What can I say? It’s real life.

Friday was a good day.

I (and teenager #1) started the day receiving our newest foster cat, Touch of Grey.

So, here’s the thing about cats. Dogs are lovable, forgiving and devoted. They want acceptance, love, and structure. Cats don’t forgive. They are more aloof and nervous and neurotic.

The same cat— example: Touch of Grey— will react strongly in different environments and will remember whatever you do to “wrong” them. She is approximately four years old, FURR had her spayed. She is a newer addition, an owner surrender because of a move.

She has had a couple other placements. She seems happy here. Cats really a lot on body language to communicate. Her signals are very strong. If you heed those warnings, life is good.

I haven’t seen her bitchy side yet, but others at the rescue have. I don’t relish the day I have to crate her.

But this is her a few minutes after we spent our first time together: Play with Grey

At 10:30 I had my regular chiropractor appointment at Back in Line Wellness Center with Dr. Nicole Jensen. For the first time in ages, I was pretty much level and because I haven’t been dealing with constant pain she was able to stretch out my hips more than ever before.

And Thursday night, I reached a new career personal best at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I QC’ed 116 fixes.

When I arrived at work Friday night, I felt powerful and amazing. I looked forward to knocking out the shift and getting my nails done in the morning. My favorite nurse, my favorite QC/Style Card peer and I started talking about places open late at night, Waffle House, and potentially going out one night after work. Am I making new friends?

Even if nothing else comes from it, it felt good to be included in the discussion as a newer employee and in the Covid age.

Maybe I got a little cocky with the universe, because within a few minutes at my QC station, I moved wrong and post my chiropractic adjustment my body just said “nope.” I spent the rest of the night in pain. At about 4-5.

There’s someone at work who physically reminds me of a friend whom I’ve not seen in a while. That was bothering me. Not that the person can control their appearance.

And we had these new stickers that made the night chaotic.

To counter some of the chaos, the leaders hosted a “power hour.” This meant the different QC valleys would compete to see who could get the most work done in the hour. They blasted 80s music throughout the warehouse.

I knew every word to every song. And I didn’t even remember the songs. Isn’t that funny the way that happens? A lot of the music brought me back to childhood, and to middle school, and different events of the past. The emotional fugue dulled my senses.

The music included the song Elvira by The Oak Ridge Boys. That song, and I am sharing this video from a Grammy performance in 1982 (Elvira), used to be a favorite on the jukebox in every bar my parents used to frequent. I think the experience tapped my feelings of helplessness.

Between the pain and the new stickers, I only QC’ed 99 fixes. Though I did speed up as the night went on.

But then I got home— cuddled the dog, laughed at some comedy, made Mac and cheese. All is good.

Lessons in Mindful Self Compassion, part one

I push myself—hard. I can be relentless and tenacious.

It can come in the form of trying to get over that 90% hump in metrics at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy warehouse. (I picked 495 items on in my 5.5 hour shift tonight.)

It can come in my past fitness challenges (but apparently not in my current battle with stress eating).

It can come with my personal projects and grades and overachiever attitude when it comes to research.

I can go on and on.

When I saw that my friend Fausta and her co-facilitator Vira were hosting a free online seminar on Mindful Self-Compassion, I was very excited to sign up. The seminar was 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. which meant getting up early and potentially rushing out the door at 3 to get to work for my 3:30 shift but I had to do it.

I wasn’t even sure exactly what Mindful Self-Compassion was but based on Fausta’s enthusiasm for it, an educated guess that it involved some meditation, and with Fausta’s background in therapy and being a holistic life coach, I had to do it.

My therapist has been telling me for years to be gentle to myself and this Mindful Self-Compassion stuff sounded perfect for that.

I even requested a late start at work. Now me being me, that made me anxious. Should I start at 4? I might have to eat something. 5? (I never considered 4:30.) What’s the point of starting at 5 p.m. if break is at 5:30? I opted for 6. And it was approved!

And then this week happened—let’s just say teens and animals and an incident with the dog and the hammock and the new fosters and my body hurting and the hormones of a 40-something woman… I didn’t make it to work the night before the seminar. And do you know what? My supervisor told me to “take care of myself.” I felt like I was being treated like a person.

That time— that sick day on Wednesday night— gave me the space to rest, clear my head, and focus on the seminar.

And it was so worth it.

I’m responding to it now from memory and will gladly talk more about specific exercises and lessons if anyone desires. I bet we can ask Fausta for her input too. And my apologies to Fausta if I misrepresent any of the concepts as it is 1:30 a.m. and I am not looking at my notes.

I learned:

  • That Mindful Self-Compassion is a way to process emotions that combines meditation exercises and rational analysis to allow yourself to feel the feelings but also try to heal the feelings.
  • A big part of the practice is to accept/embrace your own imperfections.
  • We explored a Japanese concept of life’s purpose.
  • We examined physiological responses to different emotions.
  • We designed a personalized loving-kindness metta meditation.
  • We developed our individualized core values.
  • We grounded ourselves via a soles of the feet meditation. I’m using the word grounding since I’m a witch and that is totally what it felt like to me.
  • Meditation reminds me of the prayer practice of centering— and I had forgotten how good I was at that.

I’ll review my notes and write more soon. In the meantime…

My previous post on the seminar is here: https://angelackerman.com/2021/04/02/ironing-out-the-anxieties/

Do I have high blood pressure?

As we age, it starts to feel like we all gain a plethora of medical conditions and for most of us they are connected.

Maybe that damage you did to your knees playing football impacts you a whole lot more than you ever imagined it would when you were 20.

Or, as my dad—now approaching 72—says,

“If I’d known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”

(my dad)

I know I’m at a stressful point of life. Almost one year ago I left my job of almost ten years, I job where I was surrounded by dozens of other people everyday and working intimately with a close team. Some of them became good friends but there’s a phenomenon when you work retail. Those relationships fade once you’re “out.” And sure, I have friends outside of my former employer but some of these colleagues spent more time with me than my family.

Some close colleagues have gone on to better things. One I was very close to died of cancer. Another moved to Florida. Some just get harder to stay in touch with.

So that’s a change.

My husband moved out eight months ago. Eight months.

I got a promotion at my new job in late August, that’s six months ago. And I have no experience in my new job. That’s daunting.

When I went for my annual physical in late January, my physician was concerned about my blood pressure at 142/85. He told me to keep an eye on it and if it doesn’t go down to call him.

I called him. I’m working with a therapist to combat the stress. I mentioned to him that stress, to me, was different from anxiety. Anxiety comes when you are worried about the things that might happen. Stress is dealing with what is happening.

“What an interesting distinction,” he replied.

I am trying to do better about the gym, my diet, my rest and my frame of mind. I go see the nurse practitioner tomorrow.

My mother has been on 5 mg of the same blood pressure medicine for about 20 years.

And I know 142/85 is not really high, but I’ve learned from my chiropractor that high blood pressure will effect my balance issues from my cerebral palsy.

The stress dreams happen every night. The worst one— yet the one I feel has more meaning that the others—was “The Jar.”

I consider it a variation of the classic “buried alive” dream. I was sitting in a giant jar of nothing but black void. An ominous voice told me that the jar was a waiting room to house those people about to die, very temporarily as they passed on.

But I didn’t belong there as I wasn’t scheduled to die for another 40 years. But no one left the jar once you entered it. I was cursed to sit there in the empty, dark jar for 40 years.

Yes, I woke to my dark room fearful that I really was in a jar. As far as nightmares go, I’ve had much worse.

But it hangs with me. As important.

Maybe I need to embrace nothingness more.

Maybe I have a lot of life left to live and I need to be sure I live it.

Maybe I will die at 85.

We shall see.