Monthly Goals for March

Monthly Goals for March

A new month has begun. How is it March already?! Here in the DC area March is practically spring, though yesterday and today have been bitterly cold. Next week should be better, and hopefully from there, as they said in the new Mary Poppins movie, there’s nowhere to go but up.

I have a few goals for the month of March. I hope to accomplish them in the next twenty-six days. It’s a reasonable request, but we’ll see. I’ll try not to beat myself up about it if I don’t accomplish them all.

This month, I’m going to try to blog five days a week. I’m shooting for Monday-Friday. I’ve noticed that when I sit down, determined to create, I typically do, almost prolifically. Writing leads to more writing, which leads to more content.

I’m also going to catch up on my journal entries. As a busy woman, I have a habit of typing my journal entries, promising myself to write them out in the paper-and-ink journal soon after. You can imagine how well this has gone lately, I’m sure. I just checked, and my last written entry is from September 14, 2018. I don’t journal daily, perhaps on average weekly, but it has been a few weeks since that one in mid-September.

I am going to finish the two library books that I checked out and mentioned in a previous post, and get more, and finish them too. Along that line, I am also going to read more blogs, a habit I have never truly had, but probably should begin.

Lastly, at least for this list, I’m going to begin working out at least three times a week again. I’ll work my way up to five days. I don’t care how long it takes. I need to exercise, for my physical, mental, and emotional health. I do exercise at work, where I regularly walk a few miles while lifting ten or more pounds over my head. But work doesn’t supply me with as many hours as I need to exercise.

These are some of my March goals. Do you have any monthly goals? Let me know how they’re going in the comments!

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The Future

The Future

I’ll admit it. Lately, I’ve been stressed about the future.

The future has, for me, been a source of comfort for a long time. I have everything but my funeral planned, mostly on Pinterest. Dreaming about the future has always been a comfort because I know that, no matter what happens right now, the future will find me. There are infinite possibilities, and they will all happen whether or not it is in the way I expect. I like that I can lay plans, and they’re there if I need them, but it is likely that they’ll have to be abridged at least. I know that my plans will likely become outlines, no matter how thorough, but the fact that I have an outline is a comfort.

Specifically, getting a full-time job and moving to a new city is what is stressing me out. I have moved out of my parents’ house and back into it twice now, and I want it to stick this time. The thought of different troubles, like bills and full-time work and new friends and budgeting, sounds like a challenge that I will (mostly) welcome.

I’m tired of being a student. I’m tired of being financially dependent on other people. I’m tired of not having my own space beyond a bedroom. I’m tired of waiting, but I know I’m on the verge of a great change. I hope I will be woman enough to meet it with grace and good humor. More than that, I hope I will wait with grace and good humor.

What Love Does

What Love Does

Love, love, love. The things we do for love. We drive almost three hundred miles in a twenty-four hour or so period for a night in our love’s arms. We change our life plans.

My parents have always frequently reminded me, “Man plans; God laughs.” In the last few years I have discovered that has a decent amount of truth to it. I thought I’d fall in love forever later than I did. I thought I’d graduate college and move out sooner. I thought I’d always want to live below the Mason-Dixon, or near it. I never thought I’d have as many friends as I do, and certainly didn’t allow myself to dream of being as well-loved as I am.

That’s the thing about love; it’s transformative. It disrupts the best-laid plans. It takes the life you’d planned, the one that felt comfortable, achievable, and inevitable, and rips it to shreds. Love says, “There is another way. Take the risk. Jump. You may fall, or you may fly.” Love has you considering living in a new part of the country, a new part of the world. It makes you disregard statistics and naysayers that predict your failure.

And what happens if you do fall? What happens when, for example, college takes longer than you had decided it should? Well, then love becomes the cushion for your fall. Love says, “I am here. I haven’t left just because you’ve fallen. I am here. I am here.” Love becomes an anchor for us, while at the same time setting us free, because even though you may fail, love will still be there. The reason most people don’t dream bigger is this: they’re afraid of losing love. “If I fail, will I still have friends and family who love me?” If love is true, you will, whether you fail or succeed.

I have, in the past, been someone who has often said, and believed, that “Love isn’t always enough.” That is an oversimplification. Love is always enough. It just depends on what we love more; ourselves, our friends, our significant other, our family. One could love one of those groups more or just differently than the other, and that is not wrong. There is no right or wrong way to love, if one loves truly. True love wants and works for the best for us, but also accepts us as we are with no expectation of the same.

Love allows us to dream bigger, to dream differently. It sets us free, because we know it is always there for us, whether we fail or succeed in our dreams. Love accepts us as we are, and hopes and works for the best for us. Love is always enough, and you are love. You are enough.

Trying to Adult

Trying to Adult

Everyone wants to improve. Change is the only thing that is constant in this world – change, and death, which is its own change. Improvement is a type of change, as well. We should all strive to improve, as we are humans, and humans are innately flawed beings. In the same vein, because humans are flawed, there is no way for us to achieve perfection, so improvement is always possible, no matter how large or small. I’ve taken a few steps to improve myself and my life lately, and I’d like to share them with you, perhaps as a source of inspiration.

I’ve been reading more. I’ve been reading novels, in particular. For some time I was in a rut of buying and checking out self-help books and essay collections, and found after a while that my mind was craving a story. Right now I’m reading Big Cherry Holler, the second book in Adriana Trigiani’s Big Stone Gap series, The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee, and The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert.

In that vein, I have also been writing more. I’ve been trying to blog more, as you might have noticed, and I’ve been journaling again, too. Journaling especially has been helping with my mood, emotional wellbeing, and the general depth of my thoughts. It’s a lovely and difficult challenge to write, truly write and not just type how much I want to write and call it a day, every day. Sometimes what I write is absolute garbage that goes nowhere, but sometimes it is the beginning of the articulation of a concept that has been floating in my mind for ages.

I’ve been listening to more podcasts – news podcasts, TED podcasts, true crime podcasts – to keep myself aware and informed. Who knows, maybe it will allow me to be more interesting at future cocktail parties. I love stories, and podcasts are the modern, adult way of being read to or told a story, like many children are every night before bed.

I have been discovering different music. A great big thank-you and shoutout to the love of my life for introducing me to Lake Street Dive and reintroducing me to ZZ Ward. Music enriches my life, especially with my synesthesia, and brings me catharsis and true joy.

I have been purging my life of material things, mostly clothing and decorations. I wear the same twenty or so items in my wardrobe. I asked myself why I keep things I rarely ever wear, when someone else can love and get use out of them instead. I’ve cleaned out old and unused makeup, books that will never be reread and are not favorites to forgive that fact.

I’ve been taking extra care with my skin and hair. I’ll admit, sometimes I would slip up and not add my oils to my hair, or not moisturize my skin after a shower, but I have been much more consistent lately. I have also been taking my vitamins (yes, they’re gummies, but the pills make me sick) and my medications with perfect compliance.

I’ve been keeping up with my chores. I make my bed almost every single morning, only skipping that step when I know I will inevitably crawl back in it before bedtime. I have been dusting and vacuuming my bedroom and cleaning my bathroom with regularity.

I’ve been trying to be a responsible, proactive adult. Sometimes that can be difficult when one lives with one’s parents, especially in one’s childhood home. But, I am making a conscious effort not to fall into old habits and behaviors. Here’s to adulting!

Self-Care

Self-Care

Self-care is one of those terms that has gone viral in the past few years. Typically, self-care is attributed to caring for the physical self, and seems to be marketed more toward women. Self-care seems to mean skincare, haircare, fancy baths, fluffy things, etc. While those things are important and certainly can be a part of self-care, they are only one aspect of true self-care.

True self-care means caring for the whole self. Yes, bubble baths and perfume and skin- or haircare are lovely and important, but they feed the physical. Can they feed the emotional or mental aspects of a person? Of course they can. But they cannot do the job as completely as other things can.

True self-care does mean working on the physical person. It means eating well, moisturizing, washing, exfoliating, exercising, and doing all those things that are wonderful for your body. It also means checking up on the body, with regular doctor appointments, nipping possible problems in the bud, and listening to what your body is telling you. It means setting up a sleep schedule and sticking to it.

Another area of self-care is mental. It is important to exercise your mind as well as your body. While I myself can revel in gossip sometimes, I also make sure to listen to news podcasts every morning to keep up with current events. If I want to know more about a certain issue, I research it so I can form a better-informed opinion. I listen to Ted Talks, podcasts, read books by authors with backgrounds like mine and backgrounds that are very different, and watch YouTube videos about anything and everything about which I want to learn more. I have friends with whom I can discuss current events and philosophy, to hear differing ideas and/or arguments. I sit and think about things, ruminating on things I have read or heard. I have always lived very much in my mind. I’m rarely ever bored, because there is so much to consider in the world and beyond it. I write, draw, and play piano. I try to challenge myself in some way every day, to help keep my mind sharp. I love to learn.

A now little-talked-about aspect of the self is the spiritual. Being in tune with the spiritual aspect of self does not necessarily mean joining or practicing a religion. Religion is an excellent means to teach and enforce morals, and to encourage tuning into the spiritual. Self-care in regards to the spirit means realizing that there are truths, whether moral or scientific or otherwise. It means realizing that some things are bigger than we are, but also means realizing our (and others’) power and importance. It means realizing that there is a common human connection that spans generations and centuries and languages and social classes and any other divide possible between individuals or communities.

The social aspect of the self is of paramount importance. As humans, we all long to be loved, accepted, understood, and to make and maintain connections with each other. Friendships, romantic relationships, and familial relationships are the best ways to care for the social self. Frequently romantic or familial love is considered the most important, but platonic love can be easily as rewarding and fulfilling as both romantic and familial love. Friends are the family we choose. Friends don’t necessarily want anything from us, the way a lover can (and frequently does), other than our love, which includes support and honesty, among other things. Friendships are easy to begin, and come in varying degrees of seriousness. We are allowed to have as many (or as few) as we want and need.

The last area of self-care to discuss is emotional (though there are certainly other areas as well). Some ways of caring for the self emotionally include journaling; talking, venting, and connecting with friends; seeing a therapist; laughing; meditation. Taking control of one’s emotional state can be difficult, but it is essential to living life with grace. This does not mean that one ought to repress one’s emotions; rather, it means that one acknowledges an emotion (or emotions), lets it run its course, and does one’s best not to let the emotion(s) change behavior in a negative way. It does not do to wallow, and it isn’t healthy or productive. Feel your emotions. Acknowledge that they are both important and natural. Then move along. You and your life and the lives of others will be the better for it.

 

Live to the Point of Tears

Live to the Point of Tears

It’s so funny – when I had to read it in high school, I hated Albert Camus’ The Stranger. As a lifelong depressed person, the ideas in the book were the worst thing for me to read. The idea of the futility of essentially everything did not help my chronic hopelessness. I searched for meaning in religion and morality and art and beauty, the former two because I had always attended Catholic schools and had many resources regarding at least Catholicism readily available to me.

In fact, I hated The Stranger so much, I cannot bring myself to pick it up again and read it to see if my opinion has changed in over five years. This does not mean, however, that I do not respect the work and its author. I know it to be an important book, especially for the absurdist movement. Still, as someone who has always searched for meaning, who probes endlessly and is an incessant poser of the question, “why,” the book was a shock to my system. I have never picked up The Stranger since the period during which I studied it.

Now, what’s funny is that some of my favorite quotes are attributed to Camus. Though, to be honest, I do not know their origination, many of the quotes I have in mind are poetic and profound, and I love them very much. They include:

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”

“An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself.”

“I know of only one duty, and that is to love.”

“Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears.”

That last quote is my favorite, especially the second sentence. I’ll admit it – I’m a crier. I cry with happiness, with sympathy, with pain, with sorrow. I am an empath, someone who literally feels the joy and the pain – physical and emotional – of others. Empathy is much deeper than sympathy. It can be exhausting, feeling things so profoundly, but I would not trade my depth of feeling for anything.

Though it would be easy to end there, to attribute my “living to the point of tears” to my being an empath, I believe it goes further than that. To me, living to the point of tears does not necessarily mean being someone who is quick to cry physically, whether from joy or sorrow or anything else. I believe tears, whether actual or figurative, arise due to an immense propensity for love. We cry when in physical pain because we love our bodies. We cry when feeling sorrow or joy because we love something or someone, including ourselves. We cry in sympathy because we love others. So, living to the point of tears means living in love.

Live in love. Live to the point of tears. I’ll be there with you.

How to Look and Feel More Attractive

How to Look and Feel More Attractive

Drink more water.

There are so many benefits to drinking water! Just think – over half of your body is composed of water, so it’s clearly vital not only to survival, but also to thriving. Drinking water is good for your skin and your health. Thirst frequently manifests as hunger, meaning that many times when people believe they are hungry, they are actually dehydrated. So, by drinking more water, you not only can help your skin, you can also help whittle your waistline and reduce your grocery bill – which is what most of us want anyway.

Take care of your skin.

This is my personal routine. I consistently receive compliments on my skin, the vast majority of the time when I’m not wearing makeup. Every night, I wash and moisturize my face. But, believe it or not, I never wash my face in the morning. I read somewhere a long time ago that, if your face was cleaned the night before, upon waking, the oils on your face are beneficial to that skin. So instead of ridding my face of those oils entirely every morning, I rinse my face with cold water and dry it gently. That way, I reduce the oils that have accumulated on my face overnight without stripping the skin of them entirely. This means that, overall, I use less product and products, which saves me money. I also make sure that every time I wash my face, I use moisturizer.

Take care of your hair.

Besides the obvious tip of using as little heat as possible, I have a few more. The first is to figure out the best hair-washing schedule for your mane. My hair is thick and slightly oily, so I wash it every other day, if it hasn’t gotten any substance or smell in it. I wash my hair at night and let it air dry while I sleep. If it needs a little something, I will add Garnier’s 10-in-1 Rescue Leave-In Spray when I brush it. If I do ever use a blow dryer, I run a generous amount of Garnier’s Marvelous Oil through my hair, to protect it and help it dry faster. This is important for me, as my long, thick hair takes absolutely forever to dry, whether naturally or with a blow dryer. I have also never highlighted or dyed my hair, which greatly helps with its health.

Sleep.

Figure out how much you need – start with seven or eight hours, and go from there. Try not to use any screens in bed, including TV (at least before bed). I am frequently guilty of scrolling through Tumblr or texting before going to sleep, but lately I have been trying to read instead. Make it quiet and dark, or put on a podcast or playlist that helps with sleep, and sleep well.

Take your vitamins.

Make sure to eat your vitamins! However, if you’re not a fan of fruits and/or vegetables, you could eat gummy vitamins or take vitamin pills. The best ones for the skin are vitamin A and vitamin C, though there are certainly benefits to taking others. Make sure to check with your doctor before adding a supplement to your diet.

Figure out your “signature look.”

The best thing about thirteen years of Catholic school was having to wear uniforms. They’re easy – no thought, no effort. A “signature look” is the adult version of a uniform. It could mean that you have a color scheme, or a set of silhouettes, or anything at all. You get to define it in a way that fits your style and lifestyle. Consistency is key. Having a signature look is a way of looking more attractive, because you will consistently look good. It will also ensure that people notice you, and not your clothing, first. We all want to be seen.

Exercise.

I don’t care what kind of exercise you do, or the amount of it. As long as you exercise in some way with some regularity, you will be more attractive. That could mean walking the dog more, or going to the gym, or taking a class, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Exercise improves heart health, which gives you a glow. It also means that you will have better quality sleep, which also helps with physical appearance and energy levels.

These are just some of the ways I make myself look presentable. Using these methods ensures that when I do have a lazy day, I still feel pretty.