How To Prevail Against the Most Intimidating Obstacle: Yourself

Procrastination. I am guilty. I have the life management skills of a carrot. To make matters worse, the more I have to do, the worse I procrastinate. Instead of taking on tasks as they come up, I let them stack up. Then, once it is obviously too much to do all at once, I get this overwhelmed feeling and just want to take a nap or chill in front of the TV and unwind for a while. While those activities could be called self-care, they are also self-sabotage in some *cough, cough…most* cases: like when you know there are more important matters to handle. It’s definitely a struggle trying to balance the two, and often it is a battle of wills between me and myself. It’s quite the conundrum if I’m being honest!

What is Procrastination, Technically?

The Webster Definition (As if you didn’t know)

Procrastinate: Verb: To put off intentionally and habitually; to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done

https://www.merriam-webster.com/

According to Mind Tools “procrastination is an active process – you choose to do something else instead of the task that you know you should be doing. In contrast, laziness  suggests apathy, inactivity and an unwillingness to act.” Let’s be honest. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We have ALL done it. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to do it more than occasionally. I am my biggest obstacle when it comes to anything productive. I’m not lazy, but I am a procrastinator; a tried and true expert procrastinator.

AKA: Also Known As

Some people have been known to associate procrastination with akrasia. Akrasia is an old Greek word for a state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgment through weakness of will. Personally, I don’t think it’s weakness of will, I think it’s more than that. Anyone who has struggled with mental illness knows that it takes a bit more than will to drive you onward sometimes. One of the movies I remember from being a child was an animated and slightly musical version of The Lord of the Rings. One of the songs the Orcs sing is, “Where there’s a whip, there’s a way.” (I will give major nerd points to anyone who finds that movie and sends me a link to it! It’s was pretty cute!) Sometimes you’ve got to mentally “whip” yourself to get going. Trust me, I’m that way!

The one that really struck home to me, was when I read that procrastination is a form of self-harm. I have never thought of myself as someone who self-harms. I’ve never had a cutting problem. I’ve never craved pain or adrenaline rushes, nothing that you would typically think of when thinking self-harm. When I read that statement by Dr. Piers Steel, a professor of motivational psychology at the University of Calgary, I had to take a step back. I’ve already admitted I have a martyr complex, now you want to tell me I’m into self-harm? Well, surprise! Martyrdom and procrastination are both forms of self-harm. Mind BLOWN.

So What is It Really?

What It Looks Like

Everyone thinks they know what procrastination looks like, but until you have actually taken a microscope to your own actions, you won’t necessarily realize how prevalent procrastination is in your daily life. On this fun little journey to self awareness and self improvement that I am on, I ran across an article on Mind Tools that smacked me right up the side of the face.

You may also be procrastinating if you:

  • Fill your day with low-priority tasks.
  • Leave an item on your To-Do list for a long time, even though it’s important.
  • Read emails several times over without making a decision on what to do with them.
  • Start a high-priority task and then go off to make a coffee.
  • Fill your time with unimportant tasks that other people ask you to do, instead of getting on with the important tasks already on your list.
  • Wait to be in “right mood,” or wait for the “right time” to tackle a task.

*BOOM* Yeah, I had that reaction too. I thought I was “taking a quick break” when I left the room for a minute. I thought I was being productive when I’d make to-do lists (for the 100th time). I thought that doing just a couple of the smaller tasks would get me motivated to keep going on the bigger, nastier tasks. NOPE. I’m just that good at procrastinating. So good even, that I have fooled myself for years.

Why People Do It

Clearly, self-harm wasn’t the initial goal when I started procrastinating. Sure, it turns into a form of self-harm quite quickly, but it didn’t start like that. Finding the deeper reasons for why you do what you do is incredibly important if you ever plan on surpassing your shortcomings. I’ve boiled down the research I’ve done on the subject and have been left with 3 main reasons people procrastinate…and it hurt me…because it is me.

Perfectionism:

This one little reason right here, encompasses enough material to cover several days worth of reading. I will be exploring it more in coming months because it is definitely a root cause to a lot of my flaws. Perfectionism is a negative trait no matter how you slice it. In the case of procrastination, it effects your desire to procrastinate because you would rather not do something, that do something imperfectly.

It sounds simple enough, but it was big enough to rattle my cage. I’m a recovering perfectionist. Unfortunately, I probably always will be (much like an alcoholic). If I don’t think I can complete a task at peak efficiency and accuracy – think borg-like (more geek points to you) – then I would rather not do that task. Often times done is better than perfect. You can always go back and polish something up or tweak things, but getting it done is the first hurdle most of the time.

Poor Decision Making:

Poor decision making is linked directly to the perfectionism aspect, but I felt it deserved some special attention. People tend to have poor decision making skills because of their underlying perfectionism. They don’t think they have enough information to make the right decision. So they avoid making decisions in an effort to avoid doing the wrong thing. Here we are, back at the “done is better than not” argument. It’s completely okay to make a wrong decision, but you have to make a decision before you will know if it’s the wrong or right thing. The fact of the matter is that you won’t always have all of the information or be able to take all of the variables into account every time.

Let’s say you do make the wrong decision. At least you made a decision and have completed a task. You are moving. Newton’s first law of motion states that an object at rest stays at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force. Why do you think they say, “Let’s get the ball rolling?” Get the ball rolling. You can change directions and speed along the way, but get MOVING! Do SOMETHING. Make a decision!

Lack of Immediate Satisfaction:

We, as human beings (assuming you are…) have a natural instinct to work toward things that have instant results and immediate satisfaction. It can be difficult to do something in the interest of your future self because the rewards are too far out of reach or sometimes even sight. You know they are there, but they are too far off to be a driving force in the NOW.

“Avoiding unpleasant work by devoting energy to other tasks, like organizing or cleaning, also helps procrastinators avoid feeling unproductive, although they will have to pay the price for it later.”

Psychology Today

People by nature are impulsive and don’t want to wait…for anything. People with depression are looking for immediate positive mood alterations. It would stand to reason that a highly logical person could perceive and value the future rewards of waiting. However, since we are procrastinators, you and I are clearly not as logical as we would have others perceive us to be.

Consequences of Procrastination

As I said in the beginning, procrastination can become quite unfriendly, very quickly. Putting off one task, and another, and probably that other one too, eventually leads to overload. I’m an expert at this. Do as little as possible until there is too much to do and then get overwhelmed and start down the anxiety rabbit hole, because why not?

Then, if you have a martyr complex like me, you start keeping score of everything you do (even though you were the one who put it all off in the first place) to use in your next heated monologue about how nobody appreciates or loves you. Add in a pound of perfectionism and then you are super overwhelmed because you don’t have time to get everything just-so, since you put it all off: another funnel of despair. Relationships suffer, you suffer, your image suffers. People start to not believe you’ll get it done, or that the argument you’re going to have when it does get done isn’t worth the energy. Procrastination is the pits.

How To Overcome Procrastination

Timing Is Everything

Tackle the hardest tasks at your peak times. Do you work better in the morning, the afternoon, or are you a night owl? If we are just talking about work, are you more efficient right as you get in, just before lunch, or right after lunch? Identify when you are most effective, and do the tasks that you find most difficult during that timeframe.

Trying to force yourself to be productive when you are off, often leads to even more procrastination or poor work quality. Then you get that anxiety funnel of despair we talked about. Break the cycle by learning your best, most productive times.

Eat The Frog

While we are on the topic of knowing your best, most productive times. Use those to your advantage. Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” I love that saying, but I am by no means a morning person. I am a late morning/early afternoon person when it comes to productivity. So I put my own spin on the quote. Eat the live frog first, the rest will seem like a breeze.

Everyone’s internal clock is different. Use your clock to your advantage. The better you know yourself, the more productive you can be. The hardest things require the most energy. Plan accordingly! With that being said, prioritizing your ever growing to do list important. If there is something on your list you absolutely dread doing, but definitely needs to be done, do it first. Get it out of the way. The rest will just be check marks on the list after that!

The 2 Minute Rule

James Clear has a great book, “Atomic Habits” in which he explains the 2 Minute Rule. “When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.” You can find an excerpt from the book here that goes into further detail.

What it boils down to is everything you need to do can be simplified into a 2 minute task. If it’s doing the laundry, then parse it down to putting the laundry in. That’s it. The idea is that if you start a task and dedicate 2 minutes to it, finishing the task seems way less daunting. For procrastinators, the worst part is getting started. If it’s only going to take 2 minutes though, it’s a lot easier.

Clear calls this the action line. Once it’s crossed, it’s literally down hill from there as far getting the painful part out of the way: starting. He also suggests using reverse psychology on yourself if it’s an ongoing problem. ONLY give yourself 2-5 minutes to work on the task, then move on. Doing this regularly tricks your brain into thinking, “but if I just had a couple more minutes, it would be done.” VOILA your brain is now your friend instead of your enemy!

If/Then Scenarios

This one is pretty easy, and one of my all time favorite self-motivating techniques. If I am doing [something you enjoy] then I will also be doing [something you should be doing]. I love to binge watch sci-fi (as previously mentioned on many occasions). So I tie many of my tasks to that. I only watch full length movies when I am cleaning house or food prepping. Their story lines and character development are thin enough that I can focus on my cleaning and still enjoy the movie. If I am doing facemasks or some other form of passive skin care, I devote that time to self improvement research or writing.

You’ve Got This

Procrastination is a B****. I am a lifelong champion of it. What’s worse is that at one point in my life, I took pride in that fact. I used to convince myself that I worked better under pressure. Trust me when I tell you, it’s more detrimental in the long run. Sure, you can make due in the short term, maybe even wow yourself or the people around you. However, you have to think, “If I can be that good in that short of a time frame, how good could I actually be at this if I tried?” Definitely something worth thinking about.

You are cheating yourself of your potential when you live in the procrastination cycle. Break free. I’ve given you some decent tips here that have helped me tremendously. Let them help you too! It’s not easy, <— there I go again! but change is rarely easy. It’s not going to get easier the longer you wait. We’ve played that game, we know! You’ve got this!

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You, Me, and a Cup of Tea: February

Well hello again! It’s time for another sit down chit chat. My beverage of choice tonight is my own blend of raspberry leaves and spearmint, which isn’t the best, but it’s warm and the raspberry leaves are good for inflammation and balancing hormones (thanks body). If you haven’t grabbed your drink you might check out Loose Leaf Emerald Citrus from Twin Flame Tea Co. It has bright citrus notes paired with a delicate green tea and a touch of peppermint. Anyhow, on to the good stuff. Ready to talk? I am.

Can you believe it is already FEBRUARY? Yeah, me neither. I’ve got to be honest, the last 12 months have flown by, for some obvious reasons, but also for some unknown, hidden agenda of the universe reasons too I suppose. It’s a thing, I hear, that the longer you live, the faster time seems to slip away because it is an ever smaller fraction of your life. Then you add the insanity that has been the world (most specifically the US: we really are a the dirty little brother that no one ever wants to acknowledge but it always causing havoc) and you have yourself the makings of a year that should be a blur.

Why am I talking about 12 months flying by in February when all the new year stuff was last month? Because MY new year is THIS month. That’s right, I’m a birthday girl, all soon to be 32 years of me. yay. I’ve got to say, my 30’s really haven’t been bad thus far. At least it’s been quite a bit better than all the doom gloom “I’m turning 30” memes seem to let on. However, I will give it this. I would not want to be 32 without being where I’m at right now. I have a great day job, a beautiful home, 3 cats, my husband, and my daughter. We own good cars and don’t have to struggle to make ends meet.

I know many millennials aren’t in my shoes. Things aren’t set up to be nearly as easy of a ride as the older generations expected it to be for us (whether they admit it or not). I just happened to have had some amazing blessings, a bit of luck, and a husband who is excellent with a budget to get our little family to where it’s at. So for me, 32 isn’t nearly as bad as it could be.

But 32! I don’t know about you, but I have always felt like I was a certain age, like my soul was 27 years old. I was 18 and I felt like I should be 27. I was 21 and still felt that 27 was my soul’s age. Again at 25, I felt 27. Then at 27, well, I was 27. After that though I have basically stopped aging in my brain. I now forget how old I am until my darling daughter pipes off a pop quiz about my age and I have to do some quick math to figure it out. I know I turned 30, I haven’t forgotten that little tidbit, but I’m not good with specifics. It’s ok to just tell someone you’re in your early 30’s, right? I’m a lady, I don’t have to disclose that information. There is no reason for them to know it’s because I can’t remember, is there? I still feel 27. Regardless, I am turning 32 and nothing will change that little fact.

There is another reason I look forward to February too. My husband got off EASY when he married me (*uncontrollable giggles* well in some ways anyway!). You see, he is lucky enough to have Valentine’s day, my birthday, and our anniversary all in the same week. This is wedding anniversary number 10 for us! Ten whole years together!! Several years ago, we took to calling this week “ValenBirthIversary”.

The dates all fell together completely accidentally. We had only been engaged for a couple of weeks when our friends threw us an amazing surprise engagement party. Tanner got a little tipsy and started blubbering about how he wanted to marry me the next day. He just wanted me to be his wife. We weren’t going to do anything big or fancy anyway, but we had been talking about getting married in July that year when his extended family was already planning to be coming out to Colorado. I asked him several times if he meant it or if he was just being drunk. I had learned early on that he was always aware when he was just being drunk. Apparently this wasn’t that.

So I said yes! Again! We called our family and what few friends we had outside of the party and let them know that they could meet us at the courthouse at 1:00pm the next day if they wanted to be there, otherwise they could join us in July for our belated reception. And that’s what we did. We got semi-formal and went to the courthouse the next day. Tanner bought the marriage certificate and we signed it together holding hands by the waterfall in the local county building. In Colorado, we didn’t need an officiate or any witnesses to validate the certificate. It was that easy.

Grinning ear to ear, we innocently took the certificate back up to the clerk’s office to get filed (why waste time, we were already there anyway!). When the clerk took it from us she smiled so big and said, “That is SO cute! You guys really got married on VALENTINE’S DAY?!?” Yeah, we did that…completely on accident. Neither of us had paid any attention to the calendar and to make things worse, neither of us ever really acknowledged Valentine’s day. I mean, we had gone to a nice dinner the weekend before, but outside of that, neither of us had celebrated it in the past.

That’s how it happened; plain and simple. I will be honest, it’s been a long, sometimes bumpy road. I learned a long time ago that marriage is real work some days. Other days, it’s a cake walk. Both of us have had to put up with each others quirks, some of which we didn’t realize were quirks until we had to face them head on together. It’s been an adventure to say the least! Let’s hope and look forward to many more years together though.

Back to this holiday we created, Valenbirthiversary. He get’s off so easy because if any guy can forget all 3 of those at the same time, he has problems. For him, if he remembers even one, the rest falls into place wonderfully! Every year up until last year, we did something fun together. A couple of years we went to concerts. A few times we did overnight date nights. Sometimes it was just a super fancy dinner date. We always did something. Last year, thanks to Covid we didn’t get to do anything that fun, but we still made the best of it.

Me with my 2021 Toyota Venza. It's a hybrid!

This year, for our big 10 year, we were going to go something fun, like take a trip to St Augustine, FL for a couple of days and enjoy oceanside seafood and quaint little shops. Thanks to the current state of the pandemic, that’s not happening this year either. Instead, we went out and upgraded our cars. Neither of our cars are compromises anymore. Mine is EXACTLY what I want and his is EXACTLY what he wants and neither of us are apologetic about it.

I’ve got to be honest, I was really looking forward to going to Florida, but there is always another time. I plan on being his pain the neck for many more years, so I’m sure another opportunity will arise. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher used to say, “You have to be flexible” and that’s what we are. 😉

My tea is now gone, and I think I have sufficiently yammered your ear off (or eyes out in this case). You now know a little bit more about me and what February brings. How about you? What is something you are looking forward to this month? I don’t care how small or insignificant it may seem, tell me about SOMETHING positive this month. The world needs more little positives. Let’s start them here.

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3 Signs You Probably Suffer From Martyr Complex

There are days that I wake up and think, “I just can’t do this anymore. I am doing too much. I have too much on my plate. Why doesn’t anyone ever help me?” Since you’re here I’m going to assume you have had similar feelings before. The pure overwhelm of everything has been piling up on you. You are a “yes” woman. Every time someone asks you to help or do something, you’re the girl for the job, regardless of what else you have going. I bet if you look around, this is the case in your entire life: your work, your friendships, your family.

If you are like me, you get caught up in wondering why everyone around you is always a “taker” and why no one ever takes care of you. You are a giving, caring, loving soul. Why won’t anybody reciprocate those actions? Why won’t people love you the way you love them? This is something I have struggled with my entire life. Experts would tell you that there is some underlying trauma or lack of love I suffered from as a child. I’m telling you that it’s just in my nature. I don’t really care how it got in me; what I struggle with is getting it to go away.

Photo by Anh Nguyen

You see, what I have come to realize after many years of self discovery, some seriously deep self talk, an incredibly supportive husband, and a strong dose of reality checking, is that I “suffer from” (more correctly, “I have“) a martyr complex. I know, that’s a big statement. It’s also very hard to admit. <—- see I did it right there! I made it look like a sacrifice or vulnerability (it is, but my point is that I didn’t have to point that out).

Martyr complex is the unrealistic sense of necessity to endure and sacrifice for others in order to gain sympathy, love, and affection. It isn’t always a conscious thing. For me, I had been doing it for so long that it has taken years for me to come terms with the fact that I do it. Even then, I still haven’t grasped how to completely eliminate it from my personality. Dealing with a subconscious martyr complex requires full consciousness of your own actions, always.

Photo by Kat Love

I didn’t start admitting my problem until a few years ago. As with every marriage, things aren’t always smooth (although the past few years have been immensely easier since my husband and I have both been working on bettering ourselves). During one particular rough patch, Tanner pointed out that I don’t accept love or help or anything without feeling guilty, which always led to him feeling guilty, which always led back to me feeling worse. See the funnel of despair? He also pointed out that he didn’t want me resenting him (another classic martyr move) every time I did something for him, so I needed to pipe up and verbalize (COMMUNICATE) when I didn’t want to do something or needed him to do something instead.

How do I know that it’s martyr complex and not just that I surround myself with the wrong people or that I have poor relationships? It couldn’t possibly be ME? Right? The hard truth is sometimes “me” is exactly the one at fault. Self accountability is so freakin’ important. Even if it was “only the people around me” (which at one time it was), the fact of the matter is that I let that be the case. I let those people into my life! I let people walk over me and kept quiet about it. Consciously or subconsciously, I felt like that was what I deserved. Shoot, some part of me expected it. Some part of me ate it up. Working out all of those self-esteem issues IS not easy. That’s right IS, because “was” hasn’t happened for me yet. Here are the 3 big signs of martyr complex that finally clicked with me and put me on a path to improving myself.

You Don’t Need Help: You’ve Got This, ALWAYS

The first big classic sign of martyr complex that finally hit home to me. I am a “yes” girl. I always have been. I participated in every club that would ask me in high school. I went to every event I was invited to in college, without regard to how low my social battery was that day. I would offer everything I owned personally to help in the event someone came up short. I let everyone borrow anything, even though I quickly learned that meant NEVER getting it back. At work, I would take on any task that didn’t quite make deadline. I would even ask for more work when my assigned tasks were done because I didn’t think that being finished with my assignments before someone else was done with theirs was fair to THEM!

Photo by STIL

“You were so busy trying to be my savior that you left me all alone.”

Gayle Forman, Where She Went

Take a look around you and what you are involved in right now. How much of it was because you wouldn’t or “couldn’t” say no? Now, out of that, how much do you actually need to be doing? If you are seeing a pattern (be honest about it), you may have a bigger problem: martyr complex.

So you are doing everything and more at work. At home, things are no different. The dishwasher hasn’t been loaded, but if someone else tries, they’ve done it all wrong and you just have to redo it anyway. Someone put the laundry in the wash, but hasn’t moved it over. If you don’t move it over, surely no one else in the house will. So add that to the to-do list. You have no energy left from overexerting at work, and honestly, you don’t want to cook. But hey, if you don’t make dinner, no one eats; or so you convince yourself. Trust me, cold cereal and take-out can be your friend. You really don’t HAVE to cook all of the time.

To top it all off, if anyone ever asks if you need them to handle some of what you have taken on, you tell them that you have a handle on things and all is well, even if you are crying into your pillow at night because of the overwhelm. The house chores are falling behind because you have too much else going on and God help you if you let someone help you get caught up. You don’t need help. You’ve got this, all of this. Right? This is martyr complex.

Your Cup Runneth Empty – A LOT

That overwhelm you’re crying into your pillow about? Yeah, that happens when you take on too much, which I do regularly (working on this one still). The second big sign of a martyr complex that caught my attention is that I, sometimes, honestly believe I have the world on my shoulders, and only my shoulders. That drains a person to the very core.

There is a saying, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It’s referring to self care. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re too empty to help others. If you have a martyr complex, you probably don’t believe you have time for self care, or you aren’t important enough to be very high up on the to-do list. You “suffer” in self inflicted silence and then try to keep pouring from an empty cup.

I always missed that part when I was first faced with the realization that I have a martyr complex: self inflicted. That’s right, on a subconscious level I love to feel needed, like no one could do it without me. I create exaggerated situations (usually focused on other peoples needs) in my head that aren’t realistic and then fret over how to “fix” it or eliminate the problem. Bombshell moment: they can do it without me. I am replaceable.

This is true for work, friends, and family. People are resilient creatures when they need to be. You aren’t the only glue for the situation. It is such a tough pill to swallow. I struggle so hard with this. I am constantly internally talking myself and my importance up. I have struggled with low self-esteem my whole life and this mindset is what I came up with to cope with it. It’s NOT HEALTHY.

Don’t run yourself into the ground. You don’t have to! The people around you can and will rebalance themselves when you stop. You driving yourself to the brink isn’t actually helping anyone. It’s hurting you instead! If you are constantly at the end of your rope and are always feeling like you are stretched to thin it may be a sign of a bigger problem. This could be martyr complex.

“Yeah, But YOU…”

My husband’s personal favorite: “Yeah, but YOU…” fill in the blank with any number of things I have kept score of and pent up for entirely too long. The third big classic sign of martyr complex that rang true with me: blame. Everything you do for someone, in some way you blame them for having to do it. If they would just… If they only… If they wouldn’t…

Because you are “yes” girl, you take on too much as it is. Because you are a martyr you keep doing it and you do so quietly. All the while you are building resentment for those around you that you claim to care about. But you won’t let them help you; so why do you resent them for not helping (or not even trying anymore, if this is a life long problem for you)?

You keep all of these little blaming sessions to yourself. You don’t verbalize anything, until you do. It never ends well. One statement from this person you love so much sets you off. Then the list comes out. Everything they ever did or didn’t do, you throw back in their face in one big, ugly, heated, monologue. You’re important. They couldn’t do it without you. You are the reason they have it so easy. They should be grateful, damn it!

Photo by Alex Green

I can’t explain why this is the case, but it is. Almost every article or paper I have ever read on the topic has brought up the blame aspect of martyr complex. Whether it is expressed as underappreciation, what if’s, or simply “you didn’t”s, blame is always part of it. It makes you feel more important. It damages everyone you interact with in some way or another. If this feels like something you can relate to, it’s quite possible you have a martyr complex.

All Is Not Lost: You can recover

Like I’ve been saying, it’s not a simple thing to overcome. It takes full awareness of what you are doing. You will have times that you don’t want to face what you are doing, but the only way to change what you do in the future is to know what you do and how you react in the present and the past. I already know you are strong enough; look at what you put yourself through because of this! You just have to redirect that strength into a more positive pursuit.

I’m still working on it. I invite you to point it out if I ever slip and work my martyr complex into my writing. Constructive criticism is a good thing, and I welcome it. If you want to ask about my adventure on a better path to being less of a martyr and more of a positive, even soul, please do! Full transparency here. I can’t get better without accountability. You probably can’t either. But we CAN do it!

Patience and understanding with these people is key to working with them. In some cases that will be the best you can do. In others, if you are close to the person, taking time to point out their behavior may be useful. It may be that they have no real idea what they’re doing because they’ve been doing it so long. In these situations it’s possible that the person suffering with a martyr complex will be inspired to seek help in better understanding their behavior. Ultimately, that pursuit can lead to a happier life for them and stronger, more honest relationships.

Dr. Kurt Smith – What is Martyr Complex? 6 Signs Someone in Your Life Has One

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To Pair or Not To Pair: The Tale of 2 Socks

I have a quirk. Ok, I have a lot of quirks. This quirk however, affects no one but myself: the best kind of quirk! You see, I absolutely hate laundry. I don’t know too many people that actually like doing laundry. Me though, I really hate laundry! Luckily for me, my husband – God bless that man – doesn’t hate it quite as much as I do. While I am incredibly grateful I don’t have to do the laundry often, he does make me put my own clothes away…*sigh. I know, pity poor me. I have it so rough.

So, being the hater of laundry that I am and being a recovering slob (more on that another day), long ago I decided that underthings don’t require folding and socks don’t require matching. I have 2 drawers dedicated to this disaster plan of mine and it works better than you would think.

One drawer is for all the underthings, (underwear, shapewear, slips, etc… except bras, I hang those bad boys on a tie rack – genius, I know!) and the other is for ALL OF THE SOCKS. Well, all of my socks in this case.

There is a method to my madness, I promise!

There is always a method to my madness. It may not always be obvious to the casual observer (or if we’re being real, any observer), but there really and truly is a thought out plan of attack! Socks are just a bother. I love socks over bare feet when it’s cold. I love socks when I’m reading or binge watching an 1990s sci-fi series. I love socks with boots and tennis shoes. But if I can get away with wearing a pair of sandals when it’s warm, I’ll do that instead. Socks suck.

1. Socks NEVER wear out at the same rate.

Image by congerdesign

Have you ever noticed that? Even if you are religious about wearing the same 2 socks together all of the time, one of them is bound to fall apart before the other. Sometimes it’s because you’ve been slacking on clipping your toenails and they knife their way through one toe, but not the other.

Other times it’s that the heal on one side becomes so thread-bare that you can see your poor cracked calluses (which I know you’ve been meaning to do something about) through it well before the other gives up the ghost.

Then there is the fall back excuse of an accident. You caught in the zipper of boot. The cat got it. The dog it. The kid got it. You know, the usual suspects of destruction. It doesn’t matter how, the reality is that no 2 socks have the same lifespan. None.

2. Socks are pain in the butt to match

If you think you can argue this fact with me, I humbly submit the hundreds of memes dedicated to missing socks as evidence in the case. Most likely, you too have been the victim of, “The Case of The Missing Sock: A Cookbook for Washing Machines and Dryers Everywhere.”

Have you ever been rearranging furniture and found a stash of your socks that the cat dragged there so he could chill with them? Another one of my favorite sock loss stories is when you are pulling the clothes out of the washer or dryer and drop “something” but you can never figure out what it was or find it again. Yeah, that’s always great too.

Just like socks don’t die at the same times, they never seem to run away together either. So you stand over your basket of laundry frantically digging for a match that is no longer there to be found. OR, you’re like I used to be and you neatly lay out all of the socks and play a game of match 2 until you run out of socks and throw the rest back in the basket, hoping that their matches will eventually make an appearance. Spoiler alert: they don’t.

3. Folding, rolling, or cuffing socks together is cumbersome

As I see it, there are 4 ways to pair your socks (there is actually way more than that, but who has time or energy to invest in learning about all the ways you can fold socks?). You have the folders. These are the people that take the time to find matches to their socks and the ever so delicately match up the heals, ankles, and toes, which they then precede to fold in half and turn it inside out over itself. If you a folder of socks, you know this process well. If you are not, you may have no idea what I’m talking about and may choose to Google or YouTube the process. I advise against this, as the way I’m going to tell you about makes so much more sense! 😉

Photo by Janine Meuche

Then you have the rollers. Rollers come in 2 varieties. You have the military rollers who roll their socks and then fold the cuffs over the roll to keep them tightly in place and to save space. And you have the rolling rollers. These people fold their socks in half and roll them into what one can only consider a money roll. Sort of like the way some people fold/roll towels I guess. This way never made sense to me. I always got them messed up by the time I wanted the last few pairs anyway.

Next, you have the cuffers. Cuffers come in a couple (or multiple) varieties, but the way I’m talking about specifically are the ones who match their socks up heal to heal and then “cuff” the ankles over to keep the pair together. Again, I always manage to make more of a mess with this one than ever actually helps the situation. So I gave up on this way too.

Finally, The “Right” Way to Deal With Socks

Ok, I know the “right” way is totally up to you. But in my 31+ years on this earth, I have had time to experiment with many different methods in the ways of socks. Trust me, you’re going to love this!

So, back to my sock drawer. This is a dumping ground for all things sock-like (except hosiery, those tend to strangle the whole mess and make it an actual disaster, those go in a mesh bag…like sock jail). I put all the rest of my clothes away first. What is left is usually the underthings and the socks. I separate out the underthings and put them in their free-wheeling drawer, and then I literally dump all of the socks into their drawer.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself that I have only put off the inevitability of having to match my socks on the fly. WRONG. The other thing I do, is buy all of the same socks. Sure, they may have a different color accent line, the main colors may different, but I make sure to have all of the same style of sock. This keeps things simple. It doesn’t matter how many go missing, die from too much attention, or get eaten by the laundry machines. All I ever have to do is reach into that drawer blindly (or in most cases, the dark) and grab 2, slam those babies on my feet, and voila! Socks are done for the day.

It is imperative to have all of the same style, or at least no more than 2 styles. I say this because the feeling of very different styles of socks on each foot is more than I can handle. Maybe if you are less obsessive about that kind of thing it’s not a problem, but for me…it’s too much! Color though? I don’t care. My socks are in my shoes, where you can’t see them. And if they are out where they can be seen, I am around those people that don’t care about my quirks, maybe they even embrace my quirks!

Image by mac231

With all of that being said, there really is no right or wrong way to deal with your hoard of socks. I will leave this time honored question in your hands: To pair or not to pair? That is the question.

Some Things You CANNOT Change: That’s OK, Too

One of the biggest struggles I have had with my anxiety is that I can’t change some things. I have no control in some situations. That is the basis of my anxiety: the feeling of being powerless. I imagine a lot of your anxiety is also based in that one little statement, to one degree or another. Part of dealing with and overcoming it is learning and accepting what you can gain control over and what you can’t.

Acceptance goes a long way in what you worry about. You see, when you truly accept that you can’t change something or someone, you are finally free to shift the way you think about the situation completely. You may not have direct control over the situation itself, but you always have some degree of control over how you react to the lack of control. The ability to do that, returns a little bit of control back to you.

If you can’t change it … change the way you think about it

Mary Engelbreit

With that being said, I will admit that it’s not always easy. I know, I’m always saying that. “Kay, why don’t write about something that I CAN do?” you ask. Well, I am. I never said you can’t change your mindset. It will take some dedication and work on your part. I’m telling you it’s not easy because I don’t want you to feel like I’m questioning your sanity or mine. It’s not necessarily as easy for you or me. Just because you can’t think the same way as someone else as easily as said other person, doesn’t mean you can’t do it at all. It just means you or I have some obstacles to overcome before we get to that point.

You Can’t Please Everyone

I’m starting with this one for the simple reason that it was my “Achilles heal” for so many years: SO MANY. Thankfully, my husband has helped me work through this little character flaw and my day job in the insurance industry has also helped. I have to face the fact, on a daily basis, that I can’t make everyone happy.

The fact of the matter is that some people choose to be miserable pukes. No matter how much energy you put into fixing whatever is wrong for them, they will always find something else to be upset about.

Then there are those situations where you can’t do anything about what is ruining their day. All you can do in those situations is express sympathy and move on. Letting their situation affect your mental health will only lead to more anxiety and depression.

I’m not saying don’t feel bad for others or don’t help people. I’m saying sometimes you do have to build some walls in your mind and not let just anyone in: not necessarily Fort Knox, but at least a privacy fence…and maybe a moat. Moats are cool. That’s reality, you can’t make everyone happy. So save yourself the heartache and don’t try unless you know there is something you can do to help.

You Can’t Control What People Think

Along that same line is that you can’t control how or what people think. You know how I said some people choose to be miserable? It’s an unfortunate truth. I truly hope you’re not one of those people. No one deserves that kind of self incurred pain. Nonetheless, people do it.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

Opinions are another part of this. Especially this week, especially in the USA. You can’t forcibly change another persons mind; not with threats, not with sweets, not even with logic sometimes. The fact is everyone has come to their own conclusions based off of their experiences and education. No amount of yelling, screaming, convincing, anything will change their minds. They have to change their own minds.

It’s not always easy to accept this one. You’ve come up with your opinions and thought processes based on your experiences and what not. So sometimes we think if we express that knowledge, our fellow man will see “reason.” But they have their reasons too. It’s ok to have a difference in opinion. It’s not ok to force that on people around you. Give your anxiety a break and let people think what they’re going to think. Their peace of mind is not your problem. Your peace of mind is your problem.

You, Alone, Cannot Change the World

This one can be a hard pill to swallow, especially for my activist friends. I will preface this section with this: you, alone, cannot change the world, but you can still make a difference. What do I mean by this? Well, simply put, there are things above your pay grade. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about politics, economics, or anything else.

There are things you just can’t change. You can become part of a ‘movement,” sure. But in doing so, you are no longer alone. Taking the stress of the entire movement onto your own shoulders is going to do nothing but beat you into the ground. Together you can create change. You ALONE cannot.

I have struggled with this one too. Being a millennial in a burning country can feel terrible. Shoot, being anyone in a burning country can’t feel good. So I focus on the little things I can do to make a small difference. I drive a hybrid. I buy from small farms whenever possible. I thrift almost all of my clothes, and when I don’t, I buy quality pieces that will last a long time. I do the things I can to make a difference. However, I also know better than to think that my personal small changes ALONE will cause an over all change.

You Can’t Change the Past

Let’s talk about the whole picture here. You can’t change the past; not your past, not your family’s past, not your town’s past, not your country’s past, not the world’s past. You just CAN’T. No matter how small or big you look at it, there is nothing that can undo it. Sure, it can be rewritten on the surface. It can be denied by all parties involved, but that doesn’t change the face that “it” happened.

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER

Put aside the big picture for a moment. Let’s just talk about you and your past. You can claim something traumatic never happened. You can erase all references to it in your journals, your social media, even your mind. What you can’t do, is remove it’s effect from you. You can heal, you can move on, but that traumatic experience will always have helped shape who you are, no matter what. On the other side of that coin is something good happening. That good can be take from you, the historical record of it removed, but the moment? That can’t be taken from who you are, ever.

The past HAS HAPPENED. Your “now” will continue to become your past. These are inescapable facts! All you can do at this point is make your “now” better, so that when it’s your past, you don’t regret it. Like the wise baboon Rafiki says, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” (I don’t know if I should classify that as geek or nerd points, but points nonetheless)

You Are Only Human

Shocker, I know. Regardless of what you think about that statement though, it’s true. You and I, we’re only human. Humans have flaws. Shoot, everything has flaws. Humans with anxiety might feel like they have extra flaws. I will fail at things. You will fail at things. I will eventually (hopefully much later rather than sooner) die. Eventually, you will (hopefully much later rather than sooner) die too. We are mortal human beings, you and I. No matter what levels of mad science you reach for, it will always boil down to being human in the end.

However, there is only 1 of YOU. Don’t take that lightly. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, how many redo’s it takes, how often you feel like enough is enough, as long as you push through. There will never be another YOU or ME. Be ok with the things you can’t change. Move mountains where you can. Don’t let one road block or set back tear you down. You are the SUM of your LIFE. Live it.

Finding a Groove or Stuck in a Rut

Life has been clipping along and I just now noticed how smoothly it has all been going. 2020 wasn’t the friendliest to many people, and 2021 isn’t shaping up much better. However, with the few bumps aside, I have been doing pretty well. You see, I think I have finally found my groove. How do I know this is a groove? Well, to be honest, I don’t know for sure, but it doesn’t feel like the ruts I’ve been in before.

Why this terminology exactly? A groove is an established route or routine. Not necessarily so well traveled that you break an axle in it or can’t take a detour that looks interesting, but enough that you can let yourself go on auto pilot for a bit without fear of straying too far. Then there is a rut. That is a long deep track made by repeated traffic that makes a trail nearly impossible to get off of, or it is a pattern of behavior that is dull, unproductive, and difficult to change. I am the type of person who can visualize easily. So I see this as 2 trails.

Screen capture from The Oregon Trail II (1995)

I am of the generation that was blessed enough to experience almost every rendition of The Oregon Trail ever made. If you have ever been so inclined to check it out, you may understand this next bit a little better. If not, I highly recommend you check it out. In the 1995 version specifically, your characters come across passes with 3 options. One is very well traveled and usually much longer. Another is passable, with a few bumps, but generally clear and a little shorter. Then there is the short cut, which as you can imagine doesn’t have very good odds, but can make up some good time IF YOU’RE LUCKY! I view option 1 as the rut: long, boring, safe, no excitement, and almost no choice in direction. Option 2 is the groove: not as safe, but you can usually count on it to get you where you’re going, easier than the short cut, a little tougher than the rut, more adventure. Clearly, option 3 is still what it is, a short cut: dangerous, unpredictable, and usually ends up costing you more time and resources than you save.

Let’s assume for the time being, that you and I are not short cut people. This leaves us with the groove or the rut. Why, you ask, is the rut so terrible? For some people, it’s not. They thrive on that predictability, and shun change. That’s definitely ok, but I personally have always felt trapped when I fall into a “rut”. I can’t just steer my wagon a different way because I found something interesting on a side path. I’m caught doing what everyone else in the caravan is doing. Just going with the flow, with no choice of my own. It’s too much constraint for me. I’m not a choo-choo train, stuck going wherever the track leads me!

“But there was a difference between being stuck and choosing to stay. Between being found and finding yourself.”

Martina Boone, Compulsion

So I’m always looking for my “groove”: my place on the path that allows me freedom of motion and choice, but is still relatively safe. I definitely like to know what kinds of things to expect in life. I’m a mess. See Hot Mess Mama: That’s Ok if you missed it. I need some predictability, but I also don’t want everything planned out for me. If I see something I want to pursue while still heading toward my final destination, then I want the freedom to take the side trail! I love the predictability and stability of my day job. I don’t think I can ever be without a predictable work schedule again. It gives me purpose, a steady income, and some peace of mind. I know I’m in a groove with it because when I want to explore other avenues or hobbies, I still have enough time and energy left in my schedule to do so.

Finding the balance between a rut and groove, isn’t always easy. You have to be able to see the signs of a rut and how to out maneuver it before it sets in. Sure, you can get out of a rut once you’re in one, but it’s so much easier to avoid getting there in the first place, if you’re already in a groove. One of the bloggers I follow, Alex Brown, defined a “rut” more perfectly than anything I’ve ever read. Here is an excerpt from his blog How To Get Out Of A Rut.

Photo by Annie Spratt
  • Monotony – You feel like you’re just going through the motions and everyday is the same.
  • The Three U’s – You feel Uninspired, Unmotivated and Unfulfilled.
  • Apathy – You stop caring about things, maybe you no longer care about keeping your apartment clean, or you quit going to the gym, or you stop engaging in hobbies and activities that previously brought you a lot of joy.
  • Stagnation – There’s a sense that the world is passing you by, you feel “stuck”, as if you’re lifeless, like you’re not making progress toward any worthwhile goal or ideal.

I know in New Year, New Me, and Other Fairytales, I said I don’t believe in resolutions. I also said that goals were a worthy investment of your time. They can also help you navigate the balance beam of rut and groove when used properly. That there is the key: when used properly! Goals are something that should be near and dear to you: something you truly want to achieve. Goals should never be about what you think you should want. They should be about what you actually want. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure and will inevitably fall into a rut.

Another short fall that will push you into a rut is stopping. I understand that you will have days you need to rest, either mentally, physically, or both. Do rest. Do not let that rest start a cascade of nothing. If you aren’t consistently pushing towards something, you are in danger of complacency, which leads to ruts. Always be reaching for something, anything. Now here is where I’m going to part from the norm, and tell you that small vague goals are OK. Why? Because, simply put, some of us break under too much pressure.

“Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough.”

Christine Carter, The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work

Your goals should be measurable, but not necessarily in stone. Putting too much pressure on yourself could lead to self-doubt, self-criticism, and quitting. The best part of finding your groove is flexibility. You have the thing that sustains you, whatever it may be: the core of you. Then you have all of the little things that drive you forward: self improvement projects, hobbies, activities, classes, etc. It’s these little things that keep you from settling into the rut.

Setting goals that are too large and to specific won’t allow for the ebbs of flows of life. If you set very detailed goals, you my start to see yourself as a failure every time you don’t meet one or many of those goals. Keeping the small and vague-ish allows you to bend with changes. I’m not saying this will work for everyone. Some people need the rigid rules and goals. I’m not one of them. I’m too hard on myself for that to work.

“Nothing like the zone, is there? Finding your groove and letting the muse steal you away.”

Jade West, Dirty Bad Savage

Decide if you have found a groove or if you have gotten stuck in a rut. Take the time to really analyze your life and what it going on around you. Sometimes, it might not take much to haul yourself out of the rut. It could be that just finding a passion project is what it takes to put you smoothly into your groove. It might be harder than that, but the rut is no place to stay. So get get out there and get “groovy!”

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When Not Getting Dressed Seems Easier

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You’ve been there. You wake up in the morning and… just nah. Yesterday you had plans to be productive today: to finally catch up on the laundry, to load the dishwasher, to take a shower. These should seem like simple tasks, but not today. Today they are mountains. All you want to do is roll over and forget about the world. You’ll try again tomorrow.

Now this is where you’re expecting me to start telling you to push through. Pull up your bootstraps and get through this too, because you’ll never get anywhere if you just, don’t. This is also where you would be wrong. You see, I know that sometimes I can’t. Not that I don’t want to, not that it would be easier if I didn’t. Sometimes, I just can’t. I also know that the harder I push myself, the more I crumble. If I ever stand a chance of rebounding from whatever it is, (depression, anxiety, migraine, PCOS, endometriosis, social battery drain, other chronic illnesses …etc) I have to stop sometimes.

One of the most popular explanations for this is The Spoon Theory. This theory was originally published by Christine Miserandino in 2003. What it boils down to, if you haven’t heard about this wonderful metaphor, is that every day you have only so many spoons. Some days you have lots of spoons, some days you can count your spoons on one hand. And what makes this the best metaphor, is that EVERYTHING takes spoons. Don’t feel like, “well, it’s just ____,” because it’s not. Everything you do takes a little bit of the day’s energy you have. Even if it’s binge watching tv.

“…my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too.”
~Christine Miserandino

So you have the Spoon Theory as it applies to you, but don’t forget that family requires some of your spoons too: that could be fur-babies, real babies, significant others, siblings, elderly parents, you get the idea. Everything you do for them, whether they (or you) recognize it as such, uses YOUR SPOONS. That’s right, you are NOT superman, dang it. Just because it’s positive to help the ones around you, doesn’t mean you always can! The sooner you accept this, the better things will get. You need to ask for help sometimes. I’ve mentioned this before (if you haven’t read Hot Mess Mama, you’ve missed a look into the life of a chronic illness, brain dead mom), having the right people around you will significantly reduce the unending stress.

Having a mood disorder or other chronic illness (defined as a long-term health condition that may not have a cure, according to the medical encyclopedia) is no joke. You shouldn’t treat it as one, nor should you let those around you treat it as one. Having a support system in place is vital to your survival when you’re fighting every single day. It’s true, you will have good days when even you might forget that spoons are a thing, but you need people to call on when there is a massive spoon shortage!

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto 

“Support systems are there to remind you that you are so much more than your illness.”

Mango Health – Lana Barhum

Let me give you a peak of what my typical “few spoon” days entail. Now, I’m not saying that my pick me up will match yours, or even kind of work for you, but I am saying that it works for me, and if you can take anything from it, please do! And when your done looking through my list of things that I do, leave me a comment and tell me what YOU do on your “few spoon” days to help you make it through.

“You’ve lived through tougher things than this. Don’t give up now!”

― Rachel Hollis

Speak Up! When I wake up and I just know it is going to be a rough one, I communicate that immediately. My husband can’t do squat to help me if he doesn’t know, and since it’s happening inside of me, he won’t know if I don’t tell him. At least, he won’t know until it’s too late and we are both upset at each other and probably fighting. Communication is KEY with anything, but very much so with chronic illness. The upside is, it’s not a one way street. He tells me when he is having a rough time too. I share my spoons, he shares his. It’s how we keep the household running on limited spoons each day.

Take the damn meds! I know you don’t want to get out of bed. I know you don’t want to drag your feet across the chilled floor and into the kitchen or bathroom for a glass of water to down them with. I know this will use one of those precious spoons you are lacking so badly today. BUT DO IT. You are on these pills for a reason, a good reason. Using a set back as an excuse to not take them will only set you further back! So go. Go NOW. Take them.

Clean yourself! I have degrees of cleaning myself that I use based on the number of spoons I can spare, but I always do something to get clean because it helps so much. If it’s a bearable day, I will take a hot shower: the blistering ones you always see men making fun of women for taking. Hot water temporarily widens veins and helps increase circulation. Sometimes, that helps get me going or staves off the worst of the migraine. If it’s my mid section that is bothering me, I want to soak in a bath instead, just so I’m not on my feet, but I just can’t wrap my head around soaking in my own body crud (cheers to you if that isn’t a thing for you, we all have weird phobias). If I can’t manage a full on clean, even just washing my face helps drive just a little more life into me.

Eat something, anything! For reals, I don’t care if it’s one of those Little Debbie’s you’ve been hiding in the back of the pantry for months. Sure, would I like to see you eat something nutritious and packed with vitamins and flavors? You bet! But that’s not what today has in store for you. That’s ok, just eat something. When I have “few spoon” days, my husband (who is legally blind, by the way) takes his turn to “cook.” Again, he is blind, so when he “cooks” he calls for take-out or delivery. All I have to do is pull myself together enough to answer the door or pick it up, which takes far fewer spoons than actually fixing a meal up properly…far, far, fewer spoons.

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Take everything one step at time. I’ll say it again. You are NOT superman, and that’s ok. Quit trying to be. You are driving yourself even further into the pit. Take a step back for a little bit. Let your brain and body rest. Anyone who thinks you need to be at 100%, 100% of the time, is toxic. We all have bad days. For me, they could be physical, mental, or both, maybe it’s the same for you, maybe it’s not. But you are not immune to the feeling of overwhelm. No one is.

All of this comes with one other caveat. Don’t expect anything else from those around you. Just because you are having a good or “on” day, doesn’t mean everyone around you is. Try to be cognizant of that. Be the supporter when you can, but don’t be afraid to be supported either. We’re not social creatures because we can or want to do it alone. I won’t expect 100% from you all the time, you’re human. And you’re going to be okay.

10 Things Every Girl’s Closet Should Include

Everyone has something about their style that they can’t live without, something that makes or breaks every outfit. For some people it’s their shoes. They line their closet racks with every style and color of shoe thinkable. For others, it’s their cardigan collection. Having a few solid cardigan options opens up a world of new possibilities with any other combination. For me, it’s tops. I can always find a new top I like and they seem to collect rather fast in my closet.

Now, with that in mind, there are some staple items that I couldn’t live without. I think everyone should invest in some stellar basics. It makes getting dressed easy because everything goes with everything. It could be a called a “capsule” wardrobe, but mine is more of a freighter ship. However, I always keep at least a few items on hand regardless of where my clothing shopping leads me. So here are 10 things in my closet that I don’t think any girl’s closet should lack.

  • Spaghetti Strap Shirts in Solids: Every girl I know, understands the “science” behind a good solid spaghetti strap shirt. It can function as so many things. It’s an undershirt. It’s a nice layering piece. With the right one, it can pull in that tummy just a little bit better. It can also work great on it’s own. Don’t overlook having a few of these in different colors on hand at all times.

  • Basic Blue Jeans: Blue jeans are wonderful. Not something you necessarily want to wear every day, but a nice pair of non-distressed jeans can serve a multitude of purposes. With the right accessories, they dress up quite nicely, or you can always keep it simple with a tied up tee. Having a pair that aren’t distressed allows you to use them in a variety of settings whether it be casual business, date night, or just doing the “Momming” thing.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska
Photo by Hipkicks
  • A Few Pairs of Black Leggings: With pockets preferably. Leggings are a godsend. I always looked down on the trend thinking I was “too big” and my marshmallow legs would look hilarious. I was wrong; oh, so very wrong. Find a quality pair of leggings and you will never again worry about putting on a skirt, wearing a tunic shirt that shows your muffin top over your jeans, or being able to bend any way you like. Not to mention, they are stupid comfy. I wear them any chance I get! Bonus: Get high waisted leggings for maximum comfort and mobility!

  • At Least 1 Pair of Quality Sneakers: I say quality for a reason. Everyone should have a pair of great sneakers. I don’t care if you’re not one of those “gym types” or hate tie up shoes. The fact is, at some point, everyone is going to need and use a good pair of walking shoes. Going to a theme park? Wear good walking shoes. Going to a festival? Wear GOOD WALKING SHOES. Shopping cute historic downtown? Please, wear GOOD SHOES! Going on a run? Duh, wear good shoes! Trust me on this one, even if you don’t think you want them, you will eventually need a good pair of walking shoes. Better to have them on hand and broken in before the need arises.

  • A Mid Height Heel Boot or Bootie: A good wide heel boot is amazing. You get that empowering clack when you walk, without the constant fear of rolling an ankle. But you don’t want one that is too high because practicality wins over all, when you are looking at staples for your closet. Just a nice black, brown, or gray boot. Boots like this dress up or down well and… that clack. I love that sound.


  • An Oversized, Plush Sweater: By oversized, I don’t mean so big you are swimming it. I mean just big enough that you can pull your knees into your chest under the shirt and not stretch the material too much. It hides all the rolls. It fits on “bloaty” days. It works on cool or cold days, and it’s cozy. And let’s be honest, nothing beats cozy.
Photo by EVG Culture
Photo by Scott Broome
Photo by sham abdo
  • One Neutral Color Cardigan: Ok, I have 2-3, but I think everyone should have at least 1. It’s something that can be thrown on with any one of those cute spaghetti strap shirts I talked about earlier. It can be removed if you get too hot, or bundled up if you get too cold. It’s just a good underappreciated almost accessory piece of clothing. I’m not against a good bright color or fun cardigan, but the neutrals keep coordinating your outfit simple. I recommend at least 1.

  • A Pull Over Hoodie: The lord of all sweaters and jackets. It works for everything. Freezing your butt off sitting in your recliner at home because you have circulation issues like myself? Check. Running errands and don’t have what it takes to get dressed? Those black leggings we talked about? Throw them on with a hoodie and out the door. Going to the movie theatre? I don’t know about you, but they are always SO COLD…even the ones with heated seating. Hoodie to the rescue again! Don’t overlook it. You know you want one!
  • A Formal Dress That Fits: “I will NEVER wear it,” you say. I believe that, I don’t wear mine much either. However, when the incredibly rare occasion creeps up that it would be nice to have one (a promotion at work celebration, a company party, a friend’s shotgun wedding, a surprise date), it’s actually nice TO HAVE ONE. I personally have gone through the frantic search and multiple phone calls to any friend I have that is my size, looking for a last minute dress. It really is better to just keep one on hand THAT FITS. Yeah, that’s the other key. Unless you haven’t fluffed up since high school like the rest of us, it’s better to retire that old prom dress and invest in a formal that will, in fact, zip up now. Better to face it beforehand than in an emergency situation.
Photo by Grigore Ricky

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”

~Coco Chanel
Photo by Juliana Stein
  • An Article of Clothing You “fan” over: This one is a must. I don’t care if you are a sports fan, racing fan, a nerd, a geek, a bookworm, a cosplayer…I don’t care. Everyone is a fan of something. I strongly encourage the purchase of SOMETHING you fan over. Sports fans usually go for ball caps, jerseys, or jackets. Nerds and geeks I’ve noticed tend to like odd jewelry or novelty T Shirts. Cosplayers tend to like costumes (uh-duh). And there are those that don’t fit any mold, but everyone fans over something. I think you should always own something to “rep” your fandom.

A wardrobe doesn’t have to be complicated to be inclusive. The best part about having the staples, is it makes styling those “totally you” pieces that much easier. Just be true to yourself and keep a decent stash of basics, and getting dressed shouldn’t ever be too difficult. Go ahead, get dressed in the dark! I usually do!

Hot Mess Mama: That’s OK

I am a mess. A total, complete, disaster of a woman. Luckily, I am also very loved. My husband has the patience of a saint, and my daughter learned that sarcasm is an excellent way to redirect my wandering brain. All that love doesn’t change the fact that I would lose my head if it wasn’t attached. I “dur-dur-dur” my way through just about every day, and somehow I come out in 1 piece and my loved ones are usually fed and in okay condition. This is a little strange to me some days, but it has continued to work for several years. Somehow, I muddle through.

how to be less of a hot mess, but know it's still ok when you are. Hot Mess Mama: That's ok by Confidence Clothing
Girl reading amongst stack of books
Photo by Ying Ge on Unsplash

Just after high school, one of my best friends told me I was the “dumbest smart person” he’d ever met. This was not meant to be harsh. In fact, it was freakin’ hilarious at the time he told me. I just thought he was being himself and giving me crap like always, at the time. It wasn’t until several years later, when my husband said almost the exact same thing, that I realized there may be some truth to it. Again, that situation was funny and my husband also gives me a lot of crap, but it triggered a thought in me, that maybe it wasn’t too far from the truth. I am in fact, pretty “book” smart. But when it comes to getting my life together? I must have missed that train.

I love learning and trying new things, but daily life always seems to get the better of me. I lose my train of thought regularly. Words that should be easily recalled are off doing their own thing instead of being present when called upon. Keeping track of a to-do list is nearly impossible, and if it weren’t for the invention of smart assistants, I’d be worse off than I am right now. I can’t remember squat. This leads me to look like a total buffoon on many occasions. Like I said, I’m a hot mess.

It’s not even that I haven’t experienced a lot, or that I’m naïve. It’s not that I can’t be in tune or that I am always wandering around aimlessly. I just lose things that shouldn’t be easily lost or forgotten. My train is constantly on multiple tracks and it get’s lost in the maze. While I feel like I’m making progress on some thought or project, it isn’t until I look back later and realize that I’m just really good at treading water. I won’t drown, but I don’t swim either.

girl looking very confused
Photo by OSPAN ALI on Unsplash

You see, I suffer from brain fog, bad. It wasn’t until a year or so ago that I found out that I have a few underlying conditions that exacerbate my already compromised brain function. As I have said previously, PCOS is a constant bane to my existence. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a trip (we’ll go into that deeper in another blog soon, I promise). Couple that with endometriosis and you have an ever bitter combination for brain function. I also admitted to myself lately that I have always fought depression and anxiety, something that my doctor helped me admit and finally treat, for which I am eternally grateful. This all feeds my failing brain capacity.

So what’s my point? My point is, it gets easier if you surround yourself with love, and take steps to address it. I’m still a hot mess, some days much worse than others, thanks to ever undulating hormone levels. However, there are a few things that help me, and might help you too.

Regular Sleep Schedule

sleeping puppy dog
Photo by Adam Grabek

I argued with myself about this one for a long time. My meds were “wonking” my sleep schedule. My daughter didn’t want to go to bed when I did, then I’d catch my second wind and it would all be over. My husband wanted to go to bed before or after me and I prefer we go to bed at the same time (I sleep better). All these excuses were just that: excuses. As soon as I started with a regular bedtime and a regular wake up time, I started to feel better. Be careful not to over or under sleep because that defeats the whole thing. Experiment a bit. I found that 7-9 hours works best for me. If I go over that, I feel like I need to keep sleeping longer, and under that, I’m a caffeine addict with an anger issue.

Hydration

time to hydrate water bottle
Photo by Alex Azabache

According to UCDavis article, hydration and brain function go hand in hand. Your brain is 75% water, so it would make sense that starving it of it’s base make-up would have some not so fun effects. I found this to be true myself. I drink at least 80 oz of water a day. The National Institutes of Health have a handy guideline of how much water you should be drinking based on your age. Of course, they keep it standardized and don’t take age (everyone over 18 is considered adult) or activity levels into account with the basic guidelines, but it should go without saying that if you are more active, you need to hydrate more. I might be going to the bathroom more than before, but my fatigue and brain fog both dissipate when I stay super hydrated. Again, it’s not a cure all, but it definitely helps to have several building blocks in this structure when you’re a hot mess and might forget one every now and then.

Vitamins

plate of fresh fruit and veggie salad
Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis

Let’s not fuss about how we get our vitamins, ok? Some people have the time and energy to prep fresh food regularly. I applaud that, but I am NOT that. On top of that, thanks to my lovely body chemistry and whacked hormones, I am sorely vitamin B and D deficient. So I start my day with a B-complex and a couple of Caltrate. Occasionally I have to take iron and my doctor has suggested fish oil, though I have yet to incorporate that one (I don’t like taking fish oil). I wash that all down with a couple of glasses of water first thing in the morning, followed by some kind of breakfast. Breakfast could be a frozen breakfast sandwich, oatmeal, or if I’m feeling really adventurous, I will cook omelets or french toast.

Depression & Anxiety Meds

pile of pharmaceutical pills

If you can’t make your own serotonin, store bought is fine.

~My Favorite Murder

This one may be a figuratively hard pill to swallow. But seriously, seek help. If you don’t like therapists exactly, that’s ok. I don’t either. Talk to your primary doctor or your gynecologist. They are there to help you just as much, if not even more. I say more because they have insight into your body chemistry, medical history, hormone fluctuations and what not that a therapist doesn’t. Have a casual conversation with your doctor about how you feel. No, not how you think you’re supposed to answer, but how you actually feel. Up until about a year and half ago, I had no idea what kind of toll anxiety was actually taking on me. Thanks to my Gyn, I have a better grasp of it.

Patience

turtle by a fence in green undergrowth
Photo by Fauzan

Always save the best for last, right? Patience is the most important part of pulling yourself together. Even if you fell apart overnight, it will take some time for everything to come back together. Still, when it does come back together, it may not quite resemble what it looked like before. Surround yourself with love and patience, from yourself and the people around you. A good friend or significant other is a great place to lean. True love and true friendship are there to support these kinds of things in particular. Find your “tribe” (I hate that term, but it is what it is.) Your tribe is the people that you can ask for help, be it taking the kids for a couple of hours, catching up on the cleaning, or just good ol’ venting.

Being a hot mess is not easy. Getting yourself pulled together isn’t easy. IT’S NOT EASY. And that’s ok. You hear me? IT’S OK TO BE A HOT MESS! Do what you can. If it means “eating some humble pie” as my husband says, so be it. Admit to your failings. If you have the right people around you, they will help. If you don’t, it’s time to find the right ones. If writing in your date planner eats away at your soul but it’s the only thing that keeps you from missing appointments, DO IT. I used to think I could remember everything. After admitting I was wrong about that, I found this handy little feature on my smart phone (you might know about it) that TELLS me I have something I’m forgetting. It’s quite lovely, but I had to put my pride aside before I found the resources to help with that issue.

You can in fact be a hot mess and still not be a burden on other people OR YOURSELF. Just take the steps to eliminate what parts of the disaster you can. Admit you can’t do it all. Ask for help. Start the process of righting your sinking shipwreck. It might still be a shipwreck, but it will be a well managed shipwreck. That counts for something.

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You, Me, and A Cup of Tea: January

Allow me to introduce you to a new series: You, Me, and a Cup of Tea. The idea behind this series came to me one evening last week. I was venting to my husband about work and life, and generally small little things that just crawled under my skin and that I needed to talk to someone about. That’s when it came to me! I don’t go out with girl friends. It’s not just a Covid thing, it’s just nothing I have actually taken the time or energy to do (and trust me, I mean large amounts of energy to socialize outside of my own physical comfort zone). I didn’t realize until a few years ago just how introverted I really am. I use to be a social butterfly and I would go out all the time, but it always left me so utterly burnt out. After being married for a few years and encouraged by husband to find my true self, I came to know myself better. I realized I was being a yes girl; a people pleaser. I didn’t actually enjoy going out. It drained me more than I ever admitted. I just thought that’s what I was “supposed” to be doing at 21 years old.

I started adjusting myself to the comfort of my introverted ways and quite quickly started feeling so much better. I was also maturing and changing as a wife and mother, which inevitably leads to friendships changing or fading. I tried to force a few things for a while. I would go out with “friends” that I wasn’t really close to just to do it, thinking that everyone should have an outlet and that’s what an “outlet” was. With a few exceptions, those outings would leave me drained. However, among all of this, I realized I could sit at home and visit with friends for hours. I can hold a phone conversation until my cell battery dies. I can email and instant message until the cows come home. I just can’t GO OUT, that’s where the drain happens. So this series was born.

woman sitting in windowsill drinking coffee looking out window
Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

You, me, and cup of tea is going to be exactly that. I will ramble. I will ask rhetorical questions and not so rhetorical questions. I will make observations. I will vent. This is just 2 friends over tea or coffee. I hope that you will do the same. Please write back. Please vent to me. Please make random statements that just get something off your chest. This is for both of us. What this won’t be, is the basis of my blog. This will be a once a month splurge, something that can birdwalk every which way.

With all of that being said, let’s start with this month’s chat.

Pouring an iced coffee
Photo by Jorik Blom on Unsplash

What is your favorite chit chat beverage? That cup of something that you always reach for or order when your going for a chat with “the girls.” I personally have a couple. I am a sucker for a cold brew iced coffee, no matter the time of year, preferably sugar free and dairy free. If I have to give up one or the other, I will give up sugar free and take the dairy free, as dairy sends me into a deeper flare up of my PCOS and endometriosis than sugar does, although neither one do me any favors. I don’t have to have any flavor syrup or anything, but I will never say no to a bit of caramel or mocha.

My other go to is tea, hence the name of the series. I don’t like matcha in anything other than smoothies, but most other teas are pretty good. I love almost all herbal teas, a good chunk of the fruit teas, and in true geek fashion, Earl Grey, hot (we are still counting geek points, it’s a thing!). I love my tea iced or hot, but I do NOT like it sweet or with cream. Nope, nope, nope. I can’t drink my coffee black, but I can’t drink my tea dressed up… go figure.

So here we are, you now know what I’m up to with this idea and we have our drinks figured out. Sooooooo, hi. I’m Kay. Actually, I’m Kezia (pronounced keh-zee-uh), but explaining that and it’s pronunciation to everyone all the time is tiresome. After about 3 bosses not being able to figure it out, I gave up and just adopted the first letter, K. That looked hilarious on company letters, so I modified it to Kay. I am still Kezia in my personal life, but this is the last you will hear of it on here. Kay is simpler. It translates better in writing. We’ll just keep it simple, Kay it is.

The name Kezia is a girl’s name of Hebrew origin meaning “cassia tree”.

A related name is the lovely cinnamon-scented Cassia, which beginning to be discovered by lovers of the fashionable Cas- clan.

https://nameberry.com/babyname/Kezia

As of today, I am 31…or 32…pretty sure I’m 31. Yes, I am in fact 31 right now. I felt from a young age that I was a soul of 27 years old… and that’s about when I started losing track of how old I was. Especially after I turned 30, I way gave up on keeping track. It’s depressing. Seeing it in writing is even more so. When I hit 40 like my husband, I may just give up entirely and start saying, “I’m just old, that’s all you need to know.”

couple holding hands
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Yes, my husband is 40. We are 8.5 years apart. I never did find anyone my age or younger all that attractive mentally or physically (with like, 1 or 2 exceptions). With that being said, I did have a decade rule when I was dating; Nobody more than 10 years older than me. That just felt weird. When my husband and I met, everything just fit together. There was no honeymoon phase. We were both 100% upfront with all of our quirks and oddities from the get-go and it just worked. We met towards the end of October in 2010 and were married February 2011 in a very simple certificate signing at the county building. Nothing big, nothing fancy, just us being us and agreeing to love each other regardless of life. We’ve managed pretty well in the last 10 years, with a few bumps and bruises, but we’ve made it so far!

I think that’s a pretty good introduction to me, I don’t want to spoil all the fun in the first run. Do you see what I mean yet? Just chitchat. This is where I hope we will get to know each other a little bit better. All of life’s little bumps, good and bad. It could be fun, especially if you participate, but I can hold a one sided conversation if necessary. If you ever feel it is getting old, please tell me (see, I’m not totally over my people pleasing), I’ll try something different.

“Girl talk. That thing I’ve always been so bad at.”

― Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire

girls laughing while drinking a coke together
Photo by Taisiia Stupak on Unsplash

What kinds of things do you want to talk about next? The next installment will be at the beginning of February, so you have some time to think and let me know. This is your chance to have input in the conversation. If you don’t know, that’s ok too. Like I said, I’m a pretty good chatterbox as long as I’m in my comfort zone physically. And I am, in my cozy chair, in my bedroom, watching Star Trek reruns, in my jammies. It doesn’t get much more comfy than that, unless one of my 3 cats wants to come cuddle.

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