05 Oct

Three Decades.

I’m 30! I’m 30?? I can’t wait until Taylor Swift turns 30 and writes a song about how this is supposed to feel. What will she rhyme with thirty? Dirty? Flirty? Qwerty?

I don’t really know how this is supposed to feel. I’m definitely not devastated, but I’m also not exactly ecstatic. I mean, how can I be allowed to be 30? I swear, I’m only 15! (And my face currently has the zits to prove it!) Some days I feel like a mature adult, and other days I feel like Rachel Green receiving her very first paycheck:

rachel

Being an adult is really hard sometimes- and I’m not just talking about having to make my own dentist appointments! There’s all this stuff I have to do ALL THE TIME: pay bills, buy relatively healthy groceries, prepare relatively healthy meals with a husband that has oddly high standards, ensure that I not blow my entire paycheck before I get paid, work a full-time job when sometimes I just want to stay in bed reading all day…  Not to mention all the dumb medical crud that’s swirling around my life these days- doctor appointments and specialists and physical therapy to stave off the knee replacement I may need within the next few years. UGH!

himym

 

But you know what? There’s a lot of really great stuff, too! In the last year, in the last decade, in the last three decades, for that matter, I’ve been very lucky. I feel like writing about 468 pages right now detailing all the experiences that have shaped me over the last ten years, but I’ll spare you the snooze-fest and save the long version for another day and for the memoir that I’ll never actually write.

If you’ll humor me, I’m going to list a few of them- not necessarily the most significant and not in any kind of order, but there are a quite a few things that deserve to be revisited.

Seven Great Things That Happened in my Twenties (In No Particular Order)

  1. I spent three exceptional months living in Segovia, Spain. We spent little to no time (on purpose) doing homework and instead had time to simply live. Prior to that semester, I was very much a homebody that was too nervous to explore much on my own- and some of my high school friends loved to point it out. Because of that semester, traveling no longer scares me; in fact, traveling is now the #1 reason my bank account isn’t so happy with Adult Holly.
  2. I became an auntie. I quite enjoy it. I don’t want my own kids (blah blah blah, you’ve all heard me say that enough), but it’s remarkable to watch these two boys grow up and grow into their own quirky but delightful personalities. I love their enthusiasm for Hot Wheels, good books, and Scooby Snacks- and the fact that my apartment is their Happy Netflix Zone. My heart grows three sizes every time they draw me a new picture.
  3. I went to grad school. While graduate school for librarianship is not exactly as strenuous as getting a medical or law degree, it has its own challenges- and yes, you do have to have a master’s to do it! I met some rad people and learned a lot about my craft. Talking information literacy makes me feel alive like few things can. Mostly, I’m happy that I found something that helps me feel more me. 
  4. I moved to a new state for a good, long while. Most of you that see me on a regular basis know that I still love to dream about the years in which I lived in Colorado. AmeriCorps changes you, just like having 13 roommates in a should-probably-be-condemned house changes you. I did a lot of growing up in those years, and not just because I had to make my own doctor appointments and schedule my own oil changes. I also learned that I better figure out some hobbies, because living in a new state where you know no one is kind of lonely.
  5. I made stellar new friends. Throughout my strange college experience and beyond, I’ve made a number of strong, life-giving friendships- the kind in which you can simply look at your friend and you’ll both burst out laughing because you’re both thinking the same thing without even having to say it. No matter their age or how we met, my friends are the best.
    • Case in point: one of my BFFs and I bonded over the fact that we seem to be the only humans on this Earth that read books by Lurlene McDaniel, which feature a protagonist with some kind of chronic or terminal illness (often leukemia), thus leading us both down a life path of hypochondria and fear of inexplicable bruises. It’s so weird, and yet so wholly good to know that I’ve got a friend that gets it. (Also? Don’t read those books.)
  6. I discovered cross-stitching. I’m not a super crafty person. If you’re looking for crafty, please kindly introduce yourself to my BFF, Senja, because she can devise just about anything you could ever possibly need. I was not born with that level of skill. One day while perusing the Internet (my favorite hobby), I found a silly little cross-stitch pattern that made me loudly cackle for approximately 18 minutes. I’ll never quite know why this particular pattern caught my attention, but I’m so grateful. A few days after finding that pattern, I embarked on a stitching journey and have not looked back. There’s something about seeing the pattern take shape over time- I love being able to see progress. Plus, the beauty of cross stitch is that you mostly only have to know how to move a needle up and down while following directions!
  7. I traveled with my dad. My dad and I haven’t always been super close: he likes cars, sports, and hunting, and I like none of those things. A few years ago I made a flippant comment that he and I should travel together because we at least share the same interest in travel locations, and a few months later we found ourselves boarding a flight. It’s not always perfect (he wouldn’t let me leave the hotel after dark [6:00 pm] because it made him ‘too anxious’), but it sure makes for some good laughs and wonderful memories. Also, I will never stop laughing about the way he can’t understand Scottish English.

After that fond trip down memory lane, I think it’s time I get started working on some plans for what the next decade will bring- maybe a 40 By 40 list?

30 Jun

On Anxiety.

Oh hey. My name is Holly, and I have anxiety.

 

now-im-a-superhero

 

You probably all know that I do, and you probably aren’t that surprised. I appreciate that.

I think I’ve always had anxiety, but I think it manifests itself most strongly in two ways:

  1. Sweating. I’m not talking a few sweaty, sticky palms once in a while.  I’m talking uncontrollable, outrageously embarrassing sweat. I sweat so profusely it looks like I’m currently showering in my own sweat. (Want proof? Here’s a pic of me sweating on commencement day. Nothing was even going wrong at that moment.) And it’s not limited to commencement. I sweat when driving (even on back roads), going to meetings, going out for lunch for friends, even when trying on clothes! My life is lived like a woman going through menopause- I have to wear clothes that will hide as much sweat as possible, and I carry a towel in my purse to wipe off my face. I have to drive to work in a tank top (and pants, of course) and then finish getting dressed before I get out of the car. It’s not fun living life through one continuous hot flash.
  2. Sleeping (or rather, not sleeping). I toss and turn all night, thinking of everything that could and will go wrong. I often punch Fernando (lovingly) because he’s one of those people that can take a deep breath as soon as they hit the hay and BOOM! One-way ticket to Sleepytown. He has since started letting me fall asleep before he even comes to bed, poor guy. I didn’t sleep more than two hours a night for three weeks when I coordinated commencement for the very first time. I was sick, exhausted, and overwhelmed.

I made the decision a while ago to try taking medication to see if it would help; I would love to live a less sweaty life full of regular sleep cycles and the ability to merge onto the freeway without feeling like this. Friends of mine that also struggle with anxiety have had positively life-altering results when going on medication, so I figured I’d see if it would do the same for me. It didn’t.

  • Medication #1 made me so tired all the time I fell asleep as soon as I got home from work almost every day. My mom witnessed an unfortunate incident in which I attempted to talk to her on the phone while out of it and I slurred as if I had been drinking all day. (I hadn’t.) I switched to a new kind.
  • Medication #2 made me so nauseous that I could only eat saltine crackers for six weeks, leaving some of my coworkers to jokingly ask if I was pregnant. (No.) I switched to a new kind after two months.
  • Medication #3 created similar effects to #1, making it nearly impossible for me to stay awake at work. I lost interest in doing most of my activities and ended up hanging out on the couch mindlessly watching TV and snoozing for hours instead of crafting, reading, exercising and cooking. When I’m too tired to cross-stitch, I know something is off.

A few weeks ago, I was so fed up with living this frustrating life, watching my life pass me by, that I decided to stop taking it. While all three medications solved my sleeping issue, none of them did a thing to curb the nasty sweating; if anything, it worsened. Yesterday I took my last dose- huzzah! I’m bummed that I can’t just magically drive on the freeway, and gutted that I still sweat like there’s no tomorrow. But I’d rather live with those issues than spend my life on the couch watching Netflix for lack of energy to do anything else! (Though Netflix is a wonderful thing.)

I’ve made it a goal to try to get 10,000 steps in every day (thanks to my handy step tracker on my dorky smartwatch), because I know exercise is 1) good for everyone and 2) especially good at reducing anxiety. I’m also (gulp) considering trying yoga, even though I’m pretty terrible at it (how in the world does anyone do downward dog?!?!?!). I’m also trying to cut down on sugar (especially chocolate 🙁 ) and trying to turn off my computer and phone well before I turn in to reduce screen time (I even installed f.lux to mimic outside light and reduce blue light when it’s late).

Does anyone else have any great remedies for anxiety they’d like to share?