5 Things to do instead of Complaining

There’s been a lot on my plate lately – professional changes, things not going exactly as planned, needing to pivot and scrap plans without much notice, hard decisions having to be made with which direction to head in.  But even as I type this out, the voice inside my head says very calmly, “that’s life, that’s work.” And isn’t it true? Whether you horribly love your current situation or currently despise it, there will always be ups and downs, things to complain about, obsess over, stress about. If you let things build up and don’t take action.

Hear me out….this isn’t a unicorn and rainbows rant about loving wherever you are in the journey and seeing the good in every situation. Ok, maybe it is, but here’s what I would suggest instead of festering over it, complaining incessantly about it or worse, letting it take over your life. Take action on it. Make a plan to conquer the complaints with concrete steps forward. And be honest with yourself about these things. Often times I’ll think, well I’m just venting…only to catch myself talking about the same thing over and over in my head, to a friend or Mike (who will call me on it every time). I’ve come to the realization over the past few years that being honest with yourself about the items you’re mulling over is really the first step – and once you’re there you can take action. Sounds so easy in theory…I’m saying this mostly to myself, who has felt lost a bit lately, overwhelmed and anxious in some of my current situations. Here’s what I’d suggest you do (and what I am in the process of doing):

  1. Write them down. Think about all of the concrete things in your current situation that are getting on your last nerve. List them out on a notepad, in a column or spreadsheet. Getting them out of your head, in black and white will often stop the swirl and allow you to see them as actual things to be dealt with, as opposed to concepts that you keep brushing aside.
  2. Solution brainstorming. Once you have your list of complaints, think about solutions; real, tactical things you can do to improve the situation. Example: Problem: It’s so loud in my workspace, I can’t get any work done! Solutions to Try: Bring in headphones to listen to music, move your space (if possible), have an actual conversation with your co-workers about the noise. MIND BLOWN!
  3. Begin each day with gratitude. Last year I read the book The Power of Less by Leo Babauta that spoke about bringing a gratitude practice into your day. When I sit down in the morning and write out three things I’m grateful for, my thoughts are now pointed on a positive trajectory. It’s such a simple exercise that has immediate and lasting impact.
  4. Get outside. When I’m in a yuck mood, or just spinning in the same direction over the same problem, I literally need to get outside as soon as possible to be in the open. Movement allows stagnant energy to get shaken up. While this may not solve any problems, it puts my headspace in the right place to handle the situation calmly and often will give me a new perspective.
  5. Remove yourself from the situation. Let’s be honest, sometimes the one thing you can do to improve a situation is to leave it. Knowing when this point has been reached can be tricky.  A few signs I’ve come to recognize include losing sleep, self-doubt, and arriving at the same unpleasant outcome, despite different approaches. This step can seem like giving up, especially if you don’t have a post-situation plan. I’d caution that getting to this step should be work; you have given a valiant effort towards making things work, they haven’t, so you have made steadfast steps to improve your situation by moving on.

 

Hope these steps are useful – I have to remind myself of them every now and then!

Happy Action to You!

Countdown to the Cut

It’s been 3 weeks since I blew out my knee (ACL & Meniscus) in a back-country skiing accident and it’s been, admittedly, a rough road. After realizing the extent of the injury, I found out that surgery was in the cards. Immediately, the wheels began turning. Ski Season: Over. Recovery time: months. Hiking, running, mountain biking: postponed till further notice. So many of the reasons I moved to Colorado, I would have to put on a shelf until I healed. But then, I realized these things would be waiting for me after surgery (which is scheduled for April 4th). After my rehab, after my physical therapy, after all the baby steps I have to take, I’ll be back, stronger than before.

So the wheels started turning, this time in the right direction. A forward motion. And I started planning. I’m sharing what I want the next three weeks, before the April 4th surgery, to look like.

Physically

My Surgeon is part of Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center & I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the facility (and they’re a client as well!).  My Dr. uses HealthLoop, which is basically a patient portal that engages patients before and after procedures, pushing reminders, exercises, nutritional recommendations. It’s a holistic approach to a major health incident and I greatly appreciate it. In addition to the exercises the Dr. recommended, I signed up for a residential pass to the Apex center in Arvada so I can swim! Also, I’ve been researching yoga poses that you can do with an ACL injury. By hell or high water, I will get my physical fitness on!

Here are the exercises my Dr. passed over through HealthLoop.

Reminder: Hamstring Sets

Hamstring sets will strengthen the muscles located on the back of your thigh. Lying down on your back in bed, bend the knee very slightly and push down with the heel. Hold for the count of five seconds. Practice with both legs. Perform 10 times, twice per day until the day of your procedure.

 

Nutritionally 

On this front, I feel I’m well on my way to optimizing my recovery time – I already eat TONS of plants! I do plan to meal prep for the post recovery, when I literally can’t stand, so will incorporate more protein, plants with iron, calcium, and high fiber (which  helps with all of the antibiotics/pain pills I’ll have to take post surgery). Below are nutritional tips that I received from my Dr. and I plan to stock up!

Reminder: Make Healthy Eating A Priority!
  • Eat at least three times a day and don’t skip meals
  • Drink 6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day
  • Include protein-rich foods with each meal such as beans, nuts, tofu,  chia seeds, lentils, tofu, chick peas, green peas, quinoa, millet, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and nutritional yeast
  • Incorporate high-fiber foods in your diet such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables to help prevent constipation
  • Get lots of calcium to strengthen your bones (Kale, Almond & coconut milk, tahini, broccoli, sweet potatoes, chia seeds)
  • Eat iron-rich foods to promote healthy blood (leafy greens, cumin, soy beans, spinach, collard greens, tofu to name a few!)

 

Mentally

It’s the 3 week mark of my injury and while I’ve kept up a positive attitude up until this point, I have to admit, the blues have crept in a bit this weekend. Denver has been exceptionally warm and all who are able to take to the trails, bikes, streets, have. And I have been restricted inside. And it has SUCKED. I realized today, despite the list of ‘fun’ things I’ll be able to do while recovering, I will need to keep mentally positive. So, starting tomorrow, I’ll be starting a meditation practice in the morning and continue throughout my recovery period. Your thoughts become energy, your energy becomes action, and that action needs to move me forward.

 

Time right now is my best friend and worst enemy. Focusing on the things I can control (my physical therapy, nutrition, mental state) will make or break my recovery. My goal will be to document my journey to recovery: the good, the bad and inevitably, the ugly. You get what you put in, and I plan to make this experience a learning one.

Happy Sunday!

After the Fall: A Positive Spin to a Backcountry Injury

It was a cold, bluebird day in the Colorado Mountains. Three friends decided to ski the sky chutes – backcountry skiing off the back of peak 6 in Breckenridge, across the way from Copper mountain.

After dropping one car off on the Copper side, the friends drove to Breckenridge, parked their car, and took the Kensho lift up to peak 6. After a small hike up to the summit, the friends went off the backside, hiked down past the windblown areas, and found their line.

Backcountry - Peak 6

The snow was amazing. The peacefulness was palpable. The beauty of the backcountry was breathtaking. It couldn’t have been a better day.

Sky Chutes

One friend would route find, signal to the next, and so on and so on. Powder showered them with each turn. The day had Epic written all over it.

Powder chasersAnd then, she fell. The left tip of her ski skirted under a mound of powder, yanking her knee one way while her body twisted the other. While she didn’t hear a pop, she knew something was truly wrong. A loud yelp escaped her lips and she tumbled into the snow, still strapped into her skis. Her husband, following her lead, skied down and aided her to her feet. Not wanting to call SAR (Search and Rescue), she skied gingerly down to the leader of the group, going extremely slow, only able to make left turns. Back at the car, after an excruciating journey out, she rested her knee and they made plans to grab a well deserved beer. Oh, what an Epic day it was indeed.

 

Ski Injury

So, that’s what happened last Sunday, in a nutshell. Fast forward a few days, and I found myself on an Orthopedics exam table, being pricked with a massively huge needle, used to drain my hugely swollen injured knee.  X-rays showed no brake, but revealed a tumor (most likely benign) formed from a mass of cartilage, not caused by my injury. It’s been a rough week.

Diebolt

But, I’m staying positive because there are many things to be thankful for, despite the fall. While I don’t know if I’ll need surgery, if it’s extremely serious, or what the hell is going on with the tumor, I have a massive support system, have my health (besides the dumb knee), and live in a state with amazing beer. I will not let a small set-back get me down. I vow to take care of myself, no matter the outcome, with a renewed sense of purpose, a grateful heart, and a sky’s the limit mindset. Cheers to eating, drinking, and being merry today, for tomorrow is promised to no one.