How Does Journaling Help?

There is, of course, a myriad of choices for support for the anxious person of today. Any Google search will give you a list of things to do, symptoms, prescribed and not-prescribed help. While no academic expert, I can give a story and some personal advice as to what kept me sane.

The journals I kept through High School

High school was far-and-away one of the most stressful experiences of my life, and not for the usual reasons. During the economic crash of 2008, my family lost our job and our house just before I started 9th grade. We lived in the homes of church families for a year.

The first house was with the Anderson family. Their family of six was accommodating and gave us spots within their house to sleep. My parents took the teenage girl’s basement bedroom, while she moved in with her littlest sister. The youngest boy slept with his parents and the middle daughter and I shared a room. My little brother set up a bed in the open basement. There we lived for three tension-filled months.

The four of us then moved in with a foster mom with experience in sharing her space. I shared with two daughters my age, my brother slept in their homeschool bedroom, and my parents took the master. The foster mom slept on the couch where she was already sleeping to keep an ear on the babies in the nursery. We shared that space with several foster kids in our nine months there. One was a small baby who had partially drowned and remained in a coma through her short month stay with us. One a twelve-year-old boy with severe autism and clubbed feet and hands.

Two babies came through that the foster mom adopted: a tiny baby with primordial dwarfism that looked like a doll, and a baby who was left in a hotel room and rolled off the bed, ending up with a severe brain bleed. The baby with dwarfism has since grown into an active girl who speaks using sign language, and the baby who had the brain bleed is now a prodigy elementary school boy.

Our divorced family was also going through some very personal drama, and all the while the undercurrent of stress about money lived in our minds. Meanwhile, I also turned 15 and was learning to cope with a measure of adulthood, feeling lonely beyond belief in my seemingly more mature problems and pretending it didn’t exist to family and friends. We moved out into a house my grandparents bought in 2009.

Luckily for me, just a week before we lost our house I was on a trip to Montana where I bought a composition notebook on an impulse and began to write everything that was going on during my day and my thoughts about it all. During that year of homelessness, I went through four notebooks. I rarely wrote about the real problems: hearing fights, wearing socks with holes in them because I didn’t want to be a burden, feeling like I was no matter what I did. I wrote about church drama. I wrote when I was scared or felt neglected. I learned to channel my energy to things that were easier to grasp. I’d write long soliloquys about the petty stuff and would graze over the big stuff, barely touching it.

I kept the habit up until 11th grade, when my loneliness threatened to overwhelm me and I felt that what used to be petty stuff had become big stuff. I was afraid that writing it all down would make me feel it more. I felt ostracized by my homeschooling and lost in the house we lived in. I had learned to bottle it up to keep from being a burden, so when I acted out, it always took everyone by surprise.

I now wish I had never stopped writing. Writing gave me a voice when I felt like I couldn’t talk. I’d complain about my roommates during homelessness and bemoan that I felt unworthy of friends or crushes, and it made me feel better to get it out to something that wouldn’t immediately say “That’s ridiculous, everything’s fine.” It felt like I could be me on the paper, even if I felt I couldn’t be me anywhere else. It’s a habit I’m trying to find again.

So this is me, 8 years later, trying again to get my feelings and myself down on paper. To stop feeling held back by what I “should” feel and just say how I really feel.

Here are some journaling prompts that I will use and I hope you’ll use them, too. Let me know how they go in the comments.

Journaling Prompts:

  • What happened today that made me feel sad?
  • What happened today that made me feel happy?
  • What parts of today did I have no control over?
  • What parts of the day did I mess up?
  • What do I really feel about what today was like and how would I rate it on a scale of 1-10?
  • Did today affect what I think of my future?
  • If I look back on today, will I feel like it was a good/bad day still?
  • Can I do anything about the situation I am in now?
  • What do I wish had turned out differently about today?
  • If I could make someone see one thing about how I really felt, what would I choose and how would it have changed anything?
  • If I could go back and change something about the day, what would I change?
  • If I was angry today, what do I wish I could have or would have said?

CBD for Anxiety Relief

When I was in college, a ton of people started to pop up around me talking about the magic qualities of natural oils. I sent out a signal once on our school Facebook group that I needed some DayQuil/NyQuil for a sinus infection I had. One girl reached out and had me go to her room, where she told me she didn’t actually have medicine, but she had oregano oil and had me rub it on my chest.

I went back to my room still stuffy, pretty annoyed, and smelling like a pizza.

When I first heard about CBD oil, I had all but made up my mind that it was a bunch of hoopla mixed with placebo effect. When I heard that it had “proven” effects for helping things like anxiety, weight management, joint pain and poor sleep, my ears perked up. I looked into the science behind CBD and spoke with a wellness doctor.

I found that CBD is harvested from hemp. Hemp is cannabis that contains 0.3% or less THC (the part that makes you high). CBD & THC both affect the release of neurotransmitters in your brain, which are the agents by which we receive messages of pain, stress, sleep and your immune system. The key difference is that chemically, CBD doesn’t bind to CB1 receptors in your brain and hence doesn’t produce the same psychoactive effects that THC does.healthline.com

So for someone with chronic pain or stress, CBD dulls those parts of the brain that communicate that pain or stress. CBD also works to relax the body by dulling those senses, making it easier to fall asleep. All other effects that CBD is often related to all tie back to that dulling: weight management is easier when your stress and cortisol levels are lower. It can be used to treat seizures because of that same relaxing effect, and so on.

The quality of oil you get matters, however. Knowing where the oil is sourced, how well its effects are researched from a particular brand, and the quality of the plant they pull from all matter. I can’t speak to any other brands, but on my research I found Equilibria, a brand that says it is specifically made for women and offers dosage specialists to help you find the amount and time that works best for you. (This is not a paid promotion, this is just what I found!)

I started with their daily dropper. After a week, the dosage specialist recommended I split my 10mg dose, one 5mg in the afternoon and the other 5mg around dinner.

I made an Instagram post when I first started, so a lot of my friends knew I was trying it out and they asked me how it was going. I showed them my chart I use to track the general calorie range I eat from day to day.

My system quickly shows me my ebb and flow during a week – a green day is under 1800 calories, a yellow day is under 2300 calories and a red day is over those.

My chart in October showed 2-3 red days a week with 1 or 2 green days. Those first three weeks in November I saw an instant change: I had 1 red day and I was stuffed. I still had only 2 or 3 green days, but I was sticking around yellow days mostly and felt really satisfied. If you remember my Emotional Eating post, you’ll know that I can tie most of my over-eating and binge episodes to emotional/stress related things.

That lowered stress (during election week of all things) was having an insane impact on my eating habits. I also stopped taking melatonin to sleep and found it was easier to wake up. I felt over-all calmer – I didn’t feel like I was hovering near an edge, about to fall off.

It’s now been over two months, and I find that missing my evening dose makes me hungrier at night, and missing both doses makes me feel frazzled. I don’t feel that this is a side-effect so much as I believe this is how my normal once was, and returning to it is really jarring.

Overall, I recommend CBD! Which is not what I thought I would be saying. I thought trying it would put the idea out of my head and I’d have to go back to my pell-mell way of coping. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not 100% better or have 0 bad days anymore, but I’ve found it easier to get back up and easier to avoid than before.

How did your experience with CBD go? What other brands do you recommend? Let me know here, in my contact form, or on Instagram!

https://www.instagram.com/allroadsleadtoyum

New Year’s Resolutions 2021

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the last 20 or so years of your life making “New Year’s Resolutions” that are supposed to make you into a “NEW YOU.” The thought of a new number on the calendar and Januaries bring in this chaotic idea that this is the Monday-est of Monday’s – this is the perfect time to create a whole bunch of new habits! I’m going to:

  • Go to the gym four times a week! (When I’ve been going once or maybe twice)
  • Eat nothing but whole foods! (When I know I have no time to really prepare meals)
  • Learn to speak a new language! (Duolingo will remind me to do it)
  • Stop playing video games so much! (Disregard that it’s the way you bond with your husband)
  • Read 2 new books a month! (When I haven’t read a book since 2018)

And somehow starting all of this AT THE SAME TIME is definitely not going to make me into the Grinchiest, meanest, and most-lacking of any self-love, care or space person ever….. right?

You might see where I’m going with this. However, I don’t think the process needs to be thrown out entirely.

How to “Keep” Your New Year’s Resolutions
  1. Before writing your New Year’s Resolutions, take some time to deeply reflect on the things you want. What did you want to do last year that you didn’t do and why didn’t it happen? Why do you want what you say you want? Do the same resolutions reappear every year? What goes wrong?
    • Taking the time to reflect will hopefully open up room for you to find some more unique resolutions better suited to you. Do you really want to lose X amount of pounds or do you want to feel comfortable in your body? Maybe your reading goal last year didn’t work because you thought an audio book wouldn’t count.
  2. While you write your New Year’s Resolutions, come up with achievable mini-goals to help you get there. Ask yourself questions like, “What actionable steps will lead me to this goal? What is a milestone I would like to cross? What sort of thing would I like to see happen before I’ve even finished? What ways can I reward myself along the way?”
    • Questions like this will help you create a tier-system to your goals. If you want to feel healthier, you could add walking the dog a little farther as a step to reaching it. If you’re looking to stop biting your nails, maybe schedule a nail appointment for a month out that will require your nails to be long enough.
  3. During January and February understand that you are likely to slip up. Give yourself the grace to do so. Remind yourself of things like, “You’ve come this far. This doesn’t ruin your progress, it’s just an encouragement to pick up where I left off.” Remind yourself of the achievements you’ve made!
    • “I’ve seen a change in the way my pants fit.” “I already finished a book!” “If I went two weeks without biting my nails once, let’s make it three!”
No Matter What

Whatever happens, understand that January is not some magical cure for your motivation (just as it’s not the magical cure for 2020!). It gives that motivation and inspiration because we all chose to look at it that way. There is no special sauce, no secret ingredient.

So set goals every day, week, month, year, 5 years, decade, and so on, because motivation is where you find it.

2020 brought me:

  • My blog and brand
  • My D&D group
  • A passion for crocheting
  • New friends
  • Time with my brother
  • A new job
  • Uninterrupted time with my husband

Below are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2021

My New Year’s Resolutions
  1. Stop biting my nails
    • Plan a nail appointment for February 1
    • Paint my nails often
    • I’d love to get a compliment on my nail polish, so I’m going to buy something special.
  2. Read 12 Books This Year
    • Last year I read 6 books, all audio and in the car while traveling. That seemed to work well.
    • I’ll get an audible subscription and leave a sign out in the living room to remind me of something else I can do.
  3. Make More Food At Home
    • When I’m not wanting to eat food at home, it’s usually because I don’t have the food I want in the house, or I don’t have the time/energy that day.
      • Purchase more “quick” meals for home
      • Buy food to make at home that is similar to what I would eat out.
        • This means I’ll have to try my hand at pretzels, flatbread, breadsticks, burrito bowls, cocktails, and more!
  4. Save Money for a House
    • In order to do this, we’ll have to knuckle down on a budget.
    • Sit down with husband for monthly strategy sessions.
    • Have 75% saved by the end of the year, so having 40% saved by July should be reasonable.

Agreeable

Is it better to be agreeable? Truly?

I’ve heard it all my life: how easy I make everyone’s lives, how well I listen, how I fill the gap and take initiative. These are all good traits, I’m sure. I’m sure there are people who don’t have these that wish they did, but maybe… this is counter-intuitive for me.

The Enneagram

There are millions of tests on the internet: “Which cheese are you?” “Which Disney prince should you marry?” “How weird are you?” There’s no shortage of them. However, most of the tests don’t reveal so much as they do just confirm biases you already have about yourself.

The Enneagram is unique in that it is not only over 100 years in the making, but that it is used to find your motivations, your drives, your failings, and so much more. It is recommended that you don’t have someone who is an expert examine you and decide what you are, but rather that self-discovery leads you to the place where you find who you are in an honest way.

However, honesty is not always easy… especially with ourselves. Take it from me: I was certain I was a 3: The Effective Person. The person who is an achiever and seeks nothing but achievement in all things to feel effective in the world. Every person I spoke to agreed with me.

When I started working at my current job, they sent me the test from WEPSS.com. They paid the $10 fee for me, and I took the 200 impression-question quiz. It took about 20-30 minutes. What came out on the other side has made me re-evaluate so much about the way I present myself to the world. Let me show you my results:

Out came the realization that I was, in fact, a 2: The Loving Person, with a WING of 3. The nickname of a 2-3 is “The Host.” This person shows the characteristics of a 3 (drive to succeed), but does them with a 2’s motivation: receiving love.

The 8 line indicates that under stressful conditions, I resort to an 8 manifestation: I become a little more assertive and willing to set limits. The 4 line shows that when I am relaxed, I become more like a 4: I can become more aware of my unique qualities as well as my needs and wants.

Used with permission from WEPSS.com.

This didn’t quite convince me I wasn’t a 3. Until I read this:

“During your early development, you were very aware of your interdependence with others. This awareness became distorted when important people in your life gave you approval for giving to them, helping them, and not asking much from them in return. When you directly expressed your own needs, you were probably met with indifference, disapproval, or abandonment. Thus you came to believe that your own needs would not be met until you first met the needs of others. When you were a child, you may have even acted like a parent to your own parents in order to get their affection.”

This paragraph made me cry as it hit me, and I re-read the email results over and over again.

I’m a two: a person who does all they do to receive love. They feel motivated by love and acceptance and making a difference. They become more stressed when they feel unloved or neglected, or when they fail to accomplish their goals.

Being Easy

Early on, I learned that being easy was the best way to receive love and acceptance. The easier I was to be around – the more quiet I was about my own needs – the better. I learned to just run with every task given to me and find little goals to make myself feel better it. This tactic works well. Bosses, other parents, teachers – they’ve all loved me and my “drive to succeed.” What they don’t know is that it’s actually a “drive to be appreciated.”

So what happens when I do this all of the time?

  • I don’t tell my husband when I’m really wanting something in an effort to be easy.
  • Finances become a source of stress because I don’t want to limit others’ spending, but limit myself to make up for it.
  • Bosses give me task after task and I’m unwilling to share that I’m unhappy doing something.
  • I stretch myself thin for friends and family when they’re visiting and become unhappy when it seems unappreciated (though I’d never show it).

The key is communication, obviously. But communication seems impossible when it feels like telling someone how you feel will inconvenience them, upset them, bother them, or do anything else, really, but make them love you. My brain connects that holding my needs in will make them love and accept me.

Not communicating, however, is likely going to do much worse to me. Again, the answer is obvious: when stating your needs you always sandwich requests: good-bad-good. You give appreciation, you say what you need/want/desire, you offer a way for that to happen, and boom – both parties can walk away still feeling good… but, Lord, do I overthink.

It’s time. It won’t happen all at once, but I have to learn that people won’t hate me for saying what I want or how I feel, and if they do… I need to be okay with that.

Comment your strategies or let me know if you’ve ever felt this way!

I Tried the Green Week

I have been attempting to come up with a system of “dieting” that allows me to feel freedom and avoid binge-ing and anxiety. I came up with and tested the idea of a “Green Week” – a week where I spend 7 days eating between 1400-1750 calories a day.

I posted along the way on my Instagram story, but here below is a journal record of each day:

Saturday, September 12 – Day One

First day completed – not too shabby. The only draw back I experienced was going out to eat that night. We had some friends over and went to eat at my favorite local Mexican BBQ place. Normally, I would order a beautiful large Kansas BBQ Nachos, but today I ordered the small and a margarita. Surprisingly, I felt very satisfied when I finished.

When we stopped by a frozen yogurt shop, I ordered a latte instead and capped my calories at 1750. I would have felt a little left out if not for the latte – but I rank lattes and ice cream at the same pleasure level, so I was very happy.

Sancho’s Kansas BBQ Nachos are heaven – if you haven’t tried them, you haven’t lived.

Sunday, September 13 – Day Two

My husband and I walked around a local park and played Pokemon Go and bought ourselves some coffees. We ate at home, and I had mostly starches and proteins that kept me pleasantly full: even after our long walk that morning. 1600 calories

Monday, September 14 – Day Three

First day back to work for the week, and I’m always motivated on Mondays. I was already hungry when I got to work, so I had a granola bar. I made a protein shake at work (y’all should be jealous – we get a free smoothie every day for either breakfast or lunch). The husband had thawed some salmon for us to have for dinner. We polished off a filet each and some rice and I had a baked potato.

We finished the day feeling like we needed something sweet, but we luckily had some Ghost Chips Ahoy protein laying around. We each had a Chips Ahoy shake and I finished the day at 1550.

Tuesday, September 15 – Day Four

This was an EASY day. I was sore from a workout, which was reminding me to make good choices for the rest of the day. I had a coffee, a granola bar, a shake, and made some homemade fried rice ready at home.

I also walked 11,000 steps and finished the day at 1500 cal.

Homemade Fried Rice – click for recipe
Wednesday, September 16 – Day Five

This day was a hard day – I had only a coffee for breakfast, and some left over fried rice for lunch. I ordered some DoorDash for a friend and I to get some Sonic (frozen lemonades for the win) and the husband made some Beef Stroganoff that I horked down really quickly. By the end of the day I was still hungry and only had about 200 calories left.

I finished it off with a baked potato (I have been LOVING baked potatoes lately) and finished the day at barely 1750.

Thursday, September 17 – Day Six

Hard by design – I woke up hungry and took no lunch to work. I had a coffee, couldn’t stomach another shake and ordered a breakfast wrap from ProteinHouse. This would normally be okay, as I’d be at 900 calories for the day and could have something filling for dinner – but we had plans.

Our friends came over so we could finish the big finale for my husband’s D&D campaign. We had homemade pizzas (by my estimation, about 700 calories), and I couldn’t resist dipping in the candy bowl several times. Between the drinks I had and the candy I ate, I easily went over a yellow day, and probably into a red day.

Friday, September 18 – Day Seven

I’ve been trying to figure out why yesterday went so poorly, but as I look back on these entries I can see why – when I went to bed on Day Four, I was easily very far below my calories burned for the day. I woke up hungry on Day Five and had nutrient-poor things to eat. Day Six I ordered something that had sounded healthy – a protein-dense lunch, but when I looked up the calories afterward, the avocado and other items inside had racked up the calorie count to close to 900.

So when dinner came, I ate the pizza and wanted sweets. I didn’t restrain myself to just the carrots and by the time I’d had my second drink in hand I knew I was at yellow. I gave myself in to “Oh well, I’ve blown it,” and dove in headfirst. I have to find a way that lets me feel like even if one meal throws me off balance, it’s not too hard to correct.

Today I woke up not very hungry, but could feel it setting in by the time I got to work. I had a granola bar, my coffee, and a friend bought me my first Acai bowl (which was freaking delicious, wow!). By the end of lunch, I had about 700 calories in my system.

Banana Berry Acai Bowl from Nektar

Hubby and I did a Datebox with Happily.co on Friday – we made some scones together (that turned out terrible!) I finished the day barely green!

Aftermath

It is now Monday as I write this, and I’ve already noticed a couple of things:

  • With eating protein and starches still, I’ve found it difficult to even reach high numbers without being morbidly full.
  • I accidentally had a Green Day on Saturday (we spent so much of our evening at IKEA and then building a table, I had forgotten to eat! By the time it was 7:00 I was starting to feel hungry, so I had a baked potato and was pretty quickly satiated.
  • Yellow – 2000 calories seems doable to me now. I think that small period of slight restriction might have been enough for me to… recalibrate? I’m satisfied at 2000, I’m eating foods that don’t take up 1700 calories in one meal, my hunger isn’t as strong as it was…

Overall, it definitely produced some interesting results and I’m excited to try it again next month, and do some research in the interim.

Do you have any questions about how it went? Comment, message, save – I’d love to answer and talk about it.

Green Week

Here we are, about four months after the conception of this blog, and I think it’s time to examine the data! (That sentence sounds a lot more exciting if you imagine Howie Mandel reading it)

As some of you might have seen on my blog, I’ve made my very own version of goal setting and keeping in my Erin Condren LifePlanner – A small box to add to my monthly dashboard that keeps a record of my calories. For the last two and a half months, I have labeled every day I’ve had as either a GREEN day, a YELLOW day, or a RED day.

The idea is that if I got my calories around 1500, then I had a GREEN day. 1500 is the number I’m using because I am mainly sedentary at my job, and I only work out two or three times a week. I still count a 1700 calorie day as a GREEN day.

A YELLOW day, then, is a day where I ate about the same amount of calories that I likely expended, meaning I had no change. I estimate this around 2000, though a lot of calculators might suggest that would be closer to 2400 if my metabolism were to increase.

A RED day is a day where I definitely ate more than I expended. This is a day when I had a second piece of cheesecake, or a day where I was around family and we mindlessly grazed together. (You might see a couple of those around my Labor Day Weekend)

For now, I’m using MyFitnessPal to track the amount of calories in the foods I am eating, but it really is becoming intuitive now. I can usually estimate by the end of the day whether I have had a green, yellow, or red day. That is the hope by the end of this experiment – that I will intuitively know what kind of day I had by thinking back on it, rather than spending my time obsessively adding every ounce of olive oil I put on my toast.

So DATA ANALYSIS TIME > > >

Both July & August I had a near even amount of Green and Red days while being somewhat conscious of my eating. If I were to have eaten recklessly, those green days would not exist at all. So with a slight change, I’ve managed to stop my weight gain (Since I was still working out in the meantime and have been going on walks, some of those yellow days may have counted as green days, but also some of those yellow days may have really been red days in disguise).

In both July and August, I lost 0.4 lb, but as of September 1, have lost:

  • 1.5 inches at my bust
  • 0.5 inches at my waist
  • 0.5 inches at my hips
  • 0.5 inches on each arm

Slow progress is still progress!

#ALLROADSGREENWEEK

So an idea: since my every day has been by-and-large successful, let’s jump start my progress for just one week. For one week a month, I will log every meal on my Instagram story and get Green Days every day.

Then follow that Green Week (patent pending) with a Yellow Week. This is to give my metabolism a chance to catch its breath. Then back to normal for two weeks.

There are tons of pros to the system that I can think of and I’ve outlined them below.

What are your thoughts? Is this a terrible idea? A great idea? Do you want to join me?

#AllRoadsGreenWeek if you do, I’d love to see it!

Here’s how mine went!

Stirring Up

What a week I’ve had… and it’s only Tuesday.

I have felt insanely anxious and on edge since the middle of last week, and I think it started with having to cancel on a friend and I’s walk on Thursday. I had completely forgotten that I was leaving work early for a DMV appointment and that I wouldn’t be able to walk with her at 5pm. Even now, I’m staring at the big red X on my planner across it and feeling that familiar pang of guilt.

I took on the troubles of a dear friend as if they were mine that same night. Then I forgot to call someone about an opportunity for writing. I skipped my workout on Friday, I forgot to listen to a podcast over the weekend, and I binged on cereal on Sunday.

My anxiety comes out as guilt (this is a new revelation for me). I blame myself for ev-er-y-thing. You can imagine how this last week has felt for me. Only now, my therapist has pointed it out. The glass has shattered, and now I see it.

Yesterday, I was overwhelming myself:

  • I pushed a walk with a friend to the weekend to give myself space and then she responded that she would be out of town for the weekend. Immediately, I felt guilty and rude for assuming she’d be free.
  • I left work at 5:02pm and felt guilty for leaving so quickly every day.
  • I realized that a friend and I haven’t talked for four months (since before quarantine) and felt guilty that I hadn’t reached out again (even though the last text was a question from me that she didn’t respond to).
  • I sent an email to the woman I was going to have that call with about writing and she never responded, so I felt guilty and stupid for forgetting to call last Friday.
  • I felt guilty that I asked my brother to do all the dishes when I knew about half of them were mine, but I had been feeling overwhelmed at the time.
  • I felt guilty and sick because of all the cereal I had eaten the day before.
  • I felt guilty that I was already imagining finishing the bag of pasta that I had made (which easily had three servings in it).
  • I berated myself for not apologizing to someone when I know I had nothing to apologize for.

On and on.

So I worked out yesterday, hard. Then I sat in the hot tub at the gym with my husband. I went home and ate the whole bag of pasta (because imagining myself doing it made me do it, I’m sure). I felt anxious and guilty so I took a hot bath, read a self-help book – and then tossed and turned in bed until almost 12:30am.

I finally sat up and told my husband that I was anxious. That all this stuff was getting stirred up and I didn’t know what to do. He asked what he could do and I realized that the dumbest thing was bothering me… my watch.

My Fitbit Versa 2 is a dream, I swear. I love it for my workouts, for my heartrate, for my steps… the problem was that it was at 20% battery. Meaning it had enough charge to last the next day, but it was close enough to dying that I kept thinking about it dying on me. The band was wrapped around my wrist and bothering me, but I knew I should wear it to track my sleep. I told my husband all of this, and he went and got the watch charger from the living room and put it by my bedside. I took the watch off and fell asleep in five minutes.

I found the best stock photo site, y’all. I have not been photogenic this week, so this is what you get. Lol

I can tell I have a long way to go. This stuff is so ingrained in me, and all this change is stirring it up, bringing all that gunk that’s been sitting at the bottom of my tank to the surface. Let’s hope I can siphon it out.

Do you guys experience this? That things get worse before they get better? Let me know in the comments here or on Instagram so I don’t feel so crazy!

The Tortoise Wins Again

Why must we learn the same lessons over and over again? Why do silly moral stories stay so important through generations? I’d say we just need reminding again and again.

When the heat of quarantine was going on, I remember seeing post after post about how we’d learn to slow down like we had been during quarantine and we’d learn to spend some time for ourselves, our hobbies, and our families. Yet, now, I feel I’ve filled my time and my capacity back to its limits – and I’m not the only one.

Life has done yet another number on my family. While we figure out our finances and make plans for the future, I’ve left my blog and my Instagram nearly to rot. See, I’m doing that thing I always do – trying to make Superman leaps and bounds instead of little pieces at a time. I’m trying to grow a community on Instagram in a few weeks, I’m trying to make myself write a personal blog once or twice a week!

It’s a constant flaw of mine to try and go the entire distance as quickly as possible. See, I tell my bosses this – but I expect such perfection out of myself that it comes off like I can’t take correction from my bosses. Truly, it’s that I can’t take the correction because I expect my first try to be the only try. This is an anxious flaw of mine (probably tied to the way I manifest my 2-ness and how I think I need to earn love and respect).

So a blog and an Instagram? I wanted everything to be perfect right from the start.

So here’s to breathing and scaling back. Learning that not everything has to be perfect right away. That only half a pound of difference is okay. That meditating only once a week is okay. That posting only once every 2 or 3 days is okay. That making a blog only once every week or two is okay.

Yes, I know scaling back means that progress and growth will happen at a slower rate, but to be honest, I know myself by now. If I don’t take it slow, then it won’t happen at all. So if I have to choose between inching-by progress and not changing at all, I choose the tortoise.

So deep breath, my friends. Keep your head up. Remember to forgive yourself for mistakes. Remember that small changes are better than none. Remember that life isn’t always going to go the way you imagined it. Remember that everything really will turn out okay.

Onto the second half of 2020, what do y’all think?

Shoot me an email if this speaks to you, or comment and let me know what techniques you use on your perfection to allow yourself space. How do you keep margin in your life?

You Are Your Own Charge

Sometimes I feel like I’m babysitting myself.

“Jessica, remember to wash your face again before bed.” “Jessica, you have to go workout, it’s good for you, you feel better when you do it.” “Jessica, there isn’t time to play a game of Apex, you need to prep some food so you don’t run out of time tomorrow.” “Jessica, you’ve been doing so good today, don’t mess it up.” “Jessica, you can have that avocado toast but that is it until tomorrow.”

It’s exhausting! I feel like I hardly have any time to just relax and enjoy myself. I keep telling these coaches who reach out on Instagram that all I want is for healthy Jessica to be normal Jessica, and that process of change is so stinking hard. I feel like I’m constantly trying to put myself back on the right path.

Lenexa City Center – pretending that being out of focus is trendy.

One of my favorite lines in Bojack Horseman (y’all that show is a miracle, you gotta watch it) is when this runner passes by the titular character and stops to help him up. He says,

“It gets easier. Every day it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part… but it does get easier.”

Bojack Horseman

I feel like I might need this engraved on my skin… or you know, a watch or something.

Being Intentional

Something I’m finding is that when my margin gets smaller, I have to be more and more intentional about what I do with the rest of my time. If I don’t use it on purpose, then it will get used, but heck-if-I-know what I did. I’ve started to plan my days and my weekends with purpose so I don’t lose the time or spend it wishing to dive head first into a half-gallon of Blue Bell.

Being intentional keeps me from going buck-wild when I have a good reason. If friends are coming over, I put out both chips for them and carrot sticks for me. You’ve gotta plan ahead or there would be no carrot sticks and someone would have to rip that bag of chips out of my hands.

Ready-Made Fun

When you’re babysitting, it can sometimes be helpful to have a go-bag. If you bring coloring books and paint and hula hoops, with a game or two up your sleeve, you can usually avoid cries of boredom (which leads to whining or fighting, usually). When I get bored, I eat. Hence, I should treat myself like a small child and have ready-to-go fun.

Here are some of the things I try to make sure are always have in my go-bag for when I’m bored:

  • A spare canvas or two and paints.
  • Crocheting
  • Bubble Bath and/or Bath Bombs
  • Nail kits
  • A game on my phone I like at least a little
  • A book I have been meaning to read
  • My walking shoes
  • A swimsuit
  • A DIY project I’ve been meaning to get to.
  • Coloring Books & Nice Markers
  • A polaroid camera

Understand that you are in charge. While a disorder or mental health can get in the way, you can always control how you react. React well. Babysit yourself. Be prepared and know your triggers. It’s so important.

Much love as always, and thanks for reading!

When It’s All Too Much?

Written June 2020

I like to think I’m a lot stronger or better or braver than I am. I heard once that we always expect our “tomorrow” selves to do much better than we do today. We expect higher motivation and generally assume that after a night’s rest, we’ll be doing great. Kind of reminds me how it seems like every 20 year old my age is constantly saying “Well, after this one crazy week, everything should slow down.” It doesn’t. It never does.

I expect myself to be more in the mood to workout tomorrow. I assume that after the bowls of cereal I had tonight, that tomorrow I’ll be ready to eat nothing but Kale and pineapples. When someone asks me to do something in a week, I always assume I’ll be ready to hang out with people by then.

I also like to think that I am more in the know than I believe, or that I am tougher than I look. I like to say to myself, “Well, when it comes down to something real, I’ll have the balls to deal with it.” To be honest, after the week I had last week, I’m starting to think I relate more to quitters.

Last week was tumultuous for all of us. We all are slowly coming out of our homes again like Punxsutawney Phil, testing our shadow for COVID’s end. Then we saw some terrible things in the news. We saw some of our population rise up in outrage, and we saw movements begin. We saw all-black instagram posts, and then all of a sudden, we saw Facebook posts. THOSE Facebook posts.

Remember how I thought I was stronger?

On Wednesday, I began experiencing anxiety attack symptoms. I was starting to lose focus, lose sleep, and I had spinning thoughts I couldn’t control. By Friday, I had a tension headache the stretched down my shoulders, tremors I couldn’t control, was dizzy, couldn’t eat, and was sweating profusely. I left work early saying “sick,” because I didn’t know how else to explain what was happening.

This weekend, I deleted Facebook from my phone. I deleted Twitter from my phone. I took a break from it all because I felt like I was losing control.

I hope this is communicated clearly: I believe strongly in the Black Lives Matter movement. I believe that my reprieve from posting on Instagram was important because people need to hear the voices that have been ignored. No one needed to see a post about my Pumpkin Lasagna Rolls this week, they needed to hear and be uncomfortable and it needs to continue happening.

Please understand that as I continue my blog, my self care, and the accountability of making posts on Instagram, I am not ignoring the situation. I am still here for all who need to be heard/seen/understood. I am still signing petitions, donating, and keeping up in the news.

Distractions Needed?

I think we all could use some anxiety-deflecting techniques. As I prepare to go into the fray of another week, I have compiled a list of some calming techniques. Here’s some of the one’s I’ve been doing just this weekend to calm down:

  • Long walks
  • Going to the pool/gym
  • Painting
  • Writing
  • Cleaning
  • Video Games
  • Baking
  • Cooking
  • Inviting friends over
  • Dungeons & Dragons (make fun, I have no pride)
  • Cleaning
  • Taking a bath
  • Coloring
  • Petting/Playing with my cat
  • Painting my nails
  • Getting a smoothie
  • Going on a drive
  • Cleaning (seriously cleaning makes me feel more in control than anything)

Here are a couple of other quick resources with techniques for calming.

18 Ways to Distract from Anxiety

Distraction Techniques for Panic Disorder

12 Ways to Calm Anxiety

15 Ways to Calm Yourself Down

Tips to Manage Anxiety & Stress

The world doesn’t seem to be “getting back to normal” any time soon, but it could be for the best. Let’s continue to fight the good fight, but don’t forget to take care of yourself as well as your neighbor. Remember, put on your own mask before helping others put on theirs.

Love you all, wish you the very best.

Don’t forget to see the Black Lives Matter movement website, here.