Post Vacation Madness

So I’ve had a crazy day. In coming back from vacation over the past five days, I was sent an email saying that I had gone into the negative with my paid time off and that technically I shouldn’t have been able to do that, but it happened and so I would not be able to take any paid vacation off for the rest of the year in order to “pay back” the time I’m currently negative. Quite frankly, I don’t think it’ll take an entire five months to pay it back, but what do I know? But the good news here is that I have no foreseeable “planned” vacations coming up in the next five months to worry about needing that paid time off.

That one email put me into panic overdrive mode and made me feel quite overwhelmed with things I wanted to do today. Not even things that absolutely needed to be done. To put it simply, my mind felt like a very busy train station, with six different trains running on six different but criss-crossing tracks and they continually ran the risk of colliding with each other.

After taking several deep breaths, I calmed down enough to make a list of things I wanted to get done and slowly did them one by one throughout the day. One of them was to sort through a massive pile of stuffed animals, mostly monkeys, and pick ones to donate/get rid of. While I was in college, my favorite band was called 100 Monkeys and my family and friends made it their mission to get me 100 monkeys and some time last year they succeeded. So I took one massive “family” picture of most of the monkeys and then sorted through them to divide them between keep and donate. Part of my desire to do this I blame on the show “Hoarders,” which I watched while I was on vacation because my best friend loves it, and while I don’t mind watching it, it makes me want to clean and sort and organize, etc. The other part of this desire to clean is from a genuine place of reducing clutter and initially I wanted to clean out the laundry basket these monkeys were sitting in so I could actually use it as a laundry basket. However, that didn’t work out so well because now the basket is full of the Disney toys that had been sitting on top of all the monkeys!

Now, granted, I still love monkeys, so I’m not getting rid of all 100, but I also realize that, with all of the other stuffed animals and other miscellaneous “nerd” stuff I have neatly arranged in various places in my room, I need to make space for new stuff and move some of the old stuff out. This is, in itself, a process and a time consuming one at that. Ideally, I’d like to go through all of my dressers, my closet, and a clear stacked “tower” and see if I can’t weed some non-essential things out of there. But I need to find time first.

So monkey wrangling was only one (well technically two) item on my list of things to do. The next two were fairly simple. One was to write a check to my dad to pay him back for several things he paid for me while I was gone. The other was to do some math for a store I wanted to buy from and find out how to get the best deal. Well, turns out the store had a flash sale so I ended up completing my transaction immediately and within my self imposed budget based off my latest paycheck. This will be my birthday gift to myself when it arrives. As for the check writing…well, I haven’t gotten to it yet, because I still need to finish working and then I need to balance out my checkbook.

The third item was actually making up a blog post. Since my mind was going a million miles a minute, making up this post actually helped to calm me down and slow down enough to remain calm throughout the day. This was probably the easiest one to do once I got rolling. I did a lot of venting this morning to my best friend so most of that was already off my chest.

Last on my list was making up several YouTube video playlists for working out. I have yet to find a good balance for me, since I love yoga for the stretching out, but I also like/need more cardio and strength training, which is where Pilates comes in, and a lot of the videos I end up watching become too challenging for me and it takes me a good hour just to get half an hour of actual working out done because I have to keep stopping. So my mad plan this morning was to do my cardio/Pilates once a week on alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and yoga for the rest of the week. However, the yoga won’t all be just stretching routines. I know of some that include body weight based strength training in the flows. This task is easily the most time consuming. It will require making multiple playlists with multiple videos for different groups of body parts and searching for said videos to put in the playlists. I wholeheartedly believe this will be the definition of madness. If I get it done yet tonight, it’ll be a miracle.

The only relaxing thing I’ll get to do is some crocheting while watching one of my cooking shows. I’m making a very small, 3-inch figure of the spotted elephant from Rudolph for a friend. Last I recall, I had finished the head, body, and ears. Oh! Speaking of which, the Bumble has been finished and delivered to its new home. The recipient was absolutely delighted by it, even if mom did sew the arms on upside down.

So yes, my day has been quite hectic by my normal standards and to top it all off, last night on my ride home, I learned that I would have relatives coming up this weekend for our town’s annual festival for the drunks, and quite honestly, my first thought was, crap! That’ll cut into my gaming time!

Until next time, read on, peace out, and find time to chillax once in a while. Everyone needs their chill time.

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Weight Loss: The Never-ending Struggle

Let’s face it: not everyone is happy with their bodies, and unless you were gifted with the metabolism of a five year old and can get away with eating whatever you want, whenever you want, and as much as you want, you may have dealt with, or know someone who’s dealt with, the struggle of weight loss at least once. I’ll admit I’ve been struggling with it my whole life and it never really seemed to bother me until middle school. And then in college it really started to bother me, because I spent a lot of time alone for six or more months and did a lot of stress eating. None of my clothes fit and I had to keep going up in sizes. I wasn’t really happy with anything about myself.

Then halfway through my sophomore year of college, my doctor at the time told me to lose 50 pounds in 6 months. I was like, yeah right, lady. First off, since I was literally fighting genetics, it was going to be more of a cliff scaling battle for me than a gentle, sloping, uphill battle. Second, the most exercise I did on a daily basis was walking from one end of campus to the other. But I decided I at least needed to try. So I started eating a little healthier (or as healthy as school food goes) and I tried taking the stairs more often, which in my case, meant walking up five flights and taking the elevator the rest of the way since I lived on the tenth floor. And I talked my roommate (Gia) into going to our health and wellness center for weekly Zumba classes. Which turned out to be a lot of fun. I absolutely loved them. By the end of the semester, I had managed to lose 20 pounds and I was super proud of myself for that. I tried to keep it up the rest of my college life.

Fast forward to after graduation. Gia and I found an apartment together and because of where she worked, she discovered this smoothie place which was supposed to be really good for you and the smoothies were like meal replacements. I had a good job at the time and decided to try this fad diet. Well, as it turns out, it was just a fad. I managed to get back down to my high school weight and was wearing clothing sizes I had never worn before. But after I lost my job and could no longer afford to pay for the stuff, I gained back everything I had lost, plus a few extra pounds, just from eating real food instead of drinking two of my meals. It was awful. And then on top of that, the falling out had begun and I was stressed out and stress eating again, even though I was still trying to work out in my room by doing stuff like pushups, sit-ups, etc. Now, since living at home, I’ve managed to keep a (semi) regular routine, though it varies week to week and I’ve found two things I never thought I would enjoy as much as I do. Yoga and Pilates. Yoga is more for pain relief and stretching tight muscles and Pilates is for toning, weight loss, and general overall fitness.

That being said, over the past five months I’ve noticed a trend. I’m neither losing nor gaining weight. I’m maintaining it. Which, honestly, after 10+ years is kind of a relief. Am I happy with my current weight? No. But I’m stronger than I was then, I’m more flexible than I’ve ever been, and I’ve also been able to step back a little and find what makes me beautiful in my own eyes, which I’ve never been able to do until the past few years. I’m chubby. My best friend will say I’m not but I am. I like to think I’m cuddly and plush, and besides my sinus problems, which were gifted to me by my mother, I’m the healthiest one in my family, aside from being overweight. But I keep pushing myself to try and be better. Most days, that means just finding the energy or the will to work out, and most times I feel better afterwards, albeit sore and sweaty. And I think what’s hardest about learning to love yourself, is seeing what’s beyond the mirror and into what makes you special. Your shape and weight do not define who you are. I’m overweight and I love to work out and eat healthy foods like salads and fruits and veggies, but I also like my junk food. I’m addicted to Pringles and chocolate. But my weight isn’t going to define me. It’ll just push me to be stronger and to do better for myself, because I’m the only one who can. Fad diets are only good if you stay on them. And only you can decide what makes you happy, if you’re willing to look past the mirror and see the beauty within. Much love and respect ❤

Finding Freedom To Be Myself

It’s very freeing, being out from under the yoke of your oppressor. To find out exactly who you are without anyone else telling you who to be. You find new things you didn’t know you enjoyed, because nobody else enjoyed them, or wanted to try them. You find out who your real friends are and who only wants you around to control you.

2016 was a monumental year for me because I learned a lot about myself that I didn’t know a few years ago when I was undergoing some psychological abuse. For example, I’ve always been quiet, shy, and kept to myself for the most part, but what I didn’t know was that some of that shyness might have actually been a mild form of social anxiety. Last year I spent a great deal of time learning how to handle my anxiety in ways that didn’t always include prescription drugs.

One of the ways I found that helps keep the anxiety down is, not surprisingly, working out, which for me included POP Pilates and yoga. I’m still trying to find a good balance of each in order to maximize their feel-good effects, but I can’t imagine getting up every morning and not doing at least one or the other or both before I start the rest of my day. The instructors for both are highly energetic and upbeat, and agree that we should love ourselves as we are and not compare ourselves to anyone else, that we are all on our own journeys. That mentality really resonated with me personally, having had pretty low self esteem my entire life, and it lifted me up to see the good in myself that I couldn’t see before. It also helped me to achieve certain goals that I thought were beyond me, like being able to hold certain yoga poses or get through an entire Pilates workout without stopping to catch my breath. Little victories like that were huge accomplishments for me.

Writing is a close second to helping keep the anxiety down and while I didn’t do as much of it last year as I would have liked, this year I plan to incorporate daily writing sessions on select days so as to make writing a habit again. I’m actually writing this during one of those sessions. I’m a writer at heart and am always carrying around a notebook, just in case inspiration strikes me, and I’ve found that when I’m really upset or anxious, writing out everything that’s running through my head calms me down, not only because it empties an already busy mind, but because it also validates what I’m feeling at a particular moment. Sometimes I don’t know what’s upsetting me until I write down whatever I’m thinking about. Sometimes what upsets me most is my current place in life. I’m not where I thought I would be at this point, and I have to remind myself that that’s ok. All things considered, I’m doing just fine where I am. I have a job, a car that runs with no problems, a roof over my head, enough food to eat, and a support system that’s there to help me when I need it most. And that’s all that matters right now.

One of the last things I learned about myself is that, to truly be free, you just have to do what makes you happy, not what everyone else wants. Just let your nerd flag fly high and those who matter will encourage you and be right there with you, supporting you. At the end of 2015 I did a test run of my first cosplay ever. I was so nervous no one would know who I was, but I walked with as much confidence as I could muster, and it went over so well that I did it again a month later for a concert based around the video game franchise my character was from. And even though it was not a “professional” level of cosplaying (none of my items were handmade), I still had a couple people ask for pictures. That was one of the greatest feelings in the world. At the end of 2016, I did a different cosplay, also low maintenance with the only handmade item being the skirt, and went to a concert for a different gaming franchise. Once there, while we were waiting for the show, the three of us were asked multiple times for photos and one woman even put us on a live stream video to Mexico. I can’t even begin to explain the elation I felt personally for that kind of attention. I have a great respect for those who take immense amounts of time to make their own costumes, and I hope to someday learn to do it myself, but being in costume for me was one of the most freeing things I could’ve ever done. It gave me confidence I didn’t know I could have and it helped me relax enough to carry on a conversation with a stranger, which I don’t typically do. What I’ve found is that most cosplayers are some of the nicest people you will ever meet and they are always willing to share how they made their costumes, or where they got their inspiration, and they can be supportive even if you’ve never met. Just being part of this group means a lot to me.

With a lot of help from my best friend, without whom I don’t know where I would be now, I started to see the toxic people in my life and am now trying to rid myself of them, even though it will be very difficult. But after having so much time to myself and discovering my worth and what makes me happy, I can now distinguish those who put strain on my mental well-being and make me want to hide the important parts of myself, like being a cosplayer and a closet anime lover, and find those who share in my enthusiasm for what I love most.