Where Is Mallie? The Off-Road Millennial!

Hey everyone!

This blog is not being abandoned, it’s just being temporarily…well, abandoned I guess. As is The Irrational Mind. While both of these are awesome personal projects, I realized I really needed to hone in on a blog focus to make any brand/financial progress on my solopreneur journey.

Come hang out with me over here!

The Off-Road Millennial

I’m running a podcast (I just posted episode 17 today!), still writing a blog, and offering career design services to people who feel as lost as I did when I quit grad school two years ago. I’m really combining my passions and talents into one freedom-based business.

Feel free to stick around here for more personal life stuff as well as my eventual prophesied return to the severe weather community…..

3 Basic Stress Management Techniques (From 10-Year Old Mallie)

Back in a time before the internet was actually useful and safe for a child to explore unsupervised (pre-parental controls in the 1990s), I liked to read encyclopedias and other reference books for fun. I admire little Mallie’s patience and concentration, as the thought of doing that today is incredibly boring, despite my preference for non-fiction books.

My parents had a medical reference book that taught how to treat various minor aches and illnesses at home. Even as a child, I was drawn to the stress management section. In retrospect, I suppose this should have been a red flag about my chronic anxiety issues that weren’t discovered for another 15 years, but I was a generally curious kid.

I’ve learned a lot about stress management from various workshops and literature I obtained in grad school and in therapy…oh, and from the internet. But these basic techniques that I integrated as a child and teenager are still relevant and effective today.

1. Deep Breathing

Have you ever taken a yoga class?

Most often the class will start with a focus on your breathing. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathe deeply.

Scientifically, there is a link between controlling your breath and controlling your otherwise involuntary sympathetic nervous system, which impacts things like your blood pressure and digestion.

When you get anxious or nervous, your body begins to react the way it was designed to: tensing up, producing shallow breaths, sweating, etc. This was a great result when we got nervous because we were being chased by a mastadon thousands of years ago, but now it’s often an overreaction (physically, at least) to a heavy workload or stressful situation at home.

It’s more difficult to control all these responses at once than it is to control your breathing. As your breath calms, it communicates to the rest of your body that everything is ok, producing the proper neurochemical signals to relax the muscles and lower the heart beat.

2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Wait, weren’t we just talking about how difficult it is to relax your muscles?

In fact, it is believed that the reason for knots in your muscles–you know, the ones you need deep tissue massages to get out?–is an inability of those muscles to relax and deconstrict.

Awareness is an amazing thing. The idea behind progressive muscle relaxation (steps included in that link) is that by making your body aware of the tension, you allow the muscle to relax.

Obviously this will only work for muscles that you can control (I, for one, can’t wiggle my ears or tighten my ankle muscles), and it will take some time for your body to adapt to this mix of physical and mental therapy.

3. Mindfulness Meditation

I feel like I talk about meditation a lot on The Irrational Mind. But I don’t think I talk about it nearly enough here. Meditation is beneficial to everyone, not just people dealing with mental health issues.

Think this is new age gobbledygook? Think again! Google “meditation science” and look at all the results. Hit up the Google Scholar search as well, and see that meditation is an active area of research in the scientific community.

There are so many forms of meditation, but mindfulness meditation is likely one of the least intentionally spiritual methods and the most straightforward. Of course, there are also multiple forms of mindfulness meditation as well, but let’s keep things simple for now.

Ready for your instructions?

  1. Sit
  2. Breathe. Focus on your breath entering and leaving your body.
  3. Notice your thoughts
  4. Don’t dwell on any one thought, just acknowledge it and move on
  5. Notice your body
  6. Release any tension you notice
  7. Get distracted? Refocus on your breath.

Bam. You just meditated. No need to sit cross-legged, clean your chakras, wear yoga pants, or find a serene beach.

This isn’t something that you need to commit half an hour a day to; research has shown that even 10 minutes of meditation each day can be beneficial to how your brain handles stress and anxiety.

What other simple stress mediating techniques do you like to use?

relax

Take Ownership Of Your Health

I did a sleep study a couple months ago. I’ve had sleeping issues my entire life. My parents stopped giving me naps as a toddler because I would stay up until midnight. When the naps stopped, I still stayed up until midnight.

I won’t bore you with the complicated details of my sleep habits, but I’m tired almost all day. I nap a lot. I’ve had bloodwork done and thyroid levels checked, all to come back in normal ranges.

The funny thing about depression is that it makes you tired. But my depression has been fairly well controlled recently with therapy and medication.

So I got a referral to a sleep doctor in Bethesda.

Because this is D.C., I had to wait two months after my study to even see the specialist to review my results.

Because this is D.C., I had to wait two hours past my appointment time to finally see the doctor. I was feeling pretty zen that day, so I did some work on my tablet in the waiting room.

As with most doctors recently, I have the fear that I’m just going to be told to lose weight to fix all my problems. I always wait, ready to let them know this is a lifelong problem, not something precipitated by my sudden weight gain related to my binge eating disorder.

So, two hours past my appointment time, I finally was called into the specialist’s office. She had a nice demeanor, unlike the nurse who had taken my vitals beforehand. Little did I know that I would be weighed and blood pressured for this consultation. I sat there with my latte half empty, unsurprised that my pulse and blood pressure were high given my reaction to caffeine. I was sure this would be another mark against my weight. Great.

I had already watched the required pre-recorded video in the waiting room about parasomnia in adults, and tensed up when the specialist said that anti-depressants often create these problems. Ugh, I thought, this stuff was happening way before I started meds.

So I sat in front of the doctor, ready for her to tell me to get off meds and lose weight. My blood pressure was already high from the latte, and I felt it rising as I waited for her to speak.

“Do you want a York Peppermint Patty?”

She went over to a box and grabbed two, and she started eating hers immediately.

I declined, not because I was wary of being perceived as the fat kid who eats anything she’s given, but because I just wasn’t really hungry. Plus one to intuitive eating.

“Alright then, so tell me why you’re here.”

I told her my sleep history, starting as a toddler. I told her about my vivid dreams and sleep paralysis, my sleep talking and flailing, my binge eating, and how this time 3 years ago I was 180 lbs and on zero medications. Yet the sleep problems were constants.

She listened. I loved it. As she was typing she furrowed her brow, “Hmm….you’re making things complicated.”

The appointment lasted two hours. She wanted more details and I was happy to provide them. She said that my mental health was the most important thing and that, after years of work in the medical field, she finally realizes that there is much more at play than calories in and calories out when it comes to weight. We talked about hormones and how sleep and other conditions affect their levels.

We went through my sleep study results and she explained what each thing meant. She, a doctor in her 60s, was unafraid to tell me that there are things about sleep they still don’t understand.

I left with a better (albeit big picture level) understanding of sleep science and with the relief of knowing I told my story and she listened.

The lesson here is to take ownership of your health. Give them more information than they think they need, because that information may become valuable in your records.

There are two parts of making this work, of course, and a doctor set in her ways may not care about your history and look only at the data she has.

I made sure that my story was more than the numbers, and it paid off. When I left, she set me up with one of her staff members for a follow-up visit, then shook her head to herself. “You’re an interesting case, so I’m putting you with one of my staff who has a bit more experience. She may have to pull me back in to look at things as well.”

Working with doctors can be intimidating, especially if you find one who is set in his ways and unwilling to look past your size, disability, or other numbers. You have to advocate for yourself, even if that means finding a new doctor, because no one else is going to.

doctor

The Casual Conversationalist Podcast Survey

Yesterday, I posted a survey to my social media followers with four simple questions about what they would like to see from my upcoming podcast. I’ve started putting together some shows and am working with an audio producer to develop and intro and outro to the show, so this is totally happening!

The problem is that I talk about sooo many things on this blog and The Irrational Mind. I need to know what my audience (you!) really want to hear about.

As of posting, I have 36 responses. The numbers don’t quite add up here because I allowed multiple choices for the topics and length question.

Survey

 

And of course, under “other” I had various responses. Some people said they liked podcasts that were 1 to 5 minutes long, while others said they listened to shows up to an hour!

Most people either had serious or hilarious feedback for what the show should be called, and it seem that you are all torn down the middle about keeping The Casual Conversationalist or rebranding. I agree that the name doesn’t encompass all the topics listed, but, like many of you, I can’t think of a better name when it’s clear that most of you like the varied topic structure of the blog and would like to see that continue in the podcast. This may be something that we roll with and let the show evolve with time.

Of course, I have to share some of the fun names you guys came up with:

  • Tornado Mallie
  • Collecting Cats, For Fun and Profit
  • Malnado
  • Mallie’s Alley
  • Mallie the Most Magnificent Meteorology Messenger Makes Mental and Material Modifications Meaningful

There were a few others as well, but I’m happy to see all of you being creative. 😉

I was really hoping this survey would let me knock down a few of the topics I talk about. According to the other people doing this blog/podcast business, I need to pick a very specific niche. Now, look back at the topics you all chose, and tell me how to narrow that down!

As I mentioned on Twitter yesterday, I noticed the trend was that people who were interested in meteorology typically only selected “meteorology” from the topics list, and maybe “science communications.” Meanwhile, people who were interested in the topics under the umbrella of personal development also picked “meteorology.”

What am I going to do with you guys?!

love that your interests are varied and that I’m getting the green light to create a show that falls happily under the pre-created tagline “musings from the intersection of science and culture.” I’m not sure how this will translate to a wider audience, however.

If you have more feedback about the blog/show, please start a discussion in the comments. Many of you had related views in how the show should be named. Also, if you haven’t taken the survey, I’ll still be checking responses for awhile, so chime in!

Collecting Cats, For Fun and Profit
Collecting Cats, For Fun and Profit

P.S. Sorry about the “minites” typo. I created the survey on my tablet and things got a little wonky. I was happy it worked out as well as it did!

From “When Are You Due?” To “What My Body Can Do”

Body-Love Wellness Circles by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is an immersion into the power of body-acceptance.The Circles will be focused around transforming the relationship you have or may not have with your body, food and yourself.This post is part of the Body-Love Blog Tour, which is spreading body-acceptance to the masses. To learn more and join us, click here.

Last week, Matt and I had furniture delivered to our new house. I had just gotten out of the shower when the crew arrived, so I threw my hair up in a bun and tossed on a dress and cardigan.

The men did a nice job of setting up our living room and bedroom set, and, at the end, I had a couple of documents to sign. One of the men decided to make small talk.

“When are you due?”

Perhaps the rules are different elsewhere, but I’ve always known the rule of talking to women to be “Never attribute to pregnancy what can be attributed to fat.”

Since this is part of the Body-Love Blog Tour, some of you may not know my story. I use “fat” as a term that holds no positive or negative connotations, it simply is. A very Buddhist approach to body talk. I am fat: I weigh 225 lbs and am 5’4″. It’s fine.

I’ve spent years in therapy and on medication for my binge eating disorder, which is related to my diagnosed OCD. It has taken time to appreciate my body for what it can do rather than for what it looks like.

What can my ever-changing body do?

  • I was a starter on my Varsity volleyball team at age 16 and 150 lbs (and 5’4″). We wore spandex shorts.
  • I started dating at 155 lbs. I was 18.
  • I took up running at 160 lbs. My first race was a 4-miler (weird, right?).
  • I graduated college at 165 lbs. I wore a bikini on beach week.
  • I chased tornadoes at 175 lbs. I met my now husband.
  • I ran a half marathon at 185 lbs. It took me over 3 hours.
  • I defended my graduate thesis at 210 lbs.
  • I got married at 220 lbs.
  • I hiked full-fledged mountains at 225 lbs.

You know what’s sad? It’s sad that I can remember my exact weight range from important events in my life.

Until I started therapy in 2012, I didn’t realize that this was an unhealthy way to view myself. As a number.

I can’t tell you the number of diets I went on over this 10-year period. Look at those numbers: they are in chronological order. Do you think dieting did me more harm or good?

The jump in weight between my half marathon and wedding represented the peak of my mental health breakdown. As my head deteriorated, so did my body’s self-care. Before officially adding chronic depression to my diagnoses, I stopped showering. I stopped exercising the day after my half marathon. I continued to binge eat, although those compulsions were waning under my new medication.

I’ve made a lot of improvements in my life. The most important one is the change in perception I have of my body.

My body is capable.

My body is tough.

My body is resilient.

Under the guidance of a nutritionist and therapist, I’ve taken on Health At Every Size and Intuitive Eating.

I don’t need to be skinny, I need to be healthy.

There are no “good” foods and “bad” foods, there are only foods.

The man who delivered my furniture had good intentions. I had to make a split second decision, and I decided not to embarrass him the way he had (unintentionally) embarrassed me.

“When are you due?”

“Oh…not for awhile now.”

“Will it be your first?”

“Yup!”

“Congratulations, I have a three-year old.”

And we parted ways. It’s true, we won’t be due for awhile now…probably a few years still.

I waited for the old, familiar feelings to hit me. I have to lose weight, ASAP! OMG I’m so fat! I’m going to eat everything in the fridge! No wait, I’m not going to eat for the rest of the day!

These feelings never hit. I awaited them; I was aware of them. I know how my head tends to react to even the suggestion that somebody somewhere maybe thinks I could lose some weight.

This was the first time the feared mistaken pregnancy comment was made to me. Surely I would start bawling soon?

But it never hit.

I’m still making progress, but knowing that a stranger’s perception of my body didn’t destroy my day felt good.

Really good.

Pictured: Me and my husband on our honeymoon. Not pregnant.
Pictured: Me and my husband on our honeymoon. Not pregnant.

The Speed Of Information (And Why It Matters)

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I often go off on a rant when breaking news happens and I can’t find anything on TV about it until an hour after the event.

As a meteorologist with many friends working in broadcast media, I often get a lot of heat for pointing out how outdated television news as an information source is. I’ve had plenty of Twitter arguments with people whose livelihoods rely on the ongoing profits of television broadcasts.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have friends asking me “who cares?”

I do. And you should too.

Earlier this week, I saw on Facebook (of all places) that a shooting was ongoing at Ft. Hood,TX (again). I texted my mom to let her know, as we used to live there and still have some connections to the place. She texted back “On what channel?”

She was flipping through the cable news stations and getting no information. At this point, the shooting had occurred nearly half an hour prior.

My mother is relatively comfortable with technology for her age. She has an iPhone as well as Twitter and Facebook accounts. But she still gets most of her news from TV or anything she catches on the radio on her commute.

She’s not alone. A Gallup poll in the summer of 2013 showed that TV is still America’s primary news source. This goes for all age groups–yes, Generation Y included.

In January 2009, a regular guy named Janis Krums broke the Miracle on the Hudson story with a simple picture on Twitter.

The picture quickly went viral, with news stations picking it up and reporting on it.

Now, five years later, social media is consistently breaking news faster than old school media.

Should technologically savvy citizens have faster access to information than less savvy citizens?

If the news doesn’t impact you directly, why do you care if you hear about it half an hour later?

Information is invaluable. I imagine this same conversation has happened throughout the millenia as new ways of getting information have been developed:

  • Who needs writing when we have spoken word?
  • Who needs the printing press when we have monks handwriting books?
  • Who needs to deliver messages by horse when we can just run?
  • Who needs the telegram when we have horses to deliver news?
  • Who needs the telephone when we can just wait for the telegram?
  • Who needs the internet when we can just call someone on the phone?

Now I’m flipping this and asking: who needs TV when we have social media?

Sure, older forms of communication are still valuable–hell, we still use spoken word more than we use the internet. But many forms of communication have become irrelevant with time, like the telegram and handwritten books, while others are struggling to keep up in a changing time, like the postal service, whose services are still necessary but less necessary than they were even 20 years ago.

Thankfully, ships no longer have to cross the Atlantic to tell us how the war with the colonies is going. Wars have been won and lost with timely and truthful (or misleading) intelligence. Who gets to decide what information is important for you and me to know?

Let me be clear: I’m all about accuracy of information. This is not about speed for speed’s sake, although I would argue that if you care about the speed of your internet and cable but not about the speed at which you obtain information, your priorities may be misaligned.

There is a lot of misinformation on social media. A lot a lot. But if a news channel can tweet about breaking news as it happens but not even cut in to their corresponding 24-hour news channel to say “We are receiving information about XYZ event, we will keep you updated as we learn more,” then why should I even turn the TV on?

Old media really seems to be struggling to merge its new media presence with the old. Almost every TV station and newspaper has a website and social media profiles. While I don’t expect the newspaper to be printed off fresh every time breaking news occurs, it is mind boggling to me that CNN can tweet about something as it happens then continue to report on something irrelevant on the air.

Unless television news can successfully integrate the information I can find quickly online into its format, I have as much need for it as I do for the telegram.

Viva la información.

news

How Young Is Too Young To Start A Bucket List?

When I was living in a hotel as a child (this happened a couple times during/between my family’s moves), I created my first bucket list. I wish I could pull out the exact list, but, as happened with most things, it got lost in a move.

Is it silly to have a bucket list at 10 years old? I can remember parts of it, and it didn’t include things like “buy a pony” or “be a princess,” as you might expect. I know that traveling, fluently speaking 3 languages, and learning to read the Bible in all of its original languages (including Aramaic) were all on there. I’m also pretty sure storm chasing was on there, so, congratulations, little one, we managed that already!

As I sit here in my late 20s, I realize that I probably haven’t made a bucket list since my teenage years. Did I give up on myself somewhere along the line? Did my dreams become narrower? Are my expectations of the world lowered?

That’s pretty depressing.

So now I present Mallie’s 2014 Bucket List, which includes a mix of ridiculous and tiny goals:

  • Speak 3 languages fluently (let’s do it, little Mallie!)
  • Travel to all 7 continents (this was on teenage Mallie’s list)
  • Make a million dollars net profit in one calendar year
  • Do work I love
  • Get a dog
  • Reacquaint myself with the piano
  • Two children, natural or adopted
  • Show my children the world
  • Run a marathon (surprise, honey!)
  • Traditionally publish a book, fiction or non-fiction
  • Hike a mountain on every continent

What does your bucket list look like today? Do you see any themes in yours: travel, writing, family, career? Share in the comments!

bucket list

3 Things Moving Has Taught Me

Matt and I closed on a house in Frederick, MD last week, and we have spent the past 7 days moving and settling in to our new home. It has been a real drain on my energy and on my business development, but, hey, we shouldn’t have to do this again for quite a few years.

Although this is our first move as a married couple and the first home I have ever owned, this is certainly not my first big move. My dad was an officer in the Army while I was growing up, so moving is just part of my life.

These are the places I have lived, in chronological order:

  • Heidelberg, Germany
  • Enterprise, AL
  • Patuxent River, MD
  • Enterprise, AL
  • Fort Hood, TX
  • Tampa, FL
  • Culpeper, VA
  • Fredericksburg, VA
  • Charlottesville, VA
  • West Lafayette, IN
  • Rockville, MD
  • Frederick, MD

For many Army brats, this list is much longer. While my dad retired when we were in Texas, I only got to spend high school in Culpeper before going to Mary Washington and then UVA for college. While most people are more attached to their undergraduate institutions, I spent more time at Purdue than I did at UVA or UMW.

A lifetime of moving has taught me a lot about attachment and commitment. These are a few of the lessons I’ve learned.

Good friends will remain your friends, wherever you go

I used to collect mailing addresses for my friends before each move. Since most of my friends were also Army brats, however, they would be moving soon as well. Letters would eventually get lost in the shuffle.

The internet (and, perhaps more importantly, the ubiquity of the internet) changed how we interact. Even my parents, who had particularly difficult times maintaining contact with old friends as we moved, have reconnected with others on Facebook. Some of them are meeting up for a mini reunion this summer–how cool is that?

With the resources available now, moving is no longer the incredibly isolating experience that it used to be. If your friends are truly good friends, they will remain that way.

Just remember: making contact is a two-way street. Do your part to stay in touch as well.

Displacement is temporary

The lack of structure and routine during a move can be disorienting and difficult to handle for many people. I have anxiety issues for which I am medicated and in therapy for (for those unaware, OCD is an anxiety disorder.)

Some combination of what I consider my “true” personality in combination with my OCD makes me rather territorial, despite my regular moves. I was that kid in school who sat at the same desk every day, even without assigned seating. If I found someone in my seat, I wouldn’t confront them, but I’d sit elsewhere and spend the rest of that class anxious that I was out of place.

Moving is essentially a magnified version of finding yourself out of place. Animals respond to the stress by marking their territory (thankfully, our cats have thus far avoided that temptation at the new place). As higher functioning creatures, we can rationalize with ourselves. The discomfort from a move is temporary, and once you are finally unpacked and organized, you’ll find yourself settling back into a new routine.

Everywhere you go, there you’ll be (and so will everything else)

This is a popular phrase to remind people that they can’t run from themselves. From my years of moving, one thing I’ve realized is that you can’t run from society either.

Sure, the culture of a community will be different from place to place, and an urban environment is different than a rural one, but the underlying themes remain the same. Unless you’re on one of those off-the-grid shows that my husband watches…then you’re really on your own.

Don’t expect to escape from crappy neighbors, because you’ll certainly run into them everywhere. The town gossip? Different name here, but same mode of operation. Kids’ soccer game politics? Ongoing here too. Barking dogs? Still here.

Enjoy your move, and recognize that, while you are starting a new journey, many things in life are constants. Even friends, discomfort, and your nosy neighbors.

moving

The Printing Press and The Internet

I’m working on an ebook for The Irrational Mind called The Millenials’ Survival Guide. It’s an interesting project and I hope a lot of my fellow Generation Y members get a lot out of it. My younger brother has volunteered to be my beta reader, so if you don’t like it, blame him! (I kid, I kid)

I love working with analogies and, despite my science background, I really loved history classes in school. I like to consider myself a modern-day Renaissance woman, which really translates into Jill of all trades, master of none. I seem to be successfully rolling with that though.

As I’m writing this book, I realize that the Millenials are looking at a world shift unmatched by anything since the (European) printing press was introduced in the 15th century.

The internet has changed the way we interact with the world, learn, and exchange information in a way unparalleled by any other time but the age of the printing press.

Whoa.

This is not to downplay the struggles other generations have gone through. But the internet is not comparable to the Cold War or the establishment of the American colonies…it is comparable to movable type.

The printing press allowed for the Protestant Reformation to take off, for the Renaissance to spread, and for an educated class to emerge below the royals. A highly volatile time, those in charge began to lose their control over the populace as information spread. The Catholic Church saw a new threat to their empire as the schism led to the formation of new religions, new trains of thought, and, eventually, new nations.

The world is constantly shifting. What paradigm shifts to the world has the internet already instigated? What shifts have yet to be realized?

technology