Tag Archives: life

the complete lack of glamour in business travel

I’m in Cincinnati!  Again.  This is what it looked like last time I was here in April.

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I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but I used to think business travel would be glamorous.  This is probably because I grew up in the 80s and 90s when being a Business Woman was glamorous. The truth is, there isn’t much glamorous or sophisticated about actual work, which is what business travel is for.  It’s an extra long day, extended with flights or drives or trains, during which time I can’t work, yet still need to get the work actually done.  I do not get to swan around exotic locations wearing oversize sunglasses and a designer scarf, showing up only to deign meetings with my presence, like I thought I would get to when I was much, much younger.  Most business travel, in reality, requires days of prep beforehand, follow-up actions afterwards, and no end of sifting through all the emails that came in as soon as the wi-fi cut out on my flight.

And yet, aside from missing my men, I don’t mind business travel.  Like advertising and business in general, it isn’t a glamorous activity, but it does enable include the part of my job I like the most: talking.  Not just talking myself, but having everyone talk, brainstorming, discussing, planning, reviewing.  The kind of meetings I travel for, are when we take a step back and look at the forest, instead of being lost in trees.  Being in a room of people all working towards the same goal, even a corporate, commercial goal, is exciting, albeit in a nerdy way, and that is what I travel for.  Despite all those promises made in the 1990s about “virtual meetings”, there is still no substitute for just sitting around a conference table.  It’s likely a descendant of storytelling, sharing ideas and concepts, which is a very human element to keep in business.

Still, I’m trying to figure out where I got the idea that business travel would be exciting.  Perhaps it was because I assumed if I was important enough to travel, I would be an Important Businesswoman in general.  And even without watching mainstream movies my entire childhood, I still managed to pick up, by osmosis, the idea that being in business would be exciting and sophisticated.

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Sigourney Weaver in “Working Girl”: an awful boss BUT a sophisticated terrible boss with an amazing harbour view from her office.  It should be noted that when “Younger” did a Working Girl riff this week, I died.

Where did the women of my generation get this idea?  Is it descended from the archetype Helen Gurley Brown created in 1962, the idea of the sophisticated girl about town?  Given that the woman used mineral oil as a salad dressing to discourage eating, I have my doubts about her mental stability in general.

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Small steps forward, ladies!  SMALL STEPS IN YOUR HEELS.

It may be more likely to stem from the increase of women in white collar jobs in the late 70s and early 80s, the daughters of the first feminist revolution, who grew up with wider horizons than their mothers – including the idea of having their own careers

Line graph shows the percentages of men and women working from 1948 to 2013.

Source: “Women in Top Management“, Sage Business Research.  Actually, it is a really fascinating article in general about the under representation of women in top management

Wherever this idea came from, it is nicely encapsulated in this Hark! A Vagrant comic strip.  This is the perception of the business woman in the 80s: all goals all the time.

What is it about being goal oriented, about being tough, that says “sophisticated” though?  It may be the association of businesswomen as being urban creatures, who would have to have the sophistication required to live in an engaging way in a big city.  It may be the idea of the intelligence required to succeed in an environment in which the odds are stacked against women.  It may even be the perceived lack of typical female insecurities, which is a whole other post.  I am still unsure what it was about this image that appealed to me so much when I was younger, much less how this image permeated pop culture enough to trickle down to me.

Regardless, here I am in Cincinnati, on a business trip, waiting for the end of the reggae fest at Fountain Square across the street so I can go to sleep, poking at a deck I’m presenting tomorrow, missing my men and eating a decidedly unsophisticated take-out salad from Panera Bread.

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Corporate reggae brought to you by Proctor and Gamble!

No one actually said business travel would be glamorous, I just assumed it.  And I suppose we all know what they say about “assume”…

i has a tween!

I find it exceptionally hard to believe two things:

  1. ten years have already gone by
  2. the 4’8″ 67lb creature that just tornadoed through the house in search of pants is the same entity who used to be this little angry meatloaf here:

Granted, we do actually have a photo record of him getting larger.

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Also, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t swapped out anywhere along the line because at this point, he literally looks like my face on Paul’s body.

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It is, however, slightly disturbing to think that I HAVE A TWEEN.  This creature is literally a tween.  He is ten.  He is his own person, although that person seems to be a class clown.

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Thankfully, these two awards (received yesterday, 6/18/18) balance each other out.

It’s a weird thing being a parent.  The best description I ever read of it was that it feels like your heart is walking around outside your body. This is my son.  This is the being who is the most important thing in the world to me, whom I would literally do anything I could to protect.  And here he is becoming his own person who is able to walk around in the world without any oversight or protection from me.  Worse, he’s becoming a totally different person all the time as he grows up and becomes whoever he truly is in there.

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Still.  I have a tween now, a boy who is halfway to being a man, a creature who will spend the second decade of his life building the foundation of the person he is meant to be.  My job is to support him as he becomes that person, and then boot him out into the world, because he is a terrible roomate (underwear everywhere, eats all the cereal, leaves dishes out).  It is strange to think that I have been doing that job without any formal training, because helping to create and then raise another human seems almost meta in its vast responsibility.  And yet, we have been doing that job, and we have, so far, produced a fairly decent human being.

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We have a tween.  Ten years ago, when they handed me my son in a bundle at Cedars-Sinai, I could not have imagined getting to this point.  I’m sure I’ll feel the same way when I look back at Mister Class Clown here from his junior year of college.

the post online argument shameover

shameover (n):

1. a feeling of regret and self-shaming that remains even after the cause of the event is forgotten by everyone but you
2. a feeling of regret and self-shaming that continues after a particularly shameful action

I am in the throes of #2 of a shameover from arguing on the Internet.  It isn’t the argument itself I’m ashamed of, but the sheer waste of time it represents.  It’s time I could be spending with my family, or time I could be practicing the piano, or time I could be doing my writing class homework.  It’s time I could use to clear out my work inbox or finish up some Scouting responsibilities (as District Commissioner and acting GSM for one group, the Scouting never stops) or just return personal emails.  There’s a dozen ways I could productively use time.  Arguing on the Internet is not one of them.

Duty Calls

Therefore, after two hours of generally wasted time arguing over the child migrant separation crisis, I have a shameover.  And it feels awful.  I feel like I do when I over-indulge in other ways.  I feel like I do when I carb binge, when my blood sugar spikes and I know it will eventually crash as well.  I feel like I do when I watch waste of time TV.  I feel like I do when I spend too much money, on impulse, on an item I do not particularly need and cannot return.  I feel like I do when I drink two glasses of wine too fast and know it will mess up my sleep.  I feel like I did last week when I trolled Trump supporters on the street. I feel like have cost myself something I cannot get back: in this case, time, energy, and a whole lot of adrenaline.

I consider it a waste of time to argue online, because  no argument online can be won anymore.  No one’s mind can be changed anymore.  No one wants to acknowledge logical points or even facts in an age when everything can be dismissed as “fake news”.  There was once a day when people would engage in civil, well thought out discourse on bulletin boards; now we all wallow in fallacies of online arguing.  There is no winning an argument or changing anyone’s mind online anymore; there is only being better at arguing and feeling better about being right.

The only saving grace of arguing online is that there are some cases where I learn something new.   Which I did, actually, tonight, from the original post that sparked the entire argument, which was moderately educational!   This Medium post similarly argues that arguing is a positive in that it helps one “bulletproof” one’s arguments.  Unfortunately, it’s almost always at a disproportionate amount of time and energy investment to argue for that knowledge.  Often, the knowledge I get from arguing online is information could have acquired elsewhere without paying such a high price in time, energy and effort, without arguing, without getting my blood pressure and my adrenaline up.  If I go poke around outside my own liberal bubble, I am pretty sure I can hear others’ points of view without having to waste time being polite and logical to random people I don’t even know who jump in the middle of an argument and decide to engage via deflecting and whataboutism.

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TRUE.  Because one person’s “FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE” is totally representative of thousands of other experiences and makes them an expert in the subject!

Why then, do I continue to waste time arguing online?  It inevitably results in me losing sleep, not over the argument itself, but over the guilt of the waste of time and energy from it (not to mention the adrenaline coursing through my veins from any argument).  I think it’s because there are two factors of appeal to online arguing for me: the need to hold people accountable for the social injustices they are supporting or failing to fight, and the need to be right.  On the one hand, I have always wanted to crusade for justice and against what I see as wrong, so having the entire Internet in which to do so is great for arguing for what I see as morally correct.  On the other hand, I just really like being smarter than everyone else and I will totally admit that.

Arguing online may hold a thin veneer of justification in that it allows one to try to use rhetoric to convince someone to do good.  Perhaps one will have the opportunity to impart knowledge and understanding to someone else.  Perhaps one will learn some critical piece of information or insight into the logic of the argument.  Perhaps one will learn a new way of looking at something, a new perspective that helps one understand the initial discussion topic better.  In some cases, when people share their perspectives with me, I’m actually grateful for the insight and knowledge.

However, ultimately, the knowledge that one cannot win an argument on the Internet means that if one is arguing, one is very likely arguing wholly due to ego.  It then requires a degree of mindfulness to recognize one’s ego as a primary motivator so one can pledge that one will not argue on the goddamn Internet and then have to write an entire blog post on why doing so is a bad idea before one can peacefully fall asleep.  Now, 900 words later, I feel like I’ve acquired some of that mindfulness – and I can go to bed.  Goodnight world!  Tomorrow is another day of being nicer on the Internet.

 

optimizing my brain

It has become fashionable, the past few years, to attempt to “hack” one’s brain.  This is an attempt to get one’s brain to run better, faster, smarter.  It is also a great way to sell something called “nootropics“, a futuristic, Orphan Black-esque term for a new wave of vitamins (mostly amino acids and vitamin B derivatives) that are supposed to aid with such “hacking”.

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This is your brain…ON THE FUTURE

I believe, to an extent, that there is some brain “hacking” that can be done, although I do not love the term.  To me, it smacks of Silicon Valley bro-ness, the kind of toxic masculinity that has made the tech industry deeply awful for women.  I prefer to think of it as brain optimization, rather than hacking, as optimizing my brain is really about understanding the 2+ pounds of electricity and protein that lives inside my skull, that contains everything I am.  If I can better understand the mechanisms that govern the electrical impulses that make up my thoughts, then can I get a better grip on the efficiency of those thoughts?

I recently read Stealing Fire, a book on the use of substances or other methods of altering one’s brain for extraordinary results.  While it does focus extensively on the use of mind-altering drugs, it counts everyday substances in that category, everything from coffee to prescription medications. We may not all be using ketamine for out of body experiences, but most of us are using some form of chemical to alter our brains.  It was an interesting perspective, much more on the metaphysical plane, putting the quest for brain control and mind altering more into the realm of philosophy (“I think, therefore I am” sort of meta-ness), telling a universal human story rather than limiting the results to th emore prosaic productivity boost that “brain hacking” promises.  “Stealing Fire” was a more grandiose picture of mankind’s ongoing quest to lift up our mental and spiritual energy through physical substance (see also: Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas), and it contextualized the “brain hacking” trend as really just being a small corner of that quest.

My own quest falls somewhere in between the metaphysical and the mundane, as it’s directly related to the mental and spiritual effects of having a chronic depressive condition.  For the decade plus that I took Wellbutrin, from 2005 until, well, six weeks ago, I grappled with its effects on my actual being.  Was being on this substance altering who I was, in any way?  My ultimate answer to that question was that not only did that particular non-SSRI antidepressant not change who I was, it actually allowed me to be the person I was meant to be.  It was a substance that unlocked my brain.  The Wellbutrin reduced the paralyzing depression that had previously impacted my ability to live my life on a consistent basis.   Problem solved, I thought, at the time, as I went on to build my life, meeting my husband, building my career, moving to Brooklyn, building the Scout organization, building my friend circle – my life is extensive, expansive, and has few limits on how much I can do in it.

Reducing the impact of the biological condition of depression actually brought forth who I am as a person, allowing me to explore my own mental and spiritual state without the intervening detriment of poor mental health.

The problem is that the substance I relied on to make me, well, me, wasn’t consistent.  My depression flare-ups became longer and increased in frequency over time.  When I changed my body’s response to food by switching to a Paleo food lifestyle in 2013 , the condition improved again.  And over time, rather than change my dosage, I began to try to identify more and more ways that weren’t the Wellbutrin that would net similar results to the antidepressant: cardio or HIIT exercise, being in sunlight, not drinking, avoiding grains and dairy, avoiding sugar, getting a good night’s sleep, meditation, journaling, etc.  Some of the tools made more difference than others, but overall, I began to understand what had an impact on my brain, and began to understand the links between the mental, the physical, and the spiritual.

All these physical, mental and spiritual factors are interconnected, and we cannot separate them if we wish to be whole and happy.

And then I finally faced reality.  The antidepressants I had been taking weren’t working.  They likely hadn’t worked for some time.  In fact, in November, my brain wouldn’t recognize the anti-depressants or the caffeine I added to them each day,   I thought I had Lyme disease, I was so exhausted, until I finally cut back on caffeine, added some nootropics, and felt better for a while.  I made it through the winter, and then as soon as we hit the March equinox, I went off the substance I had been using for thirteen years to alter my brain chemistry.

Needless to say, it was unpleasant.  The first few weeks, I could only stay awake until 2pm.  Twenty-five years of caffeine reliance plus thirteen years of using a stimulant as a basic part of my brain chemistry did not allow me to remain at one 8oz cup of coffee per day.  Instead, I felt like a puppet whose strings had been cut, drooping and looking for the system that had pulled me through my life.  I started eating for energy, as working from home gives me endless access to snacks, many of them of the higher carbohydrate variety from Ben’s snack assortment.  I could barely drag myself to the gym or through workouts, I was so tired, yet I couldn’t sleep at night. It was a textbook withdrawal.

Two weeks of this and I was almost in tears at the lack of productivity and the lost time.  A month in, and I sprained my ankle and had to weigh in at the doctor on my visit and realize, it wasn’t just that I’d lost time, I’d gained almost ten pounds of weight that would have to come back off if I was to fit in my client visit suit or my tick-proof camp pants ever again.  This isn’t just about vanity or societal pressure, but about not having to replace my utilitarian clothing in a larger size.

So now I have to not only hack my brain to run without antidepressants, but also have to “hack” my own EXTREMELY STUBBORN biology to lose the weight.  Which is a whole other entry as well.

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Yep, this about sums it up.  Thanks @lacomtessejamie

And I have to recognize that despite all this “hacking” or “optimization”, or whatever I wish to call it, there are going to be days when I just…can’t.  Last night, I had a rough day “at” work, in that I made a major misunderstanding on one of my new accounts in how I interpreted an agenda topic as related to the client’s business.  I also failed to move outside the house, choosing instead to rest my ankle.  I was also tired by 4pm as a result, and I just felt hopeless.  How am I supposed to live my life, I thought, if I can’t stay awake until 4pm even with a good night’s sleep, if I have an ankle that will seemingly NEVER HEAL, if I can’t even understand the job I am supposed to be good at

There are always going to be days in which I feel like I can’t.  And it’s going to be hard to change that and say, I can, without having a stimulant to get me all hyped up and enthusiastic.

So now, what I have to work on, is getting up every day and saying, “I can,” and pushing myself through the work that will optimize my brain to replace the load of stimulants that I cranked through it since I was a twentysomething junior digital media buyer living in Venice Beach.  I am a different person now: I acquired several additional layers of person along the way, including a husband and son.  I built a life in which many people rely on me: my friends, my colleagues, my community.  I built that life using a brain I used a commercial antidepressant to optimize.  Now I have to achieve the same results without that medication.

Most of the time, I feel like this is a story where the moral is that the Wellbutrin didn’t actually work, and therefore was really only a “magic rock” kind of thing: I did this all by myself and the antidepressant was believing in myself all along!  And then I’m tired at 4pm or can’t sleep CLOWN’LL EAT ME and think, why did I give up the stimulants that gave me the energy to push through this, even if they weren’t actually fixing the problem I took them to fix?

The answer is, because those antidepressants, while they worked great to correct my perception of my condition, weren’t fixing the actual problem that causes my depression.  I have a genetic biological condition that alters my brain chemistry enough to impact my mental state.  The NRI was just pushing me through that condition by effectively overriding it.  The most recent research on depression suggests it is more akin to a flare up of a biological condition than just a matter of “being sad”.  Taking a stimulant every single day may have forced my brain to remain in an upbeat state by altering my brain chemistry and increasing the amount of norepinephrine floating around in it, but it doesn’t fix the underlying physical flare-up that caused that mental state to occur in the first place.

And that physical aspect of the condition – that I can optimize.  For that, I can take physical, real-space actions to reduce the impact on my mental health.  That’s where all this brain “hacking”, optimization, whatever one wants to call it – that’s where it comes in.  It’s a quest for the “true self” on a higher level, but on a day to day basis, it’s “what actions can I take to keep my brain in a healthy state where it will crank out client presentations and not sink into a state of despair?

And that – that is another entry, for another day.  Probably tomorrow.  Because one of the bright sides to being benched with the ankle this week, is that I have extra commute time to re-invest in writing blog posts – one of the other many things I’ve identified that makes my brain a little happier.  A few days of writing, a return to a solid meditation practice, it’ll all help optimize my brain.

don’t touch it, don’t look at it

I can’t remember which of my childhood stories that’s from, but it’s from something my mother found hilarious enough to quote whenever she was trying to get me to allow her to apply an aloe vera leaf to a scraped appendage.    It’s how I feel now when I massage in the various ointments I’m applying to my foot.  I started applying a CBD oil based pain relief cream as well as an arnica ointment for bruising and swelling three times daily.  It’s getting easier, but I’m still unable to walk more than a few blocks without setting myself back days of recovery:

May 1st, May 2nd, Mayy 7th.  Swelling down overall but still present at ankle.  No amount of hippie remedies will fix that overnight.

This has been insanely frustrating because spring showed up in NYC literally overnight last week…and then jumped straight to summer.  And then bounced back to spring.  It’s pleasant outside, the trees are in that beautiful light green early leaf, and all the blossoms are out everywhere:

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Prospect Avenue between 8th and Prospect Park West, May 7th

I did get out for almost a “normal” Sunday yesterday: Paul and I went to visit a home that had a bathroom reno completed by contractors we are hiring for our own bathroom renovation project.  We re-did the kitchen in 2016, now we’re re-doing the bathroom.  We’re adulting!  However, this required walking an extra half-mile around Windsor Terrace to get to and from the visited home – even with car service, a “suspicious package” related street closure (read: very likely a burrito wrapped in tinfoil) meant walking an extra quarter-mile on either side of the town-home we were visiting.  By the time we got home, my foot was swelling and the pain in my ankle was reaching a very insistent whining pitch, so I went back to sitting on the couch with my foot on a chair, which seems to be a position from which I can still do things while placating my ankle.

I also biked around Prospect Park later in the afternoon, which was glorious: after two weeks of barely being able to walk, it was like being given wings.  I had arranged to spend some time working out the 2018-2019 Brooklyn Scout planning with the Group Scoutmaster from the former 5th Brooklyn group (now known as 5th Prospect Park), while our sons played baseball at their team’s weekly game.  We got a ton of planning done, our kids’ team tied, and now we have a roadmap for our projected five groups and 200+ Scouts in the borough for the fall (This is a whole separate entry, because Scouting never stops when you are district commissioner for NYC).  To get to said “meeting”, however, I had to bike down to the baseball diamonds in the south end of the Park, and then I figured, why not just finish the loop around the Park instead of taking the bike path back up Prospect Park West.  Why not just cap off a productive afternoon by riding four miles?  So I did, and it reminded me I need to start bike training again for the Epic Ride, and also that while my ankle isn’t as strained by cycling, four miles is plenty.

However, all this activity and normalcy did not come without a price: I ended up having to flat-out lie down to reduce the swelling in my foot by the time I got home.  The swelling is the most painful thing aside from the ankle tendon itself, and having my foot swell up after days of less swelling is extremely painful.  So that was it for productivity for the day: I literally put my foot up, with an ice pack, read a true crime book, and went to bed early.  Today, it’s still painful and prone to swelling, so I’m benched again for the day.  There isn’t much else to be done, right now, until I can heal up enough that a day of light activity doesn’t set me back.

I was also worried that all this activity would add up to be worse in the long run for healing, but based on Internet reading (because we all know the Internet is the best for non-professionals to do their own health research) I think it may actually be OK.  I have setbacks in pain and swelling but that also means I’m exercising the ankle as it heals.  I also do the rehab exercises I was assigned in the hospital: drawing the alphabet twice daily with my foot, stretching it back with a towel, and balancing on my bad leg.  It may take longer to heal, but I’m hoping that it will heal with more usability, and, hopefully, without being too prone to future sprains. This may, however, be purely wishful thinking because I don’t want to have to stay inside with my foot up through a beautiful May weekend.  I could stay home, but then I’d really be missing out on life in general  – and I love my life so much and have so much going on in it that psychologically, that’s not helpful.

Thankfully, I can work from home, so now it’s 9am on Monday and I’m in my “office”, without having to walk the half mile to the subway.  This is one of the things I have gratitude for, every day: that I have a job flexible enough that I can stay home and work.  I can spend a Sunday in “normal” activity and then, since that was too much, take Monday to recover from it.  I’m thankful to have the privilege of being a knowledge worker who isn’t tied to a physical location right now.  That’s been a huge help in healing.  It may make me miserable to be inside all the time during all this spring weather, but at least I’m inside and healing, which is a privilege in itself. Just a few more days, and hopefully, my ankle and foot will be back to normal.

 

 

an attitude of gratitude

I have so much to be grateful for today, not least of which are these guys:

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I’m actually in Toronto right now so I have a lot to be grateful for.  My family are here.  My sister has made a beautiful home away from home for us, literally considering my family’s comfort and wellbeing in building her own family’s house.  We’re grateful to be made to feel so at loved & at home here every time we visit.

I’m also here to visit and cheer up my mother, who has been trapped inside with hew own injury, a broken lower leg, since February.  I’m grateful to have my mother still with us, and grateful to have a strong bond with her.  My sister and I are both close with our mom, another relationship we’re lucky to have.

I’m also grateful for the family I have here to visit: my sister and I have a good relationship as adults, and I adore her daughters, my nieces, who are like little sisters to Ben (grateful for that, too).  They’re beautiful, brilliant, strong, free creatures, each of whom displays emotions and intelligence in equally high amounts.  My brother-in-law is a wonderful guy who is just fun to hang out with, as well as a great husband and father.  My sister has a beautiful family, inside and out, and I’m so grateful to be only two hours away.

I’m listing out all this gratitude right now because it’s just hard to feel grateful for all these blessings when my foot looks like it lost a bar fight to someone a lot meaner:

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From last night: my foot looks like a bloated drunk who got severely beaten up

I’m really trying for gratitude here, in the form of, “I’m grateful I’ve never had an injury worse than this”, but it hurts today after all the activity and exertion yesterday and I can’t go down stairs properly and anything that isn’t being trapped in bed with my foot up causes the fluids to rush back in a very painful way.

Still, the practice of gratitude does make me feel slightly better.  Over the past year, I started using the Best SELF Journal: a daily entry in which I start and finish my day by listing 3 things I’m grateful for.  Sounds like something out of an archived Well and Good article (“The Buzzy Reason These wellness Gurus Start Their Day with Gratitude – And How You Can Too”).  It is, however, a legitimately proven tactic to improve mental wellbeing, so I have added it to my mental toolkit to deal with my depression.

Gratitude may not make up for missing out on physical activity, which is on the list of the Big Things That REALLY Help With Depression.  Walking or running outside are big needle movers for mental wellbeing.  It’s therefore extremely tempting not to be grateful for anything when I’m on Day 5 of hobbling about and don’t know how long this is going to take because I can run again without fear of messing my foot back up.  The challenge is pushing past that self-pity and finding ways to be grateful that are not depending on my physical status.

 

hey, look, a domain!

Instead of the made up word “sekhmetrix”, I have moved to an actual domain of jilliantate.blog.  I created “sekhmetrix” years ago, as a modernized extension of Sekhmet, the Egyptian deity with the body of a woman and the head of a lion. I identified with this particular entity because I’m a Leo, which is a lion symbol, and also because I liked the idea of a goddess who just went around kicking ass.

Sekhmet’s name comes from the Ancient Egyptian word “sekhem” which means “power or might”. Sekhmet’s name suits her function and means “the (one who is) powerful”. She also was given titles such as the “(One) Before Whom Evil Trembles”, “Mistress of Dread”, “Lady of Slaughter” and “She Who Mauls”. (source: wikipedia)

However, it’s also an outdated moniker.  I’m a big believer in brand building, and my real name is just fine for that purpose.  It’s reasonably unique, and I’m fond of it: I think my mother did a fine job picking out my name.  I am Jillian-with-a-J.  It’s sometimes hard to spell and I get a lot of interesting variations but I like the aesthetics just fine.  I also like my surname of Tate, which I kept after marriage because, to me, my last name has always been part of my identity and I was happy to be able to keep it.

So now I own this domain!  I upgraded my WordPress to get rid of the ads too.  (YOU’RE WELCOME).  I suppose now that I’m updating here regularly I should clean it up a bit.