A New Day: Reflections From This Morning

Today I started running again. I knew it would be great for me, but I was apprehensive. I go “all in” in life, so often in attempting to establish new habits, I overdo it and then get burned out. I decided to run after reflecting upon this post by my friend Jodi Edwards. She is a huge inspiration to me, in many ways, which I’ll talk about another time. Jodi asserts that exercise and antidepressants have the same effects in the neural circuits in theory, but exercise is so much more satisfying and beneficial. She relies upon exercise as therapy for her multiple sclerosis. To her, running allows her to live. So I decided to run today. Here are my thoughts on the journey.

I struggle with depression. This is becoming more common for people to admit and ask for help, but I still find depression to be epidemic. I think particularly when someone’s depression is unexplained by a circumstance, it is especially difficult for people to understand. I guess in some ways, misfortune is a means to achieve acceptance of your flaws in that regard, but it truly sucks. My depression comes and goes. Right now, I am at the end of a year’s worth of financial struggles resulting from my husband’s layoff and benching by his union due to a severe lack of work, his subsequent resignation and transition into a new career entirely, the results of a federal furlough and a foreclosure by a heartless mortgage company that doesn’t care, and a career change for me. To top this off, we are about to move, which many people have cautioned me is a really depressing/stressful situation. It’s been five years since I last moved. It was exciting last time – I had bought my first home at age 23, and was engaged to a wonderful man who is now my husband. This time, we are short selling said home after it lost $20K in value over five years. I’ll walk away with either a lien against me for the difference or a huge tax bill, with no home. It’s truly difficult to find the positives in this, but I am trying. My home was robbed last November, and there are break ins everyday here in this neighborhood now. It is still a nice place to live, but it’s not as safe as it used to be. I will get to move closer to my family, and closer to my job. So there are always silver linings.

I chose songs to listen to that I find upbeat and inspiring, but also somewhat run-worthy. Here was the list and the thoughts that I associated with each one as I ran:

Remember the NameFort Minor with Styles of Beyond

This song’s beat is slow enough to warm up or cool down with, or you can double that pace for a sprint.

“This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!”

Mike Shinoda is amazing, by the way. You can also hear his work in Linkin’ Park.

This was the first song. Whenever I hear it, I am reminded that success is not all luck, nor all hard work, but mostly a result of willpower and resolve not to lose the forest for the trees. In all the ups and downs of the last year and a half, that has been difficult. And success is elusive, and has different meanings for different people. On different days, it means different things even to me.

Success is not a place, but a feeling. In order to achieve success, you must be able to achieve without losing your identity. Last year, I was rudderless. Working as an engineer for the Navy, but not having formal engineering education, I was sometimes dismissed because of my gender/age/background by people I respected. I had my head down. It was uncomfortable and I felt lost. I changed my course after I realized that who I am does not change just because the path I was on no longer fits me. I must evolve the path to get back on track and feel authentic to myself again. It doesn’t make me a failure to not want to work on physics basic and applied research in a lab. I am grateful to the people who made that pathway possible for me: Dr. Francesco “Frank” Narducci and Dr. Robert Walters, both amazing physicists with the Navy, both working on incredibly challenging but exciting problems in materials science, electronics and cold atoms. I am grateful for those who came along afterward and helped give me perspective: Dr. Ann Reagan and my supervisor and friend Andrew Kijesky. These people are truly amazing mentors and I thank them all.

In my new path, I am finding that being an engineer vs. physicist is tremendously rewarding too. There is a certain satisfaction in knowing that my work product directly benefits the men and women serving active duty in the Navy. Not only that, but working in a program gives you the widest exposure to all of the interdisciplinary efforts that make Naval Aviation work and work best in the world. I received good feedback on my performance the other day by my team lead. It was huge in making my self esteem improve.

Ridin’Chamillionaire

Yesterday, Calvert’s finest were staked out on my street in response to the increased burglaries. I took some time to thank them for this and we actually had a nice chat. So I threw this in there for those guys, because as soon as I walked back home, one of the kids on the street made a joke about them trying to catch him riding dirty. The kid’s like, ten. I highly doubt (and sincerely hope he didn’t) understood the context. It was cute.

This song reminded me of the few bad encounters I’ve had with police. The subject of police overstepping is rampant in the news and on FB, at least among my conservative friends. I have had a few bad encounters myself. I’m a good person. I drive too fast sometimes, but I’ve never been in serious trouble. I have to make a shout out to those who support the police too. My aunt Christie, who is a dispatcher, hears about some of the worst stuff that they deal with more often than the average person. I have two PGPD officers retired in my maternal family. I respect the police. My husband has considered applying to the academy. I encourage that when he is ready. We shall see.

Stronger and Jesus Walks and Gold DiggerKanye West

Say what you want about “Kimye,” but this guy makes good raps. Gold Digger is awesome. ‘Nuff said.

Stronger reminds me of someone I used to know who recently made a brief appearance in my life for a week or so. I’ll protect their identity, but they really suck. I recently went to my class reunion for high school, ten years. It was weird, but not terrible. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised to see that here in SoMD, the old cliques are still intact and some people REALLY do not grow up. The person that comes to mind has high expectations of what others will do for them, but little interest in returning the favor. This person is a great schmoozer – charisma oozes. But once they get what they want, they drop you like a hot potato. It’s disheartening, really, that this person has not realized that demanding perfection in others is not only unrealistic, but demonstrates a lack of “perfection” on their part. Perfection is a myth. You cannot take from others repeatedly but give nothing back. After awhile, even your biggest groupie will walk away. I wish them good luck, but I really hope that they stay out of my immediate circle. We don’t need that kind of drama.

Jesus Walks is always a good one. Can you really argue with “God show me the way because the devil trying to break me down?”

Whether or not the hustlin’ this guy is rapping about is “morally sound or not” the message is clear.

Not Afraid and Love the Way You Lie (feat. Rihanna) Eminem

Both of these reflect realities of life that are sometimes not pleasant. Love the Way You Lie is easy to misinterpret. But it’s a subject most of us don’t realize is so prevalent. Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse. Often, people ignore it when there’s no physical signs, victimize the victim further by questioning her about why she stays/what she was wearing/did she deserve it/etc. I agree that not all victims of domestic violence are women, so please don’t go there. But beyond domestic violence, there is the larger issues of misogyny, which has been the subject of recent social media scrutiny in the form of #notallmen and #yesallwomen. These debates need to happen and more frequently. Acceptance that not all men are misogynistic, but enough men are that arguing with the need for the conversation is unproductive is a great start. Seek first to understand, then to judge. Preferably, skip the judgment and move to making it better.

Not Afraid – great lyrical reminder that you are not what others believe you to be. You make the choice to be better, and it’s a daily, hourly, sometimes up to the minute choice. While I don’t have much to share on this publicly, suffice it to say, I was reminded of this by someone incredibly important to me this week.

Insane in the MembraneCypress Hill

Throwback, and included mostly because this reminds me of so many childhood things. Here’s to you dad, and thank you for being my musical guru over the years. Your taste is eclectic but awesome.

Figure 8Outasight

I love this guy. He’s little known, but that ought to change soon. Some of my other favorites are Tonight is the Night and Change the World. His music is lyrically sound, upbeat and has a positive message while maintaining the right amount of cynicism.

“Keep your head up while you’re pushed to the side
And maybe with a bit-bit more luck
You can get picked up from wherever you lie
I know, I know it’s not enough, you know, you know it’s hard enough
To get a decent chance around these parts-around these parts
I know, I know it’s not enough, you know, you know it’s far enough
That you can’t get there on your own anymore”

Just a sample. This harkens back to that class reunion story I mentioned earlier.

I thought about a lot more. But stream of consciousness thought is hard to quantify. Finishing on a good note, the view from the top of the cliffs at CRE on the part where Golden West Way is closed is amazing. I could see for miles – eastern shore, Pax River NAS, and the sun was rising, and it was gorgeous. Thank You God for My Life, My Health, My Mind and My Family. It’s going to be a great day.

 

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