A Year’s Wrap Up

Well guys, it’s been a year. As usual, I wrote for a while and then trailed off as other things became more important. I started this blog when I was 19, and am now entering my 27th year. I’ve had some ups and downs, and plenty of learning experiences. Friends and family have fallen along the way, but I’ve kept trudging along. Enough of the dramatics, let’s talk about what I did this year to better myself.

1. Atheism

Yes, this blog is called Pagan Pages. And yes, I am an atheist. There are actually quite a few of us out there — those of us who still participate in pagan traditions and rituals without attributing experiences to the supernatural. The most important, real side-effect of my atheism has been a change in my attitude. My mantra has become:

I have one life to live. I better make it good.

And the choices I make now more accurately reflect the values that I want to live by. For example, I have donated hundreds of dollars of belongings to thrift stores that support public and mental health programs in the area, I gave some to an animal shelter that was vandalized, I rescued two dogs and found them homes, and brought a rescue cat into my own home. During Christmas, I was able to give a new tablet to a patient with cystic fibrosis, and I have some blankets and coats that I’m planning to take to a women’s shelter soon. My desire to help those around me is now being put into action, instead of just thoughts.

2. Disease management

Last winter, I took the plunge and finally saw a migraine specialist. He gave me a very simple treatment plan that I’ve been adhering to. My migraines are well managed now and I no longer worry that I’m going insane or have a secret brain tumor. I have strategies to cope with breakthrough headaches and ways to minimize episodes.

This winter, I realized that I needed to do something about my seasonal affective depression. Self-diagnosed, of course, but when you can’t crawl out of bed through most of October, it’s a problem. So I got a SAD light and some Vitamin D. The combo works. Do it. You won’t regret it.

3. Physical health and well-being

I’ve lost 37 pounds this year, taking me out of “Obese” — where I’ve been for the last decade — and into “Overweight.” I am at my high school weight. I plan to lose 60 total and then re-evaluate. No, I don’t have before and after’s. But I’ve started weightlifting, and I’ve gone from 18 to 12/14 (pants) and XL to M/L (shirts). I used myfitnesspal to track calories, and focused on eating reasonable amounts. I stopped drinking so much soda. No fake sugar (it’s a migraine trigger), and patience. Lots of patience. I can deadlift and squat over 100 lbs, bench and press over 60. That’s no small feat!

My turning point was when my OB/GYN told me that she didn’t want to watch me waste my life away in work and fail to take care of myself. I deeply respect her and took it to heart. Took me a few months to get over the criticism, but then I started to make changes.

That’s it for me, folks. What have you done this year? What will you do next year?