Let’s talk about… Self Care

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Self care is about feeling better and this is a story about getting better at feeling better. Let’s just get this out there. I am terrible at self care. I could say that I don’t have enough time between work and kids and everything else. I could say it’s because I was never taught the importance of self care. Regardless, the fact that I am writing this means that I am about 100 times better that where I started (nowhere).

I don’t at all know all there is to know. But here’s what I’ve learned so far…

  • There are some prerequisites. First of all. you have to want to feel better and be well. If you don’t, it won’t work. Also, you need to have some self-awareness. You just do. You need to be able to recognize that you aren’t well or that you are feeling stressed or whatever else you may feel…
  • Self care is different for everyone. What regulates or recharges one person may be completely different than another. I am the kind of person that has a hard time sitting still, relaxing, being chill. I also have a lot of anxiety surrounding my environment. There is no way that I can recharge in a messy room. It just won’t happen. Just knowing there are things that need to be done even will prevent me from relaxing. So, for me a huge self care activity is making a list of to-dos (i.e. straightening the house, cleaning the kitchen, taking out the trash) and then identifying an activity I want to do (i.e. writing, reading, etc.) and completing my to-do list so I can enjoy the activity.
  • You have to put yourself above everything else. In the world of family, kids, work, and more, it is easy put yourself aside due to (lack of) time, others’ needs, or whatever else. For me, I have to remind myself that without (the well version of) myself, those other things will start to fall apart, I won’t do my best work, I’ll get snippy with the kids, my relationships will suffer.
  • Self care takes time and practice. At least for me, you don’t just decide in your head one day that you are going to practice good self care and poof, it happens. It can take time to figure out what activities will help. For me, it depends on the moment, the mood, the level of stress, anxiety, depression.
  • People don’t talk about self care. Well, too bad. I’m talking about it.

So, here’s what it really looks like for me. I’m chugging along in life. Slowly, almost unnoticed, I start to develop a tiny bit of worry. It’s not even there really. But, it is. My every interaction is framed by it. Maybe a petty argument occurs. My mood is affected by these little negative things that are happening. I start to get preoccupied. It doesn’t matter what the tiny bit of worry was that started this whole thing. It’s now a different and much bigger bit of worry. It may even be full on anxiety. Maybe my wife asks me, “What’s wrong?” I say, “Nothing.” A couple of days pass and this is usually where I start to realize that I need to do something for myself (I aspire to realize this about eight sentences back). So, I make time. I tell my wife I need it (she’s painfully supportive every time, mostly because she knew two days ago). Alas, I take a walk. I read a book or paint a picture. Sometimes I put together puzzles or read comic books. I do whatever it is that I need to do to feel better.

What do you do to help yourself? Do you experience a similar cycle? How do you take care of your mental health?

Weekly Update XI

Today marks the first day back to school for teachers in Volusia county.  Ashley would be starting back today, but she is not.  If we are moving at any point during the next school year, and hopefully we will be (sooner rather than later), she did not want to leave a classroom full of five-year-old Kindergarten babies in the dust.  She does miss the kids and may tutor some during the school year, but hooray for her staying home (like it will be when we have our own little darling).

I got a new phone! Here is what happened… I got up early last Monday to for a little run around the neighborhood.  I told Ashley as I got out a bed that I was going and she said “okay, but take your phone so that you can call if it gets too hot and I can pick you up.”  So, I did.  I put it in my sports bra cause my shorts didn’t have pockets.  So, I went running for about six miles, and it did get hot, but not too hot to finish the run.  When I got back home I forgot completely that I had the phone in my bra for about 30 minutes.  Then I remembered.  I pulled the phone out to fine it dripping in sweat (sorry if people are grossed out by sweat but it happens).  So, I dried it off and realized that something wasn’t right.  The sweat had gotten inside the phone and effectively shorted out the speaker and keyboard making it impossible to use.  So, I had to get a new phone.  I was going to be pricey because it wasn’t my time to upgrade so I decided and with Ashley’s approval of course, got a cool phone: the HTC Aria.  It is my first smart-phone so I am mega impressed (except with how often you have to charge it).  But, I can do just about anything with it, including update my blog, check my email, look up random stuff, play addicting games (like Alchemy o.m.g. I am obsessed), etc, etc, etc.  Here are a few photos that I took of the pets with the FX camera application that I downloaded (thank you Tiffany for this suggestion).

Yesterday, I spent a ridiculous amount of time organizing our files, going over financial business, and getting our taxes in order.  Taxes this upcoming year are going to be most complicated due to change in jobs, additional income, the potential moving, and our non recognized marriage. Also, if we are in Vermont there is the additional issue of state taxes, which I haven’t even thought about yet.  One outrageous thing that I learned while researching taxes for our special situation is that if Ashley stays home in the future and thus I am providing the moneys, I must be careful not to buy her expensive things, lest it be considered a gift, and not a shared property.  If it is seen as a gift, it is taxable income! How retarded is that?

I wrote a Guest Post for Italian Food Culture.  Go and check it out, it is posted here: A Little Bit of Italy in Florida.

Victories Big and Small

You might think that any self-respecting blog with emphasis on LGBT rights and such would have posted by now about the Prop 8 decision and the victory for equality, the so here it goes…

Ashley and I have been watching the issue closely and I even had a little ‘text me when the decision is posted’ thing set up through the Human Rights Campaign on my new phone (read next week’s Weekly Update for more information about the awesomeness that is my new phone).  Because we live on the East coast, the decision was set to come out after 4pm and we were headed to a pool party at my in-laws house.  I got my text when we were just getting there and we had a little celebratory moment with the in-laws.  Then the pool party began.  Our friends from England, Bob (who officiated our wedding ceremony) and Jean, were here with their daughter, Justine, and two grandchildren, Amy and William.  They even stopped by the dollar store and got party hats and crowns for everyone to wear.  It was a perfect and unplanned way to celebrate the Prop 8 decision.  I played in the pool with the kids and had a great time.   Amy who is seven, and William who is three, are both cute and friendly.  Ashley was chatting at the table (with the adults), and mentioned to Justine, that we are planning a move to Vermont.  She asked why and Ashley said because we couldn’t be married in Florida. Justine seemed to think this was a totally acceptable reason to be moving. I think that spending the evening with the British friends and wearing party hats was the perfect way to celebrate the ruling.

After the ruling and over the following couple of days, I was approached by several of the volunteers at the hospital (most of which are over the age of 60, if not in their 70’s or 80’s) to acknowledge the ruling and how exciting that it was.  I must say that most of these women were surprised when they first figured out that I was married to another woman, and some were not so friendly about it at first.  Now, having worked with me for over a year and having a personal interest and investment in my life, they are actually happy for me.  This seems to me to be a victory in itself. Most people’s approval rating of the LGBT community increases dramatically when they realize that they know an actual person that has ‘the gay’ (as Rachel Maddow would say).  My point is this: we have to approach our strive for equality with both the big and the small.  Big victories like this ruling on Prop 8, are amazing and joyous and celebrated.  Small victories should be celebrated, too.

Some favorites quotes from the ruling:

“Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and women.”

“The sexual orientation of an individual does not determine whether that individual can be a good parent.

“That the majority of California voters supported Proposition 8 is irrelevant, as ‘fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.'”

“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

It is sad…

Last week was the one year birthday of the hospital where I work.  The hospital building is new but the company is not.  For the celebration, administration threw several party type events.  In the morning, they had a breakfast and open house in the administrative offices that everyone was invited to.  In the afternoon they had an ice cream party and celebration.  Our Chief Operations Officer gave a nice talk about how far we have come in the past year.  They had cupcakes, ice cream, water, sodas, etc.  Also, they gave out party hats and blowers!

Yes, I took photos.

All this got me thinking.  It is sad that we are going to have to move over a thousand miles.  Don’t get me wrong.  We are both happy to be headed out of the state of Florida.  It is just sad on principle.  We will be leaving our jobs, our family, our friends, and our life in order to start a new life.  We are reassured every day that this is the right decision for us.  Now even more that we are thinking baby thoughts, we want to be in a place that recognizes us as two people that are more than roommates.  The fact that we have to move in order to achieve that is the sad part.  Luckily, one of the places we can live with rights is also a place we love and we cannot wait to get there!

Weekly Update VI

First thing for this week is announcing the winners of the random and best comment on my poll about coffee refills.  If you missed this check it out here: Coffee Poll.  Here are all of the results and comments:

56% Yes

22% No

22% What?

1. Gina: Maybe you *should* but then again, you don’t get free refills of root beer after you finish your float!

2. Judy: If I order a $3.00 cup of coffee and Ted orders a $5.00 expresso, I feel we should both be able to get a refill of coffee. The restaurant has already made a big profit on both of our coffees and giving another cup of coffee to both of us is a cheap way to make the customer happy. Servers seem to be willing to do this even if the manager doesn’t agree.

3.  Stacey: I voted no just cause Judy voted yes! 🙂 Kidding. I don’t drink coffee so I say no because if I were to order espresso or a non regular coffee it would be because that’s what I wanted to drink. I wouldn’t want a regular cup of coffee.

4. Lynne: Yes of course! Do I win? Do I win? Do I win?

5. Danielle: I don’t even think most places serve high priced coffee except coffee houses at that point if u are going there to buy coffee and its gourmet they are not gonna refill it, those beans cost mucho denero! So if u pay 15 bucks for a cup that’s all u get a cup! No refills! Other places I understand cause they get the cheap stuff :)

6. Ted: Why? It should be to please the customer who should most always be right.

And the winner of the Best Comment is…. Gina!

The random winner (from random.org) is…. Stacey!

(Clearly this is not rigged as now I have to mail things to the two furthest away people! lol As a side note: Stacey, you will finally get your photos)

Here is what the winners will be receiving:

So my life lately has included a lot of working which is great.  Last week I worked a few evening shifts and had to wear my glasses because of an annoyingly sly eye stye (Ashley developed one later in the week)!  Here are a couple of pics from working the evening shift at work:

A beautiful sunset from the front entrance:

Here are a couple of articles that were published this past week that I wrote:

Kashimashi Manga Series

US Obestiy Rates on the Rise (PS this one was a 1st page Google News article, too!)

Stay tuned for my 4th of July post with photos and fire galore…

A Loony Day

I knew this morning when I was driving to work at 4:30am that it was going to be a special day.  For one, I was awake at that hour which is always a questionable way to begin a day.  Also, I noticed that the moon is getting quite full.  Tomorrow is the actual full moon so we’ll see how interesting it is at work tomorrow but if today is any indicator it should be interesting.

So. I was sitting at the front desk today and a lady walked in from the parking lot and up to the desk.  She leaned over the front of the desk and dropped a used syringe and needle right in front of me.  So, I did what anyone in my position would do, I looked at her funny.  She then explained that she had found it in the parking lot.  She seemed to think that this was adequate explanation for why she picked up a mysterious needle with no gloves and carried it into the building.  Of course, I took care of the problem (with gloves and a sharps box) but I’m still trying to figure out what she was thinking.  Anyone have any ideas?

Not long after that lady left the desk a group of people come up to request some information.  It is very common to see people with soda cans and bottles walking around.  The lady that walked up with this group of people was uncommon.  She was not a slight lady and was carrying a two liter bottle of soda in her hand like it was nothing.  I thought, maybe she is just sharing or something.  Maybe she is going to whip out some cups from her giant pocketbook and have a party.  Maybe she has some chips in the bag, too.  You never know.  Of course, I was wrong, as she took a swig from her two liter bottle.  That is just how she rolls.  I will refrain from stepping onto a soapbox here, but perhaps the similarity in her body size and the size of her bottle are not a coincidence.

These were the most notable incidents.  There was also a loony woman that turned off the piano and started to play herself.  She played about twelve notes of each song before turning to the closest person and saying, “How does it go again?”  Eventually a young girl came in and claimed her.  Problem solved.

I can’t wait for tomorrow when the moon is in full view!