My Missing Manual

I've often wished I was born with a manual, but I wasn't. None of us were, but couldn't it save so much time to be able to read someone's manual about how they worked in order to try and understand them better?

Here's where my missing manual will begin to appear as I put in the notes I've been taking for years, and one's I'm taking now.

General Maintenance

  • Exercise is magic for me, but very difficult for me to get out of my head and actually do. A 3-minute fast run, a 20-minute brisk walk, an hour slow walk in the woods, this will set up my day mentally.
  • Food: Over eating my comfort food (cheese, pasta, salty protein fat) make me want to watch movies. This occasionally helps me reset and recharge, but mostly just backfires and leaves me with less energy and low emotions. 
  • Hydration. I always forget that it takes a few days of extra water drinking to feel the mental difference. But it is a big difference!
  • Expressing: I emote much better if I feel the situation I'm in is stable and I'm around those who won't freak out if I do freak out. I'm terribly resistant to fighting because both people are then freaking out at the same time and I feel anxious and unsafe. 
  • Supplements: Fish oil all year! Vitamin D in winter. 
  • Socially: Socially, I thrive on shared work, or communication, especially 1 on 1. Groups doing light talk can drain me.  So, talking with someone about some problem we have, or one of us have, and trying to figure out an answer. Or working on a project, a thought, a philosophy, together  Or observing together other people - some sort of sharing. My social struggles are around story telling, laughing when everyone else does, playing games, being entertaining, and remembering names, chit chatting, and talking about sports. 
  • Batteries: To recharge my batteries I need to take some time alone to write or create with images or video small little blogs, vlogs, poems, etc. Then share them widely. Or to explore alone a new place and then report to others what I found. Watching movies calms me, but I can go to far and it drains me. Talking 1-1 with a friend works too. 
  • Chemicals. 2 cups before 2ish. Used to be three before 3, will be 1 before 1!
  • Language I struggle to not use aggressive, pedantic, "you" statements.  I need to be reminded to use "I wish sometime that..." or "I feel really frustrated when you..."
  • Masciline and Feminine energy in any gender.  It's a spectrum and a generalization but I need to watch out for the clash between masculine's tendancy of wanting "Progress and Freedom" and Feminine's wanting "Connection and Fullness."
  • In-Law Family Dynamics. When I'm with my wife's family, or she's with mine, we each have to speak up about our needs and not assume that as the odd person out and a guest in a foreign land we'll be taken care of. This is because the other familes way of being together is so far from how we each grew up that they literally can't see what we'll each need. As a guest among a group, this is hard to remember.
  • Lowest times. The deepest lows I've ever experienced are when my instincts are corrupt. And/or I stop exersizing and start to overeat while I don't communicate my needs. Amid internal chaos, confusion, and doubt, when the mornings are coming loose and I can't even step back to what I "know." An example was a toxic relationship I could not let go of pursuing. All my simplest instincts told me was to keep trying because she was "the one" and the sex was addictive.  Or that she was "the one" and the sex and her form was perfect. From these experiences I learned that I must not simply follow my instincts, but also maintain the health of my instincts and NOT follow my own base instincts if they were unhealthy. Sometimes I was unhealthy, and needed the help of others and the ability to override my own strong pull towards my instincts, in favor of following other people's advice over my own! The key here for me to remember is to pick the right folks to listen to until my instincts are back up and running well.
  • Empathy. Watching both the unsuccessful and successful around me is hard for me. I need to remember not to go too far reacting to either group. The successful fall into a "grass is always greener over the hill" place for me. Focusing on them, which usually means only focusing on what I know about them, not the whole truth, I loose touch with what I have, which I have the whole picture of. And it takes away from me getting stuff done. On the other hand, watching those who are struggling, homeless, strung out, crazy, violent, mired in dysfunction, is a challenging experience for me. I feel on one hand that in this land of opportunity, they should just get their shiznit together. I would if I were them, if they were me, they might too. But they are them, the extent of the issues they are dealing with, how supportive the community they are in, the decisions they made when young, is something I don't know about or how I would handle it. I believe we should as a society continue to try and figure out how to help these folks be more functional, because in the big picture, we need more folks adding positive force to our challenging situations. And, it could save money and increase productivity. 

Keeping a Healthy Back

Hurting

 In 1995 (Low back L4/L5), and 2015 (Cervical C4-5/5-6)I have had herniated discs and other issues. Both times leading up to the issues were a perfect storm off being out of shape, not stretching, poor diet, and an unusually stressful life event.

History

  • 1995 I had been dealing with some low back pain coming and going since 1992, after what turned out to be the beginning event in 1987 that only hurt for 3 days and disappeared. I was lifting, in a jerking way, something out of the trunk of an old large sedan and remember back pain for three days during a cross country trip. Then it was gone. By 1994 I was working on computers a lot, not exercising or eating well, lightly smoking, and then started the worst breakup of my life, with the first woman I really fell in love with, moved in with and had a deep multi-year relationship with.  I was living with roommates, trying to get back together with the woman against all sanity, in therapy for the first time, and working in job I hated. I tried every remedy (rest, stretching, steroids, acupuncture, cortisone epidural) with a good sports medicine doctor until I was on disability since I couldn't sit, and then had excellent surgery (discectomy) in San Francisco. It fixed it. I left the city and went to graduates school. 
  • 2015. The perfect storm this time was the following. 5 months into a second child. Stopped going to the gym, stretching, walking to work every day, etc. Got reading glasses which changed how much I tilted my neck. Too much time using laptop monitor vs monitor up high. A very stressful month at work caught between a personality conflict of two other people that made it very hard for me to get the enrollment and marketing support I needed for a crucial Fall intake. I slept wrong one night, and woke up no being able to straighten my neck. Pain killers, Valium, then left arm started hurting. 2 weeks sort of resting. 1 week then in bed completely. Prednisone helped only at high dose. Xray, MRI, and really resting started to help. Awaiting neurosurgen. 

 Lessons Learned

When Hurt

I need a good docotor who can help me always have a some sort of plan of action, who is a good listener, and who can educate me on what is happening. I have to force myself to stay hydrated. Chugging 2 to 3 cups of water three times a day seems to work. Especially when taking lots of toxic meds. First thing in the am. Last think right after dinner. Resting is very hard for me. Really resting I mean. Really not lifting anything or stressing out. I need to eat good foods like yogurt, bananas, salmon, spinach, sardines. I need a support group online, or in person of at least one or two folks I can talk to who've been done the road I'm on.

Preventative

Stay flexible physically. Manage stress by exercising, not stopping exercising and watching moves with mac and cheese and wine. Do light cardio, stretching all parts of body's range of motion, walking, and weight training. It doesn't take too much time. But it has to be 2+ times a week.

Work

  • When I work with someone for a few years, I need to remember to ask them about what they think my strong suits are, and where I could use improvement. 
  • I need to work on creative projects, producing things, communicating, documenting, sharing, in a fast-paced production environment, with breaks for documenting and thinking.
  • I need to have time on the computer, around people or alone, but able to go in and out of work in a flow of my choosing - like an only child, self contained for a while, then collaborating for a while. 
  • I'm not as good a communicator as I think I am.  
  • Upon discovering a graduate program in ecology leadership that was based out of a traveling bus, my father once said "If I knew that existed when I was young, I'd have become a teacher."
  • I am in "Flow," when I'm working on a little creative project while I fumble around for resources. This could be digital, or in a workshop. Just rummaging around knowing only what I'm trying to make. Also, writing, taking and editing photos and video, and working on something after doing something else to get me motivated (a walk until I feel the drive to edit a course I'm teaching).