Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Stealing Bravery.

As a teenager, I was allergic to myself. The internal kind of allergy, and had medications for it. When it happened at school, I was often taken home to be monitored or end up at the MD's office because damage control wasn't working. One such day, after having to take medicine and be sent home with a friend's mom, I just asked to go to Dairy Queen. 

Not home to the rest of my medicine. Not to the doctor. I just wanted a grape flavored blizzard with pop rocks (that was an actual flavor in my day, it was REALLY good). And I wanted to forget that fear and vigilance was an everyday thing. And I've never had a blizzard as wonderful as the one I had that day. 

I did it again, today and yesterday and the day before. I took, with help, my kids out to the museum, the library, to ice cream and a play place, even when I felt horrible and scared. Because those little things become your victories if you're chronically sick. Those simple things you steal back are part of your courage. 

I haven't done much else here, or anywhere, due to health issues. A lot of things seem to pop up at once, but there was something major going on.
Couldn't think of a nicer caption for this...

I've always had sinus tachycardia, but recently, and very suddenly, developed an abnormally fast pulse and higher blood pressure. An echocardiogram revealed some cardiomyopathy, and now I'm on daily medication. The entire set of things has been frightening. There's still more testing, because when something suddenly shows up, you have to dig around to piece together why, but for right now this is our problem and answer-and I'm trying to figure out my life now as it relates to all of this. When I adjust to my medication, can I be left alone during the day? Will I ever be able to exercise other than walking or swimming slowly? How short did my life expectancy become? How much time did this take from the people I love? 

And, most importantly, how do I make each day count?

That's the major thing. Talking with my dad about that fear, he reminded me his risk of sudden heart attack or death is probably still higher than my own-but that we don't ever know. 

And we don't EVER know. 

Death is a hidden guest in a ballroom. I think those of us who've danced with him have to work harder to not let that knowledge turn us into someone that can't dance anymore. 

That's hard. It takes tears and bravery, and little victories of normalcy and happiness that taste all the sweeter because you savor them. 

I've always been a weirdly fortunate person. 

Like a piano fell right next to me, but not on me, kind of person. 

That's still me, I'm sure. Because this could always be worse. So, I'm going to keep writing in addition to having to monitor my health closer-and spend what time I do get with the people that matter more than anything else in the world. And I'm going to collect those little victories like merit badges. 

“I remembered the fox. One runs the risk of crying a bit if one allows oneself to be tamed.” 
― Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ryThe Little Prince

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Run like Something is Chasing You!

I refuse to do exercise graphics unless there are monsters involved. 
Or you're paying me well. 

One of the goals I set for myself after graduating was to take care of...myself. Which, I barely brushed my hair more than twice a week during the worst parts of trying to take care of my family and keep up with assignments. Self-care had to go out the window.

I paid for it, through. My blood pressure is rising along with my inability to de-stress, and my range of motion and strength is way down. I went looking around for exercise I could fit into my day that didn't make me anxious. 

The current world of exercise sucks if you're an introvert. I don't want to go to a gym filled with people and mirrors and waste time and money, and the high-energy on most work-out dvds along with the fact I still feel like an idiot dancing around my living room (assuming I managed not to bump into one of the kids) is grating. Not all work-out dvds are that bad, there is a nice family one on Amazon Prime, but that's been my take-away from most. 

I needed something that suited me. 

I needed something that came with the universal sign for "don't talk at me"-headphones, and it needed to be cheap, and it needed to be fast enough I could fit it in before my husband had to be at work so as not to require a sitter. 

I'd always thought the idea of combining horror and work-outs was great, so I FINALLY let myself try the Zombies Run app.

It's not like playing a zombie game exactly, but it's fun. You can walk or run, which is good because the heat in Texas right now makes running for too long almost impossible if you're forced to negotiate the late daylight hours. It kept me entertained, and moving. I didn't have to worry about the next move on a dvd or trying a new machine, I just had to listen to prompts and the story-line, which was like a break from real-life. 

I was exercising. And having fun. I'm normally, along with being introverted, self-conscious. The headphones and being absorbed into what I was doing laid a barrier against that- and I didn't give it a second though. 

Nothing else I have tried has done that for me. I'm a little sore, having been off from intentional bouts of physical activity for so long, but I think eventually it will get better. 

So for introverted, horror-loving people, all I can say is that you really should grab Zombies Run. 

As much as pop-culture wants to swear there is one best sport or exercise for you, it's probably not what they are selling. Your ability to socialize, what makes your anxious or fearful, and your strengths will determine the best sets of activities. Obviously, you don't have to let that hold you back, but if you haven't found something you love doing, make a list of what you do like and find something that includes those: you might get lead to an activity you can't imagine not fitting into your lifestyle. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Books that Stand Out.

This week,  I'm over at the book review blog of Literary Dust to talk about a creative writing book that is going into my list of the BEST creative writing books. It focuses on helping people who work with speculative fiction, but anyone needing to accomplish anything creative can benefit from it: go over here and visit, and read about how a skeleton bird in a tuxedo and lots of monster diagrams will help your fiction.

Honestly, be careful about how much advice you take on writing. Like most other things in life, there is a ton of unhelpful stuff in that department.

And, when you come across it, be willing to stretch and snap it apart and use only what you want, and be skeptical of anything promising you success with a formula. I can promise you, that isn't what this book does. Which, is what makes it great, along with the art and approach. Sometimes, you just need inspiration. Sometimes you need a different way to look at what you're doing to avoid getting a ticket for the world's crappiest theme park, Writer's Block Land, and if this helped me, it might help you.

The worst thing you can be doing to yourself is not working. It's something I have to remind myself of often.