Days 69-72: Rising Above it All

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I am going to come right out and say that this week hasn’t been the best for me. From putting hydrogen peroxide in my eyes, to missing my morning alarm, to just feeling crappy in general.

I took a run on Monday and felt great, but not the usual great. I didn’t feel the zip that I usually got from burning some energy. I guess you could say I was in a funk. On Tuesday, I was looking at myself in the mirror, trying to make eye contact and figure out why I felt so shitty. So, what did genius decide to do? Well, I shaved my head. I got sick of my hair, sick of fixing it every morning, and shaved it all off. I felt like I wanted some major change, to break free from…something. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it was the constant rain we were getting. Maybe it was the daily, everyday grind. Whatever it was, it turned out to have been a good choice.

The next day at the school, my head drew lots of attention. It didn’t stop the day after either.  My head was rubbed over and over, by colleagues and students. At first I would say,”Yes, I cut my hair. ” The second and third time as well. The sheer (get it?) amount of people who noticed I had cut my hair was overwhelming.  I couldn’t step into any room without someone saying something. Don’t get me wrong, it was never mean. It’s just that, despite liking to teach, and working with the people I do, I am shy. Yes, you read that correctly, shy. It became unnerving. But, while driving home today, still regretting the buzz cut, I realized that all those people felt comfortable enough to joke with me and rub my head. It’s like a family.  I thought, “How fortunate am I to have found a place, so far away from where I was born and grew up, that is my home as well.” I was immediately filled with a warm, safe feeling. I went from the dumps to gratitude in one short drive.

I had another major funk breaker when I Facetimed a friend back home on Wednesday. We chatted for over and hour about anything and everything. By the time we said goodbye, I felt a tinge of excitement and hope again. Sometimes it’s good to just talk and let it all out. Sometimes the person you talk to comes up with better ways of looking at things. Sometimes they give you ideas. I was lucky to get it all. One idea was to look back at some of my first writings here to see if I noticed anything,  to reflect on where I was, and where I am today.  So, I went back and looked. What did I find? Holy shit. I have grown. I am feeling better. Life is better.

That’s some good stuff.

I lived today. It was awesome. 

 

How I Do It Part 1: Sleep, Eat, Exercise, Helpful Apps

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How I Do It :

In the last 68 days I have had so much success that I thought it is time to share what I do and how I do it. Some things I learned from books, some from experimenting and some of these things come from friends who have shared what they do to make their days better.

This is my Monday to Friday routine. I still practice some routines on the weekends, but am not so strict about it.

Sleep:

Did you know that our bodies have a sleep cycle (all about sleep cycles) . On average it is about 1 hour and 30 minutes. If you wake up in the middle of one, you will be more groggy and tired the rest of the day. So, it is better to get 6 hours of sleep than 6.5 hours. My normal sleep time is 7 hours and 30 minutes, or 5 sleep cycles, perfect for me. The sleepy time app and website can help you to calculate your best times. Then, just figure out what works for you.

Waking up:

I like to think of the things I am thankful for. I am thankful to have this day, for my children, for a body that is getting healthier and still works. I think of how lucky I am to have a home, safety, and the means to live a pretty decent life. I also think of how lucky I am to have a job I love, good friends and family.

Thinking, like this, when I awake, really sets the tone for a good day.

I also run three days a week and try to lift weights on the other days. I am using the Couchto5K app. It really works.

So, before I even get in the shower to get ready for work, I have thought of what I am thankful for and gave my body a boost of energy and exercise. If you can do all of this at the beginning of your day, you will find the it hard not to have an awesome day.

What I eat. It’s pretty simple really.

1. Breakfast- Smoothies in the blender. Most days I have 2 bananas, an avocado, a small amount of plain yogurt, a small amount of spinach, rice milk and frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries,etc) This si for me and my kids. You obviously can make less.  The main point is that we stay away from sugars that aren’t from fruit. Did you know regular apple juice has more sugar than Coke? We also take Fish Oil and Vitamin D capsules in the morning, it’s Norway after all.

2. Lunch- Salad with whatever I have in the fridge. Tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, pine nuts, corn… whatever is raw food. I make my own dressing of a half part plain yogurt and half taco sauce. I know, I am weird. I like the taste and it is better for me than any dressing I can buy.

Some lunches I take 2 or three bananas, apples or both instead. When I eat this way I find I am not tired after lunch, ever.

3. Dinner- Whatever I want, but healthy.  The girls and I try to eat vegetarian 2-3 days a week for dinner. We also eat fish once a week. On Fridays we make homemade pizzas. The trick is to not eat too late.

Late snack- I stay away from them. Most of the time, when you are hungry before bed, it is because you are thirsty. I try to stay with only water past 7. It took some will power at first, but now is easy and routine. If I break down and really really need something, I go with fruit only. It satisfies my sugar cravings.

All of this took about 2 weeks to get used to. I have 100 times more energy, sleep better, get sick less often, and have lost a decent amount of weight.

(Next week)Part II: Habits, what I do before bed, and books that really helped me.  

 

 

Days 65-68: Long Weekend

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Has it been 5 days since my last post?! Wow.

I have really slipped in my writing, personal and public. No worries. It’s a busy time of year.

Friday I reached a milestone of 4 kilometers with only two short stops along the way. I felt like a king when I finished. I have also been using the Anchor App to help me with mindfulness. I like it.  I still have moments where my mind wants to wander, but clearing the mind takes effort. I don’t mean the kind of effort that requires hard work, but the kind that requires letting go. It’s a lot like sleeping. If you try to rush falling asleep, you end up being awake all night.

 

Wednesday I actually went out and met with some friends for a couple of beers. It felt good to have a couple of drinks, talk and laugh, and then head home.  I rarely go out anymore, mostly because it is very expensive and I am not crazy about the sheer amount of wasted people that fill the streets downtown on the weekends. Even though I bartended in Buffalo and Chicago years ago, I have never seen as many extremely drunk people as I do in Norway. Not everyone is like that here, and I know that I have had my moments in the past, but downtown is binge drunk central every Friday and Saturday. I prefer to meet friends at my home or their’s. It’s a better environment.

On Friday I had some friends over and we drank come craft beer. My one friend brought a bunch of homemade beers. Every single one of them was delicious. I grilled up chicken fajitas that turned out fantastic..  possibly the best I have made.

So it was a great 4-day weekend. I am now looking forward to the coming week, thinking of all the possibilities, to run more, to get healthier, to work on my mindfulness, to enjoy watching my daughters play their soccer games, and to do some work around the house.

I lived today and it was awesome. 

Days 62,63 and 64: Who Am I Now?

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Awhile back, I read in the Economist that certain countries have more rules and customs in their society, spoken and unspoken, than others. Sadly, I can’t find the damn article now.  Thinking as an American, I figured that most of those countries were either in the Middle East or in Asia. Well, it turns out that the 4 of the top 5 were Asian countries. You know, taking shoes off, manners, etc. Norway was also in the top 5. That may seem surprising to many, but not to me anymore.

When I first moved here I thought this country was going to be different, but not so different. Sure, they spoke differently, but they are western European. How different could it be? But, after living here for over 10 years, I can tell you that it is very different.  A recent article in one of the newspapers here called VG translated and republished an article from a French woman’s blog called  A Frog in the Fjord (which is wonderful btw). In it she talks about Norway’s busy, to do, culture. I highly recommend reading it. In fact, if you are ever curious about what life is like here, for a non-native, you will learn a lot. I read her articles and say, “Yep,” all the time. She writes in English.

It got me thinking about how living in this culture has changed me. One thing I know is that I repress my feelings and outward personality a great deal more in Norway. I am quieter, though most here would say I am not.

But who am I now? My friends here would probably say that I am a typical American, loud, expressive, yada yada, when in fact, I am much less “me” here than I am in the US. Or am I? To put it another way, if I were to bring the Norwegian me to the US, I would be considered very quiet and somewhat unsocial. When I visit the States, it takes a week or so to get back into the groove of being “me” again.  Am I me in Norway or am I not really being me when I am here? This has brought up some heavy existential questions. Am I identifying me with the culture I was raised in? Am I simply changing as a person as I grow older? Or, is the culture I now live in changing me?  I want to be a part of this society and have made many very good friends here. I like it here. That has meant following the norms and mores that come with it. But, sometimes those norms feel repressive. Other times, I am glad to have the norms because they suit me better.

This is where my thinking has been lately. It’s somewhat odd to be at the grocery store, or watching my daughters play soccer and being lost in thought about who I am. A lot of personal writing is involved as well.

As for not posting in a few days, May is a very busy month. In the meantime, I continue to exercise, eat well, practice mindfulness, and work on all the other things I set out to do.

Please forgive any errors or mistakes, I wrote this in a flash.

One thing I can say is, today was an awesome day. It really keeps getting better. I never want to finish this project. 

 

 

Days 60 and 61: Heaven

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This project is the best damn thing I have ever done for myself. I am seriously considering writing a book about it. Seriously. I have it all mapped out on my computer and could fill the pages with advice, methods, and thoughts, in a short time. For now, I am focusing on me though.

I was going to spend the evening with my oldest daughter last night. We were going to watch a movie, eat junk food, and hang out. Well, she ended up sleeping over a friend’s house. My youngest went to her friend’s house too. It turned out I had some time alone! So, what did I do? I went to bed at 10.30 and slept for 10.5 hours.  I feel amazing today. My body needed the rest.

A lot of what you read here is only the surface of what I am working on for 100 Days of Awesome. I am doing a lot of personal work to get my mind and body into balance. Part of that was visiting a psychophysiotherapist (spelling?). She was amazing. A PPT focuses on the mind/body connection. I was quite skeptical, but was proven wrong in just 3 hours.  I learned how to properly stand and sit, which has really helped me feel better. What I thought was correct was so wrong, and I really can feel the difference. We did a body scan which facilitates a better mind/body connection and helps with mindfulness. We also discussed mindfulness at great length. At our last session I had an epiphany that is going to change my life, for the better, forever. I am not sure how other people would fare seeing a PPT, but I am open to trying new things, am consciously working on myself, and the woman I worked with was absolutely amazing. We had a good connection and could have talked for 10 hours. We even joked about getting coffee to continue our discussion.

Running is going great.  The running intervals have gotten longer and the walking shorter. At the same time, I am much lighter. Having less fat on my body has given my heart less work to do. I have had to make a new running route and it includes some hills. I’m not gonna lie, it can be a real ball-breaker.

Mindfulness changing my life. The interesting change is how I am doing it. Before, I had to remind myself to be mindful. There would be “chaos” and the normal thoughts flowing through, and I needed to push myself back into the mindfulness. Now, I am just here. Not always, but enough that it is making a difference. It takes time to find what is right, lots of thinking and working with how I think and what I focus and give my energy to. That doesn’t mean I am free from worry or anxiety, just that I am improving my mental state and will continue to do so. I really feel I found the “holy grail,” of what works for me. I will elaborate.

Lets say, during the course of the day, I have a worry. If I envision my mind as a sky then there are clouds, the sun, and the big blue areas. Each one of these clouds are thoughts. Some are dark and rainy, some are light and fluffy. When one of these clouds comes near me, I can choose to let them come down on me or I can let it float by. “Look! Over there! There is a childhood trauma floating by.” Should I let it come near? Or, should I just let it float by and be here in the sun? If a cloud decides to float close to me, I simply let it float through and away from me. It may sound strange, but it is working. Visualizing it this way makes sense in my head.

So, today is some grilling and enjoying the good weather.

I lived, am living, and will continue to live!

Yesterday was awesome. Today is awesome. 

 

 

Days 57 and 58: Flowing into Awesome

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I am so pressed for time these days. This is more of a speed write.

The good thing is I am getting important things done and  am sticking to my goals. I felt success many times today. I am doing well. Despite setbacks, bad moments, and struggles, I am moving forward and my life is getting so much better. I know now that 100 days of Awesome will continue longer than just until June.

I am getting so close to running 4 kilometers without stopping. The interval training I have been doing has is almost all running now, with short walks in between. Today was really tough. I took a different route with more hills and really felt it in my legs. There was actually one time that I almost tripped over my feet like a drunken sailor. I kind of laughed and just kept trying to get one foot in front of the other. I did it.  I really see 5k by June as a very realistic goal. It is crazy to think that one year ago I was out of breath after climbing some stairs. I also noticed my legs hurt less. I feel lighter and faster. That is a great way to start the day.

I have also been giving extra hours of English help to the students that need it the most at school. I love it. There are so many weeks that I feel I can’t help them as much as I want to. I need to see if I can have something like this every week next year. It has been very effective. I will have a lot fewer students failing this year. Another plus. Awesome.

My daughter had an after school presentation, for all the parents in her grade today. This girl, who used to freak out about speaking in front of people, is now coming into her own. She spoke very well and sounded confident. She even did a Spanish dance. Awesome.

Mindfulness, as I said before, has been the main goal all week. Every single dinner  has been fun. Literally fun. Conversation flows, we share stories of the day, and laugh a lot more than we have in a while. Another awesome.

I also had a good friend help me with something that I was concerned about and am so thankful for that. They know who they are. Another awesome.

This was a great day. I am feeling high on life. I lived today and it was awesome.