well, this post is happening.

Happy one month until autumn! Here’s hoping I lock down a steady job soon so I can afford rent insurance my student loans an unnecessary amount of sweaters!

I’ve been reluctant to talk about what has become a major part of my quest for pain relief because I’ve been worried about crossing the line between honest, personal writing into TMI territory. I worry about making my many, many readers uncomfortable. The sacrifice is…I’m not making any progress, and I’m not initiating any conversations that might help someone else make progress. No one benefits.

With this in mind, today I’m going to do the uncomfortable thing and finally talk about…birth control! Annnd…PERIODS! Did I just lose all the men?

There’s a question I love to get when I’m having myself a good ol’ ER visit for my mystery flank pain or any other symptoms. “When was your last period?”

I admitted to a male ER doctor on one somewhat recent visit that it was currently happening, and that right there ended our conversation. He told me that some women experience much more severe cramping than others, even in unexpected areas of the body. The only reason I had gone to the ER at all was that I was experiencing similar symptoms to the stroke-code day, and had been told that I should absolutely go to the ER if those symptoms ever came back.

Some background info for ya: I switched from a hormonal birth control pill to a copper (non-hormonal) IUD a little over a year ago, hoping that my anxiety and depression would calm down. I had a feeling the two were related. Luckily, they did get much better after the switch. Things aren’t perfect, but mentally I feel a thousand times better than before.

With this swap came a sacrifice. I never had a difficult period while on the pill, but things took a 180 with the IUD. I expected everything to level out after a few months, but this did not happen. Now I have a few days a month where I can’t really leave the house. For the most part, I think it’s worth it to feel like myself again.

I’ve kept a log of my pain and symptoms for years (without much consistency), but only at the start of 2019 did I start tracking those symptoms in correlation with that time of the month. I don’t know how surprised I should be, but there is a bit of a pattern. My left side pain, lightheadedness, fatigue, and even UTI symptoms that have been present for years and years tend to act up during and before the uterus party kicks off. To note: I experience instances of left sided flank pain (typically right along the bottom of my ribcage) at random points in the month, too. But…my symptoms also consistently get worse at the same time each month.

What does it mean?

I don’t know. I tried to talk to my OBGYN about it at my last appointment, which I believe I wrote about in minimal detail. Specifically, I wanted to learn about ureteral endometriosis from an expert and not just the internet. As it turned out, I don’t believe my OBGYN knew much about ureteral endometriosis at all. He insisted on performing an “examination” and told me that because the area wasn’t tender to the touch, I probably didn’t have it. I tried so, so politely to ask if my ureter would be the tender area rather than where he had examined, reminding him that I wasn’t talking about your usual endometriosis, and his response was more or less a hesitant “nah”. Anyway, that was about my 10th bad experience at that office so I’m pretty done with them.

You know what’s crazy though?

Just in my very light research that I’ve done on possible conditions that are related to the menstrual cycle and/or all of those crazy organs down there, I’ve come across SO MANY conditions that I’ve never heard of.

SO. MANY. Not that they all have anything to do with my symptoms, but oh my gosh there are so many different potential problems that women can experience.

Thoratic endometriosis? Interstitial cystitis? Mittelschmerz?

Also, the amount of women/menstruators asking each other questions via online forums is equally great to see, and terrifying. How did we become so reliant on turning to each other for answers when we’re all meant to see doctors who are trained specifically in these areas? I know full well that there are tons of incredible and dedicated OBGYNs out there, but at the same time…the situation proves that we’re a long way from where we need to be.

Health education is a big part of this, as well. I remember the first time I was diagnosed with a UTI, before we knew it was a chronic/mimicry situation, and thinking “why did I not learn in health class that girls should use the bathroom after sex?” Seems like some basic preventative information, no? Simple things! Not to mention, I didn’t even know there was such thing as a non-hormonal IUD. The way I felt all of those years could’ve been avoided. Who knows what a difference that might’ve made?

I know I’m one of those people. I talk a lot and get fired up about things, but I haven’t done much to enact any change. I knew when I made this blog public that I was far from having my goals figured out. Y’know, big picture goals. Still, as I say all the damn time, we all have to start somewhere. In the meantime, I have a collection of posts where I rant about things for me to look back on when I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing…so there’s that.

I’m going to lay on the floor now with ice on my ribs and continue to try to control my hormonal acne with a very uncomfortable bee venom serum. Yes, it stings. Yes, like a bee sting.

I’m leaving you with a recommendation of someone to pay attention to: Nadya Okamoto

Okamoto is a Harvard college student who founded PERIOD, the menstrual movement – “a global, youth-powered non-profit that is fighting to end period poverty and period stigma.” (I took that directly from her organization’s Instagram, @periodmovement.) I love what she’s doing. If you’re a college student, you can start or be a part of a PERIOD chapter on your campus. I’m still working on figuring out what I can do for her cause as a non-college student with no money – but I’m sure there’s something. Oh, Okamoto also wrote and published a book. Pfft. No big deal. Bet she doesn’t know how to mime.

Alright, it’s floor time.

(…watch out for Séan’s foot)

first of all, how DARE you buy me groceries

Séan and I were away this past weekend for a disconnected opportunity to recharge. (Disconnected from the internet, phones, etc – not each other.) We did the things that I grew up with and miss so much when summer stomps her way into the city. Not that there aren’t hundreds of great events and opportunities around the city during the summer, but summer can be very “go-go-go!” here, with all the concerts and rooftops and baseball games and whatever else. Back home, everything slows down. Summer at home is still all about getting outside, but not for a ‘gram-worthy picnic in Central Park or the switch over to rooftop bars for the season. Please reference the pictures below.

Anyway. I’m not going to tell this story in any sort of a way that makes sense, and you’re going to have to be okay with that, because only one small smidgen of it matters. Let’s not even call it a story. Here’s what happened: I woke up grumpy about something the day before we left, and immediately transferred all of that anger onto things that it really…just…wasn’t about. I can’t remember what nonsense was pissing me off that particular morning, but I do this a lot (I did it yesterday!) so you’ll get a more detailed example in a moment. Point being, I ended up apologizing to Séan and saying “I’m still working on being upset about the thing I’m actually upset about.”

I am still working on being upset about the thing that I’m actually upset about.

I also told him that I used to be worse! It’s true!

I don’t know if this hits home with anyone, but it is so freaking difficult and yet so necessary to trace anger back to its actual source. That’s probably true of any emotion, but I struggle most with anger and frustration.

Yesterday’s head-about-to-explode moment of the day happened when Séan brought home a load of groceries. Grocery shopping with Séan is a major anxiety trigger (you’ll soon know why) but I learned yesterday that it’s just as bad when he shops for the two of us.

He bought what could in my universe easily be a year’s supply of paper towels. I saw these paper towels, and the fire of my frustration ignited. Even in the moment it happened, it didn’t make sense to me. My discomfort was so instantaneous. I had to check in: alright, why am I feeling anything at all over paper towels?

It took some time, but maybe ten or fifteen minutes later I pieced together all the steps my brain had jumped between “excessive paper towels” and “resentment”. Do let me try to explain. Here is an outline of my reflective thought process (aka me talking to me):

  1. Oh wowza. That amount of paper towels makes me uncomfortable. #Tbt growing up and my mom treating paper towels like they were made of gold. Shouldn’t we be trying to use washable, normal towels? Wouldn’t that be better for the environment and less expensive? Plus we have so many dishcloths.
  2. We should calm down with the AC and plastic water bottles and the water usage, too. That’s how I always wanted to keep my household. My apartment. If I had my own.
  3. I never did end up having a space that was just my own.
  4. Y’know, I don’t feel any ownership over this space, or any right to a say in how we do things.
  5. …but I also don’t feel a real claim to living here because I can’t financially support myself.
  6. And if I had the money to do so I’d also just buy groceries at my own pace. And he’d see how that ends up working out for the way I eat, compared to him.
  7. But hang on, I really am bothered by our general waste of resources, whether it’s paper towels or food that gets thrown out before we eat it because it isn’t bought in a logical way with our schedules.
  8. Yeah, that drives me insane. I hate waste.
  9. I have waste anxiety.
  10. Because I don’t feel secure about any of my resources, like all of this might just go away, so I have to make everything last as long as possible and also save every penny.
  11. Oh.

So there we go! I have deep-seeded issues that present as freaking out over nothing. ~lol~

But alright, for real now – tracing my seemingly erratic emotions back to their source has been a huge help in stopping my anxiety from growing and turning into the horror show I know it can turn into. I’m not always successful, and I know that there are times when my physical presentation of anxiety is so strong that no logical thought process is even possible. I wanted to share this train of thought all the same, because the act of writing it down for this blog has given me a much more accessible (I think) way to present to Séan what happened yesterday. Working on my mental health is my job and mine alone, but it’s also important that I do what I can to help the person I live and spend my time with to understand my…well, particular “quirks” (some of my quirks are just straight up trauma so using the word “quirk” here isn’t too comfortable, alas, I can find no better way to explain my damn self).

Anyway friends, everyone already knows that I feel like I’m spinning in circles a lot of the time. It’s just nice to have a moment of clarity. Like Hannah B on Monday night. Where are my Bachelorette fans at?! Crossing my fingers for a strong cross-section of health blog readers and Bachelorette junkies!

My wish is that this post brings someone besides myself a little hope that we really can work on ourselves, and that progress is possible. I feel a tiny victory when I dig deep and learn something about myself, and I hope you’ve experienced those moments, too – and that you continue to. Especially my friends with anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, any and all of it – just trying to present your true self can be so much more work than we deserve! But we do the work. Keep doing the work. 🙂

if I get one more recruiter email for a vague marketing position I swe-

Hello! It’s Wednesday, so according to my boss (who is me) I must share something today.

How about a recap?! This past week, I:

…went jet skiing for the first time (as a passenger, anyway). Séan loves being on the water and I believe this is his favorite way to be on the water. Mine is kayaking. Or a pool float. But it was pretty cool to see the Statue of Liberty from an unfamiliar angle and to fly past the piers & under the Brooklyn Bridge. Plus it was my own Hitch moment, minus getting kicked in the face. And Will Smith.

…tested out the newly-tidied back patio with a couple of friends. We startled the most precious tiny skunk family by intruding on what is rightfully their space late into the night. I also didn’t realize the wifi wasn’t reaching out back and used all my phone data playing a lively “BBQ playlist” whilst outside. Good.

…sampled beautiful Chinese food at brand new restaurant that I don’t believe has opened officially, yet. Also, took a gamble on a Mexican restaurant in Hoboken and a bar/bistro in Jersey City, both of which were new to the two of us. Everything was delicious, and I’m not even hungry right now so you can trust my judgement. (I don’t love going out to eat while unemployed but I only fight Séan on the subject when it’s getting to be a lot. I’m trying to stop being the brat who takes enjoyment away from him. I’m a very cheap date, anyway, and obviously great company so come on.)

…found a coffee place nearby that brings out my productivity!! This is huge for me. I moved here in April and it took me this long to start exploring…but hey, it’s happening. Not to “not appreciate the now” and all that, but I’m looking forward to the weather cooling down even more now that I’ve discovered this cafe. It’s a long enough walk away, but it will be such a beautiful walk in the fall and coffee will be even more enticing when it’s not 9000 degrees out plus humidity.

…had a nice 14.5 hour workday on the set of a project I know very well, and got to watch my favorite actors play my favorite characters. I don’t usually act in anything I watch, or vice versa, but this was the most perfect exception.

…applied to so many jobs! I’m finally zeroing in on jobs I truly want to do, which I’ve found requires looking outside my usual sources. Which makes sense – those websites haven’t served me well thus far (except Craigslist, I ❤ Craigslist) so I was due for a change in approach. I’m now on just about every job-search platform in existence, and have learned a very valuable lesson: TURN OFF THE THING THAT LETS RECRUITERS REACH OUT TO YOU.

…posted some of my writing (the stylized, poetry-type variety) on Instagram for everyone to see. That’s a scary new thing I’m doing. I stand by my man Austin Kleon though, and his insistence on sharing your work throughout the process. It won’t serve me well to wait until I’ve been confidently writing and editing for years and then start sharing. You just gotta do. And be imperfect. And get there eventually.

My body has been a little funky and achey, but nothing I can’t manage. Séan and I did a lot of walking around on the Fourth of July, which was a very hot and sunny day here. I’m usually good with long walks, but I’ve learned that the hotter it is, the less my body can cope. Not that anyone feels good after a lengthy walk in oppressive heat, but my bod is pretty dramatic about it. My left side gets all worked up, my face gets super flushed, and the headache comes on strong. (I always wonder if my light sensitivity is a leftover concussion factor. Remind me to look into that.)

I forced us to head home before restarting the day and took a nap so deep I may have been dead. I knew I needed it, and I was able to bounce back because of it. I’m in the endless process of trying to pace myself a bit more and not be the “hell yeah let’s do it” girl I want to be, at least not all the time. I have to parent myself a bit more, but I’m getting there. I have a tendency to carry the “lost” moments (or the things I said no to) with me, but looking at that list of things I did do last week, I can take a deep breath and smile.

I’ve been reading a lot of good things lately but I also keep discovering more and more artists to fall in love with: would y’all prefer a list of independent artists who make weird/awesome things and could use some support, or a what-I’m-reading-lately type post next time? I realize no one will answer this question, like when beauty bloggers say “hiiiiii guys, SO MANY of you have been asking for me to do a (blank) video-” and literally no one asked. But just in case anyone has an opinion, please bless me with it. Thank you.

Don’t forget your sunscreen and chins up, you’ve got half the week left. Do something good with it.

guess what? complaining! THAT’S what.

I keep trying to summon this lovely positive feeling about July to start this month off on the right foot, but I’m trying to dig that out from underneath the bevy of things that have me on edge lately and that’s just not working.

I know we all love it when people complain on the internet, especially over trivial things, but here’s the fact of the matter…I can’t sit with all this nonsense in my head and get anywhere at all.

Not that this is new or rare, but I’m even struggling to write coherently at the moment because there’s too much “AHHH” in my mind. Do you know what I’m talking about? When there’s this buzz you can’t turn off? You can’t sort out your thoughts because you’ve got a blender in your skull, whirling everything around into a load of mush.

Side note: I had a cool metaphor about pieces of glass in a smoothie but then it didn’t make any sense and I have a headache and anyway let’s carry on.

Also I keep adding caffeine to the mix which is definitely not helping.

So here’s a list!

things that are currently making my head buzz that will NOT be making my head buzz by the end of this glorious July:

  • for too long, every single decision that I make on a daily basis has been entirely based on money and nothing else. whether or not I go work in a coffee shop, or take the bus downtown to walk around the park, or use the last of some item in the fridge…this is at the forefront of my worrying mind. I don’t even feel that great about booking work because I see those paychecks as nothing more than what bill they’ll need to go towards (in which those checks will barely make a dent). i’m looking at everything as steps towards balance that just aren’t big enough and it’s sucking the enjoyment out of everything. BLAH.
  • it’s so f r e a k i n g hot out and I’m not even living in a part of the world that’s really feeling the results of global warming. i’m worried we’re going to elect a president who doesn’t treat this as the urgent issue it is. this is actually a really valid concern, I realize that. but it’s part of the buzzing so there you have it.
  • do I have to see an allergist again?? why am I having food allergy-level reactions to vegetables and wheat beer and bug bites? my mosquito bite looks like I was pegged in the stomach with a tennis ball. (I know what that looks like because one time I was pegged in the stomach with a tennis ball.)
  • not to be needy (I am though), but i’m really wondering when Sean and I will ever been on the same life schedule. it’s only ever been this way, with him working nights and me being an “early to bed, early to rise” type of gal, but I’m less patient about it lately. maybe because it’s summer and I want to take advantage of all kinds of activities…or maybe because I know I’ll have to sell my soul to a steady job soon and won’t be able to do things on a whim anymore. or maybe both!
  • I am actually very willing to give up my current flexibility for a job that provides stability BUT I can’t seem to get my foot in the door anywhere. the online application process is not great. it’s a lot of hoping, wishing, waiting, and not really being able to put yourself out there in the same way you can when you physically go to an office and introduce yourself. (it’s not easy to get a good job?! a revelation!)
  • i’m very tired thanks to stress (and who I am as a person)
  • my upstairs neighbor sings while playing guitar now. at all hours.
  • there’s a literal buzz coming from every fan in this house which is surely not helping my head, but we need all the fans because #globalwarming

*sigh* …Okay. Thank you.

I think the thing with complaining is that we don’t always need our friends to respond with suggestions, solutions, and especially not reminders of how much worse it could be (it could always be worse). Those of us who are very aware that things could be much worse might tend towards trying to swallow the little things that are ticking them off rather than complain. I mean, I feel guilty all the time over allowing something that isn’t life-altering to upset me.

But we are allowed to be frustrated! And we are allowed to express that frustration (in a non-destructive manner, of course). Swallowing those thoughts and feelings has never helped me. I’ve learned that I have to release the feelings out into the open in order to let them go. And it helps to have friends who don’t say “hey, at least you aren’t (insert a person in a more destitute situation)” because all that does is bring back the guilt for feeling anything aside from happy and satisfied. Unless you have friends who are so detached from reality that their chief complaints are along the lines of “the new Instagram algorithm is actually ruining my life” and the like. You should hand those friends a newspaper.

I’m posting this knowing full well that I’m doing as much as I can to work towards financial stability and finding steady work, and I’m grateful for so much that is already going beautifully in my life. But I also know that as soon as I hit “post” – I’m done. It will be done. The buzz will be gone. Except for the ceiling fans.

If you’re feeling a little riled up lately, I encourage you to do the same. Don’t keep the lid on it. Let it all out, then laugh at yourself if need be, and move along. Heck, comment some of your complaints on this post, and you’ll get a resounding “here, here!” or “AMEN” from me. This isn’t a complain-free zone, or a positivity-only zone. This is an imperfect human zone. Let it all goooo.

🙂 x

reminiscing in towel pants

This time last year I was strolling around London, pretend-shopping in Covent Garden and wandering back and forth across Tower Bridge. I’d visited London once before this when I was 18, a mere freshman in college, and had never before travelled alone. This time was different – I was 24, had a little money in the bank, and knew how to curate a perfect day of sightseeing and coffee stops.

I was only able to take this trip because June 15th of last year was my last day of work at the job I truly thought was going to be my “finally!” job.

I started working at my first sit-at-a-desk-for-9-hours job in February of last year, after a looong break in employment (the Christmas market had ended in December) that had me craving stability and routine. This particular position involved handling client schedules, coordinating freelance artists, and most importantly – handling client complaints. I know that this is an inaccurate percentage, but it really felt like 95% of the day revolved around resolving complaints. I enjoyed the sense of purpose I found in helping people and troubleshooting their issues, taking angry and often accusatory phone calls from negative to positive.

Still. I would leave the house at 4:50am to get to work by 7, and despite getting out at the nice early time of 4pm, I was so rattled and tense after work that I’d go to the gym (plus I felt the need to use my legs after all that desk-sitting) until 6 and end up home around 8pm – enough time to make a quick dinner and shower before going to bed.

It was a routine. And the job helped me develop some critical skills. Plus, I met some of the best ladies there, whom I still like to see whenever I can. It just wasn’t a routine that worked for me.

I’ll admit that at first, it was worth it. It was so nice to finally have money – and health insurance! But no matter how happy I think I am, if my “stable” life leads to an unstable mind, that is the most important red flag that I have to listen to. I had hours that changed on a week-to-week basis, but it wasn’t enough flexibility that I could go out for an acting gig here and there like I had wanted to. I was finally able to afford the tons of specialist appointments I needed at the time, but didn’t have a schedule that allowed me to get to those appointments. Remember the stroke story? All of that happened about a month into this job. I didn’t find time to follow up with the neurologist until at least a month later (…it was supposed to happen right away. They were not pleased with me).

After a quick five months, I said “I’m off to do other things” and went to London. I drank a lot of (mostly free) coffee and stared at beautiful buildings. I bought my mom a royal baby-themed dish towel. I took a trip to Oxford and laid on a bench in a shopping mall while my kidney had a meltdown. (Worth it. Gorgeous weather.)

I meant to get my life together again when I got back to NY. I started working a combination of super part-time and seasonal jobs. I started applying for acting gigs again (I did a lovely little 3-night show in September). Then came the trip to Scotland, which was the greatest head-clearing break I could have ever hoped for. Over the course of the fall and winter, I scrimped and saved and had to be bailed out more than a few times. I got sick and got better and got sick again. I boldly tried living on background acting alone, for a bit. Then I dipped a toe back into waitressing and absolutely lost my mind.

And here we are.

You know how people say “did you ever think a year ago that you’d be where you are right now?”

Honestly? Still a little bit broke? I could’ve predicted that.

BUT. I think saorza circa June 2018 would never have guessed the following:

  • I had my first speaking, solo role (as myself!) for a well-known company’s promotional shoot yesterday. You might actually see my face places come July.
  • I’m mostly through with the application process for my master’s – finally! And also, again! I’ve applied for 4 master’s programs over the years (acting, tourism/preservation, counseling, and now, nutrition) but this one feels the most right. It isn’t a new idea – just an idea that has simmered a long time, finally ready to be put into action.
  • This blog! It’s alive! This sweet, frighteningly public journal which I so carelessly abandoned for about a month (due to working ALL OF THE WAITRESSING SHIFTS and spending all my non-waitressing time meditating on how to get through work without strangling anyone) is connecting me with fantastic people, and looks pretty freaking decent if you ask me.
  • I moved in with a human ThunderShirt. Or, like…a human lavender candle. It’s absurd how this guy manages to calm me down. He doesn’t think that he does it very well but hey, you! (He reads this sometimes.) You do.
  • I have made peace with not going after every. single. dream. At least, not right now. A little more focus and direction is much needed in my life and I’m finally cool with taking some things off the table to give more of my attention to those which I want to prioritize.

Also – I have a great to-do list on my fridge that keeps me going, which reads as follows:

  1. JOB
  2. GYM MEMBERSHIP
  3. HAIRCUT
  4. CREDIT CARD
  5. FIND A LADY OBGYN

Number 5 isn’t on the fridge, actually, because I like how the first four look all on their own. But it’s there in spirit. I have a strong gut feeling that #5 will be a key move in nailing this wacky pain situation. Also, perhaps I should say hi to my primary care doctor sometime soon. The poor man hasn’t seen me in…a year and half? Possibly more? Oh dear.

Things were just restarting this time last year. And so they shall restart again. You have to look back sometimes to see the progress. Yes, I’m drinking cold coffee and wearing a beach towel for pants, and so might you be. It doesn’t mean we aren’t determined badasses out here doing what we have to do.

And what I have to do right now is continue my job hunt, which just to note, started in 2016.

I’ll be back SOON. Promise.

vain? or just veiny?

Did ANYONE catch Miss USA last night? I’ll assume most people didn’t. I’m not living under the delusion that many people are into pageants. Just roll with me for a minute.

I didn’t have much of an opinion about pageantry at all before making a spur of the moment decision to enter one – and then getting in – about two years ago. It was a serious pageant, too – the most competitive of the state pageants leading to Miss USA. Now that I’ve seen the pageant world from the inside, I can’t help but get excited for events such as Miss USA. You feel so much more than simply “beautiful” standing onstage with dozens of other women radiating crazy amounts of confidence. I felt like my strongest, most unstoppable self. I knew deep down that I wouldn’t be crowned at my first ever pageant, and that was okay. I still felt deserving. We all did. You may not believe this, but you really are a unit up there, rooting for everyone around you and basking in each other’s light.

Anyway, that was sappy, but I needed to share in order to justify why I was fully screaming at the TV last night. If you think that pageantry and feminism can’t coincide together, I encourage you to look up our new Miss USA’s answer to her onstage question (not the one about millennials, the other one). Not only am I ecstatic that Miss USA is an incredibly articulate, intelligent woman, but we also have…for the first time ever…a Black Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America. I mean, that took us long enough. Amazing stuff.

Health and beauty really do play off of each other more than I used to believe. There’s the obvious notion that if you eat well and move your body, you’re going to look and feel better than if you don’t.

There’s more to it than that.

Caring about your appearance and giving some love to the external bits of your body really can change what’s going on within you. When I’m anxious or depressed, or even on the verge of being there, one look in the mirror can trigger a spiral. I see blotchy skin, stained teeth, and even my lack of enamel becomes a weapon my brain uses against me. It is truly nuts. I see spider veins on my left leg and suddenly – oh my God, I’m old? Time is running out? I’m this ugly? How does Sean even look at me? I’ll never get a job on-camera again, let me just go work in the mines, I’m done with everything.

The extra fun part is that my stressing out over these things 100% makes them worse. My typically cooperative skin senses my panic and decides to bless me with acne. I bite off my fingernails. I scratch at my skin, leaving bruises and dry patches.

Just as I’ve mentioned my anxiety toolkit, I have a secondary but equally important toolkit to keep this version of myself at bay…and it’s in my medicine cabinet.

Why do I even own nail polish is the real question…

There are tools in here which I use daily that leave me with a curious sense of mental peace. I’m honestly not sure if it’s the products working, or the fact that I’m not stressing out thinking that I should’ve done one thing or the other to prevent a breakout or that line on my face.

What I’m getting at: when I follow a simple health & beauty routine catered to my particular issues, I eliminate triggers that could otherwise lead to more anxiety-driven self-deprecation.

I’m posting pictures of my favorite things below, all of which were extremely inexpensive and have helped me chill the heck out.

The rose water toner is a new thing I’m trying and I’m not convinced I’m using correctly in sequence with my other goos, but it feels great after running around in the city or being on the subway, standing around a hot set, any of that. The “enrich” lotion (also from Trader Joe’s) is so light but thorough. I’ve been using it for years. Other moisturizers I’ve tried have left my skin a little bumpy or sometimes rubbery, but this one is class. I switch to the Clean&Clear moisturizer if I’m breaking out, and it usually stops things from getting any worse.

When I’m really tired, or experiencing a spree of sick days, or if y’know, it’s winter and I look decrepit, I love using self tanner to make myself look (and feel) a little more alive and well. St. Tropez typically goes for a bit more than I’d like to spend, but I can get these little tubes at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx for under $10. I don’t have to use it often and it doesn’t turn me orange – just adds a light glow as if I actually got some sun. I also buy my retinol oil at Marshall’s/TJ Maxx because it’s so freaking affordable and they have a billion brands available at any given point in time. Now the Nair, I love and hate. This particular variety is for the face, and it does work, but you have to play around with how long you need to leave it on before it will actually remove any hair. I believe it says 8 minutes max on the tube, but that has never worked for me. 9-10 (closer to 10) minutes usually does the job for me, but I have also burned my skin on one occasion when I decided I didn’t need to use my phone timer and I just barely surpassed the 10 minute mark. Don’t do that.

Last but not least…yoga! I’m becoming a yogi, sort of. I read that poor circulation is one of the causes of spider veins, and yoga can help with poor circulation…ergo…I now practice yoga. I have an app called Keep Yoga which provides me with *free* instructional videos that follow a weekly plan. I just did Tuesday’s video today. It’s fine. We’re all busy people. I don’t think yoga will resolve the cluster of veins that already torments me, but it may help prevent the cluster from spreading…and the thought of having some amount of control does make me a slightly happier lil’ bean.

Did this post seem pointless? Hopefully not. I just want to remind everyone that your external and internal self are connected, & maintenance of each helps the other. 🙂 Ya gorgeous, regardless.

when your pain isn’t travel-sized

Last week, I shared some lovely, Instagram-able pictures from my Florida trip. Now I want to get into a detail of the trip that I didn’t bring up before – the fact that health issues don’t necessarily take a chill pill just because you’ve headed away on what is meant to be a relaxing vacation.

I love traveling, but for the past few years the excitement of an upcoming trip has come paired with nervousness regarding how my body will handle the changes in my day-to-day life. When I went to Scotland in October, I had some very sore days that left me curled up on my hostel’s couch with single-use pain relief hot packs all over my body. I wasn’t upset, though, since I had given myself plenty of time to go exploring on days when I felt well enough. Plus, I was thrilled just to be in Scotland. Freakin’ love Scotland.

The stakes were a bit different with Florida. A lot of the aspects of a typical warm-weather getaway involve exposure to things that make my specific symptoms worse: being out in the sun & heat, spending a lot of time walking around, drinking (the fun drinks), eating outside my normal diet (the fun snacks), and sleeping somewhere I’m not used to. I knew that completely “letting loose” would be a bad idea, but decided to allow myself a bit of indulgence, since my symptoms play by no one’s rules, anyway. I can sleep 9 hours a night and eat salads all week and still end up in pain, so I wasn’t about to turn down a $0.99 margarita. (Note: I would like to update my research to reflect that my body gets along with tequila juuuust fine.)

Looking back, I’d say the most challenging part of this trip ended up being how hard it was to stay hydrated, but also not wanting to take too much fluid at once. Drinking a lot of anything too quickly is rough on my kidney, even if my body needs it. The day Sean and I went to the zoo, we could not drink enough water no matter how hard we tried. Granted, we spent an absurd amount of time at the zoo. It was wonderful. The day that followed the zoo visit and the day we wandered around Del Ray not knowing that the UV index was at 11 were hands down the hardest. All my body wanted was to lay down somewhere cool, but I also wanted to see and do as much as possible, and of course, make sure Sean got to do everything he wanted to do. Thankfully, I’m comfortable enough with him to say “no” to things. I did turn down some of his suggestions for the sake of not being miserable for days to come. While we were in Fort Lauderdale, a huge music festival featuring artists we both really like was going on, and Sean suggested we could go to that. Typically, we are “let’s DO IT!” people. However, the purpose of the trip was R&R and a full day of festival debauchery in the sun would not only be a huge, unplanned expense…but would likely leave us sunburnt, sick and exhausted. I’m grateful that each of us was able to remind the other that we don’t have to do it all and to find satisfaction in downtime somewhere a little more exotic than home.

While my body only misbehaved a little, my attention-seeking anxiety brain found lots of reasons to make an appearance in Florida! It started early – I had painted my nails a bright white before leaving to catch our flight, but I didn’t even make it to the place we were staying before I had peeled/scratched it all off. (This is one of my biggest anxiety tics. Do we call them tics? I can’t really paint my fingernails because the slightest chip or imperfection causes me to destroy all of my hard work.) Anyway, that’s what I get for making myself look trendy for the ‘gram.

As the trip went on and more money was spent on car services, sunscreen (so much sunscreen), snacks and various expenses, the more panic started to grow in my mind. It’s extremely normal to worry about finances, I know this, but anxiety takes everything to the next level – where one small unexpected purchase can push me to question/distrust everything…and then I’m itchy and lose my appetite and all in all it’s just not a fun me to be, or be around.

All flashes of pain and panic aside, the trip was a huge success in my book. Sloths were pet, oceans were splashed in, TONS of hockey and soccer games were watched, and Sean got some sleep. Maybe this is a weird comparison, but I feel a bit like a mom to my bratty toddler of a body. See, if I make sure I have some snacks and water packed when I leave the house, that I build time to rest into the daily schedule, and that I’m paying attention to red flag situations like expensive adventures or places where I’m going to feel pressured to push myself…everything goes pretty smoothly!

…I’m realizing now that not going on my college spring break trip might have saved my life. Y’know, being the type of person who is always trying to keep up with the rest of ’em, especially in those days. Thankfully, I am slowly but surely letting go of my need to please and impress other people. What matters is how proud I am of myself when I do something good for my body or mind, or when I pass on a night out and end up finishing a book or chipping away at a writing project.

Speaking of projects, I’m going to go ahead and spoil what would have been a cool surprise – I’ve decided it’s time to make an Instagram account for saorza! However…someone already has the account name “saorza”. I’ve done about all I can to try to get the username for myself, since the account is very obviously inactive. (If anyone has any friends that work at Instagram…let’s talk.) It doesn’t look super promising.

I’m open to suggestions, pals. Does anyone have an idea for a variation on “saorza” that would make a good Instagram handle? Alternatively, any ideas on how to overthrow Instagram? I mean come on. It’s a made up word. I don’t understand.

I appreciate any thoughts/suggestions and hope everyone has a wonderful weekend doing whatever it is you need to do. And stay hydrated. x