Category Archives: Mind

From Massage Spa Therapist to Physical Therapist


Life usually knows what a person needs.  I find myself forgetting sometimes that life is my greatest teacher.  And even though I really do want to believe in coincidences, I don’t.

Just a week prior to my first session with my pelvic physical therapist, my aunt gave me a gift for a 90-minute massage to the spa therapist.  So, even though my aunt was coming with me to the spa, I couldn’t help my anxiety levels because this was my first time and the idea of a stranger touching my body intimately was a bit nerve-wracking.

All these normal tiny question-based fears crept up like a cold draft in a haunted apartment like:  Will my naked body look okay?  What about that little bit of cellulite in my inner thighs?  Will they notice and are they going to feel it when they massage me?  Am I going to perspire like a madwoman because of my revved up anxiety levels and stink the whole place up like a skunk?

Ah, so with all the dread, it finally came time to strip down to my bra and panties at the locker room which brought back memories of never wanting to get undress in gym class at junior high and how other girls would make fun of me because I prefer privacy over publicity.  But I managed to get into the lovely plush robe despite the fact that some eyes were peering my way.  I confidently shook it off and strolled nervously into the massage room.

It was beautiful!  Dim lighting, meditative music, candle atmosphere.  Then it was time to undo my bra.  My panty I could leave on!  And I managed to get through it.  But because I went through this experience, I was able to not completely freak or walk out the door when I had to strip my pants and panty at the physical therapist place.

The first real session (not the initial evaluation) with my pelvic physical therapist was surprising but expected since I’ve done my research.  Still, I was freaking out internally.  The dim lights, classical music, and earthly décor put me at ease to an extent, but the rest of the time I’m sporting a deadpan expression with brewing spades and acid in the pit of my stomach.

For me, there’s nothing comfortable being half naked and having this talkative nice lady massage and stretch my stomach, pelvis, inner thighs, sit bones, hips, glutes and lower back.  Nothing.  As if nothing could top that, she brought out the vagina dilators, gloves and lube.  And I reassured myself, “This doesn’t make you gay.  This is medical procedure.  This appears sexual but isn’t sexual at all.  Relax.”

This was when I had to channel my anxiety and awkward levels to asking her a million questions about her life and her career and everything else in between, so I wouldn’t die too much in the present moment of vagina dilators.  All I could think is, if I can handle a 90-minute plus massage with wraps, hot oil and hot stones, I can handle someone sticking dilators inside me, regardless if they’re the same gender.

*pats back*

-Pennington

Everything


Now that I have my dumbbells and E-Z Bar put off to the corner of the apartment, I’ve been focusing on other things like cardio (biking), twerking, walking with nature, flexibility and mobility work.  My physical therapist has even whispered restorative yoga and has recommended some DVD’s specifically for pelvic floor dysfunction that involves yoga.  So, you know where that’s taking me.

Now I’m not the biggest fan of cardio, but I’m a fan of being healthy enough.  To make biking for miles fun at the apartment, I blast tunes on my S1-Pro Bose!  The music gives me goosebumps and sometimes I can feel the bass deep in my heart as I drown out everyone else’s music in the building.  Sometimes I like multiple sessions spreading them from morning, afternoon or night.  And when I’m in a carefree mood, I’ll ride the bike without undies because that’s something I could never do at the gym!

Some people underestimate the work it takes to twerk.  It’s a hell of a workout!  Plus, it’s something that gets my heart racing quicker than I can shake my ass, probably.  I’m not supposed to squat, lunge or do crunches, according to my physical therapist, but what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, even though it may hurt me.  The main move of the twerk is a squat!  Still though, there are so many damn drills from standing, to bending over, to squatting on your toes, to performing movements on the wall or floor.  It’s great!

I remember when I first started twerking my body didn’t have the best muscle memory.  It felt like the first time I tried to dumbbell chest press; massively awkward and almost impossible.  I remember being self-conscious trying to chest press, more so than twerking.  Now, my ass has graduated!  It has a mind of its own and moves on its own freewill.  The only thing I need is a nickname for my twerking persona.

So, it took me a long time to be more flexible, but I got somewhere.  I stretched more of my lower body than I do my upper body because one day I want to be able to do the split.  Flexibility always reminds me of mobility work, so I do them both.  I used to think warmups, flexibility and mobility stuff were a waste of time, but that’s only because 1.  I can be kind of idiotic and 2.  because I was young and could get away without doing those things, so I thought.  I’m older now and my body is not having that shit anymore.  I must warm up and get all my juices flowing before I can dive into any kind of training just like foreplay before the climax.

Well, I’m new to restorative yoga.  I hope to practice it to the point where I turn into an airplane and levitate above the masses and hope to write about the journey of my new elevation.  So far, it’s weird to me.  At least, the process of being gentle as well as the process of consciously relaxing.  It’s eye-opening.  For the longest time, I lifted aggressively at the gym.  And to my amazement, I’ve never considered myself to be aggressive, even when others pointed and RAWR at me.  But by doing restorative yoga, I can see now how hostile, and often, how destructive I was.  Shit!  I have the injuries as proof.

Learning how to relax is something I needed in my life but didn’t know I needed in my life.  Isn’t that how it often is?  You never know what you need because you’re usually fixated on wanting something else that it overshadows what you actually NEED!  Anyhow, it’s taken me a long time to come around and relax for my overall well-being.  To be honest, the idea of being gentle to myself is/was pretty darn foreign, but I’m less guarded to being tender now with newfound appreciation.  This sums up everything!

Here’s an article to the introduction of restorative yoga if you’re curious.

Try it sometime.

Pennington

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction


I knew something was strange every time I laughed or tried to do a sumo deadlift and tinkled myself.  I knew something was strange when I felt like I had to urinate faithfully around the clock.  I knew something was strange when I suddenly started to experience pain during intercourse.  In the morning upon waking, there’s a dull pain in the center of my stomach that stretches deep into my pelvis.  It plants itself there like a kentia palm.  At the same time, the mid-lower back pain stretches out to the side wrapping itself around my lat, not to mention the top of my buttocks and hips.

It took years to understand what the hell was going on with me.  Why I felt completely exhausted after sleeping 8 hours?  Why my moods were shifting quicker than I could say bipolarism?  Why its been so easy to abandon my fitness goals and sessions?  Why did I feel like I was trying to walk through brain farts daily?  Why all this pain?

Thankfully a visit to the handsomest urologist gave me his recommendation to see his friend who’s also a urologist but deals with women’s sexual health.  It was there where I was greeted by a real life perky sitcom character Karen Walker.  She checked out my vulva, took my urine through a catheter on the spot (with my permission of course) and complimented me on my Kegel.  Then she said, “You have Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.  Don’t worry.  It’s fixable!”  I was prescribed a physical therapist who specializes in PFD.  Also, testosterone gel, which is made by a chemist (therefore making it extra tailored and super expensive) for my vulva.

Coupled this PFD along with my growing fibroids (which I was told to ignore if they don’t grow) and it’s no wonder why I’ve been wanting to pull my hair out of my goddamn head for so long.  My fibroids have grown to the point where they have taken my uterus out of its place and is now sitting behind my bellybutton.  The clusters of fibroids have enlarged my uterus making my stomach protrude.  On my medical record it states that my fibroids are well into 14-16-week pregnancy.  So, I’ll see a surgeon next month.  God willing.

Well, for the longest time, I thought I was secretly dying.  Turns out, at least for the moment, I’ve been on a tumultuous ride with hormones.  Keeping a positive outlook has been extremely challenging.  I can’t tell you how long I felt hopeless and completely isolated from the rest of the world.  Of course, I kept praying for answers, for guidance and for the right doctors to come in my path, so I can get the ball rolling.  My prayers have been answered.  Things are rolling.  I’m finally not holding my breath anymore.

I’m moving forward with new breath within me.

-Pennington

Different Now


queen 3

Things are different now.  And of course, it’s expected as nothing in life remains the same.  I’ve become aware just how much I’ve held onto things I shouldn’t have due to fear like ideas, fantasies, job, people, places and things.  It’s strange holding onto something and being afraid of losing it.

Where does that come from?  How many reasons do we need to hold onto something?  How many reasons do we need for us to let go?  It’s kind of crazy because as people we live every day of our lives with things changing all the time, so what are we afraid of?

It’s scary to think of what we do, and what we say and how we are shaped by things simply because we’re doing what we can to keep it.  I know I bring a force that unfortunately places resistance to what is, which in the end, means I will suffer more than I must to maintain a keeping.  Well, is it worth it?

The past few years I’ve been learning and practicing with each new day how nothing is meant to last.  Everything is in an impermanent state – every face, feeling, state of mind, impression and precious moments.  And that’s something I’ve learned is okay.  As a matter of fact, with each change came more blessings and visions I could never imagine due to being rigid within my ways.

I did want things to remain the same for me like my identification with the fitness lifestyle and having my body conditioned.  However, everything is different as it’s supposed to be.  If it weren’t different, then I wouldn’t be different, but because I’m different, everything else is different.  It’s been different going back to the gym.  Sometimes it depresses me.

I still suffer from the physical trauma of having broken my ankle.  Trauma can remain in the body like the way muscle memory does.  I’ve been working on it for years now.  With trauma comes some undesirable associations like intrusive thoughts.  So, for instance, going to the gym and getting on a bike gives me anxiety as I believe (imagined; possibly irrational, but feels real) I’ll break my ankle again.  Before I get on the bike, an image will flash where I reinjure my ankle by slipping off the bike in horrible fashion – a visualization I would love to do without.

Aside from the mental intrusive thoughts, images or flashbacks I have, there are other things that come, which I call the lingering side effects of things that may never go away.  I’ll rock out on a cardio machine (preferably the bike) and within twenty-five minutes my feet will start to hurt and swell, each fueling one another.  Sometimes the pain creeps where my metal rod and screws are.  Other times the pain comes directly from the arches of my feet and travels upwards in an ache that makes me shudder and vulnerable.

Sometimes I stop for 30 seconds because I don’t want the machine to reset my time.  Other times I loosen my shoelace or take my sneakers off, so I can continue with my sixty plus minutes of cardio.  These things do depress me, especially if I look back on my past and feel like I was better than.  I don’t want to look back there because there is nothing there for me but pains of what I had, which will give me present sadness and if I’m not careful will rob me of all the blessings I do have today.

So, I don’t do plyometrics anymore.  I don’t jog anymore.  Maybe I will l someday despite the syndesmotic widening in my right ankle.  I focus on the blessings of having all my limbs.  I focus on how far I’ve come like when walking a single block would flare everything in my body because I had to learn how to walk again, which essentially meant walking the fire for me.  I focus on the resiliency and how good I feel when the endorphins fly like a thousand butterflies heading to the sunlight to fuel their wings with solar energy.

Things are different.  I’m forged by a new fire.  And it’s okay.

– Pennington

Fitness Wasn’t Everything


I had someone tell me once, “Fitness isn’t all there is to the world.” And, although, I knew that, I didn’t comprehend what that looked like or how does one practice that kind of lifestyle, until life told me to take a seat with a cast on.  It was during this time I learned fitness wasn’t everything in life.  Fitness no longer always became the focus for which I identified with.  That changed my perspective on everything else, and it also made room for everything else I had to deal with.

I believe fitness has helped me to manage my bipolar for over a decade.  The first time I was diagnosed I didn’t want to believe it.  I think it’s not uncommon to say that before I was diagnosed, life was better.  But, that isn’t necessarily true.  I want it to be.  However, I understand that the notion of my life being better in the past is most likely stemming from not having the diagnosis in the first place since I can’t unknow what I know.  Nevertheless, the moment when fitness became unavailable for me, it was easier to see how difficult it became to stabilize my mood swings and irritability in general.

I used fitness as a crutch for many things like anger, depression and the void.  There were times I genuinely enjoyed gym-hopping because I naturally thought it was healthier than barhopping.  But, those hourly long sessions five or six times a week at the gym were where I chose to avoid certain life reflections.  So, rather than cut myself with a blade or fracture my hand on a solid wall, I would train to injury repeatedly.  I was using a different method to continue to hurt myself.

When I couldn’t train for a period, I had to learn to sit with my passions.  I had to observe my pain and find times for when I could adjust in healthier ways.  I had to find new ways to regulate my recurring moods, triggers and symptoms.  This was one of the most difficult things I had to do, despite allowing myself to feel what I feel when they arise.  It took a long time for me to realize that not every feeling will remain and not every thought was something I had to believe in.  I also didn’t realize in the way I trained my mind and body reflected my pain, avoidance, passion, anger, sadness and loneliness.

I’ve been a queen of silent pain, abuse and trauma.  I’ve been cold and brutal many times, not only to myself, but to others as well.  Once I started to transition from a masculine approach to more of a feminine one, I learned how to become softer and not have a meltdown.  With changing my mindset, from being open to change and flow while being less critical, clarity came along with ease and it reflected in my training styles as a form of better awareness, in and out my fitness, and life itself.

-Pennington

See How That Works


It’s easy to put someone on a pedestal when I know nothing about them.
I imagine all these renowned blends of hot weekends and being the best of friends.
  

I like you because I know nothing of you.
I like you because in the moment I’m willing to play a fool.


I like you because I’m not emotionally invested.
I like you because I’m restless and totally tempted.


But once I get to know you I start looking for a way out.
I turn my back on you like I would any boy scout.


I start to zero in on excuses that creep in my head.
I auto-suggest and suggest until you’re unwise and dead.


I doubletalk yet act as if all my intentions are good.
I ask the lord to forgive me because I’m often misunderstood.
 
I start to pick on your flaws like a bad student.
I will say you need improvement until you lose it.


I will even make you rethink your favorite drink.
While I run hot and cold like an ambiguous sink.


And the thing is, there’s a big dark sea –
How in tarnishing the image of you, I tarnished the image you once had of me.


-Pennington

Out of the Moment


I took a cab yesterday.

When I take a cab, there’s usually a purpose for it.  When I’m in a cab I like peace, quiet and looking at scenery.  I like looking at people’s ugly faces when they jaywalk or run across in front of a moving car even.  But, this cab driver kept taking me out of the moment.  (I guess, in some ways I allowed him to.)

He talked about how awful traffic was from jump.  How traffic this and traffic that.  And I couldn’t understand why he allowed traffic to arouse him in ways he didn’t want to be aroused in.  I observed how he took himself out of the moment simply by focusing on something he should be used to by now.  Maybe this should have amused me?  But, I felt slightly bothered and I was trying to overcome my judgmental side, wondering why he couldn’t give me a more considerate quiet drive.

Traffic shouldn’t be a surprise to a cab driver like I imagine a stripper shouldn’t be surprised by men ogling drunk in lust.  It comes with the occupation.  So, to have saw him and hear the thoughts he could’ve kept to himself as he looked on over to the other side of the highway, “Now I have to wait uptown for at least a half an hour by the hydrant since there’s no way I can come back down” is to put it mildly, a hot mess.

And now I wonder if I’m a hot mess, for having wrote a blog about it. 😉

-Pennington

The Vanishing


I haven’t been in the best state of mind.  Lately, I’ve been trying to adopt different approaches such as talking gentler to myself.  My therapist says, “Try coddling yourself as you would do a young child that you actually like.”

I’m up with the moon throughout the month and down in the soil all the other times.  Occasionally, I wake up passive and on other days I wake up aggressive as fuck.  I’ve come to terms with my mood disorder.  It’s behavioral, it’s learned, it runs in the family.  A few years ago, I’ve become aware of many effects and suspected my actions may or may not have been completely me.  Things have gotten to the point where even the most basic functions of existence do not seem basic anymore.

I lost who I was.  I think this is the way it goes, right?  Aging.  I’m not sure who I am anymore, aside from a maturing woman who’s both lovely and extreme.  I must admit loudly how I’ve been working on how to manage my mood swings for years and for a good part of my life, exercise and writing have kept a slight handle on the swings, but every day the things that used to work then haven’t been working now.  I’m puzzled.

So, I’m older and in some ways, I absolutely adore it and in other ways, I don’t think I enjoy it because the short-term memory keeps failing me.  It dissolves.  I think because there’s something in the water, something in the air, you know, there are things in our food we can’t pronounce, and that shit doesn’t allow our minds, bodies or spirit to function at an elevated level.  It’s like people hit a certain age and they flatline.  I feel there’s so much working against me in general, and this goes back to how I’m not in the best state of mind.

Over the years my discipline and motivation have taken a dive, so much so, it frightens me.  There are plenty of details in between, some you guys know and others I won’t bother getting into at this time.  Still, I’ve been trying to find my new normal concerning everyday life.  I’m going back to the basics on everything and am currently on a search to reestablish some things I used to love about myself, that now feels like the vanishing of a short-term memory.

I feel like there’s a sport psychology book calling my name out there somewhere.

-Pennington

I Heart Pearl Jam


pearl jam
I’m a grunge lady, a 90’s baby.

I love anything with rock even though in the hood of where I grew up I wasn’t supposed to.  I wasn’t cool if hip-hop wasn’t the focus.  Of course, 90’s hip-hop was the best for me, too.  But, when I left my friends and their prejudices, I’d go home, crash in my room, yell-sing at the top of my lungs with all my heart and delve into the pits of my anger and depression along with Nirvana, Guns n’ Roses, Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam.

During this time, I remember enjoying Nirvana more than Pearl Jam.  I think it was partly what the media spun though:  Were you more of a Pearl Jam or Nirvana fan?  I think since I was twelve or so, Nirvana took the cake for me, especially after his death.  It rocked me to the core.  I believed I wanted to commit suicide too, just like Kurt, and I tried.

Well, fast-forward to 2001, I was living with a boyfriend at the time and he was a heavy Pearl Jam fan.  He bought their new album that came out and told me to give it a listen or three.  And it brought back memories of how I’d listen to rock music during my deepest darkest depression and write my heart out.  Once again, I was at my most miserable.

And Pearl Jam’s album entitled Riot Act became one of my many blessings in life.  Instantly, I became a Pearl Jam fan again, but this time I knew I was a fan for life because their lyrics, jam and flavor hit me in my core unlike any other band.  This album got me out of a miserable time, and it also made me go back six albums to relearn who Pearl Jam was/is, then/now.

What I love about them is they don’t change their style to fit mainstream.  They’re a 90’s band and they have done a hell of a job keeping up with sounding like a 90’s band.  There’s a lot that goes into Pearl Jam I won’t even bother to get into, but I will a little like when they went up against Ticketmaster or how they sang songs about how fucked up the Bush Administration was even though they got booed and shit thrown at them as they performed in their own concerts.

But, more than anything it’s the evolvement of the band, their songs, lyrics, personal essence, how they individually matured and yet remain collective on every album.  And, so, in turn I have grown with them and I revisit their lyrics because as I age, my perspective grows differently with each passing year.  I go back to what they’ve written, and I get it now or I get it better.  Here’s some I want to share by Pearl Jam.  I wish I can share them all, but that would be endless.

I picked out some lyrics that are dear to me because I either went through it or it resonated with me.  If you have some of your own Pearl Jam lyrics you love or song, please share them with me.  I would love to know!  Of course, I have their concert playing as I type this and sing now:  Pearl Jam Live at the Garden.  Cheers.

Pearl_Jam-Live_At_The_Garden_Bonus-Frontal

Song TitleIn My Tree:  I remember when, yeah, I was young, I swore I knew everything, let’s say knowledge is a tree, yeah, it’s growing up just like me, yeah.

Song TitleWhy Go:  She scratches a letter into a wall made of stone.  Maybe someday another child won’t feel as alone as she does.  It’s been two years and counting since they put her in this place.  She’s been diagnosed by some stupid fuck and mommy agrees.

Song TitleWishlist:  I wish I was a sacrifice but somehow still lived on.

Song TitleBetter Man:  She lies and says she’s in love with him.  Can’t find a better man.  She dreams in color.  She dreams in red.  Can’t find a better man.

Song TitleI Got Id:  My lips are shaking; my nails are bit off.  Been a month since I’ve heard myself talk.  All the advantage this life’s got on me. Picture a cup in the middle of sea.

Song TitleLove Boat Captain:  And if our lives became too long, will it add to our regret?

Song TitleLife Wasted:  Darkness comes in waves. Tell me, why invite it to stay?

Song TitleUnthought Known:  Dream the dreams of other men, you’ll be no one’s rival.  Dream the dreams of others then, you will be no one’s rival.

Song TitleI Am Mine:  The sorrow grows bigger when the sorrows denied.

Song TitleLight Years:  I’ve used hammers made out of wood.  I have played games with pieces and rules.  I undeciphered tricks at the bar. But now you’re gone, and I haven’t figured out why.

Song TitleAll or None:  Can we help that our destinations are the ones we’ve been before?

Song TitleFaithful:  We’re faithful, we all believe, we all believe it.  So faithful, we all believe, we all believe it.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

-Pennington

Aging


aging-semmick-photo

There’s something to be said about aging and how it sneaks up on you like sweet tasting wine right before you’re smashed drunk.  There’s something to be said about becoming softer as one gets older in the center of the heart and in the marrow of bone. There’s something to be said about elasticity having its own state of mind and temperament time. There’s something to be said about sitting down profoundly alone and analyzing every choice and decision from the past to the present. There’s something to be said about the longer your life extends, the more regrets seem to surface without warning.

There’s something to be said about noticing the daily judgements and having to unlearn the customary act of judging simply to judge. There’s something to be said about wanting to pass wisdom down to youth or to anyone who may listen, but holding my tongue may be the purest wisdom and there’s something to be said about that too.  There’s something to be said about ending memories being the most significant and the beginning the least important.  There’s something to be said about annoyances by a person and how when that person is gone, suddenly those same annoyances you miss.

-Pennington