motivation, Personal, Uncategorized

2017 is EVOLVE

I’m not going to mince words here: 2016 was not fun for anyone. I spent the second portion of December sick as a dog – including on Christmas, as if I needed to be punched in the boob one more time for good measure – and I fell behind on everything. 2016 was stressful and difficult for me personally, and there are tons of listicles and tweets out there with reasons why this was the case for most other people too.

But 2017 is here. We’re moving on. We’re starting fresh, and it’s going to be great.

So this year, I’ve chosen the word EVOLVE.

Anyone who knows me knows that for roughly the last six months, I have been really, really, really into Pokemon, especially Pokemon Go. And although Pikachu still holds a precious place in my heart, my mascot for this year is this little guy:

eevee

This is Eevee. Isn’t he cute? Eevees are considered “Normal” Pokemon but they are extremely adaptable. Under different conditions, Eevees can evolve into eight different forms that are all unique, powerful and really freaking awesome. But the thing about it is that an Eevee that remains an Eevee is still fantastic! Look at that face! He’s good just the way he is.

I want so much to be better in 2017. I want to take the things that I do and kick them up a notch. I want to be better, do better, make better and give better to the world. When something challenges me, I want to take a step back and say, “Here is the bare minimum I could do. But how can I do more?” But I also want to recognize and be confident with the person that I am in the present. I want to choose to be happy and honest and comfortable with the ‘me’ that I am now so I know that the changes I’m making are just to enhance that goodness.

So how about you guys? What are you looking forward to evolving into in the new year?

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5 Things, inspiration, Personal, Uncategorized

5 Thanks

Before the holiday sets in, I’m taking the opportunity on both of my blogs to acknowledge things for which I am grateful. This year has been rough, and I can’t even just say that in the greater sense. I’ve been working all year. My social life has suffered because things have been constantly busy. I lost 2/3 of my rat boys. But every time I stop to say, “Fuck this shit, I’m out” I also consider things for which I am grateful. Specific things. Like…

  1. The friends I’ve made online this year. In January, I posted a fun little story on Tumblr. Eleven months later, over 1200 people are reading other fun little things I write. And I consider a lot of them real friends, and that is freaking awesome.
  2. Pokemon Go. Silly, I know, but it’s been real fun, coming together and bonding with people over a game that was a part of so many childhoods.
  3. Art. In spite of everything, I’m still making it happen, a little bit each day.
  4. Good shows, good books, good games. And good people who make both.
  5. New York. Yeah, yeah, I know, broken record. You don’t understand how much I needed to spend two days alone in the most crowded place on Earth.

Take a moment to consider what you are grateful for. It’s hard to find the gold hidden in the pile of dung, but try. You’ll be glad you did.

Creative Advice, NaNoWriMo, Personal

It’s Okay

This time last week, I was on top of my game. I had words running off my fingers like honey from a comb. I was making magic, awesome and fierce and unstoppable. I was a musician working on my self-titled album, music flowing through me. I was a wizard over a cauldron of promising toil and trouble.

And then Tuesday happened. The storm.

And then Wednesday happened. The aftermath.

And it hurt. I want to say that I kept moving. That even though someone increased the gravity inside the chambers of my heart, I said, “Nope. Still going to keep doing what I’m doing.”

But I didn’t.

I got depressed, and basically from Thursday through Sunday I didn’t really write anything. I felt like garbage. I was tense and anxious and no matter how much I wanted to will things into existence, everything just shorted out. And I was so mad at myself because I wanted to continue. I wanted to say that I was bigger than everything that was happening. But I wasn’t.

Now, as I’m finally getting back to a state of normalcy, I want to tell you that it’s okay.

It’s okay to lose your way. It’s okay to get angry and upset. It’s okay to rage quit now and then. It’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up over it. No sane self-help book has been written that says, “Self-flagellation is a sure-fire way to get yourself in the state of mind you want to be in!!” It’s okay to step away from your work and have a good cry.

Know that you won’t feel this way forever. It will pass. Even if it’s something indicative of a larger problem that you’re dealing with and even if it’s something that isn’t just going to go away (it rarely is)…your heart is surprisingly buoyant. You won’t always be at the bottom of the ocean. Eventually, you’re going to float back up to the top.

It’s okay. Get back to work when you’re ready.

And you will be ready again. I promise.

inspiration, Personal, Uncategorized

32 Lessons: Part 2

Literally wrapping this up at the time when, 32 years ago, my mom decided that she had gotten through all her favorite shows and would go have me already, even though frankly she didn’t know what the big deal was about.

17. Take care of your teeth as much as you’re able to. And on that note…

18. Forgive your genetics. There’s nothing you can do about it. Take it easy on yourself.

19. Choose happiness now. Don’t wait until you’re in another place or ‘until I accomplish this thing’ or ‘until I am finally doing that thing.’ Make your happiness a priority this instant, even if it’s not easy.

20. Stretch. Take deep breaths.

21. Surround yourself with things and people that you love. Even if people try to tell you that you shouldn’t, or people disagree with your tastes. It’s your space. You get to choose who you let in it.

22. One day, you’re going to realize that your parents are just like everyone else. And that means you get to choose what your relationship is like with them, especially when you are making your own decisions.

23. Try not to burn bridges. You may want to cross them later. But if you do, grab a boat. Swim if you have to.

24. Always get your feet wet. This isn’t actually a metaphor; like, when you go to the beach, put your feet in the water. Jump in the pool. Never say no to hot tubs.

25. Never be afraid to laugh or cry or be excited or be down. Your emotions will always be there. If you internalize everything, you’ll explode.

26. Listen.

27. Ask for help. It’s never easy. It never gets easier. But do it, when you’re able to. You don’t deserve to suffer in silence.

28. Sing in your car. Dance in the grocery store.

29. Stretch. I swear by this, actually. As much as you are physically able to, even if it’s while you’re sitting down or lying in your bed. Move.

30. Read self help books, but know when it’s time to write your own book. Not everything will work for you the way it works for other people. Just keep trying until you figure out what is effective, and then develop yourself from there.

31. Nobody is perfect, and everybody has been at a point where they have no idea what they’re supposed to be doing. Maybe it’s something big like LIFE™ and maybe it’s just taxes. Don’t be afraid to find someone you can talk to and ask if they can walk you through it start to finish. Ask questions.

32. You are awesome, and you deserve love.

inspiration, Personal, Uncategorized

32 Lessons: Part 1

So, tomorrow is my 32nd birthday. And I thought it might be fun to share 32 lessons I’ve learned during the span of my lifetime to this point. I like doing lists like this anyway, but I hope maybe it will be interesting for people who follow me or read my stuff. I’m dividing it into two posts: 16 today, 16 tomorrow. Enjoy.

1. Travel, when you can. Even if it’s just within your own city. Check out places you’ve never looked before. Wander. You don’t have to talk to anyone. Just experience the world outside of your home.

2. It’s always easier to say ‘no,’ so say ‘yes’ whenever possible. Try everything. Open yourself to new experiences, even if they seem inconvenient or uncomfortable.

3. Everything makes a good story. Even the terrible shit (especially the terrible shit).

4. You don’t owe anyone an explanation about yourself. Never be ashamed of your interests or the things that make you who you are. So long as you aren’t hurting anyone, do what you want. On that note…

5. Be nice. It takes little effort to be kind. You can disagree and dislike someone or something without being a jerk. Show some compassion. You could literally save someone’s life.

6. Enjoy solitude when you have it. Be comfortable with yourself when you are alone. You’re always going to be stuck with you; might as well make friends.

7. It’s never too late to apologize, if you want to.

8. This, too, shall pass. Depression, anxiety, crises. Pure joy, happiness, sleep. It’s all temporary.

9. Make the things that you would like to see more of. Don’t produce content because it’s what you think you should do. If you don’t like what you’re doing, you’ll wind up resenting it.

10. Say ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ and ‘excuse me.’

11. You cannot control how people think or feel. The only thing you can do is decide how you’re going to let them affect you. Don’t take their baggage personally.

12. You’re never too old to appreciate cute animals.

13. Nobody else gets to decide your relationship with the universe. Pursue a faith and spirituality that speaks to you, from your heart, and not out of any sense of obligation.

14. You are made out of stardust. Your existence is magic. You are a miracle. Every day you are living is a day more than so many other people. You are literally awesome.

15. Be honest. With everyone. With your family, with your friends, with strangers. But honesty doesn’t have to equate with dickishness. Tact is your friend.

16. Surprise others. Keep people guessing. It’s really, really fun.

mental health, Personal, Uncategorized

Living with Anxiety

This afternoon, I had an episode of anxiety laced with depression.

It wasn’t like it sometimes is, where it’s following in the wake of a runaway stress motorboat. It also didn’t descend over me like a blanket of smoke — the kind where you wake up into it and realize you can neither breathe nor see a few inches past your face.

It came on a beautiful, quiet day, when work wasn’t sucking and I wasn’t at odds with anyone. It came without any provocation, when I had been eating well and stretching and exercising and drinking lots of water. It came like a flaming toilet hurtling from outer space.

It happens. Like shit.

And it’s easy to get angry. I did, scrubbing tears off my cheeks and all but flinging them across the room. Because while one part of my brain was having a meltdown, the other part was standing over top of them going, “Dude, what is wrong with you?”

And there isn’t an answer when this happens. You can sort of take note, recognize it for what it is, but it is literally a whirlpool. And the more you fight, the more tired and aching you get.

A few reminders when you’re going through this (for you as much as me):

  • You are not broken. You are not damaged goods. And accepting that means also accepting that there are no returns.
  • There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Be calm and approach someone you trust and explain the situation. Let the love in, as much as you are concerned about being “annoying” or “clingy.”
  • Breathe. Just give yourself some time and some space. You are okay.
  • This too shall pass.

 

Personal

Reboot Check In: January

Have we already gotten through January? What the heck is up with that, guys?

So I thought it would be fun to do a bit of a check-in on the REBOOT thing. Just in this past month, there’s been a lot going on, and I still feel like I made the right decision with taking that word for this year.

Just in January I have:

– Gotten hit with huge work stress. As some of you may recall, I changed to this day job in March of last year, and this is the first “busy season” I’ve experienced. It’s been rough. BUT…

– Been writing a lot. Every day. It’s stuff that I’m doing for my own pleasure, but it’s still word output, which makes me happy.

– Been reading. I’ve particularly been reading, “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” by Fredrik Backman. It’s beautiful and painful and magical, which is a good combination.

– Gotten involved in a NEW PROJECT. More details to come.

I think that the biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is that by coming back to things that are really important to me and that I’m really passionate about, and not just in a ‘oh yeah, I guess that could be good for me’ way…I just feel generally better. My productivity has sky-rocketed. I feel in control.

And that’s big for me, as a writer, and as a creative person.

So we’ll just have to see what the rest of the year holds, huh?

Goals and Ambitions, Personal

2015 was a Journey…2016 is time for a REBOOT

2014 meant being Brave. 2015 was a Journey. For 2016, the word is REBOOT.

There were a lot of changes in 2015. Added responsibility. New faces, places, things. Experiences that, while enriching and ultimately good in the greater sense of living, have worn me the hell down.

We bought a house. I changed jobs. I participated in events in front of a million people (Ask Me Another) and in front of complete strangers (Mudderella), both trials that challenged me mentally and physically. I wrote a novel. I made things.

And guys? I feel like a bit of a mess. I feel like the Stretch Armstrong you find in your garage after 20 years, and when you pull the arms with the hope of stretching, you send up with a pile of sawdust and rubber. I feel like your first swimsuit. I feel like a super ball with a crack in it, like if I try to fulfill a purpose I’m just going to explode tragically.

Anyway, you get the point.

2016 is going to be coming back to basics. It’s going to be about taking a look at the everyday, and reestablishing habits. It’s going to be about installing all the personal updates and getting my heart restarted.

I’m going to:
  • Spend less time on things that cause me unnecessary distress.
  • Be more honest – with myself as much as others.
  • Practice moderation. And, in doing so, relish what I take in.
  • Make new things out of joy, not necessarily to gain recognition or compensation.
  • Schedule time for things I love, no matter how trivial.

What’s your word for 2016?

mental health, Personal, Uncategorized

Aftermath!

Phew, guys. That’s all I can say. Phew.

These past two months have been absolutely crazy-go-nuts. In November, I did NaNoWriMo (and won!). In the middle of that was Thanksgiving, which is a big cooking holiday for us, and then everything from Black Friday until, like, this past Saturday was…Christmas.

Christmas, with the making of gifts for friends and family.

Christmas, with the enjoyment of music and movies.

Christmas, with the traveling and visiting (we live in Pittsburgh and our families live in Maryland and Southern Virginia).

Christmas, with the scheduling of all of the above.

And now New Years is in spitting distance, and I’m holding my head like…what just happened and why is 2015 ending I can’t even.

I’m not sure why, but the combination fried rice of making, doing, seeing, being and working has made my brain feel like it’s pretty much just that: scrambled egg in soft grain. With peas and carrots. I can tell that I’ve reached my limit because all my anxiety which is normally just sort of simmering beneath the surface is erupting all Old-Faithful style. This comparison works because Old Faithful is more like Anything But, because it’s not easy to predict when it’s going to happen.

My anxiety manifests itself in obsessive thinking patterns, over-analyzing, and Way Too Big Picture questioning. I get in bed, and I ask my husband, “Do you think I’m where I’m supposed to be? I’m so old. What am I doing? I’m pretty sure the world is ending.” These are not things that one should be thinking about before they sleep. In fact, my anxiety created this bizarre dream in which a Jason Momoa lookalike berated me at length – about my appearance, my life choices, what I was doing with myself.

It is safe to say I woke up confused, perturbed and hurt.

The post-holiday letdown is something I know that other people deal with too. We get so, so wrapped up in the season that when it’s all over, you end up looking around like, “Okay! What’s next?” And the answer is a big slap in the face by baby new year.

So, y’all, if you’re anything like me…be good to yourself right now. Take everything a little bit at a time. Create a to do list and commit to taking care of just one thing every day. Get sleep. Eat well, even when the anxiety demons are all, “Dip the chocolate bar IN the Speculos spread!”

You’ll feel a hell of a lot better in a week. I know it.