NEW DOG!

Oh yeah!  I forgot to mention in my last couple of posts that Beau and I got a new dog!  He is just the cutest thing on four legs and has been the perfect addition to our family.

Meet Koda!

Such a handsome pup!

Such a handsome pup!

Yes, he kind of looks like a cross between Yoda and ET, and his eyes are much bigger than they appear in this image, but we love him and he is ours so we think he is perfect!!!

He came from Alabama, and is 4.5 lbs of fluff!  He’s not very bright, but we are teaching him “sit” and “stay” and so far has shown SOME promise.

Anyway, here are some more pictures of him!  Enjoy!

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Garage Sale

Hi again!

Last weekend I held a condo-wide garage sale.  I held one last year around this time, and it went well, so I thought I would make a tradition of it and get to meet some new neighbors.  This year I have made a much more concerted effort to meet the people who live in my building, with great success.  I now know a good number of people by name, and will stop to chat with them when I see them outside.  I have even started babysitting for one of the families!  It is great!  I was starting to think that everyone in my neighborhood sucks (it is known for being a pretty pretentious neighborhood…it is where Harvard is located after all.).

Anyway, I put the word out about three or four months ago that I was actively looking for stuff to sell either for other people, or as donated goods that I could keep the profits from.  Well, four months later I had an apartment stuffed to the gills with boxes, furniture, and random junk.  It took a good two hours to take everything out of the house and set it up on the sidewalk, but with a little advertising, we had a great turnout!

We ended up selling a huge bulk of the items by 1:00 pm and made more than $300!  Pretty good for a pay-what-you-like system.

Mostly, I am just relieved to have that stuff out of my house.  Even though it is still a mess from the sale (I am a very slow cleaner), it is considerably less cluttered, and hopefully I will now have a place for everything.  I still plan on eliminating a few more items here and there, but I am just happy to have less stuff.  I don’t want to be attached to things, and lord knows that’s what I’ve been for the last ten years.  But no longer!  I want to live minimally (which is very difficult to do when you consider yourself an artist and want to collect all of the junk ever!).  I have decided that, even though I want to do all of the hobbies, I have to pick just a few so that I can focus my energies, and limit the amount of equipment, tools, and supplies necessary to maintain 17,497, 246 hobbies.  So I’ve chosen:

  • knitting
  • spinning (on a drop spindle….more to come on that!)
  • painting
  • sewing

And that’s it!  I know it still seems like a lot of things, especially since all of these things often take a lifetime to master, but for me it’s really good considering I got rid of things to support my addiction to: plants, terrariums, swimming, coaching, learning to crochet, beading, video games, and knitting (I got rid of SO MUCH YARN).

Now, I hope to only purchase something that I am going to utilize that same week, and keep my stash of yarn (and everything else for that matter) to a minimum.  This feels good.  I will have to stop impulsively spending as a stress-reliever, but that is something i need to do anyway.

Now I just have to tidy the house, and I will be that much closer to living the way I want to live!

Back to the grind and other tid bits

Hello….

Yes, yes, I know it’s been so long.  But instead of trying to give you excuses on why I’ve been away, I’m just gonna skip all of that and trudge on as if nothing has happened…..shall we?

SO much has happened in the last few months, it’s hard to decide where to start.  I guess I will start with my diagnosis.

I have been experiencing some pretty bad G.I. (gastrointestinal) symptoms since around May of 2014, around the time that my grandmother passed away.  It kind of ebbed and flowed according to my level of activity and diet for some time, until mid-June of this year.  My symptoms had gotten really bad.  I was experiencing a lot of bleeding, cramping, and abdominal pain.

Finally, the weekend before my boyfriend and I made the decision to put our 17-year-old dog down, I decided I would go to the ER that Monday.  It was a terrible day.  My good friend picked my elderly dog and me up early in the morning (we had already called the vet letting them know we would be performing a euthanasia), took me to the vet, and then rushed me to the ER where they admitted me right away due to anemia and severe dehydration.

The next day they ran a colonoscopy and found out that I have Ulcerative Colitis, an Inflammatory Bowel Disease that affects the colon and large intestine.  It is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself, causing ulcers in the intestine.  Doctors are not certain of the cause, or why it manifests in some people and not others, but most speculate that it is a combination of genetics and environment.  I am convinced that it was just a culmination of all of the stress I put on my body all the time, and all throughout my life.  Finally it is telling me to slow the heck down.

I can’t say that I am all that upset about it.  Yes, I still have to figure out how to manage my symptoms which involve urgent trips to the restroom several times a day, excruciating stomach cramps and bloating, and risk of dehydration, but I am forced to eat less – isn’t this what I’ve always wanted? – and make sure that I do not overload myself in my daily activities.

My boyfriend has been tremendous help in all of this, making sure I take my medication (I hate being on medication) and accompanying me to support group meetings at the local hospital.

It’s tough though.  Since June, I have gained 30 lbs (partially from being on steroids and partially from not knowing what to eat so eating everything in sight until I get sick), and have needed an entirely new wardrobe.  I plan on writing a separate post about the difficulties of being a poor student and changing clothing sizes every couple of months or so…It’s not great for morale, I’ll tell ya that.

Anyway, this is a lifelong journey now that I have to face.  I thought the worst was over when I determined myself a functional person with a mental illness…physical illness is entirely new to me and I am at the very beginning.

Motivation waning

Whelp…I feel as if I am at the bottom of a hill, sitting in a little red wagon, after being pushed from the top.  I careened, bumped and swerved my way down, coming to a very unceremonious yet desperately-wanted stop.

School ended a couple of weeks ago, but I couldn’t even wait until all my papers were due until I boarded a plane and left for Wisconsin to participate in my boyfriend’s mom’s llama shearing weekend.  Less than a week after that, I drove the 4 hours down to Long Island to visit my niece.  Now I am back, Beau is away until Sunday, and I don’t know what to do with myself!

I have so many updates it’s a little crazy.  My phone is choc full of pictures from all of my adventures, and I have so much to tell you about everything that’s happened since classes ended.

For now, I will just give you a little sneak peak!

-a

The Perils of Being a Sweater Addict

Hi all.

My only explanation for missing so many days of blogging is that I had 2 exams lat week.  I barely survived.

It was also my birthday, and I was dog-sitting all week…so yeah.

Any-hoo, I have to come clean about something.  I’m a sweater addict.

This all comes about from my tendency to jump head-first into new hobbies every few months.  It has come to my attention that this is a maladaptive coping strategy to manage anxiety and stress.

Coping with emotional dysregulation has been an issue for me for pretty much all of my life, and I’ve gone from highly self-destructive behaviors such as cutting, promiscuity, and bingeing and purging, to progressively less risky behaviors, like becoming intensely motivated and involved in my job to the detriment of my own self-care, or the very topic at hand: diving into a new hobby every few months to distract from experiencing dysregulating emotions.

I admit, achieving all As in school, doing hours of research and work on my own time to become a great coach, and extensively researching a new hobby in order to optimize my level of skill in it don’t really sound like bad things.  But just as an addict redirects his tendencies towards caffeine or other socially acceptable “addictions,” the very coping strategies that lead to these perfectionist, overachieving behaviors are flawed and must change.

At the present moment, shopping for sweaters brings me something of a high.  Compulsively visiting the thrift shop in my neighborhood to get the best deals when they come around is always on my mind.  Should I get this cashmere shawl now or wait and see if it’s still here when they discount all yellow-tagged items in a week?   I know many of you probably know what I’m talking about.  The feelings I get when I snag a merino wool sweater for $1 are the same ones gamblers feel when they hit a jackpot, or smokers feel when they light up.  It’s addictive behavior.  These small victories suppress my anxiety for a few precious moments until the sensation wears off and I start fantasizing about the next time I can go thrifting.  It is a viscous cycle.

Now, as I’ve learned in my studies, there’s generally nothing wrong with this type of behavior as long as it is not putting you or anyone else in danger or causing unwanted distress.  But since I know that, for me, these behaviors and tendencies stem from a much deeper psychological problem, they are justifiably worrisome.  Besides, it all depends on the kind of person you’d like to be.  Some people are totally fine spending too much money on things that ultimately clutter their houses and annoy their partners/roommates/spouses.  Since I don’t want to be this type of person, I am actively working to change.

You can see in the image below how resolutely I dive into any new project.  This pile of sweaters is the result of only about a month’s worth of thrifting, and probably close to $75-100 in merchandise.

Sweater Stash

Luckily, this time I’ve chosen a relatively cheap hobby, but it still presents a problem financially as well as spatially.  My poor boyfriend is drowning in junk that I continue to bring into our tiny apartment, and it just gets worse each time I set foot in the thrift store!

Anyway, I’m addressing the issue of being a sweater addict.  It seems comical at the most basic level, and it just comes down to how willing I am to change.  I like my sweaters!  I like getting a great deal on recyclable yarn!  But the guilt I feel when I walk through the front door with a giant shopping bag stuffed with old sweaters is real.

sweater stash

My new favorite thing!

Hello!

Here again is my weekly post for my new favorite thing…

Mahoney’s!

What is Mahoney’s you ask??  Well, it is seriously THE best garden center chain in the north east.

I discovered it maybe a year or two ago when I decided I really wanted to learn how to grow things even though I have the blackest thumb in the world.  (I am allowed to say this after killing such plants as bamboo, Christmas cactus, moss, and just about every succulent you can think of)  If you know how stubborn I can be, you may suspect that this did not stop me from proceeding to kill just about every living green thing I brought into my apartment for several months at first, in the attempt to say I could care for at least one plant.

Anyway, several months, many dead plants, and even some not-so-dead plants later, I frequent Mahoney’s way more often than I can afford to.  They have SOOOO SO SO many plants, and of all kinds.  I have especially fond feelings toward them because it is where I bought my first plant that I haven’t managed to kill, my little ZeeZee plant:

Please forgive my horrible photo editing skills.  This is the before and after of ZeeZee, one from March 30, 2013 and the second from April 5, 2015...almost exactly 2 years later!  I can't believe how big it's gotten!

Please forgive my horrible photo editing skills. This is the before and after of ZeeZee, one from March 30, 2013 and the second from April 5, 2015…almost exactly 2 years later! I can’t believe how big it’s gotten!

Thus, my love of Mahoney’s was born.  Since then, it’s my most trusted source for healthy, hardy plants.  It’s also the only place I’ve found that sells tiny ferns and such that are suitable for terrariums.  This may seem strange, but usually I can only find good ferns that are already too big to repot into a small terrarium.  They also have a TON of containers from glass jars to bonsai pots, beautiful accessories you would never have thought to pair with plants, and a whole room stocked with different kinds of soil, fertilizer, starter kits, and seeds.  Seriously, if I need anything for my plant obsession…er…hobby, I know I can get it at Mahoney’s.

I went today, and my goodness was I in heaven.  They have since re-organized the interior space which now resembles a lush princess fairy unicorn garden, with hanging pitcher plants, thriving orchids, and a herd of gorgeous citrus trees that are already bearing fruit.  I told Beau that I would only stay for half an hour, and a full hour later returned to the car to find him napping in the driver’s seat…oops.  I was SO good, though, and only came away with a couple of little ground-covering plants that I want to make into terrariums, some orchid fertilizer (amazingly I have two small ones I’ve had since last summer and haven’t managed to kill yet), and a bunch of seed packs to plant with the little girls I babysit.

A plethora of seed packs: Portulaca blend, Chamomile, Poppies, Painted Daisies, and Watermelons with pulp pots for transplanting.  The plants starting on the far left in clockwise order: Angel's Tears, Saxifrage, Pink Polka Dot Plant, and some kind of little Fern in the front.

A plethora of seed packs: Portulaca blend, Chamomile, Poppies, Painted Daisies, and Watermelons with pulp pots for transplanting. The plants starting on the far left in clockwise order: Angel’s Tears, Saxifrage, Pink Polka Dot Plant, and some kind of little Fern in the front.

It was still more expensive than I can afford, and I know I need to work on this bad habit of mine (especially when the money I’m spending is student loans!!).  I did a 6 month trial of not buying anything last year, and it went really well.  Maybe I’ll do that again this year.

Anyway,  I am just so excited that it is finally getting warm out since that means Mahoney’s plant finds will be super magical for a good while.  It makes me hate winter just a bit more, but as long as I know there is a safe fairy haven like Mahoney’s I think I’ll be able to tolerate it a little more.

-a

New plant!

Hi again!  I know, I know, I’m totally on a roll!  🙂

Beau and I were walking Spike the other day when we came upon this totally adorable, healthy pothos left on the curb.  It had a brother, but it was in this huge, hideous cement pot and a lady pulled up in her car while we were looking and snatched it before I could decide whether I could repot it or not.  I really don’t need any more plants, but this one was so pretty, I just had to rescue it.  Not to mention it’s still nippy out, and I didn’t want it to catch a cold!  I could tell Beau was not super enthused about bringing home MORE plants, but he offered to carry it home, which was sweet.

Anyway, we brought it home, and after spraying it with some pesticide treatment, I decided I could hang it in the bathroom where we have a small but south-facing window.  I have told Beau for a while that I wanted to put a hanging plant in there, and I think this must have been the gods finally granting my wish!  My neighborhood is cool like that.  I get tons of free stuff all the time (much to Beau’s chagrin hehe).

Here you can see little pothos (I decided that’s what it was after reading this article) hanging in my shower after getting a nice rinse and watering, a close up of its leaves (some new leaves that show it is very healthy and was well taken care of), and the last one of it hanging in the window.  I am worried that the longest vine on the bottom won’t get sunlight, but I can always move it if that seems to be the case.  Ideally, I wish the hook weren’t so long so that it were closer to the ceiling, but that can also be fixed.  Maybe I will look around for a knitting pattern of a pot hanger?  That would look nice.

Little pothos drip-drying in the tub.

Little pothos drip-drying in the tub.

A pretty healthy guy.

A pretty healthy guy.

Welcome to your new home!

Welcome to your new home!

Overall, I am really happy with it, and can’t believe my amazing luck in getting free plants!  Earlier last year, I snagged another pothos from a neighbor in my building who was moving out.  They also left a couple of really funky-looking succulents, and I have only killed one of them since.  So cool! 🙂

-a