Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I'm going to Guatemala tomorrow.


At this point, I just need to go. My anxious brain gets so irrational when I am on the edge of a trip. Come on already. Let's just go.

The funny thing is that I know once I get down there, I will be okay. Or I will quickly figure out what I need to do to be okay. Before the trip, I don't have that luxury.

I really hate travel anxiety. It makes me sound ungrateful. I really do want to see so many places in this beautiful world of ours. I just wish I wasn't so terrified of the unknown.

I am actually doing okay right now. (Though this is probably due to the fact that we could get storms this evening; so I am obsessively checking the radar every hour or so to see the location of the storm path. So far. So good. I am beyond terrified of tornadoes). We'll see if this changes when I start packing tonight.

The good news in all of this hot anxiety mess, is that I am conscious of it and am actually make an effort to do something about it. The long term game is this: when I get home, I am going to go back to the doctor and see if I need my meds adjusted. I am also going to try and figure out different therapy options.

However, in the meanwhile, I have done the following things to help myself not freak out during the short term:

1. called my mom while lying on the living floor.

2. Did a Tara Stiles yoga routine before bed last night. (She has lots of 10 minute routines on YouTube. Super noncommittal. They're great, especially on work trips).

3. Downloaded a meditation app called "headspace." I do that right before I go to bed, or at least I have for the past 2 evenings.

I know. Meditation has always sounded weird and boring to me. But it's not that strange or hippy-dippy, I promise.

Really, it just helps me practice deep breathing methods (which are helpful for anxious moments) and forces my mind to stop obsessing. All of these things are really nice prior to bedtime. Plus, headspace has this 10-minute daily routine, which is also pretty noncommittal. (The only thing that sucks about this app is that you only get so much for free. Otherwise you have to pay. If I find it is helpful with my anxiety, I might have to look into it. I'll keep you updated).

I plan to do another tonight.

And then tomorrow I go to Guatemala!

Whoa, buddy, whoa.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Week Update: Easter, anxiety and how I can't stop talking about the weather

Happy Easter everyone!

Here is my view of life right now (as I lie on the couch looking up at the window). It really is quite lovely outside, but not truly lovely enough to be outside. (It's pretty windy and fairly chilly). Despite the sunshine, Levent and I had to cancel our Easter picnic (I figured was going to be a long shot for April 5th anyway) and stuck to eating chicken salad sandwiches and (glorious!) chips on the ground in my living room. Oh well. You can't win them all.

I am just so very ready for full force nice warm weather. (Notice how I didn't say hot here. I am not crazy. Summer can take it sweet time). I guess I am just trying to rush it a little bit.

Oh, but it's so tricky! After all, look how lovely this tree looks. It makes me want to go lie in the grass for the rest of my life… or at least a sunny afternoon. (I get restless pretty easily).

Again, I say, oh well. At least I got into my community garden plot this weekend and planted the rest of my spinach, lettuce and onions.
It's actually been crazy windy here the past couple of days. On Thursday night/Friday morning, Newton (the neighboring town) had up to 90mph gusts of wind! What in the world?!? I was pretty much obvious to it. The office was closed on Friday because of Good Friday and I pretty much stay in my house like a mole woman. (That's an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt reference. Stream it on Netflix immediately). So I didn't see very much of the damage (or didn't know it existed) until Levent took me out to eat at the new pizza place in Newton on Saturday evening. Even then, things were pretty much pulled together by that point, minus the old Alco building that looks like a giant smashed parts of it with a sled hammer and then kick pieces of sheet metal around). We don't take "rain checks" here, people; we take "wind checks," (which is exactly what we had to do with our picnic today).
Overall, it has not been the best of weeks. I think my anxiety medicine is not efficient anymore. As a result, I've had to use my additional medicine so I can calm the blank down. It really sucks. I hate feeling unbalanced. I know a lot of it has to do with the fact that I leave for Guatemala on Thursday. (Travel anxiety is my nemesis). But still, even if I didn't have that trip coming up, I think I would've still had similar melt downs (since some of this week were focuses more on work related things than traveling some place new).

Really, I am just ready to be in Guatemala. Usually my travel anxiety subsides when I arrive at my final destination. I am ready to get all of this behind me. I am also ready to come home so I can go to the doctor to figure out what the heck I should now.

Ay, Ay, Ay, what a week.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Week Update: Spring and other things

Definitely the highlight of this week was sharing a couple of days with my sister. (See my last Sister-City post). But there have been other good things as well, such as watching spring slowly come to Kansas.

Now that I realize I really shouldn't plant the rest of what I want to plant (with the exception of a couple of onion rows) until May, I have created some space to sit back and enjoy watching Kansas in the springtime. It is really quite lovely. The weather has been warmish, but not too warm. I am perfectly happy with the weather fluxing between 75 and 60. Keep it up, Kansas, keep it up.

I have not been living at this small little house (aka The Woods' Cottage) for a year yet. So I have not experience spring here. It's very interesting to see what kind of things spring up and where they decide to burst from the earth. (A little girl used to live in this house and apparently she (and her mom) planted a ton of random seeds everywhere. Since this house is heavily shaded, only a couple things are coming up and in super crazy spots). I can already see my hosta transplants starting to pop their little heads up. I wish them all the luck.
With all this warmer weather means that I am starting to open up the house. And Scout loves it… a little too much. Yesterday, when I was in the shower, she decided to make a break for it via bursting through the screen on the backdoor. It was probably a half hour before I realized she wasn't napping in any of her normal places. I basically freaked out. (Scout doesn't have a rabies shot yet nor does she have a collar. I also am terrified of her getting fleas because of a life scaring experience in South Africa where our gross kitten gave my teammate and I fleas for days). Thankfully, right after I texted Levent (of course), she came sneaking around the garage. But now she has outdoor fever so bad and I have bad anxiety about my cat running away. It's going to be an interesting spring/summer/fall.
 I go through food phases where all I want to eat is a particular food. (It is often potatoes). However, ever since I ate a crazed-sprinkled donut at my brother's house in Illinois, I could not wait until fate brought me another one. (And by that I mean I finally used my donut coupon that my financial advisor at Everence had sent me for my birthday last year). I am dreaming of getting a cake donut pan and of hundreds and thousands (of sprinkles) everywhere.
These past couple days (since Leah left) have been kind of stressful. Back in college when I would get really stressed, I would start to spill a ton of things. (It was always the joke with my roommate and me. I would spill things and she would start accidentally smashing her fingers in things). This week, I have managed to spill my entire 16oz cup of water on my lap at work as well as almost an entire can of chicken broth on to my very carpeted kitchen floor. What is going on?

Let me tell you. It's my OCD tendencies combined with budget things. I was talking with my friend Jill about our crazy schedules this summer all due to weddings very far from where we live. Oh man. It has been a real source of freak out in my life these couple of days. And I know something will work out, but in this moment, it does not feel that way.

All this to say, I am very grateful that I was able to go out with my co-workers to The Hill Bar and Grill in ICT on Friday night for "girls night." Moreover, Jill and I went and had coffee outside in the glorious weather at Mojo's Coffee Bar on Saturday afternoon. (I have a crazy necklace burn/tan line). My time with Jill especially helped curb my OCD/stress about travel plans as we joked that we wished those Southwest commercials were true. (There is one that features people who have to travel a lot for wedding season. Yes, that's us). We also talked about insurance for a long time. And then would make comments about how adult we were since we were sitting around talking about insurance. But the whole afternoon was definitely a week highlight.
Finally, I am happy to report that I tried another successful new recipe. Last night we had lamb burgers for dinner complete with a veggie relish (from onions, tomatoes and cucumbers) and a creamy feta spread. They were pretty good. And it was the first time I've ever tried cooking with lamb (after weeks of watching the meat section at Dillon's to see if the ground lamb would ever go on sale. It finally did!) The only critique we had is that we wanted to put more condiments on it, but we weren't sure what else to add. But it has already gone on the "keep" pile of recipe.
Anyway, here is yet another collection of random ramblings.

Here's to hoping that this week will be a good one and that my ODC won't get the most of me (especially as I think about going to Guatemala on the 9th). Here is to hoping that I can continue making space for myself to relax and watch spring fully show her colors.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sister-City 2015: Wichita

My sister and I have started this lose tradition of celebrating her birthday/using her Spring Break as a reason to do something awesome. It started 2 years ago when we went to Kansas City for her birthday. For whatever reason, we started referring it it as "Sister City." Now, that's just what it is. Last year, we were in Raleigh and to celebrate the 3rd annual Sister City, we headed to Wichita.

Compared to Kansas City and Raleigh, Wichita might seems pretty anti-climatic, and sure, it kind of is (especially since I live in this area). However, it made way more sense for Leah to come out to Kansas for her spring break . After all, the whole point of Sister City time is to be together. Why no Wichita? And we did somethings there that we had never done before, like to go a Spa and get makeup lessons. (Yes, that does sound like we are 8th grade but it was actually really fun). See. It totally counts. We also went shopping and went out to eat, first at our old favorite haunt, Tanya's Soup Kitchen, and a new place that our friend, Julie, raves about called Taste and See.
The "Before" picture
The "After" picture (and way better lighting)
Other Sister City highlights included watching episodes of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix while eating the angel food cake I made from scratch (what up!) and having brunch with her friends on Thursday morning.
Thanks Joy the Baker for teaching me your ways
I wish every week was Sister City time.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


March Madness.

Yep. It's that time of year is finally here. It's great, since I love the NCAA March Madness tournament so much. However, if we are talking about mental health, March Madness certain seems appropriate as well. It's been a rough weekend.

The thing is, this weekend had no reason to be a challenge one. My anxiety and OCD levels were just high and I was struggling to deal with it.

In hindsight, all the things that trigger my anxiety and what I get OCD about are beyond ridiculous. Case and point: yesterday, I made a ton of food in preparation for my sister coming. In all of my kitchen flurry, I managed to make a bad batch of raspberry cream cheese brownies. It completely ruined my entire day. (And poor Levent has to deal with my irrational obsessions). I could not get over it or stop thinking about it.

Example number two, I have a very weird/nervous relationship with gardening. It's supposed to be something I enjoy doing, right? Yes. But why then does it cause me such anxiety? I become obsessive about it. I literally have to give myself constant pep talks throughout the day, telling myself I am only going to do garden activity 1 and garden activity 2 today - and that's it. And that's fine. But I keep obsessing, thinking I need to be doing the whole thing RIGHT NOW. It's sunny outside and I put so much pressure on my to constantly be outside, even if what I really want to be doing is being inside baking or reading my book while sipping iced coffee. It's an endless cycle.

I feel like I failed yesterday. Not because of my kitchen blunders or my lack of planting, but because I let my anxiety get the best of me. I didn't do my breathing exercises; I just shoved my anxiety down and then it eventually came bursting out of me in the evening, driving me to my medication.

I really hate feeling crazy.

I am doing better today, for the most part. I decided bad brownies aren't the end of the world. (We can just scrap off the bad part. Besides, 1/2 priced milkshakes have started at Sonic after 8pm. Hooray summer). I also decided that I am not going to plant potatoes this year. If my garden is going to drive me to madness, I need to seriously cut back.

After I accepted these things today, my obsessions don't feel, well quite like obsessions. I even decided to go and get the rest of the dirt needed for my garden box and plant some lettuce and onions. Not because I felt an insane need to do so, but because I wanted to be outside and I wanted to move some dirt around for a couple of minute.

Next weekend, I will focus on my plot at the community garden, but wait until Good Friday (which I have off from work) to do any major gardening projects over there. I don't want to spend this entire spring being crazy and thus being miserable. This is my plan and I am sticking to it.

My sister once told me to "live in the moment" just like their dog Scooter. It is my hope that my garden can eventually become something that teaches me to do just that, instead of driving me to madness.

Here's to hoping.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Groceries and budgets

If you were to travel back to 1992 and ask 5 year old Anna (with a hair cut that is almost similar to that of a young Amish boy) what she wanted to do when she grew up, she would tell you that it was to work at a grocery store. The glory of the people who get to scan cans of beans and pack produce away into paper or plastic bags. That was the dream, I tell you. (And my poor Uncle can attest to how many times I made him play grocery store with me).

On some level, I still have that dream but now my destiny is conveniently fulfilled through the self-check out line. Thankfully, I can keep my salaried, day job. And generally speaking, I do like grocery stores, especially nice fancy ones (that I don't live by in rural Kansas). I've spent many happy moments grocery shopping with my sister.

But let me tell you, there is now a big part of me that now HATES grocery shopping. (Shhh.. Don't tell 5 year old Anna).

No matter how hard I try, I seem to be terrible at it. I plan ahead. I make lists. I check them twice. I stick to my list (more or less) and I still manager to forget a key ingredient and have to go back for it two days later. It's an endless cycle of being at Dillons. (I wonder at what point employees will start to recognize me).

What is even more frustrating is that no matter how hard I try each week, I have a problem keeping my grocery budget low. It's a tricky situation, since I want to live simply (and thus eat simply), but I also want to eat fresh foods (like fruit, which are pricey) and I love cooking new things. Things add up really quick, especially at Dillon's (which is my closest grocery option. It's also pretty pricey compared to some of the other chains out there). This isn't anything new, just the constant struggle.

For those of you who read my blog on a regular basis (Mom), you may know that I've started mentioned as the latest website on my blog-radar. The other day, I stumbled upon an article on the site: How a Food Budget Got Us Out of Debt (and Four Steps to Help you Create Your Own Budget. There are a lot of things on here that are pretty common sense as far as budgeting does (i.e. don't eat out, something I try to do only one time a week, which, to be fair, is super hard, especially as a single person). Everything on the list is pretty obtainable but has been pretty hard for me to maintain consistently.

What I found most fascinating about this article was the section that linked to what the USDA has found to be the national average. It's been interesting to compare my food budget with that document, (although challenging since I am a single female but I plan about 6-7 meals with my boyfriend each week).

The nice thing about being a member of a single household is that my food budget isn't completely ridged. Still, this year I've been trying really hard to dive into my budget, be consistent with it and know where I am every week in a month. Really, my food budget flux isn't going to make a ton of headway in my college loan debt, but every little bit helps. And if I can cultivate good (and healthy) food habits now, it will be easier when there are more in my household than just me and one grey cat with some serious spirit.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Week Update: Aunt-side in Illinois

This week's update comes not from the week, but from last weekend. I spent Friday through Monday hanging out in Illinois with my brother's family (and my mom) so I could meet my new little baby nephews, Abram and Luke, and help out a little bit.

I am not always the most maternal person. So when I met these brave little guys (who are just now 5lbs) I was too nervous to touch them. (Janice, my sister-in-law, had to instruct me how to pick them up out of their car sheet). They are so little! (And technically speaking, still have not yet hit their due date).

But, I found the aunt-side of me and the courage to pick them up, rock them, feed them, burp them, all that jazz. While this weekend highlighted that I am glad that I am not a mother, it was really great to meet these little humans and to hang out with family.

Besides the twins, other highlights included helping my niece Makaela with her "space suit" school project and watching my nephew play in his indoor soccer league.

I can't wait to see them all again when I am back in Illinois at the end of June.