Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Why I'm Depressed and Not Lazy

Avoidance has long been my method for coping with overwhelming and/or difficult things. Things I didn't want to do. This list is long, but (part of) it looks something like this:

waking up in the morning
doing my homework
doing my chores
cleaning my room
paying my taxes
practicing (anything)
finding a job
making a decision about health insurance
deciding on a topic for my thesis
applying (for anything)
etc, etc, etc

Here's the thing about avoidance: It's not a great coping mechanism. It doesn't get things done, and it's not productive. (Though, to be both honest and fair, some times when I'm avoiding one thing (i.e. a final paper), I get a lot of those other things done, like cleaning my room.) It makes the last minute incredibly stressful. (Take, for example, the time ~cough~lastsemester~cough~ that I was finishing up my last week of classes, taking all my finals, writing all my final papers, and packing and preparing for a marathon cross-country drive home. All in the same week. Yeah, I didn't get much sleep and I was pretty much a wreck. It wasn't a good time.)

I had an epiphany just now, while boiling water to cook up some ramyun for my dinner. Two of my non-shared New Year's resolutions were to be more self-compassionate and to try to deal with hard things promptly instead of avoiding them. My epiphany involved the intersection of those two goals. Right now, I'm really struggling with that second goal. 

My life is exceptionally hectic-feeling right now. I'm trying to juggle making some professional contacts, nailing down a research question for my thesis (thankfully I think I've finally found a topic), dealing with getting the ball rolling so I can do research for my thesis, four classes (each with a not-insignificant number of expectations), homework, a new church calling, beginning research for important papers for each of my classes, new responsibilities in regard to a possible (unexpected) future career, finding something to do and some way to support myself this summer, and all the other mundane stuff like taxes and healthcare insurance and feeding myself. Honestly, I think at this point it might be a tender mercy from the Lord that I'm not in a relationship, because it would just be one more thing to juggle.

But...do you know what I did yesterday with my day off from school? Instead of catching up on all the things I'm responsible for, I went to Home Depot and dropped some cash on some materials to make myself a headboard. Yup. That happened.

Here's where my epiphany (finally -- were you getting bored? sorry) comes in:

I'm depressed.

Okay, that's not the huge epiphany. I've been struggling, off and on, in one way or another, with depression for a long time. The epiphany came when I realized, Maybe I'm not lazy. Maybe I can stop berating myself with that label and realize that my procrastination and avoidance are symptoms, not part of who I am.

That being said, there are definitely times when I deliberately make poor choices with my time. ~cough~all-nightkdramawatching~cough~ But right now? Struggling to finish or even start my Korean homework (normally a class I love)? Not answering emails for days and dreading checking my inbox? Starting decorating projects instead of catching up on work? Making ramyun and grilled cheese and eating cereal at almost every meal because I can't work up the motivation to cook? Falling off the wagon on my calorie-tracking and not even wanting to try to get back on? That's depression. Situational depression, yes, thank goodness, which means that at some point it's going to have to end. But what an amazing moment of self-compassion to realize that all that stuff I'm not doing? It's not me, it's my situation. And I can fix that. I can get help to fix it. And it can end.

How grateful I am to know that my Heavenly Father loves me, because lately, that's just about all that's getting me through the day.

(For more on this topic, I suggest reading Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's talk, "Like a Broken Vessel". It's marvelous, and gives me a lot of hope and strength.)

Friday, February 14, 2014

In Honor of the Day

A few songs that describe my current relationship status in honor of Valentine's Day:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I Can Feel It Coming in the Air

In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins has been a favorite for a long time. There are a lot of reasons -- it's so singable, and the tune is so memorable, and maybe I heard it a lot growing up. 

Have you ever had that experience, when you knew something was going to happen? You're not sure when or what or why or how, but you know something's coming and it's going to change things -- if not everything? Maybe I'm biased because of Phil Collins, but it does feel almost like a change in the air. A strange feeling all along the skin, especially on my back and the back of my upper arms. I've been feeling that feeling, off and on and growing stronger, since November. 

The feeling has been so strong that it's forced me to think about some things. It's made me want to examine why things are the way they are in my life. I feel like things are changing, and I wanted something tangible to reflect that. I do a lot of things because I've always done them; I'm a creature of habit. That being said, looking back over the last year, I can see how I started subtlely changing even before this. I started wearing makeup regularly. I started trying to dress more like a graduate student. I bought new bedding. Last Saturday I went to Joann's, bought some gold craft paint, and painted a whole bunch of things gold. (Ever since I can remember I've been a staunch silver person, but in the last few months my taste began to change. I've finally realized that gold looks better with my skintone than silver does.) This last week I took off a bracelet (really a necklace wrapped around my wrist three times) I've been wearing since my sophomore year of high school. I bought a new CTR ring and tucked away my Korean one from my mission. Most seriously of all, I've actually, seriously considered putting away my comfort blanket for good. (That's still too big of a step, it seems. Maybe in a few more months.)

I'm not sure what is going to happen. Why I feel this way. Why I feel like I need to start making small changes right now (I'm still getting used to them). There are some other changes happening in my life, but I don't think now is the time to share them. I'll share when a few things have settled and I have more to report than vague, strange, and somewhat unsettling feelings. But I think the general consensus among all the various parts of my brain is that, while unsettling, yes, these changes feel good. Right. Like I'm more grounded and less anxious about where I'm going and how I'm going to get there. Let's hope this trend continues.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Winter Sunsets

Living up on the eastern slopes of the mountains, I'm regularly treated to some pretty spectacular sunsets. I wish I could capture them in all their glory, but I always fall short.

The frustrating thing about photography is that it's never as awesome in your lens as it is in person. Also, I'm still shooting on full auto. I'm not sure how to adjust my camera so I get a longer exposure and thus (hopefully) more saturated colors for shots like these.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Grown-up Clothes

"Dress to make yourself feel like who you are."
                                                       - Duncan Quinn (here at The Sartorialist)

I read that quote this morning. It could be taken two ways: 1) You know who you are and you dress like it because you're awesome that way and don't feel the need to hide or change that, or 2) You don't feel like who you are (...or are supposed to be) so you dress yourself so you do feel like who you are. I think I fall into the second category. 

...this picture notwithstanding. This was really posed and a tiny snapshot in time. Also, you can't see that underneath I'm wearing my pajamas t-shirt. 
As a newly-minted graduate student and a 27-year-old, I've been paying a lot more attention to "grown-up" clothes and fashion and style in general than I ever have before. I think I've avoided paying much attention to fashion and style because, let's face it, it makes me feel really insecure. If you're not trying, then when you look like a slob you can reassure yourself by saying, "Well, I'm not really trying. If I tried I'd look great. And besides, I'm so comfortable." When you try and you still look bad...well, that just hurts.

Still, being taken seriously as an adult with intelligent ideas is easier when you look the part - whether or not you feel the part. And so I've been making an effort to dress more like a graduate student...whatever that means. To me, ideally, that looks something like this:

All images from What Would a Nerd Wear, which I just discovered and is sadly no longer active.
Yeah, I never go to school dressed like that. I'd like to, though. But let's face it: I'm never going to wear heels to walk around campus. They're too uncomfortable. And I'm only just now warming up to wearing a skirt to church, let alone to school all day. Again, it's about comfort. And I hate shopping. Sadly, my head and my heart are on different fashion pages -- my head's all, "Get up and get ready! Don't you want to look cute and have people take you seriously?" and my heart's all, "Heck, I'm just gonna wear those baggy jeans and my hoodie. Who doesn't love hoodies?" It's a daily battle, one that I'm sad to admit usually ends in a negotiated cease-fire, rather than a victory for my head.

Most days I manage to not wear the baggy jeans and hoodie, which I am pretty proud of. About half the time I even make it out the door with eyeliner and mascara on, which whoa. That's a big deal. For my next stride forward in the fashion world, I think I'm going to need to learn to do something with my hair other than put it in a ponytail or a bun. Or at least learn how to make them cuter.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This is what I did today instead of homework

We got a bunch of snow today - judging from how much I shoveled off our walk, at least half a foot. Then again, I do live up against the mountains, so it's possible those down in the valley got less snow. I was generously gifted a camera last year for Christmas, and one of my New Year's "I'd like to do better" goals was to use it more.

Isn't it gorgeous?

I'll tell you what's not gorgeous: shoveling it. The upside to shoveling, though, is that it keeps you warm. After just a few minutes I took my hat and coat off and was clearing our walk in just a t-shirt and scarf. Have a few artsy shots of my neighbor's retaining wall.

The sun's starting to peak out from behind the clouds...

And I'll finish off with a shot of my boots, because they make me happy and keep my feet warm and dry. Dry, warm feet cannot be overrated, especially in the winter.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A little cone humor for you

A good friend of mine was back in town today, and we stopped at Aggie Ice Cream for some yummies. This gem greeted us at the counter.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

So...somehow, without quite meaning to, it's been several months since I've written an actual post for my blog. I could blame it on being in graduate school, but the truth is I was just lazy. That's true of a lot of things I don't get done, actually.

But here it is, a new year -- 2014! I'm pretty sure I'm still stuck somewhere about 2009, 'cause it blows my mind to think I'll be turning 28 (!!), I'll soon have a one-year-old niece (!!!), and my baby brother will join the ranks of the double-digit age club (!!!!) this year. Not to mention my parents are steadily working their way through their 50s. And who knows? Maybe I'll finally get a sister-in-law this year, too!

This is the traditional time for a few resolutions, made with passion and well-intentioned vows to change. I'm not such a huge fan of resolutions; I always end up loosing steam about two weeks into January, and then I just feel guilty. I'm not immune to the impulse, I'm just too cynical to make a (public) attempt. Instead, this year I made a list of twelve experiences -- one for each month of the year -- I want to have in 2014.

shoot a gun

go to the ballet

visit LA

go camping

attend the symphony

learn to cook some Korean food

organize a service activity

get a massage

rock climb

run a 5k

spend an afternoon at a museum / planetarium

hike to the top of a mountain

I must make sure to take copious pictures and blog about each of them. I also want to make sure to do each of these with someone, and not just do them for the sake of crossing them off my list. I want to do them to make memories and experience something new. Basically, I want to force myself to leave my house at least once a month so I have some semblance of a social life.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy October

Wow, I'm terrible about this blogging thing lately, huh? I keep telling myself I need to be more regular about it, but I guess I'm just being lazy. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy September!

It's the best month of the year. And not just because I was born in it. ^_~

There must be something about September 1st, because I moved into a new house exactly one year ago on September 1st, too. It's nice not to be homeless anymore.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Update

It's been more than a month since I've updated, possibly the longest time I've ever gone without writing on my blog since I started. The problem isn't that I haven't had enough to write about, but that I had too much. It's been a crazy, stressful month.

The first half of August I spent tying up loose ends at my jobs in Logan. There were a lot of things to do at my office job, in particular. We had to hire someone to replace me, and then she spent a few days with me learning the ropes. It never seems like you do a lot until you have to tell someone else all about what you do, and then you do way too much. My nannying job didn't require anything like that, but the little girl I'd been taking care of turned one the Monday of the last week I was there, and of course there's a lot of hullabaloo for that momentous birthday. (On a side note, it seems that one is the magic number for the kids I nanny, something akin to Cinderella's midnight curfew: the day after the first little boy I nannied turned one I left to move to Utah; just a week after the little girl I nannied turned one I moved to SLC.)

And there was that weekend -- the weekend before I moved -- that I got sick and puked my guts out every hour or so all night. That was fun.

About a week later, I moved down here to SLC with no place to live. A kind friend generously lent me the use of an empty room in her basement for a few weeks while I searched for a place to live, but come 1 September I would have to be in my own place. Needless to say, not having a plan or a permanent place to live -- not to mention living out of half-unpacked suitcases and boxes -- has been stressful. Add in going back to school and some fun hormones, and the latter half of August has been...interesting. I did find a place, though, and just in time -- I signed the lease to rent a room in a small house with three other girls yesterday morning.

To say it was a relief is a huge understatement. I found the place last Wednesday, but it wasn't until this Thursday morning that the landlord told me he'd decided to rent to me. The wait was interminable and nerve-wracking, especially since I wanted to live there so much. The house is located in a quiet family neighborhood just off a major road that goes past the university. It's got two bedrooms, a living room, a small bathroom, a small kitchen, and a small dining room upstairs and a laundry room, a small bathroom, and two bedrooms downstairs. It has a decently sized backyard (with a laundry line! I'm excited to hang my sheets out to dry) and a small front yard. All the other girls are RMs (returned missionaries), and all are about my age, going to school or working. I have one of the upstairs rooms, which is a real blessing. After living in basements intermittently over the last two and a half years, I've learned that basements are not a good place for me. I need good natural light to stay happy and positive. More details and pictures to follow when I actually move in.

And school. Graduate school. That started last Monday, the 26th. I even remembered to take the traditional first-day-of-school picture! Since no one was around to take it of me, I had to do it selfie style.

My schedule isn't very grueling. Because I'm a grad student, I only have to take nine hours to be full-time. Because I have the FLAS Fellowship, I'm not allowed to work. And because the Asian Studies MA program at the U is interdepartmental and very, very small (think seven people total), I'm taking all undergraduate classes for graduate credit. I also have a couple of Institute classes, but they don't require work outside class, and I'll be spending a few hours a week helping with a professor's research study for one of my classes. And I have no classes on Fridays.

My goal for this year is to treat graduate school like a job: up to campus by nine, and no going home until five. Hopefully this schedule will allow me to do all my work during those hours on campus and I won't have to bring anything home with me. That was the best part about working: once you're home, you're done. No homework, no papers, no readings. All your time is yours. I loved having guilt-free free time in the evenings, and I'm hoping to preserved that. Thus far I haven't done too great...but I'm working on it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Three Generations

Ever since I moved here two and a half years ago, I've been meaning to sit down with my grandparents and interview them on camera about their parents, their own lives, and my parents. Then both of my grandfathers died, and I lost that opportunity forever, something I still regret. The impending deadline of moving away for graduate school finally prompted me to action, and these last two Mondays I've taken my camera over to my mom's mother's house to interview her.

Last week didn't go too well, simply because I neglected to make sure my camera battery was charged. I still managed to get about twenty minutes of interview time, though, mostly about how my grandmother's parents met and a little bit about my great-grandparents. I had just started asking her about her mission when she began to feel ill and our session was cut short.

This week I remembered to charge my battery, and got some great stories about my grandma's mission, but halfway through my camera cut us off again. Not because of the battery this time, but because my memory card had run out of room! Thankfully I had my other card with me, but soon that, too was filled up. Not surprising, since I hadn't erased any of the pictures on either card since I got them for Christmas last year. Today I got more than a half an hour of interview footage. Next time I'll make sure my battery is fully charged and my cards are empty!

The three generations the title of the post refers to is the three generations of sister missionaries in my family: my grandmother, my mother, and me. When I realized that a few weeks ago I was so excited: what a wonderful tradition and heritage! Of course, I always knew my grandmother and my mother served missions, but I had never really processed how unusual that is. Up until last October, when President Monson lowered the age that sisters can serve from 21 to 19, sister missionaries made up a tiny percentage of the overall missionary force of the Church. Most women of my grandmother's generation in the Church didn't serve missions, and both my mother and I were far outnumbered by elders on our missions. I hope, though, that one day I'll be able to help add a fourth generation to that tradition, and that in my daughter's (or daughters'!) day there will be just as many sisters as there are elders.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Healing Hurts

My name is AnnMarie, and I'm a TV addict.

This is probably not news to any of you reading this, assuming that the set of all those reading this is a subset of the set of people I know. If I don't know you and you're reading this (how did you get here?), you might actually not know this. But that's beside the point. The point is: I'm a TV addict. I watch way too much TV and it's bad for my physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual health.

Like most addicts, I've been in denial about this for quite some time, but something I read tonight hit me hard enough that I finally couldn't rationalize my way out of it. Or rather, I could have, but I was finally humble enough not to. I finally admitted to myself that TV-watching is not just a casual hobby, that it's not not having an effect on my life and well-being, that it's actually keeping me from things that I want in the long term.

It's ridiculous to say that watching violence and immorality or hearing vulgar language and jokes on television has no effect on you. If you saw those things in person they'd affect you; why not if you see them on television? After I watch something violent or vulgar I always feel dragged down. My mood becomes dark and brooding, and the effects can linger for hours or sometimes even days. I'm not sure what science would conclude, but for me that's pretty compelling evidence. I have enough problems with depression, anxiety, and self-loathing from my wacky hormones, I don't need anything exacerbating the problem.

To quote something from the article I read tonight: "When we are not doing what we know we ought to be doing, and when we are not living the way we know we ought to live, we have a tendency to be unhappy." Well, I'm unhappy, and it's because I'm not doing what I know I should be doing, and I'm not living the way I know I should be living. My time is spent on "that which is of no worth . . . [and on] that which cannot satisfy" in the eternal world (2 Nephi 9:51).

What am I going to do with my new-found hours and hours of unspent time? I'm going to do family history. I'm going to learn to cook healthier food and actually sit down at my table, hopefully with a friend or two, to eat it. I'm going to attend the temple more often. I'm going to pray more sincerely, read my scriptures more diligently, and ponder the words of living prophets and apostles more carefully. I'm going to be more active. I'm going to cultivate and strengthen relationships. I'm going to go to bed earlier. I'm going to serve others.

It's going to be really hard. I know, because I've tried it before. And it was hard. And I eventually (sooner rather than later) fell back into my TV-watching habits. I want this time to be different. I want to be healthier, physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually, and I can't do that without removing this negative influence in my life. Obsession and addiction, in whatever form they may come in our lives -- harmful substances, people, activities, seemingly-innocuous foods -- are not healthy. They become crutches that hold us back instead of helping us move forward; they prop us up in our brokenness instead of helping us to heal. Have you ever healed from something? Healing hurts, but it's the only way to be whole, and I want to be whole and not broken.

I would love your encouragement and support. I don't need a watchdog to tell me how disappointed in me they are when I slip up, but I could use a few cheerleaders. If you volunteer I could bring brownies. ^_~