The Information Age

•October 24, 2014 • 1 Comment

This is truly the age of information.  Within seconds we can have all the information about anything or anyone our heart desires.  I used to believe that this was nothing but a good thing.  Lately, I have come to believe just a little bit differently.  I think it is great how quickly we can get information, especially if we know where to look.  The problem I found is that finding credible information is a difficulty of its own.  The second problem I found is finding practical and credible information is a completely different story.

Ever since March 2014 I have been living with chronic pain. The struggle I have had with the doctors and the health system is its own rant entirely.  Since my doctors have yet to diagnose me almost 8 months later, I thought I’d do a little research on my own.  I don’t plan to cure myself of what ails me, but I’d like to make my days a little more comfortable. So I started trying to research things I could do to help out the symptoms.  So I set about with a clear idea of what I wanted to research.

Finding credible information on the internet is its own problem.  There are plenty of sites with “bogus” articles and even more that are blogs, personal testimonials, and personal websites.  The second problem came with finding practical AND credible information.

I, like most people, am a fairly busy person.  I have a house to clean, laundry to do, dinner to cook, a job to attend, and the list goes on.  Which is why at this point in my life, I needed simple and practical changes I could make to my life.  The things I do are incredibly exhausting and require quite a bit of energy to accomplish.  Therefore at the end of the day I don’t have much motivation to do things that are completely outside of my normal daily life. Most people who experience chronic pain would probably be more than happy to explain the challenges that the smallest of tasks can pose.

Upon doing some research, low-impact exercising was recommended. Fantastic.  I already go for nightly walks with my fiancé and I did realize that the nightly walks do help with some of the stiffness in my joints that I experience.  I already take extra Vitamin D and that has helped with my mood improvement.  These things were good ideas, but the problem was that I was already doing them.  I was looking to see what more I could do.

I stumbled across numerous articles that recommended Tai Chi.  I have absolutely no interest in learning Tai Chi. Taking the time to learn and practice Tai Chi is not a practical idea right now. I can also tell you that I do not see acupuncture in my future either.  It’s not that I’m not willing to go above and beyond to better myself.  It’s that there are things that are of no interest to me.  If I don’t find interest in them, I probably won’t be able to stick with them.  It would be too easy to find excuses to not do them.

As far as simple exercises are concerned (as this is only one aspect of my research thus far), I believe people should just do what feels comfortable for them. There are already numerous benefits to exercise, most of which will have a direct impact on your mood, self-esteem, level of anxiety, and so on.  I do recommend low-impact exercises.  I do recommend patience.  It takes quite some time to build up strength especially when dealing with pain.  I know that over the last few months I lost a lot of the strength and stamina that I used to have. That’s why it is important to continue moving even if you are tired and sore.

I keep track of my improvements over time and I will let you know how these things work out for me. I am by no means an expert and if it helps you, great.  If you find no use in this, then I am not offended.  This is simply my account of what is going on.  Although I do hope that this does not pop up in a search engine somewhere when someone is trying to find information not provided by the average individual.

Heather

Life with Chronic Pain

•October 23, 2014 • 1 Comment

I’m not quite sure how to put all of this into words, but I shall do my best.  I do this not only for myself, but others who suffer from chronic pain as well.

I am not one that has developed a chronic pain condition and has been suffering for years.  Honesty, this just started in March 2014. I’ve been going to doctors since the beginning of March and have yet to receive a diagnosis. After doing some research, I realized just how many people have these very same problems. Constant pain or discomfort. Doubt from others as to their level of pain. No diagnosis.  And eventually one may become depressed.

I miss the days when a couple of ibuprofen would take care of a headache, a backache, minor body aches, some shoulder pain, or discomfort in the neck. Now after trying multiple prescription drugs, I have found no difference in how I feel from day to day.

I have been doing a lot of thinking, reflecting, and researching lately. It has been almost 9 months of toying with doctors, coping with pain, and trying to thwart extreme fatigue.  Thankfully, all of the people in my life are understanding and willing to help when needed. I work for the family business in which my dad is also my boss, so missing days of work doesn’t count against me like it would any other job.

Over the past month I have become increasingly irritated with this nonsense and am setting out to figure all of this out myself. Most doctors don’t give me time to explain my symptoms let alone care enough to find what is wrong. I understand that these things take time, but I started dealing with this just before I turned 25. I am 25. I should not be moving about as well as my fiancé’s grandfather.  To be honest, there are some days I think he could beat me in a race.

Slowly, but surely, I plan on getting my life back the way I want it to be.  I refuse to work around this pain and change my lifestyle accordingly anymore.  I am not 100% sure how I will accomplish all of this but, I am 100% sure that it WILL be done.  I just know that something has got to change. There are way too many things that I want to get out of life and succumbing to whatever undiagnosed problem this is, is not an option for me.

Heather

Outsiders

•September 7, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Have you ever noticed that when you talk to others about your frustrations in life that everyone has an opinion?

I’ve thought a lot about this recently and based on my observations I am not the only individual who tackles this problem on a fairly consistent basis.  I typically do not write so late at night, but the thoughts were just rolling through my mind and I found myself staring into my dark abyss of a bedroom more or less writing this piece in my head.

It seems as if no matter what topic of conversation comes up everyone is an expert on..well..everything.  You can talk to the same individual about work challenges, relationship woes, family disagreements, health problems, time management issues, trouble sleeping, and the list perpetuates itself.

To keep this fairly simple (ok nothing about this topic is simple, but I am going to try!) I am going to write this based on the vantage point of an individual speaking with a friend.  It’s just simpler that way.  If I write about speaking to family, coworkers, spouses, or strangers this would probably end up being multiple posts. 

The problem with voicing our troubles is that the person we are conversing with does not know all of the variables that relate to the topic at hand.  The next problem is that they may not even fully understand the variables or depth of the variables.  Honestly, most of the time, we are right there with that person.  Often we don’t realize other factors until they are blatantly in our faces.  For example, we may not consciously make ourselves aware of how past experiences, personal biases, faith (or lack thereof), etc. have an impact on the problem at hand.

See? Problems from the starting line on both ends! 🙂

This is not a post blaming one party or the other.  Each person has a responsibility and level of understanding to meet in these situations.

I am not saying that you don’t discuss your problems with anyone. Ever. As human beings we typically feel the need to express ourselves from time to time without internalizing everything.  If we did that our brains may just hemorrhage trying to solve the world’s problems on our own. Okay, maybe not the world’s problems, but at the very least, our own.  If you’re like me, you believe them to be the world’s problems with as many people who endure the same hardships of life, no matter how inevitably trivial. 

There was a point in my life last year and into the beginning of this year that I was severely depressed.  I felt as if I had more problems than I could solve; and they were all bigger than my mind could handle. I found myself distancing myself from people, internalizing problems, and avoiding conversation. 

Why?

Because of this topic of this post.  I was tried of trying to have honest discussions with people I considered close.  I was tired of listening to them paint of picture of how to so easily solve my problems that I envisioned a beautifully wrapped box with a satin ribbon.  This box no longer contained a problem but a solution by the time the conversation had ended.  I found myself getting defensive and battling heated arguments.  I did all this because it was just so easy for someone on the outside to tell me how to do things.  How to do them right. How to fix a problem (these people were so good they offered solutions to things I didn’t even believe were a problem!).

Tell me if this sounds like a familiar part of a conversation. Some of this may seem like an exaggeration.  If you’ve experienced this, then you know that is exactly how it sounds sometimes.  This is not a personal snippet of conversation I have had with someone either.  I am simply writing an example that tries to reach various people with various situations.  However, I’ve had very similar conversations.

Person A: “You know, I just feel so overwhelmed right now.  I’ve got this big assignment to do for ethics by next Monday, my job just gave me a project to complete by this Friday, I need to get the oil changed in my car this week because it’s already 2,000 miles overdue, the water heater broke and I need to pay bills so I have to pick up extra hours at work on top of everything else, and I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep because I’ve been putting in late nights to get work done because I’ve been on conference calls all week and haven’t been able to work at my desk.  My mother has been in the hospital sick so I’ve been going to her house to help her take care of things since she’s been out, and my husband’s family keeps calling about scheduling the family reunion! Then next week…” (You get the point by now).

Person B: “I don’t know how you do it.  You should tell your husband that it’s his responsibility to schedule things with his family and he needs to pick up the slack around the house because you are wearing yourself down.  Also, make sure you ask the professor for an extension on that project, he will understand.  If he doesn’t then he’s a [insert whatever name you want]. I’m sorry about your mom. Is she ok? How long is she going to be out? Are you still going to be able to come to my [insert event here]? Have you talked to your boss about relieving some of your responsibilities? I don’t understand why he can’t delegate to other people.  Surely, there is someone else that can do your job. Better yet, why isn’t HE doing some of this?  This sounds like work he should be doing himself.  Maybe if he wasn’t out playing golf with all the big wigs he could actually be in the office!”

The problem is that Person A does not have the time or desire to fully explain all the details of her growing list of problems.  Now in reality this would obviously be a dialogue.  Person A didn’t mention that her husband has been taking on more of the housework but has also taken more hours at work to help pay for the growing expenses, that her company is making cutbacks and her family can’t afford for her to lose her job, and that she needs to do well in her classes in order to get her degree to help her meet the requirements of her job, and that family scheduling falls on her simply because her husband is bad at remember dates times.

Person B who happens to be a someone close friend has no idea how hectic her friend’s schedule is.  All person B knows is that they don’t schedule lunches and nights out very often anymore.  She talks with her friend and knows some of the details but feels so subconsciously obligated to help and make her friend feel better that she needs to offer advice. 

Trust me. I’ve had PLENTY of these conversations. I’m not saying my friends were flippantly giving advice to shut me up.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Most of what was said came from a good place.  They made an honest effort to help me see that I could alleviate some of these stressors.  There were times that I found the advice helpful.  However, most times it was just watered-down, simplistic, one-size-fits-all statements that got me nowhere except defensive, frustrated, and irritated.

After numerous conversations and countless reflections I realize that a small amount of responsibility and understanding is placed (and should be) on the person we are speaking to.  The rest should be placed upon ourselves.  GASP!

I say this because no one really understands your life except you.  You understand your beliefs, values, amount of time you have in a day, level of responsibility you have to your job and family, how your finances are going, how well you feel, and what you are able to realistically accomplish in a day better than anyone.  Even if you sat down and basically explained everything in as much detail as possible, the other person wouldn’t truly be able to comprehend it like you can.  Therefore it is our responsibility to understand that the people we are talking to do not know you like you know you.  It is our responsibility to set up boundaries, explain the best we can, and not become frustrated and defensive with others.  It is our responsibility to know how to gracefully and respectfully back out of a conversation.  It is our responsibility to take the information given to us and discriminate the good advice from the bad advice. We also have to realize that most of the time (I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions) we cannot hold another person’s poor advice against them.  Most people we talk to aren’t deliberately trying to sabotage our lives.  They tried. You listened. It failed.

I write this because I know that these conversations usually don’t bother an individual when happening on sporadic, infrequent basis.  I write this because we all reach a point in our lives every so often where life tends to pile up on itself.  I write this because I found that distancing people in these times is dangerous.  Not only do you have your problems, but you have loneliness to add to the mix.  Loneliness when you need the support the most only seems to add insult to injury.  Be social, talk about things that bother you, just take responsibility for it.  Apply the same principle to this as you would the phrase, “Don’t ask a question that you[ don’t want to hear the answer to.”

For example, I understand that I just cannot talk to ALL of my friends about EVERYTHING.  Some give more honest and objective advice about things than others.  There are friends that I just don’t talk to about my relationship with (That’s for another post), some friends I don’t talk about diet and exercise with, others I don’t really speak of my family to.  For the most part, it has created stronger friendships and less tension.  Pressure has been relieved.  I feel better that I don’t have so much conflicting advice and that I don’t have to tell my story so many times.  It leaves more time for lighthearted conversation and good times also. 🙂

Sorry this post was quite long but it’s a fairly in depth topic when you really think about it.  I believe that so much more could be said about this but I will leave you to ponder what that could be. 

 

Heather

Work Smart, Not Hard

•September 4, 2013 • 1 Comment

I watched a television show earlier this summer in which “Work Smart, Not Hard.” came up in the topic of the conversation.  I have to say, that phrase has stuck with me for a long time.

This apparently has been some kind of propaganda that originated decades ago to convince our youth that college is the right path.  Over time the statement has been transformed but the underlying message is still there.

 

This was a terrible thing to come up with.  Why? Because you have people out there who believe being smart, going to the right schools, and having a great education will get them everything they could want in life without working hard.  There are scores of graduates coming out of school hoping to land that $75,000 + a year job.  There are scores of graduates who believe that their degree is the single most qualifying thing that will land them that job.  I’m not saying those things aren’t important and they aren’t helpful.  They are.  It does take some amount of hard work to get through college.  This is not the issue.

 

The issue is that there are scores of other people out there telling impressionable souls (you can be any age for this) that you will have a great life and virtually anything you want if you go to college and work hard.  However, this is similar to a diet program that sounds similar to “Are you overweight? Tired? Afraid to go out in public because you’re just not happy with how you look in clothes? Well [insert name of diet program here] can give you your life back! Lose weight without ever having to diet and exercise again!”

What a load of shit.  Most things in life that come that easily are probably too good to be true.  Most things in life require a certain amount of hard work, dedication, persistence, and faith.  They require countless hours of time, money, and effort.  They require strength for every time something doesn’t work out so that discouragement doesn’t become a roadblock to success.  THEN, when one finally gets what they have spent so much time and effort trying to get, they usually have to put in even more time, money, effort, dedication, hard work, persistence, and faith.  This is the fine print.

Of course you tell someone they can do anything they set their mind to.  Of course you be supportive of their goals.  But be honest and realistic.  Make sure and explain the work that will be involved, the things they will have to learn, how they will need to grow and mature as a person, and where to go for help and information.  Do not do someone the injustice of saying “you can do anything you want to do with a little hard work.” That’s vague and unhelpful.  Most people set out to do things and fail out of fear.  Fear that the hard work will not pay off, fear of success itself, or fear that it wasn’t really what they wanted.  I’m sure everyone, at least once in their life, had wished someone would have given them a piece of information.  If you have ever caught yourself thinking, “I wish I would have known that,” or “I wish someone would have told me that earlier,” then you know exactly what I am talking about.

 

Heather

Optional

•August 29, 2013 • 1 Comment

Everything in life is optional.  Even when you don’t believe you have any other choice, there are no other opportunities, or that you are stuck; there is always another option.

Even individuals with terminal illnesses have options.  Maybe not the options they desire but they are there.  Individuals can choose to live their last days angry, sad, and for all intents and purposes already dead, or they can make the most of it.  Some individuals actually overcome illness because their will to live and fight is so strong.

That is an extreme example.  However, I believe that if there are people who can choose to be happy, live life fully and with purpose, and make the most of their last days in the face of death then the rest of us ultimately have no excuses.

You can’t say I don’t understand hardships. You don’t know me and I don’t blog my entire life from the minute I get up to the time I go to bed.  As a matter of fact, I don’t blog much at all.  I would like to more often but I ultimately choose not to.  Not because I don’t want to, but because I have a list of excuses so long it probably makes a marathon look like a sprint.

I write this post simply because of the pain I feel for people right now.  I hear so much desperation, fatigue, and lifelessness in everyone’s plea.  People are tired.  The little things are piling up and they just don’t care to get out of bed on an emotional level.  These things lead to depression, suicide, homicide, job loss, weight gain, weight loss, and ultimately an unfulfilled life.

I know life is hard. I know it throws curve balls.  I know it’s a bumpy ride.  However, I myself have been on my own journey over the past few months.  No I am not trying to “find myself.” I know exactly where I am, who I am, and who I want to be.  When I say I’ve been on a journey, I mean I’ve been on a journey to finding a fulfilling life for myself.  Contemplating making changes in my life to make it better, stronger, and happier.

I will admit that I am not living a life fit for the silver screen.  I am not living a life that the directors in Hollywood would crawl over hot coals to make into a movie.

No. I am not there. Yet. I plan to get there.

I say this because in the past few months I’ve felt my mind rambling on like a bad self-help book in an audiobook format.  However, my mind was right. Everything it said was right.  That’s because it was telling me things I already knew.  Things that were in the back of my consciousness all this time.

The thing is, I’ve been through my ups and downs.  I have dealt with the loss of loved ones, been sick, been in intense physical pain, worried for someone else, been angry with others, been depressed, hated my job, didn’t get other jobs, wondered how I was going to pay my bills, gained weight, lost weight, had bad hair days, had pimples, had trash spill out on to my clean floor, On the same note I have also made health a priority in my life (which means going to the gym, taking care of me, and eating better has been at the top of my list), tried new things, almost finished my special education endorsement(just need to take the certification test in a couple months), laughed more, been more emotionally available, let go of regrets, got rid of toxic people in my life, made my faith and belief system my sense of guidance, helped others more, stopped regretting things I have or have not done, and stopped wishing and started doing.

The thing is, we can always look for a new job, change our attitudes, make the time, laugh more, smile more, love more, hate less, and be better.

You just have to choose to do so.

For a long time I wanted to be a doctor.  I really did.  I never really took that path, instead I decided to be a teacher.  Then, I started regretting and wishing I had stayed on my original path.  I’m glad I didn’t.  I want so much more out of my life.  Being the doctor I want to be wouldn’t allow me the time to do such things.  I chose to let that part of me go. I chose to be happy with where I am at.  Although, I’m not where I want to be, I’m working my way towards my goals and what I want out of life.  That’s all anyone can do.

Heather

Change of course…

•January 9, 2011 • 1 Comment

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. I’ve worked hard in my life.  I’ve overcome sickness. I have worked hard at every job I’ve ever had. I have spent countless hours and many sleepless nights studying to be a teacher and all I see is a wall. I don’t see opportunity and I don’t see happiness. I have lost all motivation to be a teacher. The politics involved are a strenuous, infinite cesspool of hate and backstabbing to keep a mediocre job. Not that teachers don’t work hard. Not that being a teacher isn’t rewarding in its own sense. Not that teachers should be looked down upon as if they are an untouchable in a disgusting social caste system. Teachers do great things, and they have the chance to inspire lives that they may not have had the opportunity to touch otherwise. However, I do have a brain and I do have thoughts…

Why should I be working so hard in my youth to feel as if I am going nowhere in my life? Why should I work so hard to feel the sting of unemployment when my students do not score high enough on their state mandated assessments? Why should I work so hard to feel the painful blow of students who just do not care about the countless hours of thought I put into each lesson plan? Into each activity? Into each assignment? The value of education is diminishing just as quickly as the American dollar.  Dropout rates continue to soar as students are continually forced into taking paper and pencil tests that they have no chance to perform well on and in which case they will never have the chance to redeem themselves for their mistakes. People learn through mistakes and students are no different. Yet students are held to impossibly high standards in a failing economy where resources are limited. Consciously, I feel I cannot support the unfair playing field and disadvantages students are thrown into at such a young age. It breaks my heart to know that such expectations placed on students are so infinitely high that first graders have anxiety that puts them at the edge of sanity.

I have the love and support of my family to go on and do bigger and better things with my life.  I want the hard work and countless hours of studying to pay off for me in the end. Not just financially but also for my mind and my soul.  I want to do something I am truly interested in.  Instead, I sit on my couch in the silence of my apartment staring at a binder full of more work and reading.  I stare at the binder in anticipation of the unhappiness I might feel when I start student teaching. The binder is a reminder of the hard work I’ve put in, not because I love what I do, but more as a sickening sense of duty.  My free time is spent reading medical terminology and looking at pictures of the human body instead of thinking about teaching. I feel as if being a teacher will be a pit of never-ending work with little to no payoff in my life. I am seriously considering continuing my education to be a doctor instead. It has been something I’ve worked towards since high school and, in a blind moment of what I thought was love, changed my direction in college to a teacher.  All of this because someone told me they wanted me to be around. I want to know that I can relocate in my life and not have to worry about finding a job anywhere in the country.  I want to know that if I meet someone who I fall in love with, and he has opportunities elsewhere that I can go with him and not think twice. I want to be able to leave and end up wherever without any sense of worry. I’d rather do what I’ve always wanted to do then live the rest of my life wondering, “What if?”

Someone once told me that people become teachers because they feel like they can’t be anything else. Someone once told me that people are teachers because they aren’t smart enough to be the doctors, lawyers, and scientists of the future. I believe that teachers are smart. I believe that people do not go into teaching because they think they aren’t smart enough for anything else. However, in the last two years of school I have come to know numerous people that are in the teaching field simply because it was something easy to get through in college. They believe that being a teacher is easy work and I don’t want to be part of that. I don’t want to constantly have to defend my profession against ignorant people that know nothing of teaching. I don’t want to fight with parents constantly because I am not simply giving their students A’s when the student in question is not putting in the effort. I feel as if my heart lies elsewhere and my intelligence can be put to better use.

I want to be a doctor…even if it takes me forever to get there.

Heather

In nothing do men more nearly approach the gods than in giving health to men. ~Cicero

3 Miles…

•January 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It’s amazing how far three miles can take you on foot.  Running is an amazing way to clear your head and really get the big picture that life paints for everyone.  It makes me want to take risks and opportunities that I might not have taken otherwise.  Running on a cold winter’s day provides amazing solitude. I love hearing how the sound of my feet hitting the terrain competes with the sound of my beating heart. I love knowing that even though it feels like I can’t take another step I can always continue to propel myself forward. When I run, it feels like my lungs and heart catch fire.  There is nothing more exhilarating than knowing that my body can take that  next step even when every muscle in my legs tense up and want to give. Running through the forest is like a metaphor for my life as I make leaps and bounds over obstacles.  Even though it would feel good to stop and rest, I know that my body can keep going.  I know that I can make new paths when old ones seem blocked.  Instead of turning around I continue forward.

I have a passion for running because I love listening to the crunch of leaves and sticks beneath my feet.  I love the way the air rushes past me as I strive to move forward one more step.  When I run it’s like nothing can defeat me.  I feel like I run towards a better me, a healthier me, someone who is going to takes chances and risks in life. It’s an invigorating feeling to have such a passion for life instilled within me again. Life doesn’t stop for anyone and I am going to get on a path and run it as hard as I can.

I want to watch life transform around me like the forest will when the weather warms up again. When it’s all said and done, I love feeling like my body is on fire because I know that I am alive.  I love the determination I have to keep going; it’s a reflection of the motivation and ambition I have in my own life. Just as I work hard to finish that last mile, I work hard to get where I am right now.  I love knowing that my body is like a beautiful machine whose parts all work together seamlessly.  I love feeling the rise and fall of my chest while the rest of the muscles in my body tense up. There is never a time when I feel like my body is working against me and I should always remember that life is not working against me either.  Positive thoughts.

Heather