my self-care week

Maybe it’s because we’re hitting near the mid-point of the semester… But I just found myself not doing well recently. I didn’t realize that my stress and anxiety was building up silently within me, leeching all of my energy. Between my own health taking a hit by a rough cold, my mom being in and out of the hospital a lot the past couple of months, things that are happening on the news, and a case of bad attitudes going around — things needed to change. Something needed to change.

I needed a break. Things were not working the way they were going. So with Fall Break coming up (aka happening right now), I knew it was a good time to hit that reset button and start again.

I went back to the basics: better sleep, better food, and surrounding myself with as much positivity as I could. I watched shows I love (The Good Place), I journaled, I cuddled a friend’s dogs…

I wrote out a new schedule, asked my boss if I could switch hours (which will actually put me in their office for my assistantship more each week), and giving myself time to catch up on everything but also the forgiveness to take care of myself as well.

I’m definitely a firm believer that your mental and emotional health do impact your physical health. I had been internalizing a lot of stress from school and as well as some bad attitudes. Attitudes are 100% contagious, and I try to be mindful of what I’m putting out there. But for a bit there, it was kind of a spiral of exchanging bad attitudes back and forth. I wasn’t going to last the semester the way things were going. I needed to get away from the source of the bad attitude.

I hate this notion that we have to feel guilty for self-care. How is that ever a bad thing, taking care of one’s self? It’s like we wear being stressed out as a badge of honor. You’re obviously not living your best life unless you’ve run yourself ragged. Ugh. I can live a happy and productive life without driving myself to the edge of health and sanity each time.

That is the balance I am trying to achieve. It’s not always easy, and yes, I will fail at times. I will need more breaks for self-care.

I have some good support; online friends who are there for me regardless, and then another friend who just really builds me up and encourages me in a real and honest way. They remind me to be kind to myself, to see past the bullshit my depression or anxiety may tell me. I definitely recommend finding that if you don’t have it. That kind of support can come from a variety of places.

Don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself, friends. Some indulgence in your life is good. Take break from the negativity in your life, and cut out the toxic areas if you are able to. Sometimes its easier to make a clean break. like I am with using Fall Break, but sometimes you just need to make small steps, and do a little at a time.

This world is only getting more stressful. Take care of yourself.

Fun Updates: car, crafts, and cats!

So a lot of smaller, but not insignificant, things have been going on. Thus it’s time for an update post! I’ve been wanting to blog more, but having a hard time finding anything I feel like you all would want to read about at any length. So, for the time being, currently and update posts might just be what happen. If you follow me on other platforms you might know of some of these — and heck, have probably seen some of the pictures.

With the third roommate moved out, and my other roommate and I rearranging most of the apartment, I finally have a little gaming/streaming corner. I moved my big antique writing desk into my room, and then got a basic ikea desk for the PC. There’s not as much room, because it’s not as deep, but it works well for this. I have a privacy screen to block off the rest of the living room, a lot of fun decor, and the cats have their own space as well. It’s a really good use of the space.

With my room being rearranged, I have more wall area to cover — because apparently I can’t have blank empty walls — so I made this moon phase wall hanging based off of one I liked on etsy. Rather than spening $40+, I saved a ton and kind of like it a little more because it’s something I made. I want to replace the dowel for a driftwood stick, which my roommate said she’d bring back for me when she visits Michigan… but overall I think it turned out well. I still need to adjust the left side a little with the length of the twine… but still not a bad job.

Maybe the big thing… I got a new car!! Back in March, my mom gave me her Honda Civic. It was a nice car — older for sure, a 2003, but she was the only owner. Well, after my grandma died, I was driving her dog down to Kentucky to her new home, and got into an accident. Essentially, because of the car’s age and mileage, it totaled the car. All cosmetic. Muffy and I were fine… Well, I had a minor concussion and some temporary nerve problems in my arms. It was just really disappointing, though, to have the car for 2 weeks — it wasn’t even in my name yet — and then that happened. I could have lived with the cosmetic issues… but the driver’s side door lock pins were misaligned, thus making it super frustrating to unlock. It was the base model, so no keyless entry either. Honestly, that is the main reason why I wanted a new car.

So, after looking for a while, I actually found a Fiat I liked that was a good deal. From there the dealer and I found a Mazda3 hatchback that I fell in love with. I even put money down on it. But because of my student loans and graduating soon, we couldn’t find a good point for financing it that I was really comfortable with. Yes, I could afford the car and the payments, but it was at the very top of my budget. So, the dealer did some talking and negotiating on my behalf… and we found that beauty. My new-to-me 2012 Nissan Versa hatchback.  She has great mileage, fuel economy, and is very roomy. We’re actually a two-Nissan Versa hatchback household now, as my roommate has a silver 2014 Note (that she got after totaling her previous car). So, yeah, the universe has a bit of a sense of humor.

I haven’t streamed recently — it’s still part of my fall goals — but I have been very active on Twitch. I’m a mod for a couple partnered streamers, and one has been doing front page stuff recently, so it’s been keeping me a little busy. But I love it. The community is great and it’s been a lot of fun hanging out with online friends.

I know I mentioned that I have been dating around a bit this summer… Well. I turned off all the notifications from the dating apps recently and not because of lack of options or anything. Not going to say much, but I’m excited to see where this goes.

Also, look at Tuija with her new toys. All food based, because of course. Not shown is the fish taco one she absolutely loves to kick around all over the house.

How are things with all of you? What’s going on in your lives? Any new updates?

Fall goals

Ok. So I’m one of those people who believe that the seasons start according to the lunar calendar — so Fall doesn’t official start until the equinox, on September 22nd. PSL out already? Sure fine, but it’s still technically summer right now. Weather cooling off? Awesome, we’re transitioning — still not Fall yet.

So even though I’m four weeks into my Fall semester, Fall hasn’t actually started, so this is a perfect time to think about my Fall Goals.

  1. Complete my CITI training and start my observation at my fieldsite. This semester is all about my thesis research, so getting permission from the campus IRB to do said research is the most important thing. Sadly, CITI training is just long and tedious, thus making it hard for me to want to complete. Need to just push through… maybe reward myself with something nice when it’s all done.
  2. Schedule a weekly visit to the gym. I need to find something that suits my work and academic schedule, but I’d like to spend at least 2 hours at the gym a week. Mostly this will be riding the bikes and then walking the indoor track. I have someone who volunteered to teach me about some of the weight machines, so I’m going to take him up on that sometime.
  3. Stay on top of tidiness in the apartment. So I guess task management and such is a theme… but yeah. I’m one of those where clutter bothers me. So unorganized things out on tables or counters just makes me a little twitchy. It’s not a major issue, so I have no need to really bring it up with my roommate ASAP, but for the sake of our friendship, I’d like to be able to say “hey, can we just check on these areas every so often? And also, what are the areas that you’d like to have checked for your sanity?” I, too, need to be conscious about leaving certain things out. (I tend to leave journals out on tables, and those need to go to one of my desks.)
  4. Stream.  I’m typically too tired by the time I think about streaming in the evenings, so I haven’t for a while now. I definitely miss it. I’m also modding in a couple partnered streams now, so that does take time away from my own things — only slightly; one is a morning streamer, so that does help. But I’d like to stream at least once a week or every other week if I can. Plus, I just finished setting up this sweet new streaming corner, so.. I should really make use of it and show it off.
  5. Put money from my paychecks into my savings. I’m building my savings finally so that I can actually have some money for when I graduate and start looking at moving away. I also want to get a new car, so, that’s a thing too.
  6. Figure out a plan for my business. I’ve taken a little break from my jewelry business, Lost is Found, but I’m ready to get back into it. So I want to keep the website updated, look at doing more on Etsy — even though I don’t really care for Etsy as a shop manager (it’s the fees). I also want to look at doing more local markets. Hopefully, I might be able to talk to one of my favorite shops about doing some consignment potentially.
  7. Set up a doctor’s appointment. Mainly I need to make sure I’m on a good dose of my heart medicine, but I’d also like a general check up since I’m really do for one. My mom’s been in the hospital a lot for her heart, so it’s definitely something on my mind.. And recently my SIL was in for emergency surgery related to the same procedure I had last year… so I’d like to do a check up on that to make sure there’s no complications and that I’m healing properly.

For the most part, that’s most of what I’d like to accomplish at this point. I’m sure I can think of more, but this is definitely manageable. Things are going super well. My assistantship is a great fit, class is going well, I’m staying in touch with my adviser regarding my progress… And, you know, I’m just having fun.

What are some of your goals for Fall?

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…

And the living’s been easy…

I hope your summer is starting off well.

We’ve been on break for over a month now, and I didn’t quite realize just how much I needed this time off. It’s helped me adjust to having the roommates around again. And, I know this next year is going to be extremely taxing with completing my thesis and all of the impending edits and rewrites that are just part of the process — so I’m enjoying the peace and quiet and slowness that I’m being afforded right now.

Here’s some highlights of what’s been going on:

I have been playing quiet a bit of Stardew Valley. I actually even got my roommate hooked on it, too. Which wouldn’t be a problem if we weren’t sharing my account for the game. Which is actually not even an issue. I don’t mind sharing my computer or Steam account. The only downside is that it looks like I’ve either left the game open for days or that I’m spending 16 hours a day playing.

On Memorial Day, the roommate and I went to Mounds State Park. We didn’t hit all the trails, but got in a nice little 3 mile hike. We saw the Great Mound maybe 7 times because of how some of the trails intersect. It was a lot of fun, though unfortunately I discovered that allergies are still a thing and we left earlier than planned because it felt like my head was going to implode. Next time I’ll know to take some meds before we go. We’re hoping to hit a few more parks this year, so it should be a lot of fun!

I should hopefully hear back about a job soon. It’s nothing exciting, but pays well and that’s just fine. Being able to get food and not being homeless definitely trumps any kind of snobbery about any job. I’m also starting the interview process for an assistantship position for this fall. It’s with another department, but in the same building which is nice. Regardless, it’s got full tuition and a stipend. If I get this, and keep the job, I’ve decided I’m still taking out loans for the year, but they’re going into a savings fund for when I graduate so I can use them for moving. I don’t want my finances to keep me from starting a PhD program or a job because I can’t get a U-Haul or put a deposit down on an apartment.

I have a couple health things going on — meeting again with a specialist for a follow-up this afternoon — but it’s still nothing compared to living with endometriosis pre-surgery. It’s sounding like the next step might be a pill-cam to check things out. Honestly, I’m not sure we’ll pin point exactly what’s going on… But I think we’re going to be able to control the symptoms. Despite the occasional pain from this, I’ve been feeling really well. It’s been over one year since my surgery, and as tough as a choice that was, I’m grateful for having my life back.

I don’t really have big plans for the rest of the summer. Hiking. Cooking. Adventures with the roommates. Hanging out with the nieces. Streaming. Reading non-academic texts. Quite honestly, I’m not sure I’d have it any other way.

How’s your summer starting off?

No Limit Wish List

We all have those items resting in the back of our minds… the things we’d get ourselves if money wasn’t an issue. They don’t have to be big extravagant things, sometimes it’s just that extra little thing you’ve had your eye on but just can’t justify getting.

If I had some extra money, these are likely the top things I’d get for myself.

  1. Chevy Sonic RS Turbo in White. I found this car recently at a local dealer… and it was even within my “realistically if I could get a new-to-me car” budget. But, without a stable job and nothing to put for a down payment, it got away. So now this is at the top of my graduation wish list. Maybe it’ll change as I test drive cars and what’s available… But a turbo hatchback is what I’ve got my eye on — and it’s older brother approved!*
  2. A new blender! My blender has one speed and you have to press the lid down for it to run. I’m ready for an adult blender. One with a food processor attachment.
  3. Air fryer. Yep. Need this. Homemade potato chips? Yes please. Dry rub wings without the oil? Oh hell yes. Now I can feel “healthy” when I eat all the fried junk foods.
  4. Tagine. I’ve never used one, and I’m pretty damn impressed with how expensive they can be… but i’m hoping this will take my attempts at Indian cooking to a new level.
  5. Essential Oil diffuser. Specifically this one. I love it because it looks not only like a giant crystal, but also sort of volcanic, and kind of reminds me a little of a prop from that old Nickelodeon show GUTS. But it’s also $50, which seems like a lot for a diffuser.
  6. New bedding! Apparently mustard-goldenrod yellow is my new color. I want that or a wine-berry with grey combination.
  7. An ikea shopping spree. I’d like a new couch. And bed frame. And coffee table. And console table… (I could also use a wardrobe shopping spree, too.)
  8. A non-carpet-covered cat condo. I want to spoil the cats as well. Of course, if I spent the $100 on this, the cats would completely ignore it. Because cats.

*I may be in my 30s, but yes, my older brother does still get to weigh in on my car purchases. Mainly because he’s the one who does all of my repairs. For free, too, because he loves me.

What’s on your No Limit wish list?

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?

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.

Back at it.

We are two weeks into this new academic year, and let me tell you, it has been a little bit of a whirlwind.

Coming back after taking a semester off provided a lot of challenges. We discovered issues in my financial aid (being over-awarded a couple years ago in my post-bacc work and only now having that be brought up). Having a lot of input regarding my course schedule from my professors. Getting a new advisor, who happens to be our new department chair. And the simple fact that it has only been three — three — months since I had major surgery. (Hi. I’m kind of exhausted.)

Oh. And yeah. The big one: we changed my entire thesis focus on the second day of the semester.

My new advisor was concerned with my schedule, and a lot of professors had opinions on which courses I should be taking and what was deemed a good use of my time. I respect their opinions tremendously, but I was starting to get overwhelmed. It seemed like everyone wanted me to drop one of the classes I really wanted to take. At the time, this course had nothing to do with my thesis topic, so I can see exactly where they were coming from. But I was stubborn. A month or so earlier I was having to justify the importance of my internship, and here I was defending a methods course for pretty much the same reason: to prepare me for a job, not a PhD. So after talking with my advisor, she pointed out that it seems pretty obvious that museum and museum related things are my passion — so why was that not my thesis focus?

Our department had essentially got rid of our museum program, so I was always just told we don’t do museum studies here. And we still technically don’t. But I had to make a choice: food studies or museums. When I finally was honest with myself, the answer was easy. It was my love of museums that brought me to this field, and as fun as a PhD sounds, I was always looking at museum jobs first.

We’re still working on the specifics of my research focus, but it’s coming together. It’s been this huge relief. As my mentor puts it, I’ve got a new old thesis now.

It’s good to be back on campus, even despite any frustrations because honestly they’re small and inconsequential. I’m excited about getting started on my new thesis work. I’m loving my internship. It’s great being back with my professors, and my new advisor is just a good fit for me. The faculty, department staff, and even the campus administration have all just been so supportive and helpful in my return. I’m ready to get this done. I’m not going to let anyone or anything derail me from this.

Kind of crazy to believe that at this point next year I should have that fancy piece of paper in my hands and be headed towards a new career.