Monday, August 24, 2015

Road Blocks

So…it’s been a while, eh?

I realized something every time I sat down and started to write a post about anxiety, depression, feelings, etc. – it made me anxious. It’s important to talk about but it also happens to be EXTREMELY difficult.

Summer is always an interesting time for me. While there are many people who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in the winter, I feel like this time of year really throws some hurdles at me. Warm, sunny days can easily make me feel depressed because I find that I have a hard time DOING anything and I feel guilty for not being a super-active, super-summer person. I love the summer, I do. It’s been a pretty decent one this year, actually. I got my first tan in years (though I am a proponent of sunscreen and protecting yourself from skin cancer, but whatever, it happened and it was still awesome), went on two wonderful beach trips (one to OCMD, the other to VA Beach), read a crap-ton of fantastic books.

Still, I wake up every sunny day, especially when I don’t have work, and I feel like I’m just not doing it right. One particular Saturday, the first free day in a long string of busy weekends, I actually panicked over the fact that I had nothing to do. It scared me. The freedom scares me. It means I have to face all the stuff I push aside when I’m doing other stuff.

I’m going through a big “Wings on the Way” moment right now. I’m faced with a few different struggles, ranging from emotional to financial. The whole point of this blog, of growing wings on the way, is to figure out the shit as it hits. It’s inescapable and I could run away, or I could jump and find my footing as I fall. It’s kinda what I have to do. IT IS TERRIFYING.

I haven’t forgotten about this space. I still think in blog posts and feelings I want to share. I have so much I want to say, but it’s really hard to say it and it’s even harder when you feel like your voice isn’t worth listening to (until I read this and I felt much better).

My goal these days is to DO SOMETHING. Anything. I just don’t want to be in bed all day, the one place I feel safe because sleep = running away from issues. So here we go…


*The picture contains a quote from Lola and the Boy Next Door that I relate to SO HARD. The book itself is very cute and happy and fun, a good read for those rough times, but it was even better that I found words that spoke so honestly to me.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Quick Fixes for Anxiety

Anxiety is the worst. We all deal with it at some point in our lives. For some, it’s just a bit of stress that takes a little longer to shake than usual. For others, it’s clinical and needs medical and therapeutic attention. I am on anxiety medication, so the scary bouts I've had in the past are now few and far between. However, I still have moments where I have to face something unknown at work, or I’m worried I've screwed something up with a friend, or I just had too much caffeine and now my heart is pounding, I’m sweating, and I’m extra-sensitive to my surroundings. I thought I’d share some of the ways I try to cope with and quell my anxiety*.


1. Take a moment to think.
So, maybe your anxiety stems from something that happened. I am very easily upset about the unknown or the potential fallout of something that might not even occur. My go-to thought comes from the late, great Richard Carlson, Ph. D., author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (y’all, I cannot recommend this book enough): “Ask yourself the question, ‘Will this matter a year from now?’” Stepping outside of the situation, taking past incidents into account, and asking yourself this question can truly be a game changer. An example of how I use it: I get anxious about returning to work after a sick day. I worry that people will question me too much, that I won’t look sick enough, that they won’t believe me, or they will talk crap about me behind my back. I ask myself, will they care about this in a year? Or, even better, in a month? A week? Something else always pops up, and my situations are certainly not important in comparison to the other thoughts in everyone else’s heads. Remembering that it’s temporary, that my worries might not even occur or that they might not last past my first hour back at work, gets me through.

2. Get outside.
When I worked at the credit union, it was important to me that I leave the building and take a walk around the block during each break (usually 30 minutes total every day). I needed to step away from the stress, to get fresh air, and to be reminded that there is a world outside of the little boxes we trap ourselves in. Even if you’re in the comfiest spot on your couch, going for a walk/run/jog/bike ride/whatever method of transportation you prefer is immensely helpful. The combo of exercise and fresh air will do wonders. This is honestly great year round. They used to tease me (nicely) about walking in the snow or rain. I had an umbrella. I had a hat and gloves. No matter what, it helped. Listen to music if you want, but sometimes I just like to focus on the world around me. Or use it as time to rationally solve a problem or sort your thoughts out.

3. Window Shop
This one is a personal preference but it is fun, nonetheless. I’m not rollin’ in the dough over here, so I like to go to one of my favorite stores (Target, usually) and just walk around, perusing everything. A) You’re getting out of the house and B) You’re distracting yourself with things you like. If anxiety is hitting you late at night, do some internet window shopping. I like to make pinboards of things I see that I like (for future treat yo’self moments) or things that I would love to get for others for their upcoming birthdays or holidays. I have fun thinking about things like that, so it’s a helpful distraction that makes me feel good.
(If the source of your anxiety is money, maybe don’t do this one. But if you want to peruse websites for decor ideas for your dream home or look at style blogs for inspiration of a dream wardrobe, maybe that will help you look at it differently.)

4. Treat Yo’self
Okay, so say you do the above and you do have a little extra cash on hand. Treat yourself! Buy one of the items on your Amazon Wishlist. Pick up those new shoes you tried on and really like. Heck, even grab a pack of new underwear if that’s something you could use. (New underwear is a game-changer.) If you’re not a shopper, go get one of your favorite snacks. Doughnuts, ice cream cones, a small bag of potato chips, or maybe even some Chinese takeout for dinner (these are the things I enjoy). Gettin’ yourself a little something will surely put a smile on your face.

5. Be Hands-On
Working with your hands is an excellent way to relieve anxiety and to distract your mind. By picking up an activity – knitting, weaving, painting, friendship bracelet-making, woodwork, etc. – that requires handiwork and focus, you’re putting your mind toward something that doesn't just help you forget what was bothering you, but that satisfies a feeling of accomplishment. Throw on an episode of your favorite sitcom as background noise, and you've found yourself a great way to unwind.

*These are my little tips and tricks for preventing anxiety or calming a small episode. Sometimes, anxiety is bigger than a few simple steps can manage. Check out this page on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website for even more tips and ways to find professional help if necessary.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Worst Sleep of Your Life


I don’t think I actually slept last night. It was more of a 6 hour-long struggle in comfort, temperature control, and vivid dream adventures. If you’re looking to have a terrible night of sleep that will help lead you into a terrible, zombified state the next day, I have just the tips for you*!

1. Take a nap.
I’m all about naps. When I take one, I usually make sure to aim for the early afternoon. Once 4 PM hits, it’s basically too late for me to take a nap without disrupting my sleep schedule. In this case, you’ll want to start your nap around 5-6 PM. Even if you’re not sleeping, you should still lay in bed, in the dark, until around 7PM. That way, you won’t be tired AT ALL when bedtime rolls around.

2. Eat a late dinner.
If I had to guess an appropriate dinnertime for the average human being, I’d say somewhere between 5-7 PM. You, however, should eat at 9PM, if not later. The meal shouldn’t be a big homemade production. Get some sort of greasy take-out, like pizza or Chinese food. You’ll feel guilty and your stomach will hate you. Also, eating around this time will ensure that you wake up around 3 AM with insane indigestion, gas pains, and heartburn.

3. Get upset.
Text a co-worker and find out how much work you have waiting for you tomorrow. Start an innocent phone conversation with your sister that ends in you digging up tons of things that you didn’t even know were bothering you. Watch an emotional interview starring a transgender celebrity. Most nights, just one of these will do the trick. But we’re aiming for terrible here, so I encourage you to do all three, adding personality-specific details to ensure a god-awful night.

4. Plan your schedule.
As you snuggle into bed, remember all of the things you didn’t finish before you hit the hay and all of the things you will have to do when your alarm goes off in the morning (I’d say when you wake up, but that would require sleep). Balance your checkbook. Create your grocery list. Clean the bathroom. Well, don’t actually do these things. Just think about the fact that you have to do them. That’ll really work you up.

5. Go deep.
Your headache is probably the beginning of a life-threatening condition. You’re in yet another
dead-end job that isn’t making you money or making you happy. Everyone else is moving on with their lives (getting married, having babies, buying houses, etc.) and you’re not. You still haven’t gotten over how awkward you were in junior high. You don’t have any friends. You barely like yourself. Oh! Don’t forget. You’re going to die one day. Chew on that.

And there’s more! You can:

  • wear multiple layers of clothing and wake up a sweaty mess desperate for an open window and a fan
  • drink a ton of water before bed so that you wake up to use the bathroom multiple times
  • not drink enough water before bed so that you wake up with a desert-level thirst
  • watch a scary movie as close as possible to your desired bedtime so that you can dream about murder and monsters all night

Really, the possibilities are endless! There’s no wrong way to have a terrible night of sleep.
You’ll hate it, guaranteed.



*Please avoid the previous steps as often as possible. Take care of yourself. Sleep well. Relax. But it happens, so let’s laugh about it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Overwhelming Power of Self-Made Obligations

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I mentioned this on the blog already (and if you know me, you know this), but I love books. I love reading, obviously, but I just love books. I love being surrounded by them. I love looking at the different covers, the way they tell a story themselves. I love the fact that, for however many pages are inside a book, there is a whole world inside of one small object.

For the past few years, I’ve been participating in the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I love this challenge because you set your goals. Perhaps you don’t read often and you have a list of books to be read, staring you down from your bookshelves and nightstands. You can set a goal so that you make the effort to do this one thing. The prize for reaching your goal? It’s just that great feeling of accomplishment, maybe the desire to read more often. It’s just a personal challenge and you post about it on the website.

In 2013, I had declared that I would read 52 books that year. At the time, I was clearing about a book a week, sometimes in just a few days. I was able to read at work and there was a lot of downtime. At some point in the middle of the summer, that privilege was taken away. It was also around that time that I started to want out of that job. It was a funky period in my life, and reading definitely fell into the background. I still marked down the books I read, but I didn’t reach my goal and I didn’t really care.

2013’s grand total was 37.

For 2014, I picked something that seemed a bit more reasonable – 40. It was just a bit higher than what I had accomplished in 2013, meaning I would still face a challenge but that I would have less of an opportunity to fail. I made it, 40 books, finishing by the skin of my teeth on 12.31.14. The last book I read was The Illuminated Adventures of Flora and Ulysses (A Newberry Medal Winner, BTW!). I am not above reading children’s books but even I admit that reading that book was kind of a cop-out.

This year, I set the goal at 35. I made room for personal rough patches (they had obviously happened in the past), having a life, reading larger books (The Goldfinch has been on my shelf for almost a year, as well as Stephen King’s It. I’m also one of those people who intend on reading Infinite Jest at some point in my life.), and cutting myself some slack. I am currently on Book #16 of 2015…6 books ahead of schedule, 43% done, and we are only entering the second quarter of the year.

I’m stoked that I’ve read 15 books so far (one of them was my first fiction audiobook and, yes, that counts!), that there is plenty of room to take a breather if I need one or to pick up a bigger book and take my time. I also like the thought of trumping that goal, of going above and beyond and making up for my previous failed or rushed attempts. The kicker is, though, that I’m starting to stress about it and this is silly because:
A) I’m the one who chose the number of books in my challenge
B) I’m the only one who is going to care when the damn thing is over

I love books, but sometimes I feel like I’m sinking into a pile of them like quicksand. I’ve managed to turn something I love into an obligation. Obligations are a part of our lives, no doubt, but when passions turn into obligations, we have a problem. It starts to feel like a job, a task that needs to be checked off on the To-Do list, something we don’t want to do but needs to be done. It becomes a cumbersome process. These are actual obligations: Paying bills. Paying taxes. Going to work. Jury Duty.

None of those are fun. In my case, I will worry about what book to read before I’m even finished with another one. I will try to triumph through a book that I don’t really like, just to have it added to the list. I will buy a new book or take another book from the library when I already have so many unread books in my personal collection (physical and e-book).

Going back to what I said in the beginning, my love of reading goes hand in hand with my love of books. Before I started rampantly purchasing any e-book that sounded mildly interesting and was on sale or any book that had been hyped and praised and I wanted to check out, I used to approach the task with excitement and curiosity. I’d walk around the shelves. I’d pull out titles that sounded interesting, reading the dust jacket. I’d glanced at the first page and, when a book was right, I would read a few sentences and know this was the next book I wanted to read. If I found an author I really enjoyed, I would look up all the books they had written and get them as soon as I could. It was an unpredictable adventure.

Now I place boundaries. If I read too many YA books in a row, it’s time for an “adult” book. If there were too many female perspectives, it’s time for a male POV. If I read too many romances, it’s time for a thriller. If I read a book by an author I enjoy, that author’s other works have to wait because there’s that other popular book that I have to read instead. If I see that a book I am curious about has less than an average 3.5 rating on Goodreads, I rule it out. If I see that a book that interests me is actually part of a series, I have to scratch it from the list because reading a series of books would be too much of a dig in all of the other the books I want to read.


I love reading, but I’m experiencing a burnout because I’ve been turning it into this calculated attack to meet a goal or to be in the know. The girl who used to read the dust jacket and say, “yeah, this feels right today!” has disappeared and I freaking miss her. Finish book, pick up new book, bust my way through. I’ve read some great books this year and I’ve even stepped outside of my comfort zone a little more by introducing more mystery/crime and lyrical writing into the mix. I don’t regret reading any of the books I’ve read…but I do regret my approach to this.

The lesson I’m learning (and maybe you could learn too) is this: If something (heck, even someone, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing) turns into an obligation, step back to figure out why. Is it pressure you’re putting on yourself? Is it something you’ve simply grown out of? Are you worried about the money you put into it? Do you feel like you owe someone? Can a different approach fix this feeling?

Saying NO is something I want to do so much more. I have been trying, with the power of Lena Dunham, to say it more often. In the reading community, people tag the books they’ve stopped reading as DNF (Did Not Finish). For some people, it is an unthinkable option, a step towards failure.
I know quite a few, and I’m one of them myself. BUT…do you know how good it feels to stop doing something that’s making you uncomfortable or unhappy?

My goal, ultimately, is to bring back the fun that came with picking out and reading books. I don’t want to pressure myself or say, “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS RIGHT NOW BECAUSE YOU BOUGHT IT.” I don’t want to keep grabbing books at the library that I’ve heard about because they are buzz-y when I know the storyline isn’t something I’m currently in the mood for. I want to take a break from buying books so that I can shop my shelf. I want the experience to come organically. I want to continue reading, but I want to do it the way I always did. I want to continue the challenge by reading how I used to read.

The important thing for me to remember? The books will still be there. Even if those books I’ve failed to read are out of the picture, there are plenty more to choose from. Sometimes, a book isn’t right at first, but then is picked up and makes sense later. This happened to me with The Hunger Games! I’m glad I stopped when I first read it, because it wasn’t for me during that time in my life. When I picked it up a year later, I was mentally stronger and really able to engage with the story. Those popular bestsellers are still going to be sold or borrowable in the future (that’s the blessing of winning awards and being a bestseller!).

No matter what your obligation is, there’s a good chance it can be picked up later. You can pull it out of the closet, you can buy another one, you can welcome it when you’re ready.

There’s already enough stress in the world.
Don’t allow your self-created obligations to add to it.
Free yourself of those handmade burdens.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Worth Mentioning…

I love things. I am easily excited over the simplest items, like mugs and bobby pins. I sing praises of newfound TV shows and musicians. I shout from the rooftops about my favorite books. I figured I should use this space to do the same.

Here are some things I’ve really enjoyed in the past few months.


Broad City – Even if you haven’t watched the show, you’ve probably seen pictures of and artitcles about Abbi and Ilana circling the internet. The show just finished up its second season and has been renewed for a 3rd (YAS QUEEN!), but you can stream it on Hulu Plus. I can’t think of another show like this one. The girls are funny, crazy, and fresh. The storylines range from relatable to absurd and the supporting characters all hold their own. You must watch this show.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Until it was put up on Netflix on March 6th, I had only briefly heard of and promptly forgot about this show (created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the geniuses behind 30 Rock). Within the weekend, Brad and I had devoured all 13 episodes. This show has an interesting premise: Kimmy Schmidt is finally released from underground, having been captured with 3 other women by a crazy cult reverend claiming that the world has ended and only they had survived. Kimmy was 15 and has a lot of catching up to do. It’s funny and Kimmy’s character is a tough chick who has endured a lot and yet still maintains a positive outlook on life.



Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – I purchased this e-book on discount at some point and finally decided to read it in February. Holy crap, it’s so good. At its heart, Big Little Lies is a mystery, but Moriarty manages to make it clever and funny and heartbreaking all at once. If I had to describe it in one word: Cheeky. Seriously. I’m late to the Moriarty train, but if you haven’t read her stuff, do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – Have you heard about the latest Gone Girl? Thanks to some early buzz and comparisons, this book has held a steady spot on the best-sellers lists since its release. I bought it because there are, to this day, 70 holds on the copies at the library. So, yeah. It’s kinda popular. This book needs no GG comparison. The story, and our alcoholic protagonist Rachel, hold their own. This was a book I just couldn’t put down. If you want in on the buzz or you just want to have fun solving a mystery, get on it!


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Small Biz Style – Ironic, funny graphic tees have seriously upped their game. I cannot get enough of them lately. Stay Home Club, Alphonnsine, Clashist, and Cat Coven are my personal favorites. These shirts speak to my soul. (SHC Pro Tip: This company is based in Canada, so you’ll be paying less than what is listed on the website. Check out a converter if you’re curious. Also, since it’s considered international, make sure your bank card allows for foreign transactions!)


Kindle Paperwhite – A few years ago, I struggled with the decision to buy an e-reader. I ended up doing it, though. I don’t discriminate. I still buy books, too. I bought a Kindle Fire in 2012, when they had first come out, and thought it was an excellent decision. As time went by, though, I got annoyed with how quickly the battery died (I’d have to charge it at least once within the course of reading a book) and the glare that required me to keep the tablet on full brightness just to read it. Enter the Paperwhite. Since I used the Fire simply for reading, I see this as an upgrade. It might not have a color screen or app and web access, but it’s the perfect thing for me. It’s backlit, so I can read at night without bothering Brad (the light can be turned off, though!). I can access my Goodreads account to update what I’m reading (which was the only thing I was doing online with the Fire anyway). And, a personal favorite is the X-Ray feature, which will give you a little insight on a character or place that might have been mentioned earlier in the book that you forgot about. Actually,  !everything about this reader is fantastic. Also! I like to have cases for my electronic purchases because they aren’t exactly the cheapest things. I bought this adorable case from Five Sprouts Stitching on Etsy. If you can go small-biz, do it. The quality of this one in particular is impeccable. It’s like a cute sleeping bag for my Kindle. I also really love the front pouch, and I use it to store my charge cord with plenty of room to spare.


Rifle Paper Co. iPhone case – This thing is a frickin’ beaut. The best thing about the iPhone is that it’s already gorgeous (especially since I went with a gold 6+). I hated the thought of covering it up with a case, but I truly believe that such an expensive item needs protection. Enter Rifle Paper Co.’s selection of clear phone cases. I am able to keep my phone safe, flaunt a gorgeous Rifle floral design, and you can still see the gorgeous gold exterior. It’s a win-win-win!!!

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Lap Loom – After moving into our townhouse, I was faced with a lot of time on my hands that would’ve otherwise been occupied with my parents or laying in bed watching How I Met Your Mother for the zillionth time. Since we don’t have a TV in our bedroom and I don’t want to spend too much time on my phone anymore, I decided to try my hand at weaving. It’s so much fun. My first attempt was a little frustrating (because it usually is, duh), but I love the process of it. I have purchased so much yarn and look forward to playing around with various techniques. It’s the perfect way to keep an anxious mind occupied (and to keep your hands busy while you’re streaming tons of Netflix).


I hope you enjoyed this feature. Honestly, I could go on forever, but these are the top hits of the past few months. I can’t wait to share more in the future!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Unfortunate Similarities Between Depression and Laziness


(I wrote this article in November of last year. At the time, I was experiencing SSRI withdrawal and realizing that my mind is much better on medication. I thought I would share these thoughts, as they were written in a more vulnerable time in my journey and might help others who are as well. I’ve picked up where I left off, and I will let you know when it switches to present day.)


For everyone who struggles with depression, anxiety, or any form of mental illness, you know what it’s like. Things hurt mentally and emotionally and it often turns physical. We find ourselves curled up in bed and on couches for what could be days on end. The seemingly simple activities, such as showering or eating, seem as daunting as climbing a tall mountain. I know what it’s like. When things get hard for me, I seek solace in blanket upon blanket (the more weight to get lost under, the better) and as many mindless TV shows and movies I can get my hands on to distract myself.

I know it must be the same, if not worse, for so many of you.

The frustrating thing is that we aren’t planning on this inactivity. We aren’t enthusiastically choosing this stagnant life. I will admit that there are days I am plenty happy to be lazy, to stay in pajamas for as long as I can, to watch Netflix marathons and get fast food or take out. That’s lazy to me. There’s still a planning to it. It might be a plan to do nothing, but you’ve chosen that course for the day. When I’m doing well, I get stir-crazy, and lazy doesn’t agree with me all day. I eventually need fresh air, to walk around (even if it’s just going to Target or something like that), to DO SOMETHING.

For those who don’t understand depression (or any form of mental illness that can’t be seen and, therefore, can’t be believed), us sufferers seem lazy. We don’t want to work. We don’t want to go out and be social. We don’t want to change our clothes for the fifth day in a row. We don’t care if our hair is greasy or we smell. We care about nothing and everything all at once, and it’s overwhelming. We just want to sit and sleep and be left alone.

It finally hit me that a lot of the times that I’ve been considered lazy were because of my depression and anxiety. As someone who lived with a mother who let these illnesses cripple her to the point of not leaving the house for years, I know how easy it is to fall into that pattern when things have crumbled. I work (sooo hard, I should add) on getting out of bed. I convince myself that a shower will feel good, that I will feel confident when I see myself clean. But I see how she allowed it to happen. When you are suffering, the things you need the most (medication, exercise, healthy diet, a support group or therapy) are the hardest things to get, to do, to understand. It is a vicious cycle.

All of this is already complicated. It’s hard enough to express the feelings and thoughts or the general weight of what you’re going through…but add the misunderstandings of those around you, the people who want to call you lazy? Talk about kicking someone when they are down.

When I go through these troublesome moments, trapped in the pit with very little upper body strength to dig my way up, I’m not happy about it. I’m not like “Yay! Bed again, because everything else seems so incredibly daunting that even a walk to the kitchen for fresh water sounds like the hardest thing to do!” From the outside, it’s all “What do you care? You just lay in bed all day? DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE!” So all of the things that were already bothering me are amplified by 1000x because I’m a miserable person and I’m seen as someone without motivation, goals, dreams, hopes, wishes. I am wasting my life. And why don’t I just fix it?

(The rest has been finished recently…)

I love my boyfriend. He is the one who first motivated me to get on medication when my anxiety went from nagging thoughts to crippling fears. He’s calmed me during some seriously scary times. He makes me laugh. Only recently, he has started to realize the difference between depression and laziness. He is still frustrated with me, though, when I can’t just shake a mood that comes on without rhyme or reason. I told him about this post idea and he was fine with me talking about his misunderstanding. I think that when I explained it to him, it helped open his mind a little more.

Since I first wrote this post, I have gone back on a smaller dose of a different SSRI. The improvements were quite sudden. The dark clouds lifted. My sudden fits of rage and hopelessness lessened. I felt stronger. Generally, I’m doing well. Still.

Lately, I’ve been having some anxiety. The change of seasons, even if it is seemingly good (from frigid and bare to warm and blooming), always seems to affect me. The thought of doing things got hard again. Full disclosure: I went without a shower from this past Thursday night to Monday afternoon. 3 whole days. Could be worse, but obviously it could be better. I  just couldn’t do it. Brad gave me a pep talk. He suggested that we get out of the house a little bit, do some grocery shopping, enjoy the sunshine. I swayed back and forth, wanting to lay on the couch and binge-watch Community more than anything.

Today, I woke up from nightmares that touched on some anxiety-triggering fears of mine. Instead of wanting to wake up and start the day, to move away from that, I wanted to stay in bed, to fall back asleep, to have new dreams and run away from the ones that would torment me for most of the day. I didn’t want the anxiety to stand a chance, and sleep was the way to kill it. But I had a shower to take, work to get to…I had to try my best.

I’ve realized that I have thoughts lingering in my mind that need attention. In the madness and change of moving and settling into a new home, I had easily been able to distract myself. Now the thoughts are busting out. I decided to create two separate To-Do lists. One has things I want to do on it, such as weaving another finished piece on my lap loom, writing a blog post (because obviously that suffered a little), and painting my nails. The other had important things: Pay this bill, rewrite my budget, do the massive pile of laundry that has spilled onto the floor. I felt more in control after doing this.
There are still tasks to check off, but realizing what needed to be done made a huge difference.

Part of me is nervous about posting this because I probably sound like I’m making excuses for the times I’ve stayed home instead of going out, for sleeping in instead of rushing to start the day. I guess that’s the way it will always seem and that’s why it’s so unfortunate. Maybe I sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about. Each depression is different. Some worse, some more tolerable.
I’m just sharing what I’ve been through in the hopes that people can know they are never, ever alone and that those who want to know more gain some understanding.

Now I’m off to watch Community and lay down on the couch…because I want to. :)

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Little Steps to Happiness

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination…” – Souza

If there’s one thing I continue to learn in my life, it’s that finding happiness is a continuous mission. It’s not something that is achieved after a certain number of experience points or a certificate given at the end of a long course. Happiness is already here, in some way, and it must be embraced, nurtured, and appreciated.

Almost a year ago, I decided to try the 100 Happy Days challenge. The concept is simple. For 100 days, you take (and post to social media, if you want to) a photo of something that made you happy each day. At the end of it, you’ll have had 100 photos that are purely based on your joy. What’s more important is that it kindly forces you to find the happy in your daily life.

100 days sounds like a long time. We have no idea what the next 3-4 months will hold, no matter when the challenge starts. Bad weather? The stomach flu? An unexpected financial situation? These are the things that we can think about and get caught up in on that “road to happiness” we so constantly obsess over. But no matter what, there is a silver lining on those gloomy days. I saw them myself while doing the challenge. I stepped outside of the moment to find the happy. So in the case of the three icky situations I mentioned, you might take a photo of the heating blanket you snuggled under to stay warm and dry, the crackers and sports drinks that kept you hydrated and healthy, or the relief of paying off an annoying bill.

I think it’s important to remember that there is something to be happy about within each day. If you find that it’s hard, why not try the challenge? Even if you don’t want to post the photos on Instagram, you can take them every day, maybe journal about them, and see how happy your life already is.

When things are tough, it’s hard to believe that they’ll ever get better. We tend to put pressure on the future for our happiness. “When I get a better job, I’ll be happy. When I meet my soulmate, I’ll be happy. When I start a family, I’ll be happy. When I retire, I’ll be happy.” We don’t know when/if these things will happen. The first step towards happiness is reveling in the now. Looking around. Remembering what we do have. Knowing that we live well without the things we think we need.

I’m thinking about doing the 100 Happy Days challenge again, but maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll just keep searching for those little happy moments and keep them to myself. Maybe I’ll make a scrapbook about it. I don’t know.

If you’re in need of some perspective, I think this challenge is a great idea. However, if you don’t have the time, why not consider making a list every week (or day, or month) of the good things that happened. Here’s an example of things that make me happy on a daily basis lately:


And if you think you need big life moments to be happy, take a look at some of the photos I posted on my Instagram while doing the challenge last year:

I’m still learning how important these little moments are. I could dwell in the things I haven’t accomplished, in the stress I face in certain aspects of my life. And yet, I can look around and smile about the little things I actually do and can have. A tasty bagel and coffee breakfast. A cute pair of socks. Blooming flowers in the spring. Sleeping in on a day off.

These things remind me of  how lucky I am.

Especially around this time of year, as we wait for the slush to melt and the temperatures to rise,
I hope you can use these exercises to see how lucky you are, too!