Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween!

If you are still looking for a last-minute costume, I have you covered: 7 awesome (and cheap!) last-minute halloween costumes

If you want to see what I dressed up as last year, check it out:
More pictures here
Enjoy the candy, and get your freak on!





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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Style: Sweater dress season has arrived

Let's all take a moment and appreciate this fact: The time for sweater dresses is upon us! 
Sweater dresses make winter bearable for me. We all like sweaters, right? It's impossible not to. They are cozy, comfy, and hide any lumps and bumps we don't want to show off. After a long season of skimpy tops and naked skin, they are just what the doctor ordered. 
The sweater dress takes it up a notch: While maintaining the cozy and comfy qualities, it is also chic and stylish.
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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Farmyogi secrets revealed

Have you ever looked at some of the gorgeous feeds of beautiful, strong yoga poses and felt a hint of envy creep in? Everything about those photos is flawless and awe-inspiring. They look stunningly perfect and effortless - and they only tell half the story. 
While I can't tell you their secrets (they are not mine to tell - also, I don't know them), I can tell you mine.  
If you think yoga is all peace, happiness and bliss, think again. 

Let me introduce you to my (formerly) best kept secrets:

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Monday, 26 October 2015

7 awesome (and cheap!) last-minute halloween costumes

Happy Halloween week! Oh, that's not a thing? It totally should be. I love Halloween. It's fun, doesn't involve any stressful gift giving, and includes tons of candy.
Today I'm rounding up my favourite costumes I have found online, all easy to replicate and cheap to boot.  

1. Medusa
source
How fabulous is this costume? Glue toy snakes onto bobby pins, put on a long, flowy dress and pair it with gold accessories. Creative and easy. For a full tutorial, click here.

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Sunday, 25 October 2015

Going through fire


A little while ago I read something that I haven't been able to stop thinking about. Here it is:

"There will always be someone who doesn't like you especially if you are following your path - your dreams. In fact, if you are a person that everyone likes then you probably haven't stepped into your destiny yet. It is through trial and persecution - through the fire - that we are refined into pure gold. The hotter the fire the better ... So remember that next time it feels like the world is against you. It's all part of the purification of your heart and it means you are on the right spiritual journey. Have faith - it's going to be FANTASTIC."
Kerri Verna (@beachyogagirl)

In case you don't know her, Kerri is the co-host of the yoga challenges on Instagram I participate in every month. She is a yoga teacher with a huge following on Instagram (over 869,000 people), and she often posts bits of inspiration and wisdom.
The reason why I can't get it out of my head is that I can't decided if I agree with it or not. Well, to be perfectly honest, I already know that I do - but I have a hard time applying it to my own life.

Here is the thing: I'm a pushover. Concerned about what others think of me, worried that they might disapprove, I'd rather give in than stand my ground. And I hate that. Whenever I'm writing something - be it for my work newsletter, my book, or this blog - I think about how others might perceive it. I'm worried about offending someone. I want to be liked by everyone. Especially online. Why the approval of strangers is so important to me is something I can't explain - that would be a good question for a shrink, if I had one. I don't. Yet?

In my real life there are people I don't like and who don't like me - and I'm fine with that. Well, as long as it's mutual. And I really don't care about them. There are a few I desperately want to be liked by - and I don't know if I am. That's the stuff that keeps me hooked on my happy pills*.

*Anti-depressants. Say no to (street) drugs, kids! Pharmaceuticals are okay.  

The rational part of me knows that we can't be liked by everyone. But the irrational (i.e. 99% of my brain) wants approval. Praise. Likes and hearts and 'atta-girl!'s.
At 35-and-three-quarters years old I should really have gotten over that by now. But it's something I still struggle with.

Whenever I see the fire Kerri talks about (the quote I started with, remember?), I keep away from it as much as I can.
(And I love fire.)

I want to, need to change that. Grow some balls, finally. Be brave. Not in a jumping-out-of-airplanes kinda way, but in a know-what-you-are-about-and-stand-up-for-yourself kinda way. Much harder, if you ask me.

What it comes down to is that if you always give in, you don't value yourself as much as other people. You don't think your opinion is as important as theirs.
You doubt yourself, for the simple reason that other people seem to be so full of themselves, and you believe there must be a reason for it - they know better than you.
That's bullshit. 
They don't. They stand up for themselves, not because they know better, but because they believe their opinion matters. They matter.

And they do. But so do you! And I, and all of us who give in way too easily, just to keep peace. Sometimes, keeping the peace is not a sign of "the smarter person gives in", as my parents taught me - but an act of cowardice.

I want to be braver. I want to do the thing that scares me the most: To stand up for myself. To stop censoring myself. It ain't gonna be easy. But it will be worth it.

It's time.

Are you a brave warrior? Tell me your tricks.
Are you a perpetual worrier? You and me both, sister. But we can get braver together!



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Thursday, 22 October 2015

Style: Golden days

Guys, I love you. So, so much. Thank you for your great, supportive comments on my last post. When I wrote it I was still pretty down, disappointed and angry at myself. 
However, today is a new day (a golden one at that, look at the light!), and I did come up with a few ideas. 

In case you don't know what went down, let me catch you up: I have been living in Canada for over 12 years, and decided at the beginning of this year that I would finally begin the process of becoming a Canadian. I forked over some cash, filled out a bazillion papers, and then waited patiently. 
Last Tuesday I had my citizenship test and interview.

Before I continue, I have to make you understand a couple of things. 
Despite having procrastinated for so long, becoming a Canadian has always been a huge goal of mine. Canada is my home, and I feel way more Canadian than German. So once I started this process, I did everything in my power to do this as best as I know how to. Or so I thought. (I'll get back to that in a minute.)
Second, I imagined that Tuesday would be a big, important day in my life: The day they welcomed me with open arms into Canada as one of their own. I had marked it in all of my calendars already - prematurely, as it turns out - and made my husband buy a bottle of champagne to celebrate afterwards. 

Well, the best laid plans and all that. The whole day was a bit of a let-down. They didn't ask me a single question about why I want to become Canadian, and I had my answer ready! The opportunity to show my fierce love for Canada never came. What a bummer. They also didn't welcome me in. On the contrary, they wanted more paperwork; paperwork that I had a hard time scrounging up. The reasons for that are all in my last post. So I'm still not a Canadian. I drank the champagne anyway. ;-)   
But, fear not my friends! It took me a good 24 hours, but I did come up with all the required documents (I fervently hope). This morning I mailed it off, and now I'm once again sitting here, waiting and hoping. 
In the meantime I'm playing around outside on this amazingly gorgeous day, just happy to be able to live here and soak it all up. 

Moving on to a completely different subject: Are mini denim skirts timeless, or am I looking like an aging wanna-be hipster trying to hard? I'm reasoning to myself that denim is a classic, which means that because this skirt is made of denim, it is timeless. That's how logic works, right?
But I'm not sure. Please enlighten me!
(Even though I will continue wearing it no matter what you say. I just want to know if I'm a rebel or a classy lady. It's good to know these things about yourself.)

All that is left to say are these three things:
Everything happens for a reason. 
You guys are the best and I love you.
Today was a good handstand day

 
Scarf: DIY gift (similar); sweater: old (similarthis one is cute, too); denim skirt: ancient (similar); boots: Old Navy; tights: old (similar)











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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

That moment when you wish you were a hoarder


Yesterday I had my citizenship test. The good news is: I passed! The bad news is: I have to do more paperwork. The worse news is: I'm my own worst enemy.

Let me explain.
If you know me in real life - particularly if you work with me - you know that I have slight OCD tendencies. Nothing too dramatic, no weird knocking ritual a la Sheldon Cooper - but I hate clutter.



Particularly when it comes to paperwork and emails. I can't explain it, but unread emails make me nervous. I check my emails approximately ten times a day (no lie), and not because I get these amazing, life-changing emails all the time - no, to delete them. But simply deleting them is not enough: I have to delete the deleted folder regularly, to really get rid of them. This clears space not only in my inbox, but also in my head. I'm convinced that a cleared and empty inbox has a direct correlation to a clear mind. 

So far it was always fine and dandy - until yesterday. After completing the test, we had our interview with an immigration officer. It was mainly to go through paperwork and for them to assess our language skills. My officer was particularly interested in my travels. 
"You collected quite a few stamps for a German passport", she told me. "Most of them are much emptier." I was flattered - look at me, being a well-travelled individual - until she delivered her blow. 

"Do you have proof of travel for the last four years?" 
I looked at her blankly. "What do you mean?"
"Something like tickets, receipts, itineraries, travel documents."

I started to slightly panic. This nice officer didn't know me at all. If she would, she would have known better than to ask me such an absurd question. Keeping receipts? Me? Oh, how I suddenly wished I did. But of course, I am the total opposite of a receipt-keeper.  
Trying to stay outwardly calm, I told her with false bravado: "I'm sure I can find something!"

That's what I have been trying to do for the last 24 hours, cursing myself the entire time. All the e-tickets that were emailed to me are gone. Not in the deleted folder, but gone. So are itineraries, receipts, or anything else that might proof that I was away for that time.

This task could be so easy: Retrieve the tickets from my email account, print them and mail them off. Done. 
Instead, I have been digging through various boxes of credit card statements all day, making copies of old calendars of the relevant years (miraculously, I kept those), and debating if I should attach vacation photos. Will that be proof enough?

Since yesterday I have been berating myself and my twitchy delete-finger. Why did I do that? WHY? It makes no sense. It's not like having to declutter your house because you can't find the couch under piles and piles of stuff. I could have just left them sitting quietly in my inbox, minding their own business. 

This episode has put quite the damper on my excitement of becoming Canadian. Because I honestly don't know if I will become Canadian or not. They told me that once they received all the paperwork, I would. But I'm not sure if the paperwork I have collected is enough. 

So the saga continues...  

I will keep you updated!

And remember: Leave those emails alone.  





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Tuesday, 20 October 2015

5 reasons why writing is easier than talking



My entire world changed completely when I learnt how to read. Until then, I was a shy, sometimes stammering child who had to rely on other people when she wanted to be entertained with stories. Discovering the written word was a revelation. While I was still shy and sometimes stammering, I could now have wild adventures, new friends, and people who understood me at my fingertips whenever I wanted/needed to. 
But what was more life-improving than reading was discovering the many advantages of writing. 
Long before I started to blog, I used the written word to address conflicts with friends, to get my point across to my parents, and to declare my love to a boy. While I had the most difficult time saying these things out loud (still do, in fact), writing them down was infinitely easier. 

Want to know why? Here are my top 5 reasons:

1. You have time to think about what you want to say. 
Whenever I have a somewhat difficult conversation ahead of me, I want to die a little. Be it trying to explain to my parents that I am not a child any more, or talking to my boss about something uncomfortable, I can be as well-prepared as I know how, and it will still be a disaster. As soon as I want to start listing my well-rehearsed arguments, words desert me, my mind is a blank and I don't know what to say. I will nod along to everything they tell me, which is making perfect sense to me suddenly, and walk out not only not having stood my ground, but having completely forgotten what my ground is.   

2. I'm funnier in writing. 
I'm not quick on my feet when it comes to witty comebacks. Not at all. I usually think of a somewhat funny retort an hour after the conversation, which is impractical in a spoken conversation, but totally fine in a written one. You can always pretend you just got that text now.   

3. You can google word synonyms. 
I am confident that in the not-too-far future we will have an app implanted in our brain that gives us better word choices of what we want to say. Instead of overusing "awesome" like I'm prone to do, the nifty little app in my mind will supply me with better choices like "mind-boggling", "stirring", or "formidable".
"Your new haircut is stirring!" has quite a ring to it, doesn't it?  

4. Spell check.
I do realize that spell check is not necessary when talking (word check would be handy though, to let me know when I say something inappropriate), but I would love to have a grammar check for spoken conversation. Often my words come out before I have thought them through, and it shows. How long can you use "English is my second language" as an excuse? I have a feeling after 12+ years the excuse is not valid any more. Particularly when you do the same thing in your native language.  

5. You can be distracted without looking like a fool.
Whenever I'm writing something, like right now, I will interrupt it regularly to scroll through Instagram, check my emails, or do a quick scan of the Internet to look for little bits of entertainment. I know this is not very productive, but that's how I roll. 
Here is the thing: I'm the same way when I'm talking to people. My mind frequently wanders, and I get distracted by their outfit, how they did their hair, or thinking about what my friend told me 10 minutes ago. My eyes glaze over, I lose track of the conversation, and when they look at me expectantly I realize with a start that I have no idea what they just told me. It's awkward and embarrassing.

How about you? Do you prefer written or spoken language?





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Saturday, 17 October 2015

10 Things I wish I had


Last night as I was sitting at my desk, eating sour candy, trying to memorize our national anthem and online window shopping at the same time, several thoughts struck me. Life is good, and I am grateful for everything I have. However, that doesn't mean that there isn't room for improvement, right? There is always room for improvement. If I could upgrade myself to the 2.0 version, there are a few features I would give myself:

A photographic memory.
This has been my fervent desire ever since I started school and had to memorize poems, the names of dozens of dead kings, and the worst of it all: learn Latin. Memorization is not a strong skill of mine, and a photographic memory would be really handy.

A better memory.
If not a photographic memory, could I at least have a better memory? By now I must have spent thousands of hours on learning stuff, and what for? To have forgotten most of it. It's really annoying. Do you know those people who can remember a poem they learnt in elementary school 50 years ago, and they can still recite it now? I do, and I'm deeply envious of those people.  

No sweet tooth.
Lately my craving for sweets is out of control. I feel like I should put a stop to it for a while, but while my mind is willing, my flesh is weak and screaming for sugar. In the spirit of being kind to yourself I justify it by reminding myself that if my body wants it, it must need it - but I suspect I'm being lied to by my own body.    

A smaller butt.
I know, I know, self love, shmelf love. I should be proud of my bootie for being large and in charge, but it does get in the way sometimes. I have been trying - unsuccessfully, I might add - to lift up the old bum-oley for L-sit, an exceedingly difficult exercise that I'm completely useless at. I blame it on the generous proportions of my buttocks, in combination with short arms and not enough core strength. To solve at least one of these problems, I'm requesting a smaller butt. 


 
More patience.
Impatience is my old nemesis, and I wish I could get rid of it. All the yoga in the world won't fix my constant urge to roll my eyes and shove slower people out of the way. But unless they invent a chill pill, I guess I have to keep on trying. 

Bigger balls.
Figuratively of course, not literally. I am a whimp more often than I care to admit, and I wish I could be tougher sometimes. My pushover-tendencies are cramping my fledgling self-confidence, damn it. 

More money for frivolities.
Most of the time I'm a less-is-more kinda gal, and try to cultivate a somewhat minimalistic approach to life. Until I walked into Chapters the other day and was enveloped in a winter wonderland, with the decor items my dreams are made of. It's all plush, plaid, cozy knits, antlers, reindeers, reds and golds this season, and I want it all.   

A self-cleaning house.
I did a thorough cleaning of my house three days ago, and guess what? It's dirty again. The whole cleaning cycle is so pointless, it makes me wanna pull my hair out. How come we are sending people into outer space, but haven't yet designed houses that don't get dirty? Whoever manages that nifty trick will never have to work a day in their life again. I should get on that.

A (log) home in the dreamy valley we discovered last month.
Guys, I am restless, and I can't seem to forget this beautiful valley with the fresh mountain air. I think we need a second home. Definitely more money to be able to afford it. Ugh.    

Mad handstand skillz. 
I wanna handstand (for longer than 2 seconds), and I want it now. (See what I mean with my impatience? It's a curse.)



If a genie would grant you three ten wishes, what would you ask for? 


  


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Thursday, 15 October 2015

Style: Good vibes only

Over the last year I have tried to do some downsizing in my life: less stuff, less fuss, less drama. I'm not always successful (lately I seem to have fallen off the good vibes-wagon), which is why I pulled out this shirt as a much-needed reminder. While you can't always avoid conflict in your life, we definitely have a choice how much we want to engage in gossip and trash-talking others. 
I want to make a renewed effort to walk away from it whenever possible. 
Good vibes only! 

Let's fist bump to that

Corduroy pants: Smart Set (closed; similar); shoes: Payless shoes (similar); shirt: Luxx Culture/Etsy; jacket: old (similar styles herehere and here); glasses: Joseph Marc from Clearly Contacts  







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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Currently

I had a few fantastic ideas for blog posts lately, but they pop into my head at the most inopportune moments: When I'm in the operating room at work, with no opportunity to write them down; during dog walks; just before I have to leave for an appointment. By the time I finally have time to sit down, they are gone, just enough of a memory to mock me, but not substantial enough to form into a story. It's maddening. Count yourself lucky that you can't see inside my head right now, it's a scary place. 

Anyway, I was dying to sit down and write something, so I decided to do a variation of the "currently"-theme that's popular with bloggers. 

Currently...

... I'm loving Pixaby. It's a fabulous site for free (!) images for your blog or website. You don't have to quote the source, you don't have to worry about copyright issues, you simply download and share. I love it! The above picture is from that site, it makes me happy just looking at it. Such a beautiful landscape!

... we are having a coyote-problem. They prowl the perimeters of our property all night long, yipping and howling, which in turn makes the dogs bark nonstop. No wonder I have bags under my eyes. Yesterday we found a hole under the fence, which explains why Chuck Norris, our  freedom-loving meat chicken, disappeared. It's a sad ending for a ferocious chicken, but I guess it was always destined for somebody's stomach. Instead of us, it fed the coyotes, who have now declared our place as the best all-you-can-eat-buffet in the neighbourhood. 

... I'm getting nervous about my citizenship test. It's six days away, which makes me feel like I should study for it all.the.time. So I'm carrying my notes around with me wherever I go, not actually looking at them, just having them close-by. Maybe I will absorb the information through osmosis?

... I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the adult stuff that needs to be done every day. Do you feel the same sometimes? Life seems to be a never-ending series of to-do lists, with five new items popping up for every one you crossed off. Since I'm not only managing mine, but also Richard's life, I feel like an overworked, underpaid secretary. This morning I/we made nine appointments for the next three days, which makes my head spin. Make it stop!

... I'm stretching my hamstrings so much, they are starting to get flexible! The other day, this happened:
The leg is straight!
This makes me all kinds of happy. 

... I've had a few really great coffee and dinner dates, which makes me appreciate the people in my life so much. You're the best!

... we are planning next year's vacation(s), and there is a chance that we might cruise in the Caribbean! How amazing would that be?

What are you currently up to?





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Sunday, 11 October 2015

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

I just want to pop in to wish all my fellow Canadians a very

Happy Thanksgiving!






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Thursday, 8 October 2015

Style: Just another basic girl

... loving leaves. And scarves, sweaters, pumpkin*, coziness, pumpkin*, colours, leaves, pumpkin*, hot beverages, hats, sweaters, pumpkin*, AAAHHHH. 

*I actually don't like pumpkin all that much. Don't tell the others!



Hat: H&M (similar); scarf: gift DIY (this one is different, but amazing); top: ModCloth (similar); jeans: H&M; cardigan: Old Navy (similar); flats: Old Navy (similar)


What can I say? I'm a girl, a blogger, and a fool. Loving autumn is a given.

P.S. The stylish and awesome Jennie featured me as one of her fave looks this week. How sweet is she?! Thanks Jennie!







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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Brave?

I haven't said it in a while, but I'm always thinking it: You guys are amazing. The best! I received a lot of encouraging and kind words about my recent post Manic. Thank you!

A few people even went as far as saying that I am "brave". That made me stop and reflect. Am I? I consider myself to be a fearful person, who needs to make an effort to push herself out of her comfort zone.

I grew up in a family that is very closed off. You don't discuss family matters in public, which is probably a sensible approach to life. The less other people know about you, the better. Problems are to be solved on your own, and quietly. Nobody needs to know about your business.

This approach to life always made me feel suffocated. For years I didn't know what I was suffocated by: Was it the town I lived in? The people? My family?
Now, with the clarity of hindsight, I realize that I was choking on all the feelings and words I wasn't supposed to say. I wanted to talk about personal stuff. I needed to.

Nothing will make you feel lonelier than thinking you are the only person who is different. All the conflicting emotions I had, the doubts and fears, insecurities and irrational anger made me feel like an alien. Nobody else around me seemed to struggle like that, they all had their shit together! Why couldn't I?

Even with friends I couldn't open up completely. What if they would drop me when they saw my ugly side? Who wants to hang out with a crazy person? So I would (try to) leave my freak at home and be upbeat and fun in public. "Suck it up" was the motto of my childhood, so I tried to live by that.

Except that it didn't quite work. I'm not very good at sucking it up. I wear my emotions on my sleeve for all the world to see. A poker face I have not.

Before I started blogging, the internet was nothing more than yet another place where I had to hide the real me and only let fun- and life-of-the-party-me out to play. Facebook was the main social media then, and it was little more than a bragbook: Only happy moments were shared, creating the illusion that life was nothing but a neverending vacation, party, and selfie-wall.

But then I discovered blogs. People like Meg, who is openly writing about how life ain't easy, and of her struggles of wanting to find love. She is vulnerable in a strong way.
Or Laura, who was let go of a job she hated, and who decided that she would start living the life she wanted right now. She is travelling the world, doing what she loves, which is writing. She is also not afraid to show her weaknesses, and has a knack for making you feel good about yourself.

Amanda just had the baby she wished for. She is overjoyed for having her, but is also not afraid to share her identity crisis with us.
And then there is the bloggess, whom I have mentioned several times lately because I'm clearly obsessed with her. Her honesty and fearlessness of sharing her mental illnesses (and embarrassing details of her life) is just incredible to me. So inspiring.

Christy shared her weight on the internet. Melyssa regularly shares her income with the world. My blog friend Samantha opened up about the eating disorder she had in the past.
Mariah and Shannon were amongst the first child-free women I found online, making me feel 100% understood for the first time in a long time.

These women are my heroes. They have helped me so much in my own life, and made me stronger and more confident.

That's why I can't and won't stop sharing the truth. Forget about the highlight reel you are surrounded with everywhere you look. We all struggle and fail and crumble sometimes. It's normal.
But sharing it will not only help others - it will help you. The most surprising lesson I have learned is that by showing your vulnerability, you will become stronger.

Not having to hide any more is incredibly freeing. My biggest mistake in the past was hiding who I really am. I thought I would look strong, but I felt weak.

Accepting yourself with all your flaws will set you free. I don't know if it is brave.
But I do know this: It is your ticket to happiness.       





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Sunday, 4 October 2015

October goals


Hi October, how you doin'? (In my best Joey Tribbiani voice.) 
It's that time again where I look at my goals from the last month and write down new ones for the Clear The List link-up. 

Clear The List

If you are a go-getter who just needs a bit of extra motivation, you should join MariahEstherHsiao-TingLindsay and Shannon. It makes a huge difference to publicly state your goals as opposed to vaguely thinking "oh yeah, I should really get on that", and then never do anything about it.

Last month's goals were threefold: 

Clean up the yard after the storm we had. Yes, we did! We spent an entire Saturday having a big campfire with all the branches that had come down. It was glorious!
Donald was there as well. 
Hand in three CT assignments. I did! Way before the deadline, I may add. There are only two more left, and I'm planning on doing them over the weekend. After that I have some time before the exam on November 20th. Moving along way more smoothly than I expected!

Work on my book. Meh - I did, but not as much as I had hoped. I will talk about it more in a couple of paragraphs, just hang on a minute, okay?

October goals:

Study for my Canadian citizenship test.
I am so ridiculously excited to become a Canadian, and have been working on the process all year. Now, on October 20th, I will write my citizenship test and have my interview, and then (hopefully) become a Canadian at long last. Eeks!! Before that happy event can happen I have to pass the test though, and as I was looking through my study guide I was once again reminded how woefully inadequate my knowledge of the history and political intricacies is. But this is about to change! Come October 20, I will know it all. Booyah!

Finish my last two CT assignments.  They are due this month, and I will kick their butts and get 'er done.

Deadline. 
Yes, I have set myself a deadline NaNoWriMo-style: By Halloween I will have a rough draft of my book of essays. It's really happening, y'all. I have a title, an outline, and a purpose/message that I want to convey. It's super scary, but at the same time really exciting! I need to do this to see if I can. Last year in the wee hours of my 35th birthday celebration, I drunkenly sat on the couch with my friends and told them all that "35 is the age where I will write my book!". My birthday is coming up in just a little over two months, so the clock is ticking. The goal is that I will somehow have it published by December 6th, my birthday. Nothing like a deadline to get your butt in gear! 


What are your goals for October?





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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Manic

I woke up from a nap, curled up in front of the fire, on the floor. I was completely disoriented. What day was it? What time? What had happened?

I slowly sat up and looked around. My head felt fuzzy, my mouth was dry, and my right leg had fallen asleep and tingled uncomfortably. It was dark except for the fire and one small light I must have turned on earlier. With some difficulty I scrambled to my feet and made my way into the kitchen for a glass of water. One look at the clock told me it was 6:30 pm. I sipped my water, and it all came back to me. 

I had collapsed in front of the fireplace after work, bone-tired and deeply exhausted. It was more than simple tiredness though: My mental energies had been completely drained by the day.    

Several hours earlier. 

I'm at work, and I'm on fire. Not only x-raying my every-10-minutes scheduled patients, but also working on the newsletter I bring out once a month, interviewing a co-worker, brainstorming ideas for the Halloween costume contest with some people, and trying to get everybody's opinion about finding a date for the Christmas party. Why did I even get involved in the Christmas party? I usually stay well clear of everything that involves planning and organizing, because I'm not good at it.
Also, I don't want to.

But today is different: I feel like I have caffeine instead of blood in my veins. I'm literally unable to sit still, flitting around between three departments, almost hopping up and down with too much energy.
Then there is the talking. So.much.talking. I'm throwing myself into conversations today, with everybody from my patients to ten different co-workers and superiors. I'm a social butterfly, maniacally talking, laughing, writing, planning and scheming.

Usually I take my breaks as an opportunity to read and be by myself, to get my inner balance back, but not today. Oh no, today I'm having lunch with seven different people, and we laugh and talk and it is fun. It really is. I'm having a great time!

But it comes at a cost. At 2:30 pm, I suddenly feel like I have been hit by a ton of bricks. I can barely keep my eyes open, and getting through the rest of my shift requires an herculean effort. I have to close my eyes and send up a silent prayer before every exam, telling myself over and over again: "You can do this. You can do this. You can do this." My energy reserves are empty, I'm running on fumes.

Finally, finally I'm done. I walk towards my car, eager to get away but simultaneously so worn out that my usual speed-walk has slowed down to a snail's pace. Once inside my car, I breathe a sigh of relief, whispering to myself: "You silly girl, why did you do that?"

Arriving at home, my husband asks me for a favour. It's a small favour, something that can be done in 10 minutes, and no big deal. But I almost burst into tears. I can't deal with anything else now! Miraculously though, instead of throwing a tantrum, I agree to do it. This would not have been possible without the happy pills, that's for damn sure.

I drudge up the stairs, being as grateful as I ever was that I don't have kids I have to tend to now. I simply couldn't do it. I get the things my husband asked me for and bring them out to him. A friend is there, and I exchange a few words, but then I simply can't. I explain that I'm tired, apologize to him and go back inside the house, desperate for sleep. Since I'm also freezing, I turn on the fireplace, make a makeshift bed out of blankets on the floor, and collapse on it in front of the fire. I'm out in seconds.

What I have learnt in many painful lessons over the years is that I need alone-time. My particular blend of being an introvert/having depression demands me-time to recharge. I love people, and I am grateful for having a job that forces me to interact with them. Left to my own devices, I would always be in danger of hiding in the house, talking to the dogs and not wanting to deal with others. Once I'm out and about, I enjoy it tremendously.

But what can happen is that I go too far. I will use up all my energy reserves, no holds barred, until I'm literally empty.
I have come to accept this about myself. I tried fighting it for years, but it's like fighting your eye colour - no matter how much you don't like it, you can't change it.

Thanks to this blog and openly talking about my depression, I have met many others who have some sort of mental illness as well. The overwhelming consensus is that once you know you are not the only one, that it's not your "fault", it's about a million times easier to accept.

Looking at me in one of my "social butterfly"-moments, you would never guess that just an hour later I'm curled into a ball on the floor, unable to move. That side is well hidden, only witnessed by the ones closest to me. But I don't want to keep it that way.

I want all you wonderful people struggling with depression, anxiety, shyness, social awkwardness, or whatever else there may be to know that many of us end up on the floor once in a while. Don't feel bad about it. Accept that this may be part of who you are, but it doesn't define you. You are not alone. We are all in this together!

       
Love,




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