109 // Your Own and Only Obstacle

For the first time in many long and frustrating months, I managed to wake up with my alarm. I’ve tried so many tactics from going to bed earlier to putting my alarm across the room to teaching the dog to wake me up after she goes outside for the first time. None of it worked for more than a few days. What worked today, and what I hope will work long term, was telling myself two things just before bed the night before.

First, I reminded myself of how bad I feel when I hit snooze and I imagined how good I would feel after waking up earlier with time to prepare for the day and arrive to work gently. I also gave myself a reason to wake up early. I reminded myself that getting up early means I can begin my meditation practice again and I imagined how good that would feel, too.

The last time I sat for even a 10-minute session was probably more than a year ago. I started as a way to manage my stress levels, but I stopped because fatigue made early mornings impossible. After breaking a streak of daily sessions, sheer shame kept me from beginning again. I’m ashamed of that too.

This morning’s meditation wasn’t a particularly good one. My mind was all over the place planning my day and practicing possible conversations, and time and time again I had to *gently* return to counting my breaths, but even that worked like a charm. I opened my eyes and felt calm and capable of facing whatever the day had in store. I should have begun again a long time ago.

But the lesson of Zero is always relearned the hard way. The hardest part is forgiving yourself. The second hardest part is accepting you are back at the beginning.

And while I am at it, I think I’ll start working out again today too. I recently learned that the Down Dog apps are free for students and educators and I figured out how to mirror my phone screen to my TV, which means that I can work out, practice yoga, meditate*, and more from the comfort of my own home. I have no more excuses. All that is left is how easy it is, and how hard.

Since my ulcerative colitis diagnosis five years ago, it’s been hard to get back to being active on a regular basis. I was very sick, so doing all the things I used to love, like jogging and hiking, was not possible. In the last year, I have finally achieved remission, but I’m not the same person I was, and this certainly isn’t the same body. Everywhere I push, I meet resistance. My comfort zone has contracted significantly.

They don’t tell you that, as hard as it can be to get used to being sick, it’s almost as hard to get used to being well again, too. It’s hard to move from having no control over how you feel to taking responsibility for your health. It’s hard for you to be your own and only obstacle again.

*For meditation, I am actually still using the Headspace app, which is also free for educators.

364 // The Worst Part Is Already Over

This hasn’t been as smooth of a morning as yesterday was, but for me that’s to be expected. Unlike almost everyone else in the workforce, I’m always at my best on Mondays and as the week wears on my energy levels, attention to detail, and efficiency seriously deteriorate.

I know it’s only Tuesday, but this has been a hard week already. It hasn’t been due to any particular external stressor but simply my own anxieties. I have to teach a class tomorrow and the worry of it has been building since at least last Friday. I know the material, but I’m co-teaching with different people than I’m used to working with and the material has been updated, making me doubt my knowledge.

The week’s decline is also greatly accelerated by the wintery weather and some concerning effects of my the last in a series of iron infusions I had to undergo. The dosage was higher, and I ended up having a slight adverse reaction, leaving me feeling more fatigued than usual and generally icky.

Still, I am proud of myself for mustering the willpower to leave the bed early and work in time for meditation and a good stretching session before beginning the day. Taking those 10 to 15 minutes for myself every day really makes a difference. At the very least, I arrive to work with a sense of accomplishment already instilled.

I had thought to skip going in entirely and staying home, but today is scheduled to be a very, very short day and the worst part of it, the getting up and getting ready, is already over. All I have now left are a couple of quick tasks, a short bout of work outdoors, a bit of preparation to make for the next day, and a few emails to send off.

After that, it’s just breathing and remembering the blue sky until bedtime.