even stumbling is moving forward

I spent a good quarter of my time in university learning about how you shouldn’t make too many life changes at once. (I spent another quarter in anatomy or stressing out about anatomy, another quarter dropping classes possibly due to the unknown learning disability and ADHD, and the last quarter probably actually “focused”. This is not an accurate, nor mathematical, representation of university for me.) Yet, here I am, doing just that, because FULL SPEED AHEAD is the only way I know how to go.

So here I am. 13 days into logging with MyFitnessPal. That is nearly TWO WEEKS people, that’s an accomplishment.
I’ve opened up the Coach.Me app again last night and set up some goal in there—go for a walk twice a week, exercise three days a week, meditate daily, pray daily, and write a blog post [here] weekly (hi!). 

And today, I went for a walk. Just to the mailbox, to send a letter to my Member of Parliament. Have I mentioned I’ve gotten all politically engaged since we last spoke in depth? This is not actually a byproduct of that but still, could be why I was more interested in the Asthma Society’s Hill Day stuff in the end. Honestly, it’s a wonder to me that given the state of this world and our neighbours to the south, how the eff people can ignore this! I digress (but likely not forever, and would be happy to grab a [decaf] [not-]coffee with you and discuss. And also I am thinking about going back to school to do political science and no I don’t actually know what’s currently wrong with me.)

This is not significant. The walk, I mean. It was hot (27-feels-like-29 and heat and I are not friends—my lungs and my whole body) and slow and except whatever I GOT OUT THERE.

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Because here’s the thing. I have to start all over again. And so I am. I downloaded some bodyweight exercise app to my phone even. I’m LOOKING AT my Fitbit. Quantified self is one of those things that’s sort of engrained in my being one way or another so I need to USE that data. 

If a slow, 17 minute walk is all I get, guess what? It’s better than nothing.
If a three minute meditation before I go to sleep is all I do, guess what? I’ve started.
If prayer is a jumbled mess of words or a poem or “hey Jesus”? Yeah, my God knows where I’m at, even before I do.
If I don’t eat with any semblance of decency (or even if I’m closer than I usually am but still totally imperfect) but I am at least mindful of that, guess what? I’m one step closer.
If I start to write a blog post and I write “Listening to my body. Means. Going to sleep. Instead of writing.” and close my laptop, yes, I have figured something out. At least this time.
And if I admit all of this to you in a blog post? I’ve written the blog post. And hopefully, you’ll join me in stumbling towards those goals you think are too big, too hard, the things you think you’ll be imperfect at. Feel free to join me in the imperfection, learning the things they can’t teach in school.

Or at least watch along—because even stumbling is moving forward. 

quantify this thursday: automagic

I try to track a lot of stuff, but I like that stuff to be as effortless as possible (I’m human, right?). The more stuff I track, the less likely I am to track a thing after a few days or a week, which means I really can’t do anything with that data. There are not a lot of things that will track themselves, however, thinking about this the other day, I became curious to do a bit of an inventory to see what kinds of things I am tracking basically automagically. (Magic, yes.)

Sleep.
For over 2 years (actually, well over 2 years, but I think some of my data got trapped in an old iPod or something before The Cloud was such a big thing), I’ve tapped the screen on my iPhone a few times to track my sleep—I use SleepCycle, and this same app acts as my alarm clock (and lets me use my own music—I actually initially bought it years ago because of that), so I have some motivation to set it. This is, aside from wearing my Fitbit, probably the most automated self-tracking actiivty that I do. So it’s not quite automagic… but it just about could be. (The Charge HR does have automatic sleep tracking though, as well, and I did use the sleep feature regularly on the One and Ultra).

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Graphs from SleepCycle. Above, time I went to bed over the last two-plus years. Below, the odd waves of different activity levels on my sleep quality…

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Activity.
I’ve been wearing a Fitbit since January 2012—first the Ultra, then the One, and now the Charge HR. This means, aside from the times that I’ve lost it or forgotten to wear it, I’ve been counting steps, calories burned, activity level, distance covered. Since May, I’ve got a near-continuous record of my heart rate—which is kind of ridiculous and I’m looking forward to someone getting that export heart rate thing figured out. And, since the invention of MobileTrack from Fitbit, even if my device dies on my wrist, I still accumulate a bit of data—though not as accurate as the thing attached to my body.
I also have a couple apps in my phone that serve this purpose. I’m not really sure why I haven’t deleted them yet, however.

Here’s also a little app called fit|line. It gives you all kinds of stats extracted from your Fitbit. It also says things like “You spend an average of 14 hours a day sedentary.” (Don’t worry. My Pebble Time is trying to put an end to that nonsense. Actually, I thought it would be like “You spend an average of 23 hours a day sedentary” so…)


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All time Fitbit stats from Fit|Line.
http://i0.wp.com/farm2.staticflickr.com/1673/25832612924_0b66f6916b.jpg?resize=281%2C500&ssl=1Slightly different view…

Here you’ll see where I lost my Fitbit, or forgot to wear it, or it died or whatever.
You can also fairly easily pick out the spot in 2013 when I was super sick and when I was no longer in school and no longer working outside of the house.

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Things I Set Up on IFTTT at Some Point And Forgot About.
Okay, let’s take a look.

  • If it rains, this gets sent to a spreadsheet in Google Drive. I was at some point going to trend this with peak flows and asthma symptoms but, ha, those don’t get logged automagically.
  • If humidity rises above 75% this gets added to a spreadsheet.
  • If I enter or exit a tennis club, these times are to be logged (a backup for logging my summer work hours).
  • This one doesn’t quite count because I have to manually check-in on Foursquare… SWARM. I have to check in on Swarm. (Damn these name changes, really.) but that does get sent to my Google Calendar. So if I forget when I went somewhere and I happened to check in on F—Swarm, then I can find out.
Computer Time.
I’ve been using RescueTime for quite awhile. So now I have all this data about how much time I spend doing what, and I really don’t do anything with that.
 
Similarly, I once installed Checky on my iPhone to see how many times I looked at my phone in a day, but it has to run in the background obviously, which then gets swiped closed.
Because once the guy at the Apple Store had to close all my apps and he told me he’d never seen that many apps open on a phone. And he works at the Apple Store. That’s pretty bad.
 
There are probably all kinds of other things, but that’s my rundown for 11:40 pm. I’ll add more here when I discover them. 

asthma awareness month: google hangout q&a livestream

May is Asthma Awareness Month–and this coming Tuesday is World Asthma Day.  After spending a couple days together in the SF Bay Area last week, Steve and I got our networks to send out some questions, and did a very unstructured Q&A videocast to hopefully get some light shed on asthma, our thoughts, and hopefully teach some people a few new things about this disease.

“some days all i do is watch the sky”

Some days, my day looks like this

running

But my night can look like this

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Maybe it’s because I ran around filming a video. Or inhaled a bunch of smoke all day drifting around with the breeze. Or sat around a campfire at lunch. Or maybe there’s seemingly no reason at all.

For me, the asthma monster-under-the-bed, I am lucky, doesn’t come around often. Maybe once a month, maybe less than that.  Most of the time, unless I’m really sick, it lurks from inside me slowly–waking up and not realizing my lungs are the reason why, usually wandering to the bathroom and back before laying down to realize “Hey, I’m pretty short of breath over here.”

Sometimes a couple puffs of Ventolin is all it takes for me to drift back to sleep.  Other times like the other night, I slip into some sort of autopilot while feeling a heaviness settled in my lungs: two puffs, fifteen minutes. two puffs, fifteen minutes, two puffs, fifteen minutes. Last night, it was after round three, or six hits, I fell asleep again.

The next day, still, can look like this (…okay, a little tired I guess!)

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It’s a mind game. It’s thinking I’m fine and when I’m least on my guard, the previous day somehow grabs onto me and shakes me back into it–in one of the ways I least want to be inside it.

this guilt feels so familiar, and i’m home / i will crawl / there’s things that aren’t worth giving up i know / but i won’t let this get me / i will fight . . . / you live the life you’re given with the storms outside . . ./ some days all i do is watch the sky

i think i, i could use a little break — but today was a good day.

watch the sky, something corporate

intention.

The last six weeks was, I am sure, more than enough to make me unsettled (in a not-good way).

Last week, the seventh week, was about reclaiming ground, becoming more settled in my body, knowing things are getting better.

Saturday . . . i had this feeling arise over me. For the first time in a very long time, I felt healthy. I have clung on to that feeling for the past 30 hours. (My lungs still don’t feel right, but hey, otherwise I feel good, I can deal with the lungs. I’m blaming the rain for that).

Finally feeling healthy, though, made me realize everything I need to work on. Things I have the energy to work on. Finally.

Physical Activity.

Exercise is a thing that suffered–which is also a thing that I’ve found keeps me balanced . . . contributing to the state of emotional unbalance on top of the obvious physical unbalance.

Exercise graph

Part of this dropoff was intentional. When my hemoglobin was slipping bad, I was intentionally not exercising beyond walking to and from the bus, because I didn’t want to contribute any to the state of dropping–the reality is, I’ve been sicker than I cared to admit since March. And I was trying to be proactive and my doctor was not engaging with me on working with me on that.

The other part is that I simply could not do things. I would walk home from the bus and have to take breaks because it was too hard–my heart would pound inside me with even small amounts of moderate exertion. I would get short of breath and it wasn’t the asthma. I was a mess for a lot longer than I admitted to many people, but what else was I supposed to do? I didn’t know better that what I was feeling would become as bad as it did down the road.

This, I need to rectify.  Back to paying attention to the fitbit, and doing some TribeSports challenges to bring my focus back to where it should be.

Nutrition.

It is not so much the fact of micromanaging the micronutrients that I need to work on, it is just simply making healthier food choices. Leaning away from all of the stuff that I know I don’t feel good from or about after eating, and having all that stuff on a less frequent basis. It’s a fine line, and I know myself–and I know that I have a hard time balancing this stuff in the most basic way.

Creativity.

Writing has for as long as I can remember been my release. I started journaling and writing lyrics/poetry in the fourth grade. These things have been the sole methods of getting me through so much of the tough stuff in my life.  2013, having the theme of Make Yourself, I want to expand on that. I’ve been trying to make a more focused attempt at journaling–“and i scratched these words / into a black notebook”.

Words have always been my weapon. Music has been a second.

Visual art? Even farther, yet still something I have gravitated towards and wanted . . . but seldom wrapped my fingers around.

Friday . . . I started to transform that with a quote inspired from one of Andrew McMahon’s tattoos.

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my intention / a bullet / my body / a trigger finger / . . . and my pen is a pistola.

my secret arsenal is an infinite, ageless inkwell / it’s a fountain of youth and a patriot’s weapon of choice.

pistola, incubus

I’ll be capturing that process on deviantART.

Balance.

I’ll be honest here. It’s a paradox: when my health is at its worst, the things that keep my body and mind balanced are the first to go in the effort to simply survive. I’m realizing now that this is incredibly backwards, yet . . . it feels incredibly necessary at the time.

when dark clouds cover the sky / like there’s no hope, You are my light / You tell me to live. / when i’m all by myself / and i’m scared about my health / You tell me to live. / and when You heal my broken wings / yes, You heal my everything / You tell me to live.

You tell me to live, the rocket summer

Be intentional.

This week . . . I am rolling back onto Operation Intention. Getting back to making better choices . . . for all of me. Body, mind and heart.

Recovery.