Fill Your Cup

So, Wednesday was kind of a rough day.

It didn’t start out rough, aside from the momentary panic that set in when I thought I had lost my wallet (found it in the depths under the passenger side of my car — whew), and there were plenty of good things that happened.

While I didn’t sleep great the night before, Penny slept in which is always a plus. We had lunch with a good friend. I saw my family for dinner and got to hang with my precious baby niece Marnie. All in all, it had the makings of a pretty good day.

And yet, despite the fact that there wasn’t really anything specifically wrong, despite the fact that nothing bad happened, it just ended up being a really hard day. There was this undercurrent of stress and tension running through the entire day as I tried to juggle getting to the gym and previous commitments and travel time and scheduled calls and simply the looming obligation of everything on my to-do list. I felt like there wasn’t enough time to do anything, let alone everything, and more than that, like my time wasn’t my own.

And so as the day wore on, as things slowly began running more off schedule, as I clamored to make sure I dropped Penny off in time to dial into my next call, as I went back-and-forth over what I needed to do, I just started to feel more and more overwhelmed. Toss in Penny being extra clingy, fussy, and not sleeping well (her top teeth are breaking through, so she’s definitely off right now as well), and me still dealing with the extraordinary terribleness that is being on your period postpartum and, yeah. You end up with a sleeping baby strapped into the back of a yellow Ford Focus on the parking pad outside her parents’ house, and a crying Gretchen, lol. It really was just the perfect storm of stress, hormones, and mental and physical fatigue.

So after a somewhat snot-filled drive home, I handed a sleepy Penny off to Sean to put down for the night and indulged in some much-needed self-care. I gave myself a facial, took a hot shower, diffused some calming essential oils, donned some soft, clean pajamas and climbed into bed early, where I read three chapters of a real, actual, for-fun fiction novel. I then popped two Unisom tabs and fell asleep.

I woke yesterday morning feeling uplifted, energized, and so much more optimistic. A few simple acts of intentional self-care and a solid night’s sleep (8 hours!!!), and I was like a new person! Well, sure, okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that groundbreaking, but it was like I’d woken up on the right side of the bed for the first time in a spell. And it really went to show A) how long it had been since I’d “indulged” in even just a little “me time”, and B) how true the cliche is: you simply cannot pour from an empty cup. You have to take care of yourself.

And while I’ve been taking lots of strides to take care of myself in other ways — therapy, working out, eating better — they don’t really feel like self-care in the traditional sense (to me, at least. Maybe one day exercising will feel like a true form of self-care, lol, but for the time being it’s still firmly rooted in “chore” territory.) And before I had Penny, I used to REALLY prioritize self-care: massages, pedicures, facials, shopping, getting my hair done, reading for fun… I used to partake in these kinds of things relatively regularly — things made me feel good, helped me relax, and that I just truly enjoyed.

These days, recoloring my hair usually comes at the expense of my sleep, because I can’t tackle my roots until after Penny’s gone to bed (and it takes like 3 hours, lol). I can count on one hand the number of pedicures I’ve gotten since she’s been born. Reading, as I mentioned in my last post, has long dropped out of my top priorities. And all my shopping happens online.

All of which is super normal, I’d imagine, especially when you’re a new parent. And honestly, it’s fine most of the time. My priorities clearly shifted when I became a mother. Having my life run by my tiny human is something I wouldn’t trade for all the massages and manicures in the world! But Wednesday was just a very marked reminder that finding (making!) the time to treat and take care of myself, even if it’s naturally going to be much less often than I used to, is still so crucial. We need to fill our cups so that we can be sharper and more focused employees, kinder and more considerate friends, loving and more patient parents.

Maybe the next step will be making the time for a real vacation, eh?

PMS

So. Maybe this borders a little too heavily on the whole “TMI” side of things (though let’s be honest, when have I ever been really one to stray away from a good TMI scenario?) but I have got to say: I have raging PMS right now. My 2.8 male readers can promptly close their browsers now. Really, it’s okay guys. 😉

PMS is one of those things that is incredibly inconsistent for me. Some months, things just chug along like normal. Maybe I end up with a couple more french-fry cravings than normal, but it’s never anything noticeable enough for me to be like, “Oh, I must be PMS-ing!” It’s usually just more like, huh, I want some french fries.

Other months, however, it hits me like a freight train. I do recognize that I’m pretty lucky in that I don’t often get hit with major bloating, death-inducing headaches, or the like. No, the worst thing for me is the emotional damage that my hormones have on me. It’s not so much mood swings as a general rise in my emotional sensitivity. And considering I’m not the most emotionally stable person on a regular day… oooooh man.

Case in point:

Yep. Twilight made me cry. And it wasn’t even during like, a sad scene (to be fair though, is there such a thing in Twilight?). You might think that would be the height of my PMS-related patheticness, but you’d be wrong. I still vividly remember the time I started crying while watching High School Musical.

As Sean can attest, there’s also not a small amount of general moping and doldrum-dwelling for no real reason:

“What’s wrong?”
“I DON’T KNOW!”

I know, I know. I’m that girl. I’m sorry. (Not really.)

Because I don’t really experience many other signs other than my inappropriate allocation of emotions, I do sometimes find that my diet goes through a bit of an unconscious rebellion at a certain point each month. Like with the aforementioned french fry craving, I know that my willpower to resist (or perhaps limit would be a better word, since you know I’m not a fan of totally ignoring a craving) my inhalation of fries is definitely lower. Sometimes I feel like I should start tracking these things better so I know when I’ll need to mentally equip myself against the pull of a junk food rage, haha.

Does PMS hit you hard? In what ways?

Homecoming (Giveaway!)

Look who’s back!!

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Daxter is back home after his stay at the hospital and is on the road to recovery!

He’s still sleepy and having some, er, backend issues, but it’s nowhere near as bad as before. In fact, the doctor said that it is normal, and the main thing is to make sure he can eat, drink, and keep his meds down. He actually has a really good appetite, which I am beyond thrilled about since he had lost 2 whole pounds! And while two pounds is not generally a lot for someone like me, to a 17 pound dog it is a big effing deal. As long as that’s the case — and so far so good (knock on wood) — he is definitely on the up and up. $1,800 well spent, and I really do say that without a trace of irony (and luckily, thanks to pet insurance I’ll be getting a large chunk of it back.)

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Phew.

All I can really say is this: you know that emotional roller coaster I am constantly referencing was talking about? Well, hopefully this is the last loop-de-loop on that ride. I am SO ready to get off. And I’m sure that you are all ready to move on to happier things too! Can you tell how much my mood has already improved?

Now, due to the many hours that were spent at the emergency vet clinic, lack of sleep, and dehydration due to crying (don’t bother acting as though you’re shocked), I don’t really have much to talk about today. So for now, let’s just revel in the fact that it looks like Daxy is going to pull through. In fact, let’s revisit all the things that I said I’m thankful for last week, and put Daxter’s recovery as number one with a bullet.

While today’s post might not have too much going on, be forewarned/get excited for all the festiveness that is about to come. It is officially CHRISTMAS SEASON (slash whichever holiday you’ll be celebrating: Hanukkah, Kwanza, Festivus, etc.) and that means cookies will be baked, decorations will be hung, and dogs will be clothed. What, you think a little life-threatening sickness was going to get Daxter out of sweater season? Ha! Think again.

Sleepy

Oh, and don’t think you’re being spared of this fate either, Harry.

What you looking at, fella?

And okay, so I lied about there being absolutely nothing of interest in this post for you. In fact, if you’ve made it this far there’s something fun, festive, and most importantly (as always) FREE! In order to celebrate Daxter’s momentous-ish homecoming, the impending holiday, and just because I like you, I have a giveaway for you!

My awesome graphic designer Bailey (who designed my logo, header, and sweet business cards!) just launched her new business, think pretty, ink. She has a line of adorable, personalized holiday card designs, and is offering a free holiday card design to one lucky winner!

Ways to enter (leave a separate comment back here for each thing!):

1. Check out think pretty, ink.‘s Etsy page and comment on which design is your favorite (and don’t let the models in the example above bias you, hehe.)

2. Like think pretty, ink. on Facebook!

3. Blog/tweet/facebook about this giveaway! Make sure to reference @shrinkinggretch (Twitter) or my fan page (Facebook) and link back to this post! (Short link: http://bit.ly/sFe0Fu)

I will be randomly drawing a winner on Friday, December 2nd, so get your entries in and your list of holiday-card-worthy recipients ready! It’s going to be a grrrrreat day!

Update: And the winner is…

Sara L.! Congratulations! Email me and I’ll put you in touch with Bailey. Happy Holidays!

Highs and Lows

Happy (?) Monday, everyone! I hope everybody survived their holiday weekend unscathed and with only an extra 10 or 12 pounds around their waists (heh.) Surprisingly, I’m actually glad to get into a bit of normalcy over the next week or so. Until the craziness of the next holiday settles in, that is. Not that this unusual for me, as you are all painfully aware, but even with all of the Thanksgiving festiveness, the past week has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster for me. Ups and downs, highs and lows, it’s been a trip. Here are just some examples of each:

Feast!

High: The socially accepted binge that is Thanksgiving Dinner.

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Low: Not getting to spend Thanksgiving with my family (fur-family excluded).

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High: Completing 7.02 miles in preparation for the 15K coming up on Saturday (!!!)

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Low: How sore I already am, less than 24-hours later. And I only actually ran for half of it. Also a low? Seeing the race course and elevation map:

WHY SO HILLY?! Just kill me now. Ow.

High: The amazingness that is The Muppets Movie. Seriously, go see it right now. Mah-na mah-na.

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Low: Coming home post-movie to a sick puppy. Not that you need the specifics, but let’s just say my night — and day — included more than one messy clean-up. 🙁

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Extra Low: My sick puppy continuing to be sick, waking up every half-hour Saturday night to check for anything that may have spewed from either end, and, after 24+ hours of vomiting and diarrhea, finally making the decision to take him to the emergency vet at 10 PM last night. Prognosis? Undetermined, of course. It could be any number of things: upset stomach, parasites, blockage, gastrosomethingitis… They wanted to keep him overnight and IV-this and X-ray-that but even with my awesome pet insurance my monetary situation forced me to stay on the conservative side here. Which makes me feel like a horrible pet parent just saying so, but you know me: any sign of worsening or further trouble and I’ll be speeding (literally!) straight back to the Hope Center. But for now, at least my $585.00 procured a few meds and instructions for taking care of my little guy. Therefore, I’ll be playing the roll of Doggy Nurse today and hopefully things will go smoothly… for both of us.

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So, yeah… with all that, I’ve been doing some (more) emotional yo-yoing. And while mentally I know that Daxter is going to be okay, it’s still very worrisome. Oh, plus there’s the fact that I’m running on approximately 85 minutes hours of sleep thanks to getting home at 1:45 AM from the Doggy ER and Daxter’s frequent trips outside. I’m sure that my emotional instability will only continue to worsen as time goes on… and as I get closer and closer to Saturday’s race. For the latter, I know I just need to keep telling myself that I just need to FINISH the race: time be damned, pace be damned, other people’s opinions be damned. Right?

…right?

Post Mortem

It’s about to get serious up in hurr, so I offer the following picture to ease you into it. You’re welcome.

sadface

What with all the hair dyeing, binge drinking, cupcake face-stuffery, and vague allusions, you may have surmised that things have been a little off with me lately. Well, you would be correct. I’ve been trying to wait, take a breath, and let my most volatile feelings about the situation subside before tackling it on the interwebs, but in the end I figure, hey, it’s my blog and I can cry if I want to.

You are probably well-aware of the fact that I am a rather, er, emotionally charged person. I just have a lot of feelings. And while I don’t want to rant, rave, or divulge too much for fear of any libelous/slanderous/true accusations I’ve put forth on the interwebs coming back to bite me in the ass, this blog is about my life. And this has been a significant part of it, so here it is.

A week ago, my relationship with my boyfriend of almost three years ended. I wasn’t blindsided. We both knew that things hadn’t been great for a while. But for whatever reason, call it optimism or merely naïveté, I still had hope. I thought we were worth saving, and I still wanted to try. Unfortunately, as many cliché sayings and rom-coms have taught me, it takes two to tango. And ultimately it just wasn’t enough.

I have a lot of mixed emotions wrapped up in this breakup. After all, three years is a substantial chunk of my life! Right at this moment, it’s difficult for me not to feel like it’s time that’s been wasted. Objectively, I know that’s not true. I know that I’ve grown because of this relationship, that I’ve learned things about myself that I might not have otherwise. Objectively, I understand what’s happened. I even get why it had to happen. But the thing is — and it may shock you to learn this — I’m really not a very objective person. So I’m hurt, and I’m sad, and most of all I am angry. Not so much at why it ended (I know that there is plenty of blame to go on both our shoulders), but I’m angry at HOW it ended. At the way it was handled, at what’s happened since.

The sadness, I can deal with. I’m handling the hurt, the blows dealt to my self-esteem, the loss of a friend. But the anger? I don’t really know how to deal with this. I’m not asking for a justification or rationalization of my feelings. I know I’m allowed to–no, entitled to feel this way. But it’s still just a lot to handle, even for someone who runs the gamut of her emotions as frequently as I do.

In the meantime, I’m trying to keep busy. I’m attempting to divert the self-pity and rage with a full schedule, and it does help. I have plenty of emo songs queued up on Spotify, and that helps too. I’m also taking solace in the fact that for once in my life, I’m not turning to food to soften the blow (wine, on the other hand…)

I know this isn’t the end of the world. I know that I’m young, that I have lots of life left to live and plenty more heartbreak to endure (oh, goody.) But this was my first real, serious, committed relationship, and it’s over. That sucks. The fact of the matter is that breakups are hard. I don’t know if some of you are questioning my decision to broadcast this so openly on the blog, but I needed to. This is me, after all. I needed to chronicle this chapter of my life coming to a close.

Fall

So we mourn, and eventually, we move on.