Friday, March 27, 2015

Besties?

All right.

It's time to come clean.

I'm stalking someone.

Two someones.

OK, OK, OK.

Everyone callllllllllm down.

Not actually stalking.

Just "stalking."

OK now that everyone is questioning their choice to ever read the blog of an apparent STALKER, let's all just calm down -- again -- and back up while I explain myself.

First of all, when I say "stalking," I mean:

Reading these persons' blogs.

And wishing I could be their friend.

So that's all.

Now here's how I got myself into this weird mess that makes me uncomfortable.

So it all started last February when I was at home, sick. I wanted to tweet something about being just like Kathleen Kelly in "You've Got Mail" in the scene where she's sick, minus the daisies and the Tom Hanks coming to my door with the daisies.

And the trench coat. Does it bother anyone else that she's wearing a trench coat in that scene? Is it supposed to be adorable?

So anyway. I had this charming, funny tweet to illustrate how charming and funny I am, and I wanted a visual aid to go with it, especially for those who might not fully get the reference. Shame on those people, but whatever. I'm happy to educate in the Nora Ephron realm, as needed.

So, like a normal, non-stalking person, I went to the Internet.

And I clicked on one of the images of Kathleen Kelly with her daisies in her trench coat.

And the great Internet took me to Blog #1.

Curious, I looked at the post that originally hosted the image. Then I looked around the blog a little more.

Is this how stalking begins? Inadvertently?

Hmm, my sick (physically, not socio/psychologically) self thought. This blogger is interested in children's books. Me too! And "You've Got Mail" (obviously). Me three! And it looks like maybe knitting? Well I'm into cross stitch, but close enough. Me four!!

So I signed up to get email updates when new posts came out.

TOTALLY NORMAL BEHAVIOR.

Then one day Blogger #1 posted a link to a second blogger's blog.

And then I found Blog #2.

And then before I knew it I was reading two blogs by lovely writing girls who live in my relative geographical region and with whom I have a lot in common, both individually and collectively, and I thought, well, Hmpfh.

Isn't this a pickle?

Because I would LOVE to be friends with these people, and talk about blogging, and writing, and encourage one another in our writing pursuits, and hang out at the beach (I promise I'm not a creep!!!), but to do any of that I have to admit that I'm sorta kinda semi stalking them!!!!

So here I am.

Confessing.

So Blogger #1 and Blogger #2, if you want to eat ice cream and encourage one another and have binge writing dates (and chatty writing dates where we distract ourselves with laughter and wittiness and don't actually get a lot done), I'm in the market.

And I'm dating someone. So it's not like I'm after you for some creepy dating reason. I'm happily involved. :)

So. Uh. I guess I'll just drop this blog post right here and see what happens.

Here's hoping?? To new friends??

Write Back Soon,
Bailey

Thursday, March 26, 2015

We went from yogurt to babies really quickly

I'm a good cook, Y'all.

Currently I am partaking of a bowl of:

vanilla yogurt
honey & flax granola clusters (from Fresh & Easy, my FAVE grocery store)
blackberries
& cinnamon

Mmmmmmmm.

You're jealous, I know.

And drooling.

And may I just say the blackberries are perfect. Not over or underripe, and those little balloons of fruity flesh just pop in my mouth. Not mushy. Not sour. Just. Perfect.

Mmmmmmmm (again).

I love being healthy. When I am. Otherwise it's beer and pizza, you know it is.

And I love that you can heap things on/in yogurt and oatmeal. Fruit, nuts, cinnamon, chocolate. Just pile it in. I'll remember this for when I have kids. That sounds like a fun activity, yes? Just let them sprinkle -- or dump, as it were; they're kids, after all -- whatever they want onto their breakfast. Also I never ate yogurt as a child, and had to acquire the taste, so if I can start my kiddos young, then so be it.

Look at me, talking about unborn children.

I've been doing that a lot lately.

I was carrying a bunch of heavy, awkward stuff, and I made a comment about it being practice for when I have toddlers and have to carry them and their diaper bags.

What is happening, people???

I'm not entirely sure (though I have theories), but I don't totally hate it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

In a stupor (this is what happens when you play too hard at Disneyland)

I just looked at my finances.

Well that was depressing.

And probably not the best move on a Monday.

Morning.

After going to bed at 1:30 a.m. the night before.

Whoops.

And I'm going to Hawaii. (Money) things are only going to get worse.

***

I'm eating my favorite breakfast thing. Vanilla yogurt with bananas and cinnamon.

Every time I prepare it I take a bite and think, "Yummm!"

Every time.

Needless to say not sick of it yet.

And I guess this confirms that the vanilla-cinnamon combo of life is a worthwhile one.

***

Also enjoying my morning coffee. And by enjoying I mean sucking it down.

It is needed this a.m.

Because Bailey Kathleen had a late night. In fact. So late. That Bailey Kathleen went to bed not last night, but rather...this morning.*

I know.

I know.

But we went to Disneyland. And it was the bomb.

And we got a late start to our happiest day at the happiest place.

On earth.

I bought a souvenir I maybe shouldn't have (a mug from awesome o possum tiki bar Trader Sam's) and a sweatshirt I've been eyeing since, I believe, my first ever trip to Disneyland three years ago.

(It's black and has Minnie's body/dress on the front, and the hood...has ears on it! Gush.)

Shortly after the sweatshirt purchase, we saw Minnie -- in the fur -- and I took my picture with her.

In my Minnie Mouse tee (different from the sweatshirt. Yes. I'm officially in Minnie Mouse shirt collection mode).

And my Minnie Mouse ears.

And...

...my Minnie Mouse blinged out bedazzled crystal necklace.

I'm a little ashamed right now.

At least Alex thinks it's cute.

Also I'm 29 going on 5. And 85. Equal parts.

*I realized upon re-reading this post that I already had told you that I went to bed in the morning. That's how tired I was this morning; causing me to repeat facts.

***

I've been working on my memoir, as I told you in a previous post, and it continues to be boring and arduous.

***

We had several other adventures at Disneyland yesterday, and many firsts for Ms. Bailey here. Here is the list of firsts:

Ate my first Dole Whip (a pineapple soft serve)
Rode in the very front of the monorail, with the driver
Rode Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Rode the Alice in Wonderland ride
Did Star Tours
Only made (I believe) two bathroom breaks -- this is far few less than usual

We went to Trader Sam's, the best tiki bar in southern California, and I got myself a souvenir mug and had some delicious drinks and a delicious pork sandwich. Mmmmm. And later I had a jalapeno/cheese stuffed soft pretzel.

It was all about the snacks.

And the Minnie Mouse attire.

But back to Trader Sam's. That place is great. The bartenders are hilarious. Great energy up in there. I first stumbled upon it when it was decked out for Christmas, and have been a big fan ever since.

***

Friends, I would write more, but I'm fading. I need a nappy nap. And maybe a bath (not simultaneous activities). I just want my kitty, and a brewski, and maybe a book. And/or a nice cuddle.

Over and Out,
The Sleepy Monster
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

10 MORE tips for fending off anxiety and depression

Hi All!

If you missed it, I just posted 10 tips for fending off anxiety and depression. If interested, catch those tips here.

As follows are 10 more tips. (I came up with a lot of tips, so I decided to break them up into two posts). I hope they're helpful! Peace to you!!

11.      Do positive things – with your hands

Make crafts, write letters, mail things (books, etc.) to friends, run errands, buy milk…

It’s good to keep your hands busy – this is something my brother told me once when I was first weathering the anxiety storm.

There was a point in my life where each night I wrote down 10 potential activities for the next day. Paint my nails, read a book, organize the bathroom drawer, call Corie, go to the park. Then, as I fell into a lull the next day, I would go to the list and pick an activity. Do it until I was bored, then back to the list. And the more positive things you can squeeze into your life, the better.

12.      Accept pet and housesitting jobs

These are like little mini-vacays. It may not be your thing, but personally I love it. And during the long season in my life when I particularly struggled with unwelcome feelings, I remember the times I was housesitting as protected moments.

There’s just always been something for me about being in someone else’s space. Enjoy their stylish furniture, eat their snacks, look at the photos in their frames. Use their laundry facilities. Just pretend you’re in a hotel, yo!

I love it. I suggest it.

Also, when I’m in someone else’s space, I tend to keep things tidier, which in turn makes me feel more calm and happy.

13.      Get a pet

There’s research on the effectiveness of this – well, I assume.

Pets make people happy. Purring cats calm me down; in fact, they absorb me, and when I’m lost in the negativity of my own head, I want nothing more than to be pulled into something more absorbing than my cynicism.

14.      Cook your own food

Several reasons why this is great – saves money, gets you eating more healthfully, and it gives you, again, something to do with your hands.

When I started cooking regularly, it really changed my outlook. I felt empowered, saw a task through to its finish, and enjoyed the fruits of my labor. All good things.

Also, as a classic middle kid, I often find myself feeling left out, unless someone expressly asks me to participate. For me, cooking is a way to have my hand in something, without letting others do it for me. I can’t tell you how life changing this has been for me – you’ll just have to see for yourself. And I love it! Making food for a hungry crowd makes me feel so good, and it’s so exciting when you find a good recipe and discover that you – you!! – can make it and make it well.

15.      Keep things tidy

I spoke to this a lot in two of my recent posts (here and here) – keeping things tidy keeps you (most likely) more calm and more happy. Clean environments have tremendous power to soothe, and to provide a sense of a peaceful home.

Further, once you’ve cleaned your space, get out of your house. Cleaning can take a while, so once you’re done, you don’t want to isolate yourself by hanging out much longer. And when you once again return home, you can enjoy coming home to a clean nook!

16.      Take mini vacations

When I was in graduate school, I toured Missouri in the summer between my first and second year of school.

And it was great.

I was short on cash, but I found places on the map that were 4-6 hours away, filled up my tank of gas, found a cat sitter, and hit the road. It was such a fun summer, and it was very low maintenance. Any place you can reasonably get to by car and then stay for free – sign yourself up.

That summer in Missouri I went to visit a couple that my family knows, who are more so my parents’ friends, and they were thrilled that I came to see them. Let me just say the pleasure was all mine. And it gave me something to do for the weekend. Better to spend downtime – and down times – in good company than sitting in your own head.

People love your company; not only do you put a smile on their faces by showing up, but they put a smile on yours.

17.      Focus on your physical surroundings, and your physical state

One thing I learned when I was seeing one of my counselors (for free, at my state university -- see tip #8 in my previous post) was the concept of focusing on my physical state, and telling myself that I was OK.

In practicing the act, I would tell myself very obvious statements about my purely physical state, as well as simple facts about my state of being and things around me:

I’m breathing.
This room is a little warm.
It’s 6 p.m. on Thursday.
I’m going to work tomorrow.
I can feel the bones of my butt on this hard chair.

I’m OK.

It sounds a little silly, but it helps you to stop thinking about all your thinking. And for some reason, to tell yourself you’re OK, the way you would tell a child, is helpful. Maybe it's because when you tell a child he's OK, you believe what you're saying, so if you tell yourself the same thing it has the effect?

It's a mystery to me. But I'd say give it a whirl.

18.      Remind yourself that a task will take as long as it will take

Standing in line sucks. Sometimes it takes a minute, sometimes it takes 10. Or 20. Or 30.

Breathe through it.

It will be over. It will take as long as it will take.

It will take as long as it needs to take to finish that report at work. To write that final paper. To scrub the shower. To wait for your kid to stop crying.

This is another tip that I feel a little weird giving out, because I don’t quite understand how it works, but I find it helpful. There’s just something to be said for telling yourself that the only way to get something done, or to wait it out, is to either get it done or wait it out.

This too shall pass.

19.      Drink water

In general, keep hydrated. And if you’re having a moment, grab some water and sip it.

When I started drinking water regularly, I noticed that I felt less agitated, got fewer headaches, and just felt more – no pun intended – fluid.

And it really is amazing how putting something cold and liquid on your tongue in a time of trauma can really help center and calm you.

On this same note, if you have, in particular, work anxiety, take a glass of water, or tea, or coffee, into meetings with you. I find that holding onto a warm mug gives me comfort, and sipping on something can help me get through either a stressful meeting, or one that’s boring and causes my mind to wander to negative, scary things.

20.  Seek to change your life, but lessen the pressure to CHANGE your life

This is a concept I’ve mulled over for a while.

We’re all about seeking BIG, grand things in this culture of ours. We want BIG entertainment, BIG life changes, BIG romantic gestures. We also seek perfection – the BEST day, the CUTEST outfit, the PERFECT execution of that karaoke song (I don’t know).

Blegh.

Lower the bar.

You can brush your teeth and it changes your life. You can go for a walk – a boring walk, in your boring neighborhood – and guess what? It changes your life.

Just seek a change of pace.

Life is a big, scary thing when we overthink it, but it’s also a series of little moments. Brushing your teeth, taking a walk, calling a friend, making dinner, getting that small task done for your boss, then another task done for your boss. You’ll get through it. Just break it down into smaller pieces, and focus on one thing at a time.

You’re gonna make it through. Meanwhile, feel free to seek out your Daily Bailey (the person, not the blog; but the blog, too, if that helps you) if you need to chat your way through it. Xo

10 tips for fending off anxiety and depression

Hi, Friends!

What follows -- in another TWO PARTER post, whaaaat?! -- is something I drafted out approximately three whole years ago.

And here it is, finally, at your doorstep. Desktop. Something.

Not one, not two, but 20 whole pieces of advice to help you fend off depression and anxiety.

You may have been laughing yesterday when I posted "tips" on how to be organized, given my tendency toward slobbishness.

But this topic -- this, my friends, I can speak to authoritatively. While I can't tell you with confidence that I have trustily made my bed every day for 29 years, I can tell you that I've spent countless days feeling anxious and/or depressed. So I was not surprised that when I sat down to make a list of tips to help one weather such feelings, I was able to come up with so many pieces of advice.

Take them as you will, of course, but if you've ever experienced some anxiety or depression, or think you might be, please read on. Of course my hope is that you won't ever have to experience either. All my best to you. Loves.

1.      Unclench your teeth, and fists

You probably don’t even realize you’re doing this. But throughout the day, try and notice if you’re grinding your teeth, or if the two rows are even touching each other. Consciously open your palms and rest them by your sides, face up. Relax your mouth so that you’re not biting down. Biting and gripping build up a tremendous amount of unconscious stress, which can be prevented.

2.      Eat, including protein

I’m the worst at this. But I have trained myself that at the first sign of feeling down, or on edge, to eat. Some people overeat, particularly when stressed or depressed, so be on guard for this, but if you’re the type to not make meals a priority, make sure you’re eating. I’m always surprised – legitimately, each time – at how much eating just a little bit makes me feel emotionally more comfortable. I feel more calm, happy, and ready to tackle something that 20 minutes before seemed insurmountable.

3.      Make yourself get up in the morning and go to bed at night

You can have breaks from a rigid routine – you can let yourself sleep in on Saturdays, while you’re on vacation, etc.

But in general, give yourself a wake up time and a bedtime. My brother implored me for years to go to bed no later than 11 p.m. Now, I gladly go to sleep at 8 p.m., but for a long time I just let the night take me away. This is a horrible idea. Your mind just wanders more and more, and if you find yourself freaking out, it’s much scarier at night, and you find yourself more hesitant to reach out to family and friends who are likely sleeping.

That said, I am well aware that – and well experienced with – insomnia is rampant, particularly among the anxious and depressed crowd. What I am asking you to do is get into bed at bedtime. Don’t punish yourself if you can’t sleep, but as best you can, have your teeth brushed, computer off, body in bed by your set bedtime. The sleep routine is SO helpful and huge in giving your mind some calm and rest.

And of course, if you will, read before bed. It will knock you out. It’s voted as my favorite before-sleep activity, hands down.

4.      Limit caffeine, particularly in the afternoons and evenings.

I had an internship once in which I would get all rowdy on Friday afternoons and let myself have an extra cup of caffeinated coffee after lunch.

But in general: decaf, People. Try to stick to one to two cups of caffeinated coffee or tea in the morning, then cut yourself off after lunch. Be grateful there are decaffeinated forms of coffee, tea, and soda, so we can all still enjoy the tastes of our favorite beverages without making ourselves feel over-crazed.

5.      Exercise. Exercise. EXERCISE!!!!!!!!!!!

This one I can’t express enough.

Hate exercising? I can understand that, but I can’t imagine that you’d rather feel anxious and depressed than get yourself on a treadmill for 20 minutes.

Exercising does soooooo much good for you. I get a very defined feeling of calm immediately after a good cardio workout, particularly a run. I sleep better – fall asleep faster and get more bang for my buck in the hours that I’m unconscious – I’m happier, I’m more calm and able to handle hiccups at work. The list goes on and on.

And it eats up time. When I’m particularly anxious or depressed, I just want time to pass. Exercising is a great way to do this. Don’t like the isolation of it? Go to a gym instead of working out at home, go with a friend, pop in some headphones, watch TV on the treadmill. It doesn’t have to be silent time. But you need to do it. Need.

6.      Don’t do any activity indefinitely

I don’t care if it’s your favorite activity. Even if it distracts you from your feelings of discomfort – and here’s hoping you have activities that do this for you – don’t do it for hours and hours on end.

Because eventually you’ll get bored, and hungry, and agitated, and then you’ll be anxious or depressed again.

Quit while you’re ahead. Get in 40 minutes of scrapbooking, and while you’re still enjoying it, get up and go for a jog. Wash the dishes. When you come back to the scrapbooking, you’ll still have a good taste in your mouth from your latest memory of participating in the activity, and you can dive right back in.

Ultimately, I just think that after an hour or so of doing anything, we start to lessen our productivity and our happiness with the task. Maybe I just have ADD and need a lot of breaks, and should only speak for myself. But I think getting up and readjusting is a good way to keep your brain – and feelings – fresh.

7.      Surround yourself with people – Get out. Of your own. Head.

Are you an overthinker? Analytical?

Thought so.

A lot of us who suffer from anxiety in particular fall in these categories. And if you’re depressed, it’s likely you’re ruminating over your life – and Life itself – too much. I know all these thoughts and questions seem worthwhile, and they are, to a point, but you’ve got to get a break from that noggin of yours.

GOT TO.

Trust me. Please. I speak from years of experience.

You know how above I said that I’m always surprised how much food can make me feel better? Same thing goes for getting myself around people.

Some – all – of my worst moments in life have been followed by some respite, and that respite has almost always involved human contact. It doesn’t have to be special, with flair. In fact, it’s probably better if it’s casual. Don’t worry about what you’ll say, how you’ll act. Just get yourself in the presence of people who love you. It’s best if at least one of them knows that you’re feeling off, but even if they don’t, you will fare well from hanging out with them.

I’ve been to so many blah social gatherings, but even so I have walked out of those events with a new spring in my step. Sometimes -- and I'm not kidding when I say this -- a life-saving spring in my step.

And when you’re seeking people out, remember that people who are both funny and serious are the ticket. In my humble opinion. If someone meets both these criteria, to me that is a sign that not only can they lighten you up when you’re feeling blue, or tense, or keyed up, but it shows me that they have survived something. Because if you’ve survived, then you know how serious life can be (so these survivors will take you and your feelings seriously) and you also know that if you don’t laugh, you die.

Find those people. Now.

8.      Consider therapy

I am a huge proponent of therapy, and while it can be expensive, it’s also rather readily available and affordable, if you know where to look.

If you’re a college student, you probably have about 10 free counseling sessions at your disposal – look into it. A lot of therapists will allow clients to pay according to income – called a “sliding scale” method – and most metro areas have county or state operated facilities that offer walk-in crisis counseling, for free. These places are often open during the holidays, too.

I’ve gone to both crisis counseling and student counseling, and benefited from both.

Oh. And if your “crisis” is that you’re home for Christmas and you’re really uncomfortable being around your family and feel like your heart is beating out of your chest?

That’s OK. That’s deemed a crisis. If it’s suffocating you, then it’s good enough to take to a counselor. It’s very tempting to compare ourselves to others who (we only assume) are not in therapy, and think we’re doing OK, that our problems aren’t that bad, and talk ourselves out of therapy. I think everyone can benefit from therapy, anytime, anywhere. Do yourself a favor and talk yourself into it.

9.      Be careful with your media consumption

Don’t get me wrong. On many occasions, a funny movie or a stupid sitcom can keep you from losing your mind. And it can be great background noise, particularly if you live alone, while doing the dishes, cleaning, putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

But like any other activity, it can pull you into a vortex. And as we all know, TV and the Internet have a lot of unrealistic, best-foot-forward images that can distort our sense of reality, cause us to compare ourselves in an already fragile state, and thus just set ourselves up for more struggle.

That said, one of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re feeling down, in my book, is to call a friend, grab a movie, pop some popcorn, and just chill out together.

Just stagger it. No 10 hour TV marathons, please. (Though I know how tempting those Kardashians can be to watch (not kidding)).

10.  Don’t drink if you’re feeling down

This is kind of old advice, but still relevant. If you feel yourself on unsteady footing, probably not the best idea to get yourself near any gin.