Sundaze – 5/28/2017

Here I am…sitting on a train. I’m on my way home for the weekend to surprise my dad for his birthday–disclaimer: he knows now, so I’m not spoiling any secrets.

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Whenever I go home, I get a weird mix of emotions: I’m happy to see my family, dreading seeing my family, excited to get breakfast burritos, rolling my eyes out of my head about city traffic. I’m stoked to see my brother, back from his first year of college, and to see Gracie and Stephanie. But everyone is back home for summer, so the chances of me stumbling upon someone from high school are pretty high. I’ve said before that sometimes going home makes me feel like I’m suffocating–and not from the smog! Since last summer, I’ve only been back in the Burbs a handful of times, though, so maybe I’m starting to feel differently.

That’s good news. I might be beginning to forgive all the crap memories filling my brain. I’ve started to think that maybe the reason I have hung onto all those bad memories is because I haven’t had the mindset or the time to make new ones. But that’s another post for another day.

As May comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot. I’ve only got a few more weeks of school (thanks, quarter system) and as long and drawn out as this quarter has been, its end has kind of sprung up on me. So much has happened to me in the last eight or so weeks, and it’s all come down on me at once–right in time for Week 9, shocker!! Not everything is bad, though, some things are quite good…maybe you’ll hear about that soon.

With so much to do for school, I’ve been neglecting writing lately. Yes, I was a little post-happy on the blog a few weeks ago, but things have caught up to me. I covered some heavy topics, and I think we all needed a break from that. I’ve journaled here and there, but no actual writing. Which is great, because I have to start thinking about my senior project–which I’ve got some…thoughts…about.

But I’m antsy to get started on Book 3! I’ve refrained from really letting myself think too much about it–I’ll get far too distracted from schoolwork and tweaking Book 1 and Book 2. But I’ve got a plotline and some character names picked out already. I just have to build the world and work out details. Easy-peasy! Yes, I hope you all read the sarcasm in that. I’m hoping that this weekend I can get some real-life work done so I can escape to the world inside my mind. The good one, don’t worry.

For now, though, I’ve had to find escape in music, which is fine by me. I’ve gotten on this kick of making playlists. I used to just make them and then put them on shuffle and let them take me away. I still do that for some–like my Road Trippin’ playlist for when I drive home or back to SLO. But I made a list of songs for someone recently, just listing them by how they come up in my iTunes: alphabetical by artist. But this list of songs…they’re me in a nutshell. I handpicked them so that if you were to listen to them, you might get me a little bit more. A little bit better. That kind of list needs to be in a special order. I spent most of yesterday arranging and rearranging the songs–and I think I’ve got it! I need to listen a time or two more to be sure, but I’m feeling it.

The Maine’s latest album has got me feeling some kind of way, too. I love it so much, and they never cease to please me with their new music. It’s pretty seamless, and it’s one of the reasons I am now conscious of the order of songs I listen to. But not only did my favorite band release a new record, so did Harry Styles!! Still bitter about the whole “hiatus” thing, but I am loving Harry’s album. It’s so different, and it’s just the kind of thing I needed in my slump. Call me crazy or whatever, but I still love One Direction and all that those boys have accomplished. Hey, music is very important to me, and I’m always overly emotional about it!

And speaking of getting emotional, I saw Jaci last weekend! After hanging out more or less nonstop with her for three months and then not seeing her for six-ish months, I was so excited to have her in town. Post-grad life is treating her well: she has a cool new job that has confusing-to-me circumstances, but it sounds like a blast. It was defnitely strange seeing her in America–SLO, no less–and not London. I’ve been missing my city and all the memories so much the last few weeks, and having the abroad squad back together (ish) for even just a night was the best. Studying abroad was such a wonderful and life-changing experience, and the friends I made were a huge part of that. Therefore Jaci was a huge part of that. I miss getting lost in foreign countries together.

Thinking about London so much made the recent terror attack in Manchester all that more heart-wrenching. Missing the lovely country of England and wishing I was there only made it harder to be so far away when tragedy struck. A concert is supposed to be a safe place–we all know much music has impacted my life–and bombing such a place (where a particularly non-controversial musician was performing) is just awful. All those children…it makes me so angry and sad. I’m wondering how someone could be so evil, but I still believe in the sacredness of music and how positively it can affect someone. And I have to believe we’ll be stronger for this.

As cynical as I am about people and their intentions, I do have faith that when it all comes down to it, people care about people. I saw a video of the queen visiting the survivors in the hospital, and it warmed my heart a little. Gave me some optimism.

…….And now I’ve been lost in thought for, like, twenty minutes. Must get down to business. And by business I mean enjoying the scenery and listening to my jammin’ playlist.

Go get lost in thought and maybe in real life today. Also, always remember there is a Fran Drescher gif for everything.

Peace and blessings, Ashhhhhh

Treacherous

Wow it’s like I am insanely inspired to blog lately…so here I am, coming at you again with some tough topics. I’ve got a lot on my mind, and I need a break from studying–and I only have about seven pages left in my journal and my new one isn’t coming in the mail for about a week. Have to pace myself…

So we’ve talked about depression, anxiety, and the famous 13 Reasons Why. I’ve shared a pretty dark story with you that kind of let you into what goes on in my head sometimes (hey, it got me an A in the best class I’ve ever taken!). But today I’m going to take you down the other little path of mental illness in my life. That’s right, we’re going to talk about eating disorders.

This one might be the hardest for me to talk about because I have always struggled with whether or not I can really consider what I had an eating disorder. On top of that, I still have those lingering Bad Thoughts about my body…every time I look in a mirror. Okay, okay, maybe not every time, but at least ninety percent. That percentage is too damn high! It doesn’t mean I act on those thoughts–sure I have cried in the shower more than once this year and had a mental breakdown or two in my car. It happens and it sucks, but I’m only human.

I gained weight abroad, and ever since I have been back, I have been telling myself that “I have to lose the abroad weight.” Everything still fits me, sure, but now that I’m not perpetually wearing sweaters and I’m on a campus full of beautiful people, I notice the change. So last quarter, I gave myself a gym routine I said I would stick to. It wasn’t aggressive, but I would go a few times a week and take a class. No big deal. Well, I did not follow through with that after around Week 3. I wasn’t mad at myself or anything, I just didn’t have the time. That was okay. I still didn’t love to look at myself in the mirror, but I wouldn’t say I hated it either.

However, this quarter I have been really good about going on a more regular basis. I go a few times a week to hit the elliptical. I even go at six in the morning sometimes. Honestly, who am I?? Kidding, it’s just the best time for my schedule to go. Yes, I am pretty much asleep in the Rec and I nap once I get home and shower, but that’s not the point. The point is that–get this–I actually feel better. I have never been one of those people that feels good after a work out. In fact, I feel pretty shitty. I still don’t feel on top of the world when I leave the gym (the word “potato” comes to mind…), but I have more energy and motivation to actually do things throughout the day.

One of the reasons I wanted to start going more often and regularly was because I would lose all my energy when I would hike with my friends. My endurance and stamina has never been great, and it really showed on a trip to the top of Bishop’s Peak. I am always one of the slowest. That is partly because my knees and ankles kind of suck, but it’s also because I get tired so fast. I’ve gotten a lot better now that I have spent the last few weeks at the Rec.

Bonus: I don’t pant walking around our hilly campus or to my apartment on the third floor (much) anymore!

All of that is fine and dandy. I am not overdoing it or pushing myself too hard, and I still eat whatever I want, when I want (except SloDoCo–I need a maple bar, stat!). I am eating a lot of fruits and veggies, but I also splurge on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Some days you hit the gym, some nights you hit the bars. It’s called balance.

But today when I was working out, I spotted a girl in the weights area. She looked…well, quick frankly, she looked like maybe she was overdoing it (to put it in simple terms). She had slightly sunken eyes and I could see the chords in her neck. And I know people at the gym don’t really look happy, but she didn’t seem to have the life in her that a lot of people do. I know it is not my place to judge or to make assumptions, but I worried about her. And I looked at the miles, the calories, and the minutes on my machine, and I slowed down. I was at a pretty fast pace to get and keep my heart rate up, but seeing her made me cool it for a minute and remind myself that those numbers don’t matter. Yes, running elliptical-ing a mile in less than ten minutes is really exciting for me, but I have to remember that “beating” that personal best might push me past my limits. Maybe I will beat that time, but, like writing in my journal in the next week or so, I have to pace myself.

I have to be conscious of why I am going to the gym. To lose weight? Maybe, but that’s not the overall goal. To build muscle? Possibly. And I have to remind myself that it’s not a requirement of my day. If I’m really not wanting to go work out, then I won’t do it. Yes, I want to keep a routine and stick to it, but it’s not supposed to control me. I think for a little bit this quarter I was letting it take the reigns of my life. Like with depression and anxiety, I had to take a step back and reevaluate. Seeing that girl at the gym made me do that. So this morning, I skipped the gym to sleep in and then study. I might go later today, but I won’t force myself.

Sometimes I think I have all this control over my body and my life, and then I realize that I only think I do. That’s when I stop looking in mirrors and reflective surfaces, I walk right past the scale, I don’t compare myself to every single person that passes me. Instead, I look at the flowers growing literally everywhere in SLO and I jam to the music in my headphones. I can overcome those bad habits.

I was talking to a friend of mine about my new mile time and how exciting that was for a non-runner like me. He said that seeing results like that can be addicting and that was a great feeling. Now, I would in no world put him into any unhealthy habit category–he’s one of those guys who looooves the gym and lifting weights and playing basketball–you know the kind I’m talking about (still love ya, Ben!!). But the word “addicting” didn’t quite sit well with me. Working out and I haven’t had the best relationship because I got addicted to it like I got addicted to the numbness of depression. Again, his words made me take a step back.

I don’t like that I still struggle with this. I feel like I am better than this–I should be, right? Yeah, well, mental illness doesn’t work like that. Sometimes it creeps back into your life and you don’t notice for a while. Recovery doesn’t mean you’re never tempted or you don’t ever slip backwards. Recovery is being conscious of those temptations and overcoming them. It’s been an ongoing battle.

But today is going to be a good day. Great things will happen and I am going to be the best person I can be. My morning pep talk.

Thanks for keeping up with me!

-Ash

PS Literally an eating disorder ad just came up on my Spotify–relevance!! Talk about it, start a conversation, be there.