Threading the needle

I found this journal prompt and decided (as I often do) to make a list. When I liked the list I made, I decided to share it with you! 🙂

  1. Relax.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Slow down.
  4. Practice patience–the things you seek are already on their way to you.
  5. Your life is okay as it is.
  6. Don’t postpone happiness–it’s yours today, if you want it.
  7. You are so loved! More than you probably know.
  8. You can still do more of the things you love.
  9. It’s okay to say no sometimes. Give yourself a break.
  10. Do at least one thing today that will help your “future self.”

Then I found this image on Pinterest when I searched “patience art.”

patience.jpg

I was struck by its simplicity but also its message. Patience is threading the needle. You have to slow down! I drank too much coffee today–the caffeine is making me jittery and anxious. I can’t “thread my needle” when I’m like this! I’m going to practice 1-4 the rest of the day until I feel calm enough to try again.

Making friends with stress

Stress is bad. We hear this everywhere; our culture is filled with pressure to be productive and efficient and all kinds of obstacles that prohibit our success, but doctors are always telling us to “reduce stress.” I guess…get a massage, take a bath, take a long walk, say no more often, “unplug,” do aromatherapy, adult coloring…etc–the list of “stress” treatments goes on and on.

I envy people who can go with the flow, or who would describe themselves as “laid-back” (every guy on Match.com, if memory serves). But I’m a naturally high-strung person. I’m worried, reactive, and paranoid. My brain is a constant flurry of “what ifs.” Sleeping is hard because my brain wants to remember every incident in my life, however irrelevant to my current circumstances. I am always worried about what needs to be done. I’m a type A personality, but also an expert procrastinator. Being in college for four years has helped me somewhat with “time management,” and I’m used to functioning under high stress situations–my job, for one.

As graduation approaches, I’m tentatively taking steps into what my future holds. For the longest time, I assumed I would apply for grad school, not even pursuing teaching certification without a Master’s degree. Now, I’m not so sure. Having a Master’s can earn you more pay, but it can also price you out of a job when districts don’t want to pay that extra. Maybe I should go through the steps to get certified pre-grad school, and keep that on the back burner as an option? Part of me wants to keep the momentum going of being in school because I love it, and not that much in my life has to change–I can still work full-time and take my online classes, and I’m used to the routine of having homework all the time. I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I suppose I’m going to start by contacting the New Hampshire DOE to see what their process is for alternative certification. I wish SO hard that I had done the “normal” thing and gone to college right after high school…maybe things would be easier now and I would already be doing something rewarding/fulfilling. Alas, that was not my path.

uncertainty

The uncertainty of what comes next, combined with daily stressors (work, mid-March blizzards delivering 20+ inches of snow) has made me feel like I’m about to explode. Rather than eliminate all stress (unrealistic), I’m trying to make friends with my stress and help it help me achieve my goals. According to Psychology Today, moderate stress can be a good thing: it helps motivate you and prepares you to better handle other stressful live events better than those who experience little to no adversity. A study at UC Berkelely found that exposure to moderate stress actually increased brain activity.

Questions for you, reader: How are the stress levels in your life? What stresses you out the most? What tools do you use to deal with stress? Please share in the comments!

adventures in cohabitation: the first two weeks

Moving in with the man of my dreams is pretty much something I’ve been waiting for over the last 7 years, all whilst I was holed up in a VERY small and dingy “one bedroom” (try broom closet) on my own. It was the only thing I could afford, and moving in with family/roommates wasn’t an option, so I slummed it for a LONG ass time. I had no space for my stuff and the landlord was HORRIBLE. I wasn’t going to move in with “just anyone” so I’m glad I waited for my Prince Charming to come along. He’s never lived on his own – just with his parents. I had concerns about this, of course (and still kind of do). Living alone, while challenging in many ways, is a life experience I think I’m better for. (However, once you’re no longer living alone, you’re presented with a whole new set of challenges and adjustments.) After much deliberation, discussion and apartment hunting (oh joy!) we found the perfect pad for us and actually made the move. Here are some observations, realities and lessons from the last two weeks.

#1. Moving SUCKS.

No matter how much we hear how stressful moving is, the concept is always a bit abstract until you actually DO it. When K and I first started discussing our move, I began weeding through my stuff. I would recommend this to anyone, whether you move or not. Make it a habit to comb through your closet/drawers at least once a year—the rule of anything not worn in a year goes is a great rule. I thought I had done well in my paring down process and I still feel like I’m drowning in STUFF. I especially felt that way on the day before and day of my move, packing and carrying heavy boxes in 95 degree heat (thank you, New England heat wave)!

#2. It takes longer than you think to settle in.

Almost 2 weeks later and we still have some boxes kicking around and pictures that haven’t been hung, and we’re not quite sure what we want to do with our combined MASSIVE DVD/blu-ray collection. It’s getting there though. Over the past week I’m still locating missing items that were tucked away during the packing process.

#3. We mesh, as I predicted we would.

We generally like the same styles of furniture/artwork and have a similar threshold of neatness/cleanliness. I’m definitely the slob in  this partnership, but neither of us is OCD clean/neat or atrociously sloppy. I’ve heard horror stories of chores not being done, and had some issues with that on my first go-around at playing house when I was 18, but this time around we’re doing fine at household tasks, at least I think so. I am very lucky to have a boyfriend who will scoop the cat box (my cats!) without being asked.

#4. There are some pitfalls/adjustments…also as predicted.

The first night I came home to K, I freaked out. There was loud music blasting and he was cooking dinner somewhat incorrectly. Something about the loud music and cooking technique jarred me and made me spaz out on poor bf. (Or I can blame PMS…) I called my BFF and she talked me down. Our little “differences” we’ve all been able to talk through. Bf will KILL me for putting this on the internet, but he isn’t exactly skilled in the kitchen (yet). Specific instructions must be given, or disaster ensues. (Maybe not disaster, but at least little discord; it’s always been this way, and I knew what I was getting into.)  I’m told by all the older ladies in my life – it’s a man thing. Sexist as it sounds, nothing can be done. And bf tries, and does a lot. He’s learning how to cook and task in a house, what products are used when. He’s also an expert at assembling furniture, which I know I would be rubbish at if I tried! (Honey if you read this, I love you!)

#5. It’s not all fun and games.

Of course I knew this, but it’s true. We both work, and I attend evening classes. There’s plenty of work to be done when you first move—unpacking, organizing, etc. The cats have developed some odd behaviors with the move and I feel bad that K has to do some feline cleanup—but we both knew that was coming. Even though we see each other every day, we kiss goodbye at 6:30/7 am when he leaves for work and often don’t see each other again until 7:30-11:30 pm, depending on our schedules. And in a weird way, I miss our nightly phone calls to each other, even though we get to “touch feet” every night these days, I will always treasure our pre-cohabitation days. Pining for each other was romantic.

Overall though…so worth it.

I love our apartment. It’s huge compared to my old place, in the cutest little town. We have a deck that overlooks trees/rocks and a Little League field, which we have set up with patio furniture. Almost every night we eat our dinner out there together and get to unwind. We can shoot zombies together on Xbox and watch our favorite movies and shows. Our relationship hasn’t really changed that much. We still laugh and play a ton, and we get to have sex whenever we want (which is ALL the time, lucky us!).

I find it hard to believe that there’s still much of a debate about couples living together before marriage. In my opinion, it’s foolish not to. Yes, it’s a big risk if it doesn’t work out, but it’s important to see what it’s like before getting contractual. Not everyone who shacks up may have marriage as their end-game, but we certainly do. It’s important to talk about that before moving in. I’ve read other blogs where women have moved in with their men and haven’t talked about marriage/kids prior. If you’re sharing a space, that should be on the docket for discussion. K and I have always been very vocal about what we want—and yes, we do want to get married, someday. It’s nice to know where things are (hopefully) going…and even nicer to come home to him. ❤