Books · Life · Writing

I Think I Stress Ate My Motivation

Greetings, earthlings (and non-earthlings)! How is everyone doing on this gloomy, rainy Wednesday? Is anyone else stress snacking on Halloween candy at their desk at the moment?

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This week is turning out to be a stressful one. I was forced to take part in an event yesterday that made me incredibly anxious and feeling like garbage the rest of the day. On top of that, I have a dance show coming up this weekend that I’m stressing over. Le sigh. Hopefully once the show is over I’ll calm down a little bit.

I feel like I haven’t been posting as much on the blog lately, which I apologize for. For some reason, I’ve been having a hard time finding the inspiration for posts and even for my own book. I’m still making progress on the book, but it’s definitely slowed down a bit. I’ve been lazy after I get home from work at night, opting to binge watch The Great British Baking Show, or just read. Even when I want to sit down and write, the task itself feels too exhausting. Maybe I’m just trying to do too much lately and am burning myself out. Or maybe it’s a symptom of my depression, messing with me. Either way, I always get a bit worried when this happens. If I’m not writing all the time I panic that it’s because I’m losing my ideas/creativity/writing skills/whatever. My brain is like “Well, clearly you suck at this and it was all just a fluke that you even got this far. Now you’ll never get any of that momentum back.” Because obviously, the world is very black or white like that…

In happier news, I’ve moved on to the next Halloween read that was on my list. I haven’t gotten too far in yet, so I can’t say whether it’s good or not. I feel like fans of the movie would enjoy it though, even if it’s just for the nostalgia.

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Life · mental health

Table for One, Please

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Something interesting happened to me this weekend that I would like to share.

On Saturday, I woke up early and drove to Asheville. I had planned to go a few weeks ago, but due to the hurricane, I had to put my plans on hold. Saturday turned out to be the perfect day for a drive through the mountains. The weather was cooler, but still warm. Hints of red and yellow have begun surfacing. providing a picturesque backdrop for my visit. Once I got there, I did my usual thing: Visited my favorite bookstores, browsed through the vintage clothing shops, drank lots of coffee, and ate lots of delicious food. Part of the reason I had wanted to go there was to try a restaurant that I’d been meaning to try (but never remembered to make reservations to).

When I showed up for my lunch reservation the hostess seemed confused. “It’s just you?” she asked. “Yep,” I responded, happily. I know that busy restaurants don’t always like to “waste” tables on solo diners, so I happily offered to sit at the bar. This turned out to be a great idea, because it gave me a great view of all the cooks in action. It was the best view in the house! After ordering my lunch, I happily pulled a book out of my purse and read in between glances at the beautiful plates of tapas being prepared before me.

As soon as I sat down, I caught the glances of a few of my fellow diners. They, too, seemed confused as to why I was sitting in this nice restaurant, with only a book for company. I did my best to ignore those people. I even made sure to smile at them when they caught my eye. I was enjoying my dining experience and my solo day in the mountains far too much to be worried about what those people thought.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. Nor will it be the last. The irony, however, is that only 4-5 years ago, I never would have even had the courage to set foot in a restaurant by myself. I, too, used to be one of those people who only did things with someone else. Eating in restaurants, taking a trip, or going to a movie were things that you did with friends or a significant other. Only weirdos and people who didn’t have any friends went out by themselves. That misguided notion left me feeling bored and lonely for a very long time. Even though I was married at the time, we had very different schedules, which meant that my husband wasn’t always around to do things with. So, I just didn’t go out . Instead, I sat home and sulked over the fact that I couldn’t do all the fun things I wanted. As a result, I missed out on a lot of things.

When I got divorced, I was terrified of being “alone.” Of not having enough people to do things with. Of being stuck at home all the time. Of being lonely. Etc. Then, one day, it hit me. The problem wasn’t doing things alone. The problem was that I had no idea how to be alone and enjoy my own company.

Fast forward to now: I take day trips by myself often. I’ve gone to NYC by myself and have a few more solo trips in the works. I have no qualms about going to restaurants, coffee shops, stores, parks, and movies solo. And the best part is, I enjoy doing these things. Sure, I still do these things with Boyfriend or friends (it’s not healthy to be alone all the time), but I am often content to just do my own thing. Pushing myself to do all these things has made me appreciate time spent by myself. I’ve learned more about who I am – the things I truly like and want, what my boundaries are, how to push those boundaries, and how to enjoy life more. Honestly, whenever people give me funny looks for saying that I did ________ by myself, I feel a little sorry for them. I wish that everyone could learn to be content in their own company or, at least, stop judging others for it.

Are you comfortable doing things by yourself? 

Books · Life

Kiersten’s Guide to Hurricane Survival

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Saturday:

Step 1: Yell “Fuck!” because you woke up and the power is out.

Step 2: Stare out the window for a while and comment on what’s happening outside.

Step 3: Take a walk around the neighborhood, because it’s just a little water and everyone is being a pansy.

Step 4: Cook lunch on the grill. (You can keep your pre-packaged junk and milk sandwiches.)

Step 5: Read, while intermittently staring out the window.

Step 6: Rejoice because the power is back on!

Step 7: Drive to bookstore, because you’re going stir crazy.

Step 8: Drink coffee, read books, and enjoy having at least one part of your normal routine stay the same.

Step 9: Bake a cake, because you still have power and this might be your only chance.

Step 10: Go to bed and hope the power is still on tomorrow morning.

Sunday:

Step 1: Wake up. Power is still on (yay), so you make coffee.

Step 2: Decide you’re tired of sitting around the house, so you brave the rain and drive to your favorite coffee shop.

Step 3: Drink allll the caffeine while you work on your book.

Step 4: Drive home, super caffeinated and ready to get shit done.

Step 5: Get mad at everyone because they won’t stop talking about the weather and you’re over it.

Step 6: Stand in your yard and yell “Hurricane schmurricane!” while getting pummeled with rain.

Step 7: Read some more.

 

 

Life · mental health · Writing

Fits of Gratitude

Well, WordPress has somehow deleted the Top 5 Tuesday post that I wrote yesterday. *sigh* I don’t know why this periodically happens, but it is somewhat frustrating, as I’m sure you can imagine.

How are all of you doing this week? All of us in North Carolina are currently bracing ourselves for hurricane Florence. Don’t worry, we’re all stocked up on the essentials: bread, chocolate, coffee, and lots of books. I had actually been planning to spend the night in Asheville this weekend, but, alas, that is not going to happen now because of the weather.

Rather than sit here and be bummed about cancelling my trip or pissed about my deleted post, I’m going to make the best of it. With health issues and the ongoing mental health struggle, it’s not always easy to be positive. I’m trying though! Fortunately, given how much better I’ve been feeling these last few months, it’s getting easier.

Since I’m trying to be less negative, I’m going to share some of the things in my life that I am grateful for instead.

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Food – A little while back I wrote about how my trip to New York had helped me get over the last hump in my eating disorder recovery. Since then my relationship with food has only gotten better. I’m cooking and baking constantly, trying out new recipes and making beloved favorites. I’ve rekindled my love of French cuisine and classic cooking techniques, making everything from bouillabase to meringue to pate choux. Ironically, despite the strained relationship I’ve had with food the last few years, this one, this passion for gastronomy is the one that feels right. It’s nice to be back where I belong again.

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The Coffee House – My weekend routine has become quite different the last couple of months. Instead of staying home and getting the sleep that I covet during the work week, I set my alarm and typically get up around 6:30 every Saturday and Sunday. By 7:00 I am seated in one of the nooks in my favorite local coffee shop (still quiet at that hour) with an almond latte and my laptop in front of me. I have found that I can focus better on my writing early in the morning and when I am outside the house, for whatever reason. I’ve been making lots of great progress on my book at that little coffee shop and I am really excited about it.

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What have you been grateful for lately?

Life · travel

Backwards Wanderlusting: Greenville, SC

Today’s Wanderlusting post is going to be a little different than the previous ones. Rather than write about a place I’m dying to visit, I’m going to talk about somewhere I’ve visited recently. Call it a backwards wanderlust, if you will.

This weekend Boyfriend and I took a day trip to Greenville, SC. I’d heard lots of good things about downtown Greenville before and given that it’s only a two-hour drive from Charlotte, it seemed like a no-brainer that we should pay a visit.

Downtown Greenville is an incredibly charming place with beautiful brick facades, greenery, and that small-city charm with big-city destinations. I fell in love with the place the minute we stepped out of the car.

The main street was lined with fun shops selling clothing, jewelry, kitchenware, antiques, and, of course, books. There were also hotels, theaters, and restaurants and coffee shops galore.

 

We had brunch at this fantastic restaurant I’d been wanting to check out, called Husk. It was a farm-to-table place that specializes in fancy Southern fare. (I had the shrimp & grits, which were sooo good.) Afterwards, we hit up a local coffeeshop called Coffee Underground, which also has a small theater attached where they host comedy events regularly.

We paid a visit to local bookstore, M. Judson. It was a small, fun little bookstore with a bakery (called Chocolate Moose – love the name) attached. I would have liked a bigger selection of books, but it was still worth a visit.

In the middle of downtown is Falls Park. It was a beautiful park with a waterfall, walkways, art, and flowers. We had fun crossing the rocks and playing in the stream. 🙂

Lastly, we made our way to Springwood Cemetery to take a look. I absolutely love old cemeteries and enjoyed walking through the paths, reveling in the quiet beauty of it all.

It was a fun day trip! I look forward to going back in the near future to check out a comedy show and try some more of the amazing restaurants.

Life

Unleashing My Inner Mermaid

Last weekend Boyfriend and I went to a fun event at one of the local science museums called Science on the Rocks. The museum is typically a kid/family focused environment, but for these events they are strictly 21+. The theme this time was Pirates and Mermaids! Since I know some of you are also pirate and/or mermaid fans, I thought I’d share a few pictures with you.

I was super stoked for this one, because it gave me an excuse to wear the fabulous sequined mermaid skirt that I’ve had in my closet for 4 months now. It’s hard to see in the picture, but I also made a seashell and pearl headband and used makeup to create mermaid scales on my face.

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We had a really fun time! We got to play and check out all the cool science stuff at the museum. I got to lay on a bed of nails (pictured below), learned a whole bunch of weird/gross things about the human body, got to dance with a virtual skeleton…

…and, of course, had a few alcoholic beverages. 😉

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Life · mental health

The Chronicles of Chronic Illness

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Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I am not shy about discussing my health problems, both mental and physical. As someone who has been plagued with mental health issues since a pretty young age, I know all the ins and outs of my mental state and how to talk about it. The past six months I’ve, unfortunately, been learning the ins and outs of my physical state, as well. Due to constant kidney/urinary infections and intense kidney pains, I’ve had more doctors’ visits that I can even remember. I’ve had various procedures done, been on at least five different antibiotics, and seen two different specialists. It’s been frustrating and expensive, to say the least.

Finally, after months of dealing with all of that, my urologist thinks they have solved The Great Kidney Mystery. They’ve diagnosed me with a disease called Interstitial Cystitis. A ton of research hasn’t been done on this condition, despite the fact that millions of (mostly) women have been diagnosed with it. The cause of IC is still unknown, but what happens is that you have irritation and chronic inflammation in the lining of your bladder. This creates different symptoms for different people, but the common symptoms include pain in your bladder/pelvic area, stomach pains, frequency to urinate, feeling like your bladder is always full, and sometimes blood. You pretty much feel like you have a UTI most of the time, even though you don’t actually have an infection. For me, this has also led to kidney pain and a few actual infections. Through all of this we have also learned that my right kidney is much smaller than my left one, which may explain the cause of frequent infections, as well.

So, what do they do to treat IC? Not a whole lot. For starters, I have to learn what foods and beverages are more likely to irritate my already irritated bladder/kidney. There’s a laundry list of things that might do this. The biggest offenders are caffeinated and acidic foods: coffee, chocolate, alcohol, fruit, spicy foods, tomatoes…pretty much everything I like. I either have to figure out which foods are “bad” for me and either avoid them completely or take anti-acid pills with them. The pills are helping a bit, so far, but it’s not a perfect system. Having a restrictive diet for any reason is majorly problematic for me, given my eating disorder. The fact that I’ve been doing so well with food the last few months makes this situation really upsetting. It’s like no matter how hard I try, I can never just be “better” for a while. I’m finally over my eating disorder relapse and enjoying food/life again and now it’s like “Oh wait, just kidding. Time to create more problems.” 😦

Other than dealing with trigger foods and whatnot, there’s physical therapy that can be done. (Honestly, I don’t even know what this is for yet. Something about relaxing the pelvic floor muscles?) There’s also medication that I could technically take for when my bladder symptoms are really bad. The problem, however, is that you can’t take them with anti-depressants. So that pretty much just means I’m screwed, because I can’t stop taking my meds.

You’d think I’d be rejoicing at finally having a diagnosis, right? If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I’m actually pretty upset by all of this. I think deep down I was expecting/hoping them to finally figure out the problem, then fix it. Even if it had involved surgery, I was okay with it, as long as the problem went away. Instead, I’m being told that I have a chronic illness that’s likely to cause me problems for the rest of my life. Given that I’m only 30 years old, that could be a long time. It was bad enough trying to deal with my mental health issues, but now I get to deal with chronic pain on top of it. 😥

I’m trying really hard to remain positive. I’m reading up on tips and suggestions that other people with IC have shared. This hasn’t really made me feel much better though, as most of these people sound like they’re pretty miserable half the time. It doesn’t help that I already feel like my support on this is lacking. Since the disease is uncommon, I imagine that most people just won’t “get it.” I actually tried to discuss it with someone earlier this week and was met with some very unhelpful comments that actually made me feel a lot worse.

At the moment, I’m PMSing, which is a terrible enough time for me because of the fact that my depression gets way worse. It also causes my bladder/kidneys to hurt more. My brain is already having a field day with this, telling me all the reasons I should feel sorry for myself. *sigh* I’m trying really hard not to fall into that mindset and remain positive about this, but it’s tough. This is new ground for me and I honestly don’t know what to do or what to expect.

If anyone out there has any feedback or tips to share, I am always willing to listen. Tomorrow we will return to our regularly scheduled bookish discussions.