when i said good morning, i was lying
i was truly thinking of how i might quit waking up
He pointed out how selfish it would be to kill myself
so i keep waking up.

[…] You grip my wrists,
i let go. 

—much like falling, flyleaf 

This past week, a few things have happened. 

1) Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day  to bring stories of mental health to the forefront and decrease stigma around mental health issues until we end them. This post is being triggered by #BellLetsTalk, but it’s a story I would have told this week anyways.
2) I hung out with Richard, a conversation which brought forth a lot of reflections on my own faith story.
3) I read The Reason: How I Discovered a Life Worth Living by Lacey Sturm. It made me think, a lot, and reflect on a lot of my own testimony and beliefs.
4) The previous two points, and other conversations throughout the week, prompted me to start taking a look at the Bible again—something I have not done in over a year.

What do these things have in common? Everything.

The summer of ’05 was probably the worst time of my life. For a host of reasons, I was constantly in a state of emotional shakiness—and then, depression and numbness. I was fourteen. I spent a week at a Bible camp after declaring myself an atheist a few months earlier. I resented slowing down each day during cabin time/bible exploration. I sang during worship each night—sometimes—but mostly just enjoyed the music while blocking the words out. I didn’t need God, because God did not exist to me. I struggled the rest of the summer—I contemplated ending my life, but I wasn’t yet at the dangerous step of contemplating how.

A month later, I couldn’t run anymore. I still didn’t even really believe in God, yet I threw myself at Him saying “If You’re real, please show me what to do.”

Around 10:30 PM on September 7th, 2005, I changed. I changed in the fact that I no longer wanted to stop being here.

seven years.

Still doubting—He made me believe.

Yet He loves me despite it all.  He loves me enough that He opened my heart that September day in 2005 by telling me that I didn’t have to end my story then and there.  That He alone could get me through everything I was facing–lighten my darkness, take the depression, and heal my grandma of the cancer that invaded her for a few more years.

I’m living a life that six years ago I’d have never dreamed.  I’ve had amazing ups, and I’ve had huge downs.  I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I’ve danced, I’ve cried.  I’ve reached my arms to the sky in worship and fallen to my knees in desperation.

I’ve created new chapters of the same story that God is writing.

I am ALIVE.

six years.

Did I have clinical depression? At that point, I don’t think so.

Would I have gotten to that point? I don’t doubt it.

Mental health issues need to be treated in partnership with someone who is adequately trained to address them. Medication is not the only solution: but not talking about what you are facing is never a solution. I dodged a bullet: just because I began to believe Jesus, believe in His healing, though, does not at all mean that I should have continued without a support system around me.

Even though I didn’t know it then, I have ADHD: 20 to 30% of people with ADHD will experience depression or anxiety alongside their attention problems. After starting ADHD medication, my psychiatrist noted that I seemed to be less anxious—I didn’t think I was anxious (I’ve experienced that alongside a very mild case of disordered eating when I was sixteen, and this was not at all like that), but she continued on to note that it was likely the ADHD symptoms creating the now less-present anxiety. I do not at all doubt, or disagree with, this.

For me, these things all go hand in hand. My life, my faith, my mental health—my story. The person I am today is different because of all of the above—yet, I would not want to be the person who I’d be without facing my past.

 

Rock version or acoustic, the words in the two versions of Red Sam below are pretty much the same—the message definitely is. My story is a lot like Lacey Sturm’s. I have a post coming up on worship (soon!) and these both exemplify so, so strongly the way I respond during worship

I’m still alive. The world needs YOU to continue your story, too.

Stay. Be here. There is HOPE in finding help. (usa)

here i stand
empty hands
wishing my wrists were bleeding
to stop the pain from the beatings
there You stood holding me
waiting for me to notice You

but who are You?

You are the Truth
outscreaming these lies.
You are the Truth
saving my life.

the warmth of Your embrace
warms my frostbitten spirit
You speak the Truth and i hear it
the words are
“i love You,
and i have to believe in You.”

my hands are open, 
and You are filling them
hands in the air
in the air, in the air, in the air.
and i worship
and i worship
and i worship
(Jesus)

red sam, flyleaf.

i won’t be satisfied with okay
and I can’t be okay with alright
so point me to the edge of life,
i’ll stand up on my toes
stretch my fingers out to there
and bring it back here.

because it’s too important,
for us to forget
we’ll unify our thoughts,
God will hear and save
God will hear and save us.

all together standing up on our toe[s],
we’re reaching for a freedom that they don’t know
so catch it as it pours out, we know what we need
don’t get tired when you’re running back to show them.

–okay, flyleaf

 

My friend Chris often posts pictures of “how might we” questions he has written down in a notebook—a practice I emulated last week, and used to prepare for my conversation with Richard on Thursday.

I didn’t reference the notes once—I didn’t need to. While we weren’t too sure of where we were going—and found ourselves in many different directions!—Richard, more concise than myself, was able to summarize our varied of conversation in a single tweet.

how might we: encourage / move / allow story / gradually / better / encourage / become / embrace / bridge / explore / transcend.While writing this, I fired down a string of questions into a black Moleskine, attempting to pare down the 835+ words that have been strewn about thus far.

encourage.
move.
better.
become.
embrace.
bridge.
explore.

question.

The most dangerous phrase in the English language is, “We’ve always done it this way.”

—Grace Murray Hopper

I question everything. I kind of think that refusing to question everything means that we become, and remain, stuck—we do not grow, and thus, we do not change.

How might we encourage change? and at that, the type of change to build connection through story—to build community through connection. To encourage the asking of questions rather than the acceptance of the familiar.

 

i wont be satisfied with okay / and i cant be okay with alright.

 

During our conversation, Richard noted that many people don’t know what their story is.

How much do we know our ambition, our purpose, our goals, if we don’t know our own stories? The stories we are creating, writing, LIVING, every single day.

Knowing our stories though, like living them, doesn’t come passively, or with passivity—it comes with being fully alive in them, and in sharing them. How much are we living passively because we don’t have enough opportunities to share our stories with our communities? And if we do, what are the barriers to sharing? Do we, perhaps, as a society, feel as if we cannot open up enough to ask questions of our own beliefs, experiences, our stories, by intentionally communicating these things with others?

We talk with one another every day–do we really engage, or do we just talk? Are we really having a conversation, or are we sidestepping the brokenness right in front of us? Are we swerving around the questioning, the longing, the creating, the uncomfortable, the fucked up? (Are we using this agility to deke around that fucked up even exists?) That problems exist right in front of us, even if they are separate from the base of Maslow’s pyramid? That no problem, no experience, no struggle or triumph, is greater or lesser than another?

it was a beautiful letdown when You found me here,
yeah for once in a rare blue moon, i see everything here,

i’ll be a beautiful letdown, that’s what i’ll forever be
and though it may cost my soul, i’ll sing for free.[…] i don’t belong here, feels like i don’t belong here.
i will carry a cross and a song where i don’t belong […]

we a beautiful letdown, painfully uncool,
the church of the losers, the dropouts, the sinners, the failures, and the fools.
what a beautiful letdown—are we salt in the wound?
let us sing one true tune.

–the beautiful letdown, switchfoot.

the church of the losers, the dropouts, the sinners, the failures, and the fools is where i want to belong. Messing up means we tried.

In the context of faith: Do we worship in this same way? One-sidedly? Aiming for perfection that doesn’t exist—and doesn’t matter? In the church, or in any community, do we have—or how can we facilitate—a conversation around story?

Around sharing our experiences, our downfalls, with freedom from fear.

The stories that make us the people we are.

 

I got on the bus and put my earphones in—my iPhone shuffled to Okay, above. I repeated it five times.

‘cause it’s too important for us to forget
[…] so catch it as it pours out,
we know what we need,
don’t get tired when you’re running back to show them. 

So, let’s start here in the comments, or e-mail me

what’s your story? 

IFTTT, or, if this then that, is a miraculous little website.

[Keep reading before you go get lost there for a few hours.]

It does just what it says. If [this] (a social network, an online storage service, a text message, an e-mail… etc) then [that] (triggers an action by another network.

Like this:

ifttt1

When I got my Pebble, I had been illusioned (you’ll see why illusioned and not disillusioned momentarily into thinking I’d be able to display my Fitbit stats on the watch. When I got my Pebble, and then was finally able to see the official Pebble app library, the first thing I tried to install was Edwin Finch’s Fitface  which would stream my Fitbit stats via their API into my Pebble.

Except Fitface doesn’t work and the developer doesn’t know what to do and it works great for a select few people (maybe?) and the rest of us can’t do anything with it. (And now the documentation is filled with irritated sounding “don’t e-mail me, I can’t help you” quips from the developer.) You can still get at it on Github if you’re code-y that way.

I’m not code-y at all. I tried to be even, but playing with Finch’s code from GitHub and using the Pebble Developer  stuff with zero coding knowledge and ADHD is kind of futile. Except I still wanted a solution.

I’m kind of obsessed with IFTTT. IFTTT works with Fitbit, so I decided to try to make a solution.

Failed attempt 2: (Attempt 1 was trying to code, remember?)
Feed Fitbit into a google spreadsheet using Ernesto Ramirez’s intraday data code and then miraculously turn this into RSS or something. [Note: you need to have personal intraday data unlocked by Fitbit first.]
This attempt lasted about ten minutes because despite getting it working before, I couldn’t get it to work again. And then I started googling getting a spreadsheet to become an RSS feed [on a self-refreshing basis] and I quickly gave up.

Failed attempt 3:
In my above quest, I did discover that Google Calendar has easily accessible RSS feeds. So, I used IFTTT to grab data from fitbit and push it into a Google Calendar quick-add.
I mean, it worked for a bit, I’ll give it that:

263D4AEB-4569-448B-AE08-97354248E07D.png

Steps to Google Calendar…

http://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8603/16150834440_403f18ac45.jpg?resize=281%2C500&ssl=1

The RSS from google calendar kind of sucked though. I also had to go back through more than once to fix things—for instance, if I wanted things to feed through to the watch in a timely fashion through all these steps, I had to trigger the Fitbit check for five minutes [or so] before I wanted the data so that it had time to add an upcoming event through Google Calendar’s “quick add” fun, and then push it to the watch at the proper time. Which sucked because it always gave me a time range on the Pebble and didn’t work all that well.

The main problem making every input as a Google calendar event [yes, ridiculous, but hey, the promise was easy RSS feedability!] problem with this was, I inputted the date initially as “today” and then on day two it didn’t work. I didn’t know it would be quite that literal, so I went back through the dozens and dozens of IFTTT recipes I’d made and removed the “today” item. Which made it not work at all, despite having the time in there already (day one was exciting and then day two was very sad. That’s even worse than it not working to begin with!).

Failed attempt 4 (or 5, depending on how many methods you count the last one as).

 

Next, I tried to just push the Google Calendar data over to WordPress. (“Starts” is super awkward, but remember, I was using Quick Add and my movement was the event.)

http://i1.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7492/16338207735_3c0f9bba96.jpg?resize=281%2C500&ssl=1

Which ran into the same issues as running off the Google Calendar RSS did, obviously. I’m not sure why I thought it would be any different, but hey, it worked to start, right?

http://i1.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7499/16150835020_1fea6c229d.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

Final trial – Success:

ifttt4

Oh yes, 61 individual recipes to get this going:

http://i2.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7537/15718328163_7ceb666206.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

But… it WORKS. (Note the minor tweak between the previous picture and the latter, in which I toggled the body text to contain a dash instead of the date that was being half cut off, because IFTTT required me to have body text—I didn’t realize at first that even though a space didn’t work, a dash would.)

http://i0.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7564/15715836134_cf9a590957.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

Updates go from my Fitbit as scheduled within IFTTT, and are pushed into WordPress with the title “{{Progress}} {{DailyGoalType}}” translating to the above “#### Steps”. I get updates every 15-30 minutes throughout the day, since Fitbit syncs every 20 unless you force sync (I gradually spaced out my updates towards the end of the day, mostly as I got tired of making IFTTT recipes, and because I’m usually sitting around anyways—clearly I’ve been sitting around a lot today.) I put the update time in brackets, as if I don’t move, it doesn’t update—so I know if it’s 3:17 and my update still says 3:00, I haven’t moved in at least 15 minutes (or, my fitbit hasn’t synced since it’s on the automatic 20 minute timeframe—but I’m usually the culprit).

I could have done much of this through iOS notifications, but, I wanted it to be more passive than having to dismiss notifications constantly—well, I wanted passivity at times. Using Cards for Pebble and RSS, my steps simply feed in and hangs out under the clock.
Note, that I didn’t fully abandon Google Calendar. I have it set so that if my sleep from the previous night is under 7.5 hours, it will quick add an event at 11:30 that night—

ifttt3

the alert will be pushed to my phone/Pebble and I’ll have to dismiss it (actively), acknowledging that I should attempt to not go to bed at 2:30 AM for once. IFTTT, by non-Calendaric default, would push that alert to me immediately. What do I care at 9 AM if I only got 7 hours of sleep? I need that reminder later on.

Similarly, I didn’t want a passive alert telling me I hadn’t done as many stairs as I could have today.


ifttt2

So if I haven’t done 10 flights of stairs by 4 PM, I get this little alert (see the first one):

http://i1.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7462/16338257845_3e0d336bfa.jpg?resize=281%2C500&ssl=1

And then I will hopefully not be lazy and go do some stairs—I got this at 4 PM today and then went up and down my two flights of stairs “five times”, which in house stairs, is actually ten flights ascending, since Fitbit needs a 10ft ascent to count as a flight. Except no, airplanes do not count.

[Since this point, I’ve toggled OFF all of the iOS notification switches that accidentally were ON—meaning I got random iOS notifications vaguely being like “Steps goal is not achieved yet”, and they were annoying.]

Limitations: Other than the Making-61-Recipes-To-Make-This-Happen Thing

Also known as “I don’t code, so hey.”

Biggest drawback? Once I hit my daily step goal outlined on Fitbit, my updates cease. I think it was broken then (in the Failed Attempt 4 Stage at this point), but yesterday, I hit my steps goal by about 4 PM, so while I magically got an update around 12:45, even as I tried to fix things last night, I couldn’t test them! This can be mitigated by changing daily goals in Fitbit, but, that’s kind of the point: once I start hitting my 10,000 step goal consistently and being frustrated by the lack of updates, I’ll increase my goal—the reward for increased movement being continual access to the data on my wrist, even if kind of ridiculous.
The reality is, getting nudges every time I look at the clock or dismiss a text notification on my Pebble (via my step count) is yet another way to make the wearing-a-wearable less passive and the data meaningful—because yes there are studies about how much these things work in the long term, and that long term impact data isn’t as awesome as it could be. I’ve been wearing a Fitbit for three years now (is “back in the Ultra days” one of those things that will make me sound old eventually?) and while I’ve never stopped wearing it (save for when it has been lost and awaiting a replacement), the data becomes less important at times.

So while I’m not quite living up this slide from #MedX (by Dan of Dan’s Plan Health)…

10420784_10154574155410375_7571725611132511218_n

I realize I need to find ways to get myself excited about my fitbit data again—and if not excited, at least paying attention to it. I haven’t come close to reaching the “this-is-useless-never-trying-again” stage signified by that orange x… but the above experience is the ideal one, the one I’d like to have, and days like this

screenshot fitbit 01-20-15

are a reward. It’s not just about look how freaking pretty that is! (though the little fitbit smiley face animations when the page loads do help!) but it’s also that it feels really freaking awesome, too.

Yes, quantified self data is an extrinsic reward—while I’m being motivated by numbers instead of my own sense of “yeah! I love exercise and DOMS and hypertrophy! yeah!” [because really?!], it’s a very different kind of extrinsic motivator–it’s not like using a pizza or whatever as a reward. If it takes my Pebble to help that process out after three years, well, I’m okay with that.

And at the end of the day when I get this final report

Untitled

hopefully the passive-but-constant reminders will result in more active choices–well, at least until I get bored with this, too, and have to find another way to keep it interesting.

My friend Elisheva has been a long-time guest blogger on my blog(s), because she is awesome. After I announced my new employers (disclosure update, yo), she offered to provide some tips on working from home (which she has much experience in, although has gone back to the office-outside-her-home world [and even got to go on a work field trip the other day]).  Thanks, Elisheva!! (And thanks for the excitement!)

———-

Congratulations to my buddy Kerri on not one, but TWO new jobs!  Yay yay yay!  Hurray!  This is exciting cuz, (a) money, and (b) connections and resume building and (c) getting paid to do things you are passionate about!  (I’m only a little bit jealous…)

 
And now to get on with what this post is actually supposed to be about.
 
I’d welcome you to the world of working from home… but I’m not there anymore.  I do have a bunch of experience in that though.  Unlike me, you will not be your own boss (freelancing sucks!), but many aspects will be the same.  Meaning the not going to the office every day part.  The working from home part.  Yeah, that.
 
One of the biggies when working from home is finding balance.  There are awesome things and there are sucky things.  Sometimes things can be awesome and sucky at the same time.  Observe.
 
1) You can work in your PJs or even naked if you want to. (Woohoo!)  But you can also go for days at a time without ever getting dressed or leaving your house.  (Boo.)
 
2) You have flexible hours and can schedule meetings/appointments/hangouts during the day. (Nice!)  But you can also find yourself working your tushy off evenings and nights to meet deadlines when you’d rather be doing other things. (Damn.)
 
3) You can burp and fart and pick your nose and never brush your hair and no one will know or care.  (Whoa, really?)  But you might lose some or all of your social skills by the time you leave your cave and interact with humanity again. (Bummer.)  Back in my translating days, I sometimes went to translator meetings and was shocked to see how socially awkward some of the long-time translators were.
 
4) You don’t have your boss watching you and breathing down your neck all day. (Freedom!!)  But that means that you are responsible for budgeting your time and making sure things get done. (Uhhh… kay…)
 
5) If you have a pet or a child or a never-ending pile of laundry that needs your attention throughout the day, you can be there. (Convenient 🙂 )  But those things can actually distract you and keep you from getting your work done. (I knew there was a catch.)
 
The following things are also added to the list for freelancers:
 
6) You are your own boss and call all the shots. (Power!) But you also have to take care of all of the bureocracy, taxes, advertising, billing and contact with clients by yourself.  You are the company.  (Sucks.)
 
7) You will have months where you have lots of work and make a lot of money. (Score!)  But you will also have months where you are almost desperate for work. (Ugh.)
 
So basically, if you’re still reading, you should have gathered that depending on how you swing it, working from home could either rock or stink, depending on how you swing it.  You’ll likely experience both.
 
And now, finally, here are some tried and true tips from your buddy Elishevathe Former Translator.  These might not work for everyone, but they worked for me.
 
1) Structure is important.  Even though I could have easily slept in, I woke up at 7 every day and started working by 8.  I tried my best to work standard work hours so that I would be busy at the same time as normal people and free at the same time as normal people.
 
2) Give yourself work space.  Get out of your bedroom if you can.  Working in your room will make you sleepy during the day since you associate it with sleeping and you might have a hard time sleeping at night because you associate it with work.  I worked best while sitting on a chair at the table in the living room.  It kept me from getting distracted or drifting off and it made me feel more professional.  Even better is finding a workspace outside of your home like a library, cafe, or workhub.  Getting dressed and leaving the house will also help you feel more professional.
 
3) Give yourself reasons to be social. Going to work provides people with face-to-face social interaction.  When working from home, it’s important to find reasons to get dressed and leave your house.  Go out with friends, go to cultural events, join a class and/or volunteer for a cause you believe in.  It’s important to keep those social skills in good working order, both for your mental health and in preparation for the day when you no longer work from home.
 
4) Learn about your legal rights.  Just because you work from home and the people you work with never see you doesn’t mean that they can take advantage of you.  Make sure you are getting paid on time and that you are getting treated fairly.  You also are working for one organization in another province and one organization in the US.  I have no idea what the legal or tax ramifications of this would be.  It would be wise to find this out.
 
5) Stand up for yourself at home.  Because I worked for myself and made my own schedule, people in my life tended to occasionally forget that I actually had a full time job and would ask me for favors such as babysitting or picking up things for them in the middle of the day.  Sometimes I would oblige if I could swing it, and sometimes I had to remind them that I actually did have a job and while I could work any time, I really prefered to work normal people hours.  So while they worked at an office and I worked at home, I was working just like they were and deserved not to be bothered.
 
Anyway, that’s all I can think of for now.  Looking forward to hearing great things about these new opportunities, Kerri!  All the best and good luck 🙂

I wrote half a post yesterday Saturday and Sunday. This is the reason that in order to blog you can’t just “be a blogger” and you have to do things. And now it’s Monday Tuesday and Monday’s post isn’t up. (I am not even “trying too hard” here, I am just not trying.)

I mean, on Saturday I did have the joy of going to The Keg steakhouse as a vegetarian, but the fact that the desserts are delicious (and I did not even take a picture of them. I say them but they were shared.) does not rectify the fact that there is not even so much as pasta and marinara on the menu.

Anyways, pictures (or lack-there-of of dessert pictures) from the week.

Week 2.

Canadian things. With my cousin Dean.

Week 2

Walking in -23 for poutine…

Week 2

Yes. There is ice. In my hair. From returning from walking for poutine.

(Other Canadian things include the fact that I live in walking distance from poutine. Which is actually a problem but less of a problem than I thought.)

Week 2

I got home to mail from my friend Dia! EXCITING.

Week 2

My friend Simi got me into this British talk-show host named Jeremy Kyle.
(He’s like Maury but there’s less Not-Father dancing and more “Is my mum” [with a u] “trying to murder me?” and “Which of my children stole my iPhone”.
There are a lot of lie detectors and DNA tests, though. 

He has a book. So I bought it because I have this shiny-ness.

Week 2

Also purchased with said Indigo card:

Week 2

These were in my package from Dia…

Week 2

…They are ridiculously delicious. 

Week 2

This is as much a lie as the Canada Warm truck I see on occasion. IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER.

It’s pink though. I saw the top (sans words) from my kitchen and I had to investigate (without going outside. Obviously. Because Warm Home.)

Week 2

My friend Riki was cleaning out her room. And texting me pictures of things she thought I might like.

This hat? Obviouslyyyy.

Week 2

…MONEY!

(The Canadian government sends GST rebates if you, like me, make less than a certain amount of money. They also keep telling me I need to enrol in direct deposit, which I do, but also that will totally ruin the joy of GST cheques.)

Week 2

Dia is working very hard to get me to embrace the moleskine planner (red). I do enjoy the moleskine notebooks, but as I wrote at the beginning of the month, sometimes I feel like notebooks are too nice and I need to be super intentional with them. (Which is ridiculous really. It’s paper.)

Anyways, I’m really trying here. Except 90% of the time I put stuff in Google Calendar and then into the Moleskine. Is that proper?

Week 2

I was playing with the slow shutter app. Apparently I need work at this because… what?

Week 2

Also regarding Dia, because she loves smores.

Also I did not get the smores ones, but I did get mini-donuts as a reward for going to the Kitchen, Bath and Reno(vation, not Nevada) Show with my mom on Saturday.

Week 2

Sleepy Pikachu Pebble face.

(He doesn’t always sleep. Just at nighttime.)

Week 2

Oh, that’s pretty.

Week 2

My Slicecream looks like a bear.

You can see it, right? Sam suggested Bear in the Big Blue House.

Week 2

I briefly tried to 12 of 12 today. And failed.
I did read part of two books and the entirety of Junie B. First Grader: Dumb Bunny.
(Because it’s meant for third graders, but holy those books are occasionally hilarious.) 

Thanks, public library eBooks!

Week 2
Jeans also formerly Riki’s. They are green even though they don’t look like it.
Today [Monday. Whatever day I am in.] is also the first day/time I have worn skinny jeans ever.

History, yeah?

Speaking of history. 

Week 2

 
My friend Bob is reading Canadian History for Dummies. And considering I want to read 30 books this year (I am not counting Junie B. up there, I swear. Problematically I can’t log it on GoodReads because I can’t un-count it without lying and I refuse to lie on the internet.) and Bob is American and I am Canadian, it seemed like a good idea for me to maybe read about Canadian History along with him.
 
You should join us. We can have Canadian History for Dummies book club. 😉