Tag Archives: mental-health

Cowboy boots & Confidence

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Over the past month, it’s become pretty clear to me how much of my self-confidence is tied up in running. I didn’t start running to gain self-confidence, but as an escape from a day-to-day existence that I wasn’t happy with. But, running offered me a way to be in my physical body without worrying about its shape or weight or how it acted and appeared in space with other eyes viewing it. It became this strong, confident vessel that moved me over dozens of miles a week. I started to look up when I walked down the street.  I stopped craving, stopped needing, external (male) validation of my looks to feel attractive. I started to love my body all on my own — the muscular bits, the skinny bits and the round bits alike. When I realized how much running helped me, well, be more me, it sort of stuck and became a more serious hobby. I ran a half marathon. Then, I ran a couple more. Then, a full marathon.

Last summer, I injured my right ankle and had to cancel plans to run the Philly Marathon this past November. I got angry, then pretty seriously depressed for several months. It was only after a month or so of training for the Vermont City Marathon that I snapped out of my funk.  As I’ve written about previously on here, however, Vermont City ended with me in the medical tent instead of a victorious leap over the finish line. I hit the physical therapy and the cross training right away. I’m running whatever distance I can cover without pain, and taking days off in between these efforts to ensure I heal. I’m doing my best to stay positive and love what I can get in, however small.

But I can feel the insecurity and hateful self-talk creeping back in just a little, and that scares me. I don’t want to be back in that depressive place I’ve been so many times before. But I catch myself thinking “No one wants to read what you have to say,” when I think about posting here. I’m not feeling as motivated at work. I’m tired a lot. I giggle like a shy teenage girl instead of engaging people in conversations about things on which I have an opinion or something interesting to say. But what has really been noticeable this past month is how I’m self-conscious about my body all the time.  I’m worried about my hair. I feel awkward and fat in social settings. I’m hiding behind layers of clothing. I’m obsessing over the 3 freakin’ pounds I’ve gained (as if that’s anything). I just feel clumsy and oafish and like I take up too much room.

The other day, at the physical therapists office, I was looking down at the floor or my feet so much, he actually called me out on it more than once. But when all I can think about is how I’m a huge klutz and I feel too heavy and unattractive and then there’s a man standing there watching my stomach to ensure it’s properly engaged while I move through exercises, it’s all I can do to not end up rocking myself in the corner while swearing off food forever. So I look down. I don’t stand up straight. I retreat inside myself and become quiet, self-conscious. All things that decidedly do nothing for my form or my ability to hold a remotely intelligent or substantial conversation.

I know in my brain that I the things I catch myself thinking and feeling aren’t the remotest bit true,  that those feelings are all a little bit insane, but, yet, I still catch myself feeling them.  So, I’ve decided to kind of force myself out of it. I’m trying to act how I want to feel and I think, then, the positive feelings will follow. I’m writing about my nuttiness and insecurity here, whether or not you want to read about it.  I’m cooking myself fabulous and healthful meals. I’m being kind to others. I’m being kind to myself. Relishing the little moments. Allowing my voice to be heard. I’m standing up straight, head and eyes forward, shoulders back. Insecure, sad Rachel can stay in her corner, but this chick? This chick is struttin’ her stuff. Kickin’ butt and takin’ names. In cowboy boots. Because what screams kick-ass and confidence more than a pair of cowboy boots?

yeehaw!

yeehaw!

cowboyboots2

confident! happy!

Act how you want to feel and then the feelings will follow? Worth a shot!

Where do you derive your self-confidence? Do you have feel ridiculously, irrationally insecure?

Thankful

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It’s Thursday!  What’s topping your “thankful for” list this week?

I’m feeling particularly thankful for having a rigorous Orgo professor last semester so I’m not entirely lost in my “oh my goodness we have so much to cram into 6 weeks of class” biochem lecture this summer.

 

Over 1000 pages of fun in 6 weeks! Whoo!

Over 1000 pages of fun in 6 weeks! Whoo!

I’m also pretty pumped about the sports massage I got last night AND my new iPad mini, both of which make me incredibly thankful for my life circumstances  and being able to enjoy such purchases.

Learning to be Happy…

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I’ve struggled with depression as long as I can remember, and, as a result, I’ve also been preoccupied with the notion of “happiness” and how to get there and stay there. Obviously I recognize that I’ll never be one of those naturally ebullient and bubbly types, but how an I better ensure that I stay within the happier part of my own individual happiness spectrum? How can I fortify myself against the inevitable ups and downs that life will deal me and my family? Can I learn to recognize when I’m slipping and catch myself before I spiral down that dark rabbit hole?

I recently picked up the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin which, while sometimes annoying with her didactic tone and what seems like a fairly “charmed” life that she often takes for granted, she also makes some really thought-provoking realizations throughout the book that have made me re-examine my own life and how I approach it.

 

Goal-setting, but in a small and visibly achievable way, is central to Rubin’s Happiness Project and is a tool that has worked for me in the past for activities like running, but for some reason, I’ve never translated onto my relationships with others or more mundane tasks that make up my everyday. I’ve never explored becoming more myself in the context of concrete goals, and I think that there’s really something to this exercise and remaining more positive and, well, happy.

Rubin uses each month during the course of the year to focus on one aspect of her life. While I don’t think that this particular approach is what I want to do, Rubin did inspire me to sit down and think about the things that make me happy, the things that make me who I am (rather than those things I wish I could be or think I should do/be because others want me to be that way or do those things.

I love performing small gestures that show how much I love, appreciate and celebrate the lives of those I care about, I enjoy being active and healthy, especially with others, I enjoy reading and writing and being creative (though not necessarily in a traditionally artistic sense), being present for family and friends is very important to me, having space and time for quiet reflection and recharging keeps me energized, staying productive, organized and de-cluttered helps me focus — I want to live my life in a way that was authentic to who I am and makes these things central to each day, regardless of what else might be going on. After the Boston Marathon bombings, I also found myself in a heightened state of appreciation and love for the normal, everyday things I would typically take for granted and I wanted to make sure that even after time had faded the memory of the bombings and dulled that sensitivity, I remained more appreciative and aware of the beauty in the people around me and the life I live.

So I sat down and thought about some short-term goals for the summer months that would align with these values I identified for myself. I’ll have to write another post in September to let you know how I’m doing!  In any case, these are my short-term goals:

*be more productive!

*incorporate strength training, yoga and spinning into weekly workout schedule

*learn to play bridge with A

*take a creative writing, photography, swimming and/or music class

*finally get personal trainer certification

*land one or two freelance writing opportunities

*get re-certified in CPR

*finish 3 books

*update blog regularly

*make new recipe cards for new recipes you’ve tried this past winter

*complete a week-long juice fast

*learn to have a daily meditation practice

*take more walks, especially with A

*clean out dresser and closet — de-clutter!

 

So, although Rubin’s book at times has gotten on my nerves, I’d still highly recommend it! It’s certainly made a difference in how I think about my every day, and, if you decide to pick it up, perhaps it will do the same for you, too!

Do you have any goals for the summer? What are the things in life that are quintessential to being you?