catnap fever

scribble-blink

Wow, I’m tired! It’s my own damn fault for staying up too late, working on drawings and fighting with the cat. I’ve slacked off a bit on Inktober this week, recharging my brain I guess. Tonight I’m going to try some ink washes instead of just the ink pen…I’m hoping I’m just a bit tired of the pen.

Thinking about moving out of the tiny townhouse, for real this time, I mean it! There’s so much to get done before I can move, though. I have accumulated a lot of crap stuff over the last 12 years. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what I should let go and what I should keep. I do love dropping boxes and bags off at Goodwill. Decluttering will be good, healthy even! Speaking of which, I’m on an antibiotic this week (don’t ask) and I’m worried the meds are stifling my creativity. Is that a thing? Can that be a thing now? Maybe it’s just affecting my mood/attitude.

Do you ever feel like not getting excited about things because you could “jinx” it? Like, don’t get your hopes up because you don’t want to be super disappointed when it doesn’t “happen” or that you stop wanting things for that same reason? Feels that way right now and I’d like to think I don’t have a habit of feeling that way, I’m not a superstitious person…so maybe it’s just this round of meds messing with me and next week I’ll be my old positive-thinking self. Maybe?

In a couple weeks things will get sorted. I’m afraid to say it, but I am looking forward to a fresh start…Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, don’t jinx it! ♡

the sparklies

Just a few short weeks ago I ordered myself this ring from Feather Oak and have been checking every day since for a delivery date! I’m usually not very spendy when it comes to jewelry because…if the tangled ball of bracelets and necklaces that live in my top dresser drawer are any indication…I don’t take very good care of my jewelry.

holidaynails

I’ve also been doing glittery nails for the last couple weeks – glitter is everywhere, especially my hair, because curls are glitter magnets, apparently.

I’ve got a serious case of the sparklies. I see twinkles on the lake in midday and I get out my phone to record them…I’m wearing shimmery pink or gold eye shadow pretty much daily and yes there are sequins on the sweater I’m wearing…rose gold sequins. After I design and print my Christmas cards maybe I’ll dust them with spray glitter.

Whether this new twinkly habit is a distraction or a balm, I can’t know for sure. It’s probably a little of both, but a little sparkle is never a bad thing so I plan to sparkle on!

Have a shiny weekend!!!

 

 

 

 

 

I’m gonna be

When my chronic inflammation gets the best of me, and even with my careful diet and avoiding stress it does still get me, I have a plan in place for dealing with it. Sounds funny to say that pain is something you get used to, but you do. Generally, a flare up can last 2 weeks. I don’t take any narcotic pain killers (allergic to most) which means I’m just taking things slow. Like, really slow. Pain is exhausting and sleep is difficult when you can’t breathe. You begin to feel a little bit loony. You learn to not show pain in public (or maybe you avoid going out). Aside from the flare ups I have to deal with stiffness, back aches and associated wobblyness daily.

Right now, I am doing well with managing my pain. Even so, yesterday I looked up some new symptoms on Dr. Google and it’s totally nothing… or it’s something terrible. One of those. Every page I visited listed “discomfort” as a symptom. Obviously, now I am worried I have ALL THE THINGS. I live with discomfort every day, we’re practically roomies. Discomfort is the Laverne to my Shirley, only a lot less fun (the opposite of fun). Worst roommate ever, actually, and I’ve had some pretty crappy roommates (ex-husbands count, right?).

If I’m doing well, like I am right now, I take advantage of it. I CLEAN the whole house, take Mac on a MILLION walks, go shopping, call friends, post on the blog, SMILE, make plans (this one is new). You have to take advantage of feeling well, when you don’t know how long you have until “big D” shows up again to suck all the fun out of your life. Until then, I’m going to love on everybody and be fucking awesome.

dear october

Oh, how I love the start of the holiday season (that’s you, October). It’s only the 2nd day and I’ve already eaten more candy than actual food. I heard a rumor that this weekend we (here in North Florida) are scheduled for some cooler weather. It’s about damn time. Afterall, there’s an entire menu of slow cooker recipes that I need to dive into and I’ve compiled a list of at least five different ways to prepare squash, roast nuts, and bake apples.

October, will be full of work and play; of memory making and things remembered. We’ll celebrate with pumpkin-themed food and drink; electric purple, orange and green treats will beckon us (c’mon, you had ONE…what’s FIVE more going to hurt?). I will try really hard not to “over do it” this year (that’s the trick!). What I’d prefer to do is keep things simple as the year winds down. October is the beginning of the end; a glittery sugar-fueled prelude to a fervently nostalgic finale.

Let’s enjoy the time we have together and be more present…take longer breaks from our devices, be more patient, untether a bit from online “obligations” – yes, even our blogs– and, instead, write letters from the heart on actual paper using complete sentences. Let’s laugh more, complain less and strive to be more kind to ourselves and others.

Let’s begin, shall we?

XO-

sig

image credit:
The Masque of the Four Seasons by Walter Crane (c. 1903-9), more works here.

dear september

I have a habit of assigning certain colors to months of the year. You, September, are moody blue like comfy denim. I know it won’t really be “cold” here in North Florida until late December but I’m already wearing my Fall gear…with much enthusiasm. I’ve cleaned out and reordered my closets with dresses, leggings, long sweaters, infinity scarves and flannel shirts. It’s not time yet for cider or hot cocoa but it’s almost time for me to rifle through my embarrassingly large collection of yarn and knit something squishy.

It’s almost time to decorate for Halloween and I’ve already got a glittery laser (pew, pew!) cut pumpkin on my desk at work…to mark the spot where I ration the candy and chocolate for those that walk through the art department. I decided to populate my half-walled cubi with illustration and various quote-inspired typography…it is quite a major thing for me to commit to something/anything on my walls. The effect has been both soothing and bolstering (win win). Who knew? Next week I plan on introducing a lumbar pillow and, dare I say it out loud, a LIVE PLANT. I’ve been spending so much time at my desk lately (it’s our busy time through to the end of the year) that I really just want to make it as comfortable (and tasteful) as possible.

Yesterday, at home, I was taking down a set of lanterns I had hanging in the back yard in order to relocate them to the front, you know, a little pre-autumn entryway vignette prep work. I walked them through the house toward the front door unaware that one of the two lanterns was populated by BEES. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a winged thing fly by but it was not until I set the lanterns on the front steps that I realized there were bees (a lot of bees). I hopped into the house slamming the door shut and when I peeked out the window, bees were scrambling out of that lantern like a squadron of micro F15 fighter jets.

These letters are supposed to set the tone for the month but since I’m late, September, this one is more of a summary isn’t it? The goal for this letter was to post it about 3 weeks ago, but I’ve been too busy working and sleeping and working and…well, you know how that goes.

The weather shifted today. It’s cooler than it has been in a while and I love it. Fall is my absolute favorite season. I like pretending it’s much colder outside than it actually is; I like to be bundled in flannel and denim and wear my boots (almost every day). My Dad had a birthday last week. I sent him this print by James Hance because the first time I saw it I got teary and thought of my Dad. I hope he frames it and, when he looks at it, thinks of me.

pen friend

I woke up in a cheerful mood this morning, in spite of myself. I’ve had some pain the last few days and I was feeling a bit loony but I’ve taken ibuprofen every 4 hours for the last 2 1/2 days and I’m at least mobile. I’ll start my next Whole30 tomorrow. After 2 relapses in the last month, I was beginning to feel like a science experiment. I’m glad to go back to restricting most problem foods and by August I should be feeling pretty awesome again.

pen-friendI’ve been hunting down a lot of (inspirational) quotes lately. I really like Pinterest for that. I found Sharna Martorello’s work through instagram though. I LOVE SWOOPY BLACK INK HANDWRITTEN ANYTHING. Seriously, it could be a grocery list… and I would still love it. Ms. Martorello’s print shop, Pen Friend, has something for just about everyone.

My Mom’s handwriting is my favorite, though. For the home office reboot I plan on taking some of her handwriting and blowing it up to hang in a frame.

I always go back to one particular letter she wrote me when I was struggling at college (anxiety issues and I have a habit of being a bit “stormy”)

Mame:
I don’t know what’s bothering you and it probably is none of my business, but I do wish things or whatever is upsetting you was over.

Life is too short to let things bring you down. Now is the time in your life that you should be enjoying yourself, experiencing new ideas and putting them to good use.

We want you to be happy and have a good time in college but it sounds like you’re not. Just be yourself and try not to let things bother you so much. If you take a positive outlook on what is going on around you, you might see a lighter side of things.

I’m not lecturing you, I just want you to be happy. Everything may seem dark to you now and you are down on yourself but there is and will be a brighter day only if you want it and accept each day as it comes.

You are bright, talented and a very giving person. Live each day with a positive outlook. Also, you are a beautiful girl who has a lot to give– if only you would allow yourself to. Please be happy.

Love You,
Mom

– I should read this letter every day (sniff, sniff… love you too, Mom).

credits:
Sharna Martorello images via Pen Friend

upside down

rabbitholeAnd when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter—they are so rusty, so ugly, so meaningless and feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long.
― Plath

I floated through the weekend (not in a good way). Unable to escape myself, I thought about going back into therapy. Having few people to talk to about my “issues” being the main reason. It’s probably safe to say that if you are wondering if you need therapy, you probably do.

I hate therapy, to be honest. I liken it to scratching at old wounds. The small amount of comfort/ accomplishment you feel is tainted with the feigned friendship of a person you PAY to listen to your weirdness; a person who parrots your thoughts in such a way that you might come to your own conclusions… because you’re not going to listen to what someone else thinks you should do… you’re supposed to decide for yourself how to unmuddle, well, yourself. That’s not my kind of dance. I talked myself out of going back: you cannot afford it, you already know how to get through this crap, things could be worse, it’s not like you’re suicidal, you just need to rest. All those things are true; I push on.

What if I unravel? That’s the main fear, isn’t it?  You unpuzzle your “issues” somehow with the help of a stranger then you have to be able to put yourself back together again. Things got weird with my last therapist so I stopped going… even if I wanted to see someone, I’d have to pick a new person and start all over. I’m tired just thinking about it.

Be kind to yourself. I’m trying. Also, I’m wondering when it all started. Was it last week or 3 days ago when I somehow tumbled down the rabbit hole? These things can creep up on me in the sneakiest ways.  I know it’s not because of my birthday, I’m surprisingly at peace with turning 38 next week. I think old stuff just got stirred up some way. Things I thought I’d forgotten or things I cannot quite remember.

NOTE:
I wrote this post yesterday but didn’t plan on publishing it, since it seemed so… pathetic. I’ve been getting increasingly ill the last week and a half and I just figured out this morning that the multi-vitamins I’ve been taking have soy, dairy, AND gluten in them. I’ve essentially been poisoning myself for almost 2 weeks. I thought I was losing my mind over the weekend, honestly. I’d been nauseus, gotten rashes and even had a bad breakout. I was convinced my “miracle” was over; that I was regressing and then this wicked depression (another symptom of accidental glutening) settled in Friday night. I still feel pretty awful today. But I’m optimistic that at least I will feel better again by my birthday.

credits:
image via

weeks three and four Whole30

strawberries_fractl-mfIt’s day # 28 of my Whole30 adventure. My third and fourth weeks were “okay”. I did start to get a little “bored” with my lunches and dinners and I have been thinking A LOT about what the first “sweet” thing would be after day 30 (Mmmm, lemon bars). I decided it will just be raw honey in my tea/coffee. I’m definitely not adding dairy back in (I’ll miss you, Noosa) and no gluten, of course. I imagine I will be adding some gluten free bread (eventually), even though I hate most of it. Bleh. Oh and I will NEVER eat another dried apricot as long as I live.  Don’t ask.

Ok, I’ve been eating a little too much fruit.

I reevaluated my meal template and I’ve been consuming probably 1 and a half times more fruit than I should. Meaning that in June (my whole9 starts in June) I am cutting way back on fruit. No biggie.

I’m pretty comfortable planning and prepping my meals. My knife skills have greatly improved (they could not have gotten any WORSE, that’s for sure). And I’ve only burned myself twice in the past week. Progress.

As a side note, my friends have noticed that I’m “glowy” lately. I take this to mean I look healthier (and not just greasy, ha!). One person mentioned a pregnancy glow… um…yeah…no. But I understand the comparison and I’m glad that people see an improvement, even if I don’t see it. I haven’t had any reactions to food in the past 2 weeks (never mind the dried apricots) because I’ve kept things really simple since the beet incident of Week 2. More importantly, my inflammation continues to lessen; the only pain I have is from actual exercise. I KNOW! Obviously there are no marathons in my near future but I’m fine with slow and steady progress. Just fine.

I’m finding that my biggest frustration lately is the questions I get from people not familiar with Whole30 or food sensitivities in general. It’s very difficult for some to understand that I’ve not gone to all this “trouble”  the last 28 days in order to lose weight. “How much have you lost so far?” is a common, if not the first, question I get (usually after declining a lunch invite). If I’ve lost anything it’s just water weight… because my inflammation has gone down so drastically… BECAUSE I AM NOT EATING FOODS THAT TRIGGER THAT INFLAMMATION. Is it really THAT hard to grasp the concept that each person has a unique system and that certain foods, while acceptable for some, just don’t work for other people?

I really don’t care if people understand why, or think I’m stupid or that this is some kind of trendy thing I’m doing. My results in just four weeks of clean eating override anyone’s opinions (or assumptions).

And, that’s the exact reason I’m not outlining my food plan here on the blog. What works for me might not work for you. Whole30 is about the process of finding out what DOES work for each individual.

week two Whole30

webcilla-unsplashIt’s day # 15 of my Whole30 adventure. My second week was “easier” than the first in some ways, harder in others. Prepping my food days in advance is becoming a habit (YAY). I’m a bit tired of broccoli and cauliflower (and carrots), though, so there will be NONE of that this week (thank goodness). I had a slight reaction to something I ate last Tuesday. It was either the eggs I had or the beets. I’m going with beets, since I honestly had never eaten them before and the reaction (on my neck) was gone by morning. Oh, and I dream about food every night. Usually it involves eating something by accident. Like honey in my tea or a piece of gum (oh the HORROR). I’m not dreaming of hot fudge sundaes or anything so at least there’s that. A coworker told me today that they can tell I’ve lost weight. I’ll take their word for it. I FEEL a whole lot better lately, even though during a dreadfully boring weekend (Mother’s Day) I know that I ate WAY too much fruit. I suppose I was bored and a little sad or just feeling left out.

Let me tell you a little story:

Years (and years) ago I worked with a woman a little older than I am now. She was extremely bitter about men and love and was her own worst enemy when it came to the reasons why she had neither in her life. Sometimes she was completely fun and hilarious, which told me that was who she **used** to be, before the bitterness took over. I tried harder than I’ve ever tried with anyone to bring her out of that dark place. But the more I tried, the more she pulled me into the other direction. Once I decided I couldn’t do it any longer, I cut her out of my life. I still feel bad about it, sometimes. It was at that time I also decided (since I was newly divorced and without children) I would NEVER let that kind of bitterness into my life again.

Now that I’m basically in the same place that she was back then (nearly 40, divorced, no children), I fight a creeping bitterness. It will show up during family holidays or whenever anyone brings their newborn into work. I accept that life throws things at us and it will seem sad or we will feel like we got “ripped” off somehow; but bitterness – like jealousy, is truly such a waste of energy. I do the best I can.  Also, If you need to cry I believe you should just let yourself cry. Who doesn’t feel BETTER after a huge cry? AND, if eating a few extra strawberries on a Saturday helps me feel better – I’m okay with that too.

credits:
image via

more best year EVER printables

the2014mealsFor the last 3 months I fell off the wagon (so to speak) eating gluten and pretty much anythng else that was put in front of me. Long story short, I’ve been suffering… a lot. The BEST way to ensure that I do not fall into any gluten traps is to plan all my meals. Okay, MOST of my meals. To help me with this, I’ve created a meal planner worksheet and some grocery lists. They match the other best year EVER printables in the series and I hope that you find them useful. Download yours by clicking the image above or the link below. PDF is two, 8.5″ x 11″ pages. The grocery list is arranged 2 up on the page, just print and trim down the middle.

There’s more printables, discussion, recipes and tutorials on the way in this series so check back often or follow/subscribe to the blog if you don’t want to miss anything!

2014 Meal Planner
credits:
Artworks © Aimee McEwen. Not for commercial use. Personal use only.
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