Sunday, September 8, 2013

"Each day means everything's possible again." *

Today is Day 6 of the 21 Day Challenge. I've followed the food portion extremely well, and have lost 1 pound. I have not managed to walk a mile every day, however. The first day, I did about 2 miles...then didn't do anything for two days. The fourth day, I was going to walk after work, but we had a trip to the ER with my daughter, so that didn't happen. I walked probably two miles on Saturday (which was a break day), and then didn't walk today again. Still, for starting so much new stuff (challenge, job hours, church, Bible study, etc.), I think I'm doing okay.

The good thing is that tomorrow is a new day and that means "everything is possible again". So there's a good chance I can take my hour lunch and get my walk in on my lunch hour like I did last Tuesday.

Church was good this morning. Sunday School, aka Life Group, was interesting even though I hadn't studied the lesson and missed the first half of it last week. Then today was the first time I'd been able to hear the pastor speak. He and his family were on vacation when I first started coming, so all I'd heard were guest speakers and then another guest speaker when he came back. I missed church last week, as I said, so I didn't hear that sermon. Today was good, though. Spot on preaching and nothing that would just "tickle the ears" of anyone that was actively listening.

I'm learning to be better organized in things now, though my room is still not in tip-top shape. Lunches are being planned and packed the night before (just have to hope I don't forget to take them); Mom's meds are being put together for the week on Sunday evenings; mine will be when I get the new refills; and I'm planning better about my sleep habits. All these changes and additions to my life mean I need to be better at managing my time and my peripheral activities. Here's to hoping I do just that!

There is a small support group among my coworkers now. I named us the "Farabeeans" after another employee used the term in a general email to everyone. We work at the Helen Farabee Center, so it seems kind of catchy. The five of us in the group are working on healthy, positive goals for our lives which involves two of us doing the 21 Day Challenge to varying degrees, three of us giving up soda, and one of us quitting smoking. We have been trying to get together to do something on Saturdays as an encouragement and reward to ourselves. Yesterday, we went for a walk in the park then grabbed a sandwich at the local coffee shop. It was nice visiting with each other and getting to know each other better outside of work. I predict great things for all of us -- individually and as a team.

So that's what's going on right now. I've lost a pound and I'm not measuring my inches yet since I haven't been exercising much. But the thing I'm happiest about is no sodas in six days -- not even when it's been really, REALLY tempting!

* Marie Lu

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

“The beginning is always today.” *

And today was the beginning of the 21-Day Challenge. I committed in myself to do the mile walk every day and to follow the diet. The exercises are not something I'm going to commit to yet because for some reason I have a dread fear of jumping jacks. It's totally irrational, of course, as many of my fears are; but there you have it. I'll walk a mile, or two, and do some crunches and leg lifts and even attempt the elusive sit up...but I'm terrified of jumping jacks...and not just because of my large bosom.

Doing without soda during the day was fine: I took my spearmint, unsweetened, half-caffeinated tea to work in my big Tervis tumbler and made that last through lunch. I then had two bottles of water in the afternoon. Another glass of tea, this time sweet to finish off the old gallon so there was room in the fridge for the new gallon Dad bought. Water at the women's Bible study, though there were sodas for the taking. I wasn't even tempted by them. What I WAS tempted by, however, was the Pepsi I fixed for Mom before I left this evening. There is something about opening a bottle and pouring a glass of soda that just begs for at least a sip...if only to test if it had indeed gone flat. But I did resist.

I also resisted the crackers, the chips and salsa, and the miniature cupcakes (red velvet with cream cheese frosting!) that were served at the women's meeting. It wasn't difficult as there was plenty else to choose from: fruit (I passed on the dip), fresh veggies, cheese, and sliced meats. Dinner was a large salad with some protein in the form of cheese, chicken, and egg. I don't think the bacon bits count as protein, but it came with the salad and couldn't really be picked off, so there you have it...I ate the bacon. And loved it!

Lunch was pretty healthy: Triscuits, some hard salami (I know, not as healthy as I could have been), cheddar cheese, grapes, yogurt, and almonds. Almonds are my go-to snack when I want something crunchy anyway, so they are always in my desk drawer.

Lunch is already packed for tomorrow, too, with some celery and peanut butter going along for a mid-afternoon snack. My snack for meds tonight was a small bowl of Cheerios. I haven't been starving and I feel "cleaner" for having eaten so much fresh fruit and veggies today, so there's that.

Today was the beginning...and tomorrow will begin Day Two of the 21-Day Challenge.

*Mary Shelley

Monday, September 2, 2013

"I am Here to Live Out Loud" *

Well, I go and quote that, and yet I have been silent in here since October of last year. What have I been doing in all that time? A quick wrap up in no particular order:

I finished school in June and received my diploma in mid-July. I graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Creative Writing and English, and a minor in English Language and Literature. The plan was to start writing for a newspaper or magazine, but as is often the case in life things change. Because,

In February, I started volunteering at the local mental health authority and I was hired for part time work there in March. My position is Peer Provider (now with training and testing, it is Peer Specialist). This means I work with other people with psychiatric challenges and diagnoses to help them achieve a life beyond their illness, help them on their paths to recovery, and to be an example of what we can all achieve even with the problems that beset. Not all of them will go back to school, but some will. Some will get jobs, get their own apartments and houses, learn to drive, learn to shop on their own again and keep a budget: all the things I thought I might never do when I was first diagnosed with bipolar almost 9 years ago.

I met my coworker, Rhonda, when I got this job. We share an office and she, too, is a Peer Specialist. Her diagnosis is different than mine, but the challenges remain similar and our jobs are the same. We hit it off from the beginning and have become good friends. We were both hired for full-time positions which we start this week, still share an office, and now we hang out after work and on weekends, too. For the past four or five years, my New Year's Resolutions have included: "Make one new friend." This year, it finally took, with little effort on my part.

In March or April, I went for a week long training in Austin to become a Peer Specialist. My boss was along for the ride down there because he was helping teach the course. Great for me, because I'm a chicken about driving. However, he had another meeting to attend after ours was over, and I had to drop him off and drive home by myself. I did it with some trepidation and a bit of a turn around when I took the wrong exit, but I ended up enjoying the ride home. Rental cars are always so nice to drive, it even turned out to be fun.

In May/June, Rhonda and I went to Houston for a three day "Focus for Life" training. We stayed in a hotel next to the one that burned down and in which several firefighters were killed. We were the only ones in our hotel for the remainder of the weekend, so that was kind of surreal. The training was fantastic and life-changing.

In June, we went to a couple of seminars, one here in Wichita Falls and one in Dallas, then we traveled to Dallas for the Advanced Course for Peer Specialists for three days. I traveled alone to Austin for a two-day course in July, and that put an end to travels and trainings for a while. Now, Rhonda and I, along with our boss, are looking forward to a convention in December, also to be held in Austin, in which people working in the mental health field come together from all over the state to learn about all kinds of things. I don't know all the particulars yet, but I'm hoping we get to go.

I quit working at Cracker Barrel back in March. I had received my five year pin in August and had made a promise to myself that I wouldn't be there for a ten year pin. Now that I am away from all the noise and visual stimulation, I find that I can work much better. I knew that an office environment would be good for me, and this new job is wonderful for that. I made friends at Cracker Barrel among my coworkers and I miss them, but I don't miss all the sensory overload that I had while I was there.

Now I am starting a new chapter. Tomorrow is my first day of full-time work and it is the first time in eight years I have worked full-time, even including the nine months I worked three different part-time jobs at the same time. I have started attending church again, including a women's Bible Study that starts tomorrow evening. Rhonda and I have also joined a 21-day challenge (below) that also includes an exercise plan and walking a mile a day. I'll get my mile in on my lunch hour at the 50+ Zone where I am now a member. I've met a gentlemen there that I talk with and go to the Zone's movies with from time to time. It's not a relationship, but a friendship, and that's fine by me.

So that's what is new with me since October. I'm sure there have been other things, but none earth-shattering that I can think of...not in my life anyway. I have been challenged to blog about my 21-Day Challenge and how things are going with that, so I will.

For now, I'm getting ready to go out with Rhonda for one last brownie before the big event. I plan to keep living life out loud, if without soda and yummies!

* Emile Zola