Monday, June 27, 2016

June Journaling 21-24

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.
Yes, it's late; life happens.

21. What motivates you?

I sign up for races in order to motivate myself to work out. I work out to help mitigate depression and construct purpose in my life.

I work so I can maintain the lifestyle I like, including living in a house instead of an apartment, eating good food, and socializing with friends.

I volunteer to support my hobbies (trail rebuilding and race volunteering) and (clinic escorting) to atone for my teenage years spent as a rabid pro-lifer. 

22. What do you need?

Well, this prompt is painfully vague, isn't it?

I wish I had more time and social energy. I'd been looking forward to Queerbomb (the local anti-corporate-sponsorship alternative Pride event) for weeks and very much wanted to attend, but I had two migraines and slept very poorly every night in the week leading up to it and could not muster an ounce of energy to spend with crowds when the day finally came. I had strongly ambivalent feelings about not going.

I wish there were more ways to spend time with the queer community that weren't so late in the evenings or so spendy or so crowded always. Bisexuals are isolated enough; being an introvert doesn't help.

23. A way you relax:

I'm almost ashamed to say (because our culture insists it is shameful) that I spend a lot of my downtime with Netflix. I work full time and commute, which takes up 45-50 hours of my week. I'm training for a marathon, which includes cross-training and occupies up to 10 hours a week. I socialize a bit with my friends. And whatever is left after laundry, cleaning, and meal prep goes to sitting on the couch watching cute shows and petting cats.

I'd read more, but my job kind of burns me out on looking at words. I shouldn't have to justify spending time watching TV, but I feel like I have to because "laziness" is so reviled in our culture. Often I scan photos or work on crafts while watching TV, but then that counts as chores and work for me rather than relaxing.

Really, an episode of Charmed or Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is such a lovely way to unwind before bed: clever, kind, kick-ass women battle and defeat evil in an hour or less. What could be better?

24. The person you are currently grateful for:

I'm very grateful for the love, affection, and concern from my close friends and my sister. It's been a rough couple of weeks since the Orlando massacre, and it's been a huge help to know I have people who care for me and whom I can rely on. I've been sharing hugs and extra support with my housemates recently and lots of love with other friends as well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

June Journaling 18-20

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot. Yes, it's late; life happens.

18. Something to give up:

I'm giving up this failure mindset that I will never ever make it out of debt. I'm not the first in my family to struggle with this, but I can do better. I have a lot of student loans I'm still paying, now 8 years since I graduated. And a big bank gave a 20-year-old kid a credit card with an $11k limit. That one's almost paid off, but I have more. I can definitely pay off my PayPal Credit and medical bills by the end of this year. If I work really hard at it, I could pay off some other stuff by the end of next year, but I don't see that realistically happening, so I'm setting a mid-2018 goal, which will coincide with paying off my car. I'll still have student loans at that point, but maybe there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. 

19. An area to grow in:

Well, I'm always improving my organization skills, even if I have too much stuff, and I'm always getting better at culling and donating. I frequently read books and blogs and take courses to improve my editing and design skills.

This year I have failed to establish a regular meditation practice, so maybe I could work on meditating more often going forward.
20. An exceptional skill you possess: 

I can identify the difference between a capital I and lowercase l in most sans-serif fonts.
I can identify the difference between a hyphen, an en dash, and an em dash and when to use each.
I belly dance.
I spin fire.
I make myself laugh.
I can list all 7 of my siblings' birthdays (but not years) and my parents' and step-parents' too.
  • Jan. 9
  • April 16
  • April 23
  • June 30
  • July 1
  • July 3
  • July 8
  • July 27
  • Aug. 20
  • Dec. 18
  • Dec. 25

I don't know; that's all I have for now.


Friday, June 17, 2016

June Journaling 17

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.

17. Words you need to share:

Especially this week as we're reeling from grief and feeling helpless:  

Remember that you must put on your own oxygen mask before you can assist others.

Take care of yourself and honor your needs for self care and self compassion. Take the time to feel your feelings, and don't worry if you cannot yet find the energy, time, or space necessary to comfort others or take action. Trust that you are doing the absolute best you can with the resources available to you; you are doing the best you can with the stress and coping skills that you have, and no one can ask any more of you than you can do.

"Remember that it is common to have a range of emotions after a traumatic incident. You may experience intense stress similar to the effects of a physical injury. For example, you may feel exhausted, sore or off balance." —American Psychological Association suggestions for managing distress in the aftermath of a shooting
As a bisexual woman, I felt this article in particular resonates with my feelings:
"Being a bi woman means occupying a lot of weird liminal space. In that way we are very queer….we don’t fit well into boxes. Too gay to be straight, too straight to be gay, we are often locked out of the resources and support meant for the queer community due to biphobia and erasure while being pornified and objectified by the patriarchal male gaze of heteronormative culture. It’s no wonder that bi women are suffering from such a serious mental health crisis."

Self-Compassion exercises
45 Simple Self-Care ideas

Thursday, June 16, 2016

June Journaling 16

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.

16. Reasons to feel happy: 

Today a friend posted a status detailing some of the struggles and loss he's gone through this week, saying also: "I didn't sleep well, but I woke up with a roof over my head, a dog at my feet, my love by my side and the whole world in front of me."

This is very meaningful for me today. <3 ...="" a="" alone="" and="" badly="" bed="" been="" can="" cats="" clean="" comfortable="" house="" i="" in="" is="" love="" me="" nbsp="" neighborhood="" nice="" p="" people="" run="" safe="" sheets="" since="" sleeping="" sunday="" that.="" there="" to.="" ve="" versa="" very="" vice="" want="" when="" where="" who="" with="">

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

June Journaling 14-15

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.

14. Your dream job

I think my dream job would be a mix of editing for a few hours a week and providing personal training and/or fitness/dance classes. That's not enough to make a living, though, so I don't see it ever working out.

15. Favorite things in your town:

The trails around White Rock Lake and through the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve and Cedar Springs are fantastic. What else? The Perot Museum and Dallas World Aquarium are awesome. The Alamo Drafthouse may be my favorite, though. Oh! And a little donut shop near my office run by a sweet Korean lady who always recognizes me and asks about my life, though I don't go often. As much as I'd love to spend more there, I can only eat so many donuts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June Journaling 13

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.

13. What is home?

Home is where I can rest and sleep safely, secure in the warmth of the love of those around me. Preferably with cats.

I've been crying A LOT over recent events, but coming home to dinner with my chosen family finally gave me comfort.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

June Journaling 11-12

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.

11. Where were you a year ago?

A year ago I was packing up my room in McKinney to move here at the end of the month. I didn't realize that my now-housemate was totally serious with her offer, so it ended up being a bit of a whirlwind. I didn't know her wife as well and was a bit trepidation about how long it might last, but the move would put me 17 miles closer to work, and I would get my own bathroom for the first time in 4.5 years!

I'm still here in the new house, and life is still great.

12. Where were you five years ago?

Five years ago I had recently returned home from Korea, except that I didn't really have any home; and even if I had, it wouldn't have felt like home. I briefly stayed in someone's extra room, but there was dog shit and piss all over the place and dirty dishes perpetually with flies everywhere. I couldn't stand it, so I crashed at my datefriend's place more often than not. I had to pack up the remainder of my stuff from the old apartment that I'd left when I went to Korea, and I didn't have a place to move it. So I gave away most of the furniture, sold all my collections, and put the rest of my things into storage.

As evidenced by an old Facebook post, I'd not yet learned about body acceptance and inclusivity, but I happily put on 8 pounds that summer in the transition from barely eating more than eggs, cereal, and bread for the previous year and a half to reacquainting myself with ALL the joys of Southern food: barbecue, Tex-Mex, ice cream, and more. Despite the upheaval and uncertainty of housing and employment, it was a happy summer with many parties and reunions.

Friday, June 10, 2016

June Journaling 10

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.

10. A new thing to try:

You know, I've been working here 4.5 years with an Ethiopian restaurant just down the street that I've been meaning to try. Maybe I should put it on my calendar and go try Ethiopian food.

I'm also trying to figure out how to get involved with Back on My Feet, a charity that uses running to empower people and help them find work and housing. The thing is that they run in the mornings and I would not have time to go home to shower before work, so I need a membership to the office fitness center, which I've wanted since it opened a year ago. I just need to fit it into my budget.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

June Journaling 9

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.

9. Your top priorities:

I would say that I prioritize myself and my health pretty highly. To that end, maintaining my job is important, but going in late or leaving early when I don't feel well is too. I try to eat a balanced diet with a lot of vegetables but also try to treat myself with compassion when food prep is difficult.

I run to help manage my anxiety and depression. A lot of people talk about "runner's high," but for me, the endorphins bring me up to a "normal" and balanced emotional state. It's especially hard to maintain the habit because I don't get positive reinforcement; I just get "not terrible" days.

I'm not naturally nurturing, and sometimes I think I care about my family largely out of enculturation and expectations. I'm nice to them because it's important to me to be good to others and to try to make the world a better place for those who need it most.

Faith and romantic relationships don't make the list, but friends do. I make an effort to regularly plan quality time with friends as I'm able. It's tough when I'd prefer to go to bed by 8 p.m., though.

Somewhere in here I prioritize social activism, but I'm not sure where it falls on my list.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

June Journaling 8

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.

8. Your best qualities:

Passion and empathy
I care deeply about injustices done to others and work to make the world better for others as I can. In addition to donating funds as I am able, I volunteer with Planned Parenthood and as an abortion clinic escort. With PP, I work to spread awareness of sexual health services available at low and reduced costs for people in the community. Escorting helps many people more easily access the care they need and counter protesters who spread lies. And I'm fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to research both cures for blood cancers and treatments to help patients today. I advocate for anti-racism, size acceptance, LGBTQ issues in my daily life as well.

Adventurous spirit
I have learned to do belly dance, fire spinning, contact juggling, flag dancing, wood burning, sewing, photography, calligraphy, papercrafts, trail running, triathlon, weight lifting, hashing, boffer combat, burlesque, and a wee bit of parkour. I swam with sharks.

I do a lot of things that scare me a lot. I took a job overseas for a year, my first time being away from home. I stepped up to compete in a triathlon I was uncertain I could finish. I finished a 15.2-mile Spartan Beast that I planned from the start to DNF. I recently got CPR and First Aid certified; I don't know how to explain to you why this is on the list, but if you're an introvert with general anxiety like me, you get it.

I may come back and add more to this entry, but my brain is about shot for the day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

June Journaling 7

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.

7. The best thing about your day:

Today has been pretty unremarkable, but I enjoyed sorting through yesterday's pictures for the Beloved Beginnings self portrait photo series I'm working on.It's a self-paced 10-day course or workshop on "cultivating self-love through self-potraiture" by Vivienne McMaster.

I first did it two and a half years ago and came across it again as I was organizing some files. It's been long enough that the prompts feel fresh and new.

Yesterday after work, I parked at a park near my house and tried to find a path down to the creek. The first I saw was densely lined with poison ivy. The second, however, was clear and well-trodden. I kicked off my shoes, rolled up my slacks, and climbed down a small embankment to wade into the water, careful of the mossy limestone bed. I brought my selfie stick so I'd have a greater range of options.

You can read more about the course and sign up here.

A photo posted by Moniqa Aylin (@fierymon) on

Monday, June 6, 2016

June Journaling 6

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot. This one is pretty mundane.

6. Something to remember:

My task this evening is to remember to pick up some groceries and unload the dishwasher. This, I'm told, is my payment for my housemate's feeding me.

I don't enjoy the time and labor that go into cooking and have been having trouble consistently feeding myself the nutritious things I would like to. So I asked the housemate who LOVES to cook if she'd add an extra portion for me occasionally, and I'll cover the cost. Most of her recipes yield too many leftovers for her and her wife anyway, so I'm looking forward to helping them with that.

The cook is out of town for a few days, and the other is trying some new recipes. Yesterday was some awesome pork curry and rice. Tonight is chicken primavera. She just asked me to grab some ingredients and unload dishes in exchange.

The timing is especially apt since I'm kinda sick and fatigued today and struggling to make it through the work day. Not having to worry about how to feed myself is a relief. I've been experiencing executive dysfunction for a few days in addition to infrequent hunger and complete disinterest in food when I am hungry.

Executive dysfunction is a symptom of ADD/ADHD, and for me it manifests such that I sometimes look at a fridge and cupboard full of simple ingredients but absolutely cannot figure out how to get food in my grumbly belly. Coupled with low blood sugar, increasing hanger, and illness-related fatigue, it really sucks.

I'm a little bit ashamed to admit that I keep Ramen noodles on hand and that they are a staple of my diet because of the struggle to feed myself. I justify it by throwing an egg in for protein; and as much as I run and sweat, I do need the salt content.

I know I don't need to justify what I eat or feel ashamed about otherwise having a pretty good handle on adulting while still relying on a traditionally poor college kid's dish. But feelings don't care about logic.

Fortunately, my housemates like cats, particularly strays, so I fit right in with the other three.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

June Journaling 4-5

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot. This one's pretty mundane.

4. A really good idea:

I'm planning a simple birthday party with hats, piñata, pizza, and cake. Everyone asks what I'll put in the piñata since other friends usually fill one with condoms and lube. I'm just gonna put candy in it. I really think my friends will most appreciate candy.

I had wanted to hire a petting zoo for my party, but my birthday is in August and they won't bring out the bunnies in the heat. Instead, I'll pay a visit to a free petting zoo in the area.

I'm turning 30 this year and am also considering entering a half marathon that takes place on my birthday. It has a really neat medal with my birthday on it and would make a really special memory, but August is brutal. I'm putting off registration to see how training goes between now and then before I decide. Waiting is definitely a really good idea.

5. The books in your to-read list:

The ones I've started and am working through:
  • Wonder Woman
  • Wired for Joy
  • Enthusiastic You
  • The Non-Designer's Design Book
  • Singled Out

  • Firebird
  • Geisha of Gion
  • Godslayer
I'm not sure how this is a journaling prompt, but I'm going to write a few more words to make it more like journaling.

I'm really enjoying the WW novel adaptation of the 2009 movie, reading it for a few minutes most evenings before bed. The next two are very badly edited and VERY difficult to get through. I'm reading the Design Book little by little at work; it's a good refresher. I got bored with Singled Out and put it down several months ago. It has lots of interesting info and I'd like to finish it, but the author's arrogant tone is distracting from the interesting research.

Firebird is a gorgeous Russian storybook that my sister gave me a while back. Geisha of Gion is written by the actual woman from Memoirs of a Geisha, but Memoirs was written by a white man who outed her against her wishes with the publication. Godslayer is the second half of a duology, the first being a strange departure from the author's usual style. Mostly it frustrated me because I couldn't figure out who the protagonist is.

I was an avid reader most of my life, but I don't read many books anymore. After editing all day at work, all I want to do is turn off my brain and watch TV when I get home. I'm trying to make it a habit to read a little before bed, though.

Friday, June 3, 2016

June Journaling 3

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.

3. A time when you were frightened:

Since I've had a headache almost all day, I can only think of the time in December that I suddenly woke with a splitting headache early one morning. I took something for the pain and crawled back into bed where I tossed and turned, alternating sweats and chills, sweating through my sheets as the pain worsened for two hours until I phoned my housemate and asked her to take me to the hospital.

(When I have migraines, I will wallow in my own bed in a cool, dark room for up to 12 hours, tossing, turning, moaning, sobbing, and thinking all the while that I should probably ask someone to take me to the hospital, but far too averse to the thought of bright lights and other people to actually ask for it. That should give you an inkling of how very bad this one was.)

I've had migraines since childhood but never so bad that I had to go to the ER, so this was pretty freaking scary. But I was in too much pain to process that. I clutched an ice pack to my chest and wouldn't put on anything more than socks, shorts, and a t-shirt despite the cold, winter weather. When I was admitted, the woman who took my temperature told me I had no fever.

I had extreme nausea despite an empty stomach and was certain I would throw up. I did. They hooked me up to an IV and started pumping an anti-emetic, but the tech was being cautious to give it to me slowly because it made me feel shaky and vertiginous. That done, pain meds followed, and they let me doze in a dark room til they took effect.

The doctor ordered an MRI, and a tech put me in a wheelchair since I'd been too shaky to walk unaided and too photophobic to open my eyes since I'd arrived. The pain was finally abating, and now tears streamed down my face for fear of what these tests would cost me, even with insurance. I was in the ER, helpless and hurting, and I was more frightened of the bill than of the debilitating pain that put me there. Some "health care" system.

I wasn't wrong. I don't know the cost of that single visit, but it happened again 2 months later and was worse since I tried to wait it out longer to avoid the cost. After my $100 ER copay, I owed ~$2,000 and will be paying that off for the remainder of the year, struggling not to panic that I might end up in the ER again.

I guess . . . thanks, Obama?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

June Journaling 1-2

I found a list of daily prompts for journaling in June and thought I'd give it a shot.

1. A step you have taken toward your goals:

I'd set my alarm so I could get up and run at 5 a.m. for Global Running Day, but I was sleeping so well when it sounded that I just turned it off. I woke nearly 2 hours later and still had time to run before work, so I threw on my gear and set out with a goal of running at least 4.5 miles in an hour.

I had to stop a lot because the volume on my Zombies, Run! missions was too low to hear, and the app kept stopping my music entirely. Even so, the weather was unseasonably cool and I enjoyed it.

I saw a man leaving his house with two dogs, and I slowed as I approached because they were unleashed. The big brown one looked to be a bully breed mutt (boxer and pitbull look) and came right up to greet me and ask for pats and leaned against my legs sweetly. I've found this is usually the case with big dogs; stop running and say hi. The little one jumped around excitedly too, and the owner said the little one was for sale as I fawned over the bigger one. "Thanks, but we have cats." He took them in the opposite direction for a walk, and I continued my run.

I was surprised with all my stops to log 4.85 miles total in about 65 minutes. The humidity had me totally covered in a sheen of sweat and dripping from my elbows as I ran. It felt good, though; I'd taken too long a break. It may have been just what I needed, though, to tackle marathon training with fresh enthusiasm.

2. Something good from last week:

  • I finished that damn triathlon.
  • We had a neat presentation at work from Camp Gladiator coaches and got free lunch, too.
  • My escort shift at the clinic on Friday was pleasant. I brought my big rainbow umbrella to block the protesters' view, and one woman extended her middle finger to them all the way as she walked up the steps to the clinic doors.

    The protesters call out to say that the crisis pregnancy center (link to exposé on another local CPC) a few doors down offers free pregnancy tests and sonograms. Somehow I doubt that people walking into an abortion clinic need a pregnancy test.

    You should know: families with small children come into the clinic EVERY DAY.

    At another volunteer shift, one escort told me that she'd seen a father come out with a fussy 18-month-old and quip that he hoped the tot was making the choice easier for others in the waiting room, because he was DEFINITELY making it easier for mom.