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Author Archives: Christy Barongan

I Haven’t Moved Yet and Other Updates

It’s June and a lot has happened since my last post. Inquiring minds want to know.

First, after another semester in COVID, surgery #1, and obsessing about all of the things I have to do for the move, I am finally feeling better! While I was going through all this, I knew it was bad. But I guess you can’t fully realize all of the things you had to do to survive while you are in the process of surviving. It’s only when you look back that you realize you’re stronger than you think.

The other thing about depression is that when you’re in it you think, was there a time I wasn’t depressed? My boyfriend was always trying to get me to go outside to get sunlight, but I was too tired. But then I began to doubt myself. Did I like sunlight at some point? Maybe I’m just making excuses. But I vaguely remember playing tennis. And watching my team play tennis. And I remember thinking it was fun.

But then when you’re not depressed you think, did I really just crash on the couch after work every day in a comatose state? Did I really have that little energy? Wow. Thank goodness that’s over with.

The other update is that last week was my last week of work. 19 years. That’s longer than any relationship I’ve had. But I always knew I’d be better at work than marriage. I still have to pack my office and transfer files, but I’ve said my good-byes to clients and colleagues. We had a nice get-together during a work retreat last week. That was the first time I had seen most of my colleagues in over a year. In a way, I’m glad I’m leaving during Covid. I wouldn’t have wanted a bunch of people coming up to me saying good-bye. I may seem sociable, but I’m really not.

My next update is that I am able to do a lot more stuff now. Like

  • play tennis again–it’s starting to come back to me
  • ride my bike–managed not to crash
  • see the Star–with a short hike uphill after playing tennis to boot
  • rollerblade–not very smart but it did inspire this haiku

As I laced my last

rollerblade I remembered

I’m too old to fall.

I didn’t fall. But hopefully I won’t try to do it again.

Most of the time these things were done without coughing, and I’ve only thrown up a couple of times. I’m getting a little less rusty and out of shape, but I’m still getting old. My body can’t do what it used to do. And there’s nothing that can fix that. So, I’m trying to focus on being grateful that I can be active at all. And I’m putting that self-care commitment I made in my last post into action. I spend a lot of time resting, icing, stretching, massaging, and doing yoga. All things I didn’t do before because I thought they were a waste of time. Hence the neglect of my body.

Which brings me to my next update. I had to take a bunch of tests to see if I needed surgery for my GERD, and one of them was a pH test. You have to get this tube inserted through your nose and down your esophagus and wear this big monitor where you had to indicate if you were eating, sleeping, or taking a pill. For 24 hours. But I still went outside for a walk, as indicated in the Rocky-like picture below.

The cutoff score for high acidity was 14, and I had a score of 80! My surgeon said it’s the highest score she’s ever seen! So I’ve been bragging that I have the worst GERD ever. I know I said I wasn’t going to be competitive about health stuff anymore but that one is just too good.

Plus it makes me feel vindicated. When I was watching my team play a few months ago, I noticed how quiet it was. No one was coughing. Why am I the only one? I was worried that when I moved to Knoxville no one would play with me because they’d probably think I had Covid. But now that I’m having surgery, maybe things can get even better. Maybe I’ll be cough-free by the time I meet people to play with. Maybe they’ll want to be my friend.

Thanks to all of you who prayed for me last time. If you think of me on June 18, feel free to send some healing vibes my way. This time I’ll have to spend the night for observation, which makes me a little nervous. I haven’t stayed overnight in the hospital since I was 5.

This brings me to my final update. I haven’t moved yet. In retrospect, I should have said in that initial post that I am moving months from now. Probably in August. Ever since I wrote that, people keep coming up to me saying, what are you doing here? I thought you moved. I don’t think they’re disappointed or anything, but I just want the rest of you to know, in case you see me in the near future.

Competitive Healing

Photo by Julia Kuzenkov on Pexels.com

In case you were in suspense, my gallbladder surgery went well. I didn’t have to use any pain killers, which makes me feel tough. Like maybe I have a high tolerance for pain. Like I really am a warrior.

The problem is, trying to be tough is why it took me so long to realize I had an angry gallbladder. Over the last year, I’ve had 4 gallbladder attacks that lasted about 8 hours. At first I thought it must be Bob, because they usually happened on the first night we saw each other. But I didn’t break up with him or anything. The last one was so painful I thought dying might be a better alternative. I contacted my doctor the next day to ask about the most powerful drug I could take if it happened again, and he told me I was having gallbladder attacks. I was relieved that I was not being wimpy and was ready to get rid of that sucker as soon as possible.

My recovery went well. Except for not giving myself enough time to recover before I went back to work. Which, in retrospect, makes no sense to me at all. I really enjoy rest. I enjoy doing nothing. And that’s what I was supposed to be doing. But some tennis friends told me that it only took them a few days to recover, and I wanted to recover as fast as they did. So I only gave myself 5 days off instead of the recommended 2 weeks. 

Five days was enough time for the physical pain to subside, but I was super tired no matter how much sleep I got. I could barely make it through a day of seeing clients. Which did not seem warrior-like. It turns out that the anesthesia can make you groggy for up to 2 weeks! Powerful stuff! And kind of scary. But I did feel less wimpy.

I told one of my tennis friends about my competitive approach to healing. She was actually one of the people I thought I was competing with. But it turns out her recovery wasn’t so speedy after all. She has played on my teams and knows all about my warriorism mentality in the face of competition, and she told me this was not the time to imagine that you are a soldier in the trenches of the jungles in Vietnam. 

I guess recovery is more of a self-care thing rather than a competition. Funny I didn’t realize this earlier, because I talk about self-care all the time with clients. I’m just not so good at doing it myself.

I may have another surgery for my GERD. I’m still in the process of taking some tests. I’m actually hoping I do have surgery, because the problem I had originally sought help for is throwing up on the court and not being able to play tennis. While the gallbladder surgery has helped a lot with bloating, eating, and unbearable pain, it has not helped with coughing during physical activity.

I’ll let you know what happens. But rest assured, I will take the full 2 weeks of recovery time if I get the surgery. More time if I need to. And if you are one of the friends who checked on me repeatedly after my last surgery, for which I’m thankful, feel free to remind me to rest if I have surgery again.

Freedom

I have an announcement to make. I’ve decided to move to Knoxville. This decision may seem sudden, but it has actually been a long time in the making. I’ve been trying to figure out how to have more freedom in my job for a while. I don’t want to wake up early, be on call, or commute. We had an extra long break this term because of COVID, so I had more time to recover, but it took me about a month until the aftershocks of being in a constant state of fight or flight finally subsided.

My new job is remote, and full time with benefits is only 25 hours a week. This puts me 9 years ahead of schedule. Maybe I can become minimalist and have more time for sleep, tennis, travel, and Bob.

My physical health hasn’t been good. I’ve been struggling to control my GERD for a while, and in the process of qualifying for surgery I’ve had to do all these tests–pulmonary function, sleep apnea, interstitial lung disease, autoimmune disease, liver and gallbladder imaging. It turns out I need to get both gallbladder and GERD surgery, but I’m glad. Perhaps that will let me be free to play tennis without throwing up. And having a less stressful job will give me more time to play, which is almost impossible to do during the semester.

My gallbladder surgery is on February 12. If you think of me then, maybe you can say a prayer for me.

I’m excited about being near my family. My niece Sadie, the twin to my inner child Sophie, is 14 now. She keeps reminding me of how much she’s growing, despite my wishes. Can you believe I’ll have my learner’s permit next year? That I’ll get to vote in the next election? You told me to stay 5 but I didn’t listen.

My brother and sister-in-law are excited about me being there. They’re planning weekly dinners and vacations together. I’m already in the rotation for picking up Sadie from school. I’m doing Wednesdays.

But I am also sad. I’ve lived in this area for over 20 years. My tennis friends are like my family. I just bought a place that I love in a neighborhood that I love. I’ll miss my clients and my colleagues. I feel like I’m in a constant state of preparing for loss.

But knowing that I will be leaving also motivates me to really take everything in and be fully present–to my friends, my house, my neighborhood, my surroundings–whereas before I was in a passive, foggy state of isolation. When friends tell me that they are sad but happy for me, the COVID fog lifts and I remember that I am not forgotten.

I get why they say freedom isn’t free. There are costs. Fear, uncertainty, loss. You have to be willing to give up everything for it. I’ve spent decades figuring out how to reduce my stress enough to prevent a mental breakdown. It’s time to put myself first. 

Status Quo

As I grow older, I have a better understanding of why we pray. I’ve written posts about praying for outcomes–like in sports. Keep us injury free, God. Help us be good sports. If it’s OK to ask, maybe a win? How it feels better to pray for someone when you feel so helpless. Send an angel their way, God. Put it on my tab. How it feels to be prayed for.

Lately, because of the pandemic, I have been thinking about how essential it is to have some kind of spiritual practice like prayer, or meditation, or hiking. Spiritual practices remind us to connect to ourselves, to others, and to something larger than ourselves, so that we can maintain perspective. Unless we put in the effort, we forget. We get caught up in insignificant things. Take things for granted.

The other day I was watching a rerun of the UVA-UNC game from 1996. If you aren’t a hard core UVA fan, perhaps you didn’t know that we came back in the 4th quarter after being down 17-3 to win 20-17. A miraculous win. A reward for those who stay until the very end of the game, hoping against all odds that it can happen.

It struck me how old everything was. The graphics looked silly. The hairstyles. The uniforms. And we were so good! I couldn’t believe the number of successful pro players we had on offense and defense! Wow! I really took being good for granted.

And then I thought about other things that I didn’t think it was possible to lose. I would have never dreamed that there wouldn’t be sports to watch on TV at all. That you couldn’t go to a game. Couldn’t even go to a sports bar and watch the game with likeminded fans. Or have a watch party of your own.

Maybe it seems silly to you, waxing poetic about a football game. But in a way, that’s the point. There are so many things in any given moment that we take for granted, until they are taken away from us. I pray and practice mindfulness so that I can catch myself in the act. To cultivate gratitude. But no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to be grateful for everything that each moment has to offer. Which means that, no matter what we lose, there are still so many more good things that remain.

This is one of the ways that I try to keep things in perspective during the pandemic. It is a gift to be able to have a game to watch at all this weekend. UVA vs. Duke, in case you didn’t know. And to be good enough to be a 5 point favorite, even though we haven’t even taken the field yet this season, and Duke has played twice. I wouldn’t have been thankful for all of these things if not for the pandemic.

So Go Hoos!

Cultivating Solidarity

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Last week I read an anecdote from Richard Rohr’s daily mediations about a man working in a food pantry who was feeling overwhelmed by the number of people they had to serve since the pandemic. After meditating on it, he was able to shift his thinking about his work in the food pantry from an act of service to an act of solidarity. When we are serving others, it implies a vertical relationship where someone is up and someone is down. In contrast, solidarity is a horizontal relationship where both parties are equal, committing to being there for one another.

This anecdote struck me on a personal level because, as a therapist and someone taking care of my brother, I spend a lot of time helping people but not a lot of time receiving help. Not because people haven’t offered. I have lots of people who care about me and who encourage me to reach out to them. I just don’t do it very often. Because deep down I think I’m undeserving–of help, of a release from my pain, of happiness. I am serving other people because I’m the person in the one down position.

But the idea of shifting my mindset from service to solidarity reminds me that I am as deserving of help as anyone else. If we’re all in this together, then we can rely on one another for support. Which means it’s OK to ask for and receive help. It’s still hard to ask, but I’m committed to practicing.

I think, too, about what’s going on in the world right now. Arguments about masks vs. freedom, protests vs. riots. This is one of the few times that you would think we could all be on the same page. I often imagined that the only way we could accomplish this was in some alien invasion where we had a unified enemy. In a way, that’s what COVID is. But it seems that even something akin to an alien invasion is not enough to get us to fight the enemy rather than one another. Apparently, we are one another’s greatest enemy. It’s us vs. them. I’m right and you’re wrong. I’m up and you’re down. What will it take for us to be on the same page? Reason, force, shaming, and blaming are not going to do it.

For me, the answer always begins with self-compassion. What is making me feel vulnerable? How can I listen to my own thoughts and feelings with acceptance and forgiveness, even when I have been controlling, judgmental, and condescending. And wrong. Once I can sit with the discomfort inside me, it makes it easier to remember that we’re all in the same boat, doing the best we can to feel valuable, deserving, and equal to everyone else. The best way to fight the enemy within and without is to rely on one another.

We’re all in this together. Let’s help each other get to where we need to be.

Does This Shirt Make Me Look Fat?

Remember that time when I was getting a massage and I had to leave the office to go into another office to get to the bathroom and I was just wearing a robe and someone saw me, even though usually no one is ever in there? It was like one of those dreams where you’re forced to walk around naked. Or without shoes. Or in your bathrobe. Except in real life.

Isn’t it funny how things that are funny on TV are mortifying in real life? Like, that would have been a great episode on Seinfeld. I guess watching it on TV is sort of like dreaming, because in both scenarios you think, I’m so glad that didn’t happen to me!

Well, I just got an embarrassing massage story that tops the bathrobe one. 

Yesterday I had my first massage in about 3 months. I was long overdue and was really looking forward to easing my muscle tension. But then the very first thing massage lady says to me is, “I thought last time you were pregnant and now I see you really are! Congratulations!” 

There are so many insulting things about that sentence. Three months ago, before COVID weight gain, she already thought I was pregnant. But now I look 3 months-into-pregnancy fatter than that. Which would be around 8 months pregnant, maybe.

And she didn’t just ask if I was pregnant, which would have been bad enough. When I was in 5th grade, my family was at this elementary school festival and my brother asked this teacher if she was pregnant, and she wasn’t. And even at the tender age of 10, I understood that you should never ask a woman if she’s pregnant. Let alone tell someone that they are for sure pregnant. That the only thing left to say is congratulations. 

I admit, I wasn’t very active during quarantine. Like many people, even though I had time to work out, I was unmotivated, struggling with depression and anxiety. I’m still struggling with depression and anxiety, actually, but since things have opened up I’ve been playing more tennis. And I just started working with a personal trainer. So I’m doing the best that I can.

And as you know, I do obsess about feeling fat, gaining weight, aging, and all that stuff. Even though people say I look young, and my boyfriend thinks I look great. I try to reassure myself it’s all in my head. But apparently it’s in my gut, too.

My boyfriend said he felt sorry for her. And I do, too. I would never be able to forget a faux pas that big. Or any mistake I’ve ever made because of my OCD. But I feel sorrier for me, because I’m never going to be able to forget what she said either because of my OCD. I gave her $1 less of a tip than I ordinarily do as a way to discourage her from insulting me. But it was still 20%, so I was still pretty generous, in case you’re judging me.

On the bright side, there are 2 positives that came out of this incident. When I told my friend about what happened, she said that was actually a compliment because she thought I was young enough to get pregnant. Which is true. I can get in better shape, but I can’t get any younger.

The other plus is that I can write a funny blog post and take a break from trauma and family crises. Which is something.

Big Little Lies

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I’m not much of a TV person. I mostly read and knit in my spare time. And play tennis, when there isn’t a pandemic. When I do watch TV I mainly watch sports and occasionally the news. But these days I try to avoid the news altogether, and there are no sports on TV. So although binge watching is not my thing, I decided to check out the one show that appealed to me, and that’s Big Little Lies. Because I’ve read the book twice.

I have problems watching a movie that has been adapted from a book because the book is always better. It’s impossible to do justice to the complexity of a book in 2 hours. Plot lines and characters have to be eliminated. Directors take liberties in changing the story in ways that I’m sure the authors wouldn’t appreciate. And you don’t get to hear how the characters think. You only hear what they say, see what they do.

But now I see there are advantages to a limited TV series. First, it’s like a 14 hour movie, so you don’t have to leave any of the good parts out. And you can add music, extra plot twists, more character development, and some adult language and nudity to spice things up. You get visual images of expensive houses perched on the beachfront so you can see how rich and lucky they are for having a view of the ocean in every gigantic window.

The one disadvantage of being able to see the abuse is that it made it much more painful than it was in the book. For me, at least. Though I have not experienced physical abuse directly, the feeling of walking on egg shells, being aware of a sudden shift in someone’s mood, knowing when you’ve made a mistake and that you’re going to pay for it–I can totally relate to that. I often found myself crying, afraid, and overstimulated after the show was over. Although, like the book, the show is tempered with humor, the volatility of that particular plot line overshadowed my memory of anything else that had been funny.

I’ve been reading Alice Miller’s “The Body Never Lies.” It’s common knowledge in the trauma literature that trauma can be passed down from generation to generation, and the experience and memory of it can be stored in the body. Even if the abuse is unconscious. Or you’ve spent your life actively trying to forget.

I always figured the transmission of intergenerational trauma was passed down through the ways we’ve learned to communicate in a relationship. Patterns that repeat with each new person–what I’ve referred to as a repetition compulsion. Doing the same thing over and over, hoping that with this person, maybe we can get it right. Maybe I can get the person to love me. To give me what I need.

I’m realizing, because of this show, that trauma is more than learning patterns of relating to other people. It is the actual embodiment of another person’s pain. I can feel it when I’m watching it happen to someone else on a TV show, even though I know it’s a fictional account. And I can feel what happened to my parents, as though they were my memories. As though it happened to me. Even things they never told me.

It is this ability to feel what other people feel that has led me to choose clinical psychology as a profession. It allows me to be helpful to other people, but it also means I can get overwhelmed easily. This is true for most therapists. Usually it’s called burnout. But when you have a trauma history, it’s called being triggered. You are transported back to that moment all over again. Terrified. Confused. Ready to flee, fight, or freeze. Or fake. Those big little lies.

The pandemic has actually been helpful to me, because in the absence of my usual  stressors, I can see what I’m like when nothing much is happening. Turns out that I still get these tremors of anxiety and depression but I have no idea why. I described them to my therapist as after shocks. Like when the earth adjusts to an earthquake that has struck it to its core. Reverberations of tectonic plates colliding, trying to reestablish equilibrium.

In my meditations, I have begun apologizing to my body for the way I’ve treated it–forcing it to do what I want it to do, ignoring what it asked of me. Not eating, not sleeping, pushing it to exhaustion. Shaming it out of its needs. Every time I meditate I renew my commitment to listen, to protect, and to do no harm to myself again.

The buck stops here.

Love and Resentment During a Pandemic

One of the benefits of practicing self-compassion is that it becomes easier to let go of grievances–the ones that we hold against ourselves and others. It’s still hard- to do– a lifelong practice–but one of the most worthy goals we can strive for, I think.

How to be Unsuccessful

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 12.29.36 PMLast year I read a book called Perfect Love,Imperfect Relationships.  The book had a profound effect on me then, and I keep thinking about it now during this crisis.  We all have obsessions, and psychology is one of mine.  I guess along with more time for one another we now have more time for our obsessions too.

The author of Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships, John Welwood, says that we’re all essentially searching for a kind of “perfect love” that is not really available in human relationships.  Essentially, we want someone to love us all the time and never let us down.  So until we learn to experience love on our own, we will always end up disappointed.

Welwood also extensively describes what he calls “un-love”.  When we are rejected or disappointed or ignored, we feel this un-love.  We learn to resent other people for making us feel this way. …

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Déjà Vu

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At the end of 2013, my youngest brother R. stopped taking his antidepressants. My mom, who is a doctor, was giving him samples, and she told him that he needed to find a doctor to prescribe them. Because it’s the legal thing to do. Not wanting to have depression on his record, and coming off 5 years of steady employment, he decided to go off of them instead. I begged him not to, but he was afraid to be dependent on them in the advent of an apocalypse and wanted to prepare himself.

Three months later he was depressed. And, as I’ve mentioned based on my own folly, every time you have another depressive episode, it’s harder to recover. My psychiatrist described it as breaking your leg in the same place over and over. Still, he did not go to the doctor until his depression and anxiety were so bad that he could not make it to work. His job was very generous, allowing him to cut back his hours to as little as he needed and keep his job. But ultimately the shame and guilt of not being able to go overwhelmed him and he quit.

After a few months of unemployment, my brother moved back home with my parents. My dad, who had been depressed for 4 years, went straight to a manic episode and was blowing through his retirement money. And my mom’s retirement money. And she could do nothing to stop him. So he took on the impossible job of trying to figure out how we could stop them. But the situation was so bad that, instead of helping them, he had a heart attack. At the age of 40. And since they were in no mental state to care for him, he moved in with me. And still lives with me.

It has been a rough 3 and a half years, but in the past year R. has been feeling much better. He is able to go to make it in work, has friends, a church community, extracurricular activities. He’s the happiest he’s been in a long time. But it was a 6 year journey–a high price to pay for going off his meds.

Last winter my other brother M., who also struggles with depression, stopped taking his medication. Because he didn’t want to have to see his doctor for his yearly follow up. And he didn’t want to be dependent on the meds. In case there was an apocalypse. And he got depressed right a way.

A few days ago in our sibling Zoom meeting, M, confessed that he had stopped taking his meds and recently restarted them. He was feeling anxious, having chest pains, shortness of breath. He couldn’t eat, couldn’t think clearly. He was afraid of losing his job. He was a loser, a failure. He worried about homelessness.

It was déjà vu.

We did everything we could to talk him into going to his doctor to discuss getting back on meds. And to rule out the possibility of a heart attack. Like R. did when he was depressed and anxious, M. makes excuses because he doesn’t see how dire his situation is. Doesn’t seem to remember anything that happened to R. Doesn’t recognize that history is repeating itself.

I’ve been trying to convince him to come stay with me until he gets better. Yes, there is a travel ban, but I consider the possibility of him committing suicide or having a heart attack essential travel. I feel as anxious as I did when my younger brother was about to be released from the hospital and would be in may parents’ care for recovery. Which meant certain death.

It’s strange to be in this catch-22: trying to convince my brother of something that will save his life, knowing that it will once again probably cause me to become anxious and depressed. This is the first time in a very long that I feel mostly relaxed. I’d like to enjoy it for as long as I can. But I don’t think he can get better in isolation. And he is also at risk for a heart attack. And he’s bipolar and could become manic.

Is every family like this? One mental health crisis after another? Will there ever be a time when things can be “normal”? Just for a little while? Just so I can catch my breath?

R. thinks it could be a good thing for all of us if M. comes. He will have someone to talk to. They can exercise together. R. can take him to church, introduce him to his friends. Maybe one day he and M. can get a place of their own, which is their dream. M. would be closer to his kids. I could have my space again but have them close by.

I hope he’s right.

Resolutions vs Intentions

Resolutions

This year I started out with too many New Year’s Resolutions, so I had to do something equivalent to an upgrade to eliminate the bugs. Version NYR2020.1, you might say. This version focuses on discipline in 3 areas:

  1. physical activity most days of the week
  2. going to the grocery store 2x/week
  3. cooking most days of the week

My drill sergeant had a lot more goals in mind. For the new year, for today, tomorrow, the weekend. Lots and lots of goals. For example, my drill sergeant would like #1 to be something like do one day of yoga, one day of strength training, one day of cardio, and show up for all of your court times. When, in reality, I’m not even able to make it to my court times. And that’s actually more like 5-6 goals masquerading as 1.

I’ve read that by the 3 week point, which is today–January 21–most people have abandoned their New Year’s Resolutions. In my opinion, failure to adhere to our goals is due at least in part to our inner critic (drill sergeant in my case), who

  • sets unreasonable goals
  • tries to motivate us with guilt, shame, and fear of failure
  • reminds us of how terribly we are doing compared to others
  • tells us that we are weak and lazy
  • creates more goals when we’ve checked everything off our list
  • never praises us when we do well
  • has an all or none approach to success, which usually means failure

I have to remind myself that I don’t have to listen to what he says (mine is a he). I guess this is resolution #4: to be more discerning about my goals. Does it come from the drill sergeant, or is it something that will directly benefit me?

For example, the drill sergeant doesn’t like it when I have clothes that have not been folded and put away. It is an incomplete laundry cycle if you have clean clothes piled on your bed. Or dirty clothes lying all over the floor because your clean clothes are in your laundry basket. This doesn’t even count as doing laundry, the drill sergeant says. The drill sergeant’s goal is to keep repeating this to me over and over again until I do what it says or lose my mind.

But that is one of the places where the drill sergeant tricks you. My goals do not always align with his goals. I can ask myself, does that really benefit me? Putting my clothes away? Compared to using that time to pack lunch for tomorrow so that I don’t have to spend money? If I only have so much energy left at the end of the day, I’d be better off packing lunch. Which still requires that I go to the grocery store. Which is already hard for me. But at least it’s consistent with my goals. Whereas having a complete laundry cycle is not.

Other reasons why we often give up on our New Year’s Resolutions is that we forget. We’re tired. We are unmotivated. We’re hungry. We want comfort. We want something to be easy. In other words, we are human. Which is OK, because not being human isn’t an option.

In fact, I try to think of my resolutions as intentions. Every day, these are my goals. And when I am too tired to exercise, too hungry to go to the grocery store or cook, then I practice self-compassion and do whatever will be most helpful for me in that moment. And the next day I start again, because intentions are renewable. Indefinitely.

The drill sergeant is usually saying negative stuff the whole time that I deviate from his plan, but I try cultivate an attitude of acceptance, forgiveness, and kindness in the midst of his negativity. Because I am my most motivated self in a loving environment, so that’s what I try to create.