Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why I'm not worried about not having a job

Ok, so maybe I'm a little worried because it is a sensitive topic. I'm not in serious debt, however I still have concerns about the continuous medical bills. A good day for me is when the mailman shows up empty handed. This means that I don't have another bill to add to the pile.

The truth is I've been living off of my savings. I've always been good about saving money and I'm grateful that I have enough for such life emergencies. I know I can't continue to live this way. I'll say what everyone is thinking: its stupid and dangerous. And I agree. Sure, I don't have the kind of stress that a 9-5 job would bring. But being at home all the time brings upon a different level of stress. I don't like it and this is no way to live either. I am young and capable. I should be out in the world. Living like this is embarrassing. I feel like people are frowning upon my ways. My family gave up on me a long time ago and they don't know how to help me. I get criticized for not picking a stable field of work. Believe me, if I were to do my life over, I wouldn't have picked artist. Its a tough industry to get into, especially if my network is the size of a pea.

If you've been following my blog and videos, I have been miserable for more than a year. This has a lot to do with the job I accepted in August of 2008. I wasn't comfortable with the opportunity, but I accepted it in lieu of the recession. I had money and insurance, but I also wasn't myself and I didn't like it. The job transformed me into a monster. Every word that came out of my mouth was a complaint and the stress made me sick. It was a huge relief to become laid off but it isn't fun to deplete my savings. As much as I hate to admit, I feel that this hiatus (aka living like a bum) was necessary for me. I'm confronting a lot of the problems that I've had for years. I've taken time to re-evaluate and focus to what I really want and what I need. I've improved the quality of my life by eating better, exercising, and learning how to relax.

The reason why I'm not worried about not having a job is because deep down inside I know that my life won't be like this forever. I wouldn't have believed this a year ago because my previous employer made me feel worthless. I felt trapped. That aspect of my life made me feel like I was going to be miserable forever.

The mind and body are incredible things. Unfortunately for us suffering with UC, our bodies aren't reliable. These limitations make it easy to fall into a depression, so you have to keep your mind strong. Its the only thing you can control. I've used this time to make my body stronger but this was only possible because didn't allow my brain to lose its optimism. Even if my optimism was low, it was still there. I held on to it as tightly as I could, and its still there.

So here I am at the end of 2009 and the the beginning of 2010. The vacation is over and its time to aggressively find a job. It took me a long time to figure out what I like and what I want to do. I finally have a place in mind where I think I belong. I don't have feelings of dread anymore when it comes to finding a job because it doesn't seem impossible. Unfortunately I can't tell you where this place is. I don't want to jinx my luck or increase my competition. So you'll have to wait until I'm there before I can tell you :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Its ok to mess up, but not ok to give up!

At the start of the month I was absolutely pumped about exercising. To tell you the truth, I have gotten lazy. It wasn't like that at first. I treated myself for a job well done for including exercise in my life. I would going out with friends and stay out late. A few weekends of staying awake too long turned into three weeks of insomnia. My entire schedule was thrown out the window because I would be awake until 4am. I wish I had a lot of cool adventurous tales about secret espionage and midnight rendezvous... in reality, it was me going to bed at 1:30am staring at the ceiling (and occasionally the clock) hoping to eventually doze off. Most mornings at this new schedule I would wake up somewhere between 10am or 11am feeling like a zombie. Zombies can walk for miles, but they are terrible at the treadmill.

I will not allow myself to give up! I set a goal to match or succeed the 15.75 miles that I completed last month. I am not only doing this for myself, but I am doing this for you. I can't let you down after all the wonderful messages I received. A few of you mentioned that you wanted to start exercising after reading my blog! I was amazed and flattered :)

When things don't go as planned, I started this new thing where I ask myself a few questions like, "What can I do?" or "What am I doing differently now?". I find that if myself simple questions, I can approach a situation differently and hopefully find a solution. So what am I doing about this? I am blogging about it again! I want to feel the same excitement that I had two weeks ago. There are still a few days until January and I've re-arranged my schedule to fit the missing miles.

Miles completed to date: 8.22
Miles left to finish: 7.53 (within 9 days)

This doesn't seem daunting because my goal was to complete 7 miles within 7 days. If you asked me about my progress yesterday, I would have given you an exasperated sigh of defeat. Yesterday morning my complete number of miles was only 5.12 and I still had to walk 10.63 miles before the end of December.

I bit my tongue and worked through my frustration. I factored in the amount of time I would be spending with my family during the holiday, I know my time would be limited. Yesterday I ended up walking 3.10 miles! I needed to complete a larger chunk of miles to make up for lost time. It is difficult enough for me to do light exercise daily, but to triple my routine within the same day is crazy talk! Guess what! Even if I tripled my routine, I still followed rule #2 which is: Don't push yourself. This took a small amount of planning. I, as a recovering insomniac, vowed to wake up early, eat a light breakfast, and walk one and a half miles before noon. Then sometime in the early evening, I would walk another one and a half miles. This is how I completed three miles! Its easy if you make it easy!

It is the day after and I was surprised that my body isn't sore. I am planning on doing this again today and then the rest of the week should be a breeze knowing that I have less miles to cover. Its ok for me to mess up, but its not ok for me to give up! I'll continue walking one mile per day. And to all of you, good luck!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Say it with Sugar: The Cookie Trap

I'm in a difficult position in my life right now. Aside from the fact that I have no job and my family is being weird around me because I have no job... the biggest and most heart-aching issue that I am dealing with right now is the topic of friendship. I don't feel like I have any friends to hang out with. I know it sounds like a bold thing to say, but in some ways its true.

I've isolated myself because I feel like my disease and I are a burden to everyone. Its a lot easier for me to deal with conflict if there are no people have have conflict to exist with. And so, slowly but surely I shyed away from almost every social network that I knew. This was a stupid thing to do, but at the time it felt right. I couldn't find a reason why people would want to be around me when:

• I'm too sick to go out
• Too broke to do anything
• Paranoid that I smell like ass
• Stayed home too much and too long that I'd have nothing to talk about
• Being embarrassed about the times when I got sick in public

In hindsight, all of these reasons sound silly, but some of these are a constant worry for people suffering from Ulcerative Colitis. Who would tell me if I smell like ass or not? Who would tell me that they don't want to hang out with me because they know I will say 'no' anyway. Not anyone that I know because those are mean things to say. I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me or worry about me. Less conflict makes sense. The only consequence is that it leaves me feeling very lonely and unsure about how to re-connect.

In the spirit of the holidays I'm getting that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Enough time has passed, the bad blood is gone, and I want to start over. My confidence becomes stronger when I'm feeling healthy, so I have to take advantage of my remission and make connections. Looking for answers, I feel pathetic Googling a topic like How to Make Friends, but hey I have to start somewhere! Its a well-written article with very simple and practical advice.

In a nutshell, the article was about being interesting, engaging, but most importantly about taking initiative! I was thinking about how I can become all of those things. My answer is food.

Food brings people together, and if it is free, there will be a stampede.

I've decided to take on a new hobby with baking. This all started back in October when I was experimenting with the many uses of fresh pumpkin filling. I've baked dozens of SCD cupcakes for myself (I have an expanded waist-line to prove it). And now I'm taking it to the next level by baking for other people. Last week, I went to the library and picked up The All-American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett (Let me warn you now, gentle viewers, that this is NOT a specific carbohydrate diet book). I'm putting my will-power to the test out of desperation and loneliness to win friendships back! I will triumph through their hearts and through their stomachs and with lots and lots of sugar.

Baking cookies will give me an activity to take my mind off things and have something to offer to start a conversation. Sure it sounds a bit like a gimmick, but this is my approach to a peace offering. Its impossible to have feelings of ill-will in the presence of homemade cookies. You might be wondering why I'm offering "real" cookies instead of SCD cookies? I've had real cookies in my past life and SCD cookies in my new life. To be honest, SCD cookies aren't satisfying enough. Its been years and there are still some food substitutions that I'm trying to get used to. Flavors may come close, but I don't believe there is anything that can ever replace chocolate. Unfortunately for us SCDieters... chocolate is off the list! Because of this sad fact, I don't want to force people to eat food that I have to eat. I'm approaching it from this perspective: A vegetarian can't force other people to become vegetarians, but they can politely offer vegetarian dishes as an alternative. I'm not a vegetarian... but well... you get the idea.

So I'll offer real cookies along with my SCD cookies. I cross my fingers that they'll be open-minded to the SCD flavors. Or maybe I won't tell them and let their palates be the judge.

I'll let you know how my social experiment goes. To be continued...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fernpixel store at Big Cartel!

I'm happy to announce that I opened my store at Big Cartel! These are super amazing things all handmade by me! Please take a look for some cute heating pads and accessories.

I love the heating pads because they are reusable and you don't have to fuss with hot water. Instant heat in 30-seconds in the form of a cute animal to soothe those stubborn Ulcerative Colitis aches and pains. They also make great ice packs! Yay!

Details about my store:
• Payment is paypal only
• I ship all around the world

I'm happy to answer any questions about my items. Just sent me an email: fernpixel[@]

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

15.75 miles

If you've been following my Twitter I walked 15.75 miles in the month of November. This is really impressive for my standards because I HATE exercising. If I had a choice between spending 30 minutes of my time watching a reality show [rerun] or power walking. I would be in favor of lying on the couch with my hand on my belly, glazed eyes, and anticipating the poorly edited antics of wannabe Hollywood IT boys and girls. I know its pathetic, but you do it too. In fact, you would be doing it right now if you weren't reading my blog at this very moment.

We all know the health benefits of exercise and yet most of us don't do it. I can think of a million trillion things I'd rather do than exercise. I will start with the most important of the least desirable tasks I'd rather be doing and end with the "What the fuck?! You'd rather do this than exercise??" in a top ten list:

10. Pay bills
9. Laundry
8. Back up files in my computer
7. Vacuum the car interior
6. Throw out expired food and condiments from the refrigerator
5. Delete things I don't want anymore from my Amazon Wish List
4. Organize my CDs in alphabetical order
3. Roll coins to be deposited in the bank
2. Scrub the toilet
1. Pluck the white hairs on my head

These are samples of excuses that all of use make because we somehow cannot invest 30 minutes of our time out of a 24-hour day to exercise. I can't speak for everyone because some of you might genuinely enjoy exercise. But I can speak for most of America because I have proof. The news said that 30% of all Americans are considered obese. I am not obese, but I am one of them. I have an exclusive membership card to a large organization of people who won't get up and move their asses!

I have read that exercise can lead to benefits such as providing more energy, make a person feel good, look good, breathe better, digest better, have stamina, and live happier lives. That's pretty impressive! Isn't that what I want? Then how come I never do anything? It is because I always found 10+ excuses to do something else instead. And most of those excuses are things that I am not proud of. Organizing CDs in alphabetical order?! What does that matter? I'm the only person using my collection. Shouldn't I already know where my CDs are? They're excuses. Lame excuses.

Living with Ulcerative Colitis is all about second chances. I've lost a lot of things (energy, friends, support, and at times my mind). I live with a disadvantage and I have to work twice as hard to get what I want. I fight self-pity and self-doubt daily; sometimes winning, sometimes losing. But most of all I fight for control. This allows me to have my second chance and win back my life.

This all started on a Tuesday night. I remember this because I was watching the remake of 90210. I wasn't interested in watching Melrose Place so I flipped through my 6 channels (I really have 8 channels, but my digital converter has a love/hate relationship with CBS and the CW) and found The Biggest Loser. I've had my fair share of reality-tv show addictions, but never gave this one a chance. Most likely because it coincided with a prime-time drama that I like. I saw Bob's glowing face and Jillian's tough love attitude as they genuinely wanted to help some troubled people and I was hooked. I felt connected. I saw myself in these people. They felt like their lives have been robbed and they were fighting to win it back. They struggle with new diets and alien foods. They battle depression. They crave acceptance. Does this sound familiar? Was your mind blown?

How is it possible for these people to perform those Herculean tasks? They work out for hours! And mind you, they are working with all the disadvantages that come with obesity: Heart disease, diabetes, low energy, weak knees, shortness of breath, hot flashes... I am going to step off of my Ulcerative Colitis soap box now. I am pathetic in comparison.

Unfortunately I don't have Bob or Jilian to cheer me on or to provide structure. I came to the realization that even if I did have their help, it wouldn't matter five years ago. I wasn't ready. I wasn't physically able to. I had to relearn how to walk and the lacerations within my guts made any sort of bending too painful to move. After I got that sorted out I wasn't emotionally ready. I was too hung up on the trauma of living with my disadvantages. I was all alone and I gave up. I've been wandering for five years trying to figure out what this is, who I am, and where do I go from here. I still am. But you know what? Its ok. I'm willing to change now. I am ready. I'm starting with my body and moving forward with baby steps.

In the month of November I decided to confront my fear of exercise head on. I was successful because I did it my way. I turned it into a game. I made rules and I followed them. Its easy because I only made up two rules:

#1 Use equipment that I already own. While its always nice to take a walk or jog outside, sometimes the weather doesn't permit outdoor activities right? Wrong. These are more excuses. I have a treadmill so there's no reason for me to not find the time to exercise. If you don't have a treadmill, walk around in public places like the mall, the grocery store, or even Walmart. You're not obligated to buy anything, just walk. You have legs, so use them. Its free.

I also own Wii-Fit. I had a crick in my back for weeks and one day of Wii-Yoga fixed my weeks of miserable blubbering. Sometimes I forget I have Wii-Fit. I don't know why. Its fun when I remember.

#2 Don't push yourself. I know this sounds contradictory to the rules of exercise, but these are my rules remember? When I use my treadmill, I limit myself to 7 miles within 7 days. I can split it up however I want. I can walk slowly or sprint. I can take a day off, but that would mean the next day of exercise I would have to double my routine. It didn't matter how I split up my routine as long as I finished 7 miles within 7 days. I learned two lessons from this (a) doing this is a lot harder than it sounds, but the rewards and sense of accomplishment are priceless. This is coming from a person who HATES exercise. And (b) I would rather do 7 days of light exercise than 2-3 days of heavy exercise. In living with Ulcerative Colitis I have learned the limitations of my body. One day of heavy exercise would leave me completely exhausted and I would lack the energy and motivation to continue. I have tried the heavy exercise routine before. It leveled out to me exercising one day per month and that is not enough. I am amazed that the light exercise routine allowed me to walk 15.75 miles!

I am feeling so good and confident that I added light weights, modified push-ups, and crunches to my routine while still following rule #2. I'm looking forward to what I can accomplish in December. And if this continues maybe I can brave a bikini in 2010. And guess what, I still hate exercise. If I can do it, you can too.
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