It’s Wednesday – BUT instead of feeling like ‘uh it’s half way there.’ Let’s mix it up a bit and get excited about our health instead! My dear friend just started a blog with the most adorable name ever. Bite Sized Twinkie. It’s in the foundational/beginning stages so stay tuned for big great fun things from her!
Also I recently became an admin for a wonderful paleo-inspired facebook page called Cooking Clean. There are four of us gals who contribute with mostly paleo recipes, workout tips, and motivation to eat, live, and love clean.
Since I technically am still doing the February Health Challenge, it is super important to remember that clean eating is key in any healthy lifestyle. We tend as a society to get hung up on calories, but really the most important idea should be quality of nutrients not quantity. No better example of this serves than diet soda vs. all organic fruit smoothie. Believe it or not a low-cal (i.e. not processed) fruit smoothie is easier and better for your body to digest than that evil zero calorie diet soda that actually tricks your body and causes huge disasters in blood sugar levels. (diet soda rant*)
Obviously, everyone has their own preferences and eating styles that makes them feel best. For me, staying away from anything processed and limiting starches/complex carbohydrates is how I stay lean as well as prevent lethargy, bloating (cute!), and mood fluctuation. That means that overall, I do in fact eat a Paleo diet. I really enjoy almond milk as a substitute for traditional milk, and I find myself trying alternative flours all the time in baking. Don’t get me wrong I’ll still sample traditional candies and sweets, but it’s not at the levels/rates I used to. My mind and body mean way too much to me to ruin with overly-processed and refined ‘nutrients.’ It took a long time for me to accept that what I eat really does affect me mentally. Not in a ‘control’ way but in a basic chemical reaction – I still find new things that work and don’t everyday.
I started my graduate process officially 3 years ago, but before that I had anticipated graduate school pretty much right after I graduated with my undergraduate degree. I loved my undergraduate economics department so I made the simple (if not lazy) choice to just go back to the department I was so fond of.
Graduate school was hard. I’m talking about days when I couldn’t even understand material and therefore questioned my whole purpose and place in economics. There were weeks of time, specifically, when I did NOT pass an Advanced Microeconomics class that made me feel like I was dying mentally and physically. My ‘academic’ ego was so damaged during this time that I even contemplated if I could finish the program. I was really hard on myself about this too. I had never ever done poorly in school and to not pass a class was devastating. Never mind the fact I was working at a very demanding start up oil and gas company, starting my serious relationship with The Dude, and trying to give 100% in every area – feeling like I was half-assing it all.
I did ‘alright’ in most of the classes and really well in less than a handful. Classes were tough, the material was sometimes written in a special economics code that I could not decipher without looking at it for days or weeks sometimes, and I made it harder by not blending in to the academic economics culture. My ‘re-do’ of the Adv. Micro class resulted in an A for me and a much better relationship with my graduate peers, professors, and my academic self. I also quit my job and focused on school like I should have done to begin with. But, fitting-in made the difference.
This is the thing I have regrets about. “Fitting in” – I’ve never really fit in anywhere. High School? Nope. Undergraduate? Had a ton of great awesome friends, but didn’t really have ‘place’. Hair School? Definitely not – but everyone at hair school is an example of not fitting in. I waltzed into graduate orientation with my ‘hair stylist’ attitude – tattoos showing, alternative thinking, and damn proud to rub ‘my identity’ in anyone’s face. That, with working and not physically being able to be at school to ‘bond’ led me to be alone. This stunk because I wasn’t there for the ‘break-thru’ mind melding sessions that allowed everyone else to do WAY better than me. There were two professors that understood me and knew my potential and my background – the others I had never taken a class with and my demeanor or perhaps my gender made them standoffish and not approachable for me. This made things really hard. I could pout even more and say they discriminated me because of my tattoos, my gender, and my lifestyle, but I isolated and discriminated myself. If I had ‘toned’ down my identity and censored certain parts of my life, I probably would have finished graduate school in 2 years instead of a grueling never-ending 3. I know what you’re thinking – ‘whatever if they don’t accept you then forget them’ well that kind of thinking doesn’t apply to the people who determine your academic future. It also doesn’t apply to your employer and ultimately I am glad I learned this hard lesson of censorship in school and not by being ‘discriminated’ against at a job.
I have learned to censor my life and leave some things hidden and secret – no one at work knows I’m heavily tattooed and I like it that way. There are not assumptions made (good or bad), comments made, or incidents that could be avoided if I had just toned it down. I don’t feel like I am pretending to be someone else – or hiding my true identity. I’m simply ‘fitting-in’ – now don’t worry I’m not going to start shopping at Ralph Lauren or Abercrombie anytime soon, but it’s nice to fit in with your professional peers. It’s easy.
I spent two and a half years being angry at graduate school culture, but ultimately I was mad that I could have done something to change it instead of feel like I was suffering. We have choices we can make to make our lives easier and harder. In my field of work, alternative lifestyles are not normal or easy to lead successfully in the open. This may change, it may not. But, I know that by not being so loud my life, my potentials are no longer limited. Plus when the whistle blows, I can take off my sweater and proudly show my beautiful tattoos and be me without sacrificing the career potentials for a rare tattooed-crafter-blogger-furmama-goofball economist like me.