High High Hopes

Happy New Year! I’d say, “I can’t believe it’s 2019!” but we say that every year. I can believe it’s 2019. I can’t believe I have to deal with another presidential race when it seems like the last one isn’t even over, but I can believe that another year passed and I’m thankful that I made it through relatively unscathed. In 2018 I voted, stood up for my beliefs no matter what, finally went to Europe (no big deal) and fought through mental illness to finish a grad program and finally find a job. This is the first year of my life where January 1 has actually felt like a fresh start.

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I find resolutions challenging, because making them, you seem to set yourself up for failure. When you fail your diet, your exercise regimen, or your shopping halt, it’s not a great feeling. So instead of strict rules this year, I’m writing a list of things I will encourage myself to do and be mindful about not doing. That’s it! I’m just going to think before I act. Pretty simple—something we tell little children to do, but something that gets lost in the shuffle of adulthood sometimes. So here are my 2019 guidelines—saving money, spending time more intentionally, taking care of myself, and being grateful.

Goals for 2019

The DOs

  1. Do work out. The most basic New Year’s Resolution. But I have a gym membership to a really nice gym and I really love it there. I no longer have the excuse of having a really physical/active job, so I can’t wait to commit to yoga and running again! I want to do yoga twice a week (Thursday nights and Saturday mornings) and I want to be able to run 5 miles by the end of the year (not holding my breath on this one).
  2. Do be kind to myself. This is the first season of my life where my accomplishments feel tangible. School is over. Service industry work is over (for now and hopefully forever). I’ve got a diagnosis and proper medication for the first time. I feel inspired to push myself beyond my limits, but I need to remember that it took so much work to get where I am, and I deserve to enjoy this.
  3. Do keep writing. I’ve written more (creatively) in the past week than I have in the past like ten years. I feel like I’ve found myself again. I’m already getting good feedback from friends. It feels like what I’m meant to do.
  4. Do finish what I start and use what I have. I posted my 2019 reading list yesterday, so first and foremost, I’m finishing that. Also, I want to watch everything in my Netflix queue. At least every movie (sometimes series are too much of a commitment. There’s so much great content out there! But books and movies are just one aspect—2019 is going to be a year of appreciating and enjoying what I already have instead of seeking new things.
  5. Do protect the earth. I’m not bad when it comes to the environment. I drive a small, fuel-efficient car, we recycle everything, and we do our best to not use plastic. But ordering online, even if all of the packaging is recyclable, is still bringing more waste into my home. I don’t think twice about grabbing a paper towel or single-use disinfectant cloth. I bought these microfiber cloths to use instead of paper towels, I used up all of my non-natural cleaning products, and I’m going into 2019 with a mission to use less. I can buy a head of broccoli instead of pre-cut florets in a plastic bag. The earth is more important than a few minutes of my time.

The DON’Ts

  1. Don’t buy clothes. I’m serious! I just got soooooo much new stuff from all of my favorite shops, and I want to live in them for a while. After the holidays, and the much rejoicing after having found a new job, I absolutely cannot afford a single additional garment. Not to mention I have zero room to store it! I’m sending out a few enormous boxes to thredUP, donating bras and extra sanitary items to I Support the Girls, and then being grateful for what I already have.
  2. Don’t buy handbags. This should be obvious, from the last category, but I have a handbag problem. I have so many I can’t give them away fast enough. Being friends with me is a trial, I’m sure, but the benefit is that you will likely get a brand new designer handbag at least once a year. Handbags are status symbols—having a nice one has always made me feel like I was presenting the aspirational version of myself to the world. But bitch, I am the aspirational version of myself. This year, I invested in some high-quality leather bags and (mostly) said goodbye to the labels.
  3. Don’t eat meat and dairy. I didn’t put this under the DOs, because “Do go vegan” is a larger commitment than just a diet. It’s a lifestyle, one I admire immensely, but not one I can undertake at this time. Not eating meat will be pretty easy—I’m already doing that—but cutting out cheese will be hard. A. Because I have an entire container of herb chèvre and caramelized onion cheddar in my fridge from my NYE apps, and B. Because I have a husband to feed. He’s enthusiastic about cleaner eating (he’s stricter about meat than I am!), but he leads a healthy life already and he deserves a treat! The meat and dairy industries are horrible for the environment and just devastatingly cruel to animals. I have to put my money where my mouth is.
  4. Don’t boredom-shop at Target. This is a killer for me. I can’t remember the last time I went to Target for an actual reason. There’s something about living in suburbia, or the post-college friend diaspora, which makes me feel really alone sometimes. “Running an errand,” in more depressed times, gave me an excuse to get up, shower, get dressed, and leave the house. But I can do better! I can go for a walk in the warmer months. I can make an effort to spend more time with my friends. I can find ways to motivate myself without spending money or inviting more waste into my life.
  5. Don’t look back. I mean, I’m writing a collection of personal essays, so I kind of have to look back for material. But I don’t have to dwell on the sins of the past. Considering myself a failure because I’m at a place in my career I feel I should have been in five years ago is not productive. I can work hard and kick ass to make up for lost time, but wallowing over how unfair the world has been to me is pointless. In 2019 I’m not holding grudges (against anyone except every member of the Republican party), and I’m keeping my eye on the prize—happiness.

I’m ready to crush 2019.

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Happy New Year

I know what you’re thinking: “Wasn’t New Year’s like, 2 months ago?”

Yes, it was. But not for me. I’m a lifelong sufferer of major depression, and the winter is the hardest season for me to get through with my head up. But, here in New England, it seems the sun has finally returned to us, and even though it’s still cold enough to snow, the vibrant energy of springtime is looming.

Earlier in the month, however, I suffered an extreme depressive episode. I’m medicated, so it was fewer crying jags and more general numbness. I couldn’t care about anything. I let my schoolwork, my job, and my relationships suffer. Wedding planning halted. I was in a really terrible place. After about 2 weeks of basically being housebound except for shifts at work, I decided that I needed to do whatever possible to pull myself out of my depression (hopefully, once and for all).

So, I made some changes. The first thing I did was give up alcohol. Cold turkey. I’ve blogged a little bit about drinking in the past. I’m far from a heavy drinker, but as alcohol is a depressant, it seemed counterintuitive to add depressants to depression.

I also started aromatherapy using Monq diffusers. I touched upon them in a recent post. They’re amazingly relaxing, and I highly recommend them!

I started going to bed really early (and trying my damndest to get up early). Going to bed earlier is easy—it’s the getting out of bed that I’ve always struggled with. I didn’t have much success with this until this morning. I’m hoping it continues!

I gave up caffeine after 3 p.m. This was a fairly arbitrary time choice, but it has worked wonders. I had no idea how much my caffeine consumption was affecting my sleep. Coffee doesn’t make me jittery or energetic, so I foolishly thought that I was immune to its effects. Wrong! My mind was jittery and energetic—shutting it off was impossible! No wonder I was having frequent nightmares! I switched to herbal tea—ginger with honey & lemon to be exact, and it has had a marvelous calming effect. It’s also great for digestion!

Upon the advice of a coworker, I started saying “thank you” more, and smiling when I did it. Just because I don’t personally need the validation of being thanked doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel good to validate and appreciate others. This alone has really brightened up my moods!

And finally (and most importantly), I KonMari’d. What the hell is KonMari, you ask?

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KonMari is the nickname of Japanese organizational guru, Marie KKondo. She is a genius. I started reading her book, The life-changing magic of tidying up, on Friday, and I’ve already been able to improve my quality of life. I can’t do tidying up justice in a blog post, but suffice it to say that it advocates basically getting rid of 2/3 or so of what you own, and only keeping those items which “spark joy”. That’s a fairly vague criterion for most, but as someone who values her intuition deeply, it is now the only criterion by which I evaluate my possessions. I’ve donated a ton of stuff already to my local Savers, as well as sold my nicer clothing on consignment or through Poshmark. I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me that my apartment didn’t have a storage issue—I had a hoarding issue! Honestly, how many sweaters does one woman need? Do I really need to keep all of my old exams and class notes? Fuck that. I feel so liberated from the burden of things. I hope to keep up the minimalism for the rest of my life! Being exclusively surrounded by items that give you joy is inspiring and mood-lifting.

So, that’s my personal recipe for winter survival! What tips do you employ to keep yourself sane during the colder months?

–DellaBites