Currently… (8/29/18): Beginning of the semester edition

Oh hai there.

Feeling: Tired, but good!

Watching: The Office (US), again. It’s my dedicated distraction show right now… Also watching UnReal, Round Planet, and Brooklyn 99 with my roommate. I need to catch up on Bachelor in Paradise, as well.

Playing: PoGo. I don’t do anything other than just catch the pokemon and hit like 2 poké stops… But yeah. I’m also still doing some Stardew when I can.

Listening to: Meditations! I’ve been trying a new meditation app, and so before bed each night I pick a new meditation to try. So far it’s been helping me fall asleep, but I’m also going to credit my new memory foam mattress topper, too.

Reading: … Actually not too much currently. I’m in that weird spot between the end of my summer break and my research starting. Honestly, I’m just enjoying the little bit of a breather.

Working on: Getting my thesis research approved by IRB so I can actually begin my work. It’s just red tape stuff that I have to get through to determine whether or not 1) my research is research (yeah, I know), and 2) whether it counts as using human subjects (which is unlikely). Once this all gets cleared, it’s full force into my fieldsites!

Thinking about: what to do with my hair… I got it colored right before the semester, but… unfortunately, it’s already faded a lot. (The picture at the top is from today.) I really liked the color a lot. He did such a great job on it. It’s just kind of a bummer. So, either I go to another salon and pay more… or maybe try doing something myself at home.

Craving: CARBS! Because when am I not craving carbs?

Looking forward to: Getting all my chore type boring stuff done. I have a pile of laundry that I’ve got to take care of. Most of it is just sheets and curtains (thank you cats), so nothing urgent, but just stuff to finish. We’ve also just have some small stuff to finish around the apartment, but overall, it’s really coming together. Furniture has been moved, boxes taken care of, extra stuff has been donated or trashed… It’s coming together.

Making me happy: life. Things are going great! Class is going well. Work is such a great fit for me. My roommate and I are doing well. I became a mod in a partnered stream, and am really loving becoming more involved in the community. I’m eating better, I’m sleeping better… My main frustration an issue with my car’s lock pins getting stuck, but honestly, if that’s my main complaint? Yeah, not a bad thing at all.

How have you been lately?

Preparing for my final year of grad school

It’s finally here. Or at least I hope it’s finally here. My last year of grad school. Nothing will be certain until I defend my thesis and submit it to the graduate school. But if anything, this will be my last year on campus.

As excited as I am for it, there is also the potentially paralyzing fact that I have no idea what comes next. I’ll graduate, get my degree… then what? I have some ideas of what I’d like to do, but honestly when I think of my future past graduation I keep coming up blank.

I think part of this is because there is so much ahead of me just to finish this degree. My entire thesis, essentially. My topic has been approved by my committee and the graduate school. Now I just need to go through training to show I know how to work with human subjects (i.e. ethics training), then actually start my research. After that comes the months of writing, rewriting, and editing.

As intimidating as it all is… a tertiary research question has brought about a new theme that I think might help shape future dissertation work. That has me really excited. Assuming I get to do further academic work in this field, that is. I know the risk of a Ph.D. — tenure jobs are scarce and the whole academic job field is imploding with poorly paid adjunct positions. I feel like I’m going into that with open eyes, I know the reality of this future… but I also cannot imaging being happier doing anything other than teaching anthropology at this current time. So I feel like I owe it to myself to at least try. Who knows, maybe along the way I’ll find another job that I love and all will be good.

I’ll admit, amidst all this excitement and happiness, part of me has been wondering when the other shoe will drop. Good things don’t last, right? But I’m working myself out of that thinking and just allowing myself to be happy. The past several months haven’t been perfect, but they’ve been good. I’m happy. I’m ready for whatever challenge this next school year will bring — and oh there will definitely be challenges.

I’ve got some things I’ve been working on, some potential adventures planned… and I’m just really excited to share those with you as the time comes. Just one more week and then it all starts. It’s like waiting in line for a ride… you’ve patiently waited for your turn, built up the excitement in your head, reassured yourself… now all that’s left is to hop in and hold on. Let’s go…

Self-care bullet journal (aka attempt number 27 to try bullet journaling)

Ok, so it hasn’t really been 27 attempts, but sometimes it feels that way. I never liked the idea of using a bullet journal as a planner AND a journal… and frankly, as a planner it never worked for me. I’ve tried a few different planners, and really only the ban.dō planners worked for me. I have no real reason why — they’re just basic planners, but something about them I liked and therefore I used them.

Anyway. As I was working my way through my actual journal (above — shown with two other daily pieces of my self-care regiment), I realized I needed something … different. I’ve always been a little envious of creative journaling and whatnot, and wanted my journal to be a bit more than it was. But the thing is.. my journal does work for me. It’s a brain-dump, and frankly, I need that. Yet, I still needed something to supplement that. Something maybe a little more structured, and uniquely focused on self-care.

So. Yet again, I ripped pages out of my failed attempts at bullet journaling, and am trying again.

It’s fairly simple. I’ve got a basic layout that is easy to replicate, therefore it only really takes me maybe 2 minutes to setup the next day. Each area is just to keep track of how I’m doing, and essentially, as best ink on paper can do, hold me a little accountable for taking care of myself.

I’m tracking my mood, activity, water intake, how I hygged, moments of positivity and/or gratitude, what I’d like to improve or let go of, daily health notes, and what action steps I’d like to take to address any issues or just things I need to do. I wanted something that, as I mentioned, was easy to replicate each day but also easy to change if it needed to evolve. It’s also very easy to fill out before bed. Outside of the action steps and what to improve/release, there’s very little actual reflection required of me. I’m able to keep all of that for my journal.

So while I haven’t had a good track record at all with bullet journaling, I’m more optimistic about this one. It’s sort of funny when you start googling “bullet journal” to get ideas… you’ll sometimes find these lists of Do’s and Don’ts… But honestly, there are no rules. And that’s one of the great things about any form of journaling. It’s either what you need, or it isn’t. You just go until you find what works for you — and sometimes that isn’t journaling. Which is totally ok.

I know I’ve asked before, but anyone else doing any self-care journaling?

Currently… (5/18/18)

Feeling: Tired? Bummed? So you know how I wasn’t really looking for much on Tinder? Yeah. Met someone, thought we really clicked, and was super excited to get to know him more… and then everything crashed down. The next day he revealed himself to be an asshole. He accused me of being a slut and a liar… and.. yeah. I’m still kind of hurt about it. If this is dating, I’ll just pass.*

Watching: Nothing that spectacular. I’ve been going through a few shows, but nothing I’m super excited about. I’ve tried looking for new shows — maybe not that hard — but yeah, just haven’t found anything yet. Open to suggestions though!

Playing: Nothing really. Occasionally Two Dots or Dots & Co. on my phone, but yeah. That’s about it. I charged up the Switch recently, so I’m thinking of getting back to Zelda. And, after talking with a few friends, I might boot up the gaming PC and get back to Overwatch and Destiny 2 maybe. Of course, after the million of updates I likely have.

Listening To: Macklemore’s Gemini on repeat in my car. I’ve cut down on my podcasts, and haven’t needed to be on campus so early, so I’m not listening to NPR as much either.

Reading: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. I haven’t read anything of hers before, but had seen an adaptation of one of the Earthsea novels once. It’s been going a little slow, but that’s more been to just being pretty tired in the evenings which is when I normally read…

Working on: my CITI training. It’s required for my IRB approval. Which is required for my thesis research. Basically it’s all the legal and ethical stuff regarding using human subjects for my research. It’s boring. Really boring. But required. Hoping to get it done next week, and then I’ll submit my proposal to the board for approval. And then my colleague and I will get our proposal ready for the independent research project we’re working on outside of our theses.

Thinking about: my car. I was in an accident back in late March, early April… and we’re still working on getting everything fixed. The accident could have been worse than it was, and my car is still drivable. So I’m grateful for that. But definitely ready for my car to be fixed.

Craving: a vacation? The semester ended, and then I had roommates move in right away. And while I’ve taken a small break from my research, I haven’t really been able to have a me break. And I need one of those. If I had the money, I’d just go off to a B&B somewhere within a day’s drive… but I don’t. So, I’ve got to figure out another way to get in a break.

Looking forward to: the market this weekend. It’s my second weekend at the market, and I’m hopeful to see some repeat shoppers! I’m getting to know the community there, slowly, and they’re getting to know me and my work. I’m excited about the sales I’m implementing this weekend!

Making me happy: … things are getting back on track. Yeah, that little tinder thing was a hiccup I didn’t need. But overall, things are good. I’m waiting to hear back about my position on the conference executive board. Hoping to get some mentorship programs going with my advisor. The jewelry business has gotten amazing feedback. My mentor said I had a superpower when it comes to my lectures. The weather’s great, I can sit on the porch and read… Things are just feeling normal again. And for that, I am truly grateful.

*I know not all dating is like that. And there are actual good guys out there… it just sucks to get excited about someone and to realize just how wrong you were about them.

Back on the horse (or something maybe a little less euphemistic)

I go through phases with online dating. Most of the time I’m really indifferent towards it. It’s just a site I check when I’m bored, and I don’t invest any real time into it at all. With the semester ending, and realizing I still have another year here… I decided what the hell. Let’s make a tiny bit more of an effort.

I kind of know what I want from a relationship… but at the same time, I don’t really know if I want to get involved with anyone that may interfere with my future plans — i.e. leaving this state for museum jobs or a Ph.D. program. But as much as I really enjoy hanging out with my cohort and my roommates, I wouldn’t mind someone who is a little closer to my age and can fill some other needs that those people can’t (and shouldn’t).

One thing I have found is that the well of 30-something single guys in my area on okc is really dry. Enough so that in my past 3 years of living here, I just figured that’s dating in Indiana and thus I wouldn’t find any eligible non-rightwing guys to spend time with. Internationally, yes. The number of guys in Britain and Turkey who match up with me in the 90%-match range is pretty damn amazing. But I’m lucky to find time to get out of the state, so out of the country is not in the picture!

I’ve been on okc for what feels like forever. I met some really great friends in Chicago on that site. But, yeah, it really wasn’t doing anything for me recently. So… figured let’s just try another site. Or, app, really. And yes. I’m saying that I am now on Tinder.

Initial observations: There are a lot of dudes on Tinder for exactly the reasons you think they’re on Tinder. But you also do have a a fair number of guys looking for “serious” relationships (aka wife hunting). And in my age group a lot of single dads. And of course, a handful of couples looking for thirds. And also my childhood best friend from summer camp — who facebook is saying is still in a committed relationship. (He super liked me.) Yeah.

I swiped right because someone said they wanted to buy me burritos and call me beautiful. #priorities

I’ve met two guys on Tinder so far. I can’t call them dates because, yeah, they were not dates at all. I haven’t talked to the first guy again, but, really wasn’t expecting to. Consenting adults and we knew what we were agreeing to. The second guy and I are developing a friendship. We like each other, but acknowledge we’re not the perfect partner for the other and don’t want to keep each other for finding that person.

I’ve been talking to a small handful of guys consistently. I don’t know if it’s a 30s thing or maybe I’m just getting a really skewed sample size… but do guys just really jump in to calling women “babe” and “honey” so quickly now? I don’t remember that being a thing when I was dating in my 20s. I’ve also thought maybe it’s just guys not wanting to learn my name for whatever reason — I’ve been going to the same Starbucks for 3 years and they still don’t seem to care either!

Anyway. Both of my roommates are also active on dating sites currently, so it’s been fun to compare stories and share various gem of profiles we’ve found so far. I’m not expecting to — or evening looking for — “the one”… but I am hopeful for a few adventures at least!

Joining in — The Happy List

Kate recently posted her Happy List based on inspiration from a podcast she was listening to. It’s a simple thing, really… a “go-to list of things that make you (me) happy,” as Kate succinctly put it.

I actually started making a list like this earlier this year — and a few years ago I was writing one positive thing from each day in my journal. In living with depression, it can be hard to remember the small things that bring you joy. After a while, those small things add up. When you shift your focus to those positive things, no matter how big or small, they can make it easier to get through the dark times.

Kate made a list of 50 things, so that’s what I’m going to try for as well!*

  1. My cats: cuddling with them and how they always know when I need them, even if I don’t
  2. My nieces and nephew, especially how the twins light up and run full force to greet me
  3. Getting lost in a fictional world
  4. That sweet spot of spring weather where it’s warm, but not too hot, and the shade is cool enough you can wear a sweater if you want, but you don’t need it
  5. Adventures with the cohort, especially involving food and drink
  6. Twisted Twig’s Air Element room spray! It’s frankincense, vanilla, and sage and is my absolute favorite
  7. Cuddling on the couch
  8. Alexa responding when I tell her “thank you”
  9. Academic challenges and rushes
  10. Nerding out with my professors
  11. Late night conversations, that even though you’re tired you’re just not ready to end yet
  12. Warm brioche
  13. Other people’s dogs (I love getting visits from Boomer!)
  14. When you season a dish perfectly
  15. Seeing my home filled with pieces I’ve inherited from family
  16. Curling up in bed on a lazy morning
  17. Netflix binges
  18. Spending time with my siblings
  19. Anthropology – I’ve found my home!
  20. Long walks on trails
  21. When the music just matches that moment in your life perfectly
  22. Hot showers
  23. Trying new restaurants
  24. Champagne Toast candles from Bath & Bodyworks
  25. Car “shopping” with my brother
  26. Cats on instagram
  27. When I remember to hygge
  28. The ability to drink caffeine again without feeling like I’m dying (hello, Dr Pepper) 
  29. Back massages
  30. Almost all things lime or watermelon

*Ok. So I made it to 30 rather than 50. That just means 31-50 (or beyond) will be in another post. Giving me plenty of time to think of, remember, or discover things to add to my list!

What makes it on to your Happy List?

Catching up before summer!

Yes, this is one of those “wow a lot of things have happened!” posts.

I’m currently lounging on the couch in my freshly tidied apartment, waiting for one of my roommates to move back in. The past few summers, as some of you may remember, I’ve had roommates to help with the cost. I’ve lived with both of these women before — the very first summer I had roommates, actually — so I’m not expecting much difficulties. One of them, though, will be more than just a summer roommate. C, who’s lived with me the past two summers in a row, is moving in full-time. Our other roommate is here until her lease starts for her studio around the corner. As much as I’ve loved living alone and hermiting with the cats, it’ll be nice having C around as I finish out the last year of grad school.

I had originally hoped to have graduated yesterday… however, this is one of those “things happen for a reason” things… I switched my thesis topic at the beginning of the school year, and have been working on refining my focus and finishing my proposal. All of that has been completed — as all three members of my thesis committee and the graduate school have approved my research proposal! I’ve also secured one of my field sites, and will be beginning my research as soon as I finish IRB training (aka the office that allows you to work with human subjects).

Rather than graduating, yesterday, though, I spent the morning at a local farmer’s market selling my jewelry! I had a lot of really good response and have really enjoyed seeing what started as a small creative outlet to help me through my depression blossom into an actual small (ok, micro) business. I was really nervous not only about being a new vendor at this market, but just as a small vendor with my one tiny table and limited inventory. But the market went really well and was definitely a (profitable) success. I’ll be back every other week for most of the summer, and I’m really excited to be a part of it.

Mostly I’m going to be focusing on the market and my shop website/instagram. I’m going to close up the etsy for now. On my site, I can have more control and there’s no fees. And I still take paypal, so that makes things easier.

This past semester I focused on myself and my school work. I had a super successful academic conference presenting the introduction to my thesis work. I’m actually joining the executive board of the organizing society, too! While there’s been some bumps in this semester, I got some amazing feedback from one of my mentors who’s given me so much encouragement regarding my future in academia. There were some tough times with losing my grandma, and getting into a car accident that same weekend while taking her dog to her foster home… but I pulled through. I’ve had great support from my family, my professors, and my cohort (whom I’ve had so much fun hanging out with this semester!)…

I’m excited about this summer. I’ve got another research project that’s starting. Between that and another project I worked on in the fall, I should have two, maybe three, publications before I graduate! I’ve got trips to the UP of Michigan planned with friends. … And… in a few hours I’ll hopefully be confirming my date (!!!) for tonight!

So. Lovely internet friends: what are you looking forward to this summer?

It’s time

It’s been three months.

Life is starting to feel normal again. Not normal as in things are the same as they were before… But this new life that had to be forged… it feels normal now. The pain is mostly gone. The depression is out of the severe category. And to borrow a phrase from a show I’ve been marathoning, I’ve come to accept some of my “dark and twitsty”-ness of myself. I guess you can say I stopped mourning my former life, my former friends…

Therapy is helping. A lot. Medication is helping. A lot. I forced myself to move on with my life, and that, too, is helping. A lot. My family is helping, my cohorts at school are helping, my mentors, my cats, my friends… I survived this, but I didn’t get through it alone even if it felt that way sometimes.

These last few months I:

– (re)learned to forgive myself.

– unplugged from a lot of things, including also my gaming PC. I turned it off completely in December and it’s sat untouched since then. I’ve been using the time to focus on my wellbeing and also to focus on school. It was the best decision I’ve made lately.

– agreed to co-lead a panel and present at an academic conference this spring. The hotel is booked, travel authorization is requested, and transportation is sorted out. My paper, however… yeah… I really need to start that. (Whoops? I’ve got til late April. I’ll be ok. I have to be ok.)

– started reading my tarot cards again. I bought them over a year ago, but never made it a habit. It’s still not really, but that’s because for three weeks straight they gave me the same message. So I gave them a break so I could actually work on that item. I use tarot as a form of self reflection. And my deck is absolutely beautiful. The bigger problem is I’ve found a couple more beautiful decks and now I want them too.

– discovered a new hobby: jewelry making. This one is super recent. Like, yesterday. It’s taking a lot of restraint to not go out and buy more supplies and just make more necklaces for the rest of my waking hours.

– got to spend some quality time with family. We had a delayed holiday with my dad and sisters, but it was good getting to see everyone. It’s not easy trying to schedule 9 people to get together (not including those 12 and under, of which there are 4 now).

Other things that happened include trading my car in. I was hoping to sell the convertible this summer, but my mom found a Jeep she loves and so we used it as part of her downpayment for that, and I got her old car! It’s got more miles, but overall it’ll be a nice change and something to tide me over until I graduate (when I can get my own new car). On top of that I hit 30lbs lost since my surgery. Yes, just under half of that was from the depression when I stopped eating/was puking all the time, but you know what, I’m eating again and the weight continued to steadily go down — at a reasonable rate this time. And lastly, I’m doing really good work at my job. Tooting my own horn, it feels pretty great that things are going well there. That I made a good decision in this massive career-slash-life change.

It’s been three months.

It’s time. Time to continue moving forward.

Becoming the Monster

Life happens.

The last few months have been pretty damn shitty. I’m essentially only surviving on antidepressants, beta blockers to calm down my heart rate, and a whole heaping dose of escapism. In December, I lost 15+ lbs because I stopped eating. I was puking nearly every day from the reflux my anxiety was maxing out. I couldn’t leave my bedroom for a long time. I’m actually really surprised I finished out the semester.

I did this to myself.

I hurt my friends. One, especially. I lost a lot of my friends. Which saying “lost” makes it sound like we just got separated somewhere or I misplaced them… They lost their trust in me. I made mistakes. I was too blind to see the pain I was causing them. It hurts that some of them see me as this monster. But at the same time, I won’t deny their truths — their feelings are theirs and they feel them for reasons. I hurt them. And it destroys me.

I can’t say how sorry I am. I can’t fight for the relationships that are now gone. I can’t fight against some of the accusations they made. The hope I had that maybe everything would work itself out, that maybe they could forgive me… it’s gone.

I’ve only been on the antidepressants for a month. Just picked up my first refill. I think they’re working though. I’m not thinking that I don’t want to exist as much any more. I don’t want to die. I’m not suicidal. I just don’t want to exist. But as I said, I’m doing better on that front. It may seem crazy, but one of the things helping me get through is hygge. It’s the Danish concept of coziness and being content in the moment. I’ve been using it as a sort of self-healing aid. Rather than focusing on the pain or the overwhelming sadness, I try to focus on finding something good just in that moment. Sometimes that’s just sitting on the couch under the softest blanket in the house, watching silly movies, cuddling with the happiest, purring-iest cat. That moment? Yeah that moment makes me ok with existing.

I don’t know that things are going to get better. People always say that it will. Nothing really prepares you for this. You never think that you are the monster. That you can be capable of hurting the people you care most about. That to others, you are manipulative and abusive. And you will never know how all of that will absolutely destroy you. Shatter you. Knowing that you caused someone else that kind of pain. It’s my fault. And I have to live with that.

Five Months Later…

Today officially marks five months since my hysterectomy.

It’s been a little weird reflecting back on it. On one hand, it’s kind of amazing how different my life is from before the surgery, how much better I feel. But then again, there’s also this sameness. Occasionally I forget that I was ever so sick. It kind of makes me laugh that I can actually forget just how much my endo wrecked and controlled my life. “Healthy” was not something I could easily fathom. But here I am. Healthy.

Mostly, at least.

I keep forgetting that it’s only been five months. A little thing called fatigue likes to sneak up on me and remind me, though. The past couple weeks I’ve had some on and off crampy pain. It freaked me out a little, mild as it was — what if my endo was coming back? While I haven’t seen a specialist yet, I’m pretty sure a lot of this is just my body reminding me that we’re not quite healed yet and I need to (big shocker here) slow down.

Feeling so good, I thought I was ready to jump back into too many things. I spent most of Fall Break walking — 7.5 miles just on the last day. All those doctors and the women who’d had hysterectomies telling me it’d take 6-8 months just to feel normal again, and up to a year before the fatigue fully goes away… I didn’t listen. As great as I feel, my body is still recovery inside. I’m not really surprised, though, that I pushed too hard. If I was doing too much two weeks after surgery, of course I’d still be doing a bit too much five months later. (What can I say, this disease had taken about a decade from me.)

Outside of the fatigue, the hardest thing that I’ve still been struggling with are the lingering emotions regarding the implications of having a hysterectomy. I don’t regret the decision. It had gotten to the point where I wasn’t sure how I could live with this disease for 25-30 more years… To live with that much pain, struggling just to get through a day, unable to hold a job, and at my worst level of feeling unworthy of love. I wasn’t suicidal, I just didn’t want to be in pain any more. But at the same time I was planning this surgery with my doctors and my family… one of my younger sisters had just had her first child with her husband. Here was this person — my own blood — who’d married her college boyfriend, who was starting a family… Someone who had gotten everything I thought I wanted. And here I was, in pain every day, no job or school, extremely single, getting ready to remove the option of ever getting pregnant.

I had told myself for a couple years that I was ok with this. It’s sort of a testament to where I was emotionally and mentally, that I had just sort of settled in to this idea that I’d just be single forever. I had started becoming ok with the idea of adopting and being a single mom. Between the disease and emotional abuse from my past, I couldn’t fathom anyone wanting to be with someone so broken. But I wanted a family, so I would just do it myself. My biggest fear, though? That maybe, maybe, there would be someone who would see the real me and be like “yes! I choose her!” but because I had the hysterectomy wouldn’t give me a chance. … And everyone says, oh but this won’t really matter when it comes down to it… When people hear “hysterectomy” they assume everything is completely gone and biological kids are no longer an option. Which, for a total hysterectomy, that’s true. I still have my ovaries. I can have biological kids, I just can’t carry or give birth to them. It does make the whole having kids thing a little more complicated, with needing to plan for a surrogate, but it was important to me to keep my ovaries for that reason. I’m ok with adopting, but I didn’t necessarily want to force that on a partner as the only option.

This idea that I’m not whole, that I’m broken and unworthy, took root years ago. It wasn’t until a few years ago I really, and truly, began accepting and loving myself as I was — even if I felt that person was broken. I was ok with me. And I wasn’t going to let those feelings hold me back from a full life. These past five months I’ve gotten to feel like myself again, my true self. Despite the fears, the fatigue, the worries, my past… Despite all of that, I feel like I’ve been in a really good place. My body is finally starting to match my soul. And though they both might have scars, there’s a wholeness in that which is indescribable.

I just want to run, full speed with arms wide open. Metaphorically, for now, of course.