All in Health

Looking for Life

Our deserts will look different—a job loss that flattens you, credit card debt that seems endless, a family drama that has yet to resolve, a breakup that breaks you, an addiction that controls you, a depression or an anxiety that plagues you. Deserts can look so much like a place of despair.

Imperfect, Not Failing

Typically, if I know something is going to be imperfect I will probably not do it. Or, the second something starts revealing its imperfections I dip out. Relationships, goals, Wednesday night yoga—if I am standing face to face with imperfection I will use it as an excuse to distance myself from whatever the thing is. Because if imperfection means failure, and failure means making a fool out of myself in front of the whole world that is obviously watching and judging my life (I’m looking at you, Yoga Wizard behind me at the 6pm Vinyasa class), I need to get out of Dodge before shame and the opinions of others get some pitch forks and angry-mob-style force me out.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: A Time to Reassess

There are things about myself I wish I could change. Not in a dramatic, self-hatred kind of way: largely, I’m pretty happy. But there are habits and tendencies that I wish I could just shake off. I wish I was more disciplined, stuck at things when they’re hard. I wish I trusted my voice more. I wish I was more compassionate, went out of my way more to love people. I wish I went outside more and watched Netflix less.

Weight Loss and Worthiness, Part III

There were many challenges about this trip that I very naively didn’t foresee, but the hardest and most emotionally taxing was how difficult it was for my body. I was out of shape and ill-prepared and the hills of the Irish countryside were much more demanding than I anticipated. On my last hiking day I walked 18 miles on a beach. I thought I would finally find some relief on flat ground, but it was grueling and I was in tears for more than half of it. I had planned for something adventurous and worthwhile and my body was insufficient in aiding me in those things. That trip lit a fire in me, and shortly after I got home I made a list of all the hopes I had for my body. I wanted to hike Machu Picchu and outdoor rock climb and feel comfortable in a bathing suit on a beach. I didn’t want to be held back or limited because my physical health never made its way up from the back burner of my life.

5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Just two weeks ago, the legendary groundhog sent news of an extended winter. The shadow was cast, and many of us sank deeper into our covers. With dark evenings and cold winds accompanying our every day, the winter can be a daunting beast. February, in particular, is a tough month to get through with little warmth in sight.

Despite this, there are ways to shake aside our blues and find some light in the fog. As a post-grad freshly lectured on the importance of taking control of one’s life, I have accrued a few tips on keeping the winter blues at bay.

Weight Loss and Worthiness, Part II

I was in fifth grade the first time I denied myself food to lose weight. It started because a boy I really liked asked me to dance at a school event one Friday night. I found out the next day that he had been paid to do so and him and his friends had an array of inside jokes involving how many fat rolls they could count on my stomach. I vowed to never eat a thing containing sugar ever again.

Weight Loss and Worthiness, Part I

I have tried to write about this topic at least a half a dozen times in the last three years, but every time I do something inside of me freezes up. I don’t like to talk about weight loss. Not over coffee, not in a blog post, not even inside the safety of my counselor’s office. I have talked about it in all those settings before, but every time I do I feel like I’m getting repeatedly punched in the gut afterward. I feel exposed and vulnerable in a way that is unique to discussing physical appearance. I always fear coming across as superficial and insensitive if I am completely candid.

Returning to the Desert: When Life Feels Dry and Despairing

I have friends who are in the desert right now. Life feels dry; hope feels impossible. Every day is the same, wandering through an endless stretch of sand and rocks without a clear sense of direction, the sun beating down without reprieve. As the infinitely-wise sociologist and author Brené Brown writes, “Despair is a spiritual condition. It’s the belief that tomorrow will be just like today.” The desert feels so much like a place of despair, a place of death.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: When It's the New Year and Everything Is Different

I couldn’t bind up other people’s problems and make everything okay. I just couldn’t. I learned that I am not superman; I can’t save people. I learned that sometimes people choose to be unhealthy, that they choose to be in dangerous situations, but that I don’t have to support bad choices. I learned that I can walk away. Sometimes walking away means that you lose a friend, but it often means that you gain some clarity and peace. I learned that I can’t please everyone because in the words of Brené Brown I’m not “the jackass whisperer.”

You Knelt Beside My Hope Torn Apart

“It’s called real life, and it’s cracked and fragile.”

Real life seems to be awfully cracked and fragile lately.

I have friends who are hurting—friends mourning the unexpected death of family, friends grieving the loss of friendships, friends fearing potential layoffs, friends aching from loneliness or a feeling of not measuring up to their peers. So many people in my life seem to be carrying with them their own fanny pack of hurts these days.

Why You Should Just Sign Up

"Self-care" is the buzzword but many of us, myself included, do not do it enough. There is a certain pride we take in hustling and working crazy hours to get where we want to go. But at the end of the day, we are not superheroes. We need sleep. We need downtime. We need to do something for ourselves here and there, otherwise, take it from me, you will burn out.

Top 10 Most-Read Posts of 2017

We owe everyone who has contributed their stories at least a year’s worth of lattes as a token of our gratitude, but alas, this simple “thank you” will have to carry the weight of our appreciation instead. Thank you, thank you to everyone who has written for, read, and supported That First Year this past year. We exist because of and for YOU and we can't wait for what 2018 will bring to this community. 

Here are the top 10 most-read posts of 2017. Enjoy these stories from some incredible writers.

Genres: The Toll of Anxiety

This emergence of drama was coupled with my physical pain I felt earlier this year. I had chest pains, trouble eating, and my stomach hurt without any rhyme or reason. As a result, I left my job without having one lined up. As terrifying as this was for my bank account and my dignity, I needed a change. I couldn’t stomach ten hour work days, three hour commutes, and six hours of sleep. Something was not right and I was determined to get to the bottom of it.