Apartment Stories: Moving In

Near the end of May I moved in with Doug, boyfriend extraordinaire and love of my life. We had always planned on moving in together this year, but a shitty living situation at his old apartment (a neighbour with a reoccurring bedbug problem that became Doug’s reoccurring problem) had us looking for a place earlier than we anticipated.

Doug moved into our new place in January, and I lived at the apartment on the weekends. I was saving up for a car, which is why I wasn’t able to move in at the beginning of the year. The apartment though was always “ours”. My name was on the lease with his, we furnished and decorated together, and also moved in some of my stuff in January too.

Finally, I moved in at the end of May, and I have to say the first week was a bit rough for me. I have an anxiety problem, and ulcerative colitis. Each of those on their own sucks, but the fun times start when one of them sets off the other, and that’s what happened the first week of me officially moving in.

I am not good with change or with new things. Do I adapt and overcome and succeed? Absolutely. It just takes me a little bit longer than everyone else to do that. I think Doug was worried for the first week that I regretted moving in or that I was going to change my mind because I was just so anxious. And I kept reassuring him that it was simply because everything was new.

Lo and behold by week 2 and 3 I was no longer anxious. There was no hum zipping through me like electricity or anything. Do I still get anxious in general? Of course. It’s something I deal with on a regular basis, and Doug is amazingly wonderful for helping me deal, and just being supportive. But the “new apartment, this is where I live now” anxiety is completely gone because this is home.

Anxiety is fantastic at helping you live inside a little box where you get way too comfortable – and incredibly bored. So, as nerve-wracking as it is, you have to continuously push yourself to try new things and move forward because while the anxiety can get really bad, it never lasts, and it is so worth it when you get to the other side of “new”.

 

Stay tuned for next week’s Apartment Story!

5 Things: walks, books, musicals, and colouring

My 5 Things this week, is as ever, inspired by Emily and Cupcakes and Cashmere.

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Last weekend I hung out with my friends Carmen and Sarah, and we went to the east end of Toronto to have lunch, do a little shopping and to take a nice walk. This picture is from our walk in Glen Stewart park. It’s completely gorgeous and very peaceful.

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Last weekend I also went and saw Matilda the musical with my mom at the Ed Mirvish theatre. It was very cute, and I loved the story that Matilda told about the escape artist and the acrobat. The girl can definitely tell a tale. It also makes me want to read Matilda.

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The best boyfriend in the world (aka Doug) order me the new Harry Potter for my birthday back in March. He picked it up for me while I was at Matilda and dropped it off at my place, along with a chocolate glazed donut (my favourite), with a note on the bag that said, “because power reading needs a little energy xoxoxoxo.” How awesome is he?! Also, my review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is coming on Tuesday!

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I know that some people find adult colouring ridiculous, however, I find that it really helps me when my anxiety kicks in. This is one that I’ve been working on for a night or two, and I do it while I watch tv. I find that it gives my brain something else to concentrate on (because sometimes tv isn’t enough to keep my attention) and it also gives my hands something to do. It’s incredibly relaxing.

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My two books that I’m currently reading! I’ve just started both of them, and I’m excited for them. They should be really good!

The Lure of the Bookstore

Ever since I can remember I’ve loved books. I use to play library as a kid. I would have all of my stuffed animals set up for story time and then I would pretend that my bedroom walls were really bookshelves and I would walk around looking for the perfect book to read. Once I found the perfect one I would “pull” it from my wall, after which it would turn into a physical book – one that I had already preselected to read and of course my stuffed animals never knew the little magic trick. Or if they did they never let on that they knew – and with physical book in hand I would read to my little audience, even before I could read on my own.

At school, I was always the girl who was reading – I inhaled books. I definitely remember using the library as a kid, and being awed that I could check out so many books – it seemed, at the time, more books than I could ever want to check out. And my little library card got a great work out. But somewhere along the way, I started using the library less and less, and started using the bookstore more and more.

When I was kid, Beauty and the Beast was (and let’s be real, still is) my favourite Disney movie (hello that library?!). I loved Belle because I felt like her. She loved to read, and no one around her really did. And all she really wanted was what I wanted: “And for once it might be grand, to have someone, understand.” It’s hard for your head to be full of stories and for no one around you to have any in theirs.

Belle at the beginning of the movie sings a song as she walks to the village to visit the bookstore. The bookseller is the only one who gets her love of reading and readily lets her borrow books.

This scene was the scene that I acted out when I was kid. My parents would put the song on, or the movie on for me, and I would skip around our house with my little wicker basket and pretend that I was Belle going to the bookstore. When I “got there,” I had a hardcover book  that my parents used when they were kids and I put it in my basket and skip “home,” singing the song as I went.

Because of moments like that, and many many others where my parents would take me to bookstores and let me buy what I wanted, bookstores are my kryptonite.

The perfect gift that you can ever give me is to let me wander into a bookstore with no time limit on when I have to come out again. Some of my favourite afternoons are spent when my best friend/sister and I go to the bookstore and just wander. We can definitely spend at least an hour, though probably longer, browsing, shopping, and talking about books.

I started also using bookstores as a kind of therapy. Time stops for me when I enter a bookstore, and I relax. Walking through the shelves is wonderful because I meet old friends that I’ve either read before or have sitting on my own shelves back at home, and they introduce me to new friends. New adventures. New escapes. New ideas and thoughts and dreams.

The bookstore closest to me has just closed recently. It’s been there for a very long time, and in fact I use to work there a couple of years ago. (I might as well have asked them to just pay me in the books, the amount of books I bought while working there was ridiculous). There’s another one opening in the mall across the street, but it isn’t open yet.

I didn’t realize just how often I depended on that bookstore until it was closed. A couple of days ago I needed to get out of the house, and destress. I was halfway out of the house before I remembered that there isn’t a nice big bookstore to walk around in anymore. At least not until the new one opens. Instead of going to the bookstore I read instead, which was good, but not what I really wanted at that moment in time.

Bookstores are definitely one of my happy places. I can’t resist going into one, and when I travel I’m always popping into bookstores to check them out. And the funny thing is no matter where I am in the world, if I’m in a bookstore I relax and I feel like I’m home.

 

 

Personal Friday: The Happiness Jar

Everyone has bad days. It’s a given. Most of my bad days come from my colitis and my anxiety (most, not all). I find that when one of those acts up or when both of them act up at the same time it’s very easy for my thoughts to turn negative and my energy to lower and to just feel all around down.

My thought process when this happens also quickly becomes something like “it’s always going to be this way,” “it’s never going to get better,” “no one will want to be with me because of these problems,” etc.

So, to combat these negative thoughts and feelings when they happen, I’m taking a page from Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat Pray Love, and making a happiness jar. I follow Elizabeth on Instagram and recently she posted a picture of her happiness jar, and explained what it is.

Essentially it’s you, every day, writing down on a piece of paper something about the day that made you happy and putting it in the jar. It seems simply enough. But it’s a powerful thing I think to combat your bad days.

My plan to help combat my negative thoughts when I have them, when I think that “it’s always going to be this way,” or “I’m always going to feel this way,” is to simply look at my jar – my jar full of happiness – and remember and see right there in front of me that no it won’t always be this way and here are the moments that prove it.

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I got the jar from the dollar store, and I was just going to use whatever paper I had lying around, but the jar is ribbed so it’s a little hard to see into, and thus regular paper is super hard to see in it. So I went back to the dollar store and bought a little thing of coloured paper, which as you can see in the above picture, shows up better in the jar. I think that this is going to be a good thing for me, and it cost me less than $5. You really can’t go wrong with that.

I’ve also realized since starting this that even on my bad days, I can find something to be happy about. I’ve noticed too that I’m a bit more aware of my days, and what happens in them because I’m looking for the happy moments, and I think that also helps change your attitude about the day because it puts it and your brain into a more positive setting.

So thank you very much Elizabeth Gilbert for sharing the idea 🙂

 

Sunday Baking: Lemon Ginger Cake

I bought a new cookbook called What to Bake & How to Bake It. It is a beginner’s cookbook and has illustrations of what each step should look like, which for me is highly helpful.

I decided to start baking weekly, and the decision was brought about because I find cooking incredibly stressful and anxiety inducing, but I find baking fairly relaxing. So my thought was that I would start baking more regularly to get comfortable in the kitchen and such and then slowly make my way over to cooking. (Note: I can cook so that I don’t starve but I don’t cook fantastically well and as I said it’s stressful and anxiety inducing).

Another reason that I decided to do this is that because of my ulcerative colitis sometimes (often) eating is hard/anxiety inducing because I’m afraid that my stomach is going to get very upset about whatever I’m eating. This is also heightened by the fact that I don’t taste and I don’t smell because my allergies are so bad. So when I cook it’s hard for me to tell when things are ready/cooked through etc.

Thus, the baking to get comfortable in the kitchen again and then moving into cooking so that cooking and baking are both enjoyable, less stressful, and not anxiety inducing.

So the first thing I made is a lemon-ginger cake. And I picked it because the picture in the book of what it’s suppose to look like, looked so delicious.

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Lesson one I learned while making this cake is that it is a very good idea to read the whole recipe before you actual start anything. I had some sugar and molasses on the stove and didn’t realize that I also was suppose to have zested a lemon to go into the mix. A holler to my mom for aid had her zesting the lemon for me. (My mom is my hero).

Things went fairly smoothly after that, though the bottom of the cake stuck to the bottom of the pan a bit, but you couldn’t really tell.

The recipe calls for chopped candied ginger which I put in, but I found that it all sunk to the bottom of the cake and also more on one side than the other. Perhaps it was because I didn’t chop the pieces small enough? I’m also trying to decide if I even need to put it in next time…

My favourite part of the cake though was the lemon icing on top – mostly because I love lemon icing.

This is what it ended up looking like at the end.

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Pretty good for my first cake from scratch 🙂

Review Tuesday: My Year with Eleanor

I had high hopes for this book I will admit, but what started out as a potential 5 star book ended up with 2 on Goodreads.

From Goodreads:

my year with EleanorAfter losing her high-octane job as an entertainment blogger, Noelle Hancock was lost. About to turn twenty-nine, she’d spent her career writing about celebrities’ lives and had forgotten how to live her own. Unemployed and full of self-doubt, she had no idea what she wanted out of life. She feared change—in fact, she feared almost everything. Once confident and ambitious, she had become crippled by anxiety, lacking the courage required even to attend a dinner party—until inspiration struck one day in the form of a quote on a chalkboard in a coffee shop:

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
—Eleanor Roosevelt

Painfully timid as a child, Eleanor Roosevelt dedicated herself to facing her fears, a commitment that shaped the rest of her life. With Eleanor as her guide, Noelle spends the months leading up to her thirtieth birthday pursuing a “Year of Fear.” From shark diving to fighter pilot lessons, from tap dancing and stand-up comedy to confronting old boyfriends, her hilarious and harrowing adventures teach her about who she is, and what she can become—lessons she makes vital for all of us.

The premise of the book is what drew me to it initially, however it really just ended up reading like a list of “look what I did in a year.” I wasn’t interested in her sky diving, or mountain climbing because it’s really not realistic to take a year off from work and do all of those things. Most people don’t have the time or the money. I was more interested in the every day things that people are afraid of, that they go out of their way to avoid. But those kind of fears were barely touched or talked about in her book.

There was a disconnect I found between her doing all of the big things (skydiving etc) and how doing those things helped her develop internally. Sky diving once or swimming with sharks once doesn’t erase the fear that those activities cause – and since there was no real discussion about how that helped her become a less fearful or anxious person the book got boring rather quickly.

The one thing I did like is that she talked about mindfulness and how using that tool helps us overcome fear and anxiety. That was helpful. If she had use that to relate more to herself and her fears and what she was internally going through the book would have been much better I think.