Life Update: Unwell

Frock Files | Unwell

It never occurred to me until this past couple of weeks that I’ve never been that sick. Oh sure, I’ve had a couple of nasty bouts of the flu and my share of run ins with colds, but never anything that wouldn’t go away with time, sleep, and Nora Ephron movies.

But a couple of weeks ago, I was exhausted as I drove into work and as soon as I sat down at my desk this overwhelming malaise washed over me. I eventually started having flu-like muscle aches and I braced myself for a virus. It never came. Instead, the aches traveled to my joints. And the fatigue. I wake up and feel immediately like going back to sleep.

These symptoms are scary in their nebulousness. I did the exact thing you’re not supposed to do–Googled my symptoms. Everything from chronic fatigue to MS to bacterial meningitis came up. Meanwhile, at 10 days in, I wasn’t feeling any better.

Frock Files | Unwell

Those of you who are connected with me on Instagram know that I went to urgent care last Friday. Let’s just say that it was a disaster. So yesterday, I went to my new GP for the very first time and she decided to run blood tests for a whole host of things (B12 deficiency, D deficiency, thyroid disease…the list goes on). But she also put me on Doxycycline, the antibiotic used to treat Lyme disease, while we await the results. It makes me so, so sick.

Am I too old to say that I want my parents? Whenever I get sick, I wish I could be magically transported straight to my childhood bedroom for a steady stream of my mom’s cooking, freshly picked papaya, creme crackers, guava juice, and parental reassurance. All of this is happening as James’ dad has been in the hospital, so I’m enduring this mostly on my own. Kona, while a good napping partner, hasn’t yet been trained to fetch bowls of soup.

And yet. After my bouts of inward tantrums (“I’m so tired of being tired!”), what lies beneath is this realization that I understand something more deeply. (For being raised in a Buddhist family, I had quite a Christian upbringing, and this quote has always stuck with me:)

strong

This is my mantra as I wait for these test results. This is my will for James’ dad as we try to figure out what’s wrong with him. Strength, it seems, can surface in the unlikeliest of times.

—–

Image beneath quotation via Stocksy

Bookmarked: The Opposite of Loneliness

Okay, I fell off the bandwagon in July. I’m jumping back in this month with a recommendation that came to me through theSkimm, which is a daily newsletter with news headlines written in the kind of vernacular that’s digestible before breakfast. If you haven’t subscribed yet, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, the book.

Bookmarked for August | The Opposite of LonelinessMy book pick for August: The Opposite of Loneliness

This has been quite a strange summer. There have been wonderful things and there have been scary things. Friends have been in terrible car accidents; loved ones have been rushed to the hospital; a dear blogging friend’s husband died totally unexpectedly. And as I write this, we’re still trying to figure out why I’ve been aching and lethargic for the past two weeks. It has been an odd couple of months.

All of this has made me think about life, and how unexpected it is. Marina Keegan had just graduated from Yale when she died in a car crash.

She was a comet in the young literary scene–the kind of writer who you look at and think, “Aha, that’s the future.” And you’d feel good about it, because despite all the hullabaloo about how crappy we Millenials are, there are some thoughtful, capable, talented, interested, reassuringly normal ones who will take over for the Joan Didions and the Calvin Trillins of the world.

Keegan would have hated that I introduced her first as being dead and then as being a young literary rock star.

According to her friends and family, she would have despised that people were reading “the book by that dead girl,” so let me take a moment here to say that I’ve already read several of the short stories and I would have been equally absorbed were Keegan still alive. If she were one of those prodigies who gets published by the New Yorker in their early 20s. I would have hated her a little for it, but I would have loved her even more, because she wrote with the kind of honesty and dedication to understanding complicated, average people that so rarely makes it into these literary circles, where everyone else is trying to outdo one another with weirdness.

This probably doesn’t sound like a light summer read. But while Keegan’s book may make you think about the shortness of life, it will also make you think about flings, and your first car, and your ability (or inability) to consume gluten, and getting stoned, and falling in love. Her descriptions of these experiences will roll about in your brain and remind you of what it felt like to be nineteen, twenty, twenty-one. It will remind you of all the possibilities.

That, I think, would be something Keegan would approve of.

P.S. Keegan’s interview on NPR about finding passion–not just money–in a career.

How to Stay Sane During Puppy’s First Year

How to Maintain Your Sanity During Puppy's First Year | Frock Files

Kona turned one-year-old last month, which means that she’s lived with us for just short of a year. Let me tell you, friends, I wouldn’t go back to those early days if someone paid us! While we’ve been lucky in many ways–she’s always slept through the night, she’s relatively low maintenance during the day, she loves other animals, she’s generally quiet–in those first few months it was tough. We were up and down with her every hour-and-a-half during our waking hours. She tried to eat everything from our baseboards to our rugs to ear plugs, and when we sprayed them with bitter apple, she only liked them more.

But over the months she’s mellowed out, and even though she’s a quirky little thing, we love her to bits. As I type this, she’s curled up in her crate behind me, making little doggie dreaming noises and kicking her paws every once in awhile. We can’t imagine life without her.

For anyone who has a new puppy, or anyone considering adding a new four-legged canine to your family, I came up with this list of things we learned during Kona’s first year:

How to Maintain Your Sanity During Puppy's First Year | Frock Files

Doggie Daycare = Balanced Dog. But be careful when you’re choosing one. We first tried the one that’s right across the street from our house, but in the end convenience lost out to quality. We then took Kona to a wonderful daycare with a huge outdoor play area, but when we discovered that she was sneak-eating other dogs’ poop there (despite their low staff-to-dog ratio) we had to pull her out because she kept getting sick. We then reverted to hiring a dog walker on days when I go into the office, but I noticed Kona was getting overly anxious after a few weeks. Now we use a combination of dog walking and indoor daycare, which seems to be a good balance. Long story short, you’ll get to know your dog and that will help you find the right one. But in my opinion, a good doggie daycare is a great way to make sure your puppy grows into a balanced dog.

It’s essential to introduce a puppy to as many things as possible. Kona met all kinds of people and dogs right off the bat, but she didn’t meet many kids, and now she’s scared of them. While she’s all bark and no bite, it’s still hard to explain to kids who are so excited by this real-life teddy bear. We’re slowly including more kids into her life, and after about an hour she thinks they’re great — but it does take that hour for her to feel like, yes, these are humans. No, they aren’t zombies.

Dog probiotics are a (very good) thing. When Kona was getting sick a lot, our vet put her on antibiotics and, later, a probiotic. It’s made a huge difference in Kona’s digestion, which has always been problematic for us. We sprinkle half a capsule on her food each night, which she scarfs down so quickly that she doesn’t even detect a difference.

YouTube is fantastic for dog training. We went to puppy kindergarten, and our teacher actually said, “Geez, you guys didn’t need to come to this class at all!” We began teaching Kona commands the day she came home, based on information we learned from YouTube trainers. My favorite is this series on dog training by VetStreet.com.

How to Maintain Your Sanity During Puppy's First Year | Frock Files

Neighbors are nicer when you have a dog. We didn’t really talk to any of our neighbors pre-Kona. Since she came home with us, we know almost everyone. And while we’re pretty sure no one knows our names, they definitely know Kona’s! It helps that she greets them by running full speed down the hallways toward them, flopping on her back, and kicking her legs in the air. Who wouldn’t like such an enthusiastic greeting? Also, if they’re sane people and they offer to watch your dog, let them. They really want to, and you’ll really need a guilt-free break.

Everything outdoors is more fun with a dog. I’m really finicky about temperature. Anything above 80 or below 60 and I would be hard pressed to get outdoors. But Kona and I go for a two-mile walk almost every day, unless it’s icy or raining. We’ve also loved taking her to restaurants with outdoor patios, on walks around lakes and the beach, to the dog park, and on long car rides. We’re experiencing a whole new layer of enjoyment in these warm months!

It’s essential for everyone’s sanity to take breaks. Although Kona sleeps through the night, she does wake us up at around six or seven every morning. She also likes a lot of play time and attention. And we, used to our relative freedom to come and go when we pleased, found that we were missing the Fridays that I’d travel into the city to have date night with James (too late) or quick overnight trips around New England. We were so grateful to discover DogVacay early on, and we continue to look to our dog sitter on a regular basis. Kona gets to run around with the sitter’s dog in her “second home” and we get to run around without worrying about feedings, walks, or a lonely pooch.

P.S. Do-it-yourself doggie “ice cream” bites!

 

 

 

My First E-Book is Live!

No Kegstands Needed: An Introduction to Understanding Beer | Frock Files

This is quite a week in our household. We’ve sold my car and bought a new one, I’m about to launch a client’s website, and we’re ramping up to some 4th of July celebrations! Oh, and one other thing: my very first e-book has launched on the multimedia publishing platform, Snippet.

When I announced that I’d finished the e-book, I was overwhelmed by the number of congratulatory emails, texts, and tweets that I received. I hadn’t thought that this community of cake lovers, crafters, and fashionistas would be at all excited about a book about beer. Maybe you are, and maybe you aren’t but you’re just excited for me, and either way I’m thrilled for the outpouring of support.

I just received an announcement earlier this week that my book, No Keg Stands Needed, would be ready to go live today! If you want to understand more about beer, or even if you just want to see what it looks like to read a book with video, audio clips, and a social media component, you can check it out here. The book talks about the history of beer, the incredible craft beer movement, beer tasting, and how to make beer of your own. I have to say, I have a newfound appreciation for all the breweries out there!

And for anyone who’s thinking about writing an e-book, Snippet is a great way to go! It’s really simple to work with and the end result is very aesthetically pleasing. People have even used Snippets as a way of proposing books to publishers. Just something to keep in mind for all of you authors out there.

We’ll be heading out to the lake tomorrow, but I’ll catch you back here next week. Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!

Let’s Chat: Don’t Take It Personally

How to Stop Taking It Personally | Frock Files

As I write this, the windows and the door to our balcony are open and somewhere nearby, someone is mowing the lawn. Everything framed within my window is green. It almost feels like New England is gas lighting us every summer, when it gets to be this lovely outside, as though it’s saying, “Winter? What winter? Could anything this beautiful be so cruel?” And we laugh and say, “Hahaha! Of course, it must have been a bad dream!” And then we keep on driving a few miles above the speed limit, windows down, radio blaring, because it’s inconceivable that ice has ever coated these roads.

But it was awful, and really not very long ago. I remember sitting in my car halfway to work one morning, in tears, because I had just made a harrowing drive through the forest, which was only half cleared. It was a spinning wheels, five mile per hour, fishtailing kind of ride. That was when I began thinking seriously about getting a car with four wheel drive. And even though it’s summer now, and it’s hard to remember those winter blues, I know that next year I’ll be kicking myself if I don’t get this car thing handled now.

***

So last week, I got my car detailed and posted it on multiple websites. Maybe I’m naive or just overly hopeful, but I honestly thought that the car would sell over the weekend. It’s small, inexpensive, and relatively new, with great gas mileage. It’s in great shape. And yet…by Sunday, nothing.

“Why doesn’t anyone want my car?” I asked James. He laughed kindly and told me that if we sold it by the end of the summer, that would be good.

This is all to explain to you the extent to which I take things personally. Obviously, the world doesn’t have a vendetta against me (or my car). Maybe people were just busy over the weekend. Maybe they, too, are looking for something with all wheel drive. But if I’m being honest, I was a little offended. I looked at other listings, which had a total of about fifteen words, and compared it to the detailed post I’d created. I juxtaposed the seventeen pictures I’d posted with others that had just one gritty one.

It was really stupid.

But then I got back to work on Monday and something on the wall of my cubicle caught my eye. It’s a little Post-It note with a cotton swab attached to it, with the words, “Q-tip: Quit Taking It Personally” written on it. My co-worker, Mike, gave it to everyone on our team a few weeks back, as we were struggling with a project that involves uncooperative outside parties. And just like that, everything shifted into perspective. It’s a car! On the internet! Few things are less personal than that. About an hour later, I got an email inquiry about the car.

***

In the Psychology Today post “Happiness With Others 2: Take Nothing Personal” clinical psychologist Dr. Russell Geiger admits that even with his background, he’s prone to taking things personally–but that it does nothing for him to react this way. He provides three guidelines for a happier life:

1. Mine your relationships for happiness–don’t just look for faults.

2. Expect that sometimes people will disappoint you, and be okay with that.

3. Understand that people’s actions toward you are a reflection of their own circumstances.

A huge burden is lifted from your shoulders when you take nothing personally. I think it frees up a good amount of mental space, and definitely a lot of energy to put toward other things; better things.

So I’m making it a point to work on this in all of my relationships–not just the one with my car posting.

For example, I have a co-worker who likes to complain that no one is doing anything, when in reality he’s constantly passing his work off to other people. No one ever seems to know what he’s working on! And on multiple occasions he has complained indirectly about the work that I do in mass emails to everyone on staff. While that’s irritating, I know that my boss knows that I’m working hard and juggling multiple projects. I also know that this guy just isn’t happy with his lot in life, in general. So the next time it happens, I’ll do my best to shrug and continue working my way through my to do list.

(And you know what? I think it’s okay to think, “Well, of course that happened. That guy hates his life. But also, he’s kind of an asshole.” This, of course, would not have a place in Psychology Today.)

Do you take things a little too personally? Do you have any tricks to get yourself to stop? Maybe this week we can all make an effort to take things less personally, in order to enjoy life more.

I couldn’t find the original for this image, but I discovered it on Pinterest through the Beautiful Souls Tumblr.

 

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