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 :'(

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Wife2Wife Linkup: Marriage Goals for 2014

 

 

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I’m proud to say that this is my first link-up that I’ve participated in! Hurray!

So, this month, the linkup is about our marriage goals for 2014. I have to say that my list is probably quite different from a lot of the other ladies participating because I’m not even going to be married until May. However, I don’t believe that this means I’m not able to have goals for my marriage in 2014. Here’s a short list of some of the things I have in mind.

1. Actually GET married

I don’t think I really need to elaborate too much on this goal! I’m looking forward to being able to participate more in these linkups. =]

2. Obtain an actual table, at which to eat.

Hopefully, Luke and I can get a table into his apartment before we’re married, but I’m still making this a goal. Seriously – it sucks not having a table at all. (If you’re wondering why we don’t have one, it’s simply because he/we do not own one yet.) It’s so hard to feel productive and get papers and work done on the couch all the time! It also means we don’t get to sit and eat dinner together, really.

3. Start off being really, really organized.

I really want to start things off right by being one of those wives that has a home organizer binder and a bill schedule and maybe even meal planning (*gasp*). I don’t really know where to begin, but I feel like at that point, I won’t really have anything else on my plate to worry about, having graduated from college by then. Hopefully, I’ll have plenty of time to organize and label our cupboards and things.

4. Spend time with family regularly

Because Luke, his parents, and I all live pretty far away from each other, it never seems to quite work out to see our families as much as we’d like. Once we’re married and on the same schedule with school out of the way for both of us, I think it’d really make our lives that much happier to see our parents and siblings more often.

5. Be on the ball with post-wedding checklists

Thank you notes, gift returns, organization/putting things away, decorating a bit, legally changing my name, making a combined budget, etc. All things I really want to make sure I actually get around to getting done after the wedding!

6. Find a new place to live

After the wedding, I’ll just be making due with Luke’s bachelor pad for a couple months until his lease ends in August/September. I really hope to find a nice 2-bedroom apartment nearby that is a good price, and actually has counter space in the bathroom. Seriously. I’ll be living out of a suitcase at first and there’s absolutely no counter top in the bathroom. This may be the hardest thing about our first few months of marriage. Oy vey.

7. Pare down my own belongings

Speaking of moving in with Luke, I have wayyy too much stuff. On top of everything I’m hoping to get done before the wedding (uh, like, planning the wedding), I really need to set aside regular time to sort through all my junk.

Join the link-up here!

2014 & Weird New Things

Happy New Year, everyone!

Last night, everyone kicked 2013 out of the way to welcome 2014. It’s been a long while since I’ve had a good New Year celebration. Actually, I don’t even really remember having a specifically nice New Year’s, like, ever. I remember New Year’s Eves spent sitting on the couch and web-surfing with my parents while the news showed the ball drop in the corner of the living room as casually as if it were just another night on which we were letting Star Trek reruns play in the background. I remember another year, in high school, I was being an angsty teenager for not being driven to celebrate the coming of the new year with my first serious boyfriend. The year I met my fiancee, I was home alone because my folks were at a party with their friends. The next year was spent with some friends, which was fun but also somewhat socially stressful. Last year, I was working all day on New Year’s Eve, and only managed to get out of work by 11:45; the new year came while I was in my car, speeding to a friend’s place, where Luke was celebrating with friends until I could get there.

This year, I was expecting the same situation as last year. I worked all day New Year’s Eve, and was fully prepared to be there for the restaurant-wide champagne toast at midnight. However, we were actually pretty slow (extremely so, compared to last year) because of various reasons, and I was cut by 8:45 (which is early to be cut, even on a normal weekend shift). I was able to get out of work with enough time to stop at home and change into normal clothes before heading to where Luke was celebrating. This year, he was at his grandparents’ house with a lot of family. I didn’t tell him I made it out of work and could be with him at midnight, so it was a surprise when I turned up. When I arrived, I got lots of welcoming hugs before finding Luke playing a game (of course – what else?) called Munchkins with his brothers and cousins. I quietly settled next to his chair and started rubbing his back, and after a minute he turned to see who it was and just about fell out of his chair when he saw it was me (he comically repeated his double take – ridiculous faces and all – to play off just how surprised he had been). Obviously, a giant bear hug followed. Happy.

I got there at around 11, and had time to grab some grub and socialize before we all gathered in the main living room to watch the ball drop and cheers with sparkling juices. At the end of the countdown, we all cheered, sipped our drinks, and the room began churning and stirring from everyone going around hugging absolutely everyone else. I grew up separate from all of my extended family, and it’s just my parents, my sister and I here in Michigan, and most family gatherings included stuffy road trips and a fair share of personality clashes. Luke has at least a hundred members of his family (read: clan) here. They get together all the time. Seeing the entire room of family so relaxed and comfortable and happy was really new. And really great. 

Shortly thereafter, we all migrated to a different room to take a family picture (also not as long, stressful, or exhausting as the ones I grew up with!). However, there was one thought that hit me hard: this is the first year that Grammy never gets to see. The already-heightened emotions in the room definitely gave way to a wave of momentary crying. I told Luke and he just hugged me and soon everyone was back to chilling and playing games. 

2014 is going to be a huge year for me. I’ll be leaving the restaurant I’ve been at longer than any other, I’ll be getting married, moving out of my parents’, finding a new job, and starting a new education program (massage therapy, probably. Maybe grad school. I’m still picking which to start first). And, I get a huge new family (and brothers! which I’ve always wanted). Lots of new, weird things to do and responsibilities to have. 

All weird stuff. Stuff I’m sure I’ll get used to at some point. Hopefully, I can learn to be super organized, responsible, and tragically domestic and actually do those meal planning things and decorate a home and have a cleaning schedule and such. How else will I get along without my mom nagging me to empty the dishwasher? We’ll see what obstacles I can conquer. I’ve seen a lot of statuses about being glad to leave 2013 behind, but I feel like I can’t help but be aware that the things I want to leave behind in 2013 (grief, stress, homework,  etc.) will all carry over and find me in 2014. The only thing I can hope for is to face these things with more flexibility, resilience, and positivity.

And now, I’m going to get all list-makey and organize, clean, sort out schedules, appointments, resolutions, and to-do lists.

Happy New Year!

 

College, in Chapters

Chapter One: Freshman Year (2010-2011)

This year is the year of confusion, depression, and misunderstanding, all wrapped up with a ribbon of neurosis. This is the year I move away from home. This is the year I get really lonely and distressed all the time. This is the year of zero perspective and lots of timidity. This is the year everything I really knew about myself changed.

Freshman year is the year I realized that life rarely ever goes as planned. Basically, it never goes as we have it planned. My freshman year still teaches me things about myself when I sit and reflect on it. A big thing I learned is that I want to be grounded and settled in a home (rather than living the inconsistent and competitive life of a vocal performer, which is what my major started out as). I was still struggling intensely with perfectionism (and the guilt that goes along with striving constantly for perfectionism).

I crashed a little bit. I moved home and changed my major to Linguistics. I moved on.

Chapter Two: Sophomore Year (2011-2012)

This is the year I walk off stage from my own life. I wrapped myself up in grades and working, and aimed to stay out of the spotlight and remain generally inconspicuous. My previous self – the one driven by performance and social interaction and theatre and appearances – took a nap. This self would get irritated and angry when I (or anyone else) tried to wake it up. The part of me that was left was quiet, robotic, and a little apathetic. I wasn’t singing. I wasn’t acting. I couldn’t even bring myself to sing for fun (and maybe even had a mini-meltdown at little things like when friends insisted I sing for Rockband at a party). I just couldn’t bring myself to be who I had used to be, or who I wanted to be again. I didn’t have the energy and I didn’t have the grit. I still didn’t quite understand what had happened in chapter one, but I was drifting along.

I changed my major again, this time to Health and Wellness, and I kept going.

Chapter Three: Junior Year (2012-2013)

This is the year I healed a little bit. This is the year I confronted my napping performer, and forced her to get back to my voice teacher, and I even signed up for an acting class. These two things forced the apathetic and sufficiently functional part of me and the pure energy/vitality part of me to talk things out and cooperate. That acting class was therapy. It was a small, intimate group, and it was good to have a class that involved more than sitting in the back of a lecture hall and then slipping out quickly to drive home. I had people to talk to and open up to, I had monologues for which I soul-searched and reflected to find inspiration. My voice teacher helped me come to terms with the concept of meeting myself at my own level, regardless of where any past me had been; I learned to come back to basics and fundamentals, and rebuild on that.

There is a moment I could pinpoint as a break-through of sorts during my acting class, but ultimately it was affirmation that things were getting back on track inside of me. The following summer, my social life improved (and by that I mean it actually existed again), and I saw a huge upswing in the health of all of my relationships in general.

Chapter Four: Senior Year (2013-2014)

This year is (obviously) still happening. But I’m back. I took a huge opportunity to audition for my university’s top choir, and I made it. Just this was a significant victory for me with all of what I had been through with confidence, and losing my voice and ability to perform. I knew I’d enjoy just singing with people again, but didn’t anticipate the flat-out music therapy it would actually be for me. Without the music, the socializing, and the emotional support that comes with being a part of this kind of family again, I’m convinced my college years would be ones that leave me with very few people I care to even check in with past graduation; I would never reminisce on the days of quietly sitting in lecture halls and only having friends during the course of each class for the sake of getting notes when I miss a day or two; and I would never have healed as much as I have so far (And we’re still less than halfway through this chapter).

I’ve come to a point where I am really very happy with my life for the first time in… Well, if we’re being honest, ever. This year has also thrown a lot at me, and I know myself, and I know I would plummet emotionally without having reached this level of awareness, stability, and contentment.

I’ve learned some pretty significant things so far this year, as well…

  1. For so many years, I’ve been striving for “balance.” For goodness sake, that’s what my whole degree is about. But I know now that I don’t believe that people ever really have every dimension of wellness in a happy equilibrium at one time, all the time (those dimensions being physical, emotional, social, occupational, mental, spiritual, and environmental wellness). Wellness is a continuum that requires being present and self-aware, and being able to know what part of your personal grass you need to water to make it as green as you want it.It’s a process; it never ends. But this means I don’t have to try and be the perfect, calm, well-balanced girl who wakes up early every morning, is satisfactorily productive each day, is always up for going out with friends (or even always has friends to go out with), never says the wrong thing, spends time meditating, working out, and doing yoga, and also has a dream job through which I feel transcendentally fulfilled and enlightened.  And without this pressure, I can enjoy and appreciate the current state of my life, knowing that it will never quite be exactly like it is right now ever again.
  2. Between actually having friends that don’t live 400 or more miles away from me this year and a recent sudden and tragic death in my family, I’m realizing just how important people are to me. Three years ago, I would have definitely said that I’m an introvert. I laugh at this idea now, and thrive knowing that I’m actually loving living outside of my comfort zone and jumping into social situations that would have terrified me at any other point in my life.I’ve always been okay with the distance (physically and emotionally) between me and my extended family, as they all live a couple states away from me; but now I see them really as an extension of my family. I know that sounds like a stupid and redundant way to put it, but there are so many definitions of family: one of them is the kind that lives where ever and maybe you get Christmas cards updating you on their lives and you just get used to not really having them around or involved, and the one I’m intending now is the family that means that there are people rooting for you and that you get to cheer for and embrace, no matter where they live. Hey, my little cousins are the closest things I’ll ever get to little siblings and I can be a person that encourages and helps them feel better about themselves and be better people! And there’s no one else in my life I could really get that opportunity with.
  3. Friends are important. Accepting that you can be perfectly happily friends with some one else without being their bestfriendeverinthewholewideworld is more important. Everyone in your life is different. Each relationship you have is completely unique and has something so individual to offer. You don’t have to text people everyday, or be the most important person in the world to some one in order to enjoy doing things with them. People are like books to me: they have their motifs and themes, their memorable moments and quotes and experiences, unique feelings and perspectives that only each one can give you. And, you don’t know how little or how much you want to get involved with a book just by, well, merely looking at its cover (cliche alert: my apologies).
  4. Ultimately,

“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” – Aaron Rose

…and it’s up to you to keep yourself open to finding this light, and recognizing this time. Enjoy Appreciate what you have and what you’re going through right now, in this moment.

Oh, and I changed my major again. This time, I made my own (thank you, Integrative Studies). I settled on a curriculum for my degree entitled “Wellness and Personal Development.” I even get to keep my previous degree plan in the form of a minor, so I didn’t waste any time at all.

Things work out okay.

“Old” – a Number or a State?

Today in my Community and Public Health class, we discussed old age. This topic is definitely not one of my favorites, and for a bittersweet reason. The sweet is that my family has very good genetics: no one anywhere in my family tree (that I’m aware of – specifically up to great-grandparents) has ever smoked, led a sedentary lifestyle, there’s only one case of diabetes, no one has had cancer, and no one has died of causes other than old age, except my Granddaddy, who died in a car crash. I am fortunate to have these well-aging genes (knock on wood), and I also make a point to be healthy now to have an even better last few years on Earth.

The bitter is that I’m pretty sure I’m going to outlive my spouse, and a lot of my friends. And my parents. And my grandparents. Okay, as obvious as that sounds, the deaths of those I love are the last thing I ever want to be an aspect of my life, yet I know it’s inevitable. It’s a part of anyone’s life, and I am going to have to learn how to cross that bridge when I come to it. (However, I must confess that my most paralyzing fear is outliving my spouse. I honestly don’t even know how I’m going to function after that. But, like I said, I can’t worry about this now, and all I can do to help it is take care of my significant other and invite him to work out with me and such.)

Anyways, back to the topic at hand. My professor posed a few questions to us regarding our perspective about old age. One was, “what do you want your future as an elder to look like?” Personally, I want to be a constant source of encouragement, an amazing cook, always opening my home to friends and family, active, able, and joyful. I know I do not want my future to look like wheelchairs, needing help getting out of a chair, having a metal railing in my shower or by my bed, walkers, or nursing homes. If I ever have to ask for help out of a chair, it will break my heart. That’s not how I ever want my life to look, and I think the way I live now is evidence to that in how I take care of myself.

“What’s important to you?” – My capability, and my loved ones. These values don’t compete; I can value and grow and enhance my personal capability, while taking care of and inviting/encouraging my loved ones to do the same.

“What age do you define as old, and why?” – Personally, I define “old” as fragile, probably sad on some level (even just an inner sadness), incapability, dependence, sedentary, and alone. “Old” to me is a state, not an age. My mother’s mother is in her mid sixties and I don’t think she can ever get old. She’s constantly going, having fun, doing something, planning something, learning something, going somewhere, and with people. And I think that’s great. She says she doesn’t ever want to slow down because then she’ll get old and lazy. I would have to say that I agree with her mentality.

“Do you fear getting old? Why or why not?” – I’m not anxious about getting old, but at the same time, I’m not looking forward to it. Like I said previously, I don’t want to go through deaths of my loved ones, and I don’t want to be dependent and fragile, but I can only do what I can do at my current age to keep them around as long as possible. I know I will find ways to cope and adjust when those times come – people have been for centuries – and I just have to trust that God will give me the strength and support system when I need it.

How do you define old age? Are you afraid of it? What do you want your elder years to look like?
Do you think old age is a number or a state? Share your thoughts! =]

[camping trip]

I just got back from a camping trip to Petoskey, MI with my family this weekend. Here is a synopsis of 85% of the trip. I couldn’t even stop blogging; I actually wrote what I would have blogged.  I’m pathetic.]

Day 1 – Thursday – the 13th

Packing enought crap into our minivan to live outside for four days has never been my favorite part about camping trips. We meant to leave at 10 am, which of course means that we left around noon. The actual car ride was nice because Deanna and I watched Firefly the whole time. In the middle of the trip, though, my mom asked my dad if he had remembered his swimsuit. He didn’t. My dad is not much of a swimmer, but I am. And I forgot to pack my swimsuit, too. Which is not okay because my swimsuit is this one and the first one that I’ve loved. I feel as great as I look in it (which, let’s face it, is a heck of a lot better than in a usual swimsuit). Which is great because I am not the type who can just throw on any bathing suit and believe that I look good in it. I have curves! There’s no way I can just pull over to some Old Navy and grab a bakini – generall, there, they’re made for young or typicallymodel-y girls with no hips, booty, chestage, or anything. But ANYWAY. I did manage to find a good store and a good suit. And a cute dress, too. That’s always a plus.  =]

After that chaos, we hit the road again. We stopped for dinner at a mexican restaurant that will be on Regis & Kelly on Friday(tomorrow) for their fajitas. They won a contest for it or something. so I thought it would be safe to order a (delicious-sounding) garden fajita.
Wrong.
I didn’t find it at all appetising. So my dad and I swapped meals.

But I love being with my family. They’re the best ever.

When we get to our camp site, we found out that the dude gave away the camp site we asked for, so we ended up in a much smaller one. Kinda clausterphoib for a picnic table, two tents, and a place to keep the van out of the road, but it hasn’t turned out to be too bad. Setting up the site has never been my favorite part, either. But once it was finally together, we made a camp fire and toasted marshamllows and ate Grape Nut Flakes (serious YUM). =]

Day 3 – Saturday – the 15th

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Oh, what memories cleaning your room brings.

       Before we got real brains, my sister and I always thought we were way cooler than we ever were.  So it eventually becomes painfully and awkwardly embarrassing when we look through old notebooks or do a hardcore room-clean.  I’m cleaning out my sister’s stuff from my (new) room and I found a huge stack of notebooks.

       Just now, something fell out of one. I was going to type it up here because it’s about my pets and completely stupid and hilarious if you know who they are and it’s 12:48 am. 

 

       …..But in an even more recent just-now, I realized how absolutely dumb it would be if I posted it here. The key phrase being: “it’s about my pets and completely stupid and hilarious if you know who they are and it’s 12:48 am.”

       Now, the majority of the world’s population does not know who my sister is, and only my immediate family knows my pet history. And it’s more likely than not that no one will read my blog at 12:48 am. Therefore, it won’t be funny or amusing in any sense at all.

 

 

So yeah. Blog fail?