Category Archives: Metacognition

Getting Out of My Own Head

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My goal for today is to get out of my own head.

Sound crazy?

Well, I realized that I’ve been bugged by things lately and have been composing responses in my own head.  It’s been filling up my “here and now” with anxiety, trying to come up with something to say that I won’t later regret.  Then, while I was cleaning in the kitchen (I have my best thoughts while doing something active), I noticed that I was “thinking” and not “being.”  I had ceased to live in the moment; I had stopped appreciating the present and instead was wrapping myself in a cocoon of words.

I then decided that I needed to just appreciate the moment in which I found myself and plan to re-read my Pema Chodron.  It fascinates me how much an Eastern philosophical approach to living really soothes the soul.  I see no conflict in embracing most aspects of Buddhism while maintaining my fundamental Christian beliefs.  In many respects, the two teach the same moral grounding.  The part which helps me most in a Buddhist approach is accepting that I can be the instrument of my own change, that my outlook can affect those around me.  Am I becoming Buddhist?  No.  I just appreciate the idea of spreading joy instead of hate, tolerance instead of bigotry.

The thing that has been preying on my mind is that there is so much a sense of moral superiority expressed by people who are heterosexual, white, Christian, middle-class.  I just don’t get it.  Is it just fear?  Why are people so afraid to be tolerant?

Apparently, “love” is a four-letter word in today’s society.

A Good Day

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Some days just seem to have that extra ease.  Things you’ve tried and tried before just seem to work.  Everything just sort of comes together without an extra fight.

Today is one of those days.

It just seemed as though from the moment my alarm went off today through the moment I am writing this that it seems to be a good day. 

Of course, it’s also Friday the 13th.  Maybe that has something to do with it.  Whatever the case, it’s been a great day.

I was up in plenty of time today and made pancakes for my kids and husband, got to have my coffee, got to read the paper, and even got out of the house earlier.  (And then remembered all the kids’ homework was on the table or the sofa and sent my husband madly dashing inside to retrieve it all.) 

We got the kids dropped off early, navigated through traffic handily, and got me dropped off to work extra early.  And I felt then as though I was buzzing – simply vibrating with good energy.  I found out how my friend gets her hair to look so amazingly good every day (Note to self: pick up Aussie leave-in spray conditioner and curl enhancer mousse), and I was on my game for dealing with other people.

It’s just one of those days when it feels good to be in my skin.  (Not like Monday.)

Perhaps one of the biggest things is that the stresses I’ve been under have been mostly handled.  The things that started going wrong early in the week have smoothed themselves out, and now I don’t have the worries.  I can use my energy to make progress instead of pick up the pieces from something that had broken.

Honestly, I think that’s one thing that defeats me so often – is when I seem to spend too much time trying to fix something instead of moving forward.  It’s as though I don’t want to be held in the past with something broken or unfinished; I want to make progress – I want to DO something. 

I guess that’s why it felt so good a few months ago to finally get rid of all the half-finished projects from the past 15 years and all the old stuff that was cluttering my life.  I didn’t need to mess with the old, unfinished or unstarted stuff – I needed to start fresh and have the chance to move forward. 

Maybe that’s also why not knowing what to do with something frustrates me so badly.  Because then I know I have to hang onto it until I know what to do with it.  It feels like I’m adding an extra piece of baggage, an extra weight to my shoulders with each unfinished task, with each stowed item or piled piece of paperwork.

I know lately I’ve been trying to set myself discrete tasks with a defined beginning and end – that way I can have task completion and a sense of accomplishment.  It’s been helping.

Bummed

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Okay, so things are going pretty good.  But, man, I just feel tired.  I feel bummed.  I just want to curl up and go to sleep and maybe not wake up until next week.

Except that’s not remotely feasible.

The negative talk inside my head is pretty loud today, as it often is on days when things just seem to stack up on the red ink side of the ledger.   In my heart, I know it’s not all bad, but I just feel too drained by dealing with it to want to sort through it all right now.

I just feel overwhelmed by my inadequacies and incompetence on so many things.  And so, so much of it is financial.

Sometimes I just wonder how I screwed my life up this badly.

And then I… I don’t know.  Either I shut down, or I depression eat, or I look on the good side, or I try to do something about it.   It’s just that when you’re in the pit, it’s hard to think it’s going to be better.  It’s so much easier to focus on how much of an idiot I was for missing the warning signs that I was about to fall into the pit in the first place.  At least cell reception is pretty good from inside the pit.  Then I can communicate with all my friends who are in pits of their own, albeit of varying depths and degree of sloggishness.

Maybe that’s where the idea of a “pit-y party” originated.  ‘Cause it looks as though I’m trying to throw a big one right now.

Screw it.  I’m going to go to yoga, get stuff done that needs to get done, and I’m going to slog through.  Maybe the pit is just a low spot on the mountain top after all.

Up Early and Easily

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You ever have one of those days where you plan to sleep in, you have given yourself complete permission to sleep in, it would be advisable to sleep in because you stayed up kind of late the night before, your spouse thinks that you’re going to sleep in, you don’t even set your alarm – and yet, you wake up early?  When I say early, I mean like five to ten minutes before you’d normally begin to suggest to your consciousness that getting out of bed would be a good idea on a work day?

Well, you guessed it – today was that day.  I think it may have largely been spurred by the fact that my husband and I were planning to switch cars for a time today, and I wasn’t 100% certain that I’d gotten everything I needed out of my car.  (I hadn’t.)  But the plus side was that I got to make breakfast for my husband (he won’t usually eat unless food is presented to him – otherwise he grabs an unhealthy snack that gives him calories but no nutrition), I got to sit down and really read the newspaper, I got to relax and enjoy my morning coffee, and I got to get all caught up on Facebook (which I have purposefully put as a low priority in my life this year).

I just feel at peace right now in my skin.

I know I have things I need to do, but I think I’ve got plenty of time in which to accomplish them, as opposed to my ground state of being, which is thinking I’ve got a lot of things to do and not enough time in which to do them.  That’s usually when I realize I have to let go of wanting to either get some things done or get them done to my standard.  My standards are usually pretty high, which is probably why I’m generally unsatisfied with myself.  There’s a bit of a disconnect between what I want to get done and what I get done, and I typically feel the chaos of that in my soul.

Today though, I feel pretty peaceful.

So, the big thing in my life right now is planning for my daughter’s birthday party.  It’s going to be a Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone themed party, and I want it to be to my standard.  And last night, I got the biggest friend-gift I could imagine – a professional graphic designer took my idea to create chocolate frog trading cards and sat with me last night to create the most amazing cards you could possibly envision.  She had even done preliminary research, so it saved us search time.  She spent 3+ hours of her time to craft these little works of art, making sure that they would be quality, print them on both sides so that they aligned perfectly, and then used her own materials to print out these little chocolate frog cards for the party.

If it hadn’t been a labor of love, being that she adores Harry Potter and really likes my daughter and we’re friends, I would have felt there was a great disparity between the amount of time we spent creating these things and how much impact they’ll have on the party.  However, it was this really cool project that I, for one, will treasure forever – not just because it will make the party totally and completely awesome to have “real” chocolate frog cards, but because someone that talented and creative used her skills and showed me the process she would go through to create these masterpieces.

And if I ever thought I had a high standard?  Well, I was happy to just get them printed on both sides, but she re-did them until it was perfectly registered so that when you cut them out, there is no white around the edges.  And I was just thinking of making them like regular trading cards, but she made them pentagonal and added special effects to the edges and background so that these treasures look more like the ones from the movie than the ones you can buy at Universal Studios in Florida!  How do I know?  People who’ve bought the chocolate frogs (at $10 each!) have posted images online.

Part of me wants to find some way to reimburse her, to show my appreciation for her time and efforts, but I know that it was truly a gift, and that trying to compensate her would cheapen the impact of her gift of time and talent.  I know that, but I still feel indebted to her for her complete awesomeness.  I know that I will accept these graciously and just try to make sure that I am as good a friend to her as I can be.  I think that’s what I would like if I did something this awesome for someone else.

Well, so that’s the chocolate frogs.  We’re also going to have Diagon Alley, classes at Hogwarts, a feast in the Great Hall, and the movie.  That’s all probably grist for another post later.

Giving a Little

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I’ve come to realize that giving a little isn’t enough.  It’s a constant in life, at least if I want to have any quality of life and any sense of self-worth.  When I stop and sit on my laurels, I don’t actually have a sense of pride and accomplishment.  Instead, I have a general feeling of guilt that I didn’t step up and volunteer for something. 

When people say, “But you already do so much,” that to me is a cop-out.  I always argue this, because I never feel that I’ve done enough.  Yes, I have done a lot, yes, I will continue to do a lot, and yes, I truly think that what I did could have been done better or more fully.

See, I seldom think I did the absolute best job volunteering for something.  Usually, I realize I didn’t put in top-notch effort, and I think of how much better something could have turned out if I had, in fact, put in the amount of effort and planning I should have.  And yet, I know that if *I* don’t volunteer, it might not get done at all.  So I have this bizarre sense that I need to help out, but I don’t put all the effort into it that I could, and so people feel good that it gets done, but it doesn’t get done the way it would if one of the uber-super-awesome people volunteered to do it.

I think the reason I don’t commit fully to these tasks is that I don’t genuinely have the passion for them, and I am just stepping up to do them because no one else will.  I know it’s different when I truly feel inspired to take on a project – that’s when I devote myself to it fully, and I really try my best to make it work, not just to make it through.

I think I need to come to a place where I can allow myself to let go of the resentment I feel about being “forced” to volunteer for things.  If I can let go of that underlying feeling of resentment, I think I will be able to live more fully in the task and do as good of a job as it requires, not just limping along with it. 

My fear of doing it poorly also plays into this.  I don’t want to do a bad job of things, but I often don’t feel particularly passionate about doing them, so I procrastinate until the final product is “the best I can do at the last minute.”  If I can just let go of the fear of doing it poorly, let go of the resentment about doing it at all, and embrace the task, I think I’ll be able to make volunteering, giving, a rewarding instead of taxing.

I actually tried not volunteering for something this year at my kids’ school.  No one else stepped up to the plate to make it happen.  My kids, who had enjoyed participating in it last year, did not get the opportunity to be a part of it this year.  In all honesty, I didn’t feel equal to the task, and I wasn’t keen on the time commitment, but the fact of the matter remains that my unwillingness to take it on meant that no one got to participate.  The task for which I did volunteer was not done really well, but at least it meant that everyone in the school could be part of it, and one student went on to the state level of competition (not that I had anything to do with that student’s individual accomplishment). 

So even on those days when I feel that I have given enough, it just means that I need to let go and ask what else I can give.  And maybe, just maybe, that will mean I might set a good example for my kids.

Blah Day

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I stumbled out of bed today with a serious case of the Blahs.  I simply didn’t sleep well, and I was not ready for today to begin quite so… soon.

And then I had the daggers to my heart experience when I dropped my kids off for daycare at a “new” location.  See, I get to work today, and my kids have the day off school because of a teacher inservice.  So, I signed them up for their normal daycare all day today, but it’s at a different campus in their district.  I actually got them there on time and without any hiccups, but when I went to take them inside, the little one said, “I’m scared.”  The older one gave me sad puppy-dog eyes when I went to kiss her goodbye, and said, “Why do I have to stay all day?” 

You know, simply explaining that both their father and I have to work and we need a safe place to put them didn’t do the trick of alleviating the pain of that look.  Intellectually, I knew that the girls would probably have a great day once they forgot about having a bad one, but it didn’t make me feel any better about them being sad in the first place.

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And so I started off writing about how it was a blah day, and I wound up having a really rather great day.  I was more productive than I’ve been in many days, actually getting things done on my To-Do list, working to finalize orders and take care of a billing discrepancy and really be “present” for the day. 

And now it’s a blustery cold but sunny day, and I’m going to take off and pick up my kids.  Tonight I’m going to see if they want to play a game before I try the Tuesday night yoga for the first time.  And, by golly, I’m going to read them some Harry Potter.

Value Added

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So the other day, I threw a huge pity party.  I didn’t call it that myself, mind you.  It was aptly labeled by my best friend.  I was on a tear about how the world would be so much better simply without me in it.  I was too expensive, I didn’t accomplish anything meaningful, I’d yelled at my kids, I was running late, I was stuck behind a major accident in traffic, I had gotten scratched by my dog because I was yelling at him to get in the crate, my husband’s “car” broke down and it took me nearly an hour to get to help him, it was freezing cold and raining, I hadn’t had a home-cooked healthy breakfast, and I was drinking Whataburger coffee.

I was seriously questioning my whole value of existence, thinking that it would be much better if I somehow suddenly died and my husband and kids could benefit from the life insurance.

And then today happened.

Well, actually, last night happened first.  Last night, I had put the kids to bed, had cleaned up in the kitchen, had put the finishing touches on lunches for today, and had poured myself a glass of wine.  I’d just taken a sip of wine when my oldest comes in for a goodnight kiss.

I kiss her, she stops, looks at me, and asks, “Have you been drinking alcohol?”

I say, “Yes, I have a glass of wine.”

She asks why, so I tell her that it’s because I read that having a glass of wine every night is good for you if you are at high risk of heart attack or stroke, both of which run in my family, and because of the hypertension issues I’ve been experiencing.  She then traipsed off to bed, and I thought nothing more of it.

Come this morning, I drop her off at school, and she is bawling.  She is crying her eyes out.  At first, I think it’s because she thinks her coat got lost, but then she tells me that she cried herself to sleep last night thinking that I was going to have a heart attack or stroke!  I get her inside, cuddle her, and tell her that I am doing everything I can to prevent that happening.  That’s *why* I am working out and losing weight and watching my blood pressure and meditating and taking yoga and, yes, drinking a glass of wine.

So I came out of that experience realizing that, even if I think I’m doing an awful job at being a person and a mom and everything else, there’s one very important person in this world who would be devastated if I wasn’t here.  It’s humbling… and good.  It’s like an anchor to the present.  I’ve got to be here, regardless of how painful or crazy or frustrating it gets.  I’ve got to be here even if I feel as though I’m flubbing it entirely, and I’ve got a reason to hold it together.  I might not add much value to the world, but I am the world to one of the most important people in mine.

Anatomy of a Day

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So, why haven’t I made an effort to keep up with blogging?  Well, I realized it’s largely because of time.  I have time to compose when it is the least possible for me to be able to actually write.  Then, when I have time, it’s generally stolen from something else – like sleep.

So, to make me feel better about myself and my general lack of ability to get anything meaningful accomplished, I wanted to set out the anatomy of my day:

5:20 – Alarm goes off

5:30-5:40 – Finally get out of bed

5:40-5:50 – Contacts, Hair, Clothes

5:50-6:05 – Wake and dress kids

6:05-6:35 – Breakfast, kids’ hair, read newspaper

6:35-6:45 – Get everyone out to the car plus all the stuff

6:50-7:00 – Drop kids at school

7:00-7:20 – Commute (usually run a bit late)

7:20-3:45 – Work

3:50-4:25 – Commute

4:30-4:45 – Pick kids up (Why does this always take SO long?)

4:50 – Arrive home.  Begin preparing dinner, have kids play outside before it gets dark at 5:30.

5:20-5:50 Dinner.

6:00 (Monday gymnastics for kids) Usually go over homework, have play time, sometimes have movie time, dishes, computer time for adults

6:45-8:20 – Yoga (Monday, Thursday)

7:00 – Start getting kids ready for bed – showers, brush teeth, set out clothes, lunches ready, homework checked, stories read

8:00 – Bedtime for kids

8:00-9:30 or 10:00 – What do I really do with this time?  I have no idea.

10:00 – Sleep

Commitments:

* Occasional after work meetings which keep me away from home longer.

* Meetings for the girls the first Monday of the month and the first and third Tuesday of the month.

* Gymnastics Mondays.

* Yoga (Mondays and Thursdays, and I’m trying to get to where I go Tuesday and Wednesday)

Okay, so looking at this, I actually can see some places where I do have some spots of time.  I really do have some time that I need to maximize between 6 and 7pm and from 8-10pm.  That early time I would like to focus on doing something with the kids before they go to bed, whether it’s games, reading, homework, or just being together.  I should probably cut out some of the Netflix time they get and not bother getting on the computer myself until they’re in bed.

After they’re in bed, I should get myself set for the next day, get some chores done, and sit down to blog or paint or something to actualize myself.

I’d really like to get to the point where I don’t have to spend any time preparing dinner.  I’d like to have it microwave-ready or something.  Just spend one day, like Sunday night, getting everything prepped for the week, and then just warm it up.  But how well would that really work, I wonder?  I suppose I can try it and see.

I guess halfway into week two of January that my new resolve is to make better use of my time to get more accomplished, both with quality time and with chores.  If I can be more productive at home and waste less time, I think it will help.

Predictably, It’s a New Year

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Along with the approximately fifteen billion other New Year’s resolutions I’ve made (Why can’t I just stick with one? Perhaps because I see so much room for improvement every year.), I’ve decided to set a goal of 30,000 words in my blog this month.  That means that each day I need to crank out something deep.  It’s kind of daunting, really.  I looked back on most of my other posts, and they average about 500 words.  That means I really have to up the ante.  And that’s a double-edged sword.  I like to keep things short and pithy.  On the other hand, juicing it up to 1,000 words per day means that I’m going to be forced to either really dive into my subject matter or write about a lot of trivial stuff.  Hmmmm… yeah, I think I’ll try to avoid the catalog of days and go for the fun stuff.

It’s funny, though.  Nearly every year at some point I try to keep a journal.  It never lasts even half-way into January.  I go strong for a couple of days, and then I realize that what I’m writing is just a schedule of the day – or I forget and get bogged down in guilt.  Or I can’t think of what to write.  Or I’m too tired, have too much to do, have to do something with my kids, or generate some other excuse.  Maybe this time around with a concrete goal in mind and all two of the people actually reading this, I’ll have some incentive to keep going.  That is something, you know.  Journals are for yourself.  I mean I never intend for anyone to read my journals.  I have no audience for them.  This blog?  Well, it’s published.  People can see it.  People can read it.  And that’s its purpose.  Maybe I just lost the point of writing without an audience, even a quiet one.

My resolutions are very focused this year.  I am much more goal-oriented – like the 30,000 word count above – and I want to be able to have a sense of accomplishment.  Also, they’re primarily about my health.  I had been on the protein/vegetable regimen until Christmas break.  Then I tossed it completely out the window.  At first, I tried to hang on to it with only minor deviations.  That worked okay, right up until I made these ridiculously delightful chocolate chocolate chip cookies for Santa and a chocolate cake for my husband’s birthday.  Yeah.  Well, I believe I’ve already mentioned my weak spot for cake.  I thought the cookies were safe – and they would have been had I simply not tried them fresh out of the oven with their gooey melting chocolatey goodness.  And I ate a lot of cake, too.

Then I decided that I would start to get back on track the day after Christmas.  It was a brilliant plan.  I had things pretty well set.  And then I binged on candy.  And then I had everything in the known universe that has an evil caloric count, saturated fat, salt, and sugar.  That’s when I realized why I needed to do that then.  I needed to get the desire to have those foods out of my system.  Seriously.  None of the stuff I ate sat well in my stomach.   They made me sick, bloated, gaseous, and just about everything you could think of as a nasty reaction to food.  So I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the foods I crave when I’m on my meal plan don’t actually satisfy me.   Now I can sit back and think, Hey, that funnel cake is just greasy sugar, and you know what that’ll do to you!  I even coached my girls to warn me not to eat some of the foods I tend to crave.  Very much along the lines of having a little conscience chirping in your ears.

So, I trashed the whole meal plan idea until yesterday.  It was the day before New Year’s, so it was a step up and it wasn’t going along with the crowd.  Then, shebam!  I started back on the meal plan yesterday and decided that it was worth it to stick to a regimen if I could continue to wear all the size 12 pants I’d just gotten handed over to me.  Besides, between you and me, I’d just passed along all my 14’s, 16’s, and 18’s to another friend.  So it was stay on track or go nekkid.  Fortunately for the eyesight of thousands, when I tried on my 12’s today, they fit just fine.  I had secretly harbored this fear last week that I had over-indulged so badly that the only reason the pants I was wearing fit at all was because they had stretched to accommodate me and that I would rip the seams out of another pair if I tried them on.  So much so that I wore the same pair of jeans all week without washing them.  Such are my irrational fears.

As added incentive to not having larger clothes and having really cute 12’s, I also bought myself a new swimsuit so that I would take the girls swimming at the gym more.  Yeah, I got a 12.  My old swimsuit was not only literally falling apart, but was so baggy and saggy that small tribes of aborigines could have comfortably moved in to occupy the extra space as tent shelters.

So, here’s the breakdown of my major health resolutions:

Health –

  • Stick to my menu for two weeks before serious deviations.  (I know I’m going to go off plan for some fun night, but I want that to be after I’ve reestablished my body’s downward trend.  Date night this weekend is going to have to be creative around the food issue, let me tell you.)
  • Get down to a size 10. (I’m a 12 right now, so that’s feasible.  Realistically, I should say my goal is an 8, but I have never been that small before, and the number intimidates me.  I want to attain these goals, not set myself up for failure.  Though, to be honest, I didn’t think I’d really be in a 12 weeks before Christmas.  I thought that was just a pipe dream.)
  • Go to yoga 3 times per week.  (They offer the classes nearly every day.  I would like to go very frequently, but I also want to give myself room to be human here and have some other obligation.  With two kids, it’s only a matter of time.)
  • Lower my blood pressure. (Reduced salt, reduced weight, increased physical activity, and a determination to not think about the stress with my family.  I’ve been reading a Buddhist book called Start Where You Are, and it has really helped me see things differently.  I was ready to let go of the anger and pain, and the book’s teachings spoke on a level comfortable and approachable to me.)
  • Take a daily vitamin. (I bought Women’s One-A-Day because I was fairly sure that the foods to which I am restricting myself are not all-inclusive on the vitamin front.  Also, the meal plan calls for a daily vitamin anyway.  I’m also sneaky, and I bought Gummy Vitamins for the kids.  I grab a couple of those when I desperately crave a hit of something sweet.)
  • Drink 80 ounces of water per day. (This is so hard for me to do at home.  For some reason, at work it’s easier.  So I looked at the bottled water they sold at the store and figured that each bottle of 16.9 ounces costs me roughly 10 cents.  I can drink 5 of those and get my 80 ounces.  That’s 50 cents per day.  That’s pretty cheap for a weight loss plan or supplement.  Now, sometimes I’m a good girl and refill one bottle all day long, but I have a hard time doing that at home.  I don’t know what the hang-up is, but it’s very real.  If I’m out of bottled water, I don’t drink water.  Sure, I’ll pour myself a glass of filtered water.  Sure, I’ll tell myself it’s important to drink it, but I don’t get near the volume with that approach as I do when I can just suck down a bottle.  It’s a bizarre non-green, environmentally-unfriendly habit.  I compromise.  I recycle the used bottles.)
  • Start meditating before bed. (I’ve not actually done this before.  I’m worried that I will tap into the “monkey brain” instead of finding peace and that I’ll wind up thinking about 15 billion things I didn’t get done during the day that will then haunt me and plague my dreams until I wake up, take care of them, and then spend the next three hours trying desperately to grab some shut-eye.  I’m going to try the Buddhist approach coupled with prayer to attempt to still my mind before bed.  That’s the meditation I want to achieve.  Stillness.)

Okay, so I managed to have verbal diarrhea to the point that I have 15oo words in this post.  That kind of worries the internal editor in me, making me think I should really go back and pare down the excess verbiage, but the goal-setter is kind of tickled – and kind of glad that I’ve got a 500 word cushion for that day when I just can’t think of anything else to say.

Hi, Blood Pressure!

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Soooooooooo.

Well, today, I found out that I can have skyrocketing blood pressure with little or no effort.

I also, and more healthfully, discovered that I can have amazingly low blood pressure.

In the course of the same day.

To get the extra-super-spiffy high blood pressure, it only took a text from my brother.  Two, actually.

I got these wonderful missives right when I found out that my daughters each have four cavities, and I was checking out at the dentist’s office.  I was also almost running late for a gynecologist appointment at a new office I’d never been to before.  In the rain.

When they took my blood pressure the first time, I told them that it would be sky-high.  I was right.  I told them to take it again at the end of the appointment, and it would be lower.  I was right.  (Of course, it helped that the doctor had to go deliver a baby, so I used the extra time to do some deep breathing exercises.)

He told me that I needed to take my blood pressure at random times throughout the day over the next 4-6 weeks and keep a record of it.  During this time, I’m supposed to keep on my diet (the doctor’s scale must be off – it said I had lost 3-4 pounds since Thursday), exercise more, and try meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.  He said, “You wouldn’t believe the benefits of doing yoga.  I’ve got people who really turned around their health when they started yoga.”  Go figure.  Heck, I’m game.

Then, when I got home, after all the evening stuff, I luxuriated in a hot bath.  When I got out, I was putty.  I curled up on the sofa with my cat, Sam, and just existed for a while.  Then I suggested to my husband that I get my blood pressure taken some time when I was actually relaxed and petting a cat.  (Petting a cat is key, here.  It is one of the most soothing things for me, and the mere mental image of my hand stroking through the soft hair is enough to steady and slow my pulse rate.)

Up he jumped to go get his own handy-dandy home blood pressure machine.  Heaven alone knows from whence it came, but come it did.  I kid you not, my blood pressure dropped 40+ points from its earlier peak.  40.  That’s in each systolic and diastolic.  And yes, the home machine is accurate.

My friend told me that if my brother tries to communicate with me again, I should tell him, “I’m sorry, my doctor says I’m not allowed to talk to you.”  And if he persists, to say, “Did you not understand what I just said?  My doctor says I’m not allowed to talk to you.”  And leave it at that.

Right now, feeling my blood pressure spike just thinking about the possibility, I’d have to agree with my doctor on this one.