“Free”

Free WM

This piece is one of my personal favorites, in part because of how soothing it was to create. “Free” is unusual in that it was actually created over several days, not in one sitting like the majority of my work. The background of the piece was painted in watercolors, once it dried, the rest of the design was done in soft pastels and charcoal. Another unusual thing about this work is that the design wasn’t planned ahead of time. Normally, I doodle something in my sketch book and then decide to make it into a finished piece. With “Free”, I just set my pencil to the paper and went with it. The flowing curves of the design itself and the careful blending of the colors just set my mind at ease. I’m not normally the type to get hung up on the creation of a piece, but this particular drawing put me into an almost meditative state. I titled it “Free” partly because of the way I felt during its creation and partly because the finished design looks as though it is floating freely in a warm summer breeze.

As always, you can view more of my work at: http://rojita369.deviantart.com/gallery/

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Race Day!

You guys have read about my goals for my first 5k for months now, and I am thrilled to announce that Sunday afternoon, I crossed the finish line over a minute under my goal time!

race results2

You may remember that back in June, I had managed to do the full 5k in just under 50 minutes, and set a new goal of 40 minutes for the actual race. As of October 20, I completed 5k in 38 minutes and 58 seconds! I wasn’t able to jog the whole thing, but I hadn’t expected to; my main goal was simply to cross the finish line with the best time I possibly could. Considering that about six months ago, I was literally a couch potato and could barely walk a 20 minute mile without feeling miserable, completing this challenge is an amazing feeling.

It wasn’t easy, especially with the road blocks put in my way by my own body. The fibro didn’t want me to do this and to be honest, there were many times that I doubted myself. I know that to a lot of people a 5k seems like a small thing, it is after all, only about 3 miles, and I imagine that most people in fair health could do it if they wanted to. Those of us with fibromyalgia know that even if we’re in otherwise perfect health (which we’re usually not), physical activity of any sort is an iffy venture, at best. We can never really gauge how we are going to feel on any given day, so setting up an actual training routine is nearly impossible. It took me six months to get myself ready for this race.

The first few weeks of training were incredibly difficult; I don’t think I can adequately describe what it was like to someone who doesn’t have a chronic pain condition. My body did not want to cooperate, it was perfectly happy to sit on the couch and do nothing. Not only did I have to fight against my own self doubt, I had to fight my body’s insistence that I was hurting myself. Getting past the “payback pain” was an arduous process, but I will tell you now, I would do it all over again. The results are worth it. It took about 6 weeks, but I did finally reach a point where I began to feel better after a workout, rather than worse.

The thing you have to keep in mind is that: I do not work out because I feel better, I work out to make myself feel better. I don’t just exercise on the days that I feel good; even on my worst days, I will force myself to go do something, even if it’s just a short walk around the neighborhood, because I now know that afterwards, I will feel better. I cannot put enough emphasis on how important that realization was to me. Those days where all you want to do is curl up with a bowl of ice cream and cry are the days that where you need to find a way to be active, even if it’s only for 20 minutes. I promise you that you will feel better. Your mental state will improve almost immediately because now you can be proud of yourself for not giving up, and eventually your body will realize that the activity actually does feel better than doing nothing.

Alright, enough of the “get active” propaganda :).

I would like to say how very, extremely proud I am of my best friend, Heather. Like me, she has been struggling to get and stay active. She has been a constant source of support and motivation for me, I can only hope that I have managed to do the same. I will tell you right now, that without her to kick me in the behind every now and then, I wouldn’t have done as well as I did in the race. She has been there for me from the get go and has stuck by me even when I was whining about not wanting to do anything. She’s also had a rough time over the last 6-8 months, but she still managed to be there with me at the starting line and even with a bum ankle, she crossed the finish line well under our original goal of 1 hour. We’re already looking forward to our next race. 🙂

Another person that I’d like to mention is another very dear friend of mine, Aaron. Even though he had absolutely no reason to get up and go out to the race this last weekend, he was there to cheer both Heather and I on, and was even nice enough to hold on to our stuff for us. I can’t even tell you guys how much it meant to me to have two of my very favorite people there to support me on a day that a year ago I would’ve said would never happen. Even before the fibro, I would have never thought that I’d voluntarily participate in a race; after the fibro, I would have said it would be impossible for me to do at all. I’m so very glad that I was able to prove myself wrong.

After race

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

In case the title didn’t give it away, I’d like to give a huge “Thank you!” to the author of Just Another F-Bomb for nominating my little slice of cyber space for the Liebster Award! I can’t tell you how much it means to me to know that real people are actually out there reading my words; most of us struggle along in silence simply because we feel like no one wants to hear what we have to say. Every time I receive a new comment or link back, I am reminded that I am not alone in this and that my words are reaching, and even encouraging others to break their silence as well.

Like the Versatile Blogger Award, the Liebster, (which means “dearest” in German, by the way), asks that it’s nominees answer a few questions and also nominate others. I’ll be honest, I’ve been incredibly remiss in reading any blogs lately (as well as writing my own, as you may have noticed), so I can’t post my nominees right now, but I will go ahead and answer the 10 questions posed to me by my nominator, Just Another F-Bomb.

  • If you could live anywhere you wanted, where would it be?
    – I haven’t made it there yet, but I think it’s safe to say that I would be perfectly happy to live in Nairobi, Africa; specifically at The Giraffe Manor. I mean, really, living somewhere where giraffes could come and join me for breakfast? How can I possibly resist?
  • What is your favorite vacation spot and why?
    – Key West, FL. It’s absolutely gorgeous and so very relaxing.
  • If you could do any job in the world, what would it be?
    – A giraffe feeder, hands down.
  • Do you have a favorite teacher who inspired you?
    – I had many wonderful teachers over the years, I really can’t choose just one, or even two.
  • Why do you blog?
    –  Writing this blog is my way of shining a light into the darkness; my way of proving that I do not suffer alone, nor do I have to suffer in silence. This blog helps me break the barriers created by the pain and the best part is, it’s not only my own barriers being broken, my words have encouraged others to break their silence as well.
  • If you had a magic wand, what would you use it to change?
    – A magic wand wouldn’t be enough to fix everything that’s gone wrong in this world, so I’m not going to go all serious here. I think the first thing I would do with a magic wand is shrink a giraffe down to about 3 feet tall, that way I could keep him as a pet 🙂
  • Do you dress up for Halloween?
    – Usually. The last time I dressed up for Halloween, I went as Aphrodite.
  • What was your most memorable day and why?
    – Again, tough question. I’m going to go with the day I rescued my cat, Sammy. It was the day before a major hurricane swept through my area and there were some kittens living in a small ditch next to a near by 7-11. In an attempt to save them from the storm, I went down there with some cans of cat food and a large animal carrier. I managed to lure three kittens in, but before I could shut the door, two of them escaped, leaving me with one very angry orange ball of fur. It was a rough start, but he eventually came around and was one of the best cats I’ve ever had.
  • Kids or pets, which do you prefer?
    – As I’ve never had any children, I’m going to say pets 🙂
  •  How long did it take you to complete the Liebster “task”?
    – About an hour, give or take.

I just want to reiterate how extremely grateful I am for all of the support and encouragement that I’ve received. Thank you to everyone who has commented on a post or emailed me and also to all of you who decided to click “follow” button; it means so much to me to know that my words are being seen.

Struggling

Have you ever used a visualization to help you get through something difficult?

For instance, over the last few months, when I’ve found myself struggling with training for the 5k, I’ve been visualizing myself crossing the finish line as a way to motivate myself to keep going. When I felt like I simply couldn’t jog another step, that image of myself crossing the finish line with my loved ones there waiting for me kept me going. It’s helped me get myself out of the house and even helped me get out of bed some mornings. I’ve found this simple tactic to be amazingly helpful and have even been using other visualizations to help me with other goals.

There is, however a downside. The 5k I’ve been training for is next weekend and just yesterday, that image that I’ve had running through my head for the last 5 months got ripped apart. I’m still going to cross the finish line, but someone very important to me will not be there to see it, and not because they’re unable to. I know that in the grand scheme of things this truly isn’t a big deal, but it’s just one more dream that’s been flushed down the toilet. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even want to do the 5k anymore. I’ve been holding on to my little vision for so long that I don’t even know how to continue without it. It doesn’t help that I’m absolutely exhausted; the fatigue issues I wrote about last week seem to have gotten worse.

Nothing that I have tried has helped. I’ve adjusted my sleep schedule, tried taking my night-time meds earlier, changed my diet, adjusted the vitamins I take, cut back on my workouts… I’m at a loss. Not only do I not have the energy to run this thing, I feel like my motivation is gone as well. The pain was a cake walk compared to this. I can work around pain, but how do you work around being completely exhausted all the time? It takes energy to work, to fight, and I’m running seriously low at this point. Caffeine/energy drinks don’t work, naps are no help at all and what little sleep I do manage to get is ineffective.

I’m really not trying to have a pity party, I just feel so lost right now and I figure writing about it is better than hiding in bed. I’ve tried talking about it, but unless someone has actually dealt with this kind of problem before, they just can’t understand. I’m sick of people telling me to “go take a nap” or to “drink some coffee”, so I just stopped talking about it altogether.

I usually try to end my posts on a positive note, but I’m having a hard time finding one right now. The best I can say is that despite my current feelings, I will be doing the 5k next Sunday, even if I have to walk the entire thing. I won’t let one person screw up all of my hard work and I’m betting that my bestie will kick my butt if I try to back out, (I love you, Heather! I really do!).

The Plan, update #7

So far, all of my updates about The Plan have been about positive things that I have noticed or goal I’ve achieved. This update is a bit different, because I have hit a wall. A big, fat, solid, wall.

I don’t know if this is just the fibromyalgia making things difficult or if something has changed, but the last few weeks have been a bit rough. Simply put, I am exhausted. Absolutely, utterly drained. In August, I was able to up my walks to 3-4 miles, 4 or 5 days a week. On top of that, for most of the month, I was able to do one of the Jillian Michaels’ workouts at least 4 days a week. Let me tell you, I was pretty impressed with myself!

I carried this pace all the way through to about mid September, when out of nowhere, my energy levels plummeted. I figured that maybe I was getting run down and took a few days off from the Jillian Michaels workouts, (but kept up with my walking routine), planning to get back into it the following week.

Epic fail. I made it about a third of the way through the workout before my body just refused to cooperate. After that, I began to pay a bit more attention to how I was feeling throughout the day. I noticed that not only has it been harder to wake up in the mornings, (it literally feels like I’m dredging my consciousness up through deep, dark water every morning), but I’ve reverted to feeling like I need a nap in the late afternoons. I haven’t actually gone so far as to take said naps, but I have thought long and hard about it more than a few times.

I don’t feel sick, my pain levels haven’t changed, I’m not having any extra trouble falling asleep and I haven’t made any changes to my diet… I’m kind of at a loss on this one. I’ve even talked to my doctor about it, but all I got was the typical shoulder shrug that comes with the fibro territory.

I absolutely refuse to give up my walking. I will zombie drag myself down the street if I have to, but I am not going to give up on this. If I was feeling otherwise run down or had any other symptoms of illness, I’d take a break for a few days, even I’m not that stubborn. 🙂 The thing is, I’m mostly convinced that this is just the fibro trying to trick me into giving up, and I know what happens if I do. I have been down that road and I know where it leads: misery.

I may not have the energy to cook dinner every night and its possible the laundry may sit around a little bit longer, but I am going to keep moving. Over the last five months, I have been happier, my mood has been lighter and I have simply felt better than I have in years. I knew that this was going to get harder at some point; I’ve already fought my way through several massive pain flare ups. The pain couldn’t stop me, neither will this.

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