Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dealing with Stress

I know that I post a lot of things on Facebook about how to deal with stress and live a happier life, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I ALWAYS take my own advice and have a perfectly happy stress-free life. I struggle when it comes to managing my own stress and trying to make my life happier. 

Sometimes I get into these awful funks. Not all the time, but every once in a while. 

And when I get into a funk it's sort of like a domino effect. I'm feeling bad so I think of EVERY possible bad thing in my life and I get really, really, really depressed and angry and it's simply not good. 

Now, I don't understand why I think of everything bad because it really isn't healthy. 

When this happens I think of the quote: Dying is easy, comedy is hard. 

This is so true. It's easy to be bummed out and harder to see the good in everything, especially in crappy situations, but we really just have to try. 

This one biker dude in my yoga class said something quite profound that I will never forget, he said: 
Depressed people are depressed because they think too much. 

When I get depressed, that's exactly the reason why... I just think too much. 
And my thoughts generally involve all things past and future, but not so much in the present. 
I never really think about what I can take care of TODAY. 

When I get depressed I think about all the things I missed out while I was in and out of the hospital; like for example: my brother is in high school right now and he goes to various dances and that's great. I'm really happy for him and all, but when I look at his prom photos or just recently his homecoming pictures I start feeling really down because I didn't get to go to those events. I was in too much physical pain. The day of my senior prom I was actually in the hospital getting a second back surgery. And honestly that bums me out. And I start mourning my lost childhood in a sense I guess. 
Then there's the opposite side of the spectrum: the future. I worry way too much about the future. I worry that I won't make a difference in the world, which I realize is like a ridiculous thing to worry about, but nevertheless it's something I worry about. Sometimes I worry that my book will never get published, that my book is a stupid piece of crap that I wasted five years of my life on; I worry that I'll never get married, that I'll end up being a 40-year-old virgin librarian with like 7.5 cats; I worry about doing well in college and paying for college; I worry that I will get cancer or brutally murdered (I know, morbid); I worry about getting a future job that I both love and will allow me to be financially stable, etc. 
As you can see... I worry a lot. 

But as you can see, none of this really has anything to do with the present. Nothing in here is really something I can do about now, at this present moment in time. 

So, why then, don't I just focus on the things I can change and do something about now? 
Good question. 
Just writing this post out is making me feel better all ready. It's making me see just how ridiculous my worrying really is. 

Well, this is something I am still working on. I'm still working on centering myself in the present, to make sure that I live in every moment of my life because when I think about the scary/disappointing memories from the past or the terrifying blankness and question-marked filled future I kind of lose myself and forget what I need to get done now and if I don't get it done now then it just adds to my worries, which is not good. 

So, here is what I like to do when I stress out. 
I clean. 
I do laundry and tidy up my workspace. 
There is a saying that goes: Outer order contributes to inner calm
I believe this to be true. Now that I've cleaned up a bit, I feel much calmer. More in the moment. More centered. 

This was sort of a rant that I needed to get out, but I certainly hope there is something in here that you can benefit from. 

Be conscious of what you worry about. Is it the past? Is it the future? Or is it something you can focus on and change in the present? 
Remember to compartmentalize stuff. Figure out what you need to get done today. Focus your thoughts on today. Sure you can think about the future, but try to focus more on the present because I truly think we're (or certainly I'M) not doing this as much as we need to. 

Blog to you later!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

J.K. Rowling on Q

I really, really enjoyed this interview with two of my favorite people: Jian Ghomeshi and J.K. Rowling.
This is about her new book "The Casual Vacancy."

Blog to you later!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting Pumped for the Day!

Ashley and I at Silver Falls Creek Park
This past weekend I went to Utah and I was only there for a little over 24 hours. My cousin, Ashley, is serving a mission for the Church of Latter-Day Saints in Honolulu, Hawaii and I wanted to say goodbye to her before she left for 18 months. Man on man, am I going to miss her. Whenever something really exciting happens in my life I will call her and we normally end up talking for hours. She's more than a cousin to me; she's my best friend and feels like my sister. Now, I am just going to have to write her a bunch whenever I need to tell her something... like as in letters. Yep, old-schooling it. Hahaha. I'm sad about this, but I'm also really, really excited for her and just know that she is going to have an amazing experience. When I hugged her goodbye I started crying and this surprised me. I, honestly, didn't expect to cry.

Anyhow. That's just an update on my life, what I really wanted to share with you today was this video my cousins Ashley and Jessica showed me.

Here it is:

I think if more people did this every day the world would be a better off place. I know that I am going to do this more. Even when I'm feeling down. ESPECIALLY when I am feeling down. I'm just going to be SUPER obnoxiously happy and list off all the awesome things in my life like this little girl.
You should give it a try too. It's actually kind of fun!

Blog to you later!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Cheesy Smiling Actually Helps

Great, great, great book! 
After reading Gretchen Rubin's "The Happiness Project" I have been looking up different ways to help boost my happiness. I want to share one of these tips I learned recently and that has actually helped me out during the past couple of weeks.

Warning: This tip is kind of cheesy. (And I don't mean this in the literal sense, although, pizza sure does sound delicious right now.)

I read in a magazine somewhere, and I can't remember where (so, sorry about that), that when you're feeling down you should smile as widely as you possibly can for at-least thirty Mississippi seconds and you'll feel WAY better! The actual act of smiling promotes good happy feelings and smiling as widely as you possibly can for half a minute actually helps out a lot. 

Now, sometimes I'm in a terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE mood and simply just don't want to do this because I think it's dumb, but then I force myself and it really does work. Like, I'll be driving my in car, angry and/or frustrated, and I make myself do this. I smile super widely and count One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississippi... and I honestly do feel better. 

Yep. Like this. 
Now, it doesn't completely wipe out the bad feelings, but it definitely lessens them. And then I usually end up laughing at the ridiculous expression on my face (which I can't see, but I can certainly imagine) and that also makes me feel lighter. Better. Happier. 

Try it out. 
I dare you. 

Blog to you later!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stress Relief Factors

After my second back surgery I went through therapy, but like a really, really, really intense therapy program. I saw about five doctors four times a week for six weeks. I had two physical therapists (a pool one and a non-pool one, haha), an occupational therapist, my regular doctor, and this pain management guy who injected bee venom around my back scars twice a week (fun stuff, right?).

But today, I really wanted to talk about my occupational therapist because her lessons come up in my life everyday. She helped me out with stuff like stress management.

Stress is inevitable, it's part of life, but how we manage it makes all the difference to our happiness.

My occupational therapist gave me this list of stress relief factors that might come in handy for you, so I thought I'd just list them here in my blog. I've definitely found them to be beneficial and I hope you do too.

  1. Establish routines when possible. 
  2. Remember that a vacation doesn't always mean relaxation. 
  3. If possible, avoid or minimize other changes during periods of massive change. 
  4. Practice time management and set priorities. 
  5. Avoid overloading situations (learn to say no).
  6. Divide responsibility (among peers, subordinates and significant others).
  7. Reduce the task into easier, more manageable parts. 
  8. Build a social support system. 
  9. Accept the fact that you will fail from time-to-time in the tasks you are working on. 
  10. Plan ahead to avoid potentially stressful situations. 
  11. Find relaxing activities that are not overly complex or competitive. 
  12. Remember that boredom does not equal relaxation. 
  13. Avoid exposure to noise. 
  14. Verbalize your positive qualities--honk your on horn. 
  15. Accept compliments. 
  16. Practice assertiveness--read a book on the subject. 
  17. Practice concentration. 
  18. Learn about stress. 
  19. Listen to your body. It is a reliable warning system. 
  20. Some people may need to learn how to set realistic goals. 
  21. Find a new hobby or interest that is totally different from your present lifestyle. 
  22. Exercise--best safety valve and reduces depression. 
  23. Make a daily program to improve health. 
  24. Plan for pleasant events on your monthly calendar. 
  25. Take your time when you get up. Avoid rushing around. Try to get some quiet time for yourself
  26. Practice different relaxation techniques and use them. 
  27. Find out what time of the day you are most alert. 

Blog to you later!



Question: What has writing taught me?
Answer: Persistence.

persistence |pərˈsistəns|


firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition companies must have patience and persistence, but the rewards are there.

It takes discipline to write a novel. You have to keep writing on it in order to finish it. (Duh!) You have to keep editing it in order to have it completely edited. (Duh!) And you have to keep sending out queries in order to get a literary agent so that one day that novel of your's will get published.

It's all about pushing forward.

As Dory the fish so elegantly puts it: Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, swim.

Here is my favorite quote on persistence.
Isaac Asimov: "You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success--but only if you persist."

This quote is written on a yellow notecard and is taped to my wall, right above my laptop. I read it every day and live by it.

Every time I get a rejection letter back from a literary agent I send a couple more queries out. But I don't just focus on that novel that I want to get published, I work on something else too. I work on short stories for Chicken Soup for the Soul and novel #2.

I know I will get my book published one day, but the only way that's going to happen is if I keep on persisting.

Blog to you later!


Friday, October 5, 2012

101 Bits of Happiness

When times are tough, it's important to think of all the little things in life that make you happy. Here is a list I came up with today of  the 101 little things in life that make me happy.
  1. Gas tank in car = Full. 
  2. Toilet paper roll = thick. 
  3. People humming.
  4. When someone smiles at me. 
  5. Not having pain when I go to bed. 
  6. Getting a goodnight's sleep. 
  7. Keeping up a clean room. 
  8. Taking a hot shower. 
  9. Washing my face. 
  10. Brushing my teeth. 
  11. Eating oatmeal with sunflower seeds, honey, and frozen blueberries in the morning. 
  12. Listening to my favorite song on the radio. 
  13. Singing along to my favorite song on the radio. 
  14. Drinking macha green tea with honey and warm soy milk. 
  15. Doing yoga. 
  16. Walking my dog. 
  17. Walking with my pal Erika. 
  18. Going to the movies with my dad and brother.  
  19. Having a yummy home-cooked meal with my family. 
  20. Getting along with my brother. 
  21. Laughing with my brother. 
  22. Reading. 
  23. Scribbling down good passages from books I've read. 
  24. Writing on my novel. 
  25. Editing my novel.  
  26. Blogging. 
  27. Listening to Delaney Plant's CD of French Children's Music. 
  28. Making movies. 
  29. Traveling. 
  30. Trimming my nails. 
  31. Brushing my hair. 
  32. Smelling the blackberry bushes and pine trees. 
  33. Feeding my horses. 
  34. Petting my cat. 
  35. Watching The Office. 
  36. Watching Dexter. 
  37. Watching Arrested Development. 
  38. Swimming. 
  39. Watching Disney movies. 
  40. Jotting down hilarious and/or thoughtful real-life quotes throughout the day. 
  41. Sending a random text-message of kindness: Have a great day today and may the odds be ever in your favor!
  42. Getting psyched out about the Hunger Games films with Laura and Otto. 
  43. Laughing. 
  44. Going to the beach. 
  45. Snowboarding. 
  46. Crepes!
  47. Accomplishing a tough task. 
  48. Driving. 
  49. Hugging. 
  50. Listening. 
  51. Not coughing, sneezing, or hiccuping. Just breathing. 
  52. Not having pimples! 
  53. Every day that I'm not on my period.
  54. Being told that I'm loved. 
  55. Telling someone I love them. 
  56. Wearing my pajamas. 
  57. Journaling. 
  58. Going one day without pain. 
  59. Being told thank you. 
  60. Saying thank you. 
  61. Getting my homework done before 9pm. 
  62. Rocking out in the shower. 
  63. Posting positive things on Facebook. 
  64. Making birthday cards. 
  65. Knowing that someone appreciated my birthday card. 
  66. Eating Chinese food. 
  67. Eating Mexican food. 
  68. Eating in general...
  69. Getting together with my friends. 
  70. Being weird. 
  71. Getting to the bathroom before self-destructing. 
  72. No line in the girls bathroom. 
  73. Having a Goodreads reading goal. 
  74. Drawing cows. 
  75. Drawing dinosaurs. 
  76. Sketching horses. 
  77. Neighing like a horse. 
  78. Skipping. 
  79. Popping my ear. 
  80. Weirding people out by popping my ear. 
  81. Asking someone: How are you?
  82. Wearing clean underwear. 
  83. Looking at pictures of Switzerland. 
  84. Listening to the rain. 
  85. Watching the sunset.
  86. Watching the sunrise. 
  87. Listening to my kitty purrrrrrrrrrrr.
  88. Donating things I don't need to Goodwill. 
  89. Donating blood (after it's done). 
  90. Listening to NPR. 
  91. Listening to Jian Ghomeshi on Q radio. 
  92. Learning something new. 
  93. Drinking lemonade.
  94. Wearing sunglasses. 
  95. Understanding different religions. 
  96. Collecting great quotes from famous people. 
  97. Doing laundry. 
  98. Vacuuming my room. 
  99. Being productive. 
  100. Burying myself into a warm mountain of clean clothes that have just come out of the dryer. 
  101. Listening to the wind chimes. 
Blog to you later!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Just Say Hi

I'll be honest... sometimes I'm rather hesitant about speaking first when meeting someone new. I'll see a person in the hallway at school, waiting on a class just like me, and they've kind of got this poker face going on. When I see that I just assume they don't want to be bothered. So I think: Amanda, don't speak to them. Just let them be.  

But then I try to consciously figure out how my facial expression is composed and most of the time I've either got A.) a poker face or B.) a mean or perturbed sort of mask on. And when I really think about it, I know that I'm really neither of those things in the inside. I want to socialize. I want to be asked how I'm doing today, so maybe this person sitting across the hallway from me does too.

So then I take a deep breath and go for it.

Amanda: How are you doing? (See, I don't understand what the big deal of that question is?)
And EVERY time I happily question that person, they smile, and normally we end up delving into a GREAT conversation.

Because after I've asked how they're doing, I ask what class they're waiting for, and after that I'll ask what they're career plans are and why they're passionate about that particular subject.

I LOVE asking people what they're passionate about and how they developed that passion. I get such interesting stories out of people.

Like the other day I learned that this young woman I sat across from wanted to go into Early Childhood Development because she knew that so much of what happens to your younger-self greatly affects your older-self today. She had an INCREDIBLE story to tell. She was a twin and her twin actually died in the womb. Her mom got a huge blood clot and almost died. She wanted to have her tubes tied, but couldn't since she was not yet 21. This young woman was later abused by her step-dad as a kid and was later put into foster care where she wasn't treated well. At a young age, she helped take care of her younger sister by getting a job during high school so that she could provide her with the nutrition and clothing she wasn't receiving. She almost committed suicide, but her older sister beat her to it. She saw how that affected her entire family and decided against it. She, instead, chose to help other children in need.

I thought this was incredibly brave of her.
I told her that I truly admired her strength.

And guess what?

Had I not asked her the simple question of "How are you today?" I never would have learned this about her.

I think it's important to learn from those around us, to be inspired and to aspire the desire to inspire others, but we can't do this unless we speak up and say one simple word: Hi.

Blog to you later!