Category: Uncategorized

Self care for mopey days

Greetings, dear reader. If, by some miracle, you’re still following this blog (given my super infrequent updates), then… DUDE, THANK YOU!

Anyways, things are moving along here: we got to Colorado about a month ago, and I’m getting as settled in as one can be when 90% of one’s belongings are still in storage.

On one hand, I’m so, so happy to be in Colorado — I’ve been waiting literally years for this, y’all — and I don’t miss DC at all. I’ve been hiking as much as possible (my IG is basically an ongoing documentation of my hiking adventures), and just seeing the mountains every day makes me happy.

Today, though, is a mopey/hard day for, like, a veritable cornucopia of reasons. I knew today was going to be hard, and my inner monologue has involved a lot of “Self, no. We are not going to lie in bed being depressed. We are going to get up. We are going to do things.

Knowing this, I decided to bust out most of my self-care arsenal in an effort to soothe myself — and happily, they appear to be working!

Buzzfeed had an awesome article recently about making an emergency self-care kit, and I decided to add to it with a flow chart that I recently made for myself. When the sads come calling, I ask myself the following questions:

  • How long has it been since I ate, had some water, or exercised? It it’s been more than 90 minutes since I had food or water, and if it’s been more than a day since I had a good sweat session, that’s my first objective.

If that’s not the issue, then I call upon the self-care toolkit:

  1. Deploy happy-warm-fuzzy sensory things. For me, that means a candle I love (from my happy place, AKA Marshall’s), and jazz music, which always helps keep me from sliding into that sneaky, heinous downward spiral of grossness and misery.
  2. Do something productive. I find that my mood often follows action, and that doing something productive — laundry, cleaning, organizing, anything — helps me feel like I’m not just, y’know, a pile of flesh that lies in bed and fucks around on Reddit and social media all day. Not doing anything makes me feel useless, and feeling useless fuels my depression like woah — but the reverse is also true, so even when all I want to do is lie around and be sad, I make myself do something. Today, knowing that I needed to be especially distracted, I did all three: laundry, organizing, and cleaning. They definitely helped.
  3. Do something creative. When I’m doing anything that involves my right brain, my mood magically lifts. I don’t know why this is true — maybe it’s distraction, maybe it just requires using a different part of my brain than the part that is so talented at ruminating — but holy hell does it ever help. I decided to hop on Word Swag and make some quotes for Instagram (to be posted later today!), and it felt… wonderful.

I was also really happy to get this toolkit in place — so, overall, I’d say today was a much bigger win than I’d anticipated.

Nine Days

Hola, y’all — it’s been a crazy couple of months, but I’m pleased to say that the countdown to Colorado is now in the single digits: nine days until the movers come, and then we’re outta here. Nine days, Ferris. Niiiiiiiine daaaayyyys. (Huzzah!)

In the meantime, when I’m not frantically helping my parents pack up their house, I’ve been playing with some recipes to see if I feel better by cutting out eggs and dairy. I’m bone-tired, like, allll the damn time, and I have a touch, just a soupçon, of subclinical hypothyroidism. But, given my body’s tendency to be allergic to, or at least intolerant to, basically everything, I figure it can’t hurt to see if being gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free helps my plight. I feel like it’s entirely too many things to be -free of, but if it helps, I’ll work with it.

Adding to which, it’ll give me something to experiment with, test out, etc., once I’m back to having a kitchen of my own. Basically, Virginia Woolf had it partially right: a woman needs a room of one’s own, but this woman also needs a kitchen of her own too. (In the meantime — please hold for a moment shameless self-promotion — feel free to check out my Insta for some of the things I’ve tried recently. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.)

I’ve also been basically pining for all my stuff. It has been, happily, all delivered to Colorado, so it’s no longer split between DC and various points to the west — but, like, I really miss my belongings. I know we’re all supposed to be minimalists these days, not have any attachments to things, and all that jazz, but…I can’t do that. We moved a lot when I was growing up, and my stuff helps me feel centered, safe, and at home. I’m attached to it. It’s also stuff that I’ve carefully curated/selected over the years, because I’m totally obsessed with design and aesthetics — so it means a lot to me, both psychologically and aesthetically.

Basically, I 💖 my stuff. And I miss it, so I might cry when I’m reunited with it. (Don’t judge me.)

But, what all this means is that my life-renovation is actually making ~progress~, which is super exciting and has been soooooo long in the making. Yay!

For now, I can at least say this: the countdown to Colorado is on, and I’ll catch y’all on the flip side.

Malingering

Here’s the thing about being unemployed, living with your parents while waiting for your divorce to go through, having all your stuff in storage, and generally having very little to do until you move to Colorado and can begin legitimately looking for gainful employment: it’s boring.

This leads to a lot of lying around, spending too much time on Reddit, listening to alllllll the podcasts, and immersing myself in heaps of both Netflix and reading. In other words, malingering.

I know there are better ways to spend my time, but there are also worse ones. Like, i know it’s not at all productive — but the fact is, I’m not lying on the floor, immobilized by the unexpected turns of events and moaning like a deeply aggrieved member of the undead, about how unfair everything is. When I malinger, I’m just…trying to make time pass a little bit faster while I wait for June, which is when I’ll permanently come to Colorado and can finally dive into rebuilding my life. I’ll also be reunited with my stuff, which means I’ll be able to do things like cook and paint (which I’m very much looking forward to, and I might be, like, on the brink of breaking into hives because I miss it so much?).

Anyways, that’s the bad part. The good part is that I’m currently in Colorado, networking like mad and trying to lay the groundwork for job hunting in June. This, happily, means that I’m not at all bored, I get to see my friends (gaaaaawd, I miss socializing!), and I have access to hiking trails (which is one of my favorite activities). I’m not excited about returning to Houston next month, but alas, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Anyways, that said, if any of you are among my fellow horizontally-inclined brethren (depressed? Pregnant? Chronically ill? Temporarily ill? Just super fucking tired for no readily identifiable reason?), and are in search of some quality entertainment, here are some of my current faves:

Books:

My most recent reading adventures have been focused on 1) true crime, and 2) Buddhism, because why the hell not? No one has ever accused me of being normal, so this maintains my longstanding tradition of being super weird.

Anyways, I’ll Be Gone in The Dark — Michelle McNamara’s posthumously published novel, is supposed to be incredible. It’s also supposed to be terrifying, so I figure I’ll read it now, while I’m surrounded by other people and very much not living by myself (yet). I may become physically incapable of sleep afterwards, but I feel like it may well be worth it?

I’m also enjoying the bejesus out of Tara Brach’s True Refuge and and Pema Chodron’s WhenThings Fall Apart. If you’ve ever had your life suddenly go totally sideways and have found yourself struggling to make it through, these books are invaluable. A blogging friend also recommended Storms Can’t Hurt the Sky: a Buddhist Path Through Divorce, and it’s has been a lifesaver in recent months.

I’ve been dually entertained by fiction, too, and I just finished Always by Sarah Jio. She’s one of my favorite fiction authors, and Always, which is her latest book, was fabulously fun to read (and wonderfully distracting! #winning #thankthelord #pleasedistractme).

Netflix:

Grace and Frankie 4-ever, y’all. I just love them so damn much. They also bring me hope that I, too, can bounce back from an unexpected divorce. It’s also impossible not to love the hell out of Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. Like, really. If you don’t love them, please talk to your doctor about the possibility that you may actually be dead inside. Or a cyborg. Either way, it’s a sign that something ain’t right.

Podcasts:

I maaaaay have recently developed a habit in which I fall asleep listening to podcasts. It sounds weird, I know, but here’s why it’s great: the vast majority of my insomnia is fueled by the fact that I cannot. Make. My brain. Stop running. It just bounces along, running a million miles an hour and abjectly refusing to give in to my need for sleep. But when I listen to podcasts, my brain focuses. It stops its shenanigans, listens intently, and actually quiets down. It’s distracted. It shuts up long enough for me to actually fall asleep. Anyways, this is miraculous and revelatory.

My faves lately have been:

  • My Favorite Murder
  • Pod Save the World
  • The Global Politico
  • The Ezra Klein Show
  • Vox Worldly
  • The Science of Happiness
  • Terrible, Thanks for Asking

In other news, I’ll be in DC next week — getting my stuff out of storage, seeing my medical team, and running very, very slowly in an 8k with some of my besties. It’ll definitely help time pass a little bit faster, so hopefully I won’t spend the next two months like dear old Cookie Monster.

Cake, cake, cake

The last week has been…intense. There have been some low lows (and, let’s be real, quite a few crying jags), but some damn good moments too.

Yesterday was my birthday, and while the days leading up to it were hard — and I didn’t feel much like celebrating, which is really saying something since I usually love birthdays — but my family and friends rallied like the champions they are and pulled me out of my funk. Oh, and much of this involved gluten-free angel food cake (with strawberry icing, because hell yes) for breakfast.

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My mom got sprinkles on the sides through sheer force of will, as well as straight-up sorcery.

Basically, my goal these days is to keep myself busy, entertained, and as far from the Sneaky Downward Spiral of Depression and Doom (which I’m hereby declaring both a thing and a proper noun) as possible. My most heavily-relied upon tactics? Reading and Netflix, and trying to stay the hell off my phone, which it turns out is a lot like trying to run uphill while wearing roller skates and carrying Mr. Snuffleupagus on your back.

What? I never exaggerate. And I’m totally not exaggerating now.

Anyways, rediscovering engrossing forms of entertainment helps me keep my Facebook screen time to a marginally (and I do mean marginally) more reasonable level. What does this entail, you ask? Well, lately…

I’ve been binge-watching Grace and Frankie, which is totally a national treasure. I’ve always loved Lily Tomlin, and she and Jane Fonda are a riot together — and I have to admit, I kinda have a crush on Bud.

I’ve been reading:

Fiction:

A Wind in the Door, by Madeleine L’Engel. A Wrinkle in Time is my favorite book — and holy shitsnacks, I can’t wait until the movie comes out — but for whatever reason, I’ve never read the rest of the Time Quintet. I figure that there’s no time like the present (see what I did there?) to rectify this problem, so I’m diving right in.

Non-Fiction:

Sacred Contracts, by Carolyn Myss. I’d read Anatomy of the Spirit almost ten years ago, and I thought it was fascinating — but man, applying Jungian principles to the whole thing takes this to a new level. (I, um, happen to think that Carl Jung was The Man. All that and a bag of chips. The bomb diggity. The cat’s pajamas. I don’t know why cats would ever have pajamas. But whatever, I just really love Carl Jung.)

Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. I loved Sheryl Sandberg’s original Facebook post about kicking the shit out of option B — she wrote it around the time that my endometrial cancer came back, so it’s been an incredibly helpful concept in the years since. I haven’t gotten very far, and I’m trying to keep from reading 80,000 books at the same time and never finishing any of them (this is one of my worst habits), so this one may take me a while.

Internets:

Why Is This Flu Season So Deadly? (The Science of Us) Okay, so it’s not exactly uplifting, but please heed this public service announcement to get your flu shots and wash your hands, like, as often as humanly possible. (Please! For the love of god!)

Why Everybody’s Obsessed With Skincare Now (The Cut) I happen to be utterly on board this cultural juggernaut du jour, and this quote summed up exactly why:

“[Skin care makes me] feel like I’m somewhat in control of my own destiny,” Alison Roman, author of what might be Instagram’s favorite cookbook, explained to me. “Every time I put on my Vintner’s Daughter serum I feel like I’m going to sleep extra well and when I wake up I’m going to look really beautiful and my skin’s going to look super glowy. Whether or not that’s true, I have convinced myself that that is a part of me having my shit together.”

Girl, preach.

The 6 Steps of Turning Setbacks into Advantages (New York Times) I want to print this article and hang it over my desk. And get it tattooed on my forehead. Well, okay, not on my face. But maybe on my arm or something. And y’all, that book is so getting added to my reading list! (Which is already, like, miles long. I have a problem.)

Nutella ‘Riots’ Spread Across French Supermarkets (BBC, with a clever pun in the title) The old adage says that everyone has a price, and just so we’re all clear, mine absolutely involves Nutella and I would 100% participate in a riot over this.

But also: cake. Caaaaaaake.

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Creepily photobombing the cake. 

More Renovation Than I Planned

So, hey, it’s been a minute! (Or, like, 849,173,946 minutes. But whatever.)

There have been some major developments since I last posted here, including the fact that I left my job and had been planning to focus on freelance writing and building other streams of income — but due to some other events that I can’t discuss here, those plans have dramatically changed. The upshot of all this tumult, though, is that I’m currently staying with my parents in Houston while I start looking for a job in Colorado.

Sooooo…greetings from Texas!

I’ve been trying to figure out how to approach all this change, as well as my rebuilding efforts, when it comes to the blog — and when I say “thinking about,” what I really mean is “ceaselessly ruminating about” — but I think I’ve finally developed a plan: I want to do one thing every day that either 1) helps me rebuild/improve my life, or 2) that helps me heal, whether that healing is physical, psychological, spiritual, or emotional. And then I want to, y’know, write about it.

My Instagram account will reflect the whole “one thing a day” thing, and then I’ll recap them here once per week — in addition to other (hopefully) good stuff like money diaries (a la Refinery29), links to articles I’ve enjoyed reading, and the occasional inspired rant (hey man, when the spirit moves me to write, I gotta roll with it).

So, stay tuned for more!

In which I opine about Starbucks

Ok, so. I’ll provide a longer update later, but for now, I have some Very Important Opinions (okay, these are actually exceptionally trivial opinions, but whatever, we’re going to pretend that they’re important) about Starbucks.

Look, I know I spend waaaaayyy too much time staring into the void of caffeine consumption — but the reality is that I’m deeply, profoundly basic. Ergo, my veritable cornucopia of Starbucks opinions. Anyways. Behold.

1) As much as I love PSLs, I’m certain that eggnog lattes are even better. Are they approximately eleventy bajillion calories? Yes. Do I need all that sugar and dairy in my life? Not even remotely. Does any of that deter me? Nope.

2) Mobile ordering is the best thing since, like, the invention of the wheel. Anything that allows me to skip the line while clandestinely customizing my drink (look, I get embarrassed when I’m ordering in person and I have an absurdly long and complicated drink; I can feel people’s judgment drilling into the back of my skull) is a huge win.

3) Mobile ordering also is the only way my name gets spelled correctly. Nalin/Sillian/Luann/Lorraine/Lauren/Hillian/Killian/ is funny at first, but it gets old quickly.

And thus, I have spent my Sunday morning opining about a coffee chain.

Missed Connections: Me and My Career

My darling readers, I have a rando favor to ask. To out this in poorly-executed Spanglish: necessito input, por favor.

As you probably know by this point, I’m trying to figure out how to GTFO my line of work. National security and I are donezo. It’s time for us to consciously uncouple.

Because I’m trying to leave not just a job but an entire field, I don’t have a new job lined up. I’m looking at making a seismic change, and a fundamental piece of that process is figuring what the hell I want to do with my life. (What’s that you say? That being 36 means I’m an adult? FOR SHAME. That’s totally not true. Stop lying.) The one thing I know for sure is that I want to write — but writing only pays about half the bills, so I’m trying to come up with ways to generate multiple streams of income.

After reading the book Pivot by Jenny Blake (which, by the way, is awesome; this article provides an excellent summary of the book), I decided to put together a list of ideas I’d like to pursue. That list boiled down to organizing, social media marketing, graphic design, and college essay/writing tutoring; I’m now in the beta testing/data gathering stage of things, and I want to look at them one by one. To start off, and because my ego is fragile and in need of reassurance, I figure it’s best to play to my strengths.

Aside from writing, the Other Thing I’m Good At (TM) — and immensely enjoy — is organization and interior design. (As my best friend of nearly 30 years can attest, I’ve been doing this kind of thing since we were little kids, when I used to come over for play dates and start organizing her room. I, um, was a bit of an odd child.) My idea here is to work with people to 1) determine what isn’t working about their life, routine, home setup, etc. that makes getting organized difficult 2) declutter wherever possible, 3) find solutions to reign in the chaos, and 4) help style said solutions so that the end result looks pretty. Or, if you’re a dude, so that it looks nice but suitably manly.

So, this is where I need your input. If I were to offer such services:

a) Would you be interested in actually using them?

b) If you were interested in actually using them, would you be willing to be a guinea pig so I can try my hand at this (for a super low hourly rate, because I need the practice and experience)?

c) If you’re willing to be a guinea pig and you like the end result, would you be willing to provide a testimonial and/or let me take before and after pictures?

PLZ HALP. KTHXBAI.