Grey gave way to blue sky and yellow sun this afternoon, and for a moment my restlessness gave way as well. The sun has slipped back into its hiding place behind the layers of cold, grey clouds. As I type I can feel a figurative finger pressing into my skull between my eyes, eyes that feel scratchy and tired and leaky. My body is reclining, because sitting is painful, uncomfortable, something to be avoided as much as possible. For the first time in nearly three months, I can recline and feel only minimal tendrils of pain in my legs. Instead of non-stop electric currents of pain from butt to toes, I am now getting sporadic shards and spasms in my butt, in my calf. This is progress and it makes me happy, but I feel heavily weighed down by restlessness, boredom, and the darkness that swirls within. I have been feeling this way for days.

This morning, while the day was still dismal and grey, I drove to the gym, grumbling under my breath at the idiots on the road and in the parking lot. As is my habit, I parked at the far end of the parking lot and I trudged, lost in my own negative self-talk. Suddenly I heard a voice call out, “Hello, beautiful Angela!” I looked up and towards the road to see a friend waving as she drove past. Outwardly I smiled and waved back, but inwardly I was already thinking about the less than beautiful parts of me: the eyebrows that had been left to grow wild for almost three months and the hair that still carried the scent of dry shampoo. I carried those thoughts into the gym with me, and I am certain they shaded my confidence with more doubt than I should really have felt in the circumstance.

In my grey days I struggle to like myself. The gross fuzzy caterpillar eyebrows had been annoying me for at least a month, but they were well past being rescued by a pair of tweezers. I had intended on washing my hair last night, then there was no point washing it before the gym this morning. Self-care gets dicey on the grey days. It’s a vicious circle; however, in fairness, these grey days are based more on the boredom and restlessness of being on medical leave since early December.

I am trying to chase the clouds away, even if it seems as if I’m using my breath when hurricane strength winds would be more effective. Today I am choosing to accept what belongs to me, even if I need to double check the name on the gift.

take the compliment

do not shy away from

another thing that belongs to you

~rupi kaur


A Theme to Build a Dream On

I haven’t exactly been living out my theme for 2017 these past few months. Instead of feeling and being ‘Powerfully Beautiful’, I fear I have been more weak, pathetic, and ugly. It shouldn’t be this way, but pain tends to have that effect and such has been my life since the end of January. I haven’t always handled the pain, the frustration, or my limitations well. Although I tend to try to put on a good face in public, sometimes the mask slips. My emotions have risen and fallen like a roller-coaster, but the dips felt steeper and longer than the upwards climbs.

In the downward spirals, I struggle with mild depression. Taking care of myself becomes a chore, and I’m more likely to do the bare minimum of self-care. Although I will always make the time and effort to spend time with my good friends, I definitely ‘turtle’ more when my mood is low. I will do my job serving the public with a smile on my face. I will go to the gym. I will go to my chiropractic appointments. But I have to drag myself out the door for just about anything else. I haven’t been to church for several weeks, because I cannot sit without pain and kneeling for the duration of a sermon is not my idea of fun or comfort. My attempts to plan a week’s worth of meals have sputtered, because it requires too much effort. That and my interest in food and eating well has fallen with my mood. When I am down, I procrastinate more. I take less interest in what’s going on around me, except for grumbling at idiot drivers. All these signs and symptoms are probably quite typical of mild depression or someone suffering with pain. It is understandable, but it not a pretty thing to behold. And it certainly doesn’t make me feel very strong.

This week is different. I was cautiously optimistic on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Yesterday, I carried that optimism carefully into the gym with me, and I left the gym excited with hope flying high as a kite. Today, I am feeling the DOMS in my quads from yesterday’s squats, and I couldn’t be happier about that kind of pain. The back still isn’t pain-free, but the back has stayed consistently better all week. Yesterday I finally felt as if I had reached the turning point. Of course, I’m not 100% yet. I still don’t know when I will be, but I actually feel and believe that the worst is behind me now. Feeling and believing this is making the engines of motivation and drive rev.

And I feel the change in my attitude towards myself. Self-care becomes more important. I’m singing out loud in the car again, and not just grumbling at idiot drivers. I actually skimmed through the local newspaper yesterday before tossing it in the recycling bin. I wrote a card to a friend. I made a decent dinner tonight. I prepped my lunch for tomorrow. But I still grumbled internally when my husband got up and spoke to me super early this morning before I went to work. I will always prefer silence until I get to work when I start work early in the morning. He thought he was being funny by saying, “Don’t worry! I’m not going to say good morning to you.” So, I didn’t think it was funny, but that’s my non-morning person mode rather than my depressed mode.

The first third of the year might have been a fail in terms of living my theme, but there is still plenty of time left to get it right.