Perfectionist Problems

There are parts of my life that I like to keep pretty orderly.

Not my laundry, or my car, or my house in general. Some things will only ever be "good enough."

So there are clothes that are clean but still in baskets, bags with "trash" in my car (papers mostly or maybe gum), and dog hair in the hall because I don't sweep as often as I should.

But when it comes to work or school or things that involve other people, I am pretty organized. 

I write down instructions, I hate repeating myself, I don't like to be late or in someone's way. And I like being one of the best. At literally every job I've had since 16, I have constantly been told I'm a great employee.

To be fair...I think it's more that I do what I'm supposed to do, and other people actually suck, versus me being truly awesome.

Either way, I like that. I like being dependable and successful. This probably links way back to elementary/high school when "good grades and reading" were literally the only things I had going for me (and I use the term "going for me" lightly since it could be negative also). That's probably why my personal life and space can be a bit of mess- I finally carved out a place for myself to relax.

Anyway, all this to say...

I gotta chill the fuck out with that shit.

I struggled with it a lot when Babycakes was born (see here & here for a wrap up of that shit-show). And I've gotten a lot better in that area. But maybe I'm compensating with that perfectionist spirit in some other places.

I received the results of my first test, and it was a 93. 

Which by all accounts is pretty dang good. It's an A, and it's well above the minimum grade to stay in the program.

So why was my first thought "Man I thought I did better than that?"

If anyone else had told me they got that grade, I would have been so happy for them!!

Part of it is, there wasn't that much on the test that I struggled with. So I want to know what I did wrong. But regardless, that's a terrible first reaction. That is not being kind to myself.

When I have realizations like this, I always come back to a quote from Amy Poehler in Yes, Please:

Sticking up for ourselves in the same way we would one of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works.

To be clear, I am not knocking myself for being this way. 

I've done that before too- beat myself up for something, then beat myself up for beating myself up. Those days are gone, okay? I refuse to be my own worst enemy.

I had a thought, and I immediately recognized that it wasn't helpful or fair to myself. And I'm going to work on it. So while I'm sad...I'm also proud. Proud for identifying something and being a good friend to myself.

I am who I am. And I am enough. I won't stop trying to improve, but I can do so with grace- for myself and others.

Add It To My List Link-Up: September 2017

  Link-up creators are Lauren from Eat, Drink, & Be Lauren and Bre from Bre Writes. Basically, they are always recommending things to each other- podcasts, television shows, music, blah blah blah. And they figured- why not share even further?

Ugh, not that much to add this month guys. Had my first test this month and I've been busy.

  • Royal Pains (tv show)
    • It's on Netflix, and it's passing the time nicely. 
  • Queso dip & Chipotle Lime Salsa from Aldi
    • Can't find a link for these, but YUM. Some friends invited us over to watch a football game and these were the perfect snack food...I may have eaten about 3 plates #sorrynotsorry
  • Mint Candy Apple nail polish from Essie
    • Got this from a friend and seriously had 3 compliments Sunday morning at church. 
  • Betty Crocker Spice Cake
    • Perfect cake for fall! I switched out the vegetable oil for coconut oil because that's what I had on hand, then added cream cheese icing & walnuts. YUM. 
  • Recollections Washi Tape
    • I bought some of this for my Bullet Journal. At first I didn't really get the appeal, but I was trying to keep everything super simple so I would actually stick with my BuJo.  I got this one at Michael's, but can't find it on their website. Yay, coupons! It's still easy to do but gives me a little "pop" of color and creativity.

What have you been loving lately?
Join the link-up & let us know!

Ways I am a Bad Feminist

original photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

A while back I read (well, listened to) Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. The title of the book stems from the idea of treating feminism & feminimists like it/they have to be perfect...despite the fact that no one and nothing is perfect. The following quotes kind of sum up the theory:

I embrace the label of bad feminist because I am human. I am messy. I'm not trying to be an example. I am not trying to be perfect. I am not trying to say I have all the answers. I am not trying to say I'm right. I am just trying- trying to support what I believe in, trying to do some good in this world, trying to make some noise with my writing while also being myself.  

“When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.” 

So, here are the ways I'm a bad feminist. I know they're problematic, and they may upset someone. But...I'm just a person. I'm definitely wrong about some stuff, and I've got a lot to learn. We all do.

I don't like it when families don't have a cohesive last name. It makes addressing Christmas cards/etc so much more confusing- do I list the full names of both? Just the first names? The Smith-Jones Family/Household? Blergh.

Also, don't tell me it's anti-feminist that I took my husband's name.  My maiden name came from I guy I saw maybe 4 times a year until about age 13, when he stopped contacting me all together. It is not something I want to carry around for the rest of my life. There is no "one size fits all" approach for how we should identify ourselves. So, while I don't like that I don't know how to address your Christmas cards...I'll stumble through. Do the same for me, kthanksbye.

I can't stand when people say "We're practically married, we just haven't made it official." Is it really? That's like me saying "Well I'm practically runner- I have the active wear and the hydration belt and I registered for all these races. I just haven't actually ran in them, that's all."  This especially confuses me when it comes from people who also fight for the rights of gay marriage...either the piece of paper means something, or it doesn't. Both opinions are valid, but they are totally different. 

I do not like glitter, and I'm a little judge-y towards those that do. Same for pastel pink and sprinkles.

That being said, my daughter's room does have pink in it and she looks fucking adorable in bows.

I refuse to go past LGBT+ when it comes to acronyms. IT'S JUST TOO MUCH, PEOPLE. I cannot possibly actually use LGBTQQIP2SAA. No. NO. It's not that I dislike anyone...but at some point the acronym is just not effective. Maybe a discussion needs to be had about that, and when a more practical term presents itself I will use it, but until then I'm sticking with the plus. Please don't hate me.

So there ya go. I'm a bad feminist. Just like I'm a bad lotsofotherthings. But I'm trying, and that's a start.

How I Can Help

original photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash
I try to be a helpful person. But often I feel like people don't accept my offer. To be fair, I don't really accept help either...and I'm terrible at asking for it. In the past few months though I've made a concentrated effort to ask and accept help- without guilt.

This is kind of revolutionary.

In our FC/A classes, our teacher said that one day at church a man made the comment "If there is anything I can do to help, let me know." So she was honest and said "Well daycare for my grandson is killing us, honestly the biggest help would be money." And shockingly, the man said "Well I don't have a lot but I can pay for a week."

Y'all, a week of daycare is huuggeeee (fun story- my mom told me about someone complaining of the cost of daycare in my small hometown...which is literally 1/2 of what we pay each month...I did not tell her this).

People, especially Southerners and especially Christians, say this all the time: "Please let me know if I can do anything for you!" And you know what they end up doing? NOTHING. NOTHING AT ALL.

I'm not sure if it's pride, or independence, or the belief that no one really cares. Probably a combo of these things and much more.

But it made me wonder- when I say that, what do I mean?

I truly want to be the kind of person that people can count on, and trust to help. So I'm trying to come up with a list of things I actually have to offer people. Here's what I have so far:

  • Bring dinner. I can make dinner and drop it off so that's 1 less thing to worry about. I love the nights I throw frozen lasagna in the oven because it is less stress and more time with Babycakes. 
  • Have you over for dinner. Are you tired of being in the house with your kid(s)/pet(s) only for company? Come on over. My house is messy and it may be something cheap like spaghetti or chili, but I won't let you go hungry. Food, friends, and no clean up- always nice.
  • Pour you a drink. I'm not saying turn to booze as an answer to everything, but...yeah. It can be a little helpful for adults without dependency problems.
  • Baby or pet-sit. Need a moment without a child or dog nipping at your heels, wanting food or toys? I gotcha.
  • Go for a walk. I know there are some arguments against chalking mental illness up to just a sun deficiency...but again, for mild cases or average stress, I personally find a walk or run in nature to be a really good "re-set" for my mental energy.

What about you? 
Any ideas I can add to my list, 
or things you would appreciate/have done for others?

Mid-Month Update: September 2017

  • Guys, I have become a somewhat annoying person. I use cloth diapers (well, for the baby obviously), I want to move to using cloth napkins (I do this 50/50, not the rest of my family though), I carry a reusable bag folded up in my purse, I bought silverware specifically for work so I don't use plastic...and now I brought a plate to work. So I don't have to use paper towels to heat up frozen things (which is gross and ineffective anyway). I'm hardly a super green person, but it's nice to realize I'm doing little things. Future goals: reusable sandwich bags (open to suggestions), and reusable trash bags (we have one of these to hold the cloth diapers between washes, and it's great- plus "grocery store" bags are slightly too little for our bathroom trash can so stuff always falls behind it/on the floor and these are big enough to actually fit where we need them). 

  • People judging other people during emergency situations is about to make me LOSE IT. Someone posted a picture about filling your washer with ice (will keep cold and water has somewhere to go when it melts), and the picture showed a can of Coke peeking out from between ice. Apparently this indicates "poor priorities" in an emergency. If you can think that, you have clearly never been in an emergency in the Southeast. It could easily be 80-90 degrees once the storm passes, and (at least in my area) we could be expecting flooding from runoff while power outages are ongoing from the storm itself- which leads to lugging around sandbags to build walls, throwing entire houses full of items into trucks and vans and over to storage units outside of flood plains. Yes, some cold caffeine matters. If you don't understand that...consider yourself incredibly blessed that you have never experienced a situation where a Coke made that big of a damn difference

  • Also, this storm has proven that I am officially old and boring. I listened to a 22 minute emergency briefing from NC Governor Roy Cooper along with other weather/emergency management officials...and I found it super interesting. 

  • I was doing really well with school, and now I have a homework problem that makes NO SENSE. I swear, I really think the question must be wrong. That happens, right?

  • We are finished with the FC/A classes! We still have about a million other things to do (fingerprints, proof of insurance, etc) but we will get there eventually.

  • Sometimes Hubs is such a great parent that it makes me feel a little bad. I think we just have different strengths/priorities- but for the sake of Babycakes that's a good thing. He focuses on stuff that I tend to brush off, but Babycakes responds really well sometimes which makes me step back and re-evaluate. I don't mean this in a "poor me" way...but it's kind of great to have such a good co-parent. I'm thankful he is around, for both me & Babycakes.

  • I forgot that I actually can get through books pretty quickly. I was worried that between the FC/A stuff and starting classes I wouldn't be able to devote much time to reading- but I also forgot that reading is my way of escape when feeling stressed. This weekend was the first one in over a month where we didn't have FC/A classes to go to, and I didn't do much around the house. Dinner was frozen lasagna, Babycakes & I went on two walks, visited the library, and took long naps. I also managed to finish a book in less than 24 hours. It was a much needed "pause."

What's new with you lately?

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: September 2017

It's best day of the month! I had a pretty great reading month, looking back. I did an audiobook and a few ebooks, which helps because when I instinctively pick up the phone I can at least read instead of spending too much time on social media. Chit chat aside, let's get to the books!

Faulkner is supposed to be this great Southern writer and...y'all, I just didn't get it. This is probably partly because I started out listening to it on audiobook through the library, and that format just didn't work great for this particular novel. I switched to the physical copy and it was better, but still not the best. Some chapters I loved and totally clicked with, and others made no sense at all. I'd be willing to try another Faulkner novel, but it's definitely not a priority.
(but really more like 2.5)

This book was all over last month's link-up, and I'm so glad. It was really cute but also tackled a difficult subject. I don't personally struggle with the same issues, but I appreciated reading about a book where mental illness wasn't super easily "fixed" by falling in love or a dedicated parent or anything. The idea was presented that our lives aren't just a straight line up or down, but a jagged line full of both, and that's so true for us all.

This was a somewhat random Goodreads Deals purchase, but I enjoyed it a lot. It was interesting to read about the split between growing up American and growing up in Senegal. She was really funny, and the parts about being awkward/nerdy were super relate-able. She has an HBO show and a YouTube channel with different topics & guests that are POC. Definitely want to check that out.

This is the first book of a series, and it was interesting. I liked the idea of magician's being tied to a particular element (paper, glass, fire, etc). It was a little weird when the setting went from the "real world" so to speak to the heart...which brought this down a little for me. But definitely want to finish the series. 

This is the second of the series (trilogy? not sure). I enjoyed this a bit more than the first- the setting was consistent and I liked learning more about the way magic worked in this particular world. Still want to keep going with the series.  

This an audiobook from the library, because I wanted something to listen to at work. Funny...basically like listening to his stand-up. I enjoyed it...although pretty sure I definitely do not want 5 kids. I know self-deprecation is part of the act, but the parenting bits made even me sad sometimes. In a funny way...

This may have been my favorite book this month. Assassin nuns who work for the middle of political rebellion/revolution in the Middle Ages. Already have the next book in the series on hold from the library and I need it to come in NOW, please & thank you!

 Shrill by Lindy West
Due to my size, I couldn't relate to some of the "loud and fat" aspects of the book. But it was interesting to hear and I should have expected it since the NPR special is one of the first times I was introduced to Lindy West. I really loved the latter half of the book where she talked about comedy and why things are funny and the "punching up" theory, which I've never heard before. It made sense and I enjoyed it and appreciate knowing that people like Lindy are out there on the front lines of this issue...even though it makes me rage-y and sad at the same time. Guess that's kind of the general tone of 2017 though- and it's been a long time coming.

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
You guys...I fucking loved this book. I really didn't think I was going to, for like the first 15 chapters. But then we find out something and it all starts clicking and by the end I was trying not to cry at work (listened to the audiobook through my local library). TBH, I was a little worried because while I've been trying to read more diversely, I was not blown over by Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda like everyone else and I hated Boy Meets Boy and I was starting to wonder if I had a bias I just couldn't shake. But this book was phenomenal. It addressed so many issues and was about nerds in the Bronx and I just loved it and seriously you should read it.

What have you been reading this month? 
Link-up & let us know!
Life According to Steph

Show Us Your Books Link-Up: October 2017

Today is the third anniversary of the Show Us Your Books Link-Up!!! 

I actually think I started linking up around the first anniversary (maybe second, but I think first), so this is a personal anniversary with the link-up also. 

To Steph & Jana, and everyone else who participates- thank you for giving me a funny, bookish day once a month to feel included and enjoy community with like-minded book lovers. You guys rock and make me smile every second Tuesday of the month. 

Now, on to the books!



See above and READ THIS SERIES ALREADY. In this one you learn more about the gods which is fun. BUT OMG JUST READ IT ALREADY.

Life According to Steph

Hurricane Preparation

Not sure if you've noticed, but hurricane season is in full swing. There is catastrophic devastation in Texas/Louisiana, and now we have Irma heading for...Florida and some other places. Possibly the Gulf Coast or possibly us here in the Carolina.

You can only prepare so much- the extreme flooding that Harvey caused is...just awful. You can't do anything about that. I've seen some arguments that people should have evacuated...y'all, hurricane predictions are so damn capricious. The best predictions come at 3 days max- and even that is not reliable. Realistically, I'd say the best you can hope for is 12-24 hours for your specific area. And being stuck in a car on the freeway is NOT better than being stuck at your home. Trust me.

But, there are things you can do to prepare for emergencies. There are tons of lists available online about this- but I don't think all the suggestions are the best. Dried fruit & beef jerky are expensive and run out fast, okay? So here are my basic hurricane (or any emergency, really) preparation steps:

  • Food
    • canned tuna or chicken, protein/snack bars, canned soups (so many varieties and you barely even need a can opener nowadays), fruit cups/applesauce (if you want to try to keep it healthy, try oranges or bell peppers or apples- things that won't spoil as quickly). Don't forget about pet food.
  • Water
    • Obviously. A case for every person in the house, including pets (I believe a good rule of thumb is a gallon a day per person). If you are formula feeding a baby, get some water for that baby too (actually just count the baby as a full person anyway and water regardless).
  • Soda/prepared coffee
    • this is rarely mentioned and sometimes even discouraged, but it's vital if you are used to having caffeine. Last year during Matthew I was stuck at home by myself with a 6 month old because my husband couldn't leave work. MAMA NEEDED CAFFEINE. You don't want to go through withdrawal during an emergency.
  • Flashlights & a radio, if you have them
    • make sure the flashlights have working batteries, or place spare batteries near the flashlights just in case. Ditto for lighters/candles.
  • Power banks for cell phones
    • make sure they are charged the day before the storm is scheduled to hit. 
  • Tie down/bring in outside lawn furniture or grills, etc.
    • This is not a guarantee they will stay in place, but it helps.
  • Have gas or propane handy
    • I know families who were without power for days after the weather calmed down- they were able to cook on the grill.
  • Baby wipes & diapering needs
    • We cloth diaper 90% of the time. Before a big storm, I make sure ALL cloth diapers are clean and that we have a spare pack of disposables. The cloth is in case I can't leave the house to get to the store (happened with Matthew- my neighborhood was fine but the roads leading out of it crossed streams/creeks and many roads were unpassable) and disposables in case we loose power so I can't wash the cloth. And baby wipes are just generally used for cleaning EVERYTHING in my house. 
Other recommendations include having important papers like insurance/medication lists/etc together- honestly we are in the process of amassing basically every detail of our lives for foster care/adoption licensing so I plan on just grabbing the folder dedicated to that. Also, medications: general stuff like Tylenol or alcohol wipes with bandages, as well as any prescription medications or things like EpiPens/inhalers (we keep pre-maid first aid kits from Sam's Club in our cars, something like that is a great option).

It may sound silly to have a "bug out" bag, but...look at the pictures of people displaced by Harvey. You may not need it, but is it really going to hurt? Nope. If you want to be really prepared, include a spare change of clothes (per person) and a laptop/hard drive if concerned about loosing documents/pictures. I try to gather all the "emergency" supplies to one spot so I can access them easily and not run from room to room in the dark. Also, think about contact solution/glasses.

Good luck to everyone in the potential path of these storms. Praying for us all.