What Cookies Taught Me About Self Acceptance

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Going into Barnes & Noble as a teenager meant my friends and I huddled on the floor next to the New Age section, pouring over ways to read auras, tarot, and the stars. We’d sit there and read over our astral signs, previewing the lives ahead of us. Were we earth or water signs? Fire or air? Are we creative or serious? What is it in these books that defines us?

I remember a particular visit with an Aquarius. She glowed at her description: free-spirited, open as air, a creative. And then she read my own Virgo, who was stern, analytical, and had high morals. Hardly anyone my 16 year old self could imagine and far from fun. I was determined to never be a Virgo.

You can imagine how disappointed I was 8 years later when a creative writing professor of mine called me “tightly wound.”

***

I never truly learned how to cook or bake. The one time as a child I remember baking with my mother was a strawberry box cake, and I was bored by the time the box was opened. It seemed so tedious to read the directions, stir in a certain way, to wait. Even the first time I ever served a meal to my parents was a dish of canned V8 poured into bowls. While not exactly cooking, you can’t tell me that’s not gazpacho.

I have patience for people, not food.

***

A few days ago I was discussing the paranormal with a Taurus and good friend of mine. I made her take the 16 Personalities test several days prior, how I kept coming up as an INFP almost every time I took it, and it’s career suggestions not giving me anymore direction than I already have.

With this particular conversation, she was telling me about a psychic reading she had about her future; I was telling her about a tarot app I downloaded that I found amusing.

For her, her reading brought out anxieties about her future, the uncertainties that were before her, the decisions she’d have to make.

For me, I saw the cards I digitally flipped over as a means to read the subconscious. There was nothing spiritual about it other than I was reading what I wanted to read, a psychic generalization where I could project my own wishes and fears. I think my 16 year old self would disagree, and she’d probably think my life today were so Virgo.

***

Many of you know my obsession with lemons — the cleansing power, it’s freshness, how beautifully it blends with all flavors.

Once again craving lemon cookies, I decided to make a batch. It had been years since I made cookies, and I remember my last attempt when what had been little discs of batter became a flat pan full of bread, hard as a rock.

Feeling the tedium of recipes and the waiting and the reading and all of that math, I decided to just wing it.

Eggs? Check. Flour? Gonna use pancake mix. Sugar? All of it. Butter? This might be enough.

They ended up being the most delicious “cookies” I’d ever had. I’m not really sure what  they were. But they were cookie shaped, sweet, tasted nothing like lemon, and tenderly melted when dipped in milk. If I could remember what I did, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

***

In astronomy, there’s a term used to describe inconsistencies in what scientists predict planetary patters to be and what actually exists: anomaly.

I’d like to think of myself as an anomaly, boundless from the Virgo, from the INFP personality. But the truth is that I am so much like a Virgo, so much of an INFP. I’m determined, reserved, ambitious, empathetic.

My 16 year old self is writhing.

I wish my younger self understood that these definitions were not limitations, but doorways, that being a Virgo means that I will use my creativity for good, that I will always be full of passion and determination, and I will have the organizational skills to get there.

Just like the “cookies” I made, I am the sum of my parts, not defined by them, and that it’s best not to take things too seriously, even if I am a Virgo.

 

Embracing Intent

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I am always tired. I go to bed sporadically, I sleep until the last possible second, I have nightmares and night terrors (though, somehow blood pressure medicine has made this better*), I have no nighttime routine, and doctors have been telling me for years to get a sleep study done because of my endless fatigue.

This, in conjunction with not eating breakfast, makes for a very grumpy Kaela.

I’m so happy that I took time off from work to address my PTSD. The fact that my nightmares/night terrors are infrequent, it makes the idea of going to bed and sleeping a lot easier to manage.

When I first started taking the medication to help with my night disturbances, I was relieved at the difference a terror-less sleep felt. I felt more energetic, which meant I could tackle my PTSD and focus on healing. I no longer wake up with panic.

However, I am still always tired.

***

It’s amusing how two unrelated things come together to relay the same message.

These past few months I’ve been on a quest to change my life. I read this morning my visit notes from Monday’s therapy appointment, which read the awful phrase “moderate episode of recurrent major depressive disorder.” Yuck. It’s true, but I think that phrase misses an interdisciplinary root cause beyond my trauma.

Faced with this awful note on my history, and from the powerful fatigue I felt this morning, I yet again began my daily research into self improvement.

I wanted to know how to be more disciplined, thinking this might be where I could change things despite how I feel because that’s the definition of it, to trudge on beyond feelings and impulses. And you know how impulsive I am.

***

I keep rereading this book called The Miracle Morning. I discovered it indirectly, as a former peer at Emerson College had posted it somewhere (I think). She now runs a business helping women entrepreneurs, which I think is pretty cool.

One of my best friends and I have a goal spreadsheet on Google Sheets which we track personal goals and wellness, and so after rereading The Miracle Morning again, I thought what better way to finally practice it than to include it on my wellness tracker.

I was so, so wrong.

Having to wake up earlier than normal is one challenge with poor sleep. Waking up early and then meditating, exercising, reading, journaling, as well as other things all before anyone wakes up (because really, what mother can do anything after the kids are up) is, at least for me, impossible.

What the book gets wrong is that making such a huge change overnight doesn’t have lasting results. It sets you up for guilt, anger, and disappointment.

It’s a lovely idea, but no thanks.

***

Have you ever just read an article and thought about how general and basic it was? Like it was telling you stuff you already know?

I Googled nothing more exciting than the phrase “self discipline” and out came a bunch of articles on tips and tricks and easy things to help me. Speed lessons.

These kinds of articles, because they are so short, have the certain expectation that you should read them casually instead of with intent. Oh good, here are some 5 tips. That will last in my brain at the rate of 1 tip per minute, and then POOF! gone.

Frustrated by the repetitive nature of these articles and my own ineptitude for recalling information that I read from these countless trivial articles, I decided to pull out my little notebook that I use when scribbling little tidbits of information.

What an amazing and unexpected transformation that one small change to my reading habits had. I started reading the first article I came across and took notes.

It felt like I was in a classroom again: reading with purpose and scribbling down all the important information. I felt like I was actually learning.

No, the information included in the one article I did read wasn’t profound. But, it was helpful after really processing the information I read.

I went through, just as I did when reading a textbook in college, and took my notes on information I thought were important. After finishing my notes, I annotated them and created a task list for me to keep working on the steps the article included.

Maybe I will gain more discipline from what I learned reading the post, maybe not. Regardless, it started moving things along in my head and gave me a new perspective on casual reading v. reading with intent.

***

One of the steps Cohen includes is to eat healthy. Oh, boy.

How many times have I heard advice on how eating healthy will change my life. Okay, yeah, sure.

But, because I was reading with intent, I looked at her reasoning behind it. That because poor nutrition can make you tired and grumpy, you are setting yourself up for failure when trying to change yourself.

Poor nutrition can make you tired. When you are tired, it’s difficult to focus, resist temptation, and work towards your goals.

I repeat, I am always tired. 

As soon as I read that, I made an appointment with the same doctors who had scheduled my sleep study years ago but I ultimately never showed up to the appointment. I go next month.

Baby steps.


The article I mentioned here is called “5 Proven Methods for Gaining Self Discipline” by Jennifer Cohen, published by FORBES magazine. You can find it here.

A book Jennifer Cohen mentions in the article called THE POWER OF HABIT by Charles Duhigg looks promising. It’s on my to-read list on my Goodreads

My favorite materials for taking notes are Papermate InkJoy gel pens, Papermate Flair felt-tip pens, Mildliner highlighters, and Pilot Juice gel pens.

I also love Mead’s A5 size Cambridge Edition notebooks.

Generally, I prefer the style of Japanese/European notebooks because they often have more places for documentation, thinner lines, and are better organized than American notebooks.

None of the links are sponsored. These are just links to thinks I either like or have found.


I am not a doctor and I am not diagnosing or recommending this medicine. Don’t take medical advice from me.

I will never be a cat basking in the sun

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luna in repose

I’ve recently started seeing a nutritionist. Being a trauma victim, the idea of having agency over my own body and mind feels pretty uncomfortable, and I like to place responsibility elsewhere because I’m not used to it — it’s a disease! he told me not to! I’m not a reliable source! And I met this nutritionist who has worked for the same office since the 90s, and I came to her with all my insecurities and my own discriminatory views of her probably being outdated and rehashing the same information I’ve spend a lifetime researching.

And then she repeatedly surprised me with information I did not know, or could never trust before. Because, in the diet industry, there’s so many important voices spewing garbage so that no discernible quality knowledge is passed. EAT LESS! EAT MORE! EAT BACTERIA! EAT AND DON’T EAT! TAKE IT SLOW! GO COLD-TURKEY!

Can we all just take a minute to shut up?

***

On day’s I’m not busy, I tell myself that I’m going to sit in my pajamas in bed all day under the guise of “relaxation.”

I have this really awful view of myself as being lazy, unsuccessful, worthless, boring, unimaginative… any word that equates to being reactive rather than proactive. I think of myself of this awful fat slump of a person, not a singular couch potato, but a whole lumpy sack of them. I think right about now my inner therapist says that’s the trauma talking.

And yet, on those “lazy” days, I think most people would, literally, sit in front of the TV all day. I’m not immune to those binges. However, as soon as I snuggle up in bed with the entire comforter strangled between my thighs and arms (my poor blanket, the innards of my burrito grasp), I reach for my phone.

Google must have enough information to recreate me in digital form by my vast search history.

***

When I was in 6th grade and living in Tokyo, we were forced to learn about webpage creation in the early DIY HTML days. I remember creating different types of selectable objects and how to link images. How amazing an opportunity at an all-girl English-speaking Catholic school in Tokyo in the early 2000s just years after Google was created?

I was transfixed at the kind of power. I still am. The power to obtain knowledge, truthful and not, everywhere I go.

***

It’s all of this — the realization with the nutritionist, the googling, and the poor self-esteem — which has lead me to this point of self-acceptance.

I was having a conversation with my fiancee last night about how I’ve been beating myself up over not having enough fun and not relaxing, and we came to the conclusion that my type of “fun” is learning, not TV. I do have an “off” switch after all, it just doesn’t look like yours.

***

So, my poor cat, the victim of this tired metaphor. I will never be her, basking in the sun. I will retreat to books, to the digital wealth, to conversations with nutritionists and loves. I will be here, filling my library, a potato in my own way, which sounds delicious.

 

 

Recovering From the Dreaded Shadowban

Instagram update: as Instagram get’s more and more restrictive of how much and what people can post on Instagram, it’s become difficult for independent artists such as myself to generate and post content at a rate that is compliant with Instagram’s non-spammy standards. In essence, they think I’m not a real person. Which, I promise, I am. I’m 28 years old. I’m female. I have skin and bones and organs and fat.
 
In attempting to solve the “shadowban” issue with my own account which has been restricting my account for a little over a week — because really, at the end of the day, all I really want to do is share my poems and my drawings with you — I found no other way to resolve the issue on my own. So, I deleted my Instagram account.
 
I’m not sure if it was using the license-free photos (was I supposed to tag the website that explicitly says that I do not have to tag them?), the Amazon logo for my book that was published on Amazon, or just simply using the same hashtags with each post that put me in this position (I may have used #witchyvibes one too many times, though). 
 
Whatever the reason, weeks of generating content that I believe many of you, and others, enjoyed are no longer anywhere except maybe a google search or on the files of my computer. My poems are on my Facebook “business” page, but only as of yesterday after mass-posting them all after feeling frustrated with Instagram’s algorithm.
I want to be as transparent as possible about what my Instagram was for, what my goals are, what I think my next steps are. I have no intention to hide anything from you except ideas that aren’t fully developed yet. I love my followers, my family, my friends. Genuine love. When you guys like or respond to my work, or you use one of my prompts, that fills me with more joy than you can imagine. I love to see that what I’m doing is worth it.
For Instagram, my goal was to create a mood board which reflected what I thought were ideas or values expressed in my poetry: contrasts between light and darkness, healing, nature. As many of you know, it was first pink. The more and more I got my book Princess Skinless ready for publication, the more I realized how much the “pink contrasted with grime” aesthetic wasn’t really the tone that was expressed through my book. It was more about beauty and darkness, mental clarity, and wellness. So, I changed my “theme.” And that change is probably what alerted me to Instagram in the first place. But I wasn’t trying to gain a lot of likes or have 10 thousand followers in a day. I was just trying to repost the content that was already there and organize information better for my viewers. And for that, I got banned from showing up in any searches, and I was banned from following any hashtags.
My ultimate goal is to make a living as an artist. I strongly believe in my writing and artwork. I don’t think anyone’s shadowban or bad review or comment or lack-of-liking my post could make me feel inadequate about who I am as a creator. I am good at what I do. I’ve never been modest about it, and I don’t plan to start today.
There have been people trying to stop me my entire life. From professors who have flat out told me that going to “indie” way was irresponsible, and even as far as a “career ruiner,” to friends making snide remarks about my work to ex boyfriends telling me I should focus on being an English teacher or something else because my writing “just isn’t good enough.”
My next steps?
My content generation and ideas are still in their beginning stages, and I will update you as soon as I can. I can tell you that it is going to be something really spectacular, and I’m already so proud of my new little babies. For now, I will stick to posting my poems and prompts on my Facebook page. I hope to update you all soon.
Please let me know what content you’ve liked best. I love sharing my work, but I also enjoy making you guys happy too, because really who is a poet without her readers?
Thank you all so much for standing by me, helping me flourish, and everything else.