My Dog Is Weird

My Dog Is Weird

My dog is weird.

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know Brie’s origin story: starving, mangy Puerto Rican street dog boards a private jet to a new life in Northern Virginia, where she is nursed back to health, cared for, and adored. You know she’s the most loving, pure, friendly little golden fluffball – anyone who’s met her can attest to this. Here are a few facts about Brie that are a little unusual.

She gives hugs. We call them “Brie-hugs.” A “Brie-hug” is something she does for maximum body contact with you. It’s when she puts her front paws on your forearms, then spins around so her back is against your legs and abdomen. If she’s really excited, you’ll feel the fur of and wind made by her tail wagging between your legs. It’s a high honor to be given a “Brie-hug.” 

She loves – I mean loves – to be held like a baby. If you’re sitting, she knows she is only allowed on furniture if she’s completely on a human who is on it (so the allergens in her fur don’t get on/in the furniture as much, since my mother is allergic to dogs), so it’s likely that, if she likes you, she’ll jump onto your lap. From there she spins so her back is to you, and then you can position her on her back, cradling her upper body in one arm and rubbing her belly or holding her back legs with the other. I’ve never met a dog who not only tolerates this, but enjoys it. 

She loves kisses and hugs and being the little spoon. She likes hugs, if they’re not too long. She’s a great little spoon (sometimes I let her in my bed, okay? She knows she’s only allowed up there with permission), though she does require belly rubs as you cuddle her. She loves kisses, and when she jumps on your lap facing you for the first couple seconds, she regularly puts her silky little head down to be kissed. 

Though she is insanely friendly and crazy cuddly, Brie is actually an introvert. She’ll bask in attention for a good while. But, eventually, her need for peace and quiet wins over her need for attention and affection, and she’ll go to her bed or her crate for it, and nothing will get her out of it. 

What strange things does your dog do? Do they do any of the things Brie does? Let me know in the comments below!


Doing Better

Doing Better

For those of you who have been following my blog, first of all – thank you. Second, you probably know that I am trying to love myself warts and all, improve myself, and am also trying to lose weight. In the last almost three years, I had gained about 100 pounds due to a certain medication, combined with a few less-than-awesome habits. 

Well, since my last birthday, I have lost a total of twenty pounds, about half of it in the last month. I returned from Amsterdam on Wednesday and found when I weighed myself Thursday that I had lost two pounds since I left. Walking about five miles a day and eating European portions definitely contributed to that, but I wonder how much more weight I would’ve lost if I had been able to drink as much water in Europe as I can in the States. 

Of course, it isn’t that water isn’t available in Europe – of course it is. But, if you didn’t know, unlike at restaurants in America, water isn’t free there. You have to pay for the large bottle for the table. It seems almost criminal to me, especially since their tap water is held to at least the same standards as most American water. 

Anyway, if water had been as cheap (read: free) in Amsterdam as it is in the States, I would definitely have drunk more of it. I wonder how much more weight I would have lost, filling my stomach with water instead of food, alcohol, and cane-sugar Coca-Cola. 

Still, I’m happy with the progress. A great big thank you and hallelujah to my new med, which  improves my functionality in every facet of my day-to-day life, and also decreases my appetite. I also crave healthier foods and much smaller amounts of unhealthy foods when I do crave them, though that could just be my willpower, since I know when I’m actually hungry I should be making the most of my hunger, nutritionally. I also limit myself on unhealthy foods, which decreases my cravings for them. Lastly, I watch less cable TV, which you wouldn’t think would be significant. It is significant for me, though, because I am incredibly suggestible when it comes to food commercials.

I’m learning my triggers, and I’m learning effective ways to avoid and fight them. I’m moving, I’m eating better, I’m taking my meds, I’m seeing doctors. People are beginning to notice, which is incredibly encouraging. 

Tell me your thoughts on paying for water at a restaurant, or about your weight loss journey, or anything at all. I’d love to hear from you!

Me, Friday 13 September

Do Better

Do Better

Hello! In my August goals, you read that I have been losing weight, and wanted to continue doing it. It was about two pounds a week then. Since the beginning of August, I have lost a total of nine pounds. I don’t eat as much anymore, and I’ve been working a lot, which involves walking (during a 7.5-hour shift, I regularly walk about six miles) and hauling one to six dresses, weighing anywhere from a few ounces to five or so pounds each. I’ve still been eating less, and making better food choices. If I continue in this fashion, I should reach my goal weight by mid-May 2020. 

The thing is, I know I could be doing better. I could walk the dog more. There have been too many days these past two weeks I’ve taken the easy route of putting her in the backyard and encouraging her to run by chasing her. I could take up exercising on my days off again, and work my way up to working out every day. I could make even better food choices. I could wean myself off Coca-Cola faster; take up coffee instead. It’s been a wonderful four weeks of 2.25 pounds lost a week, on average. But, like I said, I think I can do better. 

Here’s to nine pounds lost. Here’s to a sizable amount to go. And here’s to continuing to improve my habits, and hopefully increasing my average weight lost per week.

Monthly Goals – August

Monthly Goals – August

It is August, which means it’s time for my monthly goals. I know I’m late, but I was the maid of honor in my sister’s wedding a few days ago. With my classes and the wedding and working and job applications, my life recently has been a zoo. Still, I’ve accomplished a few things, and these are the ones I hope to accomplish this month.

My first goal is to continue in my healthier lifestyle. I’ve been steadily but slowly dropping weight, about two pounds a week. Other people have started to notice, even when I haven’t. I plan on continuing to walk my dog on long walks, and eat healthier. As I said last week, I’m trying hard to love my body, and that means caring for it.

My second goal is to finish my online class strong. I’m doing pretty well so far, and I’d like to keep it that way. After this, I’ll need two more classes – then I’ll be done!

My third goal for the month is to continue putting away as much money as possible. Eventually, I suppose, I will move out of my parents’ house, and I’ll need a nest egg then. I’m proud of what I’ve saved so far, though I’ve had to dip more than I am comfortable with, what with buying presents for my sister and future brother-in-law, planning and throwing a bachelorette party, and traveling. But it’s only money, I can always make more.

Next, I definitely need to get my passport. More on why later. I have the pictures for it – I just need to get my stuff together and do it. 

Lastly, my biggest and probably most achievable goal is to journal more – hopefully at least weekly. I used to have multiple notebooks going, and use one (the official, formal journal) for the formal letters cataloguing the events and thoughts of my days. This was a very inefficient system, and more formal than how I think and write. There are still entries in letter format, but there are also snippets of writings I’ve thought of throughout the day, calculations, drawings, lists, etc. It’s freeing to not have to be perfect in my journal. Because of the lack of perfection requirement, I’ve been better able to keep up with my journaling, which I hope in the long run will help me with my writing overall. 

These are my August goals. I’ll try my best to accomplish them all, but if I don’t, I don’t plan on beating myself up about it. If you so desire, please share your goals in the comments below!

My Happy, Healthy Morning Routine

My Happy, Healthy Morning Routine

Good morning! I thought today I’d share with you my morning routine, at least during the week. (Weekends tend to be a free-for-all for me – which only means that I’m not quite as strict.) This routine makes me feel so much better every day, and I hope it can do the same for you. 

I wake up within the same two-hour window every day, and go to sleep within a similar time frame every night. This helps incredibly with the quality of my sleep. I’ve found on days that I nap, I don’t sleep as well that night as I would have, had I stayed awake all day. It feels good and adult to wake up around the same time every day, and I certainly get more done when I wake up even though I don’t have to until later. It’s especially opened me up to more opportunities to read, something I’ve missed immensely. While I get ready, I listen to podcasts. Lately I’ve been enjoying NPR’s Up First, the NPR Politics Podcast, and Bishop Barron’s Sermons.

After I wake and dress, I let out the sweetest little Brie and take her for a half- to three-quarter-mile walk. When we return, I feed her and give her fresh water. While she eats and drinks, I head downstairs to the basement. My parents were generously given an elliptical a few months ago, and it’s been a wonderful addition to our home. I run a mile, sometimes two or two and a half, on the elliptical. Sometimes (usually on days I’ve only run a mile), I’ll use some weights after my run. (For those who are curious, my time is usually around an eight-minute mile.)

Once I’ve exercised, I head upstairs for a well-deserved shower. By the time I’m dressed, I’ve drunk two glasses of water. After my shower, it’s time for breakfast. My favorite breakfast lately has been fruit and two miniature bagels with whipped cream cheese. One week the fruit was bananas, and now it’s cherries. 

This is my morning routine for the past month or so. I really like it. I know I’ll have to modify it once I begin working full-time, but for now, I’m happy with it. What’s your morning routine? Let me know if you have any tips and tricks below!

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

For those of you who didn’t know, May is Mental Health Awareness month. In honor of the last day of that month, I have written this post.

My name is Grace. I am a friend, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a dog lover, a kind person. I also have seven mental illnesses.

That sounds like a lot. On the one hand, it is. Seven is a lot of mental illnesses. One is a lot of mental illnesses. On the other hand, it is important to remember that mental illnesses are very much related to one another. Sometimes one causes another; sometimes they just go hand-in-hand. I don’t think of my mental illnesses as separate entities, but rather as roots of a tree that spring from each other and cross paths and come from the same basic source.

I live a happy life. I live with the parents who support me, am almost done with college, have a loving boyfriend, work two jobs, maintain friendships all over the country, and have the best ESA in the entire world. Things have been worse for me, many times over the course of my life. I don’t feel like rehashing all my trauma, and I don’t have to do so. Even if I didn’t have suffering and trauma in my past, my mental illnesses would still be valid. Brain chemistry doesn’t care how happy you “should” be.

If there is anything I have learned over the course of my short twenty-three years on this planet, it is these: mental illness is not like a cold. It will most likely be with me my whole life, hopefully with me spending the rest of it in remission. The best I can do is the best anyone can do; I handle it as best I can. Everyone has their cross to bear, and this is mine, so all I can do is carry it with as much grace as possible – and maybe with a bit of good humor.

I have also learned that while there is pain and suffering in the world, much of it senseless, there is so much more that is beautiful and good. We are more attuned to the negative, not because it is more prevalent, but because it is the exception. It affects us so deeply because our innate and automatic assumption is that this world is beautiful, and people are basically good.

So, if you are silently – or even not-so-silently – suffering from mental illness(es), I leave you with this: yes, there is pain and suffering in the world. No, it isn’t fair. But no one ever promised life would be fair. But more important than that is the fact that love is infinite. It does not end, or run out – not true love, anyway. Love is the root of all that is good – the flowers love the sun, which loves them in return. The mother and the offspring love each other. It is true; it is unconditional; it is infinite.

So, love. If you cannot love yourself, try loving others. Try loving the puddle you splash in on a rainy day. Try loving the friend that makes you feel secure. Loving and being loved by others can teach us how to love ourselves. There is always, always, always a reason to love.

Most important of all, remember that you are not alone. You are not alone. You are never, ever alone.

I love you.

Monthly Goals for April

Monthly Goals for April

Hello! It appears another month has begun, and you know what that means. It’s time for the monthly goals for April!

I don’t know that this is a goal, per se, because the tickets are already bought, but I’m going to Portland, OR the last weekend in April to visit the boyfriend! I’m so excited; I’ve never been further west than Houston, and that only happened last Christmas. I love traveling, exploring new places, and learning new things. If you have any recommendations of things to do, see, eat, or drink in Portland, please leave a comment down below!

In the last week of March I lost four pounds. I don’t know if that was because I’d been bedridden from a bout of bronchitis where I didn’t eat very much, but I’m happy about it and proud of it. I’d like to lose two pounds a week this month. I’ve been eating like crap in the recent past, and I’ve been noticing the difference in how I feel. It isn’t worth it, and I have to remember that.

I want to look at my phone less, pay more attention, listen better, and read more paper books. My phone and laptop are crutches I use to escape being social, and I need to realize that not only do people like me, they want to hear what I have to say. I like to be listened and paid attention to, so I’d like to do the same for the other people in my life.

These are a few of my April goals. Hopefully I meet them. If not, I’ll try not to beat myself up about it. Happy spring!