Quick Update

Good Monday, dear readers!

It is Monday the 22nd of April, Earth Day, Easter Monday, and a bank holiday. It has been nearly two weeks since my last blog post, two weeks minus two days, as the week before last I posted both on Monday and on Wednesday. Last Monday, I didn’t have a post prepared, and I was in no mental state to write one. The last two or three Mondays for me have been… hard. Bad mental health days. Why Mondays? I have no idea. It could have something to do with me being rejected for literally every job I have applied for in the last few months, a feeling I am unfamiliar with up until this point (I’ve had a few jobs, but I was also in school and uni and not technically in need of them, and I’ve only been rejected from two – one I group interviewed for, and one I never heard back from after applying). It’s exhausting…

I spent much of the weekend before last playing the open beta of Anno 1800, re-familiarising myself with the game, as the closed beta in February was my first time playing any Anno game (read my post about that here). The game released in full on Tuesday last week. I spent a lot of the week playing it, trying and failing, trying different settings, with and without pirates, trying different building styles… I’ve gotten to the point where I have some of each population class now. But my single player save is kind of a mess at this point. I really just wanted to get to the end, but it turns out I’m having a lot of issues with my trade routes and I need more engineers and investors to get further in the game but I also cannot upgrade my artisans to engineers or my engineers to investors because I’m unable to cover their basic needs, and I get riots because I cannot satisfy their happiness. Hopefully I can salvage this, I might actually go back in and downgrade so that I don’t have as many different population classes to try to satisfy at once. I could just start over, but that feels like giving up on an island I was actually very happy with up until this point, so I’ll probably try to fix it.

The weather’s been nice. Yesterday, I actually sat on the step in front of the house eating my breakfast outside. It reminded me of my grandmother, the one that’s passed away. When I was little and spending summers there, the sun was at the front of their house during the day, and she’d often say let’s eat on the stairs in front of the house! It was a new and exciting experience for me, not something we did at home. But she’d make me a sandwich and a glass of milk or juice and we’d sit on the steps eating breakfast in the sun. It’s something I’ve done in recent years at my parents house before work in the summer too, bring my coffee and my food outside and sit in the sun! Another thing I did yesterday was clear out the garage. I started at around 11-11.30, it was 3.30 when I finished, I didn’t realise how long I’d been at it for and it completely exhausted me for the rest of the day. It felt very good to have done it though! I spent the rest of the day lying in bed, cuddling a cat or two, and rewatching Reign on Netflix. I watched this show about two years ago, summer of 2017. I couldn’t remember all the things that happened in season 1, I thought for sure some of those incidents came later! And now that I’m approaching the end of season 2… There’s so much I didn’t remember. Despite the many, many flaws and historical inaccuracies (women’s hair and clothing to mention a couple), I do really like this show, I think the actors are brilliant, and a lot of the story pains me, which of course makes me like it because it has an affect on me. Today, my back is aching from the hard work of yesterday, but it’s a good ache. At least I’m not having another Monday infested by depression and anxiety…

I am writing this post at mid day on Monday. This will not be my only post for today though! I have another, which I’ve been working on over the last few days, which, providing my pictures being good, will be up tonight at my “normal” posting time. It is about the Urban Decay Game of Thrones makeup collection, which launched just over a week ago, on the same Sunday as the new and final season premiered! I’ve watched the first two episodes now. What do we think? I’ve heard some people refer to them as fillers, but I don’t agree – fillers are empty and play no part in the upcoming events, I think everything we’ve seen so far is definitely important for upcoming events. They’re builders, if anything. With a few bits and pieces to satisfy the audience (Arya in episode 2, I won’t say anything else, but you can’t deny that fans have been begging for it for years!).

By the way – the Easter egg arrived, and I put it in the back of a kitchen cupboard for a week. Then I got the two little packs of mini eggs out and had them last weekend. I didn’t get the actual egg from the kitchen until Wednesday night last week, and I’ve been eating a little bit every day. Since I count today as the last day of Easter, I will have the bit that remains today, probably tonight. All in all, things went well. The egg is so chocolatey that I feel ill if I have too much at once, which is actually a good thing, because it’s made it last!

I know I don’t have many people who read my posts, and I hardly ever actually get people talking to me in the comments, but I wanted to write this little update for my own sake. I’ve been so good at posting every Monday since the start of the year, last Monday was the first I missed, so to make up for it I’m posting two posts this Monday, and at least my post count is still up to date! Talk to me in the comments, tell me something good ❤

Xoxo

Julie

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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

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

 

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’s weird. Maybe it’s scary. Maybe it seems downright impossible to just be—to 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.”

—Rachel C. Lewis, Tell The People You Love That You Love Them

Xoxo

Julie

Personal Update

I wanted to write an entry a day for all of April. I’ve been using the schedule system for that, writing when I have something to write about, but I feel like I’ve hit a wall. I’ve lost the will to do things. And that goes for everything, not just blogging. I feel like I’ve gone numb.

Yesterday a friend asked me to come with her to one of our uni campuses to sit and work from around noon, and I didn’t answer her because just the thought of working on my thesis made me feel tight chested and brought tears to my eyes. I feel bad for not working, but the thought of working sends me into panic, so what am I supposed to do? For now, I’m just avoiding it. When it came down to fight or flight, I fled. And I’m not proud of that. But I don’t know what to do.

I spent a lot of Easter watching Grey’s Anatomy and going on trips with my parents, visiting my grandparents and my great-grandmother, taking our car to a service shop, driving to a place in the middle of nowhere where someone’s made an American Diner where people come from far away to eat and see. And sleeping. A lot of sleeping. 8-10 hours a night of sleeping.

Since I got back to the city I’ve been hiding in my room, when I’m not out shopping. Yesterday I went and bought some stuff and walked around town for a while. After I’m done writing this entry I’m going to do that all over again.

I’m working this weekend, at the museum. And I’ve got two weekends in May, since a girl quit. I might as well sell tickets and glasses and books, and make some money, since I’m incapable of working on my thesis, right?

My heart hurts, and I don’t know why. My parents, uncle, and grandfather put my grandmother’s urn in the ground earlier this week. That might be a contributing factor…

How are you all doing, dear readers?

~ Julie

Feling Like a Failure

The truth is, only about 40% of people in my country finish their master’s degrees on time. That means 60% take extra time. I’m a part of the 60. That’s the majority. 6 to 4 majority. 3 to 2 majority. Two thirds majority. That’s not a failure. It’s common.

Then how come I feel so bad? It’s got to be because I don’t fail things. I don’t do things halfway. I never have. I once found out that I had to write a screenplay for the next day, something we could make a short film out of. My host dad told me I had two options: try like hell, or give up. So I spent the entire evening rewriting a short story I made once into a screenplay. We ended up not using it, because another guy in my group wrote one that was more doable, and we used that, but I was so scared of failing the assignment that I did it anyway. I spent all of Christmas break writing an assignment once, because the research required to do it in addition to the rest of my school work took all of fall semester, and it was due in January.

I don’t do things halfway. Not when it comes to school anyway, because all I’ve been told all my life is that school work is the foundation. I have to get good grades in middle school to get into the program I want for high school. I have to get good grades my first year because I want to go on exchange my second year. I had to get good grades there so that I wouldn’t get sent home. I had to get good grades my senior year to get into the study program I wanted in uni. I had to get good grades on BA level to be accepted into the MA program. I got good grades on all of my course work on MA level, and now I have to get a good grade on my master’s thesis to top it all off, so that I can get a good job that I will enjoy and be good at and deserve. But now, I’m not finishing it in May like planned. Now I’m not getting my degree until December.

But I’m gonna get it. I’m gonna figure out how to write 80 pages. I’m gonna figure out how to analyze my data. I’m gonna figure out how to finish the whole damn thing without suffering from panic attacks and depression and the occasional suicidal thought. I’m gonna do it. I’m not gonna be a failure. I’m gonna be a winner. Slightly delayed, but still a winner. I’m gonna do it.

How to Take Care of Yourself (After Crying)

I wanted to write an entry on how to take care of yourself if you’ve had the kind of day I’ve been having a few of lately – days that include a lot of crying, no appetite, no willpower to do anything. So let’s just jump into it.

Firstly, if you’ve been crying for a while, or hours, or on and off the whole day, it’s very important to hydrate. Try to fill up a bottle of water and drink that, not all at once, just focus on getting the water down. And then fill it up again so that you have it on hand for when you get thirsty. I can usually feel that my mouth is dry, which I guess is related to having to breathe through my mouth because my nose is all blocked off. Green tea is also a good way to hydrate, if/when you get tired of water. Adding essential oils to your water is also good, especially citrus oils.

Secondly, wash your face. My face gets stiff and sticky from tears, and I like to wash it, remove any makeup that might be left on my face, and apply moisturizer. It helps me feel a little more human.

Thirdly, your nose is probably sore from having to blow it a lot. I like to apply a cream called Mentholatum, it contains menthol which is cooling on the skin, and it helps relieve pain and soreness from all the harsh paper – I am the kind of person that no matter what kind of tissue I use my nose will get sore so I don’t bother spending money on expensive tissue because it doesn’t work for me. The menthol also helps open up the nose; mine tends to be blocked for a long time after I’ve stopped crying.

Brush your hair. Get all those tangles out, and feel a little more alive. The goal here is for us to move forward, yes? And feeling a bit better about yourself, regardless of the situation, helps. I also like to put on a bit of makeup – some concealer, powder, and mascara. It covers up redness without looking overdone, and makes me feel like I look a little bit less of a mess, if nothing else.

Get some fresh air. It feels cooling on the skin – I always feel I get a bit warm when crying. Open your window, or go for a walk, or do both. Moving around can help. If you have a favorite park, go for a walk. Or go visit some shops in town, buy a new book or something else that you want. Buy yourself some flowers and put them in a room – not only do they look (and potentially smell) nice; plants also help with oxygen and stuff.

It’s also important to make sure your body gets the nutrients it needs. You need to eat proper food. That is not to say that comfort food can’t be proper food – earlier this week I ate avocado and tomato on toast for dinner because I didn’t feel like eating but I know that’s something I enjoy and that’s also good for my body. That being said, I did go to the store and bought pick n mix not long after. But, as they say, everything in moderation.

Lastly, I’d like to say that there is no shame in just taking an ibuprofen and going to bed. I often get headaches after crying, and I try not to overdo it on the medication side of things, but my doctor told me there’s no need to be as careful as I’ve been, because it won’t hurt me short term. Sometimes, a painkiller is just what I need to get my body to relax enough to get me a good night’s sleep. Which should not be underestimated! A good night’s sleep is important when it comes to every aspect of life, and factors like the temperature in the room, light noise, scents etc all affect these. It’s still pretty cold in Norway, so I open the vent instead of the window and leave the heating on low, and close my blinds. There’s not much noise around me so I don’t do anything to affect that, except if I’m feeling extremely bad, then I’ll put on Harry Potter on audiobook on my phone and fall asleep to that (I recommend using an app that let’s you set a sleep timer, otherwise it’ll probably wake you up at some point, which isn’t what we want here). As for scents, I like to apply lavender essential oil on my wrists and neck; it’s calming and it smells wonderful. I also have a small tin can of broken up Yankee Candle wax melts in lemon-lavender that I open up and leave on my bedside table before bed (I like to put the lid on whenever I’m not ‘using’ this, otherwise I can’t smell it as much, because I’m smelling it all the time).

So those were my tips for making yourself feel better and taking care of yourself after a round of crying. I hope this is able to help some people, somewhere in the world. If you have any additional tips, please leave them in a comment, I would love to hear!

~ Julie

Julie Advises

Today’s entry is not a very long or interesting one, but I wanted to give you some advice.

Do you ever have those days where you feel bad because you don’t feel like you’ve done anything? I do. All the time. Especially since having this huge project hanging over me, making me feel guilty every time I do something else. But if, like me, you have something so big like a master’s or doctoral thesis, or something else huge that’s constantly hanging over you, it’s important to take time to focus on yourself.

Today has been one of those days for me. I feel like I’ve not done much, but I’ve done some things.

  • I drank coffee
  • I made and ate breakfast with a 2nd cup of coffee
  • I wrote and scheduled several blog posts
  • I ate lunch
  • I took the bus to town and I walked around playing Pokemon GO for a couple of hours
  • I made tea
  • I took a shower
  • I ate dinner
  • I colored my eyebrows
  • I wore a moisturizing sheet mask for 20 minutes
  • I talked to my mom on the phone for over an hour
  • I told my mom about my mental issues and anxiety I’m experiencing, making it harder for me to work on my thesis than it should be
  • I cut trimmed all of my roses and put them in fresh water
  • I painted my nails
  • And most of these things I did while watching a whole 9 (!) episodes of Grey’s Anatomy on my laptop

So my tip to you is, if you feel like you’ve had an unproductive day and you feel guilty about it, write down everything you’ve done. Sort of like a reversed check-list. Chances are, you feel like you’ve done nothing all day, but you’ve probably done more than you realize.

Until next time,

~ Julie

Life Update 

Hello!

This entry is a quick update to the one I wrote two days ago, that you can read here if you haven’t read it already. 

To recap quickly, I’m struggling with panic attacks and depression related to my master’s thesis being due on the 15th of May. The amount of work is what’s causing the anxiety, and the anxiety makes me unable to work, so it’s a vicious circle. Yesterday I had a meeting with a guidance counselor, and we were in her office for 30-40 minutes and talked, and decided that the best for me is to apply for an extension. I filled out a standard form yesterday, and even though she told me to ignore the fact that it says I need to provide academic reasons and all that. I was still nervous after filling it out, even though she said it would go to her and she would approve it. But this morning I got an email saying I’ve got an extension and my new deadline is November 15th.

I should feel relieved. But I don’t. I feel numb. And weird. My body is tingling. I’m thirsty. I’m sleepy. I feel weird. My boyfriend says it could just be stress, built up stress, possibly leaving my body. The counselor told me to take “a few weeks off” to relax and get some distance from the thesis. I’m going to work tonight, and tomorrow I have an Indian themed dinner party to attend. On Saturday, I’m going home to my parents. To relax. Take care of myself. But how? How do I do that? All I’ve done for 19 years is go to school. I don’t know how to relax and take care of myself… How do I do that? 

~ Julie