Midweek Motivation: Looking for The Silver Lining

I can’t lie, this week I’m not feeling all that optimistic about life but I’m trying. I really am. So I naturally turned to music to keep me going. Jazmine Sullivan’s “Silver Lining” definitely has me covered. Here are my favorite parts.

I may not have a reason to think so
I know, but today I think I’m gone win the lottery
Or maybe when I finally get home
That job I need they gone call to hire me
So if I’m looking up don’t mind me
But I can’t be, (I just can’t be) I can’t be down no more
And if you don’t know where to find me

I’m out looking
I’m looking for the silver lining
The silver lining, and I don’t know where
But I’m hoping I’ll find it
I’m looking for the silver lining

If you’ve never listened to the song, you need to…immediately. You’re welcome. 🙂

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Midweek Motivation: Embracing the Here and Now

The past two weeks of grad school have been just awful from rude professors to a heap of papers  I have just been banking on the end of the semester to find my sanity. That was until my sister convinced me to finally adopt a dog (which I have been saying I wanted to do forever).

So meet Miffy, my four-month old puppy that I brought home from the Humane Society yesterday. She’s sweet, spoiled, and zany. Best of all she is a reminder to take everything one day at a time because goodness knows housebreaking and training her can only be thought of in those terms. Haha!

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long drives, Zoloft hazes, and love

We were in the car after I left a difficult graduate presentation.I had spaced out, completely closed off in my thoughts.I envisioned escaping and never coming back.The same bus or car, route of escape dream came back to me.The one I’ve had since I was a very young child (I don’t know if I’ve ever known true happiness.)

Suddenly he asked me if I wanted to deejay because he was driving and he didn’t have a destination. I thought how cool is that? We can just leave it all behind. Forget everything. Just me and him. Maxwell’s song “Lake by the Ocean” was playing and I couldn’t think of a better song for us to hear as we left the place that didn’t want or need us.

And then suddenly the cloudiness of Zoloft lightened and I thought about how we need a tomorrow. We still had a chance. I needed to clear my head. Let’s try to get off on that exit, yeah exit 31 Oneida County Park. Let’s see what they have there. Fuck, the restroom was closed. I had to pee like hell. Too much water. We turned around and started driving.

I could tell he didn’t want to go back. I could tell he had seen me totally inconsolable for days, crying, hopeless…it was starting to get to him. He didn’t know what to tell me. Sometimes he didn’t know if he even believed in Allah anymore. If he was real, why did our baby have to go? But he decided that he would stay strong to help me get through. He would do anything. Drive away. Give it all up if he had to–just to see me smile again. We are young, reckless, and in love. 

He is the poem that I never had the words to write. He is faith when I no longer believe. He is courage when I’m not strong enough to be. He is laughter when I’ve lost my joy. He is the spirit that uplifts me when I’m too weak to get out of bed. He is understanding in this confusing thing called life. He is who he is. And that’s why I am so in love with the very essence of who he is and who he will be. Thank you for spending your life with me.

With love always,

Dominique

Midweek Motivation: Releasing Guilt

I decided today that I will no longer blame my body for what happened. I cannot carry the weight of of guilt. Progress just won’t let me.

I know that I can’t bring my baby back. No matter how often I dream of her face or wish to touch her tiny fingers and toes again. It will be no more. It’s cruel but it is not my fault. One of the most difficult lessons that I knew I would have to teach her is self-love. I knew that I would have to lead by example. I knew she would always be watching, waiting to see what mommy did. I was the same way with my mom. It’s a great responsibility that I would have been privileged to have.

Even though she is no longer physically with me, I will still lead by example. I will be just as loyal, loving, and kind to myself as I am with others. I will love me so much that I won’t cheat on myself. In the same way that I work through issues with my spouse, I will complete the emotional homework necessary to create a better life for myself. I will learn. I will grow. I will love me. I am releasing undeserved guilt and welcoming in unconditional self-love.

It’s just not ‘my day’…

Today, I am weak, tired, and over life. I’m done with pretending. I’m done with trying. I just want to rest. Whatever that means.

I cry when I feel like I’ve completely lost her. I feel like I can no longer locate my mother’s voice. I need her to say, “Hey, Chicken” one more time. I need her to tell me I’m going to be okay. Is her spirit leaving me? Was she ever with me?

Miguel asked, “Do you still believe in love?”

I’m not sure. There are so many kinds of love and I’ve lost all of them. The love of a parent, the love of a child, the love of friends, the love of former boyfriends. I’ve lost. I’ve lost.

I’m lost. When will I find me?

Summer 2016 Bucket List

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I know that New York State can’t decide what season its in but I’ve decided to make my summer plans anyways. I will be taking a summer research/internship trip to Detroit for two months (mid June to mid August) but that still leaves me a little over a month and a half to take full advantage of warmer weather as well as my first summer as a married gal. So with no further ado, here is the list that I compiled in no particular order:

  1. Visit a state or amusement park.
  2. Have a water fight.
  3. Visit the botanical gardens/take pictures
  4. Have a picnic at the park.
  5. Visit a dog shelter.
  6. Watch the sunset (with a spectacular view of the city).
  7. Visit the beach (my husband added that this is a must).
  8. Read 3 books.
  9. Practice pilates with someone.
  10. Attend a fair/festival.
  11. See an outdoor concert.
  12. See a psychic (I saw this on someone else’s bucket list and thought it sounded fun).
  13. Meditate outside.
  14. See a drive-in movie.
  15. Take an evening drive.
  16. Catch a firefly.
  17. Buy something new from the farmer’s market.
  18. Make a summer mocktail.
  19. Get a couple’s massage.
  20. Go on a bike ride.

Q & A: Being in a relationship with someone going through major life changes

As promised earlier this week, I sat down with my spouse for a seven question-and-answer session about what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone who is making a lifestyle change. Here’s how he feels about our situation and his advice to others experiencing similar periods of growth:

What have you learned from my physical wellness journey about me, yourself, and/or us?

I’ve learned why you have always cared so much about your health. You’ve always been healthy, so it wasn’t until this recent weight gain where I understood your perspective. Talking about your family’s history of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity helped me understand where you were coming from.

What is unique about our situation?

We’re grieving. We just lost our daughter several months ago. You were six months pregnant, in a normal healthy pregnancy and we lost her. So naturally you gained weight from pregnancy but then you gained extra weight from depression. I imagine you feel like it’s a waste of your body. You were able to with deal with your body changing because that’s what happens during pregnancy but to not receive the reward and joy of holding your newborn is cruel. Now it feels like you are struggling to remove the physical scars so you can move forward. I watch you struggle. I watch you cry. Seeing you hurt yourself…it’s really hard for me. I ask myself, “What can I do?” Most of the time…it feels like nothing.

What coping mechanisms do you see me using on a day-to-day basis?

I see you trying to schedule your grief. You put your grief on hold for a couple of hours at the gym and then return to it when you get home. It’s hard to deal with it. I see you trying to deal with this by yourself. Honestly it’s been a struggle for me.

What is the most positive thing that has come from this?

We have been more open in terms of communication. You’ve actually expressed your fears and other things whereas you used to keep it to yourself. It’s important to talk to people that you are close to about your issues instead of holding things inside.

What is the most frustrating thing about being in a relationship with someone making this lifestyle change?

It’s extremely difficult when you don’t see all the progress you are making. Change doesn’t happen overnight. So it’s difficult to watch you overlook all the things you’ve accomplished.

How does it impact your day-to-day life?

Now I have to be mindful of what I say and how I say it. For example, I’m careful when I say, “You are beautiful” because you don’t accept what I say anymore. You usually respond with something like, “Ugh, do you see what I look like?” or “There’s nothing beautiful over here, whatever”. It hurts to hear the way that you think about yourself because I don’t feel that way about you at all. I imagine other people have had the same experience. It’s hard for me to deal with because I don’t know how it feels to be you, in your body. Sometimes I feel like I’m expected to know things that I have no way of knowing.

What is your advice for other people who are trying to support their partner?

Every case is different but in general just be patient with them. Listen and hear them out even if you don’t understand how they feel or what bothers them. You cannot assume things. It takes a lot of patience and sometimes constantly inquiring about their emotional well-being. Things change in life.

I just want to conclude this mini-interview by saying thank you to my spouse who graciously provided me with honest answers. I know talking to me these days feels like walking on a tightrope but you do it every day. Thanks for sticking it out with me. You are always appreciated and very much loved.

Aside from that, I hope this Q &A was helpful to you or someone you know. Feel free to leave a comment or question on anything that we addressed or you want to be addressed in a future post.

 

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Suicide Part Two: Faith for the Faithless

Religion has never been my thing but I’ve always been fascinated it and respected other people’s beliefs. I often think of the things we inherit through blood, energy, and spirit. I was dragged to church as a kid. Often by my maternal grandmother or mother. Occasionally by my father. He’s always been a skeptic who proudly says, “I believe in science.” Predominately raised by his devout grandmother, he attended church, read the the Bible, and sang along with the choir. She was a spirited woman who played pranks on family members well into her eighties. Everyone loved her. When she lost her battle with cancer, the last piece of him that ‘believed’ died.

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My maternal side is also known to be quite the religious bunch. My grandmother converted from being a Seventh Day Adventist to a Baptist which seems to be the result of an overly-strict upbringing. My grandfather was raised by an ultra religious woman but trust me, he’s always been easy-breezy about religion (that is until the occasional tragic moment strikes). So it’s not surprising that my mother, the daughter of a convert and fly guy would have questions about ‘the Church’. In fact, all I knew of my adult mother was her constant spiritual quest for peace and understanding. Goodness knows what sort of religious struggles she went through as a teenager.

Her quests led us to celebrate Christmas,  Hanukkah,  a failed attempt at Kwanzaa (the year she decided to focus more on ethnic background than religion), Ramadan, and finally no holidays as she became a Jehovah’s Witness in the last years of her life.

 

All the while, I hated church and all the pomp and circumstance that came with it. The screaming pastor, the praise dancing, the older woman’s shakes and screams when she ‘caught’ the Holy Ghost. I was sick of being forced to be ‘about that life’ in the midst of my parents’ struggles to make us (the children) whole because they felt broken.

So when life hit me in the form of physical and verbal abuse, alcoholism, death, grief, depression, unemployment, alcoholism, and financial strife I felt completely lost for a while. It made me think: what happens for us skeptics and other non-believers when life gets real? How do you save yourself  when you’ve lost hope? What do you lean on when all your faith in humanity is gone?

Keep reading to find out more about my issues with Jehovah’s Witnesses in Part 3.

If you didn’t catch the beginning of my mental/emotional downspiral. Please read Suicide Part 1: The Beginning of Hopelessness.

 

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Changing Your Mindset About Physical Activity

Last Saturday, I felt like I failed myself. I had looked at pictures of myself from the past month and I didn’t feel like I had achieved the progress that I so strongly yearned for. I mean, I’ve been working hard, giving exercise my all. So why was I miserable and simply losing the motivation to be active?impossible photo.jpg

I turned to trusty old Google and typed in something to the effect of, “how to learn to love running.” A three-year old article from Elle popped up and completely changed the way I think of physical activity. In the article, Virginia Sole-Smith talks about her lack of motivation to be active. Surprisingly, it’s not the story of the stereotypical couch potato who is simply too ‘lazy’ to realize the benefits of movement. No, this story spoke to a lifelong battle of body insecurities. Sprinkle in diets, fitness ‘kicks’, and fitness ‘fails’ and you’ve described the majority of women around the world.

Now here’s what I gained from the article:

Women often identify exercise in terms of weight loss or weight management. Even the so-called less vain response of “I’m doing it for my health” is often laden with weight loss rhetoric. According to her motivational coach, Michelle Segar, people (especially women) have to reprogram their brain to really see physical movement as a thing of everyday life not just as a means to the end of weight loss.

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Being physically active shouldn’t feel like a punishment. Yet, so many fitness gurus spend their time telling their clients, “no pain, no gain”, “summer bodies are made in the winter”, and other rhetoric that separates people that are willing to endure torture and those that aren’t.

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Lastly, if physical activity is really a part of your life, you won’t have a meltdown over one missed day or not going as ‘hard’. In fact, I missed the gym one day last week. Instead of spiraling into depression (like I normally would), I shrugged it off, made sure that I continued to eat well, drank enough water, and went to bed on time. I told myself the world wouldn’t end and guess what? It didn’t. I returned fully-motivated (even a bit restless since I skipped a day) and I actually appreciated the energy release.

Overall the article made me realize that I have started to internalize those non-motivating workout mantras instead of really enjoying myself. Although I said I was making “lifestyle” changes, I spent 90 percent of my time thinking about how my life could return to normal once I dropped the excess weight.Last month I discovered that I enjoy Pilates but did I allow myself to get too excited? No. I told myself that I needed to focus solely on weight loss which meant cardio, cardio, and just in case you forgot–more cardio! Looking back on that moment, it sounds so stupid. The point is to be physically active in as many ways as possible, hopefully in ways that I actually enjoy.

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I decided to share my good news with my partner. He thought it was interesting that I had just now come to that conclusion as he had been watching me damn-near kill myself for months at the gym. No really…

As he talked, I sat on the couch, embarrassed as I listened to him re-enact the excessive huffing, puffing, and gasping for air as I (in my mind) jogged my way to weight loss on the treadmill. He saw the moments when I cranked the speed up way too high towards the end of a long session. He saw my desperate attempts to grasp the rails for support. He saw my exasperated facial expressions as I clung to dear life, determined not to make a fool of myself by passing out.

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I was mortified. Simply mortified. The article helped me break through the mental block of motivation but my spouse reminded me how careless I was being on my warped, suicide mission for self-worth. This wasn’t self-care. This was torture. Geez, no wonder why I didn’t like this shit.

Then I started to think about how my obsessive behavior was not only affecting me, but also my relationship with him and probably others. So this Friday, I will be posting a special Q &A with him on what it means to be the partner of someone that is trying to be more physically active. Stay tuned…