Cookies and Jams: How Jamming to Music and Feeding Squirrels Makes Me More Resilient

A few days ago, I woke up, went for a 4-mile run outside, then jammed out to Walk the

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This is from 2014, but come on… Brendon Urie is so beautiful!

Moon and Panic! at the Disco while getting ready for the rest of the day. And honestly, it was one of the best mornings I’ve had in a loooong time.

The couple days before this great morning were rough. I’d cried a lot, been very sad and anxious, and had a lot of bodily insecurities. It was hard to focus on anything because I was worried about the past and the future instead of enjoying anything in the present. I’m graduating next semester and worried about life beyond school (and also excited, but mostly worried), along with a bunch of other worries such as when will I ever get top surgery and why didn’t I let myself be sad about family members and friends being in the hospital until now? I’d also gotten sick on my run (IBS flareup… yay…) and couldn’t enjoy my first run outside in months. The world seemed to be against me—even the wine and movie night I had with my friend wasn’t as fun as I’d hoped.

Needless to say, I was spiraling into a pit of negativity. The Hydra monster was dragging me down into the depths of its dungeon, having many more heads than before because I cut off the ones that were connected to sadness.

Then Saturday came, and I cried. I cried so hard that I panicked about how sad I was, and I was exhausted the next day. But by Monday—the day of the great morning—I realized how relieved I was to have expelled that emotion. I don’t want to be an emotionless robot, so I need to accept the sadness along with the happiness, the anger along with the comfort.

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Sunshine!

So Monday morning—I finally woke up to my alarm and to the sunlight instead of sitting in bed for an hour with my eyes closed wishing the day wouldn’t start yet. I helped my roommate stretch out her hamstring. I got dressed and went for a run, feeling so good that I went an extra mile than planned. I didn’t even let the annoying Nebraska wind detract from the experience, and I didn’t worry about how fast I was running. All I cared about was that I was working toward my goal of running a 10K this year. I could enjoy the scenery and the people and the muscle strain more than I could have if I were worried about how slow I am or what I look like.

Afterward, I had to ice my ankles (runner problems!), but then I got in the shower. And I put on a Walk the Moon song. And I jammed the heck out. I took an extra-long shower just so I could jam out to the other fun, upbeat songs that I love—“Hey Look Ma I Made It” by Panic! at the Disco, anyone?

I highly recommend starting your day with music you love. In fact, I made an entire playlist of songs that I would want to jam to every morning (which is always subject to change, as I change each day). The days that I start with music or books or writing that I love are often the best days I have. I am certainly more resilient on those days, because I start the day with some positivity.

For example, on the Monday in question, I thought I had an appointment with Career

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Outside with a friend!

Services to figure out a plan for the future and assuage some of my anxiety. Well, I showed up, and apparently they didn’t have my appointment scheduled. On a normal day, I would have been upset and annoyed and let it ruin at least the next few hours, if not the rest of the day. Instead, I made an appointment for the following Monday and spent the hour that was set aside for the appointment reading a book outside. I’m reading a quirky novel, so it was nice to set aside some time to read for fun instead of for school. I did get sunburned, but again, I didn’t let it bother me too much. I dipped my feet in the fountain outside of the student union and splashed some cold water on my neck to cool down. All in all, it was a good hour.

After I was productive, I walked to a local coffee shop and treated myself to an iced tea and cookie—which I promptly shared with my squirrel friend. Have I told you about my squirrel friend? There was another day when I was having a panic attack and knew I needed to distract myself and get out of the situation, so I got a cookie and sat on a bench. Then a squirrel came up and started begging for food. Now, normally I wouldn’t

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Name ideas for my squirrel friend, anyone?

feed a wild animal for fear of giving it something bad for it. But this squirrel had clearly eaten human food before, and sharing is one of the things that almost always puts me in a positive mood, so I shared. He got so close to me, even touching my leg at one point—I felt like a goshdarn Disney prince.

Anyway, I decided to take my cookie and tea to the same bench, and lo and behold, my squirrel friend showed up again. He didn’t show up until I was down to the crumbs, but I dumped them on the ground for him on my way over to sit in the shade (because, ouch, sunburns).

The purpose of all of this is to say that I’m trying to actively add positivity into parts of my day that have previously been neutral, therefore tipping the scales in my favor from the beginning. Then if bad things happen, the day is not ruined and I can handle them better with a clearer, calmer mindset.

And, you know, I think I’m going to stop telling myself it’s stupid for Walk the Moon songs to be the guiding light in my day. I think I’ll just shut up and dance.

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