Sunday, March 25, 2018

5 Things That Are Saving My Life ... Right Now

 This is that in between time of year in Wisconsin.  Snow is melting, but we'll probably get at least one more dusting.  It's too wet to start gardening, but floral graveyards of last year are appearing uncovered showing dead leaves, stems, and dirt.  I planted some bulbs last fall, so I'm hoping they survived the squirrels and cold and will be coming up soon.  On the plus side, we had gorgeous weather this weekend.  Blue skies and forty degree temps.  So nice in fact, that my cat tries to bolt outside anytime I'm going in or out the door.  He wants to explore the yard and wander around the snowbanks.

I'm feeling more active on the weekends, but still pretty drained on weekdays.  Here's what's is helping me stay sane right now.

1. My weighted blanket.  When my depression was in full swing, I was frequently up at 2 in the morning for an hour, usually two (or more) and once I woke up, it was nearly impossible to get back to sleep.  Even with antidepressants, I was still having problems sleeping through the night.  It was so frustrating!  I've never been a person that struggles with sleep, but I was tired all the time.  For my birthday in February, my husband bought me a weighted blanket.  It made all the difference in the world!  I still occasional wake up in the middle of the night, but now it's usually around 4 (and I get up at 5 work anyway) so I either lay there for half an hour or so and fall back asleep, or if I have a bunch of stuff to get done, I just get up.  At $200, it's a big investment, and I was skeptical, but it was seriously worth every penny.

2. Cooking.  My husband is like the ultimate finicky eater, and while I used to make two separate meals, he's now on his own most the time.  But cooking for one gets old.  Especially old is eating leftovers for like a week straight.  So, one of my girl friends and I came up with a plan.  She works in the hospital below the nursing home I work at, so the days she and I are both working (she works days, PMs, and nights) I pack both our lunches.  In return, she buys breakfast on the weekends if we go out.  Having someone else to cook for has inspired me to try new recipes and eat healthier too.  It's been so fun to get back in the kitchen and eat new things.  Yesterday I made yellow curry for the first time.  And the realization that I'm willing to make more of an effort for someone else than for my own body is not lost on me neither.

3.  My cat.  Sure he can be annoying.  But he's the most fluffy giver of unconditional love you will ever see.  He's sitting on my lap right now in my office, while I type this.  He gets up with me no matter what time it is, and if I crash at 7:30, he's laying in bed right next to me.  When my husband worked nights and I was home by myself after work, I would have been super lonely without the cats (we have two, but the other one is not nearly as much of a snuggler).  Seriously, if you're depressed or anxious, there's nothing like snuggling a cat or watching a dog run around and play to boost your mood.

4. The weekend.  I know, I know, everyone loves the weekend, but I've gotten a bit of a routine down that seems to really help me cope with life.  I try to schedule any errands during the week, whether on my lunch break or after work.  Then on the weekends, I just bunker down and spend the time at home.  I get all my laundry caught up, vacuum, clean, and plan meals for the week.  Then I just relax.  Lay in bed, drinking tea and doing devotions, reading books, catch up on blog reading, send some letters to friends.  I may meet up with a friend for lunch or a visit on Saturday, but I try to keep Sunday for rest and reflection.

5. Medication.   Last, but certainly not least, I'm on prescription anti depressants, and I take two supplements for my anxiety/ depression.  And I don't know what I would do without them.  I remember days where someone would call in at work, and it'd just push me over the edge and I'd start crying, because I would be putting so much time and effort into the schedule and then one call in would through everything into a mess.  We've had two nurses move to other jobs and have lost quite a few of the high school CNAs to the start of softball, but I've been able to keep my cool much better now.  I know the medication plays a big part in that.

How about you, what's saving your life right now?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Brain Bric A Brac

So you may have thought I fell of the face of the planet again.  Actually, I didn't, but I was very busy with the underbelly of real life that blogging friends don't really want/need to know about.  But, I'll fill you in anyway to explain my absence.

1. I got sick.  There's been all sorts of crud going around at work, so I'm considering myself fortunate that I only caught one bug.  It did force me to miss out on a girls' weekend with my Mastermind girls.  But, since I was puking, it was probably better they just went without me.

2. My parents got sick.  I think they had influenza, but I spent some time out there trying to keep their dog exercised and make sure they weren't dying.

3. My dad had a heart attack.  He's only 59.  He's in pretty good shape for a dude his age, and he and my mom eat pretty healthy, so it was definitely not expected.  They wanted to med flight him from here to a bigger hospital but the snow made that a no go, so he had to take a risky clot buster in the ER and then take an ambulance ride in a snowstorm, which thankfully worked with no side effects, and then spend a week or so in the hospital.  He had quadruple bypass but is home now and resting as much as he rests.

4. Work got crazy.  I've lost several nurses and CNAs in the last month, and a bunch of the high school CNAs are asking for reduced hours, which is making scheduling a nightmare.  We're due for the State's yearly inspection any day now, and I feel like there's not enough hours in the day.  Which has of course kicked my anxiety and stress back up.  I'm trying to eat better and take care of myself but sometimes my brain just won't shut down.

Constant resting work face.

5. So I did what any sane stressed person would do.  I signed up for the nursing assistant program.  It only takes a little over a month, and it'll be after work.  I'm sure my body will think I'm nuts by week two, but it will come in handy with my job and if I decide to go on to anything further in healthcare- med tech or nursing, I need to have taken the nursing assistant class.  While I don't have to be a CNA to be a HUC (which is what I am now- Health Unit Clerk) there's times it would be nice if I could help with residents more.  April is as good as month as any, and I'm already trying to think of a fun reward for me after it's all done.  My dad and I had planned a trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to watch the Copper Dog 150 dog sled race, but his heart attack happened the week before so that put the cabosh on that plan.

6. Goals are going okay.  February is always a hard month, but I'm already getting some stuff knocked out this month.  I played in my fabric stash this weekend and started some fun, new projects, and enjoyed just sitting among all my fabric and mixing prints and designs.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

New Year, New Plan

I'm still alive!  2017 was a weird year, and to be honest, I had no qualms with it ending.  I know, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, blah, blah, blah,  and you can start to change any day, but there's something so refreshing about a new year.  New planners.  New notebooks.  365 days to make new dreams come to true, to change who you are, and to magically morph into the person you were meant to be.  I say this with sarcasm, but yet, I always buy into "This is year, I'm going to finally get my shit together.'

So let's just recap 2017 quick shall we:

I switched jobs (twice).  I went from working as a health unit coordinator at the hospital, to being a bank teller, to being a health unit coordinator at a nursing home.  I took a big pay cut to leave the hospital, but with unreliable hours available and staying that way for the feature, I felt like I had to.  But, I learned being a bank teller is not for me, and gladly went back to HUCing, and the raise that came with it. 

Then I learned maybe being a HUC in a nursing home was not for me neither.  I ended up feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and eventually found myself crying in my bathtub at home, and then even crying at work, falling asleep at 7pm, only to be wide awake by 3am.  A trip to my wonderful nurse practitioner fixed me up with some antidepressants, which are little miracle pills.  I still have lots of feelings about medicating, but that's for another time.

I pretty much fell out of love with blogging all through the fall, and felt overwhelmed with not having fresh content, not having the right platform, not having a direction, not knowing what my direction was supposed to be, and just not having the time to commit to it.

I spent most the fourth quarter of the year sleeping and wishing a giant hole would open up in the earth and just swallow me up, but like I said, antidepressants are great, and I'm feeling like I may survive after all.

So instead of listing my monthly goals, I'm going to just give you a rundown of what I'm aiming for this year.  I'm setting goals too, but maybe that's for another time.

I want 2018 to be a year where I am:
  • More Productive
  • More Creative 
  • Better Christian
  • Better Friend
  • Less Wasteful
  • More Adventurous
So that means, getting rid of all the clutter- physical, mental, spiritual.  Using up what I have, whether it's salad dressing, paper, fabric, or books.  Spending more time reading my Bible, practicing what I preach.  Being thoughtful.  Sewing more, reading more, not wasting so much time on the Facebook,  Cooking healthy foods.  And, getting out of the house.  Trying new things.  Traveling with friends or family or by myself if I got to.

 So far I'm happy with how my year is going, but we're not even three weeks into it yet, so trying not to pat myself on the back too hard.  What are you shooting for this year?  How's it working for you so far?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September Reading List

September already!  That means the year will be 3/4 of the way over in just a few weeks!  I always feel like a year is such a long time, and have all these plans for change and how different my life will look after another trip around the sun, but it seems to stay mundanely the same.  Maybe it's just that it's hard to notice change when we're still so close to it.  Maybe there's not much to notice.  But, anyways, there's still plenty of books I want to read before the year comes to a close, so let's get on to that.

In September, I'm aiming to get through some books that have been on my shelf for a while:
  • The Passenger by Lisa Lutz had been on wish list, and I received it for a birthday present back in February.  I honestly can't remember which blog reviewed it, that made me want to add it to my wishlist, but it's languished on my shelf for over half a year now, and it seemed like it was time to give it a read.  I'm actually reading this one right now, and am enjoying it.
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri has been on my shelf for years!  Years! It's time to either read it or pass it on.
  • In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore is a nonfiction read.  I listened to a TED Talk Honore did on slowing down, after I had found this book at the thrift store.  I found it intriguing, but never got around to reading it. 
  • Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes is by the same author as The Shining Girls.  I'm hoping for a little less gore, but I'm not holding my breath.  I see someone on Goodreads describe Beukes still as paranormal crime noir, and while that sounds like a mouthful, it also seems accurate.  I don't know how I'm going to feel about this one.  The Shining Girls definitely held my interest, and I read it fast, but if I hadn't bought this one before I read the other, I'm not sure I would have brought it home with me.  That seems contrary, but it makes sense in my head.

So, that's what I'm hoping to get through this month.  What's on your reading list?  Or do you have any insight to offer into any of the books on my list?  Let me know.

Monday, September 11, 2017

August Book Recap

August was a pretty slow reading month due to all the podcast listening.  I don't know why I didn't consider that this would happen when I set my podcast goal, but oh well.  I did manage to get a couple books read.

At Bertram's Hotel by Agatha Christie was definitely not my favorite of her books, and I had no qualms tossing this one into the book destined for the thrift store when I was done.  It's a Miss Marple mystery, but it was just missing something.  The characters where ho hum, and the mystery just seemed far fetched and unbelievable.

God Speaks Tenderly by Marie Shropshire was much better than I expected.  I went into it not expecting much, but I really came away with some applicable insights.  My job gets under my skin a lot.  I've had more headaches, insomnia, and nausea than I can remember with any job, but there's perks too- I like the people I work with, I like the residents, I don't mind most of the work, so what do you do?  Sometimes I feel like God puts you someplace to work on something in your life.  Maybe it's patience, or empathy, or even your courage.  I know there's plenty I need to work on, and you can't just quit something because it's hard, but sometimes growing feels like an impossible task.

Walking in This World by Julie Cameron is a companion book to The Artist's Way.  It stresses the importance of walking for getting the creative juices flowing, as well as giving insights into nurturing your work.  It was a good read, although I will admit, it did take me a while to get into it, and actually a while to finish it.  But, I am keeping it on my finished book shelf because I feel I may want to read it again in the future.

And as far as what I added to my book piles?  Nothing.  I didn't buy a single book last month.  That makes my totals at 25 books read this year and 22 added to my shelves.  I'm aiming for at least five books read in September, because I really need to step up my game if I'm going to make my yearly goal of 48 reads.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Podcast Challenge 37-50

Well, I didn't make my goal of 62 podcasts.  I got to 50, and ran out of month.  But, I still think that's a decent chunk of listening.  I found some gems, so clunkers, and some interesting ones I probably wouldn't have tried without the challenge, but I must admit, I'm relieved that I'm back to listening only for fun, and not scouring the interwebs for new listens.  Here's a recap of the last batch.
37. Hold On with Eugene Mirman
38. Reveal
39. Stuff They Don't Want You to Know
40. Twenty Percent True
41. You Must Remember This
42. I Guess We're Grown-Ups Now
43. The Practical Minimalists
44. How Stuff Works
45. Young House Love
46. It's Been a Minute
48. That's So Maven
49. For the Love with Jen Hatmaker
50. Radiolab

Favorite of this Batch: Reveal
Best Surprise: Twenty Percent True
Definitely Going to Continue Listening to: Radiolab

Five Favorites of 1-50:

  • Write Now
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class
  • Annotated
  • Reveal
  • Levar Burton Reads

And that folks, is a wrap for my August podcast challenge.  While I enjoyed it, it really did cut into my reading time.  But, I definitely found plenty of listening material for my walks and housework tasks.  And if you still haven't tried podcasts, what are you waiting for?  Just click a link and listen to one.  You can do it right from you phone or computer.  It's better than television, and easier than holding a book.  And if you have a favorite that I didn't listen to in August, please leave me the title in the comments and I'll check it out.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Three Loves for the End of August

Here's a couple of the things I've been feeling lately... Because lists make me happy.

hot drinks

1. Golden Milk.  This mixture of turmeric, coconut milk, and spices has this rich, indulgent taste that seems like it came from a fancy coffee shop instead of things that I threw together in a saucepan late at night when I can't sleep.  (Any other insomniacs out there?)  Here's the recipe I use from The Minimalist Baker.

2. Turkey meatballs.  Confession of the not very scandalous kind- I never bought ground turkey until about a month ago.  I'm not really sure why.  But since I have, I've been making turkey meatballs and eating them on everything from rice noodles to salads.  They hold their shape well and taste pretty satisfying.

3. I am by no means a Taylor Swift fan.  I mean, if I would have to describe my attitude towards her, it'd probably be "indifferent".  I don't really dislike her, and some of her songs are catchy, but her new song has just embedded itself in my head and I kind of like it.  I find myself singing the refrain under my breath.  And while my default setting towards whatever is popular is to avoid it at all costs, I just can't seem to shake this song. Also, major props to her for standing up to the grope-y DJ in Denver and seeing it through to the end.

Sometimes, certain things just resonate with you.  I mean, I'm always looking for a hot beverage to try on chilly nights- whether it be tea, hot cocoa and butterscotch schnaps or just coffee, but mixing spices with coconut milk probably wouldn't have been on my list to try until I started having trouble sleeping.  When you can't sleep, you're not above resorting to weird home remedies, and while I haven't noticed better sleep with golden milk, I have discovered I really like the taste.  Turkey meatballs just seem to have developed out of a desire to cut out read meat.  And Taylor Swift?  I don't know, does one really need a reason to want to jam out to Taylor Swift?