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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.

 

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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 

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.

‘Mariah’s World’: Got Me Feeling Emotions.

Hey girl, hey.

Hey girl, hey.

Hey, hey! Wow, last week was pretty huge in my little corner of the world. It was my first week at a new job, and we have a new President. I also went to Mexico for the second time in my life, but I had my first taste of panchos, ate roasted street corn, fresh fruit seasoned with chile, and took tons of beautiful pictures in the streets of Progresso.

Since last week, I now work in a pretty emotional, controversial line of work. While this work is meaningful to me, I’ve learned quickly just how important it is to keep those things that bring me happiness nearby.

Now, I try not to get too political here, and I won’t today, but I know many people are sad, or scared, about the times ahead. I get it, and I’m hoping you’ll take my same advice. Keep doing the things you love. Whether its reading romance novels, or watching true crime shows, or maintaining a garden. Do it.

I think sometimes its easy to get caught up in all the work we have to do – work for our country, the causes we care about. But in order to tackle those things, we need to be in good spirits; we need rest, we need to be healthy – we need to be at our best in order to give our best.

And so, last night I watched another episode of “Mariah’s World” (along with an episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta) and took a nice long bath. These things are important, too!

Ok, so let’s get into the episode!

Mariah is still on tour in Paris, and she’s casually sitting in bed reading fan mail. As in literal letters, which Mariah didn’t know people actually did! Fans, they’re just like us! Wait…

She is talking to Stella about how James had to go home and she wishes she had more time to spend with him, but she doesn’t, and that’s just how it is.

Tanaka got an MRI to find out exactly what’s wrong with his leg, and as he awaits the results, you can tell he is DEVASTATED. He finally realized Mariah is with James, and he can’t even dance away his cares.

On the next flight, the entire drama about the tour bus with the kids comes up again. Lawd. Anthony has basically spent a month ignoring Mary Ann after he basically threatened to quit if he had to stay on the bus with a kid.

The next stop on the tour is Amsterdam, and Tanaka finds out he has a cracked kneecap. He needs to rest for four weeks. So, no more tour for Tanaka! The bigger issue is, if it doesn’t heal properly, it will be another 6 months, and that could be the end of a career.

When Mariah gets word (right before the show), she’s terrified that he’s leaving the show and going home (but whyyyyy).

So, the team comes up with the idea that they need to cheer him up and should bring him on stage for a lap dance when Mariah sings “Touch My Body”. It was a litttttle awkward, even for me, sitting in my apartment by myself.

Mary Ann finally approaches Anthony and tells him (kindly) how much he hurt her because she respected him so much. He understands and apologizes, and all is well.

Later, the gang heads out to a place that sells pot brownies and space cakes, since weed is legal in Amsterdam. Mariah gets a nice chocolate cupcake – laced.

While everyone is obviously having a good time, Mariah decides to prank one of the dancers by hopping into bed with him while he’s sleeping – fully clothed – and then waking him up to think something more happened.

Mariah’s twins have a birthday coming up and the tour is taking everyone to South Africa. There is a very sweet moment when Mariah brings her kids on stage with a ton of blue and pink balloons and sings “Always be my Baby”…awww!

After the show, everyone is on the bus and the wine is flowwwwing, and Mariah and Tanaka come so close to kissing like five times.

And that’s the end of the episode! I’m pretty sure next week is the finale, although it wasn’t advertised as such. However, basically it shows Mariah unsure of whether or not she’s going to marry James, and then she’s running on the beach with Tanaka… hmm!

How to make the most of it.

The world is your oyster!

The world is your oyster!

A big part of this blog is me figuring out how to make the most of any situation. People say it all the time, “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!” But no one ever talks about HOW we’re supposed to make the most of it.

So, I’ve taken a look at some typical situations and attempted to figure out how to make the most of them, or at least try to.

How to make the most of your time.

In high school, I had a history teacher that asked us what we would do if we could do whatever we wanted in 24 hours. I don’t remember what I said I’d do, but I do remember calculating that in order to do everything I wanted, I needed 26 hours.

I’d say most people probably have that issue: there’s never enough time. And then someone snaps back with, “Well Beyonce has 24 hours in a day, too!” Yeah, she does, but she also has a staff.

Instead of wishing for more time, you’ve got to look at the time you DO have, and then figure out how you’re already spending it, what things are sucking up your time, and how you want to utilize your newly found free time.

Start by looking at the time you have: everyone does have 24 hours in a day, and 168 hours in a week. Take a look at how you spend your time – and subtract it from your 168 hours, just as you would a bank account.

Of course, there’s things you have to do – like work 40 hours. But do you always work through lunch when maaaaybe you don’t have to? I’m guilty of this, but even if you vow to take one lunch break a week, that’s an hour you could read the book collecting dust on your nightstand.

Once you track where your time is going, pick things you can remove – maybe your time is being taken by checking Facebook several times a day or watching too much TV when you’d rather be doing something else.

Even if there’s an extra 15 minutes here or there you can find – that’s time you can devote to something on your to-do list, or something you’ve been putting off. Cheers to finding hidden hours in your week!

How to make the most of your workout.

I know a lot of people made 2017 resolutions to lose weight or to work out more. But in the essence of time, why not just make the most out of your workout?

When I lived in Baton Rouge, I spent a few years really getting into fitness, and I worked out several times a week at a boxing gym. All I did was go to a boxing or kickboxing class for one hour 4-5 times each week, and it was the best I think I ever looked and felt.

Sure the workouts were tough as nails, but in one hour, I burned a ton of calories and got strength training. I even met some awesome friends while I was at it!

I take a similar approach to my workouts now that I live in Austin. I take dance classes several times a week (I took 7 last week), and even though it may not burn as many calories as the boxing classes, I’ve gained confidence, built physical strength, made friends, and get to express myself creatively – all while burning fat!

So, find a workout that’s going to work for you in more ways than one: maybe it’s something you love, maybe it’s a chance for you to see a friend each week, or maybe it’s just seriously intense (hi, pilates) and you’ll see results quickly.

Whatever you do, don’t just go to a gym and mindlessly do the eliptical, because that burns about 0 calories and you’re going to be wasting your time.

How to make the most of your weekend.

If you work Monday-Friday, 9-5, then you probably rely on your weekend to really get things done, or possibly to just party and let loose. I used to use my weekends to clean and cook, and while I felt productive, I also felt tired on Monday mornings.

So I started doing my household “chores” during the week. As shitty as it sounds, it’s not bad. I made a list of all the little things that need to be done: litter box, sweep, mop, trash, wipe mirrors, etc. Then I bought a dry erase calendar from the Dollar Tree and stuck it to my fridge and put one or two chores for each night of the week.

Of course, doing chores after I’ve worked all day and gone to a dance class isn’t really a party, but most of these chores take maybe 5-10 minutes, so if I want to watch TV, I can usually get it done on a commercial break.

It also helps if you spend just 5 minutes picking up before you hit the sack; then when you wake up in the morning, you’re not greeted by a giant mess.

So, if you get your chores done – or a majority of them done – during the week, you can use your weekend to do something more fun, or work on a bigger project you’ve been wanting to do.

How to make the most of your sleep.

I used to be a very troubled sleeper, and if I’m not careful, then I will have a shitty night’s sleep and that pretty much ruins everything.

Of course, different things work for different people but this is what’s worked for me. I started by finding an all-natural sleep aid that I like (it’s called Rest EZ and it’s from Melaleuca). It helps me relax when I’m ready for bed and helps me stay asleep without feeling groggy in the morning.

Secondly, I stopped drinking during the week, and honestly, I cut back on drinking in general. Date an abusive alcoholic and that’ll all but ruin drinking for you. Sometimes, a glass of wine seems like it will help you relax and sleep, but for me, it made for a lesser-quality sleep and often led to really weird nightmares.

Next, I set a bedtime for myself. Sounds silly, but it helps me get to bed in time to actually sleep enough to function the next day. I use the bedtime app that’s already on my iPhone, and it has a little alarm that goes off when I need to go to bed. If I don’t go to bed then, I am consciously making that decision to be tired the next day.

Other things you may consider doing: using essential oils to help you relax and sleep, making sure electronics and lights are off while you sleep, or maybe even investing in nice sheets or a more comfortable mattress.

Want to get shit done while you sleep? Get one of those facial masks that works to improve your skin while you sleep – I’ve also seen other skin creams you can apply before bed that work while you sleep; or maybe go to bed with the lotion socks or gloves on.

How to make the most of a shitty situation.

Whether you’re stuck on a bad date, had a terrible day, or are running late to something super important, there’s a few things you can do to make it suck less.

One thing I always try to do is figure out what I can immediately learn from the situation so it either doesn’t happen again, or I can prepare better for it next time.

Then, I try and put it into perspective: is this something that’s going to matter tomorrow? In a week? In a year? And react accordingly. Try not to beat yourself up over something small, or something that’s out of your control.

And finally, it sounds cheesy, but find the good in the situation – even if it’s something small. I spent the last 15 months of my life pulling data and dumping it into spreadsheets, but I got to listen to about 45 hours worth of podcast material every week and I kind of loved it. So, there’s that!

…And there you have it! If you’ve got additional tips for my list, feel free to leave them in the comments.

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Pic of the Week.

Easy like a Sunday mornin'.

Easy like a Sunday mornin’.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I am ATTEMPTING to make more time for myself; time to actually relax and/or do the things I love to do. In the last few days, yes, I’ve had to work several 8-9 hour shifts, but I also found plenty of time to do things for myself.

For starters, I spent my Sunday morning on the patio with a stack of magazines and a giant mug of coffee. It was nice and sunny, and very quiet. These were magazines I’d been waiting to read for probably two months.

I sat, I sipped, I read, and I stretched my legs out in hopes of getting some sun. In college, I always saved Sunday to do absolutely nothing. What I really would do is sleep in, make coffee and a giant breakfast (usually French toast), and read the New York Times in bed pretty much all day. It was heaven; and I’m always trying my best to bring Sundays like that back into my life. So, a few hours on the patio felt really nice.

Since I got my record player, I’ve spent more time just listening to music. It’s something I probably haven’t done in years. I got a great surprise in the mail last week — John Mayer’s Continuum on vinyl — and Saturday night, I’m not ashamed to say I poured myself a glass of wine and danced alone in my living room to “Gravity,” before watching “Sex With Brody” for the first time (if you haven’t watched this, you’ve got to!).

In the last year, I’ve accepted the fact that I’m getting older. I don’t look as thin as I once did, I’ve got more wrinkles (deservedly so), and looking decent takes a lot more work (you should see my makeup bag). But, I have always enjoyed doing things that make me feel good about myself, and trying new things that are going to help me feel confident.

For my birthday, I got a ton of new beauty products to try and in return, I think I’m looking super young and fresh (wink)! I got some Radiant Under Eye Treatments (containing diamond and collagen!) that are fantastic. I also got a set of three face masks by Peter Thomas Roth: the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask (for congested skin), the Rose Stem Cell gel mask (for anti-aging), and…. drumroll… the 24K Gold Mask (for lift, firmness, and glow)!

The 24K Gold Mask is the only one of the group I haven’t used yet, but keep an eye out on my Instagram (@OrangeJulius7) because it’s going to happen ASAP. Like tonight. This mask is infused with 24K gold, so it’s got a nice metallic look in the jar, and I’m assuming it will look the same on my face. I cannot wait.

And last, but not least, I finally got some time to hit up the tanning bed (told you my wrinkles were well-deserved) and then fit in a boxing class yesterday. I’m sore as hell, but I know it’s good for me, and it’s just another step in making me feel my best!