The Importance of Bed-Making

About a year ago, I bumped into a very dear friend one Saturday in the Milk Market (Hi Una). Now, for us and many other friends of mine, if you’re in the Milk Market in Limerick City of a Saturday morn, you’re winning at Life. It means that no matter what state you were in the night before, you had the foresight to set your alarm for a weekend morning to get down there to sample all of the lovely food & hot bevvies to soothe your weary soul. AND YOU MADE IT DOWN THERE. High fives all round.

Pic courtesy of Stormy Knight greeting cards - click pic for their site!

Pic courtesy of Stormy Knight greeting cards – click pic for their site!

 

But, all that aside, after we’d shouted, embraced and congratulated with each other, we got to chatting about how it’s the little things like going to a gorgeous market like this that make life a little more bearable. Gods love us, we’re a bunch of deep-thinking bastards.

It was during this conversation when Una said “You know what else is brilliant? Making your bed.” I stopped, blinded by the lightbulb moment that flashed in my brain. Una is right. And a genius. She was bang on the money. When it comes to taking stock of the little things that help keep you sane and give your mental health a wee boost, getting up and out of the bed on a morning when you don’t feel like you have any reason to is a pretty big fucking step.

It’s the first proactive thing you’ll do all day, and even if it’s the only proactive thing, then so be it. But – if you have the clarity of thought to baby-step the day ahead, you could do a lot worse than turn around and simply make your bed.

OR you could just do this. Like. A. Boss.

 

It’s like putting a full stop at the end of a nighttime sentence. It signifies so much, when you really think about it (and I do a lot, this is the joy of my brain). Making your bed tells your brain to wake up for the day, so don’t even THINK of rustling up that duvet or flattening that pillow. On the flipside, it lets you know that you love yourself enough to feel that you deserve a nice, warm, inviting, freshly-made bed yo dive into at the end of a long day of dealing with – well, simply just living. It’s your little reward to yourself for surviving another 24 hours.

I’d been thinking about that a lot lately, which brought me back to one of my favourite blogs from back in the day, called 1000 Awesome Things (click on title to check it out), which I’d found after watching this TED talk:

Both the blog and the talk are almost magical in the feelings they can conjure up from deep within. The blog is all about seeking out the little regular ordinary things in life that can bring you even the teeniest glimmer of light in an otherwise dull day. Nothing grandiose or out-of-reach; just incidental stuff that would normally slip by unnoticed while we’re too busy getting on with the business of living & dealing with our daily worries and problems. Taking stock of small things that go well helps keep us in the moment, and out of the dark cavern of self-doubt and anxiety into which some of us can tend to get sucked in. Who wouldn’t want a respite, however brief, from their daily inner beat-down?

Nowadays, the blog has waaaay more than its original 1000 awesome things for you to take a look at, but I’m going to give my own list a go this week. If you want a nice cheerful exercise, try it out with friends next time you’re sitting around having a coffee. You’d be surprised at how contagious those little bursts of joy can be. By stopping to take note of something nice that has happened or something I’ve noticed in my day, I find it easier to be grateful for where I am and how far I’ve come. Look, I’m no Pollyanna when it comes to seeing the bright side of things – my default mode is cynicism and crippling self-hatred the vast majority of the time. I tend to tell the world to go and fuck itself on a regular basis so I’m no self-help guru, that’s for damn sure. But I just thought I’d share some bits and bobs I’ve come across online that give me pause for thought, in the hope that someone else might find it useful. Must have a think tonight and jot some of my own ‘awesome things’ down.

But first – I’ve got to go make my flippin’ bed. Any minute now…

 

<3

Winning Little Battles

This morning I got an email reminder about something I owed a payment on, and it was was all “GRRR ARGH WHERE’S MY MONEY BITCH OR WE’LL SEND THE BAILIFFS ROUND” in its tone. Okay, it wasn’t at all like that in real life, but in my anxiety-prone brain that’s exactly what I heard and saw. I threw my phone under my duvet and got up to make tea, ignoring the horrible tension in my stomach and noise in my head.

I'm in there somewhere.

   I’m in there somewhere.

This is normally where the story would end, me being an ostrich of the highest order when it comes to being able to tackle regular adult trials and tribulations. I’d ignore everything and dread turning my phone on each day, wondering when I’d get a note under the door to let the bailiffs in, and other such catastrophic consequences, the thoughts of which would make me nauseous and say goodbye to any peaceful nights of slumber for the foreseeable future.

However, this wasn’t 2013 J-Ro. Heck, it wasn’t even 2014 J-Ro. This was ‘Straight Outta 2015 and Right Into 2016’ J-Ro; a woman who reads an email like that and thinks “I’d better sort that ASAP”. Well, about an hour after that thought I got it sorted. I’m not perfect.

Would you believe that all I had to do was call and update my card details? Would you believe that I knew that in advance of making the call? Furthermore, would you believe that despite having the card details and the finances at hand to get back up to date (my previous card had been hacked so I had to get a new one which put the brakes on my entire internet life), I STILL felt almost completely paralysed at the thought of sorting it out? If your answer to all these questions was a resounding YES, then congratulations – you’re almost fully versed in the machinations of a brain riddled with Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Either you know it personally, or know someone it affects. Some craic, innit?

goldfish

Anyway, I digress. I took a deep breath, picked up the phone, and spent a whopping two minutes with a very pleasant young man called Daniel who laughed at my ramblings as he updated my card details and basically sorted what was actually a COMPLETELY TINY INNOCUOUS VERY FIXABLE ISSUE. By the time the kettle was boiled for my self-congratulatory cup of tea, I had completed a basic adult task that would make no more difference to a regular grown-up’s day than wiping one’s arse in the loo. And I was SO PROUD of myself. For the first time in years, adulthood and I were on friendly terms.

Only I would really understand how far I’d come since what I call The Bad Time. Back then, I was completely broken. The phone ringing would have triggered a massive anxiety episode, letters arriving in the post would make me feel sick. Any appointments I had to attend sent me into spirals of terror and insomnia. To put it mildly, I was fucked.

fucked

Nowadays I’ve (mostly) settled into the driving seat of my brain, and those days are hopefully behind me. I’ve done countless regular adult-y things since then obviously; I know this because (a) I’m not homeless and (b) I smell fairly okay on a daily basis – I think. But today, I used this opportunity to take stock at how far I’ve come the last few years in terms of recovering from The Bad Time. The details of what / how / when / where / who was involved my recovery are for another time, but this post is about acknowledging victory over the little battles in life, so that by doing so, you can avoid an all-out psychological war with yourself. Again.

It’s nice to evaluate where you are in the world every once in a while. Apparently today is World Compliment Day as well, so fuck it – I may as well pat my own back as well as all the backs of all the poor souls who call me their friend and did whatever bit they could to, quite literally, keep me above ground when I could barely drag myself out of bed or up off the floor. Y’all know who you are. I’ll be coming to a hug near you very soon.

So if you’re up against the little battles, keep going. One at a time. And cheer the fuck out of yourself as you conquer each one. Don’t be looking at the status of others; if all you can handle right now is opening a bill without becoming short of breath, then that’s all you can do. Ask a friend to hang out with you while you do it. Seriously. Make a party out of it. Involve Tayto sammitches and tea if it’ll help. Whatever shit you need to do to slowly plug back into the world, DO THAT SHIT. You’ll be glad you did. In time, you’ll be writing a post just like this, with memes and all.

Fingers crossed, I’ll still be doing it too. See you there.

J-Ro

<3

I FUCKING LOVE COLOURING IN.

https://instagram.com/_jayrow_/

Follow me on Instagram – click the pic!

I’m 37 in less than 2 months, and I’ve got a new addiction that up until recently would have been meant for the confines of a Kindergarten or a Junior Infants class of a weekday morning. I’m addicted to colouring books. More specifically, colouring books made especially for grown-ups. I’ve called them Adult Colouring Books, but that just conjures up images of pages upon pages of boob, fanny and willy drawings, or outlines of a page or ten from Kama Sutra; although, I’m sure somebody’s thought of that already. Nothing new under the sun and all that… *goes searching on Amazon*

I may have been a bit trigger-happy with the 'click to buy' button.

I may have been a bit trigger-happy with the ‘click to buy’ button. Click the pic to see more on my Instagram!

So why is there such a fascination with Grown-Up Colouring books now? Well from my uneducated lay-person standpoint, it seems to be a branch coming out of the Mindfulness movement – giving people a chance to be ‘in the present’ (feckin’ hippies I know, but it works) and calm the mind, giving it focus and having a moment or two of time to yourself doing something pleasurable and visually stimulating in the process. A little bit of Occupational Therapy for the price of a colouring book and some markers.

From the Completely Calming Colouring Book 2 - Love. Click on the pic to head to Amazon and buy it.

From the Completely Calming Colouring Book 2 – Love. Click on the pic to head to Amazon and buy it.

Years ago in the midst of a very dark patch, I was in town and I got a notion that I wanted to colour in. It seemed that my love of stationery was a gateway drug to it; but there wasn’t anything in the way of a wide assortment of books to choose from. Either that or I just didn’t have the wherewithal to go looking for it online. So into Michael Guineys I went, bought a jumbo kids’ colouring book and a packet of markers all for under a fiver, and headed home all excited to stick my head into a bit of childhood regression; anything to alleviate the ball of twine-sized anxiety in my stomach that nothing would shake.

Stationery is Sexy AF

Stationery is Sexy AF

It didn’t last long, mostly because there’s only so many giant cartoon dogs you can colour in before you get bored. You’re engaged in a childlike activity, but that doesn’t mean you need child-centred content. This year I started to properly discover more advanced books with detailed patterns and shapes, repetitive geometrics, paisley-style prints, mandalas, and detailed cartoons of the most beautiful things in the world. I’d seen one or two books in the senior classrooms of the schools I’d taught in, given to kids who would finish work faster than the others and needed to keep themselves occupied with something a bit more challenging, and I was SO JEALOUS. So imagine my delight when I saw how huge the range of colouring books had become for overgrown kids like me.

Click on the pic to head over to my Instagram and get some colour ideas!

Click on the pic to head over to my Instagram and get some colour ideas!

So if you think it’s something you’d like to try out, I can’t recommend it enough. For so many reasons. I suffer from Dermatillomania, which is basically a compulsive skin-picking disorder, and has been the bane of my life ever since I developed my fine motor skills. At its simplest, it’s anxiety-based, and left unchecked, causes huge pain and discomfort and scarring. It’s like a mild unconscious form of self-harm, so the doc tells me. When anxious, I’ll tear at the skin on my body, face, hands, to the point where my fingers are so sore from having pulled hangnails (imaginary or otherwise) that they leave infections and swelling behind, and I’m left disfigured, bleeding and in pain. So when the chance to get stuck into something that would otherwise occupy my hands, I pounced on it like it was the last Krispy Kreme on earth. It’s the artistic equivalent of a stress ball for me, and what it saves me in disfigurement and low self-esteem cannot be measured.

It's called The Hipster Coloring Book, but don't let the title put you off. It's SO MUCH FUN. (click pic to buy on Amazon)

It’s called The Hipster Coloring Book, but don’t let the title put you off. It’s SO MUCH FUN. (click pic to buy on Amazon)

I really think you should give it a go. You don’t have to be a Salvador Dali type, there’s designs and pics out there to suit everyone. If you think a book of complicated mandalas might add to your stress levels, then there are others with simple yet adorable pics and lettering you can sweep a marker or pencil across with delight. Click on any of the pics to find the books pictured here on Amazon, or to go to my Instagram to see what manner of a colour scheme I’m chucking down on to a page.

Follow me on Instagram - Click the pic!

Follow me on Instagram – Click the pic!

Pen, pencil, or ink?

You all know the usual suspects to get hold of in any bookshop or stationery (yum) shop; Crayola, Sharpie, Faber-Castell and all those are obviously perfect to kick off your colouring habit. I got a 24-pack of brilliant Crayola markers in Heatons for under €8 (with a free blank sketchbook thank you vey much!) to start me off. I’m a markers girl myself, being a cartoon lover until the day I die, but there are some amazing colouring pencils out there if you take a bit of time to wander around art supply shops and see which ones you like.

If you want to pimp out your colouring experience, Staedtler Fine Tips are the mutt’s nuts altogether. Having explored the wonderland website of artist Johanna Basford (click the pic below to see her work), I decided to splurge on the Staedtler so when I decided to take on intricately detailed drawings and patterns, I could keep my perfectionist side at bay by staying inside the lines. Her books are an absolute treasure. They’re next on my list. Click the pic below to be taken to her website and have your mind blown.

Click on the pic to head over to Johanna's website to see all her books and the pens she swears by.

Click on the pic to head over to Johanna’s website to see all her books and the pens she swears by.

There you have it, a short and (hopefully) useful guide to get you started on the road to regression. There really is nothing like taking a bit of time to yourself and indulging in a pastime that makes you feel like a happy kid again. It’s also a lot more socially acceptable than, say, firebombing your workplace or quitting your job in spectacular Jerry Maguire-style fashion following an epiphany / nervous breakdown. Be nice to yourself; make a bucket of tea or grab a class of wine, curl up on a comfy couch with your pencil case and book of choice and GET COLOURING IN. You won’t regret it. I promise.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw

Getting jiggly..and it’s shit.

What he said.

What he said.

I hate exercise. HATE IT. Yeah I get it, it’s good for you, Nature’s anti-depressant, blah blah blah, you won’t know yourself…fuck the fuck off! I just DON’T. LIKE. MOVING. Unless it’s to turn arse-cheeks and reset the butt-groove in the couch after a two-hour marathon. And don’t tell me that’s not an effort. You’re also not taking into effect the amount of times you’ve to lunge forward to click the ‘Continue Playing’ button, lest you end up staring gee-eyed and a paused screen for the remainder of the night until sunrise (or your bladder, whichever comes first) alerts you to the fact that you may have to vacate your trusty cosy haven of sloth, otherwise you’ll end up with some serious stain issues on the couch. Take it any further, and firefighters will have to crane-lift you and your new furniture-shaped adult diaper to the hospital so the doctors can try and separate your bloated flesh from the leather settee it appears to have fused itself to. I’m not even joking; it’s a thing. I saw it on Nip / Tuck.

It’s all well and good lauding exercise as Nature’s Anti-Depressant, but that just means that in my opinion, Nature is really shit at making anti-depressants. Gimme hard chemicals any day. Nice little pills wrapped in foil, like tiny promises of mental peace & quiet for anyone who opens them. They’re fantastic. They have the ability to stop me running, crying and terrified, into the arms of complete strangers on the footpath because I’m too afraid to walk a few blocks down the road to Dunnes. You know what else comes wrapped in foil and makes me feel better, Nature? Chocolate. Chinese Food. A kebab at 3.30am after a night of delicious gin (which doesn’t come wrapped in foil, but it sure as shit makes me feel better).

Mindy Kaling is Truth.

Mindy Kaling is Truth.

Some would say heroin and meth also come with a foil accompaniment, and to those I say shut up; this is my blog where I’m ranting without fear of logic or consequence jumping in. I’m venting. You want calmly presented facts and all that shite? Go look up some medical journals and feel smug while the rest of us enjoy a good mental blowout. We’ll all behave again tomorrow. If you’re going to keep reading; suspend all realities and known benefits of exercise, and join me in my Circle of Hate.

You know what else is utterly cock-rotten about exercise? It interrupts my day. I’ve become quite used to spending up to twelve hours a day worrying incessantly about nothing and everything, while trying to write some coherent thoughts as a thousand voices roar behind me into my ears that I’m complete shit. I’m an expert at Anxiety Management; well, to be more accurate, Anxiety is an expert on J-Ro Management. It gives me full-time hours and expects me to work weekends and nights at a moment’s notice, and if I could turn in some reports on why I should never leave the house and socialise with mates again, that’d be great. It’s the mental health equivalent of that douche-bucket manager in Office Space.

IMG_6045

Also can we take a moment to call bullshit on all those exercise videos with women who don’t sweat? They can kiss my fine white Irish plus-size arse. There they are, sighing gently through The Insanity workout with only a little ‘eeek’ or ‘oooh’ emanating from their perfectly over-glossed lips in between the kind of fitness regime that I’m pretty sure was previously rejected by Navy SEALS or fucking Black Ops for being ‘A tad harsh’. All of these skinny bitches in the background behind their slave driver / trainer grinning widely and yipping in between sets as they’re tortured are the best living example of Stockholm Syndrome I’ve witnessed since Patty Hearst. Sweat? NOT ONE DROP. Oh no, not these gals. Sure, they’re lightly misty across the face, but they just look glowy and dew-fresh, like a Stephanie Meyer vampire walking around in the sunshine. In the meantime, just getting in the main door of the gym makes me look like this:

Anyway, I joined Zumba. I know it’s not the ‘in’ thing to do in the face of all things TRX and Crossfit and TR-fit and Cross-X (or whatever the fuck they’re called – are they the same thing? I bet they are the sneaky bastards), but as I mentioned in my previous post “Life As A Living Before Picture“, my lung capacity is in dire straits, and I’m tired of breaking a sweat and needing my inhaler every time I so much as open a book, so I decided to jump in at the deep end and really give them something to give out about. It seems to be working. I’m pretty sure I left half of one on the floor at my very first class. Must check with reception to see if anyone handed it in.

I would never submit you to an actual video of me trundling my sweaty way through a Zumba routine, so to get a fair idea, please watch this clip of a cartoon potato giving it socks to a dance choon.

The girls in the class are all lovely, mad eejits…and you kind of have to be. To engage in a ferocious cardiac workout like Zumba is (despite what others think, it’s fucking INSANELY tough) for a full sixty minutes in front of a full-length mirror, stuck in a body that you hate, wishing the inches away as you pound the floor, and still have a laugh with those next to you, tells me that my fellow Zumba hostages are a decent bunch of lasses. Added to which our instructor Sarah is a legend of a woman, part insanely happy Energiser Bunny, part Drill Sergeant. The best way to be when you’ve someone like me in your group.

Yes, Gillian. Yes it was. WITH DELIGHT.

Yes, Gillian. Yes it was. WITH DELIGHT.

So onwards I waddle, trying to get myself together. Some friends have told me that I’ll eventually get past the seething hatred I have for moving, and be all super-psyched about the prospect of getting up and out to burn away the calories in time. To them I say “I love you, but take a look at who you’re talking to, and revise that statement.” I’ve been on this planet a good while now at this stage, and I have NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, liked ‘activities’ that involved leaving a couch or a bed or the house when there is no discernible threat to my person from fire, flood or famine. It doesn’t mean I won’t do it, sure anyone with a toast crumb-sized piece of common sense knows that it’s the only thing that’ll shift pounds and make you feel better while you get your eating habits in order. So it’s a necessary evil in my world. Doesn’t mean I’ll be a fitness fanatic any time soon. I’ll leave that to all my fabulous fit friends who enjoy a couple of 5K runs of a weekend while I slave over a hot laptop trying to make a name for myself writing shit like this.

So to all those who love a good calorie burning session in whatever form takes their fancy; rock on, you mad, jammy fit, well-toned bastards. I’ll stick to flipping the bird at my workout gear and undressing my couch and fleecy blankets with my eyes. In the meantime, I’ll still continue to venture out to Zumba on a regular basis to engage in a fat-threatening habit that may, if I stick with it and remain consistent, actually be responsible for me needing to invest in smaller jeans and taking longer to use up my inhaler, as opposed to taking longer to, you know, GET UP A FLIGHT OF STAIRS.

Better keep at it, so.

Grrr.

Ask J-Ro: All About Chemistry

I’ve been with my boyfriend for a few months. He’s sweet, funny and kind. The only thing is, I’m not attracted to him. I’ve known that all along but I’ve been trying not to be superficial. I tried to ignore it but now I feel like I resent him because I don’t fancy him. Should we break up?

IMG_5107

In a word; yes. Why are you with him if you don’t fancy him? Sure he’s sweet, funny and kind, but so are puppies and friends. And you don’t have to go to the effort of going out with them to get that. If you don’t fancy him, then he shouldn’t be your boyfriend. The ‘fancying’ part is one of the fundamental defining points of a boyfriend or a girlfriend, so if that’s missing, you’re selling yourself short. You’re also not being fair to him; he deserves to be with someone who gets tingles in their tummy at the thought of being with them. Would YOU like to be with someone who didn’t fancy you? My guess is you’d be gone before you could say ‘Chemistry’.

You’re not being superficial by wanting to end it because he doesn’t do it for you, among other things we’re visually-stimulated creatures, and physical & sexual attraction is what separates a guy who is a friend from a guy who could be a potential love interest. It’s the funny feelings in our fuzzy bits that keep this world of ours turning 🙂

I could labour the point, but I suspect you know all of this. I think you’re maybe trying to find a way out of this without hurting his feelings, and without feeling bad yourself. I don’t imagine you were going to just grin and bear it for the next few years, having absolutely no sexual attraction to someone you’re stuck with just because you don’t want to be the breaker-upper. Unfortunately, it’s gotta be done. It will hurt his feelings, but you’re doing him a favour and it’s not out of nastiness; it’s out of honesty and respect. You’re giving the two of you the gift of freedom to have something way better with other people who will melt your butter in ways you never imagined. Sure who wouldn’t want a present like that? Go forth and take the step, it’ll sting but things will be far better for the both of you. Let some chemistry into your life!

Best of luck <3