Thursday, March 29, 2012

40 Things That Make Me Happy

I've had a pretty rough week. No need to go into why because it's just a lot of small things that have happened on top of other annoyances and blah blah blah. It just hasn't been the best week and even though I try to always look for the good in things and find that silver lining, and generally succeed, sometimes it's hard to just keep being optimistic. So, I like to make lists of things that make me happy sometimes when I'm not in the best spirits. I don't exactly know why it does but it generally makes me feel a little better to make random lists of things that bring me joy. Which is what this post will be about. :) I'm going to see if I can get to 40.

Things That Make Me Happy:

  • Hockey. (Some days it makes me feel murderrageface but I still love it.)
  • Warm showers.
  • Music.
  • Hugs.
  • Long walks.
  • Trips to the art museum.
  • Text messages.
  • Dancing.
  • Ice cream.
  • Sketching.
  • Sunshine and cool breezes.
  • Books.
  • Paintball.
  • Comic books/graphic novels.
  • Racing go-karts.
  • Batman anything.
  • Sleeping in.
  • Cooking and baking.
  • Writing.
  • Laying in bed watching movies with Shane all day.
  • Thunderstorms.
  • Baseball.
  • Going to concerts.
  • Lazy Sundays.
  • Puppies.
  • Watching my little brother play hockey.
  • Hanging out with my siblings.
  • Doctor Who.
  • Bubbles.
  • Going to the driving range.
  • Coffee.
  • Long conversations with lots of laughing.
  • Forehead kisses.
  • Disney movies. (Aladdin is my favorite, in case you were curious. ;))
  • Ice skating.
  • Shoulder & back massages.
  • Pixar movies.
  • Swimming.
  • Playing board games.
  • Sunday brunch with friends.

That's 40!

Also, in doing this, I finally realized why this list thing I do helps me feel better. It helps remind me about all the things in life I have to be happy about. I have so many interests and hobbies. There's just so much about life that I enjoy seeing and doing. Making lists of those things reminds me that I have a lot I enjoy and a lot that makes me smile. Which makes bad days seem less awful because I know I have things to look forward to. Plus, I just really like making lists, haha. :)

Happy Thursday!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Self-examination of the mental variety...

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about a few things. Of course, I won't go into detail about what exactly those things are. Not yet anyway. That would make for a really long blog post and it would also likely be rather chaotic and wouldn't make much sense.

I've always been fascinated by the human brain and psychology, even before I really knew what either was. Your mind is such a beautiful, complicated thing. It also has the capacity to be a raging nightmare. Especially when you let things creep in and humor thoughts and ideas you know you probably shouldn't. It's a funny thing how so many thoughts and feelings people have that are harmful to themselves could be avoided by just not playing "what if" with oneself. Yet, people do it all the time anyway. Sometimes, letting something go is easy. Other times, it's harder to accept something for what it is. So, you poke and prod at it. Sometimes that makes it better and sometimes it makes it worse. Clarity and peace of mind versus chaos and confusion.

It's weird how a single event can change so much about the way you think and react to things. Of course, something traumatic happens to you and people tell you to expect changes. To expect things to be different. No one can tell you what that means because it's different for everyone. So you have this feeling of uncertainty surrounding you all the time, wondering what it is that will change because even you don't know right away. Sure, there are immediate things you notice. But then there's more. Then there's things that just happen slowly and you see them differently, react differently, contemplate them in new ways you hadn't before. And truly, that's not always a good thing.

Sometimes I wonder about why certain things happen to people. Is it some sort of personal test for them? Is it one of those cruel lessons that hurts but needed to be learned anyway? Is it to show them how much they can handle or how easily they could break? Or maybe just pure bad luck? I have issue with that because I believe in karma but I don't necessarily believe in luck. I always just think of luck, good or bad, as the result of karma more so than something that exists on it's own, freely.

In the end, I wonder if it's less about the events that happen to us and more about the way we react to them. The way we cope. The event itself has it's role to play, certainly. Everything in this world has it's own role to play. I think sometimes the more important thing to focus on is how you feel after an event and how you plan to counter. Not necessarily meaning revenge or anything like that, either. How you plan to counter the effects of the event. Life is full of actions and reactions. A lot of the actions people have no control over because shit just happens sometimes. Reactions, you can almost always be in control of, however.

Which lead me to thinking about some of the stuff I've been going through lately and my own reactions. I'm in kind of a weird place right now, both physically in this point in my life and in my head space. There's so much going on and I understand so little of it. And lately, I don't care much to try and figure any of it out. Which is so unlike me that it's scary. It wasn't until today that I realized how little I've cared to contemplate anything going on and that realization struck me hard. It was strange. I don't know why I've become complacent because that's something I've never been. I don't know why I've elected to just ignore things. Not in hopes that they'll go away but just because I'd apparently rather ignore them then deal with them. Which is also very unlike me. I've given up on some things and stopped caring about other things. Things I shouldn't give up on stop caring about. I've let some things get me down more than I should have.

So, now that I've taken off my own blinders to the person I've been here lately, I know I have some work to do and know I need to stop ignoring things because this version of myself? It's not me and I really don't like her very much. Though, outwardly I'm sure most people haven't noticed a difference because most of what's been different hasn't really effected my personality too much. It's more internal than that and since none of you (thankfully for you) live or even get to visit inside my head, I'm fairly confident there's very little differences outwardly.

Anyway, enough of that. This post was more for me to just clear my head a little and put it out there to, in a way, make myself more accountable for the things I need to work on within myself. Though, If anyone did read all of that, thank you. ;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring, birthday, apple juice, Safe House, books, etc...

  • I'm excited for warmer weather. Ready to put the hoodies away and bust out my flip-flops. Also, I'm ready for some swimming and wakeboarding this summer. Not to mention baseball and hopefully at least one trip to a beach somewhere. Maybe for my birthday since it's on a weekend this year! :D
  • I, for some reason, randomly crave root beer from time to time. It has to be from a bottle and I only really like Maine Foot or IBC. Most grocery stores don't sell Maine Root so I only pick it up when I'm at Whole Foods or Central Market and in the mood for it. I was at Whole Foods last night and saw the root beer. I was more interested in getting some apple juice. I got some organic apple juice and some organic honeycrisp apple juice. If you've never had a honeycrisp apple, you're totally missing out, they're delicious. I have to buy organic apple juice because any kind (and trust me, I've tried tons of brands) made from a concentrate makes me have a weird reaction if I drink more than two ounces at a time.
  • I hate cotton candy. I don't like the taste, it's too sweet and even the smell makes me gag a little.
  • A nice, long shower is one of the best ways to kill a little bit of stress. It doesn't melt it all away but it does nicely at removing a layer or two. Or maybe it's all the singing I tend to do in the shower that de-stresses me. Or a combination of the shower and the rocking out. Whatever, it's awesome and I smell great afterward.
  • The boyfriend and I went and saw Safe House on Sunday evening after my brother's hockey game, lunch with the family and several hours in IKEA. Safe House wasn't bad. The plot's pretty weak but there's a ton of action in it to make up for that. All the explosions and fighting scenes were pretty awesome and kept me entertained through the whole movie.
  • I tried warm milk the other night for the first time. Guess what? It was not my favorite thing or anywhere close to it. I also didn't feel any more relaxed or ready to go to sleep. I'll be sticking to some warm tea when I get the urge for a warm beverage at night.
  • I honestly don't care what most people think of me. I care more about how I feel about myself at the end of the day than what other people think of me. I wish more people felt that way. It drives me crazy watching people drive themselves crazy trying to please other people, fit in, worrying about how other people will see them, changing their views, being afraid to speak their mind, etc etc etc. If more people worried about being happy and confident in themselves instead, they would be a lot better off. In my opinion anyway.
  • I love books more than I love most other things. I could (and do) spend hours happily reading some days. One problem I have? If I get really into a book, I speed through it and then get sad because I'm done with the book in a day or two. Some books are just so great you can't put them down!
  • I made these a few days ago. It's the first time in a long time that I've made cupcake for myself and the boyfriend and not for someone else because I was being paid to do so. I ate one and now I'm pretty much done with them, lol. So now I'm making Shane take half of them to work with him tomorrow. Which is also kind of useful for me since a good handful of my customers are his co-workers, haha. :D
And I will end this post on this note.....

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Recipe: Cookies and cream cupcakes in a cone...

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes!

I posted pictures of these to Tumblr and I had a lot of people wanting to know how to make them once I explained what they were. So, I decided I'd do a blog post about it.

I made these the other day. A friend of mine was having her birthday celebration dinner with her family and instead of buying a birthday cake, I was requested to make them a cake. When I inquired about what my friend would prefer, she went through tons of options and went back and forth on what she wanted. She has a big sweet tooth and was also being considerate towards what her family would like as well. So after almost an hour of her indecision, I suggested making a couple different varieties of cupcakes instead of just having a single cake. She contemplated that and then perked up quickly. She had remembered me mentioning making cupcakes in ice cream cones and asked me if I could do that. Sure I can but that still didn't help me out on the flavor of cake to use.

So after more thought and indecision, she finally decided, after checking with family members, that cookies and cream cupcakes would be the way to go. I was secretly happy she settled on one cake flavor, too.

While doing multiple flavors wouldn't have been difficult as long as she kept them simple, it's less work this way and I didn't have much free time to work into doing her birthday cupcakes for her.

These are really fun to make! You can do so many different things with them, too.

For hers, I did a vanilla cupcake with plenty of crushed Oreo cookies folded in.

I wanted the icing to taste as close to the cream centers of an Oreo cookie as possible. I did a rather successful job of that, too! According to her and her family anyway. Also I had a few extras that I sent home with my mom last night for my younger sister. She was rather pleased as well.

Then I topped half of them with more crushed Oreo cookies and left the other half topping free, as requested by the birthday girl.

To make these, all you need is some ice cream cones, cupcake batter and frosting. I make all my cupcakes and frosting from scratch but I'm quite positive boxed mix and canned frosting will do just fine if you don't have the time or inclination to make them from scratch.

Once you have your cupcake batter done, spoon it into the ice cream cones until they're 2/3 full. Sit the cones into a muffin/cupcake pan and then bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Of course time varies based on your oven. Just keep an eye on them and make sure not to over cook them. Cool completely then frost and decorate however you want to.

Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dallas Stars, family stuff & on I ramble...

My dad moved back from California. He got back to Texas yesterday, UHAUL hauling all his belongings (and some of mine, my mom's and my siblings belongings from YEARS AGO) and his truck. Now I can see him more than just a few days out of the year. He moved to California 8 years ago and I've had a couple of brief stints with living out there but never for very long. My other younger brother is now the only person in my family still living out there.

The Stars won in regulation against the Canucks. They won all three games on their Canadian road trip and they've had a hell of a run the last couple of weeks. They're first place in the Pacific Division and 3rd place in the Western Conference currently. I hope they keep this going. It's been far too long since I was last able to go to a Stars playoff game. ;)

I need to find someone new to go to Stars games with me. I usually just go with the boyfriend but there are times he has work and can't go. Then there are times like tomorrow where his work gets a suite for the game and he gets to go with them. And I can't go since I don't work for the awesome company that he works for and it's one of their "bonding/togetherness" things they're trying to work on doing more of to help the teamwork aspect come together more. The other 3 people who were my game buddies have all moved in various directions that are too far to take in Stars games anymore in the last few months. Although, I could just go to a game by myself once in a while. I might try that Thursday and see how that goes. I do plenty of other stuff by myself and don't give it a second thought, so why not this? We'll see.

I got my menu finished for that whole business thing I've got going on for me lately. Which is also why if you follow my Twitter or Tumblr, you may have noticed an increased amount of food pictures. And I don't even post pictures of everything I make! I'm not eating all of that or just making it for fun. It's a little side project now but it's growing into something more slowly and I'm getting excited about it the more work I get to do with it. I love baking and love being creative with things I make. And to be able to make some extra cash doing something I really enjoy is awesome. Of course, it will be more awesome once that goes from an extra cash thing to a full on income thing. Which is what I'm working toward. It's a lot of work but I'm quite determined. :)

This passed weekend, my youngest brother had hockey games on Saturday, Sunday and Monday night. His team won all three. Saturday they won 7-2, Sunday they shut out one of the best teams in their league 5-0 and Monday night they beat the best team in their league 4-2. They've been playing so well lately and it's great to see how much their confidence grows after each game. It's also cool seeing them all so happy after so many good games lately considering the horrible start they had to their season. I'm also proud of my brother for being so dedicated to his sport. I have so much fun watching him play and I enjoy seeing him do something that makes him happy. Also, I just really love hockey. Though watching him play does make me miss playing myself, haha.

In further boring news, I found a way that successfully gets rid of my hiccups. I always have to just let them run their course most of the time because nothing usually works for me. Which is annoying because for some reason, hiccups are really painful for me. I found that holding my nose and slowly drinking about 5 or 6 ounces of water without stopping or pausing does the trick. So you know, if you've never tried that and nothing else works, give it a shot. I don't understand why having
involuntary esophageal contraction of the diaphragm is even a necessary thing people have to deal with. And yes, I did want to write about hiccups in part just so I could use the word "esophageal" because I like that word and rarely get to use it. So, there. I also wanted to share my hiccup trick in attempt to possibly be helpful, though. ;)

Boobs are awesome.

Some people's inability to be punctual to anything, ever, drives me fucking crazy. I HATE being late and always feel like an asshole when I do show up late to something without an actual good reason for it. I rarely show up anywhere late but that's beside the point. How hard is it to be a few minutes early or right on time? It's not. I get when it's something you can't control like a flat tire, having to stay late at work, really bad traffic, blah blah blah. But people who are just late all the time? KNOCK IT THE FUCK OFF. It's rude. And annoying.

Sometimes I like to throw random sentences in to see if people are paying attention. However, those statements are usually true. As true as someone's opinion can be, anyway. ;)

I've rambled on enough now. I feel like I cleared some real estate up which I'm sure won't last long before more thoughts and random junk move in to take up residence. I think way too much sometimes. Though writing does always help when I'm feeling anxious and can't sleep because my mind seems too full. If that makes sense. Anyway.... :)

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

National Self-Injury Awareness Day

March 1st is National Self-Injury Awareness Day. This is a subject I feel deeply about as I have a lot of personal experience with it. In this post, the only things I will be talking about is Self-Harm Awareness and my own personal experiences with it. The first half of the post is mostly information and awareness on self-harm, the second half is where things get personal. It's a really long post but please take the time to read it. Self-harm is a more serious issue than people tend to realize and isn't something that should be taken lightly or treated as if it were just a minor annoyance instead of an actual problem that needs to be addressed.

From the American Self-Harm Information Clearinghouse:

"Approximately 1% of the United States population uses physical self-injury as a way of dealing with overwhelming feelings or situations, often using it to speak when no words will come. Despite the fact that self-injury is far from rare, myths and misunderstanding surround this psychological ailment -- mistaken ideas that often result in self-harmers being treated badly by police, doctors, therapists, and emergency room personnel.

Self-harm scares people. The behavior can be disturbing and difficult to understand, and it is often treated in a simplistic or sensational manner by the press. As a result, friends and loved ones of people who self-injure often feel frightened, isolated, and helpless. Sometimes they resort to demands or ultimatums as a way of trying to regain some control over the situation, only to see things deteriorate further.

The first step toward coping with self-injurious behavior is education: bringing reliable information about who self-injures, why they do it, and how they can learn to stop to people who self-injure and to their friends, loved ones, and medical caregivers. ASHIC was founded to meet this need for honest, accurate information.

In response to society's mistaken ideas about self-harm, the American Self-Harm Information Clearinghouse was created to educate and inform medical and mental health professionals, the media, and the general public, sorting myth from fact and explaining what is known about self-harm. One of ASHIC's major projects is National Self-Injury Awareness Day. In this grassroots effort, people across the country and the world whose lives have been affected by self-injury deliver fact sheets, reports, and brochures to those who make decisions about the treatment of those who self-harm."

I wrote a blog post back in December on glamorizing self-harm (here) and in that post I also touch a little on my own history with self-harm.

I used to cut. A lot. It's kind of funny how open I am about it now considering when I cut, I went to so much trouble to keep the marks hidden and keep anyone from finding out. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about self-harm and the people who use it.

  • Self- harm is a failed suicide attempt.
  • People who self-harm are looking for attention or pity from others.
  • Self-harm is just a manipulation tool.
  • Only deeply depressed people self-harm.
  • Only teenagers self-harm.
  • Only "emo" or "goth" kids self-harm.
  • People only self-harm while high or drunk.
  • Only people with a drug/alcohol problem self-harm.
  • Only people who are psychotic self-harm.
  • Cutting is the only way people self-harm.
  • People who self-harm want to die.
I think y'all get the idea. The fact is, there are a lot of reasons people self harm.
  • Temporary relief and/or distraction from emotional pain, overwhelming/intense negative feelings, panic, anxiety, etc.
  • Punishment. For what? Depends on the person. I used to have a friend who cut himself every time he smoked a cigarette after he had said he was quitting. Whenever he slipped up and had one, he cut as a way to punish himself. He's been cigarette free for 3 years now but hasn't cut in 5.
  • Expression of thoughts or feelings in which the person cutting doesn't understand or can't verbally express.
  • Some use it as a coping mechanism for things they can't or won't talk about it.
  • Some people do use it for expression of their issues in hopes that it will get some one's attention, possibly to seek out help or support that they may be unable to bring themselves to ask for.
  • To feel something instead of just feeling numb.
  • And sadly, there are some people who do it for the wrong reasons. Such as just to get attention from any and everyone, because they think it's cool, because people they know are doing it, because it's been grossly glamorized, etc.
It's a personal thing and most cases where the person isn't doing it to act out or get attention, there are plenty or reasons that are driving them to physically inflict pain and hurt themselves. It's different for everyone from the reasons they do it to what they get out of it. It's more complex than most people realize and it is a serious problem.

When I used to self-harm, I cut. I usually used a small, sharp kitchen knife but a razor blade would do the trick if I wasn't around a knife or wasn't able to go get one. It took me a while before I realized I could just buy a small pocket knife and hide that so I wouldn't have to use razorblades and wouldn't have to worry about sneaking to the kitchen for a knife and then cleaning and sterilizing it once I was done with it. I mostly cut on my thighs so no one would see them and sometimes on my stomach and upper arms. Anywhere I could keep hidden in regular clothes worked best for me when I was cutting because I didn't want anyone to see what I was doing. I wanted what I got out of it without having anyone know because I knew it wasn't healthy and wasn't good for me to be doing. I knew if people saw the cuts and the scars they would question how it happened because it's not fun, cute, silly, romantic, sweet, pretty or anything other than ugly, dangerous and harmful. I also knew if I cut where people could see, I'd end up making excuses for how I got the mark on my skin and it wouldn't take long for someone to realize I wasn't having as many mishaps as I was saying. So, I kept it all hidden the best that I could. My ex-boyfriend Luke saw them but he also cut and had issues with depression so he didn't judge me or freak out about them.

From Studies have suggested that when people who self-injure get emotionally overwhelmed, an act of self-harm brings their levels of psychological and physiological tension back to a bearable baseline level almost immediately. In other words, they feel a strong uncomfortable emotion, don't know how to handle it (indeed, often do not have a name for it), and know that hurting themselves will reduce the emotional discomfort extremely quickly. They may still feel bad afterward but they don't have that panicky jittery trapped feeling.

That's pretty accurate. It can be calming, albeit a horrible way of getting yourself calm but it's true. It's a very fast fix. The fix isn't a real fix, it's similar to someone who uses drugs or alcohol to cope actually. As someone who used to use drugs as well as cutting to help cope with depression, anxiety, etc; I understand perfectly well that you're not really fixing anything. You're just making it feel better for the moment and then it sucks again later. Then you do your quick temporary fix that feels so good in that moment and for a little while. Then you're back to it not being better again so you keep going back for more. It's a vicious cycle.

It's also just easier to focus on and deal with physical pain than it is to deal with emotional pain or trauma sometimes. It's like an escape in a way. You can live in that moment in the pain and that's all you feel. That's the same as using it as a distraction, though. It doesn't last.

I self-harmed for several reasons. Sometimes it was because I just felt numb and wanted to feel something. Sometimes I was just so overwhelmed with painful thoughts and negative emotion that I sought out relief through self-harm. Sometimes it was about control. Because I hurt so much and was in such a bad place and I didn't know what to do or how to fix it. I couldn't control how I felt and couldn't find a solution. I could control the cutting though and that gave me a calming effect and the illusion that I still had some control over something, that I wasn't just completely out of control in every aspect of my life.

I finally decided one day that I was sick of being miserable. I was sick of being a mess. I was sick of hurting myself. I was sick of self-medicating with drugs. I was just sick of the person I had let myself become by not dealing with things and by letting my problems and issues own me. I can't remember for the life of me what it was that made me snap and say, "that's it, I've had enough." I stopped using drugs and stopped cutting. I struggled with both but I was determined I was going to become a better person and be happy.

When I was in an armed robbery the first time I lived in Northern CA, that set my progress back a little bit. I was having nightmares a lot after that happened. Having a gun held to the back of your head and another aimed at the side of your head with a group of guys in masks screaming at you and threatening your life will do that to a person. I was afraid to seek help for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after that, so I didn't. I started having panic attacks because every little thing freaked me out the first few weeks. The nightmares were horrible and caused me more panic and anxiety. I was angry at myself for handing it so poorly. I thought I should have been stronger than that, should have not let it get to me as badly as it did. I started cutting again for a while after that because it was the only thing I knew to do to help relieve some of the overwhelming feelings and tension I was facing. I stopped cutting again after a few months. I went through this downward spiral again after that where I drank way too much, started taking pain killers when I didn't need them and then I'd cut once in a while when everything got to be too much.

I was 23 the last time I cut. I'll be 27 this June.
Shane was amazingly helpful as I went through this. We've been together almost 6 years now and knew each other for a year before we started dating. I was open with him about it and if he saw a scar or mark on me, I'd be honest and say that I'd cut. He never yelled or got angry, he'd just be upset. And that hurt more than if he had just been angry and yelled. I'd want to cut and then end up sitting in the floor in tears, crying because I didn't know what else to do because everything hurt so much but I didn't want to cut. I got to a point where I'd just talk to Shane whenever I wanted to cut. I've always had a problem being able to talk to people about my emotions and feelings. I hate feeling vulnerable so I keep a lot of stuff inside. Sometimes it didn't help but most of the time, it did. He understood. He'd also dealt with depression and some other issues before I'd met him. He wasn't judgmental, he didn't try to force me into getting help, he didn't yell, he didn't talk down to me, he just listened and together, we worked through it. Then I started talking about it after a while, with other people who had some similar issues and gone through similar things I had gone through. It sounds cheesy but all that soul searching ended up being very healing.

I used to think going for 3 or 4 days without self-harm was a good thing. When I'd go for weeks at a time before crashing again, I'd lie to myself and say I had it under control more and that it wasn't as big of an issue anymore. Which wasn't true. It doesn't matter if you do it every day, once a week or just a few times a month.

I haven't cut in almost 4 years now and I don't even have the urges to do so anymore. Back when I was going through this, I felt desperate at times, like there would never be a time where I wouldn't need to cut to feel better.

I know it's hard to get help but please, don't be afraid to. The hardest part is admitting you have a problem and then having the courage to ask for help in getting through it. There are people out there that can help, that won't judge you and won't treat you like an attention starved person without any real problems. You can even seek help online. There are chat rooms, message boards and online support groups to help. There are some great resources out there. Reaching out for help is a scary thing but just know that you can get help if you want to from somewhere.

Some links for self-harm information, support, etc: Scar, TheSite, Recover Your Life, Facts about Self-Injury, Help Guide: Cutting and Self-Harm, S.A.F.E. Alternatives, Self Harm

If you think someone in your life is self-harming, please, talk to them. It doesn't hurt to ask if you think you have even the slightest inclination to be worried about someone in your life. You never know what the people in your life might be silently going through and an awkward question might mean more than you could ever realize.