Yesterday, I left my apartment for the first time in eight days.
It was sunny and 68 degrees outside. I went for a run, passing the US Marine Corps War Memorial, the Netherlands Carillon – fenced off and under construction – and Arlington National Cemetery – the first time I’ve seen it closed to daytime public. I then found myself along the heart of the Mount Vernon trail, surrounded by bikers, runners, walkers and strollers taking in the calm quietude of the Potomac River and a view of the Washington Monument. You wouldn’t know there was a pandemic going on, except for patrols closing off the paths to DC and the cherry blossoms.
Eight days seems like a long time to be shut in a 700 square-foot apartment with a cat whose expression mirrors, “why are you still here?” But this past winter, I spent a considerable amount of time alone – re-conditioning myself to enjoy “me” time again, so that I could recharge and improve my overall well-being. Unbeknownst to me, that time alone conditioned me for such a strange time as this. In fact, I kind of wish I had more time alone. With all the virtual meetings, chats, and happy hours, I’ve rarely had time to myself.
But I wouldn’t change the wonderful network I’ve spent the last 33 years cultivating. So many of you reached out when all of this started, knowing I was high risk and making sure I was okay. I heart you for that. All of the diabetes blogs, commentaries, and posts I’ve read tell me not to panic. But that’s easier said than done. I am grateful I have a pet like Norm. When the anxiety starts to escalate, I stop what I’m doing and throw hair ties his way. His enjoyment of the simple pleasures in life eases my heart rate. Continue reading
A month ago, I was planning a trip to the Caribbean.
And when that fell through, I was planning a trip to see my brother in San Francisco.
And when that was put on hold, I started planning a trip to visit my cousin in Dallas to celebrate the Kentucky Derby together.
And then the next day coronavirus (COVID-19) arrived in DC.
Today, there are 114 cases in Virginia (20 hospitalized and 2 deaths). That doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s more than double than what we had five days ago (and this is just based on who’s been tested).
There are Two Types of Diabetes
I have Type 1 diabetes (T1D) – an autoimmune disorder in which the body no longer produces insulin, a hormone needed to digest food into energy for survival. There is no cure, and this type of diabetes cannot be changed with diet and exercise. Since I was diagnosed at 22, I’ve known that I will be stuck with diabetes for life.
This makes living a little bit different. Every day is a risk. I’m not sure people besides those with Type 1 realize that. But one wrong move, one variable unaccounted for, and my life could be in danger. It could happen that fast. It almost has. But I try not to think about that. With access to insulin and the advancement in technology and medical supplies, and a little bit of faith, I have a found a way to manage.
Diabetes and Coronavirus
Having Type 1 diabetes doesn’t necessarily make me more susceptible to catching COVID-19, but the repercussions if I do contract it are severe. Continue reading
I didn’t think it was possible to burn out when happy. Sixty days ago, I learned otherwise.
I had gone three months without a free Saturday night, and while not a bad way to live life, for me, it was … odd. But this was not the only symptom. I could never seem to focus, constantly multi-tasking or procrastinating on my phone.
I bought this phone for its enhanced picture-taking capabilities (or if you’re like me, a chance to improve my sleuthing videography skills) and its bigger screen, so I could be more efficient when, let’s say, I needed to pay bills on-the-go (or more likely spend endless hours swiping left on my dating apps).
But while there is nothing wrong with the phone (minus the fact I dropped it in the toilet six months ago, and its audio is still a little “off”), there was definitely something wrong in my life. The difference is I didn’t think everything was wrong with my life. I knew I was happy, but I was also exhausted and never feeling like I could fully “show up.”
So, two months ago, I decided to break up with my phone. And while I didn’t publish this then, I’ve decided to post it now as a testament to its grandiosity but also – it worked. Continue reading
January has always been a month of reset for me. And although I once thought it was the time of year when I was most susceptible to depression, in fact, it’s the time for me to retreat and recharge. It’s a time of introspection and massive self-awareness. It’s a time to process all the pain and hurt and rejection. And ponder on what steps led to the wins.
This year is no different. The difference entering this new decade is that I acknowledge that this is a time for me to curl up into a ball and shut the world out for a while. The rejection is hard. 2019 was a year I came into embracing my full authentic self in all avenues of my life. And while I have no regrets, showing that vulnerable side of myself, even to strangers, meant accepting the possibility of rejection and being okay with the outcome regardless. Continue reading
I love my life.
I used to hate when people said that. There was no such thing. Life comes with the good and the bad, and if you love all of it, then you’ve been poorly deceived (or altogether privileged).
But a few years ago, I felt utterly unhappy with my life. Every time I thought I had found something good, it dismantled into a pile of sour mulch.
Take Norm, for example. Pets are supposed to make your life better, right? Not when you spend hours tending to their allergic reactions and thousands of dollars trying to make up for the fact that they’re allergic to 15 different things in the environment completely out of your control.
But that’s the thing about mulch. It shouldn’t have an offensive smell. If it does, then there’s some toxic buildup at play. And what happens when the mulch can breathe? It suppresses the weeds and eventually improves the soil’s fertility.
You didn’t come here for a gardening lesson though. You came here because, perhaps, like me, you want to know how to be happy. Continue reading
I wouldn’t say it’s been an easy two months. As much as I’ve tried to focus on the positive and take the space for recovery, there is a lot of healing to be had. Happiness is a fleeting moment. The toxic stress of uncertainty lies underneath its glimpses of hope.
But as I’ve told countless family and friends, even with this drastic change, my life now holds more meaning than it did just a few months ago. My everyday feels meaningful, even without purpose. Because for the first time in the societal reigns of financial liability, I am free to just be and re-learn all that once defined my childhood joy.
That doesn’t mean I’ve forgiven myself for getting into certain situations. This is part of my healing journey, and as my best friend so aptly reminded me, often a symptom of trauma. We blame ourselves more than the abuser, and it’s a cold, little heart. But rather than focus on the trauma, I choose to focus on the frame of opportunity.
Some days are easier than others, but just a few weeks into this new path, Norm – the six-year-old tabby that continues to astound me with his resilience – gave me a window of hope. Continue reading
Last week, I was running through weeping willows along DC’s riverside. These trees reminded me of drives through Cherokee Park on Sundays in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.
Cherokee Park was designed by the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, known for Central Park, Biltmore Estate and many others. I’m currently reading about Olmsted’s part in the design of the World’s Columbian Exposition (also known as Chicago World’s Fair) of 1893 in Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City.
And while this past month has not been plagued by the monstrosities of H.H. Holmes, deemed America’s first serial killer, it has been a whirlwind of events – a pattern, it seems, of this year in general. With all the upheaval that has taken place in my life this past year, one could say I’ve been ready for anything. And I’ve taken the changes in stride. Continue reading
Humans are averse to change. We resist loss of control and excess uncertainty. No one likes living in ambiguity. And a few months ago, my entire world seemed replete of nebulousness. So, that left me with two options: accept the nebulous and make the most of it or ignore the nebulous and fall the victim.
There were three areas of my life that seemed to be in upheaval:
I had three months before my lease on my apartment was up. This meant I would prioritize career, which would then influence home and lowest on the totem pole – my dating life. That would just be a bonus. Continue reading
When I first experienced bullying in middle school, I sought my dad for advice. He told me to focus on my studies, ignore them, laugh in the face of criticism (that will throw them for a loop, he said, and it did) and above all, never doubt myself and keep on going.
A few months ago, my life took a sour turn. Every week I learned of news that would inevitably upend my personal and professional paths. How much worse could it get? And then, it got worse, so much so I felt I had become an expert at grieving.
Each week, I processed a new set of emotions – some for the loss of things and some for the emptiness that loss left behind. I was tired of being sad. So, one day, I came home from work, made myself a martini and started dancing and laughing in the kitchen. Take that life bully. If I had seemingly lost everything, then it meant I had nothing to lose and therefore could do whatever I wanted. My foundation was crumbling but that just meant I could build something new. Continue reading
January has always been a difficult month for me. With less sun and warm days and days off to look forward to, it’s easy to fall into a depressed state. I’ve been sleeping a lot more, and I have less energy to do the things I love.
The difference this year is I acknowledge it’s January (so simple, right?), and I know where my lack of energy is stemming from. For the next three weeks of the month, now that I’ve recovered from the holidays, I am making a commitment to write every day (not necessarily on this blog). It doesn’t have to be much — yesterday, I wrote two sentences — and it can take the form of any medium.
But I hope by making this commitment to myself, I can keep the winter blues at bay and find some fulfillment on the most challenging days. Sometimes, a little self-compassion and confidence can go a long way.
A few months ago, I was feeling a bit lost on my personal and professional paths. I was being particularly hard on myself for getting wrapped up in what I called “failed initiatives.” I had put myself out there, and I felt rejected. So, taking a cue from Dr. Kristin Neff, a pioneer when it comes to self-compassion (she wrote the book on it), I wrote a letter to myself, from the perspective of a close friend (I’ve included an excerpt below). Continue reading