PAST SELF PSA: Cereal for Lunch (or Why I’m not stressing about food)

PSACereal4Lunch

What is a PAST SELF PSA?

For so many years I used to pressure myself about what I ate, and I still have a hard time with it. On top of that I also thought my meals should look a certain way. Without actually saying it out loud, I often felt like my lunch should be a wrap, a salad, a sandwich, left-overs of a perfectly cooked dinner, or even a bento-box. This wasn’t just for lunch, even when I was living alone I felt as though my dinners should LOOK like “DINNERS”. So many times I would try to be someone who “meal prepped” or “couponed” or at the very least someone who planned weekly meals. Beyond that, I also listened to every new food “solution” or “cure”, throwing everything out of my refrigerator and cabinet and reworking my entire lifestyle. Sometimes there might even only be a week in between these diverse diets/lifestyles.  Honestly, I don’t know if I have had a set “normal” (as in a whole year of eating a certain way) since childhood, unless you count loving sugar, that’s been my only consistent. And I am not here to discuss yo-yo dieting or sugar addiction. What I am discussing is that I was stressing myself out with all of this and as someone who has suffered and continues to deal with mental/emotional burnout, anxiety, depression, and stomach issues…  (not to mention a toxic relationship with food and fad dieting from a very young age) … I would overwhelm myself with how I felt my diet should look.

So it took a long time, and only to quite recently in fact, that I just decided to let myself “BE”.  I am eating what I like, what agrees with me, and doing my best to add more healthy food. So, I plan to discuss more about the evils of the supposed “cure-alls” but right now, let’s focus on just being okay with food. It’s okay to eat cereal for lunch at work. (Or any food that agrees with you.) Personally, I know that rice Chex and Kix cereal with almond/coconut milk agrees with me. So I have been bringing that to work and not thinking about the rest. (It’s funny right after I decided to start doing so, I had another co-worker say, ‘Is that breakfast?’ I don’t know if they meant anything by it but it almost triggered me, instead, I just smiled and said, “No, when you eat food at this hour, it’s called lunch, but it is cereal if that is what you mean”.) Sometimes, if I remember I will also bring some nuts and fruit or some chips or veggies and dip to add some extra oomph to the nutrients I am getting. But it’s okay that my “meal” might not look like a meal to someone else or like someone else’s meal. It’s okay if my lunch looks like “breakfast”.

And I am not just talking about lunch or eating normally designated foods at different times. (For example when I have time and motivation I will even eat salmon, scallions, and cucumbers over freshly cooked rice for breakfast.) So yes that is part of it, but also knowing what works for my body, what nutrients I need, and how to provide for myself without stressing out over it or giving a damn what anyone else outside of my most trusted doctors say.

Another example of this is that, after a long day of dealing with people with exhausting personalities and some very negative vibes, it can feel overwhelming to have to cook, especially since most nights my husband works too late to join me for dinner, so busting out a lot of pots and pans just for me, seems extra draining. So I make sure I have some “healthy” microwave meals, some foods to put over rice (rice cooker is amazing), some simple fixings to make loaded nachos, canned soups, bread & peanut butter, etc.

Now, I am NOT saying that one should eat mindlessly or eat only chemical/sugar ridden junk food. But I am saying that it’s okay if some of your daily food intake may be considered junk. Mindful eating should NEVER be stressful eating. So I am saying it’s okay if your meals don’t look perfect or aren’t what you think your meals “should” look like. You got to listen to your body, your budget, and be aware of your emotional/physical state. Stressing out over a basic thing as giving the body fuel, creates a very unhealthy and confusing state for the body and mind.

Food is fuel, so do whatever works for you to get nutrients. Granted I am not a nutritionist (and honestly the authors of a lot of those books on so-called cure-all diets usually aren’t as well just a heads up)… But there are some fundamentals… Vegetables are important, protein is important, fiber is important… Sometimes you may need to take vitamins whilst other times you may need to add particular foods add the food items you body needs.

No matter what, You GOT this!

-Heather

 

 

Advertisements

PAST SELF PSA: Money & Happiness

psaMONEY

What is a PAST SELF PSA?

So the phrase “money doesn’t buy happiness” is true… but not in the way people tend to use it. People use this turn of phrase to mean that the “simple life” is better, that rich people suck, or that money is evil.

Money isn’t evil.

Money affords us to do the things we want to do in this world such as help causes/people, go on trips, do fun activities, etc. Just because there are evil people out there misusing money and letting the power that comes with having access to oodles of money go to their head, doesn’t mean that anyone who has money is evil, and that to have money is wrong.

So money DOES buy happiness in the way that it gives us the ability to pay for the experiences and things in life we enjoy and support the causes we care about.

What “money doesn’t buy happiness” truly means is that if you are feeling empty, no amount of “stuff” or cash can fill that emptiness. The issue is looking outside to plug up the gaping hole of sadness/hollowness within ourselves.

And that’s where we all get lost in the shuffle, we are consumerist society where every advert tells us that happiness lies within the next product… that is until the NEXT product comes along, and the one after that one.

If you want to help fill the void within, the only way to do so is look within, which is scary and uncomfortable and yes it is much easier to buy more stuff, eat more stuff, and watch more stuff to ignore that feeling…  In fact unfortunately people will make some big decisions to fill this emptiness (like change jobs/buy a house/ have a baby… when they really should be looking within first and then making those decisions, not using those decisions to fill the emptiness.)

Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with purchasing things that you know you’ll enjoy or spending money, or eating the food you love… there is also nothing wrong with making big changes for your life… but where to be way is the “cycle of high-low” (aka happy/sad) when it comes to money/changes/filling the void…  You should be able to feel happiness outside of purchasing an item… and if you find yourself feeling low or sad without purchasing something and high/happy only when you purchase something that is an unhealthy sign. This is the “money doesn’t buy happiness” deal. If it buys it for only the briefest of moments and then you find yourself sad and lost and waiting for the next “high” then it is definitely time to check in on yourself.

You may need to change your outlook… you may need to talk to a therapist… you may just need to realize that money itself is currency, it is neither bad nor good… much like a knife… you can use a knife to chop food and make a delicious meal or you could use a knife to stab someone. The knife itself is not evil, it the person who is wielding it that takes control of it. Don’t let money control you, you control money.

So yes it’s okay to have money and use money to achieve goals and purchase fun things… it is when we let money make or break us on the daily that money doesn’t buy happiness.

You Got This!

-Heather

 

 

Need some help on changing perspectives check out these posts:

What You Focus on Matters

Focus Creates Your Reality: Affirmations

Focus Creates Your Reality: Positive Reinforcement

 

 

 

“Low Days” and how to deal with them

SelfCareLOWday

 

Even the healthiest most put together non-conditioned individual has “off” or “low” days. If you are someone with a mental or physical health condition, well there can be a lot of those days. When you struggle with ailments such as depression, anxiety, any number of health conditions, extreme pain, or even just being in a state of brain drain and excess stress, it is essential to find small, simple ways to take care of yourself. Self-care is necessary even more so on “low” days, even if it may seem miniscule to the outsider, I’m telling you there are other people in your situation who get it, and to be proud of yourself when you make any step towards taking care of yourself, your home, or your goals.

Sometimes when you are overwhelmed or in that state where showering feels like climbing Mount Everest, it is hard to figure out how to take care of yourself and live your best life, whilst in that state.

Some situations it may just be about changing your outlook or positive thinking, if you need some help with that then you may want to check out my posts:

Other times, we are just in a funk, where taking care of ourselves (showering, eating, exercising), taking care of our surroundings (cleaning), or living our life (anything really) can just seem incredibly daunting…. And a low day can become a low week, or low month etc.

As I said I’m lopping a lot of different types of people with different situations into one common situation… taking care of yourself, surroundings, and life when it seems impossible… this can be for anyone, maybe you are just mentally exhausted from work and you have a few days off and you are out of sorts, maybe you have severe depression/anxiety, maybe you are a “spoonie” with severe illness/pain issues… no matter what sometimes we need something even simpler than those self-care tips that tell you to purchase bath bombs and get facials…. I personally wouldn’t consider myself a spoonie (for more on what is a spoonie see links at end of this post) and other than some occasional bouts of extreme menstrual pain and IBS pain, I am not a CHRONIC ILLNESS or PAIN sufferer but I do have anxiety, I have pain days, and I have low days. (I am working on fixing these things… for some it may be almost impossible or at least highly improbable to just “fix” these issues, and these “low” days can be your everyday reality… for those in extreme situations, I hope even one small portion of this post is helpful.

Also, note when researching this, I found that the majority of resources were how to change a bad day into a positive one, not grasping that 1) sometimes things aren’t bad nor are they good they just are “low” and 2) that for those dealing with specific issues/situations it just isn’t that simple. I mean, even outside of illness there are many people who are dealing with drain from high anxiety inducing jobs and brain drain… you yourself may not be clinically diagnosed with a particular ailment but the American lifestyle can be overwhelming and a struggle… also there are many people who are drained because they have to take care of others that they put their own needs on the backburner that when they have a “day off” it can be what some would call a “low day”. So like I said, lopping a lot of people into one post… hopefully you will find something useful no matter your situation.

Here are my tips for taking care of yourself:

Keeping yourself clean & Beauty tips when you want to look/feel good, or know you just need to be clean but can barely manage….

  1. Dry shampoo and wet wipes are your friends. Yes sometimes a shower is too daunting, or maybe just a full shower (you could put your hair in a shower cap) but you should clean yourself up. Use dry shampoo to keep a shampooing lasting longer/keep your hair from being an oil slick. Use wet wipes on any creases of the body or sweaty areas. If you can shower, wash those parts and keep your hair in a cap.
  2. If you are someone who is hairy but prefers to be shaved when you wear shorts or skirts or whatever, but it takes waaay too long in the shower to get it done. Then my tip is to do a pre-shave with those bikini/lip shavers that trim the hair so that when you shave in the shower it’s super fine and easy to do. (For some with very light hair this may be good enough for you and you may not feel the need to shave after this) Also, if you know you are going to be wearing capris or something specific it’s okay to shave to just the point that will be seen, if that’s all you can handle. [This is if you want to be shaved but don’t have the energy to shave all at once etc. If you are comfortable with your hair or do not remove your body hair, then skip this tip]
  3. Do your best to brush your teeth, when dental health goes bad it can get costly, also it helps me wake up at the beginning of the day. [No matter how I am feeling I try to brush in the morning and before bed, also flossing before bed. Now I am not a spoonie or have CHRONIC pain, but I do have some rough days… so on those days I may just swish with some mouth wash… ]
  4. Want to doll up?
    1. Lips: A tinted lip balm moisturizes and makes lips look pretty. This way you have some color but don’t need to worry about liner, and finish etc. I primarily use Burt’s Bees.
    2. Foundation/Face: SO I usually just leave my face bare however I will use lotion if it feels dry or sunscreen if I am going to be out in the sun. However, I have friends who swear by BB cream, that they went from a whole crazy routine to just using some BB cream so maybe you will find that helpful.
    3. Nails: I have both Sally Hansen’s fast dry nail polish (and top coat makes it last longer) and impress stick on nails, depending on the occasion. Both work fast and are simple, take little energy. (Tip: the stick-on nails you really need to use the clean wipe they have with the kit to make them stick, and give them at least a half hour before getting wet, such as washing hands or going in a pool, they should stay on for at least a week!)
    4. Fragrance: A simple more natural fragrance such as essential oil based spray is like and non-chemically, and easy to spritz on without much effort
    5. Eyeshadow: I rarely wear eyeshadow these days but when I do I have roll on sticks such as the ones by juniper. Easy on, applicator free.
    6. Wear your glasses… Have contacts but feel exhausted by the thought of putting them in… just wear your glasses, it’s your life and face, there is nothing wrong with wearing glasses.
  5. Change your clothes… Even if you aren’t going anywhere, if you have clean clothes to change into, you should freshen up what you are wearing. It is also okay to change from one set of pajamas into another.

 

Eating…. Having a hard time finding the will to eat/cook? Here are some tips

  1. Don’t chastise yourself if you really just cannot handle and you sit and eat some junk food… of course you should be mindful of how much you consume, and you don’t want to make every day like this but some days if it’s between you eating junk food and not eating at all, the junk food at least has some fuel for you.
  2. Try to only use a few utensils/cookware, the more mess you make the more you have to clean up which can become overwhelming [For example if you want to cook, perhaps try “sheet pan” meals or “one pot” meals so you don’t have lots of pots and pans to clean just the one. ]
    1. Also, I will try to use just one spoon or fork or glass, during the day and rinse it between meals/drinks/purposes if I am on my own for the whole day… this makes clean up easier.
  3. Stock up on simple (minimal prep) healthy foods on a “good” day (or better/motivated day)
    1. Microwavable meals like the following brands (some need freezer some don’t): Kaishi, Tasty Bite (Indian), Luvo, Saffron Road, Lean Cuisine Market Place, Amy’s (also makes canned goods), evol, and Good Food Made Simple.
    2. Healthy Bagged snacks such as: Sun Chips, Tortilla chips (w/salsa), popcorn, rice cakes, baked chickpea snacks, seeds/nuts
    3. Other packaged options: string cheese, baby bell cheese, fruit cups (dole or otherwise), squeeze fruit pouches, hummus minis, guac minis [NOTE: Minis are great because then you don’t have to commit to eating the whole container], chia seed squeezes, peanut butter/almond butter squeeze packets, jerkys, etc.
    4. Fruit & veg with long shelf life: apples, potatoes (can microwave them easily- google it, or my fav I cut red potatoes and boil them in beef broth until mushy delicious), carrots, celery, garlic (if you only ever use minced they sell them in jars), zucchini [cut off ends cut in half, toss in oil put on pan on the stove top or put in small pan in the toaster oven I usually add garlic powder sometimes feta cheese], oranges, lemon (you can even buy those pre-squeezed lemon juice things in the fake plastic lemon if you are just using the juice yes it’s not as good as the real thing but it’s better than being too depressed to go out to buy lemons so you don’t make that dish/drink or wind up eating/drinking something worse for your health)
    5. Also any canned or jarred veg/fruit: such as roasted red peppers, as mentioned above minced garlic
    6. Also juices: Is it better to eat the fresh fruit, of course yes, more nutrients less sugar but once again if it’s between you eating an sugary cookie and a cup of juice, then the juice has more nutrients

 

 

As for cleaning I feel as though I can’t say it any better than this thread from a tumblr group called “Panic Attack treatment club” (images found from Pinterest, if sources are wrong please correct me).

Image 1:

selfcare1

Image 2:

selfcare2

If you cannot see/read the pics they say:

First image reads:

dormouse11: Hoo Boy Do I have depression/ Executive Dysfunction Cleaning Tips!

In no particular order (because I have depression and executive dysfunction):

  1. If something sensory about cleaning bothers you, eliminate that before you start. For example, I wear gloves to do the dishes. If the sound of the vacuum bothers you, wear headphones and turn up the music, etc.
  2. If you can make a list of everything that needs to be done. Then acknowledge that you probably can’t do it all, and circle all the things that absolutely, no matter what, have to be done. Pick one (ONE! ONLY ONE! START WITH ONE!) of those things and break it down into smaller steps. Then even smaller steps. Seriously, if step on is ‘stand up’ and step two is ‘walk to closet’ and step 3 is ‘get mop’, that’s fine. It can be that small.
  3. Take a break. ‘But I literally only started five minutes ago!’ Don’t care. If you want a break, take a break. ‘At this point I’ve spent more time on breaks than I’ve spent on cleaning.’ Ok, but you’ve spent more than zero time on cleaning so you’ve accomplished more than you had at the beginning. ‘If I take a break it won’t get done!’ If you burn out it won’t get done either. Take a break.
  4. If nothing is working, try what I call bin cleaning/box cleaning. Take a big trash bag and a box. Pick up the first object you see. Step 1. Is it trash? Put it in the trash bag. Step 2: Will you use it in the next 2 days? No? Put it in the box. It’s a problem for Future You. IF you’ll use it in the next 2 days, take time to put it away. Rinse and repeat.
  5. Did you get distracted and forget what you were doing? Don’t worry about it. Just clean a thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s the thing you were cleaning before. You have to clean lots of things, so just pick a thing and clean it. Eventually you’ll get around to the thing you forgot.
  6. If you have to do a thing you really hate, do a thing you like afterwards. I hate doing dishes, but folding laundry soothes me, so that’s a nice one to do afterwards. YMMV. IF there are no cleaning things you like that you can do afterwards see number 3.
  7. Make it fun, play loud music and dance while you’re cleaning. Wear something that makes you feel cute, or if you prefer something comfy. Light your favorite candle whatever.
  8. If it’s nice out, open a window. Seriously it helps “

Second image reads:

mareliini: I divide my room into areas since my mess usually gathers into a few hotspots: clothes and stuff on the chair, general mess of papers and trash on the floor etc. Picking on area at the time and making it clean before moving forward helps me staying organized and I can see the results faster

bemusedbybespectacked: I do just one kind of cleaning. Like if I have to do laundry dishes and pick up the mess, then I’ll do laundry first and then dishes and then mess. Also if you have a bunch of clothes on your floor and you’re not sure if they’re clean or not, just wash them anyway. Gets them off your floor and into the hamper.

aerylon: there’s’ also a blog here on tumblr called @unfuckyourhabitat that offers tons of cleaning support and suggestions for people with a variety of physical, emotional, or mental health issues , as well as for those that just need motivation. I’ve been following them for a long time and have picked up some awesome advice and shared some too! Check them out!

robotsandfrippary: Remember only cleaning one thing is better that not cleaning anything. Doing a half-assed job of cleaning is better than not cleaning anything. Have a long or boring task and having trouble focusing on it? Listen to an audio book.

 

The only thing I would like to add to the advice above is that if you really don’t know where to start but you need clean items… especially when it comes to laundry, put on a wash with an entire outfit, pjs, a towel, and your pillowcase  (forget whites/colors etc. just don’t use bleach or anything color/white specific). So this way you have a clean outfit for the next day, pjs for that night, a towel for a shower in the morning, and you can rest your head on a nice clean pillow.

 

What about life in general??

Well perhaps it’s time to build a ladder?

Another great resource is Simon and Martina of “Eat Your Kimchi” they have YouTube videos and a blog discussing what they have been through. Their blog is primarily about their travels and life living abroad, but they deal with issues such as depression and EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), among other things. From this channel (they also have a blog, Instagram, twitter, and Facebook accounts), Martina coined the phrase “Build a Ladder”. And to paraphrase as best I can what she meant by that was, when you are in the pit of despair when depression or whatever mental/physical illness/condition has limited your life and made you feel hopeless that doing one small little thing towards your goals or one little thing of self-care adds a rung to your ladder as a way to climb on out. She explains it better but there’s a reason that this has resonated far beyond the community that watch the Eat Your Kimchi YouTube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/simonandmartina

For me and possibly for you as well… building a ladder on a really low day that could mean:

  • Stepping outside for a few minutes, taking a walk, or even just opening up the windows
  • Doing a simple but pleasurable task such as a few stitches in crochet, coloring in a coloring book, working on a puzzle, playing a video game
  • Engaging your mind: watching a movie/tv show, listening to a podcast, reading a book [even if any of these is just for a few minutes or few pages etc.]
  • Journal, write, talk to someone on the phone, sometimes getting the thoughts out or just looking at the positives on paper or with someone can be extremely helpful.

 

There are a lot of great self-care tips out there, extensive cleaning routines, new adventures to take… however, when you are in a rut, overwhelmed, or having a “bad” illness day it’s hard to do any of those things. It is extremely hard to do anything during these times and what may seem like a “no-brainer” for some people can slip away from people who are in these types of situations.

SO ultimately remember…. It is important to  1- make sure you are clean and have on clean clothes, 2- eat (especially if you have something simple and healthy) 3- tidy/take care of your surroundings 4- give yourself something that makes you happy (build a ladder)

It is important to take care of yourself, any step no matter how small or simple is A STEP! If you accomplished anything on a low day then be proud of yourself.

 

Remember you got this!!

-Heather

 

 

 

 

 

Some links:

 

https://themighty.com/2018/01/how-to-cook-while-depressed/

 

https://skillet.lifehacker.com/how-to-feed-yourself-when-youre-really-depressed-1823560127

https://www.reddit.com/r/EatCheapAndHealthy/comments/606bsu/cheap_healthy_easy_meals_to_make_when_youre/

9 healthy frozen meals that aren’t your childhood tv dinners by greatest

Video: “How I deal with Chronic Pain” https://youtu.be/f3uF3EpSZMw  (Martina’s build a ladder)

http://www.literallydarling.com/blog/2017/05/16/47780/ (Another blogger’s take on Build a Ladder)

https://www.unfuckyourhabitat.com/thedepressionmessy-house-cycle

https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-for-keeping-a-clean-house-when-you-are-depressed-1066833

https://patientsrising.org/what-is-spoonie/ What is a spoonie

https://paindoctor.com/what-is-a-spoonie What is a spoonie and how the concept may help you

 

 

 

PAST SELF PSA: It’s Okay to be single!

oktobeSINGLE

What is a Past Self Psa? See my post: Past self PSA.

Own that singlehood!

I know that this may sound strange coming from me a happily married person who a few months prior wrote two posts entirely on eloping/marriage. For clarity sake this is not a “do as I say not as I do” thing. If you are happily in a relationship, then that’s awesome!

I just know that my past self at one point was so desperate to find a mate that I was dating all the wrong people and was unhappy alone. It was as though someone told me that I could only be happy within the constructs of a relationship/marriage… But that’s not the case… And my past self would have definitely needed to hear that it was okay to be single and that you need to be happy alone in order to be happy in a couple. Because there was a time where I was single for quite awhile, and now I consider that time to be one of the most important periods of my life. Once I let go of the “need to find someone,” I had many happy memories, in fact I often credit it to the reason that I did find someone the right someone. . So anyone who was worried about that title, as though I am saying “I wish I were single” which I am not, remember this blog is talking to my past self.

So how the hell did being single lead to being married??? Well, it was because I was okay being single. Say what?

To the many who want to settle down and find their partner, it seems counter-intuitive that being single and being okay with being single, and not actively LOOKING, dating, etc. for someone is how I ultimate found someone. In fact you might say, “Heather this isn’t a Hallmark movie, the right guy or gal just doesn’t magically appear…” Well no, it might not be magic. But the right attitude for any thing in love is essential. See, I honestly know that being happy and secure in myself whilst being single and on my own was instrumental in finding my forever person, simply for the fact that I was in the right head-space.

So actively searching and searching and dating and dating is putting yourself in a state of desperation. Possibly a little bit of “oh woe is me, I will never find anyone” which is definitely not the right attitude to attract anything positive let alone a mate.  And over compensating by dolling up and trolling the bars, isn’t helping either. Yes we are the only species on this earth that sending signals of “hey I’m ready for a mate” is disadvantageous to securing one. You go out all “Peacock strut your stuff” and you get the crappiest dip-shit birds out there, and the ones you want to partner with for life are like… nope, not into it.

There’s a few reasons why this is so.

  1. Desperation is not a nice look. It frightens away the real prospects of the people you want and attracts those who know how to manipulate that desperation.
  2. If you spend your time so focused on who you need to be to get someone, you are losing your true self and are thus false. By being true to who you are the more likely you are to find the person who is truly right for you.
  3. If you are focused on the person you want to be with then you aren’t focused on you. (There is nothing wrong or negatively selfish with taking care of yourself and learning who you are especially by pursuing your interests; it’s only bad when you are being belittling and intentionally mean… Self-care/self-love is NOT the same as narcissism/bad behavior. )
  4. If you are searching because you are uncomfortable with being alone or by yourself… then there is probably a deeper issue. Very few healthy suitors want someone to be solely dependent on them for emotional/mental/physical support. If you can’t stand being alone, (this does not mean spending days with no communication, just being on your own) then why would someone want to be around you either?

 

Ultimately it’s kind of like how you can’t find something (say it’s your keys), and you look… and look… and look… and look… and look some more and can’t find the darn things, but then you give up and go to grab something else like your phone or sunglasses and next to that something else, are the darn keys. But no matter what you were looking for, life sometimes does that… It’s almost as if the stress of the time crunch of finding something makes us ultimately blind to what we were searching for or even blind as to where to look; the stress of trying to recall where you last put it and somehow it’s all blank… well life in general is kind of like that. The person of your dreams can be waving at you saying “hey over here!!” but if we are too frantically looking around going “where is the person of my dreams??” then we can’t see them. [However I am not suggesting that your significant other may be in your life already. Once again, this is life not a Hallmark movie, dipping from the same dating pool over and over like an episode of friends, usually isn’t conducive to finding someone. What I am saying however, is that it’s possible that your energy is making it so that they can’t enter your life just yet.]

Also I am not saying that the only reason to be single is in fact to find someonebut to be okay if you don’t. You need to be solidly in your reality, to be solidly YOU… knowing how to take care of yourself, what your likes and interests are… is a recipe for a successful and happy life whether there is a partner to share it with or not!

So TLDR; In Short: It’s super to be single… if single feels uncomfortable at first it’s okay, but you will find your rhythm. Below is my advice to my single past self…. {Much of which I did eventually follow} If you aren’t single, but find that you have trouble spending time outside of your relationship or are uncomfortable with being on your own then I suggest these tips as well!

My Single-hood advice (and advice I still follow):

  • “Date” your friends (go out to dinner, sit and talk learn about them) [I am not saying friends with benefits here, I am saying, take the time to learn who your friends are just like you would with a potential mate]
  • “Date” yourself (enjoy a meal out alone, go to the beach or a movie alone etc.)
  • Step away from the people who don’t have your best intentions in mind or don’t care about you
  • Learn how to make yourself happy
    • figure out your favorites, such as favorite food, smell, TV show, etc.
  • Learn how to take care of yourself
    • exfoliate, get a massage, learn how to cook your favorite meal, etc.
  • Make yourself proud- emotionally and actively
    • Emotionally I do this by: standing up for myself and saying what I need to say and doing my best to not let manipulators/mean people get to me.
    • Actively I do this by: fixing something in my home by without assistance (first I do research to make sure I do it correctly) , going to somewhere I might be initially uncomfortable and adapt, learn a new skill. For example: I reupholstered a chair, painted my bathroom by myself, built shelving, taught myself how to do a tricky crochet stitch, tried a new craft project, etc.
    • In general, I do this by noticing things that I want to improve about myself or life and taking even the smallest of steps towards them.

So if for a little while, a long time, or forever, let yourself be single… It is more than okay, it may be necessary. If/when you do find someone you will be better for it.

No matter what, YOU  GOT THIS!

-Heather

 

The ChildFree Communities: Negative vs Positive

facebook application icon
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Majority of us want to feel as though we are not alone. That we aren’t the only ones living the way we are living or thinking the thoughts we are thinking. For many of us community is essential in that it helps us from feeling odd and alone in the world, especially in a world filled with so many people.

No matter those that surround me, I am solid in my choice to be childfree. There are many naysayers that are not happy with me for not fulfilling the life-script of motherhood. (For more on dealing with naysayers see my post Past Self PSA: Judgment & Naysayers)  I have never wanted to be a mother and I plan on remaining childfree my entire life. Despite many of my peers choosing the path of motherhood, I still know that it isn’t for me. I have been an odd-ball for one reason or another and this wasn’t different for me. However, with the invention of the internet and knowing that though I might be the only one in my group of peers that felt the way I did, that out in the world there must be other people like me who didn’t want to procreate. So I set out to find “my” community; and my goodness is there a lot of us childfree/ non-parents out there… much more than society will let on! (And lots of different people with different reasons why… in fact currently there is a new “childfree by choice” group out there, that actually want children but have decided to protest the climate-situation by not having children for concern of the health of the earth’s environment.)

All this searching… led to finding childfree by choice Facebook groups, blogs, Instagram feeds, books, podcasts, and more. There are a lot of resources for those who feel like they are sole childfree person in a sea of nuclear families/mommies.

However, so many of these resources/communities are VERY NEGATIVE!!

And at first I understood it. I mean I was fed up too! I have been so annoyed and so pushed to the edge by disrespectful people stomping all over my life choice that I would snap and say the reason I was childfree is that ‘I hated children’, I would say this purely to shock people into shutting up and leaving me alone. Because though I am very happy in my choice not to procreate, I definitely do NOT hate kids. I work with kids, I appreciate their imagination, I get angry when someone is mistreating children. I am there for my friend’s kids and my sibling’s kids. I am proud to be the fun book-loving aunt.

But many of these communities and resources I would find were of people so fed up with having their lifestyle questioned that they began to begrudge people with their choice to have children. (And probably some people who actually hate and are disgusted by children and those who procreate.) No matter their reasoning, some of these groups were so hateful as to laugh or mock things such as child/parent death in the news or be resentful of people having kids at all and calling people foul names.  Another common occurrence would be that these communities would talk about children and parents incessantly often more than mommy bloggers. Granted they were talking about them to complain but not only would they say they wanted their personal Facebook/Twitter/Instagram feeds without all the babies, they were filling these community feeds with rants and pictures of more babies?!? They also would use terms that, many childfree use to denote very specific people we deal with but in a blanket way, such as calling all mothers, “mombies” (a term I would use to denote mean-spirited mothers who are so zombie like in their belief that women are only meant to be mothers, all they talk about is motherhood, and insist that you must be a mother too). They would use this and many other terms in demeaning ways that mark all people outside of the childfree lifestyle as “other” and speak in very hateful ways. (They were even anti-the childless not by choice.) I found groups like these to be troublesome.

Yes it’s not cool that people get in the face of the childfree by choice and tell us we are wrong!  However, being hateful and mean in return doesn’t not create open conversations and acceptance, it just creates more hate and more division. To clarify I understand venting or making some jokes/memes about bad parenting/children or discussing the negative aspects of what the childfree deal with… But being a negative jerk by acting as though all people outside of their lifestyle are vile and wrong (especially since it’s the more accepted way of life), laughing at people’s pain just because you think they are a “stupid breeder”, or purposefully being mean and hurtful to parents/children, is not healthy and not getting us anywhere.  I do understand why, [except for the people who truly despise all parents and children] but the focus on the negative makes us a hate-mongering cult, not a community.  [This would be like a depression group not only yelling about everyone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have depression but blaming all their problems on people who don’t have depression instead of opening the conversation and talking about their life with depression. The focus is slightly off the mark.]

So TLDR, (short version) there are a lot of negativity in the childfree by choice communities for a lot of reasons some justified some not, and a lot due to overcompensation of the crazy amount of BS people sling at us. However, if you are frustrated with the focus on negativity, or find yourself falling into the hater-storm-spiral but want still want a childfree by choice community, then here are some positive ones that I highly recommend:

Instagram accounts:

  • @Drunkauntoverseas (really great community!! This is my favorite)
  • @Childfreedoodles
  • @childfree_guru
  • @flipping.the.lifescript
  • @nokidsforme (sometimes very heavy on the negative memes, but overall positive)
  • @not_a_dirty_word
  • @childfreeness
  • @childfree_tanya
  • @respectfullychildfree
  • @childfree_travels
  • @positivelychildfree

Facebook community:

Thoughtful, Supportive, Mature, Childfree by Choice (you have to request to join)

Blogs:

Now these are only ones I am personally familiar with at this time. There is a great resource of https://www.childfreelove.com/childfree-blogs/  which is a list of childfree blogs however I have not explored all of to know what type of communities they have.

I plan to review some childfree books and other resources (such as podcasts) at a later date.

Also there are many instagrams, blogs, facebook groups that ARE within the childfree lifestyle but just don’t talk about being childfree such as travel blogs and couple blogs. So keep your eye out. A great example of this would be the youtubers/bloggers/podcasters of “Simon and Martina” of Eat Your Kimchi they discuss leaving Canada to live in South Korea and then in Japan, and their struggles with physical illness and depression… they are inspirational and though they don’t discuss it, are childfree.

Or other instagram feeds I follow are animal feeds that only post cute animals or just baking or just cooking or “@thefemalehustlers” who talk about women entrepreneurs and such. All of these don’t “say” childfree, but they are because they don’t talk about children or parenthood.  (So much like I don’t talk about childfree in every post, I’m still childfree, and living that lifestyle… so don’t be afraid to widen your search.)

 

As for the angry rant-y stuff, if you want to find that, then just keep googling it’s out there.  

Otherwise I hope that helps, and remember YOU GOT THIS!

-Heather

 

Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown

blur cartography close up concept
Photo by slon_dot_pics on Pexels.com

*(Or surrounding areas… day trips are not just for the posh or parents trying to entertain little ones! )

Not that long ago I read Gloria Steinem’s autobiography My Life on the Road, in it she talks about a lot of different topics beyond just her life… however what resonated the most with me from that book was her talk about travel.  From the first page of her introduction Gloria Steinem states that the main reason she still has ‘hope and energy after all these years’, the reason she still has a brighter outlook and a passion for life is that she is a traveler.

“Taking to the road-by which I mean letting the road take you- – changed who I thought I was. The road is messy in the way that real life is messy. It leads us out of denial and into reality, out of theory and into practice, out of caution and into action, out of statistics and into stories-in short, out of our heads and into our hearts. It’s right up there with life threatening emergencies and truly mutual sex as a way of being fully alive in the present.”  -(Steinem xix)

I remember thinking well that’s easy for you to say when you have a job that affords you the ability to travel, or haven’t amassed student loan debt or aren’t tied to a hefty mortgage or whichever housing situation.

However she broaches that too.

“[I] encourage you to spend some time on the road, too. By that, I mean traveling—or even living for a few days where you are—in an on-the-road state of mind, not seeking out the familiar but staying open to whatever comes along. It can begin the moment you leave your door.” (Steinem xxi)

I know she talks about this more at length but ultimately what she speaks of is how important it is to get a little outside of your comfort zone to look around, both in a way of blissfully smelling the roses but also as a way of awareness… do you know the history of the town you live in, do you know all the different cultures that have taken route in your area? Search out new experiences and you might not have to travel more than an hour to do so!

Sometimes our reality is much like the little old bird woman in Disney’s original film, Mary Poppins. The people pass her every day as she says ‘feed the birds’ but they don’t see or hear her. It’s really a depressing thought, but we can change our focus, notice the beautiful leaves on the trees, learn what is around us and experience things without going far from home. (Some might even be walking distances away!)

But HOW?         

Well you could just take a drive and look around of course! But if you have very little time, and not much money for excursions you are going to want to do a little research… don’t worry I did the heavy lifting for you! Just go to any one of these sites below and put in your zipcode or state to find things that are local. Willing to travel farther? Then put in states/zipcodes in your surrounding area or widen the search radius to 50 miles or more!

 

No matter what your best bet is always to start within close proximity, maybe look at your town specifically or within a 5 to 10 mile radius. You’d be surprised at all the little places that are nearby (especially during the holidays and change of seasons). There may be seasonal events such town fairs/community days. I know of some areas that have sand castle contest days and kite flying contests. There are cities that have fall and winter bazaars.

Of course you can even go to Google (especially if you have location tracking on) and search “fun things near me” or “local festivals” or “local markets” or “local museums” etc.

So depending on what you are looking to do here are some resources:

General what’s in your area/things to do:

Tripadvisor https://www.tripadvisor.com/  click on the tab “things to do!”

Groupon  https://www.groupon.com/local/things-to-do   (get some good deals whilst you “Travel”)

Fairs and Festivals https://www.fairsandfestivals.net/

Only in your state https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/

Great Museums http://greatmuseums.org/find_a_museum

 

See if your town, county, or state has a website with local goings on. Sometimes they will even have articles with information about new restaurants, and reviews of locations etc.

Check your local library, community center, or park system to see if they have any special activities, shows, or events (a little more on that below)

 

 

Going on a culinary adventure?? Here’s something for the Foodies:

Tripadvisor https://www.tripadvisor.com/  (click on the tab “Restaurants”)

Yelp https://www.yelp.com/nearme/restaurants

Groupon  https://www.groupon.com/local/restaurants

Local Farm Markets  https://www.localfarmmarkets.org/

Road Food https://roadfood.com/   (Authentic Regional Eats)

Zomato https://www.zomato.com  (previously “Urbanspoon”, local eats)

Happy Cow https://www.happycow.net/  (local vegan/vegetarian restaurants)

Zagat  https://www.zagat.com/national  (they also have yearly books with restaurants listed)

Want something really unique ?? Off the beaten-path? Perhaps even ODD?! :

Atlas Obscura https://www.atlasobscura.com/  (there is also a really cool book)

Roadside America https://www.roadsideamerica.com/

Weird US http://www.weirdus.com/  (started from the magazine Weird NJ, that pointed out local oddities whether they be strange urban legend areas or road side attractions… they also have a book series with just about every state)

YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY/COMMUNITY CENTER:

Depending on your community your local library might have A LOT of activities and fun things for you to enjoy such as concerts, art exhibits, plays, book talks, author visits, movie showings and more. Check it out and see what they have!

As for library resources:

Local info: often times they will have bulletin boards that list local goings-on, they may have pamphlets/booklets from the local park systems and their activities, they may have resource links on their website even… some not all (I know my library system is too big to accommodate it) will even have check-out-able free passes to nearby museums!

Books: Also check out the books under the Dewey Decimal Numbers 914-919 are travel guides, 970s for local history (usually). There might be books on different hikes and trails, roadside Americana, museums, and more! Some libraries may even have a special collection section just on your town/county/state.

 

 

Want to do something but don’t know where to start? Pack a picnic lunch and hop in the car, travel until you find a park or a beach that you can sit and read or just enjoy the fresh air!

I’m sure there’s even more resources that I am missing, but hopefully some of this leads you to travel while at home.

 Happy Travels & YOU GOT THIS!

–Heather

 

 

 

Some extra resources/ideas:

http://money.com/money/5186719/travel-tourist-attraction-every-state/

https://www.wisebread.com/47-cheap-fun-things-to-do-this-weekend

https://www.rd.com/advice/travel/bucket-list-ideas-50-states/

https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/grand-canyon-disney-world-wrigley-field-and-the-best-attractions-to-see-in-the-usa

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/to-do-in-america_n_4775300

https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/best-small-town-restaurants-america

Past Self PSA: Untrue Statements Said to Guilt the Childfree-by-Choice

IMG_6821 (2)

What’s a Past Self PSA, see my post: “What is a PAST SELF PSA?

In this post:  I discuss  how many who have children (and even some who don’t!) say hurtful damaging and untrue statements to the child-free-by-choice especially in regards to women and couples.

ON BEING “SELFISH”…

Like I said in previous posts…. it’s your life, they aren’t raising those kids, they aren’t doing your job, you got to live your life for you. No selfish about it, because if you were to tell them to do your paperwork or raise your kid, they would say that they have “their own things to do” so in turn if they call you selfish well within their logic, they too are selfish. This comes from the mentality that somehow parenthood is more noble than any other pursuits… however, though there is A LOT of sacrifice in becoming a parent, there are many people who have children who are definitely not noble or even make those sacrifices (such as those parents that aren’t there for their children or hurt their children)… and being childfree doesn’t mean that you are some immoral individual that doesn’t care about the world (but you can be just as much as a parent can be too) there are lots of childfree who use their financial means to support causes, or are involved in volunteering which is very unselfish.

Those who call others selfish for not having kids, are in turn selfish because they believe their life is more noble than others.

Also, many times these are the same people who say, “don’t you want to have someone to take care of you when you’re older?” (That’s a pretty freaking selfish reason to have kids… if you are a parent, you should know that your kids technically don’t owe you anything… and with the economic state of the United States, more often than not parents are now taking care of and housing their kids into their 30s, those “kids” can barely financially support themselves, let alone their aging parents… also many of them will in fact have their own kids to raise, usually because those parents are pushing their children to do so… they won’t be taking care of you. Many of these people who say they deserve to be taken care of, well many of them will be put into homes and forgotten… I would rather, prepare for my own situation instead of having kids just to put the burden on them!)

 

 

ON TO “REAL” LOVE…

This is some guilt inducing BS that people with babies say all the time to make those without feel like pieces of crap, and those who have kiddos feel justified for their life choices…. If you don’t know what I am talking about, a lot of people say/have said, “You don’t know REAL LOVE until you have become a parent/mother.”

Okay so the only way I sort of in the tiniest most abstract way agree with this is that there are definitely lots of different types of love, with many different facets within each type. However, that isn’t the only real love, and I do not agree with how they say it, that makes it sound like the final boss to beat in the video game of “Life & Love”… no that’s not the case.  This type of love (the nature based biological bond of willing to do anything to protect your young) isn’t necessarily love but more maternal/paternal instinct… which can still be felt to a degree when put into a caregiver role even for an animal or other individual and not your biological child. (Also, there are many out there that despite having children, do not feel this type of bond, so to say that people will feel it guaranteed by producing a child, is just not so.)

So I will agree that being a mother is definitely a whole different type of love. But that doesn’t mean you don’t know “real” love. It doesn’t mean that you cannot be a caregiver and know the love of being a parent without physically producing.

To suggest that motherhood is the only real love, would suggest that all other loves are fake. Which is awful… the only fake love out there is when someone is “pretending” to care about someone or leading someone on.

So you can feel “real” love without being a parent… and parenthood is another type of love, and yes you can still feel that parenthood-type of love through some other form of being a caregiver… it doesn’t make all other forms of love invalid.  Sheesh.

 

On being a real woman…

Saying to someone that they don’t become a real woman until becoming a mother is just awful and incredibly stupid. Motherhood is definitely an incredible calling. It can be taxing both physically and mentally. There are many aspects to motherhood… but the thing is saying you aren’t a real woman is so much crap, because the thing is, that those people who say that type of thing are the same people who don’t see women as WOMEN or even as people… it’s the same as that picture that says “Don’t rape her BECAUSE she could be someone’s sister, someone’s mother, someone’s daughter”… I don’t know maybe don’t rape her because she’s a human being that deserves respect? Putting things in that way takes away “womanhood” take’s away our humanity.

Being a mother is an option. But if you don’t become one doesn’t mean you are somehow devoid of being a woman.

Saying this is also kind of like saying, you aren’t a real singer unless you sing opera… That negates all the other forms of singing and music out there.

Motherhood is an optional path of life… being childfree is just as valid as being a mother when it comes to life choices.

 

On how people think you should have kids because others physically cannot…

HOLD UP, What?? That’s right people have said this to me and other people I know… Some have even called me and others “selfish” for not having kids when we know that there are other people who desperately want to be parents but are unable to conceive. Yea can you believe that crazy, ass-backwards, looney-bin logic?

Okay so unless I am conceiving only to hand that child over to the people who then cannot have the kids, then this logic is not in fact logical at all. And is just more guilt inducing crap to get someone who doesn’t want to procreate to do so.

With that logic… then the following things would be true

  1. It’s selfish to birth a child when there are so many children already born ready to adopt and those who birth biological children in turn should be told how awful they are for having kids when there are others to adopt.
  2. Everyone who has full mobility and fully functioning use of their limbs should be some form of athlete because there a people who are paraplegic, have cerebral palsy, or are without legs/arms.

That’s not cool to say to people right? Well then it’s not cool to say the other statement either.

 

ON REGRETS…

One of the biggest statements most childfree adults have flung at them is, “You’ll regret it.” As in you’ll regret not having kids… To which I say, they don’t know you and your life. There is a great potential to regret many things… and in fact there are people out there who regret being a parent. (I have heard that there is a whole sub Reddit on this?  Either way, if you google regretting parenthood, or regretting having kids… you will find a lot of stuff… people might not be willing to admit it out in the world, but they are admitting it on the internet. Also there are a few books and websites dedicated to this very topic, of people regretting HAVING children.) So, like I said, maybe you could regret not having kids, but you could also regret having them! You know yourself and your life better than any of these people, so make the choice that is right for you based upon those factors.

 

ALSO TO ALL THOSE PEOPLE WHO SAY THIS STUFF… 

YOU ARE AN INSENSITIVE IDIOT!!! Really? Really? Saying things like “You don’t know real love” or “You’re not a real woman” in regards to a woman not having kids… is so incredibly insensitive. Maybe that person has some deep complicated stuff going on!! To which you say… “But they didn’t seem like they had stuff going on!”… Well maybe since you are an assuming jerk they didn’t have a chance to tell you, or maybe because it’s their own personal business they didn’t want to share it with you (because they do not have to, not even if you are their parent or family member or co-worker or bestie or whatever)….  You may not know the whole story… you don’t know what that person deals with. They could have a crippling disease/illness (there are many physical and mental issues that people tend to call “invisible illness” that the person does not look ill but is quite so); they could be barren and unable to produce children and have been struggling trying to produce children; they could have terrible PTSD of familial abuse or have phobias such as tokophobia… you do not know someone’s life.

And it’s also super awful to include the childless not by choice people in your attack on the childfree… because you are essentially weaponizing someone else’s pain/situation against someone else for no good reason. Not cool.

 

TLDR/ In Summary:  As I said in a previous post, to be or not to be a parent is a choice, no matter the choice you deserve to have those choices respected and not negated by false & guilt-inducing language. 

So unless someone asked for your opinion, don’t be a jerk, and butt the freak out!

This has been a much longer and perhaps slightly heated, Past Self PSA, now remember, YOU GOT THIS!!!!

-Heather

 

Definition:

“Tokophobia is a pathological fear of pregnancy and can lead to avoidance of childbirth. It can be classified as primary or secondary. Primary is morbid fear of childbirth in a woman, who has no previous experience of pregnancy. Secondary is morbid fear of childbirth developing after a traumatic obstetric event in a previous pregnancy. ”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3830168/