Cold Hands, Warm Heart

My paternal grandmother (I call her Nana) has poor circulation, just like me. Our hands and feet are always cold. When I was little, she used to take my tiny hand between her own much larger ones and try to bring some warmth back to my chilly digits. While doing it, she’d typically intone, “Cold hands, warm heart.” I still say it to myself quite often.

My apartment is cold. It’s only in the upper 60’s, but there’s a chill in the air, and my fingers and toes feel like fledgling ice cubes. I’m sitting on my couch, where I’ve been mulling over what to write for a couple of hours now. Actually, that’s a lie. I’ve started and stopped multiple times. In all, I’ve probably already written 700 words or so, then backspaced them all into the aether.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve. It will be 2015 soon. I wonder how things have changed since last year, and how they’ve stayed the same. It’s harder to think it over this year, since my concentration isn’t what it used to be. My thoughts scatter like the wind as I reach for them. I’m exhausted with the process.

mistakes

The negatives of this year have been:

Working myself ragged to make ends meet.

Lying to everyone that I was fine when I clearly wasn’t, then worrying about all of the lies so much that I was even more depressed.

Promising more to everyone else than I had to give.

Not promising enough to myself.

Constantly berating myself for not “achieving” at writing, weight, health, money, womanhood, etc.

Shutting out my family because I don’t want them to see how much I’m struggling trying to be someone they’ll be proud of.

Not handling my money as intelligently as originally planned.

Listening too much to other people’s advice. It’s well-meaning, but we are not one-size-fits-all, and other people need to understand that “helpful” advice for how to build a great life can often come across as a condemnation of someone’s shortcomings. Don’t tell people what to do unless they ask you, and even then, be gentle with your phrasing.

 

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The positives of this year have been:

Making up my mind to leave my relationship – then actually doing it.

Falling madly in love when – and with whom – I least expected it.

Holding down two full time jobs, and using the money more wisely than I would have a couple of years ago (yeah, this is on both lists).

Making a home for myself in a desirable neighborhood.

Rolling with the punches in a new relationship with pre-existing issues on both sides that many would have run from, making the bond stronger and sweeter than anything I’ve ever known.

Finally feeling completely at home with being a geek. Nothing to hide, no one to laugh at my interests – just other people who want to play board games, read fantasy novels, and love to dress up in costume as much as I do.

Reaffirming friendships with some of my most beloved friends.

Creating new friendships with a generous helping of new faces.

Coming to terms with the fact that I’m depressed, and need help.

Having the courage to join a really great gym – AND go to classes, even when I was scared.

Beating the back and hip pain that’s been a constant in my life for the last five years (!!!)

happy ending

I think that overall I’ve done a good job. I’d love to look back over this year from a place of perfection, but I’m never going to have that. We’ll never be perfect, any of us, and it’s ridiculous to try. What I can have is love, and friendship, and a decent selection of people who not only get what I’m going through, but are humble enough to know that sometimes they can serve best by just being there.

I’ve been sad and confused and worn out for the last few years, and I had somehow gotten used to it. I was treating it with plenty of wine and potato chips, and lots of sleeping late and trying to avoid conversation as much as possible. But this year I’ve been slowly but surely coming to terms with how much of my behavior has been a coping mechanism for depression. Whether it’s something brought on by my as-yet untreated thyroid issue, the constant back and hip pain, or if I just need therapy (or all of the above), I get it now. Being in a great spot with my love life, and having lots of opportunity to talk about emotions and mental state in person and here on the blog helped me to start to wrap my head around the fact that something’s not normal in my chemistry at the moment.

So that’s what I’m going to work on in 2015. I want to be OK again. I want my warm heart back. I want to put it to work again, and shine for other people. But before I can do that, before I can be bigger for everyone else, I need to get better for myself.

Happy New Year, my beautiful, mysterious internet friends. May you have health and happiness in the coming turn around the sun.

 

Resolutions 2013: Update #1

February will soon be coming to a close, so it seemed like a good idea to peek in on my New Year’s Resolutions and see if I’m still in line. Surprisingly, it looks like I’m actually doing pretty well, or at least staying on target. This, despite having a weird, lingering head cold for the last two weeks, plus living through Mardi Gras and Super Bowl madness.

Here’s what I said I’d be doing with my year…

1) Grow my personal freelance business. Back in January, I said, “I want to have a website, pricing structure, service list, and detailed portfolio put together by the end of February 2013…It would be great to be making at least $45k by the end of the year.” I’ve almost got the website set up, and am still working on the pricing structure and portfolio. I think I should have them done by the end of the month.

2) Expand my marketing prowess. I wanted to, “Become a member of the AMA. Sign up for a social media scheduling and analytics program like Sprout or something similar…Blog about marketing daily.” I’m not all there yet, but I have signed up for Sprout, and my company just won an ADDY Award. We’ll find out on Saturday what the award was for, and hopefully it was something to which I contributed my time and ideas…I’d love to have an advertising award under my belt!

3) Declare a new personal style. I opined, “It’s time for my clothes to reflect my place in the world. Stat.” I’m still getting there. I’ve decided that I’m going to give it one last major push at dropping a dress size before spending money on new clothes, but I’m still spending here and there to update the products I use to make myself presentable. I’ve been reading this awesome book called How to Look Expensive, and have been stocking up on recommended beauty buys that are slowly but surely turning me into a polished, glamourous girl. It’s pretty awesome that I’ve got the Kindle app on my iPhone, because every time I go shopping (Walmart, mostly) I flip through the book to see what products are recommended and see if I can buy one. I’m getting one product at a time, sticking with the least expensive buys, and then I’ll budget for the bigger purchases (I’d rather go cheap on my eyeliner and splurge on anti-wrinkle creams).

4) Start seeing a personal trainer! I’ve been seeing Eric Capers at Pro Fitness Trainers of New Orleans for about a month and a half now, and my arms are definitely seeing some difference. I’m not losing weight or seeing results as quickly as I should just because I’m not giving myself enough time to get to the gym and yoga like I should, plus I’ve been really sick all this week. That’s changing, though. Tomorrow I start back at the gym and it will be non-stop, no-holds-barred action.

5) Join a marching krewe/dance team. I haven’t joined a marching krewe yet, but I talked briefly with a friend of mine who marches with the Pussyfooters and said she thought she could get me in. Plus, Eric (the personal trainer) trains a Pussyfooter who might be able to get me in if my friend can’t. So it looks like a serious possibility! Now that Mardi Gras is officially over, I’ll get in contact with my friend in the next week or so and find out what my chances are – I’m ready to lace up my pink corset and shake it!

6) Read more. I’ve read a few books already this year, and since my goal is to read a couple a month, I’m doing OK. I still need to find time to dedicate to reading marketing materials, though. I guess it’s time to make a very detailed life schedule and stick to it (boring, but necessary, I guess).

7) Write more. Sucking at this one. What’s weird, though, is that I met a published fiction author the other day who invited me to come out and join his writers’ group. Hmmm…is the universe trying to tell me something?

8) Pay off my credit cards. Have I mentioned lately how much I rock? I paid off not one, but TWO, YES TWO, credit cards last week, and put a substantial amount of money into a third card. I still haven’t gotten paid out for those stocks yet, but as soon as that check comes in I’ll pay off a third card and then all I’ll have left is one more. I can’t imagine how much nicer it’s going to be to not have credit card debt! I’m never ever EVER putting purchases on a credit card again unless it’s a dire emergency.

9) Stop letting my relationships define who I am and how I act. Taking care of this nicely. It’s always an uphill battle…it’s strange to be so strong and yet so very weak, especially when the other people aren’t trying to control me at all – it’s all me, making up boxes that I have to then fit into.

10) Travel more! Buy a car! Run longer distances! Downsize my physical possessions! Excel at speaking to people about my professional capabilities! Learn to do something new! Make things! Take my cats to get their teeth cleaned! Go back to Pagan school and learn more!

I will! Could happen! Already happening (signed up for a 10k in March)! Just got rid of two boxes of crap today! Just worked on talking to people about marketing today! Not yet, but soon! Starting a once-a-month craft group with friends! Ooops, need to do this! Signed up, now to schedule it in!

 

Creating a Working Plan for Keeping My Resolutions

I wrote down a few of my resolutions for 2012 here a couple of days ago, and have been thinking about them ever since. The problem is not coming up with things I want to achieve – the problem has always been (as it is for may people, I’d assume) creating a workable plan to achieve those goals.

For instance, when it comes to learning to swim, I know that I’ve already taken 6 lessons, and that when I get paid next week I’ll call up the swim school and sign up for another round. Easy. I like going to lessons. It’s fun, feels like I’m getting somewhere, and it’s exercise that doesn’t feel so effortful when I’m actually in the pool. If I had my own pool I’d be in it every morning.

What about training to run and then actually signing up for 5K races? The first step will be to get back on a daily running schedule. I can easily do 2 miles, so I don’t want to start with a couch to 5K running program. Instead I’ll start with running 2 miles a day until I get bored, then move it up slightly from there. That should have me running 3 miles by late January, meaning that my first 5K can be in February. But are there any races around here in February? According to RunningintheUSA.com, there’s a 5K race nearby on January 29th. So the first stop on my route is a race in late January, after which I should set up a goal race to accomplish once a month. If I get bored of running 5K races, I’ll let myself revisit the idea of running longer distances in early summer. I’m pretty sure I won’t care to once it starts getting horribly hot around here, but who knows?

When it comes to budgeting food expenditures, I’m setting myself at $80 every two weeks. This means no more ordering take out or going to restaurants, no more buying expensive snacks, and it will also entail cutting back on social eating and drinking. I’ll also be cooking cheap foods in bulk (beans and grains) and putting them up in the freezer, including making massive batches of oatmeal, vegan burritos, soups and stews, rice, and other things that cost little and stretch far. It’ll be good training for later in life when I have a family to feed. The massive plus side to this is that there’s no way not to lose weight on this plan, which is not a goal for the New Year, but something I’ve been working on, anyway.

Putting more money in my savings account will also be a positive effect of spending less money on groceries. I also spent a few hours on my budget and realized that if I quit the gym, cancel my membership at Planet Beach (I was only going for the sauna – I don’t believe in tanning, I rather like being pale), get on a much cheaper prescription medicine, and put all of my spare money into savings and my credit cards, that I can have all of my credit cards paid off by June and my savings account will be in OK shape by the time I go to Croatia to my friend’s wedding around the same time. I’m hoping that this will mean a vacation that doesn’t incur credit card debt – my first.

Basically everything on my list boils down to two major goals: becoming physically and financially fit. The reason I want to be both of these things is because I want to be a better, trimmer person, in every way. I don’t want to be a disastrous slob. I want to be someone that people admire and desire to emulate in some way (not like a superstar, but rather a good example of a person in decent working order). I want to fall into bed at night feeling proud of my accomplishments, not stressed that I’m losing out in every arena. It’s going to be very tough to accomplish these goals, even though they’re simple, and the only way I can fight through this and start being happy with myself is to make my last resolution my greatest priority: Create a schedule and stick to it!

So can I?

Right now the two things that really screw me up are loving to sleep and loving to eat. I sleep too late. I eat when I’m bored, happy, sad, excited, working, lazing about, you name it. If I can make myself wake up and work, and try replacing my need to eat with a need to achieve goals, I can accomplish so very much. I’m still not completely sure how to do this, but I’m going to spend the rest of today figuring it out. Obviously I haven’t done it yet, despite this ridiculously rambling post. Maybe a calendar might help? Excel is good for budgeting, but not good for me when it comes to budgeting time. Which reminds me, I’m going to need a few more alarm clocks…