I’m going to preface this post by saying that I am so not good at keeping up with my friends and loved ones.
I still get texts and voicemails from my parents asking me if I’m alive (they live in Virginia, I live in Pennsylvania). When I stop and go, “Wow, I wonder how that person is, how long has it been?” and I realize that years have passed without us saying a word to each other, I get queasy.
Because it makes you feel like a bad friend, right? You go, “I must not care about that person or I would call them every day. I wouldn’t let so much time go by.” That’s really not true though, and I think we could all stand to cut ourselves some slack.
But here are a few ways that I have been trying to get better about staying in contact with folks:
- Schedule it: I’m a big fan of using my Google Calendar to remind me to call people. I’ve especially started doing this when I find that it’s someone’s birthday or a special occasion.
- Facebook: wait, wait, hear me out on this one. If I’m really strapped on time and I can’t pick up my phone and call someone, I rely on Facebook to help me so I can just send a quick, fun message to let someone know I’m thinking of them. I also like that I have a list of the people in my life so I can refer to it when I’m feeling isolated.
- Find something to do: another challenge for me has been, “Okay, so I call or message them and we’re both like, ‘hey, how’s it going, fine, how are you … well, nice talking to you.’ What’s even better is to go out and do something. Find a restaurant you want to try. Go do some sort of activity. Preferably not one that needs to be done in silence.
- Don’t waste time: it’s easy to get into all the reasons why you haven’t kept in touch. Do they ever really matter? I tend to think they don’t (unless you’re making amends for something, which is a whole other situation). Just jump straight to telling them how cool it is to be hanging out.
- It’s not you, it’s you: there was a time when I used to be concerned about the fact that I didn’t keep up with people regularly. And not just in a passing way, but in a debilitating guilty fashion, like I would die alone because I had abandoned my friends. And it’s just not true, y’all. People fall out of touch. Enjoy your paths crossing when they do, and let people know they can always talk to you, no matter how long it’s been.
Okay, guys, I’m just going to say it. This post is not for you. Move along.
So. Periods, amirite?
It feels like there’s maybe two weeks out of the month where I feel like a normal person. I take hormonal birth control pills, so I have at least the convenience of a schedule that says, “Okay, for these days, just assume I’ve lost my ability to function.” But in the latter part of the week leading up to my period, the week of, and half of the week following, there is a flood of A’s: anguish, anxiety, anger, ambivalence, assholishness.
I hated feeling this way for a long time. The attitude that I was always exposed to was, “You’re just going to have to deal with it, and it sucks, but too bad.”
And I suddenly realized, at least for me, that that would only be true if I didn’t care enough to change how I operated between the crazy times.
Everybody is different, but I wanted to share some of the things that have worked for me.
- Calendar reminders: I have filled out my calendar with the timeframes that I know things are going to be Not Good. It may seem like a small thing, but having that visual reminder is really helpful.
- Mantra: I remind myself, Your feelings are real and valid. You just have a more difficult time dealing with them presently. I’m no less of myself when my body is in utter freak-out mode. However, rather than internalizing stress, I may just explode at whoever it around me. Just knowing that it’s a possibility makes me better able to move away from potentially volatile scenarios.
- Work around it: It doesn’t always pan out, but I will try and get as much of my personal goals accomplished prior to that time as possible. Of course things may come up, but I feel better knowing that I won’t be nagging myself if I don’t feel up to it.
- Plow through it: this one is a bit ‘mind over (gross) matter.’ I try to get focused as tightly as I can on what I am doing. It is so, so easy for me to overthink on small things that come up during those two weeks. Mole hills? More like Appalachians. So I refuse to dwell too long on slights, worries and little things.
What sort of tricks do you ladies use to handle that ever-so-special time of the month?
Recently, I have found that music has been my saving grace, so far as my productivity/creativity/sustainability has been going. The importance of my life having a great and appropriate soundtrack has been crucial, and I want to share some tips because you all deserve to have a swelling orchestra on your side, too. Or Nirvana. Nirvana has been working really well for me.
- Decide how much you are willing to pay for it, and do your research: you don’t have to break the bank to get streaming music from the magical world of the Internet. There are plenty of free options, but you’ll have to stomach the commercials every now and then (more frequently when you decide to skip a song). Recently, I’ve been exploring the Google Play Radio, because you not only have the choice of customizing a radio station by a song/artist, but there are also a lot of stations by activity, genre, etc. Some are pretty damn specific. There’s also Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Prime (that one pays for itself with the shipping and Kindle lending library), so on.
- Get the right stuff for the right time of day: I try not to listen to mellow stuff in the morning, because it makes me want to go back to bed. This inevitably leads to one of my ‘dubstep’ stations. Likewise, at night, I usually want something chill, like a movie soundtrack. I’ve also been taking a strong look at how certain types of music impact different kinds of tasks. If I’m reading or doing something text heavy, I avoid stuff with complex lyrics that my mind will get hung up in. In fact, the more I need to focus, the more I go to something without any vocals at all – which doesn’t have to be baroque, by the way.
- What am I making and what does it sound like: when I’m writing, using music in a smart way can actually really add a dimension to my characters and scenarios. Is it a face-off between the hero and the villain? Anime soundtrack! Is it a romantic moment between lovers? Cue the REO Speedwagon! Is it an actually serious moment between lovers? Maybe opt for some Andrea Bocelli.
Life can be busy. Times can be tough. Don’t do it in silence. I dare you.
This image resonated with me because it is very in-line with my stances on How to Have a Day Job.
Image by Rusty Butcher.
I wish someone had told me these things.
1. Not everyone gets a tax refund. Sometimes you actually have to pay the government! How messed up is that?!
2. You should buy a house. But it’s hard, and you have to have a buttload of money first.
3. Nobody is going to make doctor’s appointments for you. And there’s a good chance the doctor’s office isn’t going to be in walking distance of your door.
4. The world favors the lark, not the owl. As such, it takes substantial work to maintain a night lifestyle and still fulfill a lot of adult responsibilities.
5. Just assume you’re not going to get the hang of it all during your twenties. And then one day things will start slowly settling into place…for a while, anyway. It’s best to just keep truckin,’ and don’t over analyze things.