physiology 101

My dear friend of 40 years and fellow blogger writes  about life-changes she is seeking, and how she is trying to pay more attention to her gut instincts and give the constraints of pure logic a bit of rest as she searches for new directions.

I liked her post and it made me think (as her writing always does, bless her) … I was reminded of something I have done and should do more of … so I post a rephrase of my comment to her here:

My instincts don’t lie in my gut, I don’t think. The things that thrive in my gut are panic, anxiety, dread. Also extra pounds. I would just as soon not know about my gut – where it is, what it’s doing or thinking, what it wants to eat, how it is getting along with the size of my pants, etc.  

My question is to my heart — the soul part, not the bloody pumping part. “Are you there? How do I make you grow? How do I live out your desires? ”

One thing that has helped me in moving along when I have been stuck is visualization. Draw the image of where I want to be, who I want to be, what I want to do. Make the image as real as I can. I write it out in words, draw and diagram pictures of it. Keep looking at it, keep it in my head at all times. It becomes part of me, my conscience, my sub-conscience. I start moving in the direction I visualize as if by magic.

I learned this awhile back from a friend who shares some of my fears around horseback riding … specifically the performance anxiety that comes with competing, and my huge fear of jumping. I started to ride the perfect dressage tests or hunter classes in my head, over and over. I even visualized burps in the rides and how I would ride through them. In my car during my commute, in the shower, during boring meetings at work, whenever I could let my mind safely wander away from reality, I would put in my head the vision of where I wanted to go.

Build the vision and live it in your head. What are you doing? What kind of person are you? How are you dressed? What is your daily routine like?

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It is just like practicing for a speech or a difficult conversation, really.  Write the speech and then present it to an imaginary audience.  Have the audience throw some rotten tomatoes and then visualize how to deal.

I have my current passion, the Book, storyboarded on the wall of my home office — Will start posting pieces of it for my Fun with Murder Readers team …Googled images of landscapes and buildings and artifacts that figure into the story — timelines of events — an organization chart of the key characters’ interrelationships  — photos of people who look like my characters.    I am still looking for the character that will fit into Tommy Lee Jones.  Gotta have Tommy Lee Jones in the eventual movie screenplay, dontcha know.

I have been doing stuff, just not this

I have a lot of good reasons:

1.  I got myself a companion.  Nicest guy ever.  Came with the nicest dog ever (ok, second-nicest dog — my Golden Lily is the nicest dog ever).  So I have had to make some behavior changes.  Like try to be nice back.  Mostly.  Not trying so much in the morning.  Also, try not to spend so much time on the computer writing while we are together.  Mostly.  I give myself points for conversing with him at the same time I am spending so much time on the computer writing.

2.  My companion bought a new TV and DISH and put them in my living room.  I haven’t had TV for years.  Enough said.

3.  I got myself yet another job.  Way good money.  Way too much work and stress and too little job-well-done.  This yet another job is going to be replaced by yet another job as soon as I can manage it.  I am just happy I saved my “Just Shoot Me” Post-It note I used to stick on my forehead when I was having a bad day at my last yet another job.  

4.  I have been making friends with a new horse, who I believe has a tax-refund-friendly price tag.

5.  I did my taxes as soon as the W-2s and other tax stuff landed on my planet.  See #4.

6.  I got two new baby kittens around Thanksgiving.  Kittens are way too entertaining.

7.  I started a creative writing class (mystery fiction) so I can maybe learn how to write like a real writer.   Reader Team, go here.  This will be the writing focus for a bit,  but there will be blog.  I have missed it.

what I did on my winter vacation

I survived.

Not without many tears and complaints launched Upward, naturally.  But I get that He gets it.

Soon after my Mo’s passing in late October, something came along to consume 150% of my time and  focus  — my job, and specifically an impossible 12/31/12 deadline for a huge project delivery.  A death march, as we call it in my line of work.

I survived that too … met the deadline, passed the subsequent audit, tossed it all into the company Bonus pool, and even had a few Bonus drops splash back on me …

… but not without developing extreme crankiness about all things Work and even more extreme disdain for my management.  A few weeks after the beginning of the year, at peak of crank, having worked eight days in row, 12-14 hours days, on the stupidest shit my “Can we chat?”-at-any-late-hour-they-felt-like-it-management could dream up,  my phone rang at a late-hour, flashing Caller ID Guess Who.  Ignoring the air raid siren screaming in my head, I answered.  The bomb exploded a short fuse later.   I hung up on Guess Who and fired off my  resignation.  Oops.  Maybe I should have lined up another job first.

Utter peace and contentment and the joy of having something real to worry about (money) reigned on my planet for a few unemployed weeks, then another organization in the same company hired me back.  The Grace of finding a job quickly came along with a decent sign-on bonus, no loss of tenure, a line of work I love, much less management ineptitude, much less actual work, a bit less salary, and a solid and pleasantly nutty team to play at work with.

The bad news is that anxiety and panic are still my near-constant companions.  Worse since I lost Mo, yes, but I understand why.  The toolbox gets a lot of examination, restocking, reorganizing.  Drugs are necessary.  The good news about this bad news is that I am now in therapy with a psychologist and some of her insight I find completely fascinating.  I am not buying all of it quite yet, but some of our talks are very enlightening.  She is part Native American and she brings some of her understanding of spirituality into her therapy, and my spirit connects with that.  My spirit also connects with her taste in jewelry — turquoise and silver.  There will be many posts about what I am learning from her.

To conclude this catching up episode, there is a new horse.  Actually he is an old horse, borrowed from a local trainer who loves him to pieces but doesn’t have time for him.  His name is Legend and he is sweet, sound, unflappable, work-loving, people-loving.   Hanoverian, 17-2 hands (extra-large),  patient, quiet, affectionate and willing to partner with me to work on low level dressage while I wait for my next jumping horse and the $ to pay for him/her to fall from the sky.  In the meantime, I am enjoying building a partnership with the Big Boy and learning new stuff about horses.  Legend is a completely different being than Mo, but he is turning out to be a patient and agreeable teacher like Mo was.

the Big Boy ... upp three steps, then tippy toe, then jump into the stirrup.

the Big Boy … up three steps, then tippy toe, then jump into the stirrup.

Legend's first dressage show.  He was a good boy.  I was a sucky rider.

Legend’s first dressage show. He was a good boy. The rider (me) sucked. But we made it through our test without any unscheduled dismounts.

Life has been much worse.

amazing

be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, He says.

do not be anxious about anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, give my requests to Him and He will grant me the peace that transcends all understanding, He says.

He took my beautiful boy Mo home on 29 October.  an accident, something that horses can do to themselves.

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at 11 am the vet Dr. M comes and examines him.  she says "I feel some 
displacement."  those words stop my heart.  a twist.  i tell her that
he is not a surgery candidate.  my barn manager and friend Lindsay asks 
her "what do we need to do?".  Dr. M advises.
throughout the afternoon we walk him, take him for a trailer ride, longe
him - - all in the hope of untangling his insides.  praying for 
poop, as we horse people say to each other at times like this. 
by early evening he is beginning to get dehydrated.  Dr. M returns with
catheter and IV fluids, more pain meds, instructs me on what to do.

by 10  pm i have spent a couple of hours hanging and switching out IV bags
and giving him the meds, taken him on a couple of walks around the barn.
afraid to walk him too far from the barn in case he goes down. Lindsay
wants to give the meds and fluids and oil a few more hours to work.
but i just know.

so tired, he and I tell each other.  we want to lay down but we can't.

we agree on what we need to do, what we already knew, what my heart had
been telling me, what his heart had been telling me.

at 10 pm i call the night vet and thank God it is Dr. A.  she has been
with me for this before.  she had been briefed by Dr. M.  i tell her
what i see and feel.  she advises, confirms.
 
she says she would like me to think about it for a little while longer
and she will call me back.  i talk to Lindsay.  i tell her i want the
vet.  when Dr. A calls me back, i say "please come now."
i make myself a bed in the aisle of the barn next to his stall and 
wait.  he is still on his feet, quiet, his head turned toward his belly
on one side, asking what is going on in there?  then he turns his head
back to the other side, and asks again.  this repeats over and over,
his head moves side to side, he keeps asking. he is uncomfortable but
not in excruciating pain.
i tell him what i think the answer is.   i hug him.  i tell him
i'm sorry about his tummyache. i tell him he is a brave and strong
boy and i thank him for staying on his feet.
he remains focused inward, preparing. my boy is on his way. 
at 11:30 the vet arrives.  she examines him -- quick, efficient, 
definite, direct.  inside of three minutes she tells me what she sees
and says "I am so glad you didn't wait to call.  He's done.  He needs
to go." 

a rush of relief, the end of the wondering and worrying.
so tired.

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when i see the people on my planet suffering, i tell them that in moments of need, God gives us grace — unearned blessings — to sparkle up our night, to shed light on dark paths.  it is our job to tune our senses to receive that grace.

now, in moments of (Xanax-assisted) clarity, i begin to see the grace for myself.

Many beings, human and otherwise, cross our paths in the course of living our lives … we form friendships, deep attachments … but only a very few of these are true connections.

on my planet, i am truly connected to a handful of people and some of my animals … i care for many others, of course, but there is something different about these special ones… a deeper bond, an entwining of hearts, minds, souls …

our bodies change over time, age, become broken, heal, or not — however the vessels that carry us morph through the years changes not the fundamental beings we are.

what makes me Me is my amazing spirit.  what makes Mo Mo is his amazing spirit.

what makes us partners is the entwining of our spirits.  nothing can ever separate us.

joyful, praying continually, with thankfulness that has no words.

the Zen of the Parting with the Saddle

No, I didn’t fall off today.  I resurrected these from some old posts on my old blog, to keep me humble while I am trying to teach Mo how to teach me how to jump.

These were inspired by Stormy, one of my quarter horse mares, who is now a pasture ornament, while I was healing a football-sized hematoma on my backside from one of her dirty spooks.  Which is why she is now a pasture ornament.

A Haiku Poem:

Cooler day, windy
Says “Be Spooky!” to the horse
And “Eat Dirt!” to me.

Another Haiku Poem:

Neighbors have big party
Says “Act Silly!” to the horse
She does. Rider flies.

One Last Haiku Poem:

Wind blows, horse blows up
Rider now riding on air
Briefly. Hello Earth.

Okay, one more:

Hello Earth. Meet Butt.
Horse stands calmly now of course
Waiting for cookie.

me on Stormy, with Sunny our angel palomino

The Upside-downside to being Nutty(er than usual), or More Fun (Way!) with Math

I don’t know about you but I’m getting a bit bored with the whole anxiety/panic disorder topic.  Not to mention the whole anxiety/panic disorder thing (IT) itself.   Honestly, writing about IT has helped some.   Up until now, when IT has started to Thoroughly.  Piss. Me. Off.

Today’s status:  Still here, still have some of IT symptoms, dealing.  But I have a buttload of work to do before my vacation next week.  So the increase in my usually barely tolerable work stress is making life a bit more enjoyable.

Now, on to the Upside.  Which is a Downside.  But a good one, especially given the whole freaking point of this freaking year and this freaking blog.

Since August 1, I have lost

♦     18 pounds     ♦

(204 to 186 today).  My last published weight log showed my high point at 202 in March. That was not the eventual high point.

All of my not-so-hard work was paying off in the reverse.   Which was not the trend I wanted to publish, which is why I took down the weight log,  although I did continue doing and woe-is-me-ing weigh-ins March through July.

(Aside:  Rather than Outright Lie, I prefer to Withhold Comment.  Sort of like when a  friend asks me if they look (good or bad or smart or stupid) (doing or wearing or dating) (something or somebody).   I do not want to Lie but I do not want to tell the Truth, either.  So I WC, which is similar in concept to being PC,  but of course without the P.    Since I try not to do or say anything whatsoever that has the remotest chance of having the label P(olitical) attached to it)).  (I love parenthetical comments, as you know.  I think this wins the Most Parentheses Ever In One Paragraph In My Blog award.)  (But I am more in love with run-on sentences than anything, as you also know.)

And no, I do not think achieving the reverse of desired results had anything at all to do with  IT, the Thing I Am Tired Of  Writing About.  Being overweight does not cause me IT.   Being overweight  just Pisses. Me. Off.

Anyway, I told you I was feeling different and bits and pieces were rearranging and my underwear was getting large enough to hold both the Boob Section and the Other End.

I think that I get the biggest kick out of the fact that I have lost a good bit of weight while I am still on Paxil (holding at 10 mg, terrified to step down again until I get a better handle on things).

My formula appears to be:

<20 gr carbs (very little sugar/starch) +

>50 oz liquid +

(30 mins cardio 5-6 days/wk)

= – 18 (in 2 months).

Smug.  

Aiming for the gate

Some of you know that I am passionate (obsessed) about learning to ride horses.  Or really just one horse, my boy Mo.

Mo is a show hunter, which just means his day job is to go around a course of fences in a steady, rhythmic canter and jump over the fences looking graceful, obedient, relaxed, a pleasure to ride.

More on hunters and the hunt seat style of riding …

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunt_seat

Mo showing in a hunter competition with great riders Cathy and Kristin (who are not me) — this is what I aspire to.

Mo is a veteran — he knows his job and loves doing  it.  He is a Cadillac of a horse — smooth, obedient, patient, “push button” (easy to cue to specific movements or gaits).  He is very well-trained and athletic.  He knows what kind of rider I am, and he demands that I ride him correctly.  Or Else.

My trainer Alejandro has been working with Mo and I for what seems like eons to get me over the Heebie Jeebies about jumping.   After all, I paid the equivalent of a new car for Mo because I wanted to jump and needed a mature schoolmaster-type horse to teach me.

Lately we have been working on getting me comfortable with Mo’s Big Canter, the one he needs to jump well, to cover the ground in the correct number of strides between fences so he takes off at the right spot in front of the fence, and lands at the right spot on the other side.

For our training, Alejandro sets some poles on the ground with a given number of stride lengths in between.   If Mo isn’t going Big enough, he can’t make the distances between poles smoothly — he has to add or subtract steps — which makes the ride disorganized, choppy, bumpy, stumbly, or in the worst case, the Or Else thing.

Big means a bit faster than I typically want to do, and with a longer stride.   And when Mo goes Big,  I go Heebie Jeebie.  Which complicates matters, since Mo senses when I’m fearful or not up for something, and he shuts down in response.   This is the veteran horse behavior — he is not going to expend any more effort than I ask him to expend.  If he thinks I’m shutting down, he is more than happy to accommodate me by slowing down.

The thing I fear most is really an unknown — I am not really afraid of going fast.  I have reasonably good form and balance for an “advanced beginner” level rider.  I am not afraid of falling off.  I have fallen off horses many many times.  I know how to fall off and I do it very well.  I suppose I might be somewhat afraid of getting injured, but in the environment I ride and with Mo being Mo, the risks of serious injury are truly very low.

Alejandro asks me to ignore the individual poles.  They are there and we need to jump over them but I need to set my sights above and beyond each pole.  He tells me that I need to look up and  aim for the gate on the far side of the arena, and to the scariest thing of all … ride Mo as if to tell him to fly right out of the gate.

So I am learning, as with all other Things Horse, the way I conquer the Heebie Jeebies about riding is to ride.  This annoys me.  I need to ride even though I am afraid.  And keep on riding with the fear astride.  Keep asking for More from Mo.  Stay with it over the poles, as bumpy, stumbly or face-planty-in-the-dirt as it gets.  When we get the Big canter, ride it.  And then ask for Bigger.

So then I think … hmmm… is this what living with anxiety and panic is about?  Instead of living in fear of the fear, which is what anxiety and panic stem from, fighting and asking it to go away and always losing the fight … ask for More, and Bigger?  Aim for the gate?