Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I will cry, and that's ok

I don't want to write today. Or think. I want to cry and kick and scream. I want to beg people that I know and love...why? 

I could write so many things. But instead I will write to my children. My strong and funny daughter, my bright and active son. I met your father 11 years ago on Halloween. On October 31, 2016 I cast my vote with him in Athens, GA. I voted for the first woman presidential candidate. 
Things did not go as planned. 
I falsely believed my vote mattered. It did not. 
Not in this red state. 
That doesn't matter, always vote.
This is not the place to educate you on the electoral college, which I will be actively attempting to protest against in the future, but in time...I will educate you. 
You see, I was not educated about that or many other things. 
My history was white-washed. Gender-washed. Christian-washed. 
Sure, honey, you can be anything you want when you grow up...but they forgot to tell me that I would still be just a 'girl.' Even with a PhD, I am not equal to man.

I don't believe that shit anymore. I am not JUST anything. No one is. 
But we are ALL human.
We should ALL be equal.

I won't tear down your heroes, we must all learn the truth of them in our own time. 
Heroes are also only human, and often flawed mightily. It is sad to see them as such. 
You are best admiring without placing on a pedestal, then they don't fall and your heart doesn't break as badly. 

Take the high road. Michelle Obama said "They go low, we go high." Never forget those words. Love. Always respond with love. 
You may be called names. You may see or experience violence. 
Go high.

Your father and I will protect you both as long as we can. We will teach you to be safe. 
To be strong. To thrive. We will always believe in you. Love you. Support you. 
You will always have a safe haven with us. A place to rest, to cry, to laugh, to learn.
Always.

I promise you from this day forward, November 9, 2016...I will never stop growing and learning. Striving to be a better person, woman, friend, mother, spouse, daughter, sister, aunt. I will cry. I will get angry at times, and frustrated. 
This is not an overreaction or womanly response. 
It is the HUMAN response. And it is ok. 
But in the end, we must pick ourselves off, shake off the hate, and stand strong. 
Together.

Here is my hand, my children. Hold it for as long as you need.

I love you both so much.
~your mama, one helluva #nastywoman

Monday, September 12, 2016

When life happens


I'm training. Life has been happening...a lot. I don't even think I have really had time to process how I am doing lately. So here I sit, thinking. I finally registered for the Kiawah Island Marathon. We had to save up the money for it, it is not a cheap one. I selected it because it was a mild race, not too far from home, and right around my birthday. Unfortunately it also raises money and awareness for absolutely nothing. We typically do not run races such as this, but it is my first marathon, so we made an exception.

Then, as mentioned above, life happened.

My very amazing and funny brother-in-law, Craig, passed away. He had cystic fibrosis, and he was 43 years old. The current life expectancy is 37 years of age for individuals living with CF. Craig was a fighter. More importantly he was a human that inspired many others, championed for his friends with CF, loved with all he had, and always had a smile for you.

Life happened and it hurt.

I have not lost anyone in a little bit, and while this was not fully unexpected...'one day' showed up before I was ready. And so here I sit, still uncertain as to how I am doing.

The day he died I was actually out on a long-ish run. Early in the run I developed a side stitch. Something that never happens to me. From that moment until the end of my run I thought of Craig. It's as if my body was telling me to think what it must have been like to struggle to breathe. To fight for each breath. It was a really tough run. I thought how I wanted to be like Craig. How giving up should never be an option, to the very end. How he welcomed me into the family from day one, from teasing me about "my people" (I was majoring in Psychology at the time) to discussing Star Wars versus Star Trek. His jokes always helped ease tensions over holiday shenanigans, and he truly loved the kids. I wondered why he crossed my mind. If I focus on anything other than running it is usually work or kid related. Typically organizational, and sometimes a spontaneous blog idea (if I am lucky). But on that day all I thought about was him. Somehow I knew there was a reason...my husband will tell you I always know, but that is simply something my science driven mind has a hard time accepting. As I cooled down outside my house I told myself that when I walked in my husband was going to tell me Craig had passed, I was not wrong.

I entered the house slowly. At first my husband did not say anything. Then our eyes met. And before he could get the words out my heart sank into my stomach. I stepped back outside for a few minutes. I could not believe it. How had I known?

I do not have an answer to that question. I am not spiritual or religious. But I do not need to be.
I understand that I needed to be prepared, and I was.

I didn't just sign up for a marathon. I created a memorial fund for my brother-in-law. I want to run in his memory. I want to challenge my own breath. I want to raise awareness for cystic fibrosis. I want you all to think about a fighter in your life, or maybe you are the fighter. Or maybe you want to become a fighter. A champion. Someone who faces a challenge head on and allows the fear to wash over you and continues on. Many years ago I learned that fear had no hold on me, and it should not on any of us. I can tell you that Craig was never afraid of living life to its fullest. Every. Single. Day.

I hope I can live up to half of that type of life legacy.

#irun4craig


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I interrupt your day for a message about BODIES

Wow, you look really thin. (Is this even a compliment?)
If I had your body I would... (Really?! Why not try not objectifying me and take a look in the mirror.)
You are so lucky. (Because I choose to run A LOT and eat healthy?!)
I don't know how you do it. (I choose to.)
I hate running. (That's great, I love it.)
I just don't have the time. (You think I do? I get up at the butt crack of dawn.)
I wish I could look like you. (I wish I had a million dollars. You will never look like anyone but you.)
I wish I had your strength/dedication/determination. (It is a daily effort, get to work.)
Do you need to eat something? (I eat all the time. Didn't your mama teach you manners?)
I have bad knees. (No you don't, unless you injured them recently. Running is great for knees.)
It's just too hot. (Or too cold. There will always be an excuse if you make one.)
I can't run. (Are you human? Do you have legs that work for walking? You can run...with practice.)

What is it about taking on a new life activity, particularly a healthy one, that people feel the need to excuse their own behavior or make comments about your choices? These are just some of the statements I hear quite frequently. Some seem harmless enough, but mostly they are remarks that are either intrusive or not really complimentary. Definitely not encouraging or supportive.
The body comments are the worst.
Why people think it is ok to ever speak to someone about their physical appearance is a mystery to me.
Are you a physician?
Am I seeking care from you?
No...then back off please.
Thankfully my mama taught me well enough that most days I just take it in stride.
Sometimes, though, I go home and cry about it.
Because that is what my brain does with not quite compliments and unwarranted commentary about my behavior and my body.
I mull it over.
I wonder why you said it.
Do you not like me?
Did I do something to offend you?
Did you mean it as a compliment or an insult?
The body comments always stand out. Always.
And not because I am insecure. I have no qualms with my body.
It's just that it is...

MY body.

As a woman society continues to attempt to tell me it is not really mine. My 3 year old asked about bras the other day, because mommy never runs completely shirtless like daddy. He accepted the explanation that the babas (his word from when he used to breastfeed) bounce when mommy runs, and this is uncomfortable. Then daddy went on to explain that mommy would not run without being covered up anyway, because it was a law. This completely confused my toddler, who sees human bodies as nothing more than completely normal extensions of what makes us...human. We are not shy about nudity. The body is the body. We name things correctly, we teach about body autonomy. There is no shame that is needed. Our bodies are to be cared for and we do this by moving and fueling healthfully. Male and female bodies may be different, but this is all completely ok.

But mommy's body is shameful. At least that is what I must teach my son apparently.
And eventually what my daughter will learn...from society.
Cover up, don't cover up.
Shame on you for having a woman's body.

Would you ask my husband that?
Is he too thin?
Are you concerned with whether he is eating too much or too little?
Do you tell him to cover up? Or to stop being a prude?

I know he doesn't leave the house to run without a shirt on and think about it like I do.
Wondering if someone will think that just because I am only in a sports bra I am inviting unwanted attention. Not that it is simply too hot and humid to wear so many layers...
Anticipating honks or catcalls. Or worse, some asshole yelling out his car window at me.
Because clearly I am just some sexual object.

There is a lot of talk about bodies these days, particularly women's bodies.
I wonder just how much of that talk is being heard.
Because my kids are listening, are you?

#mamastrong
#strongbodieshealthybodies



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Where will you be?

8.1 miles

I made it. I set a goal of 8 miles before July, when marathon training begins, and though it took monumental dedication t get here again...I freaking made it.

Anxiety be damned.
Poverty?  Running is free.

I came home and there was no whining or crying for mommy, just a delicious plate of food made for me by my husband. My biggest support. My coach. My partner.
And smiling kiddos.

WE made it.

Today's run was brutal. As any long run around here goes there were more than enough hills. And I even braved running on the road in long stretches without sidewalks. I typically avoid this, but there will come a time in my future distances where it will be unavoidable.
I trudged on mightily. I talked out loud to myself.
I am a runner.

The real moment of the run today came at about 2 miles in. I passed an elderly woman jogging a long, she beamed at me and I smiled back and said hello. Seemingly no big deal...

Except by elderly I mean she was easily 85+. And JOGGING.
Shit, let's give it to her...she was running.
She was amazing.
I smiled for a while after that, thinking of how awesome it is that she was out there.
Big ass headphones, bright white sneakers.
Running.
Living.

How many 85+ year olds do you know that could come close to that?
I know of none.

I realized then that I know how she feels. There she was breaking the mold. Seemingly oblivious to the constraints society places on elderly humans. The long list of should nots and cannots.
I know what that is like, I have heard those naysayers too.
These days most of the naysaying originates in my own negative self-talk, fueled by anxiety and self-doubt. But it is still a constant battle of mine. Even after overcoming and accomplishing so much. Some days are simply a test of will, who wins today?
Negative Jess or I Got This Shit Jess?

I want to be like her when I am beautifully wrinkled and aging with great grand-babies. I want to be moving, oblivious to what I am supposed to be doing. I want to climb on the playground with those great grand-babies and show the world why moving is essential to life.

"...an object in motion stays in motions..." Thanks Sir Isaac Newton

Yea, I will carry that moment. Humans are capable of so many amazing things. Even telling the naysaying in my head to take a hike becomes possible. One breath at a time, one step at a time.

One short 8.1 mile run at a time.

#runstrong friends, #runstrong

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Part 3: Fuck it...There are just too many parts

There is no grand finale.  I left off with us moving back, right?  Well, it has been a roller coaster. It has been hard. Each day we move forward, but many days it feels like we move back. But we don't stop.

It took me a while to get back here. I endured two really rough bouts with anxiety over the last week and finally got in to see my therapist today. That almost seems sugar coated.
Let me scrape off the sprinkles for you.
IT WAS HELL.
And that is just from my angle.
I don't want to try and view it from my husband's perspective.
Please do not make me think of my babies.
Everyone is safe. I am ok. I have a plan and I am on trajectory to keep moving forward.
No one has thrown in the towel yet.
Me included.
But it was bad.
Really, really bad.

So what happens when it gets bad? Typically I hole away, close off, play pretend in public, cry in private. Life doesn't stop, even though I wish it would give me a damn break. No dice. We keep spinning. I immediately sought help. From my mother, from my husband (he tries so very hard), from my therapist. I went to yoga and found my breath. And then found it again in therapy.

Yes. My breath.

Did you know that breathing is one of the first things people claim changes during massive bouts of anxiety? For my therapist I will refrain from labeling these as "attacks" from this point forward. Anxiety is not an entity.  It does not exist in its own right.
Breathing, then heart rate.
Now, did you know they are linked?
Of course, you smart cookie. But did you know you could control BOTH?
Yup. You can control them.
Don't believe me?
Grab a pulse oximeter, plop it on your finger.
Now breathe in and slowly breathe out. Do this a few times.
Notice anything? It works better if the damned thing beeps...loudly.
Did your beeps change?
Awesome, huh?
I thought so.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Best therapy session ever. Yoga also gave me that. Funny how something so simple can have such big effects. As simple as finding your breath.

I don't breathe enough, particularly slow exhales. It only takes a few to reset our systems.

Try it.

Go breathe.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Part 2: Mountains should be climbed, not carried

I told you I was not ashamed.
And then 200+ people clicked on my blog. Maybe they actually read it, maybe they didn't.
Either way...there it was.
My anxiety peaked. The guilt and shame edged in.

FULL BLOWN ANXIETY ATTACK COMMENCE

I didn't know if or when I would return to writing, but here I am...

I have to finish what I started.
Because it is building up in me. Threatening detonation levels.
Leaking out my mouth in anger and frustration, my eyes in tears of sadness and fear.
I feel removed and yet suffocated.

I left you with my desire to be with my baby. My need to be with him. And how I could not.
Damn student loans. Damn pride and promises.
So I went back after 12ish weeks to a hellish schedule and very little lab assistance to run my dissertation experiments. I had to pump every couple of hours, and I would only get 15-20ish minutes between animals to do so.
I was a sleep deprived, anxious wreck. I constantly rushed and drove home every chance I could to nurse. He wasn't much for a bottle so that was just great.

I have no idea how we survived that period of time. It was bad. Really bad. Just ask my husband.

Fast forward and now I am on the job hunt.  But in between I managed to join a mothers group and find a phenomenal therapist. We worked me back into my running regime, and we talked.  We worked through my husband not really 'getting' mental illness. We worked through the kindhearted people who thought I should stop nursing and take meds that had never worked for me before.
We worked.
Thanks to her, my husband, some amazing friends and colleagues, a very patient advisor, my family...and my beautiful little boy...I graduated with my final degree in 2014. I had survived.

So off I went to the one and only job I received an offer for out of the 30+ applications I submitted. Yes, 30+. I think I only heard from 10 or 12. I interviewed over the phone for 4, in person for 2, and received ONE offer. In remote central Kentucky. BUT it was the coveted tenure track position I was supposed to want. I was excited for everything but the location. I mean RURAL.  Middle of no where. But the college was pristine. The faculty and staff just lovely. We could do this for a few years. It would be FINE.

Except it wasn't.

My husband could not find a job locally. And the commuting jobs barely paid enough to cover the commute and childcare for our one child. Forget about affording full time care for our soon to arrive second child.  Wait, did yo miss that part? Oh, I guess I forgot to mention I was expecting my second munchkin. Not only did I complete my comprehensive exams during 1st trimester of kiddo one, I defended my dissertation during my 1st trimester with kiddo two. I like to really challenge myself. So here he was still staying at home, which is lovely but not where he wanted to stay permanently and I definitely was not making enough to fully support a family of four. What next?

I wouldn't worry long. As the impending arrival of my daughter approached I began having some major anxiety about leaving her...,even before she was born. My husband was frustrated with the job prospects and began exploring graduate school options. All of which turned out to not have space or not have funding for the upcoming year. Then it became a search to find any job. We were striking out on all accounts still when my daughter arrived. And oh did she arrive.
So strong, so fast.

She was an amazing sleeper, unlike my first. She settled me into such deep sleep.
She was just simply amazing.
But my hormones just wouldn't settle so fast.
I spiraled.
My husband says it wasn't as bad as the first time.  I felt like it was worse.  #postpardum
I love my children and that never suffered.
It was always my disgust at myself. My sense of failing everyone.
The overwhelmingness of everything. This time I didn't have a magic therapist handy, though I did end up reaching out to my former one via video chat later. Instead the mommy brigade came to the rescue. These amazing women I had met through a book club. These women saved me. With chocolate and snow shoveling, lunch and play dates, unwavering love and kindness. They did not hesitate. They may not even know how shattered I really was, or maybe they did. All I know is that I will spend a lifetime attempting to repay that kindness, passing it onward. There strength and love gave me what I needed.  When the snow melted I started walking. Then running. Then writing. And this time I have not stopped.
Then one day, out of the blue, my husband received a job offer back in Athens. I knew it was time to face myself. I needed to take a step back. Allow him to lead and take care of myself. I needed to be mommy and he needed to work for a bit. I ignored the pleas for me to again stop nursing and get on meds, the suggestions that this was all hormones and I would regret leaving academia.

I focused on the quieter voices applauding my courage to be true to myself.
The hugs and encouragement to do what was best for me and my family.
I listened to myself. My instincts never fail me.

So we moved home...

#areurad
#iamnotashamed
#stigmahurts

**I hate disclaimers. I like to think people are smarter than they sometimes act. But just in case please remember that this is MY story. I do not offer professional guidance and my solutions are not meant to replace the advice from a professional. If you need help, please seek help. You are amazing. You are loved. Find yourself and what works for you...and damn anyone that has anything to say about it.**

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Part 1: My story #iamnotashamed #mentalhealthmonth

#iamnotashamed

This is a recent hashtag I came across during #mentalhealthmonth (May) that I really felt.  Deep down.  I wrote a post.  I edited the post.  I hesitated.  That's when I knew.  I even had some anxiety over it.  I didn't have time to write, time is so fucking impossible to regulate and obtain these days. Particularly for myself.  I knew I needed to release this burden.  But my hesitation let me know that maybe this hashtag struck a chord.  I wanted to use it.  I want to be unashamed.  But the truth is I feel very deep shame.

My depression has cycled off and on since I was 16.  I think that was the first time I sought help. Sometime right after I started oral birth control, which I would later learn was a direct contributor to my anxiety and depression.  I am very hormone sensitive.  Even the slightest fluctuations send my brain into a tizzy.  Ok, into a personal hell.  I would not learn this until graduate school.  Thanks, Neuroendocrinology seminar. And thanks to my amazing colleague who happens to be a former ob/gyn.

But I digress.

I wrote this.  I wanted to share it.  And I am going to. I am not adding a disclaimer or a warning.  This story is mine.  I own every bit of it.  I hold no one responsible for my experiences.  I do not blame anyone for their responses or reactions. Continue reading if you wish, with the knowledge that being fully transparent hurts. To write, to share...is to relive a little.  Sometimes a lot.  Hence my recent anxiety.  I do not write this for your entertainment or help.  I write this because somewhere out there someone is suffering silently, and they feel alone.  I write so maybe they read this in their darkest hour and know that I am here.  Many are here.  Right beside you.  You are not alone.  Please seek the help you need. You are loved. You are worth it. I love you.
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

And so I begin...

I was 15 the first time I cut myself. I used a razor, making small and barely noticeable lines that would bleed briefly before turning tomato red.  I am fair skinned so they were obvious.  Surprisingly it was rare anyone noticed. If they did I blamed my cat.  No, seriously.  People see and believe what they want to.  It's not their fault.  Sometimes I would make words out of them.  Loser and love were my favorite.  You can speculate why, I don't really remember.  I once cut a word deep enough that it took a little over a year before I could no longer trace the lines.
I was not suicidal.
I was sad.
I was overwhelmed.
I was disappointed with myself constantly.
I was not in control of my life.
The external stress was suffocating and cutting helped me breathe.

I was 17 or 18 the first time I REALLY thought about death.
Still overwhelmed with the need to control my life.
Still feeling like a failure.
That's the only curse word we acknowledge in my house now.  The only forbidden one.
When I began college the anxiety slowly began to take over.  A student in my year committed suicide.  I realized I needed help.  I withdrew from classes and started seeing a psychiatrist.
I got on meds and endured every side effect possible.  Nothing worked.  I tried them all.
And then I quit school, or rather I did not return after summer.
I looked for jobs, worked at a daycare, allowed myself to be conned by an older man and eloped 2 hours away from family.
I was 19 the first time I called the national suicide hotline.
I didn't want to die then, I wanted to escape.
Being verbally assaulted with all of the negative things I had been telling myself for years sucked.  It was a bad place to be. Locked out of my house.
I lied and said I was suicidal.  I just wanted someone to rescue me, but he had me convinced no one would.  No one loved me.  They took me to the hospital.  I lied some more.  Yes, I wanted to harm myself.  I signed myself into the psychiatric ward.  Did you know that is how it works now?  Sign yourself in but good luck getting out.  He visited me once.  Fucking ass.  They put me on a lot of meds and sent me to group therapy.  I don't remember any of it.  I was too drugged.  It was worthless but I was safe.  I remember a woman.  She was a friend I think.  I wish I knew if she was ok.  If she got help.  I remember telling the doctor I lied to get out of the pain he put me in.  I remember threatening a lawyer if they didn't let me out.  Apparently they only keep you so long before they will release you.  I won't discuss my thoughts of that process or system here.  But I will say it is why I went back to school later...

Asshole was too high (marijuana) to come get me.  I hitched home and called my parents.  They came of course, because they love me.  He did not.

I was determined to recover. I filed the divorce papers myself, by myself.  I didn't want help to undo my mistake.  I took our dog across 3 states to him so he had nothing to come back for.  I reconnected with old friends, not the good ones. I fell into their bad habits.  I self medicated with drugs, random sexual encounters.  I almost died from a drug over dose given to me by my "friends."
And so I decided it was time to really recover.  I sought out a therapist again.  I had a good job.  I went back to school.

Here my story takes a turn.  My therapist helped me see myself clearly.  We battled some demons, we conquered some mountains.  We tried more meds.  My love (now husband) suggested perhaps my birth control was to blame.  I investigated further.  Apparently this is a thing.  I quit everything cold turkey (I do NOT recommend or support this, please consult your healthcare provider).  It took about 6 weeks before I realized how different I felt,  Really different.  I started running then too.

Running saved me.  I saved me. Real love saved me.  I was not alone.

Graduate school derailed me some again.  So much stress.  So much uncontrollable.  Back into therapy.  Never stop working.  We managed.  We worked through.  And then we wanted a baby.

I cannot believe I didn't see it coming.
If hormones impacted me so much, what did I think pregnancy would do? Postpartum depression hit hard.  Lack of sleep plus wonky hormones plus desperate desire to not leave my baby at home or with a stranger.  Why couldn't I just be with him?

Why could I not just be a mommy?  THIS is what I was supposed to be doing...

This story takes a lot out of me.  You think you have worked through it and then you share it. Just like that, the emotions return.  Hard.  Heavy.  I will finish telling it.  I promise.  But for tonight I leave yu with this...I work every day.  Some days are easy peasy.  Others, not so much.
I am learning that sometimes it is ok to not be ok.
I am learning more about what I can and cannot handle.
I am learning when I need a break, a time out, a run.
That is the key.  To never give up.

That, and to never be ashamed of being human.

Because that is what we all are.
Human.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Running socks, running buddies, and just a lot about running

A few weeks ago I did the unthinkable.  I, Jessica the introvert, sent out a beacon via the interwebs.  "Desperately seeking a trail running buddy."  And I FOUND one!  Our first run together was a few weeks ago, a beautiful Sunday trail run.  And with a goal to just slowly get out there, maybe 3ish miles, we managed almost 4.  It was a great match. The conversation flowed, the running was challenging but fun.  I could not believe my luck. We ran again this past Sunday, and today she is joining me on the road.  It is different running with someone.  You must allow yourself some level of vulnerability.  Runs can be beautiful, and then you have the urge to spit or need to pop behind a bush to pee.  Neither of which has happened yet, but these are considerations.  A running partner, like any relationship, is about balance and trust.  If one of you needs to work some stuff out you could end up dragging your partner along on a killer run, potentially injuring one or both of you along the way. Or perhaps you wake up not feeling like those running shoes, but you already committed.  Are you really going to let yourself down AND someone else?  It is a great responsibility.  Not to be taken lightly.

And I don't.

My last post I briefly mentioned going into business with my husband, venturing into the realm of fitness and health at a level I have never been.  I have been searching myself for how this fits with my life goals, with the person I want to be. Yes, I have a degree in exercise psychology. Yes, my PhD focus was on the neuroscience of exercise.  Fabulous and exciting.  So what?  I can cite all the damn research about why exercise is this amazing thing, how it is comparable to medication and psychotherapy in the treatment of anxiety and depression.  The psychological and cognitive benefits are quite vast.  It's role in neuroplasticity is epic.  And don't get me started on how it helps with the aging process and traumatic brain injuries. Don't believe me? Here is some science backing it up: Sciency Stuff.  The point is, we know.  Science knows.  The hard part is translating this beyond the overly simplistic approach that exercise and physical activity (yes they are defined differently) are GOOD for us.  And damned if I have that figured out yet.  But then I started running with a buddy.
I started actually communicating with another person while running.  It is then I began to realize just what I was capable of offering.  I can talk about exercise and physical activity  effects on mood/psychological health/cognition to a degree, but more importantly I am physically capable of SHOWING the benefits.  I am a running example.  I am not perfect, I have my days.  Stress is a nightmare for me that plunges me into depths of anxiety unbearable for me and those closest to me.  But I am managing my life.  One day at a time.  One mile at a time.  For me, running with someone is a HUGE step.  It is evidence of how far I have come.  As a person, as a runner.  It shows me I have levels of confidence in myself and my ability to run that I never had before.  I don't feel any anxiety over the newness of being around someone.  I only feel the thrill of a run.  It allows me to be more comfortable.  More at ease.  More myself.

As I embark upon this giant leap into the unknown universe of business owner and movement professional I am becoming increasingly aware of how mine and my business partner's roles differ.  Where he is all about the body, I am more into the mind.  Which makes us a perfect blend for a wholistic approach to movement.  It takes more than just the physical ability to move ourselves, it takes the desire to,

Got your socks on?  Then put on your shoes and run. It is never too late to start moving.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Getting down to business

 The mornings I wake up and immediately throw on a pair of running shorts are some of my best days.  Those are the days I allow my body to take charge, before my mind has even awaken from slumber, before caffeine has coursed its way through my system.  Usually this action of wardrobe choice will lead to a good run, or at the very least a day filled with constant activity.  With two littles under three, activity is rarely something I lack.  There are some days I only sit when they are asleep.

Yet it is the days when I actually make it out my door in my running shoes that really take me places.

To recap why I began blogging let's go back to the beginning.  If you did not join me from the beginning of my journey into writing, openness, mental health acceptance...allow me to recap. I have battled with anxiety and depression since puberty.  We can skim the contribution of hormones and oral contraceptives to this battle, as that's a whole other discussion. So off I go to college, worn out from a pretty rocky adolescence of too demanding of an education and too emotionally charged life experiences.  I lasted all of one year at Emory University before calling it quits on college.  Yes, I quit.  I needed a break and I took a 2 year one.  Again, we will skim over the plethora of life lessons afforded during this time...including that time I married a con artist who verbally abused me, that time I almost died from a drug overdose, that time I woke up and realized I may or may not have been sexually assaulted by a work colleague...yea, some break, huh? I pulled through the shit and managed to land an ok full time job that I could not progress in.  Not because of any inadequacies or incompetence of my own, but because I had the audacity to be a young female.  In a blue collar, boys club world...I didn't get the chance to be boss.  So, in true Jessica fashion, I said 'fuck em all' and set off to educate those asshats on just what brilliance looks like.

There I was, a full time employee taking night classes at the local state college, and kicking ass.  Take that you ignorant sexist pricks.  Fast forward a bit and I transferred to a private college that offered the degree I wanted at night, and I began my journey into psychology.  Discovering myself along the way.  At this point my family noticed and offered me the chance to quit my job and pursue my degree full time, and so there I was back in school again.  In 2008 I completed my BA in Psychology at Wesleyan College, but that was not the turning point for me.  My dream began in my final semester, while working on my senior thesis.  A dream I all but shelved during graduate school as I ventured into a less people-centric exploration of the brain. Yet two failed career attempts later I find myself ready to transition, ready to stand on my tip toes and bring down that dream.  It's a little dusty, but hard work and dirt have never scared me.

I started wanting to incorporate exercise into cognitive behavioral therapy when I first learned there was such a thing. That people actually did just that.  One internship with some really hard cases and I decided I didn't have the chops to work with people.  But perhaps I just needed a different approach.

Somehow my journey has brought me full circle. 

On the brink of training for my first marathon (that's 26.2 miles for you running newbies), having just been conned again...this time over a job that was clearly too good to be true...I began evaluating what I wanted in life. 
I want to run. 
I want to live. 
I want to love and be present for my family. 
I want to educate others on the optimal abilities of our brains, brought about through healthy lifestyles and activity. 
I want to be free from the stress of working jobs that just don't quite fit me. 
I want to write. 
But how can I do this? 

Insert my husband's dream to one day own his own facility.  To begin his own business.  To be himself.

Insert my ability to learn, organize, instruct, train, mentor, support.

Insert my need to continue on my journey towards a stronger sense of self, adapting my life to incorporate less stress. 
My desire to help others, perhaps not in a clinical sense, but in a human sense.
As someone who has been personally affected by mental illness and taken the time and energy to find the regimen that works for me, it seems only fitting that I share what I have learned along the way.

All of this to say I am not quite done learning, growing, and changing.

Why not take on another title while I am at it?
Coach Mama, PhD has an unique ring to it.

Ware taking a big step.  Some may even call it a big risk. 
 But what is adventure without risk?

I never fathomed in my 33 years that I would be training for a distance of 26.2 miles, nor did I ever imagine I would step out of my comfort zone and embrace a more non-traditional career. 
Let alone start our own business. 

A family business. You read that right.

But I am fortunate to have an amazing partner.  One whose own dreams I fully embrace and believe in, as he does mine. 

Together we will do great things. 
Together we will learn to move mountains, not carry them. 


Friday, May 6, 2016

Let's try running, maybe we get somewhere

You think I run to regulate my brain chemistry, maintain my physical appearance, empty my mind of worry and stress, escape. Fair guesses...


You are wrong.


I run to breathe.
Inhale, Exhale.
Repeat indefinitely.


I run because to not run is far worse.
I run for inspiration.
I run to teach my children what strong looks like, and how strong their mama is capable of being.


I run because I can.


I run.


This is not about whether you like running, or if YOU run or not.
This is not about you at all.


Perhaps my stories sound familiar, seem similar, or are simply very relatable to you.
Ultimately it is just me and my journey you are reading about. 
My choices.  My mistakes.  My victories.


Feel free to tag along, it is why I write, to share openly with you.


Hell, sooner or later you might even find yourself running. 
It adds a little adventure to life.


Be strong. Be RAD.

Friday, April 29, 2016

I don't want to write, I want to live (January 2016)

This is an original post written in January of this year...left un-posted because I was too humiliated by our situation.  My latest career flop has led me to believe there is no such thing as failure anymore. Only doing.  Some things work out, some things don't.  
And this is MY journey, so we will cover them all.

(January 2016) Life is a fucking shit hole these days. You want a nicer description, go watch a Disney movie.  I am all out of sugar coated lies today.

We actually hit rock bottom, with a whopping $100ish in the bank. No big deal until you remember we are parents to a 3 year old and almost 1 year old. The stress is unbearable. Jobs on the horizon, but rejections pouring in. So we keep pushing. The hubs is back working elsewhere in addition to his solo route, and we are quite literally living on a prayer, except we don't believe in prayer. 
Let me tell ya, I wish to fuck we did, because this sucks.

Kids at least are on Medicaid and WIC. 
It makes me want to hurl. 
How did two highly educated, hard working people like us end up here?
News flash: It did not take much.

Promises of employment. Promises of real jobs post-graduation. 
Take what you can get they said. 
Move wherever. 
They neglected to mention that you won't be adequately compensated for your degree. 
That jobs won't exist for your spouse. 
Enough spending to try and make it work and then we bailed, too soon. 
So here we sit. 
Fucking poor. 
And that is quite humbling. 
It doesn't matter how smart you are, or what your degree is...it's a shit show out there. 
And all that matters is how well you can sell yourself these days.

Everyone says we will catch a break. 
Great. 
When?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Christmas 2015

I have posts stockpiled that I am slowly editing for release to the universe.  
Late, but still worthy of a read or two.  

This post is from Christmas 2015, written for my children.

There will be times when the magic eludes you. When you lose hope. 
There will be times when you can not bear the pain.

And yet you will continue.

There will be so much disappointment.

And there will be aching joy.

There will be times you are so happy that you don't know how to embrace it all. It will literally leak from your glistening eyes.

Life will go on, until one day it doesn't. 
And that is ok. 
Because everything must come to an end eventually. 
It is how we accept the end that matters most.

How we love. How we live. How we endure.
Together.

Family.

With strength, but not without fear, just the mastery of fear. 
You can face it. 
I promise.

One day you will wake up and the magic will stare you straight in the face and you will realize that you never really gave up. 
As long as you are breathing, as long as you get out of bed, as long as you try....you have NOT failed.

I will always believe in you.

Always.
My love will never falter.
You are my inspiration. My courage. My strength. My greatest fear and my greatest success.
My children.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I am writing, but not yet sharing.

Check out @areUrad's Tweet: https://twitter.com/areUrad/status/695082540927942656?s=09