Self Care: Adult Version

“Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.”

L.R. Knost

Self Care: Overindulgent or Over-dramatized?

Let’s start with the basics. Self care is taking action to improve or maintain your health, mentally or physically. Recently, it has become an online joke especially among students. For example:

More often than not self care is perceived as a type of procrastination. Considered honestly, it’s true that self care can be taken to an extreme at the expense of responsibility. However, in moderation and for the right reasons, self care is an essential part of living a healthy life.

Let’s get real. When is self care appropriate?

Self care is justifiable anytime your work, social life, mental health or physical health suffers due to some kind of stress. Pretty broad justification for sure, so I’ll use my personal experience as an example.

Until recently, I was training as a 911 dispatcher. Due to the constant interaction with people in crisis, the consequential delivery of information with to other first responders and a generally over-stimulating environment, I frequently left work feeling drained and irritable. I get the sense that many of my coworkers had a similar experience, and the consequences of going five days a week without thinking about my own well-being began to surface. Here’s what happened:

  • I stopped being social outside of work
  • Little things my roommate did started irritating me
  • I got snippy with people over things that usually didn’t matter to me
  • My anxiety got worse, despite an increase in my dosage of medication
  • Pretty much all I did outside of work was sleep or lay in bed
  • I began to dread going to work, but told myself I was just tired

Basically, this was me:

Credit to RedBubble.com for the image

Would I have benefited from some self care?

The short answer is yes, but it wouldn’t have solved my problems. Long answer: I was not well suited to the job, and no amount of self care would solve that. However, self care may have saved me from the anxiety induced nightmare that became my life for several weeks before I resigned.

Self care is the equivalent of turning your phone or computer off and back on again to help it function better. I’ve heard the argument for naps being the human equivalent of this, but naps are part of self care so my point stands. Doing something as simple as washing the dishes while listening to music you like can help you take a step back from whatever is stressing you out. Sometimes noticing stress can be difficult, and people ignore the signs until they are overwhelmed by it.

Clearly, my response shows through exhaustion or irritability, which is fairly common. For others it surfaces as depression, anxiety, general unrest, insomnia, or hyper-focus. Response to stress is as unique, just like an individual’s triggers. Since there is no universal “you need self care” indicator, stress often goes untreated and results in situations like mine. Best practice is to engage in self care regularly whether or not you think you need it. If you’re not sure where to start, the basic idea is to do something that is fun for you or helps you relax. Here’s my go to de-stress activities:

  • Put on some music in my apartment at a loud volume and lip sync or sing along energetically when no one else is home.
  • Take a steamy shower and take my time instead of rushing through (My showers are typically 5 min or less).
  • Do the dishes. This may seem weird, but it’s a mindless activity and gives me time to just chill but still feel like I’ve accomplished something.
  • Go to the gym. But only if it’s not busy. I know people aren’t actually watching and judging, but I still prefer there to be less people around. Alternatively, go for a walk.
  • Put on my headphones and listen to music in my own little world while writing.
  • Go to a coffee shop and watch a movie or show. Sometimes I need to be around people while re-charging, and this is a non-interactive way to do it.

What do you do to de-stress? If you don’t know, maybe think about it.

Puberty/Glow UP

NSFW language included in this post. More than usual.
In an effort to find the most derpy photo of myself for the puberty/glow up challenge I realized there was something I needed to say.
My growing up years, like most everyone else’s, were at turns fun, infuriating, joyful, difficult and overall awkward as hell. I had it pretty good, but in hindsight there were a lot of things I was working out internally at the time. Puberty for me in particular meant a few life changing things. 
First on the list: hormones, which in my case cause mental and physical health concerns. Dealing with anxiety and an (at the time) un-diagnosed panic disorder as a 12 year old was not easy. Definitely thought it was normal until I got to college and was asked, “How do you survive with that going on in your head all the time??” Second: I was living with an emotionally/verbally manipulative (abusive?) person which caused me to internalize and minimize some unsavory things that I am now working on in therapy.
Long story short: Didn’t realize it was abnormal at the time, looking back it super sucked and makes me wonder how I made it. Well, there is an easy answer for that question. I had (and still have) some super rad friends.
Most of us have grown apart at this point, which is okay. We are still friends on social media and you better believe I’m cyber-stalking their asses and making sure to post for life events. **note for the FBI agent reading this post, I’m not actually stalking them it’s a figure of speech leave me alone**
To you people: I’m proud as fuck of the people you’ve all become and the dreams you’re pursuing and the accomplishments you’ve already made. Knowing you is a privilege I hope to keep for a good long while. Keep it up, and if you ever feel like you haven’t done enough of what you wanted to, send me a message and I’ll set you straight.
Listen, I know it’s cheesy or cliche or something to do a friend appreciation post. Whatever the lingo is nowadays. God I feel old. Anyway, that’s not what this is. This is a celebration of who we’ve become, and a thank you for dealing with me at what was indisputably my worst self, and loving me anyway. What could I call it except love? You all helped me find what I believed, even if it was different from your own thoughts. You helped shape my critical thinking, my articulation of ideas, my moral reasoning and even my identity as a human. Sexual identity is debatable since I was a repressed Catholic school girl coming to terms with being queer subconsciously, but that too. I firmly believe that each and every one of you left a print on my soul that made it the beautiful shape it is today.
And to the people in my life now, I don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re part of me know, we’re growing together right now and I am truly happy and excited for this present with you. My friends, we are a living breathing present that is constantly sounding off each other birthing new facets of identity into being. Isn’t that fucking cool??? We are making each other up as we go. I love it. This creative process that is life never stops, good or bad. We’re always “glowing up” so to speak, and that’s important.
I think that’s the point of this whole challenge tbh. To look at where you’ve been, appreciate it for what it was, and look at where you are now with pride. There’s an implied future to it as well, sort of a, “If this is where I’ve been–and it’s been dope–can  you imagine where I’m going to be 10 years from now?” And I, for one, am excited for that future.
Sorry not sorry for all the beautiful photos of everyone. Here’s some particularly great ones of me to make up for it:

AND FINALLY: the glow up:

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For the New Year

2018 has sure been something. Between graduating university, getting my first ever full time job, freelancing at at nonprofit I adore, the usual life craziness with relationships, identity, and mental health I’d say the year has had ups and downs. I wanted to take a moment and embrace the cliche of New Year’s reflections, but avoid the pitfalls of resolutions.

As made apparent by this blog throughout the year, I resolve to do something like post once a week and then life gets in the way. Looking back, I think I prefer it that way since it means I was engaged and immersed in my life instead of memorializing it online. Ideally I could do both, but let’s take this one step at a time, huh? Living in the moment is something I’ve always struggled with based on my anxiety and need to please everyone around me. Being content was never enough unless everyone around me was also content, until recently. Starting therapy for my mental health was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and it has helped me realize it’s not my job to make everyone happy. Therapy has also taught me the best way to help others be happy is to share my joy with them, aka being happy helps other people be happy.

This lesson was twofold; really being happy means accepting that my own happiness is valid even when people around me are not. My emotions cannot be dependent on someone else. I learned this one the hard way several times over with breakups, graduation, and work matters. Thankfully, now that I know that, I’ve been applying it to my life to some degree of success. This also comes to bear on romantic relationships and work life in a big way. At work as a 911 dispatcher, separating yourself from the situations while retaining empathy is essential. It is impossible to be as hysterical as a caller and still help them, so logically and practically this made the lesson easier to apply. In my personal life, knowing how it felt to be happy just for me instead of for other people made it easier to cut toxic people out of my life. Furthermore, this made it easier for me to act like myself no matter who I was around, without apologizing or conforming to what people expected of me. And I’m better for it.

That’s all I really want to say for now. Maybe there will be another post later, who knows? *shrug*

new year 2PS. Have a good last day of the year. Do some crazy stuff just because you can.

Art vs Artist

I’ve been having some serious introspective sessions lately with my life choices, career path and general choices I’ve made since graduation. Consequently, I’ve found myself thinking more deeply about what kind of art I consume–specifically what kind of movies and television shows I watch.

I find myself in a conundrum: Many of the franchises/style of films I enjoy employ problematic actors to play out tropes that demean women or are unintentionally homophobic/transphobic or play into stereotypes that are harmful to the communities they aim to represent (re: bury your gays), so can I watch these films without feeling guilty for enjoying them? With the rash of celebrities recently caught up in the #MeToo movement, and the queer feminist perspective I maintain, I have yet to find some show or movie untarnished by the misdeeds of its artistic team or participants. So, can I separate the art from the artist?

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from @70ceeks on Twitter

Watching these films with a critical eye and bringing up what makes them problematic when I discuss them with others seems to be a compromise that works. Granted, not everyone I discuss these films with will share my views. But, calling out a problem and starting the discussion is an important part of changing the industry. So, the next time you watch the latest Marvel movie, enjoy it! But afterwards, consider the implications it has for the minorities or marginalized communities portrayed within it.

Need an example? Try Deadpool 2, one of my favorite movies by the way, which includes a lesbian couple but nearly erases Deadpool’s pansexual identity. Didn’t know that Deadpool is pan? That’s the point. This article discusses what’s included and what is left to be desired from the queer perspective in the movie (and does a really good job explaining things that may not be common knowledge too).

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Manip of Deadpool by David Seguin

Quick sidenote before I change the subject: here are a couple of resources I find really helpful in critically examining the films and tv shows I watch: 
https://www.glaad.org/sri/2014/vitorusso 
https://www.autostraddle.com/all-65-dead-lesbian-and-bisexual-characters-on-tv-and-how-they-died-312315/

So, how do we evaluate a film critically when it’s a problematic actor we have to be aware of? Well, the easiest way I’ve found is getting to know the actor through the use of the google machine, and using what you know about them to inform what you see them do on the screen. Wow that was a long sentence. Better way to say it: Learn what pitfalls the actor commonly has and watch out for them in movies they are in.

Example: Jared Leto. Sewer system of a human being. Not a great coworker. Sends dead pigs, used condoms and anal beads to fellow actors.  Okay, wait. Not a good example. I don’t really like his work at all anyway. But if you did like a movie he’s in, say, Dallas Buyers Club, there’s definite potential to separate Leto the actor from his character Rayon.

Leto fan art
Art by beneaththespinlight on deviantart.com

I realize this is another problematic movie since they cast Leto as a trans woman–speaking of which, good on you ScarJo for dropping the role of Dante “Tex” Gill albeit after significant backlash and an ill-advised public statement. But that’s part of the research I’m talking about to inform your watching of the film. Ask yourself: should Leto be playing a trans woman? What past experience and support for the queer community has he shown? What will inform his playing of the role? What is he like as an actor? What do his costars from the show say about him? Are his acting methods beneficial to the character? These are a few of the questions to use the internet or other resources to find the answers for.

I’d advise developing a few of your own questions to research as well for things you feel strongly about, like queer issues or race issues or the portrayal of characters with disabilities. Who am I to tell you what to care about? Anyway, just make sure when you watch a film or a show, you know what you’re getting into. If not the first time, do some research before you rewatch a film you really enjoyed and decide whether its something you want to support.

That’s all I have for today. Here’s a few little easter eggs from my research I thought you might enjoy:

This video isn’t as scary as the cover photo looks I promise.

There’s this cool article about feminist consumption of pop culture:

This article is a lengthy list of problematic actors.

A continuation of my distaste for Jared Leto and everything he stands for.

Also here is the link for the cover photo to this post.

A Finale, But Not the Final Word

As an avid viewer of Sense8, my excitement for the finale kept me up last night until I realized I had to work in the morning. So, I was forced to wait until this evening to watch the conclusion of the psychedelic, confusing, groundbreaking, condensed final chapter of the beloved Netflix original series. It’s probably a good thing I waited though considering the amount of screaming and clapping I did while watching…

this is the best gif

SO, obviously, if you haven’t had a chance to watch the finale yet and you plan to, be warned that there are spoilers ahead!

First things first: I’m upset the finale had to be pared down to a 151 minute feature-length film style piece. One of the best things about the series is the carefully constructed plots in the short term episodes and their eventual piecing together to create a seasonal story arc. While attention was still given in this manner, the shorter story arcs were forced to develop and resolve themselves in a much more condensed time frame. I’m certain many avenues would have been developed over the standard hour long episodes if that were an option.

gimme more

That being said, “Amor Vincit Omnia” managed to include the staples of the first 2 seasons: Sun’s daybreak tai chi sessions on the roof, flashbacks through the cluster’s pasts, international jumps, and the manifestation of remarkable shared skills and the accompanying body swapping. Oh, and how could I forget the ORGY???? Girl, buckle up, the finale sexy-time scene rivals season one’s “Demons.” And by rivals, I mean takes to a whole new level of taking standard Hollywood taboos and doing literally the opposite. It is. SO. GOOD.

More in the realm of what watchers expect to see: BPO attacks, double crossing, rooftop chases, plots and counter plots, and random video game style new skill acquisition. That sounds bad, like all they did was reuse old scenes from the past seasons (coughStarWarscough), but Lana Wachowski and her co-writers kept the action fresh and the characters grew throughout the….episode? Still not sure what to call it besides finale.

Wachowski

The queer-friendly scenes and boundary pushing logic (for standard Hollywood at least) did not disappoint either. That’s really what Sense8 is all about, how people relate to each other. And relationships abound in the latest installment; heterosexual, gay, lesbian, and polyamorous partners all make an appearance within the cluster. Some of them we already know, like Hernando and Lito or Amanita and Nomi, but others are new, like the (not-so) surprise twist in Kala’s love interests Wolfgang and Rajan. It’s so important to see non-heterosexual couples represented in mainstream media, and trans people too!

To the Sense8 team’s credit, they represent the queer community in a way that doesn’t add to the litany of ‘inclusive’ pieces that use the bury your gays trope over and over again. Remember the episode in season two, where Lito comes out in a big way at Sao Paulo Pride? Between the near death experiences with BPO, the show continues to impress with conversations like the ones in that episode among the cluster and their friends and family. They focus on accepting yourself as you are, and not being ashamed of what you want. Sense8’s quiet acceptance and inclusion of ‘alternative lifestyles’ juxtaposed to and folded into its radical (sexual) scenes is a step in the right direction and a model that other mainstream media outlets would do well to follow.

sense8 pride

The aural, visual and thematic plaudits given to the first two seasons of Sense8 remain applicable to the finale, perhaps even more so due to the shortened length. Best of all, “Amor Vincit Omnia” was released in Pride month and celebrates what it is all about: Love.

pride flag sense8

Disingenuous Critical Thinking

Let me start by saying I fully support liberal arts education, and I think discussion of other cultures in a university setting is important. Furthermore, I think our university educational system would be remiss if it did not make students critically consider problems in the world, not just our own country.

These things said, today I found myself in a classroom full of students discussing sex trafficking as it relates to cartels in Mexico. The class consists of privileged (mostly) white young students, myself included. Despite best intentions and usually productive conversation, somehow today we began equating the situation of drug lords and girls kidnapped by the cartels. Suddenly, I was snapped back to the reality that most of these people have no idea what they are talking about and simply want to say something so they get their participation points.

Don’t get me wrong, some comments were genuine–though I consider them misguided nonetheless. The situation of a kidnapped woman forced into sex work and a life she never wanted is not the same as a sicario who decided to join the system instead of fight it. But I digress, my focus in this editorial is misguided critical thinking within college classrooms. We often consider things we have no context for, after all most of us come from white middle-class Midwestern families, so that’s not the problem.

No, the problem is that often we don’t recognize our privilege and lack of knowledge. Then we consider heavy topics and pretend that we are the authorities on the ideas. We ask questions we don’t really care about the answers for. We give answers that are politically correct, and answers that we think others will agree with. No one wants to be wrong. In a different setting, one of the most useful pieces of advice I’ve ever been given is, “Fail is not a bad word. Fail just means you try again.” This is what should be applied to academia, not the mentality that it currently abides.

Isle of Skye

It’s been a few days, sorry! We’ve been busy hiking, exploring and playing on the Isle of Skye. Once again, photos do more justice than my words ever could. I’ll try to caption each picture so you know where we’ve been!

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The harbor next to our hostel in Portree

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A part of the Cullin Mountains that run through Skye

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Exploring the town

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On the edge of the overlook

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A natural frame

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Posing for a photo on the edge

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The edge (in Portree)

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Portree from the Overlook

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Tyler (Portree)

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Mary Jane (Portree)

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…it me (Portree)

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Sage and her tree (Portree)

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I like trees okay? (Portree)

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I like walls too. (Portree)

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Golden hour in Portree

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The overview of the Cullins from Portree

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Gallery

75 Hours

Today, a photographic representation of the adventures from the past 24 hours. I don’t know how better to describe Loch Ness, hiking through wildlife preserves, and hearing about the rich history of the Highlands than through images.

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View from the Inverness Youth Hostel

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Headed to the city

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Art from streets

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Scratched out is “Representing”

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Crocuses

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The bell tower at the middle of the city

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Scared? You wish.

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Inverness castle

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A pub with fabulous music

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The gravestone of Duncan (from MacBeth) behind a convenience store

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Pronounced “Cull-lod-den”

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About the wall

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A glamour shot on Loch Ness

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The mists of Loch Ness

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Red Deer (shot from a moving vehicle)

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A wall representing the deaths at the Battle of Culloden

Tomorrow, on to Portree on the Isle of Skye! Do you believe in fairies?

 

Gallery

50 Hours

First things first. I didn’t post yesterday due to extreme motion sickness. Planes and buses are not my friends, particularly for close to 12 hours as a time. So I apologize for not posting an update on my first day in Scotland, but just know I spent the day mostly sleeping or throwing up. Good times.

Today, on the other hand, was excellent. We wandered about Inverness exploring shops and historical cultural spots. Notable on the list were the Inverness Castle, which sits on hill overlooking the city and now doubles as the courthouse, Leakey’s Bookshop, the largest secondhand bookshop in Scotland, the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and exploration of the walk around the River Ness.

We started with breakfast at the hostel, then dispersed throughout the city to explore. The walk along the River Ness led us past churches, through florally effervescent streets, and along the road to a few kilt shops/visitor center. The river had some great views of the city, and the aesthetic of the bridges and streets are what can only be described as European.

Inverness Castle, while closed to the public, provided a citywide overlook and some great architectural shots. Shout-out to Tyler for testing his parkour skills, and to the seagull who is completely un-bothered by human interaction.

Leakey’s book store is set up in an old Gaelic church on Church Street in Downtown Inverness. From the old wood burning fireplace to the metal spiral staircase, its a hard-to-beat aesthetic for cozy secondhand book shopping.

Photos will be added later!

 

On International Adventures

Starting Thursday, two days from now, this blog will serve as a journal for my time in Scotland.

Yes, that’s right, I’m going to Scotland! I will be there with one of my best friends, Sage, in a group from Augustana University. We will be exploring the literary tradition and culture of one of the nations that has shaped history on many fronts.

On the long plane ride over, we will be reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Crofter and the Laird. While there we will be doing other reading along with exploring various cities. I of course will have my camera and have not yet decided whether to do a visual or literary blog, but only time will tell. Look forward to extremely excited editorials about the landscape and contrasting culture of the UK.

Finally, let me say:

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