Reclaiming #selfcare: a happiness project

I’ve been holding off on writing this post for several reasons.

I’ve written drafts, none of which felt right. I wasn’t in the right mindset, and I’m not totally sure I am right now. Tonight, I find myself at a cider bar sipping on ice water. The lighting is dim, Ariana Grande’s Sweetener album is on repeat through my rose gold headphones. Tonight, her music inspires me – basic, you say? It’s fine. This scenario doesn’t seem optimal for a blog post, but I’m not sure there’s ever a ~perfect~ time or place.

I’m here alone — it’s just me and the blinking cursor and bright screen that stares me in the face.

My inner monologue loves creating stories about the strangers that surround me. I’ve been told it’s “writer’s brain,” but I also think it’s a result of having constant thoughts spinning. The vibe in here is quiet — it’s chill. I wonder what people are thinking about me. The lone gal aggressively typing at her laptop in an out-of-season floral jumpsuit.

Who am I to these people?

***

My days of late have been jam packed with anxious thoughts. Will my business make it? Why doesn’t this guy want me? Am I eating the right food? Will I ever be a size zero? When will my debt go away? Am I taking on too much? Can I be better at life?

Can I be better at life?

My head repeats this question. It seems like a simple, yes” but how do I get there? How do I develop a better life with a shit ton of anxiety, limited funds and a busy ass schedule?

It seems like I’m faced with the impossible.

That’s how I justify it. A better life is just…impossible.

I usually rationalize this thinking in my head when I’m having shitty thoughts about my body while scarfing down a cookie. I will never be able to make this negative image about myself go away, not yet anyways. 

I tell myself that I’ll be better tomorrow. Tomorrow WILL be the day I make serious moves to being better at life.

The problem is, I’ve never really thought through it. I go through the motions, wash my face and apply expensive toner. I try to meditate every day but then get stressed about making it so routine and get mad at myself when I don’t make the time. I try to give up alcohol, light candles and apply essential oils and think, is any of this fucking working?

I try to define what self-care means to me and find my responses cliché and simply falling into the mold of what it should look like rather than implementing my own creative practices. The health & wellness world has turned into commodified industry that I simply cant’ keep up with.

Tap water is no longer good enough, spend the extra $2 for water with charcoal in it. Vital proteins are ~life~. Flexible dieting is #cool and you can still easily have six pack and eat cake – it’s easy! 

I’m not knocking these practices, I’m just saying it’s exhausting and overwhelming to keep up with. We’re promised all of these amazing results with an easy fix so we drink Kombucha for a day and expect to wake up looking like Blake Lively.

I’m rambling. I know. Rambling on WordPress is one version of self-care that never lets me down. I hope you’re still reading.

***

A few months ago I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. Tbh, I usually toss books like this to the side because oftentimes self help books are too preachy for me and don’t speak to me like they do all the five-star reviewers on Amazon.

OMG!!!! THIS BOOK SERIOUSLY CHANGED THE WAY I SEE EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE!!! I AM FOREVER CHANGED!!! Really, Karen? I’m calling bullshit.

I’m not an avid book critic, but I will say Rubin’s book was fucking brilliant. A quick synopsis: a woman (Rubin) who has a perfectly fine life and is generally a happy human wants to make her life better — an no, she doesn’t turn in to a ~yogi~. Her journey isn’t an overnight fix, she makes small, manageable steps to make her life better. She sets a theme every month for a year and follows those guidelines while noting her progress. She has pitfalls and fuckups, but don’t we all?

But you have a great life! How can you make it better? 

*Newsflash* you can alwayyzzz make your life better. I want to take on my own happiness project — and UGH yeah I know that sounds cliché, but bear with me. I want to say with 110% that I’ll stick with all this shit, but the way my current brain works, I usually let it fall the wayside. The 34954357 times a charm, right?

There are aspects of my life that I want to tackle head on. Like, in my ultra nirvana, these are things that wouldn’t exist:

  1. Hating my body
  2. Questioning my self-worth when men screw me over/reject me
  3. Using food to solve my emotional turmoil
  4. Picking at my skin
  5. Having to put in extra EXTRA effort to be clean and organized
  6. Food as the enemy

I’m definitely leaving some out, but this is all I can think of at the moment.

In the beginning of the book, Rubin lays out twelve “commandments,” they aren’t specific rules like “stop dating fuckboys” but more so overarching principles in which she tries to live her life. You can view hers here, but here are mine. They might not make any sense to you, but they make sense to me and it’s all about me at the moment so get over it!! (jk)

  1. Think the way you want to live.
  2. Be kind.
  3. Know your worth.
  4. Eyes on the prize.
  5. You’ll figure it out.
  6. You don’t need him. Or him. So put down the damn phone.
  7. Listen to their story and don’t be afraid to tell yours.
  8. Breathe.
  9. Dig deeper.
  10. Get your shit done.
  11. Own who you are.
  12. Find your tribe.

****

Ok, so next is the tough part. Implementing these commandments into my every day life. In the book, she has a “theme” or focus, if you will, associated with every month. With each focus she has a set foundation of rules. I’m not much of a rule follower, so this will be pretty difficult for me.

How do I hold myself accountable? You guys, duh.

This sounds like a super basic thing to do — a journey to find happiness. But it’s more than that. It’s about claiming what happiness means to you, tossing the cliché self-care shit to the side and honing in on what YOU actually want to do.

Like, for example, I can’t get into yoga. I just can’t. Sure, maybe it’s all in the practice, but it stresses me out to become a ~yogi~ so guess what? I’m not gunna do it!!!!! I just won’t!!! Take THAT!

This blog series is going be uber honest — I already know I’ll have my pitfalls and shitty days. I’ll have more fuck-ups than I’ll probably be able to count, but it’s fine! All is good.

I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to share this happiness journey – a weekly blog post with updates, a daily Insta post maybe? Idk – I’ll figure it out.

***

So what’s up for this month?

Mindfulness.

I was going to start off with “health” but tbh I still need time to figure out exactly how I would tackle that one. Health is too broad of a term for me to personally define at the moment.

Have you ever started eating an ice cream cone, taken a lick or two, then noticed all you had was a sticky napkin in your hand? Or been going somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realize you haven’t noticed anything or anyone you met along the way?

I’m really really bad at focusing on the present. My mind is constantly going a million miles a minute and I know for a fact this impacts my anxiety levels, productivity & overall well-being.

You do too much, Beth. I hear this all the damn time. Between my business, bartending gig, running a women’s networking group, grad school & trying to stay sane, it’s a lot.

The problem isn’t the workload, it’s compartmentalizing the workload.

Breathe. Focus. Breathe. Onto the next.

Instead I’m like:

lethwif’pierh’oprj’wiorhaoire’oprk. Breathe, eat. ‘ih[oi’er’oierba;erione roiajr’ paorae.

Yeah, a whole bunch of shit going on in my head I can’t even put into words.

This goes for eating too. I’ve always been a fast eater. I hardly enjoy food unless I’m at a Michelin Star restaurant where the waiters create a mindful experience for you — explaining the tastes, senses etc. I’d love to do this all the time but I can’t afford a $250 meal every night lolz. 

So, ~being mindful~ how the fuck do I do that? I read a bunch of articles on this, most of them saying relatively the same thing. They offer advice and books to read up on. Like I said, the point of this personal happiness project is to create my own version of self-care. Sure, I’ll take advice from the “experts” or whatever…but I’m STILL NOT DOING YOGA EVERY DAY FOR 30 DAYS!

So mindfulness essentially is “being in the moment.” There’s meditation podcast I love that explains mindfulness as sitting in the middle of a road during rush hour. There are cars passing on each side that you’re very much aware of, but you’re choosing not to move. You don’t eliminate the distractions, but instead embrace them and integrate them into your practice. You can’t stop your brain from thinking, but you can learn how to channel it better.

Our reactions to the stressful events of our lives can become so habituated that they occur essentially out of our awareness, until, because of physical or emotional or psychological dysfunction, we cannot ignore them any longer.

SO – I gotta come up with rules for mindfulness this month. Practices that I’m almost 100% positive will be annoying to partake in, but generally, rules are annoying to me so I’ guess I have to swallow my pride for this project. Wish me luck!

After several articles and a bit of deep thought, here’s what I’ve come up with.

  1. Meditation 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before you go to sleep. Yeah, IDGAF if you get home at 330am after a 12 hour shift. Do it.
  2. Go for a 30 minutes walk with Kevin every morning – no phone. No music. Just you and the sweet sounds of loud car horns and police sirens.
  3. Ten deep breaths before a snack, meal, etc. Think before you eat. Think while you eat. Slow, long bites. After your done, note how you feel.
  4.  While at work, perform a “body scan” once every two hours.
  5. Practice mindful writing once a day. 15 minutes of uninterrupted journaling.

***

My goal is here to be ~in the moment~ more. Focus on the task at hand without the distractions of everything else going on in my life. I don’t have any immediate plan to slow down my life & goals, nor do I really want to. That’s not the point.

I don’t expect to be a super zen monk by the end of these 30 days. Again, my end goal here is to just be better at life. I don’t know how exactly the above rules will change me and my life, but I guess there’s no harm in trying.

The following weeks I’ll be keeping you posted on how things are going – expect a handful of blogs and of course a bunch of Instagrams. Since I’m a thirst monster, follow me on Insta for the day-to-day scoop.

Funnn stuff to come! Thanks for reading.

X,

Beth

When you survive a Whole30

The past week or so I’ve had severe writer’s block for one reason or another. When you blog, you not only owe consistency to your readers but you also owe it to yourself to continue to work on something you’ve tried so hard to upkeep.

So, in the meantime, I’ve been scouring for inspiration in the form of food, fuckboys, feminism, and some other f words I can’t really think of at the moment.

Then, I thought, Omg Beth! You completed your first Whole30. You should totes blog about it! 

Continue reading When you survive a Whole30

12 sober lessons in 14 days.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about body image, an issue that has been a problem in my life for as long as I can remember. I’m a generally carefree, laid back kinda gal, but the majority of my anxiety stems from the anxiety I have about my own body.

Continue reading 12 sober lessons in 14 days.

When will I feel good enough?

There are parts of my body that I don’t mind. My legs aren’t so bad, neither is my face or hair. I wish my fingernails grew different so my index nail wouldn’t look so stubby. I have cute hands, even though they are the size of your average toddler. Guys seem to like my butt (tysm squats), and I don’t mind having a chest on the smaller side. Continue reading When will I feel good enough?

Just a type 1 diabetic tryna be paleo & sh*t

*sigh* Another paleo blog. *sigh heavier while simultaneously rolling eyes*

What is paleo? (click that)

The intent of this blog is not to explain what paleo means or what the diet entails (ok fine, in one sentence: I can’t have any of the main food groups: melted cheese, garlic bread, or Half Baked ice cream). This does not mean I am going to go hunt a chicken for dinner or grind my own coconut flour using all of the local palm tree coconuts in the DC metro area. It’s basically just being, like, healthy or whatever.

Continue reading Just a type 1 diabetic tryna be paleo & sh*t

Clearing headspace: Day 2 + 3

I just had an awesome weekend with my best friend from back home. We did a lot in the short period of time she was here, but it was still a relaxing weekend nonetheless. Racing thoughts were minimal, perhaps because I was distracted by great company or maybe this meditation thing it working quicker than I thought. Continue reading Clearing headspace: Day 2 + 3

A new normal that isn’t normal yet.

“What the f*ck is wrong with me?” I cried as I laid in bed in excruciating pain at 4 in the morning. I wanted to call someone, anyone. The tears rolled down my face as my legs stiffened.

This was night number five.

I attempted to stand up to make the leg cramps subside, stumbling to the ground as soon as I tried.

I laid on the ground for a few minutes, feeling defeated and helpless just like the night before. I reached for my water beside me, chugging it in hopes of ameliorating the problem. Maybe dehydration was the problem. I just needed to drink more water and the leg cramps would go away. Yeah, sure.

“You need to stretch more and maybe take it easy on your legs, you’re always on them.”

“Eat more protein.”

“Drink more electrolytes.”

“Get more sleep.”

I became thirsty. Always thirsty. I assumed it was because my body was craving more water since I had made an effort to drink more to make the cramps go away. I filled a giant water bottle every night and placed it beside my bedside, knowing I would wake up with cotton mouth at some point in the middle of the night. However, it never satisfied me. Refilling it twice a night became habitual, just like my muscle aches.

Drink more water. Eat more protein.

I was eating right, perhaps even eating more than usual, but my weight was dropping at a rapid rate. At first it felt good. “I’m more active now,” I told myself. Constantly walking, always on my feet. This is great.

Right. 

The more weight I lost, the weaker I felt. Spinning classes were no longer enjoyable, they were a feat to push through. A 10 pound weight was no longer something I lifted with ease, my arm would shake as I attempted to pick it up.

The legs that could once run a half marathon could hardly push through an 11 minute mile.

Drink more. Eat more. Sleep more.

My body was telling me to do all of these things, but I simply couldn’t. A gallon of water was hardly satisfying, neither was a giant slice of pizza. Walking to work was no longer enjoyable, it took too much energy out of me. I was growing increasingly irritable with people; anxiety became an integral part of my daily life.

For about a month, I accepted discomfort as a norm. Eventually I would feel better. This was just a weird phase.

Between starting a new job and working crazy hours all while still getting settled in a new city, I figured a trip home for Thanksgiving would be the cure-all to my problems. Although it would only be for a few days, I needed this mini vacation.

Reluctantly, I booked a doctor’s appointment with my PCP for Wednesday morning in Boston to see what was going on with me. Although, I had already diagnosed myself with hypothyroidism (thanks, WebMD). So, I walked into the doctor’s office fairly positive that I would be prescribed medication and I’d be back to feeling normal again. No biggie. Shit happens.

I began explaining all of my body issues to the nurse practitioner. “You poor thing!” she exclaimed. She asked me a bunch of questions trying to pinpoint what the problem could be, agreeing that hypothyroidism could possibly be the correct diagnosis.

Or maybe it wasn’t. However, I ignorantly disregarded all of the other possibilities she discussed with me. Whatever was wrong with me was a quick fix. WebMD had already told me (there was a small chance I had to get surgery, but that also wasn’t going to happen).

I had to get a series of blood tests done in the lab upstairs. I waited impatiently as my hair appointment was quickly approaching. Spending 2 hours at the doctors was not how I wanted to start my trip home. She injected the needles into my arm as I stared at my wrist watch. Get me out of here. 

I eventually made it to the hair salon, and I was finally doing something that I wanted to do. The foils sat in my hair as I chatted away with my hairdresser, blushing as she commented on my weight loss, although I knew it wasn’t really something to be proud of.

My phone rang, it was the doctor’s office. I knew the blood test results would come back later that day but I didn’t realize how fast it would be.

“Hi, is this Beth?”

Yes.

The doctor spoke to me in panic. I listened intently as she began to explain my lab results. She said a lot, but all I heard was a single sentence that made my face turn pale.

“We believe that you have type 1 diabetes.”

They advised me to get to the ER, my blood sugar was dangerously high and I apparently was in diabetic ketoacidosis (I didn’t know what that was until I Googled it either).

She washed the foils out as I blankly stared at the ceiling. I literally didn’t know what to feel.

I drove myself to the ER, not really knowing how serious my condition was (looking back it was probably an awful idea to drive). I checked myself in as my phone was blowing up with questions from my parents and my sister. No one really knew what was happening. No one understood.

My life had quickly spun into a whirlwind yet I still felt blissfully unaware of the situation that I was currently in.

I parked my car outside of the ER of South Shore Hospital and walked inside with my belongings.

“For a blood sugar count of 700, you look pretty darn good,” the nurse at the front desk said to me. That number didn’t really mean anything to me. I politely smiled.

A normal blood sugar count is roughly 90-140.

I laid in the hospital bed waiting for my family to arrive. The tears still refused to fall, as confusion was the only emotion that I could really feel. They set me up on two IVs, one filled with insulin, the other filled with salt water. I watched Modern Family on mute as patients passed by my room. My nurse periodically came in and checked my blood sugar and my vitals, eventually I became numb to it all.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve to me.

I don’t remember the exact moment that it set in. Perhaps it was the 2am wake up call to prick my finger and check my blood sugar. Or maybe it was the third time I plead for food only to be told to wait until my insulin drip runs out. It may not have been an exact moment, but possibly a culmination of overwhelming events, conversations, and ‘I’m sorry’s.

You didn’t do anything to cause this. Type 1 and Type 2 aren’t the same. This is just a bump in the road. You can live with this. You’ll be OK, Beth. You’re a healthy person, this will be manageable for you. 

I talked to dozens of different nurses, dietitians, and doctors. They periodically came into my room in the ICU, asking how I was doing, reassuring me that things were going to be OK. Saying this would soon become a “new normal.” Telling me that my life wouldn’t be any different, I’d just have to make some adjustments here and there. I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that all of these words went over my head.

But this was my life now.

This is my life now.

I stared at the “Diabetes Management” book given me to by one of the dietitians. On the cover was two overweight elderly people. One was holding a tennis racket and the other was cutting vegetables. A fucking tennis racket and vegetables. Honestly? Be more irrelevant.

The first page read “What is Diabetes?” It was plastered with the symptoms that I had been ignoring for a month. I quickly shut the book and threw it back on the chair beside me.

I spent the entire week in the hospital. They were monitoring and perfecting insulin levels for the time being so I could make it back to DC safe and sound. My meals were carb controlled, and I was taught the basics of balancing proteins, carbs, and fats in a mini-diabetes boot camp.

At first they would inject my insulin for me. I would lift up my shirt and they punctured the needle into me–the physical pain was minimal, however, the mental pain is what hurt the most.

“Do you want to try doing it on your own?” She handed me over the insulin pen. I held it with shaky hands. The tears started to fall again.

This was my new normal.

This is my new normal.

I feel silly for mourning over this disease. My constant tears in the hospital didn’t seem warranted for. There are more people in this world in far worse shape than I am currently in.

It’s ok to be angry.

Diabetes was continually described to me as a “livable disease.” I was told I could still do what every other 22 year old does; that sooner or later it’ll just become an integral part of my life.

It’s not the technicalities of it that scare me. I don’t need to change my life all that much. The needles aren’t large, the finger pricks to test my blood sugar hardly feel like a pinch.

What scares me is my ignorance.

I stare at my plate, it no longer looks like food. It looks like carbs, fats, proteins; it looks like poison. I stare in my purse, it no longer looks like a black hole for my house keys. It looks like a safe haven for my diabetes kit.

My stomach is no longer skin, it’s a grid split into quadrants; quadrants that are meant to be punctured with a needle 4 times a day.

What scares me is failure. Low blood sugars when they should be higher. Exercising at the wrong time. Forgetting my glucose tabs when I’m in desperate need. Not knowing how to respond to people saying “eat this,” when I know I can’t. Pricking the same finger too many times. Running out of test strips.

Failing at being a “good” type 1 diabetic.

I have more questions than I do answers. And that is what perhaps scares me the most.

I have a new normal, except, it’s not normal yet.