Saturday, June 18, 2016

Suicide Squirrels

June is the busiest time of year for me. Between graduations, grades closing, summer school and scheduling classes for the following school year, it is crazy.  Not only do I work longer hours than normal, I often have several evening and weekend engagements.
Photo by Springfield Public Schools.
Both me and my friend Erica were this student's counselors at one point in his years at Commerce.
The pressure is outrageous at this time of year. It's hard to describe unless you've been there.  There are times when I feel like I everything is going to implode.

To make matters worse, I hurt my shoulder about a month ago. I don't know how I did it. It was bothering me and hasn't improved at all. The pain wakes me up at night, which has made sleep difficult.  I saw the doctor yesterday.  I have a prescription for 800 mg of ibuprofen and physical therapy.  No weight lifting indefinitely.  I could cry.  10 Effective Physical Therapy Exercises to Treat Shoulder Pain.

...   ...   ...  ...   ...  ...   ...

The other night, after a particularly stressful day, I went for a bike ride. I wanted to get in some decent miles.  Instead of focusing on climbing (hills have to be part of my training regimen ... and I don't even mind them), I wanted speed.  I set out with no particular route in mind, just to move my body.

The day's troubles weighed heavily on me.  There was a significant amount of drama this week at work.  I can typically handle the students' drama.  I had a busy day planned, which was interrupted by a few unexpected hurdles.  One case in particular really upset me...  

When I left the house, it was about 5:30 p.m., so it was rush hour and the traffic was crazy.  "Find some quieter roads, Coleman."  I made my way to the back side of Forest Park, Springfield's largest park, and road along the edges, out of the way of cars.  I was about 10 miles into my ride and my legs felt good.

Work...what makes all the madness worse is when the adults in the building go after each other, or refuse to help each other.  The WORSE thing someone can say to or around me is, "No, that's not my job" OR "No, I don't want to do that." 

As I headed towards Enfield, I started to think about the time and considered which route I should use to head back home.  I do not like to ride my bike too close to sunset.  It's hard enough for drivers to see me with plenty of sunlight, but dusk is far worse than even riding after dark.  My focus was speed, not hills, so I mentally plotted a route home.  I was beginning to feel the stress peel off my shoulders.

 Sometimes it's just blowing off steam with each other.  Other times it's personal.  Lately I have been feeling like there are daggers in my back as soon as I leave the room.  Not with everyone, just some.  If you have something to say, say it.  Don't talk about me or my colleagues behind our backs.  I'll take the venting any day.

About 2/3 of the way through my ride, a squirrel came darting out of the grass and ran right into my tires. I could see it out of the corner of my eye.  There was nothing I could do. The darn thing just offed itself.  I hate to admit it, but it didn't even bother me...

Last week a squirrel darted out into the driveway at school and one of the counselors I work with ran over it.  She was devastated.  I couldn't help but think about the difference in our responses.  I chuckled to myself.  Stupid squirrel.

A few miles from my house, I got a cramp in my back and had to stop.  Every time this happens, I think to myself, "Will I be able to make it home?"  After my fall last summer, I seriously contemplated calling my husband to come pick me up.  I rested for a couple minutes, stretched as best I could.  Got back on my bike.

Stupid stupid squirrel.  Why did the darn thing run out into my bike?  My shoulder is holding up pretty well, no pain.  The week's stress feels less troublesome.

Construction.  They have finally decided to repave these roads that were all torn up the past year+.  

Finally.  But, ouch, that bump hurt.  

I was almost home.  

You did good.  This was a good ride.  But the squirrel...

This was a different blog entry for me.  I wanted to show how exercise helps deal with stress, while simultaneously helping you achieve your fitness goals.  I have not been riding my bike as much this spring.  I have had a lot going on, so I've chosen to keep the bike on the rack, to focus on getting everything else done.  Honestly, this hasn't resulted in me accomplishing anything.  This week I realized how much I need to ride my bike.  It's my therapy.

Last night the Women's Ministry at my church sponsored a "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" night.  We ate snacks and goodies, sang Karaoke, played games, did some Zumba and danced the night away.  I had an amazing time.  I told a couple of the ladies how difficult June is for me.  It's just a very stressful month.  It's like this every year.  I told them about my bike ride the night before and they responded with, "35 miles?  I can't do that!"  I couldn't do it a little more than a year ago either.  I started riding my bike to train for the Ride to Remember and ended up loving it.  I still love it.  I will do the Ride again this year, but there is none of the stress associated with last year's training.  So this year's focus is on improving my riding overall.

It's amazing how much something you ENJOY can help you deal with your troubles.  Don't neglect what matters.
When I got home, I sat down to relax.  Leia immediately sat next to me and put her chin on my leg.  As crazy as she is, she makes my day every day.
Questions for you...
How do you deal with stress?  Have you ever run over a squirrel?  Did you feel bad?

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