Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pleasant Activities

In my program, we have weekly supervision for our practicum at the clinic. This means we meet for 1 hour of individual supervision and 2 hours per week  for group supervision. Group is a time to talk about cases, get feedback from peers about complications, questions, concerns or frustrations we're encountering as student therapists. This is also a time for us to get some didactic training and learn skills to implement in therapy.
So in my group supervision today, we were assigned a task.
"Pleasant Activities" is a tool we sometimes use in cognitive-behavioral therapy for clients.
Our supervisor thought that:
A. Since practicum applications are due in the next few weeks and we all seemed pretty worthless and exhausted it would be a good idea to get us doing things we enjoy
and B. That it's always helpful as therapists if we partake in the activities ourselves so we know what we're asking our clients to do.
So for this week, we are to come up with a list of 10 pleasant activities, and track the activities we partake in during the say, and a mood score at the end of the day. 0 being horrible to 10 being wonderful..(pretty much).
These activities can be anything we take pleasure in. These can be bigger things that take a fair amount of time, or even small things that take only minutes.
Now, since these are things that I theoretically should be able to accomplish over the next week (while I'm tracking) I left off the impossible such as: sex, going on a date, cuddling, etc since having a long distance relationship makes all of those things unattainable for the next 7 (but actually more like 25) days. I also left off things that I know I will not be able to do in the next week, such as: take a vacation, go bowling, etc.
So after much debate (in my own mind, of course) I have developed my 10 pleasant activities and they are as follows (and in no particular order):

1. "Rocking out" (singing loudly) in my car while driving
2. Baking
3. Cooking
4. What I have deemed as the "Running Aftermath" (since I absolutely LOATHE the feeling before/during/after running, and find ZERO enjoyment in that aspect.... but have found that I tend to have more energy and better days overall on the days I run, I am calling this the "Running Aftermath" and that, I do find pleasant).
5. Pooping 
6. Reading for pleasure (so, nothing school related!)
7. Watching my weekly shows on TV, and not catching up online later (so getting to watch Gossip Girl, Glee, New Girl, etc when they actually air)
8. Dancing
9. Organizing: room/clothes/shelves/etc
10. Planning Vacations

What I have come to realize about my list is that none of them (aside from #7) are sedentary, or without purpose. All the activities I've listed are active, in terms of achieving something, producing something or accomplishing something.
I do not have anything on here that would be deemed as "relaxing" ....although reading could be, but aside from that (and even then, depending on what I'm reading, I'm still learning/absorbing). There is no mention on this list of 'sitting in a park', 'meditating', 'taking a bath', or 'relaxation breathing'.
I'm much too high strung for that I think. Which is ironic, maybe?
When I'm stressed out, it is usually involving feeling pressed for time, rushed, on a budget/limit/time constraint of sorts, so the thought of 'taking a break' to do something relaxing, actually just stresses me out more.
I think I have a need to feel like I'm being productive 24 hours of every day.
Maybe that is why my dreams are always so intense and vivid and I remember them in their entirety. Even when I'm sleeping, my brain feels like it has to be processing information on full speed.
If I am stressed out, I want to have the feeling of being able to complete/produce/accomplish in order to feel worth something. Hence the baking/cooking/organizing/planning items on my list.
Although, I'm not sure which category "rocking out" really falls under. Certainly not "relaxing" or "sedentary".
And for those who caught #5... I deem that as highly productive. Staying regular is a part of the body working, producing and accomplishing ;)

*Edit: So, about a half an hour after I wrote this post, I started to think about the activities I'd listed. I came to the realization that none of my activities involve other people, or being outside of my apartment for that matter (aside from "rocking out")
That kind of make me a little bit sad, I think.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Birthday Surprises

So this weekend, despite all the insanity that is graduate school, was my boyfriend's birthday.
Thankfully, I managed to put all school things related on hold for the few days he was here.
Actually, that is not entirely correct.
My school decided a month or so ago, that we would have a mandatory Saturday class.
Only 1 per month so it wasn't a total drag, except...you guessed it. That Saturday class would fall on my boyfriend's birthday weekend visit. Despite that, I had hoped to make it as wonderful as possible.
As a surprise, I took him to see a musician he really likes.
regardless of his countless questions and probings, I actually managed to keep it a secret until we showed up to the location of the show, and he saw the guy on stage.
The 3rd time I ever hung out with my boyfriend, I was actually supposed to meet him to watch Craig Carothers at the Kennedy School in Portland. I showed up late, and missed the show. This was in February 2011. It just so happened that Craig was playing in a city about 10 minutes from my place down here in the Bay Area on the weekend my boyfriend was in town for his birthday.
Almost a year later, and we get to see Craig Carothers play together. It was an awesome show, and Craig is really an awesome guy. He came and talked to us a number of different times during breaks, etc. He spent time talking with a lot of his fans which I feel like is rare to see in performers nowadays .

I also surprised my boyfriend with a cake I baked and other little various things.. He is not a big fan of cake. He mentioned once that he carrot cake is the only cake he does like. So of course, I searched for a recipe and tweaked it slightly to accommodate for my liking and made homemade frosting to accompany it.
Now, other than my 5th grade frosting skills and glitter writing, it turned out pretty good for my first attempt.
Overall, I think he was pretty surprised and I know he was very thankful.
I feel like it was a sucessful birthday weekend.
The only problem (besides the fact that my boyfriend was only in town for about 3 days) is that now, all that school work I placed on hold for those few days, is coming crashing down on me.
So much to do, and not enough energy to do any of it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Smash Book really does seem like a smashing idea.

                                                      (Video taken from YouTube)
I've never heard of one of these. It is called a Smash Book.
I think this is something I will need to be obtaining. It's everything I've always done, but a book that has convenient supplies to go with it that make it all go together in organized chaos, which is how everything in my life tends to be...so it's only fitting.
I already have a little notebook that I write down little quotes/thoughts to remember/ etc.
I had one in High School and I absolutely cherish it. Now, if I had one of these.. I could make use of all those papers etc that I refuse to throw away, but remain in the bottom of drawers and stuffed in between books waiting indefinitely for a home.
This is on my *someday* list, you know when I have extra money to spare... so maybe 10 years from now :/

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Running: remember that?

Yeah, I don't either.
It's been 2 months since I last went on a run.
There were a multitude of things that seemed to get in the way of it.
  • I was having problems with my left knee, it was pretty bad to the point where I was icing it multiple times a day so that scared me a bit and I didn't want to do anything to damage it further.
  • It is also winter, and even in California...it gets to be 38-45 degrees in the morning and that is hard to run in that type of weather (at least for me, I know there are crazy folks who do it)
  • And breaks.. I was up in WA/OR for a good chunk of that time. I am fine with running up there, expect that the mornings there are 25-30 degrees and that is for sure entirely too cold to run in (although, again...I saw many crazy folks who do it) I think if I were up there constantly, and I was running regularly I would get used to the gradual drop in temperature but coming from here those 10-15 degrees difference are a big difference.
Regardless, despite all my excuses, however valid they may be.. they are just that. Excuses.
Today, I went running for the first time in 2 months.
Now, remember here, when I say "running" I mean my "pathetic excuse for a jog" which is close to running as I am capable of at this point.
I remembered today how much I really hate running.
So to recap:
Back in November, I was averaging 1.5 miles about 2-3 times a week. I had a pretty consistent pace around 13 min/mile. I had just began to work on decreasing my min/mile aiming at a 10 minute mile. (Remember these are goals for myself, not for the average person, since the average person does not seem to have any trouble running a 10 min mile in the first place).
Since I had not run in two months, I was worried about what I was capable of, how I would do, how my knee would feel, etc.
-I debated just doing a walk. I used to walk a lot and can walk for miles. I enjoy walking, but since I've started running, and know that I am now capable of more than just walking, it makes me feel like I am not doing all I could do...if that even makes any sense?
-Then I thought maybe I'd do some of the run/walk intervals I started out with to get into running in the first place. Those are helpful and don't cause too many problems for me.
-Then I decided... I just need to run.
(this all happened will laying in bed this morning, reluctant to get up)

I took up running when I was in a really bad, horrible place in my life and needed a way out that was not the other methods of self-abuse I had developed. Running is my own form of self-harm (because I absolutely despise it) that is a positive alternative to the things I was doing. I refuse to let running be one of the many things I randomly decide to take up and then abandon because I lose faith in my ability to succeed.
I have to just keep running. No matter how slow I am going, no matter how many people around me are doing it better, doing it more often, and going further... I can't give up. I owe it to myself on so many levels to keep going.

So today, January 14th 2012: I ran 1 mile/12:50min. 
Now all in all, this isn't that great. nothing to write home about.
What is does tell me, is that despite taking a 2 month hiatus, I am still capable of running a mile.
The first time I ever ran a mile in my entire life (almost 30 years here on this planet) was in summer of 2011.
6 months ago I ran my first mile ever, and here I am 6 months later...with a 2 month break...and I still did it.
Today, I will be proud of myself.
Proud of the very small accomplishment on the grand scale of accomplishments.
I can still run a mile.
I just have to keep running.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Perpetually 10 minutes late

Just like that... I'm back into the thick of it.
As the end of my first week back at school comes to a close...I'm absolutely, incredibly, without a doubt...EXHAUSTED.
It's unbelievable how much a person can actually cram into one day.
Gone are the days where the only thing on the agenda was school, or just a shift at work.
My days are jam packed from the time I open my eyes until I am finally able to sit down and take a breath 12 hours later...only to wake up and do a laundry list of other things the next day, even though I still haven't finished everything I was supposed to the day before.
I go from class, to seeing a client, to working on research,  reading articles, then going to a night class, or its hours of research responsibilities, to seeing a client, to seeing another client, to more research, to an appointment, then back for research meeting  and remembering at 7:15pm that you have paperwork that must be completed before 8pm or a practicum fair in San Fransisco in the morning then back down to the south bay to work a closing shift.
I don't know how it's possible, but I seem to forget at the beginning of each quarter how much school takes over your life, your time, your sleep, your mind, your sanity.
Each quarter I spend the first 2 weeks drowning in my responsibilities until I eventually, manage to construct a temporary floatation device that seems to hold up just long enough for me to survive finals but seems to deteriorate and is no where to be found come the next quarter.
I am a planner, I prefer to come prepared, on time and ready for what life has for me.
Graduate school makes this damn near impossible...and the first few weeks of the quarter, this yearning to be prepared and to be able to plan is an absolutely unattainable desire.
I just need to settle into this new schedule. I've some how managed to set myself up for an excruciatingly difficult quarter. My responsibilities are swallowing me whole.
Every moment of every day feels like I'm the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.
Where I got this photo
"I'm late, I'm late...for absolutely every possible thing I'm supposed to be doing today!"
I got back from the PNW on Tuesday afternoon, it's Friday evening. I've yet to unpack, I bought only a few survival items from the grocery store in order to avoid starving, my papers from last quarter and this quarter are on every shelf, stuffed in every space near my desk in complete disarray. 
Thank my lucky stars I have tomorrow off from EVERYTHING!
I will be spending probably 8 of the hours reading for classes/preparing for practicum/research duties...
but for the other hours I am awake and not glued to my computer.. I plan to do laundry, maybe unpack, and certainly try and get my life a little more organized.
And for sanity purposes... I should see which of my favorite shows started up again with new episodes and give my brain a rest and catch up on some of those online ;)
Hmm.. that sure sounds like a lot to cram into one "free" Saturday. Some of those things will have to wait. Most likely the unpacking.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My very own blog word cloud

My sister sent me a link to something she did on this site that
I've never heard of:
It is a site that allows you to take either a section of
writing, blog, article etc and it apparently analyzes the
words used in it. It is called a word cloud. The words most often used
are in bold and are larger than the others.
She was supposed to be doing some sort of assignment with it but instead was playing around on the site and did one of my blog:

I think this is just absolutely wonderful :) It made my heart happy to
see months worth of writing, all summed up into one picture.
The words I apparently use most often seem pretty standard to
what I believe my posts to be about:
School, Life, Responsibilities, Time, Balance.
It's like I told my sister though, I cannot believe STRESS is not the biggest one of
them all! ;)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vacation Schmacation.

And I'm back down in the Bay.
Flew in at 1pm. Was in the clinic by 2pm. Class by 5pm.
Seriously? It's over? break is gone and I'm back to reality just like that?
Man..I don't know the meaning of the words "vacation" or "break".
And I get to wake up at 7am tomorrow and I don't get to come home until I'm done with class at 8pm.
Hello life as a grad student, I haven't missed you one bit.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Interest in Pinterest

I was recently introduced to Pinterest.
I still don't quite know what to make of it. My sister described it as this:
"Think about if you were going through a bunch of magazines looking for inspiration/ideas for hair/style/decorating/organizing/fitness whatever you fancy, and tearing out different things you find that you think would be a good idea. It's like doing that, but with the internet"
The site allows you to "pin" the things you like and place them on your board into whatever categories you like.
For instance, I have a Recipes board and one for, Style, Home and Hair and Beauty too.
That way everything that looks like a good idea or something I want to try I can just "pin" it and have it all in one place at my fingertips whenever I please instead of saving a million sites and blogs in my Bookmarks.
It's a good time waster any way. You can follow what other people are doing too so you can search for ideas or you can just watch what comes up through other people and get ideas that way.
Today I told myself I'd do at least some of the 100 pages worth of reading articles that I have due for next week.
That did not get accomplished.
But on the upside, I "pinned" some pretty delicious looking recipes I'm excited to try when I get back down to CA ;)

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Resolution

I'm always late for these things. Every year I say I'm going to do it on time, and then I never seem to get around to it.
Perhaps something about procrastination should make the list this year. We'll see.

My resolution for 2011:
"My new year's resolution this year is to work on achieving balance....
a balance between school and my personal life
between studying and down time and socializing...
Last quarter ate me alive. I didn't make necessary time for all those things, thinking I had to focus on school completely.
While school really is important and is ultimately why I'm here, if I'm not emotionally and personally content I can't actually give my best at school, to those around me, or to myself."

I would say that I was able to follow through with that, for the most part. There were definitely parts of 2011 that went more smoothly with this than others, but overall I think I did a pretty good job at at least making an effort to achieve that balance. 
All that being said, I still believe keeping a balance between all of those things should be a life long goal, or a value rather that you live your life around. I think it's important for all of us to make sure we take the time to enjoy our lives, our friends, our families and our responsibilities as well. 
Yes..I just said enjoy our responsibilities. 
It's so easy to take for granted the things we are responsible for. The job we dread waking up for, the little children in our lives who at times feel like such a burden (be that our actual children, nieces, nephews, godchildren or otherwise) We all have responsibilities for the children who depend on us for whatever role it is we may play in their lives. We have responsibilities for the homework, study time, reading, to our family obligations, our friends and ourselves. We are responsible for taking care of ourselves. 
Instead of spending so much time stressing about these responsibilities, we should instead, remember to take time to be thankful we have them. Thankful we have people in our lives who trust us with theirs. Thankful people share their hearts with us. Maybe not everyone shares as much as we'd like, or there are people we wish would share with us but choose not to....there are always people who do. That is too easily forgotten because we focus on what we don't have, can't obtain, missed out on and cannot achieve.

I guess through this contemplation of my last year's resolution I have stumbled upon this years. 
My new years resolution for 2012 is to focus on what I can do, what I'm capable of and what I am able to work toward. Focusing on the cans instead of dwelling on the cannots. 

This is going to be difficult for me. I am so easily discouraged with negative feedback, bad reviews and poor grades. I am so quick to talk myself out of the things I want because I don't believe in myself enough to achieve them. I get caught up in all the reasons I won't be able to accomplish something when things do not work out in my favor, instead of trying to figure out what else I can do to reach my goal. I think in terms of where I am at with school and my life this is going to be a really important thing for me to struggle with. I look forward to the challenge. 

Less excuses, more alternative options.