Miscarriage Q&A

1 month since losing you.
1 month of pure terror.
1 month of staring depression in the face and choosing to survive.
1 month of waking up and remembering you’re gone.
1 month I wish I could forget.
1 month without you.

Today marks 1 month since we lost our baby, Mars. In that month, we’ve experienced every single emotion on the spectrum, and have had to find strength in a place where strength is almost impossible to find. I’m not going to lie and say it’s gotten easier- it hasn’t. But, through the suffering I have found ways to let the light in, and have made a conscious decision to live my best life in honor of Mars.

That doesn’t mean I don’t cry into my pillow, in the shower, whenever I see a pregnant person or whenever I remember how it felt to carry our baby. It just means the suffering doesn’t consume me (most days).

To celebrate surviving a month without Mars, and to raise awareness on what actually happens during/after miscarriage, I’m doing a Q&A. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions, I’ll answer them the best I possibly can ūüôā

What do you do to keep yourself busy/cope with the loss of Mars?

This is such a great question. Especially during Covid/lockdowns, distractions have been hard to find. I was having a conversation with my mom the other day and we were saying how in normal days, if someone went through a miscarriage, they may enjoy going to a spa, getting their hair done, and seeing friends in person. But, when you consider that we can’t do any of those things right now, I’ve had to get crafty in how I keep myself busy.

Here are the things I’ve done to keep busy, and cope with the loss.

Read. A lovely friend of mine dropped off a stack of books I’ve been working my way through. I used to primarily read non-fiction, but now I’m enjoying the escape of fiction, how you can transport into another life by simply turning a page. I’ve read a few books I really enjoyed that I’ll link at the end of the blog post. I’ve also set a goal to read 12 books in 2021.
Walk. Someone a lot of people don’t know about miscarriage is that depending on whether you have surgery or not, the doctors suggest 4-6 weeks of “pelvic rest” which is essentially no exercise that engages the pelvis/core. So, all I’ve been able to do is walk, and it’s been a lifeline.
Write. The thing I love about writing, is no one can take it away from me. Not a pandemic, or a lockdown or a miscarriage. I’ve been blogging and writing in my journal to process what’s happened. I plan to continue using Mars as a motivation to engage in creativity.
Connect. I can’t even put into words how important connection has been for me during this time. I’ve connected with folks over Instagram and Facebook who have been through similar experiences or who simply want to extend a hand to help me through this. Now, the thing about connection, is you have to ask for it. You can’t expect people to know you want it. I’ve been open with our loss on Instagram and Facebook which has opened the door for folks to connect with me. This has been so, so valuable. Thank you to anyone who has reached out to me, had 1 Facebook am conversations, or has offered support in any way.

What is the best advice you can give someone suffering through a miscarriage?

Oh gosh, where to begin… I think the best advice I could give to someone suffering through a miscarriage is to listen to their body, connect with their body, and let yourself feel what you feel. If you need to cry into your pillow for 2 hours straight- do it. If you need to scream in an empty field until your throat burns- do it. If you need to isolate for a week straight and not talk to anyone- do it. You know what you need, deep down, and no one can tell you how you cope with your loss isn’t valid. Only you know what feels right.

Have you had any unexpected feelings since losing Mars?

I have. Many, actually. One that stands out is gratitude. I didn’t expect to EVER feel thankful for this experience. In my darkest days I literally wanted to die because our baby did. But, as the days pass, and as I engage in healing and actively seek out support (via therapy, connecting with others and connecting with nature) I have found a way to be thankful for this experience.

Not to say I am thankful Mars died. I’m not, and I will never ever be thankful for that. But, I am thankful for the platform this gave me to advocate for folks who have experienced miscarriage and didn’t have the resources to advocate for themselves. This experience has allowed me to speak out and make noise about something that is usually experienced in silence and solitude.

I am thankful for the strength Mars has given me. But god, do I miss them.

When will you try again (to conceive)? Do you think you’ll ever be ready?

Short answer, I don’t think we’ll ever be ready. But, that doesn’t mean we won’t try again.

Long answer, we don’t know when we’ll try again. The newly imposed Covid lockdown measures prohibit non-essential travel, and our donor lives out of province…. so we kind of have to wait and see when the lockdown lets up.

We’re also being careful not to rush to try again until we both feel we have fully processed the loss and feel emotionally, and physically strong enough to try again. Speaking for myself (not my partner), I can say I don’t feel physically or emotionally ready yet. So, even if there weren’t a lockdown, we’d be waiting. I’m also aware that I don’t think you can ever feel ready after something like this happens… I imagine when we start trying again I’ll be flooded with memories of losing Mars, fear of it happening again, and maybe an ounce of guilt. I feel like trying again means we’re moving on from Mars, but I know it doesn’t. It just means we’re moving on, with Mars in our hearts.

If I had to guess when we’ll try again, I’d say maybe Summer or Fall of this year. But, who knows. Only time will tell.

Can you link products you use to pamper yourself after losing Mars?

Heck yeah I can.

Our pals at Salon Tao gifted us a lovely basket of pamper gifts. My favorite product is the Cherry Almond Conditioner by Aveda.

The books I’ve read that have provided a nice escape are – The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The House in the Sky , and The Midnight Library.

An advocate, Zoe Clark-Coates, who also writes books on baby loss and grief have also been super helpful. Her Instagram posts have also helped me immensely. Her website offers a bio as well as all of her books (which can also be purchased on Amazon, and some are also at Chapters/Indigo).

What are some physical symptoms after miscarriage that you didn’t expect?

So many. I’m not going to go into depth on explaining them, as they are fairly self explanatory. A list of unexpected physical symptoms I’ve experienced after miscarriage are:

  • Acne (face, chest, back)
  • Weight Gain – like my body doesn’t realize the baby’s gone.
  • Insomnia (this isn’t entirely physical, but was caused likely by the hormonal shifts so I think it’s physical personally) – I kid you not, the week after miscarriage I literally slept maybe 2 hours per night and experienced a sleep-deprivation induced psychosis. I hallucinated and saw ghosts/people in our house. It was the scariest experience. Luckily, the insomnia only lasted about a week.
  • Pain. Even a month after the D&C surgery, I experience pain in my womb. I’m not sure if it’s psycho-somatic, or if it’s just my uterus continuing to heal. But it’s a painful reminder.
  • Bleeding. For me, this only lasted about a week. But for some folks it can last longer.

Can you elaborate on going through the conceiving and miscarriage process as someone with PCOS?

Ah, so this question could be an entire blog post itself. But, I’ll speak to my experience here, and will likely elaborate further in the future.

I was diagnosed with PCOS in my early teens and have always had irregular periods. I’ve found that in different stages of my life, my PCOS symptoms get better, or worse. Since the Pandemic hit, my symptoms have worsened due to stress. My body actually stopped ovulating on it’s own, so I was prescribed Letrozole, which I used to induce ovulation, and conceive.

I’d say the biggest hurdle for me, was realizing that I wasn’t ovulating. Even if you don’t ovulate, you may have high LH surges (which stimulate ovulation to occur) but despite my high LH levels, ovulation wasn’t happening. It wasn’t until I was monitored by the fertility clinic that we discovered I wasn’t ovulating (this is done through blood tests and ultrasounds).

I guess, my biggest piece of advice if you want to conceive as someone who has PCOS is to educate yourself as much as you can. I found this book helpful (to understand PCOS, not to reverse it). Additionally, I’d say get in touch with a fertility clinic or specialist as soon as you decide you want to start a family, as it can be a lengthy process to figure out a treatment plan that works for your body.

In terms of miscarrying with PCOS, I’m not sure if it’s different from miscarrying without PCOS. But, I do know I likely won’t ovulate/get a period without using progesterone pills and Letrozole. The progesterone pills are taken for 7-10 days and then stopped, which forces your body to have a period. Then, Letrozole is taken on cycle days 3-7 to induce ovulation (which occurs around cycle day 15-17 for me).

In short, PCOS complicates every aspect of conceiving. I wish I could provide more information, but I’m still learning about it too. ‚̧

I hope these questions and answers can help someone else struggling.

So much love,

TJ

25 Lessons I’ve Learned so Far

In a month I turn 26 (cue mid 20s existential crisis). I’ll be closer to 30 than 20 and if that’s not enough to make me feel old I don’t know what is.

Lucky for me, I like getting older. I like growing and learning and evolving into the best possible version of myself. I usually reflect on each year, but this year, I’m gonna reflect on the last 25.

Obviously I can’t remember my first few years of life- but I can remember my childhood overall, and will try to draw lessons from it.

So- here’s 25 lessons I’ve learned so far:

  1. Don’t fight sleep: If you’re tired (and have time) SLEEP. If you’re sick SLEEP. If you’re having a bad day and have tried to turn it around and it’s just not really working SLEEP. Sleep is so important for our overall health and common…who doesn’t love a good nap?
  2. Smile and say “Hi”: When you make eye contact with a neighbour, say hi. When you’re at the grocery store and make eye contact with someone, smile. In a world where so many of our interactions are technology based, keeping these old social etiquettes alive is so important (and usually makes you feel good too!)
  3. Always say thank you: No matter what. Kindness should be rewarded- always. So if someone does something even remotely kind for you, thank them.
  4. Make new friends: This one is trickier the older I get because it’s no longer acceptable to go to the park and push a random kid on the swing and vow to be best friends forever. But in all seriousness, just try to make friends. See someone at the gym who you think you could befriend? Smile and say hi (#2. Coming in handy here). See someone walking down the street with a dog- ask to pet it and start chatting!
  5. Don’t let mean people bring you down: People who are mean are so rarely happy- remember that. Try to find compassion for them, and move on.
  6. Give: This is generic but any form of giving is so important. Donate to charity if you can ever afford to. Bake someone some treats if they’re feeling down. Cook your parents or friends a meal. Give as much as you can and your heart will only grow.
  7. Put time into your passions: Love drawing? Draw. Love music? Sing. Love animals? Walk your (or someone else’s) dog. So often as adults we get caught up in the rat race and forget to engage in what truly brings us joy. But man, it’s important that we dive into what we love as often as we can.
  8. Nightmares are temporary: I remember when I was 8 I had nightmares frequently. I remember feeling so consumed by the nightmares it began to affect my sleep in general. I think it’s important to remember nightmares are temporary. This can go for hard times in life too. They always pass.
  9. Time alone is important: I’m an introvert (an extroverted introvert to be exact). But, that doesn’t mean I always want to be alone. I enjoy being around people with positive energy! I also enjoy helping others. But, time alone is important for everyone I think. It gives us time to reflect on our days, sit with our thoughts and really dig deep.
  10. Go to therapy: I’m a strong believer that everyone can benefit from therapy. No matter how steady they are, we all have something that keeps us up at night. Life’s tough and there’s nothing wrong with laying it all out on the table with a professional.
  11. ¬†You don’t always have to be busy: I remember as a preteen I would try to fill all of my time with friends, shopping, working out, school, homework. I never just gave myself time to be, time to rest. I think it’s important to learn the balance of hard work, play and rest. All 3 Are important, but each in moderation.
  12. ¬†Mental illness isn’t your fault: When I was 12 I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I remember holding a lot of guilt thinking I caused it or I let it happen. It’s taken me years to realize no one asks for mental health issues. We’re all just doing the best we can. Accepting my illness was the greatest step in my recovery and maintenance.
  13. ¬†Not everyone has sound intentions: Not everyone you love will love you. Not everyone who claims they love you actually does. Trust your gut and if someone doesn’t value you- walk the fuck away.
  14. You can’t rely on anyone else to make you happy: If you do, your happiness will always be fleeting. No one else will ever care about you as much as you should. Your well-being is totally your responsibility. Yes, other people can offer comfort and support, but ultimately it’s in your hands.
  15.  Stand up for yourself: If someone treats you badly, stand up for yourself. This can mean telling them they hurt you, or walking away. The worst thing we can do is let people hurt us repeatedly.
  16. ¬†Don’t assimilate to societal expectations: Don’t date a boy just to fit in with your friends who are dating boys. Don’t hide your true self to satisfy a sick society.
  17. ¬†Figure out what YOU want: Don’t let anyone else tell you what you should do with your life. Other people will be keen to offer opinions and input when you’re making big life decisions like going to college or moving out. But don’t let their opinions make your desires foggy.
  18. You can’t save people: Tragedy happens. People get hurt. People die. “You cannot save people, you can only love them” -Anais nin
  19. ¬†If anyone ever lays hands on you- leave: Run as fast as you fucking can and don’t look back. Domestic violence is a quiet hell.
  20. Be proud of yourself: Notice every challenge you’ve overcome and take the time to give yourself a fucking high 5. You’ve gone through a ton of heavy stuff. And you came out so light.
  21. ¬†If someone loves you selflessly- let them: Don’t be fooled by your brains addiction to toxic love. Abuse changes your brain and makes you think that’s what love is. It’s not. So if someone shows you gentle, authentic love, let it happen.
  22. ¬†Study hard. Work hard: Pour yourself into what you love. It will pay off. If not financially, you’ll learn that you are capable of greatness.
  23. ¬†Hard times happen- they don’t define you though: Falling into depression again doesn’t make you weak. Having anxiety attacks again doesn’t mean you always will. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Find support, and work through it.
  24. Love hard: You’ve found someone who deserves it.
  25. ¬†Don’t stop going to therapy: Don’t stop challenging yourself. Don’t stop learning. Keep reaching for what you want. Challenge your maladaptive thought patterns and coping strategies. Keep bettering yourself.

  

Wild. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, especially in the last 5 years. 20’s are hard- you’re trying to figure out how to be an adult and honestly, I think I’ve almost got the hang of it ūüėČ

Here’s to the next 25!

Things to NEVER Say to Someone Going Through Fertility Treatments/ Infertility

This one goes out to all of the people going through fertility treatments/procedures in hopes of conceiving. It also goes out to their support system, wife, husband, partner, best friend, roommate- whoever has truly got their back!

It is also dedicated to people who aren’t so helpful. I in no way think anyone is being malicious with their comments, but are instead ignorant or unaware of the heartache that is associated with needing medical intervention to reproduce.

I’ve spoken to over 10 different women who struggle with fertility and are in the process of taking hormones, undergoing testing and procedures, and trying IUI & IVF. As this post is geared towards my own experience as a lesbian, these comments have been made to heterosexual couples who are having trouble conceiving as well.

Also- I can only speak to my own experiences. I know same-sex male couples or men trying to have a child on their own have an extremely hard time as well as eggs and surrogate are a whole ‘nother ball game. Sending some love to them too!

Here are the top 10 things to never say to someone going through this process.

  • “If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.”

    Well then. So if it doesn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to be? Like what the fuck does that even mean?
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  • “Just relax.

    Okay. SO having everyone going through fertility treatments has been to appointments at the clinic for a minimum of 2 months. Appointments are booked based on our cycle days and have no mercy for work meetings, our social lives or our bank accounts.

    We get to “try” to produce in a cold, sterile environment where new nurses prick our arms and insert god knows what into our V and all we can do is lay there and hope this is all worth it.

    We rearrange our lives to go to these appointments that usually involve tough news and tears. We drive home processing what just happened. And we wake up the next day and do it all over again.

    SO- telling us to relax during all of this is insensitive. Believe me, we’re trying. Not to mention the recommendations made to improve our fertility. Whole foods, no alcohol, limit caffeine, lose weight…We’re trying to reinvent ourselves in hopes that our reproductive system may follow. It is anything but relaxing. If you want me to relax, send me to the spa.
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  • “It will happen when you stop planning.”

    Oh shit really? Didn’t know as a lesbian I could get pregnant by accident? If we didn’t plan our appointments based on our cycle days- it wouldn’t happen. Ever. If we didn’t plan our work schedule around our fertility appointments, it also wouldn’t happen. So, telling us to stop planning, is like telling us not to bother. Unless you have some magic we can have?
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  • Just go to a bar and hookup with a random guy. It’s cheaper.”

    Oh it’s cheaper that way? Didn’t know that. Pretty sure I identify as a lesbian because I DO NOT want to have sex with men. Despite the temptation of a baby, that’s gonna be a hard pass.
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  • Who’s gonna be the real mom?”

    Uhhh as opposed to what? The fake mom? We’re both gonna be real moms, thanks.
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  • Do you want one of mine?”

    Again, hard. fucking. pass. I want a baby that is part of me or I would have chosen adopting a child who desperately needs a home.
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  • Maybe it’s not in gods plan.”

    The fuck does god have to do with my reproductive organs?
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  • It’s a privilege that IUI and IVF exist.

    Thank you- we know. We are extremely thankful to even have the option to have biological children. But it doesn’t erase the difficulty and emotional turmoil that comes with this process. So thank you for informing us that we are privileged, but when we’re rearranging our lives to accommodate appointments and taking out bank loans to pay for sperm, we don’t feel privileged. ALSO- a privilege that we’re paying for. Can’t forget that part.
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  • Are you sure you want to put your body through that. It’s a lot of hormones.”

    Trust me. There is no part of me that WANTS to load my body full of hormones. But, if that is the only way then of course I will do it.
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  • “Have you considered adoption?

    Oh wow. So this one is ignorant on so many levels. Adoption, in most cases, is not easier, faster or less expensive than conceiving via IUI or IVF. Adoption, while it is amazing & important, may not be how we envisioned our lives. So asking us if we’ve considered adoption is insensitive to the fact that we may be mourning the idea of what we pictured our family/life to look like.

    And, you can bet your ass we’ve considered every.single.option. including adoption
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In conclusion, I don’t think anyone says any of these things maliciously, they usually just don’t understand the heartache and struggle that comes with conceiving in a clinic vs. in your own space on your own terms.

What do You Want to be When You Grow up? At 25 I still have no idea.

I remember it vividly. I think I was in the first or second grade. We were asked to dress up as the profession we wanted when we grew up. I, without hesitation, began planning my costume in my head. An artist. It was simple. I wanted to paint, and make art in whatever way possible. So, I dressed in my dads white t-shirt and a pair of jeans, paint splattered.

Little did I know, that would be the first of many, many career dreams. Artist was followed by veterinarian which was then followed by lawyer, model, makeup artist, interior designer. The list could go on for the entirety of this blog post.

Many of us are working jobs that don’t fulfill us. Some of us, to prove a point, to maintain a certain status, or simple because we can’t afford not to. I’ve been there- earlier this year I quit the most stable and well paying job I’ve ever had. Why? Because it sucked the life out of me. No matter how much therapy, meditation, or positivity I pumped into my life at home, it was instantly zapped the moment I walked into work. The workplace caused me to become a person I really didn’t like.

So now I’m in this weird place. I’m working semi-in my field of work. I like it enough but it’s a contract and I’d like to figure out next steps. Ideally, the next steps will lead to a more rewarding career that is in line with my values and desires: to be creatively stimulated, appreciated and have a level of independence.

I’ve completed 2 college programs, and have worked in 2 different fields of work before the age of 25. And still, I feel like I’m longing for something I can’t obtain in my current field of work. The problem? I have no idea what that something is.

I was starting to wonder if I was the only person who felt this way…this constant longing for something else. But, after making a status about it on facebook, I realized a lot of people I know are in a similar boat, struggling to find true meaning and longing for something.

So, I began researching. One article I found stated that Millennials “are regarded as being achievement-oriented. They seek new experiences and learning opportunities, a better work-life balance, independence and appreciation” I think this is part of the trouble I’m facing. I want a job that offers me the ability to experience new things, but also doesn’t suck the life out of me, that allows me to make my own decisions and also pays me enough to live. It’s proven to be a challenge.

I also believe the fact that there are so many options can be overwhelming for some of us. The thought “The sky is the limit” is meant to be empowering, but I find it terrifying because I can’t focus. There are too many options, and I have too many interests, none of which are transferrable to a typical 9-5 job.

So what does all of this mean? I’m going to have to get creative- which I’m usually very good at. But in this situation, it’s proving to be challenging. But, I’m up for it. I’m going to have to ask myself some hard questions, put in the work, do the research and take a giant leap of faith. All we can do is move forward, towards our most authentic selves.

Being The Wife of A Musician: The Things No One Tells You

First off- I’d like to start this post by saying I love my wife VERY much.

I remember when we first started dating I was blown away by her ability to open her mouth and project sounds that didn’t resemble a dying animal (Note: I really cannot sing). I was even more impressed when she proved she could play guitar while singing AT THE SAME TIME.

I was quickly wooed over by her angelic voice and killer instrumental skills. But, little did I know, I would eventually be a band wife. And band wives have a lot of duties and unwritten rules.

Here are the things NO ONE tells you when you start dating a musician:

  • There will rarely be quiet time again: In the shower? Singing. Trying to nap? Guitar solos trailing up the stairs. In the middle of a conversation? Singing¬†again.¬†In bed? Drums blasting downstairs.
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  • Your basement is no longer YOUR basement. It belongs to the music now: I’ve always been cool with her creating a recording studio space in our basements (even when we lived in tiny houses that could have benefitted from some extra space). What I didn’t expect was that she would hunt the house for every single blanket we own and create what looks like a giant blanket fort in our basement to absorb echoes and create the ultimate recording situation. Now, when I walk into the basement I am greeted by blankets hanging from the ceiling acting as doors as I make my way to the laundry room. Plus side? She has volunteered to do more laundry now.
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  • You will be expected to attend shows of people you’ve never heard of:¬†I’m totally cool with this one… except when the people mega suck and she still suggests we see them. :’)
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  • She will spend hours in the blanket basement at one time and will request that you don’t make a sound: That means no showering. No walking around. No breathing. Okay- the last one was a joke.
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  • You may end up doubling as her Manager/Tour Planner: Again- totally cool with this one because I love planning events. I do wish I got to go on the tour though… ūüėČ
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  • The bandmates become your great friends: Or in our case- the best men at our wedding.
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  • You’ll probably end up running the merch table…¬†
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  • You’ll start listening to music differently… Listen to that Vibrato damn.
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  • She’ll make you fall in love again and again with every song she writes about you.¬†(Especially when she sings it for you at your wedding in front of everybody.)
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  • And you will especially love the way she serenades the dog. Now if only we could teach him to sing back.
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Based on this list… I think the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Just means I can be her biggest fan.

Why I Stopped Writing my Second Book

I’ve been wanting to write this for a while but wasn’t sure where to start.

My first book, Waves, took years to write. It was a bundle of poetry and prose written over the span of 7 years. It was a representation of personal torment and growth. Honestly, it came easily. It was burning inside my chest and I didn’t feel relief until I had it all on paper and in the hands of readers.

The words came easily. I would have dreams of ideas for poems and cool phrases and metaphors would come to me often. Of course, it was a process to write the book in its entirety, but overall the process was seamless.

But- here’s what I never talk about when discussing my writing-¬†It kills me and brings me to life simultaneously. While I’m writing, I isolate myself behind closed doors with headphones on and dive into the darkest corners of my mind. Truly, it’s a scary place to be. But, it provides me with compelling content.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if my writing makes me sick, or better. If it provides me serenity or traps me in a nightmare. And the conclusion I have come to is that it does both. I turn into almost a zombie when I’m writing; not showering, sitting at my desk, or more often in bed, writing and deleting and writing and deleting… I forget to go outside, forget to experience life because I’m so consumed with writing about it.

All of that being said, I’ve been taking a bit of a break from writing my new book, Undertow. Partly because I have to go out and experience things before I have content to write about, and partly because I’m so tired of writing about the past. It’s exhausting and re-traumatizing, to say the least.

Here’s what I’ve been trying to do instead of write
(in hopes that it will give me inspiration when I’m ready to write again) :

  • Seeing friends. Instead of isolating myself and writing, I’ve been trying to connect with old friends and make new ones. Each person I meet inspires me in some way and contributes to new ideas.
  • Focussing on wellness. When I write, I get into a state where I literally forget to take care of myself, no matter how hard I try to remember. It just isn’t on my radar. So lately I’ve been using this break to focus on nutrition, work & relationships.
  • Planning activities that will inspire me. I’ve been planning trips, social events, even just listening to new music, reading new books (different types and genres than I usually read) and watching new movies and tv shows to spark inspiration.
  • Actually experience my life instead of writing about it: This is a big one. For a while, I was so consumed with writing that I rarely left the house except to go to work and do groceries. Now I’m seeking out experiences, staying present in moments instead of thinking about writing of them later and focussing on goals aside from my next book.

This isn’t to say that there won’t be another book, it’s just going to take longer than I initially thought.

Here’s to living, and experiencing.

TJ

Another Article I found Interesting:

https://www.bustle.com/articles/66871-5-reasons-why-writers-should-take-a-break-from-writing-every-now-and-then-and-what

Self-Care Doesn’t Mean Putting Yourself Into Debt

My First Experience With Self-Care

I first heard the term “self-care” when I was in college studying Child and Youth Care. Our profs would tell us constantly how important self-care is in our profession and how it will ultimately prevent burnout. We would have conversations of what self-care meant, and how to fit it into our busy lives of being students and juggling placement and working.

So What is it, Really?

Self-Care, in it’s most basic form, is “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”

Nowhere does that definition state self-care being the obligation to buy an 8$ bath bomb or $100 yoga mat each time we feel depleted. Or “treating ourselves” (don’t get me started on how much I despise the term “Treat Yo Self.”) to a 7$ Macchiato (jam-packed with sugar that will likely NOT help whatever mental/physical exhaustion you’re feeling) from Starbucks as a reward for going to class despite the lack of sleep and calling it self-care.

It’s Become Pure Consumerism

Self-care has been hi-jacked by retail companies, preying on people who just want to FEEL better. They target their products towards mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted individuals and charge insane prices because they know, we’ll buy the products just to try and feel better.

Our generation (Millenials) is obsessed with the $10billion self-care industry. Search the web for self-care and you’ll find hundreds of articles surrounding self-care, many of which encourage you to buy something that is likely overpriced and out of your budget (I mean common, we’re all in our 20’s here…none of us can afford $100 pillows and the daily $7 Starbucks Drink)

Here is my current favorite cringe-worthy example of “Self-Care” product marketing.

Chapters/Indigo:

Chapters/Indigo has a new “New You” Section on their website jacked with overpriced products such as bath salts loaded with chemicals and packaged beautifully, Luxury loungewear and white-noise machines. All things I’m sure we’d love to purchase, but realistically, these purchases won’t solve our inability to relax or sleep… They just convince us they will.
Like really how is buying a $48.00 towel really going to help? Go back to what you know- selling books.

Self-Care keeps us in a perpetual state of consumerism. Buy the next self-help book. Buy that organic smoothie (but eat McDonald’s an hour later). Buy that bath bomb. Buy that soft overpriced sweater and claim it’s self-care. None of this is self-care. This is consumerism and we justify our over-spending by convincing ourselves it will benefit our health…But does it really?

So… What is Self-Care if it isn’t Spending Money?

Now that I’ve come clean about my dislike for the commercialism of self-care, I’ll tell you what I think self-care truly is and should be.

  • Accessible to everyone: Fresh Air, Staying Hydrated, Spending time with people who lift you up, allowing yourself to sleep in once in a while, balancing your work-home life. 
  • Cheap/Free: Self-care shouldn’t put you in debt or prevent you from saving money.  Notice nothing above costs money.
  • Good for the body, mind, and soul: Home yoga videos (My fave is yogawithAdriene), spending time with animals (visit a shelter if you don’t have one), Learning a new skill (new recipes are an easy go-to).

Self-Care Isn’t Just the Fun Stuff 

Though I would much rather buy another self-help book and read it in bed while sipping my overpriced smoothie. I know self-care is so much more than that. Self-care is the tough stuff. The boring and mundane.

Self-care is going to therapy and then actually DOING THE HOMEWORK so you don’t have to continue spending $100-250 a pop to listen to your therapist tell you the same shit.

And it’s paying your bills on time, putting money into savings so you can actually enjoy your life down the road, cleaning your space, sleeping when you need sleep, cooking healthy meals, reading self-help books (or better yet just reading about self-improvement online) and then DOING THE WORK instead of perpetually buying the books searching for deeper meaning, spending time with people who make you feel good.

Self-care is so much more than a retail experience.

Other Articles About Self-Care 

http://thefederalist.com/2017/06/13/is-self-care-healthy-or-the-ultimate-in-millennial-narcissism-yes/


https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/02/self-care-apps-are-booming/

https://thethirty.byrdie.com/self-care-status-symbol

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/self-care-is-hard#6

Cheap/Free Self-Care Articles

https://acleanbake.com/self-care-ideas/


https://www.continuumcollective.org/blog/2017/3/7/5-self-care-strategies-that-arent-fucking-mani-pedis


https://www.bustle.com/p/21-quick-life-changing-self-care-hacks-that-dont-cost-you-anything-7842786


I hope you can create a cost-free/cheap self-care routine ’cause you know going into debt and running from your problems isn’t self-care.

Love,
TJ

Shit I Learned in 2018

2018 was a year for the books. It brought me the greatest highs I’ve ever experienced and also brought about the deepest depression and anxiety I’ve ever known. Here are a few things I learned along the way.

  • Quit anything that hurts your soul. I have spent so much time and effort working jobs, maintaining friendships and pursuing hobbies that brought me absolutely nothing but anxiety and grief. In 2018, I really tried to hone in on what I want for my life… how I want it to feel. And I ditched anything that didn’t feel the way I wanted to feel. (I stopped killing myself at the gym for aesthetic purposes, I left a job that continuously back-tracked any mental health progress I made and I stopped putting effort into friendships that weren’t 2-way-streets.)
  • Being absolutely terrified doesn’t mean you aren’t absolutely ready. I¬†spent a large part of 2018 being scared shitless, literally unable to eat from anxiety and constantly shaking. I was terrified to get married in front of 100+ people, to go to a foreign country (and to get on a plane), to buy a house in fear of making the wrong choice and regret it later… You get the point. I was terrified during all of these events. But let me tell you, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t ready. These events brought me the most happiness I’ve ever experienced. It’s okay to feel terrified. This year I leaned into the fear, challenged it and faced it.
  • Therapy is only going to work if you work.¬†I’ve¬†spent¬†so¬†many¬†hours¬†of¬†my¬†life¬†in¬†and¬†out¬†of¬†waiting¬†rooms and talking to strangers hoping they can give me the magic words I need to hear to make my mental illness vanish. It took me a long time to get really tired of constantly feeling sorry for myself and put in the time and effort to get better. Putting in the effort looks different for everyone, but for me, it was doing my homework, changing my distorted thinking patterns, keeping thought journals and changing what I was putting into my body (copious amounts of red wine weren’t helping my anxiety.)
  • Mental health is strongly connected to physical health. My mental health is strongly connected to my physical health. If I take my supplements, eat clean and get outside, exercise moderately and meditate/do yoga I feel clear and well. If I drink alcohol every night, eat crap and stay in the house for days I feel depressed and anxious. This year I really started taking care of myself. I’m not perfect, there are days where I slip up and don’t eat as great as I should or forget to stretch…But I’m mindful of how my physical health impacts my mental health now.
  • Don’t trust someone just because they’re a helping professional. Not¬†all¬†doctors have an intensive understanding of mental illness. Not all doctors are willing to try to get to the bottom of your issues and will turn to prescription pills before anything else. If you don’t like your doctor, take steps to find a new one. If you need more help, consider a naturopath or a life coach (I know, expensive…but worth it if you can fit it into your budget).

Ultimately, trust your gut. Soul-search. Don’t feel guilty for taking time to better yourself. And, don’t stop moving forward.

My Dogs Birthday

Note: This post will be written by no other than Doby, the dog (@dobythedawg on Instagram).

I woke up today, and it was like any other day. It was rainy which meant likely no walk… but then, mom turned on the fireplace and invited me for special couch cuddles where she doesn’t ask me to make more room for her! The whole couch to myself! She even tucked me in (which isn’t a rare occurrence). I’m too kind to tell her that’s what my fur is for.

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So Doby

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Much Cozy

After our couch cuddle, mom went into the fridge (always a good sign!). I awaited eternally hopeful for some human food to eat. She returned with A POT! A POT THAT I COULD LICK!

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DEEEEEEELICIOUS

As if my day wasn’t already the best….mom #1 (#2 came home later) surprised me with a homemade treat. I saw her making them but assumed she was making quinoa or something else that’s disgusting.

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come to papa

Belly. so. full.

I can tell now it’s afternoon. Kids are walking past our house with strange packs on their backs. Mom says it’s called a backpack… I don’t see why. ANYWAYS. Afternoon means mom#2. comes home from work in a few hours. Which means…DINNNNNER. I am so excited for dinner.

Mom #1. is wrapping some things that smell a lot like toys and treats in a weird bag with a  bunch of tissue now. I love tissue.

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I wait.

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so tempt.

MOM #2. Is home. OMGOMGOMG. I¬† haven’t seen her in centuries. And doesn’t she know it’s my birthed day! I hope she knows. We must celebrate the life of DOBY!

By this time- my favorite meal of the day is ready! Dinner! Moms keep saying “plate for Doby.” I know what a plate is! I like plates! I want a plate for DOBY!

 

I loved my plate for Doby!

I think now that we have all eaten dinner it might be time to see what’s in the tissue bag.

 

HOLY MOTHER OF GOD I GOT A NEW ROPE TOY THAT I CAN CHEW AND TEAR APART AND DRAG ALL OVER THE 3 FLOORS OF THIS HOUSE AND LEAVE LITTLE BITS EVERYWHERE ESPECIALLY ON THE CARPET. YES!

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I love rope toy.

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Moms keep making me pose for more photos even though all I want to do is open the rest of the things in the tissue bag.

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much excite to eat all of these toys… i mean treats

Wow. Now that all of that excitement is over. All I want to do is take all of my new toys to my bed. Chew them all (likely to bits) and then beg all night for all of my new treats.

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I am done with stupid hat. Let me chew my toys in peace.

 

LOOOOOVE: DOBY

Back to Blogging/Post Wedding Blues

Wow- it’s been a while (again). One of my fatal flaws is I can be inconsistent…surprise, surprise.

In my defence, in the last 5 months I’ve moved, gotten married & gone to Italy. So I mean, life has been busy… Okay, that’s an understatement. Life has been so insane I barely realized how insane it was until it all stopped. Then the normalcy of the post-insanity was enough to swallow me whole.

I’m not talking like “I’m sad my wedding is over.” I’m talking I literally can’t get out of bed, feel physically ill, can’t eat, sleep 10 hours at night and more during the day… It was rough.

Leading up to the wedding I was so busy and consumed by it that I literally forgot to eat…frequently. Generally, when I’m anxious I forget/can’t bring myself to eat anyways…But this was different. Maybe it was just the constant excitement and butterflies and also anxiety that something could go wrong? I don’t know. All I know is I definitely put self-care on the back burner before the wedding and definitely paid for it afterwards.

Our wedding day was truly the most beautiful day of my entire life. The love and support that we were shown that day was so incredible. Everything went so smoothly, I almost couldn’t believe it. Isn’t that what anxiety is? Waiting for something bad to happen? It was kind of a moment of realization for me… Something bad may never happen & I’m spending so much of my time waiting for it.¬†

The purpose of me telling you all this is to normalize the post-wedding blues & post-wedding depression and to also remind people getting married that it’s totally OK to feel depleted and depressed after the wedding. BUT have a plan in place. Have supports in place. Because trust me when I say if you don’t have a plan in place you’ll feel like you’re drowning.

Things I found helpful after the wedding and honeymoon to combat the depression:

  • Netflix (in moderation)
  • Go outside. I didn’t leave the house for 3 days at one point… and when I finally forced myself to step outside I felt instantly grounded. Bonus if you walk barefoot and try some 10-10-10 breathing. (10 second inhale, hold 10 seconds, exhale 10 seconds)
  • Seeing close friends
  • Talk about your wedding, printing wedding photos and reminiscing about the day
  • Plan something. I mean you just spent so much time planning an event and now that it’s over maybe planning something else will help ease your mind
  • EAT. & not just eat….but eat whole foods. I was living off carbs because it was all I could stomach. I lost 10 pounds before the wedding and was totally depleted of nutrients. My naturopath told me the exhaustion was my bodies way of protecting myself and reserving it’s energy.
  • As mentioned above, if you haven’t seen one, try a naturopath!
  • OR GO TO COUNSELLING
  • Make a scrapbook or memory book of your wedding
  • Engage in your hobbies that you might have put on the back burner while planning the wedding

One last thing, practice gratitude. I’ve found that the more I think about our wedding, the more thankful I feel that I had so man family and friends there to celebrate with. I also think about and express how thankful I am for the amazing vendors and professionals who helped make our day so special.

SIDE NOTE: Also so very thankful that we live in a country where I can marry the love of my life. So many places in the world are so far behind. We are truly so lucky.

Happy wedding planning, wedding enjoying and post-wedding coping. ‚̧