Work has been intensely frustrating this week, largely due to pervasive bad attitudes, and my at-home rhythm has been completely stunted in increasingly stupid ways, so I am feeling pretty tired and overwhelmed and cranky as hell and that’s terrible! So, just in case you’re having one of those weeks too, here are some of the things you can do to make it through a crappy week. I have personally done all of these things with varying levels of success, so there’s some anecdotal evidence supporting these.
TEN WAYS TO HELP YOU MAKE IT THROUGH
1. Be nice to someone else! Find somebody, tell them something nice. Tell a stranger you like her shoes. Buy your significant other a small gift just because. Call your mom and thank her for doing a good job raising you. It’s always easier to be kind to yourself after you’ve been kind to someone else.
2. Write a letter to your past self! Did you make a lot of dumb decisions when you were young? Did your life turn out okay anyway? Write a letter to your idiot younger self and assure them that things will turn out okay, even if they seem life-ending in the moment. This is super good therapy and can help you let go of incidents from your past that you don’t even realize you’re hanging on to.
3. Go out to eat by yourself! Even if it’s just your favorite fast food place, take yourself out and eat a meal you like. Read a book or journal while you eat, if you feel weird sitting by yourself. Eat slowly, focus on your food, and really try to enjoy eating as an experience instead of eating to survive.
4. Ignore your phone for an hour! I don’t believe the machine that says that social media and FOMO is going to kill us all, mostly because I’ve been on the internet since I was ten and I’m FINE, but I have personally found that disconnecting from everything for a little bit can be a powerful way to reconnect with your own brain. Even if you spend that hour reading or watching a TV show, if you’re not also checking your phone, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy the experience more. Don’t you feel super good when you leave the movie theater after watching something uninterrupted? Do it at home!
5. Take a nap! I honestly cannot hype naps enough, especially in winter. I prefer to nap in bed, but the most important element is being exactly as cozy as possible. I especially like when I can get curled up in the perfect temperature and position and drift hazily to sleep while watching Friends on Netflix or YouTube beauty tutorials. The “If all else fails, take a nap and try again” portion of all my internet bios is NO JOKE.
6. Send a card or letter to someone just to say hi! I LOVE sending and receiving cards and letters and postcards and packages because mail is GREAT. And I know that other people like getting stuff in the mail too. So send some mail! Say hi to someone you don’t talk to all the time and let them know you were thinking of them.
7. Take a totally unnecessary bath or shower. Play music, use fancy bath stuff, take your time, and enjoy the warmth and solitude. I don’t have a bath (which I yell about regularly because I NEED A DAMN BATH) and I generally hate showering, but if I can get in and stand under the warm water for a while instead of rushing to clean myself, it definitely makes me a happier and more pleasant person. I still highly recommend cinematic showering too, if you’re really feeling it.
8. Write a list of ten things you like about yourself! Even if they’re totally arbitrary things like “I’m wearing a really cute sweater today,” they’ll make you feel better about yourself which you deserve because you are totally awesome.
9. Make a list of all the things that are upsetting you. This should be a long list with lots and lots of detail. When you’re done, either file it away somewhere you won’t find it for a while or destroy it. It’s kind of hokey to be like, “Getting your feelings out will free you,” but to be honest, it usually does. Some people like to read these things over and see how nothing they’re mad about is actually that big of a deal, but that’s garbage for me. I just like to get it all out and get rid of it.
10. Cry. The best thing about crying is that you can do it anytime, anywhere. I’ve cried in public, at my desk, at Disneyland, in hotel rooms, I’ve cried in the bathroom of every workplace I’ve ever had, every state I’ve ever visited, and there’s a good chance that if I’ve been in your home, I’ve cried there. Cry while listening to music! Cry while watching your favorite sad movie! Hell, you can cry while doing all other nine things on this list! When nothing else is working, crying can shake the shitty feelings right out of you.
Above all, remember that you are a wonderful, unique, worthy person and that you’re awesome and deserve to not be miserable!
There are two different schools of thought when it comes to Resolutions for the New Year. The first thinks your goals should be concrete and measurable so that you can see what you’ve accomplished; the second thinks they should be intentions rather than goals so that you don’t get discouraged by numbers. Well, three schools I guess, since the third thinks they’re bullshit entirely. I used to be that third school! Now I’m a mix of the first two because turning thirty has turned me into the kind of woman who drinks lattes and sometimes reads motivational quotes, nodding her head like she feels it. Anyway, my goals last year went okayish, if not as well as I’d hoped, but I figure rather than giving up on all those refresh-and-renew New Year feelings, I’d just keep trying! Because trying is cool!
Since I’m trying to mix those two schools, I’m thinking of intentions as lofty, abstract, and aspirational, while goals are manageable, actionable, and calculable.
ADULTHOOD: Plan, execute, follow-through. Be a thirty-one year old adult. Kick being an adult’s ass. Be a Super Adult. Or like, at least be a better adult. Use your gym membership. Do laundry regularly instead of like you’re putting out a laundry fire. Plan meals for the week. Clean out the fridge and go grocery shopping. Develop a routine. Pick up your shoes. Floss. Make lists and actually do the things on them. You know, all that boring crap that actually makes your life better.
BETTER CHOICES: Choose better. Not perfect choices. Not even good choices, just better ones. Choose for the long-term instead of the immediate. If there is a choice, make the smarter one. If there are a lot of choices, narrow them down and make the smartest one. Making choices that make my life better and help me to take care of myself including meditation over griping, mindful eating over eating to survive, and moving my dumb body instead of slowly turning to stone. Choose well and above all, choose to be kind. To the planet, to others, and to myself.
FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: Make thoughtful purchases instead of impulsive ones. Save money whenever possible, including the Reverse 52 Week Savings Plan. Avoid the unnecessary. I am not, nor will I ever be a minimalist, but good lord do I just have enough stuff. We are pretty good about picking through our things and making regular donations, but I want to be better about not buying back-ups and collecting things that just end up collecting dust. One In, One Out isn’t realistic for us, but I think Less In, More Out will be the way of the year.
JOURNAL EVERY SINGLE DAY: This sounds more like a punishment than a goal, but is something I want to do because I am getting old and I would like to maybe understand my feelings and also remember things that happen in my life. Crystal and I also got the Our Q&A to start around the wedding, but we are not good at follow-through, so that’s another thing I’d like to commit to and add to our routine. Feelings are gross and should be banned, but until then, this is how I will try to deal with them.
100 WORDS A DAY: I write so rarely now that I hesitate to even call myself a writer anymore and that bums me out, like, a lot. So I’m starting small. I probably story-tell well over 100 words a day already easy, but I have to put some of those words down on paper every day. Just 100 of them! This can include the journaling, but should also mean at least some prompted writing or work on one of my books.
55 BOOKS: I read 53 last year and got a butt-load of Amazon gift cards for Christmas, so I think this one is super doable.
3 SEASONS OF TV & 20 MOVIES: They have to be new to me because re-watching doesn’t expand my knowledge-base. I also just want to generally seek out more tv and movies that interest me. I watched some stuff I really loved last year, but not nearly as much as I have in the past. Part of that is just having a full-time job and not being so sickly that all I can do is sit on my couch and watch cool stuff (which is obviously awesome) and part of it is just laziness (which is not).
BLOG AT LEAST ONCE EVERY TWO WEEKS: I just, you know, need to get it together. This also includes revamping the look of this place to match my awesome new url/name and also just, like, because it hasn’t been updated in way too long and it’s starting to get super embarrassing.
I turn thirty on the 26th of this month. I haven’t decided yet if I am going to be traumatized by turning thirty or if I’m going to take it in stride and be chill about being an unsuccessful but surviving adult, still living in their parents’ basement. Who knows? This next 24 days are going to be a real adventure.
Most of my freakouts have been not age related, but milestone related. I freaked out about going to middle school. I freaked out about going to high school. I freaked out about going to college and graduating college and going to grad school and graduating grad school and moving cross-country and moving back and moving cross-country again.
But the birthdays? Nah. I like birthdays. I remember ten being a big deal — double digits! — and thirteen! And I failed my driver’s test on my sixteenth birthday, so that one was pretty garbage-y, but otherwise I’ve been okay so far. Birthdays are happy, celebratory. I spend the entire month of my birth making myself the center of everyone’s attention and because I am just that annoying and because the people around me are just that amazing, they not only tolerate it, but encourage and participate in it.
I feel old all the time. I feel old when I realize how young other adults are. I feel old when I realize — with a suddenness that should be impossible at this point — that I will not publish my first book before I am 25*. I feel old when I see Taylor Swift. I feel old when my bones ache — which is sometimes daily — and I feel old when I hear a song I loved as a kid played on an “oldies” station. I feel old when I don’t like something intended for youths and old when I do. I feel old when I wake up with a headache or when I decide not to have a drink because being buzzed sounds exhausting. I feel old constantly, but I have always, since I was a kid, and it has never had anything to with the numerical value of my age.
I am old. I have always been old. I am perhaps slightly less old now, at thirty, than I was at 25, and most definitely than I was at sixteen. I will likely always be old.
But for me, old is just the way to be and the way I have been has worked out pretty well for me. So bring it, thirty, I’m waiting.
*And now not before thirty. What a failure.
PS: My RSS feed was/possibly is broken, so it is likely you aren’t even seeing this post! I have removed the Totally Top Five 2K14 Giveaway since it wasn’t hitting readers, but I will get it up again this week and give you guys plenty of time to win some Amazon gift cards! I will eventually spend a weekend moving away from my current theme since it is kind of infuriating, but for now we shall persevere.
We’ve come to the end of the list-making! The end of everything I loved in 2014! The random stuff I loved that I couldn’t1 manage to shove elsewhere!
5. The Gym
Uggggh, I cannot even begin to explain how much I hate that I even considered putting this on the list, let alone actually did it. I went to the gym in college and I always hated it because it was boring and tiring and full of weird people. I started going in 2014 when Williston’s 80 million dollar rec center opened and actually turned out to be pretty nice and Crystal was willing to suffer by my side.
For me, it’s really helpful to have a gym partner, headphones, and a Kindle2 and even though I usually hate it at the beginning and at the end and sometimes in the middle, I usually get in the zone enough with my book and my Cardio Hip Hop to get through it.
I sleep better, I feel more rested, and have less pain when I work out. And okay, I guess I just feel generally better when I do it on the regular. Annoying as that is, for that alone, I’ll begrudgingly let it have a spot on the list.
Also, our gym is preeeeeeetty nice.
As secondary faves having directly to do with the gym, I have to also mention:
FitBit One which I got as a gift in February and have worn almost every single day since. I don’t know how useful the information is but I do enjoy having it!
Also, the Skechers Flex Appeal New Rivals which are the only walking/workout/gym shoes I have ever worn and actually liked rather than tolerated. They are so comfortable that I sometimes wear them in public with regular clothes like some kind of mom.
Okay, so I grew up by a Target and then we got a nicer Target and then my sister lived right by a TWO-STORY Target, but never in my life have I appreciated Target the way I do now. The closest Target to us is two hours away, which means if we pass through Minot for any reason whatsoever, I am spending an hour, minimum, in Target. My oncologist is in Billings, MT where they have two Targets and I feel like I’m in some kind of mighty prairie metropolis. On a recent trip to Bismarck, we went to Target twice then stopped at the one in Minot as well. And the current rumor is that Williston is on track to have a Target in two short years. If I’m still here, I’ll probably be first in line to shove other people to the ground in pursuit of those sweet Cartwheel deals.
I don’t know exactly what I buy at Target or what compels me to wander the aisles, somehow both dazed and overexcited, but I do know I’ve spent more money at Target in 2014 than I have at any point in my life before. I even have the Target Debit card. I have a problem and I love it.
3. Lumosity & Elevate
I have always had a terrible memory, terrible enough that my sister calls me Goldfish, and I’d learned to cope with notes and apps and all kinds of things. In 2014, I decided to try exercising my brain with more than just the media I consume and started using Lumosity in app form between switching over to their superior and more varied desktop version3 almost exclusively. I play four times a week, usually, and I don’t know that it’s scientifically done anything of use4 but anecdotally, I have definitely noticed an improvement in a couple of my brain areas. I definitely improve at the games, which is pretty rewarding, but I’ve noticed my ability to multitask has improved and my memory has definitely gotten better. Not bad for some goofy games, right?
Elevate is newer to me, but I think I like it even more than Lumosity. It targets different things — I find Elevate’s games to be more practical, while Lumosity’s are more indirect. It’s like… If your brain was training for a marathon, Elevate would be the time your brain spent running, while Lumosity would be your strength-training and stretching. Both are necessary, but the results feel really different.
I don’t pay for Elevate, partially because the free service is awesome, but mostly because $4.99 a month is just way, way too high for me. I’m sure it’s worth it — what’s available free is seriously wonderful — but I’m just too cheap.5> Definitely snag it for free though, you won’t regret it.
2. Washi Tape
This is probably one of the goofiest things I could’ve put on this list, but I see washi tape every day and use it weekly and am pretty much surrounded by it constantly, so I kind of can’t hide how much I love it. Goofy, yes, but also a legit fave.
I think I bought some Martha Stewart washi from Amazon at the beginning of 2014 and wasn’t wildly impressed with it6 but then ended up ordering some of this stuff and loved it. Then I started decorating my Moleskine7 with it and then… I started seeing it in Target and now it’s… a problem.
Anytime I obsessively collect something, my girlfriend makes fun of me8 and there is nothing she mocks me for more than my love of washi. I’m very proud.
1. TokyoMilk Dark No. 62: Tainted Love
Okay, so this was supposed to be number one on the Bath & Beauty List but I kind of dropped the ball and forgot about it while I was writing the post, even though there’s a 99% chance that I was actually wearing it while writing the post.
I love perfume and have a solid collection curated since I was, oh, like 14?9
But I am really, really picky about what I’ll spend on. Perfume is expensive! And I really need to love
something to drop the cash on it. I have never been the kind of person who can just wear one kind of perfume until it runs out and then switch to something new, nor could I be the kind who has only a signature scent. I like to have a nice big tray full of choices to pick from each morning, but every single one has to be a scent I love.
I bought Tainted Love at the Sephora in the MALL OF AMERICA after smelling pretty much every single bottle on their wall of scents. I had gone in to buy Spicebomb and almost did, but it ended up not smelling great on my skin. I kept gravitating back to the TokyoMilk bottles because they just look so pretty all lined up together. The TokyoMilk scents can be… kind of weird. I think they’re going for ~edgy and if edgy smelled good, I would be so into it, but it turns out edgy mostly smells like patchouli which is the worst.
Despite how lacking I found the rest of the selection, Tainted Love is great. The notes are dark vanilla bean, orchid, white tea, and sandalwood, which is really warm and sweet without being grossly sugary or overwhelming. The sandalwood makes it a little masculine, which I love and it seems to last on me well enough. It just a great fall/winter scent and I am going to be so sad when it gets too warm to wear it. And, bonus!, it’s only $36 a bottle. A steal!
Next time I’m in a Sephora, I’m going to obsessively smell every single TokyoMilk scent again until I find another one I love. Tainted Love is so good that there’s no way it’s their only winner.10
Previously: 2K12 | 2K13 | JAMZ | MOVIES | BATH & BEAUTY | TV | ALBUMS | BOOKS
1. Or forgot…
2. Had I had my Kindle when I went to the gym in college, I’d have probably managed to become a regular.
3. You get access to both and the app has finally started to get more games, so I am fonder of it now.
4. The brain test you take to start and the one you take a while later like they suggest? My score didn’t change a single point.
5. To be fair, I would probably think Lumosity was too expensive too, were I paying for it myself.
6. I still am not impressed with the Martha Stewart tape and wouldn’t recommend it. Washi, as I have learned, should feel like masking tape and Martha’s is stiff and waxy and the rolls tend to peel and separate and are just generally crappy. Bad show, Martha.
7. I changed formats for 2015 — well, I’ve used this one before, just not in a while — and I like the washi in there too! Also, it’s cute as hell.
8. Even though she is the queen of collecting crafts and hobbies. Bins! Boxes! Full of yarn! She’s a hypocritical monster.
9. Most perfumes last pretty much forever. I have a bottle of Ralph Lauren Romance that I bought at Macy’s when I was starting my freshman year of high school that still smells flawless. I’ve had a few go bad on me over the years — looking at you Pleasures & Beautiful Sheer — but for the most part perfume is a great investment because it lasts. To be fair, if you like the smell of burned maple syrup, perfumes that have gone bad might be your thing.
10. Well, I’ll probably be running topless through a field screaming about how much I missed warmth, but when I remember to be, I’ll be sad.
There are maybe three phone calls that you’d really describe as the worst in your life: the person you love most in the world has been killed or severely injured, your beloved pet has been killed or severely injured, your doctor has test results and they’re not good.
I got the third — for which I’m grateful, to be honest, the other two are worse — and it was the worst phone call of my life after the worst, most anxiety-riddled three weeks of my life.
My girlfriend took the call for me — the saint she is, appeasing my anxiety at the cost of her own, always — so I can’t recount it in perfect detail but the gist was, “You have cancer. We thought it might be a worse, more rare cancer, so we had to send all your bits and pieces away to be double-checked which is why it’s been three weeks, but no, you’ve just got the regular ol’ garden variety of endometrial cancer.”
Cancer is not a fun word, it’s not a kind word. It sounds ugly and feels wet and clunky and hiss-filled in the mouth. It effortlessly terrifies everyone who speaks English, makes them simultaneously recoil and lurch toward you in apology and pity.
I am 28 years old and I have endometrial cancer.
I have cancer. This is what I say to myself every morning upon waking and every night as I try to fall asleep. It’s a constant, gently barbing hum at the back of my throat any time my mind quiets. Sometimes, like the evening that followed the worst phone call of my life, it isn’t quiet. I say it aloud because if I don’t remind myself that it is real, I cannot cope. I fear I will forget and my life will return to normal without me realizing and it will come again and strip it away from me again, fresh and brutal.
I have cancer.
Sometimes it comes out like a cough, sudden and jarring, scratching at my throat. My eyes water and sting, but it passes quickly — a swallow of water down the wrong pipe — and everything’s okay again.
The night I learned he results of my labs, I looked in the bathroom mirror and fluffed my hair and stroked the skin under my eyes because I still haven’t found an eye cream I want to buy. (I’m almost 30 and I live in a place where the temperature is regularly 20 below, hydration is a priority.) I looked into a face that has cleared up tremendously in the last few weeks because of a drastic change in diet and exercise, my color finally returning to me after months of severe blood loss that necessitated two separate blood transfusions and a total of nine pints of strange blood commingling with my own. I looked in the mirror and I smiled and I said, “I have cancer and I have never looked more beautiful.”
My narcissism truly knows no bounds.
“I am reading Gone Girl on my Kindle and I have cancer.”
“I am shopping for a desk lamp at Target while having cancer.”
“I have cancer and I am moisturizing my face.” “I have cancer and I’m deep conditioning my hair.” “I’m cleaning the bathroom and I have cancer.”
It’s a refrain to center my reality. For now, this thing inside of me, this vicious brutality of mutation is part of me and I must learn it, acknowledge it, accept it.
Cancer will — hopefully, prayerfully, “Please, oh please”-fully — not always be my reality, the center of my every breath, but for now it is.
I have cancer.
I have cancer and with luck, it’ll all be fine.
I am Ash, I have cancer, and I’m doing okay, really.