Tall Drink of Nerd: A Little Change
a blogumn by Amy Robinson
I know I’m a little late in my greeting, but Happy New Year FaN readers! So I guess I’m already blowing my resolution to not procrastinate (except, of course, on Friday afternoons when the Procrastinate on This blogumn appears.).
I had a head start on all ya’ll. My resolutions started last September. Since a lot of big changes had happened with slight effort on my part, I chose to make a few little adjustments. Those little things fixed me right up. Happily, the interwebs are chock full of free tools, that helped me with my September resolutions.
Here is the ‘before’ picture of me: In 2009 I left my job, my husband got laid off the day after my 40th birthday, my Mom had skin Cancer Surgery, we were robbed, we moved, my 18 yr old cat – who needed constant home medical treatment – died, my Dad was diagnosed with Leukemia and then passed away.
Late last August, when I came back from my Dad’s funeral, the stress of 2009 took me down. People who misuse the word ‘literally’ is one of my grammar pet peeves, so believe me when I say that I was literally knocked over by stress. I had vertigo, the world swam when I tried to stand, or simply turn over in bed. I had a fever for around 3 months. Life consisted of pushing myself through the day at my temp job and sleeping. Driving was impossible with my frazzled nerves, so my hub would cart my carcass to work and an express bus would ship me home.
After blood tests and x-rays and other doctor-y type investigations, we discovered the most obvious cause of my dysfunction was stress. Well, duh.
Normally, exercise is my de-stressor. I would get my hiney to a yoga class, but a downward-dog combined with vertigo led to more of a moaning-nauseated-collapsed-lump of dizzy. So I decided to try the gentler art of meditation. I had been meaning to start a regular meditation routine for years. Hallelujah for modern technology, or, there’s an App for that (actually several). MyMeditation Lite is free and has all the tools you need to learn to slow down and breathe. The timer can be set for as short as 6 minutes or as long as an hour. My first resolution was underway, for 20 minutes before work each morning, I sat and shut my brain up and focused on my breathing. (A simple no-extra-time needed meditation after the jump)
I also wanted a little more guidance and information so I searched Google and iTunes for guided/beginner meditations. After finding a bunch of new-agey/alien-focussed podcasts that didn’t appeal to me, I found a series of 41 free podcasts called “Learn To Meditate” from the Meditation Society of Australia. A sensible man and woman, from the land of Vegemite spread, take turns giving short lectures on weekly goals to gain from meditation and then lead a short meditation. I would listen to their 13-25 minutes shows every single morning as I did my data entry at the temp job. After about 2 weeks (14 podcasts) the spinning stopped and my mind slowly re-entered the real world.
At night, I read, “Peace is Every Step” from Thich Nhat Hahn. Just one page a night kept me mindful. The exercise that sticks with me most is the walking meditation. It’s a simple thing that won’t take one extra minute of your time:
Normally, when we walk, we are going from one place to another, thinking about what just happened or what we need to do in the future. In a nutshell, the walking meditation is paying attention to each step you take. Place each foot fully on the ground, look at the things passing by. Live in the moment. I tried this and was amazed at how pretty the red and blue lights at the end of the hallway are. No, I wasn’t medicated. Give it a shot! It’s kind of a trip.
In addition to breathing, listening and walking, I had my very first visit to a chiropractor last week. Since our HMO gave me a big, wet raspberry when I asked to be referred to a chiropractor, I researched reviews for local chiro’s on the web. The guy I found is very good, informative and working with us on cost. Now he’s got me very focused on my posture and stance.
My default is to stand with my right leg tilted so my pinky toe and outside edge of my foot are holding my weight. Dr. Cooper says my spine is torqued because I’m twisting. It’s so amusing to me how, if I stand with my feet planted and my head straight instead of cocked to one side, my breathing gets easier and deeper. It’s a little thing, but it’s working.
So it’s the little things of breathing, and putting my feet on the earth like they belong there, that are healing me. I’m not completely awesomely me just yet, but the fever is gone and the vertigo visits only every now and then. I’m getting closer to fine (also have to work on patience). I’m pretty sure that I’ll be able to drive at some point before summer.