Saturday, January 30, 2010

Slaying Dragons

Stress is my dragon.  She's trying to eat me, and I'm embarrassed to admit it.  I guess I thought I'd be able to handle her because I'm an expert worrier (these here are shoulder length Kevlar gloves and that's a 100,000 lb. tensile strength harness).  I worry about everything, all the time (practice makes perfect).  For example, later today we will set up a surprise party for a friend, and I'm worrying right now because I'm terrible at tying balloons.  Really (it's important to stretch when handling such a large beast).

Unfortunately, I'm not so good at handling periods of really intense stress (if I'd had the strength to crate train her earlier, I think she'd be better behaved).  When things get bad, the stress affects my entire life (singed hair, singed eyebrows, singed seat).  I have a really hard time keeping it together when it feels like everything is falling apart (skill with the whip has saved my hide more than a few times).

Work has reached new levels of stressful in the last few weeks (she ate the whip).  I have panic attacks all the time, I'm barely managing to work out once a week, I forget to eat, and when I do eat I eat crap (when did she start breathing so much fire?).  I hate to admit it, but something has got to change (she's got to go).  I've worried so much, for so long that I don't know how to change it (she's like a pet to me), but it's becoming really unhealthy (she keeps biting me!).

I want to reduce the stress in my life, but I'm not having much luck (bullets-no, grenades-no).  I can't just tell my stress to leave, and techniques like yoga just add to my stress because I don't feel like I have time for it (hand to hand combat has not been successful).  I do feel like success is closer because I'm aware of the problem; now I just have to find the solution (enchanted blade, anyone?).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Putting it in writing

I hate New Year's Resolutions.  I hate the spur of the moment nature of the claims, the self-congratulation, and more than anything, I hate the high rate of failure Resolutions have.  So instead, I give myself goals.  The New Year might give a great opportunity to take stock, but goals can be modified or achieved at any point in the year.  I wanted to write about my goals earlier this month, but I wasn't able to, and that's okay.  The extra time allowed me to fine tune and reevaluate some of my goals, and now I really feel like they're all achievable.  For 2010, my goals are:

1.  To not smoke.  At all.  Ever. My TV likes to show me an ad about how 95% of people who quit smoking in the New Year will fail by the end of the year.  I am making the decision every day, sometimes every five minutes, to be in that 5% who succeed.  It hasn't actually been very difficult, but I take the risk of failure seriously.

2.  To exercise 3 times each week.  I'm not trying to run a marathon, I'm trying to quit smoking.  Exercise reinforces my desire not to smoke and helps me feel in control.  Obsessing about my BMI is also better than obsessing about smoking.

3.  To plan.  This goal is important to me.  Each year I get a planner and attempt to use it all year.  I think I made it to March last year.  I want this year to be the year I make planning a habit.  It also helps me with several of my other goals, like exercising, and to feel more in control.

4.  To be concious of what I eat and drink.  This goal is difficult to quantify, but so far I'm on track to make this an all-the-time habit.  I am trying to be aware of my caloric intake, nutrition, and the environmental impact of what I eat.  It doesn't always change my food choices drastically, but I feel like it helps.

5.  To improve my finances.  This goal may be more long-term than any of the others, but I really only have two "items" to work on.  A negative mark to correct and a loan I would like to pay off early.  This is a goal about awareness and responsibility.  So far, I've still shopped, but I've also cleared two items from my credit report.

6. To write and to read.  I want to write every week, even if it isn't fantastic.  It's more about the exercise of writing.  I'm using my blog for this goal so that my success or failure will be public.  I also want to read at least 1 new(to me) book each month.  I don't feel like this is a big goal, but it's really about maintaining the habits of writing and reading.

When I look at all my goals in writing, it seems a little overwhelming, but when I think about it, I can't see removing any of them.  Achieving one or some of these goals will help me achieve others.  They fit together in a way I really like.  So far, I'm succeeding at not smoking, eating/drinking awareness, reading, finances, and planning more than at exercising and writing, but I'm still doing alright at those two.  I expect that planning, exercising, and writing will be the ones I have the most difficulty maintaining.  I'm planning on writing one blog entry each month about my goals so that I can stay focused all year.  Hopefully all of my future "Goals" posts will be positive.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What was I saying?

It's a new year with a lot of new goals, but I'm already distracted.  Among my goals is one to set some standards of improvement for my writing and meeting those standards.  I can't even come close to this one if I hide from my blog, but that's exactly what I've been doing tonight.  Hiding.  From my blog.

I haven't been hiding because I'm lazy, I swear.  I've been hiding for the worst reasons.  I wanted to write about my goals tonight.  I wanted to write about the specific things I want to accomplish this year, but I really just can't.  Instead I am heartbroken for friends and grieving their tragedy. Even that feels wrong, like I don't have a right to feel terrible for them.  But I do.  I can't seem to stop crying.

In any case, I can't write about their tragedy because that would be the most awful theft.  So that leaves me writing about how I'm not writing about what I wanted to write about. 

Huh.  I just spent ten minutes staring and the screen and trying not to cry.  I will leave my goals for another day, once the shock has passed.

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Address

I moved the blog.  I didn't move it far, but I did move it.  It felt like a good idea, so the blog can be more a tool for writing wherever that might take me.  I hope you continue reading, commenting, and correcting.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Breathing deeply

It's not how they said it would be. It's not really a "craving," or a "fit." It's more like momentary vertigo. As I step out of some, but not all doors, there is a moment when it feels like I'm falling. I feel like I should be smoking, like something is wrong because I'm not lighting up. It's shocking and disturbing every time, maybe more so because it seems to happen randomly.

Other times, when I'm stressed or feeling overwhelmed, those feelings echo and amplify. I feel like I might drown in the emotion. Screaming and crying are the only reactions. Nothing else is even possible. It's selfish, ridiculous, and embarrassing.

Frequently my mind will the gratification of breaking kneecaps and headbutting. The heel of my hand striking a collarbone. What? I may have trouble watching my language. I apologize a lot. For swearing, for snapping, for sarcasm.

And then, there are the millions of in-between moments when it's just breathtakingly easy. When I don't even think about it. The rolling blanket of control barely punctured by the moments of vertigo and doubt. It's the moments just after vertigo when it really seems like I can do it. Each of those moments is a white-knuckle grip on reality...and the world settles. I only have to hold on for a second.