14 Aug, 2014
My ipod actually just today decided to bust on me. I’m hoping it’s the cord, but basically it plays with the headphones on but when I hook it up to my car stereo nothing happens.
To the left is my actual ipod. Yep, that is not a touch screen. Because I’m old school.
Anyways, as I mentioned on Monday, I’ve been listening to the Game of Thrones series for nearly a year now. I’m on the…..3rd, maybe 4th chapter of the 5th book. I’m enjoying it so far, especially because we’re hearing from Tyrion and Bran again.
Besides that I have so much music on there that I can’t really name it all. I have classical, Green Day, The Hush Sound, Clannad. I’m not sure if I have more Tegan & Sara albums or Jesca Hoop albums. I could count them, but my ipod is aaaaall the waaaay over theeeeeeere =P.
I have 2 or 3 albums of Native American flute music on there too. It’s my “anti-panic” music. I was actually thinking about this today. First off, one of my guilty pleasures is the Real Housewives shows, mainly New York. I can’t even tell you why I love that show so much, but I do.
So, I was watching season 5 on hulu, which is the first season with Aviva. For those who aren’t familiar with the show, Aviva Drescher is one of the housewives who happens to have a prosthetic left leg from the knee down. The loss of her leg happened in an accident when she was a child which resulted in Aviva developing an anxiety disorder. Well, in the 5th season, the housewives go to St Barths and Aviva, who flies in later with her husband, talks about her own anti-panic music (my own weird term) which she said changes with the level of anxiety she is feeling. She said that for situations that cause higher levels of anxiety she listens to dance music and more mellow pop songs during lower level anxiety attacks.
I found this interesting because for myself, anything with too much of a beat just exacerbates the anxiety. Because of this, I find music such as Native American flute music or traditional Celtic lullaby type stuff (“Theme from Harry’s Game”, “Lady Marian”, and The Fairy Queen by Clannad are some of my favorites) to be more beneficial, especially if it involves nature sounds.
The reason these types of songs help me relax are because,
1. They help me control my breathing and heart rate.
These two things are important to learn to control when dealing with anxiety. When your heart rate goes up, so does your breathing, and if your breathing becomes too erratic you can begin to hyperventilate. In learning to control your breathing and your heart rate it makes it so much easier to bring yourself down from a building panic attack.
2. They help me to clear my mind.
While everyone experiences anxiety differently, one thing I’ve personally noticed is that an issue most people with anxiety deal with is racing or out-of-control thoughts. These are really any thoughts that begin with something as small as, “I’m flying to x”, and eventually, and generally very quickly, increase to, “I’m going to die if I get on that plane”. I don’t have to tell you that once that thought process begins there is very little you can do to stop it. But here’s the good news, with practice you can learn how to not only stop the downward spiral, but also how to just clear your mind in general.
Both of these things can be done with a mix of music and meditation. I personally learned this technique from my previous therapist. At the end of every session she would put on relaxing music, have me close my eyes, and just breathe. At first she would talk me through it in a guided meditation type form. Once I could do it in her office by myself, the next step was for me to practice on my own at home. This is when I started to experiment with different music types until I found what really worked for me. For instance, I found that solo piano music really just gets on my nerves, nature sounds alone are pretty much all just a 2-3 minute track that they repeat to last 20 minutes (I don’t notice it when it’s in the background, but when I try to meditate with it I can hear exactly where it begins to repeat which drives me crazy), and anything with lyrics that I can understand is just too distracting.
Once I found my music, I was able to start really putting what I learned to work. I find that if I lie down in a dim room, wearing headphones, and listening to these types of music I can get to a point where my mind just shuts off. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world, I swear! My whole body just feels relaxed and light as air, my breathing is slow and steady, and when I finish my mind is clear and refreshed. Once I understood how to quiet my mind, I was then able to apply those practices to my anxiety attacks. Now when I feel one coming on, I know to stop, step away from whatever is triggering me, close my eyes, and begin to breath like I’m meditating. At first, I needed the music in order to recapture the breathing, but with time I got to where I can pretty much do it on command.
So, my advice is to start by just experimenting with different types of music. The best place to start is on Pandora with the relaxation or yoga stations. What I like about starting with Pandora is that you can “add variety” to and like & dislike songs on a station to tell pandora to focus in on a specific sound. So if I’m listening to a relaxation station and I want less piano solos and more nature sounds, the more piano solo songs I dislike and the more nature sounds I like, pandora will adjust my station’s selections to be less piano solos and more nature. And if, under “add variety” I add Celtic or New Age, pandora will start playing more of those types of songs. The only downside is that it’s a program so, ironically, it’s not an exact science. But at the very least you can write down artists or songs that you like and buy them on amazon or itunes so you can start building your own anti-panic list.
I realize I got sidetracked a bit there, but I hope some of these suggestions help. If I ever bring up a topic in my disorganized rambling that you guys want more detail on, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to write up a post about it!
Much love and many kisses!
13 Aug, 2014
Back in March we went to Sherwood Forest but I wan’t able to finish my costume in time. My plan was to finish it for the Texas Faire, but when my mother suggested going for the Halloween weekend I couldn’t resist starting over with a Halloween version!
I still haven’t entirely decided which design I want to go with. I really like the one on the left, but that will be dependent on if I have enough time to attempt making a corset.
This weekend Hancock fabrics was having a super sale, so I headed over and bought all of this for about $40. I LOVE the orange lace! I’ve never seen anything like it! I got two yards even though I’ll probably only use one, but I needed it! I swear! (Can you tell I’m excited?!!!!!)
This fishnet type stuff is interesting, I’m thinking it and the crinkle textured fabric will add some texture and volume to the skirt (yes it’s supposed to be wrinkled =P).
These three I’m hoping will break up the extreme orange of the lace and fishnet. The striped fabric is a knit, stretchy type material that I think will hang really well along side the lace. I’m hoping there is some of the polka-dot material left over when I’m finished, it’s so cute! I’m not sure what else I would use it for though.
And finally a close up of the bats! Aren’t they adorable! I had to have the bats! Bats are possibly my favorite animal after cats. I’m hoping the purple will add a bit more dimension as far as color goes.
What do you guys think? I’m so excited to get started on it! Have I used enough exclamation points yet?!
13 Aug, 2014
As much as I love my baby girl, she is still shedding that winter coat of hers, so every time I touch her fur flies everywhere. It’s really not that bad until she decides she needs attention and walks in purring little circles in my face. By the time she grows tired of me and leaves to go be adorable somewhere else I am entirely covered in fur. I bring this up because as I am writing this I keep feeling bits of fur flitting about my face and I have to keep stopping to try and rub it all from my eyes. I love that girl, but bless me, when will this end?
Anyways, onto today’s Blogust topic: regret.
There was a long portion of my life that I allowed not just regret but also guilt to dictate my life. One thing that goes almost automatically with anxiety is both guilt and regret. You feel guilt for feeling the anxiety and you feel regret for allowing it to happen. At some point in our history we decided that anxiety is something to be dismissed. If you’ve lived with any type of anxiety disorder then I’m sure you’ve heard how dismissive people can be. “There’s no such thing as anxiety”, “what do you have to be anxious about”, “well then, stop being anxious”. I’ve heard it all. Because of these dismissive statements many people who live with anxiety disorders never seek help because they have been told that what they’re feeling isn’t real. It’s all in their heads.
This could not be further from the truth. Anxiety is very real and anxiety disorders are hell to live through. Know this, and never allow someone else to tell you differently. They are not in your mind, you are. They don’t have to live with this pain, you do. Never allow someone else to make you feel as if your fears, your anxiety, your depression, your emotions are not justified. All this does is cultivate guilt which sets up a relation in your mind between anxiety and guilt, and the more guilt you feel about your anxiety the more anxious you will feel about being anxious. It’s an endless and vicious cycle that needs to stop and you are the only one who can make that happen.
When I think back on my life, the things that I feel regret about are all connected with anxiety. Before I went into therapy I never realized this, I felt regret over things and situations and then immediately placed blame and guilt on my inability to be like everyone else. Now I realize that all of that regret lies not in what I missed out on, but rather that I allowed myself to miss out on them. I regret allowing certain friendships to fall on the wayside, I regret never being brave enough to talk to a cute boy or girl, leaving me 25 and having never been on a date, I regret spending my high school years in a perpetual panic attack rather than being a teen, I regret not developing the courage to talk to people, even my own family members, until it was too late to get to know my amazing great-grandmother and her sister, two women who studied literature, grammar, and writing, who were the last connections to my Scottish heritage.
Despite all of these things, I have to say, I no longer beat myself up about it. Do I have regrets? Yes. But you know what? Every single one of these occurrences helped mold me into the person that I am today. Once I realized that, I realized that I really can’t look at anything that has happened in my past with a negative understanding; because if I love who I am and who I have become, I have to at the very least appreciate everything that got me here. I have to appreciate the anxiety, the depression, the harsh words, the bad memories, the missed life experiences. I have to appreciate where I came from in order to fully love where and who I am.
The only way to break yourself of that guilt is to realize that you have nothing to feel guilty about. Approach your anxiety not as something to be regretted but rather as a learning experience. Walk away from the things you regret not as something to beat yourself up over, but rather as a lesson of what aspects of your life need to change. Embrace lessons, embrace change, and embrace growth. I realize that it is hard now, but take every day with stride. Know and accept that some days are going to be harder than others. I still have days when I just don’t want to socialize and every person who approaches me causes a small surge of anxiety. When you experience these days, accept them, take a breath, and remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day. No one will fault you for having a bad day, and if they do then they’re not worth your time. In the same way, no one will fault you for experiencing anxiety, and if someone tries to make you feel guilty for it, they’re not worth associating with. Cultivate the positive things in life, even if that means making the negative into positives.
Today I want to offer an exercise. Look back on the things that you regret and ask yourself how they have influenced who you are today. Try to rethink the negative aspects of your past and attempt to look at them with a positive light.
Much love and many kisses,
12 Aug, 2014
There’s honestly not a whole lot that I miss (with the exception of Bluebell’s I ♥ Chocolate ice cream. Oh, Valhalla is an endless supply of I ♥ Chocolate ice cream!). I don’t think I’ve ever been happier nor so at ease with my current place in life.
Since before I can remember I’ve always hated multiple facets of where I was at the time. For the first time I can honestly say that I am where I am supposed to be and I am fine with that. Do I wish that I were somewhere else or farther along? Do I see other people succeeding and feel a pang of jealousy for what they have and I don’t? Of course, but rather than let it cultivate negativity in me, now I recognize those feelings and use them as incentive to try harder. I look at where I’m not and rather than getting upset about it, I take a breath and recognize that where I want to be is a bit further down the path and the only way to get there is to keep moving. It’s taken a lot of time and work to get to this place and every moment of it paid off.
If you had told me two years ago that I would one day be in this place of zen I would have scoffed with a dismissive, “Me? Zen?”. But to come back around to my original point, I’m not sure if I could really say that I miss anything 100%. Whenever I think of something that I miss, I realize that I’m better off in some way that makes what I miss irrelevant. Sure, I miss having a steady, reliable income, but I love being in school and thinking of where this time in my life will lead me makes the lack of Urban Outfitters sales section shopping sprees worth it (though they do have an alien head bank right now that is practically screaming for me to snatch it up).
How about you guys? Is there anything you miss? Are you happy with the path you’re on?
If not, then here’s some homework for you; list all the positive aspects of where you are even if it’s something that hasn’t happened yet (or is no longer happening. Sometimes I find a situation isn’t half as bad as I originally thought when I remember what the alternative could be). Keep your list close by and when you start feeling down about where you are pull it out and remind yourself of the positive things and where those things will get you.
11 Aug, 2014
Sarah Jarosz, Shankill Butchers
11 Aug, 2014
One of the downsides to bring an English major is that a lot of your reading is assigned. I honestly don’t think I’ve read a book of my own personal choosing since I worked at Easter Seals. I’ve been in the same place in The Fellowship of the Ring for so long that I think I might have to back a few chapters when I eventually get back to reading it so I can refresh my memory on what happened.
Though, thanks to my father, I finally gave audio books a chance last year and I’ve been listening to the Game of Thrones series, A Song of Ice and Fire for the past year. I’m finally on the fifth book and it’s picking back up again. The fourth is quite dull with very so much of it centering around Cersei and her growing paranoia after the events that wrapped up the third book. You would think this would be interesting, but it’s just a lot of Cersei sitting around thinking. I did love Arya and Brienne’s chapters as usual and Sam’s chapters are interesting, but the problem is that those chapters are always wrapped around Cersei and Jamie chapters and it’s just…UGH! So dull. But now the plot is picking back up again.
If you’re reading the series and haven’t caught up to the fourth book yet, the events of the fourth and fifth books take place at the same time, so Cersei, Jamie, Arya, Brienne, and Sam’s chapters make up the fourth book and everyone else’s make up the fifth. I’m not sure why Martin decided to split them up like that. I do know that the two were supposed to be all one book but it was too long so the publisher had him split it into two, but why he divided up the chapters the way he did I’m not sure.
So, yeah, I don’t normally talk about books on this blog because I have a separate one, Paperback Lover, which is entirely literary focused and it would feel redundant to talk about books and such over here.
Are you guys readers? Are you an escapist or more of a non-fiction reader? Or do you prefer to get all of your information in short bursts on the internet?
10 Aug, 2014
I’ve always wanted to be one of those people with a daily routine. I’ve tried many times throughout my life but something always happens to destroy my blissfully, productive routine and, as with all things in nature, that which was easily destroyed feels like a Herculean task to put back together. Being a student doesn’t help much either since my routine changes with every semester. Neither does the fact that I’m an absolute night owl. In fact, I am convinced that I may have delayed sleep phase disorder but, unfortunately, the best way to diagnose DSPD is by doing a sleep study, which are really expensive and insurance doesn’t always cover them. Basically, when a person has DSPD it means that that person’s natural sleep cycle is shifted so that they feel more awake at night, naturally falling asleep some time after midnight.
For myself, I would be perfectly fine waking up after noon and going to bed after the sun has already risen. In high school, any day that I didn’t have to go to school I would stay up until I heard my father, who is a morning person, moving around in my parents’ room, then I would race to my own room and close the door hoping to hide the fact that I had yet to go to sleep. What’s interesting though, is that I don’t hate mornings, I just hate waking up in the morning. My absolute favorite time of day is that gap of time between around four and seven in the morning. That ethereal span of time when everyone else in the world is asleep in their beds. I love wandering the streets when no one else is there, watching as the sun rises over a seemingly empty city. There’s just something magical about that time of day. The hours after just don’t seem to feel very important, which I guess is why I don’t mind sleeping through them.
But back to the original topic at hand, at the moment I’m really not happy with the daily routine I’ve been forced into. I have to be at work at 9, and in order to get on campus, make my way across the micro-city that is UTSA, and walk into the office on time I have to leave my apartment before 8:30. 9 is about my threshold for waking up without much struggle. For some reason anytime before that and it would be easier for me to break into Buckingham Palace than it is to crawl out of bed on time. The early mornings aren’t helped by my Technical Writing class. Even though the class isn’t until after noon I begin dreading it as I’m driving down the highway to work. Thankfully, as of Friday I’ll be done with Technical Writing and my mind can finally get a break. This class has probably been the hardest I’ve taken in a while. I was trying to explain to my mother why this is, but it’s just hard to explain. I’m just not properly wired for technical writing, too many numbers and having to completely rework everything I’ve learned about writing and research over these past seven years (has it really been that long? Oh Odin, I feel old). Well, just five more days and I can go back to the creative and academic writing that I know and love. Actually, five more days and my entire daily routine will change yet again.
Are you one of the lucky people who can stick with a daily routine or does the Universe seem to live for keeping you on your toes as well?
04 Aug, 2014
Emily Jane White, Hole in the Middle
01 Aug, 2014
Happy August everyone! As I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, I disappeared there for a while. The Music Mondays continued because I queue those up at the beginning of the month so I don’t have to worry about them every week, but everything else kind of fell off the rails there. Basically, I started a work study job at school right as I started with Technical Writing which has been possibly the hardest class I’ve been through in a while.
But now I’m back and I decided why not do one of those blogging challenge things to keep me writing and blogging? It’s worth a shot, right? Well, I found this one last week and thought it would be a good one to do for this month.
So the first “challenge” is to post a self-portrait and five random facts about myself. The self-portrait is one from a 52 weeks shoot that I did but never posted (don’t worry, I’ll post it this week instead).
I tried to come up with random facts that have to do with things that I don’t really talk about outright because they’re just regular things in my life that I don’t really think about but are still significant parts of my life. I don’t know. I tried.
ANYWAYS, here they are:
1. I started “blogging” sometime in high school as an excuse to experiment with web design.
3. I’m a student at UTSA, studying Creative Writing.
4. I originally started school studying photography but changed majors when the program became more technical and enough fine arts.
5. I have quite a bad habit of testing nail polish on my thumb and then not taking it of or painting the rest of my fingers.
Any bets on how far I’ll be able to get in this? I’m so terrible at keeping up with these sorts of things.
Have you tried one of these daily blog challenges or some other sort of internet challenge? Did you make it to the end?
01 Aug, 2014
I was a cradle Catholic. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means that I was born into a Catholic family. My father and his siblings each attended Catholic school until they reached high school. My mother was raised Methodist, but converted when she became pregnant with me and my father’s parents insisted that if my parents were to raise a child they would have to be married in the eyes of the Catholic church, which their courtroom wedding five years prior was not. So my mother converted and wed my father for a second time in a floral maternity dress.
I was raised in the church and was enrolled in Catholic school for pre-k and kindergarten. I went to Sunday school, children’s readings during mass, sang in the choir on and off for a few years, even attended summer day programs at the church during the years my mother taught summer school, and played the angel Gabriel in the Christmas play one year, narrated another.
Despite my up bringing, or maybe because of it, I never felt an overwhelming connection with the church. In fact, in many ways, it was underwhelming. I never felt the holy spirit run through me, I never felt reverence when I heard the word of God, and Jesus on the cross never kept me from committing my various sins. I never questioned it though, and for many years I wouldn’t.
One thing that I did feel devoutly for was nature, the changing of the seasons, the phases of the moon, harvest time and planting season. I felt most in harmony with myself and the world when I was hiking or camping, at the beach or in the thick of the woods. I welcomed dirt and scrapped knees, mysterious pathways and adventures waiting to be found.
In high school I met a group of friends who each influenced me and who I would grow to be, some for good, some for worse, but each in their own way. The number one thing that each one taught me was to never doubt who I am at my core. It was through this collection of people that I began to learn about witch craft which would eventually lead me to Paganism. In the beginning, I merely watched and listened as they talked about chants and meditations, spells and rituals. I read books and looked things up online. As with most teens, it was all very superficial in the beginning; attempts to change eye color and predict future loves, talks of magic while hanging out in dried out creek beds and saving up enough money to buy a tarot deck small enough to fit in my pocket so my father wouldn’t know what I was practicing between classes.
When I graduated from high school, I abandoned religion and spirituality to focus on my own inner demons. It took me several years but now here I am on the other side and I’m ready to look outward again. But now it’s different, before forays into paganism and witch craft were for rebellion’s sake, to protect against the religion of my father and his father before him, a religion I felt had preached nothing but hatred, guilt, and judgement. But now I realize that it was not the church that failed me but its patrons. It was the church goers who clung to hatred, guilt, and judgment, never realizing the damage they were doing. Now I realize that that was never my religion and when I read about all that the church has taken from the pagans of the old world, I am not angry, I am excited because it was while celebrating the holidays and the traditions that I felt the most spiritual while growing up and now I know that it was not because of the church but because of Paganism. It was because, without realizing it, I was celebrating the earth, the universe, I was inadvertently keeping the old world alive.
Which is where I come around to my point; I am a Pagan because I believe in the earth, I believe in the universe. I believe there are energies helping us and aiding us, guiding us in the right direction to live our lives as our fullest and happiest selves, but I believe these energies are tied to nature and ourselves, not to a man sitting upon a throne in the clouds. I believe that we can influence these energies with our own and what we put out into the universe we receive back.
But I am still learning and still growing. The whole idea of rituals and chanting still makes me uncomfortable, though I have yet to decide if it is my upbringing still hovering in the back of my head or if it’s just not for me. It’s the same with potions and spells. I just don’t know yet. But I know that with time I will.