Posts Tagged ‘life’

Odds & ends

It’s been two weeks since I took my final exam for Anatomy & Physiology II. Since it’s a two-part, yearlong course, it’s a little strange to be done with it. Part me goes: yay! Another part of me goes: I want more biology! I want to learn more!

That said, it’s also been nice to have some down time before summer session starts.

Some things I have been doing lately:

Making fruit infusion teas. I boil water in the electric tea kettle, put several tea bags in a jar/container, and then put frozen or fresh fruit in it. After letting the tea cool down a little, I put it in the refrigerator and later drink it as an iced tea. The result: a fruity version of the tea of my choice.

Baking in general. This isn’t especially special or unique, as baking bread, cookies or whatever is definitely a trend in these quarantine times. I’ve done several quick breads, such as lemon and chocolate (not together, separately). Since yeast is scarce in stores here right now, my mother-in-law sent us some and I’ve made several loafs of regular bread. I’m perfecting — or at least getting better — at creating a loaf that is the size and consistency I want.

Poetry dates. My love and I have done this twice now. We pick up a few poetry books from our shelf and take turns reading each other poetry. It’s fun and sweet and a great way to spend a small block of time, especially in the evening.

Posting some items on Etsy. I haven’t done this in a long time, aside from renewing my oracle card listing. I’ve been doing a little bit of organizing and sorting through my jewelry and art inventory. I’ve been creating listings that include a piece of jewelry, a print, a sticker, and a few other surprise items, all at a reduced price. It’s sort of a grab bag/”choose your own adventure” type of thing. Check them out here if you’re curious or interested.

jewelry and art set
Recently sold jewelry and art set. Each set includes one piece of jewelry, a print, stickers, and more (like cards from the first proof of my oracle cards)!

Doing art for the sake of doing art. Creating things to sell has definitely encouraged me to intentionally make art over the past few years, but that has lost some of its charm for me. Just creating and seeing what emerges is a totally different experience for me. It’s much more about the process than the final product.

Some things I need to continually remind myself about:

Drink more water. I know that I’ve upped my caffeinated tea intake quite a bit. Sometimes it’s about consistently feeling tired/draggy. Sometimes it’s meant as a mood boost, and sometimes it’s both. As usual, I do generally stop drinking anything caffeinated before 3:00 p.m. so it doesn’t affect my sleep. And I’ve been feeling better since I’ve been reminding myself to drink water along with my tea or any other beverage.

That it’s okay not to feel okay all the time. That’s true at any given time, and it’s especially true in the middle of a pandemic. I am prone to periods of feeling down; it comes and goes in waves. It helps to breathe through it rather than fighting it or trying to analyze it.

That any productivity is good. And that there’s value in doing nothing or not much too.

That spending too much time on social media and reading people’s comments (whether on social media or articles, etc.) is not good for my mental health. I often feel heavy after I’ve been scrolling for a while. I’ve been limiting my time on Facebook over the past week and it’s been helping my mood overall.

Speaking of mental health, it’s now been six years since I checked myself into a hospital for suicidal ideation. It’s a great reminder of how far I’ve come in that time and how much I appreciate the life I’ve created.

 

Thoughts, reflections, update.

In terms of being and staying at home due to COVID-19, I have to say it’s a great time to an introvert. While I do miss doing things in person, namely my supplemental instruction sessions and my anatomy & physiology class, being alone or just hanging out with my spouse feels good and natural to me. I have far fewer times of just needing space and downtime because, well, I have a lot.

That being said, I do miss seeing friends and family, too. I am sad that I didn’t get to see my longest-term friend (who lives across town) before all this. I disappointed that I didn’t get to go to Albuquerque for spring break (which is now!) to see my dad and friends. And so it goes. I see some video calls in my future.

As far as sensory processing issues go, as always, it’s mixed. On one hand, there’s less external stimulation. Life is generally quieter, there are fewer places to go, etc. On the other hand, all the change and upending of my routines has been challenging for my nervous system. This was especially true in the week where everything changed from in-person to online, where I couldn’t anticipate what would change next from day to day and I often felt overwhelmed and overstimulated. Days often feel long, like several days are packed into one; and at the same time, it’s amazing to me to realize it’s been three weeks since my classes went remote (it feels like both a short and long time). Now that I’m on spring break, I’m letting down somewhat, too, which has led to more exhaustion and emotional release.

Here’s a great article on how emergency remote learning is not the same as planned online learning. The current switch to remote learning takes classes that were in-person to virtual and was incredibly abrupt. I, for example, am taking a biology class with a lab. While the professors are doing the best they can, the lab especially translates less well to an online format because it completely changes the hands-on element. I’m now watching videos of a professor pointing out structures on anatomical models and projecting histology slides. He’s doing a great job and making it as entertaining as possible, and it’s really not the same at all. Plus, some of the more experimental parts of lab have to be taken out altogether because his time to film these demonstrations is limited and it’s much different to watch an experiment than actually perform it. Still, I’m glad to still be getting to learn as much of the material as I can.

As I said, I’m leading my supplemental instruction (SI) sessions online. Here’s some more information about supplemental instruction in case you’re curious. As an SI leader, I sit in on a class I’ve taken before (and done well in) and then create activities based on the material. This semester, I’m doing Anatomy & Physiology I; last semester I did Introduction to Life Sciences. I’m more of a peer support activity leader than a tutor; I ask far more questions than I answer. It’s much, much different to conduct sessions online. In person, I’m able to respond to students’ nonverbal cues or see when they’ve completed an activity. Online, I have no such ability to do that. On the live conference platform, there’s still the ability for students to draw out processes and mark on the presentation, but it’s not the same as handing a student a marker and having them draw or write something on the board. On the plus side, I’ve getting to learn new software and have regular meetings with other SI leaders and coordinators, and that’s been nice.

Some things I am grateful for:

  • That I completed a dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) program and have a wonderful therapist. I have an arsenal of coping skills that come in handy when working with fear, anxiety, or lack of acceptance. Acceptance is often a challenge for me, but practicing it now comes in handy. I can think things like: “I don’t want things to be like this,” and there’s not much else to do about it (unless I want to expend a bunch of energy) except accept what’s happening.
  • That I have a wonderful spouse that I adore and I’m incredibly compatible with and that we enjoy both spending time together and doing our separate activities quietly around each other. I’m especially grateful that he’s working from home now.
  • Getting to see music concerts online for free or inexpensively! Some have been on Facebook; others have been on another platform. The Shut In & Sing festival has a great assortment of folk and Americana singer-songwriters and groups. Many of these musicians don’t come and perform in Las Vegas, so it’s been wonderful to see and hear them. Also, here’s a link to NPR’s running list (that’s regularly updated!) to online music shows of many genres.
  • Doing more Nia. As a Nia teacher, I get NiaTV as part of my annual membership package, but it’s now doing 30 days free for anyone if you want to get a sampling of Nia while you’re stuck at home. It has full-hour active workouts as well as shorter ones and some Moving to Heal routines that are either standing or in a chair. I find doing Nia incredibly calming and invigorating at the same time. For me, Nia is as much a tool (or perhaps more so) to regulate my nervous system as it is to stay physically active. Doing Nia daily during this time has definitely helped soothe my anxiety. I’ve also been taking a few virtual classes with Nia teachers around the country, and that’s been a great way to both dance and feel connected.
  • The hummingbird that is currently nesting on the plant hook on our porch. I don’t know if it’s the same bird as last year (I’d have to know her specific markings for that). It’s nice to have this visitor, this sweet reminder of spring. The nest has been there since we moved in nearly two years ago, so she mainly made a few additions and changes and settled right in.

So things for me right now are mixed. Definitely some highlights and some upheaval as well. I don’t really expect anything different, though; life as I (and we) know it has been upended. I’m doing my best to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, and take each moment as it comes.

Link roundup 3/20

Netflix Party: a Chrome extension that allows you and your family and friends to watch movies together.

Speaking of Netflix, Netflix announces fund to support film and television workers during this time.

A list of live virtual concerts to watch during the coronavirus shutdown.

The zoo in Cleveland is offering free online biology courses for children.

An Italian restaurant in Los Angeles is offering free online cooking classes.

Watch animals at the Georgia Aquarium. Read about the “animal field trips” at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

Three minutes of cats and dominoes.

Amazing grassroots efforts happening during this time. More on how people are using online tools to help others.

Time Out New York has created page for things to do with “time in,” both in New York City and otherwise.

Thursday, March 19 marked the earliest first day of spring (in the Northern Hemisphere) in over 124 years.

Viral false animal stories: A reminder to fact-check, even with uplifting and heartwarming stories.

From 35 to 36

My 36th birthday is tomorrow. So here is my letter to my current age/year.

Dear 35,

I had a harder time writing you down as an age than most years. I say that I really don’t have many issues with aging, but I kept wanting to write “34” for about four months after my birthday. Maybe it’s because you are directly in the middle of the 30s. Maybe it’s because “I’m 35” somehow sounds more adult. I don’t really know why. But, eventually, I adjusted.

This year, I continued to grow and maintain my proofreading business. I’ve been taking more college classes. This is the year I took the Nia Blue Belt training, which was incredibly rewarding and my Nia practice has deepened as a result. This is the year that we bought our first home and have been gradually settling in, truly turning our condo into a home and a comfortable place to live.

I’ve spent so much time in my life in struggle and strive mode (on an internal level mostly) that it’s almost disconcerting not to be there most of the time. Yes, I have challenges in my life, and some I choose to face and others I have not yet faced. I am still healing in many ways from past experiences, but that pain is less at the forefront of my life. And yes, the outside world can be crazy at times. Yet I am content sometimes to just cuddle with my love and let my life be as it is.

I want to enter 36 clear-eyed and willing. Willing to take steps forward and challenging myself without pushing myself too hard. Willing to get to know new people, reach out.

I have to laugh; I sometimes think I prefer the even ages to the odd-numbered ones. Still, 35, you were good to me. Thank you for all you have brought me and taught me.

What I learned in Math 116

In December, I finished 100-level math survey course called Introduction to Technical Mathematics. It went through basic algebra, geometry, functions, trigonometry, and logarithms. It’s one of the prerequisites to a science course I want to take as I consider applying for a graduate program, so I reluctantly took it.

Here’s some of the things I learned:

• It was much easier for me at age 35 to learn and refresh myself on mathematical concepts than it was in high school. The last time I fully learned these concepts was when I was 15-17, where I was also dealing with other classes, social intricacies as well as everything else that comes with being a teenager. So perhaps I was more distracted then, and perhaps my life experience has helped me be in a better space for learning math now.

• That said, I was really grateful for my main high school math teacher, who I took Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II with. She had a way of making math fun, and she helped me catch up where I was behind my freshman year. While I might have been somewhat distracted at times by being a teenager, she gave me a good foundation in math that served me well in the more recent class.

• I used to think that I wasn’t a “natural” at math. It might be closer to the truth to say instead that I am more natural in other subjects (English, languages, art) than I am at math. I am certainly more right-brained than left-brained, and it takes a different kind of thinking and sometimes more time for me to get into math mode. But after watching other students struggle, where explanations that made sense to me didn’t make sense to them, I realized I’m more natural at it than I previously thought. It’s also that math isn’t my favorite subject; perhaps I’d feel like more of a natural if it was something I felt more naturally drawn to.

• I might actually enjoy doing math more if I didn’t get so anxious taking the quizzes and exams. I enjoy figuring out how to make sense of problems. I do not necessarily trust that I know enough to be able to master them during a timed quiz. The truth is, in the end, I often *do* know the material well enough.

• In high school and college, I was very quiet in my classes. It was hard for me to speak up in class, even when I wanted to (I now think that it was primarily sensory-related and I kept shutting down). In this math class, I was actually one of the more vocal ones when the teacher asked for answers to problems. Now that I know more about myself and don’t put so much pressure on myself to speak, I actually say more.

It was good to review the mathematical concepts and be reminded of the practical applications. While I don’t use all of the concepts in my daily life, I do use some and I can also see where else they would be useful. That’s one of the things about having more life experience – practical applications often make more sense.

I’m planning on taking the first biology course that I’ve taken since sixth grade this semester. I’m curious to see what I learn there!

Clinging to the in-between time

Sometimes it feels that there is a like a quieter, almost suspended piece of time in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Perhaps it lasts a few days more.

It’s January 6th. I find myself wanting, as I often do this time of year, to hold onto that feeling of quiet. Tomorrow, many activities start again at their regular pace. My husband’s first full week of work, uninterrupted by any holidays, begins tomorrow. I’ll put up a few ads for more proofreading work, resume my Nia classes, and send some e-mails out. As a freelance proofreader, January can be slow sometimes, so perhaps I will have time to clean and organize things. I’m planning on taking a class at the community college this semester, but that doesn’t start for another two weeks.

Since Winter Solstice, the days have grown longer, slowly, minute by minute. But they still feel long. There is currently snow on the mountains above Las Vegas, and sometimes the temperatures dip to freezing in town. It’s not wintry weather by some people and place’s standards, but it is wintry for us.

I often feel like slowing down this time of year. I’m generally more tired; my moods have a tendency to dip lower. Hibernation sometimes sounds appealing.

I’ve seen so many messages over the past week about starting the new year “right,” to make lists, clean up, work out more, make plans. All of these things require direct action and the energy to do them. For me, this time of year isn’t necessarily about renewal; it’s about slowing down and listening deeply. This doesn’t mean I won’t make goals or won’t start new things, but it means I might do so less energetically – or at least with more consideration of my energy level – than I might in another season.

So, as much as I sometimes wish there was a way to “pause” time just for a little bit, my hope is to honor where I’m at and how I feel, take care of my obligations, and take small steps towards my goals. Right now, I have no specific deadlines; that may change tomorrow or another day soon. I will savor the stretches quiet time when I can, and find the quiet moments between things when life gets busier.

Intentions for 2019

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do like setting intentions that are open, can be revisited, modified, or even scrapped if need be.

Here are a few of mine for 2019:

To continue practicing self-care and self-love. To have compassion for myself in the times that this is more challenging.

To find a place to teach at least one more regular Nia class.

To continue to find time to dance Nia for myself. This might be more challenging if I add another Nia class because my prep time might increase. But I want to still make time to dance on my own for no reason other than I love doing it.

To take more hikes/spend more time in nature. Sometimes even taking a walk outside around the neighborhood can fulfill this to some extent. Being outside in the sunlight does wonders for me. Being out in nature does even more.

To make more art for the sake of creating, not just for sale. Making arts and crafts to sell at vendor fairs is great, and it definitely motivates me to continue to make art. But sometimes I just want to sit down and let my creativity go and be in the process and not be focused on what I want to create.

To do more activities that might help make Vegas feel more like home. In some ways, it feels very much like home, especially now that we’ve moved into our own condo. I like it here. And yet, it’s been over two years since I moved here and sometimes I don’t feel quite settled. I’m leaving this open-ended.

To maintain my current client load for proofreading and add one more regular client. Doing enough backup proofreading can satisfy this requirement as well, but that’s less predictable (to be fair, freelancing is not exactly predictable).

Happy New Year! What are your intentions for this year?