Monday, April 16, 2018

Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome - Katrina Roets - Mental Health Matters
Image Courtesy of iamwire.com
Do you know about impostor syndrome? Impostor syndrome is a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure, even though evidence shows that you’re skilled and quite successful. It's something that every single one of us suffers from at one point or another. It's something that I'm dealing with right now when it comes to my writing.

I have a couple of friends who text me multiple times a week to ask me a question about writing, editing, or even publishing. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why they'd ask me. What do I know about it? Someone recently pointed out that I'd helped write 2 novels, wrote a filler novella length "journal" and all three of them are available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. Even then, I shrugged and said, "Yeah, well that was mostly Nick. He wrote the original books and he did all the work to get them up on Amazon."  It doesn't seem to matter that it was pointed out that I did a ton of work on the books to correct and improve things or how much time I've put in studying how to properly do these things. I just can't seem to feel like anything but a fraud when it comes to my writing and what I do/don't know. 

So, what do you do when you're struggling with this? According to The Muse, there are some steps that we can all take. I'm going to post them here, but please click the link above if you'd like more information on any of them.

  • Identify what's shaking your confidence.
  • Tell someone about it.
  • Remind yourself of your achievements.
  • Remind yourself that you didn't get to where you are on accident. 
    • I tweaked this one since for me my impostor syndrome isn't specifically related to a job.
  • Take a risk and keep going.
  • Take a look at your language and update it. 
  • Write down your story as if it's an introductory bio for someone to read.
  • Mentor someone else.
  • Know that impostor syndrome is actually a sign that you're doing something right.
What's shaking my confidence? The fact that I haven't written a single word on book 3 in about 6 weeks. That's a really long time and it's gotten to the point where I've become afraid I'll never be able to find the words again. Somehow telling all of you about this helps. I've been living under this cloud of guilt and impostor syndrome and telling you lifted some of that weight off of my shoulders. 

That's steps 1 and 2. I guess answering texts is a bit like mentoring people, right? I'm going to add another step that isn't listed above. Breathe. Don't be afraid to stop and take a few deep breathes. It's so easy to get overwhelmed. Now, I think I'll get brave and open that file....even if I don't write a single word, it's a step in the right direction...




Sunday, April 8, 2018

My Brain Feels Full

Bipolar Brain - Katrina Roets - Welcoming Weight Loss
Image Courtesy of RD.com
I'm going to warn y'all that it's late on a Sunday night and I haven't had near enough sleep for probably the past couple of weeks. This could turn into the most ridiculous, rambling post ever or it could turn out okay. Nobody will know until I write it and y'all read it. So...here we go.

My brain feels full and I might know why. A few weeks ago something happened that has become life changing for me. I'm not good with life changing but this is a change that has to happen because to stay in the situation would be beyond toxic for me. Still, my instinct is to just stay put. I'm fighting with myself which means that nothing is getting done. I haven't written a word in that time. I've started and stopped numerous house projects. None of them have been completed. I look around the house and I'm frustrated to see things half done or things that were half done are now more like a quarter done.

My brain feels full and yet under the exhaustion and "stuffed brain", there's this tiny, flickering flame that says, "It's okay. You can do it. Just pick something and do it. It's not going to be easy, but you can do this." I want to listen to that voice but I think there's also a fear. If I finish the project that I really and truly should finish, it will mean that life changing thing happens. It means that what feels like my one "solid" connection to someone I care deeply about will be severed. It means taking huge steps of faith...faith in myself. It means me doing more than telling a few people that I can do this. It means actually doing it. It means trusting in myself enough to conquer my fears or at least face them.

I know that it's why I flit from project to project around here, never finishing any of them. I know it's why I even start other projects when I know what I should be doing. I'm procrastinating facing my fears and trying to move past them. Tomorrow is my only day this week where I don't have to go anywhere and will I work on the project? No. Instead, I'm going to finish another half finished project. I'm going to do my weekly Monday work. Then, I'm going to take some deep breathes and look at the upcoming calendar. I need to try to formulate some kind of plan. Maybe if I break it down into "unscary" chunks, I can start taking those steps.

For now though, I'm hoping that I can balance my emotional self. I feel almost like an onion with all its layers (No, I'm not an ogre, I promise!). On the surface, I feel almost manic and that really won't help right now. I'm already sleep deprived. Under that is a solid level of anxiety, then depression, and somewhere deep down, there is a tiny germ of excitement. I need to peel back those layers and find my way to the excitement and make that work for me.  I know that what's coming is a lot of work but the theory is that I'm smart and capable and the only thing standing in my way.  I need to learn to put all of the garbage into a trash can and out to the curb so that I can take those steps forward.

I can do this. One tiny step at a time, one tiny project at a time, I can do this. If you feel stuck and like your brain is full, I know that you can do the thing you need to do too. It's hard but not impossible. Deep breathes and small steps and we'll get there.


Monday, March 26, 2018

Back to Basics

Image courtesy of M Corp
Hi all! I hope everyone has been doing well. I've been a bit up and down lately but that's par for the course. I did have a huge upset last week though and that's the "inspiration" for this post.

A couple of weeks ago, my coolant temperature light came on while I was taking my youngest to a performance. We were right by the venue, so I parked and when we drove home, it didn't happen. In fact, it didn't happen for another two weeks. This time, however, it happened driving home and then again the following day. I stopped and added coolant. A week later (my car wasn't driven during that time), I took my car up to the mechanic who told me to make an appointment at another shop to have a dye test run on the system. Fast forward to Tuesday of the following week when the dye test showed that I had a badly blown head gasket. Cost to repair? $2000.

If you know me, you can only imagine my emotional and mental state after hearing that. Money and being without a car are major panic issues for me. I called my own mechanic and he said that I should scrap the car. It had 183k miles on it and it just wasn't worth the investment. While my brain agreed, the rest of me was freaking out. I have to have a car. You can't live where I do without one. The closest grocery store is at least 15 miles away.

After doing some research, the decision was made to replace the car. I sat in my HHR and I cried. I loved that car. I also get very emotionally attached to things like cars. I don't know why. It's just how I am. We spoke to the guy who owns the shop where I go for repairs and he said he had two cars available that he'd be willing to finance for me: a Dodge Caliber and a Chevy Aveo. I was interested in the Caliber and decided to go down and look at it. Just before I pulled out of the driveway, I got a phone call. They had taken the Caliber down to be washed and smoke came out of the dash. It was obviously no longer available. That left me with two choices: hope and pray that I could keep driving the HHR and not end up stranded on the side of the road somewhere or get the Aveo.

I now own the Aveo. I now own a car so far back in the dark ages of vehicle technology that the windows have hand cranks on them. There's no cruise control or electric locks. It is going back to basics.

It got me to thinking though. Maybe, at different points in our lives, we need to go back to basics. We get so wrapped up in so many things that it becomes overwhelming. Maybe if we stopped, took a few deep breathes, and went back to the basics of life, it would be better for us. Recently, I've started taking weekends to not work on work. I hang out with my kids and if they aren't here, I read a book (or two or three) or watch movies that I keep meaning to watch but "never have the time for." It isn't about neglecting anything, but about making sure that I have as much energy and gumption to handle the coming week as possible.

I hate the fact that basic has taken on the almost opposite meaning in today's culture. Listen, folks, I'm all about being basic right now and it has nothing to do with the latest Starbucks drink (though I do like to have a bit of adventure and try them out) or whatever else is mainstream at the moment. It's all about dialing it back, about not pushing myself to the breaking point, it's about taking care of me and taking care of mine.

Have you considered going back to basics at all? Let me know!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Saying Goodbye to the Past

For the past 2.5 days, I've been sitting in front of my laptop skimming, clicking and sighing. I've been clearing out the "everything else" folder in my one gmail account. It's been a task that I've been putting off for far longer than any one task should be put off for. Why? Well, multiple reasons:

1) I knew it would be tedious. Just like I struggle with hoarding tendencies in my non-digital life, I do with things like email. I knew there was a lot of emails in there and clicking on each little checkbox was going to be boring and take a lifetime.

2) This is just one of about four that need to have this done and I felt like if I did one, the next step would have to be moving on to another one.

3) I was afraid of what I would find in there. My past hasn't always been stellar and this account goes back to about February of 2006.  That's a lot of life. That's before my divorce. That's before I moved to New York and back to Michigan. Since it seems I never deleted anything, this made me anxious.

Still, I needed to do it and for whatever reason, I decided on Tuesday to start hacking my way through the 41,000+ emails that were in there. I created some new "folders" and dragged and dropped things. I deleted things, first by clicking 25 little boxes and then by clicking the select all after I'd moved anything I wanted. I got through about 21,000 on Tuesday. It felt pretty good but I could feel my anxiety rising. By last night, each new group of emails was a struggle. I was starting to see emails from or about people who I had once considered good friends who turned their backs on me. I saw Facebook notifications about friends who had died and their posts. Still, I pressed on and today was the hardest. So many emails were like that. I came across an email with the funeral arrangements for a friend, emails from people I love who no longer have time for me, and more. Still, I pressed on and right now, unless an email has come in, the "everything else" section of my account is empty. I still have to go through the "All Mail" section to clean out some things that didn't show up...like everything from before June 2009 which didn't show up. It can wait for another day. I finished the task that I had set for myself.

It was hard. It was harder than I thought it would be. There were times where I'd just stare at a name in my inbox and re-live losing that person. I dealt with the pain of losing friends to death and to losing others to life. I'm glad that I waited until the time felt right and didn't force myself to do this when perhaps I wasn't strong enough to handle it. Now, it's done and while I feel a bit wrung out, I can put all of this behind me and move forward in my life because if nothing else, we should always be moving forward even if it's one tiny baby step at a time.

If you feel like you're ready to tackle something like this, I'd love to tell you what worked or at least helped me. Hopefully it will help you and help you to say goodbye to some not so great pieces of your past so that you can start to take another step forward:

1. Don't open each email. You may be tempted. Don't do it. Don't relive things to that level. Acknowledge it and delete it.

2. Batch delete. Save yourself some serious time and find all of the emails from a sender and if you don't need them, delete them all at once. I deleted over 1,000 from Facebook with a couple of clicks.

3. Be gentle with yourself. If you start to get overwhelmed, it's okay to take a break. It's okay to walk away from it for as long as you need to. I had to multiple times. Remember that during this, you are what matters.

....And always, no matter what, remember that you're not alone, no matter how many icky emails there might be in any account, someone loves you and you always have a place in this world.



Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Feeling Invisible

I had an entirely different post planned for this evening, but sometimes something comes up and I feel drawn to write about it. I don't know why but I hope it's the universe telling me that someone else needs to hear it or to know that they're not alone in it happening to them.

Lately, things have been crazy busy for me. There has been a whole lot of juggling happening and I've been pretty okay with how things were going...or so I thought. Tonight, something happened that had me physically stop mid-step in the middle of a store.

I was walking down the main back aisle after picking up yet another new charger cord for my phone when I saw the display that's posted here. It was full of cute boots and my first thought was, "Wow, those are really nice, but I'm not pretty enough or cool enough to wear something like that."  It wasn't that I'd probably not find something that fit on a clearance rack since cute shoes are tough to find with my wide feet, but that I was too ugly to wear awesome looking boots. Woah.

Then, I finished my shopping, went to the car, and ate a king size Reece's Cup before I'd even driven all the way across the parking lot. I self medicated with food. I self medicated for a problem that I didn't even realize I was having. Then, I took the 20 minute drive home (yep, I live 20 minutes at least from the closest grocery store) to explore why it was that I was feeling that way.

I realized just how tired and worn around the edges I really am. Absolutely I'm getting done what needs to get done. Bonus of being high-functioning, but when I don't have something that I *must* be doing, I'm having a tough time finding the motivation to keep going. Social media has become both a blessing and a curse. I long to reach out to people, but at least one of the people that I feel safe with has told me that they don't want me coming to them when I'm in a bad place because it's not good for them. Losing a safe place is incredibly hard.

On top of that, due to algorithms and various social media twerpishness, I feel invisible. I see other people doing the same things that I'm doing or have done and they're getting a ton of attention but I'm not. After a while, the intellectual side of me that says, "Hey, it's okay. Algorithm bullshit." gets shoved out of the way by the ugly brain stuff that says, "People love them but they don't care about you. Why do you even bother posting? Heck, why do you even bother writing stories and books? You've had almost no interaction on any posts about how you have a new book out tomorrow. Even your publisher isn't liking, commenting, or posting about it. You should just give up. Nobody cares about you or your life."

I realized that while I was proud of myself for the things that I had gotten done, I was silently beating myself up for what I hadn't. My house is a total disaster, like hoarder levels in some parts. I should be working on that, but I've been running around trying to do everything else and I can't seem to find the strength to push myself to tackle that giant project too. I'm part of a decluttering group and everyone is super supportive but I barely post to my thread there because I don't want them to know that I'm pretty much failing at the thing they've praised me for before. To add complication to that, I feel hurt that they're making a big fuss over another member...another member who totally deserves it...I guess seeing her progress and her strength (though she'd say she's no stronger than I am) reminds me more of what I'm not getting done. I feel as if I should be the wonder woman that people have claimed that I am. I've been tearing myself down and it's become so routine that I didn't even realize that I was doing it.

Somehow, while thinking about all of this, I got to thinking about how I have to be ready to move in just over a year and how I have no idea where I'll be. My kids will be off in college and living their own lives and I'll be more physically alone than ever. One single thought kept bouncing around in my head. "If something doesn't change, I'm not going to be able to handle that and I'll end up killing myself."  As soon as I thought it, I knew it to be the truth. There's a really good reason that I keep as busy as I do when I can. If I'm stagnant, bad things happen in my head.

So, what am I going to do? I don't 100% know yet. I'm going to restart my medication. I had to go off of it when I had the flu. Swallowing led to coughing fits that led to me throwing up. I'm better now so I can start them again. I'm going to keep posting here and being real with anyone who reads this. I'm going to take some time for me so I can figure out what's coming up with a clear head. I need a plan, a schedule, something to keep me on track. I'm going to look for safe places and safe people so when I need them, they're there.

I'm going to keep telling all of you that you're not alone and that if you need someone, I'm always checking comments and things like that. Why? Because none of us are truly alone.


Friday, February 16, 2018

"Silly" Anxieties..

This afternoon, I'm going to get a haircut. Big deal, right? Nope...well, yes, it kind of is to me and I don't know why. It took me a couple of hours to open up the website and to set the walk in time. Now, I have about two hours until I have to leave and I'm back and forth about keeping the appointment. Why? Because the idea of going in and having my hair cut for the first time in over two years is freaking me out.

"What if they cut it too short? What if I don't like it? What if "he" doesn't like it? He likes it long and I've kept it long for him."

That's all followed by:

"Hair grows back and it will probably grow back healthier. The he that you're thinking of just told you that he doesn't want to even see pictures of you so who cares what he thinks. It's your head, your hair, and you're the one who has to deal with it. Did he ask you before he got his cut? No and he didn't really care what you thought about it. You need to do this for you. You deserve a bit of pampering. He deserves a kick in the ass."

The one voice in my head is often pretty damned straight forward and I can always count on it to tell it how it is, even if it can be a bit on the mean side. In some ways, I'm very thankful that it's there. It helps to cut through the bullshit that the rest of my brain is creating sometimes.

Does this mean that I won't be anxious as all get out driving there, parking, walking in, and telling the girl, "I have no idea what I want, just wash it and make it look pretty." I've been assured that it's okay to do that and that they'll be excited to just be able to do their thing.

Why am I sharing all of this with you? Because we all have these "silly" anxieties and it helps to know that you're not alone and I'm not alone. This week has been an especially hard one for me with a lot of things breaking or breaking down in my world. I know that's part of the problem. Still, I can take a lot of deep breaths and get through it. I remind myself that each moment is a chance to start the day over.

So, if you're having an anxiety attack over something that seems silly to you, don't let that negativity build into the anxiety. It's okay to feel anxious over some little thing. Just know that you'll get through it and come out the other side.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Self-Care Is Not Selfish Care

Wow...the best laid plans of mice and men... Just as I got on a little roll writing posts that meant a lot to me, I got sick. For those who have followed along here or know me, you know that I have mediocre health it seems. My youngest child has informed me that I have the worst immune system of anyone he knows. I thought he was being silly until I started noticing on my "On This Day" Facebook thing how often I mentioned being sick. Geez, my body needs to get its act together!

So, anyway, I got sick and not just a little sick. I caught this year's influenza bug and it laid me out for two solid weeks. The coughing got so bad that I was having to use a rescue inhaler and couldn't talk without ending up gasping for air. Thank goodness, I'm better now. I still have zero stamina but I'm not coughing myself straight through the couch anymore!

Oddly enough, that's almost the perfect introduction to this post. Being sick is hard. Being sick when you're the person that takes care of others and who is constantly busy. Just because I'm sick doesn't meant that my boys no longer need/want their mom around. That's what my mom brain tells me. "They have a game tonight. I have to be there. That's my job as mom." Well, it turns out that they a) think I'm more important than a basketball game and b) don't want to catch my disease. (Those are both courtesy of my oldest.)

I felt really bad about missing things until he reminded me that it's important for me to get healthy. All of my time on the couch got me thinking about how important self-care really is. If I don't take care of myself, I get rundown and then I get sick (again) and I can't take care of the boys or do any of the things that I enjoy doing. If I don't have downtime now and again, I get wound so tight that I become unfocused and useless.

The problem, or one of them, is that I'm not really good at self-care. I get so busy with the boys' schedules and with all of the things I'm sure I *have* to do that I just let taking care of me slide. Heck, "the man" used to tell me all the time that I suck at taking care of myself. Luckily, he agrees that I've gotten better. I had to get more "me-centric". I had to stop worrying so much about the rest of the world and say, "Hey, what do I need today?" It's not easy. It's been a challenge and sometimes I still really suck at it.

The other challenge? What is self-care? Is it taking a shower? Putting clean sheets on the bed? Doing my nails? Reading a book? Coloring? Brushing out and braiding my hair so it isn't a tangled mess? It turns out that it's all of the above. While searching the internet, I came across these graphics which I found incredibly helpful and want to share with you guys!

https://www.chawisconsin.org/selfcare/

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/self-care-master-post-ideas-inspiration-more
Aren't those great? I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to be referencing them on the days where I just feel stuck. I hope that they help some of you, as well! I'm also considering bringing back a segment that I used to do over on Life With Katie called Time For Me Thursday. It was a weekly post (duh, right?) where I talked about different things that you could do or that I was doing to take care of yourself/myself. It certainly can't hurt to nudge me to take care of me or to remind you that you too are important.

For now, I'm off for a late lunch and then to go see my youngest perform in his first jazz concert of the season! Take care, everyone!


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