Thanksgiving & Historical Hair

I’m not sure if “Happy” is the correct word to put with “Thanksgiving” this year. I think many of us are so tired, beaten down, depressed or angry for one reason or another that while we’re thankful to have survived this far, a lot of us probably still aren’t all that “happy”.

That said, we have survived this far, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel, so while it may be a ways off yet, we can make it. We just have to keep slogging along, and do the one thing that seems to be the most difficult for humans to do – stay away from each other for a little while longer.

Admittedly, I don’t really have an issue with that like a lot of people, so it’s really not a hardship for me to eschew family gatherings and such. Honestly, it’s kind of a convenient excuse. I’ll be spending Thanksgiving with just my husband this year, and making a nice dinner tailored to our own tastes. Nothing to complain about as far as that goes.

In other news, I’ve recently become fascinated with historical hairstyles/styling. The thing about growing your hair out is, if you don’t focus on the goal, you are pretty constantly tempted to chop the whole thing off again during the awkward “in between” stages of growth. I’ve been buying fun hair accessories and even pony tail holders in anticipation of my hair being long enough to use them, and one day a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon a YouTube channel of a historian demonstrating how to care for hair during…the Edwardian period, maybe? I can’t remember really, but it started my spiral down into the world of historical hair care and styling, and I’ve been watching similar videos every since. Here’s a different hair video I watched this weekend…fun and fascinating, methinks!

Needless to say, the wait for long enough hair to braid (or “plait”) again is even more excruciating while I watch because I want to “play” too, but also something I’m really looking forward to. A few more months and I should be able to do quite a bit more with my own mop.

I got very little writing in last week, and that’s something I’d really like to change. So along with a really good ham, scalloped potatoes & sweet potato pie dinner this week, I’d like to get some words in consistently. With any luck, I’ll hit four mornings out of five, and have another fun something for Friday.

Until then, I do wish you the happiest Thanksgiving you can possibly have.


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Words…Words…Words…

When I got the nifty little writing machine I’m typing this on now (The Freewrite Traveler, which I mentioned a couple weeks ago), it was right before NaNoWriMo. I haven’t won NaNo in years, and only jump in occasionally now, but I thought, ” What the heck? Jump in. See what happens.”

Well. What’s happened so far is a whole lot of not much. I barely have 2k words so far, and I’m struggling to even write 500 words in a session, much less 1667 in a day (The amount normally needed to “win” at 50k words for the month). I haven’t made the time or found the headspace to be disciplined about it at all.

But, it’s okay. This morning during my normal writing time, I opened up the story, took a look at where I was, and decided I needed to know a couple of key things before I moved forward again. I often start writing with just a character and a scene, and “learn” what happens as I write. This time, I started the story with a girl – Lexi – in serious distress, and I really wanted to know what might have caused it, and what, ultimately, she was looking for. I don’t need to know the details just yet, but I needed to know the base motivations so I could make some sort of sense out of what was happening.

So I spent my writing time this morning (and part of my shower time, because the best place to think is often in the shower) working all that out. And now I know what she was doing before, what happened to send her into the spiral where I first met her, and what she’s ultimately looking for in life.

I feel good about this. I still have no idea where the story is headed, really, but I know Lexi well enough that she’ll tell me the rest of the story if I keep writing, and it’s probably going to be kind of a wild ride.

The most important thing is, now I’m hooked. I want to know what happens next, and the only way for me to find out is to write it. To give Lexi a voice. Am I up to the task? There’s only one way to find out.

I think maybe it’s time for the return of Fiction Fridays, considering I haven’t published anything in…well, a long while. Interested? Come back Friday. We’ll both see what happens.


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New Tool, New Focus

For anyone who missed the news on FB, my covid test came back negative, so yay! I’m back at the office for work (well, not today, since it’s a federal holiday, but generally speaking), my friend is also back at work, and…life goes on.

Today is undoubtedly one of the most important and pivotal elections in US history, so I hope if you’re a US citizen, you have voted or will vote. Yes, I did vote, early and absentee, as I always do. It’s convenient that I work at the county courthouse, so I just have to bring my ballot to work and drop it in the box.

Being a government employee does have its perks, one of which is getting Federal Election days off. So I have today off, and fully plan on *not* watching any election news or results. I’d planned to finish fixing the toilets, but…with the way my day started this morning (not exactly “good”), I decided to scuttle that until the weekend.

Instead, I spent the morning emailing a friend and frittering too much time away on Facebook. I also finished taking the rest of our Halloween decor down. And after I finish this post, I shall grab my new, beautiful writing tool, the Freewrite Traveler (which I ordered off a Kickstarter campaign around 2 years ago – it just arrived in the mail yesterday), and get a belated start on a NaNoWriMo novel. I haven’t done NaNo in a few years (not seriously, anyway), and I’m not terribly serious about it this year either, but I need something to grab my focus and hold it for awhile. Something that’s not work, and not politics and not covid and not…well, any of the other “2020” themed chaotic rabble.

The whole reason I ordered the Traveler is because it has something my laptop will never have – an e-ink screen. Like a traditional Kindle or Nook and my reMarkable tablet, the Traveler doesn’t have any backlighting at all to burn my already-stressed corneas out. I can stare at the screen for hours, like a print book, without any discomfort (other than, you know, that general “eyes need sleep” thing).

It also has a beautiful full keyboard that I do wish was a little more “clicky”, but it’s better than average, and it’ll do the trick. I also really wish the keyboard was pretty much any color but white. The oils in my hands are going to make that look dingy very quickly, unfortunately. But, as long as it works well, I’ll be happy. I wrote 56 words on it before bed last night, and it was comfortable, for the most part, so…I’m excited.

This year has been one of the oddest, most chaotic years I’ve ever lived through, and I find myself with the perspective that since everything is in a period of change, I should take this opportunity to make some personal changes too. From how I look (I mean…hair!), to what I wear, and how I structure my days, it feels like it’s time to just sort of flip everything into a giant Yahtzee cup and shake it up. Some things will come out the same, and other things will be vastly different, and this year, that feels okay. Maybe that’s exactly what’s needed.

In any case, more on that later (along with a rant about appliances and my new microwave). Until then, don’t forget to vote, be polite and civilized to those you interact with during and after, and be kind. The world (or our country, at least) could use a return to kindness and civility at the very least, in my opinion.

Now, a story is calling me….


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And Then…Quarantine

I suppose it was bound to happen at some point, but the fact that I’m currently in quarantine and awaiting Covid-19 test results speaks directly to the fact that while I’m extremely introverted on a good day, I’m not quite introverted enough.

A friend of mine from work tested positive last week, and she happens to be the only person aside from my husband that I spend an appreciable amount of time with unmasked and probably 5ft instead of 6ft away from (we both still have fairly wide personal space bubbles, pandemic or no). I stay well back from everyone else in my office, wear a mask whenever I’m out of my office, and also whenever I’m around people when not at work. I keep interactions outside of work brief, and we haven’t been to a movie or eaten in a restaurant since cases here started spiking a few weeks ago.

So when my friend got sick (her role requires her to be around a lot more people than I, unfortunately, and we’re pretty sure we know about where her armor chink would have been), she went home right away, but I’d been chatting with her just the night before, which made me a “close contact”.

I didn’t think too much of it, but I did make sure to be extra cautious in keeping my distance from co-workers and while doing my errands that weekend. Then Monday late, my throat started getting sore, and I told my boss the next morning that I needed to work from home for awhile, just in case.

My friend’s test results came back Wednesday, she called me to tell me, and I went and got tested Thursday, because while my throat wasn’t all that sore by then, I’d still had a cough and some pressure in my chest here and there, and a headache that had been flirting here and there. No point in waiting, and better to know one way or the other, I figured.

When you get tested here, they tell you to quarantine for 14 days past the day of your last contact with the positive person if you’re a close contact, whether your test comes back positive or not. If you have symptoms, you have to stay quarantined for at least 10 days past when the symptoms started, provided your symptoms are resolving and you’ve had no fever in the previous 24 hrs.

My ten days are up as of this Weds, so as long as I feel better and haven’t had a fever in 24 hours, I should be able to break quarantine on Thursday. If I do test positive, I have a pretty light case so far, as long as it doesn’t worsen over the next few days. I’ve been throwing a lot of turmeric and garlic at it, along with some other herbal remedies. Surprisingly, the one thing that seems to help the most is honey in my tea. I prefer my tea unsweetened, but whatever works at the moment. I consider myself extremely lucky not to have gotten any worse thus far.

My friend, not so much. She’s had to deal with pretty much every bad symptom in the book, and I’m quite worried about her. She’s had ups and downs and muscle pain and no taste and taste and no smell and felt better for several days then plunged to no energy whatsoever…it’s been a serious roller coaster ride of illness, and it’s not over yet.

I hope I’m negative, and that I can get back to the office Thursday. Little things like doing a Costco run are also on my list of “to-dos” for when I can leave the house again. I will say that working from home hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be, but…I do really miss my bigger monitors, standing desk, and ergonomic keyboard. I also miss the demarcation between personal and work life that going to the office and coming home provides. I know plenty of people have managed to figure it out while they work from home this year, and I’m sure I could eventually too, but I’m not all that good at it yet.

So…just another weird week in 2020, I guess. Fingers crossed that things can get back to the new relative normal soon, and if you can spare some good thoughts, prayers, rituals or spell-chanting for my friend, all would be appreciated.


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Best Laid Plans…and a Whine.

I feel like all I’m doing lately is planning. Revamping routines. Trying to figure out how to do things more efficiently and get my day-to-day life under enough control that I don’t feel so…adrift.

It’s my way of dealing with the stress of this crazy year. Control as much as I can ahead of time so that when the out-of-my-control issues hit, I’m more mentally able to deal with them. I’m telling you right now…it’s only partially working. I still feel like I’m in a constant state of adrenal overload, and when those other things hit, it’s just one more thing on the all-stress, all-the-time channel.

Most recent on the “more stress” report (or maybe just more disappointment, for this one), we got a ton of snow this weekend (the “broke records/up to my knees” variety). It’s not going to be melting anytime soon either – cold and more snow are forecast for the whole next week. We normally get snow in late October, and often on Halloween (it rarely even sticks), but this is early, and the record we broke for the snowfall amount was set in 1949.

I like snow, and it’s really not that cold, but our landscaper was going to try to get started on our front yard mid-October…which is now. Or next week. Regardless, they can’t work on the yard (or dig it up) if it’s covered in snow. Unless the weather is really nice in November, we may be looking at spring before our landscaping project gets done. Dammit.

And of course we’ve done zero decorating in the yard for Halloween, because…landscaping. We can’t do any decorating until the landscaping is done, or until it’s officially pushed back to spring. So we’re too far behind to do anything big in the decorating realm, which is about the most annoying thing ever with Halloween actually being on a Saturday with a full moon this year.

We will still be handing out candy bars (full-size) to anyone who comes to the house, but the decorations may be extremely sparse because…2020. Yes, we’ll be wearing masks and gloves.

*sigh* Two and a half more months. Will things start looking up at the turn of the new year? One can only hope, but I’m betting more on next July.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here futzing with plans and tweaking routines and working to find something to blog about other than plans, lack thereof, and the cyclone that is this entire year. There has to be something more thought-provoking I could share/opine on.

In fact, that will be my next planning challenge. More interesting blog posts from now until the end of the year.

Though I can’t promise no planning posts in mid-late December. Because…resolutions.


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Painless Physical Productivity – the Next Frontier

Sometimes, when a person has let herself get really out of shape, and then decides to…do stuff, it hurts.

A lot.

Okay, okay. It’s not *that* bad, but I do have some serious aches and pains going on, and it’s largely the fault of my lack of physical fitness. I mean, it’s also partially because I fell over the Murphy-dog in a dark hallway the other morning (yes, he’s fine, but I twisted myself up making sure *not* to smash him), but even that wouldn’t have been as bad if I’d been in better shape overall.

I do yoga, and I walk when the weather’s decent, but I don’t do nearly as much lifting or weight-training as I should, and it is painfully evident after moving straw bales, taking a metal arch down, and working on a plumbing problem for the better part of a day (it’s partially fixed – but still needs work).

There was a time when all of this wouldn’t even phase me physically. Just another weekend, no biggie. I’ve gotten so much lazier as I’ve gotten older, and it’s not serving me well in the least.

This does seem to be the year of painful change, doesn’t it? And as much as I love sitting on my butt, I need to get off of it and…well, move. Not only do I have things to do that requires me to sit, I also have things to do that require me to move, and it really, really shouldn’t be painful to be productive. That just makes me want to…not be productive.

I think this every time I do something that should be painless, and then hurt the next several days. And then I think I’m going to fix it, but I have to wait so long to heal (another “perk” of getting older) that my good intentions get lost in the healing period, and the cycle continues without me getting stronger.

That’s just stupid.

So, since I’m embracing the “year of perpetual change” in so many other ways, might as well add this to my list too, right? Walking the dogs and yoga are both great ways to work out, and I need to start chasing Pokemon again for an afternoon workout, but there’s one other thing I need to do, and that is to add a weight training element in two to three nights per week. Twenty minutes is all it would take to raise the level of my strength exponentially. Two upper body and one back/abdomen workout would give me some pretty dramatic results in terms of strength and stamina. Walking/climbing stairs is sufficient for my legs, though I do have ankle weights I could walk with to give that a boost too. Might have to dig those out. But definitely the nightly weight training sessions. That would help more than anything else.

And that would almost undoubtedly improve my motivation for getting off the couch, and getting stuff done.

So, a workout calendar seems appropriate. Nothing pre-filled or anything like that, but a calendar to record workouts on. Give stars for. Something fun to look forward to completing, just because.

But! I’m not waiting until the end of the calendar year to start, I’m starting right away. It’s going on my schedule. We’re doing this. At least one workout, this week.

Only I have to wait just a couple more days, for a couple of the “injuries” I sustained just yesterday to have a little more healing time.

Dammit.


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Weariness, Planning, Hair, & Granola Culture

I think it’s safe to say we’re all tired of the pandemic. I’ve heard from more than one person lately that they’re just tired of it all, tired of thinking about it, tired of the mask thing, tired of staying away from people. They’re ready to throw in the towel and go back to just living life normally, letting whatever happens, happen.

We humans do tend to have a painfully short attention span, unfortunately.

I’m tired of thinking about it too, and tired of masks, and constantly analyzing whether my sneezing fit is caused by smoke and fall allergens, or if it’s the dreaded Covid monster. I’m not really tired of staying away from people, but I am tired of having to think before going to dinner, or planning a night at the movies three weeks in the future – will our infected rates be going down or up by then?

But, I’m not going to stop taking precautions just yet. Yes, we have some very promising treatments, and the mortality rate has gone down quite a bit. We are less likely to die from it now than we were a few months ago, just because doctors and scientists are more informed, and have several really good treatment options they can employ right away.

Thing is, they still don’t know what causes some people to react worse than others to the virus, and the long-term effects are still a possibility for anyone. And frankly, I’d rather not put my body through that if I don’t have to. So as tired as I am of all of it, I’ll keep masking up inside and around large groups of people. And I’ll keep evaluating case loads and numbers before I decide whether or not to do something. Because it seems like the responsible thing to do, both to avoid getting sick, and to avoid giving it to someone else who may be affected badly by it.

If you think that’s “living in fear”, well, sure it is, to a point. I’m allowing fear to make me cautious. And in this case, I’m okay with that, because the potential threat is still largely unknown. That’s what our innate fear response is for – to keep us safe. I’m merely listening to mine, because it seems logical/practical to do so.

Last week I posted about focus and planning, and I’m happy to report that on that front, really good progress was made. Every night, I took 15 minutes and made to-do lists for work and home, and then I scheduled all the things I needed to get done (and could reasonably expect to do) for the next day. Not only did that make my entire day a lot easier and less stressful, I was far, far more productive, even with a million different interruptions. It felt good, and I’m definitely going to keep that up. It was so…refreshing to be able to just know what I wanted to work on when, and be able to kind of just put the rest of it out of my mind because I *knew* it was already scheduled, and that I’d left plenty of time to work on it, so it would get done and I didn’t need to stress about anything.

I did, however, fail to do any planning whatsoever for the weekend, and…that kind of hosed me up as far as productivity goes. I’ll be more mindful of that for next week, and actually schedule those planning times on my to-do list so that maybe I can have a little more control over my weekend as well.

As for my hair-growth project…it’s kind of stressing me out. It’s at the point now where it’s just going to be difficult to manage for the next few months, and my confidence is waning. I’m having trouble with the idea that it might affect the way I’m treated, both at work and in other social situations. I’m excited at the prospect of having more versatility again, but there’s this voice in the back of my head that’s afraid to just ignore what people obviously respond well to (my short hair, in this case), just because I want something different.

I just remember how things changed for the better when I cut it off, and I’m afraid all that will revert as my hair gets longer (especially in this stupid grow-out stage when it’s just going to be unruly).

We’ll see, I guess. I can always chop it back off, if I find that I just need that coiffed-pixie look again. When I cut it off before, it was mainly for other people. Now I’m growing it out for me, but I’m keenly aware of the perks that come with keeping it short. It’s…difficult to do what I want when I know that the option that serves me better both socially and in the workplace is something different.

I guess it’s like my tattoos all over again, in a way. And I maybe just need to keep reminding myself that once it gets past my shoulders, I can just wear my hair up whenever I need that “short-hair” boost, and then be free to leave it down for myself evenings and weekends.

Am I superficial for spending so much brain power on my hair? Sure, I guess. But honestly? I’d rather worry about that right now than all the other more serious things I could be anxious about.

For my next personal change of 2020 – I plan on buying some flannel shirts, and re-embracing the granola culture I spent my college years in. Not because I want to go back to college (definitely not), but because it’s comfortable, and it feels more like “me”.

I can’t decide if I’m “devolving” or “evolving” given that I’m basically going back to who I was in my 20’s. I guess the real question is, do I care? The answer right now is, not enough to stop. We’ll see what happens as the months go on.

Rest assured that whatever happens, I will never wear socks with my Birkenstocks. And I don’t even own crocs. I do still have *some* standards.


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Finding Focus

I’m sitting here on my ottoman, a whole list of things I want to get done, not doing any of them (at least not until I started writing this blog post), and wondering why I spend so much time thinking about what I want/need to get done as opposed to actually *doing* it. I do this everywhere…though I am somewhat more focused at work when I can be (which isn’t as much as I’d like, because…other people).

That said, even here at home, by myself (well, just me and the dogs), I am…unsettled. Unfocused. I know what I want/need to do, but I can’t decide what to do first, or for how long, or what to do when I get interrupted, or…well, you get the picture.

Part of the problem is that I’m interrupted so often (even here at home), that I have trouble getting into anything because it seems futile. I know that happens a *lot* at work, and here at home with the dogs too. I’ve gotten so used to that, and it’s so disruptive to being “in the zone” with anything that I often just don’t even try. I pick at things, piecemeal, afraid to get too deep since an interruption is inevitably just around the corner instead of really focusing. It’s far less efficient and less satisfying than being able to actually put my head down and work steady for a good couple hours on the same project, but it’s often all I can do to actually make progress on anything.

Even just now, writing this post, I had to get up to let the dog in, but when I sat back down, I checked my email before coming back to this. Is there anything else that needs my attention? Do I need to shift focus again? Is it okay to try to get back in the zone for another twenty minutes or so?

I’ve trained my brain to be like this, to just work shallowly around all the interruptions throughout my day, and I get stuff done, but not nearly as efficiently or satisfyingly as I could if I were able to actually focus, even for just a full hour at a time.

Thing is, I probably could, it’s just that I hate being pulled out of the focus zone so much, and it’s happened so often, that the fear (or certainty) of it happening again keeps me from allowing myself to really delve into anything at all. And I’ve trained myself to give into that fear, unfortunately. Which means to “fix” it, there are a couple of things I really need to work on.

The first is planning. I’ve gotten lazy about both keeping track of projects and scheduling the smaller parts of the whole. The only way to be able to focus on anything is to first know what it is I wanted to focus on in the first place. I have a ton of projects to keep track of for work, and also a bunch for both the house and my writing. Today I wasted a ton of time just trying to decide whether to clean first, or write this blog post, or do some editing, or rearrange furniture…and that’s only four different things! If I had a running list of to-dos, and then either late last night or first thing this morning, I looked at that list and my day and actually scheduled when I wanted to do what, I wouldn’t have wasted all that time. I would have had a plan to follow, and even if I was interrupted or thrown off the schedule, I still would have been able to pick it back up from the last undone thing, and could have continued from there.

I have the tools to do this. I have a main calendar program and a list program that is easily used for automated reminders and scheduling. I also have a digital paper tablet that I can hand-write on (which often works best for me when making initial lists before they get scheduled into the automated one). The only thing I don’t have? A routine habit for maintaining the system.

The second thing I need will arguably be more difficult, and that is to somehow get over the fear of being interrupted, and learn to get into the “zone” of focused work more quickly so that even when I am interrupted, I don’t lose so much time. Part of that is knowing what I need to do when, but the other part is just retraining my brain so that when the interruption has been dealt with, I just check my list, figure out what I’m supposed to be working on next, and then just slide right back into it. That is a discipline thing, and it’s going to mostly involve using my to-do list to “trigger” my brain into focus-mode. It’s going to involve a lot of willpower.

I’ve been employing that throughout writing this post. Whenever I feel myself losing focus, I close my eyes briefly, remind myself that I’m writing a blog post, and then continue. I think what I’m going to do after I’ve finished this is to rearrange the screens on my cell phone so that my to-do list is the only thing on my home screen. That way, after any interruption throughout the day, I can unlock my phone, my to-do list will be right there, and at the top will be whatever is scheduled for the day and not yet checked off.

I think doing these two things – maintaining a to-do list/calendar and using it to trigger/ground my focus after every interruption, I can alieviate at least a little stress from my life, and hopefully spend more time actually focused on tasks rather than wondering what I should work on next or picking at things piecemeal throughout the day.

Next up on today’s impromptu to-do list: Update the actual to-do list, and schedule a time (either late night or early morning) to pick the priority items for any given day.

This sort of thing is why I should take vacation days more often. I have a hard time stepping back, looking at what’s causing me stress, and figuring out how to fix it when I don’t have time and space to just be quiet and think. Evaluation/re-evaluation days are important.


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Time for a Retreat

I don’t know if it’s the year, or just the fact that I’m getting older, but I’m starting to have trouble keeping track of things. Work projects, personal projects, health stuff…things I really need to keep track of and could easily just track in my head previously. Call it age, call it pre-menopausal brain fog, or just the stress of the “Year of Constant Change”, but I feel like I’m catching up instead of keeping up more than usual, and I’m not gonna lie – between that and politics, I’m stressed out.

Stress isn’t good for us. Constant stress, even less so. And when I was looking at the top of my growing-out hair the other day and found that my natural part line was quite a bit wider than it should be, I did what any sane woman would do and freaked the heck out.

I did that quietly, because my husband is nearly bald, and there’s really not much to be done for male pattern baldness (that I know of). So I am trying to be sensitive to that, but whether we like it or not, society judges women more strictly than men on their looks, and hair is a big part of that.

Naturally, I went searching WebMD and YouTube for pics and information (I consider WebMD to be pretty reliable, considering I’ve sat in a doctor’s office and watched them look stuff up there on numerous occasions). And I found that my widening part is called female pattern baldness, it’s either Type I or II (hard to say from the pics) and while it can sometimes be genetic, there are several other things that can cause it – mostly internal health issues like thyroid problems, anemia (which I tend towards), illness, and *stress*. Best of all, most of those things can be treated and the hair loss reversed from the inside out.

Last spring I was very sick for an extended period of time. I got sick shortly before the pandemic became a “thing”, and was ill for over two months. I was in the middle of a very stressful work project when I got whatever it was I got (I don’t think it was covid, but who knows), and I didn’t start getting better until four weeks in when the project was finally finished (recovery was incredibly slow). But during that time, there was a day or two where I noticed actual clumps of my hair coming out in the shower. So I’m wondering if that’s when this slight baldness started. Maybe it was worse then – I wasn’t going to the hair dresser or dying my roots then, so I wasn’t really looking at the back/top of my head much, and I expected to get it cut again, so I wasn’t too worried about hair health.

I haven’t noticed any major hair loss since then, so hopefully I just need to get “de-stressed”, make sure my iron is up, get my thyroid checked (will happen automatically with our required wellness blood check for work this fall), and make sure I’m giving my adrenal glands what they need.

The medical stuff is all well and good, and all things I’ll definitely take care of and monitor. But the stress…man…this year, keeping that down to a managable level is nearly impossible.

*Nearly* being the operative word. I can do this, I just need to be very mindful of it.

I need to stop paying so much attention to the news…and FB is the worse place for that, I’ve found. Facebook just shoves it right in my face, so to speak – it’s hard to ignore or get away from it there. So I need to really limit my FB time, and when I am there, I need to ignore that little red dot on the “News” icon telling me there’s new stuff to scan. I know everything is currently running at near-apocalyptic levels without FB telling me every single hour of the day. I need to focus on my immediate life, and the day-to-day that I’m having trouble keeping track of. I’m hoping that not letting the news cycle get to me as much will also help me regain some focus both personally and professionally.

I know who I’m voting for, both at the federal and local levels. The pandemic is what it is, and I’m taking the precautions I feel the need to take while not panicking too much about it. I don’t need constant input or news for either of those two subjects – I just need to keep on keeping on. Stay the course, so to speak.

I also need to take some time off and regroup. Do something for me. Something that will overshadow everything else, and allow me to just focus inwardly for awhile. So I’m going to do just that Thursday of this week. I’ve scheduled vacation days for this Thurs-Fri, and next Mon-Tues (that tends to work better than to take one full week…I get called less by work if I’m not out for a full 5 days of any given week for some reason).

Thursday at 2pm, I have an appointment at the tattoo shop to start a full back piece that will require at least four, maybe five sessions over as many months coming up. It will be a huge project, and will require me to focus on my own body, staying healthy, healing properly, and taking good care of the artwork.

For those of you sputtering, “but…the pandemic!” Yes, I know. Really. I truly did weigh this decision against the health risks quite heavily before deciding to schedule it. And part of the reason I have six days off is so I can isolate myself completely while the wound is fresh, and not be anywhere other people are until it’s healed enough to seal over. I have everything planned to where I won’t have to leave the house from Thursday night all the way through the following Weds, except to walk my dogs at night (I don’t come into contact with others while doing that). I can focus solely on taking care of my skin, and more importantly, keeping my stress levels down while I figure out how to get back on track and *keep myself there*.

Call it a personal, literal retreat.

The fact is, I need to do something drastic. Something that will get my focus off of everything for a few days and allow me to reset my mind in a better place. And I know from experience that getting tattooed gets me there. It’s a form of therapy for me – not just getting the tattoo (which requires focus and discipline to deal with varying levels of pain for hours on end), but healing it afterward. It’s what I need right now. So that’s what I’m going to do.

Are you stressed out or overwhelmed with the year? What are you doing to take care of yourself and “get centered”, so to speak? When’s the last time you “took time” to retreat from the world?


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Body Talk

Ah, the human body. It’s only as high maintenance as we make it, I guess, but just doing whatever without taking the effects on the body under advisement can lead to…well, a much shorter, more difficult life in general. Too bad that realization doesn’t really make the constant attention to maintenance any less annoying.

With that in mind, a few things from the past week:

– The bathroom scale is now registering high enough when I step on that I was forced to face the fact that my experiment with adding more bread and cookies back into my diet is a complete failure. I’ve started imposing restrictions again and am already seeing downward movement. Call it bloat or “water weight” or whatever you’d like, the fact is, my body does not process breads and flour-based foods well. Moderation is a *must* – no getting around that. I need to plan better for next week so I have alternatives ready, and can easily limit both calories and breads/pastas/flour-based treats.

– Still on the subject of food, I tried not-snacking in the afternoons to limit calories, but the brain drop is severe enough to stifle productivity, and it wasn’t helping with the weight issue anyways. Tried nuts again, still not as helpful as I wanted. Then a co-worker shared a single thin mint (girl scout cookie, for those poor unfortunate souls who don’t know), and the chocolate/slight bit of sugar definitely seemed to help. Tried it again the next day (with a single dark chocolate cashew-butter cup), and same thing. In the meantime, the scale is still moving down (inching, but not going up, which is the important part). The nice thing about this is, I don’t like chocolate well enough to sit and eat a whole candy bar or pack of chocolate (it’s not like…say, Pringles or gummy worms, both of which I will consume the entire can or bag of before I even consider stopping). I really don’t like milk chocolate, but I like dark in small doses, and just a very small piece is plenty for one day. So I got some Bark Thins in this week’s grocery order, and I’m going to try one in the late afternoons for the next week. If it works the way things have been working, that’s a total win for me.

– I dyed my hair this week, but unlike previous times, I did the roots first, and then the rest of my hair for less time. Because I’m growing my hair out, I’m worried that dyeing my whole head like normal will result in the lower part becoming much darker than the roots, because they come in white, and henna is permanent (so it doesn’t wear out, and I’m not chopping the length off anymore). It went okay, though I still ended up with lighter roots than I was hoping for. I’ll have to experiment a little more, I guess. One person who also uses henna just does her whole head all the time, and doesn’t have a problem with the roots blending (or not). So maybe I’m making it more complicated than it needs to be? We’ll see. It will be about 6 weeks before my roots start bugging me again. We’ll see how it looks when this dye job has grown out that far, and make a decision then.

– When I dye my hair, it’s a three-hour project (because that’s just how long it takes for natural pigments). I have to take my earrings out first, which is another hour or more project after just choosing a theme and putting all my jewelry back in. Saturday nights are nail nights, so that’s another three-hours (remove polish, cutting, filing/shaping, buffing, polishing). And Friday nights are foot-care night, which is an hour for filing, soaking, and moisturizing. Plus random eyedrops & hand lotion – because…dry is bad.

So all in all, I spent a full workday or more just on physical maintenance this weekend. I don’t do that every weekend, of course, but…it just struck me as a lot of time spent just…maintaining. Obviously I choose to do that, and none of it is strictly necessary, though all of it makes my life easier in various ways. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing or it just…is.

I don’t think I want to make any different decisions at this point, but…it is a lot of time spent.


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