Whatever, I did it.

I am absolutely serious that I’m going to run a 4 mile race on the 4th of July. The wife of my co-worker who is an avid runner and who is also running in this race, told me to prepare for the humidity. We’ve had a tropical storm bringing us a ton of rain and storms for the past few days and today was off and on rain while I was at work. I had worked out on the elliptical for the past two days, but today, I really wanted to get outside and run. I waited until the rain stopped and the radar showed that there wasn’t anything coming behind it. I originally planned to only walk a mile up the road just to start getting acclimated to being active in the heat and humidity. So I got out there and went up the hill and decided I was going to go ahead and complete another workout in the Couch to 5k app. I’ll admit that I skipped the last section of jogging because the hills I was going up and down really made me breathe hard and I didn’t want to overdo it.

Walking back down the road in the direction of home, I thought about all the cars flying past me. I always feel a little self conscious walking on the side of that road to get between where I live and the neighborhood that I like to run in. There is a lot of traffic on that road, but I’m only on it for a little more than a quarter mile. So what were they thinking of the overweight woman walking on the sidewalk in clothes that looked like she had been walking in the rain for how wet with sweat they were? I don’t know what they were thinking and I don’t care, because I did it. I went out in the humidity and ran. There was steam coming off the road, it was very sticky out there. I felt slimy and gross, but man did it feel good to know that I had accomplished my goal for the day. Doing that today proved to me that I don’t need to wimp out in the air conditioning and use the heat and humidity as an excuse to not go out and run. Whatever, I can do it.

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A screenshot of the weather from my exercise log that I took when I got back from running today. 

 

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Sportsmanship at its finest

Last night, my husband fell asleep on the couch. That’s not new, it was a Sunday night and neither of us had to work today. Plus, he had stretched out horizontally and covered up with a fleece blanket, falling asleep was inevitable. It was then that I commandeered the t.v. remote and settled on watching the last several minutes of the NBA East finals, or whatever it’s called. All I know is that it was game 7 and the Cleveland Cavaliers were playing the Boston Celtics. Game 7, of course, being the game that decides who moves on to whatever level of competition is next. Clearly, I don’t watch much basketball, but I put it on because I wasn’t all that interested in t.v. I wanted something that was background noise while I knit.

I don’t generally put games on if it’s a team that I don’t know anything about. I grew up in a town just outside of Atlanta, so I’m a huge Braves baseball fan. However, I’m also originally from Cleveland, all of my family live up there, so in the absence of a Braves game, depending on what sports season it is, I’ll watch a Cleveland Indians baseball game, or in this case a Cavaliers basketball game. Just the mention of the Cavaliers demands a mention of their star player, Lebron James. I don’t know much about Lebron, I really don’t. In fact, my opinion of him is sort of negative based on the fact that I was in Cleveland the summer that the whole city was on pins and needles waiting for him to announce his decision to either stay playing for the Miami Heat or come back to the Cavaliers. Every time the news was on the t.v. at my mother’s house there was coverage of Lebron James and the possibility of him coming back. Every…single…time. Seriously. I was even there the day that he made it official, King James returns! Whatever. I rolled my eyes so hard that day and even took a picture of the t.v. and the ridiculous banner that was displayed across it.

Obviously, his return to the Cleveland basketball team meant something more to the city than what I could glean just from being there for a week and a half. And I don’t live there now to see what it means for all of the championships he’s won for the city. All of this hype for an athlete made me think that he must be a typical arrogant athlete that thinks he’s greater than he really is and only cares about the millions of dollars he earns to play a sport.

But last night, when I watched the end of that game, my attitude about him changed. He could still potentially be the typical arrogant athlete, but I really don’t think so now. When the last seconds ticked off the clock and it was clear that the Cavaliers had won the championship, on the Celtics court no less, Lebron didn’t get carried away with cheering and high fiving his teammates. There were cameras and reporters and a whole crowd of people surrounding him on the court, but the first thing he did was go to one of the Celtics players and embrace him in a hug. He said something in the player’s ear as he hugged him. Then with a pat on the back, he let go and again, cameras and reporters surrounded him. But he didn’t talk to the reporters, he pushed through them and went to another Celtics player that was on the court and did the same thing, hugged him and said something in his ear. Lebron repeated this at least five times, for as many Celtics players that were still on the court. Only after he hugged each player did he stop and talk to a reporter. As a teacher who coaches a team of kids, granted, not athletes, but a Battle of the Books team that competes every year, I drill into those kids’ heads that whether we win or we lose we are good sports and we go to each of those kids on the other two teams and either congratulate them on winning or telling them that they played a good ‘game’.

So seeing this super star athlete who has just won yet another championship care more about showing good sportsmanship to the team he just defeated than boasting of his victory, that really touched me. Someone who does that has character and integrity. And now, as of last night, also has a fan in me.

Go Cavaliers!

The purpose of a teacher’s summer…

…is to relax and rest. Two months off in the summer is the reward for 10 months of having very little free time because of lesson plans, paper grading, and a thousand other extra things that I’m responsible for. There are exactly two and a half days until summer break and my principal has already let us know that when the kids leave on Thursday, she wants us to leave with them. You don’t have to tell me twice! I will lay rubber in that parking lot just as soon as that last kid is picked up.

This summer, I fully intend to do a lot of knitting and a lot of reading. Doing all of that in a reclining position on the couch with my feet up is also in my plan. But this summer, I’m going to do something different. I’m going to actually get up early each day and go running. I have to get up early because here in the southeast, there’s a small window of time each day before the crushing heat and humidity take over, and I plan to take advantage of it. I want to run, I love running, and I’ve been very, very bad at it lately. Bad, only in the fact that I haven’t been consistent in my efforts.

Now though, I have to be consistent because I have already paid my registration for a 4-mile race in the downtown area of my city on the 4th of July. I’m cutting it awfully close on training time. To be fair, I did re-start my couch to 5k app a couple weeks ago, however, school kept me busy and a new baby kitten kept me busy, and a whole host of other excuses kept me indoors. After May 31st, I will have no excuses. There will be nothing to keep me busy besides what I come up with myself. I’m doing this.

It’s going to be a bit tougher this time because I’ve only ever run a 5k, which is about 3.2 miles. This is a full 4 miles, but man oh man am I excited to get out there and try. I really can’t explain what it is that makes me like running so much. Maybe just the sense of accomplishment… I don’t know. But I do know that I’m eager to run this particular race. Perhaps because when I ran my first 5k, I didn’t know there was such a thing as a finisher’s medal, so I went home empty handed. With this race, I am determined to get that medal at the end.

Training for that race will take the first month of my summer break. I don’t plan on stopping after that race–I want to keep a running habit going, so we’ll see what the second month brings. That’s going to be my main purpose this summer–running. One of the songs I listen to when I run has the following line: “Surprise them with a victory cry.” If I make it through this summer and actually develop a running habit and run that race and get my medal, I will surprise myself with a victory cry when back-to-school time rolls around. Wish me luck.

 

There are those days…

There are those days like yesterday, when my husband left to do laundry at his mom’s house and I had to convince myself it was not a reason to cry. When I got dressed and got in the car and headed to the store to go grocery shopping only to turn around halfway there and come back home because I was afraid I would break down crying in the middle of the store. When I’m usually early with emailing a weekly file for my second job but decided yesterday that I just didn’t want to put the effort into finishing it at my normal time. When my nap on the couch turned into something I had to force myself to get up from. When my Saturday routine and joy at being alone turned to torment until my husband came home again.

There are those days like today, when I had enough energy to do everything I wanted to get done yesterday and still had motivation left over to clean the apartment from top to bottom with my husband. When he and I cracked jokes while putting away the laundry and I remembered why I was labeled somebody’s “loudest friend” one time, all because of my laugh. When we went out for dinner and had a nice conversation while we ate. When I marvel at the difference a day makes to someone battling mental illness.

There are those days like all of the ones in between when I am constantly grateful for medical science and all that it has done to help me find a life I can live without the intensity of an untreated mental illness. When I can look forward to going to my regular therapy appointment because I have found someone who can help me understand so many things about myself that I never could before. When I am in awe of the man I married whose patience and willingness to see me through every single day that I am here.

Yes, there are those days.

Strange Days

It’s a strange time of the year. Every year, the beginning of May brings the promise of summer break. My school year ends right around Memorial Day…every year. And yet, this year, I feel anxious about school ending. Things don’t feel right. I’m not excited as much as I usually am. I feel the same exhausting ‘teacher tired’ that I’ve seen expressed in countless memes online. There’s more to it this time though. It’s entirely possible that the events in my  life over the past several weeks have contributed to this sense of strangeness.

To take stock of what has happened lately, here’s a quick list:

-My 13 year old ginger kitty, Joey, died while I was at work one day. Though it was a blessing that he died at home. He hated the vet and I worried about having to put him to sleep at a place that caused him so much anguish.

-Work has been difficult, demanding, and defeating, for my husband–and since marriage makes us a team, I have felt his stress. It has made me feel closer to him than ever. A strong need to comfort him and be physically near him has consumed me.

-My grandmother died in hospice this week–I drove 10 hours last weekend to see her before she passed, and 10 hours back home in a brutal drive that I do not want to make alone again for a long time. She was not the easiest person to love. Being set in her ways made it difficult to communicate with her around the time that I got married. I hadn’t talked to her since before my wedding. But she did give me so many wonderful memories from things we did together when I was a kid. Her passing has made me very curious about where she is now. Did her devotion to the Catholic faith bring her to the place she yearned for? How did that transition work? What is she experiencing right now?

-My physical health has reverted back to how it was before I returned a 2nd time to exercising. Terrible food choices and lack of physical activity have led my blood pressure and weight to balloon up again.

At my annual women’s exam, the doctor questioned my mental health after reviewing my answers to several questions about how I have felt in the past seven days. After assuring the doctor that I do have mental health professionals that I see regularly, I simply explained that there has been a lot going on.

The feelings linger though. Good days happen. I was happy this afternoon–it’s Friday–I got a lot of work done at school, meaning not much work to do this weekend so I can have plenty of free time. However good of an afternoon it was, here I sit with tears brimming in the corners of my eyes. I know why. It’s not the specifics of everything that has happened lately. They are a part of life. But for a person like me, who relies heavily on structure and routine–this is hard! It’s funny because usually anxiety is my biggest nemesis, but through all of this, it hasn’t been anxiety, it has been just plain sadness and concern.

I’m happy that it will officially be summer break when I get home from work on May 31st. But what happens next? I don’t know. Something has to happen though, I have to create a routine for myself for the summer. Not just a list of goals or things that I would like to do over the summer, but a daily schedule. I have to. If I don’t, the daily laziness will begin to erode my mental health faster than it normally does each summer. I usually get a little depressed and stir crazy by the time summer break is almost over. It will happen instantaneously this year if I don’t prepare. I haven’t gotten very far with ideas, but I know one of them will be exercise. I live in the south, so running outdoors won’t be easy in the blazing summer months, but I have an elliptical. As much as I hate using it, I will need to force myself. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

I don’t know when things will improve, but I know they will. There is possibility and good things to come in the future, but getting there, through this transition time, it sucks. And that’s okay, for now anyway.