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monthly roundup no. 8: may 2018

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May is over, and it felt like finally, knock on wood, I got a reprieve from some of the stuff that’s gone on this year. Between mourning my grandma, my mom’s cancer diagnosis, and some other personal stress, nothing truly remarkable happened! I went to LA for work, went out to Navy Pier to see some Nashville friends play, and even got to make it to a Cory Branan show. The older I get, the more I start to really enjoy May – it’s usually when I spend a lot of time planning out my summer, and just like last year, I’m so excited to be spending it in Chicago. It’s the king of street festivals and I love that there are so many fun, free ways to see the city!

This month my saved links echoed the theme of something I’ve been focusing on in therapy – you don’t have to carry around everyone’s crap, and you don’t even have to carry around your own crap.

The Cost of Losing Your Keys: Okay, this first one is less in the “theme” of the others, but I’m so proud of it – I’M FINALLY PUBLISHED ON THE BILLFOLD! It’s been my favorite blog for years (the only one that I can remember reading in every city I’ve lived in) and I would be lying if I didn’t think it was super cool that I’m published on the same site as Taylor Jenkins Reid now. Last summer I lost my house keys… and let’s just say, it’s cost a lot more than I would have thought it could. (My roommate would like to update the total with an additional $50 from when she locked herself out of the apartment and had to take a Lyft out to pick up our spares from my boyfriend.) Anyway, it’s been my goal to write for The Billfold for a really long time, and I’m so happy to have finally done it.

9 Simple Ways to Start Living a More Minimal Lifestyle: Apartment Therapy has been my guilty mindless blog lately, and the articles are really helping me purge things I don’t need anymore but have struggled to part with. 8 and 9 in this list have been key to me while trying to clear out my closets. Their Weekend Project series is super fun too – every now and then if I’m just sitting at home not doing anything, I’ll take a look to see if there’s something I can quickly knock out.

If It Ain’t Yours, Don’t Carry It: Marisa Mohi is a friend-of-a-friend I’ve linked to before, and if you’re a writer, I definitely suggest adding her blog and YouTube channel to your regular reads. This post helps to simplify a pretty easy concept – you don’t have to carry the burdens of others – and it’s just something that I needed to hear at just the right time.

On Weight: I know Malory through the same grapevine I know Marisa from, and her food podcast is really great (if you’re in the Oklahoma City area and need food recommendations, OKC OVER EASY is where to look!) I’ve struggled with my weight for basically my whole life except the two years I was running super regularly. In this post, Malory says weight is stress I carry around on my body. I identify with this in a brutally familiar way, and part of losing weight for me is shedding the memory that a lot of the weight carries.

How to Stop Letting Your Anxiety Make Decisions for You: I’m getting much better about this, but I definitely admit that it hasn’t always been easy and I haven’t always excelled. Most of the time, whatever anxiety I feel isn’t even about the thing I’m feeling it toward, so really trying to figure out what’s actually going on has been key in starting to deal with this more effectively.

What are you reading this month? Any particular projects you’re working on to get summer ready?

May 29, 2018
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monthly roundup no. 5: august 2017

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It’s August. Are we serious?! How did this happen? I don’t understand the question and I won’t respond to it.

Meanwhile, Dani has been planning our autumn hygge for months. Frankly, I find it rude… but I’m a little ready for some PSL in my life. And those Michigan autumn leaves. Yes, please.

The last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle – dealing with some mental health stuff, trying to date (it’s awful, and I’m not going to do it again), and planning out the next few months of almost non-stop travel saw me needing some serious down time. Things that landed in my queue this month mostly revolve around travel, tech, mental health, and pizza… like that’s any surprise.

Strategies for Coping With Anxiety: Full disclosure: little self-promotion here, but I wouldn’t share it if I didn’t think it was relevant. I started working with If Me, an app that helps people share their stories with trusted allies, contributing to their blog. This was a very popular post on my own blog, so I thought it might be useful to share even more tips.

The Best Places for Females to Travel Solo: It turns out I had a whole pile of extra overtime to use up, so I’ve been thinking for the last two weeks about how I can use it up and where I can travel. Pile that on top of having recently read What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman, and once again, travel is the only thing on my brain. I’ve really wanted to go on a solo trip for a long time, but I do worry about safety. I tucked this article away to consult in the future!

The Mighty Ducks Filming Locations: This might not be useful to anyone but me, but I booked a trip to Minneapolis in a few months, and you can bet I’ll be hitting up as many locations on this list as are still standing.

I Got Ghosted On by a Woman I Was Into. Do I Have to Move On?: I saw a dude, and I really liked him! A lot! And then we made plans to meet up, and he dipped out. So for a few days, naturally, I wallowed and read articles like this. But this did help me determine that he needed to be called out

Dress Code: A few weeks ago, I went to a meetup of Chicago-based bloggers. One girl was wearing bracelets she designed which have codes engraved in that unlock coding lessons online. I love the concept, and I want one badly – maybe as a reward for myself when I finally do go off to dev school.

Feels Like the Weekend: One of my Nashville buddies moved out to LA to act (he’s amazing!) and he’s in this Funny or Die sketch. It’s funny and almost too real… especially the family political views thing.

Quit Your Job And Live Abroad: 8 Places So Cheap You Might Not Need To Work: I’m not necessarily itching to dive into that ex-pat life just yet, but if there’s a place cheap enough to live without working, it’s probably a pretty inexpensive place to visit as well!

August 25, 2017
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monthly roundup no. 4: july 2017

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I refuse to accept that this is the last Friday in July. Summer is slipping through my fingers and I’m not here for it! It’s been so busy around here that I haven’t even made it to the beach once, which is a great tragedy. (Even more so considering that Dani and I stumbled upon a small beach in the middle of the park near our apartment.) As we start to lean in to the last month of summer, a lot of the articles I’ve tucked away for this month focus on relaxing, focusing on the moment, and enjoying the warmth of the sun!

I Can’t Hide What Stress Does to My Body: As another person who suffers from RBF (resting bitch face,) I feel her pain. Most of the time, there’s nothing wrong – it’s just how my face is. But beyond that, I’m grateful to hear someone else’s story of how their stress and anxiety takes a toll on their body. A fun new symptom that I’ve developed over the last year is that in times of high stress, I break out in hives all over my body. Most of the time, it’s not that noticeable, as long as I’m not giving in to the screaming itchiness. But a lot of people who don’t suffer from anxiety might argue that it’s all mental, and Meredith and I (and, apparently, Demi Moore) are here to tell you that that’s most certainly not the case.

6 Easy Things to Do On Sunday to Improve Your Week: I’m really trying to make Sundays a day of intention and preparation for the week ahead. Even things as small as looking ahead at my weekly calendar have been escaping me, which means deadlines and appointments are coming up more quickly than I’m used to. Making a list for Monday is also a great task – as an ISTJ, I thrive on checking things off a to-do, so this will help my morning feel more controlled.

I Skeptically Tried Practicing Gratitude and it Completely Changed My Life: Over the years, I’ve tried off and on to focus on gratitude to help with my mental health. Since starting to use the Best Self journal (which includes morning and evening reflections on gratitude), it’s even easier to add this to my daily routine. This article is interesting because I always love to hear the science and psychology behind why these seemingly “new-agey” philosophies pay off.

7 Ways to Relieve Stress That Every 20-Something Should Try: I mean, I’m going to ignore the elephant here and pretend I’m still the target for this post. Obviously, I’m always looking for ways to cut down on stress and anxiety, and there are some new strategies here I look forward to trying.

Summertime Hygge (How to Achieve a New Kind of Cozy): I love hygge, so any excuse to practice it year-round works for me. We started by picking up some flowers on our grocery shop the other day, and I constantly have candles flickering everywhere. Summer is also a great time to purge and clean out your closets – our poor office looks like it’s been hit by a hurricane since I’m categorizing and organizing in there.

30 Day Summer Self-Love Challenge: Haley has a lot of great tips to put yourself first here, which will even help you continue to make time to enjoy the summer. Turning your phone off 30 minutes (or more) before bed not only helps you sleep better but even helps create more time in your day for things like reading or journaling. If you need a suggestion, pulling from another of her challenges, the poetry book milk & honey was my favorite book of 2016.

How to Create a Personal Development Plan: This post from Natalie Bacon couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been feeling a bit lost, unfocused, and distracted lately. I’m booking out some time this weekend to work through this and use it to help work toward my 13-week goals in the Best Self journal.

July 28, 2017
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non-traditional ways to cope with anxiety

Posted in Mental Health by

It’s no secret that I live with anxiety and depression – I’ve blogged about it extensively. Though I’m on a better regimen of drugs that help me cope better with things I’m learning in therapy, I still struggle with anxiety every day. There are plenty of resources with tips on how to better manage panic or racing thoughts, and they all work for everyone differently. In my 15+ years of living with this, I’ve worked up some less common methods of coping on my own.

If you have a moment before diving in, please take a minute to fill out my reader survey!

The Joy of Painting With Bob Ross: When I was a little kid, I was raised by PBS. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Today’s Special, Zoobilee – and to be honest, I do go back and put some of those on from time to time. (When you’re sick and just want your mom to take care of you, there’s nothing like the comfort of Ben Vereen’s voice.) A few weeks ago I was struggling to fall asleep, a relatively new symptom of anxiety for me. I was trying everything I could think of – counting down backwards from 100 (my go-to sleep trick for years), listening to Sleep With Me, and even trying this YouTube video I’d seen people talking about. Nothing was working to quiet down my brain. Then the YouTube video ended and a suggested video was The Joy of Painting. I popped one on and as he painted quiet streams and happy little trees, his assuring voice eventually overrode my inner monologue, letting me fall asleep.

ASMR: That YouTuber I’d been seeing a lot of was GentleWhispering, a girl who does relaxing videos in – you guessed it – a whisper. Some of the videos are roleplaying exercises, as though she’s washing your hair, and some are more in the “calming empowerment” realm. ASMR is autonomous sensory meridian response – you can read more about it on Wikipedia, but it’s basically a tingly sensation that many people get throughout their bodies that seems to be very relaxing and soothing.

Don’t Assume or Personalize: This one seems pretty obvious to most people, but for me, it isn’t. I’ve always taken everything very personally (how can you not?) so even the slightest twinge of emotion from someone else is very taxing for me (the joys of being a highly sensitive person.) I recently discovered Tanya Hennessey thanks to her hilarious true makeup tutorial, and started digging in to her older videos. “Ways to know you’re an overthinker” hit very close to home and at the end, she shares this advice: “don’t expect, and don’t assume things.” Assumptions have always been a big source that fuels my anxiety fire, so hearing that (as simple as it is) is helping me begin to reframe things in a different way. I’m also reading the book The Four Agreements after seeing one of the Tone It Up girls recommend it, and I’m really liking it a lot as well. The second agreement is “don’t take anything personally” – if someone feels a particular way, it’s because of them, not because of you. This has helped change how I internalize other people’s emotions a lot.

Calligraphy: Writing things down in a planner can be a huge help for anxiety sufferers, as can things like journaling and coloring. I’m also starting to get into calligraphy as another outlet. Things like printable worksheets to trace for practice can be really relaxing – since you can simply trace over the letters, it’s a good way to relax without having to exert a lot of focus or brainpower.

Moodica: A new-to-me app, Moodica plays videos based on your “mood,” and they even have apps for Apple TV and Amazon Firestick. I really like this endless galaxy to sort of zone out and feel like I’m floating (in a good way.)

Compression Sleeves: One of the anti-depressants I tried at the beginning of the year gave me terrible restless leg syndrome. Getting off the med helped a bit, but I’m still feeling many of the symptoms. Sleeping in my Zensah leg compression sleeves has helped out a lot, and there’s research that supports compression as anxiety relief.

Weighted Blankets: Similar to compression sleeves, the feeling of having weight draped over some part of your body can help you feel safe and maybe relieve some of your stress.

Penguin Watch: If you’re a person who finds calm in doing work (like me), this might be the thing for you. Penguin Watch is a project of scientists that you can help out with by looking at pictures, and clicking if there’s a penguin in the photo. That’s it. Super simple, and you’re helping out with important research. Plus, you’ll occasionally get to see photos of other animals, like elephants!

Go to the Water: I grew up in Michigan, so I feel most at ease when near a large body of water. When I moved to landlocked cities, I really struggled. Finding a pool to swim laps in or a lake to go hiking at helped to clear my head.

Audiobooks: Sometimes I know that getting engrossed in a story will help me stop my racing thoughts, but I can’t suppress them long enough to get through even one page of a book. I love audiobooks in these times – I put in my earbuds so no other sound can sneak in and fire up an app like Hoopla or Overdrive to check out a book from the library. (Audible also has two free books right now) This way it’s a little easier to get involved in someone else’s story and get out of my own.

Noise: This one doesn’t always work for me because sometimes extra sound can just exacerbate my panic, but I’ve found having constant background noise to (usually) be really helpful. Whether it’s having some TV on in the background while I work through the day or as I fall asleep, or listening to podcasts in the car or at the gym, having something else to shift my focus to if I want can help to stave off the thoughts. Sometimes when those kinds of sound seems too much, Rainymood is my best friend. They have mobile apps as well as a desktop website with the quiet, soothing sounds of a thunderstorm. I’ve been using Rain Rain as well – I like that they have different sounds. Their ocean bonfire is my favorite thing to fall asleep to.

Do you use any non-traditional methods to cope with your anxiety? What have you found works best for you?

May 8, 2017
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monthly roundup no. 1

Posted in Living by

link roundup

IT’S ALMOST SUMMER! We’ve had a few summery days here in Chicago, and the early sunrises are helping with my mood and my energy levels. Thank goodness. I really needed this drive to come back and get me motivated to get things back on track – I’m always squirreling away resources to help get organized, work on personal development, or whatever else. I’m a big fan of Pocket to do that, an app that lets you tuck away articles to read for later. Even though I’m a super fan, I don’t always excel at going back and revisiting things I’ve packed away. At the end of the month I’m going through my Pocket to empty it out, and I’m sharing the highlights with you in this new series (along with other useful things I find around the web!)

27 Ways To Stress Less: This is another roundup post, so it’s a bit of a cheat. But it pulls out the best quotes from different posts about managing stress and anxiety, which makes it perfect for those times you really need to chiiiiilllllll.

I’m Not Good With Money Anymore and I’m OK With That: I’ve long loved The Billfold – I used to spend hours in my Virginia office poring over each post. The relatable and cool tone of the website resonated with me a lot more than any personal finance blog ever did, and I’ve continued to read it over the years. When this post popped up a few days ago, it was almost like a relief. For a long time, I was Very Careful with my money. I was smart about how I spent it, how I saved it, and even helped friends make smart budgets and debt payoff plans. Over the last year, I’ve been much less smart about my own finances. It has really worn me down, but this post makes me feel like that will be okay.

How to Realistically Cut Back on Technology: Since I not only blog but also have a fully online job, I constantly feel like I’m staring at a screen. I’m trying a couple different techniques to combat that, like deleting time-sucking apps and making weekly trips to the library.

What to Tell Yourself When You Feel Behind in Life: There seems to be a trend in my favorite articles this month – most of them revolve around reducing stress or relaxing! I think I’m hitting that sort of midlife crisis. Being surrounded by people getting married, buying houses and having babies (even if those aren’t things I thought I’d want) is getting to me a bit – or maybe it’s the incessant HGTV I’ve been watching. Either way, I’ve been feeling “behind,” so sometimes I need the reminder that I’m really doing alright.

27 Stylish Bathing Suits You Can Get on Amazon: Good ol’ Buzzfeed. This post got me. I’m a sucker for bathing suits (I really hate clothes, I guess) and I’ve been working to reduce the number of suits I have around… but I ended up buying this bad boy. All banana leaf everything. (I’m tempted by the one-pieces too. JUST PUT ME ON A BEACH!)

Natalya on Making Their Way to the Ring with Lillian Garcia: So I’m kind of a closet WWE fan. I watched when I was little, then during a pretty severe depressive episode last year I would put it on for some background noise. That evolved into a Total Divas binge when I felt better and now here I am, a year later, with a few live events under my belt and more knowledge of wrestling than I ever intended to have. Podcasts as background noise is one of my favorite work soundtracks, and Nattie is one of my favorite wrestlers. This is a great interview, and she talks about her eating disorder and how working out helped her overcome it.

Ways to Avoid Blogger Burnout + Tips for Self-Care: Carmen has become one of my favorite bloggers, and this post was super timely. I love her focus on helping bloggers be successful, but after a few months of working really hard on two blogs – burnout hit me. During my scheduled blogging time, I was finding it really tough to hammer out even one sentence I was proud of.

Hope you have a great weekend planned! I’ll be soaking up the Chicago sun and working on some special mailing list opt-ins (think actionable worksheets and eBooks!), so be sure to sign up to get them as soon as they go live. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter too – I’d love to check out your weekends!

April 28, 2017
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