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?

40 Days, Baby!

As you read this, Daxter & I are likely high in the skies above, flying back home after spending a few days in Macon, GA with my sister and beautiful nieces, Mia & Kira.

Yeah, we met Elsa & Anna. No big deal. 😉

It was super nice, as always, to get away for a little bit and spend time with my family, but with us nearing the one-month mark for the wedding, plus with all the holiday stuff coming up, I can’t help feeling more anxious than not coming back into everything. My sister has been doing her best to help me tackle things one by one, prioritize, and not freak out, and I’m trying to follow her advice, but I seem to be incapable of de-stressing even as I am crossings things off of my ever-growing to-do list. Le sigh.

Gretchen___Sean_»_Eat__Drink__and_Be_Foxy_

I mean, I know that we’re getting into the home stretch, and at this point even totally normal people who aren’t A) DIY-ing way so much crazy sh*t and B) already prone to being overly anxious, emotionally compromised stressballs are apt to reach their boiling point. I swear, I am trying to keep it all in perspective: I still have 5 – 6 weeks to get everything done, my sister’s coming up in a couple more weeks and will be staying for the entire month before the wedding, and my two other bridesmaids will be in town for the full week prior. But I’m in this weird limbo where I feel like I’m both doing too much and not doing enough, lol.

I do feel better after meeting with Caitlin, my awesome day-of coordinator. She’s really ending up as more of a month-of coordinator, and I am so, so glad that I have someone there to reassure me that everything will work out (that I’m not related to, that is), and who is there to specifically help me execute all of my ridonkulous ideas. It makes the fact that I’m putting all these man-hours into details that barely anyone will actually notice much less suicide-inducing, hahaha.

I also have a walkthrough with our caterer scheduled for next week, which I’m sure will also put me more at ease, since it’ll give me the opportunity to ask all of the zillion questions I have on how exactly everything’s going to work. #notabridezillaiswear

I mean, don’t get me wrong: it’s really not all bad. I mean, one of the things that I crossed off my list while in Macon was taste-testing specialty cocktails for the wedding!

Hey, it was a tough job, but somebody had to do it!

Check out that Asian glow! 😉

And speaking of crossing things off my list… let’s take another look at that, shall we? (Are we super annoyed with this incessant list-updating yet?)

Date: ☑

Venue: ☑

Dress: ☑

Caterer: ☑

Photographer: ☑

Videographer: ☑

Flowers: ☑

Ceremony Musicians: ☑

Makeup Artist: ☑

Hair Stylist: ☑

DJ: ☑

Cake: ☑

Day-of Coordinator: ☑

Save the Dates: ☑

Invitations: ☑

Bridesmaid Dresses: ☑

Bridal Accessories: ☑

Wedding Rings: ☑

Groomsmen Tuxes: ☑

Dress Fittings: ☑

Registry: ☑

Hotel room blocks: ☑

Wedding-Day Transportation: ☑

Welcome Bags: ☐

Wedding Signage: ☑

Program & Menu: ☐

Seating Chart: ☐

Alcohol: ☐

Signature Cocktail: ☑

Centerpiece Bottles: ☑

Table Numbers: ☐

Ceremony Backdrop: ☐

Card Box: ☐

Keys to Success: ☐

Popcorn Bar: ☐

Wedding-Day Surprise Element ;): ☐

Guestbook: ☑

Write Vows: ☐

Marriage License: ☐

Create Timeline: ☑

Order Thank You Cards: ☐

Select Ceremony Music: ☐

Wedding Week Beauty Appts – Hair: ☑ Brows: ☑ Nails: ☑

Honeymoon: ☑

Book Honeymoon Excursions: ☐

Book Honeymoon Return Flight: ☐

I actually had to reneg and un-check the popcorn bar one, because I was getting a little ahead of myself. I have all the containers and whatnot, but haven’t placed an order for the actual popcorn yet, oops.

Still makin’ pretty good progress, but since this week is super busy for me work-wise, and the following week is, uh, Christmas week, I don’t really know how much I’ll get done until after Christmas… guess we’ll just have to see how the next couple of weeks go!

If I don’t make it back to update you guys before then, I hope you have the most amaaaaaaah-zing holiday season!

The Good, The Bad, and the Crazy

My big, huge, spectacular, monstrosity of a promotion — Yelp’s Passport to Mosaic — is almost upon us, which means that with each passing day I have somehow become even crazier than I already was. Impossible, I know, but here we are.

Yelp's Passport to Mosaic!

I am SO excited for this thing to kick off, because logically I do know that it’s going to be awesome and that the majority of the work is already done. HOWEVER, I think we all know by now that logic is not exactly my strong-suit, and thus every other hour in the day is peppered with a mini-panic attack over the fact that I’m trying to pull off EIGHT events in SEVEN days because dude, that is a lot. In a good way. But still.

The Good:

RSVP response for all of the events has been really good (I hope some of you in the area are considering coming out for one or two!), and we’re getting some good media promotion out of this! A lot of the logistical stuff is being totally handled, like managing RSVPs, communicating with the business owners, and getting things printed. I also spent three hours yesterday afternoon literally going door to door over at Mosaic just to make sure everything was hunky-dory with participating businesses.

The Bad:

Swag bags, man. Every time I do an event where there are gift bags/swag bags/individual gifts of some kind, I always swear I’ll never do them again. After all, they are painstaking and time-consuming to put together AND incredibly difficult to transport… and yet, here we are! My Elite Event on Sunday is the big kickoff for the entire week, so I wanted to do something to make it feel really special. And since I already had so many awesome businesses interested in participating in the promotion in general, a lot of them also wanted to contribute something! Plus all the awesome Yelp schwag that we’ve got going on to start (can we say Yelp luggage tags? So cute!) So really, it is awesome, because these swag bags are gonna be too legit to quit, but at the same time, it means that tomorrow afternoon, my intern Lendsey and I will be packing swag bags until the end of time. Eep!

The Crazy:

Remember all that awesome media coverage that we’re getting for Passport? Well, included in part of that is the fact that I’M GONNA BE ON TV!! AHHHHHHH!! That is totally the definition of crazy, is it not? Let’s Talk Live DC has asked me to come onto their show and talk about Passport. It’s my first TV spot, so I’m obviously just a liiiittle bit nervous. But it’s that kind of super excited, shaky nervousness that will hopefully translate into me seeming REALLY ENTHUSIASTIC about this promotion. Which, I am. So hopefully that’ll all work itself out.

So make sure you watch me make a fool of myself on live TV — Monday, 3/31 on News Channel 8! (808 in HD.) The show airs from 11 AM to 12 PM. Eeeeeeee!

Though some of the nittier, grittier parts of this promotion still have yet to be completely ironed out, I guess that when I really sit down and take stock of everything I’ve done, and everything I still have to do, things aren’t quite as overwhelming as I thought. So basically, just the simple act of me writing this post has worked wonders on my mental stability. Which is good! Because while I’m sure that my weigh-in on Friday will be totally awesome this week, I’m not sure that being unable to eat from stress is the way to achieve my weight loss goals, hahaha.

And on the plus side, going on TV Monday means I have a legit excuse to get my hair redone! I’m actually going in this afternoon… anyone wanna take guesses on what color I’ll come out with today? Heheheheh.

Stress with a Capital S

So beyond being happy and in a constant good mood lately, I am another thing. Stressed. Because, as it turns out, writing and publishing your first novel is an incredible mood lifter. But it’s also, like, kind of a big deal. With lots of things to consider. And lots of things to do. And lots of things to stress you out.

Now, I’ve never really been all that great at handling stress. Ask anybody who knows me in real life, and they will confirm this. Heck, I will gladly confirm this. I mean, a couple Christmases ago my brother glued the side of the gingerbread house onto the mold before it was decorated and I burst into tears and actually said the words, “YOU RUINED CHRISTMAS!”

Brickwork

Yeah, my family doesn’t really let me live that one down.

Gingerbread House

I’ve written about stress and anxiety before, and I’ve tried taking up some of your suggestions on how to deal with it, but I still haven’t gotten a very good handle on my ability to… handle… it. Last night, I laid (lied? lay?) awake in bed for an hour, my heart racing and mind whirring, just because I could not STOP THINKING ABOUT BOOK STUFF. Pitch emails, formatting, final copyedits and typos. Timelines and deadlines and proofs, oh my!

Okay, I just stressed myself out again just writing that list. Let’s backtrack.

ANYWAY. I was in bed, trying my darnest to count sheep and take deep breaths and not obsessively continue to check my phone, and eventually, I did fall asleep. And then I had one of those harrowingly realistic dreams where you are SO SUPER POSITIVE that it’s real life. You know, the kind of dream where you feel legitimately pissed in real life at real people, even though it’s only their dream-versions who wronged you. Needless to say, I woke up crying.

So, stress. I has it. And, in a hilarious-in-retrospect-but-awful-at-the-time kind of way, my worst anxiety always seems to manifest itself in my unconscious mind. Once, I dreams that my ex-boyfriend shot me in the leg. This was while we were still dating, mind you. So, you know, bad, uber-realistic dreams tend to lead to loss of sleep, and loss of sleep leads to more stress/being more easily stressed, and it’s a bit of a vicious cycle.

I’m kind of hoping that maybe there’s just something in the air, because Aileen’s post today was coincidentally in much of the same vein. (Even though she has much more to be stressed about than me, what with a deployed fiance and all. Perspective. I needs it.) But let’s be honest, I think what it really boils down to is just that I’m kind of high-strung in general. And I’m okay with it. (Self-acceptance is this week’s theme on the blog, right? Hahaha.)

I’m just going to focus on the positives here. Like, I’m not stress eating. That’s a big step for me! In fact, if I continue to be stress-nauseous like I was last night, maybe this will even lead to a loss, hahahaha. And in the meantime, I’ve booked a massage. Positive steps!

I know I’ve asked this before, but feel free to weigh-in with your best/favorite stress-relievers. And only one of you gets to say “exercise,” since that’s pretty much a gimme. 🙂

Stress (Weigh-in)

I am stressed.

There are no two ways about it. Dealing with the actual events of last week (to refresh the memories of those who may not have tuned in, a bathroom in my house flooded into the kitchen below and my new car was hit twice — all within 24 hours), then the subsequent hours of dealing with all the various insurance companies, then dealing with all the work I’ve been missing in order to deal with the two aforementioned things… it is no bueno. Plus, my whiplash/soft tissue injuries from the accidents doesn’t make dealing with things any easier. I know that I’m getting through it — one step at a time and all that — but it’s all still a lot to deal with. And it’s stressful.

Surprising though it may be to hear, I don’t really handle stress all that well (ha!). My life is really not all that stressful most of the time, and I fully admit to that. I am no longer dealing with any financial crisis. I have a job that, while certainly not perfect, is at least not particularly demanding of me (usually). I have good friends, a supportive family, and a loving boyfriend. I have adorable schnauzers. All in all, I can’t really complain too much (I mean, I still DO complain, of course, but I really shouldn’t, hahaha). So when life throws me a curveball (or, you know, three), I’m not really too sure what to do with myself.

Normally, when I’m feeling a little worse for the wear, I try to treat myself. I try to get myself to take my mind off of things. I go get a pedicure. Or a massage. Or if things are really bad, I let myself loose in the Coach store. But this seems like a whole other ballgame, honestly, and I’m not sure it’s the kind of thing that a fresh coat of nail polish or a new purse (no matter how much I love the new Legacy Collection) will fix.

This stress is manifesting itself in emotional, mental, and physical ways. Allow me to elaborate.

Emotional: I am emotional. Well, okay, to be fair, I’m always emotional. But I mean, moreso than usual. My emotions are heightened to PMS levels, even though I’m not PMSing. I got choked up on a conference call with my boss yesterday afternoon. It is bad.

Mental: So last week I talked about how the week was causing me some serious backslide-like thoughts with regard to my binge eating disorder. But that’s not the only effect that all this stress has had on my thoughts. It has also been taking a serious toll on my sleep. Not only am I sleeping even more fitfully than normal, but what little sleep I do get is not restful. My dreams have been seriously whacked out lately. My head is plagued with scenes of serial killers and Hunger Games-style survival situations and dying family members and date rapists and… yeah, it’s messed up in there. A lot of horror, a lot of bad situations, and a lot of waking up in the middle of the night and not wanting to go back to sleep.

Physical: So this brings us to the physical element. Now, granted, part of the physical pains that I’m dealing with are residual effects of the soft tissue damage (or whatever the official terminology is) from the accidents. I have a prescription for muscle relaxers (that honestly don’t really seem to do anything) and just had my second session with a massage therapist yesterday. But my shoulders, neck, and back feel like they are in BAD shape. My therapist actually said she was really surprised how much more tight and tense I was this week in comparison to last week, which probably isn’t good. Especially since my doctor said that the soreness/pain would get worse through days 1 – 5, but then should get better after that. Not so much, it would seem.

In addition to that, I also am breaking out on my face. Not in pimples, but in tiny red hive-like bumps all over my cheeks. Super attractive. Oh, and last night I got so rapidly sick to my stomach that I threw up. Yeah. Something has got to give, and I’m kind of at a loss. I’m already getting massage as part of my injury treatment, but it’s not the relaxing, melt-away-your-stress kind of massage. It’s the other kind. The bad, but good, but bad kind.

Sigh.

I know it will get better. Things are moving and hopefully in a few more weeks I will be able to look at this time in my life and laugh… in a laughing-crying kind of way, probably. The contractor came over to the house to give us an estimate on home repairs this AM, and I also dropped my car off to get it fixed (it hit 1000 miles just as I was pulling into the parking lot of the body shop… sad). I have a schmancy-looking Camry to drive around in the meantime. Unfortunately, the car feels ENORMOUS compared to my Focus, and I am petrified that I am going to hit something (it’s very spacious inside, which translates into it being WIDE). Because I definitely needed MORE anxiety when getting behind the wheel, right? Hahaha… ha.

Well, as long as we’re talking about stressful things, I guess I might as well get my weigh-in out of the way, huh?

Starting Weight: 246 lbs
Last Weigh-in: 203.8 lbs
This Weigh-in: 202.8 lbs
Difference: -1.0 lbs

Hey, look at that! Another pound gone. Normally, I would almost definitely be upset at only having lost 1 pound in three weeks (my last weigh-in was August 30th), but given the circumstances… I will take it. My appetite has been really off lately too (I guess that should fit under the “physical” category. Or is it mental? or emotional?) and it feels like I’m ravenous or I literally cannot stomach the idea of eating. There is no in-between anymore. So frankly, the fact that I haven’t put 5 more pounds back on is real cause for celebration.

What are your tips for relieving stress? I’m honestly willing to try anything from aromatherapy to Xanax at this point.