Tag Archives: stress

Here goes something…

I am at work. Probably. Unless I got lost and took the wrong bus and ended up in  Gresham or something.

That seems unlikely, but you never know with me. When I first moved to Portland, I would occasionally get on the wrong light rail line and not realize it until I was pretty far away from where I was trying to go.

Anyway, not the point.

I am starting a new job today. I’m a wee bit nervous. This is probably not surprising. Also not surprising? I wrote this Sunday night, because I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to blog today.

I went to the new place o’ work on Thursday and got my employee ID number, found the building in which I’ll work, and selected my office. Today, I’ll get my benefits information (oooooh! Health insurance!), my employee ID, and my transit pass (ooooh! Trimet annual pass!).

It’s weird starting a new job. I was with my last employer for 8.5 years. I was promoted twice and switched departments once, but I still knew what I was doing and where I was going.

I am unaccountably nervous about today. Last night, I prepped my coffee, made breakfast, packed a bag (including my special Doctor Who mug), made the Bean’s lunch, set my alarm, picked out my outfit (none of my work clothes fit. none. ZERO.), double-checked my alarm, had a very serious conversation with the Bean about the extra-special double importance of being a really good listener in the morning so that mama wouldn’t be late to her new job, triple-checked my alarm, laid out my jewelry, found my shoes, poured a beer, and quadruple-checked my alarm. (Which is funny, because I bet I didn’t sleep a wink last night.)

Stress makes my already less-than-spontaneous personality even less flexible. Starting a new job is not as stressful as wondering if I was going to have enough money to feed the Bean in early February, but it’s pretty damn stressful. And I need routine to survive stress.

I’m hoping that after a few days, I’ll feel a bit more comfortable–I know the work, just not the culture and specifics. I’ll develop a routine–both for my new job and for my writing/editing/working out.

It’s going to be hard at first, and I’m prepared for that. I know what I need to do to combat that.

  1. Sleep
  2. Self-care (saying no is good)
  3. Move (now that I have to leave the house most days, that should happen easily)
  4. Eat regularly. This does not mean I can eat a Kind bar every five hours and call it meals. Apparently. Or at least so I’ve been told.
  5. Read – I know that seems like an odd thing to add to my list, but when I get stressed, I stop reading much. I’m not sure why, but I will sit and play stupid games on my phone for hours, which just gives me a headache. I love reading, it’s stress-relieving, but apparently when I’m high-anxiety, I’ll do anything to avoid feeling better (including sleep, exercise, eating right, and reading).

So – I’m probably surviving, right? WHO KNOWS!? Not you. I could be lying in a ditch in Gresham, and you would think I was learning all about my different dental insurance options.

Cross your fingers that all is well with me…now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to finish up my future post and go check my alarm. Again.

Hmmm…maybe there’s one more thing I should add to the list. This is in the first-thing-in-the-morning slot now.

Three Things Thursday: (Lack of) Self Care Edition

In my further attempts to keep it real. Very little fake-booking here!

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

 

Fearless Friday (Navel Gazing Edition)

Bear with me as I use the internet as my free-ish therapist.

But First

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

  1. Wake up early
  2. Make coffee
  3. Shower (or workout)
  4. Write with all the coffee
  5. Breakfast (and shower if there was working out)
  6. Work
  7. Pick up the Bean
  8. Make Dinner
  9. Put Bean to bed
  10. Read
  11. Bed
  12. Repeat

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*)

2016 – The Wrap-Up

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.

Lots.

(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!

Parmesan!!!

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:

  1. I’ll (again) move houses, but this time into a more permanent situation (less than a month now!)
  2. I’ll start a new job
  3. I will publish two books
  4. 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)
  5. I will do some travel, even if only a little bit
  6. My Bean will turn 5 (FIVE YEARS OLD!)
  7. I’ll have a great garden and do more canning (I’m out of salsa and it is a travesty)
  8. I’ll keep writing
  9. That crazy Bean will start kindergarten
  10. I’ll keep moving…yoga and walking are where it’s at right now, but I’d like to – just maybe – start running again
  11. I will drink delightful gin cocktails on the back patio in the summer with the people I love best
  12. I will laugh and love and live just a little bit more

 

Gotta Have Goals….

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I am extremely goal oriented. I like spreadsheets and gold stars and checking things off of lists.

goldsparklestar

In the last year, some of my spreadsheeting behaviour got a leeeetle bit OCD and some of my goals weren’t necessarily the healthiest. So I took off my fitbit, shut down my workout tracking spreadsheets, and tried to get back to a healthy mindset.

I am not going to lie, strangers in the internets, the last few months have been difficult. There has been stress hitting me from every direction. Job stress, home stress, divorce stress, (single) parenting stress. All in all, it’s been a distressing few months.

This might not be the best way to fight stress...

This might not be the best way to fight stress…

I’ve had a lot of insomnia, some not-so-healthy eating patterns (I would probably eat 0-1 times/day if I didn’t see other people), and decidedly too little movement. Those things, combined with a medication I’ve been on that apparently causes an average gain of 1-3 lbs/month (doing the math, have been on it since September, I am completely average), mean that I’ve gained a fairly significant amount of weight since September. This displeases me.

Things need to change.

change_quote_2

My big four goals for the year are (1) more sleep (I’m hoping this will level out again soon), (2) more writing (this is seeing an uptick), (3) more movement (this is where I need the most work), and (4) more job satisfaction (there are plans).

I think I need to re-fitbit (or something similar) and start spreadsheeting again. I’m going off my (prescribed) drugs (totally keeping the recreational angel dust), so I should sleep better and hopefully be able to take off some of the weight immediately. I have a very active 4-year-old and I’d like to be able to keep up and pick him up when he wants me to, because I know that won’t last much longer.

How do I say no to this little face?

How do I say no to this little face?

 

It sometimes seems I’m caught in a vicious cycle. I am stressed, so I don’t sleep. I don’t sleep so I don’t get up early. I don’t get up early so I don’t write or exercise. I don’t exercise, so I don’t get the much-needed stress relief. And repeat.

That about sums it up.

That about sums it up.

 

It’s baby steps. Taking that 20 minutes to go for a quick walk. Actually going to the pool when I bring all my stuff to work. Being in bed and ready for sleep by 11 so I can be up before 6. Setting reminders to eat and giving it a go even when it seems too difficult. (I can usually manage to down something liquid, so having protein shakes on hand might not be the worst idea I’ve ever had.)

I imagine in just a few weeks, I'll look just like this.

I imagine in just a few weeks, I’ll look just like this.

In the end, though, it’s about looking at my life and deciding what the real priorities are. Changes won’t happen if I’m not going to commit to making them. It’s true that I don’t have a lot of leisure time for exercise during the week, but I have more on the weekend, and I can find time if I really value it. So what’s stopping me?

Once I can answer that question, then I’ll be in business.

If finding the answer comes with cash money, I might be slightly more motivated.

If finding the answer comes with cash money, I might be slightly more motivated.