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Love on Display

by A Lovely Neff

It Takes a Toll

This past week has been really tough.

On a typical day I get about six hours of activity before I am reduced to a lump of cells, sinew, and exhaustion watching YouTube videos in bed. But this week, oh this week, I have been waking with low spoons (read more about the Spoon Theory here) and I haven’t once made it out of the house with enough spoons to get through an entire day (which is already a modified I-get-maybe-six-hours-of-activity-per-day day).

I’ve been reading a lot of “What I Wish Others Knew About My Chronic Illness” type articles, but the truth is: I don’t have the energy to break it down to those around me. Not in the moment, at least. In the moment I can’t say “So, when you say [enter whatever here] to me, it makes me feel [whatever] and I’m already grappling with feeling [that thing] on a daily basis so if you could please just be more aware of that, it would help me not feel so [that].”

Everyone I know, myself included, who lives with a chronic illness already feels an immense amount of self-reproach. Whether it’s for the things we can’t do or the person we no longer are. We know. We agonize over it. We make ourselves sick agonizing over it. We push ourselves. We extend  lot of energy to be present in our daily lives. And then we spend days on end with a nasty flare up and more guilt. It’s super vicious and never ending.

The thing I wish people knew about my chronic illness is that I have a lot to work through every day and, for the most part, I get through it. It’s deeply exhausting and I don’t truly have the words to describe the toll it takes on me. I’m fighting, every day, just to stay on top of life. I want to mourn for the active person I used to be, but that doesn’t help me. Yeah, I used to be able to [insert stuff here], but I can’t any more. All I can do is accept that.

Help me accept who I am now. You can do it. I believe in you.

What I Wish I Had Known Before I Turned 13

The one thing I hope we can give our children are words for their emotions.

As an early childhood educator, I spent a lot of time building vocabulary with the pre-school crowd. We assigned words like happy, angry, and sad to the ways they felt about a situation. These developmentally appropriate words acted as a way to help them sort out their feelings. It taught children to ask for their needs to be met. It taught them how to treat others. It helped to build a foundation that begins with understanding, consent, and respect.

As a child grows, we should continue to provide context for the complexity and range of human emotions. When we attach words to feelings, we give them understanding. We reassign the power and give our children the language they need to talk about what they’re experiencing.

I was 11/12 when I first began experiencing depression. I don’t remember exactly when I finally had the word “depression” assigned to what I was going through, but I do know I had been experiencing it for years before I finally did. Could you image how different my life would have looked if I had been given the power of knowing that there was a word for what I was going through? And that I wasn’t alone in it? I felt alone and isolated and I didn’t have any way of talking to anyone around me.

Parents should be having tough conversations with their children; we live in a world that necessitates it. I know we often don’t realize how soon we should be having those conversations and we want to wait until we, as adults, feel it’s an appropriate time. But where this gets tricky is when it is a disservice to our children to continually try to shelter them because we don’t think they can handle to honest truth. We want them to be open and honest with us, but are we demonstrating that? Are we showing them how to be open and honest?

I have an 11-year-old now and I want her to have the words I didn’t. I want her to be able to talk about her feelings, all of them, openly. I don’t want her to fear them. I want her to have the power. I want her to have what she needs to be kind to herself and to be a kind human citizen to her peers.

Why Articles About Why OCD isn’t Cute are Not Cute

You’ve probably seen them; they’re everywhere. Honestly, just put “Why OCD isn’t cute” into a search engine, and you’ll find plenty of articles telling you about how egregious people are for saying “I’m so OCD” and how obsessive-compulsive disorder is real and awful. I get it, I do. The type of people who say “oh my glurb, I’m so OCD” are probably not suffering from OCD.

Except maybe they are? We assume that because one is not experiencing something in the same way that we experience it, they must not truly be experiencing that thing at all.

Before I wore my obsessive-compulsive disorder like a scratchy sweater, I didn’t have any clue that what I was going through was OCD. I had heard those words hurled at me by others, but I myself didn’t know that my “quirks” were actually a part of this very frustrating and often devastating illness. I wouldn’t know until the winter of 2013, when I began experiencing intrusive thoughts like none I had ever experienced. I honestly don’t want to go into the long list of my manifestations of the illness; I just want to say “hey, you know that person may really have OCD and their way of coping is by making it feel less burdensome” because I know I totally use lighthearted banter as a way of coping with…life, in general, but also because all of my illnesses are really effing hard.

I would eventually learn that me and OCD go way back. All the way back to my childhood. It doesn’t look like cleanliness or organization for me, but it very well could for someone else. I acknowledge that I would love to see an end to “You Might Be OCD If” type of articles because those really are not helpful or constructive.

Now that I have a name for what I am going through, I can be a better advocate for myself. And, honestly, that’s what I would like to see for others. We often feel so isolated that we forget we’re not an island; we do need help from each other. If you want to know more about obsessive-compulsive disorder, I urge you to read over this. Yes, only a trained therapist can diagnose OCD, but we don’t always have that as a resource, now do we?

 

I know, right?

An entire month. An entire month of silence. An entire month where I wanted to post, but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I blame the time-consuming winter quarter, the soul-crushing depression, and the hellish weather. The year, so far, has been crappy. There, I said it. Crappy.

So, what now?

Well, I really want people to share meal ideas with me. That’s why I’m posting now, after a month of nothing.

Truth be told, I don’t really enjoy cooking that much. It’s time-consuming, soul-crushing, and hellish (sticking to a theme for dramatic effect here). It’s just not a thing I enjoy unless I feel inspired. I want to feel inspired. Inspire me, people of the Internet. Preferably I’m looking for vegan dishes. I want tried-and-true recipes. I want to hear about your awesome meals that are super yummy and super uplifting.

Help a girl out. Please?

Excuses Schmxcuses

I know this dropped off. My intention was at least one post a week. I know you’re hurting because I haven’t posted. I’ll work on doing better.

School has kept me busy. Mostly my problem is that, between doing homework, I prioritize watching YouTube videos about tiny homes. The rest of my down time is spent dreaming about my future tiny home. So, my plate is just really full.

Here if my favorite tiny home thus far:

 

Ana White is so smart about the features and space she’s working with. More often than not, tiny house design features become redundant. We get it: the space is small, so you’ve added a lot of hidden storage and a drop table. How original. Ana White, on the otherhand is all “here is this design, plus the 500 other ways this is useful.” I dig that. I would live in her tiny homes. I would live in all of them.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

Veganish

Buffalo chickpea tacos with cabbage, grilled onions, cilantro, and ranch dressing on a corn tortilla. #vegan #glutenfree #lunch

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Prior to winter break, I passed a large kidney stone. This wasn’t my first kidney stone rodeo, but I am trying to make it my last. I have good ole genetics fighting me on this one, as relatives on both sides of my immediate family suffered from frequent stones. I also have strokes and heart attacks to look forward to. I truly won the genetics lottery. Yay!

In an effort to keep my body from making these painful calcium deposits for me, I made the decision to move into a plant-based protein diet. You’ll recognize that by it’s more common name: veganism.

However, veganism is an entire way of being. It isn’t just abstaining from consuming (in all definitions of the word) animals and animal products. A huge component of veganism is the lifestyle. While I am shifting into making more conscious purchases, where I know animals have not been directly harmed, I don’t believe there is such a thing as cruelty free under capitalism and imperialism. I know that the global impact of animal and human cruelty doesn’t begin or end with my purchase of cosmetics with the little bunny logo.

But, I also don’t need or want to be complicit in the exploitation of animal, humans, and resources. Rowan Ellis, a YouTube vlogger, has a great video about the truth of cruelty free makeup. I suggest you give it a watch:

Now, back to my diet; which I am sure everyone is on the edge of their seat about. It is believed that my stones are forming as a result of too much animal protein in my diet. While I have been eating a mostly pescetarian diet for quite some time now, it’s still too much with milk and eggs being a huge source of protein. So, I have made a decision to cut out the majority of animal products from my diet. I am giving honey the clear and I haven’t completely pulled out products containing trace amounts of dairy.

Ultimately my plan is to eliminate all the dairy, move to pull out the majority of soy, then do away with refined sugar (this will be the hardest tbh).

I know that talking about one’s diet is cliché and no one cares to hear people talking about their diet. I’m going to do it anyway. You’re welcome.

Feelings and Whatnots

I have to admit: I’ve had a pretty difficult time getting in school-mode since winter quarter began. Any of the excitement I had at the beginning of spring quarter or fall quarter last year, is completely non-existent. I want to stomp my feet and exclaim “I don’t wanna!” — Which I assume is usually reserved for those at the end of their schooling, not just three quarters into it.

That being said, I haven’t really done much with my time, except lament about how I could be using it to get my homework done (instead of waiting until the 11th hour). I meet with a student support adviser tomorrow to discuss these general feels of “meh” but I’m almost certain I will get a canned response that includes a series of key words that are not quite as inspiring and motivating as they’ve been trained to believe.

Hearing anything about prioritizing my school work or staying on task really isn’t going to help this time.

The Gifts That Keep on Giving.

Say hello to my little spider plant.

A post shared by ❣️ Love on Display ❣️ (@alovelyneff) on

For Christmas, my mother-in-law sent us an Amazon gift card. I love gifts of all shapes and sizes, but gift cards really are my favorite gifts of all. I think it takes the pressure off of the gifter, and I will never understand a giftee who bemoans the gift of unfettered money.

The moment I received noticed of the gift card, I knew exactly what I wanted to add to my shopping cart: things that would make my pictures better. Specifically, items that would turn my phone into a better-than-what-I-have-come-to-expect picture taking machine. Our apartment is tucked away, and doesn’t get any natural light. So, up to this point, my pictures were all dark and yellow (eventually I plan to replace yucky yellow bulbs with not-yellow bulbs but I have to wait for them to die).

My order included a selfie light, an octopus tripod, and a lense attachment. Today the light and tripod came in. Which I immediately tested by sending my BFF some incredible selfies, and later by taking a picture in the room where I take pictures the most: the kitchen. My spider plant isn’t really loving this cold snap, but I love that it’s hanging on.

I also love how pretty it posed for its picture.

Goodbye, Winter Break.

Today is the last day of winter break, both for my kiddo and myself. Tomorrow I ease back into my work study position, and Winter Quarter starts on Wednesday. I have truly enjoyed doing very little these past two weeks.

But, as the day goes on, my mind races with all the possibilities. Will this quarter go as smoothly as last quarter? Do I want to continue past spring quarter? Should I set a goal to make the dean’s list again (humble brag)? What do I want to do with this blog, really? Should I try to do a bullet journal again this quarter? What should I make for dinner? I should clean the house, thoroughly, before our days get hectic again. If I want to bullet journal again, I’ll need to buy another journal. But, really, this blog? What do I want out of it? How often should I post? Is there such a thing as posting too much? Am I posting too much on social media? Should I take a break? Maybe I should really start doing yoga. But I don’t like yoga? Should I download a relaxation app? Did kiddo leave me any chocolate chips?

So on, and so forth. Over and over.

I want to make things happen, this much I know. How to arrange all these things coherently in my mind grapes leaves me feeling a bit ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (that’s a real emotion, don’t look it up). I know these next few weeks will be a bit chaotic, and I want to give proper room for that chaos. I don’t want to over-commit. I don’t want to under-commit. I want everything to exist perfectly.

Have I mention how changes in my routine and schedule really mess with me at first? Well, there, I mentioned it. You’re welcome.

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