Life in a Time of Unrest

When we last left off, I had every intention of sharing with you my 30-day gym update. I had started the year talking about my intentions; then my meeting with a personal trainer through my work; followed by my first full week at the gym. And then COVID-19 hit America. I started working and going to school from home. I was a month behind on my masters project, due to my mothers illness at the start of the year, and honestly, not having a commute gave me an extra hour each day that made it easier to complete. It was not easier to try to finish without meeting with my advisor, or to not get to graduate (yet!), or to go from working on a bustling college campus to being alone all day with two cats.

I continued a modified workout routine that includes a lot of walking on the trails by my house, wrapped up my last semester of graduate school and was excited to take a rest but then Ahmaud Arbery was murdered. If you don’t want to think about politics or the state of the word, I recommend skipping down to the first heading. I hope that my transparency will be a source of comfort, not conflict.

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I have been working in public education for over a decade, not counting my work while in college. And I have been committed to being an educator in public education since high school. My work is intricately tied to eradicating systems of oppression – my focus is on untying the mental knots that keep us thinking through the dominant lens by changing the way we talk. I try really hard to embody compassion, understanding and joy.

Lately, I’ve been outwardly angry. And disappointed in myself for that.

More than anything, I feel blindsided by my white friends, who simply don’t know that their line of thinking is rooted in white supremacy. I don’t feel blindsided by white supremacy, but rather that they don’t know. That’s confusing to me and it is a good reminder that I carry my own ignorances:  I live in education, where every day people see the impact (good and bad) of systems, where we are nationally criticized all the time and respond by saying “we’ll do better,” and where people critically analyze sources before assuming they’re accurate.

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That’s my real world. But it isn’t the majority. Folx don’t know the ways that they fight against or give in to the system, turn their noses up at national criticism, and assume that something with a percentage is a fact. And that’s fine. It’s actually fine. I hope that I can make waves in education so that individuals moving forward will examine and assess things differently, but we’re all allowed to be different, and hold to different ideals. That is actually the beauty of America.

The shame of America is that its system reflects ideals that injure entire populations – ideals that are held and defended by its people. It’s hard to jive with freedom of thought (which is usually totally my jam!) when the ideals include people being murdered or children starving or one group being privileged over another.

And so I’m worn out. I’m worn out from 100 conversations a day in my personal and professional world that require me to think about what will happen if we X instead of Y. What population is impacted by Z and will that impact be negative? I am finding myself spouting off in small moments because my every day is so wrought with a lack of closure. But the truth is: that’s how it’s been since I picked education and my white burnout doesn’t help anything. And, at the end of the day, I picked it and I’m not going to leave it, so I have to take educations lead and say, “I’ll do better.”

I’m unwilling to agree to disagree (why do we love this phrase so much?) because that’s what got us here in the first place and, honestly, it feels really anti-American when you read our founding fathers. Instead, I’ll do better. And part of how I want to do that is by revising my 2020 intentions.

Let’s talk about doing better

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When I first wrote them, I broke my 2020 intentions up into three categories: physical, mental, emotional/spiritual health. Then, from there I did a breakdown of what practical steps I could take towards those things. I’m going to put them here with some notes about the steps I’ve taken or hope to take:

Physical Health
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Eating more plants and lean protein – Yo, I’ve got this really great lunch I’m going to share with you that’s almost 100% plant-based (the dressing isn’t…and no, it’s not a salad). I’m also opting for vegetarian whenever possible. Meat is nauseating to me lately. 
Walking for entire lunch break – Pretty much every day, unless it rains. If it’s raining during lunchtime, then I walk in the evening.
Gym three times a week – In Michigan, gyms have been closed since March (or April?). I think maybe I’ll do like an exercise week in the life kind of thing to share what I’ve been doing to stay sane while working from home.
Track progress here – totally haven’t been doing that, but get ready, folx! It’s coming!

Mental Health
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Keeping school organized – keeping school organized by being DONE!! I have some steps I’d like to take in my professional career that I’m not sure I’ll share here, but I think I could share how I organize and stay on top of them… We’ll see. This is a tricky spot. What would you like to see?
Managing Expectations – At the start of the COVID changes, D and I decided to do things 3-5 days at a time. We just couldn’t plan for things because we didn’t know what was going to happen and we were both up to our eyeballs in stress (when you’re the operations person and all of your operations go remote…). That’s been the best move for us. 
More-than-a-month meal plan – This is probably a post all in its own. We’ve had so many changes to food since I started working at home. I’ll do that. I’ll write a post on that.
Weekly routine – We’re starting this! D and I finally started talking through our week. We haven’t really been because what even is a week anymore? But, not having the structure was stressing us both out more than we realized, so we’re moving past three days at a time.

Emotional/Spiritual Health
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Embrace the weekly plan – ready for it!
Use the free counseling at work – Telehealth for the win!
Go to church more than twice a year – Y’all. I’m super on the fence about church. I’ve been a long time non-believer who loves to go to church and the general attitudes of Jesus (per the gospels), but man. The more I see people in abusive relationships defending their abusers and then yelling at me (or friends in general yelling at me) for not being more Christian the more I’m like, “effing patriarchy” because Jesus wasn’t about any of that. Do others have this problem?
Meditate – On it. I’d like to share a little about this too, if folx are interested.
Write for fun, not just for school – That’s actually why I’m back here. I hope it will help and keep me from being so angry.

I also have a little mental list going of some projects I’d like to take on around the house. I have really been thinking about where our money goes and who benefits from it and how to change that, but I think that’s probably going to be a different post since this one was VERY long.

Thanks for sticking with it. I appreciate feedback, thoughts and intentional criticism if you have some.

It’s going to get better. Or at least, we can figure out how to be better. That’s something within our realm of control.A. Rose (1)

 

Week One at the Gym

I shared in this post that I wanted to challenge myself to go to the gym 30 times between February 26 and April 8. I met with a personal trainer in mid-February who drew up a plan for me – 5 workouts a week: 2 upper body, 2 lower body, and 1 full body. The upper and lower body workouts are a little over an hour; the full body is a 2-mile run and time will vary.

I had originally planned to do a big post after 30 days, but by the third day, I needed something more than a lengthy goal, so I thought it would be good to check in after the first week and sum up what the first five days (does anyone remember that song The First Five Times?) were like.

February 26 – Day 1

Day 1

Day 1 was upper body. It started with a 20-minute run/walk and then moved on to mostly free weights. I felt energized and excited when I was done, but by 2pm I was basically toast. It was really hard to fight the urge for an additional cup of coffee.

I did not allow enough time for everything that was included, so there was a circuit of three things that I was supposed to do three times that I only did one time.

Summary: I need more time than I think because not feeling rushed is important to me when I’m learning something. 

February 27 – Day 2

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Day 2 was lower body, which still involved a lot of free weights. I’m really grateful that this plan doesn’t have me tied to a million machines. That morning, I noticed that I was, again, the only woman in the gym that early. Maybe because where I go is small? I was feeling a little achy from the day before, and I need to get better about allowing time to stretch both before and after.

The last exercise was dumbbell lunges and y’all… I barely made it through the first 10. I did a second rep of 10 and stopped, and didn’t do the third rep. I felt terrible for not completing it – when it was about not having enough time that made sense to me, but when it’s because my body can’t? That’s not something I’m used to. I felt kind of crumby for most of day two.

Summary: New disappointments are harder to navigate than ones I’m accustomed to.

February 28 – Day 3

Day 3

By day 3, I wasn’t entirely sure why I was still going. It’s been freezing cold here (in Michigan) and my car doesn’t heat up quickly so I leave for the gym freezing cold. I had class the night before so I didn’t get home until 9pm, which means I wasn’t even relaxed (let alone asleep) until around 10:30pm. That 5am wake up was basically impossible. I was grumpy and decided I was just going to do the full-body workout – the run.

Over the summer, I was running a little over a 5K (3.8 miles – the distance to my parents house) in 43 minutes. When I was at 15 minutes for 1 mile, I was ready to just throw the towel in.

Y’all this is the real – I’m giving it to you straight. Wouldn’t it be boring to hear another “exercising is the greatest thing ever! I love every minute of it!” I’m not going to lie. Working out does make me feel better but the process this day was crap.

Until I hit 1.5 miles. I told myself, “1.5 miles is 75%. If you got a 75% in your class, you would be doing all the extra credit in the world.” So, I kept going because I don’t actually like to do things half-assed. And it was a shitty half a mile, but the music was great and I felt better all day knowing that I had kept going.

Summary: When everything sucks, make sure you have good music because then it will suck less. Also, sleep is really important.

February 29 – Rest Day 1

Rest Day 1

Y’all, I couldn’t do Day 4 after what Day 3 was like. And I don’t mean that to be that I was giving up. I knew I wanted to keep going, but also that my mind wasn’t in the right spot for it. So, I decided on Day 3 to commit to at least one day of rest.

It was less rest-y than probably most days: my parents hired me to put in new flooring in their office. So, I pulled up carpet. And tack strip. And 10,000 staples. It was a workout all its’ own. I got home late (around 7pm) and tried to take some quiet moments for myself. My body was grateful for a long shower and some time in a big, comfy chair.

Summary: Rest is far more important than I usually allow it to be in my life. 

March 1 – Rest Day 2

Rest Day 2

On Day 3, I had committed to going back on Sunday (March 1), but the floors took longer than expected. It was cool to think about my body a little differently on that day. I could lift boxes and get up and down. I tried really hard on this rest day to think about my body as capable, rather than limited.

It was nice to do that on a day not in the gym because I think it set me up well for Day 4 – I highly recommend giving that a shot!

Summary: If I make it less about this idea of going to the gym and more about the idea of learning about my body, I have a better attitude.

March 2 – Day 4

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Day 4 felt like Day 1 in terms of my attitude. How crazy that I so seriously needed those rest days?? It was more mental than anything. I was doubting my abilities and feeling overwhelmed without realizing that was what I was feeling. Does that ever happen to you with things like this?

This was the second upper body workout and it also started with 20 minutes of running. I felt like I had better endurance on this day than I did on Day 1, which propelled me forward in a great way. The rest of the time was spent mostly with free weights and a handful of machines.

The only struggle I found myself having was that I wore leggings with no pockets, so I didn’t have a spot for my phone and headphones, so I carried them from spot to spot. Which was just annoying, not like, a serious problem.

I’m doing a no-spend week, but I think I might purchase one of those earbud cases that hooks to your keys when I have the chance to spend again. Or I might just actually purchase a second pair of leggings that have a pocket. I should update y’all on the status of my closet because there have been some major changes since the last time I posted about it.

Summary: I really like upper body workouts and never knew that before.

March 3 – Day 5

Day 5

Day 5 was a leg day and the day of my biggest revelation. I don’t hate leg day (I feel like that’s a thing that people talk about). I actually enjoy the sore feeling after. What I hate, and what I think probably caught up with me in that weird Day 2 & 3 space is that I need the run to get my brain moving.

I like the calculation of running for a length of time vs walking for a length of time. I like how lost in the music I get. Running is something that I know intimately and have done for most of my life. I  think I need it to boost my confidence because I’m doing so many things I don’t know. So, I’m going to add in 10-15 minutes of it on leg day because that’s what I need.

I discovered that my gym doesn’t have kettlebells so there were two exercises I couldn’t do but y’all – I killed those dumbbell lunges that I struggled with on day two. And by killed I mean I actually did all of them. I didn’t necessarily do them well, but I did them.

Summary: Add in something familiar when you’re doing something new or else your confidence will be shot.

What else?

The number one thing I took away from this week is that I can’t frame it in terms of “good” and “bad.” I went to the gym. I went. That’s actually enough. If I had gone and walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes, that’s 10 minutes more than what I was doing before.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway

That’s it. There are 100 things in a day that I come across that I’m “not good” at. If I spent all my time thinking about them I would never leave my house. And if I told you each day about the 100 things I came across that I am “good” at, I would be the most annoying person ever.

So instead, I went. I went to the gym and I did these things that matter to me because they keep my heart healthy and help me manage stress.

Keeping it on those terms makes it easier to go and to keep going.

I did lose 1.6 lbs and I actually do think it’s important to talk about the number because the number connects to heart and whole-body health. But I don’t think I’ll weigh myself again until April 8 (the 30-day mark) because I have a history of caring too much about that number. You’ve got to know your limits, not just in the gym but out of it as well. 

Oh! AND! I’m making this little playlist of the songs that are resonating with me the most each day if you want to follow along. It’s definitely made it more fun to have music to lean in to.A. Rose (1)