The Body as a Gift, not a Tool

I had a disappointing turn of events last Sunday. I was having a totally normal day, normal workout, normal life stuff, when out of nowhere my lower back seized up and really started to hurt. By Monday morning I was in excruciating pain and other than getting older I couldn’t pinpoint a culprit. Not immediately, anyway. It’s now Friday and I haven’t “worked out” aside from gentle yoga specifically to soothe my back. What I have worked out however is the culprit and it wasn’t one dumb thing I did or my age… it was a lot of dumb things.

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As I’ve expressed before, I tend to have tunnel vision. I get really focused, I love a good routine, and I kind of forget to step back and observe my progress or take a break. If something seems to be working I go full steam ahead. This can be great from a productivity standpoint but other times… it really isn’t so great. Like, I have a hard time hanging out if something from work is on my mind.

For months now I had finally gotten a new workout routine that I loved. I was working out 6 days a week, eating pretty well, and seeing some incredible results in my body. I also just felt stronger in general. But what was once a dope ass workout plan quickly became this rote practice. Sure, there were days I took off because I was tired, or I decided to do yoga instead of something intense. But for the most part I worked out everyday, in the same sort of style, because it was easier than assessing any sort of goal or next steps. And my body first got used to it and then got sick of it (stopped seeing results) and then finally gave me the big middle finger with an injury. It’s always an injury that is my wake up call.

I’m sharing this not as a pity party but to make a point to the people following along with me. Sometimes having a solid routine and insane dedication to it, isn’t always what we need. And the what we do need is to listen to that little, tiny, baby voice way back in our heads. It has great ideas. For instance… for a couple of months I considered taking classes again, having someone teach me proper from for a number of things. I thought about taking low impact classes like yoga or pilates but couldn’t find the time. I am also terrified of pilates. I thought about switching up the routine into longer workouts for less days. I thought of it all but I didn’t act on any of it because what I was doing was safe and I was being kind of lazy.

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But now that I’ve had the time off to consider all of this, I am re-dedicating myself to an actual healthy lifestyle. I will take the advice of the inner me; she really knew all along. I need to come up with some new goals, reassess my fitness style, find things that I love to do that push me in new ways, and let myself be led by others. It’s like, I know I have shit form for a lot of stuff, so I really need to get out there and learn from someone better. It’s embarrassing and super scary… but I really don’t want to get hurt again because I was being stubborn.

And stubborn I am. So, I want to know from all of you. What’s something in the back of your head that you know you could be doing better, but don’t? What’s that voice telling you? And I know this is hard because I would read stuff written by other people about this “voice” and I’d be like “I never ignore her!” But I secretly was. That’s how tricky this is!

I also wanted to make it a point to be open about this injury and the fact that I am not always right. I get a lot of messages on my IG stories about my dedication and how motivating it is but also how down people feel on themselves because they aren’t doing it the exact same way as me. Guess what, we’re all different and we all need to listen to what our bodies are telling us. They are gifts, not tools to a destination. What I need to remember is that there is no end to healthy living. It grows and changes with you. Better start adapting!

 

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Why I Like Being “Simple”

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Photo by Khai Sze Ong on Unsplash

It’s been over a month since I’ve last written and I just want to thank you all for giving me that time! My last post went up three days before I started my new job and then it was a whirlwind of travel and learning and bonding and total, absolute exhaustion. But I am happy to report I feel like I am settling in nicely and I am so excited to be challenging myself in new and interesting ways.

A younger version of me would have pushed myself to maintain the blog, the poetry, the novel, the social media presence all at once, even while trying to learn a new job. This time around I said no to overwhelming myself. I said no to setting unrealistic expectations for myself. I said no to torturing myself about “not being enough”. I wrote when I could, I slept when I needed to, and I took a break from obsessing about every little thing. I focused on my new work, I got to know my team instead of hiding away in my room to write (they made that easy) and I am so happy I did.

Maybe it’s because I am older and I’m finally learning a thing or two about life, or maybe I’ve changed for another reason, but I can tell you this: allowing myself to be simple kept me happy, healthy and sane these past six weeks.

I’ve never wanted to be simple. Simple was a sin in my book. If I wasn’t multi-talented, multi-tasking, multi-stressed out, then I was failing. A typical day would have been an intense weight workout, a full day of work, writing all night, responding to piled up texts, walking the dog, cleaning the apartment and then passing out totally exhausted. I got sick a lot. I wasn’t productive. My writing was… well… shitty.

Simple felt wrong, simple felt too easy, simple felt like I wasn’t doing my best.

What I’ve found is that SIMPLE allows me to excel. What I’ve come to realize is that my other talents, my other interests, and loves? They’ll still be there. This blog is still here. My poetry is still waiting for me to edit it and share it with the world. I’ve found other simpler workouts that don’t require me to travel to the gym every day. It’s all there and I will get to it. (When I can!) When I focus my attention to one or two things, I kill it. I sleep. I am not sick all the time. When I am simple I am a better, calmer, version of myself. It took a million and one tries, but I finally saw the pattern.

Now that the travel is done for a bit, now that I am finding my rhythm at work… now is when I can pick up the pen again. Write this blog post for you. Take some new photos for the IG. Make special plans with my friends. And when I do all of these things I will be more engaged because I won’t be tired, or worried, or thinking about the next task. I can simply be present.

I know there will be days when I want to go back to the way I was. When I want to pressure myself and push myself and overwhelm myself. And maybe I’ll need the extra encouragement. But knowing that it’s ok to take a step back and breathe is going to make all the difference. I mean, how often do you let yourself be simple?

Call for Courage Challenge – Share Your Talents

Hey party people!

First, before I do anything I just want to thank everyone that visits my blog on a weekly basis. You guys are really why I am here doing this. Otherwise I’d be talking to space, nothingness, a white wall, the sky, my dog. So thank you! The greatest gift you can give me is your eyeballs! The second greatest and sharing my posts. If you read something and you like it please share it! A little bit goes a long way, you have no idea.


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Last month I announced that I’d be doing a Call for Courage Challenge all year long and we’ve already made it to the next installment! I don’t know where January went but we are just cruising along here toward spring (yes!). Last month I challenged you all to reach out to someone you admired or missed. I wanted you to call, text, DM a person that made you nervous for one reason or another. What I heard from those who tried was mainly how hard it was to do this and how the result was nothing like you imagined. I am so proud of you for taking this scary step!

I am taking this challenge too so I decided that I would reach out to an influencer I admire and tell them as such. I reached out to @jera.bean. I have been following her for quite sometime and so appreciate her honesty about her journey. I sent her a DM explaining the challenge, why I admired her and pressed send with my eyeballs closed. And guess what? She responded and invited me to a Soul Cycle class as her guest. A week later I met her in person and took her class (which was killer btw)!

Honestly I thought I’d get a nice DM back but I never imagined she’d be so open to welcoming me into her space. It was so cool, the class was amazing, and I admire her even more.

 

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Jera Foster-Fell aka @jera.bean

 


On that note, this month’s challenge is to SHARE YOUR TALENTS. What are you working on that you rarely tell people about? (It took me years at my day job to tell anyone I write.) What accomplishments have you been too embarrassed to share? (Did you finally try a spin class?) What’s a super weird secret talent of yours? (Can you yodel? No seriously, if anyone can yodel e-mail me ASAP.) Remember, it can be big, small, long, short, whatever. No talent is too insignificant for the Call for Courage Challenge. Take this month to announce to the world: THIS IS WHAT I CAN DO! And then get back over here and tell me how it goes (or message me on social, or e-mail me, or whatever!) I am dying to hear more stories about you all!

Light, love, red wine–
Amanda

Call for Courage – Announcing the Cheap Courage Challenge

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

When I talk about Cheap Courage these days, do you even know what I mean? I’ve had this blog for so long I wonder if half of you understand the meaning behind the name or what it is I’m trying to get at. My bio reads, “Cheap Courage is [my] blog dedicated to doing what scares you with confidence.” But that’s not only limited to MAJOR life changes; I want you to live with courage each and every day.

In short, I am totally all about those DAILY WINS! I am not asking you to quit your job and travel the world, or to get married next week. I’m asking all of you (and mostly myself) to have a little courage each and every day of your life.

What could that look like? What would you do without judgement?
-Say something if you see someone getting shoved on the subway
-Tell your roommate you can’t stand it when she leaves dirty spoons in the sink
-Ask for a review from your boss (randomly, midyear, get wild!)
-Try Kombucha
-Try cooking something complicated
-Post a workout selfie

Courage is like a muscle. The less you use it, the harder it will be to flex. But if you start small, over time, you will get stronger and stronger and your Courage muscle will be huge! You’ll be able to make more difficult decisions with care and precision, instead of hyperventilating.

That’s where the Cheap Courage Challenge comes in.

I will be posting small challenges every month this year. They’ll be little things to get you started on a path of challenging and exploring yourself. You’ll also come to find and recognize how often you are courageous, without even knowing it.

So with that, I bring you our JANUARY CHEAP COURAGE CHALLENGE.

This month I want you to reach out to someone you’ve been wanting to/meaning to/had every intention of calling. It can be a family member you haven’t spoken to in awhile, a blogger or Influencer you enjoy, someone from high school who just moved to your city and could use a friend, the coworker you actively ignore. REACH OUT. Say hi! Say whatever it is you’ve been wanting or meaning to say. You never know what could happen.

Check in with my corresponding IG post and let me know how it goes! I’ll be sharing mine there today!

Guest Post: Are You Flinch Tolerant? Why You Need to Burn to Heal

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Photo: Giovanni Riberio

The first time I touched a flame I flinched. Natural reaction to the rising heat against my delicate skin. A primal instinct of “Ouch, that hurts”! As I’ve grown older the flame real and metaphorical is harder to flinch at. There’s a numbness or rather a tolerance to the things I inherently know are bad for me. The longer it’s taken to flinch has been an indication of how much I’ve let various misfortunes rule my life. It’s a dare, a means of control, yearning to feel—to test or merely seeking to punish. Ultimately, yes, a measure of my self worth or lack there of. So noting and treating my torrential mood disorder, physical pains, and self esteem—felt incredibly self indulgent. The overarching goal was power through and survive.

The other drive has been this intense need to control my narrative.

How can I go through so much in a lifetime? Sometimes I feel like a combination of bizarre statistics or I must be remembering wrong or I’m on a sick and twisted game of candid camera. I didn’t want to be defined by my chronic mental & physical illnesses. I didn’t want people to see me as damaged for having been raped and physically assaulted. I didn’t want to admit I’d attempted and failed to end it all more than once. I ultimately didn’t want the secret out that I didn’t have it all figured out. If I let that slip then I felt I wouldn’t be free to chase my ambitions. “Someday I’ll take a break and figure shit out”, I’d say. Until that day I’d work tirelessly to appear be the badass I worked hard to cultivate.

Sure, there have been pockets of time where I have been forced to heal. Whether it was hospitalization, therapy or just my own personal obsession to occasionally “treat myself” to the holistic life.

I must admit, I judged the hemp-shake hippie lapses as flights of fancy. I normally left no space for treating myself— I even gave myself a silly allowance for tears. “Only twice a year!” (No more than that seemed necessary.) Little did I know how it’d add up.

Life has a way of bringing about lessons over and over again until they finally sink in. So, just in time for what seems to be the self care revolution—I am all here for it.

When you become “flinch tolerant”, you emit a beacon. This beacon attracts predators/negative energy in abundance. Yes, law of attraction. I had been violated emotionally & physically to my core but—- hadn’t flinched in so long. The more it happened the less I wanted to recognize the flame. Not anymore. My change of heart came from a sudden health scare that made me realize how much I had to lose, how much I had to be grateful for, and I had to start to respect myself. My body is my temple so time to clean house. Writing this and becoming transparent with my close friends & family is my attempt to be held accountable. No excuses. And if it reaches one person I’ll consider the band-aid rip worth it.

So what am I getting at—Check in. Does it hurt? Do you judge self care as self indulgent? Do you become irritable at happiness of others or even yourself? Do you experience physical and/or emotional pain regularly that you don’t address? Is it getting worse? Do you go so far as to question your very existence because you stopped allowing feeling —therefore lacking some kind of meaning? You aren’t alone as I have learned and there are so many ways to address this.

We all had those balancing habits the things that brought us back to equilibrium when the pain got us to or close to flinch. Crystals. Kombucha tea. Yoga. Binge watching FRIENDS. Talking to your real friends. Running. Meditation. Prank calls. Ridged potato chips. Star gazing. Point is we checked in and released the tension through these rituals.

It’s time to get consistent. The older we get the less inclined we are to find these things as sacred tension relieving rituals but rather we see them as flighty indulgences made under the protection of early life. It’s shocking how many of us don’t afford time to even really breathe. So do it.

Soothe the aches, the burn in your life. Feel it-flinch even. Note what feels good and what doesn’t. Anoint the ritual of magazine collage making as sacred and utterly important to your ultimate well being. The burns will heal. It’ll sting at first but in time you’ll reveal a new layer. It is in the act of numbing the flinch that we create the eternal cycle that gnaws so earnestly. End the cycle. Find your happy place and feel your sad place and if you have the inclination—seek deeper and deeper into the balance of the peaceful place.

 

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Photo by: Zachery Ali

 

Asta Paredes is a dynamic and multi-talented actress and filmmaker based in New York City. She is most well known for her lead role as CHRISSY in RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH VOL. 1 & 2. After a whirlwind tour (from the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, International Theatrical Release, and recognition as a 2013 Museum of Modern Art CONTENDERS SERIES film)- she came home to being a mix of unexpected cult icon status, outspoken advocate for LGBT rights, and critical acclaim.

You can learn more at:
www.astaparedes.com
IG: @astaparedes