Ways to Feel Better Instantly

The past 9 months has been a whole lot more on my plate at once than I’ve had to deal with, probably, than ever before. Two deaths, my dad losing his job (and starting to work for himself!), getting engaged, planning a wedding, finishing university, and trying to cope with the fact that my life will look completely different in two months. I am 100% uncertain regarding just about every important aspect of life in the next year; I don’t know where I’ll be living, where I’ll be working, what I’ll be doing, how often I’ll see my mom, what I will be able to afford, etc. In addition to all this, my personality definitely makes it easy for me to get caught up in stress about the future. This is why I decided to flesh out a list of ways I know that I can start to feel better instantly. If there’s ever been a time I need a list like this, it’s right now!

  1. Close out of all of you tabs on the computer, and actually shut it down/restart it.
    I know I’m not the only one who tends to keep tabs open on their laptop because I plan to read or make some sort of use of it in the future. Having a cluttered computer without actually shutting down or restarting it for a few days just begins to feel like being in a cluttered room. Clearing off my computer makes me feel like I can breathe a little bit better, and go about the things I actually need to do on my computer with more organization.
  2. Clear out your inbox.
    No, seriously. How many emails are in your inbox? How many have you already handled? How many are spam? I just looove going through all my emails and mass-deleting useless ones, or unsubscribing from newsletters or subscription emails. On top of all of that, I couldn’t survive if I didn’t label and archive my emails. If my school sends me an email about graduation, I read it, label it, and archive it. Same with important emails from anything else (especially online shopping receipts and such). Archiving in folders means I know exactly where to look for it later, if I ever need to reference it. It’s like deleting everything without having to worry about losing it.
  3. Clean your room.
    Just do it. Start by putting everything all in once place – a chair, bed, the middle of the floor, etc. Play music. I end up reaching a state of flow at some point and just go until I know I’ve either finished or made some significant progress.
  4. Just do one thing. Then do another.
    Mail that letter. Answer that email. Make that call. Set up that appointment. Doing one thing will help you feel like doing the next thing, and soon enough you feel like you’ve been at least marginally productive.
  5. Chocolate! 
    This is self-explanatory. Treat yourself. Be nice to yourself.
  6. Write it out.
    Here I am, doing just that. Whether it’s a blog post, a journal entry, a letter to a friend, or a list of some kind, getting it put down on paper helps you separate yourself from and organize the things buzzing around your brain.
  7. Hug someone
    This one is science, peole. Oxytocin is released in your blood stream when you hug or shake/hold hands with someone for more than 6 seconds.
  8. Look at baby things.
    Watch youtube videos or browse pictures of baby animals and baby people. This is science, too. Don’t pretend you don’t love doing this.
  9. Stretch.
    Whether you do yoga or just need to stretch out a bit, it feels amazing. Put down your phone, take your eyes off of your computer, step away from the to-do list, and just stretch. There’s no way to doubt that this will make you feel better right away.
  10. Work out.
    It’s okay if it’s just going on a walk! You don’t need to go spend an hour at the gym to gain benefits (both physically and emotionally) from exercising your body. Getting up and going on a short walk outside is worlds better for your sore back than pain killers or further resting. (Also science.)
  11. Look at pretty things
    The specific way I tap into this is browsing and curating my Inspiration Board on Pinterest.
  12. Remember that there are more important things.
    Sometimes you just have to remind yourself that there are more important things than killing yourself over not getting 100% on a school project, or being 15 minutes early to everything. Cut yourself a little slack once in a while, and remember that there are people who love you no matter what. That you’re not going hungry. That you are smart, capable, and special.

If you’ve been feeling like you really need a pick-me-up (who hasn’t at some point during this ridiculous winter?), hopefully some of these ideas help, or at least get you thinking about what makes you feel better.

What kinds of things always seem to brighten your day?

Guys I had a really bad day... I found out that one of my friends got hit by a car and died. I was crying like CRAZY in my first class and everyone stared at me. He was so nice and funny. I'll miss him. And on top of that I have a massive headache, I don't feel well, and I failed two quizzes... I'm so sad :'(

Wednesday Things

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(this was the sunrise on my way to Pennsylvania last weekend)

  1. I’m so sorry that you’ve already heard this a million times by now (and 500,000 of those times were probably already from me), but I think the tricks that the sun plays on us this time of year are lame. I remember it being harder than before last year, too. Maybe it’s an age thing? Does this get harder as I get older? I hope not. It already sucks.
  2. I miss fruit. I miss the mangoes and the pomegranates and the berries and leafy greens and all things plant and delicious. I can still get my smoothies in with frozen fruit, but I feel like I’ve been eating soup and cereal for like, the past month already. Also: I should really take time to sit and cook real food again. I’ve fallen out of that habit. But what is there to make in the winter time? All I can think is chili and pasta.
  3. Freaking love this: 24 quotes to inspire you to write more.
  4. The new Pentatonix album is out and I’ve maybe been blasting it at intersections and all the time, really. If you haven’t listened to it yet, I really think you should. It seems like every person I know in Chorale has been freaking out about it, too. This is justified.
  5. This is the third day in a row I’ve blogged (in like, years). I don’t really know what made me feel like I just have to dive back into it this week, but I’m glad I did. I forgot that I get lots of good things out of it. What I am currently getting out of it is even more procrastination from the lab report that’s due tonight (Hey. All I have left is the abstract [A.K.A. the worst, most repetitive, and boring part about writing these things. I’ll get to it after this mental break).
  6. I got a whole two days with my bestie in PA recently, and I already miss her so much. Today is her senior recital jury, and I couldn’t be more confident that she is going to knock their socks of. She’s basically the best pianist and friend I could ask to know.
  7. I lost the charger and syncing tool for my FitBit, so I haven’t used it in like, three weeks. I’m also bitter because two weeks after I had JUST bought my Flex they came out with the Force, which has a display – which was the only feature I wished my Flex had. Fortunately, their customer service is great and they’re letting me return my Flex for a full refund even without the missing pieces. I get to turn around and by the Force, and I am so excited to be moving more again and get back on track.
  8. Speaking of, I’m really feeling just how little physical activity I’ve been participating in for the past week or two. Between catching up on all the homework I’ve fallen behind on (which is a lot, thanks to procrastination and dealing with my grandmother’s passing and all the family stuff and traveling), catching up on sleep, cutting work hours, and allowing myself some “me time” for the sake of restoration, I’ve been so sedentary. Blah.
  9. While we were in London, my grandmother and I each kept a notebook that we journaled in on our trip. When my mom was going through her things after the funeral, she found her notebook and gave it to me. I just today gathered the strength to pop it open and peek at the things she wrote. I guess I was expecting a lot of significant and emotional revelations to come from her writings, and I’m only two entries in, but so far most of it has been recapping our flights, layovers, and how tired we both got by the end of each day. I’m surprisingly thankful for the simple memories so far. There’s still a couple days and conversations I’m anxious about reading her perspective on, but I’ve read enough for today, and it’s been mundane and sweet.

Remember, Remember

As most of the people in my life know, my lovely grandmother, Faye, passed away a couple weeks ago. However, I am indescribably fortunate to have had the chance to go to London with her in 2012. One thing I just really remember well is, while walking down the street from Bayswater tube station to our hotel, I brought up one of my favorite lists of things to remember:

  1. Whoever comes are the right people
  2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
  3. Whenever it starts is the right time
  4. When it’s over, it’s over

I don’t remember the context of the conversation, and I don’t really remember her reaction to it, no matter how much I wish I could. One reason I like these points so much is because it helps me remember that there are things I just can’t control – especially timing and the way some things turn out. 

These points are particularly poignant for me in the wake of her passing. in times like these, I think we all tend to reflect upon things we feel we could have done differently or done sooner or things we should have said. For me, the most significant thing was getting over a huge obstacle in my relationship with Grammy. For years, I went through this angsty, resentful, and jaded phase with her in the wake of her first husband’s death (more me/my issues than her). Thanks to time and also our trip together, we had lots of opportunities to talk through a lot of this (and more).

“Whenever it starts is the right time.” I have to accept that this healing process for our relationship started when it was the right time for it to start. I know I gained so much life experience and perspective and maturity in the time between Granddaddy’s death in 2004 and our trip in 2012. I have to think that that time and that growing process were things I had to go through in order to get to a level where I could meet her in conversation about it. 

“Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.” Obviously, this is a significant concept while dealing with the death of a loved one. What if she hadn’t been where she was or doing what she was doing or dealing with what she was dealing with? Couldn’t we have made it better or hold on to her longer if one thing or another was different? Blah blah blah, and the list goes on as long as we let it. It means we can fret all we want about changing the past, but the important thing is to learn to accept it and reflect on ways you can help yourself heal and continue on. (Not “move on.” I don’t think you ever really move on from a pain or loss of some one dear to you. Continue on. Keep going.) There’s nothing that could have gone any differently, and that’s really okay.

“Whoever comes are the right people.” At the viewings for my grandmother, the lines of the visitors were out the door. Each one had their own story about ways my grandmother had touched their life or helped them in one way or another. Some were even people who had met her when she just started talking to them while waiting in line somewhere. When people come into your life, there’s always something you can get from interacting with them. Sometimes the influence and presence of others is very clear and loud; sometimes their influence is quiet and only comes into your perspective later in life.

Sometimes the people in our lives hurt us. Sometimes we fall into unhealthy patterns with others. As much as it flat-out sucks to be honest about this, there is still always a takeaway. Now, I can tell you “everything happens for a reason” as much as any other person, greeting card, keychain, poster, song, or status in the world tries to, but what I need you to know is that I’m not actually confident that there really is any light, simple, logical reason behind every little thing that happens. Stuff happens that doesn’t make any sense.

The only thing I can say is that there can probably always be something you learn or experience or takeaway from these times. And I need you to know that these revelations come when you don’t know they will. You will overhear one of your classmates talking; your barista will make some small-talk with you; you will read a text message or a Facebook comment; you will listen to a song you’ve heard a thousand times over and you will hear something strange and new; you will re-read a book and have a completely different  experience; some one will simply ask you how you are.  It’ll click. Or, you’ll become aware of something lurking in your head and you will wrestle with it until you can verbalize and define it. You’ll make connections between events, quotes, shared glances, lyrics, and thoughts. Don’t worry about trying to find some elusive meaning or a silver lining in the midst of dark and confusing events. Try, instead, to remember to keep yourself open to and aware of anything you may feel or think or need. Notice everything. Write about it. In a week, six months, three years, a decade, you may make one of these connections; you will gain some understanding and perspective.

It’s more than likely that this conversation I had with my grandmother happened after finding out that her mother figure had passed away back home while we were in London, which makes me all the more curious about her internal reaction to them. I’m sure this list meant even more to her than it did to me at the time.

“When it’s over, it’s over.”

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Queen Victoria and My Grandmother

Write hard and clear about what hurts .

-Earnest Hemingway

My grandmother passed away three days ago. That’s what hurts, Earnest Hemingway. It hurts really badly. So I’m going to write about it because I don’t know how else to understand it. I’m confused, and it doesn’t make any sense.

One of the most important times in my relationship with Grammy was the trip to London she took with me in the spring of 2012. This was my 16th birthday present. Okay, so I was 19, but we were making up for my 16th because I had gone through a hard time with the death of her husband, my Granddaddy,  years ago and also struggled to understand some things she did to cope with it. That’s a completely different conversation, but long story short, we had come to a place where we were closer and more understanding and we had decided to go on the adventure she offered me when I turned 16.

Death was surprisingly a significant presence on the course of this adventure in London. I don’t think I quite recognized this before the reflection that I have been plummeted into due to her own death, but looking back, I recognize a lot of connections, conversations, comments, and experiences relating to death that were a part of that experience.

We’ll start with probably the most significant: Grammy had been taking care of a woman, Ruby, who was really like her mother – she was the nanny for her and her siblings, and she even saved her life once.  Grammy just adored Ruby and would talk about her all the time and you could tell it was just a joy for Grammy to take care of her and see her every day. Ruby hadn’t been doing so well when we took off for London, but she was in the care of her family for the two weeks we would be away. I remember Grammy saying “Don’t let her die while I’m gone, okay?”

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I keep dreaming…

…all these scenarios where Granddaddy never really died, and that he’s back. And they phase me so much.

 

We were at Grammy’s house.
She had cleared out the garage, installed a fireplace with couches surrounding it.
But she was asking if we thought Granddaddy would like it.
He died in 2004.
But he hadn’t – she was explaining.
So Deanna, Mom, and I sat on the bench of a picnic table to the side of the room (no, that doesn’t make sense. It’s a dream. Irrelevant.). Grammy’s hovering, facing the door. (the door’s to our right.)
And we’re all just waiting for him to come home.
And there he is – he just walks right through the door in his coat, smiling, and is just talking about his day like he hasn’t even been gone for the past 5 years (I’m counting it to be 2011, because it’s December).
Deanna stands up – not excitedly, just normally – and goes and helps him with his coat, and hugs him.
But I’m paralyzed.
I can’t even say hello,
or even “look how much taller I’ve grown since you last saw me.”
Or look at him, really.
All I can do is hold my hand over my face,my eyes squinted shut as tightly as possible,
sobbing.
Silently.
One of those cries that you do in a room with thin walls that you don’t want anyone to hear.
And your mascara is in all of your tears and going into your eyes and stinging you.
And the shock that I sink into won’t let me stop.

Consider My Fingers Crossed.

Crossed for the next two days to pass quickly (Christmas break!).
Crossed for not failing my two tests on Friday (AP History and Honors Chem).
Crossed for  my brain to start functioning again (it’s stopped in anticipation of Christmas break).
Crossed for landing a good role in the Spring musical (the Sound of Music!).
Crossed for a good Winter (not like last year).
Crossed for my Christmas wishes (I’ve got quiet a few).
Crossed for a really great social life during break (Hayley Joy, Deanna, Neal, Danike, movies, cooking, Brent, shopping…).
Crossed for snow days (we haven’t had any yet this year!).
Crossed for my Christmas list (mostly consisting of a ceramic curling iron, gift cards, and books).
Crossed for a good Solo and Ensemble performance (even though it’s in January).
Crossed for raising my grades (Two A’s, but I need to get my two B’s up…).
Crossed for a chance to organize my school notebooks and binders ASAP (all my school stuff is in one three-subject notebook).
Crossed for my varsity jacket (it’s ready, but my mom wont’ give it to me until Christmas – because it’s not like I need a winter coat before then, before halfway through the winter, not like it’s seven degrees farenheit or anything).
Crossed that my mom will be happier this Winter (this time of year has been hard for everyone since her dad died).
Crossed that the people that I can’t get enough of couldn’t get enough of me (it has been improving…).
Crossed for crazy amounts of photo shoots over break (I swear, I’m so itchy for some.)

Crossed for being able to uncross them.

A Nightmare.

      The girl stepped out of the shack, clad in a long, white nightdress. She stepped onto the cobbleston path leading only to another house. It was dead silent. A large, stone fountain that no longer worked cast a dreadful shadow in the dimly lit path. No stars were out. The only light came from a single, yellowish lamp to the left of the door of the single house ahead of her. The girl didn’t seem to be scared at all, only careful. She was pale – practically colorless – and with light hair that floated down to the middle of her back and pale eyes. When she was near the house, a young man stepped out of the door and put one foot on the porch step. He reached out his hand to help the girl up the stairs and to welcome her.

       From another angle, another woman watched the girl through binoculars. She saw the girl cautiously move down the stone walk. When the young man emerged from the house to greet her, she felt her neck grow hot. She knew this man. Unfortunately for her, all romantic possibilities with him had been torn from her future. She continued to observe the man; he was certainly pleasant to look at – tall, composed, clean shaven, brown hair, dark eyes, also pale. His clothes were simple and near colorless, too. If only the old fountain wasn’t blocking some of her view.

       Everything’s strange, she thought, crouching in the dark above the dreary scene: a path leading from a doorstep of one house directly to another house’s doorstep; there were no side paths branching off of it. What was the point of that? 

       The pale girl smiled gently and took the man’s hand as she floated up the steps, following his lead. He had let go and turned around, no longer welcoming. He went through the door first and reached for something beside the door frame on the inside. The house was peculiar. The first room that you walked into was lined in books on shelves from floor to ceiling. The books were old and dusty. Some were on the floor, bent and lying open. Directly ahead of her, perfectly aligned with the front entrance, was another doorway. This one had no door. She could see through it to another room, also lined entirely with books. Only this one was lit – by candles, maybe. The same yellowish light poured from the room. The doorway was as far to her left on the opposite wall as possible. She could see room after room, all identical, with books and either dark or dimly lit, the doorway in the exact same place on the wall, no doors…

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