I am Now Two Weeks Removed from Facebook…

Two weeks ago today, after a very-early-morning toilet moment and subsequent epiphany, I uninstalled the Facebook application from my phone and tablet after turning off all notifications. And today, I can tell you that I haven’t logged back in, not even once, and I genuinely feel like my life is better off for it. I wanted to share a few thoughts with you from what this last couple of weeks have held for me.

The usual disclaimer: I’m not judging you. Plenty of you are able to consume/use social media without negative effects/addictive behaviors. Also, I’m not guaranteeing that I’ll stay off Facebook forever, either. I’m still on Instagram (for now), and I’m still allowing my Insta photos and blog posts to share over to FB, so please know that I’m not against social media entirely.

But, I am against something that’s supposed to bring joy and entertainment becoming a huge time suck and causing stress and dissatisfaction with life. And, with as short as our time here on this earth is, I’m not a fan of something I can shut off and stuff in a pocket dictating my happiness and how I spend my free time. I’m rapidly approaching middle-age, and I don’t want to look back and see that a huge portion of my life was spent staring at a screen (of my own choice).

So here we go: the good, the bad, and the ugly (which is really just the bad, right?)

The Good:

  1. I’m less irritable in general! Since leaving the melee of Facebook, I haven’t seen a single political or theological rant, and no one has tried to sell me something, and it’s glorious.
  2. I don’t feel as bad about my life. It’s still a little shabby, a little overweight, and a lot infertile, but now that I’m no longer barraged with others’ carefully-curated social-media lives, I can maintain a proper perspective about my own little corner of the world.
  3. I’m reading REAL books. I bought a refurbished Kindle Paperwhite for this purpose, so I’ll be able to have several books at-hand but not feel like I’m staring at a blue screen, and I’m currently plowing my way through Walden. I also went to the local library this past Saturday and got a new library card so we can make use of our tax dollars. I haven’t read much since my Master’s program (I had some SERIOUS burnout after two or three novels a week for almost 3 years), and I forgot how much a book feels like an old friend.
  4. I’m staring at screens less in general. The good thing for me about Instagram is that there’s simply not as much to see. I follow a few friends, some celebrities, and some watercolor art and adorable animal accounts, but that’s pretty much it. Once you’ve scrolled for a few minutes, you’ve seen it all. Without Facebook to flip over to, I’ve just got to put the phone down and find something else to do.

The Bad (and Ugly):

  1. I never realized how much I shared random thoughts with everyone. Sometimes I miss it, because there are things that crack me up that I want others to find funny. But then I’m also faced with my own narcissism; do I really think I’m hilarious enough that other people need to see it constantly?
  2. FOMO is real, ya’ll. I’m missing scrolling through my comedy pages and seeing what some of my more distant friends are doing.
  3. People tend to talk to you like you should automatically know what’s going on via Facebook. And when you don’t, they assume you’re being sanctimonious.

But even the bad things aren’t that bad, really. I haven’t felt an urge to go back yet, and as a result, I’ve managed to pare down one more thing that’s causing life stress. It’s much easier to cope with stress when you simply have less stress to cope with.

More to come on this de-stressing, simplifying journey!

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My Endo Story: Part 1

Well, it’s been another long season of silence on the ol’ blog.  I look back at years past and regret that I haven’t kept up with things more than I have, but I also struggle with feeling like I’m navel-gazing too much and not wanting to annoy people with constant talk about myself.

I’m breaking that silence, though, and am committing to regular blogging, at least for the rest of the year, to chronicle a very important journey and hopefully help some other women along the way.

Two years ago (this coming May), Joey and I decided that we were going to start trying for a kid.  I’d never had even a hint of a maternal instinct, and for almost twelve years, we’d been perfectly happy being childless and parents only to our kitty, Shelli.  In fact, we weren’t even sure if we were ever going to want kids at all.  I dealt with the “when are you going to have babies?? Don’t you even want children??” questions with an eye roll and a proper sense of sarcasm, but didn’t think of it much otherwise.

Until one of my closest friends had her first son.  And it hit me like a ton of bricks:  I wanted a child.  Joey and I spent a few months talking it over and decided that the timing was right to start trying.

I thought it would be pretty simple (which, in retrospect, was stupid since I already knew I had PCOS and other health factors working against me), but month after month after month went by with no luck.  During the process, I worked on losing weight and getting my health in order, and I tried to keep a positive attitude despite feeling like I was constantly taking my temperature or peeing on something either to tell me if I was ovulating (usually not) or if I was pregnant (definitely not).  For the record, if there’s ever an Olympic category for peeing in a tiny cup, I’m taking home the Gold.

By the end of the year (2014), I’d gone to see my OBGYN and she suggested that we try a round of fertility meds.  I thought that would be it; everyone I’d talked to who had done them ended up pregnant after one or two rounds, so I was gearing myself up for this to work and to have a child by the end of 2015.

Except it didn’t work.  For those of you unfamiliar with fertility drugs, they usually ask you to come in during the middle of your cycle (a few days after you’ve finished the round of meds) so they can do an ultrasound and see if you have an egg that’s ready to go.  And I did not.  I did, however, have a cyst that was larger than the usual PCOS-type cysts. After another two or three ultrasounds (that’s a lot of getting a giant wand shoved up your wazoo, FYI), they determined that it was an endometrioma and wasn’t going to go away.  In June of 2015, my doctor recommended that I have surgery to get it removed, but I was reticent to do something that invasive when I “wasn’t having any problems” (or so I thought).  She was amenable to doing another couple of rounds of the fertility meds, just to see if we could “get lucky” (hehehe), but it was all for naught.

After reading scores of natural-living blogs, I tried what seemed like everything to “cure” myself of this endometrioma: diet changes, supplements, essential oils…nothing worked.  And I got pissed. I ready story after story of some “natural mama” who’d had problems conceiving, and after some coconut oil, castor oil packs, and a few essential oil blends, started popping kids out like a factory.  And here was me, oily, unsuccessful, and irritated, with this ambivalent cyst that seemed to be mocking me from inside my body.

I gave in to the idea of surgery in November of 2015, and scheduled it for the following January 6th.  I felt like that would allow me two more months to try and maybe get lucky and not have to get cut on.  I prayed fervently, and felt hopeful that God would rescue me and keep me from the knife.  I mean, we all read about miracles, right?  Surely He would make me one of those stories, and I’d be able to help other infertile ladies with an account of being rescued just in time.

No dice.

–to be continued–

Why You Should Wear a Little Makeup…but not too much.

Makeup, Self Care, Bare Minerals

I went through a year or two in my adult life where I quit wearing make up.  It may have started out during one of those “you’re beautiful without makeup/love your face” movements…I don’t remember exactly, but it morphed into, “I don’t give a rip how my face looks and I’m just too lazy to spend any time on it.”  Don’t mistake me: if you’re not wearing makeup out of some feeling of self-empowerment or feminism, or as some social statement, I’m not telling you to do it anyway or implying that you’re lazy; I think you’ll get the underlying point and can apply it in some other way.

The problem with what happened to me was that I quit caring altogether.  I mean, it’s hard not to; when you gain a bunch of weight and spend 11 hours (including your commute) at a place and doing something that doesn’t exactly thrill you, it’s easy to start feeling like you don’t matter.  And sometimes, that manifests itself in a physical way.  For me, it was to quit everything that had to do with taking care of my skin and face.  I quit washing my face before bed, quit using moisturizer, and quit wearing makeup except on Sundays (because I still cared just enough to not want to look slovenly on local public-access television). I don’t think I even plucked my eyebrows for months (hellooooooo Frida Kahlo).

Here’s the thing, though:  it wasn’t about the makeup.  It was about feeling like I wasn’t worth enough to spend a little time taking care of myself.  Over the course of just a few years, I’d put on 80 pounds, and I found myself in a job/industry far from what I’d studied to do, and my life not looking at all like I’d hoped led me to decide that it wasn’t worth it to “waste” the time to do a few little things to make me feel a little prettier…a little better about myself.

So I started putting on a little makeup.  Not a ton.  Just the below few items (although I do add a little sparkly eyeshadow, mascara, and tinted lip balm on Sundays).

Bare Minerals Makeup

Just Bare Minerals Foundation (in Fairly Light because I’m basically Casper), Bare Minerals “Warmth” as blush and eyeshadow, and a little eyeliner.  It literally takes me three minutes.  I even take it with me and put it on as soon as I get to the office so I don’t waste any time at home that I would otherwise spend drinking coffee before I leave for work.

I’m not telling you to spend hours on yourself…that’s why I included the caveat, “but not too much.”  It can be easy to get too caught up in appearances, or to become so insecure that you feel that spending lots of time trying to perfectly craft your appearance/persona is necessary (this is true with more than just makeup, too…social media jealousy, anyone?).  It’s not.  What’s necessary is to find a sense of worth outside of what you look like or what you do.  For me, it was realizing that I have a husband who loves me, family who loves me, and I serve a God who doesn’t care what I look like, but also doesn’t want me to not take care of myself.  And that, in light of those things, I should take a little time and do a few things to remind myself that I’m worth it.

I encourage you to remember that, and to carve out a little time for yourself and to find a way to treat yourself well.

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Why Cheating Really Isn’t Worth It.

stuffed animals from childhood, nostalgia

Here are two of my favorite stuffed animals from my childhood.  People who know me really well know that I’ve never outgrown my deep affinity for stuffed toys, and my closest inner circle (and now all of you) knows that sometimes, I still make sure they’re sitting upright and don’t get buried under things lest they smother or feel like I don’t care about them anymore.

I read one of those “tug-at-your-heartstrings” stories this week, imagining Calvin and Hobbes as old men, and I haven’t been able to get over how sad it’s made me. People laugh or roll their eyes when I tell them that I refuse to see chick flicks, or sappy/sad movies, but the problem is that, for most people, they can watch the movie and have a good cathartic cry and then move on.  For me, I’ll be sad about it for weeks and will internalize it into getting sadder and sadder about something that’s going on in my own life. Naturally, I’m a little pissed at myself for reading the story, but the damage has been done, and now I’m struggling with the aftermath.

Here’s the other thing; when I took control of my health last May, I discovered through process of elimination that gluten affects my mental health in a negative way.  During my first foray with gluten-free eating, my depression/anxiety cleared up drastically within the first week, and I continued to feel fantastic until I started to slack off and allow myself some “cheats.”  I know that some people think that cheating on a food lifestyle here and there is okay, and for the most part, I’d agree.  However, here’s why it just doesn’t work for me:

  1. It’s never just “one” cheat.  If I was able to just have some gluten on the *very* rare occasion, then I’d probably be okay, but my problem is that ONE special occasion then brings out my all-or-nothing mentality (well, you’ve already cheated once today…might as well take the rest of the day/weekend/month off and pick back up again afterward).
  2. The payout is rarely worth it.  Now, I’m not talking about some once-in-a-lifetime trip or something like that.  I’m talking about the “plate-of-spaghetti because it’s Valentine’s Day” or the “big hunk of birthday cake because you’re are a party” type of cheats.  Is it really worth it to feel bad the next day over something that wasn’t really a dynamic experience?
  3. You’re only cheating on yourself.  I thought about this the other day when I was getting ready for bed and really didn’t want to floss my teeth (I know…lazy me).  I was going to let it go for the night, and then it hit me that the only one who’s going to suffer the consequences of that decision is me.  I’m the one who may end up with a cavity, and it would be a result of my decision.  Why is it that we mostly worry about how our decisions will impact others, but never seem to really consider how they will affect us?

My dad is a diabetic with heart problems; he can’t afford to “cheat” on his food lifestyle.  A “cheat” will result in atherosclerosis, kidney problems, diabetic neuropathy, and worse.  And he lives with that reality.  If I have too much gluten, I get anxious and sad and life becomes (even more) overwhelming and daunting.  That’s a reality I have to live with.  It’s not even about weight (although losing weight has been an excellent result of cutting the gluten/most grains); it’s about deciding whether a food is worth compromising my mental health.

The answer to that question, friends, is “usually not.”

I’m not trying to tell you to restrict your diet or engage in unhealthy food behavior; on the contrary: I’m suggesting that you think more deeply about the ramifications (both short and long-term) of your choices (food and otherwise).

Oh, Insomnia…How I Hate Thee…

I ended up taking a 2.5 hour nap yesterday and it has resulted in my waking up at 3:45.  I finally got up and left the bedroom because I have this bad habit of popping my joints when I can’t sleep, and I didn’t want to keep Joey up.  That, and he’s sawing logs pretty loudly, so I really didn’t want to stay in there.  At least local news starts at 4:30.

Today marks the day Joey and I set for ourselves to begin getting life back on track.  I’m nervous about it since we’ve spent the past year pretty much eating whatever we want and getting ourselves into the bad habit of getting takeout several times a week and wasting the groceries we buy by not eating them.

Some observations about the physical ramifications of the weight gain:

  • Standing for more than a few minutes hurts my lower back and into the backs of my legs.
  • Holding long notes while singing has become difficult.
  • Snoring.
  • Feeling crampy off and on nearly all month.
  • My meds aren’t as effective in controlling my anxiety

I’m still doing pretty well mentally, but I can definitely tell that I’m not enjoying the full effectiveness of my meds.

Anyway, I just wanted to get that down on “paper.”  I’m going to shoot to document this journey.  I’ve finally remedied the untenable stress of my day from 8-5, and It’s time for me to pick up the pieces of the rest of it and begin the healing process:)

My First Four Weeks at the New Job…

Well, as I told you in my last post, I recently got a new job.  It’s the same job that I was doing before, but it was a good move financially, and the new job allows me some liberty to get into the aspects of my industry that I really like.  Additionally, I needed a less-stressful environment (or a different kind of stress, at least), and I’m getting to the point where I feel that I’m going to get that.  So, after a month, I’m starting to feel like I’m a part of the new place.  It helps that there are five of us who have come over here, so I immediately had a group of people with whom I was familiar.  I’m also finally feeling challenged again, and like I’m a part of the process rather than “just another customer service rep.”  However, I’m still not entirely at ease yet….so, in the long run, I know this place will be less stressful, but right now, I’m still suffering from the (good) stress of getting adjusted.  I’ll gladly take that over the previous environment, though!!

Shelli’s adoptiversary was last Saturday; we gave her some treats and she was largely nonplussed by the entire thing.  I can’t believe it’s been five years.  I’m a little sad about it…she’s all grown up now, and the memories of that first “kitten” year seem so far in the past.  I’ve also been pretty depressed lately about the fate of many shelter pets.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m cut out to have kids, because at this point, I’d rather spend my time, money, and effort on rescuing animals.  Try explaining that to church people who look at you like you’ve just denounced Christ Himself.  Knowing what I know about God, though, He gave me this tenderness toward animals for a reason, so I’m just trying to go with the feeling and let Him change my mind about kids if/when it happens.  I would love to be able to get another kitten, but I’m just not sure that Shelli would be able to handle it.  I wish we could’ve afforded to take her sister, too, but we were so poor back then that Shelli’s medical care that first three months almost put us into debt.  It would have been worth it to take the risk, though, because I got a pretty nice raise about a month after we adopted her, and I think she would have been a little less paranoid and crabby toward people.

I’m still struggling with motivation to take care of myself and get myself back in some sort of shape.  I gained my last thirty pounds pretty rapidly since November, and it’s taking a toll on my skin, which is pretty demoralizing.  I was discussing the situation with a friend Friday at lunch who deals with anxiety like I do who’s going through a similar issue, and I explained the motivation problem to her like this:  you have a finite pool of energy and emotion from which to draw, and when you expend so much on being anxious about this or that, it leaves the pool empty when it comes time for other things, like cooking and cleaning and exercising.  Apathy is what’s left, and then you just don’t have the effort to expend to try to better yourself.

But there’s got to be a way.  That’s my mission for the summer….to find that way.

Better Labor Day..

I can’t remember if I showed you guys my desk-skull.  I made him a little do-rag so he’d look more badass.  I have him sitting in front of my houseplant, and he makes me smile.  Incidentally, everyone at my job has a piece of one original plant that my friend Cindy brought.  We’ve all been growing them, and they’ve all crawled so much that they’re starting to take over the office.  It’s our attempt to make the place less grey and fluorescent.  I haven’t named my desk-skull, though.  Any ideas?

image

Anyway, I’m past my mini-meltdown from yesterday, I think.  I’ve decided that I’m going to let myself laze around until 10 or 11, and then I’ll hit my thesis introduction full-force.  Part of my anxiety over this is that I haven’t had to work on it since February when I got my prospectus approved.  Once I got that done, I had to focus on my class (Middle Eastern Lit), and by the time I was done with that, I was in the throes of my “chemical storm” )as my psychologist called it).  So, really, the past few weeks have been the first time that I’ve actually been able to get my brain back in gear again. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten most of what I worked on and now I’m left looking at the blank page and feeling overwhelmed because I don’t even know where to begin.  I’ll get over it, though.  I’ve got no choice.

One of the major things that I’ve discussed with my psychologist over the past couple of years has been my sense of practicality and how it pushes away anything else.  I don’t take care of myself because I’m so busy trying to take care of everything else.  My motto has always been, “the world’s not going to quit spinning, and I’ve got to do my job, so I’ve just got to suck it up and get over it.”  I’ve been so busy trying to “suck it up” that I forget that it’s okay to take care of myself, that it’s not frivilous to put up Christmas decorations or to want to re-do my living room in earth tones and owls…that knitting isn’t a waste of my time…that a day trip to the mountains to hike is actually good for me.

I’m glad it’s going to be rainy for the next couple of days.  It’s always easier to concentrate on writing when it’s rainy outside.   I have absolutely no idea why. 

On an unrelated note, Joey moved our recliner back into the living room from the office.  I think someone else is enjoying it more than he is, though…

It’s just a matter of time before she realizes that I’m not going anywhere today and crawls up into my lap, rendering me incapable of moving but desperately needing to get up to pee.