New Year’s 2017 UnResolutions with tips for those with depression, anxiety, recovery, or any chronic illness

There are two magic words: fuck that.

Repeat after me: fuck that.

Now say it more often (in your mind that is). Don’t get into trouble or try to start a fight. The last thing I want is for you to get a black eye.

It’s a mindset. It’s not about being mean-spirited, rude, or angry. Nothing wrong in anger over injustice. That can motivate you to do something about it. Doing something out of unrestrained or uncontrolled anger does nothing other than regret and trouble. Having constant anger problems and poor attitude is clearly a problem.

Beyond the literal language, fuck that is the raw attitude of no longer bothering with petty things or tolerating toxic attitudes, situations, people, behaviors, and deeds. It’s about not giving a damn about things beyond my control. It’s about boundaries, doing things that work for me instead of allowing myself to be controlled by others through manipulation. It’s also about going for what I want without shame, radical self-care, and allowing for radical transformation to take place. I will stand strong.

Last year, it was all about replacing those clichéd resolutions with visions, prophecies, revelations that I loosely described as anti-resolutions. These are easier than resolutions because it sets the tone for the rest of the year rather than a task list that’s forgotten by March.

From last year, it’s still a continuation. I feel about 80% of myself today. That’s better than feeling 20% of myself in 2013. Concentration is still difficult for me. Occasionally, I get very exhausted. Moments of confusion and disorientation is still significantly lower than before, but occasionally creeps up. When this occurs, it’s not very obvious but I appear like I’m spaced out, daydreaming, or distracted; and lasts for a very short time. It’s annoying and frustrating. And did I mention dealing with discrimination? This doesn’t affect my intelligence. I have to be in order to complete graduate school and live a life of a solopreneur.

This year, it isn’t about a list of tasks. It’s all about undoing. Am I advocating for laziness? Absolutely not. It’s about working smarter not harder. It’s about balance.

Being an ambitious, creative person with a high level of intellectual curiosity, yet having a body weakened by a chronic illness is a daily challenge. I’m natural-born visionary and ideas-generator. My eyes see more than my body can perform. There are many exciting things out there in the world to be explored. If I can’t appease my intellectual curiosity, it’s painfully frustrating.

It’s worse than the sight of the most decadent chocolate hazelnut cake that’s supposed to be better than great sex and low-calorie, high protein; it’s right in front of me—but I cannot have it.

However, what if I could break down the impossible task. Maybe I can’t spend a whole day indulging that cake. But maybe I could spend different days and times having a little slice each time? Or I could have the whole cake to myself, if I find strategies to get closer to the cake. And, it’s only a matter of time to get that cake.

That’s the daily reality of living with depression and hemiplegic migraines that are like “diabetes” of the nervous system. For others, the task of picking up the cake doesn’t take as much effort and it’s taken for granted. They don’t get the daily struggle or assume you’re crazy or being dramatic. For some, that’s gossip material.  Instead, I find supportive people who may or may not firsthand understand the struggle but they support, love, and celebrate life with me.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out what works for me and what doesn’t. The sexy cake represents living life to the fullest and accomplishing your personal goals. So, here are my unresolutions with tips for those with chronic illness. 

Affirm Self. You are first of all not weak. You have been strong for too long. One of my therapists told me that when a bridge is having too much weight, it eventually breaks. Humans are not mini-gods. Our flesh and mind is also susceptible to wear and tear. Life is one backstabbing bitch. We all deal with difficulties. My weekly calendar has a thankful thought square where I can write something to set the mood for each week. I prefer affirmations. Affirmations can be a: religious scripture, quote, self-talk, or insight. Here are mine for the last two weeks.  # 1 – You are a conqueror. Look back at what you’ve faced. You’re a badass. #2 – There’s a time to fight, there’s a time to soar and enjoy fruits of labor.

Put Misplaced Guilt in it’s Place—the Dungeon. Guilt by itself isn’t bad. It is what guides us and helps us do the right thing. However, there is a lot of misguided guilt when you grow up in a dysfunctional with a parent who is either: narcissistic, borderline personality, addict. Likewise, dysfunction doesn’t have to be in a family setting. It can be in a religious group too. Spiritual abuse is real and scary. If you study the traits of narcissism, it definitely applies to religion. Or maybe you were in an abusive marriage. If you faced any of these situations, you will have a lot of misplaced guilt. As for me, I once felt guilty for being weak, having emotions or normal human needs, or speaking up among many other things. The first step to heal was to leave the situation: my parents, my old church, and toxic people. Then, with the help of a seasoned wise therapist, I identified the sources of misplaced guilt and learned to let it go. For example, it is common for young children who were victims of sexual abuse to feel “dirty”, ashamed, and responsible for their assault. Not true at all. I’m at a place, where these issues were addressed rather than denied or covered up by meaningless religious cliches and scriptures out of context. Once those misplaced guilty feelings and thoughts are put away, there’s a liberating feeling like no other.

Don’t Be Guilty When it Affects Your Performance. I tire out more easily, can’t focus, in pain, and want to sleep. I may stutter at times. I feel nauseous. Sometimes I feel like I’m ready to pass out. When this gets in the way of doing everything you dreamed about and your personal goals, it gets discouraging. I feel guilty for not contributing, working as hard, or getting things done. There’s the concern of getting into trouble at work. When I had to quit teaching, I cried. I worked so hard. Yet, it wasn’t good for me. My kids were great. I remember wanting to crash and fall asleep during 2nd period. I felt constantly guilty for not being able to give to my students as much as I wanted to. This is not a place to be.

Do not be guilty about self-care. Do yourself a huge favor and do what you need to do. It’s perfectly ok to take a sabbatical. If you are not working full-time, take a part-time job, freelance, or volunteer. Live for moments not accomplishments.

Currently, I’m a freelancer and housewife. I get to spend time with my adorable stepson. Being married with a husband who’s the breadwinner helps and is a blessing. I’m using this time to focus on what I enjoy, creativity, and complete recovery. My prescriptions, healthy lifestyle, exercise has  made a huge difference. There will be a time when I won’t just get by but thrive, by my own standards that are satisfactory to me.

Get a Planner. It’s important to be organized. But, this year I won’t be filling up the spaces to the max. Instead, I will focus on celebrating each day.

Has squeezing time even down to the minute become some kind of a status symbol? I wrote about the cult of busy before. It’s ludicrous.

Gone are the days of college, when I worked my ass off and squeezed in as many classes and activities possible. Looking back, was I testing my sanity to the max or was I some kind of a sick, self-inflicting sadomaschist?

It would appear so. Life is still busy. Marrying a single father meant going from single adult to being a wife and stepmom. And, we are trying to have another child. Thus, prowess in time management becomes more vital.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I take it Each. Day. At. A. Time. Find a planner system (paper or digital) lets you list long-term goals for the year, monthly, and weekly spread. I use Erin Condren’s Life Planner, because I love the colors, stickers, and pretty things. There’s Passion Planner that’s more straightforward if you’re not into pretty colors and things.

For each month in the long-term goals, I list no more than 3 visions or goals. For January, mine is: 1, write one article or story per month, 2, get back to the gym, 3, try something new.

The monthly spread: I list tangible measurable goals for the month. One example is going to the gym at least 2 times a week and consistency is the goal. That’s breaking a large goal into something tangible and measurable. At this time, the number of sets or duration isn’t important as making it to the gym. And, I could list taking up a bellydancing class. It’s helping my fitness goal and I’m trying something new.

Weekly Spread: This is where self-inflicting sadomaschistic tendencies need to be monitored. Don’t get your mind in the gutter. I’m talking about overdoing it. With my struggle with depression, I often felt guilty for my inability. Thus, I overcompensated by taking on too many responsibilities, tasks, lofty goals and then getting even more discouraged. This is where the eyes see more than the body’s ability.

Weekly Priority: On the side, I listed weekly priority. Break down the monthly goal. For example, picking a specific article that I want to revise. The next week’s priority is getting the second revision to a writer’s group for feedback. The third week’s priority will be final draft and researching publications. The fourth week could be pitch letter and pitching editors. So, you see how it works. Don’t pick more than 3 priorities for the week.

Thankful Thought: Put something this week that encourages you such as a quote, religious scripture, or your own word of encouragement. Mine was, “You are a conqueror. Look back at what you overcame and faced. You’re one badass, tough chick.”

Minding the Clock: Use time blocks and actually list your task as if it’s an appointment. Example, 2-4pm is writing time. Check it off when it’s done. If you’re a freelancer or work at home, schedule your work schedule as if you have a day job and you’re logging in work hours in your planner. Make sure you also schedule time for relaxing activities such as yoga, walks, reading your favorite book etc.

Exercise by doing something you enjoy. You all know the importance of exercising and why it’s good for the body and the brain. Pick a physical activity that you love. Otherwise, it’s tougher to motivate yourself. I hate running. I find it tedious and boring. I enjoy weightlifting, tennis, swimming, yoga, and dancing. Look at it as an adventure to explore different activities. You might want to check in with a doctor to check out your limits. Make it a lifestyle. It will eventually become equivalent to brushing your teeth, once you are consistent. I employ mindfulness practices while working out such as concentrating on my breath, my organs working together such as heart rate, muscle flexing, and the excitement of accomplishing an exercise. And then, there’s the endorphin highs. Doesn’t it sound sensual? Also, this is the time to focus on your health. Focus on performance and how you improve. The aesthetics like the six-pack, bulging biceps, smaller waistline, tight butt, weight loss will take care of itself.

Embrace Pleasure. I bet that 90% of you reading my article first thought of sexual pleasure. Nothing wrong with that. My husband would happily help out. Married couples should be enjoying sex regularly. I love flirting with my husband. I look forward to spending the moment alone with my husband every night before we sleep. Nothing like falling asleep in his arms and being enveloped with his intoxicating natural masculine scent.

Embrace Intimacy (Emotional, Spiritual, Physical). As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, I sought therapy and healing. There was a time when I used to get anxious when I’m alone with a man such as heart rate increasing, feeling nauseous, and uncomfortable. I couldn’t see a male doctor at all for sometime, but now I’m fine with doctors of either gender. Growing up with the religious purity movement, I used to feel guilty and confused about my sexuality. There was wrong, exaggerated information about the nature of men. As a teenager and young adult, it made me even more anxious, distrusting of men and relationships.

It was a list of rules of what the ideal woman should be like. I’m not apparently supposed to be flirting or showing interest because he should be the main initiator. Otherwise, it’s not only disrespectful to him, but also to God—because I’m disrespecting God’s model and intention for how men should be. Later on, I was told that it was wrong for a wife to initiate or come on to her husband. And that women aren’t supposed to be enjoying sex too much yet be available to their husbands. I don’t see this anywhere. Song of Solomon is quite the opposite.

Honestly, I never heard of a man who had a problem with an attractive woman that he likes approaching him. My husband thought that idea was ridiculous. He said that he’d love it because it’s a ego boost to know that his wife desires him.

Who made this crap up? I pity them. Probably some insecure man who isn’t man enough to be able to please his own woman, so he made that rule. Or some insecure prudish woman with problems. Sexual pleasure isn’t dirty or trashy. It’s healthy, normal, natural and good—unless you are asexual in orientation or called to celibacy. Nothing wrong with that either.

So, if you are in a committed relationship, intentionally give time to your spouse or partner. Flirt. Compliment him or her. Make him his favorite meal (better yet while wearing something slutty) as men tend to be visual. As for women, we too like looking at nice things such as biceps, body, and overall looks. Take care of yourself such as hairstyle, trim beard or shave it regularly, spritz on some cologne. Take her out to dinner and make her feel special. Whisper sweet nothings in her ear. Give her a rubdown. For both ways, take time to learn something about your partner and share an activity together. Sometimes when I have no energy, I’m perfectly content next to my husband or cuddle with him and watch TV.

Pleasure is not just about Sex. It isn’t just about sex. There seems to be an idea that pleasure and enjoyment is wrong. Why the term “guilty pleasure”? If it isn’t harming or affecting anyone (including yourself), why the need for unnecessary guilt? It seems that religion or certain cultural values seem obsessed with self-torment by seeking condemnation or false humility for the sake of piety. There’s the joy of life.

I’m obviously not talking about destructive pleasures or without restraint. Or being dumb enough to forget priorities. I understand the importance of moderation and self-control. However, I’ve mostly experienced shameful legalism and anxiety over “messing up.” There’s enough guilt, shame, and condemnation in the world.

Every girl’s fantasy isn’t about finding the perfect man. It’s about eating every sexy food without getting fat. Sorry, men. Your competition sometimes isn’t another dude but the sexiest, rich cheesecake. I don’t think men will ever understand this concept.

I won’t feel guilty about enjoying my cake as long as the portion size is appropriate and fits in with the overall caloric numbers, and in moderation. However, I’m trying to find  enjoyment elsewhere because I tend to be an emotional eater. It’s not just worry over weight gain but eating too much sugar that can affect mood, energy, and brain chemicals.

I’ll try experiencing enjoyment through: yoga, dancing, reading a good book, watching TV, and of course writing.

Living for moments instead of accomplishments and empty praises. There are so many that I can talk about:

  • Becoming a stepmother to Eddie. I knew he accepted me when he comes over in the morning and sleeps next to me after my husband goes to work. I hold him and rest till it’s time to wake up.
  • Dates with my husband.
  • Discussing difference topics with my husband, friends, writer’s group. It’s such a bonding moment.
  • Eddie learning to cook. It’s fun playing “chef” and spending time.
  • Laughing over the adorable, childish things Eddie does. There was time when he started calling me “hen.” It turns out that he heard his dad calling me, “Hon” (short for honey), and he thought his dad was calling me hen. We corrected him. He doesn’t do it anymore.
  • After the initial pain of separation, learning to embrace spirituality and follow God beyond the confines of legalistic religion. I feel finally free. I’m done with American Christian Culture for good. No more religious self-help books. I’ll seek spiritual things in the daily things of life and reading the original text instead of opinions. I may consider but will always take it with a grain of salt.
  • Finding my crowd of “out-of-box” thinkers. I love the people I hang out with. They are so hilarious, creative, and so different. That’s what makes life interesting.
  • With all the testosterone in the house and being a married woman, I miss hanging out with the girls. I always have fun with the ladies baking group where we hang out and share our baked goodies.
  • Then, there’s the bellydancing class. It sounds like a fun group.

I hope you all are ready for the year. I have a few goals too. I want to get a couple of articles published and write my book. I also want to launch my makeup artist business. These are the unresolutions I will implement to make it happen.

I’m also ready to embrace anything that comes my way. It could be unique business opportunities, a nicer house, or a child.

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