Monday, March 23, 2015

Drowning

Have you ever imagined what it would feel like to drown?

I have. 

I imagine it is one of the most terrifying experiences a person could ever feel. I assume that with the fear comes a sense of helplessness and desperation. As your lungs are filled with water and you are seeking a way out, you must also be thinking "I could die". But maybe, just maybe, there is a glimmer of hope. Hope that a hand will reach in to pull you out or hope that you will find the strength to reach the surface.

And I imagine that, once you reach that top and take your first deep breath of air, your entire body collapses into relief. You made it. You are alive. 

Have you ever been through a hard time? Maybe a bout of depression, the loss of a loved one, fear and uncertainty? A really hard breakup? Something that compelty cut you to the core? 

Emotionally, i don't think those type of things are all that different from drowning. Key word: emotionally. We feel helpless, desperate. We are searching for a way out. We are holding onto a tiny glimmer of hope that we WILL get out.

And we do. We get out. The relief comes. The relief is followed by pride. Pride is followed by confidence. So one day, when these things happen to us, instead of feeling like drowning, we feel powedful and strong. We are ready, because we know we can get through it, just like before. We know there is a way out. 

Sometimes it takes a while. Sometimes we need to go through it a couple of times before we finally start to believe that we are strong enough to handle anything that comes our way. 

So next time you feel like you are drowning, remember how you made it through before. And, as Dory says, just keep swimming.

Oh come on, you knew I had to end it like that ;-)

Getting Through

Hello, friends. I know that there has been more and more time in between my posts. Simply put, I lost a spark for writing. I stopped drafting blog posts in my mind, I stopped writing down little notes to remember for later. I just lost it. I'm not quite sure why other than to say that for the past month or so, my life has been incredibly busy...and yet...incredibly bland.

A few weeks ago I accepted a new position at the American Cancer Society. And yes, that is exciting. But with that change came meetings, difficult conversations, challenges, transitions, and goodbyes. I have been trying to wrap up loose ends with my old position while trying to learn how to do my new role. And that has not been easy. But I am slowly getting the hang of it, learning how to prioritize my time, how to ask for help when I need it and how to apply myself as best I can.

So what happened? I got sick. Of course. I was all ready to post a status on Facebook about how elated I was that I did not get sick all winter. I had a weird flu bug in November, but it lasted 24 hours. Normally, I get bronchitis at least twice between December-March. So I was secretly celebrating the fact that I had remained healthy all winter. And then it hit me. I came down with a nasty sinus infection. I'm not sure if I should blame the weather change or office germs or stress, but I'm going with a combination of all three. I am on day three now and still feeling like crud, but I hope to be on the mend soon.

Getting sick is always a bummer. Sure it's kind of fun to lay on the couch for hours watching Netflix, but it also takes you away from your normal routine and responsibilities. It always gives me a little anxiety to know I'm missing out on opportunities and that things are not getting done.

I was also ready to celebrate that it was going to be my first week of a 5 day workout in several weeks. Because of work responsibilities, my weeks have been 3 day workouts. Which has put a stall on my weight loss. This week, I was ROCKING IT- until I got sick. I was pretty bummed that I didn't hit my calories burned goal this week.

My point in whining and sharing the downsides of being sick are this: Get over it. That's what I told myself. Megan, shut up and get over it. First of all, this icky sinus infection is nowhere near what your cousin Lynn or your dad are fighting so shut up. Secondly, yes, a few days were thrown off- but those are just a few days. It will go back to normal. It will be okay again. So get over it.

Feeling sorry for ourselves is so easy. And yes, we are allowed to say "this sucks". But we also should take great comfort in knowing that whatever it is we are battling will not last forever. There is a way out.

I started watching a new show on Netflix called Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It's funny and silly with hilarious one liners and pop culture references...and it can be enlightening. One of my favorite scenes so far is when Kimmy explains her "10 Seconds" strategy. Basically, she believes that we can do ANYTHING for 10 seconds, no matter how painful it may be. So she counts to 10, and when she gets to 10, she starts her next 10 seconds. This is something I will take with me...at the gym when I don't feel like getting on the treadmill, at work when I'm exhausted and drained, when I am speaking in a public forum. When I am sick and just want to shut down. I will get through, 10 seconds at a time.

I hope that you all have a great week.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day. Its important, and I am about to share why.

Today is a day to celebrate, honor, and educate. It's a day to look back on how far we have come and to say "thank you" to the women who have paved the way. It's a day to look forward, to reflect on what else needs to be done, and to say "I'm going to be part of this". It is about being proud to be a woman, and to be proud of other women.

I think our first instinct when we talk about women's rights is to talk about the past. We bring up names like Susan B. Anthony, Marie Curie, Joan of Arc, Anne Frank, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks. And YES, these AMAZING, powerful women truly led the way and made things happen for us- things that we once deemed impossible. They deserve all of the praise they get, no doubt. Children should be learning about them in school. We should be having active conversations about these women.

BUT. We forget that women's rights are STILL an issue. It is not just a chapter in a History book- it is still happening. Women are fighting for the ability to receive an education. Women are blamed for their rape because they "weren't dressed appropriately". Women musicians are chastised for writing songs about their exes when men are doing the EXACT same thing. Women are not paid equally. Women are not given a fair shot. Women are expected to be able to cook. Women sports are not exciting. Women celebrities should only be asked about their fashion choices, nothing else. Women are STILL not equal to men.

So what then, can we do about it?

First and foremost, as women, we need to celebrate each other's accomplishments rather than jump to tear each other down. We need to praise each other. We need to erase jealousy and replace it with empathy and understanding. I am 100% guilty of gossiping, name calling, and tearing other people down. But I also know that it has to stop. I pledge to think before I speak, to stop myself from judging, and to embrace the women around me.

We also need to fight back. Do not play into the stereotypes society has thrown at us. Prove them wrong. The other day a trainer at the gym basically told the class to do pushups, but with a smirk on his face, said "for the ladies, though, do those easy girl pushups". I looked at him, got on the ground and did regular pushups. He was insinuating that because we are girls, we can't work as hard, we aren't as strong. Prove him, and prove everyone else who tells us that we AREN'T good/strong enough, wrong.

Lastly, we should pay attention. Read up on the wonderful, powerful things women are doing in our world right now. Make yourself aware. Arm yourself with knowledge.

The worst thing you can do is sit back and pretend like gender equality is not an issue. Don't ignore it. Don't assume that just because YOU don't feel unequal, it's not happening. Pay. Attention.

And please, talk to your sons and daughters about this. Our young people are the future superheroes. They will be the ones to continue to carry out this change.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fight For Air Climb

Today I did something big. Something I have been wanting to accomplish for a few years now: The Fight For Air Climb. The climb is association with the American Lung Association, and the point is for the funds raised to benefit research on lung disease (including lung cancer, which my dad has). I read about this climb a few years ago and although my first reaction was that anyone would be crazy to walk/run 70 flights of steps, I also thought it would be so cool to do it one day.

So this year, I signed up. I trained. I started off small- when I first started training I could only do 5 minutes on the StairMaster. But I kept going, and eventually, I felt ready...or as ready as I could feel.

Both Friday and yesterday  I was suffering from extremely sore legs. I had a tough workout regime this week that included a lot of squats, jumping jacks, and mountain climbers. The result? I could barely walk yesterday. Several times during the day I began to cry, worrying that I wouldn't be able to do the climb. How could I walk up 70 flights of steps when I couldn't even stand up from the couch?

Luckily, Tom came to my rescue yesterday. He helped me do different stretches, reminded me to take my Ibuprofen and drink my water, and bought SalonPas patches for my legs. By this morning I felt light years better.

As I stood in line waiting for my turn I couldn't help but feel nervous. I also couldn't help but compare it to the Hunger Games. As we got closer to the door of the stairwell, they let us in one by one, scanning our bib numbers. When it was my turn, I took a deep breath and walked up the first flight. Success.

I challenged myself to walk faster and by flight 10 I almost quit. Yes, just 10 flights in. I was already tired and could feel my lungs burning. But I told myself to get to 20. When I got to 20, I told myself to get to 40. 40 was the 1/2 way point. Many of the climbers stopped at 40. The volunteers and paramedics who were there with water asked if I wanted to stop. I couldn't talk, but I just shook my head and kept going.

I stopped several times. I would stand against the wall for 10-30 seconds at a time, breathing heavily and trying to force my legs to keep walking. The volunteers and fellow climbers helped- we all motivated each other. By the time I reached 60, I knew I was going to finish. I started to run. I let go of the railing. A volunteer told me I was looking strong. And when I reached that 70th floor, I...

well. I wish I could tell you it was a glorious finish. Instead I collapsed into the arms of a paramedic and threw up. The paramedic half carried me into a room and made me sit for 15 minutes, putting ice on my head and neck. I finally felt stable enough to go to the elevator to meet Tom, and THAT'S when the excitement took over.

I was smiling so hard that it hurt. I found Tom and grabbed onto him. I got my medal and checked my time. I had no idea how long I had been in that stairwell. It had seemed like hours. But next to my name read "19 minutes, 2 seconds". Holy shit. I really did it! I did it! I climbed 70 flights of steps in 19 minutes! And if I had not stopped at every water stop, it would have been even faster.

That climb represented so many things in my life....

After the walk my body ached and my lungs burned. I suppose, though, that was the point. My lungs burning for just a few minutes was a reminder of WHY we were climbing- for those who struggle to breathe EVERY MOMENT of EVERY DAY. What I felt was nothing compared to lung cancer patient or asthma patients. We must have more empathy for their struggles, and we must do something about it!

My climb was also nothing compared to the hell my dad has been through. As I took each step I thought of him, and how proud he would be of me for finishing. His strength, perseverance and determination rang through to me, and I kept going.

Finally, it was a reminder of my weight loss journey. I never would have been able to do this climb at my previous weight. Each new staircase was a gentle reminder of the milestones I have hit throughout my weight loss journey. I felt proud and strong. I felt more free than I have felt in a very long time. I haven't gotten to where I am now by magic- it has been all hard, hard work. It's been a climb. And as Miley Cyrus says, it's not about how fast you get there.

It was one of the coolest things I have ever done, and I plan on climbing again next year.