Downward Facing Ow

My wrists have been really bugging me lately, and in looking for a yoga practice that takes weight off my hands/wrists, I found this article about why downward facing dog is bad.

Disclaimer: I am not a yoga teacher, nor do I think that my yoga teachers are wrong.  I’m not critiquing them (or any of my past instructors) in any way, and I’m certainly not trying to tell them what to do.  I’m just saying that downward facing dog is my least favorite pose, and the one that I’ve never felt comfortable in. It ALWAYS makes me feel like my wrists are about to break and that circulation is getting cut off in my hands.  My increased upper body strength has helped me shift my weight during this pose, but some days DFD just doesn’t happen for me.  This article about why my wrists hurt during DFD helped me focus on a few things to begin correcting it, but spending more than a few moments each day in this pose is not something I look forward to.  (Which is funny, considering that pigeon pose is one of my favorite ways to open up.)

In a recent class focusing on healthy backs, I learned about the joy of getting hauled up by your hips using two straps, and the immediate relief of stress in my hands, wrists, and lower back was epic.  For a brief moment it reminded me of how someday I will do aerial yoga, but then I sunk back into the relaxation of my hands not hurting.
 
The thing with downward facing dog (DFD), sometimes called Adho Mukha Svanasana, sometimes called down dog, sometimes called ugh, is that there are many tiny adjustments you can make to build strength and gain comfort, but also to learn the pose better.  I can’t find the reference right now, but I once read that when you feel totally comfortable in DFD, you’re able to begin practicing it.

I want to have a better time in DFD – it’s a major part of a sequence for so many other enjoyable poses, and it makes me feel strong.  But man, it is ROUGH.  (I almost said ‘ruff’. You’re welcome.)

There’s an interesting comment on the article I mentioned earlier that has a type of checklist to prepare you for downward facing dog.  To summarize in what appears to be order of difficulty:
– Can you hold a forearm plank for 50 seconds?
– In pushup position, can you lift a hand from the floor without twisting or flexing your trunk?
– Can you do 3 pushups with your feet on a higher surface than your hands?
– While standing, can you lift a knee toward your belly without flexing your lower back?

 

So many poses, so little time.  I’m curious as to how others feel about this pose, and how they’ve adjusted their practice to accommodate or remove it.

Meanwhile, the animal kingdom continues to kick our butts.

Photo Credit: Ben Grantham/Thinkstock

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My Descent Into All the Things

Some time ago I was diagnosed with anxiety, PTSD, and (more recently) cyclothymia. This means that a lot of my life has been spent trying to do everything all at once, occasionally succeeding, but mostly overloading myself so as not to pay any attention to my increasingly unstable emotions.

On top of a standard 40-hour workweek at Fulltime Paid Office Job (FPOJ), my social calendar with friends had a minimum of three items per week, my freelance work clocked in at about an hour a day, I was helping a non-profit/social organization with three to five events per week, and somewhere in there I needed to make art, read a bunch of books, crochet everything, re-brand my business, do domestic things, go to therapy, work out, and every so often I’d get to schedule in sleep.  This has gone on for …about two years.  We’ll exclude some very negative incidents that occurred between late 2011 and mid 2015, but they also contributed to my current state of life.

Things fluctuated between feeling fabulous and overwhelming, until my workload at FPOJ became a constant source of looming fear in the form of paperwork. I’m not going to list specifics of exactly how much work I had to do, but let’s just say that it involved a solid 6 to 7 hours five days a week of straight working. When I say that, I mean that a minimum of 6 hours out of my 8 hour shift were spent doing actual work. Near Memorial Day I would have people arriving as I got there, waiting for me specifically, and the last customer would leave either at the end of my shift or within an hour of my shift ending.

I process a LOT of paperwork per individual/company, and I consider myself both organized and efficient, but there is only so much that one person can do in an hour.

The work stacked up.  I began utilizing my ten minute breaks for the first time in years, still feeling guilty about leaving my desk during even that time period.  I can’t remember the last time I felt like anyone appreciated the work, only that if it wasn’t done, there would be reprimanding or belittling.  There is always reprimanding and belittling, but at least if the work gets done, then there is …less?  I’m not sure.  It’s not the healthiest atmosphere.  You just work, and you get your check, and you should be thankful to even have a job.

I started at my current job in March of 2007, in Department 1.  In January of 2010 I was moved to Department 2 (amidst much chaos) as a replacement for a coworker with medical issues.  In July of 2010, that coworker passed away.  In December 2010, our GM passed away.

We’ve always had an office staff of less than 10 people.  It’s very, very close.  Things got…strained.  The Ops Manager (who was also head of HR) picked up the title of GM, to replace our coworker who had passed away.

To date, I am still in Department 2.  Here are some things that have happened over the past couple of years.  We got a new corporate office and now the GM has an assistant from Department 1.

In May of 2015 I was told that I would be promoted to management, and what my title would be.  I was sent to a manager’s workshop/intensive in October of 2015.  In November of 2015 I asked outright as a followup (what my position/salary would be).  I was told there would be an answer after the budget was adjusted in January of 2016.  In Feb 2016 I asked outright again and did not get a solid answer.  At this time no concrete date, amount, or specific title have been given.  (The GM is retiring, they say, at the end of next year.)

I was also told…
…..that I would be sent to Florida for a week-long intensive that would end with me getting an industry certificate, and when I followed up on that I was told that it wasn’t happening.
…..at the end of 2015 that I would be going to manager’s meetings every other month.  So far this year I’ve been to 2.
…..that I would have carte blanche on internal paperwork/digital/filing systems. I still have to get three different approvals from one person before a single file can be put away.

All of this clearly makes me feel very secure, confident, and appreciated.

In February of 2015 we hired an employee to train under my coworker who would be retiring the following year. Retiring Coworker (RC1) worked directly with me since January of 2010, was my only coworker (excluding the manager), and we had a good system going for what it was. RC1 was extremely helpful and we were a solid team. Our job descriptions were different but our individual duties formed a circle – she needed my completed work to finish her job, and vice versa.  I would help her when I could, and she would help me when she could.  Usually once a week or so, one of us would ask the other if help was needed on any specific project, and both of us felt comfortable asking the other to complete a task.  It went smoothly and I miss her very much.

In January of 2016, Retiring Coworker retired, Replacement (trained-for-a-year) Coworker (RC2) moved into her spot, and Replacement Coworker’s sister (RCS) was hired for the specific reasons of “in case one of us has to go on vacation/be out”.  RCS had a primary function of being an assistant to RC2, however I was told specifically by management that RCS would be helping me with basic things (phones, copies, filing, etc).  This meant that there were now TWO full time people doing the work that ONE person had done for years, and I was getting no help with my workload from anyone. This included having to answer all the calls, all the time and help all the walk-ins, all the time.  In the span of one shift where I had an off-site meeting, I came back to 24 voicemails.  I’ve been frequently told by customers that if I personally am not available or not in the office, they are told to call back when I am.

The very short version is that when I have asked for help, I have been told that 1) that’s not (my coworkers’ job) and 2) that (my coworkers) cannot be taken away from their tasks of handling finances.  While we have different job titles and my job description doesn’t include utilizing our bank/billing software, or in-depth AP/AR, that doesn’t remove my responsibility to still handle certain billing issues on top of my normal tasks.

Regardless, there’s no reason that everyone in my department can’t handle SOME standard customer/vendor receiving.  Our office crew is not a large one.  If employees in a very small, open-office, walk-in-friendly environment are not on an immediate project, it is unreasonable for me to be the only one handling all phone calls, walk-ins, and inbound paperwork.  This is especially true when A) Department 1 – right on the other side of the office, in the same room – runs on an “everyone helps everyone / just get the cycle done” basis, and B) Retired Coworker and I used that same basis.  I do not understand, and thinking about it makes my entire body tense up.

As we moved forward to our busiest season (Memorial Day to Labor Day), with 4th of July being our peak, the thought of having to do all that work myself, after the massive overload during Memorial Day Week, made me have nightmares and crying fits. I was about two breaths away from a breakdown.  I absolutely could not detach myself from work.

And so, after therapy and hard work and medication and asking for help and TELLING people I needed help and then EMAILING requests for help and the only thing changing was my pile of work getting larger, my stress leave for 6/28/16 – 8/9/16 was approved.

At first I considered sleeping for a week straight. Then I considered going on a very long solo road trip. Then I started thinking about how much I miss dance, but after some price checks and general reviews, Ginseng Yoga has once again earned my business on a daily basis. The studio is a delightful place of healing, and it’s helping me regain health and strength. It’s calming, it’s quiet, it’s what I needed.  I’m going to incorporate a Barre class into my schedule (my main plan, thwarted by gas prices, was to go to Xtend Barre) – and maybe once all of my fitness routines have turned into daily routines, I can go back to dancing again.  Presently?  Yoga feels right.

It’s been just about a week, and I feel like I can breathe a little now.

My nightmares aren’t every night, and don’t always involve work.

I take one to two yoga classes every day, and have been working hard at readjusting my diet. No daily fast food, no unplanned trips to Del Taco. More produce, more homemade food.  Less sugar, less caffeine.  Not much less, but less.

This time off is also helping me to adjust to my new medication; the side effects are a little troublesome.

I’m going to make efforts at posting regularly, in attempts to track my symptoms and side effects, but more in an attempt to remind myself that there really is life outside of paperwork. There really are good things out there, things that I enjoy that are healthy for me to do.

I just need to start somewhere.

Adventures in Domesticity

Hello!  It’s been a minute.  I’ve been busy in that way that completes the things you need to get done, but not the things you want to get done.  It’s all for the greater good, apparently.

Essentially time after work is spent corralling, feeding, herding, and cleaning up after the cats.  We’re all on a pretty good schedule and things are finally settling down.

Last weekend I was rather domestic and built a succulent garden (and cleaned, and .  I finally got everything properly potted, but here’s what I’ve got so far.

before1

Before

I had to dig out a bunch of that dirt that neighborhood strays had crapped in, scour the bricks of the porch (causing hordes of ants to climb everywhere), and paint the bricks.  Whomever ‘built’ the weird little planter area  decided the best way to do it would be set concrete blocks in cement.  I doubt there was any measuring or leveling.  In theory it’s a nice idea, it reality it made things a hassle.

The next step was to measure the area, head to Home Depot, buy the wood, stain and paint it, then put it together to cover up everything while being strong enough to hold the brilliant plant idea I came up with.  (“Brilliant” typically means “In Over Your Head” with my projects.)  After we got everything situated, the only thing left to do was add plants.

garden1

After

This makes me much happier. It also rained all week, and two days ago one of the strays knocked over a rectangular planter, but it seems to be mostly okay.  Jason straightened it up and I’ll deal with making sure all the plants are snug in their homes (they don’t look too bad).

Oh, I also re-did the container gardens on the porch.  There are two small succulents at about 1100 and 1200 in the left arrangement, and those are from the wedding.  THAT makes me happy.  Now that they’ve been replanted in good soil and watered, they’ve come back from being dormant, and are blending right in with the rest of the crew.

arrangements1

Container gardens

Did you guys know that I have another blog?  Yes.  Domesticity (http://dmestic.wordpress.com/) except I haven’t updated since 2010. Everything seems to just fall into place in this blog, so this is where most of the updates happen.  Also, as the kittens slowly settle down and stop requiring me to pay attention to them every single nanosecond (else they’ll destroy everything), I have a smidgen more time to do things not involving them.  Things that are a touch more relaxing, like drinking tea, or writing an email, or looking at the internet.  That latter part is tough because they tend to want to jump up and down on the laptop specifically when I’m using it, making updates rather difficult.

Bonus round: my home office finally has a desktop system, which is loaded up with Adobe’s CS6 Suite.  It only took me five years to get back on track, but there was that whole search-and-buy a house thing, and that wedding thing, so life was a bit hectic.

See, there’s this thing floating around the Interwebs, one of those memes, and it says (essentially) that “When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to grow up. Uh, this sh/t is NOT what I expected.”
Here’s the part where (if I was a kid), I’d brag all about how I cleaned my room AND put away the laundry AND made my bed.  Then I did the dishes! They’re put away!!

Anyway, since I’m an adult, you get to hear me being excited over my accomplishments of that single day last weekend, which include:
-going to the doctor
-going to Home Depot
-bought a ton of plants and supplies for the succulent gardens
-brought the plants and supplies home AND set them up (the painting/potting adventure (during which I spilled white latex paint all over the driveway had to wait until there was more daylight)
-made yet another homemade smoothie and dinner in efforts to get myself healthy and back in shape (now I’m drinking juice concoctions on a regular basis, mostly thanks to Casa De Juice)
-washed and put away the majority of the dishes (which is impressive because the majority of all dishes we owned were everywhere but in their proper place)
-cleaned out the spice drawer and made a spice area elsewhere (!!! there was stuff from 2004, you guys! it’s cleaned out! we now have a cat food drawer, oh man. OH MAN.)
-reorganized the kitchen and cleaned it
-SWIFFERED
-cleaned out the utility area and made room for the kittens’ litter to be moved over
-actually cleaned the litter (argh)

I know there was more, but that’s a metric ton of stuff for me to do on my day off, which is typically reserved for sitting on the couch With Snacks, reading and passing out when whatever’s on TV bores me to unconsciousness.  I even broke a sweat.

That was two weekends ago (oh, I had a birthday on Jan 10th, so last weekend was all about partying it up). This weekend was reserved for more standard cleaning involving laundry and vacuuming; psuedo-spring cleaning.  My next domestic project for today/tomorrow is to reorganize my linen storage area and office, then tackle the huge pile of freshly cleaned laundry.  I need to reorganize the office to make it more conducive to art stuff and also kitty-proof it.  The sun is out but not strong and there’s a nice breeze, so I’ve got the house brightened up and am hoping my allergies stop sucking my life away. I’ve sneezed more in the past two months than I have in my life; seriously.  Sneezing fits are not something that happen to me, nor are constantly itchy eyes and throat.  People that suffer from this constantly have my sympathies.

The juicing thing has been good. I’ve been making daquiri-looking concoctions at home, and drinking juice blends as meal replacement every couple days.  It’s helping a lot, because my weight and skin were making me very unhappy.  Now that the house is much more organized, the space is here to do that stuff at home.

Anyway, it’s been a long strange trip, but for the most part, 2013 is off to a great start.  I’m even doing yoga a bit more frequently.  Now to remember this feeling when it gets crazy…

Good News is Good News

After nearly a year of feeling like I’m losing my mind, three doctors, hundreds of dollars, too many bottles of pills, and far too many “let’s try this and see if it works”, someone finally gave me an answer that I wanted to hear.

Blood and lab test results: completely healthy, all vitals right where they should be, blood pressure great, no h. pylori, not pregnant. One very slight/mild allergy (peanuts). This is a bummer because chocolate-and-peanut-butter is one of my favorite combinations EVER, but hey. Small price to pay.

ENG test results: A weakened area on my left side showed mild labyrinthitis, but it appears to be resolving. My ENT (Dr. Rivet) doesn’t feel that physical therapy is necessary, and concurs with the audiologist that walking/light exercise is a good idea, as it will help the healing process move along. The audiologist also said the lighting in the office may have some effect on my symptoms, but said having natural light can help (which there is a lot of but the florescent lights are really awful). Inquired if there was anything I should stay away from, he suggested ladders and roofing (LOL). I also asked if there was any specific food or beverage I should stay away from and he said no, so that means that eventually you’ll all be able to buy me drinks again. 😉 I let him know about the peanut allergy and he noted that for the file.

Followup: None needed.

Overall: day two of feeling alright. Not perfect, but functional. Not nauseous at the moment, still taking it one hour at a time. Had my first soy chai latte in over a week, and it is amazing how that one beverage makes me feel the way a grande white mocha and two cups of coffee used to. Definitely excited about keeping a low caffeine tolerance.

SUPER AWESOME PART: The ENT said he feels like we’re done, and in a couple months everything should be resolved and I should be back to normal. NORMAL!!! Like… like a regular person that doesn’t have to worry about the room spinning or the light being too bright or loud noises or half a cup of regular coffee or feeling like the evening will be ruined if I don’t have two sets of medication in my purse. NORMAL!!!!!!!

Verklempt, that’s me.

Sunday Night Brownies

It’s been a good day. Got up around noon, went grocery shopping, saw a fight, made bacon, saw another fight, read until I passed out, woke up an hour ago, began making brownies just now.

Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Caramel Turtle Brownies, to be exact.

Very exciting. 🙂 And yes, those were real-life fights, the kind where somebody gets wrestled to the ground outside a store and the screaming match kind. It actually was a very nice day out, so it’s unfortunate to see violence and discontent. The only violence I wanted to see was Game of Thrones and Wrestlemania, but we don’t have HBO and didn’t buy the Pay Per View, so the back of my eyelids had to suffice.

It makes me sad to not be watching GoT right now though. For real.

At the homestead today we discussed upgrading my Kindle to pass my current one on so that Other Half could start reading some of our eBooks. It’s a nice thought but I don’t have the $$ for an upgrade at the moment, so that’s on the back burner. That lead to discussion of why am *I* not writing a book, which lead to me saying that there’s really nothing going on in my mind as far as story or plot or character lines, so it’s not happening. It’d be nice though. I would write a book. Any suggestions? Fiction please.

What else. Last night I went out to Sabbat and was able to dance a bit. As in ten minutes worth. After doing nothing for months, my body hurts quite a bit today, and it was a sad reminder of just how much further I need to go.

I got to wear sparkly fake eyelashes though; here’s a shot of me and my friend Jen. Please excuse Zombie Mode Face; the flash was REALLY bright.

If only there was a way to make camera flash less painful.

Speaking of a long way to go, I survived my ENG test on Friday with only minor nausea and dizziness. The intense nausea from all of last week seems to have subsided (which is great), but I still don’t have my lab test results back from that. The next step is for a neurologist to review my stuff from Friday, then my ENT gets it, and then by Wednesday I should have an idea of my next visit.

The audiologist was super nice. She had a great sense of humor and made things bearable, which is a very much appreciated thing. The ENG test was about as pleasant as you might imagine. You put on goggles (zey actually do somezink), watch dots on the wall, and then get your ears flushed out with cool and burningwarm water.

Think of it as a spa for your inner ear, she said.

Looks nice, doesn't it. You know how sometimes the hot tub is *too* hot? Well, just imagine the jets of hot water shooting into your ear for 30 seconds.

Other than feeling like I had water trapped in my ear for the rest of the day, and other than being really tired, things went well. She said there were a few minor abnormalities but I’m borderline normal, which is my new band name.

This rabbit is Borderline Normal, but I wouldn't want to run across it at night.

We talked about a lot of things. How depressed and frustrated I’ve been, how awful I’ve felt, how far away normal really does seem, how active I once was to how things are now. She said that she suspects things are getting better, healing, but there are still months to go before things are okay. Essentially I get to learn to walk again: apparently the ear/eye/brain combo that most people have doesn’t function properly for me anymore, so part of my rehab is literally going out to walk when I can. Ten minutes here, fifteen there, and that should help me heal faster. The nausea thing may have just been a bug, but I still want the results to see if I’ve got any allergies.

All of this reminds me how much I miss dancing. Really and truly. As my debt gets paid down, the thought of being able to go back to dance classes and eventually perform sticks in my mind. I miss it terribly. Also, Showgirls is on, and it’s my first viewing. They have CGI BRAS. Like… Roger Rabbit cartoon status. It’s awful but I will tell you it doesn’t make me want to dance any less.

My brownies are ready. Y’all have a nice night.

Please Sir May I Have Some More

A brownie. Some fudge brownie ice cream. A slice or four of fudge cake. A bar of chocolate. Even those little wrapped Dove squares that you find stashed away in your purse after a month that are STILL good.

Do you sense a theme? Why yes, I would like some chocolate.

This week is my no caffeine/sugar/chocolate week (as per the doctor’s orders, on Official Paperwork). It’s not even a full week that I have to go without, it’s just today through noon on Friday. The hardest thing about all this is sitting in the office, because my brain doesn’t turn to Really Really wanting chocolate or sugar when I’m out walking around on the beach or vacuuming the house.

It’s also the cusp of GirlTime™. Yes, having minimal to zero caffeine/sugar/chocolate will indeed help the symptoms, but more than anything, all I want is a piece of fudge cake. Or a handful of Oreos with milk.

To paraphrase a friend, denying ourselves instant gratification on something that we want is very much an adult trait. So this apparently makes me a responsible adult. Sort of.

I’ve been doing my research on all this, because if I have to give up my now-twice-weekly morning grande soy chai, no matter how First World that sounds, I want to know exactly when I can get away with having it again. Not just because it’s tasty, but because losing the ritual of it makes me more uncomfortable than I care to admit. I’ve even grown fond of the instant decaf crystals from Folgers, and heard they have no caffeine so I’m waiting on a response from the company to see if that is indeed true.

For months now I have been cutting back on things I enjoy. It’s been good for me (nobody needs a grande white mocha AND a cup of coffee every day), but also makes me sad to really have to get down to the wire. Please let a solution for all this occur soon – not that I want to go on overload, but my work week just seems messed up without something coffee-ish in the morning. I’ve been drinking guava leaf tea, which tastes like a version of green tea, but it’s not the same. There’s been no alcohol in my body since November, and no soda for further back than I recall, but to drop everything except water and herbal tea is proving to be a very tough battle.

As an aside: I’m not saying every day I stuff my face with multiple mugs of coffee and half a pan of brownies, followed up by a quart of ice cream, I’m saying if I drink one cup of decaf during the morning four times a week and snag a piece of candy now and then, how is it going to affect me?

Here’s some of my research towards beverages and food I consume or have consumed on a regular basis.

CAFFEINE LEVELS (# denotes mg unless otherwise noted)

LIPTON TEAS (est. for 1 cup brewed 2 – 3.5 min)
Black Tea – 1 cup, 55mg
Black Tea Decaf – 1 cup, 5mg
100% Green Tea – 1 cup, 45mg
100% Green Tea Decaf – 1 cup, 4mg
French Vanilla Black Tea – 1 cup, 30mg
Spiced Chai Black Tea – 1 cup, 55mg
Earl Grey Tea – 1 cup, 45mg
English Breakfast Tea – 1 cup, 55mg
All Herbal Teas – 1 cup, 0mg
Tea, brewed- 8 oz., 53mg (range: 40-120)
Starbucks Tazo Chai Tea Latte (Grande) – 16 oz., 100mg
Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar – 1.45 oz., 31mg
Hershey’s Chocolate Bar – 1.55 oz., 9mg
Hershey’s Kisses – 41g (9 pieces), 9mg
Cream substitute, flavored, liquid – 1 oz, 2mg (4g fat, 22mg sodium, 9g sugar)

Health updates

My specialist finally got the thumbs up from my insurance to get me into Scripps Memorial for an ENG test. Two hours of more fun than should be allowed – be prepared to be jealous!

I had to fill out a questionnaire, which was less exciting than you might think. Here’s my questionnaire on dizziness and imbalance disorders, in hopes that someone else might see it and not feel like they’re going through things alone. It did make me feel better to see how in depth it was, because I know they wouldn’t ask all that if no one else had ever suffered this stuff.

dizziness and imbalance inner ear problems

dizziness and imbalance inner ear problems pg 1

dizziness and imbalance inner ear problems

dizziness and imbalance inner ear problems pg 2

Next Friday. Get excited for me!