My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2013

Yeah, it's blurry.  But she's cute, so who cares?

Yeah, it’s blurry. But she’s cute, so who cares?

I think I wrote some cool blogs in 2013, so I thought I’d share my favorites.  Plus, it gave me chance to go back and re-read some of the stuff I wrote.

1.  So Many Wonderful Words– My thoughts about the importance of words, and why freedom of thought and freedom to use those words is so important.

2.  Oh the Irony!–  All about my first time tent camping, and why I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was.

3.  Grammar Police–  Just spell things right… please!  A letter to my Facebook friends.

4.  Leaving a Mark–  Why my words and my photos are important.  At least, to me.

5.  My 10 Favorite Books– It’s a list of my favorite movies.  Just kidding.

6.  Finding the Positive–  It’s easy to see the negative… but why give it energy.

7.  10 Ways to Practice Self-Care– How to be nice to yourself.

8.  Bullying and Me– What I’ve learned from being bullied.

9.  I’m Not Rusty– Why I’d rather wear out than rust.

10.  5 Things Not to Say To a Writer– Things hat have actually been said to me.  Please don’t say this to me.  Ever.

11.  O is for Openness– Things I’ve learned from the people I love most.

Yeah, there’s 11 on this list.  But Top 10 list sounds better, so I’m going with it.  In skimming my blog posts for the year, I realize that in early 2013, most of my blog posts were pretty bad.  They read like I was trying to find things to write, rather than actually having anything to say. I guess we all have times like that.

I also realized that I wrote some really cool stuff I forgot about.  Trust me, these are my best of 2013.  Read a few and see.

10 Ways to Practice Self-Care

Hey, look!  A giraffe!  Giraffes make me happy.  :)

Hey, look! A giraffe! Giraffes make me happy. 🙂

As some of you know, my daytime alter-ego is a crisis specialist and therapist, which is a fancy way of saying I help people when they’re having a rough time.

If I had to pick one topic that comes up again and again, it’s self-care. None of us have enough time or money to do everything that we need and want to do. We’re always running from the job to soccer practice or the vet appointment or the grocery store, etc. I remember spending hours on the phone as a teen while laying on my bed, but these days, if I’m on the phone, I’m usually doing dishes or picking tomatoes at the same time.

Self-care doesn’t make it to the priority list for most of us, and I’m just as guilty of that from time to time as the rest of us.

Self-care literally means taking care of yourself. Part of it is eating nutritious food and limiting junk food to treats. It’s about drinking enough water and getting enough rest. It’s about keeping positive people in your life, and eliminating the drain of consistently negative people.

While it would be nice to take a two week vacation in the tropics and get daily massages, most of us probably can’t afford it. There are simple ways that you can take care of yourself at home, and get good results. The key is to attempt to be consistent in anything you start. If you can do it for 6 weeks, you can make the good stuff a habit as easily as the bad stuff. Pick one or two to try, and don’t try to do everything at once.

1.  Take time to come up with three positive thoughts about yourself, three positive things that happened that day, or three things you’re grateful for every day. If we put our attention on the negative, then that’s what we see. If we re-focus on the positive, then our outlook changes. Some people like putting these things on the mirror or the fridge. Some people like to journal them, and some people like to take time to call a friend and discuss their three things. You could start a Facebook game of “three positive things.” It’s all about what works for you.

2.  Take 5 minutes a day to breathe deeply. Believe it or not, it works, if you do it right. I know you think you know how to breathe, but take a look at this.

3.  Find something you like to do, and find some time to do that every week. Gardening? Reading? Listening to music in the dark? You have 15 minutes somewhere.

4.  Reward yourself with something other than food. Did something you’re proud of? Made it through the week without killing someone? Instead of grabbing the ice cream and watching reruns, buy a new nail polish color, take a look at Groupon for a cool new class on something that interests you (I found a glassblowing class not long ago that way), or just sit at Starbucks and people watch.

5.  Write an email (or letter) to an old friend. I know you liked their status on Facebook last week, but drop them a line and catch up, one on one. Ask them about what’s going on in their lives.

6.  Take a walk. Or play Wii sports. Or go out and pick tomatoes. Get up and get moving, even if just for a few minutes a day. I promise. It makes the happy chemicals in your brain come out to play.

7.  Do something creative. Draw, color, paint, write, journal, take pictures, play with Play-Doh or Sculpey. Doing creative things helps manage emotions and give you an outlet that you don’t need words for.  Plus, it’s fun.

8.  Listen to music. I know I have different soundtracks depending on what I’m doing. I like Garbage, Nirvana, or the Beatles when I’m doing housework, Enya or Mogwai when I’m writing, and I have a special playlist for when I’m feeling gloomy.

9.  Take a detour. Or wear a different color than you usually do. Or try something different for breakfast. If you’re stuck in a rut, try doing something different to shake yourself out of it.

10.  Prioritize! Not everything needs to be #1. The dust bunnies will wait until you get to them and sometimes “no” is the perfect response to a question.

What do you do to take care of yourself?

Maybe Next Year

DSCN3647I was supposed to go to Las Vegas to visit with friends in a few weeks.  I was really excited about it as I only get to see this particular friend once or twice a year, as she lives in Pennsylvania, and I’m now in Arizona.  But then… one of our cats got sick, and after a really expensive trip to the emergency vet’s office, I realized I had to make some hard choices.

I also had planned to go to Alaska this year.  My husband and I have been talking about that trip for a few years, and we never seem to get around to planning it.  “Maybe next year” is the refrain.

For some reason, last weekend, I had a bit of a breakdown, and I realized that I couldn’t tolerate the thought of going someplace urban.  I work in Phoenix, and I’m tired of buildings and blacktop.  I want to see open stretches of natural stuff, be it trees or icebergs.

That’s when I realized that I couldn’t give up going to Alaska this year.  I couldn’t spend one more year putting this off.  I live in a suburban, quasi-rural area, and I have a backyard that’s an oasis.  But I need to get away and go somewhere with fewer people.  I need to recharge, and I just can’t do that at home.

The last time we’d been on a vacation was… November 2005.  We went to the Bahamas, and I lost my voice the day I got there, had to cancel snorkeling and swimming with the dolphins because I had such bad bronchitis (and no medication) that I couldn’t breathe.  We’ve been away on mini-trips for a few days, but this will be the first week that we’ve gone away together in a long time.  I couldn’t cancel it.

So in two weeks, when we were supposed to be in Vegas, we’ll be home, doing projects here, going to see the B-52s in concert, and probably ordering in.

And in a few months, we’ll be going to Alaska.

I’m tired of “maybe next year.”

P is for Patience/ Procrastination

Photo credit- Doree Weller, Schnepf Farms, AZ

Photo credit- Doree Weller, Schnepf Farms, AZ

My original thought was to do a blog on Pet Peeves, but I couldn’t come up with a list of things to complain about!  I guess that means that life is good and I’m pretty happy.

I’ve often been told I have a lot of patience, and it’s true that I do.  That can be both a positive and a negative for me.  It means that I don’t get upset when I have to wait for things.  But it can also make me a great procrastinator, under the guise of patience.  Instead of doing, I’ll just wait until the time is right.  It’s part of my philosophy that good things come to those who wait and all that.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing that I’m happy to wait for things, even though it makes some of my less patient friends a little crazy.  I do think that I should procrastinate things I want a little bit less.  However, patience is a great excuse to procrastinate.  “Well, I’ll just get to that when I’m less busy.”  It allows me to put off my own wants and needs.  I’m extremely productive, but really bad at taking time out for myself.  You see, that’s one of the things I’m a patient procrastinator about… things I really want to do for myself.

How to be less of a procrastinator while still keeping the good parts of being patient?  No idea really.  I guess it’s something I’ll have to get around to working on.

H is for Help

They always say that doctors make the worst patients, and I very much believe that.

imageAs a professional helper, I’ve noticed that it’s harder to accept help from others than it is to give it.  I spend my day problem solving for others, and I’m very good at it.  That means I should be able to solve my own problems, right?

It sounds good to say that.  I sometimes tell people that being able to accept the help of others is a strength, and I believe that.  So why is it so difficult to as for help when I’m the one who needs it?

as I’ve said many times before, I don’t pretend to have answers, just good questions.

One of the most important things I know about helping others is that I np can’t properly help others unless I’m healthy… Mentally, physically, spiritually. Many people seem to believe that “selfish” and “self-care” are synonymous… They’re not!

Selfish is acting without care or concern for how it affects others. Self-care is taking care of oneself. Self-care is important because I can’t allow others to depend on me if I’m not healthy enough to care for them. If I don’t practice self-care every day, I can become irritable, overwhelmed, physically sick, tired, forgetful, and lose empathy for others.

Practicing self-care doesn’t have to take long. I just try to make sure I eat right, sleep somewhere in the neighborhood of enough, read, write, play with my dogs, and regularly review what’s going well in my life.

And every once in awhile, I try to ask for help if I need it.