Worry less – or don’t, whatever…

I’ll never be a free spirited, go-with-the-flow, super chill kind of person, and I’m mostly okay with that.

I tend to worry a lot about most things, big and small. Worrying is definitely not one of the traits I am most proud of, and it can lead to some intense feelings of anxiety sometimes, but, get this – I don’t think that all worrying is bad.

Sometimes my worrying causes me to catch details or issues that others might miss, or allows me to fully think through and process a situation in front of me. I can mentally prepare for multiple outcomes, as I have that “let me think of every single thing that can go right or wrong in this situation” kind of brain. This brain has also gotten me into many a sleepless night because I was pretty sure a murderer was about to break into my house, but hey, I didn’t say that my worries are all good! I just think that so much of the conversation around worrying is that it’s something that should be avoided, shamed, or crushed immediately, and that that mentality isn’t helping anything.

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Instead of trying to immediately force any of these thoughts out of my head or beating myself up for my worries, I am putting my focus and attention to worrying less and trying to understand why I am worried in the first place. Can I turn this worry into positive thought on what I can practically do to make the best of this situation or prepare for something? Most of the time, my worrying won’t actually change the outcome of the situation. Many of my worries are not productive, and therefore should not be given priority in this strapped-for-space brain of mine. Repressing them is not going to get me anywhere, but reflection and gentle thoughts will.

… any tips?

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20 tips for practicing self care

It’s been a rough few days. 

I’ve spent so much of this time thinking and reading and feeling all of the feelings. I’ve been using social media to share lots of these feelings, and the feedback of solidarity and understanding has been incredibly helpful. This election has showed us just how divided our country is, but luckily I’ve got lots of people in my circles that have been able to share words of comforting wisdom and ways to turn this anger into action.

All of that aside, now is an incredibly important time for a reminder on how to practice self care. Many of us are hurting and angry and upset, and it can be easy to forget to spend some of our energy focusing on ourselves and our well-being. Self care is something I learned about in college when I was heavily involved with my college’s feminist group, the Feminist Association of Wheaton. Being in that group and being a Women’s & Gender Studies major meant that a lot of my time was taken up with activist efforts, reading heavy articles & books about society, and learning about less-than-pleasant things, aka the systemic oppression of women and minorities in our world. Real fun, huh?

While not fun, all of that was incredibly important for me to learn and be involved with. Luckily, many feminist groups and communities know the importance of regular self care, so that is something that I learned about and practiced during this time.

What is self care? Self care is taking the time to put yourself first, to get in touch with yourself & your emotions, and to give yourself time and space to reflect and heal. It’s really something that everyone should be doing regularly, but is especially important in times like this, where it’s hard to avoid hearing or reading potentially distressing things. There are a lot of ways to practice self care, and a healthy form of self care is different for each person. Also, pro tip, be careful to avoid disguising unhealthy or self-destructive habits as self care. It’s way too easy to let that happen. Other than that, there’s not really a wrong or right way to take care of yourself – so your list might be totally different than mine!

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Continue reading “20 tips for practicing self care”

Your vote is your voice

I’ve spent all day trying to think of a blog post to write that does not focus on the election that is happening today. It hasn’t gone well.

It’s not that I don’t want to get political on this blog, it’s more that I don’t know what to say. I voted for Hillary Clinton in September during early/absentee voting. I’m with her, I don’t care about the damn emails, and I am so excited to have voted for the first female presidential candidate. I know that she’s not a perfect candidate and that there are lots of things that upset people about her, but I feel confident that she will do a great job leading our divided country. Having a Democrat as our president will help our country get where it needs to go in so many ways, and hopefully this election can help the House and the Senate actually achieve things in the near future – mind blowing idea, right?

My insides jump and flop any time I think of the outcome of this insanely important election, and that there’s nothing I can do about it at this point. Maybe if I had volunteered for the Clinton campaign by canvassing or phone banking, I would feel less helpless – I have no real excuse for sitting by and not helping out. Part of me felt reluctant to do anything surrounding the campaign (aside from our yard sign!) because I’ve had difficulty putting into words why exactly Clinton was the best candidate for this election – it feels like common sense to me, and I get flustered and overwhelmed when I talk about politics. I just can’t seem to get the words together, and feel ashamed about my inability to be vocal for something that is so important. That is also part of the reason why I really didn’t want to write a blog post on Election Day.

But here we are. 

Here I am, sitting at home, refreshing the election results every two seconds, watching episodes of Friends that I have seen at least 8 times, trying to distract myself from the election by doing research on my dream of opening a coffee shop/bookstore business, and forcing my cats to cuddle with me. The anxiety is giving me a headache, and I’m dreading each refresh. I can’t look away, but I need to.

Whatever happens, the sun will still rise. The Earth will still turn, and we will have to find the light in what could be a very dark situation.

See you tomorrow!

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Motto Monday

Do you ever try to get a song stuck in your head? Like on purpose?

This song has been my jam lately. I’ve been listening to it when I get ready in the morning, while I’m writing, when I run, cook, shower, dance around my living room, you name it. It’s got such an upbeat and positive vibe, and it’s so catchy! I find myself purposefully trying to play it over and over in my head when I’m getting a little stressed out at work, or when I’m trying to push out those ever-present negative thoughts, oops. It’s just so dang good.

What’s your current mood-lifting tune? I’m trying to create a playlist to listen to while writing and want all of the suggestions!!

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Feelings on friendship

It’s hard to make friends.

It’s hard to make friends when you’re an introvert, a generally awkward person, a young & childless military spouse in a place that is new to you, and a liberal & not religious military spouse at that.

I have learned so. dang. much. about adulting in the past year since we moved to Ohio. I’m in that post-grad identity crisis stage still, which is weird enough on its own, but pile on the desire to make friends in a completely new environment where you don’t know anyone, and still being a newlywed, and you’ve got a LOT OF FEELINGS ALL THE TIME.

When I say that I’m not great at making friends, I mean long-lasting, deep friendships. I’m the kind of person who has a lot of acquaintances and people that I can talk to, chat with, enjoy spending time with at social events. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting to know people on this level, but sometimes I want something more complete. I often end up with just a few close friends, and unless I’m living near those friends, those friendships tend to be more distant than I’d like. I’m not the best at keeping up communication – just ask my mom when I last called her! 😫

Some people are so lucky to be able to form fast friendships that last and have depth, closeness, and heavy meaning, no matter where they go. I envy religious people who can connect through their faith to people and use that as a basis to form friendships, and develop those deeply through fellowship and study. I think that is a beautiful thing, but I’m not a part of a faith that allows me to have that right now. Mothers also instantly have something in common, a shared experience of giving life & raising children, and that can help form fast friendships. I don’t have kids yet, and understand that having kids majorly changes your life, your focus and your priorities, and that it might be harder to become friends with women that don’t yet share those experiences. I can still keep my fingers crossed that I’m just making up that idea though!!

I put such a focus on military spouses because that’s one of the most prominent parts of my identity at the moment. I don’t have a life-defining career, so the main way that I can find and make friends is through the group of Air Force spouses that I am a part of here in Dayton. There’s a shared experience that military spouses have that gives us a way to feel instantly connected to each other, and allows us to explore friendship – but many of us have big differences! I am a liberal, pro-choice feminist, and just by typing those few words, I might instantly alienate a lot of military spouses that I’d hope to be close friends with. I don’t generally have a problem being friends with people who don’t share all of my views, but I know that other people might find it more difficult, and that the closeness I’m looking for sometimes comes from sharing those types of views and ideals. Of course, maybe it’s not “worth it” to pursue friendships with people that would be turned off by big parts of my identity, but it still feels so discouraging to mentally cross more names off the list of potential friends.

Lately, I’ve been putting myself out there a little more, have been more active in these groups, and have been putting more of an effort into the chances that I do have to connect with other women and make friends. And I think it could be starting to pay off! I’m continuing to meet more women that I’m excited to get to know better and to see more often, and I think that feeling is mutual with some of them! I know that building lasting friendships takes work, a spark, effort, and that it won’t always work out the way I might hope – but here’s to hoping.

Also, I am totally aware of how freaking cheesy this whole post sounds, but sometimes my brain just really likes to write cheesy-ass things. #sorrynotsorry

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Anniversaries

It’s been almost a year since Ben & I got married, and a few days after that will be a year since we moved to Dayton. What the what?!?????

Time is FLYING by, and I’m not sure if it’s because life has been generally good and we’ve been keeping busy, or if that’s just what it’s gonna be like as I get older. Either way, I still can’t believe it.

It’s been quite a year. We got married (duh), moved to Ohio, bought a house, have been slowly furnishing the house and making it ours, adopted two cats, I started a new job (almost a year ago there, too!), Ben started grad school, we’ve traveled, made new friends, found communities, and have explored this new area that now feels so familiar.

I feel like the only thing that could have made this year even crazier would be having babies, but don’t worry, that’s not happening for a few years. (Really Mom, I’m not pregnant, I promise!)

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about where I was (both physically and mentally) last year, how many aspects of my life have changed, and how Ben & I have grown together. It’s been a wild first year, but there’s no one I would rather have spent it with. Here’s to many more crazy years ahead of us!

 

So where did you go to college?

My alma mater, Wheaton College, is a tiny (~1600 students) liberal arts college in a small town in Massachusetts. When I was living on the East Coast, most people hadn’t heard of it, so I’d give them the whole spiel – and that’s what I knew to expect from people. Here in Ohio (which is technically the East Coast but feels hella Midwest to me) I tend to get a different response from people…

Person: So where did you go to college?

Me: I went to Wheaton College, it’s a small school that you might not have heard–

Person: Oh, I know people who went there! In Illinois, right?

Me: Uh, no, mine’s in Massachusetts. There are two Wheaton Colleges, but they’re pretty different…

Person: *silently judging me bc my school is super liberal and not the conservative, Christian school that they thought it was*

So this is new!!!

Women keep trying to sell me things & I have feelings about it

As I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across an article that REALLY spoke to me. As I quickly read it, I felt myself nodding along and actually saying “YES that’s it!” out loud.

And that’s because almost every time I scroll through Facebook, I see another sales pitch for a direct sales company, like LuLaRoe, Scentsy, Beachbody, etc etc etc. I have nothing against people (women, almost exclusively, and in my case, military wives) trying to make money for their families, and I’ve definitely bought from some of these companies, but it still just blows my mind how so many military spouses seem to get sucked into these multilevel marketing schemes. Can they really be making much off of it? Are the products worth their value, or even safe? Is it worth all of their time and effort? It sometimes seems like an “easy” way to make a few bucks and stay at home with the fam, but if you even start to scratch the surface of these companies, it can start to sound like they’re taking advantage of these women.

And to quote the article I came across, “To me, on the outside, it looked like overcompensation. It seemed like they were selling out and settling for a job that could potentially steal away time and money without much to show for it. I thought — perhaps narrow-mindedly — that they could do better than a kit and a sales pitch.” (yeah, get ready for me to quote entire paragraphs in place of my writing because the author just put my feelings into words SO PERFECTLY)

I can understand the feeling of wanting to settle for a job that’s not necessarily using all of my abilities, and wanting to get a paycheck with minimal effort. Especially as a military spouse, it can be hard to find a job right away after you move across the country, with few connections and a job market that might not be calling your name. Admittedly, I’ve considered taking up one of these direct sales gigs, as an “on the side thing” or until I found a “real” job, and because the discounts once you become a seller sound pretty appealing. But the more I thought about all of the time you put into social media and (sometimes aggressive) recruiting of your friends for sales and the money you have to sink into it, the less appealing it began to sound.

But the draw is very real for many military spouses. I don’t have kids yet, so I can’t speak to that aspect personally, but I think it’s wonderful to have the choice to stay at home with your children and be there for every bit of life. If you have the ability to be a stay-at-home-mom and it’s your choice, then go for it! At the same time, the fulfillment of a career and the ability to contribute to the family income can be extremely important, if not necessary, for many women. But there can be societal roadblocks upon roadblocks for civilian wives and military spouses alike. As the author wrote, “I’ve met wives who intended to become teachers, researchers, realtors, and nurses but ended up as housewives or stay-at-home moms due to military moves.” I’m worried about becoming one of them, but that’s another blog post.

Then in come the direct sales companies, with their alluring calls of “a sense of achievement, mentorship, community, or purpose,” and on top of all of that – $$$.

The article goes on to reveal that hey, there’s really not that much money in it for the people doing the selling and the women that sell for these companies are barely compensated for all of the work that they actually put in. Some companies even give retail credit instead of actual money! “The MLM industry can be a wake-up call to communities and companies. Women are so motivated to work that they’ll do it for next to nothing and will bring their friends, relatives, and neighbors into their businesses. Imagine how successful they’d be if they were given the adequate support, flexibility, and training to do it in your office.” I couldn’t agree more.

So with all of this in mind about the sliiiiightly shady aspects of these companies and how they miiiiight be taking advantage of some groups of women, why do I still click on their sales pitches and go their parties and browse through their catalogs? Why am I in Facebook groups made for these women, my almost-friends, to sell me products? Just like the author experienced, who is also a military spouse, after I did my first PCS to Ohio and was looking to connect with spouses and make friends and build relationships – and if listening to their sales pitches was a way to at least dip my toe into their circles, then I figured I should hear them out. It’s women helping women, right? “Psychologists would probably say that some of this impulse was due to my gender; women who want to protect relationships often avoid the disruption of saying no.” Will I come across as rude if I remove myself from this Facebook page, or say no to an event? Will people look at me differently if I write this blog post, or feel uneasy around me? Will I come across as a rude outsider who puts down their lifestyle? Will I lose friends? (and when I say friends, I mean acquaintances who might not consider me their actual friend, but who I can talk to at spouses events and whose posts I like on Facebook) I debated whether or not I should actually write this post, let alone share the article on its own.

To each their own, I guess? I’m glad that these direct sales companies allow women to get a sense of fulfillment from this type of work, that they can contribute to their household income and make connections with other women. Our society tends to make it hard for women to have families and work and keep their sanity all at the same time, so many women have found direct sales as their way around that obstacle. But it’s hard not to feel skeptical and wary, and even concerned that these women are not only selling themselves short, but losing money in the process. I’ve got a lot of feelings about this, and this article REALLY brought them out!!! And it expressed those feelings much more eloquently than I could. So go read it. Merp.

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