Monday, February 8, 2021

Let's Skip Valentine's Day

Our 21st wedding anniversary is coming up here in the next week. I'm going to be a little tiny bit vulnerable and say that I'm feeling pretty meh about it. We've been married for 21 years on Valentine's day and the hubs has to work. He actually chose to prioritize work over our 20th wedding anniversary last year and, maybe stupidly, I'm still feeling so salty about that. A year later, I feel incredibly small that, given the chance to take a vacation day to spend our 20th anniversary with me, he chose work. To be fair, there're a lot of reasons he had to chose work, logically I understand it, but in my heart I'm a little bit broken about it and think I might always be. How many times do you get a 20th anniversary? It's a milestone.

This year, the struggle is inside me. My self-worth is at an all time low and in the last few months, we've suffered some immense personal loses. My anxiety is so high I can hardly function many days and I can't sleep. I'm extremely depressed. All of that together makes me feel completely useless and I feel like my husband must feel the same way. He's not the most communicative person, he doesn't really answer my texts, which in turn makes me completely certain that he's angry with me. Since there's no reason that he should be, I know the problem is with me.

I want to go to therapy, but I don't yet have medical insurance and, even when we get that worked out with my husband's job (since I left mine), it won't pay for therapy until we meet our deductible. Which, I'm sorry, is absurd. He makes too much to qualify for any sort of assistance, but we have bills, so we can't afford to pay for it out of pocket. The whole thing is ridiculous, but sadly, it puts me in a really unpleasant position. I can hardly function, but I can't get help.

Compound that with the fact that marriage is hard and I'm feeling so ugly on the inside lately. All that ugliness is making it hard to enjoy anything fun, like an upcoming wedding anniversary. Add to that that we can't really go anywhere because, you know, pandemic, and I'm less than enthused about it. Maybe as we get closer my feelings will change? Maybe something will happen that lift my spirits? As much as I adore my husband, for now I'm really feeling like it might be okay to skip Valentine's day this year.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

I'm Not a Stitcher... am I?

I'm struggling with a bit of insomnia. I lay awake next to my husband and stare at the ceiling, toss and turn, and struggle to get my mind to shut the fuck up. I'm also being eaten alive by anxiety. Worried about absolutely everything, even especially things I can't control. So, I scroll social media in the middle of the night. I know this won't help me sleep, but it gives my brain something to focus on. 

While doing this song and dance the other night, I made the spontaneous decision to take on a stitching project someone was talking about on one of my Facebook craft groups. Um, I don't stitch, I diamond paint. Cross stitching has never been able to hold my interest, so I'm not really clear what I was thinking when I bought a pattern for a temperature cross stitch on Etsy. 

Here's the thing, stitching has too many moving parts for me. It's too messy. The chaos of constantly changing colors, counting those tiny little squares, making sure all my stitches are going the same direction, and having little loose pieces of thread everywhere triggers my anxiety. This seems kind of silly, since diamond painting isn't all that different, but diamond painting feels more manageable. And frankly, I suck at stitching. It's something I can do, but not something I do very well. No matter how hard I try, it always looks so messy.

I had plenty of chances to learn to be a good stitcher. My dad's only sister, my Aunt Pam, is an avid cross stitcher. She constantly made us cross stitched gifts. She made other things, like crocheted blankets and porcelain dolls, but cross stitch was always her first love. She tried to teach me to stitch many times, without much success. I remember vividly that we had this yellow gingham fabric in the garage, with big white and yellow squares, that she used the first time she was trying to teach me the basics.

Then, when I was in my early 20s, I did a few small cross stitch kits, but I never finished them, instead losing interest when they were half done. In the last few years, I worked on a stitch project from Subversive Cross Stitch and just about finished it, but the anxiety of having to count the stitches to finish the little flowers on the top and bottom of the project have stopped my progress. I'm a little bit of a lost cause where stitching is concerned.

So, at like 2am, I bought this temperature cross stitch pattern (cross stitching a 5x5 square each day in a color corresponding to the highest temperature that day, look it up) and decided to give it a go. When I woke up the next morning, I realized pretty quickly that I have no idea how to put together the materials for a cross stitch that didn't come in a kit. Kits have everything, patterns are just instructions. It didn't say exactly what size and count aida I would need, it didn't tell me what size needle to buy, though it did say what size the finished project would be. My sister, Candi, is a stitcher like my Aunt Pam, so she helped me figure it out and I got started yesterday. 

It took two false starts to actually get going. The first one, I had too many strands of floss and it looked kind of... quilty. The second time the strands were right but... I didn't follow the damn pattern, so I just had a square of stitches. Fantastic. On the third start, after ripping out the stitches twice, I managed to get it right. Since I decided to go back to January and start at the beginning of the year, I'm a little bit behind, but there's no rush. The weird thing is, now that I've gotten going, I'm actually having a pretty good time with it. If I actually complete this project this year, I'm going to start calling myself a stitcher.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Lots of Cleaning...

Since I'm not working right now, I'm spending my days trying to really clean my house. This is turning out to be a huge chore, way bigger than I expected, but I feel like I should be doing something productive since I'm not punching a clock. Turns out my house is a level of deeply dirty that's got me running non-stop trying to scrub it down. On the surface, it doesn't seem that dirty, but everywhere I look there's something I've been neglecting for the last few years. And, let's be honest, living with animals can be gross.

Doing all this cleaning, it's really hit home how lonely things can be without animals. In the 21 years we've been together, we've had four furbabies--Chummer (1999-2005), Galileo (2004-2019), Anakin (2005-2021), and Chewbacca (2011-2020). Our last furbaby, a 15 1/2 year old Shih-tzu, Ani, crossed the rainbow bridge two weeks ago. So, it's just us now and I think I have a little bit of empty nest syndrome. Do you think it's possible to have empty nest syndrome over animals? Heh, yeah. Animals can't talk to you, but their presence really fills up a space and you have to care for them each day. And, those beasts were my babies.

It's going to be a long time before everything is actually completely clean and until our house feels whole again. Since my husband will be off for a week, I won't have a ton of time to clean during that time, so I'm trying to get as much done as I can while he's working. It helps me to be less lonely when I'm busy, even if it's just around the house. Hilariously, the hubs doesn't even really notice (or care) if the house is clean. But, I want him to have a clean place to live and, honestly, I want to pull my weight while I'm not bringing in income. Wish me luck getting it all clean... I'm going to need it.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

RIP Ani

On January 14th we sent our sweet baby, Anakin, over the rainbow bridge to be with his brothers. We've never had to put an animal down before and it was the hardest thing we've ever had to do. He was always an ornery little guy, but was so sweet, too. In his last years he developed cognitive impairment and went blind. At the end of his life, he struggled with pain. We knew it was time to let him go, however much that hurt us.

Five months to the day after losing Chewbi, we let Ani go. He was 15 1/2 years old. We miss you and love you, little guy, rest well. ♥

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

One Year Veganniversary!!

We've been vegan for one year! Our vegan anniversary was some time in late December; I wish I'd tracked the exact day. The most amazing part is that this is the first time we've succeeded making a substantial change to our eating habits and improve our health. Best of all, it's become almost effortless on a day-to-day basis. To celebrate our milestone and because it's Veganuary, I wanted to share some things I wish I'd known when we started down this road in December 2019.
  1. It's not as hard as you think it will be. We always hear "Wow, I could never do that." Heck, I used to say I could never do it. I once had a supervisor who was vegan and I was absolutely amazed by her. Now, I get it. While making any life change isn't easy, it's not nearly as difficult as you think it will be. You will learn, grow, and it will get easier.
  2. You don't have to eat anything weird, unless you want to. This is a big one. My immediate response to many of the recipes on Pinterest was "oh, hell no." I wasn't interested in eating chickpeas and kale. I didn't want to make lentil meatloaf, seitan, or eat tofu. The good news is, it's absolutely possible to make many of the foods you already eat vegan.
  3. Try something new, you might like it. I know I just said you don't have to eat anything weird, but the time will come when you're going to want to try something different or eat some of these "vegan foods." Chickpeas actually taste really good, if you make them correctly. I particularly like the chickpea salad sandwich (faux tuna or egg salad sandwiches). I just got brave enough to make seitan and wish I had sooner. My husband doesn't like mushrooms, but he loved the Portobello mushroom steaks I made for dinner once. Many vegan foods are delicious, once you can get past how different it is from the way you might already be eating. You never know unless you try.
  4. Vegan dairy alternatives are ridiculously good. So many people don't want to go vegan because they can't give up cheese or ice cream. Vegan cheese has come a long way, is so much healthier than dairy cheeses, and tastes good. Vegan ice cream is crazy good! My favorites are So Delicious, Daiya, and Magnum also makes dairy-free ice cream bars.
  5. It's okay if you're not perfect. If you accidently, or even on purpose, eat something that's not vegan it's not the end of the world. But, you may find that your tastes have changed and you don't love it as much as you used to. There've been a couple of times that we accidently ate something that wasn't vegan. We learned and moved on. You can't un-eat it, so don't stress. Being vegan is about intention, not perfection. 
This really is a great time to be vegan because it's ridiculously easy now. Even 10 years ago, being vegan was so much more work than it is now. I love how simple it is to look for a new recipe on Pinterest, the vegan blogs, and how many vegan cookbooks there are with completely practical recipes. And there are so many great vegan foods there are out there now. Almost every single dairy product has a vegan alternative, vegan meat alternatives are mostly delicious, and most pastas are vegan. And, of course, fruits and veggies are always vegan! 

But, the most important take-away is this... THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO BE A VEGAN. There is no one right reason to be a vegan. Whatever your way or reason is, it's the right one. If you're doing it for the animals, amazing! If you're doing it for your health, fantastic!

There are so many people with so many opinions about the right way to be a vegan, the right reasons to be vegan, the right things to eat as a vegan. People will say not to eat meat alternatives and judge those who do, or they will say that eating processed foods is wrong. So, one more time... there is no right way to be a vegan. Tell those judgy people to shut the f*ck up and do your own thing. Your life will be so much happier and being vegan will be so much easier.

Please know this is not in anyway a sponsored post, but I do I believe in what Veganuary is doing. So, please check them out and, if it strikes your fancy, give it a shot this January!