Living With Eating Disorders

A person who is an alcoholic, or a drug addict, can stay sober for 30 years, but that doesn’t mean they’re cured. They can’t just casually have a drink with everyone else, they can relapse at any moment in time, even though they’re sober and have been for a long time. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it illustrates the point.

Easter is coming up. Not yet, but soon. We do shopping once a week, and I was told to pick out which Easter Egg I want, it’ll be here tomorrow along with food for the next week. I have a hard time believing I’ll be able to leave it until Easter… Maybe that’s not a big deal to some, some people probably get a lot of eggs while they’re in shops and eats them like other sweets. But when I was young, we had a week off school, starting Friday before Good Friday, lasting through Easter Monday, and my brother and I wouldn’t usually get our Easter Eggs until the following weekend, because that’s when it really is Easter, not just Easter holiday from school. So I was brought up to enjoy my Easter egg during actual Easter, and I only got a small/medium sized one too.

You might think I’m overthinking this. That’s it’s not a big deal if I eat my egg before Easter, or that I can just leave it until Easter to eat it. I wish it were that simple.

I have super self-control when walking through a shop looking at all the good things. I have no issues walking down the candy aisle and smell all the chocolate in the air, I can just walk through and buy my things and leave, no biggie. But the moment I buy something, I have a really hard time not eating it once I get home. I’m just not wired to have a “snack drawer” or shelf or cupboard or whatever. It was fine when I was a child and my parents were in charge of handing out sweets to us (Saturday nights with TV, birthdays, Christmas, and Easter). But when I was, maybe around 10, my Mum started working away from home, that’s when the problems started.

I was fully aware of where to find cookies, sweets, and the chocolate spreads. And I was struggling in school, not with the material but with the social aspect. I’d come home and make myself two slices of bread with chocolate spread, a glass of chocolate milk, and a few pieces of chocolate, and watch 7th Heaven on TV while home alone. I was comfort eating. It made me feel better. This went on for several years.

The summer before I turned 15, I stopped eating meat. That’s a story for another time, if I haven’t already talked about it before, I actually don’t remember. My grandmother made a comment that I was gonna become skinny because of it. The same grandmother had earlier made comments on me being on the bigger side and asked whether I was the only one in my year in school who was. It stayed in my head. I’d already started working out a couple of years earlier, because my MP3 player broke, and my dad said he’d buy me a new one if I kept up my grades for summer term and started to exercise (he got me the 2nd generation iPod Nano, 2GB, which was a lot back then!). At some point, I started to notice the weight loss, and it drove me to keep going. I ate less and less. I exercised more and more. At the worst, I was down to one tiny bowl of cereal for breakfast, and a small portion of dinner that I couldn’t always finish, and I had dance class on Monday, PE on Tuesday and Thursday, aerobics on Wednesday, and I’d go running and biking on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I did strength exercises too, every evening before bed, which was what I’d started doing back when I wanted my MP3 player replaced (I still remember the first time: 10 push-ups, and 10 crunches, and I was aching a lot the next day. By the end I had a full hour’s worth of different exercises for my core, legs, and arms). I wasn’t healthy. I had headaches every day. I drank only water, and juice with dinner when the others had soda. I never ate sweets or crisps.

But here’s the thing. I never looked like someone with eating disorders. There weren’t any teachers or classmates who were worried about me. One teacher made a remark once, he’d seen me out running after school, said something about me being into jogging, when I rejected a Twist (which are like Celebrations) he offered me once (nothing creepy, I had to stop by school for a signature on something I’d forgotten, and he was in the teacher’s room). I never saw a doctor, I was never hospitalised or treated in any way. My parents knew something wasn’t right, I think, but we’ve never actually talked about it. Once when I’d been out jogging around mid-day on a weekend, and came home, I told my mum I wanted to go for a bike ride and she said absolutely not. And for several years after I got better, whenever I’d talk to my dad on the phone (when I’d just started uni), he’d ask me what I’ve eaten today. At this point, I was able to tell him the truth. A few years earlier (my first year of high school/upper secondary), I’d make up something about using my pocket money to buy something from the school cafeteria. That happened maybe twice during the year (other than ice coffee before science tests, which became a sort of ritual for me and a friend). So my parents were worried. But no one else had any reason to be. One girl made a comment on me becoming fit when high school started, but we were 15-16, a lot of people’s bodies changed over summer, she asked if I’d been working out and I said yes, but asked nothing further. I didn’t look like someone with eating disorders. But I had them. First one way, then the other.

eating disorder
noun
plural noun: eating disorders
  1. any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits

I’m well now. Mostly. I’ve been mostly well for several years. I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, most days. Sometimes I skip lunch, if I have a late breakfast and don’t want to have a late dinner. I don’t like eating late at night. I don’t like snacking, much. I try to eat mostly healthy. I still haven’t eaten meat since I stopped in the summer of 2007. The thing is, I know how easy it would be for me to relapse. With being unemployed, and away from my family and friends, with being located to mainly just one room in a small house, my mental health isn’t always doing so good. And a lot of the time I want to eat things I know I shouldn’t. Like yesterday, we had takeout pizza. We’re having Easter eggs being delivered tomorrow. And I’ve been craving sweets for hours, mainly due to talking about them with someone on twitter (really lovely conversation though!). I am able to not eat anything because I don’t have anything. I don’t even have cereal. But food is being delivered tomorrow, and I might go make tea in a bit, my hands are quite cold and I have a sleepy time tea. Sleep is another tool I use to control cravings and overeating; in writing moment it’s nearly 10pm and like I said earlier, I don’t like eating late, so I will have some water and/or some tea, and go to sleep, and breakfast will taste all the much better in the morning.

So you see which way I’m leaning at the moment. I want all the things I know I shouldn’t have. But then some days, I don’t want anything. Or I’ll be really healthy, those are the best days. But sometimes I feel like not eating anything at all, especially following a time of me eating things I know I shouldn’t. And I know I need to eat, and I do, and I have people around me who care about me and want me to stay healthy and well, who make sure I do, or at least that I don’t skip meals multiple days in a row, that’s really the danger I am in sometimes.

I’ve been mainly well for about 9 years now. Or at least 7, maybe 8. I started to get better around 9 years ago, but that too was a process that took some time. It took me more than 2 years to get back into eating lunch on a regular basis. And it’s always a process, it’s always going to be a process, it’s never going to end, I don’t think. And that’s really the point I wanted to get across here. I may never have been in any physical danger, or maybe I would have been if things hadn’t happened to change the course I was on, I don’t know. But I was never hospitalised or in danger of dying, and I never developed diabetes due to how I was living and eating. But even though I’m, for the most part, stable, for now, that doesn’t mean I couldn’t still spin one way or the other, it doesn’t mean I won’t relapse into comfort-eating or not eating at all. Every day, I work at making sure it doesn’t happen, by eating my meals, and getting the nutrients my body needs, but there are times when I feel bad and I eat a whole pack of Jaffa cakes, and there are days when I feel so bad about my weight or the shape of my body that I want to go on a water diet for a week, there’s no denying that. But for now, I’m fine, for the most part. Let’s hope this stupid Easter egg (that I cannot wait to eat, I got a Cadbury mini eggs one!!) doesn’t ruin any of that…

If you’ve made it this far, this is the end! Thank you so much for reading, I know this was a long piece; this is something that’s really personal to me, and that I haven’t really opened up about in the past. Please feel free to talk to me in the comments – but if you’re gonna be nasty, I’ll just delete you, so let’s keep it civil okay ūüôā

Xoxo

Julie

Advertisements

April Fool’s Day

Today is April 1st. Or as may of us know it, April Fool’s Day. If you google April Fool’s Day, you might come across this definition:

April Fools’ Day¬†or¬†April Fool’s Day¬†(sometimes called¬†All Fools’ Day) is an annual celebration commemorated on April 1 by playing¬†practical jokes¬†and spreading¬†hoaxes. The jokes and their victims are called¬†April fools. People playing April Fool jokes often expose their prank by shouting “April fool(s)” at the unfortunate victim(s). Some newspapers, magazines and other published media report fake stories, which are usually explained the next day or below the news section in smaller letters. Although popular since the 19th century, the day is not a¬†public holiday¬†in every country. Little is known about the origins of this tradition.

Aside from April Fools’ Day, the custom of setting aside a day for the playing of harmless pranks upon one’s neighbour has historically been relatively common in the world.¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† (Wikipedia)

I don’t like this day. I don’t believe anything I read on the internet today, especially Facebook status updates. There are a lot of tweets too. Someone just tweeted that they just stumbled through a street, way too drunk, and even wearing flats. I don’t believe it.

A few days ago, I came across this on Twitter:

april1st

The most common one I see is people announcing pregnancy and engagement. And it’s not like it’s harmful… I just think it’s incredibly pointless, not to mention unoriginal.

Sometimes I see some funny ones from the media, who have people trained to write and are able to come up with something witty or believable. BeautyBay posted on Instagram that they have a new palette out, the “Prima Doner” palette with “buttery, greasy texture” and “scented shades” with names such as Nuggets, Garlic Mayo, Pepperoni Pizza, and Extra Gravy. That was pretty funny. What’s funnier is people tagging their friends and asking about the price! I saw someone else posting about a unicorn lipstick too, although I can’t find that one on my feed at the moment. Superdrug sent out an e-mail advertising the new trend: Glitter ears, for festival season. A local newspaper back in Norway has an article out today with the 20 best pranks they’ve played throughout the years.

Personally, I just don’t think April Fools are funny. I don’t think it’s funny to pull pranks on people, and I don’t like it when people do it to me. I find the whole concept ridiculous. I wish we’d get rid of it. But I can’t change the mindset of the majority of the world, so for now, I guess I have no choice but to go through April 1st being suspicious of everything I read and everything people tell me; alternatively barricade myself in a room with books and movies all day for the rest of forever.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, there’s nothing harmful about trying to make people laugh by announcing ridiculous makeup palettes and fashion statements, but most of the stuff people do is ridiculous and some of it can be harmful towards others and my personal opinion is that not much good comes from this day and it’s really quite pointless.

I hope you have a good day and sorry for being so negative, it’s just my two cents on this day, that’s all.

Xoxo

Julie

App Review: ActionDash

Our cell or mobile phones are hugely important in this day and time, perhaps especially so to us millennials. I was born in the early 90s, so I’m kind of in the middle of the generation. I got my first phone for my 13th birthday, or a few days before actually. My brother, who is three years younger than me, was 11 or 12 when he got his first phone. Many millennials that I know are proud to belong to a generation that grew up playing outside, as am I, but we’re also proud that we encountered technology like phones and computers at a young enough age for it to become natural for us to use them, we’re not struggling in the same way as older generations, but we’ve also not been enslaved by technology from a really young age like the younger generations. When I was around 15, one of my grandmothers said that the mobile phone was the older children’s pacifier, and when I was 17 and on exchange (and got to experience unlimited texting for the first time) my host mother said that to teenagers the phone was like an extension to the arm. I know there are a lot of millennials who don’t use their phones a lot, but I am not one of them. I’m on my phone a lot. When I’m not on my phone, I’m on my tablet or PC, or in a movie theatre – I even have to put my phone away so I won’t get distracted when reading books. I know it’s bad.

I have seen Apple iPhone users talk on twitter about how their phones are notifying them of the amount of time they’ve spent on their phone. Philip DeFranco tweeted about how much time he’d spent on Twitter specifically, that he tried to justify it with needing to use Twitter for work, but then he said he couldn’t possibly justify spending that amount of time on social media because it’s not all for work. I don’t use iPhone, or any Apple products, and I have no desire to. My phone doesn’t have a built in function to track screen time, so I went looking through the Google Play store, and that’s where I found ActionDash, a free to use app with the option of purchasing a pro version that will remove ads, among other things. The free version lets you see all the info about your screen time over the past week, so of course I went ahead and tracked it for a week straight, not restricting myself, using my phone as I normally would, so in this post I want to take you on my journey of how I’ve been using my phone for the past week!

Introducing: ActionDash

Let’s start with Saturday, March 16th. When I open the app I get the picture you see below, and I can scroll back through the past week, the 16th being the earliest day I could view at the time I took these screenshots.

I made sure to take the screenshots not on the day but the following day, so the data would be complete. And this is what we see: A wheel showing the 4 most used apps of the day, as well as “others”, number of unlocks of the phone, and notifications received, and at the bottom, a graph showing how long each session in each app has been. In this first image, the bottom two lines are missing, but we can still get the gist of what the graph shows: 1 session lasted 20-30 minutes, another lasted 15-20, three sessions lasted 10-15 minutes, 23 lasted between 5 and 10 minutes, 17 3-5 minutes, and what the picture doesn’t show is 1-2 minutes and less than 1 minute, which has been the longest bar on every day that I’ve checked the app!

On this Saturday, the app I spend the most time in was Instagram, followed by Twitter, Google, and then Pokemon GO. From what I can remember, this was a very antisocial day for me, I stayed in bed the majority of the day with the TV playing shows and YouTube, and I was scrolling on my phone the majority of the time as well. I promise, most days I do not spend 8.5 hours actively on my phone!

Let’s have a look at the following few days of the week:

If we’re being honest, I don’t remember everything about all of these days, as I’m not writing it as we go, but I do remember some things so let’s see… As we can see from Sunday the 17th, I spent less than three hours on my phone that day, which was a better day for me emotionally than the 16th, I do remember that. I spent nearly half that time on Instagram, which I can easily see, as a lot of the time I’ll be scrolling on Instagram while watching stuff, it requires little to no concentration as I just take in the pictures and I don’t have to actually read the words like I do on Twitter. But still, we can see the same few apps repeated almost daily, Twitter and Instagram are on daily, which was no surprise. WordPress was on the wheel on the 19th, because I was reading a rather lengthy article, and I kept putting my phone down, and got distracted a lot, so I probably wasn’t actually reading the whole time, I just left the screen on when I put my phone down and the screen doesn’t black out right away. Let’s see, what else… Oh, Friday the 22nd – Google was my most used app! That was a bit surprising, but I know exactly why: I fell down a rabbit hole of wikipedia articles, which happens on occasion, this time it was reading up on Russian history, starting with Stalin, then Lenin, and then the Tsars that ruled the country up until the revolution in 1917. And because it’s wikipedia, every article contains links to other articles so I end up getting side tracked and yeah, that’s how that happened! I also spent quite a lot of time on YouTube that day – I usually watch YouTube on the TV, but we had to have repair people come by and then set up a new TV, so to stay out of the way I watched YouTube on my phone in another room. Saturday the 23rd was Community Day, so that’s why Pokemon GO won first place on screen time then, as the event lasted for 3 hours, although I wasn’t actually playing it the full time…

Now let’s have a closer look at the app itself:

This picture is from Sunday the 24th, if I’m not mistaken. Either way, it doesn’t matter, what I wanted to show you was the graph where you can see the app session length breakdown for the day. Out of 271 app sessions, 203 of them lasted less than a minute! Thinking about how that works in reality… one of two things happened: I got a notification, clicked on it, and went out of the app again, or I opened the app out of boredom and closed it again almost immediately. The first one isn’t that bad, in my opinion. The second one however, that’s the kind of stuff I want to avoid, a habit I really want to work on breaking. All those little one minute sessions, I really want to stop them.

You can also view the whole week in the same way you can each day:

Over the course of one week, I spent 33 hours and 4 minutes on my phone.

168 hours to a week.

56 hours spent sleeping, if I sleep 8 hours a day.

Sleeping and phone stuff comes to 89 hours, so let’s just say 90 hours of the week.

168-90=78. I’ve spent more than half my time sleeping and on my phone. 53%. For only 47% of my week have I been awake and not on my phone. That’s kind of scary.

Let’s have a look at some other ways you can track your screen activity using the app ActionDash.

If you click on the icons in the circle of the opening screen, you can view the stats for that app daily, showing the time spent in it over the past week, and hourly, showing the stats for the day:

At the top of the home screen, you have some icons you can click on and it shows you different things as well:

The first icon, the cake diagram, is the start screen, which we’ve already covered. Next to it you can view the stats for screen time. The next icon shows the stats for app launches. Next to that, you can view notification stats. Lastly, the padlock symbolises unlocks, and you can view the stats for that as well.

So as you can see, there is a LOT of things you can view and track in the free version of this app, which is what I’ve been doing. Like I mentioned at the start, it is also possible to purchase a pro version, which gives you the additional benefits of stats beyond 7 days, enhanced usage graphs, no ads, dark theme, advanced customisation, and the possibility of restoring manual backups. It’s a one time upgrade which will cost you about ¬£5 (my app store which is in Norwegian Kroner says it’s 45,-). Is it necessary? I don’t think so. I don’t feel the need to track more than the past 7 days, and if I were to I’d probably do it manually every day as it goes by in my bullet journal.

Just to show you, this is what days beyond the past 7 look like:

I don’t know if these are accurate, or if they just show that I’ve spent some time in these apps. One of them shows six apps in addition to “other”, while the other one only shows three – it could be that you need to spend over a specific amount of time in the app before it shows in the pie chart, I don’t know. I just wanted to show you what it looks like if you don’t upgrade to the pro version.

Final Thoughts

Is an app like this worth it? Is there a point to tracking your screen time like this?

I think it can be useful, yes. By using an app that tracks your time, you can become more aware of how you’re ACTUALLY spending your time, and that’s not a bad thing.

When I first downloaded the app, I was a bit obsessed with checking in multiple times a day and see how the pie chart and time change. In writing moment, it’s 2.40pm, I’ve unlocked my phone 53 times, had 192 notifications, and spent 1 hour and 17 minutes on my phone. It would probably have been more if I hadn’t spent the past couple of hours working on this blog post. The obsession wore off over time, but the first couple of days… I spent a lot of time checking in on the app to see how I was spending my time!

Have I learned anything? Yes. I’ve learned that I am way too guilty of the crime of unlocking my phone for no reason, and checking in on apps for less than a minute.

Will I change anything going forward? Eventually, I would like to. I’d like to eventually blacklist a lot of the apps in Forest that I’ve had whitelisted for a few months now, to stay off my phone completely when I have a tree or a bush growing, and to spend time on my phone on purpose, not just picking it up out of boredom. Eventually, I would like to change the bars on the stats, so that the “less than 1 minute” bar goes way down, and some of the higher ones go up. I’d like to plan out that I can spend the next 10 minutes on Twitter, that I can go on Instagram in the morning and at night. That I can play Pokemon GO when I’m out on walks. Those kinds of things. I’d like to be more mindful when it comes to how I spend time on my phone, and this app helped me to see that.

Have to  ever tracked your screen time?

What do you think of it, is it useful?

Related posts: SleepTown App (stay off your phone at night) // 2018 in Trees (Forest: Stay Focused app) // A Very Satisfying Forest (Forest: Stay Focused app)

Xoxo

Julie

ALL THE MIDANDRY MAKES ME SICK.

I need to say something, and it requires more than the 280 character limit in a tweet (do you remember when it was 140? And before the option to thread multiple tweets together before posting? How did we live?!).

Women. Recently I’ve unfollowed several of you on twitter for posting things along the lines of “all men are trash”. ALL MEN ARE NOT TRASH. Maybe you’ve had some bad experiences with some trashy ones, – cheaters, or men being dicks because you didn’t wanna sleep with them… They definitely exist. BUT SO DO GOOD ONES! But you know what? You’re never gonna meet them if you keep generalising and assuming everyone is gonna be like your ex or those men you meet on a night out or whatever.

And speaking of things we need to stop doing, as women, because we’re not doing ourselves any favours here. STOP CRYING RAPE WHEN THERE WAS NO RAPE. Yes you’re allowed to change your mind. If you’ve said you’ll sleep with someone, you can change your mind. You can change your mind at any point up until or during the act. If you’re going home with someone from the club and cjsnge your mind and you don’t want to sleep with them, LEAVE. If you’re in the middle of foreplay and you don’t want to continue, SPEAK UP. If you’re in the middle of having sex and you want to stop, SAY SOMETHING. What you CAN’T do, is go through with it, and then say you were raped when you regret your actions in retrospect!! Men and women, none of us are mind readers, and if you change your mind you need to SAY IT. You can use body language too, to signal that you’re not into doing it anymore, but unless you SPECIFICALLY SPEAK UP, you can’t expect the other person to know what you’re thinking or feeling because humans don’t work that way!

You have to realise, that if you go through the act without saying anything, and then accuse them of raping you, you’re hurting other people, people who weren’t involved in this at all, people who were ACTUALLY raped. It’s hard enough to be believed as a victim of rape, male or female, as it is, without other people hurting the cause and accusing people of rape when they didn’t say anything about it at the time. REGRETTING HAVING SEX WITH SOMEONE DOESN’T MEAN THEY RAPED YOU. Rape is someone forcing you against your will at the time, not stopping when you ask them to, not respecting that you no longer wish to continue what the two of you were doing. If you went into it willingly and you didn’t say stop or no or that you’ve changed your mind, IF YOU DIDN’T WITHDRAW CONSENT at any point BEFORE OR DURING, YOU CAN’T WITHDRAW IT AFTER! You’re perfectly within your right as a human to regret doing what you did, but you have to deal with it like a fucking adult, you don’t go out and accuse the person of raping you – it hurts them, their life can be ruined by an accusation like this, and it hurts everyone else who is struggling to be believed that they were raped in the first place.

We need to do better, to be better. All of us. It’s not feminist to say that all men are trash. It’s misandrist. That’s the flip side of misogynist, which I also can’t stand. And I’m sick of seeing it everywhere, especially on twitter. Men are not better than women. Women are not better than men. We are all people, all of us are capable of being horrible, or being good. And I’m seeing way too much of people being horrible. It’s sickening. I wish we’d all stop and focus on what’s good in the world, what we can do to be good people, to be better, to do better.

Thank you for coming to my rant post.

Xoxo

Julie

Human BEINGs

We are called “human beings”. Not “human doings”. This has been pointed out in at least one movie/TV show I’ve watched, although I cannot remember which, as well as on those kind of accounts on instagram that post inspirational quotes and tell you not to be so hard on yourself, etc etc. It can be kind of annoying, and kind of clich√©. But it’s also kind of true.

Who we are is more important than what we do. And that’s easy to forget in a society where, when you meet new people, one of the first questions asked are “so what do you do (for a living)?” This question being asked early in conversation, makes us feel like this is of huge importance. Our answer to this question forms the person’s opinion of us. How stupid is that? People literally form opinions about us based on our answer to the question “what do you do for a living?”. They needn’t know much about us at all, perhaps you were just introduced, you say hi, your name, and they ask “so, what is it you do?” and that can colour their opinion of you forever.

Many people have impressive things to say. I’m a surgeon. I’m a lawyer. I’m working on my PhD in __. Many more people have answers such as hair dresses, mail man, I work in a food shop. These are professions that are essential to society, but they rarely make people go “wow, impressive!” in a conversation. And then there are people like me. I haven’t had to answer that question recently, but for the past six months, I would have had to say nothing. I don’t do anything. I don’t have a job. I’m unemployed. And that doesn’t feel so great.

Just over two years ago, I wrote this post, about how I felt like I’d done nothing all day, and that I needed to give myself more credit for the things I did do, and not beat myself up about all the things I didn’t do. I’m still struggling with this. Since the start of the year, I’ve started to write down almost everything I do in my bullet journal, just so that I don’t feel like I’ve done nothing all day. There’s a huge focus in our world about doing things. My mum will always ask “so what have you been doing today then?” when we talk on the phone. My friends ask it in group chats. They mean nothing bad about it, it’s never anyone’s attention to make me feel bad about not doing anything. But that’s often the focus, the starting point of a conversation, what have we been up to.

But we are called human beings. The first question should therefore be “how are you today?” or “how have you been?”. I try to ask this first, especially when I talk to someone I haven’t spoken to in a while. But “what have you been doing?” or “done anything fun lately?” or questions along those lines quickly follow. It can’t be helped. But as much as I can, I try to focus on the being part over the doing part, because who we are is ultimately so much more important than what we do, for a living or otherwise.

The things I do don’t reflect who I am as a person. What do I do? To mention a few, I read books, I binge watch TV shows, I play video games, I go for walks, I play with makeup. These say very little about who I am as a person – as a daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, cousin, god-mother, acquaintance, colleague… I am not the things I do to entertain myself. I am not the thing I do to make money, even though that’s nothing at the moment, and I am not that either.

Maybe we should all try to focus a little bit less on everything we’re supposed to be doing, and a little more and just being, in the world, existing, and enjoying it. Maybe we should stop and smell flowers, breathe the fresh air and enjoy the crispness of it that is so typical for this time of year. Maybe we should focus on what we can be, who we can be, and who we can be there for, rather than all the things we think we ought to be doing?

xoxo

Julie

Be harmless, not helpful

When I was younger, say about 11-15/16, school was always finished at 2.15pm, and I’d always race home to put on 7th Heaven on the TV, and if I was fortunate, I’d only miss the few minutes that were before the intro music. That’s where I first came across this phrase, the title of today’s entry – I don’t remember exactly how it was phrased, I think it was used multiple times, but the gist of it was that it is better to be harmless than to try to be helpful.¬†I think there are a few different ways to look at this and interpret this phrase that we need to talk about.

Firstly, I think we have all been on the receiving end of advice that didn’t go as planned; that made things worse instead of better. To be honest, we’ve probably all given such advice as well – the intent was good, we were trying to help, but the end result did not reflect our intentions. Sometimes trying to help can do more harm than good, and thus backing up the statement that you should be harmless instead of helpful.

Now, what do we mean about being harmless, exactly? I think this is something we should talk about, because a lot of people will say something that seems or sounds harmless to them, but it most definitely is not. Take for example people with any kind of anxiety disorder, or that are struggling with depression – many seemingly harmless statements can actually be hurtful to hear if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression. One of the most well discussed things, going off of my own experience and that of friends and family, and what I see on Twitter for example, is to be told to “just calm down”, “cheer up”, or “just breathe”, or that you’re overreacting. Taking an example from my own life recently, I know, rationally, that I am in fact overreacting, but that doesn’t stop the tightening feeling in my throat, the hyperventilating, or the tears, and I most certainly do not need anyone to tell me to calm down or that I’m overreacting. I know that I’m overreacting, that there is no physical threat to me being sat in front of a computer screen looking at a programme I don’t understand, but if it was so easy as to just breathe or “calm down” don’t you think I would do it? (PS: no one was telling me anything of the sort at the time, this is just me stating what would not have been harmless in the moment). Most of the time, I just need a minute, a little while to let my body catch up to what my brain already knows; that I am fine and in no danger at all. But if someone were to tell me things like the ones above, it might have been intended as good, but cause me harm, because it’ll make me feel worthless, like what I am experiencing isn’t valid, and it might make me feel afraid, and lead to me not being able to be myself around them, it might lead to me wanting and doing everything I can to be invisible, to not make them feel uncomfortable because of what is happening to me.

So you see, phrases that are often intended to be helpful, and perceived as harmless by the person uttering them, can sometimes do more harm than they do good. There is a difference, in my opinion, between being harmless, and saying something you think is harmless. And the above things would fall into the latter category. Being harmless, I think, is a much more passive thing, or it can be – we’ll get to other less passive things in a bit. Being harmless, in some cases, doesn’t require the saying of things. It requires being there for the person who needs it. You should be a safe place for people in your life, a place where they know they won’t be judged or told things like “you don’t look like you have (insert mental state)”, a place where they can just be themselves, where they can rant and scream and cry if that’s what they need. Being harmless, to me, means that people can talk to you, that they can cry on your shoulder, that they can lay with you being held and feeling safe, sit next to you, have their hand held or their back stroked, knowing that no physical harm can come to them in that moment, so they do whatever they need to do, while being with someone who will ensure their safety in the process.

But being harmless can also mean other things. Sometimes, it means being the distraction someone sorely needs, the one who makes them laugh, who takes them places to look at weird stuff or walks¬† around the city or the country side people-watching or cloud-watching, to be the person that takes their mind off of things. This is a slightly less passive form of harmlessness, I think, where you actively try to be what the person needs, regardless of what that actually is. But I also think it’s important to make sure that this is what the person needs at the time, because they might require other things, such as what I wrote in the previous paragraph, or what I’m about to write about in the next paragraph.

Sometimes, being harmless means letting people go. It might not be forever, it might just be for a¬† few hours or a few days. Being there for someone, being a harmless place, means giving them what they need, and sometimes what people need is space. It might be time off from social media, it might mean them going away for a while, it might mean that you being in their life is causing them harm, and therefore giving them space is the most harmless thing you can do. This is the one that is hardest to do, this is the one that hurts the most. I can openly say that I have been the person causing harm to someone else simply by being a part of their life, and us trying to stay in each others’ lives ended up causing us both harm. Which sucked. This was a person I cared about a lot, and who cared a lot about me too, but in the end we were no good for each other and went our separate ways. It has been years, and I know this was the kind of letting go that meant forever, even if I didn’t want it at the time. I recently looked them up on social media, without them knowing about it, and discovered that, from what they have been posting, things definitely seem better in their life now, and seeing this made me really happy. It made me realise that we did the most harmless thing we could do, which was remove ourselves from each other, and that made things better, for both of us. And now I am at peace, knowing things are good for them, and I am okay with the fact that what they needed was to not have me in their life, because not all people are good for each other.

This, of course, need not always be the case. I have other people in my life in present time where we’ve taken breaks from each other, time to heal, and have ended up reconnecting after a few weeks or months, and at present time we are no longer causing each other harm. And that’s a wonderful thing. We were causing each other harm, we took a break from each other, which at least for me was hard and painful, but reconnecting and looking back on it in retrospect made me glad we did it because we are positive presences in each others’ lives now. Letting go is not always bad. It might hurt at the time, but the most important thing is that people are safe and not in a harmful place, whether that be physical, mental, or emotional. If someone is causing you pain, would you want to keep them in your life? If you’re causing someone harm by being a presence in their life, do you really want to stay, knowing that you’re hurting them? The selfish answer is, I like having them in my life and losing them will cause me pain so I will do everything I can to keep them in my life. The altruistic answer is, I am causing them pain, I need to remove myself from this situation/their life so that I am no longer causing pain to another human being. I completely understand the logic of the first, no one wants to do anything that will cause themselves harm, but I also think it’s important to consider the harm we might be inflicting on others, and make sure we do as little of that as possible – that we need to focus a little bit more on being harmless.

This entry took a very dark turn, but I think it’s important to talk about it. Dark and painful and difficult topics might be the ones that need talking about the most. But it’s important to remember that being harmless can mean many different things, and people require different things from other people around them. On the internet, where I spend a lot of my time, I see people being so mean to other people, and I always see people talking about how they hate other people, and how animals are better because they are never cruel. As humans, we are the only ones who can change how humans behave, starting with ourselves. If I start by being kinder to you and providing you with a harmless space, you can be kinder and a safe space to the next person, who can then do the same to their next person, and so on. It might be a dream scenario in an imaginary world, but piece by piece the castle gets built, you just have to start somewhere (I don’t know if that is an actual metaphor, I may have just made that up…).

What I wanted to say, above anything else in this entry, and if you didn’t read anything else and just skipped to the end for the TL;DR portion, this is it: People cannot cure other people, you just have to be there for them.

I will end this entry with one of my all-time favourite quotes, which I’ve had written on whiteboards and pieces of paper stuck to the wall and book covers and also really wanted to by a jumper with it on, which is from an organisation called To Write Love On Her Arms, and it is this:

twloha

Feel free to leave a comment and we’ll talk down below!

Xoxo

Julie

 

Related entries: Mission First, People Always

 

Regarding Passion

If you’re with someone and you try to change who they are or what they do, I really don’t understand what kind of person you are.

Take for example gaming. I’ve seen tweets from women saying if your man is in his 20s and still plays video games, ditch him. What kind of bullshit is that?!

It’s important to be passionate about SOMETHING. Passion is hot, it’s attractive. I may not personally enjoy or take part in your hobby but please tell me about it, tell me about what interests you, what you’re passionate about, just seeing the sparkle in your eyes makes it worth my time. People so often are told not to bother people with their weird interests and I think that’s complete and utter bullshit.

I once saw an online article where people had described their ideal partner, and there was a man who said his ideal girlfriend had an interest outside of sitting at home watching TV. He didn’t care what it was, he didn’t care if she’d drag him to museum after museum full of what he called “useless crap”, all that mattered was that she was passionate about something.¬† And I loved reading those words.

I myself am sometimes a very passive person. I can have days where I don’t get out of bed and I watch every video ever posted by one specific YouTuber, or binge a whole season or two of a TV show. And I enjoy it, but it also makes me incredibly bored sometimes. A lot of times. And I feel so… blah. Recently, I’ve been getting notifications from Instagram while scrolling that I am “all caught up on the last 3 days”. How ridiculous is that? I follow 615 profiles on Instagram, and a few hashtags, and I’ve seen everything that has been posted for multiple days in a row! I need to get back into my hobbies, the things I am passionate about.

But what exactly are these things? I do love going to museums and seeing all kinds of weird stuff, and aquariums and zoos and gardens. But often they cost money to get into, and it costs money to get there, and it has to be planned. So what are some free things I can do that I feel passionate about?

It’s been approximately 18-19 months since I started bullet journaling (my first blog post about that is here). I’m now about 1/4 into my second bullet journal, but I’m not enjoying it as much. I stuck with the same notebook brand but a different design, and the paper is completely different; I get ghosting with some pens, but what’s worse is everything that isn’t a ballpoint pen bleeds. I reached out to the company and they kindly sent me a new one, but I didn’t want to waste a whole big beautiful book, so I stuck with it, and the other one is not available to me at the moment. I switched to only using ballpoint pens for a while, which was fine, but I lost inspiration and didn’t want to keep working on my bullet journal much. Over the past two months, September and October, I’ve been part-taking in a weekly theme challenge by someone I know from the Norwegian bullet journal community, where there’s an umbrella-theme for the month and smaller weekly themes within the bigger one for each week. It’s made me want to work on my journal more, and I even went back into using my brush pens for colour a little – at first it was fine, but then the bleeding started up again. For this last week of October, I actually decided to draw on separate paper and glue it into the book to cover the bleeding from the previous week and avoid more bleeding back onto those pages. It’s a bit disheartening… But I have ideas for things I want to do for November and hopefully they won’t be completely disastrous, and will motivate me to keep going!

Another passion of mine is photography. I always used to love getting disposable cameras for the summer when I was a child, and got my own digital camera as a teenager. I took a photography class in school and learned a little more about composition and some simple editing. Then I went on to do a “folk high school” year in Norway, focusing on travel and photography, and I learned lots. I have a lot of equipment and different programs, although they’re on an ancient computer I can really only use to edit pictures and play Mario Kart…

I kind of put photography aside for a while when I was in uni. There were some days that I went out, and I took some pictures with friends using my camera and tripod and knowledge, but not much. I keep repeating that I want to get back into it, but I feel weird walking around with my camera in small towns like the one I’m from. There was one day last summer however, that I decided not to care and took my camera and some music for a walk. I sat for probably 20-30 minutes on the ground taking pictures of a field in the sunset, and I found a lot of trees, attempted some silhouette shots and such, and I really enjoyed both the process of taking these pictures and the editing afterwards.¬† Maybe I’ll upload a few in another entry soon.

Yesterday, I watched a YouTuberI subscribe to who had done an “ugly location challenge” photoshoot, and it made me really want to try taking pictures of people again. I wish I had friends that (1) lived where I do, and (2) WANTED to be photographed, so that I could ask them to do a photoshoot and get good pictures and not awkward “if I must”-poses (this is NOT a comment towards any of my current friends, if anyone is reading this!), so that I could start building a portfolio. Naturally, friends that volunteer for this will get the pictures from me, as long as they let me use their pictures in my portfolio. Then, a dream of mine would be to be able to post ads and get photography work I’d get paid to do. The more I think about it, the more I want this kind of job. I never studied photography professionally, I don’t have a degree to show for my skills, but if I could build a portfolio I could let my work speak for itself. God, how I want this now…

What are YOU passionate about? Leave a comment and we’ll talk below!

Xoxo

Julie

Content Moments

I have been reading a book about mindfulness lately. I’ve not yet finished it, and I’m only just now reaching the part about how to practice mindfulness in everyday life, but over the past week I’ve been, perhaps subconsciously, focusing on enjoying the moments and trying to make the best out of whatever is happening at the time.

Something really good happened to me at work today. One of my colleagues came back from his break, and as there were no people who had showed up wanting a tour at that time, he asked if I wanted to go for a walk, to which I agreed. We walked out of the café/shop of the museum, through the courtyard, out the front gate, and followed the path that leads up to the building all the way down to the road. Then we walked back up the path to the gate, and turned left and followed the path to the parking lot on the other side of the building, and back down again. We did this twice, then we walked onto the grass and through the garden of trees, admired our workplace from the garden with the trees framing it, and continued walking for a bit. We met some tourists, who said it was like watching a painting moving towards them, as we were both wearing our historic costumes. We spoke to them for a while, and when we saw other tourists approaching the front gate of the castle we began making our way back through the garden and into the building again.

We talked about many different things while walking, past, present, and future, which I won’t bore you with repeating here. What I really wanted to convey, is this amazingly content feeling I had while walking, or perhaps I should use the word strolling, through the grounds of our workplace. I almost felt like we were a part of some 1800s film scene, where two people in beautiful costumes are walking and having some sort of deep, important conversation. Two people who are comfortable being on this stroll together, comfortable talking to each other about the topic of conversation. I felt so incredibly at peace, and in that moment, nothing was wrong in the world, in my world, everything was calm and peaceful and¬† good.

I’ve had another similar experience with the same colleague this summer, actually. At that time, it was the start of the day, it was sunny and warm but not yet too warm, and we were sat outside on the curb by the stairs going from the lower to the upper courtyard at work. We were talking about life and the future, which has been uncertain or unpredictable for both of us, and in that moment, I felt like nothing else mattered, despite the anxiety I’d had the previous night, despite all the feelings that had been raging through me for days. In that moment, everything was perfect, and the feeling lingered and I couldn’t remember the last time I felt such serenity.

Last night I was sat wondering, how do people make friends in the real world? I only ever make friends on the internet, except for my two friends from university that pretty much decided to be my friend and that’s how we are where we are, two of us being godmothers to the third’s child, still friends despite studying separate things and living in separate places. I do know work plays an important role in making friends, and a lot of people know each other through work. I repeated this to my colleague today, whose fianc√©e I happen to know from working in the same place earlier, which lead to us playing Pokemon GO together outside of work and meeting up in uni sometimes as well – although I actually even knew OF her even before that, as we’re from small towns close to each other and have gone to school together. My colleague told me that just for the record, I am able to make friends outside of the Internet too; he likes me, and if I’d been staying in the city he’d hang out with me and play Pokemon GO with us now that he’s started playing again too. So maybe I don’t completely suck at making friends after all…

Xoxo

Julie

You can laugh, but I don’t care.

People think I don’t know when they’re making fun of me. But I know. I just no longer care.

I know I’m a bit weird. Quirky. Odd. Strange. I don’t always pick up on irony and sarcasm, I too often take things too seriously and believe stuff that’s not true. I’m book smart, theoretical, and don’t always understand right away how some of the things that are obvious to a lot of people work. With a lot of things, I’m a bit slow, and I need things spelled out to me.

But I know when I’m being made fun of, laughed at behind my back… I know it. I’m aware that it happens.

But here’s the thing. The thing is, I don’t care about it. If people have nothing better to do than make fun of me, then I feel sorry for them. If that’s what they want to spend their time on, then that’s their time being wasted, their life. I’m not gonna waste my time caring about it, because I lose so much precious time that way. Life may be long, but it might be short. We never know how much time we’re gonna get and I don’t want to waste mine. I want to focus on doing things that are good for me, that bring joy to my soul. I don’t want to care about people who have negative opinions about me.

And I want to share a poem with you. It’s one of my favourite pieces of writing, I’ve copied it down so many times, and I might have shared it on my blog before, but I wanted to share it again:

I love being horribly straightforward. I love sending reckless text messages (because how reckless can a form of digitized communication be?) and telling people I love them and telling people they are absolutely magical humans and I cannot believe they really exist. I love saying, Kiss me harder, and You’re a good person, and, You brighten my day. I live my life as straight-forward as possible.

Because one day, I might get hit by a bus.

Maybe it‚Äôs weird. Maybe it‚Äôs scary. Maybe it seems downright impossible to just be‚ÄĒto just let people know you want them, need them, feel like, in this very moment, you will die if you do not see them, hold them, touch them in some way whether its your feet on their thighs on the couch or your tongue in their mouth or your heart in their hands.

But there is nothing more beautiful than being desperate.

And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care.

We are young and we are human and we are beautiful and we are not as in control as we think we are. We never know who needs us back. We never know the magic that can arise between ourselves and other humans.

We never know when the bus is coming.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄĒRachel C. Lewis, Tell The People You Love That You Love Them

Xoxo

Julie

Summer Freedom

There’s just two weeks left of my summer job and I’m only just now starting to feel like the time I’m not at work is MY time to do whatever I want. I’ve not had uni to deal with since my last exam on June 5th, why has it taken me so long to feel free? My summer job lasts 8 weeks, meaning it’s taken me 6 weeks to get to this point. This really baffles me. What have I been doing for so long? I honestly have no idea.

I think the feelings of freedom started when my parents went away on holiday. The first time I really felt free this summer was a day where I was on nobody’s time but my own. My parents had gone away for the day and were eating dinner out, my brother had plans to go on a hiking trip, and the weather was lovely so instead of going home after work I went on a forest walk by myself, just listening to happy music and playing Pok√©mon GO and enjoying life, because no one was waiting for me with food or anything like that. It was a lovely feeling.

Whenever I’ve been home for a weekend or even longer, during the past 6 years of living in the city and going to university, I’ve spent a lot of time with my parents. I’ve sat in the living room watching whatever they’re watching on TV, I’ve hung out with them, going for walks, going with them to shops etc. I’ve spent very little time to myself, next to no time in my room except for to sleep. The reason for this, is that I’ve sometimes not known when would be the next time I’d get to come home – it might be weeks or months until the next time, and therefore I’ve felt that I need to spend all the time with them.

Now that they’ve been on holiday, I’ve been entirely on my own. Taking care of the house, cooking for myself, spending time doing whatever I’ve wanted to do. I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve only read, I’ve had a few days where I’ve needed to do a lot of chores but it hasn’t been so bad. I’ve spent two mornings and an evening editing pictures for a friend, watched a movie, played a lot of Mario Kart on my laptop… I’ve taken back my time, even though no one has demanded that I do anything else anyway, it’s been liberating.

I’m moving, in 16 days from today. I’ll need to start packing soon, to prepare for the move as I’ve no idea when I’ll be back to pick up more stuff, and I can only bring a suitcase and my carry-on. But even so, I don’t feel the pressure that I’ve felt before, that I need to spend as much of my waking time with my family as possible. Because it’s not necessary to be around someone 100% of the time or to talk to them all the time to know and show that you love them, care about them, like them… It’s perfectly fine to take time to yourself, be by yourself, do things for yourself. Because YOU are the only one who has to be around you 100% of the time, and it’s important to do things that make YOU happy, that make YOU able to live with the person you are.

xoxo

Julie