Friday, March 30, 2012

Poetry Corner: Pristine Pools

Here's stream of consciousness for you... The recent Salt Lake City temperatures make me want to take a nature trip, which makes me recall really loving a visit to Yellowstone National Park in 2005.

I was so inspired by the nature there that I wrote a lot of poetry on that trip. Here's a sampler:

Pristine Pools

treading the planks
of this forsaken land
I ponder the life and
death of all I see…

a boiling brew of earth
begins to drum erratically
occasionally gurgling its refrain,
as a foul misty stench
coats my skin with an unusual warmth,
my lungs begin to burn

elements combine,
molding everything together …
dying beautifully

deep within this fissure
I feel the foul heat begin to call –
an inexplicable urge to touch
the prismatic lake
within me…

staring at the mouth wide open
I am temporarily paralyzed –

I feel my beauty fade
the longer I gaze, yet
I am captivated
by the subtle harshness
hidden between the vapor,
I remain –
looking into the clearest chasm

below the calm basin
images of terror dance off-beat
as the earth ruptures inward
while pain echoes,
migrating deeper
agitating the fragile balance

not yet ready to burst
not yet ready to take me…
I am suddenly released
with a promise
and a threat

Diana M. Bateman 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Canyonlands Half Marathon

Just showing up to run a Half Marathon!
Left to Right: Laura, Melanie, Diana, Tiffany, Janice.
Last week (March 11 through18, 2012) was Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Week. To close out MS Awareness Week out I decided to help those that know me by making them more aware that MS isn't an instant or definite disability. To show MS that I've got my fight on, I ran the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 17th. 

Even if I couldn't have run that, I would have done something ... anything to defy the odds of my current circumstance. Even though I had my fight on, I was nervous. And for some darn reason, I was even doubtful. This doubt downright ticked me off. 

It was interesting to show up for something like that and just go with the flow. I trained, I registered, so I was going to do it and do it to the best of my ability. Then came the wind... good night! 

Average winds during the race were twenty-two to thirty-five miles per hour - the entire way. The winds didn't have the courtesy of blowing at my back either. I wanted so badly to stay with the 2two hour, twenty-minute race pacer, who just happened to be my cousin. 

However, this day wasn't the day for that kind of running. I was able to stay with that pacing group for about five or six miles, though. It was unsafe for me to keep that pace. 

The wind and I were fighting and in order for me to feel good about the run and keep all my faculties together; I had to slow it down and run my own race. 

I even speed walked collectively about three miles. Oh! I can't forget to praise the makers of Imodium and  Pepto-Bismol chewable tablets! Thanks to them, I was able to keep my inner workings from further complicating things like they did for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon

When I got to the last quarter mile I did what I always do in finishing races, I gave it all I had to cross the finish. Every muscle protested with each step, but I crossed with all my energy reserve. 

At the finish was my totally awesome husband waiting for me and all I could do was hug him and cry a bit. His arms have felt like a refuge many times over our married life, but at that moment I felt saved. I love you Josh!

So with this being a tribute to pretty much say "F-You Multiple Sclerosis", I would like to raise awareness and point you to a full description about MS, which can be found at this website

However, please note that MS affects each person differentlyJust because you knew someone with a horrible MS experience DOES NOT mean your experience (or mine) will be the same. So please, stop telling horror stories to people who are newly diagnosed. 

Also, comparison, bitterness and fear are only a fast track to absolutely nowhere. Not everyone with MS can walk, but by no means does this mean you are doomed either. 

What I am saying is more universal: that we must accept the ailment, so that we can move beyond it. Treat the disease with the options you have available and then live to the best of your current ability - which may vary over time. It's just like I mentioned above, "...I had to run my own race." 

Do yourself and everyone around you a huge favor and refuse to live life based on the unpredictability of disease. I'm not saying that everything will be happy, I'm simply saying find ways to accommodate your needs and l-i-v-e. 

It is what it is and you can always live your life to the best of your current ability. This ability is determined by your attitude. 

I feel a burden to be constantly on the lookout for ways to accommodate my current abilities, so that I feel able-minded. Yes, be aware of MS (or whatever disease affects someone close to you), and be aware of the various states of the disease: extreme, abnormal, and mild forms. 

Not only that, but become aware of what people are doing even though they have a disease.  You may not be able to do exactly the same things as others, but you should be able to see that pretty much the only thing stopping you is yourself. 

The National Ability Center is a prime example of what can be done, when you believe or have someone believe in you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"You've Got To Move It, Move It!"

Half the issues that we have in life could be resolved if we would just show up, rise to the occasion and follow through. Easier said than done for sure! Yet, somehow we always end up surprising ourselves...

I leave for Moab, Utah today. I'm headed south for the Canyonlands Half Marathon; running as a part of the Huntsman Hometown HeroesI'm nervous and there's a bunch of doubt creeping in all the corners of my brain. 

I was running the other day and I was thinking about the days when I ran with no doubt at all. I remember the pure determination. I remember the raw joy of the run. 

It's different this go-around for some reason. My focus has been... slippery. My body has been fighting me so very much. However, at the same time, I'm packing up and showing up. 

I know I have it in me to run this, it would just be nice if my brain would follow suit. I'm moving forward because of the momentum that has been built. We can't always rely on a compliant body or a fully focused mind to do the things we desire to do. We don't always have that luxury. 

I do not care that I have Multiple Sclerosis, this disease doesn't even factor in to the run this go-around. The bigger, more ever-present burden is disbelief. Yet, even in my doubt, there's a glimmer of knowledge that is going to see me through. 

The knowledge is that no matter my pace or posture in the journey of this race (or my life), I have a finish line to cross - I intend to cross it. 

It's not the finish time or finesse that wins this kind of race, rather it's a willingness to meet the challenge head-on that determines success. I hope, I pray that if nothing else, the journey is a beautiful one. 

Here's to surrendering to a power that is most definitely beyond my own. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Checkmate! ... It's about Visualization, ya baby!

Most people are in a desperate hunt for "that thing" that they can buy or that person that will just make everything better. 

This thing or person somehow will fix or facilitate accomplishing all that your heart desires. When this happens, they (you) are simply seeking an external resolve to an internal problem. Why do this? 

Simply put, when you lose passion for something, for someone, or fail time and time again, it is generally due to the fact that you (or they) have eased up and stopped challenging yourself; you've stopped practicing. 

We lose sight of the plan when we stop thinking about it every day or planning for it. In my mind this happens because of one of the following reasons:
  1. Lack of earnest commitment in the beginning.
  2. After enough practice and planning, things become easier, we then fail to recognize we need to step it up a notch; or even re-evaluate the plan based on growth and development. 
  3. You over-do it because you were too impatient and then you burn yourself out.
  4. Visualizing the end result isn't applied.

This is where we stagnate and lose our edge. In other words, this is where we start to lose sight and think the plan is failing. Or you may think that you are failing and either quit or look for an additional external quick fix.

Here's exactly why it's critical to make a plan. Set your goals continually, review them often and visualize how these practice sessions will help you achieve your innermost desires.

The aforementioned applies to relationships, fitness, general health, work, school and more. All four of the above mentioned points are equally important. But I wanted to really point out the second and fourth.

After enough practice and planning things become easier, we then fail to recognize we need to step it up a notch; or even reevaluate the plan based on growth and development. 

Once you practice enough (even with big passions) we tend to get a little lazy. If you did this in a job setting you would get fired eventually. 

However in a professional athlete's world, this is where their trainer will kick it up a notch. You see, you've created a solid base of talent and endurance. It's at this moment you've now really got something to work with. 

This is where the pianist laughs at the days of struggling through the Thompson Piano Books while being frustrated as they prepare for a performance of George Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue. All of the sudden the old adage of "practice makes perfect" really resonates. 

Even to maintain status quo, there's a level of intermittent challenges that must be endured. We practice fifty-two weeks out of the year, so that we can give a solid performance periodically throughout the year simply to maintain.

Visualizing the end result. This is how we get to the next level mentioned in my previous point. How bad do you want it? 

Have you taken time to mentally visualize yourself actually doing the thing you want to do? This is easier said than done. 

Visualization can sometimes require just as much discipline as practice and planning, if not more - probably because it's that critical. 

The pianist probably listened to Rhapsody In Blue countless times with eyes closed. Hands were pictured playing it as the music progressed. 

This is where the athlete imagined the feel of their body in some position or another in the event. The athlete even has a good idea when to expect complete exhaustion and has pictured what to do to keep moving. 

This is where the Executive makes a masterful play in the office and gets the budget they need approved in order to do amazing things for their employees, as well as for the company.

In order to succeed in these of course, you will have to define your level of commitment (point one) so that you can layout the best plan and follow it. In constantly re-evaluating the plan you also reduce the risk of doing too much too soon thus burning out (point three).

My next plan is to get comfortable submerging my head under water (short term goal), so that I can become a better swimmer (mid-range goal). 

I would like to compete in a triathlon (big goal). It's taken me a long time to just get in the water. A good chunk of time was used to walk around in the water to overcome the feeling of panic. 

I'm now doing simple strokes, but I freak out every time water gets in my nose and mouth. BUT, I have seen me fully engaged in swimming in my minds' eye. It wasn't until I could visualize each of these steps that I could challenge the fear(s) and then do them. I will do this.

What's on your list?

Friday, March 2, 2012

When the Superman Band-Aid Doesn't Hold

So, I panic from time to time. Finding a way to get a grip on the irrational emotions that occur during that time is a tough job. 

There have been some interesting times in my life, and because of it, I've had the following terms used on me: mild OCD, panic disorder, PTSD

My response to them all back in the day was "woe is me", but now it's more akin to "bite me!" How many acronyms can a single person be labeled with? 

Hi, I'm Diana BS MS PT ICD9 340 ICD10 G35 OCD PTSD... and on and on and... Forget that! I've been labeled enough. Can't a person just be sad anymore?

Simply put, I've got issues, but who doesn't? I've got to deal with them and I refuse to hide behind or excuse the issues because of my labels. 

I also refuse to let labels and treatments desensitize me from the responsibility of corrective behavior; especially when I do have control over at least that much. 

Medicine is appropriate in the right setting, but that's not all that I should rely upon. So many people think that, because you have swallowed a pill, you've been absolved from doing anything else about the situation. 

I would like to submit that treating "the problem" by milligrams alone is essentially like putting on a band-aid with poor adhesive qualities.

I'm fascinated by the mind-body connection. I've begun to understand just how powerful a role it has played in my life; it's been empowering to know that though I may be irrational at times, I still have some semblance of control over my response(s). 

Not long ago I read something that got me really thinking - it was in Aine Tubridy’s book, When Panic Attacks. She was talking about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and I realized that what she had written about actually held the key to understanding normal fear and anxiety. 

Normal meaning, you live and breathe, therefore sadness will happen occasionally and you may even freak out from time to time because of it. 

Tubridy talks about the primitive fear response that is the basis of all panic, which can be good sometimes:

"[The aim of fear] is not only to prompt you to find safety, but it will remain in place until it is certain that the danger is over and that you will not be exposed to a similar experience before you have fully recovered. Once you are out of danger, the focus shifts to a risk of a future occurrence. Your internal bodyguard means to see that you don’t become complacent or relaxed for some time yet, to ensure that you stay ‘on alert’ should the danger return unexpectedly - the alarm will only cease when your primitive brain is completely satisfied that you are not in danger any longer and that adequate safety measures have been put in place for the future."

What I get out of this is that you have to prove to the primitive brain that the danger no longer exists - only then, will it stop the fear. And sometimes the fear may linger because the situation is prolonged. 

In some of those situations your life may not be in danger, but the brain perceives that it is; simply because it's in a state of unrest. In other words, you're not where you would like to be.

I can't tell you how many times over the years that I've read from multiple resources that the final say comes from the brain. 

In his book, Life Strategies, Dr. Phil McGraw said something to the effect of the following: When it's announced that one political party takes control of the Senate, it's not bad news, it's not even good news, it's just news

The pros and cons of the situation aren't assigned until an individual interpretation is applied. Even then, it's still just news. The mind still has the final say of how that information is going to affect you. Y-O-U still get to decide how you will respond to whatever comes your way.

This life is about our responses to the ebb and flow of circumstances that we experience. 
Labeled or not, medicated or not, 
we still get to decide what we do about it.

I've had a really long and really crappy week. The days have been packed with insecurity and frustration. But this week is also over, yeah! 

I also have had moments of joy while serving others, seeing family and seeing some neat people at work that I seldom get to see. The positives of this week really do outweigh the negatives. 

In any case, I'm really thankful for my pillow and I think I will go let my head sink into it. I look forward to a good long run tomorrow. You know what? I'm amazed I'm even running. Yes, these will be good dreams tonight; very good indeed.