Do What Makes You Happy

The International Women’s Writing Guild used to ask its members in their newsletter: “Who are you?”

Who you are can change as you get older.

Your orientation to life can change post-illness.

Self-growth and even fun can be had in doing new things to shake up the doldrums.

I’m not the same person I was when I was 22. Heck–I’m not the same person I was when I turned 50.

Are any of us the same self we were in our twenties?

That’s the beauty of living life: we can change elements of who we are as well as adopt a new persona outwardly.

I’ll continue in this blog entry to talk about setting goals at mid-life to become happier and healthier.

My new favorite role model is an ordinary mental health peer who ran in and completed the New York City Marathon this month.

Even people in wheelchairs compete in the marathon and cross the finish line.

This gives me incredible hope.

I’m 53. My goal is to run on the treadmill.

To this end I was tested on a treadmill at a Jack Rabbit running shoes store.

I have a neutral foot stance so I bought a pair of blue Brooks shoes with light blue trim.

Though I don’t want to start taking an antidepressant you should not hesitate to pop a pill if you need to do that to feel better.

I will start to report again in the Flourish blog on fitness topics.

In here I want to uplift and inspire you that it’s not ever too late to take up a new hobby or sport at mid-life.

Exercise is rightfully an adjunct mental health treatment.

Why wait? The future is now.

Set a goal. Find a support buddy to help you achieve the goal. Be a support buddy to your goal mate.

You might think: “I’m too old to…”

Nonsense. I went to graduate school with a woman who was in her seventies. No kidding.

I didn’t start lifting weights until I was 46. Before then I hadn’t lifted one 5 pound weight.

So Just Do It:

Take up running, go back to school, remodel your bathroom, find the love of your life.

Do whatever would make you happy.

 

Advertisements

My Too Crazy Dream

Seriously. I watched the Nike ad. There’s nothing controversial or offensive about it. You can view it on YouTube.

How could people want to boycott Nike after watching the video?

Why are people who haven’t gone to a gym and haven’t exercised a day in their lives up in arms about the positive empowering message voiced in the video?

Now I can no longer hold the delusion that so-called normal people in America are actually sane.

Why are people affronted that Colin Kaepernick is using his voice to make a difference?

As usual, it’s the people whose faces are a whiter shade of pale that are in opposition anytime a courageous individual advocates for social justice.

Sales of Nike products rose 31 percent after the Kaepernick video was aired. I too intend to buy a second new pair of Nike training shoes.

Yes, I know of what I speak because I lift weights at the gym every week.

The Nike video is incredibly inspiring and uplifting to me of course because it reminds me of the time when I was told my dream wasn’t possible to achieve.

In 1988, I was told the best I could expect was to collect a government disability check for the rest of my life and live in public housing forever.

I didn’t buy that snow job for myself then. I don’t buy what people are still selling today about recovery being an impossible dream for others.

The Nike ad tells viewers not to want to be the greatest athlete on your team or the greatest in America.

You should be The Greatest Athlete Ever.

In this regard the goal for those of us living in recovery isn’t to have succeeded despite having schizophrenia.

My goal is to be The Greatest Christina Bruni Ever.

Your goal should be to be The Greatest ___________________(fill in your name) Ever.

The schizophrenia, whatever your illness is, has nothing to do with this.

To end this blog entry I’m going to quote Colin Kaepernick from the Nike video:

“Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”

 

The Number on the Scale

I want to write about how following trends in fashion is a mistake.

Not every item of clothing offered in stores or online will fit and flatter every person’s body. This shouldn’t deter us. In the Bobbie Thomas book The Power of Style she has a section on determining your body type and the clothing choices that will flatter it.

Now Loft and Banana Republic online have Plus sizes as well as Petites. It has been a long time coming for this victory.

Repeat after me: the fit of your clothes is what counts not whether the clothing is popular this season. Going to a tailor for alterations will perfect the fit of your clothing.

If you’re in a store trying on clothes refrain from attempting to squeeze yourself into a smaller size because it’s “your” size. Size doesn’t matter: only the fit of the clothing item does.

To wit: I have four different sizes of pants and jeans hanging in my closet.

It’s also a mistake to rely on a single number on the scale as a barometer of how healthy you are. Some experts believe each of us might have a “set point” where our body stays in a certain weight range.

This is undoubtedly true. I’ve been lifting weights for over 7 years so far and I’m the same weight I was as before I started this intense exercise regimen.

The difference is I dropped one pant and skirt size because I gained muscle.

If you think you have to be or should be “skinny” that’s a mistake too.

I’ve excoriated Bethenny Frankel in here before for writing a book that claims you can be skinny forever.

It might not be realistic to want to weigh 127 pounds when you weigh 200 pounds now. Even losing just 10 or 20 pounds to start can be perfectly fine if you ask me.

Improve your health by exercising in some fashion and you’ll feel better even if you don’t lose a significant amount of weight (according to research).

Thinking in terms of having “functional fitness” is the way to go.

I’m happy that I’m fit, energetic, and can carry packages home from a store.

Yes–I’m not naturally thin. I’m “thin” because I exercise and eat mostly healthful food.

In my twenties I used to be 20 pounds overweight. By changing what I ate, seeing an M.D. that had a private nutrition practice, and starting to exercise consistently, I lost the weight in six years and kept it off.

You’re going to be miserable if you aspire to be “skinny” because a reality TV housewife star tells you it’s possible to do this by adhering to her latest scheme.

I’ll end here by telling you: relax. You shouldn’t feel or be made to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re not a certain acceptable number on the scale.

When I was 20 pounds overweight in the 1990s, I wore nothing but Esprit mini skirts.

So there–your weight shouldn’t deter you from dressing in style.

Buy clothes with the perfect fit or that can be made perfect with tailoring.

Doing so you’ll look and feel like a million bucks.

Defining Ourselves and Determining Our Fate

In the late 1980s and early 1990s when I first came up in recovery I railed against using the term schizophrenia to describe me.

Of course at the time I wanted to be seen as normal not mentally ill.

Yet more to the point is that I must have subconsciously realized the danger of using externally applied labels to define who a person is.

Why couldn’t we define ourselves using our own terms? Why should we give others the power to control our fate simply because they used the diagnosis to determine what we could do–which in the mental health staff’s eyes was not very much.

Even today I wince when a label like LGBTQ is used to describe people. Why use any kind of label at all?

The International Women’s Writing Guild (IWWG) had a newsletter column where it asked the female members “Who Are You?” Everyone was supposed to write in and chime in with “I am…” This is how it’s supposed to be.

In my eyes the diagnosis is helpful as a tool to help people get the right treatment for the symptoms they’re experiencing right now. Yet this judgment is not infallible–a lot of us go through years of hell and misguided treatment because the diagnosis isn’t the right one.

Let’s place that aside for the moment and focus on this: we have the right to define ourselves using our own terms. We have the right to determine our fate. Doing this is a form of fitness.

Who are you?

I’m Chris: an independent spirit in chic fashion.

I’m a defender of truth, justice, and the right to bare arms after you’re 50.

I’ve been a mental health activist for going on 15 years this February 2017.

Environment and Mental Health

The band Savages sound like Siouxsie and the Banshees.

You can see how I could bomb out of a career in the gray flannel insurance field.

Environment has an impact on mental health and can definitely trigger an MH challenge.

Being cut off and restricted from expressing yourself–living and working in a buttoned-up environment with a power hierarchy–I submit is not the way to go for a lot of creative folk with an MH challenge.

There is a place for you in this world. There is a place for everyone.

Finding the place where you belong is the number-one factor in having a successful recovery if you ask me.

 

rx-photo

Living Life in Balance

Life out of balance is no way to live.

I remember watching that 1982 movie Koyaanisqatsi or Life Out of Balance in college. The Madonna “Ray of Light” video looks eerily like the animation in Koyaanisqatsi.

How human beings ravage the natural world is out of balance. How institutions in society treat people is out of balance. I have read books written by Conservatives and while their arguments appear bulletproof on closer analysis they are shot through with Swiss cheese holes.

It might be that I’ll always be a Lefty. It might be that my focus on fitness as a lifestyle is not popular and won’t ever be popular. I turned 46 and decided to make fitness a priority. I’m 50 now and I’ll say this: it’s to our government’s benefit if you’re in ill health and unable to be strong enough to become a citizen activist.

The lack of faith in the U.S. government according to studies is at an all-time high. We’re so disgusted that we don’t think anything we could do would change things. I certainly don’t think my letter-writing to my congressperson about mental health reform will change things. So those in authority are quite happy that ordinary Americans have given up

It starts and ends with fitness in my view because first of all each of us has to take care of ourselves in order to have a healthy, prosperous life. I define “prosperity” not solely in monetary terms. I define being prosperous in terms of having a bounty of strength, optimism, and what’s commonly called “agency”: a sense of purpose in our lives and the ability to do what we’re passionate about.

It comes down to fitness then.

I absolutely value having a fit mind and a strong body. This isn’t a stigmatizing belief. Everyone living on earth is capable of having their own version of a healthy recovery. Not everyone is going to dead-lift 205 pounds and that’s okay. That’s not the point.

The point is that achieving our own version of “well” is a noble goal to strive for.

Living a balanced life–what I call living life Left of the Dial–is also a noble goal if you ask me.

That’s why I say: forget the government. Forget elected officials who have memorized the Ayn Rand playbook. That is no way to live your life: expecting that any other person has the power to give you things.

I say: it starts and ends with each of us taking action in our lives to create a better life for ourselves.

I’ll end here by saying that now is the time for everyone living in recovery to expect great things. Now is the time to support each other in setting goals and going after what we want.

The days are long gone when we should have to ask permission from any other human being in order to have a better life in recovery.

Recovery is our right. Health is our right.

Living life in balance is something to think about.