Sunday Round Up #29 With A Side of Up Close and Personal

This was about the hardest week I had to endure in a long time.
I hate it when things are out of my control and I have to have faith in other people. This week I had to trust people to get the documents for my Master application ready and of course there was a shitload of drama involved. I’m not going to go into detail because it’s pretty pointless, suffice it to say that I got everything I needed but I had to put up big fight. If someone tries to tell you Germany is organized and punctual and shit; No we are not, especially not the authorities. Absolute disgrace for a reasonably developed country, just saying.

Either way I survived. And a lot better than I thought I would. I managed to stay positive throughout the whole week. I did have a panic moment on thursday (because of course everything accumulated on friday), but I did something about it by writing an e-mail and making a plan how I would tackle friday. Staying organized always helps me. It was a brief moment and didn’t  paralyze me for long like it used to. I managed to find ways to treat myself right and take the edge off the pressure. Working out helped but I have to say when the stress hit me hardest I skipped two days because I just didn’t have the time or the energy to do it. I allowed myself yolo food, stressfree reading, a wee bit of shopping and some light weight tv-watching (more on that further down). The insomnia didn’t hit me all that hard. I fell asleep relatively easily throughout the week. It may have helped that I worked 4 out of five days. Long story short, I found a way to treat myself right without completely falling apart and over-compensating. I drew a lot of strength from little happy things like my colleague saving me a chips container to put away so I had something ‘easy’ to do after the mildly annoying drugstore container I had to put away, my boss complaining about the drugstore aisle but being stopped short when my other boss told him it couldn’t have been a recent mess up because little old me worked the drugstore aisle this week. You know, the little stuff. And looking forward to hanging out with my bestie on saturday really helped.

So here’s to a mini Sunday Round Up:

Make up-wise my skin was finally healthy enough again for me to go back to MAC Face&Body. I had major hormonal break outs and cystic acne induced by the Nivea Protect and Bronze face cream that I talked about earlier, not gonna wear that again then. Instead I went back to my trusted Diadermine Lift+SPF cream, in fact I had to buy a new pot this week. I just love that stuff. BTW my face still tans despite the SPF 30 but it doesn’t burn.
I also got my first Real Techniques brushes, as they were sold at my local TK Maxx. I got the travel essentials set with the essential foundation, domed shadow and multitask brush. I have used them all already and they are SO good. Even the essential foundation even though I am usually not a fan of flat foundation brushes. I think I won’t use it for foundation but for concealer and eye primer. The domed shadow brush is denser than any brush I own and I am still playing with it, but I really like it so far.

Media-wise I finished City of Lost Souls yesterday and yep, I still like it. The book got me safely through the week. It is not particularly deep or demanding and therefore a really nice companion for a stressed mind like mine. I am currently reading J.R.Ward’s Lover Mine part one (book 8 in the series). I accidentally started to read that before reading book 7 and I didn’t even notice. So much for the quality of that series. It is rather entertaining though and I’ve gotten that far so I might just continue reading.
I marathoned Mistresses and really liked it. It is a show with Alyssa Milano whom I really like, lovely Lost lady Yunjin Kim and a dear old friend, Brett Tucker aka Dave Brewer of McLeod’s Daughters fame. The cast is great in this show, the storylines are somewhat predictable but still entertaining. To be honest for me it is really the cast and characters that make the show not so much the storylines. Other than that I started Suits last night and it may grow on me.+
Music-wise I am really in love with my black album by Metallica. The older I get the more I fall for Metallica, especially the old stuff is great.

Anything else? I think that was it.

I hope your week was not as stressful as mine and let’s hope I can finally manage to get a new rhythm to my days and get stuff figured out. Everything is moving at the moment and I have a little trouble to get a routine down, and we all know, not having routines makes me antsy. On thursday I have another appointment with my professor about the thesis and they are usually really inspiring and motivating.
Let’s all go into this new week with a positive attitude, don’t let anything strike you down, we got this!

Read you soon!

(Oh, I will add a pic later so that it’s not such a dry read.)

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[Up Close and Personal] My Experience with the Blogilates Beginners Calendar

I’ve been thinking a while about posting this, because I didn’t know if I would actually be able to pull through, but I did and here we are.

About five or six weeks ago I realized I had to do a little more than just change my diet (which I am struggling with occasionally) and do something to strengthen my body. Being healthy is good, being strong and healthy is better.
I knew right away that the gym, etc. were no options because I simply don’t have the time to travel a lot at the moment. And frankly I don’t want to share my hot and flustered, tomato-red self  with the public while attempting (and probably failing) to force my body  into all sorts of contortions.
I had heard about blogilates before and I thought I would just start there and give her Total Body Work Out for Beginners a whirl. Pilates works with your own bodyweight which means all you need is a mat, sometimes a strap, dumbells or a pressure ring but Cassey usually gives alternatives for that. Pilates aimes at strengthening the core and the whole body.
And so I did. Let’s just say my first round of doing it was miserable as expected, but there were also some things I was not too bad at, so I decided to do this work out every day for the next couple of days.
The first time I realized I got stronger was on the third day when I was able to hold the pilates stance longer than before, by the way my muscles felt a little tight but I wasn’t hurting all that much (that being said, I have a heightened tolerance for pain, so you may wanna take this with grain of salt). So I did this for about five days a week, two weeks in a row and then I got bored.

I knew, though, that I liked Cassey’s personality. Cassey Ho invented POP Pilates and started the blogilates youtube channel. She is a certified Pilates instructor and personal trainer and it feels like she knows what she is doing. She is a very happy, positive girl, and while she is able to push me to hold on a little longer or do one more rep than I feel I can do, she also gives a lot of modifications for beginners even in her regular work outs, she never makes me feel like a failure.

Either way, I found out that Cassey had put together a beginners work out calendar that would stretch over four weeks and I went for it. The beginners calendar has work outs for six days of the week (the sixth day is a lot of stretching, though) the seventh day is a rest day, 2 to 3 days of the week have cardio blasts, the rest are pure pilates work outs. The work outs are usually a total of 30 to 40ish minutes per day and Cassey has the playlists on her page blogilates.com.

In the Beginners Calendar Cassey manages to show different varieties of Pilates, (e.g. stretching with a strap *yowza) but she also repeats certain work outs which helped me at least to see my progress. The work outs get gradually harder every week and every day but I never found them too hard or impossible to do.
Every day of the week has a specific focus like lower body, abs, total body, etc. All in all I found that all of my muscle groups were targeted evenly .

So how did the Beginners Calendar work out for me?
Welp, I didn’t miss a single day, that pretty much says it all. I found it really easy to incorporate the work outs into my days. I usually work out at night before I go to bed. I like getting my heart rate up and the sweat running before I go down to sleep. I had a little progress every single day and in the end I guess that is what kept me going.
I never did this to lose weight, all I wanted was to get stronger and I succeeded with that. On sunday I wrote I didn’t know whether my body has changed all that much over the last 5 or 6 weeks of working out but it has, very subtly maybe but it has. My arms are more defined than they were, my quads, abs and obliques (thighs, stomach, sides) are much tighter and stronger. It is less visible for others than perceptible for me. So much for the physical benefits.
Another important reason for me to start working out was to benefit my mental health. Mens sana in corpore sano. A healthy mind lives in a healthy body. I knew from the start that this would be one of the most demanding years of my life and that I would need to stay healthy  physically and mentally to survive this and for me a big key to stay healthy physically is to stay healthy mentally.

Did the Beginners Calendar benefit my mental health?
I think it did. I’m going through a lot of anxiety at the moment. I am currently trying to get my shit together to apply for my master program, while writing my thesis, while working my regular classes and trying to keep my job under control. I am not complaining. All I am saying it is a lot and I need to stay strong and I need to stay focused. I know I can do it. I know I will do it but I need to fight for this. And I am ready to put in this fight.
Before I started working out my body was this vessel that I was logging around with me, I didn’t have a good if at all a relationship with my body, this has changed fundamentally. During the work outs I became a team with my body as weird as that sounds. I felt my body respond to my wishes and kind of help me out, setting free more energy than I thought I had, bending quite literally to my will. The most important thing I take away from the last weeks is that I fell in love with my body. It is not the prettiest or the most perfect but it is my body. My lovely powerful miracle of a  body.
Short term the work outs do take the edge off of the anxiety at least for a while. While I work out I get distracted and I relax, it is like a little oasis in my day.

So you finished the Beginners Calendar, what now?
I took the plunge and  moved on to the regular work out calendar that Cassey posts every month. Yes, it is harder then the beginners calendar, but during the beginners calendar you learn a lot of modifications, and I just use those. I do as many videos as I can but I don’t get upset when I have no energy to do all five and just do four. The regular work outs are between 45 and 60 minutes. I take on the challenge every single day and it feels good. The regular calendar makes me sore but hey, sore today -strong tomorrow. Regular calendars go for 7 days a week but I may keep sunday as my rest day we’ll see. I find it increasingly hard NOT to work out. I read somewhere it becomes something like brushing your teeth. I may be on my way there.

Over 1300 words on working out. Didn’t see that coming. I hope this helped some of you.

Sunday Round Up #19: Mini ‘Up Close and Personal’

Hey guys,

unfortunatly I will have to integrate some Up Close and Personal in this Sunday Round Up because the realization that I am going through stuff (again -.- ) is overshadowing everything right now. I tried to ignore it for weeks, I just pushed on, thinking that if I pretend it’s not there it will just go away. Today or actually last night, I reached the point where I just couldn’t overlook it anymore. I think it’s some sort of depression/anxiety combination, because actually I don’t feel completely numb and broken like I normally do when I’m under, this time it’s more as if someone has been sucking all the energy out of me. I am constantly stressed, I sleep in weird patterns, I am heartily exhausted, especially of myself. I overthink everything, I keep on falling short of the expectations that I have of myself as a human being. You know I am not fishing for sympathy or compliments here, that is not how UpCloseAndPersonal works. I am merely showing you where I’m at at the moment and where I want to go.

So, at the moment I feel like I am not a good friend at all. I am self-involved, easily distracted and unable to show feelings properly. Like how grateful I am for the friends that I have, and how wonderful people they are.
I know that this will blow over, that I will get a grip on myself and be a better person again, but right now 9:05pm in Germany I am down, I am exhausted and I don’t like myself.

I built myself a cocoon today, cranked up the heating, hid in bed (2 duvets, 2 sheepskins, roughly 10 pillows) and watched silly rom-coms ( I Give It a Year: pretty decent; The Sweetest Thing: complete shit, no nicer way to put it). I haven’t done this out of sheer need for a while. Actually I haven’t done that ever since I returned from Bayreuth. Not like that. I am not desperate or hurting, like I said, I am just exhausted and I feel like my caffeine overdose earlier this week ties in with that. Apparently I operated under the assumption that when I just cram enough caffeine into my body I will feel better. Nope. Just gives me headache, nausea and severe dehydration.

Where to go from here? Accepting that something is wrong is the first step, I think. This coming week is going to be stressful. I am catholic and this is the week leading up to Easter. As stressful as this week is I normally love it. I love Palm Sunday with its celebration but also the first shadows of what is to come on Good Friday, I love Maundy Thursday, where my whole parish gets together after mass to have a meal and then Good Friday. There is something so bleak and miserable about this day, no organ, no flowers and the crosses are covered up and for a little over 24 hrs the world seems to come to a standstill. My family fasts this day, so no meat, no jam, no candy basically just butter and bread and some fish for lunch, and one heck of a lot of easter preparations. On saturday then the Easter Night celebrations, my favorite part: Arriving at a completely dark church, then bringing in the Easter fire from the yard in a procession and then the church is slowly lit by candles, no artificial light until the big Gloria where all the bells are rung. And after mass more eating and drinking with the whole parish. Man, I love this week 🙂

Either way I’ll try to cut myself some slack, I won’t put too much pressure on myself, one step at a time and be them baby steps. And I will try to do things that are good for me. Catch some sun, rest, eat right, drink enough and re-focus. I guess I’ll try to just survive. I have the week after Easter off, that should help me to get better.

If you got this far and you are interested to get into the normal Sunday Round Up stuff let’s do that.

Photo 13-04-2014 22 24 10

1. Make Up Shizz
I don’t like my make up at the moment. It is never quite like I want it to be and even though my skin is as clear and as healthy as it will probably ever be, I feel like no matter what foundation I wear, it is blotchy and weird and don’t get me started on my eye make up. I’m still trying to find a way to make it all work. I am currently wearing my Catrice All Matt Plus again. It is slightly too dark at the moment but it’s not too bad. I actually started to apply this with my fingers (yep, weirded me out, too). I’m still no fan of getting make up all over my fingers but, the outcome is actually nicer and the coverage is better than with a brush (whysoever).
On my desperate search for a blush that was not too in your face, didn’t piss me off and was no bronzer I dug out my MAC The Perfect Cheek. It is probably the nudest most natural blush color there is. It saves me from looking like a ghost without making me look like a clown.

2.Media Shizz
Music-wise I am still listening to the new Delain and Subway to Sally albums and Epica has actually released a new song from their upcoming album which is called Unchain Utopia and it is just about as awesome as Essence of Silence. If all the songs on The Quantum Enigma are like this we have found ourselves a new all-time favorite album. And as per usual the lyrics are brilliant!
I have been catching up on Hart of Dixie, which is a testament to the state I am in at the moment and I am about to start season 4 of Friday Night Lights. Both are total pick-me-up shows for me (borrowed that expression from Snowhoney and find that it is perfect).
Book-wise I am about to finish Dark Secrets by Hjorth&Rosenfeldt and I have the second one in the Sebastian Bergman- series sitting here. So far it is a good solid murder mystery but not spectecularly awesome (Man, A Song of Ice and Fire has ruined me -.- or at least set the bar ridiculously high for what a good book is).

Other than that there was not much going on this week other than that I have worked five days (which also didn’t help much with my exhaustion)

Up Close and Personal: Anxiety Mess and a Playlist

Finals brought a dreaded enemy back in full force. Over the past couple of days I had to deal with the paralyzing powers of anxiety again.

I still have anxiety off again on again over the months and since my particular brand is highly influenced by my hormone balance, well, you can guess when it is the worst.
However over the past couple of weeks with one final exam after the other and pressure basically not receeding over almost 4 weeks my psyche lost it on me. The days leading up to my oral exam were the worst. I was almost back to the old days where I couldn’t really study because my body was in a constant state of suppressed flight response. I was distressed, I was exhausted yet I couldn’t relax. Not for a second. As they days wore on the situation got worse. I started to feel the effects physically. My hands and knees were shaking, my stomach started to eat up itself again (even though my changed diet keeps me far away from foods and drinks that are distressing on my stomach, so it couldn’t have been that). I knew I had to do something.

I am really grateful that I am not dependent on heavy chemicals to reclaim my calm (or at least take the edge off) but it shocked my quite a bit that after doing so well for almost two years I had to go back to my relaxing teas and herbal meds.

One thing that I have learned though is that even though it was horrible while it lasted this anxiety episode has not completely thrown me off course. Today is the day after my exam and I feel a lot better already, still a little shaken, but I can relax now.
I took the week off of work (before hand) and I made a pact with myself to not do anything for my thesis and the term paper that is due at the end of March until monday when I will go back to work. So far it is working. I treated myself to a new haircut (long bob, think Essiebutton), read half a Tess Gerritsen novel, I napped, I caught up on YouTube vids (and am still in the process of very naughtily marathoning all of the Lily Pebbles vids available, she’s so lovely) and I am (a little awkwardly) blogging again. I am very determined to write a Sunday Round Up after I missed the last two, sorry about that, but other than that I am a little weary to put pressure (as positive as it might be) back into my life. There is so much I want to do and to write about but please understand that I am worried to overdo it at the moment. I will get back into the hang of things and I hope it won’t take me long.

As for that playlist: Something that has always helped me to take the edge off is music. Obviously music is something very personal and everybody has a different taste, but I thought I’d share with you what helps me everytime.

The the singer/songwriter (with band) that has brought tears of relieve to my eyes more times than I care to remember is Eric Fish and Friends. Eric is the frontman of my all time favorite band Subway to Sally. In response to going through a burn out episode in his life he started to sit down with his guitar and just make music again. In the beginning he mainly played covers of bands like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Bob Seger, etc. but after a while he wrote his own songs too, and because music is more fun when you can share it with other people he started to play concerts with those songs. At first just him with guitar and harmonica and tons of candles on stage. Now the band has grown to 5 wonderful guys (3 guitars, 1 e-piano, 1 cello) who still sit on stage with a ton of candles. They play Eric’s original songs (the other guys contribute too  with beautiful results), with their German (sorry!) lyrics but also Irish folk and the covers of those bands that mean so much to them. Eric’s original songs are powerful and heartbreakingly beautiful in their straightforwardness. He writes about love and friendship but also about our society and the troubles he has with it. I share many of his opinions which helps obviously a lot with me loving his music. I have all of his albums and they are some of my most dearly loved things that I never want to be parted from. His music is like healing waters on my battered soul.
If you would like to check Eric Fish and Friends out there should be some videos on YouTube.

When I feel particularly hurt and lost and struggling Within Temptation help a lot. They are a Dutch gothic metal band and they have been with me for roughly 10 years now. They may be a little angsty at times, but jeez, when I feel angsty why not take the edge off with a band that sounds as angsty as I feel. Within Temptation can be very socially critical as well, so far they have mainly tackled topics like the abuse of religion and the destruction of nature, but they can also be very dream-like and gentle. Again you can find videos on YouTube and some samples on their page within-temptation.com.

If I need something to carry me through (like on the day of an exam, etc.) I opt for Manowar’s Gods of War album (cheesy as f*ck, I know) but there is something about the whole marching into battle kind of deal that helps me stay focused and march into my very own battle.

I would love to hear from you, what helps you to take the edge off and relax a little when you feel not so great
Sorry, this was a really long post, but yeah, another step on my journey to mental health, I guess. I hope you are feeling good at the moment or at least strong enough to face the day. We can do this, you are not alone!

Blogmas Day #7: [Up Close and Personal] I’m Okay

It’s been a while since I last posted an Up Close and Personal. I don’t even know why it was so hard for me to put this into words since it is actually a good thing.

The other day I stumbled across some songs that have been a life saver for me in all those months when I was pretty far gone. From when I was very little music has been a very important in my life. I can’t go a day listening to music and I can’t go a week without singing. Music is an outlet for my feelings, for my joy for my pain, for my frustration. I have found bands that speak my mind. Like Saltatio Mortis right now with their angry songs criticizing politics and society as I am screaming mad about the goings on in my country (I am aware I am yammering on a very high level here).

Either way I stumbled upon those songs and the most important of them goes something like this:

Ich versinke, ich ertrinke, ich will kein Schmerzen mehr
Ich will dort sein, wo es still ist
2000 Meilen unter’m Meer.

(I’m sinking, I’m drowning, I don’t want to hurt anymore
I want to be where it is quiet
2000 miles beneath the sea)

In this world that was moving in on me, that was tearing at me, stripping me of all my defenses , slowly and painfully ripping me apart, I craved nothing more than this silence, this peace and quiet mentioned in the song. Another line goes:

Ich kann nicht weiter schwimmen, bitte lass mich gehen.

(I can’t swim anymore, please let me go.)

How many times have I felt like this. Like just letting go. Like just giving in. Letting them roll over me, crushing me.
Listening to this song would bring this feeling back every time and it would feel true. It would feel like this was the essence of me, this desperate feeling of barely hanging on.

When I listened to this song again a couple of weeks ago, it didn’t bring the feeling back. It reminded me of the feeling, yes, but it didn’t bring it back to my doorstep. Instead there was something in me that said ‘I can’t die just yet, I still have so much to do.’ God knows I may fall in love, get married and have children someday. Maybe I will be successful at my job, find a job that makes me truly happy. Maybe that will happen. Maybe I will be truly happy one day. I guess in a way I already am. I have a great family. We may not always like each other but we always love each other. My parents saved my life when they let me move home again, when they gave me shelter when I needed it the most.
I have the greatest two best friends. I may sometimes drive them up the wall and exasperate them but deep down we deeply care about each other, we watch out for each other and we would go miles for each other, I love them very much.
I have a job that I don’t hate and I study something that I enjoy. So yeah. I am happy all things considered.
Saying it out loud is scary though, as if I would jinx it.  But I guess this superstition is something that I have to kick out.

Bottom line of this post is, I’m okay. The dark days, the anxiety will come back and in a way I am grateful for that. You can’t see the light without the dark. But I am okay. And I will go back to being okay.

Up Close and Personal: Letting Myself Feel or They Say Change is Good but it Really Really Isn’t

As you may have noticed I was MIA last week and I apologize. There has been a lot going on, a lot of work that exhausted my body, a lot of internal matters that exhausted my soul.

A good thing that happened is that I realized that I am able to let myself feel again. If you suffer from depression or you know a little bit about it you may know that a common side effect is that the soul just shuts off much like the US government, to protect yourself from losing your mind, your soul quits feeling. You feel nothing at all. No joy, no grief just emptiness. And even though I have been doing a lot better for quite a lot of time, but this ability to feel something, like vibrating with happiness or crying over sorrow, that took a while to come back.

In retrospect I think my Grandpa’s death at the very end of last year helped a lot to crack me open. My Grandpa was a very old, sick man, so his death didn’t come unexpected and I believe that dying was a relief for him. Still it hurt that he was gone. It hurt that the last nights before his death he had to dream about his WWII experience, I wish he could have dreamed of unicorns and rainbows instead of tanks and poison gas. It just hurt. Period. And I let it hurt. I was strong enough for the first time to let myself hurt, knowing I would recover from it, knowing it wouldn’t be my undoing.

Strangely these feelings were triggered again when I watched the Tudors series finale last week. Maybe because old Charles Brandon reminds me so much of my Grandpa. It took me two days to get over it. But I got over it. I let my protective shell crack open, I let my pain flow out and the wound closed again and I lived to tell the tale.

While I can deal with grief now, abrupt changes still pose a problem. I had a big shake up at work the other day and I responded with a massive anxiety attack. I feel like I’m still recovering from this one.

I have moments (not only work-related) where I feel like I can’t make ends meet. No matter how hard I work no matter how much effort I put in, no matter how much I think ahead, something throws itself in my way and makes me trip. Minor bumps in the road I can deal with but at the moment it seems to pile up. I hate the feeling of helplessness when I have to rely on other people to get things right for me, when I have done my part and it’s out of my hands now. Exhausting, I tell ya!

So yeah, that’s me at the moment: Still reeling from that anxiety attack.

I’m trying to get my shit together, though. I’m cleaning and washing and organizing in the attempt to give me a cozy environment, a place where I can relax and lick my wounds. And I’m trying not to let the work pile up but to slowly and steadily reduce the amount. I guess the parole is to not give in to the fear and let her paralyze me.

I’m sorry that I still have nothing uplifting to tell you, I’m working on it though. I’ll be fine. Just give me a minute.

Up Close and Personal: No News in the West

I’m afraid, guys, today I have nothing uplifting to share.

This day literally comes in the WAKE of an insomnia-ridden night. Partially this is my fault for drinking coffee too late when I could clearly see over the last few days that she would strike again and soon. Falling asleep had become increasingly hard.

Either way I had been awake until 3:30am-ish before I passed out only to lose control completely and sleep on and off until 1pm.

Needless to say my day is completely screwed up. All I have accomplished so far is to sort through my make up (which is sort of for this blog, so it wasn’t completely pointless). I hope I can manage to get my ass up and at least clean my room and get some laundry done before catching up on my uni-reading. Realistically that is not going to happen. Nothing of it.

Also needless to say, that I am very upset with myself. I hate myself when I get like this, this is not who I want to be and how I want to lead my life. And then there is this knot of anxiety in my stomach that is threatening to spin out of control and might cause more insomnia. This is a vicious circle if ever saw one.

So here it is. My concious decision to break through this shit and kick some anxiety-ass. If insomnia comes to play again tonight I shall just finish the last season of The Tudors and then we’ll see.

Again I am sorry I have nothing inflating for you. I might be on a down swing here. I promise I’ll try to fight it. Bear with me.