When Your Anxiety Flares Up

It’s 2:30am. I have to be up in 3 hours to start a relay race that will take our team 30 hours to complete. I’ll be lucky if I get any sleep tomorrow night. This is why I’ve been stressing about getting sleep tonight and why I’ve been failing. 

People who know me on a surface level are probably surprised when they find out I have anxiety. Yes everyone gets anxious, but I’m talking about the kind of anxiety that paralyzed you. The kind that keeps you awake because your brain won’t turn off. 
It isn’t always like this. I can have months of consistent sleep and only minor worries. Every so often though, there are several weeks of uneasiness. I call this an anxiety flare up. It’s when I worry about everything, rational and irrational. I worry something bad is going to happen to me or someone I love. I worry that I’m failing at work and at home. I worry that I’m not getting enough sleep and that is going to impact my running, my health and my sanity. 

I worry that our fucking president is going to take my rights away. I have anxiety every time I hear his voice or even read his name.

I’m an anxious person. I’ve always worried. Sometimes more intensely than others. This is one of those times. 

Tomorrow (well…in four hours) I’m getting in a van with 6 lovely people to run one of the most beautiful stretches of land in the country. I want to live in the moment to enjoy it. I know it’s not the end of the world that I won’t sleep for two days. I’ll nap in the van. I got less sleep when I had a newborn and survived. I will survive this too. 

Running is a time for me to feel carefree. I just want to feel that way when I’m not running too. 

Day 30 – Challenge Complete

Well friends. We made it. We’ve come full circle. You are probably wondering what wise words I’ve come to share with you on this – the final day of my challenge.

I have always loved writing, never felt like I did it enough. I had toyed with the idea of starting a blog on and off for years, but always held off because I wanted to do it right. I wanted to set up the perfect design, Instagram, corresponding Facebook page, have an editorial calendar. I wanted to be in it to win it and make it interesting content with a point of view.

When Kate told me she was doing a 30 day writing challenge on her blog, I was intrigued. I decided to say fuck it – and for once – not worry about being perfect and buttoned up. I hit publish on a blog I had started to put together months ago, without really making it pretty or interesting to look at. I knew that this was probably only something my friends and family and stoners who are deep into page 10 of their Google search results would see. That was fine. This was more for me than anything.

There have been highs (The Selflessness of Pregnancy was probably my most emotionally raw post, but also a favorite) and lows (did I really write that much about my laundry?). There were a lot of filler posts and it didn’t help that this all happened during an exceptionally busy time, which made many days feel more like a chore than it should have.

Do I still want to be a blogger? I don’t know… If I’m going to do this, I still want to do it and make it organized. Would I be a mommy blogger (cliche)? A running blogger (crowded space)? A mommy runner dorky blogger? Maybe that’s a niche I can tackle. I know if I want to do this right, I have to carve out an area and stick to it. But I’m not just one thing. When Bachelor season starts up again, you know I’m going to want to write about that. Is there room for that on a healthy and/or parent-focused site?

I do know that I’ll probably break from writing for a bit. Partly to figure out where I want to take this thing and partly to focus on other things. My one book a week reading schedule took a hit during this challenge and I found myself going to bed a bit later than I like. These posts would take 30-45 minutes to write – sometimes more depending on if I got distracted by Snapchat (Username: sbjac, see you there!). I also spent very little time on proofreading, which you could probably tellz.

It’s nice to know that I still have this little site if I’m ever motivated to pour my heart out about meal planning, the latest parenting annoyance or inspired to turn this into a Bachelor recapping repository. A place where I can share my thoughts when 140 characters won’t do, but stream of consciousness is welcome.

I like to follow through on things, and tend to start a lot of things that I can’t finish. This wasn’t one of them and it’s nice to feel like you’ve accomplished a goal, however small.

As my reality TV Yoda Chris Harrison likes to say, it’s been an incredible journey and though I’ve handed out the final rose (to myself, this metaphor is a stretch), there might be some fun to be had in Paradise!


Day 29 – An Ode to the Lazy Day

I am the laziest active person alive. I may love to run and be active, but if I spend the rest of the day on the couch, that is time well spent. This is what’s going to happen on our week off.

Back in the day before adulthood and children, my weekends on the couch were legendary. I’d spend literally all day watching MTV Real World reruns or HBO or Bravo depending on what era of my life we’re talking about. I’d go out with friends – sure – but then the rest of the time the couch was where I lived.

Nowadays, we’re usually pretty busy during the week and our kid doesn’t watch TV before or after school. The weekends are a bit more lax. We try to be moderate with screen time on the weekends, but that doesn’t always go according to plan.

Everyone needs a vegging day. Yesterday, we were pretty busy with life stuff, so today I knew I wanted to relax. We watched some shows this morning, went to the grocery store, and basically had a movie marathon. We watched the movie Sing – which was predictably adorable. He took a late afternoon nap, while I did something I never do… COOK! This is something that I don’t ever have time to do – and to do well. So I figured if I’m home, I might as well make some food for everyone. It’s a nice change of place. My kid slept to the soothing sounds of Pitch Perfect 2 in the background, while I have been looking into bullet journal inspirations on Instagram and Pinterest in the hopes of starting one this week.

I know he should have spent some time running around and being active. But everyone needs a day on the couch, even almost five year olds – and especially almost 35 year olds.

Day 28 – The Control Freak Obedient Fixer

I don’t deal with forced inactivity well. Sure if I’m feeling lazy or unmotivated that is under my terms. But being grounded because of something beyond my control, that’s a challenge.

This is why butt-gate (that has a nice ring to it I think) is so goddamn frustrating. I was just getting into my spring running groove when I miss a step, fall on my ass for half a dozen steps and likely down a week of good running. I know it could be worse, I didn’t break anything. But I’m sidelined not on my own terms.

If you didn’t know this about me, I’m a fixer. If there’s a problem, I look for a solution. This happened Friday and today I was at the chiropractor. I already have three more appointments scheduled in the next two weeks. Maybe I won’t need all of them, but maybe I will. If I can do something to improve the situation I will absolutely do it.

I’m also pretty obedient (most of the time). You tell me that hopping on one foot while rubbing my stomach will make this problem go away? I’ll totally fucking do it. However, you’re telling me that I can’t run? I might disobey you. (Like the ill-advised 6 miles yesterday – great idea!)

I feel like I’ll be fine in a couple days. I already feel a little better after today’s appointment. My chiropractor joked that I was “helping” too much during the adjustments and that I needed to trust him and relax more. I just told him that I was trying to move the process along so I healed faster. He did not think that was funny. Then I promptly went limp and decided to trust the process. Because – as I said – I’m obedient.

Day 27 – What To Do This Week?

I’m taking a full week off work to hang with my son during his spring break. I don’t think I’ve spent this amount of time with him just the two of us since my maternity leave. 

I’ve mentioned before that I’m freaking out about this and how I’m going to occupy the time. Here are some things I’m considering:

  • Going to literally every free museum option. Tuesday is Chicago History Museum and Thursday is the Nature Museum. Does my son give a shit about Chicago history? Probably not, but it’ll waste a few hours and it’s close to my favorite Starbucks on North and Wells. 
  • Try to convince him to see Boss Baby. Do I want to see Boss Baby? Not particularly. Does my son? Considering he’s pickier about movies than The New York Times, I doubt he’s going to be down. I’m gonna make it happen though. Why? Because that’s three hours of activity right there. 
  • Swim lesson. This is gonna be awesome. Bribe him with a donut and shell out $50 for him to kick around and hold on to the railing for dear life. That’s an hour right there. 
  • Errands. Lots of errands. My kid and I are great at running errands together. He takes his role as helper in stride and I feel like I’m educating him about consumerism. It’s a win for everyone!
  • TV. Lots of TV. We are both amazing at being lazy. We can sit in front of the TV all day and have no regrets. It’s a really healthy way to spend our time. 
  • Visit every bookstore. Seriously there are at least three that I can see us visiting. I love that he loves books as much as I do. I’ll also love when he’s old enough for us to browse independently and away from each other and I don’t have to sprint from the kids section for 15-second intervals undetected. I’ve become pretty good at it though. 
  • The chiropractor. My little guy might get an eyeful of the chiropractor manipulating my back/butt so I can feel normal again. Just kidding. He’ll be playing Star Wars Angry Birds on my phone literally the whole time. 
  • The gym. If those aforementioned issues get resolved, maybe he’ll enjoy an hour at the overpriced kids club at the gym so mama can get a workout class in. 

Snarky comments aside, I really am pumped about this week. I’ve been stressing about it mostly because I want him to have a good time with me and I wouldn’t call myself naturally “fun.” And this is a good collection of activities, right? I mean what almost five year old doesn’t want to go look at nature and to the chiropractor?

Day 26 (Part 2) – Happy Rex Manning Day!

I sit here right now, with a glass of wine in hand, an icepack (okay frozen edamame under my ass – see part 1) and in absolute heaven. Why? Because it’s Rex Manning Day!

That’s right folks, April 8th is the day where we gather to honor the seminal 90s cult classic Empire Records. It is the perfect movie about a moment of time. About an era of music purchasing and consumption that has long passed. About music that is loud. About angst and shaved heads. About fashion that I coveted. About gluing quarters to the floor in the name of art. About the hottest guy in a 90s movie who was never heard from again (AJ in case you are wondering – unrequited, then requited, love of Liv Tyler).

So why is April 8 deemed Rex Manning Day? Because that is the day where all the pivotal events of the movie take place. Characters go through life changing realizations. Personal growth happens. We get a montage to Dire Straits’ Romeo & Juliet. We learn about speed addiction and slut shaming. We end with a big party on the roof where Renee Zellweger becomes a star and sets the stage for her epic Jerry Maguire romance one year later.

I loved this movie when it was in the theater. I loved this movie when it was on TBS or VH1 or whatever basic cable network 1000 times. I loved it on DVD. And now I love it every single April 8.


We musn’t dwell. No not today. We can’t. Not on Rex Manning Day!

Happy Rex Manning Day!

Day 26 (Part 1) – Clumsy AF

I’m so annoyed! I totally passed out last night before having a chance to write anything. 

So I’m writing twice today so I technically can say I wrote 30 times in 30 days. 

I passed out early because of the mental exhaustion of taking a (small) tumble down the stairs on my way to work. So now my butt is killing me (insert inappropriate jokes here).

Seriously though, I’m fine. I already feel a little better this morning. I am a bit concerned about my general clumsiness. On Tuesday morning I walked into a glass door at work. This is after I actually opened the door to walk through it, yet somehow I still managed to walk straight into the glass. Yes people saw. 

Anyway, I’ll have more later today, but please don’t laugh at me whenever you see me walk into something or trip or fall. Because it happens a lot. 

Day 25 – Ambiversion

Many people who know me are surprised to hear that I wouldn’t describe myself as an extrovert. I would say that it depends on the context.

At work, I love talking and shooting the shit with people. I love group discussions, brainstorms and teamwork. I put my headphones in when I need to focus on my own shit, but on the whole, I’d rather feel like I was part of a team than feel isolated at my job.

Social situations are a different animal. I’m not someone who has a million friends. I prefer small groups to large ones. One weekend, a perfect outing could be going out to a show at City Winery with some friends. And the next weekend, I would love nothing more than a night alone with wine, a movie and a book. A small group dinner sounds lovely, but an event with all the parents from my son’s grade has me mute in the corner and overwhelmed.

I came across this Buzzfeed article on ambiverts and so many things described me perfectly. (An ambivert shows qualities of both an introvert and an extrovert.)

For example:

Generally, you’re always happy to meet new people, but you’ll probably be uncomfortable if you have to do it without any of your existing friends with you.

I would not say I’m always happy to meet new people, but I feel much better about it if I have a crutch – I mean, a friend – to help break the ice. If I walk into a room where I don’t know anybody, I will stand in a corner awkwardly on my phone until someone I know comes in. Going up to introduce myself to someone I’ve never met before is extremely anxiety inducing for me. This is why I suck at networking events.

Your calm, controlled professional self feels like a very different person to the one your friends see.

I described this earlier, and while I would not say I’m always a controlled professional, I’m definitely different at work than outside of work.

You can often go out and have hours of fun being the life of the party, but suddenly find that your energy has dropped, and all you really want to do is go home.

So much yes. I can go out and hang with the best of them, but once I’m done, I’M DONE and want to leave immediately. I will stand quietly in a corner until I’m able to do so.

In fact, your friends disagreeing about whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert is probably a very good sign you’re an ambivert.

People at work are sometimes surprised when I describe myself as introverted. People outside of work are surprised when I describe myself as extroverted.

Small talk is something that annoys you, because while you can do it, there are instances when it feels a bit insincere.

I’m the nosiest person in the world and want to pry into every salacious detail of your life. I would much rather talk about that weird growth on your neck or your ex-girlfriend/boyfriend than about the weather.

For the 15 people reading this post, I’m curious which one of you would describe me as extroverted vs. introverted – or just generally weird and annoying/uncategorizeable.

Day 24 – Running Not Naked

In running circles, there is the idea that every so often you should do a “naked run.” You might think this means a run with no clothes – and in some instances, that might be the case – but that’s not what I’m talking about.

A naked run a run without any tech. No watch, music, phone. The idea is that these things have a tendency to distract us from the true purpose of our runs, and distract us from our environment. This is probably true. It is also not something I care about.

I am of the camp that if I didn’t record data on a run, the run does not exist. I sync my runs to no less than four separate running sites. Garmin to get the data off my watch, Strava for the social aspect, Training Peaks so my coach sees and Smashrun for the geeky data analytics (it’s the best). There are averages and streaks and mileage totals that can’t be messed with because I’m supposed to be one with nature.

You see, I’m great at multitasking. In fact, while I’m writing this, I’m also trolling my mom about bringing croutons to Passover next Monday (hi Mom!). But I digress. I can appreciate my environment and be one with my thoughts on a run WHILE I listen to music. I can glance quickly at my pace at the same time I contemplate my existence. The only thing I buy into is that I typically don’t run with my phone because it is literally my only break from emails and texts and memes.

I wrote a post earlier in this challenge about some sleep issues and how I hate the quiet. Running is no exception. I have a highly curated system of music that I deem “running music.” And I’m old school. I am probably the only person in the universe who still runs with an iPod Nano and buys music to put on it using iTunes. (I use Spotify literally for everything else.) Here’s what I do to curate my running music.

  • Ratings. Any song I deem worthy and catchy enough for a run gets a 3 star rating or above. Songs that I deem favorite running songs gets a 4 or a 5.
  • Smart Playlists. iTunes is a clunky piece of software, but it has some good features like smart playlists. I have created one that includes all my rated songs, and won’t play any song that has played in the last month to avoid too many repeats. If I skip the song, it automatically hides it from the playlist for the next month. If I skip it twice in a row, it gets a two star rating and placed in a reserve list until I’m no longer sick of the song and bump up the rating again. There are about 800 songs total in this playlist and when I’m on the roads for 6+ hours a week, it can get down to 150 or so available songs to choose from.
  • Super Special Music. All songs with a 4+ star rating gets put into a second super special playlist. Since these are my favorite running songs with low probability of skip-age, this is the playlist I typically use when racing so I stay pumped throughout.
  • Regular updates. Once a month or so, I rescan my ratings to ensure that they are all still worthy of 3+ stars and to see if there are any new “hits” that I want to add to the collection (like Ed Sheeran’s seminal “Shape of You” – sorry, not sorry).

Clearly, someone who is this Type A about running data and music curation is not meant for a naked run. If I did try it, I’d probably sing “Baby One More Time” really loud while mentally Mapping My Run to keep myself entertained and people on the trail would be scared. I’ll find my zen and quiet another way.

Day 23 – One Week Left

We have gotten to the stage of this where I’m getting through this writing challenge out of sheer stubbornness and will. It’s like the last week or two of marathon training before the taper. You know the down swing is in sight, but all you can see right now is several more days of gritting out mediocre performances – or in this case, mediocre writing.

There are still a lot of things I want to write about and probably will at some point – like my system of organizing and ranking songs that I run to, why I’m absolutely terrified to take care of my son alone for a week, my full list of races I’m signed up for and what I hope to accomplish during this upcoming training season.

I’m sure I’ll get to all of these in the next week when I don’t feel like I’m writing just to check a box. Right now though, I’m just checking in and writing for a few minutes because I said I was going to. Every day. For 30 days.