Our Sundays in recent weeks have been very relaxing and refreshing. We start with church, unless Seth served on Saturday. On Sunday mornjng I serve as a barista in the coffee shop for 2 hours and then we go to the last service.

After church is lunch and then alternating between hobbies (video games, TV, movies, reading, crochet), naps, and productive time. I usually try to do something beyond the basic cleaning. One Sunday I looked through all of our Facebook photos and ordered prints of the ones I wanted.

What does your day off look like?

Listening to: Going Scared with Jessica Honneger


Small changes to help me keep going #1

I know people who despise going to work. Who become frustrated with the thought that all they do is work or get ready  so they can go back to work. This has shifted my perspective on my work and my responsibility for my own self care.

I think that part of my job in this world is to take care of myself well enough so that I can work and contribute for as long as I possibly can. I’m in my mid 30’s and some small physical issues have started to arise. Slight pain in my right shoulder, for example. To think about how this issue will likely get worse as I get older and may prevent me from working consistently one day has led me to start taking steps to counteract it.

I’ve always carried a large purse as my mom also did (although she was caring for children for many years and had valid reasons for carrying a lot of stuff for us.) She developed shoulder issues as I grew up which still bother her today.  I recently read an article about how heavy purses contribute to shoulder and back pain. I took out the heaviest items in my purse and added “clean out purse” to my Sunday night calendar. That small change has helped with my shoulder and I notice how much lighter the purse feels.

More small changes to come!

Listening to: Five Word Prayer podcast

Living well, spending less on food

A couple of years ago I signed up for Ruth Soukup’s Living Well and Spending Zero challenge. The idea behind it is to take 30 days and only spend money on items you absolutely need. For example, for food you would be expected to eat everything in your pantry before buying any more.

I’ve been trying to implement at least the food portion of the challenge into my every day. To make “what do we have?” the default question rather than “where can we order from?” I’ve completely stopped eating out for lunch when I’m at work. I keep food in the fridge and snacks in my desk. This week I spotted some spaghetti and pesto sauce in the cupboard. Enough time to cook the pasta, throw the sauce, pasta, and some shredded cheese in a bag, and BAM! Two days of lunches at the office. Tonight I found fish fillets in the freezer and added lemon, butter, salt, and pepper. Dinner, done!

In addition to continuing to make dinners from what we have, my other goal is to cut out Starbucks and make coffee at home.

Listening: Going Scared podcast with Ruth Soukup

Energy levels and patterns

For years I’ve had these bursts of energy. Usually early on in the week I get a lot done and keep looking for more and more I can do. By Wednesday or Thursday I burn out to a degree and face a few hours or days when I’m not motivated to do anything. That usually leads to doing so little on those days that by Friday I’m ready to tackle the world again.  This renewed energy on Friday is probably also because I realize my productive energy will only have to last for a day and then it’s the weekend.

I used to be really hard on myself during those times of low energy/motivation. It used to get to the point where I was basically depressed 2 days out of the week. I would describe the early days of the week as my hypomanic days and the later days as my depressed days. Even though I know that these would not meet criteria for actual hypomanic or depressive episodes, it was a way of describing what was happening that made sense to me. I do have characteristics of bipolar disorder, although I don’t meet criteria for the full diagnosis.

I’ve been a lot more accepting of this tendency in recent years. I don’t beat myself up, so I don’t feel as down. I also recognize that this is just my pattern. It’s not that I’m never going to be productive again; I’m just not going to do much for those few hours or few days. My mood is significantly more balanced during the week, which is probably also helped by medication I take.

Listening to: I Hate Green Beans podcast

My Year Of Volunteering

On New Year’s Eve leading into 2014 I was at a party where the hosts asked everyone to share their resolutions. For some reason “volunteer 100 hours” came to mind, so I said it. And immediately got to work figuring out how I could make that happen.

I had two types of volunteer gigs that year: those I did on a regular basis and those one time events that helped me get to that magic number.

My regular gigs were shelving books at the Phoenix Publix Library on Monday morning and packing food boxes at St. Mary’s Food Bank on Saturday afternoons.

I found a few more opportunities at our then church packing food with Feed My Starving Children and spending time with families that were being sheltered at our church by Family Promise.

That year was about getting as many hours as I could to add to my tally, not necessarily what I was doing. It was the following year that I started looking for a cause that I cared about. I found it at the Homeless ID Project where I’ve now been volunteering weekly for 3 years. It’s funny that in 2014 100 hours seemed like such a big number and in 2018 I do that many hours just in one place once a week.

Listening to: That Sounds Fun with Annie F Downs

I’m not great at ending seasons

When I changed jobs last year, I realized I have trouble knowing when a particular season is over and it’s time to move on. Like my previous job, I had worked at the most recent one for about 5 years. My last day was somewhat similar for both jobs. In both cases I had been one of the few people left of a previously established team. Several team members had already moved, leaving me with a new team of people who barely knew me. That created a final day in both jobs with very few people even recognizing that I’d be gone.

I’m currently looking at this in my social life. Seth and I tend to just let friendships fizzle and lose contact if a friendship’s not working anymore. We don’t typically have direct conversations saying that it’s time to part ways. Figuring out when a direct decision is needed.

It’s hard to figure out when a particular friendship or friend group has outlived this phase of my life. People I don’t have much in common with, even though at one time we had similar interests.

How do you know when it’s time to leave?

Listening to: The Girl In Space podcast

I’m on a podcast!

I’ve been a fan of Tsh Oxenreider’s podcast The Simple Show almost as long as I’ve been listening to podcasts (about 3 years now). So when Tsh advertised her new podcast Women’s Work and asked for guest submissions, I figured what the heck. I submitted a paragraph about the counseling I’ve done and still do with men and women on probation. Less than a week later, I received an email from her assistant asking to schedule an interview! It’s pretty much all about mental health counseling, not much about my experience with probationers. Check it out here:

The stories we tell ourselves often turn out to be lies

You hear and read all the time about how what you tell yourself determines how you will experience your life. I talk about this with clients all the time, but it’s become something that I just say without thinking too much about it. But recently I had an experience that showed me how much of a difference our stories and beliefs make.

Last June in-laws invited all of my husband’s immediate family on a cruise to Alaska to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. When we returned, I started asking for everyone to share their pictures because I didn’t feel like I had taken very many. That has been a belief that’s repeated in my head many times “I’m not one of those people who takes pictures.” We do that all the time, limit ourselves by making lists of what we do and don’t do and what kinds of people we are and aren’t. When I received the pictures from everyone else, I realized that I had taken more pictures than any of them! In fact, I had taken 113 pictures! That’s when it struck me how much of a lie I had been telling myself and how I might be limiting myself by thinking that way. Again, I talk with my clients all the time about challenging their thoughts with evidence, but had not really practiced it before.

What are some of the stories you tell yourself? Are they true or do they need to be confronted with evidence?

Listening to: The Lazy Sisters podcast

Why I’m working sick this week

I used to never work sick. Ok, that’s not true. When I worked as a case manager there was a day that I came in so visibly sick that my supervisor took one look at me and sent me home. I showed up because I had a court hearing to attend that she then got a coworker to cover. At that job I either called clients myself to cancel appointments or left that info on my supervisor’s voicemail for her to handle.

At my last job I almost never worked sick. I usually didn’t have anything so important that it couldn’t be rescheduled  and most of my schedule was groups and intakes that other people would cover. My coworkers would call out at some point down the road and I’d cover for them and it all evened out. At this job it’s more like a private practice: I’m responsible for calling my individual clients to cancel and my group clients to cancel if no one’s able to cover my group. Which is why the last time I was sick I came in on a Wednesday to be able to be sick on Thursday.

It’s a few months later and I’ve got a sinus infection again. But I’m working sick for a number of reasons. 1) I have a group tonight which has a co-facilitator, so I can’t cancel. There’s only one coworker who’s trained to run that group and could cover it. 2) I’m trying to build up my PTO. I had forgotten how difficult it was to start with PTO from scratch at a new job. 3) I had clients today that I could count toward my substance abuse license hours, which I am SO CLOSE to finishing. I wasn’t willing to postpone my license another day by staying home.

I know they always say if you’re sick stay home, but there are so many factors that play in to calling out that sometimes it’s just easier to suffer through it.

Listening to: Surviving Sarah podcast

A book that significantly changed my habits

I discovered How To Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K. White on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Kindle deals. Dana writes a blog called A Slob Comes Clean. I didn’t really consider myself a slob, but I thought the book might have some helpful tips, it was recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy, and it was only $1.99.

Then in one of the early chapters, Dana shows a picture of a pile of her dishes air drying and I immediately thought “oh crap, that’s what I do.” She then describes grabbing a dish from the air dry pile, using it, cleaning it, and then returning it to the air dry pile without ever actually putting it away. Me again. Through her experiences and the concept of Dishes Math, (how the amount of time it takes to wash dishes increases exponentially the more days you wait to do them) she convinced me to try washing the dishes every day. And she was right, it makes a lot of difference.

There’s a calm and satisfied feeling when I go to bed and get up with a clean kitchen. The dishes math works and I spend 15 minutes or so washing dishes (almost) every night instead of spending hours washing all of the dishes once or twice a week. Since the kitchen is always where I start cleaning, already having it done frees me up to move on to other areas of the house. We were recently able to have friends over to play games without the hours long marathon of cleaning the house that usually precedes anyone setting foot in our house.

I enjoyed How To Manage Your Home so much, I pre-ordered her next book Decluttering At The Speed of Life which releases February 27.

Currently listening to Chatologie podcast