Overcoming our own thoughts

Overcoming our own thoughts

https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2018/05/26/overcoming-our-own-thoughts/
— Read on druidlife.wordpress.com/2018/05/26/overcoming-our-own-thoughts/

This raises a very good point about internal vs external sources of stress and anxiety.

When I’m going through a rough patch, I sometimes have a hard time sorting out how much is in my head/body responses and how much is in my environment. Often, I’ve found, it’s both, and they feed on each other and get all tangled up. The first step is sorting out which is which.

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#AtoZChallenge — Your happy place

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


Find your happy place. This could be anything that gives you happiness. For me, my happy place is Harry Potter fanfictions. I have been a Potterhead ever since I read my first book. I took this craze to another level when I started reading fanfictions. (A fanfiction is a fiction written by a fan presenting his own PoV and his plot within the main storyline). I have never failed to read a few pages of a fanfic in the last 20 months.

You are in charge of your life, Musings of a Mother


My fall-back happy place is fandom participation. Mostly I write fanfics, and occasionally I do doodles — either way, I create. I do a lot of reading too, and commenting, and replying to comments, and feeling like part of a community. It’s constructive validation, because there’s always a special niche of people who will read what you want to write.

I am definitely in charge of my life. I’m broke and in debt to my parents, but I still have my freedom and make my own decisions. Sometimes those decisions gravitate towards being at home with my cats… because I’m an introvert anyway and why not spend my recharge time with furry little goofbutts.

When I quit my job back in August, it was because I was miserable. I’d seen my dad go through that for years, at a similar kind of job too, and I didn’t want to go down that dusty road. It was a hard decision, but it was one I had to make for my own sake and ultimately I still don’t regret it. Without my partner supporting me, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to leave without something else already lined up, and the problem with that is I was always to exhausted at the end of the day to job hunt for something better.

Support systems are pretty damn important. Without support, it would have taken me a lot longer to limp back to my happy place!

#AtoZChallenge — Quiet

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


19TH APRIL’18 – A TO Z CHALLENGE – LETTER ‘Q’

https://viewsofpreethib.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/19th-april18-a-to-z-challenge-letter-q/
— Read on viewsofpreethib.wordpress.com/2018/04/19/19th-april18-a-to-z-challenge-letter-q/

I am not very good at quiet. When I’m writing, cooking, cleaning the house, doing just about anything, I need something on in the background in order to concentrate. Sometimes it’s music, but more often it’s tv shows like Friends, That 70’s Show, Great British Baking Championship, etc. When I’m in the car I have audiobooks playing, and when I’m out for a walk I put my earbuds in and listen to audiobooks or call my Grandma to chat.

At night, unless I’m really tired, I have a hard time falling asleep because when it’s quiet, my thoughts are very loud.

But one kind of quiet I’m good at is sharing companionable silence with my partner. We’re together pretty much all the time, which, between my current unemployment and my partner’s part time job, really is most of our waking hours. It’s been that way since… we’ll, since a month or two after we met, really, minus the time he spent studying in London. The way we avoid driving each other bonkers is by allowing ourselves to still do our own things a lot of the time, just in each other’s company.

Which is why I also like this Quiet haiku by S. M. Saves.

There are many kinds of quiet, and all of them are important. I do need to get better at the “quiet in nature” and “quiet in my own mind” kinds, but I’ve known that for as long as I’ve been trying to get back into meditating regularly.

What kinds of quiet are you good at?

#AtoZChallenge — Mindful Eating

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.


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Freshly made pasta is AMAZING. (This photo was taken before I started the keto diet, heh.)

Mindful eating is the practice of cultivating an open-minded awareness of how the food we choose to eat affects one’s body, feelings, mind, and all that is around us.

(source)

When I was a kid, my parents didn’t exactly encourage mindful eating. Eating was something I would always do at great speed, to the point where I would get scolded for rushing through dinner. I just didn’t want to sit at the dinner table any longer than I had to. It was all “What did you do today,” which I always found mind numbingly boring because it didn’t seem like actually talking so much as just going over itineraries.

I’ve also realized, upon reflection, that meals growing up were always very portion controlled and… kind of like being on a diet without anyone ever really needing to or saying the word diet. My dad likes to cook, and when I went off to college I didn’t realize that chicken stock and similar things could actually be bought in stores rather than made at home. Homemade stock, homemade tomato sauce, and homemade burgers cooked in the oven on little racks so all the fat (and moisture, and flavor) dripped out. Desserts were for special occasions, or if we had extra pears that my dad felt like poaching and making a simple syrup for, or sometimes just raspberries from the backyard with a little sugar and cream. If we had garlic bread, there were exactly four servings of garlic bread and no extras.

There was always one protein, one starch, and one vegetable, all of which were mandatory. Concessions were made for my dislike of certain vegetables, so I was never dragged kicking and screaming into eating a salad but I did choke down my fair share of broccoli. And if I took a really big scoop of mashed potatoes, or of rice, or of pasta, I often got a brief reminder not to eat too much starchy, bready things because then I might get fat.

When I savored food, it was in the somewhat rare evenings where we went out, or when I was at my Grandma’s house. Even then, I didn’t think too much of it.

Living in Sonoma County has changed my relationship with food entirely. Most of the restaurants around here have farm-to-table leanings, so everything is fresh and vivid and delicately nuanced with flavor. It’s that moment when you close your eyes and eat slowly, so slowly that in some moments you don’t even necessarily chew because you’re too distracted by just tasting, experiencing the moment.

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Chocolate Avocado Parfaits, with fresh raspberries and Pamela’s gf graham crackers crumbled up.

Kristen talks in her Healthy Eating Blog ‘Eating The Moment‘ post about how “eating often leaves us with feelings of guilt. We don’t listen to our bodies, but give in to our minds that are tricking us into thinking we’re hungry.” I remember experiencing that. But the more I take the time to savor my food, the less guilt I feel.

Also, now that I’m on the keto diet I pay a lot more attention to what I eat and experiment more with healthy recipes that I can make in our new slow-cooker, and that’s a whole new world of appreciation too. I even borrowed a book from the library (volunteer shelving leads to finding some interesting gems, let me tell you) full of low-sugar baking recipes and tips for using less processed sugar. I’ve made chocolate avocado parfaits, low sugar pumpkin cupcakes with honey-cream cheese frosting, dark chocolate coconut cups… Healthy desserts! And they were delicious.

I haven’t read the book that Kristen’s post is talking about, but I’m all for mindful eating. What about you? What kind of eating habits were you raised with, and how have they changed over time?

#AtoZChallenge — It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across. 


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Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages and Karen Hume’s RAW NEWS framework as examples of a daily routine to support your creativity
— Read on profoundjourney.com/routine-never-too-late-a-z-challenge/


The post I’m featuring today is one I stumbled across through the comments on a blog I follow.

I’m turning thirty in about two weeks, so it’s not like I’m in danger of a midlife crisis quite yet. But I did hit the ejector seat button on my job about eight months ago… and in some ways it’s like I’m learning how to live all over again. Like Karen, “I didn’t do much of anything other than sleep and destress for quite a while,” but now I’m much happier, getting a healthier amount of sleep, being more active throughout the day, and eating a lot better.

Have I settled on my ideal routine yet? Not quite. Every morning I make a list of three things I want to accomplish in the coming day (though sometimes I make the list the night before, or at the end of the day if I forgot and just want to acknowledge that I actually got stuff done). Every night I make a list of three things I’m grateful for (and usually at least one of those things is about food, haha). If I haven’t done either of those by 10pm or so, my Grid Diary app reminds me.

These are important habits, and they’ve helped me a lot with just getting my mind back to a good place and keep it there, but I wouldn’t mind adding to my routine.

“I would be relieved if I made time to….”

  • Write more. 

And to be fair, I have been doing more of this since November thanks to NaNoWriMo. I write when I’m inspired, but I can’t decide if it would motivate me more to carve out a specific Writing Time or if it would just inspire me to procrastinate more.

When I finish my current fanfiction masterpiece I’ll get back to the novels I want to publish someday.

  • Meditate more.

Seriously, I’ve been saying this for years. A few years ago, when my partner went to London for twelve months, I found a meditation group at an LGBT center near my parents house and started going once a week. It was amazing and relaxing and it got me out of the house to interact with new people, which I don’t do on my own very often. I told my therapist at the time about it, and she told me about a meditation-based anxiety group she was running, which was also great.

When we moved up here, I half heartedly looked for other groups to join but couldn’t find anything I felt comfortable with, and the Calm app on it’s own has not been enough to keep me on track. What little breathing exercises I have done recently have all been very short and only thanks to the promptings of the Aloe Bud app I’m helping beta test.

… Actually, I just remembered my old therapist gave me a bunch of cds with meditation recordings. I should get those on my new computer!

  • Go on more walks.

I will do this, once the weather dries up a bit. Because seriously, walks in the rain can be okay if you have an umbrella and a neighborhood with sidewalks, but I currently have neither of those. I’ve been gradually bumping up my daily step goal and am currently at 6k a day — taking long summer walks would be really good for that.

  • Apply to more jobs.

I’ve been a lot better about this in the past week. I guess the A to Z Challenge productivity is catching? But basically, I keep forgetting what day it is and I’m starting to go a little stir crazy. I need to find a job again!


What about your routines? Are there any new habits that you want to start building up?

#AtoZChallenge — Dalai Lama

This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across. 


 

sleep-dalai-lama
Quote image from Lingering Visions.

I occasionally struggle with mild insomnia — yet another thing that runs in my family, woohoo! It’s usually just a matter of not getting my brain to shut up. I try to distract it by reading fanfiction or playing games until I’m tired enough to just conk right out, but that doesn’t always work.

Several years ago, when I found a therapist that I actually liked, she got me into meditation. At one point she ran a small anxiety group that focused on trying out different meditation techniques throughout the week and then discussing how they felt and whether or not they helped with our anxious feelings. It was very cool, and something I keep meaning to get into but somehow never find quite the right headspace to do so.

Anyway, what helps me (when I can remember it) is to lay on my back and relax into some breathing exercises. In four, hold four, out eight. The more I relax the more I begin to sink into my body, sink into the mattress, and consciously let go of whatever tension I’m still holding from the day.

Going to sleep totally is the ultimate meditation.

Self-Care for People Trying to Adult Good

This guide was meant specifically to help people with ADHD and ADD. While I don’t have either of those (as far as I know, I am increasingly less and less sure of anything about myself these days), some of the self-care tips struck me as Really Good Ideas. Halfway through reading it I stopped and downloaded the Grid Diary app. Sam’s examples of his own questions he’s set for himself to answer at the beginning and end of every day are, after some slight tweaking, a good reminder for me to be more mindful. Some of these are (tweaks included):

  • What are some strategies I can use to be effective and get shit done today?
  • What’s one way I can support my mental health today?
  • Am I worried about anything?

And one suggested by the app, which I decided to keep:

  • What problem did I encounter today? How did I solve the problem?

As Sam comments in there somewhere, these tips won’t be perfect for everyone but work for him as he spends a lot of time on his phone anyway. My partner, who most likely does have ADD, swears by bullet journals and didn’t seem as interested in this app as I am when I mentioned it — but then I’m more of a phone person, and any time I spend on my phone that’s not noodling away on Candy Crush Soda Saga or Solitaire Tri Peaks is probably a good thing.

 

That’s when I knew: I didn’t want to live like this anymore.

via ADHD Survival Guide: How I Stopped Procrastinating and Got My Sh!t Together — Let’s Queer Things Up!

Walking With Giants

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post. Your words have helped me feel a little lighter, a little more inspired. Plus, I had a kitty lounging on my chest and purring for quite a while this morning, which was nice.

The day after I made that post, we had already planned to go to a nearby redwood forrest and do a nature walk. My energy felt so sapped that I almost didn’t want to go, but between my partner’s infectious enthusiasm as sheer momentum I went. This particular park has an amphitheater area that we’re considering as a wedding venue, and I really wanted to see it. Temperatures have sometimes climbed to the 100s recently and that day was no exception, but at least the forest was full of shade.

“Green spaces are known to be good for mental health, and beyond that, there’s the powerful business of encountering.” —Nimue Brown

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With that, I felt a little better too. And this past weekend, as a delayed birthday present, my mom took my to Disneyland! It was very hot and very crowded, but even that helped clear my mind of non-immediate concerns. The Jungle Cruise was still there, despite some rumors we had heard of it being closed down permanently, and Space Mountain and Indiana Jones were as wildly enjoyable as ever. Plus, Disney is astonishingly good at accommodating allergies and I found gluten free bread here and there when I least expected it. (Grilled cheese and tomato soup, om nom nom!) Not for nothing is it called the Happiest Place on Earth, and although most of the happy glow wore off once I came home and returned to real life I do feel better for the three days of mental relief. I am extraordinarily lucky and grateful for that.

I don’t think I’m depressed. There are a lot of things I need to adjust in my life to get to a better mental place — I am too stressed, I am too anxious, I am worried about my upcoming endoscopy and the single Ativan I will take to keep myself calm that day, I don’t get enough exercise, I don’t eat enough protein, and I need to carry on with purging gluten from my system.

For the first three, I have started talking to a therapist again. I’m going to try and get back into meditation and breathing exercises, which might be a little easier to remember to do once the endoscopy is over and done with. I’m also taking some steps to reduce the stress in my environment… Work stuff. It’s a process.

For the last three, I have my Fitbit. I bought it for myself a few months ago and have been gradually bumping my step goal up from 5k as I build better daily habits. Currently my goal is 7k and I’m doing a pretty good job of hitting it. The app also tracks exercise and food/calorie/macronutrient intake. In the past week I’ve been using it as a food journal, in case I need to look back and figure out if I ate anything that wasn’t gluten free by accident. It tells me what percent of calories are from protein, too, so I can be more mindful of that.

There are probably other things I can do, but this is where I’m starting. I’m already taking vitamin D every day along with my anti-anxiety medication, which I believe isn’t giving me as much burnout from side effects as it was a few weeks ago. When I remember, I take gummy multi-vitamins. Once I get though the endoscopy, perhaps I will turn more of my focus towards meditation, vitamins, and writing more often.

And my partner and I definitely plan on taking more nature walks. We even bought matching water bottles for the purpose. 😊

Overall, I am not at my best, but I am better. I hope all of you are doing okay.

“Heal yourself first. Get what you need, do what you need to, first, always first, but after you have made some progress and stored up some strength yourself, go out and help the rest of the world heal.” — Lisa

Sunday Gratitudes #46: The Little Red Number

You know that little red number. It signifies unread texts, unread emails, missed calls, voicemails waiting for you to listen to, and other notifications. There are so many demands on our time and attention these days that it’s like omg overload all the time — depending, of course, on how many apps you have, how much friends and family members text, and whether or not you have your work email synched to your phone.

I really do not recommend that last one. I synced my work inbox to my phone once in 2013 and that only lasted a couple days before I undid it because that little red number was staring at me like a little red eyeball from hell.

This doesn’t bother everyone. My officemate has over 1000 unread emails and I just can’t even comprehend that. When I pointed it out, she said she hadn’t even noticed! Now, I’m a millennial and most of my coworkers are… well, if I had to guess, I’d guess they’re Baby Boomers. They are badass women who know what they’re doing and give very few fucks, and I like them all a lot, but there is an undeniable difference in the way we think and the way we approach certain tasks.

Some days I wish I was the kind of person who had one email addresses and didn’t care if it had hundreds of unread emails in it. Instead, I have upwards of ten, including six different work inboxes, and I start to get a little antsy if a double digit number is staring me down anywhere for more than a couple days.

So this Sunday, I am grateful that my personal inboxes (the most relentless red eye on my smartphone) are now down to just one unread email. That means I’ve paid my bills for the month. I’ve caught up on all the blogs I want to read. I’ve even finally remembered to update my FasTrack mailing address and dig through the stack of unopened mail to find three our of four of the W4s or whatever that I’m supposed to have. Despite being so sick yesterday that I threw up and slept nearly all day, since Friday afternoon I’ve also scooped the litter boxes/swept up the litter on the floor twice, neatened up the dining room table, washed some dishes, and voluntarily initiated a phone call with my parents.

And I’d like to thank a friend of mine for emailing me the link to this TED Talk video about stress, which I finally watched today. Did you know that stress isn’t as bad for you as simply believing that stress is bad for you? I knew it was a motivator, but I didn’t know that oxytocin, a stress hormone, helps strengthen your heart. If you stop to think about it, it makes a lot of evolutionary sense. I’ll leave you with the video — please feel free to comment on it and/or about how you feel about the little red numbers.

Sunday Gratitudes #44

What are you grateful for this week? I’m grateful for…

☕️ – Meeting my January writing, blogging, and walking goals so far.

☕️ – Baking some delicious gluten free orange spice cakes on Sunday evening. From a baking mix, true, but I drastically altered the recipe to include orange and chocolate.

☕️ – Having a great lunch break on Monday. Even though my boss sent me on errands that were all an hour plus of driving apart, I ended up taking my break in a gorgeous spot.

☕️ – Watching the season five finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with my baby.

☕️ – Sleeping in. Even if I only got to do it because I felt crummy and took a sick day.

☕️ – Being able to take most of the week off due to being sick. It’s a luxury that my bank account will be crankier about it than my boss.

☕️ – Getting a bunch of dishes washed. Accomplishment!

☕️ – Feeling not-sick enough to scoop the litter boxes. They really needed it. Plus, getting all the bags of old litter thrown away! (The trash-pickup can we share with our landlord has limited space.)

☕️ – Signing petitions. It seems like demonstrations of complaint will have more effect on this president than any that have come before.

☕️ – Realizing my health insurance is all set, and that even though I haven’t gotten my card in the mail I can call it up on my phone via an app. Now I can get my prescription refilled.

☕️ – A wine tasting Sunday funday. We found some great local places that only have a $5 tasting fee, too!

☕️ – Feeling hilariously superior. Have you ever, at work, been sent a list that you yourself made as if it were new information?

☕️ – Payday.

☕️ – Meeting up with one of my college buddies in the city! It was a huge deal to me because almost none of my east coast friends have visited me in California, and I haven’t seen him in six years. Also, he was the one who helped me set up the OkCupid profile that lead to my current relationship, and he finally got to meet my partner.

☕️ – Debates with my partner. As a rule I don’t really enjoy these things, but although we didn’t agree and we’re both rather annoyed that neither of us came around to the other’s point of view, we did reach a good ending point. Eventually. And I know it makes them happier to have these sorts of intense conversations than it does me, so that’s good for somebody at least.

☕️ – Screamin’ Mimi’s ice cream.

☕️ – Realizing in time that the weird brown thing next to my pillow when I woke up was a tiny nugget of cat poop and not touching it. (Lol thanks cats.)

☕️ – How happy the dogs were to see us when we came down for a visit.

☕️ – Being able to squeeze in time with my friend and his gf, my partners friend and her bf, my partner’s parents, and my family all in two days. Efficiency!

☕️ – Taking a pic of a chocolate sale to support a local art program. Because I also work for a local parenting magazine, I was able to post it to twitter and Instagram where people might actually see it and stop by. I hope it helped.

☕️ – The Sebastopol Starbucks. It’s just our favorite. The baristas there actually bother to read my name on my gold card instead of just asking and inevitably misspelling it. It’s a tiny thing, but it shows consideration and, idk, common sense. That’s what having your name on the card is for, right?

☕️ – Waking up to warm kitten snuggles. (Probably the same one who pooped by my pillow but whatevs. When I get up she’ll roll off my partner into the spot I just vacated and be all “WhaT?!” That will be my revenge.)