Friday, July 31, 2015

I Seem To Have Misplaced July - Have You Seen It?

How is this the last day of July? Where did it go? How did I only post a handful of times all month?

I'm about to get all old school blogger on you: stream-of-consciousness, omg there aren't even any pictures in this thing. Sorry 'bout it.

I'm in such a weird place in my life right now. I'm working so. freaking. hard. to save up for my impending move back to Florida, but hot damn is it hard to get any momentum going. I cant remember which book it was in (I've been reading like a fiend lately, or more accurately like my pre-internet middle school self) but I read something last night that mentioned how almost anything big is at least three times harder than you expect it to be. TRUTH. 

I need this move. I need to shake things up, start fresh. I've been stuck in Missouri for five years now, and every now and then I glance around and think "How did I get here? This is all wrong." I know that changing your surroundings is not an instant recipe for happiness, but I can't shake the feeling that where I am now just isn't the right fit for me. I miss my Florida friends and my palm trees and lazily wandering around Epcot on days off.

I'm trying. I've been viciously de-cluttering, a weird way to put it, I know, but I can't think of a more accurate description. I am tired of being weighed down by things that I keep just because I've always kept them. I've been working my bootie off whenever possible. So much writing. So much trying to pull my new side business together. So much reaching out, trying to make sure that when I do pick up and move, that I won't constantly be freaking out about money and unable to enjoy the life I've worked so hard to get back to.

It sounds so simple - do the work, make plans, budget, go. But man do I feel like I'm swimming against the current most of the time. Despite over a year of doctor visits every few months to figure out the right antidepressant/anti-anxiety medicine, I still get exhausted way too fast. My brain overloads after a couple of hours of trying to focus on work and gets way too fuzzy to produce the kind of content I'm getting paid for. And if I try to push through the exhaustion, mental and physical, and just keep going-going-going until there's finally a significant dent in my to-do list, my body totally shuts down on me and I usually find myself spending at least 24 hours in the most unimaginable vomit-y, headache-y, has ended in trip to ER more than once, pain. (That coming from someone who didn't even touch the fancy pain meds after getting my wisdom teeth out. I took an Advil or something and a nap. My pain tolerance is just weird.)

Throw in the weight of looking after mom while she's in the nursing home recovering from yet another bout of getting so weak that there are nights I have to feed her her dinner, as well as looking after things at her house and running to the store any time she needs snacks or random supplies (which is multiple times a week), and the little bit of energy that I start most days with gets zapped pretty fast.

So yeah, things are tough at the moment. They're not bad, by any means - I've spent more than enough time in "bad" times. Enough that I appreciate "Tough, but not awful" as an alternative. But I thought I'd share where I am right now, what's up in my head. A long string of day after day where I feel like I'm giving my all but only inching forward in tiny increments. But at least it's still forward motion.

I can't wait to be home (despite growing up in MO, FL is "home"), sharing adventures and silliness and all sorts of good things here. I can't wait to have stories that feel like they're worth telling again. Blogging can start to feel rough when your day was, "I wrote some articles, snuggled my cats, and threw away a bunch of old papers". It will be so much more fun when I get to go back to writing about the awesome new local band I just discovered, the hilarious thing I overheard at Disney World, the photos from random day trips to the beach just because it's just an hour away. Yes, life will still be crazy and hard and stressful after I move, but all of that is a lot easier to deal with when you're surrounded by people and places and things you love. That's what I need to get back to.

Time to start another day. Maybe I'll make a few more inches of progress than I did yesterday. Keep moving forward.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

10 Things - Volume 41

1. You would think I'd be able to keep up with doing a weekly 10 Things post! LOLNOPE. I've failed y'all lately. Sorry bout it.

2. So, OMG, Rachel Freaking Maddow followed me on Twitter last week.

Pretty much my reaction. And then I called my mom.

I started to post about it and then got distracted by something shiny, so check back tomorrow to read about it!

rachel maddow shirt - Google Search
Like, for realsies!

3. Target recently had a buy one, get one 50% off sale, so I scored this dress that I've had my eye on for quite a while...

This kind of dress has totally become my summer staple! I tried it on in the store a while back but the medium was too small on my chest and the XL was too big all over, and they didn't have a large in store. So when the sale rolled around, I finally ordered it online!

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Uh, sorry I don't have a head. I actually tweeted this last week as a note that the rad thing about summer is that when you don't feel good, you can throw on a little dress that basically feels like a nightgown and still look like you put in effort. Yay, dresses!

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Slightly more pulled together.

4. I also ordered this one...

but then I was very sad because it didn't quite fit right. They had L and XXL in the store, with the prior being too small on my chest and the latter being way too big in general, so you'd kinda guess the XL would fit, right? Nopes. I'm pretty much in mourning. (It also comes in this cute black/coral color scheme which makes me even more sad. Arrgh!)

5. Had a total freakout when I was about to post this because Google randomly decided that after blogging here for over a decade, it suddenly wasn't sure if I actually owned my domain name. An hour of poking things later, my blog came back from 404 awfulness! WHEW!

6. I aspire to this level of greatness:

7. I mentioned the de-cluttering book I just read in yesterday's book post, but I forgot to mention a part that resonated me. I don't recall the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of "Do you want your home to be a sanctuary for your current life or a museum of your past?"

8. I assume that you have already seen this cat gif, but just in case...

9. I am SO OVER the freaking rain! Didn't get to go to this month's thrift store bag sale because there was a ginormous flash flood and the street in front of the store was basically a river. On Monday, I had some free time in the evening and was like omg, I will go hang out at the lake for a while! Except LOLNOPE, the lake ate the road.


Meanwhile, adorable Chris Hayes is doing a week long feature about the drought in California. WTF climate?

10. This is my jam right now:

Yes, I know it's everywhere, but I love it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Show Us Your Books - July

Life According to Steph

I never got around to finishing up my post for the June "Show Us Your Books" linkup, so this post has almost two months worth of reading squished into one! (There are a few books that I read recently that I haven't had a chance to write about yet, but I'll get to 'em next time!) As usual, you can click on the cover images to be taken straight to their Amazon pages, both for the sake of convenience and 'cause my coffee addiction is expensive so sometimes affiliate links happen.

Also, I just realized that all of the books in my post this month are by women. Woot!

 A Fighting Chance

Even though I'm a pretty serious political nerd, I have to admit that before reading A Fighting Chance the main thing that I knew about Elizabeth Warren is that pretty much everyone wants her to run for president, but she's all "Nah, guys, I'm cool hanging out in the senate". I feel like I know her much better now, especially since I listened to this as an audiobook, which she read. I'm still impressed that she made economics, not usually my kind of topic, totally interesting. My absolute favorite thing is that while campaigning she picked up the habit of telling little girls that she was running for the Senate "because that's what girls do." Maybe something about that will stick and by the time these girls grow up the Senate won't be 80% men.

Desert Queen

Continuing the "books about awesome women" trend, I also listened to the audiobook of Desert Queen, a biography of Gertrude Bell. In the late 1800's when the concept of an independent woman was still just a gleam in Beyonce's ancestors' eyes, Gertrude spent her time exploring the Middle East, gathering info for the British government, mapping uncharted territory and eventually even drawing the borders for Iraq! I do feel like this book was a rather dry (at times) take on a fascinating woman. Several parts of the book seemed to drag on, and while it was interesting I think it would have benefited in being written in a more compelling fashion that would have kept me wanting to turn pages.

The Doctor Is In

Did you know that Dr. Ruth served as a sniper after WWII? That she lost her parents in the Holocaust? That she's only 4'7"? There is a lot more to the little woman with the accent you've seen on TV talking about sex than you probably know. This book is part biography, part commentary to how to live life with more "joie de vivre", the topic that she ties almost every story in the book back to. I have to admire her energy (even now in her 80s!) and ability to maintain such a positive spirit after going through some horrible things in her youth. Her personality comes through a lot in the writing, which is very conversational in style. I thought it was a fun read, although I've noticed that a lot of reviewers were disappointed because they wanted something different or more. (I recieved a complimentary e-book via NetGalley for an honest review.)

Day Shift - Charlaine Harris

I read and reviewed the first book in this trilogy in May, and picked up my review copy of Day Shift on NetGalley the next day to continue the story. While the previous book took a long time to get rolling, I found the opposite problem with this one - I was intrigued at the beginning, but my desire to keep turning pages (or, you know, scrolling) fizzled a lot by the last quarter of the book. I attribute that to the fact that most of the "mysteries" in this book were only mysterious to the characters - I imagine most readers will figure them out very early on. Add in the fact that one of the major plots of the story (the hotel) is left unresolved, and it just didn't feel satisfying at the end - there was no "Ohhh, wow!" moment when things come together.

All of that is not to say I didn't enjoy it - I like Harris's writing style in general, and getting to better know some of the smaller characters from the first book was nice. But speaking of that, a few of the author's minor characters from her other books show up in this one. I don't mind cameos that give a nod to fans of previous books, but two moderately important characters in this book came from the True Blood series, which was just... kinda odd. I feel like anyone who hasn't read that series might be confused by their implied backstories. I'd much rather have seen Harris create vibrant new characters to fill those roles instead of taking what felt like a sort of lazy way out. I'm sure I'll read the next one when it comes out, but this one was just average for me. I guess I'd say that if you enjoyed the first book in this series, this is worth picking up to continue the story. If you didn't like Midnight Crossroads much, though, you probably won't like this one any more.

Behind the Clutter 

I knew as I was reading this book that it would be a hard one to write a review for, because while I wasn't a fan of the writing style, I did find the book effective at making me look at my possessions in a new light and cut down a lot of clutter. Behind the Clutter has a few things in common with the (currently super popular) "Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" in that both books want you to hold your items and think about how they make you feel (and both authors are Japanese, coincidentally). However, while just asking if an object brings me joy, as "Life Changing..." instructs, this book asks you to think about if the object fits who you are as a person right now, if it truly serves a purpose, and what the real reason you're holding on to it is. There's a lot less of the technical "fold your clothes like this and organize your shelves like this" and a lot more of the "why do I feel the need to hang onto this?"

I received a complimentary review copy via NetGalley, and oh man do I hope that the book went through another round of editing before the final version, because at least 1/3 needed to be cut out. There's a LOT of extraneous detail and stream-of-consciousness rambling. For instance, sure, it might be helpful for the reader to know that you carry a computer bag, a gym bag, a yoga bag, a current projects bag, and a "self care" bag in your car, but do we really need multiple pages detailing every single item in each of those bags, as well as what brand and color each bag is and where you got it? Probably not.

That said, I have found the ideas that fuel the book to be helpful. For example, I figured out that part of why I'm so good at starting projects but not finishing them is that as long as a project is incomplete, it still has the potential to turn out great/prefect. I've found letting go of things that I don't really need to be a lot easier than ever before. I'd recommend this if you're interested in shifting the way you think about the things you own, but with the note that you might have to sift through a lot of sugary fluff to find the good stuff. (Just a note - I still have about 7% of this book left, but I figured I'm far enough in that my opinions aren't likely to change by the end. If they do, I'll update ya up!)

Read anything awesome lately?