Coffee, you delicious, duplicitous seductress

I keep going back to caffeinated coffee. She’s an alluring temptress. Innocently delicious. Full-bodied, strong, dark, warm … how can I resist? But today, I’ve finally come to the conclusion, that resist I must. Under the guise of her innocence, caffeine wreaks havoc in my life.

I have gone off caffeinated coffee for periods of time over the few years for various reasons, but it has always called me back. This time it’s going to be different. This time my eyes have opened fully to her wily and duplicitous ways. She comforts and energizes, to be sure, but there’s more to it. A dark side that is decidedly not delicious. She brings out the dark side of me.

It hasn’t always been this way, and of course, it’s not completely the coffee’s fault; something in my personal chemistry is just not compatible with the dose of caffeine that comes with the extra-strong coffee that I love. It’s true that I drank coffee for many years and never noticed any dark side to the wonderful, delicious habit. It’s been in the last year, though that the “other effects” have started to show. It’s swirled up in my autoimmune issues, I’m sure. Related to my troubles with anxiety and stress that I’m still learning about and healing. Under certain conditions, which seem to appear every day recently, caffeine hypes up my emotions and dampens my stress tolerance. It is not pretty.

Yesterday I had a lot of difficulty with irritability and got amped up at the slightest annoyance which didn’t need to be an annoyance. Everything was an annoyance, heck I was annoying myself. Mostly, I was disappointed in myself- severely. I didn’t understand what was going on. I could see my behavior getting out of hand and kept reeling myself in, but it kept happening … impatience, annoyance, sharpness when I wanted to be soft. I didn’t want to be the way I was being … and it just sort of hit me … the coffee. It was a hard blow. But a relief too- could it really be the coffee that is responsible for my outbursts of irritation?

I started typing into Google: Can coffee make me angry? Oh, momma. Yeah, I’m not the only person who has asked Google this question. That and several similar search queries auto-populated and reassured me that I was on the right track. I read about adrenals, norepinephrine, stress, anxiety, sleep, fatigue, irritability and well, … I knew it all before, but I needed the refresher to convince myself that caffeinated coffee is really tearing me apart. My system goes a bit haywire and oversensitive when I get “too much” caffeine. My poor body … what have I been doing to you? Have my adrenals been screaming out at me everyday? I told myself it was OK because I waited to have coffee at least an hour after I woke up … but it just didn’t matter. The caffeine makes this momma a monster. And this momma does not want to be a monster anymore.

So. I’m slowly backing down and away from the sweet, dark seductress in my mug. I’ll figure out what I can tolerate if any. I might be back to decaf only. I might have to go back to plain, dark cocoa or try out some other teas that can replace my morning comfort habit. Today was mostly decaf with just a sprinkle of caffeinated coffee to make sure I don’t get too bad of withdrawal symptoms. And guess what? This momma hasn’t been a monster today.

Cold Water Therapy

I’m taking the plunge. Literally.

Into freezing-cold water. More than once. For more than a minute or two.

It might sound odd, but this is a gift to myself. A gift to build my physical and mental health, my confidence; it’s also a gift to the adventurer in me who has been buried a little too deep for a little too long.


In January, I will be joining a multi-day workshop for in-depth Wim Hof Method training and experience. It will include several in-nature cold water experiences. brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! I’ll also be attending a one-day workshop in the next month to help my practice in the interim.

There was a time when I willingly swam in icy rivers and oceans, but that time was many, many moons ago. I have become fearful of the discomfort of cold. And I REFUSE to live in fear and indoors while the brilliant, frozen world is waiting for me to return. I will teach my kids to respect AND enjoy the winters of Alaska. I will teach myself to enjoy them again.

I needed help to fan my inner fire. To find my motivation and get myself moving. And so here I am, signed up to sit my sweet, not-so-little bum in ice water. The motivation factor is already working. I did breathwork this morning and a 30-second cold shower- it was not easy and man, did my scalp was tingle! 30 seconds in a cold shower is a LOT different from an icy plunge into water in wintry nature … but it’s also a LOT more than sitting on my cozy couch sipping coffee and only thinking about upping my WHM practice. (here’s a link if you want to learn more about the Wim Hof Method)

With love and gratitude,

Dianna

Lazy and fearful

I am lazy and fearful.

Gross! I can’t believe I’m saying that. But let’s alter it to a (hopefully) more accurate statement for today: I have been lazy and fearful. Usch. Still yucky, but getting better.

In all my (40!) years of existence, I would never have voluntarily classified myself as a lazy or fearful human, but if I’m going to be honest and grow from self-awareness, I better just get it over with and accept that I have been lazy in most areas of my life and impaired by fear of failure and judgment.

Acknowledging that there is a problem is the first step towards solving the problem. Awesome! So, now I get to pat myself on the back: “Step One complete!”

Hm. Step One wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t all that hard. I have a feeling the next steps are going to be much more challenging. Now comes the deliberosity factor: intentional DOING. I will set actionable goals to grow towards excellence, to grow towards the me I want to be.

“The first step on the path to positive change is acknowledgement that change is necessary and possible. Open yourself to the possibility of seeing the world in a new way. What do you have to lose?”

— Alex Blackwell

I didn’t realize just how lazy I had become. That I was holding back in areas of my life because I was afraid of failing and being judged for my failures. Of being judged for my shortcomings. I was comparing myself against others and an idealized self. I was seeing myself and the world through a heart-breakingly negative lens. I was exhausted from feeling lost and powerless, but I wasn’t doing anything about it. I was unhealthy in my body and in my mind, conditions that ultimately go hand-in-hand. Not comparing myself to others or an ideal has been really challenging and is much harder than I imagined. If anyone has advice for not fearing judgment and for shedding the habit of comparison, I’m all ears!

I’m on a healing journey. I’m on a self-discovery and self-building journey. I’m on a search for a life philosophy to help guide my goals and my activities. But if I’m not careful, I will drift and wander. I need focus. Goals to guide my progress. I will be creating higher-level goals for the coming year(s) and lower-level stepping-stone goals. Since I’ve become so lazy, I will set goals that touch all areas of my life: personal development, romance/relationships, parenting, diet/nutrition, exercise/outdoors.

How about you? How are you doing these days? What’s been niggling you in the back of your brain for a while; something you think needs to change or to improve? Are you putting something off because it feels too hard, or because you’re afraid of what others might think? If you want a sounding board or a little nudge of encouragement, send me a message!

With gratitude and acceptance,

Dianna

Fall seven, rise eight.

A few months ago I hated myself. My thoughts and actions disgusted me. I couldn’t shake the shackles of my negative thoughts. I wanted to scoop my brain out and start over. I wanted to escape myself and relieve my family of my oppressively negative presence. I didn’t want to be me anymore. For a long, long time I subconsciously hated myself. I held those terrible feelings up until a life-changing experience in which I discovered that not only do I not hate myself, but I absolutely love myself and that I deserve to be loved and forgiven. During this intense experience of clarity, I forgave myself of all my past shortcomings and promised myself that I would continue to forgive myself each time I fall short of my expectations. I have fallen short a million times since that experience, but every time I get back up faster and stronger.

I chose to exchange self-doubt for confidence and it’s slowly growing. I am proud of myself for where I am today. I am proud of the work I have put into myself and that I keep brushing myself off after every nasty tumble. I’m realizing that it doesn’t matter if it seems like others believe in me or not, I will keep moving towards my goal and approach it in the way that my inner wisdom guides me. I grant myself the grace to stumble. But I will not stay down.

“Fell seven, rise eight” is a Japanese proverb. The statement made an impact on me years ago when I first came across it. Over the years it was buried down into the recesses of my brain by pain, hurt, and negativity. Recently “fall seven, rise eight” reappeared to me in a book that I’m reading and I plan to re-introduce it to myself regularly. We WILL fall down. Again, and again, and again. And what I realized is: if I don’t fall down, I’m not trying. I should not be ashamed of how many times I fall. Because a fall, and then getting back up, signals that I’m putting in the effort and that I care. A fall and getting back up means that I’m still working to improve and that I haven’t given up. So, I will keep falling, and I will try harder to embrace the fact that I will fall. I just need to keep getting up. And then I will get up once more for good measure.

Overwhelming Positive Emotion … From a Cold Shower

If you need a lift in spirits, a giant boost to your mental outlook, an enormous dose of gratitude, I recommend blasting your body with cold water for a couple of minutes.

I’m brand new to the Wim Hof Method, but in less than 2 weeks I’m experiencing incredible gratitude and energy and I’m extremely satisfied with my results. I should note that I have pushed myself a bit further than the coursework outlines for cold showers, so it may be giving me faster and stronger results than if you stick to the basics. Week 1 called for 30 second cold showers after any length of warm/hot shower, but I felt good in the 1 – 2 minute range, so I went with it.

Yesterday was Day 2 of Week 2 and I decided to challenge myself to a cold shower only, without any warm water first. I had already taken several 2-minute cold showers (with a hot shower first) so I figured it would be a bit of a challenge, but not a big deal, right? Uh. Wrong. It was indeed a challenge, but much greater than I had anticipated. It turns out that experiencing hot water first makes a world of difference.

My First Cold-Turkey Cold Shower

I turned the cold faucet all the way on before stepping into the shower. I set my timer for 2 minutes and then stuck my hand and food into the stream of cold water. OH. Huh. That’s cold. I began to take deep, intentional breaths and splash the water onto my arms and face. Hmmm. Still feeling like I don’t really want to get in there. It seems, well, really, really cold. A couple more deep breaths and I realize I just need to plunge in all the way. At 36 seconds my head was under the rushing stream of cold and I could only keep myself from bolting the heck-outta-there by enlisting the help of intentional breathing. Then, a simple mantra took over my thoughts: “For my family. For myself. For my family. For myself.” Between the breathing and mantra, and knowing that I CAN be in the cold water for 2 minutes, I sustained. And after the two-minute timer went off, I started my stopwatch. You read that right. I stayed in the cold shower. Because I could. Because it’s helping to change me into the person I want to be. Because it’s for my family. And because it’s for myself.

For several moments the water actually felt warm or at least it didn’t bother me. I continued to rotate under the flow of water and to breathe deeply. When the timer hit 1 minute I put my face into the cold stream one last time and switched off the faucet. And then the emotions bubbled up unbidden.

Awash with Gratitude and Positive Emotion

I started to film myself, knowing that it would not be pretty. It might actually be quite uncomfortable to show myself in such a state of emotion. But I wanted to record the power of the moment. I wanted to expose the possibility. Show what a simple activity can do for your mind. I didn’t just step out of the shower, shiver, and say “Damn, that was cold!” I wrapped my towel around me and as powerful emotion surged through me and brought me to tears. The gratitude for my husband and family, and my fortunate life. Gratitude for the previous day, that was head-and-shoulders amazing above any in the last months … maybe years. The gratitude for the powerful experience; the knowledge that I am taking back control and becoming the body and mind that I want for myself. Knowing that my journey is just beginning, yet so positive and incredible after so little time.

Think about it. Consider whether you need a little more oomph in your life. A little more mental space to be happy, relaxed, and light. Perhaps less aches and pain, and better sleep is within reach- without a pill bottle. Consider whether trying something new in your routine might change your life in just the way you need.

Click here to go to the full video on my youtube channel.

Taking Back Control- Step by Stumble

OK, I’m only one week in, and … I feel like I’m slowly gaining control. I know I’m doing something that is getting results. I have to make the choice. I have to commit. It will take time, but I will get there. I will make my body and mind strong and at peace.

This morning I became flustered. I became negative. I let myself slip into a place I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want that to be me. I wept. I wept because I try so hard and I still slip into a negative mindset and feel defeated. After five days of bigger gains than I could’ve imagined, I stumble back, fall on my butt, and flounder. I cry because I want to be better and I’m impatient. I don’t want to subject my family to my negativity. I was able to go to Rodney and ask for a hug, get the outside support and encouragement that I needed. That wouldn’t have happened a few months ago. As frustrating as it is, the stumble, and then the picking myself back up … it fires my desire and my commitment even more. It makes my inner fire burn a little stronger.

It’s Saturday and I woke before 5am and dozed for almost an hour. Then I got up and stretched and breathed. I got in the shower and after a few minutes of a steaming hot shower, I turned the hot completely off, and the cold completely on. And I showered in cold water for over two minutes. It was exhilarating and refreshing. And it was healing. This is a journey that will continue longer than the 10-week WHM fundamental course. I may find other ways of doing things, other methods, other practices that help me differently or more, but right now: this is what’s working for me, and what is opening up my mind and body to a path forward.

I will become stronger than I think I am.

I will take back control.

If you’re interested, watch this documentary and see if it’s something you might want to look into more. If your interest is piqued after watching, go to the website and read more: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/

Remember: You are MUCH stronger than you think you are!

Wim Hof Method Fundamental Course AND how Rodney is saving our relationship and supporting me to be a better mom, wife, friend, and most importantly … a better Dianna

I decided to commit to a personal growth goal. It’s kind of huge for me.

I am TERRIBLE with routine and the Wim Hof Method Fundamental course is a full 10 (TEN!) weeks of DAILY stretching, breathwork, and cold exposure (i.e. taking a COLD shower EVERY day!). Drinking coffee in the morning is the only daily habit I have ever held (aside from getting dressed, and I haven’t always done that everyday!), but a really strong cup of coffee is more a necessity than a habit. So what’s really wild, and shows I mean business: I haven’t had a cup of coffee in 11 days! (more on that later). All that to say, “I stink at routine.” I would definitely not be on Day 5 already if it weren’t for my incredible partner, best friend, father-of-my-children, and lover: Rodney.

This post should really be titled, “How Rodney is saving our relationship and supporting me to be a better mom, wife, friend, and most importantly … a better Dianna,” however I already typed in the title and I’m not going to change it now. Wait a second … strike that, I’m putting it into the title. Rodney deserves an entire post about how amazing he has been: his effort, choices, and patience are incredibly motivational to me and make me feel well-loved. However, that will have to be a later post, because today I’m sharing a bit about the Wim Hof Method (WHM) Fundamental course that I’ve embarked on.

I want to record my experience with the course and still have time for family and other activities, so I am keeping a video journal for convenience … and sharing it for the world to see. 😳 I created a youtube channel called deliberosity, which is home to my journal and any other videos I make or share. It’s ok for you to poke fun and cringe … because the videos are totally cringe-worthy at times (the intro is ridiculously long and completely painful, and then I cry in the shower and make it publicly available 🤦🏼‍♀️) But other moments are beautiful, like when Pyra makes the “shaka” hand symbol, and when Lars merely shows his chunk body. It is what it is, and I don’t care. This is what I’m doing for ME and I feel inspired to share in case it can help anyone else. The world can take it or leave it 😊

Wim Hof Method

I’ll be brief and if you’re interested in more info, head to the official WHM website or check out one of the documentaries I link below.

The basic idea is that humans are much stronger than we think we are and we have the ability to awaken our “inner fire” to improve our mental and physical wellbeing and fortitude. This is nothing new per se; yogis have meditated their way to control various mental and physical functions for centuries. The WHM is one particular practice that was created by a Dutch man nicknamed “The Ice Man” and has become extremely popular in the last 5 years. Two documentaries have helped to spread the word and pique interest around the world. The Yes Theory documentary is a fun and interesting introduction that grabbed my attention. The VICE documentary was the first to skyrocket the popularity of WHM.

In short, the Wim Hof Method combines mindset cultivation (through stretching and meditation) with intentional breathing exercises and controlled exposure to cold. 

The general benefits of WHM (taken from the official website) include:

  • Reduced stress level
  • Greater cold tolerance
  • Faster recovery
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Stronger immune system
  • Migraine relief
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Heightened focus & determination
  • Improved sports performance
  • Increased willpower
  • Relief from: fibromyalgia, lime disease symptoms, Multiple Sclerosis, asthma, arthritis, auto-immune disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

10-week Fundamental Course

I purchased a video-based online course to teach me the WHM and get me started on a daily practice. Please note that I haven’t completed the course and I’m not sure of the results, so I’m not yet endorsing the course, but I want to provide the information for what I am using and make it convenient for others to look into it.

There are weekly videos for 10 themes which also include guidance for yoga and breathwork. There is a downloadable workbook and an app to help track progress and provide tools. The app is free and available to anyone, but you have to pay for the course or to unlock “premiere” options. I feel there are areas that could be improved to streamline the course and make things more clear, but if I can continue with the program and the resources can help me get the results as they are … I’m in!! I’m working to be less critical when it really doesn’t matter. 😬

Personal Goals and Commitments

Obviously, all of these reported benefits would be amazing, right? Who doesn’t want better sleep and a stronger immune system? My initial goal, however, is to increase my stress tolerance so that I don’t feel overwhelmed so easily. I don’t want to be an impatient, grumpy, and stressed mom/wife/person. I haven’t always been so quick to overwhelm, and I’m determined to get back to a more easy-going self. Rodney giving me time for “me” is a huge influence already, but that won’t necessarily create a lasting effect. The intention is to bring about a physical and mental change that reduces my stress response.

Day 5 is here and I’ve done stretches, breathwork, and a cold shower every day. That was my commitment for Week One, but I plan to continue through the weekend so that I don’t falter. I will complete all 10 weeks, repeating weeks if I feel the need, or tacking on more time if I stumble somewhere along the way. The journal videos and this blog are intended to create accountability for me, in addition to the therapy they provide.

Wrap-up

That’s it for today! Thank you again to Rodney, and a big thanks also to those of you who reach out and let me know that you relate to what I’ve written, that you’re with me, and that we’re all in this together. One foot in front of the other, every day. And it’s ok to just sit still and breathe sometimes. Sometimes for a very long time. 😊

Remember: You are MUCH stronger than you think you are!

REBOOT

Postpartum is hard. No matter where you are, who you are with, or the particular circumstances; the postpartum challenges to your mind and body are intense. It’s also hard for the loved ones of the mother, as they try to cope with the changes and provide support and love in the best way they can while often being overwhelmed by the challenging circumstances themselves.

Even now I’m having trouble finding my way through this post as mixed emotions gurgle to the surface and confuse my focus.

The past year has been very difficult. Somehow, my second baby is approaching his first birthday. And yet, where did all those days go? Many hours were spent in an exhausted survival mode with feelings of resentment, disappointment, shame, and despair. But I also have been working on myself and knowing that things will improve with time and with effort.

Infertility and phases of depression put an extra stress on my relationship with my best friend and husband, Rodney. The postpartum challenges we faced in isolation, in our apartment during the covid pandemic in Cuenca, Ecuador, thousands of miles from our support network, brought us down to our lowest point as a couple. I wasn’t doing well. While not every moment was terrible, I wasn’t enjoying our children and family as much as I wanted to. I wasn’t enjoying life as much as I wanted to. I wasn’t feeling loved, and I was not loving Rodney well. Our communication faltered from healthy and supportive to almost non-existent. I won’t dwell on the past and on the negative, but please reach out to me if you need support or want to hear more to connect and not feel alone.

Recently, Rodney and I have taken bigger steps towards improving our relationship and ourselves as individuals. I am using an online counseling service for myself and we just started relationship counseling on a related platform.

For myself, I have given up wheat and coffee as they both seem to interfere with my body functioning well- we’ll see as time goes on. I am using intentional breathing to relax and reset my mind and body, as well as a very simple mantra: “Breathe. Relax. This too shall pass.” Two giant, exciting, challenging changes started today: 1) Mommy goes out to the officina to work instead of Daddy, and 2) I begin the Wim Hof Method 10-week fundamental course.

As I take over some of the time in the office, I will be working on me (meditating, writing, etc) and towards income-making pursuits. Rod and I are putting effort into sharing various workloads more equitably. Soon, I’ll add a link to more info and posts on the Wim Hof Method work that I’m doing.

My overall goal is to be the best me that I can- a me that I can be proud of. To enjoy my life, my family, my surroundings, no matter the circumstances or the weather. I want to love more and give more. I want my body to feel great so that I can make the most of each moment. I’m side-stepping out of my current boggy track, into one that where I tackle challenges, I persevere, I ask for help when I need it, and I feel stronger and healthier in my body and mind.

I just want to finish by saying that Rodney has been instrumental in all of these steps and has shown incredible generosity, strength, and thoughtfulness. This morning he gave me the encouragement and support I needed to take the plunge and start Wim Hof TODAY … not on some idealized better day that might never arrive. I am forever grateful to him.

Now, I will go be momma and wife with my family for awhile. Remember:

You are MUCH stronger than you think you are!

Love,

Dianna

I Wish I Were a Writer

I wish I were a writer, but I’m a mom.

For years, I cried tears of grief for children that would never be. I spent days hiding from the world in my bed. Under covers of quilted down and of darkness and of sorrow. I was trapped, thick in the misery of never holding my baby in my arms.

Now I have my babies. They are both crying for me now. I want to be alone, to be in quiet, to be writing. I want to rest my tired arms from holding their sweet bodies close to me. I want to rest my ears from the whining and fussing. But one precious child is on my lap as I type this now, and the other is fussing for me in the next room instead of sleeping.

Like a writer, I sit down with my water, my coffee, and the desire to pour words onto the paper. I pull out my journal and sit down eager to get down the thoughts that have been milling around my mind. But I often bring another tool to the table as well. A breast. A breast exposed and ready to work. A breast prepared to feed and pacify a baby who needs me. The integral tool that affords me five minutes to put words on a page. Currently, my lap doesn’t merely hold my computer, it holds my daughter who blessed our lives nearly two years ago. But part of me – a part I feel rather ashamed of and annoyed with – only wants to be holding the computer.

I want to be a writer. But even more, I want to be a good mom. I want to appreciate my good fortune and especially my children. I don’t want to want to be alone. I don’t want to wish for silence. I had silence and I wished for babies.

I want to feel only grateful and joyful.

Even as I write, I feel the negativity slipping away. I want to hold my daughter and this computer. If it came down to it, I would instantly trade my computer and all my other belongings for just one moment with my babies … so why do I linger over feelings of discontent?

Why do we do this? Why don’t we accept and breathe and appreciate?

We are human. We are animal. We are imperfect.

I am grateful that my almost-two-year-old is here with me, spilling water on the floor, crawling after an unsuspecting bug, licking the spilled water off the terrace, spitting on the floor next to me and squatting to poop in the diaper I will soon remove from her silken, chubby body.

I am grateful for the baby boy who (for the moment) sleeps on my bed, but who will soon fuss to be held and fed and loved. And I will love him. The best that I can. Always working towards improvement.

And with that I will hit “publish,” so that my daughter feels loved and not ignored or neglected. So that I feel like a better mom than a writer.

(Note: Written on Thursday, August 28. I didn’t hit “publish” when I said I was going to, because Baby Boy woke up right as I was typing the last sentence and I didn’t have time to check the settings and add the photo! This paragraph is written with Baby Boy nursing on my lap while Little Girl naps 🥰 )

What I’ve Been Watching – 01

I’m trying to incorporate motivational, inspirational, and informative media into my routine during chores and downtime. I’m going to share the pieces I found interesting and worthwhile for me.

These first two videos are about mental health and ability, specifically the benefits of intentional breathing and the incredible untapped power of mindset.

The third video is about introverts and their value .. yes, I’m an introvert.

“With anxiety, stress, and sleep dysfunction skyrocketing around the globe, it’s time we look at the unspoken reasons why. These debilitating challenges can be meaningfully impacted with ten to twenty minutes of breathing exercises per day. Max Strom,who has taught breath-work for 20 years, reveals his insights into the healing power of the breath.”


“Dislaimer: The following features stunts performed either by professionals or under the supervision of professionals. Accordingly, the producers insist that no one try to recreate or re-enact any stunt or activity performed in this film.

We’ve admired the pioneering work of Wim Hof for years now from afar. This January however we got an opportunity to spend four days with him in the mountains of Poland. We didn’t know what to expect. We had no idea that Wim was at a place in his life where he wanted to push his findings to the next level….we had no clue that we were his experiments in proving just how powerful the mind is.”


“In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.”