy life. In order to take the ride (or maintain balance in my life) I have to put in the work. For me specifically, this means following the routines it takes to keep up a healthy and happy life. This is what creates a stable and consistent home. My problem is that I did not grow up in the kind of home that want to create for my own family. This raises two issues. First, I never saw a positive example of what I am trying to achieve. It is hard to attain something when you aren’t exactly sure how to get there. Second, since I did see negative examples, I picked up on negative traits that are now deep rooted habits that prevent me from achieving the harmony I seek. Getting back to my metaphor, it’s like trying to learn how to ride the merry-go-round the right way when you’ve only witnessed it being ridden wrong or in ways that resulted in injury to the riders.

If I can create a rhythm of hopping off, running, and hopping on and practice until it becomes natural for me, then perhaps I will be able to maintain the consistency I’ve been attempting to reach. I am learning that I don’t always have to burn myself out trying to keep the merry-go-round moving. Sometimes, I run too fast and become short of breath, quickly wearing myself down. Other times, I am exhausted and barely move for too long , resulting in me growing lazy. Sometimes, I let everyone else crowd the ride and I try to do all the running myself. Even though the load is too large, I often refuse to ask for and/or accept help. Still other times, I stop doing the work and the merry-go-round slows to a complete stop. This is when I feel my life has become dull, lonely, and purposeless.

I am learning the tricks to maximizing my merry-go-round experience.
I’ve learned that “slow is steady and steady is fast” – there is no need to sprint; I need only keep moving. Like the Energizer Bunny I must keep going and going and going and going……. regardless of what life throws my way… rain, shine, snow or hail… just keep moving.
I’ve learned that I am going to have days where I fall off, grow tired, or make mistakes. There are also going to be days when I can run a little longer in place of someone else who needs it, enjoy the serenity of a solo ride on a warm, sunny day or help someone else figure out how to ride their own merry-go-round.
I’ve learned that it is okay to ask for help if it gets too hard to handle alone and to take my own turn at enjoying the ride while others do the running.
I’m learning it’s more fun to ride with others, and family and friends are your best co-riders.
I’m learning that through it all, God has got my back.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of merry-go-rounds. I have never liked spinning in circles. Maybe it’s vertigo; spinning makes me dizzy and nauseous and faint. I could never figure out what it was about merry-go-rounds that people loved so much. I could not see how people get a rush from the feeling of freedom as they spin around and around. I couldn’t find fun in the hopping and running and hopping, then spinning and spinning and spinning. I couldn’t see past the “work” of it long enough to just enjoy the fun of it.

Lucky for me, I am learning to love the ride.