Tag Archives: mom

Back on the Slopes

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I have been following in my father’s ski tracks my entire life. Not much has changed. My father put me on skies when I was three years-old; then I spent winter mornings in ski school until I was able to ski blue runs fluently.

So many ski trips are burned into my memory. Packing up before dawn and heading out toward the mountains. A pack of licorice and the ski cassette tape of classic rock, so used that it began to unravel. Aching ankles, sore legs, and full body chills into the nap on the way home.

I haven’t skied in YEARS. The last time I attempted to ski, I never even saw the slopes. I was pregnant with my (now two year-old) son and had debilitating morning sickness. I puked the entire drive up to the resort, on the side of the road in heavy Denver traffic. Then I spent the day vomiting in the lodge. The entire day. I passed out on the table then stumbled into the bathroom to lose the sips of water I had taken. The sickness, puking, and cramps were so serious that I was honestly concerned I was going to lose my baby.

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This time, I brought my five year-old daughter for her first time skiing, and, just like my father before me, I deposited her in ski school in the morning. Establishing and continuing family traditions.

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The day did not start out well for me. After my daughter was all squared away and I launched off with my father and sister, I found my ski boots very uncomfortable. I had them before my two children and apparently my feet changed substantially in that time. When I wrestled all the bindings closed, they pressed on my ankle in some way that was just excruciating. My toes went numb; it felt like the side of my foot was tearing.

I tried to power through. I told myself to breathe through it. I told myself it would loosen with time. I popped a couple bindings. Yet, on the lift, I had to counsel myself out of how much it hurt.

On the first run down, I found skiing to be very difficult, harder than I really remembered. I wobbled. I was slow and cautious. It was just unpleasant. I did not feel like myself at all. I thought perhaps it had been too long and I had forgotten my technique over the years. By the bottom, I decided to just go rent new boots.

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New boots were like a whole new world. Without the pain, everything became easy again; muscle memory returned. My mind even cleared and returned. After months of dealing with the constant hamstring pain, I simply could not process additional pain signals; I could not deal. Yet without the pain, skiing was awesome again! Even with my gimpy hamstring, I blazed down after my family, carving around moguls and bouncing over powder.

I forgot how good it felt to whip down a mountain, to hear the snow compacting under me, to feel the flakes in the winter air on my face. I felt that familiar euphoria and remember why I loved it so much.

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We laid down some good runs in the morning. The Loveland win bit hard on the high lifts, but otherwise, we rode the mountain under clear skies and high sun. The hamstring only balked when carving through ice or deep powder and only when turning left when I really had to lean down into that left leg.

We took lunch and then back to the slopes. Somewhere in the afternoon, we accidentally ended up on a black run. Black runs are not out of any of our ability; however, with my father’s spinal stenosis and disk cyst and my 5 months injured hamstring, it was not in our plan for the day (I wonder where I get my tendency to ignore pain and do whatever I want in spite of my body). We all survived, but the run pretty much winded down our day.

We migrated from the Basin back to the Valley to have some drinks waiting for my daughter to be done with ski school. I was curious to see how she did, but she loved it and did fantastic.

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We took her on one final run to end the day. She did so well. I was impressed at her ability after one short day and amazingly proud of her. For a child who often whines and attempts to get people to do things for her, she was calm and determined and brave, even after 5 hours of ski school. She wanted to keep going; she outlasted the adults.

In the end, it was a great day. Plenty of exercise that reminded me of why I love the sport and another opportunity to introduce my daughter to an activity I enjoy. It will definitely not be years before I return to the slopes.

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Jingle Bell 5K

It is that time of year again: the time to freeze our bells off running a 5K in the variable Colorado winter weather.

On the morning of the Jingle Bell 5K, I woke up feeling rather awful. My head was splitting; my stomach wound in agitated knots. I felt hungover without the benefit of getting drunk the night before. I also dressed for a balmy 40-50 degree run and was instead greeted by a penetrating frosty bite on the air.

In short, I was simply not feeling it.

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My daughter and I began with a visit to Santa, where I asked for a healed hamstring for Christmas. Then the kids’ race was first. My daughter again asked to run without me, which left me feeling some combination of proud and a little hurt. I know she ultimately does not want me to run with her because I push her, don’t let her stop, don’t indulge her crying. Maybe I’m too hard on a 5 year-old.

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But she does great without me. Without me, she ran the full distance at a good pace. Maybe I bring out the whiner in her.

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After the kids were whisked away to the warmth by grandparents, Trisha and I settled in to run our race. We decided to just stick together and just run. No striving, no PRs, just running.

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And we just ran. We chatted about nothing. We watched a fight ensue over headphones versus stroller running (like really? Merry Christmas, guys). I didn’t think about pace or if my muscles were burning or if I could breathe right or if I was keeping up with other runners. I didn’t think.

I floated the majority of the first half. Just floated right along, which is extremely strange for me in the opening mile. A little exertion warmed me right up, and I was shedding layers in no time. My hamstring had ached in the morning yet felt better on the run. It would balk from time to time, twinge at a certain stride, yet overall, it hurt less to be running.

We ended up laying down a great race. At the Great Pumpkin 5K (October), I ran a 37 minute 5K. At the Turkey Trot 5K (November), I ran a 35 minute 5K. At this Jingle Bell 5K, we did a 34 minute 5K. So, even though my injury persists and my running regiment has gone to hell, my pace is steadily improving. Perhaps thanks to all the cross training. Whatever it is, I will take it!

(Also, turns out the Great Pumpkin was also my 50th race; that happened when I wasn’t paying attention.)

I was extremely pleased with the run overall. Our time turned out awesome, but it did not even really matter. It was running with a friend for the sake of running, and the simplicity was so enjoyable after so many months of over critiquing myself.

It felt free.

 

**Hamstring update**

I finally folded and went to the doctor for my hamstring. These near five months later. The pain had escalated to the point that it hurt to sleep, hurt to sit in a chair, hurt to stand up completely straight. That constant pain started to affect my mood and irritability levels, which in turn got taken out on my family, so steps needed to be taken.

In all honesty, I went to the doctor just hoping for some Vicoden or any other pain killer that would make it stop just for a little while. Just one night of being able to roll over without whimpering. Just one day of not cringing and hobbling around. The doctor, not too surprisingly, decided on a different course of treatment.

Rather than pain killer to mask the discomfort, he gave me anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the inflammation and hopefully promote healing. The first couple days, it felt like a cure. My leg felt completely like mine again. My flexibility returned. My body felt normal. I could have vibrated out of my skin with relief and excitement. It took every ounce of my considerably weak self-control to not overdo it and leap directly back into full force exercise. I wanted to run a marathon and climb a mountain.

Yet, as the dosage of the medication weaned off the nine day burst, the pain returned. First, it was just twinges again, just the wrong movement or wrong angle. Now, completely off the pills, the leg is slowly creeping back to where we began. It is still better. My flexibility remains vastly improved, but it is worsening by the day.

My ultimate gauge, the line I had in my mind to mark where I was, had been if I had the painful hitch when I stood all the way up. Until today, I was short of that. Today, it started to hint. That stab in my buttcheek as I step out of the car, that hiccup in the fluidity of standing.

I hope I’m not regressing fully. It was so nice to taste recovery. If nothing else, it gave me a little hope, reminded me of what it will be like when it doesn’t hurt every day.

I am scheduled for an MRI next week, so we will know more then. Though my money is on, “hey it’s torn or whatever, just let it heal and do some physical therapy. Oh and pay us $1,000 for the MRI.”

Either way, I can run, and my fitness feels on point lately, so it’s good enough for me. I have found a way to make myself sane around the injury, and at some point, it has to get better.

 

Christina Bergling

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Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

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Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

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Collected Christmas

Some of the best voices in horror fiction decided to band together and tell you some tales about a different kind of Christmas.

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Annual Turkey Trot (Year 4)

I have now entered my near fourth month with the hamstring injury. Overall, it has improved, yet day to day, I move forward one step then back two to six. The pain moves, migrates. It has traveled over the length of my hamstring, lingered in the attachments on the side of my knee and deep in my buttcheek. It has even crept up into my sciatic nerve. Once I adjust to the new manifestation, it mutates again. More or less, I am just in constant discomfort.

Yet, beneath the constant, nagging pain, it is slowly improving. My flexibility on that side is returning, working to match the healthy side. It feels better when I’m active. Actually, it feels better during and after activity than it does any other time. The absolute worst is while I am laying down and sleeping. Turning over is an instant of sheer agony.

After working with my chiropractor and personal trainer over these months to rehab the injury, I finally folded and went to the doctor. The doctor seemed rather impressed with the severity and persistence of the injury. He sighted so many points of inflammation and compensation. I wanted pain killers, something to just ease the pain as I healed, especially while I slept, yet I walked out with anti-inflammatory medication and an order for an MRI. Physical therapy is coming. I guess I will take it. I’ll try anything at this point. The resting pain is getting brutal.

But, like I said, activity is getting better. Which includes running! After months of skipping my own runs and focusing only on training Michelle at run club, I decided at the Turkey Trot, I would try to actually run for real. I did so at The Great Pumpkin Run, but that was the only other time, and that was rough.

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So I went for it. I ran like I had no injury, and strangely, I felt like I had no injury. I also felt like I had not run for months and my cardio was absolute shit, especially in the blasting icy wind. But I didn’t have hamstring pain during the run!

This Turkey Trot is always a challenge. The opening mile is painful, rolling incline. By the time I finally reach the returning decline, I am usually sputtering and roasting to death in my own exertion. This year was no different than the previous, only with the inclusion of my lack of training and the wind blaring off the prairie.

I went back to basics. I just kept pushing. I just kept running. I forced myself not to obsess over my pace or gauge myself against the surrounding runners. I made my focus the lack of pain in my hamstring and not stopping. I didn’t stop. I just ran, sloppily wogging at best at points. I scarcely found a float at any point, and I dry heaved with vigor at the end, but it was worth it to feel something like myself again.

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I even pulled a pretty average time for me. Happy Thanksgiving to me!

I’m hoping it is a step back into running. A cautious, slow step. An attempt at moderation and compromise with my body. Because my mind is not taking this no running business. The insanity is flaring up on all sides and screaming for the outlet. Just not at the price of the flesh. I think I will always tear myself apart, even trying to be healthy, even fumbling for balance.

In addition to my own 5K, my daughter participated in the 1K kids’ run.

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And she ran the whole thing. All by herself with her friends. She was so excited and proud of herself. And so was I.

It was a good run morning. My favorite way to start the holiday. I crashed when we returned home, of course. My sinus infection flared up; my hamstring tightened. I just drank mimosas until I didn’t feel feelings, and it turned into a good day.

Christina Bergling

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Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

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Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

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thewaning.com


Creepy Crawl 5K

Before I say anything else, why in the hell is it so HOT in October? At the end of October. It is just ridiculous. It almost makes me happy that I still cannot really run.

Almost.

Halloween is my favorite holiday, so naturally, I love a Halloween themed run. Especially on a flat, beautiful course as part of an awesome fall series that includes the best shirts.

This year, we stepped up our group and costume game. We went as our own namesake: Zombie Turtles

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We had an entire pack. Or herd. I’m not entirely sure on turtle terminology. My daughter even dressed as a zombie belly dancer to participate, while her bestie was our sole survivor, Supergirl.

We really embraced the dead look.

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Under the stupid and unseasonable hot sun, we wogged along. We learned that fake blood liquifies again when you sweat. It may have dripped directly into my eye, fusing my eyelashes together. I think we all looked more gory and more dead at the end of the race.

But Michelle did AMAZING. Even in the heat, she ran great. In my injury, I have turned my attention to her training, and she is showing great progress. It is fun to focus on someone else. I also might be a touch of a sadist.

After the 5K, we took the kids on the kid race. For the first time, my daughter ran the whole distance without stopping. It was under a mile. There was some whining, a few tears, maybe even a little bargaining, but she did it! And I was so proud of her.

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This race was not really about running. It was more about being festive and having fun as a group, and I think we accomplished all that. We were never more zombie turtles than we were jogging with bloody shells on our backs.

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My injury continues to effectively hinder my running. I can wog slowly with little pain. In this race, for example, it felt pretty good aside from aggravating it traversing railroad tracks to get to the race. Honestly, I have not tried to run for real. I have found the injury to be transitory, variable. Since the pain migrated from hamstring to sciatic nerve, I have been broken. Mentally more than physically.

I thought I was getting close to recovery; I thought I was making progress. It was a touch crushing to go back to severe pain and limited mobility. I have been making slow gains again, but now I am gunshy. I also made some crucial realizations about myself and my tendancies, and I am trying to make better decisions.

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In either case, running is just not happening lately. I am still working out. A lot. I am rolling around on the torture ball, avoiding stretching, going to the chiropractor, letting my trainer adjust my form. Just plugging along basically. I continue to allow this injury to be my teacher.

I miss running–deep in my soul–especially as the fall weather flirts with this endless summer. Yet I am resolved to continue compromising with reality. I will get back to full running one day; for now, runs like this one are a great pacifier.

 

Christina Bergling

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Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com


Hot Chocolate 5K (+1)

I have been injured almost 8 weeks now. 8 weeks on Friday but who is counting? 8 long, never ending, torturous weeks.

My hamstring has improved, marginally. The pain used to be unbearable. It also used to extend the full length of the tendon. Now it has receded to the attachments and only whines at certain positions or movements. Yet, for the first 7 weeks, I could not run on it. At all.

I tried. Of course, I tried. I went to run club one night and could not even make it a block before the pain wrapped around my hip. Every time I fell into a stride, it only got worse. So I gave up and forced myself to remain patient, which is hardly my strong suit. I did not avoid activity. I could not foresake my addiction. So I poured myself more into barre (which is what caused this damn injury) and more into zumba and more into lifting. My body (aside from my hamstring) seems happy about it (and is changing), and my mind is pacified.

Yet, this weekend, I was able to run for the first time. Sort of. Kind of. A little bit.

We did the Hot Chocolate 5K in Denver, and I brought my 5 year old daughter.

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The Hot Chocolate Run is always a fun and easy run. Usually, it is nice and cold, though not at all this year. The course is flat through downtown Denver. And we’re really there for the chocolate not a PR. The only time I strove was doing the 15K last year (and I passed my goals!). But, especially with the kiddos, we were just there to be active and have fun.

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If you asked me at the end of the run how things went, I would say, great! However, if you asked me during, it would depend entirely on the mile.  We all started out strong. Happy kids. I was even able to run (after experimenting with a new KT approach). It was all smiles and jogging.

Then, around mile 1, my child lost it a bit. She hit her wall. Just like her momma, it came in the beginning of the run. There were tears and whining and bargaining, but somehow we managed to encourage her to the first chocolate station. After that, she was a delight.

Unfortunately, she tagged out her tiny bestie. My best friend’s daughter then hit her wall. Just like her own momma, she struggled to the end. More whining and crying and tears across the finish line.

However, all averaged out, it did actually go very well.

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Once again, my friend and I realized that oiur children are, in fact, us running without filters. My daughter had to overcome her wall in the opening miles, just like I do, convincing herself to go until it didn’t hurt anymore. All the things she whimpered definitely go through my head at that point in the run. I have just learned to talk myself out of them and push through. So I attempted to push through my irritation and be that voice for her.

While the girls did the 5K, my husband did the 15K. Without training for it at all. I envied him both because he was physically capable of running distance and that he could run said distance without working for it. I always kill myself for every mile, train relentlessly. The results rarely match the effort. Neither do his, apparently, but in the opposite direction. Yet I was also proud of him for accomplishing it. I hope his soreness leads to more of a fitness commitment.

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Then, of course, there was the chocolate and the sweet hoodie. Incentives I will always come back for. We have already registered for next year.

October is the start of my running season, which is making this injury all the more difficult to accommodate. I am missing my favorite run (Cripple Creek). I downgraded my registration for the Great Pumpkin from 10K to 5K (I adore the 10K of this race). The temperatures are dropping, and I can’t be out on the trail. Yet I can’t force the flesh. I do not want to make it worse. I just keep telling myself that there will be other falls. These weather conditions and these races are annual.

I can do this. I can recover.

On Saturday, I will be doing the Great Pumpkin 5K. I’m curious to see how much I am able to run. Or maybe how much I able to permit myself to not run.

 

Christina Bergling

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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com


Exercise: The Bipolar Hack

I think I have come to accept that my obsessive, demanding fitness regime has simply become a way of life. Initially, after having my son, I told myself that I was killing myself just to recover from him. I told myself that I was dial back the effort once I was back to maintaining. Even as I fixated on my shallow pursuit, I think I always knew, deep down, that was not true.

At some recent point, I remembered who I am on multiple levels. I remembered that I do not care about being skinny enough or a certain size; I remembered that it is not really my priority. Instead, I care about sanity. And I remembered that I need this, that obsession, fixation, and self-abuse are at my core. Channeled addiction, directed negative energy.

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I was diagnosed as bipolar when I was 19 years old. By the point I finally sought help and a diagnosis, I was scarcely functional, and my self-mutilation escalated to an alarming degree. What I would later learn were my symptoms emerged when I was 17 yet I can remember hints back into my childhood. I remember feeling so much and never being able to adequately explain or understand it.

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Like most, I railed against my diagnosis, alarmed by the permanence of the idea of being defective or broken. I resisted what it meant, fought what I needed to do, and continued to be a self-destructive mess for a long time. Making peace with what I am, with the way my brain is was probably the hardest point of growth in my life. The idea of who I am, how I identified being defective or undesirable was a difficult pill to swallow.

I tried medication once. And by once, I do not mean one kind of medication; I mean one pill, one time. The experience was horrendous. I was unconscious for over 12 hours, borderline catatonic for the entire next day, then suicidal for two more. I vowed to never attempt medication again, so I had to find an alternative method to deal.

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I did not want to hide in pharmaceuticals, but the chemical component of my disorder is undeniable. I cannot ignore it without it tearing apart my life. I cannot control the structure of my brain. I cannot affect the way my neurotransmitter receptors react to chemicals or the natural levels of serotonin or norepinephrine. However, I learned I can control two things: 1. The chemicals and activities that change my brain chemistry and subsequently moods, and 2. How I react to and process the moods I experience.

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Therapy handled learning how to react and process better. After I got past the resistance to what my diagnosis meant and entailed, sessions could actually be productive. By the end, I learned to suck any fraction of worth from 50 minutes out of a paid hour like a vampire. A reduction in alcohol intake and elimination of detrimental chemicals tamed the peaks of my extremes. Enter exercise as my medication.

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All my self-destructive behaviors included trying to eat and drink myself to death, so when I surfaced from the depths of my depression, I initially started exercising to lose weight. That shift, in itself, was a change from self-destruction to self-care. Instead of trying to kill myself slowly in every way possible, I made one step in the direction of taking care of myself, of deciding my body and my health was worth the investment. Then it was habit and routine to maintain the loss. It took years, but I discovered the mentally therapeutic benefits of fitness when I began dancing and running. When there was a high.

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The high is the key, which is why exercises like dancing and running are more effective for me than walking or weight lifting. I am chasing that wave of euphoric endorphins. Like a true bipolar, I am at home in extremes. Like a true recovered masochist, I always want to push until I hurt myself a little. That high can extract me from depression or level out the waves of my cycles (fun fact: Monster energy drinks also serve the same short term purpose but too much can lead to flirting with psychotic mania). So regular high intensity cardio exercise both helps keep me level and helps level me out when I do cycle.

This realization and practice, nearly a decade of bipolaring in the making, has changed everything for me. I did not have to wean off of medication or forego breastfeeding when I had my babies. I do not have to worry about side effects, the ones I experienced with my one dabbling or others like excessive weight gain associated with psychoactive drugs. I am unshackled. Unchained yet also completely and solely responsible for my own functioning. I’m even off the therapy leash these past few years.

However, this approach is definitely more demanding than popping a pill. Usually, I exercise 8-12 hours per week. Balanced between a full time job, two young children, writing, and a social life with my family stretches me pretty thin (and not in the aesthetic way).

This much self-care requires me to be selfish at times I probably should not be; it makes my relationships inequitable at times. I have to make sure to go run when I should be with my children. My partner has to consider me and make sure I can take care of myself before himself. It is often gravely unfair, but doesn’t my condition need to be considered and attended? Does my neuroatypical brain not require different things than the typical ones around me? Don’t I have to take care of myself to be worth anything to anyone else? These are hard questions to answer, and I do not think the answers are always the same.

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Neuroatypical is a new word to me. So much more comfortable than crazy or broken.

This concept, my way of dealing, has been weighing on my mind with extra heft lately. Recently, additional snippets of family history have been revealed about breakdowns and hospitalizations. The history always just feels like a damning roadmap of my future. But I want to be different.

I already am different. I am living my life out in the open. Part of me hesitated to publish this mental history lesson publicly under my real name, but this is who I am. I am bipolar. And if anyone can benefit from the lessons I have suffered to learn, I am willing to put them out there. I am not hiding or denying, like past generations had to. I have cultivated a support system who are familiar with my challenges and are able to support me through them.

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I am being proactive. If working myself out to the bone is what keeps me sane, I am committing to this fitness lifestyle. It’s a hell of a better reason to do so than just trying to be some kind of skinny.

 

Christina Bergling

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facebook.com/chrstnabergling
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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com


Run to the Shrine (With Kids!)

The first time I did Run to the Shrine, I was good and pregnant. Last year, the hill completely defeated me (to my dismay). This year, instead of being about me doing anything, I made it about doing something with my daughter.

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Recently, I have been working on running with my daughter. She’s now 5 so we have been practicing the 5K distance. She has completed some with some success (and some with less than success). She seems to be learning and improving, and I am also learning to be patient and adjust my expectations. I think it has been good for both of us.

I decided to take her with me to Run to the Shrine because it is conducted at our local zoo, which is one of our favorite places. However, her father pointed out that expecting a 5 year-old to walk 2 miles up a mountain then back and then behave at the zoo all day was unreasonable. I could not deny his logic, so we compromised. I wore my daughter on my back for 1.5 miles up; then she walked the last .5 mile up and 1 mile down.

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On a normal day, this would have been a brilliant plan. However, the unpredictable Colorado springtime decided to lob some frigid foggy weather our way instead. It was cold, really quite cold, especially when a icy mountain breeze would start tickling the route.

My daughter did great on my back. I believe she might have fallen asleep on my shoulder if I let her. I also finally felt the fruits of all my work. Walking up a mountain, wearing a 30 pound child felt like nothing. I wasn’t fatigued; I wasn’t winded. It felt easy, which, in itself, was amazing. It is nice to see the results of all my self-torture occasionally.

When I put my daughter down to complete her half of the race, things did not go as simply. Mostly, she was cold. Even in her coat plus my coat plus my attempts to get her to jog to warm up, she was just very cold.  She held it together well. She contained her whining and crying and pushed through (yes, it is because I bribed her but still). We walked the majority of the way until her father came back for her. He has the talent to always convince her to keep going while thinking it’s a game.

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I loved watching them run together. I loved watching him motivate her in ways I couldn’t. He has a talent to be able to make our children forget the hard parts. But she finished her mile and half. She ran across the finish line, and I was very proud of her.

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Unfortunately, it was too cold to enjoy the zoo afterward. However, everyone seemed happy enough to sip hot chocolate instead. End to end, it was an enjoyable race experience. Maybe next time there will be sun.

 

Christina Bergling

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