With palms together,
I wish you all a Good Morning.
I woke with my alarm…4:00 AM. I briefly debated with myself, not about running but about getting up to run. I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with my early morning runs. One one hand the cards are few and the ability to be left utterly alone with my thoughts are great. The downside, it’s 4:00 AM.
There are nights when I collapse into bed, exhausted from the day’s efforts. I push myself to the limits throughout the day, so much so my physical health has been negatively affected and I have questioned whether or not I need to look for other employment. I think about my private practice and if I am going to put this much time and energy into one activity, it should at least benefit me more directly. There are those days when my satisfaction cannot be measured as it is off the charts with happiness and satisfaction. There are also those days when I question why I am working so hard. It is these times when the run seems uphill and endless.
I enjoy pushing myself to the limits and enjoy the days when a feeling of tired envelopes me like a warm blanket and refuses to let go. Recently I found myself in a downward spiral, a feeling of sadness which I could not shake. When these times arise I find myself feeling sorry for myself. I focus only on the negative and when I attempt to pull myself out of this downward spiral, I find that society at large also focuses on the negative and the spiral deepens making my attempt to pull myself out more difficult. It is times such as these that I begin to resent myself and my profession. The catch-22 is when I find myself in this dark place, emotional exhaustion takes hold and reigns supreme. My running, I allow me the opportunity to revisit these dark places and confront the fears which they contain.
I recently began a new job, one which felt exciting at the time until I realized the interviews with which I was enraptured were to hold more pitfalls, more disappointment than they would excitement. I find myself not wanting to rise early and to participate in the one activity which has helped me cope and helped me to come out of this dark place. Rising at 4:00 AM only reminds me of the start of the day which brings daily disappointment closer to reality. The emotional energy which is drained resurfaces from time to time throughout the day offering a glimmer of hope which is usually broken down within hours.
I have been working on a project and it has been difficult to make the time necessary to continue to move forward. My days have been tedious and filled with activities related to my work which have caused the loss of my love for my career. As a social worker, I help others manage the stressful life events which when not managed well can contribute to symptoms of anxiety and depression.
My time rising and running at 4AM has often been a lifeline of sorts for me. Contrary to popular belief I often have more energy throughout the day than when I do not rise to run. Those same runs also help me to manage the inevitable stress which arises at some points within minutes of my arrival at the office. My runs have become a popular coping mechanism
Many of the barriers which I face throughout the day are self-imposed. I enjoy this concept and the eye rolling as many readers refuse to accept that not everything with which we are confronted is the cause of someone or something else. The self-imposed barriers are a result of our perceptions that our life is not going in the direction which we would like. It is beliefs such as these which lead to self-destructive behaviors and attitudes. When I allow myself to become fixated within the narrow boundaries of these thoughts and beliefs, my struggle with depression becomes increasingly difficult to manage. It can be difficult to remain focused as we navigate through our lives. My strength has been to approach these times with patience, persistence and perseverance which offers a gentle reminder that everything will be alright.
With palms together,
I wish you all a Good afternoon
I woke this morning feeling physically and emotionally drained from a work week which left me, or should I say “I allowed the week to drain from me the energy which I need to live a happy, joyous life.” My weekly long run has moved from Saturday to Sunday more out of necessity than of choice.
My new job has left me with questions. There have been more questions than answers. This I can live with as I know the answers are there. Perhaps I am looking to hard and my expectations too great.
The biggest question has been “Do I want to do this anymore?”The first question is “What is this?” This is my career in Social Work. I LOVE meeting with patients and I LOVE the art of counseling and therapy. This job, not unlike others in the past is purely administrative. What I have been exposed to so far has left me speechless and wondering. Like the Seven Wonders of the World, I have been wondering if I want these responsibilities any longer.
My new best friend, in addition to the increase in stress and general unhappiness, has been a blood pressure monitor. While high blood pressure genetically runs in my family and despite running 30-plus miles every week, my blood pressure has been of concern; so much so I have been contemplating contacting my doctor to discuss medication. Medication is not a choice which I wish to pursue but experiencing a stroke is even less tasteful.
I want to believe I have a solid self-care plan which, in addition to my running includes daily meditation. These items in my plan have not been enough to counter my concerns. There appears to be no end in sight for the stress which I have been feeling. The coming week should if my prediction is accurate should bring with it an increase in stress levels which may force me to make decisions or at least a decision.
As I write this piece, I sit in one of the places where stress cannot reach me. It is the one place which actually energizes me and helps me to recharge my batteries and balance the scales. This is a place where finding joy is an easy task. If anyone has guessed, it is the outdoors. I have been walking for over an hour and thoughts of writing have been pouring out of me, so much so I found myself stopping, pulling a notebook from my pocket and writing down these thoughts. I am also reminded that there is no stress with me. My posture has improved as has the weight on my shoulders.
I reached my destination, remove my pack and begin to furiously scribble my thoughts. Happiness returns. For fun, I remove the blood pressure monitor which I allowed to accompany me on this hike. I place it on my wrist and press the start button. The whir of the electronics causes the cuff to tighten and begin to measure my blood pressure. The unit beeps indicating it has completed its task and I cautiously look at the results; well within normal ranges. The only other time during the week has been upon waking and upon returning from a run.
The thought of resigning flashes through my head as it does several times each day. A letter with Thoreau wrote to Harrison Blake on November 16, 1857, said, “It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about? This resonates with me as I feel once the key has been retracted from the door of my office and I have entered my office that I have stepped upon a treadmill not to get off until the workday has come to an unofficial end. I say “unofficial” because we reside in a society where leaving the office by 5 PM is often frowned upon and sometimes viewed as a weakness. This belief, in the past had left me with pangs of guilt. It now leaves me with a smile as I speed away from the building which houses my office and to leave it for another day. This treadmill of which I speak seems as all treadmills are to be never ending. Many days pass by with me wondering what I have even accomplished as most days there is nothing measurable but the deep waters over which I have traveled.
Almost as if on cue, a dark cloud passes overhead; the breeze which was cooling now increases and raindrops begin to fall. It’s not going to rain but it is enough to ensure I have cover. Within minutes, the sun begins to again make an appearance. This is my typical workday; cloudy with a chance of sun. The moments of sunshine are synonymous with the time during the day when stress feels less and I find myself smiling and thinking, “This isn’t too bad. I can do this.”
None of us ever wants to admit we are powerless over what happens throughout the day. We are however not powerless over our responses. Choosing to react or respond requires energy. It is this energy which we so willingly choose to give away to others by blaming them for our life situations and life stressors. None of us accepts it is the behavior and attitudes which we choose to respond which will indicate the energy which we have remaining. Amazingly, none of us would be willing to share a morsel of food or a few dollars with another but we are all willing to give others complete and total control over our minds, our responses and more importantly, our happiness.
Decisions will need to be made. My health and happiness are far too important to be impacted by a paycheck…
In Thoreau’s last letter to Myron Benton in 1862, he says, “You ask particularly after my health. I suppose that I have not many months to live; but of course, I know nothing about it. I may add that I am enjoying existence as much as ever, and regret nothing. My desire is to regret nothing and herein lies the decision which will need to be made.
I walked to the store this morning in temperatures approaching -1. The sun was shining gloriously through a maze of multi-colored clouds. The snow crunching beneath my feet and the tip of my moustache beginning to freeze as I exhaled. I stood in line with my paper and when it became my turn to pay for my purchases I greeted the clerk with a warm hello and as I left, I suggested she “Have a nice day.” This comment, when it leaves my lips is meant as a soulful gesture; a gesture meant to remind the individual who has received this response that they have the power to “have a nice day.” Neither of my comments was met with a verbal response. There was a response at one point which although audible, was also unintelligible. In fact, it sounded more like a grunt.