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The Day I Met Rory (and Jenny Lawson)

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I know, I know. You are all insanely jealous that I met Rory. And by “met” I mean struck a pose in the middle of public DC while my husband tried to suppress his mortification. (Mi dispiace, Topino mio. Keep loving me anyway.) The whole meeting was really a debacle and started with a frantic arrangement of work hours, possible transportation alternatives, and ultimately ended up with us standing outside of Politics and Prose in Washington, DC starvinGardettos-2014g because the cafe was sold out of food. (Disclaimer: Grilled cheese was available but it was $6. I could buy a loaf of bread with half a pound of cheese at those prices.) The only other source of nourishment was CVS, which meant our “dinner” consisted of Gardettos. For those of you that don’t know what Gardettos are….this is a bag of the deliciously addictive snack –>

I’m going to apologize in advance because that one small bag is approximately 1,000 calories. I wish I was joking. Those buggers are responsible for an entire pant size.

So, with dinner in hand, we ventured into the extremely crowded bookshop and purchased a copy of Jenny Lawson’s second novel, Furiously Happy. I’ve been to to a number of readings over the last few years, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been to a reading where there was such camaraderie between an author and her readers. There was fangirling and stories shared, but it felt less like a Q&A and far more like an organic conversation amongst friends. I’m going to chalk this up to Lawson’s incredible personality and the relationships she has developed over the years through her blog, The Bloggess. Even though I had never met her, I felt like I’d spoken with her before through her posts and responses. Which is why my husband stood with me (okay, he stood while I sat on the floor) waiting to meet her in person for approximately 3 hours on a work night. We were in line when we’d normally be in bed.

While waiting to get our book signed we observed an incredible feat by a gentleman that we call the Line Ninja. It’s so impressive that I simply have to share it. He arrived during the Q&A and managed to socialize his way to the middle of the room by the end of the session. Please understand how impressive this feat is. People at the front of the room arrived hours before the reading and the entire store was packed all the way to the exit. An hour before the event my husband and I managed to claim a spot in the middle. This lolligagger mingled his way through other eagerly waiting readers armed only with his charm. By the end of the night he was about a dozen people ahead of me. What do you call that? Talent.

Since we had some time on our hands, my husband and I discussed what I might share with the Bloggess. Eventually I decided on humoring her with the fact that my anxiety companion dog, Maverick, has anxiety. Confident with this little anecdote I approached the table only to say “Hi” and smile. Twas not my finest moment, but a firm nudge from Matt pushed me forward and eventually the words came out in some kind of order. I’m pretty sure I called Maverick a “she,” which would have probably made him duck his little furry nose in shame. However, I did manage to take this awesome picture:

20151012_222750On our way out my husband told me that if he had stood around for over 4 hours only to have me stand there and smile he would have lost his mind. And that, my friends, is true love.

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Other Sites I Recommend:

Abby Has Issues: I have issues, she has issues, and it’s fantastic.

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Spoon Shares: Sometimes our issues are more serious and impact the way we live day-to-day. Spoon shares is a great place to share, connect, and learn tips and tricks from others with a variety of maladies.

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Tips for the Anxious

Nightmares claw at the fringes of daylight and walk alongside me down the street, at the grocery store, while I’m working. Oxygen becomes a precious gift and not an every day commodity. This is what anxiety feels like to me. Just like many other disorders, anxiety is an invisible ailment. While someone may not advertise their daily struggle, it does not make the mental, emotional, and physical side effects any less severe.

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Everyone experiences their anxiety differently. My own experience is personal and I share it to try and convey what anxiety could mean to someone. While I was in college, there was a time when anxiety almost exclusively controlled my life. I was ill, I was undiagnosed, I was scared, and somewhere between midterms and my mother’s heart attack anxiety crept into my life and never left. But over the years I’ve learned a couple of tricks that have helped me cope and maybe, just maybe, they’ll help you too.

1. Lists- If you haven’t noticed from my blog, I have a thing for lists (2014 booklist, Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Bride, etc.) I find that there is something calming about laying everything out there and then slowly checking it off. There are tons of ways to create and organize lists. Find what works for you! As I finish tasks, I feel some control over my world returning. It gives me agency and agency is power.cab

2. Dive into a Good Book- Books are not for everyone but for me they are magical, and if you haven’t tried it I strongly recommend it. I have lived hundreds of lives without ever leaving the comfort of my couch. It’s amazing and incredible. Words paint and build new, strange, and familiar places the reader can touch, smell, and see. While in the middle of an attack it may be hard to focus at first–don’t give up. Breathe in the moment and continue to concentrate on the words. With a bit of time they may come into focus and allow you to escape.

 

3. Friends & Family are Key- Don’t keep it bottled up inside. If you’re scared, angry, depressed, confused tell someone. You don’t need to know the why, where, or what of your emotions. By confiding in someone you trust, you’re giving them insight into the crazy clockwork going on in your head. And they might just have something wise to say that will make you feel better.

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4. Create a Go-To Habit- Sometimes I chew gum, like a cow, really hard. And it really helps. It annoys people around me, but it helps. Now, obviously, I can’t really do that at work. It looks a tad unprofessional, so I substitute by sucking on sunflower seeds. I’ve picked up these habits trying to avoid the more detrimental anxious habits like butchering my cuticles. My poor nails just don’t deserve it. Also, the comfort of a habit helps me to relax and focus on “the moment” that cookie monster mentions. I’d beware of making cookies your go-to, though. In all seriousness, food crutches can be just as destructive for your mental and physical well-being as other anxious habits. While cookies might give you that happy sugar rush in the moment, you might wind up feeling sloth-like later, which probably won’t help your anxiety when you need to get things done.

 

Have your own tips for dealing with anxiety? Share them!

 

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Get Your Working Butt in Gear!

You know what isn’t great for your body? Sitting in a chair for 8 hours a day 5 days a week, and yet many of us do it. And somehow, despite the fact that I am sitting down for most of the day, I am still exhausted when I get home. I’m far more likely to reach for a book or the remote than decide to go for a walk or (miracle of miracles) a run! But that’s in the past starting today!

I’m in my early twenties and therefore still fairly fortunate in regards to my metabolism but it’s never been an easy balance between diet and weight. Often times the pounds would win over the power of youth. However, my fiancé and I have taken a vow to get healthy. (He has declared that he wants to have a six pack by our honeymoon. I’ve declared that I’ll be right beside him…in a t-shirt.)  But in all honesty, it’s less about our weight and more about creating a permanent lifestyle change. If we work on it now, my hope is that we’ll be able to set a great example for any little ones that may come around in the future

So what’s our plan of action?

3 Days Cardio, 3 Days Alternative Activity, 1 Day of Rest. Ironically we’ve labeled Sunday as our day of rest or “cheat day” where we can order Chinese, lounge around, and I can read on our patio without the guilt of being stationary. For our cardio, we’re just good ole fashion running on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays (for a longer run!). I’ll be the first to admit I am not exact Speedy Gonzales. Nor do I enjoy the feeling of my lungs on fire, but it’s good for me so I’m going to do it.

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When it comes to alternative activities I’m looking at pilates and pinterest. Mind you, I’m going to have to be careful not to get distracted while on there, but that’s something I’ll work on and why my fiancé and I are doing this together. Because he’ll get distracted by something on Yahoo, I’ll get distracted by pinterest, and then we’ll both guilt each other into getting up and doing the activities we’re meant to be doing. It’s great for couple bonding!

What kind of activities do you squeeze in? How do you find time in your busy schedule?

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Being a Young Professional with a Chronic Illness

Being young and being ill are not mutually exclusive. Most people look at me and see a perfectly healthy young woman. I have no obvious outward ailments, but that’s the problem with illness. It doesn’t always show on the surface and even when I am feeling symptomatic I may not allow others to see how much pain I am in.

I suffer from a chronic condition dubbed IBS, which means that I have bouts of extreme pain and nausea that can come on suddenly at any time for no known reason. My doctors are constantly attempting to find triggers or natural aids so I can remain functional. But, of course, there are flare days. These days are filled with stabbing pains, fatigue, sweats, chills, nausea, fog, and maybe a few unpleasant tangos in the restroom. It’s hard to function in an office environment when you feel like your organs have been brutally beaten and mangled.

As a young professional I don’t have the same flexibility as my older peers. I haven’t yet earned the additional personal days, flex time, or established a long-term reputation as a dedicated responsible employee. All of these things mean that I need to go to work regardless of my physical condition. If I’m not contagious I’m dragging myself in. But, reality check, sometimes I don’t have the energy after an attack to make myself soup more or less wear heels and walk into my office building smiling all day. So what do I do? I haven’t figured it out yet. So far I’ve managed to abate the attacks and confine them to weekends and nights with a carefully balanced regiment of 409080Stomach Ease tea (thank you, Yogi, you have saved me!!!!!), soup, and Ritz crackers. I could probably single-handedly maintain the Ritz empire with my consumption of crackers alone.

For me, the support of my family and friends has been invaluable as I’m trying to find the work-life balance I need in order to maintain my health. Surrounding myself with people that want me to succeed has made a large difference in my motivation to find new ways to help manage my illness and take back control over my life. As I continue to find my way I want to share anything I learn with my readers, and I’d love to hear about how you’ve managed to navigate the rocky road to work-health balance!