Saturday, October 22, 2016

30 Days of Militant Self Care: Days 12-24

This post about self care is both extremely late and extremely ahead.  In explaining my absence, I don't have much to say besides I'm sorry.  To myself mainly, for not being as diligent as I should have been.  Taking care of myself is something I easily sacrifice in ways.  And it is not okay.  I usually put more effort into taking care of others than myself.  I'm working on it.  One of the things I'm doing for myself right now is looking into buying a house, which is so exciting but so damn stressful at the same time.

Day 12: Treat Yo Self.

Probably one of my favorite episodes of Parks and Recreation is Treat Yo Self.  In the show, the idea is to be lavish and buy things that maybe you don't even need.  But in terms of self care, this idea doesn't need to be lavish.  It can be something small.  For me, I indulged in a piece of apple pie and didn't judge myself for eating it.  Which is pretty revolutionary for me.  I struggled with an eating disorder and used to spend a lot of time criticizing myself for what I would eat.  Then I sank into a point where I hated myself so much that I didn't care what I ate because I didn't deserve to be happy.  So now, I am working myself into a place where I want to do better but I don't hate myself if I fail.  And it's going okay.

Day 13: How's it going? Has this been fun, helpful, inspiring, frustrating?

I'm good.  From the beginning of the year, things have been rough.  But I am finally in a good place.  I've been able to put the Listening Ear situation behind me, knowing that I did all I could and that now it is not my problem anymore.  I still absolutely love my job and know that I'm in a secure place financially.  I am actually in a place where I'm not surviving day to day.  I'm actively planning for my future and the best move for myself and it means so much.  That is what this challenge has been for me. Using these self care prompts to really think about my life and realize that I am in a beautiful place with amazing friends and family, and that I'm genuinely happy.  It means the world to me.

Day 14: Do something Fall related.

This one was pretty easy because I absolutely adore the crisp fall air.  So I drove with the windows down and let the cool air pour over me.  It was divine.  Also all the apple cider around has been lovely.

Day 15: If you could add one thing to your day, what would it be? If you could change one thing that's no longer serving you, what would it be?

More hours!  I feel like I could accomplish so much more with more time.  I would be able to get a full night of sleep, and get up and work out, and have a full day of work, plus actually accomplish adult things like laundry and cleaning the kitchen.  One thing that never really served me besides stress relief is my smoking habit.  Which I am working on gradually.  I went almost a full week without smoking, and have since weaned myself down to only 2-4 cigarettes a day, instead of 5-7.  The most important part is knowing that it is a work in progress and that if I slip up, I can always try again.  Learning to be less hard on myself has been a huge part of this challenge for me.

Day 16: What's your bullshit and how are you going to use the next two weeks to challenge it?

Procrastination.  Fuck, I am so skilled at it.  I will wait until I have nothing clean to wear for work, and then like rewear a skirt or pair of pants, and then I'll do laundry.  So I've been keeping myself up on taking care of my responsibilities.  Although the laundry and kitchen need attention today...meh...

Day 17: Get that shit out of your face.

As previously mentioned, I'm working on keeping my shit picked up and organized.  To stop waiting until the last minute to do stuff.  It's a work in progress, but at least I'm working on it.

Day 18: Support a friend.

This is one of my favorites because it is something that I try to do daily anyway.  One thing I said to my therapist a couple weeks ago was that when I love someone, not just romantically but as friends too, I will do anything to help them.  Whether it is loaning money or buying dinner or being a listener or making sure they smile that day, I love my friends.  I want them to know how much I love them.  That I would do anything for them.  I want to know that whenever my time is up, that what people will remember most about me is that I loved people and I stood behind that love.

Day 19: Say no. It's ok to say no.

There's nothing in particular this day that I said no to, but it made me think about how much I hate saying no to people.  I have spent most of my life feeling like a disappointment, that I wasn't good enough.  So in my low self esteem, I didn't want to be another disappointment to people.  I often sacrificed my own comfort to make sure not to say no.  But I am trying to remember that in saying no, I'm honoring myself.  Not just being a disappointment.  It's okay to say no.  It's okay to say no.  It's okay to say no.

Days 20-24: Disconnect.

Here's where I get both behind and ahead.  Our fearless leader is taking her own time to disconnect from technology.  So I am going to try and do the same in some ways.  I'm going to focus more on spending time with people I love.  Working on things that bring me joy, especially working with my hands.  So I hope others do the same.  When we get to the end of our lives, it is those moments we will remember.  I'll remember the times I spent with my best friend Mary, painting and watching Harry Potter.  I'll remember the times I spent making art or writing stories.  I'll remember the times I felt loved and whole.  I'm not going to remember that random article I read on Facebook or the weird video I watched once on Youtube.  I'm living my life to the fullest, as I can, every day.  I'm even on the verge of tears just writing this.  I'm happy.  And I'm going to keep fighting for that.

Stay tuned for more adventures in militant self care after this brief hiatus of disconnection!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

30 Days of Militant Self Care: Days 10 & 11

Yeah, another double post.  I completely forgot last night.  Mainly because Facebook.  But also House.  I just couldn't turn away from Hugh Laurie.  He's just too wonderful and British.  Even though he isn't in the show.

Day 10: Dealer's Choice.  Plus someone else's.

My dealer's choice was a pretty big one and something I knew I needed for myself.  I am doing my freaking hardest to quit smoking. Yesterday, I didn't have a single cigarette.  Today either.  Everything pretty much reminds me of cigarettes, like Chandler in Friends.  Every time I want to go out and smoke at work, I drink a cup of mint tea.  Whenever I'm in the car, my usual place for smoky treats, I focus on turning up the music and singing along.  It hasn't been easy.  But I know it is for the best.

My use of someone else's self care was to watch my food all day.  I'm working on being healthier.  But not just my food intake.  I'm working on how I talk to myself a lot.  To know that if I eat something not good or break my streak and smoke, that I shouldn't shame myself.  That like so many others, I am trying.  Trying really hard.  Slip-ups happen.  It isn't the end of the word.  It's about falling down and getting back up.

Day 11: Renew a hobby.

This was a tough one at first.  All of the hobbies I am passionate about, I keep fairly active in. Well, I haven't been reading nearly as much as I should.  I have a whole bookcase full of books I have purchased and not read yet.  Meanwhile I spend all my time reading articles online that usually just piss me off and make me hate people.  And I know it isn't good to hate people...I don't really hate them.  I pity them for their lack of understanding on topics.  Just as I am sure there are people in the world who feel the same for me.  Everyone pity everyone else!! No, wait...that is too much pity.  Everyone kindly help educate people around the world in perspectives they don't understand...but always be respectful!! There, much better.

One of the best hobbies that I have ever done was creating a lampshade out of old film strips.  It was  knee jerk reaction one day when I was bored.  I found a box of film strips and some wire and made a kick ass lamp shade for myself.  While cleaning out the basement, my mother was throwing away an old lamp where the ceramic vase around the base (unintentional rhyme) had shattered.  The lamp was still functioning.  Just skinnier than before.  I decided to salvage the lamp and create a new awesome film strip lamp shade to sell.  So tonight, I officially ordered the parts I am missing.  But I still need help.  If you have extra film strips hanging around that you don't want or need, email me at!  I would love to take your unused film strips and make cool lamp shades! Check out my first one!

I cannot wait to make more of these and sell them if possible. As always, stay tuned for more adventures in militant self care!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

30 Days of Militant Self Care: Days 8 & 9

I'm double featuring this one, pals.  I got home very late last night because frankly, I was having a damn good time.  So when I came home late, I wanted to crash.  And that's what I did.  But here's what you missed!

Day 8: Spend time with someone you love.

I did that whole heartedly on Saturday, and Sunday!  I got to spend the weekend with my best friend Mary as we watched tv or Harry Potter and painted.  This is how we became friends in the beginning of our relationship.  We hung out and watched Harry Potter.  And now, it's our routine.  Best routine ever.

Day 9: Write someone a love letter.

I usually say things like this to her a million times a week, but I'm gonna do it anyway.

Dear Mary, 
You are the cheese to my macaroni.  You remind me that loving people is never wasted.  That I am my own harshest critic, and that I need to tell that voice to shut up.  You remind me that time spent watching Harry Potter and doing nothing is not time wasted, but time to be treasured.  That the extent of my artistry is only limited by the extent of my imagination.  You remind me to be kind to myself.  A day spent with you is a day of laughter and silliness and happiness.  Even if we do nothing at all.  I love you to the moon and back.  You've had my back and as you know...I will ALWAYS have yours.  <3

Friday, October 7, 2016

30 Days of Militant Self Care: Day 7

Stretch it out!

That is what today was all about.  Now admittedly, I needed this one pretty badly considering how much my back has put up with lately.  I don't take nearly good enough care of it.  So sometimes, it likes for me to know it doesn't appreciate this.  My right hip gets involved too because that bitch just cannot stay out of other body part's business.  Rude.

But today I took my dog's example and dedicated some time to stretching out and honoring my muscles.  They take a lot of crap from me, especially when I am not moving at all and expect them not to be sore.  It's not really fair to them that I'm lazy.  But just like this blog, it's one day at a time.

Stay tuned for more adventures in militant self care!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

30 Days of Militant Self Care: Day 6

Today's assignment is so perfect, I cannot even express how much I love it.  It's about sleep.

As previously mentioned, sleep and I are an item.  A deeply loving relationship where I wish only to spend more time ensconced in my covers, flirting with sleep.

How are you going to get your best sleep tonight? What's your routine?

Normally, I only get 6-7 hours a night.  I've found that it makes me a mostly functioning human being in the morning.  Though I do best when I get over 8 hours.  The problem is that I do so much during the day, going to be early is just not an option most of the time.  Sometimes, I have to stay up to watch a show or movie I have to review for my writing gig on HBO Watch.  Sometimes, I'm into a good book.  Sometimes, I am focused on getting a blog post done...  And then sometimes, and I will be fully honest here, I'm on fucking Facebook.  Damn you, social media.

My best nights of sleep are usually on the weekend, when I know even if I go to bed slightly later, I can sleep in late.  In college, I would sleep until noon.  It was beautiful.  My mom once called around 9:30 am during my freshman year.  I answered the phone with a decidedly snippy tone.  She didn't appreciate that.  I didn't appreciate the wake-up call.  After our quick conversation, I said, "Mom, don't ever call before noon again. Assume I'm sleeping unless otherwise indicated."  And she respected that.  Probably because she didn't want to get growled at again.  It's a real hazard.

My routine is pretty solid.  One that I've perfected over the years.  I wash my face (sometimes) and brush my teeth.  I make sure to use the bathroom right before I sleep because I can't stand waking up in the middle of the night to pee.  I inevitably bump into something.  Once I'm in bed, I take my meds and vitamins.  Occasionally a Tylenol PM if needed.  The great part of this routine is my dog Tasha.  She hears me brushing my teeth and knows it is bed time.  So she will saunter into my room and get into bed and wait for me.  It's just the cutest.
Just the cutest snuggle buddy <3

After my meds, I finish any work I need to do on my laptop or phone.  Set my alarm for the next day. I turn on my box fan and my ceiling fan.  White noise is an absolute necessity for a good night of sleep.  I have actually downloaded a fan app for when I'm out of town and don't have a fan.  I put my pillows in an upside-down L shape with the vertical pillow by the bedside table.  As I am a roller in bed, I have learned placing a pillow there will stop the inevitable head smacks in the middle of the night.  That has happened more times that I like to admit.  But this system works for me.  I stretch out on my stomach, and usually have to nudge the dog away because she's taking up ALL THE SPACE. She's so cute though so I forgive her.  What I do next is I alternate facing right and left as I fall asleep.  It actually helps me fall asleep faster than staying in one spot.  Don't know why.  But I dig it.

To me the most perfect night of sleep is one I don't get much anymore.  Those sleeps where you let yourself naturally wake up whenever.  No alarm.  No knocking on the door.  Just sleeping until your body decides it is time to get going.  Having a dog prohibits that a bit because I obviously don't want to leave my dog trapped in my room as I sleep until noon.  Not entirely fair to her.  But those are the best sleeps.  Mhmm.... And now that I have finished this, I'm going to get on the sleep train.  Good night!

Stay tuned for more adventures in militant self care!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

30 Days of Militant Self Care: Day 5

I mean, just look at his face? Too cute.
What goes into your mind isn't easily erased.  Today was about treasuring something that has had a positive aspect on your life and revisiting it and why it has lasted in your mind.  Maybe it is something happy.  Maybe it is something sad.  Maybe it is something scary.  Some things that go into your mind leave a lasting impact.  And it is time to revisit it.

I recently reread one of my favorite books, Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.  I discovered the book last year and it quickly became one of my favorites.

The reason I fell in love with this book is not just the adorably happy raccoon on the cover. I mean, he's amazing, but not the only thing amazing here.  Lawson lives with mental and physical illnesses, and in this book she describes the ups and downs of such a life.  But the point of Furiously Happy is that even through the dark times, you can choose to try.  To make memories that are funny or ridiculous or "what the fuck was I thinking" moments.  You will have good days.  And you will have bad days.  It's what you choose to do with yourself that matters.  Not the illnesses inside of you.  This book is a collection of moments, stories, and even essays of Jenny's life.  They all have to do with living with mental illness, but they aren't the point.  Having mental illness isn't the only thing that defines a person.  It's easy to write someone off as "Oh, they have ADD" or "Well, she has depression."  Everyone person living with mental illness is more than that.  I am more than my depression and anxiety.  I am more than the back problems that plague me.  I am me.
Jazz hands!

One of Jenny's most amusing anecdotes is her father's taxidermy business and the many little creatures she has come to possess.  Her first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, features a Shakespearean dressed mouse holding the skull of a smaller mouse in a delightfully Hamlet way.  In her manner of collecting ethically killed creatures, she came to own two happy little raccoons.  Which she occasionally has attempt to ride her cats.  It is just stomach cramp inducing hilarity.  But it is also poignant.  I know what she feels because I've felt it too.  The days you can't bring yourself to get out of bed.  The days where the only thing you can accomplish is taking a shower.  The days where logically you know someone is just an asshole and it shouldn't matter why they critique you, but it hurts.  Jenny's words are real and having some of the same mental illnesses, her words reach down into my heart and pat it gently saying, "We got this.  You're not alone."  I highly recommend this book to anyone living with mental illness.  Not only is it laugh out loud hilarious, but it helps you know that you're not alone in the struggle.

Stay tuned for more adventures in militant self care!


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

30 Days of Militant Self Care: Day 4

All today asked for was two minutes.  Two minutes of silence.  No phones.  No technology.  Just silence.  Holy shit, that was harder than I thought.

I didn't get my two minutes of silence until roughly 15 minutes ago.  When the prompt posted, I was at work.  I worked until 5 pm, drove home, made and ate dinner, and then hung out with my friend Kali and watched the VP debate.  I fully expected this morning that I would easily be able to fit in two minutes of down time.

But as the day went on, I forgot about it.  Or was constantly on my phone checking for text messages.  Or entertaining and spending time with my friend.  Once she left, I finally spent two minutes outside while I let my dog out.  I didn't touch my phone.  I let myself spread out on the porch, closed my eyes, and let myself have two minutes of silence.

It seems so easy.  To let yourself have two minutes.  But today, with technology and people and being a busy adult, it isn't easy.  It isn't easy to let myself have two minutes to enjoy the breeze on my face. To enjoy the sound of my dog walking around through the grass, searching for a creature to pounce on or something to eat.  To let my body take a breath.

I deserve it.  I need it.  I shouldn't have to fight for it.  So why do I?

Stay tuned for more adventures in militant self care!

Monday, October 3, 2016

30 Days of Militant Self Care: Day 3

Today's post was something I desperately needed.  It was a little motivation.  Having depression and anxiety means dealing with shit that I know is dumb.  I know logically that it isn't that hard to pick up after myself.  I know that logically if I fold and put the clothes away once I'm done with the load that it won't take that long.  I know logically that as soon as I open a bill or a check, I should not just relegate it to a pile that will eventually grow large enough to go through.  I know these things.  But that does not mean I follow them.

A post went viral recently of a woman with depression who cleaned her room. She posted a picture of her room before, and a picture after she cleaned it.  This is my depression to an absolute tee.  I will let things get bad enough until eventually it takes a whole day to clean it.  That is just how I operate.  It has been that way since I was a kid.  My mom tried to get on my butt about keeping my room spotless but eventually I told her to just shut my door.  Because it's almost an impulse or something truly out of my control.  I do the same with my car.  And with the couch in the living room, though that I pick up more regularly because I share the space with my mom.  But today, today I did something.

Today's prompt was to acknowledge and tackle an adult task that you've been putting off.  Cue the laundry!!!  Laundry takes me around two to the three days.  I usually amass enough clothes for two loads, if not three.  Sometimes four if I am especially unmotivated.  I am trying not to use the term lazy anymore.  Because sometimes I am just refusing to do something, but other times I literally couldn't bring myself to do it if I had all the King's horses and all the King's men.

Floor?! You exist!
I wish I had the foresight to take a picture of the mass of dirty laundry that was sitting here. I mean it was epic pile of leaves level.  I did all three loads in the washer yesterday, but forgot the towels needed to be dried so those hit the dryer tonight.  But my adult task for the day?  Sitting and spending what felt like an eternity folding and putting away clothes.  In the end, stuff that needed to be hung up got laid out flat for later but anything that can be folded got put away.  I wanted to get other adult things done like activating my new debit card and filling out my art show application.  But the laundry took that long.  Like 3 hours.  So by the time I was done, I had just enough energy to write this and go to bed.  It's not much.  But it means something.  Not just to me, but to everyone who understands the struggle to be tidy, the lack of motivation to put stuff away when you're done with it.  This one is for you.  The ones who struggle.  The ones who are unmotivated.  Cheers.

Stay tuned for more adventures in militant self care!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

30 Days of Militant Self Care: Day 2

Today's mission was to address the last question from yesterday: How is your body doing?

Yesterday I focused on mainly my perception of my body.  Which hasn't always been great (see yesterday's post for that nonsense, link above).  I have had some back pain recently because I haven't been working out as much.  Interestingly, I spent a couple grand on physical therapy (because it wasn't covered by insurance which is fucking dumb, but anyway) and I figured out that even with all that physical therapy, my back is at its best when I am remaining very active physically.  Except, I don't always like working out.  It works best if I go in the morning before work, but I like sleep.  Way too much.  I have a long term relationship with sleep and frankly, it is quite serious.  I've always needed more sleep to feel more like a functioning person.  Though I've figured out I can operate pretty well on roughly six hours.  But when that alarm goes off in the morning at 5 am, it's like, "Sure, I could get up and work out. Or...I could sleep for another hour." Choosing working out doesn't work. Haha, I'm funny.

So I didn't work out today, but I did plenty of other things to make sure my body was okay.  I drank plenty of water to make sure I wasn't dehydrated.  And I drank some coffee and a Coke, because I didn't want to get a caffeine headache.  I am also in a serious relationship with caffeine.  It just gets me.  I made sure to eat today, even when I didn't want to.  I don't normally eat breakfast on the weekends.  As I mentioned, I am in love with sleep so often when I actually get out of bed and moving, it isn't that far from lunch time.  But today, I ate breakfast.  Leftover cinnamon breadsticks from dinner the night before.  Totally counts.  I had leftover pizza and french fries for lunch.  And for dinner I made pasta.  Not a healthy day obviously.  But more importantly, I didn't judge myself for eating what I wanted.  I know I'll eat plenty of salad and protein this coming week.  Sometimes, indulgence is good for the soul.

I took care of my brain by working on my novel, which I haven't done in some time.  I'm even still typing up the pages I wrote on vacation in August.  But watching the word count go up was so refreshing and satisfying.  I've been working on this novel for almost three years, and there is an end in sight!  I took care of my heart by painting Mario characters for an upcoming arts and crafts show.  I took care of my skin by showering and feeling luxurious with the warm water cascading down my face.  And tonight before getting ready for bed, I took even better care of my face by washing and using a face mask.  My biggest fault in taking care of my skin is I often don't wash it before going to bed.  I can tell when my pillowcases are starting to get oily.  This unfortunately does make me occasionally break out more.  Though most of my acne has gone away since ceasing to regularly wear make-up because fuck the patriarchy.  But I let my face get some love with a Lush mask.

Happy face <3
If you haven't experienced Lush, I highly recommend them for amazing skin care products.  If you have experienced Lush, then you know what I am talking about! It's some good shit.  Now I am winding down the day by watching a new show and snuggling in bed with my amazing dog Tasha.  My heart is full.

Stay tuned for more adventures in militant self care!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

30 Days of Militant Self Care: Day 1

As it can be read from this blog or from my Facebook, this year has been a rough one.  The end of a relationship followed by unemployment followed by the Listening Ear scandal meant my year started with stress and continued in that fashion.  My self care has not always been the best.  I'm an emotional eater and purchaser, meaning I often disregard my health and balance of my wallet.  And smoking is my go-to stress habit, has been since I was 19.  I began smoking with a vengeance when the Ear scandal broke.  But I'm working on changing.

I've been working on watching my eating habits.  I'm back in therapy, and it is going well.  I am still smoking but hope to soon make it something to work on in therapy.  I've been practicing positive self talk when I can, which isn't easy.  But I have been reaching out and asking for help, and that means a lot.  Asking for help has never been something I was good at, but I'm trying.  Today, I am putting that effort out even more by practicing a month of militant self care and forcing myself to blog about it.  My writing and my emotional health will be better. Score!

Day 1: What's going on with your heart? Where are your thoughts taking you these days? How is your beautiful body feeling?

My heart...whew boy, how much time do we have?  Technically unlimited as I can write however long I wish and you can read until you give up.  But I promise not to be too lengthy.  My heart has felt very weak this year.  Very vulnerable.  Very raw.  I went somewhere, I thought I felt safe, and I worked on healing.  Only to find out that people I trusted had betrayed my safety and the safety of the organization I was with.  Cue dramatic glass shattering sound.  Yep, I can't lie.  I hit rock bottom.  People that I loved and trusted turned their backs on me and treated me like I was evil.  And instead of thinking about taking care of myself, I was like, "Ok, you want me to be an evil bitch. I will be, motha fucka."  And I refused to focus on myself.  So now I'm finally focusing on me, and I'm slowly getting better.  (I have chosen not to focus on the romantic aspect of my heart, cause ain't nobody got time for that shit)

My thoughts...are scattered in some ways.  I like to plan my future.  I'm naturally a very ambitious person, and I always consider where my path is going.  Right now, I don't know.  I don't like not knowing.  It sucks.  I know that I am staying where I work because it makes me really happy and is stable.  I know that I am staying with my current volunteering opportunity because I feel needed and that I make a difference.  Past that...I got nothing.  On one hand, I want to apply to do my PhD with MSU again.  Meet with them and see what I could do differently or better for the application.  On another hand, I want to counsel survivors and get my MSW with MSU.  They have the perfect program for working adults where it is mostly online and weekend work.  On another hand (because I'm secretly an octopus), I consider focusing more on my novel and getting it published.  On another hand (still an octopus), I wonder if now would be the time to buy a house.  Well not this year, but next year.  So right now my thoughts are many paths in the woods and I don't fucking know which path to take.

My body...fluffy?  As previously mentioned, stress eating is my jam.  Spaghetti with sharp cheddar melted into it?  I could eat it every day when I'm upset and stressed.  As such, my tummy is a little more wibbly-wobbly than it used to be.  But I don't care.  I know that I can be healthier and work out more, and I plan to, but I also don't look at myself every day and hate what I see.  And I used to.  A lot.  My self loathing was deeply engrained.  I would either force myself to wear as much make-up as possible, or go the exact opposite and look as much like a train wreck as I could because why bother. I'm finally in a place where I know I can do better but I don't hate what I am anymore.  My back still has it moments.  It has always been in best shape when I am more active, which has not been a lot recently.  In fact today it is barking pretty badly because I've been sitting on the squishy couch painting all day.  But I don't mind sacrificing a little bit of one comfort to engage another.  I also know I have powerful pain killers and muscle relaxers available to help me out later.  Holla!

I'm looking forward to this challenge quite a bit.  First, so that I actively work in different ways to take care of myself.  Second, because it has been a long time since I routinely posted on my blog.  Lastly, I deserve it.  I deserve to be happy and refreshed and comfortable and full and intellectually satisfied.  I deserve it.  I deserve it.  I DESERVE it.

Stay tuned for more adventures in militant self care!