Learning to Follow My Own Advice

“But that’s just the trouble with me. I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.” – Alice in Wonderland

My last post was about what I was considering for my New Year’s Resolution(s). I came to realize today that one of my resolutions has to be more of a personal journey than one of physical, outward achievement.

I need to learn to shut off my brain sometimes. I need to let myself get out of my head and not dwell so much on the negativity that tends to breed there. Whether that’s through writing it out, or talking it out, or just taking a long hot soak in the tub, I can’t let the stupid inside my head get to me.

Most of it (okay, 99.9% of it), lately, has to do with this whole trying to get pregnant thing. It’s a big deal, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like sometimes I make it into a bigger deal than it has to be. Most of it is that I’m scared–not of getting pregnant, but of not getting pregnant. I’ve been afraid for so long that I wouldn’t ever be able to get pregnant (which is apparently a pretty common fear, but when you think about that it makes sense) that now that we are trying, a whole lot of insecurity and fear has popped up in me and I am absolutely terrified that we won’t be able to get pregnant on our own. Especially since that’s all I want. So I begin to obsess. What if–what if–what if. What if I counted wrong or my cycle is longer than normal and I actually ovulated on this day instead of this day – what if I didn’t ovulate at all – what if I’ve got this whole thing completely wrong – All day long. It’s not healthy.

Part of me feels like I will annoy the Better Half if I talk about it all the time, despite the fact that he assures me otherwise. He wants to know what is going on just as much as I do. Part of me feels like talking about this symptom and that symptom is really stupid. But when it comes down to it, that’s what I need to do–talk about it. I need to follow my own advice and just talk. Because like I have always said, it’s when it sits in there that it just gets worse and worse. Talking is like letting the pressure valve off. And I need to do it more often.

And while I’m on the subject of talking and letting the pressure out–the reason this all came up today is yesterday and today I’ve had some cramping going on and while the reasonable part of me wants to say “hey, you’re right in that window where you might be getting implantation cramping–yay!” the pessimistic, stupid part of me wants to say “what if it’s just ovary pain because your ovaries are broken and don’t work.” Work that logic out because I definitely can’t.

I’m trying to count on it being the result of the former, of course. Cross your fingers.

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Pondering New Years’ Resolutions

I feel like pointing out before I start writing this blog that I am using some orajel to clear up a sore I have on my gum (from a rogue pretzel stick on Christmas day) and the numbing agent seems to be going everywhere in my mouth except for on the sore. Go figure.

Anyway, that’s not what I was going to write about. What I’m writing about today is New Year’s Resolutions. We all make them, don’t we? Either directly or indirectly, serious or not serious. We all think about the new year being the time to let go of the old and usher in the new.

And so of course I’m pondering what I shall make my new year’s resolution. I always think of new year’s resolutions as a way to set a goal for myself to achieve throughout the year. And I usually try to keep it specific–“being fit and healthy” is way too broad and personally I think that’s why a lot of people give that goal up within the first few weeks of the year. Keep it specific! To brag a little, I’m 2 for 2 as far as making resolutions and keeping them goes. In 2011, I resolved that by the end of the year, my novel would be completed and ready to start sending to agents. Check. In 2012, I resolved that I would find an agent by the end of the year. And that I did too! Now, obviously the next logical step would be to resolve in 2013 that by the end of the year my book would be on its way to publication or already published, but unfortunately that notion is somewhat out of my hands. If my experience with the effects of Hurricane Sandy on my agents has been any indication, there are a lot of factors that are completely out of my hands in the world of publishing. The revision process could be slowed by any and all factors and who knows how long it will take to get a publisher interested. So obviously I want to see it in publication by the end of the year, but realistically I know that’s probably not possible. But as long as I’m working towards it, I’m a happy camper.

(Thought break here–I forgot to post about the fact that I finally got in contact with my agent and we are having a meeting at the end of January when I come back from Hawaii to discuss starting revisions.)

So, where do I go from there? If having my book published by the end of the year is not a realistic or possible goal, what other goals for 2013 should I have? Continuing to write, obviously, is one of them. But that’s kind of a yearly (i.e. for the rest of my life) kind of goal and it’s too broad. Read more. Yes, that’s something I should always be doing. It’s been hard for me to decide on something I want to work on during the year! Here’s a few I’ve thought about:

  • Improve my French
  • Start sommelier classes (fancy word for wine snob)
  • Take a few culinary classes or find a way to go back to school
  • Complete a new novel (again, something that’s sort of out of my hands if the agents want me to pursue one thing or another)
  • Finish the Song of Ice and Fire series (I’m still in book 2)
  • Finish some serious home renovations (i.e. painting the rest of the house)

I’ve got a lot of interests! It’s going to be tough for me to decide. I get thinking about the things I want to do and then I come back to the fact that I really can’t plan for much because life changes so drastically sometimes. Obviously if I get pregnant this year, I’m not going to be starting sommelier classes. Life is always changing like that. You have to roll with the punches but still find goals that you can fit inside the ebb and flow of every day life.

Well, good thing I still have a couple days to think about it. Sometimes making resolutions is hard!

Daily Prompt: Gimme

Was there a special gift or toy you wanted as a child but never received? What was it?

I always wanted an American Girl doll when I was a kid. I remember getting the catalogues every year and just pouring over them. I thought they historical dolls were just the shit and I especially wanted the one that was based in the American Revolution–was that one Samantha? I had forgotten all about them until last year when I was working in the bookstore and people would bring in used copies of the American Girls’ books. Man those were the days!

Merry Christmas

Ah, yet another Christmas day has come and gone. All this time waiting for it to get here and now it is gone so fast. Always the way.

We spent Christmas eve and Christmas day with my parents. (And as much as I love spending time with them I am so glad to be sleeping in my own bed tonight; their guest bed is small and not spectacularly comfortable) My mom’s annual Christmas eve shindig was small this year, only about a dozen people, but it was fun. It was nice to get to talk to everyone instead of fighting your way through a crowd. After everyone left we planned to watch A Christmas Carol like we do every year but Cameron and I were really tired (and I’ll be honest, I’d had too much wine) and I crashed hardcore.

This morning it was just my parents and us. My brother was with his girlfriend and only came over for dinner (not even going to talk about it–suffice it to say I was highly annoyed). Santa (and my parents!) were very nice this year. We got a new smaller crockpot (with a timer!) from a family friend, an electric carver, an onion chopper (sounds like uber-practical stuff but considering how much time I spend in the kitchen it’s all awesome), a set of stemless white and red wine glasses (yay! finally a matching set!)…um, what else….Cameron gave me an awesome new phone cover with a graphic of The Hound of the Baskervilles on it and a “perpetual calendar” which I can’t even explain because it’s so awesome so I’ll post a picture of it instead. (P.S. Wicked kudos to Mr. Hubby, both of his gifts to me were things we happened to see randomly in stores over the year and I pointed them out to say “ooh how cool!” and he remembered.)

One word: magnets.

My parents also gave us both zip-up hoodies for our favorite football teams (my brother also gave me a Broncos t-shirt) and a couple other assorted odds and ends like the soundtrack to the new Les Mis movie (which I’ll be seeing on Saturday with my dad). Also between the two of us (and Cameron’s birthday) we got a good several hundred dollars’ worth in Home Depot gift cards (whenever family members asked what we wanted we just said Home Depot gift cards) so we are SOOOO excited for that. We can finally get a working sink in our master bathroom! Hallelujah! Plus it’ll be nice to have a little kitty for home renovations as they arise. (Maybe for doing the nursery hopefully soon??!)

On top of all that, we were so impressed with my mom’s swank new camera that we ordered one for ourselves so that we will have it to take with us to Hawaii. We have been thinking about getting a new, nice camera for a while and hers was so great and they got such a good deal on it through the military shopping website (no sales tax + no shipping) that we found one almost identical to hers for the same price. All in all we paid less than $200. I’m so excited for it to come. I have always been interested in photography and now that I have a great camera it will give me a good excuse to learn some more about the craft and start taking some great pictures.

Taken with my mom’s new camera

The furry family members got treats too–Santa brought the dog a big bag of chicken flavored rawhide chews and the kitties each got a mousy catnip toy that makes a squeaking noise when it is touched. (Great practice for kids and their toys!) Whiskey has been throwing his up in the air and batting it around all night.

After presents I made breakfast for everyone and then we relaxed for a while before starting up on the dinner preparations. My mom made a roast and a turkey breast along with a sweet potato/sausage smash, corn casserole, green beans, and mashed potatoes. Nom! My dad cracked a bottle of Mouton Cadet for the meal and it was awe-some. After dinner we had some coffee and then loaded up the car to come back home. It was a great day and I’m glad we got to spend it with my parents.

Trying to stump the “smile detector” on the new camera–not sure if it worked….

In other news – 2 weeks till we leave for Hawaii!!!

2012 Highlights

Well, we’ve come to the end of the world the year. The solstice is here and now the world begins to turn back toward the sunlight and the coming of spring. (Which is why I much prefer the notion of today being midwinter instead of the first day of winter!) Guess it’s about time to give a little recap of the year maybe!

2012 came in snowy, cold, and windy here in Estes Park. We spent a lot of time up in the Park snowshoeing and exploring. Here’s the highlights of the year!

In late January, we brought Sherlock home from the shelter.

In early February we went on a short vacation to Ouray (near Telluride) in the San Juans and it was AWESOME! We spent time at the hot springs and we got to go sledding and snow mobiling in the mountains (well, for a little, till Cameron dumped the snow mobile in 16 feet of powder). We also got to go on a zip line! It was so much fun.

Standing on the side of the Million Dollar Highway outside Ouray
Snow Catting in the San Juans before we took the most epic sled ride of our lives

Snowshoeing at Cub Lake

In March, Cameron shaved his head for St. Baldrick’s. Scary!

In July we bought a house! We were able to move from our 600-sq ft cabin into our very first, very own 1600-sq ft house.

Over the summer I got to see Florence and the Machine (birthday gift from Cameron) and Mumford & Sons at Red Rocks Amphitheater. AMAZING.

September brought a trip to Santa Fe to visit the renaissance festival there. One of my favorites!

In October, of course, we ate candy. Just kidding–we got married!

Right after the wedding, I got an offer from a literary agency to represent me and my book.

This year was my first Thanksgiving! It was nummy.

Mom approved.

Some other photo highlights, in no particular order:

Saints versus Broncos

Colorado Renaissance Festival

Hiking Lily Mountain

Christmas cookie party

Home renovations

Playing Lady Macbeth for an acting class (wish I’d gotten to do the whole show)

Samhain festivities

Sugar Skull Dancer and Queen of the Ravens

Singing with the Oratorio Society of Estes Park

My 24th birthday

Cameron’s 29th birthday

Hard to believe that 2013 is already upon us. We are leaving almost immediately as the new year comes in and heading to Hawaii for 3. Whole. Weeks. Good lordy I can’t wait to be a beach bum for a while. We are also hoping that 2013 might include a mini Carruthers joining the family–keep your fingers crossed for us!

Speak.

For some reason, the last few days have made me feel like blasting Ray LaMontagne. I don’t know why. Maybe because his music always makes me feel like he’s responding to some great sadness. Maybe that’s what we need right now.

I’d like to move on from the events of last week but it just doesn’t seem possible. As horrible as it is, I think it’s important to continue talking about this. That’s the one theme I’ve heard repeatedly in the last few days: let’s talk. And I’m glad for that. Because this needs to be talked about. Whether it’s talking about making change to gun control, or change to mental health, or whatever, let’s talk. When bad things happen, I firmly believe that one of the most important methods of coping is to talk. Get those feelings out. Because if they stay inside you, they start to multiply and take over like a virus. And that’s when explosions happen. That’s when those feelings bust out and sometimes it’s dangerous.

I’m not saying this as a psychologist or a therapist or anything. I’m none of those things and I’m not trying to be. I’m just saying this as someone who has experienced the depths of pretty serious depression and I know what personally helped me. And I think it’s something very simple that could help many people especially when we deal as a societal collective with tragedies like this.

What prompted me to write this post is an article I read this morning that had been posted on the New York Daily News website. (Someone had posted it on Facebook.) It was about the killer’s mother, Nancy, and how she had spoken to a friend about how Adam’s depression (and whatever other problems he suffered from) was getting much worse. And the one thing that stuck out to me was this:

““Nancy told me he was burning himself with a lighter. In the ankles or arms or something,” he recalled of a conversation they had about a year ago. “It was like he was trying to feel something.””

“It was like he was trying to feel something.”

That, right there, was what rang a big loud clear bell for me. And I’ll tell you why.

I used to be a self-abuser. A cutter. And this is not a big secret. I will tell anyone who asks the truth and the reasons why. I haven’t cut in a really long time but I feel like there is so much misconception and stigma about self-abusers and people who suffer from depression that whenever this stuff comes up and theories get thrown around I feel like raising my voice and saying something, maybe for all the people out there who don’t want to or can’t say something.

Now, before I go any farther I’m going to say this: not every self-abuser’s experience is the same. And I do not mean to generalize when I say what I am about to say. I just mean to point out what happened to me specifically, as it relates to the situation at hand.

The reason that the line from that article spoke so loudly to me is because when I was cutting, I was doing so because I felt like it was the only way I could feel anything. My depression left me in such a numb state that cutting and self-abusing was the only way for me to feel anything. It was, several times, the only thing that kept me from committing suicide. I recall quite vividly once when I was a freshman in college, driving home from school and feeling like I had to do something or I was going to drive my car off the road. It was a very powerful, physically overwhelming sensation. The thing was, I didn’t necessarily want to kill myself. But that thing inside my head, the depression, was overriding all the things in my head that made sense. So instead of driving off the road and crashing my car into the woods, I one-upped that sensation by digging my fingernails into my arms till they bled. For me (and this is very important, please remember, for me), self-abuse was my method of coping with the depression. Most people I’ve talked to, through no fault of their own, believe that self-abuse is a pre-cursor to suicide. My parents were in this category–and please note that I do not blame them for this. Some people believe that a self-abuser is about to commit suicide. And sometimes, he or she does. But several self-abusers I’ve talked to have said the same exact thing that I felt–it wasn’t a pre-cursor to suicide. It wasn’t a cry for help. I wasn’t ready to ask for help. It was simply a way to feel. Anything. Even if it was pain.

And obviously, when we examine what happened to Adam Lanza and what happened at that school, we have to consider that depression was more than likely not the only thing that he was suffering from. But the fact is that someone was aware of what was happening to him. And for whatever reason, be it denial or money or the healthcare system (I don’t know, so I’m not going to point a finger at any one reason), not enough was done to help him. Sometimes you can’t help people. But it’s the exact reason why I believe it is so important to never be afraid to talk. Talk to anybody. For me, it was talking to my teachers (in high school) and a therapist in college, because that resource was available to me. The more I kept things inside, the worse I got. The feelings and emotions dragged me down like a stone to the bottom of a pond. But when I opened up and talked, those feelings escaped me and gave me buoyancy again. Obviously this does not work for everyone. But not everyone out there has depression–but everyone out there is a member of the human race and we are all in this together.

I wrote about this because it helped me to deal with my depression when I realized I was not the only one. That I was not alone. And so my point in doing this is to hopefully create a space for even maybe just one person to read about my experience and say, “I have felt that too.” My point was to hopefully just reach out to one person out there in the cybersphere and make them realize that they are not alone. Nobody is alone. We are all members of the human race, we are all suffering the human condition. But we do not suffer alone. And so–to get back to my initial point–I hope that by saying all this, it might get that one person out there to talk to another person before they bottle too much inside them and allow it to consume them. My hope is that if people talked more to each other we would realize that nobody’s experience is unique in the grand zeitgeist of the human experience and that maybe someday someone out there will turn to a friend and talk to them about their problems instead of resorting to much worse things.