Personal

Ways to De-Stress When Life Becomes Too Much

Image result for stressville population me gif

Well I really let this blog get away from me. I am not sure how this happened. My last post was January 19th. It’s been almost a year since I’ve shared with everyone. I always had plans to write something. I even have a draft from May 30th titled Hopefully I am Back for Good. That post just has the title and a gif so clearly I didn’t even give coming back an honest try.

The second half of 2018 has been a stressful time for me. Some good stress and some bad stress. I almost moved in the summer. It fell through at the very last minute which resulted in the loss of my apartment. I’ve been living with my bf in his parent’s basement since July. I’ve spent the last several months applying for and interviewing for jobs outside of NYC. My mom was in the hospital last month for a little over a week. Thankfully she’s OK now. My best friend is getting married and I’m the maid of honor which has meant a lot of party planning, dress fittings, and other wedding events. Add a car accident into the mix and it’s safe to say that I am all ready to kiss 2018 goodbye.

I am an anxious and stressed out person naturally. I wish this wasn’t the case but it is who I am. So when things become hectic in my life they are amplified. I know that I am not alone with dealing with anxiety and I would be shocked if someone reading this claims they’ve never had to deal with stress. Stress is a part of life; it’s pretty hard to avoid.

While there’s no way to completely avoid stress, there are thankfully ways to deal with stress and make things a little bit easier.

Take a bubble bath – There is something about soaking in a suds-filled bath in a candlelit room with your favorite song playing that makes you feel like you’re on a vacation. This vacation may last only 30 mins but it’s a nice distraction from the world.

Don’t be afraid to talk to someone – This is something that I need to work on. When I am sad, I tend to like company but I don’t like to ask for company. Everyone else around you is going through their own stuff. They may not necessarily notice when you need a little extra TLC. There’s nothing wrong with telling someone you need them around.

Get lost in your favorite comedy – When I am feeling really down, nothing does the trick of putting me in a good mood quite like watching The Office. Something funny and familiar can help you to forget about the stresses of real life.

Get outside – And no, I am not advocating working out. You’re already stressed; the last thing you need is someone telling you about the wonders of working out. I am just letting you know about the wonders of fresh air. A simple walk around the block can be an amazing de-stresser.

Color or craft – I am not as creative as I’d like to be. I have an entire board on Pinterest dedicated to awesome things I can make for my apartment by hand. I haven’t made a single one. The thought of having to make my own spice rack fills me with dread which is the exact opposite of what this list should do. But if crafting is your thing, then by all means dig in when you’re feeling stressed. For the rest of you, I’d like to suggest coloring. Adult coloring pages are all the rage right now and it’s one trend I 100% support.

Don’t add extra stress if you don’t need to – I said this before and I’ll say it again, stress is impossible to avoid. It’s a part of life, but when things are already super stressful don’t add any unnecessary extra stress. Learn to say no to things you really do not want to do. Stay off social media if it adds to your stress. Avoid watching the news because that shit will make you miserable and depressed.

Here’s to 2019 and it being the least stressful year yet. Or at least all of us knowing how to manage that stress as best as possible!

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My Uterus Is Not Your Business

The title of this post may seem a little crass but that is exactly what I have felt like shouting to several people the past year. Something interesting happened when I entered my 30s. It seems that I entered an age where people start to become really concerned with whether or not I am going to have children. And I am not just talking about family members. It turns out that coworkers are highly concerned with what’s going on inside my uterus.

I don’t know if it’s my age or the fact that I’m in a serious relationship; it’s probably both of these factors combined. But either way, my decision to have children or not has been a very hot topic for many people.

“So are you going to have children?” “Do you want to have children?” “When are you having children?” “You have to have children.” “Wait until you have your own children.”

Children, children, children. Look, I love children. My nephews are two of my favorite humans in this world. I work with children and I absolutely adore them. But having your own children is a completely different thing.

I am still not sure yet if I want my own child. And to be honest, that’s a decision that only I can make and the guy I’m with.

I think as a society we should all agree that asking the current status of a woman’s uterus is something that we should all just stop doing! If a woman has a baby in her belly or is trying to get one in there, then she will tell you if she chooses. If she doesn’t, then it’s her decision.

Asking someone who doesn’t want to have kids about this puts their back against the wall. “Do I just say no or say that I don’t want kids?” “If I say I don’t want, then I’ll probably have to explain why.”

But do you know what is even worse? Asking someone who is trying to get pregnant if they are pregnant or when they’re going to have kids. You have just reminded this woman that she still does not have a baby in her belly which is probably the last thing that she needs. Trying to conceive and having a hard time is an incredibly difficult thing for any woman to go through. She does not need a constant reminder from her nosy Aunt Sally.

So if you ever feel like asking a lady about what’s happening in her uterus, DON’T! Ask her how work is, about her next vacation, if she prefers pancakes over waffles. Anything else is better than baby talk!

New Year, New Me

I already let my feelings about New Year’s resolutions known last year. You’re not going to automatically change who you are as a person because we are entering a new year. People who talk nonsense about “New Year, New Me” are dumb. I know that may sound harsh but it’s true.

However, I am all for setting goals for yourself. Sort of like a New Year’s bucket list. Every year there are new things that I want to try/accomplish. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes not so much. So this year I am going to hold myself accountable by putting it in writing. This means that you get to share this journey with me. (Aren’t you so lucky?)

This year I’ve decided to set several goals for myself. Some are things that I’ve started improving on this year and some are things that I’ve been thinking about for awhile. I am being realistic with these goals. That’s the problem with goals and resolutions. Many times people strive too high too fast. You’re not going to go from taking the elevator everywhere to running a mile. It just doesn’t work like that. I do not want to set myself up for failure. So you may scoff at some of these goals but they are big changes for me. (And if I happen to exceed any them then even better!)

  1. Hike at least 10 new trails.
  2. Go meatless at least 3 times a week.
  3. Walk 10,000 steps or more at least 4 times a week.
  4. Visit two places I’ve never been before.
  5. Successfully make a loaf of bread.
  6. Write at least 12 new blog posts.
  7. Try out 2 new recipes a month.
  8. Volunteer my time.
  9. Find a way to better manage my stress/anxiety.
  10. Unplug from my cellphone more often.

Now that this is written down and about to be broadcast to the world (AKA all five of you reading), I have to try my hardest to follow through. At the halfway mark, I’m going to follow up on the post and check on my progress. Wish me luck!

Happy New Year!

*Question: What are some goals you have for 2018?

If Your Year Isn’t Filled with Ups and Downs, Then You’re Not Really Living

This may be a little pretentious of me but I want to dedicate this post to someone. I know this isn’t a book. But it’s my blog so I’ll do what I want. I want to dedicate this post to my sister Keri who had one of the hardest Christmases ever. On Christmas Eve, we had to put down her chocolate lab. Elvis was a member of the family for almost 12 years so it was hard for all of us to say goodbye. But it hit my sister the hardest as Elvis was her dog. Her baby. She was a mommy to Elvis way before my nephews came along. So this post is for her and all the tears she shed this past week.

And there were a lot of tears. I cried a lot on Christmas Eve. It was probably the saddest I had been the whole year. Watching Elvis be put down was the hardest thing I had to do the entire year of 2017.

All the tears got me thinking about all the times I cried this year. I cried A LOT. I am a crier. I cry when I’m happy. I cry when I’m sad. I cry when I’m angry. I cry at all those ridiculous car commercials that show the timeline of a baby turning into a teenager getting her parent’s car. (It’s capitalism and all marketing but they are tugging at my heartstrings!)

Elvis was the saddest moment of 2017. But while I was reflecting on the events of Christmas Eve, I started thinking about the best moments of 2017. My trip to Europe was the best part of my year, particularly the visit to Switzerland. This June, I went to Switzerland, Germany and England. Switzerland was by far the best part and the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. I went to the Alps of Switzerland and went to the top of a glacier for viewing. I was nearly 13,000 feet above sea level. The highest I’ve ever been. It’s sounds corny but when I stepped out to see the view it literally took my breath away. I felt like I was on top of the world. The view and wonder of it brought tears to my eyes.

Life is filled with ups and downs. It’s always going to be. Your life has to be filled with ups and downs if you want to really experience life. I cried so much over the death of Elvis because I allowed myself to love and feel. I also took a chance this year and booked a two-week vacation to visit places I’ve never been before. Life is about experiences and relationships. Sometimes the experiences and relationships will hurt you. Sometimes they will make you cry happy tears and sometimes it will be sad tears. But whether those tears are from joy or pain, they’re important.

I cried a ton of tears in 2017 and I plan to continue the tears onto 2018. Cause a year without any ups and downs hasn’t really been lived.

Let’s end this by giving a proper farewell to the craziest yet most lovable dog to have ever lived.

Thirty Things I’m Thankful For

I am going to admit right now that I am a hater. Or at least I used to be one. Every November my social media feeds would become flooded with everyone sharing all the things they’re thankful for. My snarky self would sit back and think, “Really Judy? You’re thankful for your kids and your home? How original!” However, something happened this year. The ice around my heart melted and I started to enjoy the posts about why people are happy and thankful.

We spend SO much time focusing on the bad stuff that we often forget what makes us happy. I know that I spend a lot of time complaining about the things I’m unhappy about instead of focusing on the things in my life I do enjoy. And I don’t know about you but I’m tired of the negativity. My life isn’t perfect but I still have a ton to be thankful for. So in honor of the month of November and Thanksgiving, I present to you thirty things I’m thankful for. (Please keep your snarky comments and eye rolling to a minimum. This post is about to get real cheesy.)

*Just so you know, this list is in no particular order.

  1. My sisters – I wasn’t kidding when I said they were the greatest gift my parents ever gave me. I have no idea what I would do without them.
  2. My nephews – While my sisters are the greatest gift my parents gave me, my nephews are by far the greatest gift my older sister gave me. Doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, if I hang out with my nephews, I’m happy.
  3. My job – I have done some complaining about my job but I actually finally found a new one. Still at a library and it’s closer to home. I am still not 100% where I want to be but I have a job I enjoy and it pays me enough to afford the bare minimum and some splurging every so often.
  4. Cupcakes – There are so many sweets that I could put on this list. But to avoid being a complete glutton, I am going to limit it to just one. Cupcakes are my one true love.
  5. My apartment – It’s small but it’s home. I love the little place my bf and I built.
  6. My car – My car is old and sounds like an airplane taking off if I go over 50 mph, but I love it. It was my grandmother’s car and I took it over when she passed away. It gave me the ability to go to school and work a far distance from home without having to rely on public transportation.
  7. My relationship – I have encountered enough dating disasters to know that I am incredibly lucky. I have a bf who cares about me and is genuinely interested in what I care about.
  8. Books – Reading is the most amazing thing in the world. Books allow me free entertainment when I have nothing else to do. I have survived plenty of plane and train rides with the help of books.
  9. My kitchen – Yes, I am listing my kitchen separately from my apartment. This year, I have become more and more excited about cooking. My kitchen is small but it gives me the freedom to try out new recipes.
  10. Wine – Through good times and bad, wine has always been by my side. Whether I’m enjoying a night in with my sisters or trying to get over a horrible day at work, there aren’t many cases where a glass of wine or two won’t help.
  11. Health Insurance – Living in the United States, I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have health insurance. It’s nice to be able to go to the doctor without worrying that I’ll have to deplete my entire life’s savings.
  12. My health – While I do feel like every morning I wake up with a new muscle aching, I am relatively healthy. I am so thankful for my health and the freedom it allows me to pursue my dreams.
  13. Mountains – Whether they’re big or small, I love the mountains. When I am surrounded by mountains or hiking down one, I do not have a care in the world.
  14. Netflix – More nights than I can count, Netflix and reruns of The Office have saved me from boredom.
  15. Christmas Movies – The cheesier the better. I love my Hallmark Christmas movies no matter how predictable they are.
  16. My dad – My dad is the most selfless person I have ever known. I could call him at 3am in California and he would get up and drive cross country to come pick me up.
  17. This blog – I may not update this thing as much as I’d like but I am so happy I’ve stuck with it. When I first started this blog, I hadn’t even gone back to grad school yet. It’s awesome to have something I can look through and see how much things have changed.
  18. My friends – I do not have a lot of friends but the ones that I do have are amazing. We’ve been friends since before I can remember and I know I can count of them for anything.
  19. My family – This goes beyond just my sisters, nephews, and dad. I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing family.
  20. Education – I am fully aware of how lucky I am that I have had access to education since I was 4-years-old. Being able to go to grad school, allowed me the opportunity to get the job I really wanted. It may have stressed me out at times but I am incredibly indebted to school. (I swear that’s not a pun on student loans!)
  21. Cheese – There is a ton of food I can put on this list but once again I am avoiding being a glutton. So I have to go with my second greatest love: cheese. I have yet to meet a cheese I don’t like.
  22. Traveling – I am so happy that I have the ability and the means to travel. I haven’t been everywhere yet but it’s on my list.
  23. Growing up in NYC – As someone who lived in NYC my whole life, I look at it differently than those who have just visited or recently moved here. I don’t view it with rose tinted glasses. However, I realize I’m lucky to have grown up in such an amazing city surrounded by so much culture and diversity.
  24. Puppies – This includes puppies that are 13-years-old. They are all puppies and they are all adorable. I can’t see a puppy without excitedly pointing it out and smiling.
  25. Four seasons – I have a love/hate relationship with summer and winter. When the weather gets too extreme, I complain. However, I love the fact that I live in a place that experiences all four seasons.
  26. Inheriting my grandmother’s genes – Considering that cupcakes, wine, cheese, cooking, and my kitchen are all on this list, it’s safe to assume that I love food. I am incredibly thankful that I take after my grandmother and inherited her fast metabolism.
  27. Decorations – I’m not just talking about Christmas decorations. I love all decorations. Halloween, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day. If I had the time, I’d decorate for every holiday.
  28. My phone – Naysayers be damned! Smartphones do more good than harm. They can keep us connected to the world. They help direct me where I’m going. They let me know if I should pack an umbrella with me. There isn’t much my phone can’t help me with.
  29. Sleep – I like that no matter how dismal my day has been, I can sleep it away and wake up to a new day.
  30. You – I am beyond thankful for anyone who has ever read this blog (even if I forced you to). The comments, likes, shares, etc. mean so much to me and I couldn’t be more thankful.

*What are some things you are most thankful for?

Money Versus Happiness

When we’re younger, we are always told we can be whatever we want to be. You usually don’t hear young boys and girls list jobs like accountant, secretary, plumber, or retail manager. (I’m not knocking those jobs but they just aren’t as exciting as ballerina, superhero, or movie star.)

When you’re younger, you don’t envision yourself sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Even as old as college, this usually isn’t what we envision for ourselves.

We imagine that we’re going to have exciting jobs. Our passions will turn into careers. And these careers will provide us with enough money to travel, buy a home, and eat out to dinner whenever we want.

Somewhere along the way, usually when we spend months after graduation sending out our resume to every business within 100 miles of us, we realize that our passion does not always lead to money. We’re not all going to make it as YouTube stars reviewing cookies for a living. (I’m not hip to the latest YouTubers so I’m not sure if this is actually a thing but I wouldn’t be surprised.)

While the 9-5 jobs aren’t glamorous, they have their benefits. They provide a steady paycheck and health benefits. If you’re lucky, you may even land a job that will automatically set you up with a 401K or some other retirement fund.

I spent one long weekend in the summer going on 5 interviews in New Hampshire and Vermont. I was desperate to leave my current position. I spend at least an hour in traffic each way. I like less than half the people I work with. And I am not a huge fan of the patrons who frequent my library. There are a few nice ones but most are rude.

I wanted to get out of my current job and get out of New York City.

I had a goal in mind. I wanted to be the director of a small branch somewhere up in the mountains. I’d live in a small town where everyone knew each other and I could spend my weekends hiking and going to the local farm. Basically, I wanted the complete opposite of New York. I wasn’t happy where I was so I was determined to make a change.

I started applying for jobs in New England and soon began getting call backs. I was lucky enough to squeeze several interviews in a short span of time.

My last interview of a very long weekend was at this little branch in the middle of nowhere in Vermont. It was for a library director position and if hired, I’d be the only full-time employee. The rest of the library consisted of part-timers and volunteers.

When I was in library school, this library was where I imagined working. It was a small town. (I’m talking population of less than 5,000.) I would be the sole person in charge of this little library that needed a lot of help. The Trustees were working on a plan to expand the library and bring it to the 21st century. The library needed a lot of help. The bathroom was in the basement and the only way to get there was down very steep steps. No elevator. And there was no access to the building except for several steps leading to the front entrance. No ramp.

There were a whole slew of people in the town who couldn’t use the library simply because they had no way of entering. I instantly fell in love with the little town and the adorable old ladies who interviewed me. I was ready to take on the task of rebuilding this library.

So I was elated when they called me the day after the interview to offer me the job. Here was my chance to fulfill all my librarian goals. This  was what I went to school for.

Then I was given the full offer and my heart dropped.

You can imagine a library that cannot even afford a ramp does not have much of a budget. I knew that the salary wasn’t going to be great, I just wasn’t expecting it to be so bad.

They offered me $30,000/year with no health benefits and 5 sick days to kick in once I was working for a year. I knew it wasn’t them being cheap. They were offering me everything they possibly could, but sadly, it wasn’t enough.

I knew I would have been happy there. I definitely would have enjoyed that job a lot more than the library I work for now. And I would have loved working in rural Vermont much more than Brooklyn.

But in this case, I had to choose money over happiness. Sure the cost of housing is cheaper in Vermont than Brooklyn but not much else would be less. I’d still have to eat every day and pay my student loans every month. And now I’d have to add an additional bill of health insurance since the job didn’t cover it.

I had to reluctantly turn down the offer. I still haven’t given up hope that I’ll find my dream little library. I’m just hoping to find one that’s slightly better funded.

Moving in Together Is a Big Deal but It Shouldn’t Feel Like One

So my bf and I have decided to move in together. Technically he’s decided to move into my place. (Thank the heavens I don’t have to actually do any moving.)

Whenever we tell other people, they always say the same thing, “That’s a big deal.” JR and I were confused when everyone kept telling us that. We didn’t feel like moving in together was that big a deal. We both naturally came to the decision because it made the most sense. We were already spending practically all of our time together anyway. Having one space we both called home makes things a lot easier. Now I don’t have to pack a bag or pray that I have clean underwear at his house. We’ve basically been living in two places which became annoying. The amount of clothing I’ve lost from going back and forth is atrocious. I had enough.

So we decided to make this huge move in our relationship. (No pun intended!)

I get that moving in together is a big deal and it’s not something that any two people should take lightly. It’s a big step in a relationship. If you do it too soon, it could ruin things. There is a lot you learn about a person once you live with them. It’s probably a good idea to try and find out as many of those quirks as possible BEFORE you decide to move in together.

I knew I was ready to live with JR so it didn’t feel like a big deal. Here are a few of the reasons I knew moving in made the most sense for our relationship. I’m not saying these tips will work for every relationship but if you’re thinking about moving in with your significant other, it doesn’t hurt to check them out and see if they fit.

We survived a big trip together. Back in June, JR and I spent 13 days traveling through Europe. While I love traveling and I have so many wonderful experiences from my trips, it can also be stressful. You learn a lot about a person when you see how they react with little sleep, multiple plane rides, and an attempt at navigating the Berlin train system.

I was comfortable when it came to the two Ps with him. By two Ps, I mean poop and period. I know that everybody poops and it’s a natural part of life but I will admit that I’m THAT girl. The girl who likes to hide her bathroom habits for as long as possible. There was plenty of pooping right before I showered in the beginning of our relationship. Not anymore. I can thank our trip for eliminating any boundaries I once had when it comes to that. When you share one bathroom in a small hotel room, it’s impossible to keep your bathroom habits a secret.

We spoke about the future. I cannot stress this enough, but do not move in with someone if you are unsure of where you guys stand. Having a talk about the future and marriage and kids can be scary. However, if you’re not able to bring up these issues, then you aren’t ready to move in together. Make sure you’re on the same page before you make such a big move. (There I go again with the no pun intended!)

We were spending more time together than apart at this point. We were already spending most of our time together, it was just a matter of where. We had to decide if we were going to stay at his place this weekend or my place. Which then meant we had to really decide who is the one forced to pack a bag and who doesn’t have to.

We were familiar with each other’s finances. Money is a hot topic when you move in together. There’s rent, utilities, groceries, etc. You have to figure out how things are going to be split and how much each person can afford. You don’t have to divulge everything. That will depend on the individual relationship but you need to know the basics.

It felt natural. This goes back to the whole big deal thing not really feeling like a big deal. It felt like the next natural step in our relationship. And I think that’s how it should be.