Summer

We did a million fun things this summer, and I was super happy and mostly healthy. I ate a lot of junk food and donuts. I cut my dairy consumption by at least 80%. I painted and photographed and got strong and cried probably only once.

 

So I made a list:

How Rachel will avoid depression v. 2018:

  • Find a good vegetarian pho restaurant.
  • Continue Fun date and friend nights.
  • At least one vacation to a warm place.
  • Soup of the Week.
  • Find a cute/professional/dressy pea coat to round off my coat collection.
  • Keep the office stocked with a good tea selection.
  • Weekly movie night with my boo.
  • Continue with boot camp or sign up for Planet Granite.
  • Make a habit of setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
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Birth Control Diaries

TLDR: They all suck.

Long version: I’ve tried them all (almost). Here’s what I think:

Pill – I can’t stand taking something every single day at the same time every single day. I can’t do it. I’ve only ever lasted like three weeks. Can’t talk about side effects, because I can’t do the daily thing. But I’m pretty sure they didn’t bother me a ton, positively or negatively.

Depo shot – You get a shot every three months, and you’re infertile. Bam. Makes for painful sex and zero emotions. I turned into an asexual robot. Great news was no periods at all. No cycles either. None of the up and down, bloating, acne that comes with ovulation or pms. None of that! It was glorious. I would 10/10 recommend this to anyone with bad periods, endometriosis, or is not sexually active.

Copper IUD – I have bad periods, but this made it 10x worse. Cramps from the depths of hell. Seriously. Don’t do this.

Mirena (hormonal IUD) – No periods! Yayyy! Love it. Emotions are toned down a bit, but I still feel, which is better than the depo shot. It’s given me terrible acne. I’m on spironolactone and Retina-A to try to clear it up. I’m cutting out dairy also to see if that helps. I’m two seconds away from removing the Mirena though.

 

I might try the pill for a while to get the acne under control, then switch to copper IUD or just nothing. idk.

 

On Saying No

I have this problem where I need to say yes to everything. Any volunteer list that gets sent around has my name on it somewhere. “Can you babysit?” Yes. “Ride to the airport, please?” Yes. “Drive my grandma’s body across the U.S.?” Sure. Why not?

90% of the time, I’m totally happy to help.

BUT.

I’ve learned something that will require the next 75 years to perfect. And it’s made a huge difference in my happiness (for the better).

It’s this:

Say no without making an excuse.

Omg that is so easy. Sorta. Kinda. Not really.

Last month was the first time I really had to hold my ground. We had gotten home from work and almost immediately put on pajamas. We ate dinner in front of the TV and left our dishes on the floor while we pulled a blanket over us and turned on The Blacklist. A half hour into an episode, Brad’s phone buzzed. We’d been invited to games with friends. Not too long after, my phone buzzed. Same invite. Same friends. Brad texted back that we’d head over soon. I stayed on the couch and said, “nah, I want to stay home.” He started cleaning up the dishes and said, “are you sure? We haven’t been over there in a while. I don’t want them to feel like we don’t like them.” I held steady. “I’m tired. Can we just stay home and cuddle?” “I already said we’d join…” The roles totally reversed from normal, I knew the disappointment he felt in backing out. But I needed to practice saying no and not having a reason. So we stayed home free from excuses and obligations. It felt good. I felt really good. Empowerment and control over my life. Ah, what a feeling!

Saying no without an excuse will take time, I realize.. It’s uncomfortable. It goes against everything I’ve been taught.

What’s hardest for me is finding the healthy balance between things I have to do, like going to the gynecologist, and things I don’t have to do, like doing a 7am service project two hours from home. Service projects have always felt like a “have to do.” Socializing even feels like a “have to do” sometimes. But service projects and socializing are both things I have to want to do, or they’re be a huge withdrawal for me. If it’s dark out and my bra is off, going out with friends is probably not something I want to do.

Here are some questions I ask myself:

  1. Can I wear what I’m currently wearing?
  2. Would I rather read, paint, sleep, or stare at a wall?
  3. Does it require waking up earlier or staying up later than I want?
  4. Will any financial cost be reimbursed?
  5. Are they friends?
  6. Does our relationship consist mostly of my doing favors for them?
  7. Will they provide free food?
  8. Will the result be worth the effort?
  9. Will it improve my mood/well-being?
  10. Do I want to?

Here’s to more baby steps to becoming more assertive.

 

Daily Maintenance Lists

Since college (and maybe earlier?) I’ve dealt with seasonal depression… the winter blues, some say. This year I finally decided to get some help for it. I’ve been going to group therapy for the last two months, and I’ve learned some incredible things.

I’ll attempt to share them with you one at a time.

This post is about building daily maintenance lists. When we’re not feeling our best, we can often trace it back to something on this list that we’ve let slide. The first thing to go for me is the correct amount of sleep. 7-9 hours is recommended. When I’m feeling my gloomiest, I’ll get 11-12 hours of sleep. Go to bed early, wake up early, take a nap. Hibernation, I suppose. Exercise slips away around the same time.

We make these lists so we can check up on ourselves. When I start to feel low and unmotivated, I need to look at the list and remind myself that if I do just these things in a day, then I’ve accomplished something great.

Here’s my list…

Things I know I need to do for myself EVERYDAY to make sure I stay well:

  • Shower, brush teeth, wash face
  • Eat healthy foods and drink water
  • Get dressed
  • Leave the house and the apartment complex
  • Exercise, even if it’s just a walk or stretching
  • Quiet time
  • Tidy house
  • 7-9 hours

Things I need to do WEEKLY to make sure I stay well:

  • Grocery shop
  • Laundry and house chores
  • Wash hair
  • Shave legs
  • Talk to parents, family
  • Socialize
  • Go out to eat
  • Cook a meal
  • Be creative (art, writing, etc)
  • Meditate
  • Read

Things I need to do MONTHLY to make sure I stay well:

  • Adventure and explore (leave Redwood City)
  • Date night
  • Photo shoot
  • Visit Brad for lunch
  • Spend time with a new friends
  • Try a new restaurant
  • Go over budget
  • Set goals, do personal check ups
  • Hot tub

Things I need to do PERIODICALLY to make sure I stay well:

  • Travel
  • Have a house guest
  • Go to the beach
  • Shop
  • Bake
  • Journal

Special little things I can do for myself when I need to feel better:

  • Bath with candles and oils
  • Alone time hike
  • Nap
  • See a movie
  • Go out for a dessert
  • Learn something on Youtube

Share your lists! Did I miss something vital?

Denmark 2016 – Part 1

Okay. It’s time to talk about Denmark.

12/8- a dang long flight

12/9- arrived late in the day because of the 9 hour time difference. Brad met me at the airport, the sweetie, and we Ubered back to the Airbnb. Then we walked around Copenhagen till I was too cold and tired. (Steps: 14, 365)

12/10- Whoops for sleeping till 10:30! We were going to take a train to Germany, but that didn’t happen. Instead, we took a train to Hillerod and saw the Fredricksburg castle. The museum/castle tour was closing in like 20 minutes, so we didn’t pay to go inside. The grounds were pretty cool. I imagine they’re a lot greener and lovelier during the summer. Hillerod was a cute town though. Lots of little shops. A big mall. It was fun to be in a smaller town. Just classically Danish. We were starving by the time we got back to Copenhagen, so we found an Indian restaurant near the shopping district. They charged us for water….wth?? (Steps: 17,539)

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12/11- Oops. We slept till 10:30 again, missing most of church. So I guess that means more exploring Copenhagen! Our Airbnb was so close to downtown, so we walked around pretty much everywhere. Christiansborg Palace was first stop on our list. Then we wandered across the canal to a church. Christians Church, I think. There was a super cool crypt underneath. And the weirdest thing was they weren’t all super old bodies. Like… 2013, 2014 deaths. Cool and weird. Christiania was nearby, so we ate some sandwiches on the way. There was a sweeto art sale we walked through, and dang, I would have bought so much if we had room in our bags. Very cool random art. The evening got colder, but we kept on walking and found Paper Town. This is where Copenhagen Street Food is. That’s a giant warehouse full of food vendors. Yeah. Why did we just eat lunch? It smells delicious in there. From Paper Island, we had a rad view of the Theater and the city across the canal.  We walked across a brand new foot/bike bridge while eating a yummy Nutella crepe. Nyhavn was just across the bridge, so we wandered through the most popular section of the city. All thanks to winter, we weren’t stampeded by other tourists. We kept wandering and found an opera house and then the Church of our Lady, which houses the original Christus.We rested out little feets and sat through part of a service. We made our way home and spent the evening eating pizza with our feet on the coffee table of our Airbnb. (Steps: 23,345)

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12/12 – Brad went back to work today, so we actually had to wake up on time. We were also switching from the Airbnb to a hotel, so we packed up and took our stuff with us to Brad’s office. We stashed the goods behind a couch, and I went on my merry way, which Brad went to a desk. After that, I learned what kind of adventurer I am: the get-on-a-bus-and-see-where-it-goes kind of adventurer. Today, I was headed towards the aquarium. It took me quite a while to get there. Bus to Metro to Train then a 15 minutes walk to the TINY aquarium. Did I skip an entire exhibit? I swear it took me longer to walk to the aquarium than it did to walk through it. Still I got to see some adorable otters and other fishies. No time is too short to hang out with fishies.

Oh, let’s talk for a second about the Copenhagen Card. I spent $120 to get five days of unlimited public transport and free access to 75 or so attractions. And yes, it was way worth it, especially since I’m not a planner. I got on the bus, then got off two stops later. Then turned around and went the other way. I probably road the bus 50 times. Even just to have the convenience of hop on, hop off without having to carry Denmarkian monies was so worth it. Then there’s that part about being in the aquarium for 30 minutes. I left without feeling bad about paying an entrance fee. I could seriously just go into a museum for two minutes (and I did, but more about that later). Aaand moving on.

I couldn’t decide if I would be back in time to get lunch with Brad, so I stopped at Rosenborg castle, which was nearby. It was closed, of course. And the art museum across the street was closed too. Apparently Denmark shuts down on Mondays. And I was hungry, so I got onto a bus towards Issuu. JK JK. It was the wrong direction. So I hopped off and eventually found the right one. I honestly took the wrong bus at least 7 times over the week. Yeah… I spent a few hours at Issuu letting my feet rest. I wandered for another hour or so I saw the Rauthaus (city hall), a lot of cool downtown buildings, a Christmas market, and lots of children in cute little pods. Brad and I checked into our hotel and started our evening adventure. First stop: dinner! Probably something delicious, but I honestly can’t remember what we ate. We bought Brad his Copenhagen card and tracked down a place to pick it up. Then we went to Tivoli! It’s the cutest little theme park with carnival-type roller coasters. A nice ride attendant let us on for free, and it was the best ever. I miss roller coasters. Naturally, we chose the coldest night of all to be outside for hours. Our feet were freezing by the end, but we had a fun time seeing all the cute lights and Christmas shops. (Steps 24,226)

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Happy Things

I’ve probably written this post 800 times. (Do I even have that many posts?)

I don’t do winter. I don’t do cloudy. And I read blogs all the time about how to beat winter blues, SAD, whatever. But it’s different for everyone. Here’s my personal list for this winter:

  • Go outside even when it’s cloudy/cold/rainy. By staying inside when it’s cold, we train our brains to fear the cold. Instead, bundle up and go outside. Reverse the fear.
  • Fill my time with meaningful things. I love learning new things, but when my motivation is null, I’m not likely to teach myself something. So suggestion: sign up for a class, like at Joann’s. You paid for it. You have someone relying on you to be there and to succeed. So I asked a friend to give me art lessons. Coursera is also a good option.
  • Exercise in the mornings. The sun in up for about 10 hours a day, starting at 6:45am and ending around 5pm. Doesn’t it make sense to be awake for the entire time the sun is? Wake up with the sun, get your blood pumping, and start your day. Then by the time the sun goes to sleep, you’ll feel okay staying in and relaxing.
  • Socialize. It’s honestly as easy as “I’m going to Target, want to come?” or “Got you some ice cream, let’s eat it and chat for a minute.” Socializing is good for so many reason. Serving others boosts their mood and yours. You get to rejoice with others in their accomplishments. Mourning with those that mourn puts your own woes into perspective. Just having that sense of community does amazing things. Then there’s the more selfish reason- socializing expands your support network. If you need help, there will be someone there to cry with you.

Always more happy things to think about, but this is a solid list. I can’t really focus on more than a few goals at once, so I’ll stick with four.

NoGoWriMo

Well, that lasted long.

NaNoWriMo 2016 is NoGoWriMo.

My motivation this month is like 3/10. It didn’t help that I had no story. I’m a pantster (fly by the seat of my pants) when it comes to Nano, but I’ve always had a basic story in my head. Some of the time, I have an outline. This year I went in with nothing. Literally not even an idea. I put pen to paper and scribbled for two hours about whatever came to my head. It ended up being an intro to some sort of post-apocalyptic something or other. Or a spy novel? Possibly a love story. Who knows what there is there? I will probably never know.

It isn’t like I can’t do it. I could still catch up if I wanted to. It would mean writing 2208 words per day, which is only 600 more than the regular amount. That’s an extra 15-30 minutes of writing, depending out how focused I am. But jump back to my motivation level of the month. 3/10. And the lack of story. And the general lack of care. Hello, winter and your general lack of care.

Here’s a snippet from my story. Unedited, full of typos, judgement-free.

My head slammed into the ground with a deafening, literally deafening, crunch. That irony taste of blood filled my mouth. I blinked my eyes open, but still there was only blackness. A ringing sound grew in my ears and slowly the sound of wind and rustling leaves grew in my ears. I sat up and felt around for my glasses. “Dennis, Dennis!” I shouted, knowing what would happen in return.

Another slam, softer, this time. But when I sat up, I still coughed up blood. I spat on the ground next to me, attempting to stand as I went. Excruciating pain shot from my left heel to my hip. I reached to my foot. What was normally soft skin and bone was now a firm sac of blood and bone shards. My body wouldn’t allow myself to touch it anymore. I withdrew and took a step. Right, ow, right, ow. I tiptoed five or six paces, then fell to the ground, grasping at my foot the best I could. What had happened? My memory was so blurry. The last I could fully remember was running through the door, looking behind me to make sure I wasn’t being followed. They were two steps ahead of me the whole time. I remember at one point asking to go to the bathroom and they handed me a bottle. Female genitalia and bottles don’t go together, not for urinating, at least.

I remembered stealing a syringe from the cart when a nurse came to make sure I was still alive. I was, but just barely, and that’s how they wanted me.

The syringe was still in my pocket, the torn front pocket of my hoodie. Unknown contents. It probably had a label at one point, but that “hospital” didn’t seem too keen on the rules of sanitation. I don’t remember being pricked with anything, and I’d rather it stay that way.

It had been three days since I escaped, but I still hadn’t found food or water or any sign of life besides this road. This long winding, empty road. The shattered heel wasn’t much help when it came to walking. So I crawled and walked when I could stand it. Who knows? Maybe the syringe was morphine. Maybe I could inject myself and make it miles and miles before it wore off. Or maybe it was more of the sleeping drought they gave me when I ran from the safety of my childhood home.

A chill breeze rustled the trees, and somewhere in the distance, an owl called for its mate.

I scooted to the edge of the road and felt my way to a tree. I leaned against it and closed my eyes. Dennis wasn’t around. I know it. The spirits knew it. He hasn’t been around for too many years.”

 Stick around for more bits. Maybe.

Humble

I have got to straighten out my priorities. And here’s how…

Things I think I need to work on:

  • Exercising more
  • Having better hobbies
  • Making more money
  • Eating better
  • Using my time more productively

Things I actually need to work on:

  • Judging less
  • Treating people better
  • Trusting God
  • Generally being a better person

I always seem to forget that my elevator speech (Hi I’m Rachel. I like blah blah and I do blah blah) matters way way way less than who I actually am. So…like…treating people the very best is way more important than the kinds of things I can brag about.

That’s sort of what I learned yesterday from Amanda.

 

Determined

Determined is not a word that I ever use to describe myself. Right along with motivated or passionate. I get easily discouraged and frankly, I’m just lazy. I can stick with something for like a month, 6 weeks tops.

But what I am is creative, easily excited, and always willing to learn. I love to take on the 30-day challenge type things. so I’m going to try a new one each month. So far this year, I’ve done yoga challenges and a drawing of the day challenge. I’m currently in this healthy eating/exercise thing. (4 days into a 6-month stretch. woo.) But coming up…

November is National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. 30 days of writing. 1667 words per day. 50,000 words total. A novel… well, a mini novel. This is my fourth year. It’ll possibly be the worst year since I don’t even have the slightest clue what I’ll write. Options in my head at the moment: non-fiction biography type thing. short story collection. sci-fi. Harry Potter fanfic.

I’ll attempt to post on here a few times a week some quotes or snippets. Don’t count on it since nanowrimo is (in my head) about writing super crappy novels in way too short a time. But I’ll try. As motivation.

K. Thanks.

Hopefully

Let’s pretend for just a sec that I have like six thousand people reading my blog daily. (Hint: I don’t.) But I could pretend that people know me or something. Or at least they want to know me. (They probably don’t.)

Anyways, I would tell them that I have an office job that is sometimes super busy and most of the time really slow. Like, sit in the office for 8 hours with nothing to do slow. So I try to find things to fill my time. Most often laziness takes over, and I just end up on gchat with my two besties or link hopping through the never-ending time wasting websites. Here’s what I did to keep up the productivity:

Today I wrote eight ideas of time fillers on sticky notes and stuck them on my monitor.

  • Make a list. Honestly though, lists are fun. To-dos, goals, travel wishes, friends to call, things to buy. Then maybe once the list is done, I can start crossing things off.
  • Draw. I’m not a doodler, but it isn’t too late to learn.
  • Read a random science article. Brad always spouts out these random science facts. My turn.
  • Walk up and down the stairs. Okay. So sort of boring, but it’ll boost my step count and be outside a bit longer.
  • Write a blog post. Duh.
  • Learn something from YouTube. Today I watched this one. He’s a friend of ours, and it’s actually really interesting. Ideally, I’ll watch the video and actually do the things they’re teaching. Not today. Today I wrote this post instead.
  • Call an old friend. I have a couple of people I call while I’m on walks. (Thanks, Mom.) Maybe I’ll use my list from the first suggestion and actually call them.
  • Make something for Etsy. Brad and I are trying to open an Etsy shop this year with his design things and my random things.

What are your random time filler things?