Category Archives: The Squeeze

An update on my fatigue, II.

Nighty, night.

It’s been an entire month since I told you guys about my trouble with fatigue, and I am happy to report that things are a little better.

After a week of drinking banana tea, I wanted to try a natural sleeping pill. Making the tea every night was a long process, but the sleep that followed was nice.

I started on the sleeping pill, and for the first few nights things were nice. I have taken this pill before, and have even taken it regularly. It is mostly melatonin, so it helps me relax and fall asleep easily.

I know other people who have taken this same pill and have said it provides a solid night’s sleep. But what I quickly came to learn was that it doesn’t really stand a chance against my life.

To say I’m stressed is an understatement. I am full of worry, scared of the dark, I sleep with the TV on, and my cat wakes me up at least three times a night. The pill doesn’t combat that. Sure, I get a good sleep on the pill if I turn off all the lights and electronics an hour before bed, rub on some lavender, and lock the cat outside. But all of that would probably help my case without the pill.

Let’s just say that if I was a tad bit more unhinged, I’d just do coke (instead of coffee and exercise), and I’d inject a little propofol before bed.

But, I’m not there yet. Despite the weak pill, I was making it. Until I wasn’t. I arrived at work last Monday completely dragging ass, and by 3pm, I could barely hold my head up. I cancelled my dance classes for the night, and gave in to my fatigue.

I went directly home from the office and got into bed. I watched TV for hours and was asleep before 9:30. It took me a few days to recover, but I did remember that I’d forgotten to take my allergy medicine on the weekend and wondered if my body was fighting off mold or pollen.

Either way, I went in search of a new sleeping pill amongst the aisles in HEB. I was happy to see there were almost 10 different ones to choose from, and after lots of label-comparing, I chose another all-natural one. It’s called MidNite and it’s also made of melatonin, but I believe it is a higher dose, and also contains natural herbs to help relax the body.

I have taken this one for two nights, and have had really great sleeps – very similar to the banana tea snoozes.

In other good news, I became eligible for health benefits at my job this week, so I signed up for insurance. As soon as the paperwork is processed, I’ll be able to start making the rounds to my doctors and will possibly have some medical answers.

I am still eating a clean diet, exercising several times a week, and yes, I’m still under a decent amount of stress. However, I will say that usually in stressful times, I skip on sleep. But I know I can’t afford to now, so at the very least, I am trying to listen to my body and give it the rest it needs.

Next week, I am moving into a new office building and I’m hoping the fresh, cheery space will help me even more – but I have already taken note that my personal office has no windows, so I will have to make it a habit to walk outside at least once during the day.

Don’t worry, I’ll be reporting back! For now… I’m hitting the sheets.

 

Albums that changed my life.

Happy Humpday, my friends! Ever since I found out I’m seeing the Backstreet Boys (in just a few short weeks), I have been taking a stroll down memory lane via old CDs. Yes, I still have CDs. A lot of them are still in my car, and once I got started, I couldn’t stop digging through my collection to see which ones still worked and what songs I still remembered.

So, I started thinking about the albums that really, really meant something to me – then, and still very much now. I didn’t realize it until I wrote this post, but they’re all female empowerment albums, so I guess you could say I’ve been a feminist from the start! Here are my life-changers:

Jagged Little Pill (1995)

I first heard Alanis Morissette when she released the music video for “Hand in my Pocket”. I thought she looked so cool, and I loved that song. I was in 5th grade, and she was speaking my soul.

Shortly after, she released “Ironic”, and I was hooked. I begged my mom to take me to see her in concert, and we did, and it was AWESOME (even though she’s a bit much in-person). I have no real idea how her lyrics connected with me at such a young age, but they did.

I had never experienced heartbreak, or at least not really, but I felt like an outsider, and she was rebellious and I liked that. And today? I still do. I actually have “Jagged Little Pill” on vinyl, and it is incredible. My favorite song has to be “All I Really Want”, because all I really want, is SOME JUSTICE…AAHHOOWWWOWOWOWOWOWWOOOOWWWW.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

The Fugees’ album “The Score” was one of my first tastes of hip-hop. I loved it, so when Lauryn Hill debuted her solo album, I was all over it. And wow. I would venture to say this album has had the most impact on me, musically, in my life thus far.

This was a popular one, selling 1 million copies in its first month (8 million copies in 4 years), and it remained in the top charts for 81 weeks. At the time, Lauren Hill was an icon, and her album was everywhere – even later being placed on several “Best Album Ever” lists.

But in 2000, Hill basically disappeared from the public eye, and stayed hidden for nearly four years. To this day, anytime I see her on TV, I’m shocked. I know that a lot of artists describe an album release as having a child, and she also had a REAL child, after her album release… and I think that album was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

Regardless, I respect her tremendously, and frankly, I don’t know where I’d be without “Ex-Factor”.

Back to Black (2006)

Amy, Amy, Amy… Rest in peace. I had been a long, long time since an album hit me like this one did. I was fresh off a string of bad men, and wow, this chick had something to say. Frankly, I didn’t realize her authenticity, until I read a Rolling Stone article about her life, her drug use, and her eternal love for Blake.

That article still hangs in a frame in my apartment. It was a true loss of innocence, but also a realization that this was an artist who wasn’t just putting on a show. Sadly, she was living every bit of her pain.

While I couldn’t connect with her drug and alcohol addiction, I could very well connect with her willingness to love wholeheartedly, even when it was just wrong. And I still very much love her for putting all of that into words – it healed me in a way I cannot full understand.

The title track is one of my favorites, as is “He Can Only Hold Her”… it all varies depending on my mood.

…There you have it! Notice you don’t see any John Mayer albums here… while all of his albums have meant a lot to me, they have served as “soundtracks” to sections of my life, but not anthems, if that makes sense (still love you, John!). I’d love to know what albums you can’t quit; tell me in the comments!

Loneliness is tragic.

Walking alone isn’t always easy.

Lately, I’ve been feeling lonely. There’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely, because, well, I’ve been alone for a greater part of the last 14 years. Most of that time, though, I haven’t felt lonely.

After two tragedies struck my friends and family in Indiana over the last six weeks though, I started to feel homesick. I left Indiana at 18, headed South, and really never thought I’d turn back. And yes, I’ve had some great times in these parts, and met some great people – but is anyone ever quite as great as the friends you’ve known since middle school? Doubtful.

I still don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Indiana, or the Midwest, other than for quick visits. Although in times like these, I can’t explain just how much I wish I could hop right on over to Indiana, to spend a Friday night with people who know me; people who make me excited to be alive. Regardless, I’m trying to make the most out of my life in Austin, and I know it’s one of the most entertaining cities in the country.

But my attempts at making friends here have left me feeling more lonely than when I started. People have flaked for things I’ve invited them to do – movies, concerts, brunches – and even things they’ve invited me to do. Everyone is looking for the Bigger, Better Deal (the BBD), and apparently I am not it.

After years of suffering from breakup after breakup, I quickly learned that a man was not going to be the source of my happiness, and I’ve basically given up on that part of my life. I know I can still live a meaningful, happy, and fulfilling life as a single person.

But I can’t do it alone, can I? I suppose I pictured my life as a single person much like the lives of the women on “Sex and the City” – only, minus the sex and designer fashions. Or perhaps like those on “Girls” only minus the sex and easy-going careers. You get the picture: I need a few friends to do shit with.

Because you know what? No matter how cool I think I am, hanging out with just myself gets old. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve tried to surprise myself with yet another great, home-cooked meal. These days, I’m so over myself that I buy all of the organic, pre-made goods I can because then at least I have time to read or to build a plan to get friends.

During the week, I don’t have much time for social outings given my job, my dance schedule, and this blog. Some weekends, I am busy with chores or writing projects, but other weekends it would be nice to meet up with friends for drinks, a sporting event, or simply a movie.

Holidays, though, those are the worst. I hate admitting this, but I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas by myself last year, and as much as I tried to make it pleasant for myself – baking a pie from scratch & mixing craft cocktails – it was a very depressing time.

Because the truth is, when you’re not close to family, and your friends live 19 hours away, it almost seems as if I’ve built so many walls around myself that my only choice is to be alone, even for the moments when being together is all that really matters.

This is not the first time in my life I’ve felt lonely, of course. In fact, it is during these times when I have fallen into a dark pattern of meeting friends, or sometimes, men, who are terribly wrong for me. Because of this, I am very weary of my actions during these times – I don’t want to fall for the wrong people out of desperation.

But it is also during these times when little things hurt even more than they would on a good day. The cat call of a construction worker (“You have a fat ass”) on your morning walk to the Texas Capitol stings more; being ignored by a crush cuts a little deeper; and getting ditched by a girlfriend calls for a bottle of wine to keep all to yourself.

I struggle with gathering the courage and confidence to do things alone, or to simply just curl up on my couch and accept my fate.

After a week of debate, I braved downtown Austin and went to see Big Freedia in concert, alone. I put on my best twerking outfit, dark lipstick, and treated myself to a beer (or two). As I was standing at the bar alone, a few ladies approached me and asked if I’d come alone. Yes, I did, I said.

So had they. All of our friends had ditched us. And so, we danced the night away, together. It was great, and just the night I needed. I had done it for Freedia – her positive attitude and awesome music got me off my couch, and her presence sent me floating into the night.

I am still trying to make friends; and to figure this whole thing out. Until then, perhaps I’ll just live by a new set of words: What Would Freedia Do?

“All I can do is do what I do and make it do what it does.” -Big Freedia 

Attitude is everything.

One of my favorite quotes.

Very rarely in my life have I been praised for my attitude. Since I can remember, I was told I have an attitude problem. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about attitude, and how it affects the makings of my days.

When I got my first job post-college, I was one of the youngest people there, and I was coming in with fresh ideas and I was really excited to implement them. But, I was up against a really old and traditional way of doing things, and many of my coworkers weren’t interested in change. I pushed back as much as I could – I got side-eyes, and stern conversations, until I was eventually fired after seven years.

After that, I got a dose of reality, and worked like I’ve never worked before. Over the course of the past few years, I feel like I’ve tried to have a better attitude; a more positive outlook on things, because sometimes that’s all I have.

When I started my current job, I met someone – a coworker – with possibly the worst attitude I’ve ever seen. I mean she HATES everything, including but not limited to, In-N-Out, California, the Midwest, shepherd’s pie, Trump, everyone who voted for Trump, reality TV, Fox News, Megyn Kelly, protestors, anti-choicers, slow internet, border patrol, blue states, going to work, planning ahead, big trucks, flying, traveling, being tired, traffic, and the layout of Austin.

I’ve only been at this job for a few months, so I’m sure I’ll learn more about her least favorite things, but you see my point. Eventually, I understood that we weren’t going to have much in common, which is okay.

But what’s not okay is how she treats me. On several occasions, she’s ignored me when I’ve said hello or tried to speak to her. She’s slammed the door into my desk, tossed the company credit card at me, and said racist comments about white women in front of me.

So, I started trying to limit my interactions with her. I wasn’t sure how to maintain my professionalism while still talking to her. But even then, she went to our boss and told her I didn’t talk to her. My boss asked me what was going on between us, but before I could answer she said, “I know she’s really rude and racist toward white people.”

Uhhhh, ok? What more did I need to say? How is this okay?

About two weeks later, the problem hadn’t been addressed, and instead of directly addressing it, my boss simply told our entire team that whatever was happening needed to stop and we were not required to be friends at the office.

Uh, what?

Sure, I agree, we don’t have to be friends. But isn’t there a standard for the way we treat each other, as humans? I’ve never worked at a place where it’s totally acceptable to be blatantly rude to your coworkers.

My boss said if we have problems with each other, we need to address them directly. Ah, so there’s the catch: the ole it’s all on ME game.

Basically this takes the pressure off the leader, and puts the responsibility on the employee. If you have a problem, you figure out how to resolve it. If you don’t resolve it, then you must be okay with it.

So, what’s the best way to approach someone and say, hi, it hurts my feelings when you ignore me?

In all honesty, this entire ordeal has really made me look at myself and reevaluate. Am I someone who needs friends at work? No, but I do like to be friendly to those around me. Am I too scared to speak up when someone is disrespecting me? No, but I probably need to figure out a professional way to handle it.

No matter what, though, I’ve realized just how much it sucks to show up to work in a decent mood, only to discover that even just one employee has a bad attitude. It can bring down the entire team, for the whole day – and for what?

But I know it’s up to me to try and maintain a positive attitude. And just when I thought that wasn’t possible, I met up with one of my blogging students for a tutoring session. As we parted ways, he told me how much he appreciated my patience and my help with his blog.

He’s a retired professor, looking to write for leisure now that he has the time, and I was able to help, and without realizing it, I’d made a difference. At least I know things aren’t all bad.

And so today, Monday, I’m going to try to keep things positive. It may mean lots of coffee and podcasts in my ears, but I’ll be smiling.

Finding pride in the soles of shoes.

Nice collection, girl.

**The following is a piece of original writing I entered into an essay contest. It didn’t win, but I like it, and I thought you might, too. Happy Humpday, y’all!**

Each employee was to schedule a meeting with our new manager to discuss our job roles, challenges, and goals. My meeting was set for a Thursday afternoon, and I’d taken a few notes on my iPad before heading downstairs to her office.

But when I entered her mahogany kingdom, I was met with an employee from Human Resources. My new manager and I weren’t going to be discussing my job, but rather, the fact that my “services” were no longer needed.

For nearly seven years leading up to that day, I’d served as the Web Editor for a large, state university. I’d written stories for the website, reorganized departmental sites, led national advertising campaigns, and created social media strategies for the brand. I’d just received the largest raise in the office due to my hard work over the years.

That day, my previous work, all of my experience – it meant nothing.

“Any questions?” my boss asked.

There were papers to sign in front of me, and I was given strict instructions to pack up my office (do not touch your computer or any other university property, they said), and would be escorted out of the building and was never to return to campus.

“Yes,” I said, working to move my jaw. “Why is this happening?”

I was told that it was an “at-will” termination, which meant that according to state law, I could be terminated for any reason, at any time, without warning, and without being told of the reason.

So, I went to my office where there were empty boxes waiting to be filled. I was watched as I packed, and escorted to my car, walking past the offices of my former fellow employees.

I’d built my life around my job, which had become my career. I’d stayed in the city, 15 hours from where I grew up, for this job, and had little intent to leave. I lived in a coveted loft, a place I would soon come to resent given the high rent and my lack of funds.

The next day, I started applying for jobs. I applied for jobs like my life depended on it – because, in a way, it did. I applied all over the country, for all sorts of positions that sounded remotely interesting. When weeks passed without so much as a phone call, I started looking for short-term work as well.

The holidays were approaching, so I applied for retail positions that would at least get me out of the apartment and I could earn a paycheck.

Around Thanksgiving, I accepted a position as a part-time associate at a shore store near my apartment. My first shift was scheduled for five hours, but a few hours in, I was asked if I could stay until the store closed, making it a 14-hour shift. I said yes.

It was hard work; I was on my feet, and I only got a 30-minute break. The store was constantly busy, and I quickly learned shoe style numbers, sizing, and how to reasonably make a sale. The pay was only $8 an hour, so I’d packed a peanut butter sandwich in order to avoid the food court.

That night, I cried on my short drive home. I was fairly certain my feet had never hurt quite so bad, and I wondered how long this was going to be my life. My next shift at the store was scheduled to start in just eight hours.

I quickly missed the comfort of my desk, my office, and the luxury of simply knowing how to do my job. But I kept on, working as many shifts as I was allowed and picking up extras for fellow employees when they needed time off. I wasn’t going home for the holidays that year, so I could just keep working.

As the days passed, I sometimes saw friends or old coworkers in the store. It was awkward having to explain my situation. Even a few family members turned on me, making condescending comments about how I was “just a shoe salesman at the mall” now.

For a moment, I hung my head in shame. But, my friend who worked in Human Resources for an ad agency and often served as my workout partner, offered some wisdom.

“Head up,” he said. “Everyone has a job to do.”

He was right. There are all sorts of jobs that are less-then-glamorous, and they are held by employees doing what they need to do to get by in this life. It doesn’t really matter if it’s part of their passion or their intended journey, it was a job that needed to be filled in order for the ways of the world to keep going.

No, I didn’t go to college to work at a shoe store, but I was making an honest living, and I was applying for other jobs during my time off. I also accepted two additional retail jobs, and got a promotion at the shoe store, making my work week at least 60-hours.

I learned how to operate three different cash register systems, memorized the opening and closing procedures for each job, and started to find joy in the little things – greeting and helping customers, getting to know my coworkers (despite our 10-year age difference), and going to bed each night knowing I’d done everything I could that day.

That year, I spent Christmas alone. In fact, Christmas Day was my only day off in weeks, since it was the only day all of the stores were closed. I found comfort on my couch, with my heating pad, and my decorated tree that I’d reluctantly pulled from my closet in November.

It took me eight months to find a job that fit my career path and offered a salary with benefits. The job was in another state, and I worked my retail jobs until the day I moved.

There’s no doubt that it was the most difficult eight months of my life – there were very few days off, no health insurance, and a very tight budget I had to follow. But, I’d somehow made it work. I kept my loft until moving day, never missed a bill, and I learned how to juggle the schedules of three jobs.

I also learned a lot about pride and hard work. At most job interviews, they ask how you’d describe yourself. I’d said I was a hard worker before, but now I’ve truly lived it. I’ve worked when I thought I couldn’t even stand, I’ve done jobs that some people wouldn’t even consider, and I’ve smiled when people from my career-life would whisper, “What are you doing here?

There are days when even my current salaried gig isn’t all I dreamt of during my long shifts in the retail stores. But no matter what job I have, at any point in my life, I know I’m going to do it with my head held high.

Take pride in the ability to get up each day, and do whatever it is you have to do to keep going. Find joy in the walk to the office, the people you see each shift, or the discovery of all the new things you’ve learned.

Almost two years after unexpectedly losing my job, I still carry fears that it will happen again, but then I remember that I made it work. Sure, it wasn’t easy, but I did it, and I found some good in that chapter of my journey.

Looking back, my job at the university had its perks, and it looked really good on my resume. But it wasn’t challenging, and there was no room for growth, meaning I would have had to leave eventually. How it happened wasn’t any sort of dream scenario, but it forced me out of my comfort zone, and into the reality of another person’s shoes.

An update on my fatigue…

Who needs sleep? THIS GIRL.

It’s been a few weeks since I told the world (yes, that’s the power of this blog) about my case of extreme fatigue – read all about it here – and I figured it’d be a good time for an update.

Just a few days after the post, I decided to spend that weekend getting some relaxing in. Naturally, it was the same weekend that Daylight Saving time happened, so that was dumb, but whatever. I read, spent lots of time on my couch, and caught up on TV.

The thing is, my fatigue could be a result of many things, including: lack of sleep, allergy medication, increased workouts, lack of protein, or stress. So, I vowed to tackle two of those things for at least one entire week, to see if my energy improved.

In order to get more protein into my diet, I did a lot of research to find out how much protein I need each day (46 grams) and I shopped accordingly. I made “egg muffins” with spinach and cheese for breakfast, and I had grilled chicken breast for lunch. Protein? CHECK.

I also bought a fuckton of bananas to try the latest craze from Dr. Oz: Banana “tea”. Here’s the scoop on naner tea from the Dr. Oz website:

Did you know bananas are a sleeping pill in a peel? If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, try this banana-infused tea as a bedtime snack. Studies have shown that magnesium can be helpful in preventing you from pulling yourself out of sleep, and the potassium and magnesium help your blood vessels and muscles relax.

You make the tea by simply cutting off the ends of one banana, and boiling it (peel and all) in a pot of water for 10 minutes. Pour water into a mug, and I added cinnamon, because, why not? I also ate the banana, because a warm banana is the closest thing I’ve had to dessert in awhile.

I’ve heard the sleep that comes post-tea, is the deepest sleep ever. So, I gave it the ole college try and I drank this tea every night before bed, for 7 nights in a row. While I cannot say I had the best sleep of my life… it was better sleep than I’ve had in probably two years. The downside of the tea is the time it takes to make it, then wait for it to cool, then drink it all – I had to really plan for it, and by the time I drank the tea, I was so bored I could have probably fallen asleep without it.

But when I slept Friday and Saturday night sans-tea, I slept like SHIT. I woke up, tossed and turned, laid awake for hours. Fuck that.

The real question is, did the protein and tea help me feel more awake during the day? Yes. I wasn’t wired, but I definitely didn’t feel like I was about to pass out at my desk. So, that’s promising.

This week, I’m still eating protein: cottage cheese for breakfast and baked chicken for lunch. And, I’m taking a natural sleep aid at night. I’m going to test this for a solid week and see which works better for me – and of course I can always switch it up.

On the one hand, yes, I feel hopeful that I just need to keep up with my diet and a good sleeping schedule and I may feel back to normal without something seriously being wrong with me. But, on the other hand, I may have to always be really serious about what I eat and the amount of sleep I get. And while I know it’s petty – it’s a problem lots of people would love to have – it’s difficult for me (even just in this last week) to turn off the lights hours before I actually want to; to skip reading into the late night; to have random TV marathons… it means giving up a lot of fun things just so I can function at work.

But, we’ll see! My self-science experiment isn’t over, and hey, getting solid sleep is kinda nice… zzzz…

Is my single life… boring?

What is life?!

Last week, I mentioned that I’ve been suffering from extreme fatigue lately. As promised, I spent the weekend, and each night this week really making an effort to get quality sleep in hopes of pinpointing the problem (you can expect a progress report next week).

Part of solving the problem involves taking a solid look at how I spend my time, and if I can devote any extra time to rest. The conclusion thus far? My life is… kind of plain.

I know I sound like Coolio (see: “Gangsta’s Paradise”) right now, but I’m starting to wonder if this is it for me. I’ve been religiously watching this season of “Girls”, and Sunday’s episode involved a laundromat, Hannah’s mom, and a giant bag of weed gummies.

After choking down several of said gummy worms, Hannah’s mom is trying to set the record straight on her future: “I’m alone. This is it. For the rest of my life.”

I swear everything but that line was ringing in my ear for the next hour – hell, I’m still thinking about it. Because this is the most single I have ever felt.

Ever since I can recall, I’ve had some sort of guy in my life – even if only in “crush” form. And it’s been a long time since even that has happened.

My new job has come with several opportunities to travel, which means I’ve had lots of time to bond with my coworkers. “Holly, why don’t you date??” They ask. “You’re cute!”

As flattering as it is, that’s part of the problem. A majority of the men I’ve dated haven’t seen beyond that – and it’s resulted in a lot of relationships that aren’t trusting or healthy. It’s left me so cold, that at times, I don’t even want a male waiter.

Monday morning, a guy called me. I was washing dishes and missed the call by accident; but when I saw it on my phone, I thought certainly it was a mistake. I hadn’t talked to a guy on the phone in six months (yes, six months), and I didn’t even know if I’d have anything interesting to say. After all, I was cleaning my kitchen at 7 am on a Monday morning.

I took a leisurely drive across town Sunday morning and I got to thinking about dating. Most of the people I know who are my age are married, many of them have been married for years, and have children. I look at their lives from afar and sometimes it seems as if they’ve lived entire lifetimes while mine is just strolling along, very similar to how it was three or five or even ten years ago.

Maybe once you hit a certain point in life, you just end up single, I thought. Because the thing is, I don’t ever put myself in situations to meet a suitor. I’m very aware of this, partially because I don’t think I’m ready to date, and partially because my hobbies: dancing, reading, blogging, and cooking aren’t really conducive to meeting straight men.

Every week, I go to work, the dance studio, the library, and the grocery – give or take the laundromat, and that’s pretty much my life. And I have a feeling I’m not alone in that routine (or rut, you make the call); we’re not in college anymore, not really hitting the night scene, or not putting ourselves in new social situations on a regular basis.

Obviously, I never planned on being single at this point in my life. I honestly thought I was going to be married before I was 25. I’ll be 32 in July. However, I have always believed that my life can be fulfilling even if I don’t have a partner.

But what exactly will that life look life? You know when you first start a relationship and everything is so exciting and nearly perfect? I definitely miss that feeling.

The sad part is, much of the excitement I’ve experienced in the latter part of a relationship is the fear of losing it entirely. The last relationship I had was turbulent, I hardly slept, and it thrived on abuse of the alcohol, sexual, and verbal variety.

I’ve never really known what a real, healthy relationship looks or feels like, which leaves me to often associate dating with a sense of weakness within myself. That if I even have the desire to date, then I must be feeling weak, as if I’m not enough on my own.

Somehow, I survived watching every minute of Nick’s season on “The Bachelor”, and in the finale episode on Monday, Vanessa had a heartfelt conversation with Nick’s father. She asked him if love was enough to make a marriage last, and he told her no. That outside of love, it takes sacrifice, compromise, and the realization that you will no longer come first.

I am certain that show is scripted, but DAMN. #TruthBomb

Maybe that’s it – maybe I’m just not willing to put anyone else first just yet. But I have always imagined being in a relationship where I get to do things for my partner; even if it’s just the little things like bringing him coffee or baking his favorite dessert.

Sure, I’ve done those things. But they went unnoticed and I was often taken advantage of.

There are days I feel really strong and proud of myself for building a life where I’m generally happy, and I’m making things work. But I’d be lying to you if I wasn’t very, very cognizant of that fact that I slip into bed each night alone; with no one beside me, no one on the phone, and often, no one on my mind.

There is no path, or standard, for how a single person lives a fulfilling life – because everyone is just waiting for your “Save the Date” card to arrive. I suppose this is a path I’m going to have to make, on my own, of course, and I’m probably going to have to stop for naps along the way given the current state of things.

Don’t worry, I’ll make my own coffee.

I’m just so tired…

This is me, dragging ass every single day.

If you’re a fan of “The Golden Girls”, you may recall a two-part episode where Dorothy is complaining of extreme fatigue. At the time, she is working as a substitute teacher, and she’s so tired, she can barely complete a day’s work.

She goes to several doctors, and most of them tell her the same thing – that she’s getting old, and yeah, old people get tired. But there is one doctor who finally tells her something is wrong: she is suffering from a rare, but treatable, illness. She is so happy to have a diagnosis that she treats herself to a nice dinner, where she runs into one of the stupid doctors and tells him off – it is a sitcom, after all!

Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot like Dorothy did in those two episodes. The only thing is, I’m not a senior citizen (although my social calendar would show otherwise). I ‘ve traced my recent fatigue back to around the time I started my new job, which was also the same time I started working out more and eating a much healthier diet.

Too many variables, I know! And now I don’t know if it’s one of those things that is causing me to be so exhausted I nearly fall over before 3 pm, or if there is something medically wrong with me. Here’s a mental list of the things I *think* could be causing my sleepiness:

  • Stress/emotions of new job
  • Body adjusting to new diet
  • Reacting to additional, more intense workouts
  • Thyroid problems
  • Lyme disease
  • Lack of sleep

Let’s consider the list. My job isn’t what I would classify and stressful, but it does have an emotional side to it. The thing that affects me is the difference in the schedule – it’s still 9-5, but each day is different from the next, and many of those days begin earlier than 9 if I’m going downtown to the Capitol for a hearing. I definitely think there’s some sort of adjusting curve, and this job has already taught me two things: 1. I’m a creature of habit, and 2. hanging out with white men in suits really sucks the life out of my soul.

True story.

Okay, the new diet. Basically I’ve taken “clean eating” to the next level, and am trying to eat very little meat – with most of my meals being vegan-approved. While these meals have been nothing but delicious, my mom made a good point that I may not be getting enough protein to keep me energized throughout my day. According to Google, I need 46 grams of protein a day, and I definitely don’t think I am. So, a food journal may be in my very near future.

I went from taking a few dance classes a week to taking at least 7, with several of those being cardio-dance classes. I’m in a constant state of soreness, and perhaps my body is not quite as strong as I think. I don’t know if I buy this excuse alone, but if I’m not getting enough protein and working out double than before – it could be the cause of my fatigue.

Thyroid problems/thyroid disease. I’ve always associated thyroid issues with weight gain and/or energy levels. When I Googled it, basically everything can be a symptom of thyroid disease, and sometimes diagnosing these problems can be tough. However, I’m not ruling this out of the picture, because it does run in my family.

Lyme disease. Because we have all either seen “Real World: Seattle” or “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, and we’ve seen how Lyme disease either makes you bedridden or completely insane. I have been paranoid about having Lyme disease ever since the Christmas Mouse crossed his annual path in my apartment. Blanche caught him, and I’m convinced she got it and now I have it. But I Googled it, and it turns out you can really only get Lyme disease from a tick. And I’ve never been bitten by a tick (knock on wood).

Lack of sleep. Imagine that! Not getting enough sleep is the story of my life, especially in the last 7ish years. For a year or so, I suffered from terrible night tremors, which I usually awoke in a sweat, sometimes crying, and often too scared to go back to sleep. I also had a terrible time sleeping during a nasty relationship with a restaurant manager. Note to all: Don’t date someone that’s not on your same schedule. It’s just too much.

Anyway, I have found that the only way I can truly get a good night’s sleep is really preparing for it. I mean make sure the bed is just right, don’t drink, set the oil diffuser, put in my mouth guard, take a Rest EZ (natural sleep aid), and ensure I’ve set a solid 8-9 hour window for myself to snore away. Sounds complicated and high maintenance, I know. It’s annoying, even for me.

The other issue is that, frankly, I have a lot on my plate. As many of you know, this blog is a hobby for me, which means I am usually writing it at 10pm the night before it publishes. After work each day, I usually do two hours of dance, I get home around 8:30, shower, eat dinner, and by that time, it’s time to write my blog, and basically go to bed. If I want to do anything else in the evenings – such as read, cook, watch TV, etc. – that means cutting into my sleep time. And most nights, I am just not ready to mentally turn off the light even though my body is way past ready.

So, how the hell am I going to resolve this issue? My original idea was to use this week as a week to make an effort to go to bed early and see if actually getting 8 hours of sleep solved it. But alas, I have already failed at that, with late night dance rehearsal (for a performance on Friday), a mid-week visit to the Capitol (meaning up at 5:30 am!), and a 2-hour private blog class that I’m teaching. Whoops.

By the looks of my calendar, I am free on Sunday. So, I’m making it a priority to ACTUALLY relax on Sunday. I’ll be really busy on Friday and Saturday to get everything done, but on Sunday, I need to relax and get to bed early. Then next week, I’ll focus on getting rest and making sure I get enough protein. We’ll see how that goes… Don’t worry, I’ll report back.

I’m just so tired.

Won’t you sing me to sleep, and fly through my dreams, so I can hitch a ride with you tonight? And get away from this place, have a new name face, I just ain’t without you in my life.

Late night drives. All along in my car, I can’t help but start singin ‘ lines from all our favorite songs. And melodies in the air, singin’ life just ain’t fair. Sometimes I still just believe you’re gone.

And I’m sure the view from heaven beats the hell out of mine here, and if we all believe in heaven, maybe we’ll make it through one more year, down here.

-Yellowcard, View From Heaven 

On life, time & the woman of grace.

Life is short, and time moves so fast.

Life is short, and time moves so fast.

It has been said that time is the true teller of things (and people) that really matter. After all, things or moments or people that withstand the test of time – those are the keepers.

A few weeks ago, I realized I’ve done something in my life for the first time: I lost track of time. I don’t mean I let a lazy Sunday go by after floating on a self-made raft of mimosas and pancakes. I mean I stopped counting all of the years, months, weeks, and days it had been since monumental things happened in my life.

In general, we’re obsessed with numbers. We keep track of everything – not just the time on a clock or the days of the week; we have holidays, anniversaries, countdowns, and remembrances. We count calories, calculate bank accounts, and even track the steps we take.

And until recently, I kept track (mentally) of everything. How long it had been since I talked to him, or how long it’s been since I kissed someone; how long has it been since I’ve had a drink; when was the last time I ate red meat…blah, blah, blah.

But what about, when was the last time I just lived my life? Had a blissful moment? Took a second to relax? Told someone I loved them?

Keeping track of the moments or things that don’t really matter, is exhausting. Perhaps, enough time has put a distance between the moment and my memory, so much so, that I’ve all but forgotten the dates and reminders of the things that essentially broke my spirit. And I’m happy to let that go.

This weekend, news from my hometown served me a different reminder of just how precious time is. A woman who attended school with many of my friends lived her last moments in a tragic accident.

She, Jackie, was the type of woman we all wished we could be. Although my conversations with her were limited, I can say with complete confidence that she was sweet, selfless, intelligent, and bright. She was beautiful inside and out, and I know she had an overwhelming love for animals, and for her husband, Michael.

The moments leading up to the sad news seemed like forever. I stayed awake, on the phone with friends, as we hoped and prayed that this would end with Jackie at home, safe. I know we all wanted answers, but now, I’m certain the world could use more time, more days filled with her bright light.

When I suffer a loss, I immediately feel this sense of time and how little we have of it, and the pressure is on to rearrange my priorities in order to fill my time with moments I can look back on with pride and happiness.

Sadly, I’ve felt this pressure twice in just a few weeks – instead of prioritizing, I’ve spend lots of time in tears, moments asking why, and doing anything I can from afar to comfort those in pain.

I don’t know the moments that may have awaited Jackie; her hopes and dreams, but I do know she used her time wisely. She loved purely; she smiled a lot, and she spent hours upon hours caring for animals in need. In these last few days, her close friends and family have posted so many pictures of her with bunnies, dogs, friends, family, and her husband.

She was here for a short time, but her kindness made this world a beautiful place. For those that knew her, I truly think we’re better for it; she has a spirit that will withstand time, and may very well inspire us to use our time here a little differently.

I know I get caught up in the day-to-day madness, and when that happens, I lose sight of the bigger picture. There’s a reason we’re all here; a reason why things happen; and a reason why some of us have slower clocks than others.

For those who knew Jackie, I know the days ahead aren’t going to be easy. I’m wishing you strength and peace. Because of the nature of Jackie’s story, there were questions and speculation. In all honesty, there are some answers we may never get.

But what I do know is that we can honor our lost loves by loving even more; by giving more; by sharing kindness; and possibly by simply showing up – making time for those we care about. I know that’s something I need to get better at.

None of us know how much time we have left, which is why it’s important to make every moment count. But I’m not down with all the counting and numbers, so here’s to simply living with purpose, and doing so beautifully.

If I ever get around to living, it’s gonna be just like I dreamed. I’m gonna take the love I’m given, and set it free. 

If I ever get around to living, I’ll take the end of every day and tie it up to every morning, and sail away.

-John Mayer, If I Ever Get Around to Living 

If you’d like to make a donation in Jackie’s honor, IndyClaw Rescue is where she helped so many fur babies. May her sweet legacy live forever. 

2017 Goals: A progress report.

Just doooooo it!

Just doooooo it!

It’s March 1st, and that means we’re a quarter of the way through 2017 ALREADY! When I set my goals for the year I was thinking about how so many people simply set goals on New Year’s Eve and basically never revisit them, and before they know it, the year has passed.

I don’t want that to be me this year. So, I’m going to hold myself accountable and do some progress reports on the blog. I already think this miiiiight be a little embarrassing, but maybe it will light a fire under my booty to get things moving.

I wrote a list of goals at the end of 2016, which I published here, and today I’m going to revisit this same list and tell you if I’ve made any progress on it.

Here goes:

GOAL: Start With Kindness. As you can tell by the name of this blog, I’ve spend a chunk of my life feeling sour about things that have happened to me, and choices I’ve made. But in general, I wouldn’t classify myself as bitter – I’m actually pretty kind and very giving.

In the last year, I’ve thought a lot about a kindness campaign started by my favorite radio show hosts, Johnjay & Rich. Their campaign, #LoveUp, encourages everyone to do something kind for someone else – whether big or small, and whether they need it or not. I’ve already started my own #LoveUp acts of kindness, and they’ll definitely be making appearances in 2017. 

PROGRESS: I’ll be honest. I haven’t gone out of my way to buy someone coffee or anything. But, I have thought every day about putting kindness first. Sometimes it just means stopping by the front desk at my office and asking our receptionist how she is doing, or making sure I tell someone when they did really great, or asking someone if they need help with anything. Maybe I’m just tooting my own horn, but these little things go a long way.

GOAL: Be a Practicing Writer. In my previous job, much of my day was spent writing. Whether or not it was stuff I actually wanted to write was not the issue, but I wrote a ton during those years. I blogged, I wrote freelance articles, I wrote books, poetry… and I really haven’t immersed myself in my craft since.

This year, I used birthday money to buy books on screenwriting, and I volunteered nearly 20 hours of my time toward the Austin Screenwriting Festival, listened to many podcasts on the craft, and have researched courses to take to learn on it – but haven’t actually DUG in there and started typing! So, I’ve got to do it – whether or not its work anyone sees, its time.

PROGRESS: I’ve totally sucked on this, and I’ll be honest, I’ve barely been able to keep up with this blog. I’m sorry!

GOAL: Just Go For It. I spend a lot of time analyzing situations and decisions, trying to figure out if I should do it or how or when or why, and frankly, it’s exhausting!

When I moved to Austin in 2015, I had basically no money, was living in an extended-stay hotel, and I spent my evenings going on “adventures” – where I’d basically just drive to a place that sounded cool and check it out, so at least I’d learn my way around the city and pick places I wanted to visit later. It was simple, fun, and it really helped shaped the way I look at the city. I’m definitely aiming for more adventures in Austin, and elsewhere, in 2017.

PROGRESS: I’m kicking this one’s ass. I took a new job two weeks into 2017 and it’s working out great! I’ve already performed on stage this year, I’ve booked a vacation, and I’ve signed up to walk for charity (I do still need people on my team). I know there are tons of adventures around the corner for me this year!

GOAL: Act, Believe, & Receive. I’ve spent the last several years really trying to focus on myself. After years of abuse from various places, I lost myself and I was letting other people create my course. It took therapy, time, and lots of self-reflection for me to even begin to build myself up and allow me to just be me, and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.

In these last few weeks of 2016, I’ve felt it, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. So, in 2017, I’m going to act more confident, believe in myself, and receive the treatment that I deserve.

PROGRESS: This is slowly coming, although if you have ideas or tips on how to achieve this goal, I’m all for it.

GOAL: Be Intentional. As of yesterday, I started listening to “The Minimalists” podcast, and although I’m just four episodes in, I am hooked and craving for more learning on this lifestyle choice. The Minimalists are particularly two men who left corporate America (and six-figure salaries) to live simply in terms of having less things, but to also live with intention and do everything on purpose – down to drinking one perfect cup of well-made coffee instead of just guzzling another K-cup.

PROGRESS: You may have read my blog post yesterday on minimalism. It’s true, I’ve slowly started to clean out my apartment, but I’ve been really good about NOT shopping (which leaves more money for experiences like concerts and trips), and only buying things I need, when I need them (i.e. not stocking up on coffee when I have plenty at home). It’s nice!

GOAL: Live High. Initially, I was thinking of a fantastically mellow Jason Mraz song titled as such, but then I thought of that moment at the Democratic Convention this year when Michelle Obama talked about her approach to bullies: “When they go low, we go high.” Essentially, I want to give myself permission to do things just for me. I do a pretty good job already of having no shame for watching hours of TV each week (hell, each night), but I want to do a better job of encorporating happy and healthy habits into my life, and not apologizing for them.

PROGRESS: Eh, this needs work. Between adjusting to my new job and to the new president – things are a little rough. But, I have been on a really healthy diet for the last five weeks and I feel good about that.

GOAL: Choose (& Plan for) Your Destiny! This started as kind of a joke between me, and well, myself, because someone told me earlier this year: “Everything that happens to you is because you let it. You choose your destiny.” In the way it was delivered to me, it seemed more of a way to avoid blame, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt it in all areas of my life.

Spent my Saturday working? Well that was obviously the destiny that I chose. No more being a victim; no more going along for the ride. We choose our destinies! 

PROGRESS: Yes – I’m still living by this motto, but it’s a constant effort, and I’m sure I’ll be reminding myself of this rule a time or two.

…So, it’s safe to say I’ve got my work cut out for me, but I’m also doing okay. What are your goals for 2017 and how are they coming along? It’s certainly not too late to jump on them and cross some big items off your to-do list before the year is over!

Nursing the ‘Love Hangover’.

Another Monday is upon us and I’m still reeling from the “Love Hangover” – the showcase for the dance studio I’ve been taking classes at, Dance Austin Studio. It was the 10th showcase, and included some fantastic pieces, to say the least.

After I performed at the last showcase, “The Aftermath”, I had a lot of reflection about my life in dance and how it affects me daily (you can read all about it, here). And as my time at Dance Austin continues to grow, and the more showcases I get under my belt (last night was #3), the more dance means to me, and the more I feel like I’m becoming a part of “the group”.

I’ve met so many awesome people at the studio in this year and a half (time flies), people I look forward to seeing every day, and I hope they feel the same about me when we end up in class next to each other.

On Saturday, a day before the performance, we had a dress rehearsal. Although it went really well, I was exhausted afterward, and thinking back about previous performances, I definitely feel like this is the most advanced one I’ve tried.

Last showcase, I tested myself and performed an entire routine in stiletto heels. I did it and somehow didn’t fall and break my neck, so I did it again this time. The dance was fast, lively, and a little advanced for me with spins and jumps. But, it was very fun. I don’t know if it was technically more difficult than the ones I’ve done before, or perhaps I’m more emotionally invested, and really just want to help my “team” look the best we can.

If you don’t mind, I’ll go ahead and say my group kicked stiletto booty and I was happy to hear cheers and claps throughout our performance. We sure worked hard for it!

But by far, my favorite part about any showcase is simply seeing my classmates and our instructors truly shine. Last night, I saw a few ladies that I’ve danced beside in class totally kill it in ways I never expected. I don’t know what it’s like to have kids, but I would imagine the sense of pride I felt for these women was similar. I was happy for them, and also just in-awe of what we’re all capable of.

I said it after last showcase, and I’ll say it again today – we are all LIVING. Most of us are not dancers by trade. We work full-time jobs; have friends, families, and hobbies to tend to, but we’re in the studio day in and day out, and we put everything we have on that stage.

Sure, there’s a little fear. But it’s not enough to keep us from doing what we were somehow called to do. Frankly, I started getting a little emotional last night watching some of the pieces, because we are all in this awesome dance family, and we’re out there, in the public, expressing ourselves in a time when messaging is shut down.

Dance is a powerful thing.

I tried to tell all of my classmates how great they did last night, but if you’re reading this, and we’ve shared a dance class together, and you were on that stage last night, please know that you inspire me more than you could ever understand.

I came home last night on a dancer’s high after putting in 10 hours at the venue. My showtime was maybe 4 minutes, but my feet were blistering and I could feel the soreness in my muscles setting in. I had glitter in my hair and a pound of stage makeup, and I didn’t hop into bed until after midnight.

But that is what dreams are made of.

Whether you’re a dancer or not, it’s time you #LiveYourLife – in whatever way that means to you. No holding back, and no regrets.

Ready? 5, 6, 7, 8…

Goodbye, to you.

The pier at Folly Beach, South Carolina.

The pier at Folly Beach, South Carolina.

On Tuesday, my mom delivered the news to me that a dear family friend of ours had less than a 10 percent chance of surviving.

I wept behind the closed door of my office. This was not just any person – it was Cheryl, my mom’s best friend, a woman she’d known for 34 years, and someone who had influenced my life in many great ways. I wept for my mom, for Cheryl’s daughter, for her husband, for her family, her coworkers, and for anyone who’d ever knew her – even if just for a short moment.

Cheryl was a ray of light in the darkness – she always found a way to laugh at pretty much any situation, which is a trait I’ve always admired. I can recall so many fun times with Cheryl and her daughter, Sarah – times I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I know Cheryl meant so much to my mom, and to her family. To me, Cheryl was South Carolina sweet grass. She took her daughter and I on a rode trip one summer, from the middle of Indiana to the shores of South Carolina, where we stayed, for what seemed like a month.

It was my first time really discovering a new culture – we went to the market, bought handmade jewelry, tried homemade ice cream, walked cobblestone streets leading to plantation homes, and chased crabs in the sands of Folly Beach. It was heaven.

I’d nearly forgotten that Cheryl and Sarah had also joined my mom, dad, and I for a trip to Disney World when I was 10. Sarah and I met as many of the Disney characters as possible, having them all autograph pages in little journals we kept.

Although Cheryl divorced from Sarah’s father when we were very young, later she rekindled with a high school sweetheart whom she married and he became an integral part of the family. I always admired their love story – it was a fairytale.

But the entire time, Cheryl was battling Crohn’s Disease, which affects the digestive tract. The cause of Crohn’s is unknown, and even determining if you have it can be a complicated process. There is also no cure.

Personally, I know very little about Crohn’s, and have only known two people who’ve had it, including Cheryl. I know it affects each person differently, and I know I often forgot that Cheryl was fighting the symptoms of her illness.

But Crohn’s is eventually what took her body from this earth too soon – a move I know she didn’t let happen without a hard fight.

Yesterday, her body was laid to rest in its final place, and my mom was able to say her goodbyes to her dear friend. I couldn’t make it to Indiana for the funeral, which I feel terrible about, but I’ve already had a few talks with Cheryl’s spirit and I hope she understands.

I plan to honor Cheryl in a few ways, aside from just daily “What’s ups” and singing along to some John Mellencamp (she LOVED him). I have registered as a team to do the “Take Steps for Crohn’s” event in Austin at the end of May, so if you’re in the area and would like to join my team – Cheryl’s Southern Belles – or donate to my personal goal of $500, I would really love that.

I have also set up a GoFundMe campaign for Cheryl’s immediate family, as they are stressed about covering the costs of her funeral and her remaining medical bills. Although she had insurance, we all know that isn’t going to cover everything.

I am offering homemade baked goods and free blogging and Twitter courses for the higher donors, but if you would like to donate any amount, or share the link, it would be greatly appreciated.

I know the next few months will be emotional, and that we all deal with loss in our own ways. I wish my mom peace, and I hope everyone that loved Cheryl finds comfort in the fact that she touched so many lives and that we are all better people because of her.

Life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.” -John Mellencamp, Jack and Diane

Why I’m not cutting my cable.

Nope, not getting rid of these gems.

Nope, not getting rid of these gems.

“Cutting cable” became a thing in 2011, but reached an all-time high last year. That all-time high being 6 percent, according to a Magid survey. Why only 6 percent? Because cable is fucking awesome.

I actually know a lot of people who’ve cut their cable and I’m always so shocked to hear it, because for me, that would be like getting rid of my entire apartment. Everyone I know that has cut their cable has swapped it for things to help them still watch shows – they’ve increased their internet speed, invested in Apple TV or a Chromecast.

And before I go any further, I’ll say that if you’re a cable cutter – good for you. Seriously. I haven’t cut my cable, and I’m not going to, for many reasons that I’ll explain here.

  1. I watch a lot of TV. Remember when you were a kid and people would say that watching TV would rot your brain? Heh, whatever. I have always loved watching TV, and I’m pretty sure I’m currently at the height of this love affair. There are so many good shows on that make me happy, and at the end of the day, if I want to just turn on “The Daily Show”, then by God I will! Plus, I’m an aspiring TV writer and critic, so I do consider watching TV to be about 20% research for a possible (very unlikely) future job, or maybe just something to dream about. That’s the power of television, folks.
  2. Cable is convenient. All I have to do to watch TV is turn it on. I don’t have to hook up all these extra gadgets or use an app or wait a week (or even a day) to watch the things I want to see. Right now, I have 300+ channels, two DVRs, and full-access HBO. And the price is $50 more than what I was paying for basic cable without a DVR. I do use an app so I can record things right from my phone in case I forgot to set it at home, but other than that, I keep things simple. I have no clue how to use all of these other boxes and modems and apps, and maybe if I had a handyman, I’d use them.
  3. I use internet for internet things. I use my internet for my blog, to reserve library books, and to check Twitter and my email. I don’t use it to stream TV shows or movies – and because of that, my internet is pretty cheap. If I cut cable and used apps, I’d have to up my internet, and then you start getting into what’s actually worth the investment?
  4. There’s things you can’t get from apps, plugins, subscriptions, etc. Often times, you can’t watch live events like the Super Bowl or the Grammy’s when you don’t have cable. You have to wait until the next day, or perhaps just not watch at all. Although most cable networks, like ABC or NBC, have apps for their shows, some don’t – many shows like those on Bravo or E!, aren’t accessible outside of cable… and I fucking LOVE Bravo.
  5. Everyone spends their money on different things. I think cutting cable is a great idea if you’re looking to put your money toward something else – travel, family, a house, fine dining – whatever you fancy. For me, I love pop culture. Watching TV is my way to keep up with what’s happening, and in some sense, see a world I may not otherwise see. I figure as long as I still keep up with my job, my side hustle, reading my 1 book a week, and hitting the dance studio, TV isn’t taking over my life. But everyone spends their money and time on different things, and for me, TV is a very small investment into my happiness. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

So, there! I’m keeping my cable for as long as I love it. Are you a cable cutter? I’d love to hear what benefits you’ve gotten from getting rid of the stuff: more money for travel or more time for tackling something you’ve always wanted to. Let’s hear it!

Creating a self-care plan.

It's time to take care of ourselves, first.

It’s time to take care of ourselves, first.

The term “self-care” has been swirling around the interwebs since at least the end of 2015, which makes me a little late to the game, per-usual. The truth is, I never really gave it much thought until recently – and for good reason.

I know I’ve been alluding to “tough times” lately, and I’ll explain. If it isn’t blatantly obvious, I’m a democrat in every single way. I try not to make this a political space, and I won’t go too deep here, but yeah, shit has been pretty rough these days.

When things happen, as in things that are reported in the news, I debate to myself whether or not I should say something on this blog. Some readers say this blog IS their news, so I don’t want someone to miss out on anything big. Do I do a little, “Uh, hey, Trump has fuuuucked things up again, TODAY” – memo?

Let me back up a little. I have always loved watching the news, keeping up with things, and in general, just being informed. And I know the 24-hour news circuit has haunted our world since the Jon Benet case, but I really didn’t feel the effects until last week.

You see, I work in a political field, and I do digital communications, i.e. I monitor Twitter, a lot. So, I’ve seen alllllll the Trump Tweets many times over. At the end of the work day, I was starting to feel really heavy, like my shoes were filled with cement.

To combat this, I have been watching “The Daily Show” every single night. I need someone to make light of this, of anything, something to make me laugh and tell me that I’m not going to blow up while I sleep.

But the night that Trump fired Sally Yates, “The Daily Show” didn’t touch on it, because obviously it’s taped during the day, and the Trump administration is so entirely insane, that even in just two hours, the world can be completely flipped, border patrol and protestors with handmade signs, included. How the hell does this happen?

I decided right then and there that I’ve got to do something to take care of myself. Because I see things going on, and I’m trying to make the change during my 9-5, and although I want to jump into my car and protest the shit out of pretty much every damn thing coming out of that White House, I must take care of myself first.

And so, I need a self-care plan. For many, part of their self-care plan is to stay off social media, or to only stay on for certain chunks of time. I don’t have that option when it comes to my job. Luckily, there are other things I can do to avoid going insane.

Here are some ideas I came up with:

  • At-home manis and pedis
  • Intentionally schedule “me” time
  • Clean out the closet and donate the unwanted items to a place that does good things
  • Spend less time with the phone/iPad/computer, etc.
  • Take a cooking class
  • Take more walks – even if it’s just around the neighborhood
  • Attend a local high school sporting event
  • Take an online class (I’ve still go to learn screenwriting this year)
  • Get crafty/artsy (hello, Pinterest)
  • Listen to this song more often:

When I was looking up ideas for self care, turns out, I actually do a lot of these things already: write a blog, spend time with a pet, cook, dance, sleep in on the weekends, write letters…

I’d love to know what you’re doing for your self-care plan – perhaps reading this blog is part of it, which is another reason why politics are generally not invited here. So let’s hear what you’re doing for self-care; or ideas you have for those of us who need it.

Introducing my spiritual masters.

Broadway playwright and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Broadway playwright and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

A few months ago, I was listening to the “Happier” podcast hosted by Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft. In each episode, they offer a tip you can try at home that might make your daily life a little happier.

In one episode, their tip was to “Imitate a spiritual master”, basically someone you can look to for guidance, or perhaps someone that can inspire you when you need a little push. I’d never really though about having a spiritual leader, but Elizabeth said hers was Barbra Walters.

Uh, yes! I’d always thought it would have to be someone like Ghandi or the Dalai Lama (both would be fantastic spiritual leaders).

Ever since then, I’ve been thinking about who my spiritual masters are, especially in these times – I have a feeling I’m going to be looking to them a lot. So, I made a list:

Lin-Manuel Miranda

“Hamilton” creator and performer Lin-Manuel Miranda was the FIRST person I put on my list of spiritual masters. Frankly, he’s so freakin’ awesome, I think I could have a list of JUST him.

Yesterday, the Oscar nominations were announced, and Miranda is nominated for Best Original Song. Not only is it just another thing that makes him cooler, but it puts him closer to something only few can dream of: an EGOT – a rare title one gets after winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Damn.

As mentioned in a New York Times article, “Mr. Miranda has two Grammys, one for the cast recording to his 2008 Broadway musical “In the Heights” and another for his smash hit “Hamilton.” He has personally won three Tony awards (and his musicals have collected many more). He won an Emmy for his work on the music and lyrics at the 2013 Tony award show.”

So why is Miranda one of my spiritual masters? Aside from being a wildly talented writer and performer that I can look up to, what I look up to most about him is his attitude. He’s willing to speak openly about his political views, but remain positive on a daily basis.

Seriously, when you’re in need of guidance, just go to his Twitter feed @Lin_Manuel and get a dose of sunshine.

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Issa Rae

I first heard of Ms. Issa Rae on the HBO series “Insecure”, which premiered in the fall of last year. I pretty much loved the pilot episode and couldn’t get enough of it after that. Little did I know that Issa was more than just an actress on the show.

After graduating from Stanford and attending the New York Film Academy, Issa had started to build her reputation as a screenwriter and a video producer. She created a series on YouTube, “Awkward Black Girl”, that has more than 200,000 subscribers.

The fantastic and gorgeous, Issa Rae.

The fantastic and gorgeous, Issa Rae.

She later turned her web series into a book (which I am currently on a waiting list for at the library), and it quickly became a New York Times bestseller. And then HBO came a-knockin’ and she actually was given a budget to turn her YouTube series into a hit on network television.

She da-bomb! Yeah, I just said that. She’s beautiful, hilarious, and sharp as hell – I cannot help but look up to this woman.

“It’s a bit cliche, but you can’t go wrong by writing what you know. Even if you’re a horrible writer, your own knowledge and experience is unrivaled. Nobody knows what you know like you know what you know. The way you see things is pretty unique.” – Issa Rae

Trevor Noah

I know I can’t be the only one that’s basically looking to comedian and host of “The Daily Show”, Trevor Noah to guide us through the next four years. I’ve limited my new coverage to 10 minutes of “TODAY” each morning, and then leave it up to Trevor to pick up the pieces each night before bed.

Born in South Africa, Noah comes from a very interesting background which he talks about in his book, “Born a Crime“, and serves as a lense for his unique sense of humor.

One of my biggest concerns in the coming years is how the press is going to handle it all (aside from that whole nuclear thing). We need journalists who are going to be blunt, and check the President on everything. And Noah just so happens to do it with a laugh.

“We get angry about the small things sometimes, I feel, so that we feel like we’re doing something, so that we don’t have to tackle the big things. And it’s fine; let people do that. But I’m not gonna now change because of that. You know? Like, the worst thing that happens to me is you don’t like me. And then what?” -Trevor Noah

Anna Kendrick

I didn’t really get the craze surrounding Anna Kendrick until I read her memoir, “Scrappy Little Nobody” last week… and I loved it. Of course, she was awesome in”Pitch Perfect”, but I had no clue she’s been working her little butt off since she was 12!

The lovely Anna Kendrick.

The lovely Anna Kendrick.

Not only does she have drive, but she’s hilarious, humble, and has a “take it or leave it” attitude when it comes to men and dating, which is just the kind of advice I need from a spiritual master.

“Maybe I am stepping up in the world. Pretty soon I’m going to be 30 and making dope carrot soup and will have my sh-t together.” – Anna Kendrick

JohnJay Van Es

I can’t have a list of spiritual masters without including JohnJay Van Es, co-host of the best radio show ever, “JohnJay and Rich”.

While I know cohosts of the show, Rich and Kyle, would get a big kick out of my trusting of JohnJay with my spiritual guidance, but I’ll explain. I started listening to the show years ago, during a time when my job was pretty rough.

JohnJay Van Es.

JohnJay Van Es.

I found daily solace in listening to their jokes, phone pranks, and the simple chatter of small problems. Little did I know, I was about to lose my job, and when I did, I kept listening to the show. It was sometimes the only thing I looked forward to each day.

Years later, I am still listening every day, and I love laughing along with JohnJay as he tells the stories from his insane life. He’s also the creator of a kindness movement, LoveUp, which promotes random acts of kindness of all sizes, each and every day. It’s changed how I look at the world, and I can’t thank him enough.

There you have it! I’d love to know who your spiritual masters are these days – who knows, maybe I’ll add them to my list!