ADHD · fitness

It’s a good thing I’m not a plant

This has been an incredibly raw and challenging month but I’ve have been doing my very best to take good care of myself.

Or so I thought.

I’ve been asking for help and accepting offered help way more than usual.

I have been resting regularly and keeping things low-key whenever possible – especially after nights when I’ve slept poorly. (That is happening a fair bit.)

I’ve been sticking with yoga and walks and stretching because any time I push myself harder, even a little, I’m instantly exhausted. I suspect that after a certain point any physical exertion feels like stress to my sad and tired brain and it is refusing to play along. *

I have stuck with my daily writing and drawing and meditating routines even when I didn’t feel like it because they lend familiar shape to my days.

I’ve made sure to stay connected to friends and to sprinkle fun activities throughout my week without getting overwhelmed. I’ve kept my work and volunteer tasks to a minimum.

So, that all felt good, like I was taking charge of the things I could take charge of and letting myself do and be the way I needed to be.

How foolish, hey?

Thinking I had everything well in hand, almost like I was trying to do a ‘good job’ of grieving.**

And all along I was forgetting something something important, something incredibly basic.

A most essential element in caring for a human.

 My water bottle (bright green with a black cap) sits on my patio railing. There’s a (still!) leafless tree directly behind it, and in the background there’s a stretch of grass, a few other leafless trees, and my circular swing.
Image description: My water bottle (bright green with a black cap) sits on my patio railing. There’s a (still!) leafless tree directly behind it, and in the background there’s a stretch of grass, a few other leafless trees, and my circular swing.


I have been drinking ridiculously little water.

I’ve had a small glass of water with my meds in the morning.

I’ve had A LOT of tea.

And, sure, I’ve been getting some hydration from my tea (it’s mostly non-caffeinated) but it’s not even close to the same as drinking the amount of water I usually do.

And I felt feeling cranky and twitchy and just off as a result.

But since EVERYTHING feels off right now it took me over a week to figure out what the problem was.

In fact, it was only as I was using the water from my water bottle to water my plants one evening that I realized how little water I had actually consumed that day.

(Yes, I had frequently followed my usual habit of filling my water bottle in the morning. I just didn’t do the drinking water part of the routine.)

If I was a plant, I would be drooped over the side of my pot by now.

I guess my tea helped save me from that fate. – I have been feeling pretty droopy though.

For the record: I do NOT recommend forgetting water.

*Yes, I know a good workout would probably be helpful overall and would probably help me sleep. However, I’m listening to my body and it is saying ‘Nope.’ There will be lots of time for more intense exercise later. Also, my ADHD brain doesn’t do so well with the ‘later reward’ business and I don’t have extra energy to put into convincing it right now.

** I wasn’t literally thinking this but, in retrospect, it kind of comes across that way.

meditation · mindfulness

Christine’s Wrist-Spy Doesn’t Know Everything

Please note: Despite my whimsical title, this post is about grief. Proceed with caution.

A friend of mine jokingly refers to smart watches as ‘wrist spies.’ Since she says it without malice or judgement, I find it hilarious and I’ve started using the term on a regular basis.

As spies go, though, it has been failing this past week. It might end up having to come in from the cold.

On Sunday, I received a notification that my ‘Mindfulness’ minutes are down this week and I immediately said, aloud, “Shows what you know, Wrist Spy!”

(By the way, if me talking to an inanimate object makes you concerned for my state of mind, rest easy. I do it all the time and, so far, my wrist spy is the only object that talks back to me. And that only happens when I say her name…or, let’s be honest here, anything that sounds like her name.)

Seriously though, I thought it was pretty funny that my wrist spy was calling my attention to my mindfulness because this past week has been one of the most mindful times of my life.

As you know from last week’s post, my Dad passed away on May 6th.

I’ve spent the last week thinking about him, about his life, about our lives, and about what the world looks like without my Dad in it.

I had lots to do but I was never trying to keep busy to avoid thinking. Yet, I didn’t end up ruminating either. I just sat (or stood, or walked) with whatever came up.

I’m not trying to cast myself as a perfect model of emotional maturity and mindfulness here, this was more by fluke than by design.

And, it helped that the tasks I took on – writing the obituary, writing and delivering the eulogy – not only gave me some good structures for my thinking, they were also the types of practices I do to help me process big emotions.

I didn’t consciously choose those tasks to serve that purpose but my subconscious was clearly on the case this time.

So, instead of spending my time thinking about the fact that my Dad is gone, I could spend my time thinking about how he lived and who he was, and how his spirit lives on in his family and friends.

All of that thinking felt very mindful, very in-the-moment to me.

And when I started to cry, I just let myself cry until the worst of the feeling had passed.

When I felt overwhelmed, I breathed through it. Sometimes I did that on my own, sometimes because my husband said, “You’re breathing fast, try to slow it down.”

And, I found myself noticing everything so sharply and clearly.

I saw crocuses on a lawn when I was out for a walk with the dog. I looked at them closely – the petals, the colours, the leaves – and I had a flash thought that my Dad won’t ever see flowers like that again. He wasn’t big into flowers or anything but the thought still welled up. Instead of getting carried off into grief about the things he would miss, I, luckily, was able to choose to notice them for him. I paid close attention to the colours, the contrasts, the petals and leaves, and how they stood out against the dull grass.

A cluster of crocuses on a yellowed lawn
Image Description: a cluster of crocuses ( a few yellow and a few each of three shades of purple) surrounded by winter-worn grass.

And I drank my (many, many) cups of tea slowly, letting the mug warm my hands and letting the scent and taste wash over me.

I turned my face to the sun when it came out, feeling warmed and hopeful and bright, despite the circumstances.

I talked with so many people who knew Dad and I paid attention to the details they shared with me and leaned into the connection to him.

And, I did a hundred other small things that felt mindful and kept me present.

On Friday, as I was waiting before the memorial service began, I played some songs from a playlist that I created – Songs that make me think of Pete *- and I sat and breathed slowly and felt like things would be ok.

Ever since listening so carefully on Friday, a few lines from Itchycoo Park by Small Faces have been floating up over and over in my brain, reminding me of the good things in the world even during this challenging time.

(What did you feel there?) well, I cried
(But why the tears there?) tell you why
It’s all too beautiful, it’s all too beautiful
It’s all too beautiful, it’s all too beautiful

Obviously, I’m having a very different kind experience than the main character in the song m. His ability to notice the beauty around him hinged on the substances he took. I am looking for and feeling the beauty around me because the intensity of my emotions is making everything very vivid right now.

While it isn’t always easy, this vivid sense of awareness means I have been very “present” from moment to moment for the past week or so.

I’m feeling all the difficult feelings, I am acutely aware of my experiences, and I am sharply attuned to the beautiful things around me like crocuses and hot cups of tea and my friends rallying to support me.

And all of that adds up to mindfulness even if it isn’t happening in a way that a wrist spy can track.

My watch may be spying on me but it doesn’t know everything.

*Please note, some of these songs are from my Dad’s youth and hence some of the lyrics are sketchy at best. Please don’t judge my Dad for the songs he liked then and please don’t assume that he held every value (or lack thereof) expressed in every song. I included them in my playlist because they make me think of Dad singing them.

family · fitness · self care

Christine moves with/in/through grief

My Dad passed away on Saturday, May 6th.

He’s been unwell for a long, long time but it was a ‘might live a long long time’ type of frailty, not a ‘could pass any time’ sort of illness so losing him on Saturday was sudden and jarring.

I am sad, disoriented, and unfocused and every muscle in my body has been tense since Saturday.

But even amidst grief, ordinary life details must continue and holding on to those routines is helping me to put one foot in front of another while I make my way forwards.

Khalee and I have been going for walks.

A dog standing on a sidewalk looking back towards the camera
Image description: a light haired dog looks back toward the camera. She is standing on a sidewalk next to some winter-worn grass.

I’ve been drawing a daily monster.

A drawing of a blue and purple teardrop shaped monster who is giving advice about feeling your feelings instead of fighting them.
Every May, I set a drawing challenge for myself to create MAYbe 20 Monsters. This year the monsters are giving advice. Obviously this one was a note to self. Image description: a drawing of a teardrop shaped purple and blue monster with big glasses with text to the right that reads “Terri wants to remind you that it is okay to feel however you feel. “Go ahead and feeling your feelings,” she says, “Let them wash over you like a wave and they will pass.” She knows it isn’t easy to do but it will get easier in time.”

I’ve been meditating. (On Sunday, it was warm enough to lie in my saucer swing to meditate.)

Bare branches from a tree against a cloudy sky
Image description: the view upwards from my saucer swing – the black rope from the swing, some bare branches and a cloudy sky with some blue peeking through.

And I have been doing yoga.

I really liked how straightforward and direct this video was and how she didn’t try to be soft and singsong when she spoke.

A video from the SaraBethYoga YouTube channel. The still image shows a person with brown hair and a yellow shirt leaning to one side to stretch their neck. The background of the image is purple and white text reads ‘Grief Yoga Neck & Shoulders.’

And all of those are keeping me moving forward, literally and metaphorically.

I’m being kind to myself about it, I’m going slowly, I’m being gentle with this new version of me, I’m moving with/in/through grief.

My Dad was Peter Hennebury, a mostly-Civil Engineer, who loved bad jokes and thick books. He had a quick wit, a sharp tongue and a equal penchant for both formality and irreverence.

He was and is loved.

If you are so inclined, please raise your next cup of tea or coffee to Pete.

A photo of an old man and a middle aged woman with grumpy expressions on their faces
Yes, these grumpy faces are deliberate and they are a joke. Image description: a photo of me and my Dad with grumpy expressions on our faces. He’s a thin older man with grey hair and glasses, wearing a collared shirt and a hoodie. I’m a middle aged woman with a round face and light brown hair and glasses wearing a black hoodie.

Moving Through Big Emotions

I feel seasick a lot of the time at the moment. I’m working through a perfect storm of grief in my life. Between relationship woes, no longer living with my beloved cat, illness and death among family and friends and moving from my long (long) time home in New York City to Montreal (a city I love, but under these challenging circumstances …), it is an effort every day to remember who I am. Never mind why I am and if my life has any meaning or purpose. Fortunately, I have a good amount of challenging and enjoyable work to keep me busy. I have family and friends. And, there’s movement.

I almost wrote, “I’ve learned” or “I’ve discovered”, but that wouldn’t be right. I have known for some time that coming home to my body through movement is one of the ways I locate myself in space and time. Movement offers sign posts to help me map the territory of my being-ness. Movement reconnects to me to my aliveness, especially in times when even my enjoyment of food and sleep are interrupted. Yes, I might move less or exert less. And, I am deeply grateful to be able to continue moving, in the midst of the waves of upheaval.

In Montreal, I’m re-connecting with the wooded trails on Mont Royal and the slow climb up the paved road over on a 40lb BIXI (the social bike system in Montreal). I’m making myself a Thursday morning fixture in the pocket park across from my apartment, where I jump rope and do a sequence of “regular” lunges and other Bulgarian and Romanian versions (I don’t know why the movements are ascribed these nationalities). I’ve gone back to mat yoga, after many years of aerial yoga and am re-acquainting myself with that challenge.

There are brief moments when I can almost forget my troubles and just breathe into the pleasure of my heart beating and my lungs expanding. A respite from the seasickness. Becalmed and invigorated.

Also, there is a special side benefit that occasionally comes with my BIXI workouts. This morning, as I huffed up the road, I passed a Montreal public works truck in the vista parking lot. A woman jumped out of the truck and started calling out to everyone (in French)—“She’s on a BIXI. Amazing.” And then she pretended to bow down to me. I waved and laughed. That was a nice shot of encouragement. I’ve had similar events happen on my BIXI workouts before.

Of course, other times, I’m moving and crying at the same time. (Like when I started my ride this morning—before the nice bit of cheering—I was missing my cat.) Crying and moving is its own gift. I’ve accompanied others on their run-cries, too, when they were traversing difficult periods. I have a precious memory of a run during the last weeks of my father’s life—it was a misty, grey morning (probably in March). I was strung out with the sadness of impending loss. The wet air was unseasonably warm and my long sleeve shirt felt like it was tightening around my lungs. So, I took it off. I never run shirtless, in just a sports bra. I don’t have anything against it … for other people. In fact, I admire women who express that freedom. I am both self-conscious and sun-conscious (after all, my father died of melanoma). That day in 2015, there was no sun to burn my skin and I didn’t care who saw me. I just wanted to feel my body blend with the air, to cleanse my spirit, to let my sweat meet the morning mist on my skin. For me, there’s solace, even healing, in moving (literally moving) through the emotion.  

Now, if only there could be warmer weather, that would be a treat!