Things 2018 taught me:

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A lot can happen in a year, everyone knows that, or at least everyone has heard it. I was starting to doubt it when I was sick. Nothing can happen if you’re sitting on a couch… at least, not anything exciting.

But flash forward to 2018. I’m still having treatment, but my entire world has shifted. I’m off the couch. I’m about to marry the man I love. I have been working a year and a half at a wonderful job I love. My world is coming into focus. I’m starting to get a clear picture of what the future is going to look like. And I’ve learned a whole lot in this busy year, so I thought I’d share a few of those lessons with you:

Things really do happen when you least expect them too. It makes life feel like a series of surprises you just stumbled into, but that’s part of the magic. It’s easy to feel like everything is out of your control when it comes to the next step, but our main job is to keep moving forward. Get farther down the trail, there is a lot of beauty ahead.

Kindness doesn’t just happen on its own. Maybe civility happens without much effort, but true kindness, the kind that shifts days and changes lives, that comes from a lot of effort and a series of repeated actions. You have to choose to be kind, and work at it. It’s always worth it.

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Mental illnesses and romantic relationships:

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You don’t need to love yourself before someone can love you, that is something that I hate hearing, mainly because it’s not true, but also because it doesn’t inspire one to love themselves, it just tells them that they are worthless now. The intent behind it is something to talk about though, and that is that you need to take care of yourself sometimes before you get in a romantic relationship. That is true, even if the saying people have made out of it is false and cruel.

You can have successful relationships when struggling with your mental health, there is no question in that, but there needs to be some serious reflection on how your mental health is affecting your actions and also affecting your thoughts.

Mental illness can make us more stand off-ish or more clingy. It can make you hide the truth or deliver it in hurtful ways. Mental illness effects us all over, which is one of the reasons society needs to take it more seriously, but it is also a reason why you need to evaluate yours before you dive into a romantic relationship. What behaviors are your mental illness affecting and how will they effect a loved one? Everyone has a few behaviors that aren’t ideal, everyone has things they need to work on, but if we currently have more than normal, we need to address them before we make a significant other address them.

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Self-care: What counts towards it and why it often looks like hard work

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I have briefly talking about this topic before when I talked about five important parts of self-care that are often over looked. I said that self-care doesn’t always mean face masks and a glass of wine, in fact, it often doesn’t mean that. Self-care also doesn’t always mean wasting time watching TV. Of course you deserve down-time, but rest is only one thing our body needs, and as a society, it’s the only part of self-care people seem worth mentioning. Which is fine if you’re the type of person who schedules to much on their to do list and are always running around, but if you’re someone who likes to spend most of your time off work relaxing, than that void is filled.

I’m not going to repeat what I posted on my last post, but I am going to really go into the things you need to do to take care of yourself, in the truest meaning of the word.

  • Take care of your finances. Self-care can mean spending for some people. They get into the Parks and Rec. “treat yourself” mindset. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself, everyone should do it from time to time, but when your idea of self-care is shopping you need to take a long look at if that’s actually taking care of anything. Sure it gives you a brief rush of endorphins, that’s why people have shopping problems to begin with, but saving can bring similar emotions. You see there is nothing quite like the giddy pride of seeing your savings account grow, and there is nothing like the moment when you get to take the money out when you need it to care for yourself later on. You don’t need a new purse to care about your mind, but you might need a savings account to care for your broken wrist later on.
  • Take care of your body. You only have one, it needs as much help as everything else in your life. Maybe you need to feed it healthier food. Maybe you need to learn how to cook healthier food. Maybe you need to get up and go for a long walk that will both get your heart rate up and clear your mind. Maybe you need to start going to the gym. Maybe you should sweat it out in the sauna. The thing is your body needs some love, and often when we think of self-care, we’re treating our mind. After all, working out seems like a chore, but clearly it doesn’t have to be. For me, riding my horse counts as working out. My body and my mind both love it. As for salads, I stack mine with fruit, but maybe you just need to do a few days of eating right to set your body back on track, that’s alright too. Learning what your body needs and giving it to it is ultimate self care.
  • Take care of your life. Life can seem like an endless to-do list and sometimes stepping away from it can feel like the ultimate self care, and sometimes, it really is. But sometimes getting up and taking care of business is the ultimate act of self care because you’ll reap the rewards from it later on. That to-do list has the things on it that you need to complete to advance or live in a clean environment. Life comes with a lot of burdens, you have to get through them to  have them lifted, nothing proves that more than the feeling you get when you finish a to-do list.

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Creating goals for 2019 and reflecting on those from 2018:

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Looking back on my goals for 2018, I can say that I didn’t knock them all off my list, but that’s how it always goes, isn’t it? Maybe not, maybe you’re much better at this than I am. But I’m still proud of my half finished list, because a lot happened this year that wasn’t on my list, so I still feel like I came out ahead.

  • More time on hobbies, less time online: Check! But could use to do even better at this. I still spend too much time online.
  • Read the entire bible: Opps. I started strong and then faded out.
  • Be more aware of what I’m eating: Check! My diet has been so great this last year, really unrecognizable from 2017.
  • Being a better friend: Half check? I did better some months than others.
  • Read more than 30 books: I read about ten, but to be fair they were all over 600 pages. That counts, right??
  • Finish writing two novels: I finished one! Still not bad!
  • Wean myself off sleeping pills: Check, haven’t taken one in months!

Now for my upcoming goals for 2019:

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Gluttony, the often dismissed deadly sin

rose-elena-503170-unsplashI had to “give up” sugar and gluten because of Lyme Disease. I put give up in quotation marks because I’ve been known the occasionally cheat on this diet, but over all, I’ve stuck to it pretty well, way better than I ever thought I would.

It was ridiculously hard to change my diet so dramatically. Gluten and sugar are two of my favorite food groups, one or both seem to be in everything I love to eat. It was a serious adjustment, even more so because I, like most first world citizens, was addicted to sugar. Missing the foods is one thing, seriously craving them as I went through withdraws was another.

But the withdraw symptoms only lasted two weeks and when I got to the other side I found that turning sweets down was easier. It was then when I started getting the same comments over and over again. People were always eager to tell me how they could never give up gluten or sugar. They couldn’t do it. It was too hard. There wasn’t enough reasons to do so. They wouldn’t even want to try.

Well, who would?

But all these comments lead me to start thinking about gluttony in different terms. It made me realize how many people have dismissed it. Myself included.

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Seven things:

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  • These beautiful pictures of microscopic plankton make you realize where we’ve been pulling our ideas from for science fiction films. They also make you realize how little you actually know about the ocean and it’s stunning creatures. It really is a whole new world down there.
  • I’ve been looking for the perfect black cardigan and I’ve found it at Loft. It’s the perfect length, cut, and it’s super soft.
  • This article is about the seven essential behaviors of creative people rings true. Learn how to help channel your creativity!
  • Bringing back this blog post from last year talking about five ways to beat the winter blues because lets face it, this time change started bring them out a few weeks ago.
  • This Christmas video is the kid version of drunk history. Kids tell the Christmas story, adults act it out. Super cute!
  • I’ve been loving this Instagram account (especially her stories). Lynzy is a mother of three in the medical field and her page is lifestyle based. She covers a lot but she does try ons at different stores each week and I’ve enjoyed them because they always gives me really good outfit ideas.
  • Samaritans Purse released their holiday giving catalog. It has a TON of amazing causes to give to, and they’ll send you a card for it if you’d like to give a donation as a gift to a loved one!

Why it’s important to go off of mental health medications the right way:

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There is a common theme I see among people who are on mental health medications, they’re all willing to go off of them when they are feeling better.

Mental health medications can be vital for people with mental health problems. They can make or break people’s lives. I, for one, would not be a functioning person without my bipolar medication. I learned young that I needed to be on them and luckily never questioned it afterwards, but because of the shame that can be associated with mental health prescriptions, a lot of people are eager to go off of them if they think they no longer need their help.

There are multiple problems with this, but the main one is that a lot of people think they no longer need the mental health help because their medication is still actively working. If you’ve been on an anti-anxiety medicine for years and haven’t had anxiety since that first year you were on it, it’s easy to say that maybe you’ve grown out of it, but it’s also a big possibility that you haven’t and that the medication is the reason you’ve been feeling so calm. Going off the medication often brings back all the anxiety that you had been treating.

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