Nerves

e1d57-atoz2019tenthannMy son, once again, has a low-grade fever.  He had one a little earlier this week, but we’ve all been coming off and going one various mild ailments, so I tried not to think too much about it.  But now we’re all better, I thought.  So what’s with this fever?

Oh, I don’t know.  Meningitis?  Cancer?  Internal bleeding (from when his cousin jumped on him earlier today)?  Wait, let me Google “low grade fever” and see what other horrific ailments he might have.

I don’t know how to calmly deal with my reality a lot of the time.  I don’t know how to separate or distinguish between what the most likely scenario is versus what the worst case scenario is — to me, they usually feel like one and the same, even if all logic tells me that’s not possible.

I have a headache?  It’s probably a brain tumor (this has not been helped by the fact that, six years ago, I lost a good friend to a fast moving brain tumor).

Stomach’s bothering me?  I probably have ulcers, or stomach cancer, or an intestinal blockage.

And I can’t go to the doctor.  Oh no no no no.  What if they just confirm my suspicions?  What of they tell me that something is actually wrong?  Never mind that they could help me fix the problem (if there is one).  I can’t face the possibility that they’ll confirm my fears.  I’ll just… live in a perpetual state of anxiety until the ailment goes away, or… whatever.

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And lest you think it’s just health concerns that plague me, ah ha, not so, my friends.  I have been known to waste a whole weekend persevering on something a student or coworker said to me on a Friday afternoon that — from working in the setting for fifteen years and talking with other coworkers — should have been of no consequence, and yet completely dominated my thoughts for 72 hours.  I’ve lost sleep obsessing over particular student assignments, I put off calling in sick even when I’m legitimately unwell (what if the administration thinks I’m faking or taking advantage?  What if my coworkers are talking about me behind me back?), hell, I still get nervous when the store alarm beeps when I walk out (what if something fell into my pocket??  (Seriously???))

I rehearse meal orders, over and over at restaurant until it’s my turn to place mine, and I still feel my heart beat a little faster when I do.  I get sweaty palms in checkout lines.  I have to write out what I’m going to say before I make a phonecall, wear a hole in the carpet pacing when I finally place the call, and am wired for an hour afterward.  There’s a note in my PCP’s file that they should take my blood pressure twice — once at the beginning and once at the end of a visit — because I have such a bad case of White Coat Syndrome.  I stopped watching and reading the news after the last presidential election because literally everything I heard sent me into such anxiety spirals I would have full on hyperventilating, crying jags at bedtime.

There are connections between ADHD and anxiety — about 50% of people with ADHD also have an anxiety disorder — so I know I’m not alone in these thoughts, though feeling this way (especially when I can, intellectually, recognize the lack of logic/hypocrisy inherent in them) is hugely isolating and objectively makes my life worse.  My anxiety is on the books, but I haven’t sought out medication partially because my nervousness/anxiety extends to taking medication (this is not a slam regarding medicating a mental illness — I am very pro-medication, and very much believe medication is a valid option and a lifesaver for many people.  As I said, this is yet another in a long line of self-recognized irrational fears).

So, on the day-to-day, I muddle along.  Most of my nervousness is so much a part of my personality at this point that I almost don’t notice it, as weird as that sounds; it’s like white noise, always just sort of on the peripheary of my awareness.

What about you?  What are your irrational fears, concerns, worries?  How do you cope on the day-to-day?  How has your anxiety impacted your life overall?

 

Creativity Success

e1d57-atoz2019tenthannHere’s something I’m awesome at: giving advice that is perfectly sound and reasonable but which I , myself, can never seem to hold myself to.  It’s, like, kind of my thing.

But I’ve been better recently!  I made it a point in January to try to see as many projects through to completion as possible, regardless of the setbacks, regardless of the roadblocks or obstacles that might come up, regardless of the lack of grace or imperfections I see in the finished product – basically regardless of my ADHD.

Of course, I’ve made some variation of those resolutions literally every year of my adult life, and yet have never managed to hold on to them for longer than a couple of weeks.  And yet (knock on wood), it’s currently early April and I’ve actually found follow through on a number of projects I’ve been working on since October of last year – that, my friends, is a record for me.  Like, by leaps and bounds.  I completed OctPoWriMo, Inktober, and a number of a non-challenge related art projects – I’m on my ninth painting this year, and I’m not planning on stopping, plus I’m currently doing three writing challenges.

So, what changed?  Well, I wish I could say it was about will-power, but no – it’s about scaffolding.  It’s about setting yourself up for success.

  1. Find a way to hold yourself accountable.  Start a blog, join a social group, get involved.  I have found that I am more productive when I am engaged in creative endeavors along-side other people.  For me, starting the blog has actually been a good catalyst for wanting to get stuff done. I don’t have a huge audience, but I feel like if I’m blogging about, at least in part, being creative, then I owe it to my readership to actually, you know – create.
  2. Impose external structure.  If you want to write, sign up for a writing challenge; NaNoWriMo is great for fiction writers and novelists, and there are plenty of flash fiction, poetry, and art challenges out there.  My current intense interest in creating visual media can be almost wholly attributed to a really great run during last year’s Inktober, and most of the people following me did so during A-to-Z Challenge, OctPoWriMo, or NaPoWriMo, because the structure (and the public accountability) had me creating something every day.
  3. Make the materials you need accessible.  For a long time, lack of organization and space to create was a ready-made excuse for simply not making.  The daunting task of cleaning up after something like a weekend of painting was also just a seemingly insurmountable mental obstacle.  So, instead of swearing to myself I’d clean the basement and make myself a livable space down there, I co-opted space that was already livable – my living room.  We have a coffee table with a hinged top that doubles as storage, and in there, I have all my acrylics, Sculpey, brushes, and canvases.  At night, after Bear goes to bed, I can pull out my supplies, paint, and when I’m done, hole it all away again.
  4. Choose projects that hold your interest.  Okay, so this is tricky, because even things I’m genuinely interested in can pose a problem when it comes to initiation and sustained focus.  But essentially, it means create the art that you want to create, not the art you feel like you should be creating.  I’ve stagnated too many times because I was waiting for the “right” idea, when in fact there were a ton of things I could have been making.  When I finally let myself feel okay about painting “frivolous” things — character studies, and robots, and aliens, wildly-hued flowers and birds — I became kind of unstoppable.  If you’re a painter, your art doesn’t have to be “meaningful,” it doesn’t have to be “high brow.”   If you’re a writer and you want to write coffeshop AU fanfic instead of literary vignettes, do it.  Don’t stifle yourself for the sake of “serious” art. Putting art out into the world is a net good — even if it’s only for your own enjoyment.
  5. Set timers.  Tell yourself you are going to give ten minutes of your time to something — ten minutes of free writing, ten minutes devoted to a sketch, ten minutes to develop a design.  It’s a short enough space of time that you can be assured that you’ll almost always be able to squeeze it in, it imposes structure, and it’s often just enough time to develop momentum.  Plus, once that momentum and routine develops, you will be stunned with what you can actually do in ten minutes.
  6. Get physical.  I’ve started very consciously thinking about the mental/planning stages of a project as an integral and important part of the creative process (in an effort to curb my overzealous, unprepared leaps into projects), but that doesn’t just mean idly thinking about what I might kind-of, sort-of, maybe like to do someday – it means thinking, very pointedly, about the project at hand.  The thing is, I feel like a lot of people, writers in particular, feel that this process has to take place in front of a keyboard and screen (or notebook) and, ughh, forcing myself to do this literally makes me want to peel off my skin.  If I’m stuck, trying to make myself sit still and puzzle it out is torturous.  So I get up.  I put on music.  I move.  I suppose you could do something productive and mindless (I myself have been known to fold laundry at this stage, since that’s fairly automatic movement), but often I just pace.  Physical movement seems to greatly aid in keeping mental stagnation at bay.  Just be sure you have a place to jot notes as they come to you.
  7. Create schedules for the rest of your life, and make it almost laughably concrete.  I have a checklist for my day that includes “eat breakfast,” “shower,” and “drink a glass of water.”  I need to see these things written down in order to do them, and you can think that’s ridiculous or pathetic, but that’s the fact of the matter.  Create checklists for everything — chores, morning and evening routines, hobbies.  Getting your life and environment in order alleviates stress, which increases creativity, and it also reduces the need for transitions (for those of us who have problems with that), because all of your lifestyle/household essentials are accounted for and you will actually have more uninterrupted stretches of time sans responsibilities that you can actually devote to creating.  Into a lot of different creative pursuits?  Create a rotating schedule where you work on certain hobbies on certain nights.  Create routine checklists for your hobbies (Monday, I work on Poetry:  ten minutes reading a favorite poetry zine, ten minutes free writing, ten minutes cleaning up and outlining, etc.  Tuesday, I paint: five minutes brainstorming, ten minutes blocking, fifteen sketching, ten developing a palette, etc.)  Say it with me again:  structure, structure, structure.

But I want to stress — actually, I need to stress — none of these tips are going to make things run smoothly into perpetuity.  I still struggle, basically every day; initiation is still my biggest issue, though planning/organization and sustaining attention have both imprved over the last six months.  Depending on where your own deficiencies lie, you may find more of less success with these tips than I have, but these are the things that have been the most successful for me.

But, uh, hey.  I’m still open to suggestions.

“Fri-yay:” March 22nd, 2019

Happy (1)Is… is everyone out there okay?  Y’all all right?  You sure?

Guys, I don’t know what it is, but this week was friggin’ banana sandwich, I kid you not.  Friday alone was a complete circus, and, as you can see, I didn’t even manage to get this post out actually on Friday.  Hello, Sunday morning.  Better late than never, though, right?

This weekend, the plan was: chores, painting (as in art, not household touch-ups), queuing up more posts for A-to-Z Challenge, and generally chilling (because I’ve earned it, dammit).  So far I’ve stuck to that plan, though I still have a hell of a lot more chores to get through today.

This week, I’ve been using my well-earned chill time to sit back and enjoy:

My son’s recently developed obsession with Sia and her side project, LSD They’ve released a few singles – we’ve been grooving to Thunderclouds, Mountains, Audio, and my personal favorite, Genius:

I have legitimately had this song stuck in my head for three days, and I’m  not complaining.

I am also super late in the game in terms of checking out the new Queer Eye – no, not the new season, just the show itself.  I was a devout follower of the original show when I was young, and was excited to hear they were coming back with a reboot, but then just… never got around to catching it (consuming new media is hard for me… I will probably have to write about that at some point).  Guys – the, like, three of you out there who also haven’t seen it – it is so good.  It is just such a positive, happy, hopeful show.  They are all about what works, what’s good about a person, and about accentuating and highlighting what’s already there – it’s basically less about a “makeover” and more about the “glo up,” you know?

For those of you who have seen Season 3 (which is what Netflix started me with; I’ve since put S3 on pause and gone back to Season 1), maybe y’all should order a bottle of Jone’s Sisters BBQ Sauce.  That episode made me ugly cry.

Also, in what seems like the obligatory Dollar Tree entry: I’m a sucker for summer (reduced work schedule, warm weather, and both my birthday and anniversary!), margaritas, and cute glasses.  So I loved seeing that DT was carrying these cactus-themed margarita glasses.  They are adorable.  If you’re into cactuses, this is actually a great time to check out DT; my thing lately has been mermaids (see: my downstairs bathroom), but I do have a soft spot for cacti, as well.  DT has pencil holders, dish towels, and trinket trays.

I think that’s it for this week.  Man, I need to be more on the ball about getting these out of Friday.  Somehow, talking about all this on Sunday has just amplified my end-of-weekend-blues.  Sigh.  19 days until Spring Break  (15 days of actual work)?  That’s something, right?

What’s keeping you afloat this week?

The Ever Evolving Nature of the Blog

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Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

AKA:  Jess can never make up her mind/is never satisfied/(to put a positive spin on it) is constantly learning and growing.

I’m back in the proper head space to be creative and work on the blog and creative projects again!  The last half of January was kind of a blasé month for me, mentally/creatively (not in a dire way, just sort of fatigued, hence the complete dearth of blog posts), but February has been a creative high point, and I’ve been thinking about this blog again.

I finally, finally moved all my OCtPoWriMo posts over to a separate blog – Rarely Tidy Writing – which is where I will host my contributions to all future writing challenges.  It’s accessible via my Navigation Menu, and if you are someone who followed me during one of the challenge months and are only here for creative writing, it might be a good idea to go and follow that blog either instead of or in addition to this one (I’d love for you to stick around!  But I know that it’s entirely possible that you followed me under the faulty assumption that I was a “writing blog,” and if my ADHD ramblings aren’t your cuppa, I understand and encourage you to check out Rarely Tidy Writing instead).

I’ve also been thinking of a previous post I made, talking about honing the focus of this blog somewhat, and reflecting on how that’s been going for me so far.  I’m enjoying, I think, that I am still able to talk about things that are important to me and that affect me personally while still having a lense through which I can focus my writing, but it remains important to me to keep a personal presence on this blog.  Over the last week, I’ve been considering this, and decided to try out combining two things I’d been mulling over for a long time: making #weeklycoffeetalk posts, and incorporating vlogs into my blog.  Since I plan on talking about my personal life during these weekend vlogs, my Friyay! posts will become more fully centered around media and products (i.e., things that you, as readers, can seek out and consume if they sound interesting or uplifting to you) instead of personal milestones or celebrations.

Anyway, that’s what’s what.  Hope you have all been well, and I’m looking forward to new projects on the horizon!

Friday, Fri-yay: November 23rd, 2018

& (1)I’m trying so, so hard to stay positive about some changes going on right now, guys, I really am.  I never react well to change – I adjust, of course, and I’ve learned to conceal the emotional turmoil, but while there are a few situations in which I enjoy being sort of surprised, I internally freak out and hand-wring bout disruptions in my routines and expectations.  So while I know that I will be fine, I’m a little on edge.

Here are things that are keeping me cheery and distracting me from my anxiety for a while.

I went to see Bohemian Rhapsody last weekend, and I loved it.  I know there is a significant disparity between the critic’s rating on Rotten Tomatoes (62%) versus the audience rating (92%), but I just loved seeing my boys up on the big screen.  Queen were an essential, formative part of my life growing up; I can’t explain exactly why I loved them with the intensity that I did, but Freddie and his story were a big, big part.  I could easily have sat in the theatre and nit-picked – besides owning and knowing by heart the entire Queen catalogue (including several solo albums, all the music videos, and numerous officially released and bootleg concerts), I’ve also watched four separate documentaries and read five books written about the band.  The movie is not wholly accurate, but it’s just so, so good to see “Freddie” humanized on screen.  Rami Malek is amazing, and seeing so many new fans flooding the fandom is invigorating and beautiful.  Tomorrow marks twenty-seven years since Freddie died.  If I had the budget to see the movie again tomorrow, I would.

Tomorrow we are celebrating Friendsgiving at our friend Raeanne’s house, followed by game night, which it feels like forever since we’ve done.  It’s been a pretty regular monthly occurrence for – wow – almost four years now, plus we’ve done lots of other parties and celebrations in the intervening weeks, and then more recently we ht a patch where people were busy, I guess, and so it’s been a while since we’ve gone to one.  I’m excited to hang out with Raeanne and company, and have a last culinary hurrah before I start calorie counting again (yes… that’ll be another post, but yes).

My husband and I celebrated our engagement anniversary (yes, we occassionally celebrate it, still – he calls it “Ring-a-versary”) at a place called Yujo, which is actually a really good sushi joint.  Our first date and his proposal both took place at the same sushi restaurant that has since closed down, and we had yet to really find another one we liked as much.  This one was really good, and had the strongest drinks I’ve ever had in my life.  I had one (I swear!) Long Island Iced Tea, and I was smashed.  You certainly get your money’s worth.

That’s about it for this week.  What’s been making you happy?

So It Begins

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I started back up at work on Monday.  This year, I don’t know, felt different – in a good way.  I don’t know if I was just feeling especially good after having finally gotten the house under control, or that I was feeling particularly rejuvenated after actually getting up with my alarm, having a nice shower, and having time to apply makeup and eat a decent breakfast (while listening to one of my favorite podcasts), for once.

But whatever it was, I just felt, I don’t know… on.  Like, on form; sociable, confident, relaxed (or at least as relaxed as I ever get, which, granted, is several notches above baseline for most people).  I felt productive, I felt connected to the students and staff, and conversation was fun and fluid, all of which are often challenges for me.  I don’t know if it was my resolve to start changing these things about myself, or the scaffolding I put in place to make the mornings (and subsequently, rest of the day) run more smoothly, but whatever it was, it apparently worked.  It was a great first few days back.

And I am so, so glad I have a four day weekend, because damned if that shizz didn’t drain all my energy.

But I feel good.  I feel like things on the job front have gotten off to a good, fresh start, and I’m happy to return Tuesday to my new assignment, and to resume my vocational duties (one of my favorite parts of my job) later in September.  And it leaves me free to divert the energy expended on school prep the last few weeks back to things like creating and maintaining a managable schedule for my hobby time, and for my weight management (both of which fell by the wayside – again – in the last few weeks).

To those of you fellow educators recently returned to work, I hope you likewise had a smooth transition back to the daily grind.  To those parents sending their kids back to school after the summer, we are ready for them.

2 down, 178 to go.