Not Enough Stress (or too much?)

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Avatar for JonicaBradley
2 years ago
Topics: Stress, Writing, Life

I looked pretty stressed out in this photo. But looks are deceiving. I was feeling great after a nearly 6-mile run.

Stress

I seem to have more than my fair share of stress. I don't think a person can live as full a life as I have lived and not have any stress. I have learned many techniques to cope with stress.

Writing

Writing is one of my main coping mechanisms when I am feeling super anxious and stressed out. But, I haven't been writing as much as usual these past couple of weeks? Why not? What the heck is going on in my life?

  • I've just quit smoking. That was extremely stressful. I was withdrawing and anxious.

  • The contract on our house purchase fell through. We have to find another house and put in an offer asap. This causes me no end of anxiety. I hate moving. I hate shopping. and shopping for a home so I can move halfway across the country engenders something more than hate in my heart.

  • I'm flying to Rochester in 5 days. Stressful? Oh, you betcha! An early morning one-hour drive to the airport. Over an hour of sitting around waiting to board. Sitting in cramped seats for a few hours just to deplane and waiting 3 hours to board another plane and sit cramped for more hours. Another 3-hour layover and finally, Way past my bedtime, waiting for our luggage to descend from the plane onto the luggage carousel. Hoping it didn't get lost like that one time I flew to the East coast for my brother's wedding. I had to attend that wedding in hastily bought clothes from Target. Our luggage didn't arrive until the day we flew back home. So, yeah. Traveling is stressful.

  • Packing up a home for a move is always stressful. Even if you give yourself plenty of time to pack. I've already started packing and we aren't moving until September at the earliest.

Packing my art supplies. Most of the boxes in the corner have already been packed and sealed.

  • Incessant wind blowing hot and cold day in and day out. Our whole house moves, shaking and rattling in the wind. The wind howls through the eaves and batters the front of the house. It stirs up the soil and creates a brown haze in the air making it incredibly difficult to breathe. The noise of it drives people crazy. It is driving me crazy as I type this.

So with all this stress, how come I'm not writing every second of every day? Can it be that I'm too stressed to write?

Actually, I'm not feeling the stress of all of these stressful activities and goings-on in my life. How am I not feeling them? Why am I writing so calmly in the face of current and potential future anxiety?

Running

It is all because I'm running again.

Stopping smoking meant weight gain. The last time I stopped smoking for 3.5 years, I gained 50 pounds in the first few months. I never did lose all of the weight I gained in 2013.

This time, I didn't want to gain weight. I can't afford to gain 50 pounds. I just can't.

In 2014, my cousin recommended a book to me. It was all about Micah True, an ultrarunner with the nickname of Caballo Blanco. He was also a barefoot runner. I read all about his running through the desert in Mexico. The book was Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I remembered my joy of running as a very young girl (the joy had faded by my teens - I started smoking when I was 10).

I wanted to be the next Caballo Blanco! I wanted to run.

So, I took my fat self to the doctor's office to see if I was even healthy enough to embark on an exercise as strenuous as running. I found out I was pretty unhealthy. High cholesterol, high blood sugar, low thyroid, fatty liver, and so on. The predictions were dire. The only things I had going for me, said the doctor, were that I had quit smoking and my blood pressure was perfect. He practically went down on his knees to beg me to lose weight.

I also learned I had pretty severe environmental allergies and allergy-related asthma. I had scars on my lungs from a bout of pneumonia after I contracted the Swine Flu in 2009.

But I was determined!

I started the long, slow slog to weight loss. I did end up losing about 35 pounds. I also gained muscle mass, which weighs more than fat by volume. It took me a very long time to be able to run 1 mile, then 2, and finally 3.10. I ran my first 5k here, locally. I trained for it for around 6 months. I ran another in Amarillo. It was a color run for breast cancer. My lungs really didn't like the powder they used for the color.

I got a job late in 2014 that made running and exercising even more difficult. I was leaving the house at 5:00 a.m. after rolling out of bed and doing some hasty pushups and crunches. And then I worked until late afternoon when it was too hot and I was too tired to really put much effort into running. I ran mostly on the weekends.

I signed up for a half marathon in Chicago where my best friend lived. I figured I had been around crowds in Amarillo, why not in Chicago? The crowds in Chicago were, well, crowdier. There were 3 races going on in the park that day. Over 30,000 people were there including vendors, friends, family, and well-wishers of the runners.

I freaked right the fuck out.

I didn't finish.

When I got back to Texas, and back to my job, I was so discouraged. I couldn't find my enthusiasm for running again. The next year, after a disaster of a visit to my mom's which left me in tears, I started smoking again.

That was the end of my running.

Until March of 2022.

I quit smoking and no longer work outside the home. There isn't a single thing stopping me from becoming the next Caballo Blanco!

I dusted off my old Nikes and set out. I was convinced it would take me another 6 months to reach that 5k running distance. I am still overweight. And though my bad cholesterol has come way down and although I am no longer considered diabetic, I still have scarring on my lungs and fatty liver. And low thyroid. And allergies. And allergy-related asthma.

I'm super proud of my nearly 6 miles running distance within the first 2 weeks of starting running (again).

I've been running regardless of the wind, the cold, the rain. I started out running 2 days on and 1 day rest. But I was having a lot of trouble waking up in the mornings. So I've switched (for now) to 1 day running and 1 day resting. I also am back to the pushups and ab exercises.

I think there may be something to the theory of muscle memory. I also think I've found my running mojo and am reveling in the joy of it.

Even when it is brutal because I'm running straight into 30mph wind that is getting sand in my ears even through my earbuds, I have the joy. Even when I can only run 5k because the wind is tearing the breath right out of my lungs. Even when I start the run huddled into my running shirt, shivering, hiding my hands from the cold.

I have the joy of it.

Meditation

Running has become a form of meditation for me. I have felt so relaxed (emotionally) even when I'm so sore all over my hair hurts. I listen to books while I'm running. And I keep listening when I go out to feed the goats. And I keep listening when I am doing dishes or laundry or sweeping or whatever.

Running and listening are better at emptying my mind than any form of meditation I've tried in the past. I don't know if it is the escape of fiction or the physicality of endorphins or both. But I feel no overwhelming stress. I have every right to feel stressed and anxious, but I don't.

Maybe if I did, I would write more.

I had just fallen and skinned my knee. I took the selfie to remind myself I could and did get right back up, shake it off, and keep going. Even on a rolled ankle and bruised and bleeding knee.

Beauty

I enjoy the beauty of nature and strange things found by the wayside. I stop to catch my breath for a few seconds and snap a pic. There are signs of spring in the air. Sometimes on my shorter runs, the ones running straight into the wind, the ones I have to fight for every breath, and my eyes sting either because sand is in them or because the cold wind is drying me out, I don't stop. I don't take photos. I don't notice beauty until I'm already home again.

This morning's daffodils

But the beauty is definitely there. And I am blissfully stress-free. I'm off to pack another box or something. Look at some more properties. Something...

Thanks for reading. Go find your beauty.

All images photos by Jonica Bradley

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Avatar for JonicaBradley
2 years ago
Topics: Stress, Writing, Life

Comments

Good for you , you quit smoking its for your own health

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2 years ago

And my wallet.

$ 0.00
2 years ago

So nice that you quit smoking..

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2 years ago

Thanks. It was, and is, still very difficult. I want to eat all the candy, now. That is just replacing I've bad habit with another. But, CANDY!

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2 years ago

one of the big cause to stress is doing smoking. You left it and did great job. I want to salute to you and respect to you for this job.

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2 years ago

Thank you!

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2 years ago

Excellent you quit smoking. Nice to see the scenary displayed in the picture. Nice selfie. You look more young while you run and keep fit your body.

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2 years ago

Thank you. I'm actually quite proud of my age, so I'm not too worried about looking younger. I've earned every gray hair and every wrinkle. I do think I will love a little bit longer, though.

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2 years ago

That's the positive spirit Mam.

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2 years ago

I don't know if it is a positive spirit or a realistic one. I still struggle with self-acceptance. I have a very low self esteem. But age, isn't part of that. I know, having lived the lifeI've lived, I could very easily have died 20, 30 years ago. So, I'm grateful for every day I've survived!

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2 years ago

Then truly you are tough and acceptable person.

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2 years ago

It's good to know you quit from smoking, that's a good thing, and keep it up losing your weight that was nice I do running too

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2 years ago

Do you love it? I have a lot of friends who run, but it is a struggle for them. They aren't in love with it like I am.

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2 years ago

I think stress has been a normal part of life, especially in these times. On the contrary, I do think you don't look stressed in the first picture above. 🤗

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2 years ago

My hair looks like I put my finger in an electric socket! Lol.

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2 years ago

I will find it soon Miss Jonica thanks for the reminder. I am amazed of how you managed everything from house to quiting smoke. You made a very good decision of not getting stress out Miss Jonica. Keep it up.

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2 years ago

I now need to start packing my suitcase!

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2 years ago

Good luck Miss

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2 years ago

Thank you.

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2 years ago

Ow strees is quite inevitable this time, but there is always a way to release it all

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2 years ago

Running is so excellent. And I managed to do 11 pushups on the ground today (as opposed to against the wall).

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2 years ago