In my further attempts to keep it real. Very little fake-booking here!
I have discovered an inverse correlation between my ability to take care of myself and my stress levels. This is unfortunate because I think that if self-care increased with stress levels, stress levels might be manageable. Instead, I stop exercising, stop eating, stop meditating, stop sleeping, and catastrophize everything. For some reason, this doesn’t help.
This is bad enough with regular, every day stress, but when you have super-mega-ultra stress, it’s worse. I become paralyzed from stress and end up with aural migraines (which are currently occurring at an almost daily rate) and random nausea and results of nausea (at least 3x/week).
Things I know: I should eat regularly, do the things I’m procrastinating (I swear I’ll do it, Cat!), stick to a schedule, write every day, make time to exercise, go to sleep by 11, get up early, and meditate daily. Things I have done today: had two and a half very large cups of coffee, applied for several jobs, not showered, gotten dressed, or eaten even though it is after noon (or filled out any forms that I know I should do). I’ve also spent a fair amount of time staring off into space, paralyzed with anxiety.
Once I’m in the cycle, it’s hard to break out of it…I tell myself that “once xx happens,” all will be well, but depending on a future hypothetical to make a tolerable present is so far not working.
Bear with me as I use the internet as my free-ish therapist.
An amusing anecdote
I don’t often use a thesaurus. When I do, it’s because the word I want is in my brain but not materializing, so I’ll use the thesaurus to try to suss out what I’m intending to say. I do love when other people use a thesaurus, though. Especially when they are obviously choosing words that they’re not entirely sure of. Today, I was using a thesaurus without having a specific word in mind because I wanted to be alliterative. I absolutely adore alliteration. ANYWAY. I wanted a synonym for “change” or “transformation” that started with “F.”
The only thing that came up was “fluctuation.” And that just made me laugh. Because fluctuating is not my goal. Fluctuating is my current state.
And Now for Something Completely Different
The last few years I’ve become a fearful person. I’ve lost a lot of the confidence I used to have. Part of that is being stuck in an employment situation where the feedback fluctuated (ha! used it!) between over-the-top praise and ridiculous, unfounded, mean-spirited criticism.
Part of that was being stuck in friend-lationships that weren’t healthy, because I glommed onto the first friendly folks when I moved to Portland and wasn’t as discerning as I should’ve been with my friend love.
Part of that was spending a lot of time worrying about saying or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time and upsetting the delicate ego balance that I tiptoed around starting in 2008.
Part of that is my natural state of being. I’ve been diagnosed with all sorts of fun (and sometimes contradictory) brain malfunctions. The older and more experienced I get, though, the more I realize that the one defining characteristic of everything my brain has ever done wrong is the overwhelming anxiety disorder.
I am good with routine. When I was working, my routine was
Wake up early
Shower (or workout)
Write with all the coffee
Breakfast (and shower if there was working out)
Pick up the Bean
Put Bean to bed
It was a good routine.
When I left the architect, my routine was disrupted. I was staying up later, not eating on days when no one was around to see if I was eating or not, I didn’t have Bean every day to keep my days steady, but I was still doing many of those things…just later. And working out fell by the wayside. I was staying up too late to get up early to write and workout. But it was no big deal. On nights I didn’t have the kid, I did the writing. It kind of worked.
When my job ended, everything just went tits up. I spent a lot of September and October alone in my house doing nothing. Not working out. Not writing. Not editing. I had all the time to make things happen, but I was too overwhelmed to get started.
Now we all know that to some degree I got over that, because my book was published this week, but I’ve still never gotten back to that routine. Every time I think I’m getting close, something happens to fuck it all up again.
It’s been a hard week. Releasing a book is stressful, even though it was the culmination of a lifetime of dreams. Having a child in a co-parenting situation is stressful, because I am not in control 50% of the time and I really like to be in control. Dealing with my recent rental situation is stressful because there were rats and the landlord and I disagree on a few financial things. Not having a job is stressful. Because money is awesome and I would like some of that stuff.
Do you know what helps my stress levels? Working out. Working hard. Being a little bit sore most of the time.
Getting to bed before eleven.
Getting up before six.
With my current mental state (fragile, in case you’re looking for another f-word), that isn’t happening. I need to find the switch to flip.
Self-care and self-love have fallen by the wayside in my attempt to throw all my energy into caring for my son and fighting all the battles that continually show up.
I just bought BexLife’s new book (at the recommendation of my PSM) in an attempt to find that spark that will help me reconnect with me. I signed up for Weight Watchers (something I’ve used to great effect in the past) as a way to be accountable for what I’m putting (or so very often, not putting) in my body. I have packed my swim bag and intend to drag my anxiety-ridden ass back to the pool (that is less than 3 blocks from my new digs) next week. I will take the boxes of work detritus out of the back of my car so I feel safe parking at a trail head and running in Forest Park. I have the tools I need.
I’m 40. There’s never going to be a better time to make my life everything I want it to be, and there’s no one who’s ever going to be able to make those changes for me.
(Except you. Each and every one of you. If you could all commit to buying my book once/day…that’d be cool. I mean really…what’s $2.99/day? That’s less than a coffee at Starbucks! *cue sad music and a montage of hungry, cold Amy who can’t even turn on the space heater in her office without tripping the surge protector*)
I haven’t been to work in just over four months. This is full of the crazy. There are just a couple problems –
I love it. I love not having a job. I am not bored. I’ve been writing and editing and blogging and doing more working out and baking and preserving and my house (until the rattening) was pretty clean. I would be a great housewife/writer. Except…
I am out of money. I really thought I’d be back at work before now, but I’ve burned through all my savings that I had in place and now I am desperate. I’m hoping desperation counts for something!
I need to hustle. I need to apply for one hundred jobs a day (give or take). I’ve started edits on the second book in the series, but am really hoping to get the first back from the editor this week so I can finish that up and send it out into the world where people will mock me and judge me and subtly ignore its existence (but maybe after one-clicking it).
I need this weather to be normal weather so I can run (it’s an icy snowy mess out there and I have neither the gear nor the desire to become an icy snowy runner) and swim (power outage led to the pool closure).
I need my brain to stop spinning worst case scenarios which usually involve me dying destitute and alone in a large box under the Burnside Bridge.
I have some positive habits I’ve been trying to develop, and I’m doing a little better with some of the simple self-care ones, but I need to double-down on the movement and sitting under my SAD lamp and probably should delete the time wasters from my phone so I have fewer ways to procrastinate when I can’t jump over the despair hurdles in my brain that tell me everything is hopeless.
I pledge to you – the all-seeing (not literally, I hope) internets – that as soon as I hit publish on this post, I will haul out the yoga mat and show my new catly roommates how to do a good down dog. I will drink a glass of water and then spend the next hour at my desk editing.
And tomorrow? Provided that the Bean is at daycare and not home (again – so many snow/ice days), I will yoga/write/edit/job hunt
And repeat. Next week, I’ll start running (weather providing) and swimming (pool temperature providing).
And I most certainly will not get bronchitis, even if it is my winter tradition. SOME TRADITIONS SUCK!
It’s the beginning of the new year. The year I’ve been looking forward to starting for approximately 367 days.
Celebrating my New Year
I am totally a New Year’s Resolutions type of person. I love the idea of a blank slate, and I usually do pretty well with the annual goals I set for myself.
So what? I’m a Buffy nerd…(let me know if you get it!)
So, without further ado, here are my
2017 Resolutions – aka The Year of Me take Two
Publish two novels
Write two novels
Complete two races
Take two just for fun trips
Volunteer two times
Try two new things
Read two times as many books as I read in 2016 (2017 goal: 185) – one of the ways I’m planning on doing this is taking my PSM’s 2017 Be Better Book Challenge (please note that one of her resolutions is to come visit me, which would, not incidentally, fulfill one of my #40before40 goals!11!!!!!)
Log twice as many exercise hours/month as I logged on average in 2016 (3.5 hours/week OR 182 hours)
Take two minutes each day to be grateful for what I have (it’s #365happydays v2.0)
Brush/floss/moisturize 2x/day (most days) (it’s really the moisturizing I need to work on…and flossing more)
I probably should’ve included “procrastinate half as much,” but I didn’t want to set myself up for failure right off the bat! (Please note that my New Year’s resolution post is going out on the evening of 1/3/17…)
I feel so positive going into this year. I’m going to turn 40, publish a couple books, move in with my boyfriend, hang out with my PSM, get a new job, and get healthier…
I’m just going to pretend that this year is over. I really can’t take any more 2016. The next couple of days are interstitial days – they belong to no year and nothing that you do on those days matters. This is a new rule I just made up, but I’m keeping it.
Fuck you, 2016!
This year was tough. My marriage ended. I moved into my own place. I got officially divorced. My job ended. I have been – as yet – unable to find a new job. A lot of celebrities I especially liked died. A celebrity I don’t particularly like not only lived, but was elected president. Money is tight and anxiety and depression are high. My kidlet is stressed out. I’ve had persistent shoulder issues that have prevented me from doing as much as I’d like.
Lots of shit.
(Sometimes, literally. Motherhood is rewarding AF.)
Seriously. Fuck you.
But you know what? It wasn’t all bad, was it?
I’m in a fantastic relationship. I have a great kidlet (even if he is not only a four-and-a-half-year-old, but also the source of that literal shit I have to deal with from time to time). I really got some quality time with a lot of wonderful friends – and made some new wonderful friends, to boot!
Being four is serious business
There was a lot of good travel this year – I was in Vegas in April for the RT conference where I got to meet IRL my friend Elizabeth Hunter as well as make new writerly friends! In May, I went to Bend for the weekend with the Beer Guy. I was in Seattle a couple of times (July and November). In August, I was able to take the Bean to South Dakota to meet my grandmother (his great) for the first time (and not incidentally got to sing karaoke with my three bestest besties from the good ol’ college days!).
Me & my marshmallow goo proving that being 39 is also very serious business.
AND – I was able to go to Iceland. ALL BY MYSELF. Sometimes I remind myself that if I could do that (which required a lot of overcoming of my anxiety issues), I can do almost anything.
I waited patiently in Bifrost for a divine visit, but unfortunately, the gods overlooked me this year.
I got to meet some other personal goals as well. I’ve really reconnected with my domestic badassery – my garden wasn’t much to talk about this year, but I made jam, and just canned festive simple syrups, and made some pies, and started baking bread again. Also – cheese. I made a cheese. Soon, we will know if that cheese is delicious. CROSS YOUR FINGERS!
I finished writing two books and a novella, completed edits on one book that’s currently in the last look-through by my editor on its path to publication.
I found out that I really, really enjoy being a writer, and if someone would actually pay me, I’d be okay doing this for a living. (What I need is some freelance editing/proofreading work to supplement my as-yet non-existent writing income. Apparently there’s no six-figure advance for self-publishing.)
SAY MY NAME, BITCHES!
I’ve worked through a lot of things this year and I hope that I’m coming out on the other side stronger than I went in. I lived on my own. I single-mommed. I’ve been unemployed. I’ve stopped procrastinating and started achieving my dreams. I’ve traveled internationally alone.
All of the things I thought would be the hardest have been the easiest. The only thing that makes this year still shite is that pesky lack of funding issue. (I am open to paid companion positions, all eligible sugar daddies reading my blog…I’m sure there are a ton of you out there. Call me.)
(Seriously. Call me.)
The emotional stuff has been hard, but I feel like I’ve been tempered this year.
A year ago, I declared that 2016 would be the year of me. When I wrote that, I had two very specific goals in mind. I wanted to end the year not married and not in the job in which I started the year. Both of those things have come to pass, albeit not exactly as I’d planned. (Maybe I should be a little more careful with what I put out in the universe.)
I don’t know everything that 2017 will bring. There are a few things of which I’m certain:
I’ll (again) move houses, but this time into a more permanent situation (less than a month now!)
I’ll start a new job
I will publish two books
I will turn 40 and there will be a unicorn piñata (the party is the day after my birthday – Saturday, 2/25 – you’re totally invited)
I will do some travel, even if only a little bit
My Bean will turn 5 (FIVE YEARS OLD!)
I’ll have a great garden and do more canning (I’m out of salsa and it is a travesty)
I’ll keep writing
That crazy Bean will start kindergarten
I’ll keep moving…yoga and walking are where it’s at right now, but I’d like to – just maybe – start running again
I will drink delightful gin cocktails on the back patio in the summer with the people I love best
I will laugh and love and live just a little bit more