Tag Archives: my thoughts and musings

New Years Resolutions

Guys, I am such a sucker for New Year’s Resolutions. I love making lists and planning ahead and feeling the anticipation of things to come…even though I’m not very good at keeping my resolutions! This year I am trying something different. I only made FOUR goals! Usually I make a list of 20 things I’d like to tweak, but I’ve been reading about how paring down and focusing on a few things can really help you actually accomplish the goals you’ve set. I made this goal just for fun: I want to be more fashionable and put together in 2015. I know this doesn’t really matter in the cosmic arena of life, but I have noticed that when I look good, I feel good, and when I feel good, I do “good”. I have been wanting to really develop my own sense of style and invest in my wardrobe and express myself and I think this is my year! (I’m tired of feeling frumpy, ya know what I mean?)  And I’ll share one more goal that I think is going to be really fun and good for me: this year, I am going to keep track of every book I read and do this reading challenge! It looks awesome and I think it’s really going to force me to read some books that I wouldn’t normally choose. Anyone else make any New Year’s Resolutions?! Wish me luck! I am determined to actually finish my list this year.
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Happy (Belated) Thanksgiving

We had a lovely Thanksgiving in spite of Tij having to work all day. Some good friends invited us over for dinner and they only asked me to bring a pie so I didn’t even have to cook a turkey. (That’s a win in my book.) We spent the evening in good company, eating delicious food, and watching Christmas movies. (“Home Alone” and “A Christmas Story”. You know, the classics!) I’m guilty of probably not giving Thanksgiving its due because I love Christmas soooooo much, but I just think it’s the best segue into the Christmas season. Thanksgiving reminds us to count our blessings and be grateful for the wonderful lives we lead. Christmas reminds us of Christ, to be kind and to help others. New Year’s reminds us that we can always do better and to keep progressing. What better way to finish up one year and ring in the new? Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and are ready for Christmas! (We are ready for Christmas here. I may have already decorated…)

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Home Again, Home Again

We are back from San Diego and it’s like Vegas decided to jump straight from almost-fall to winter over the weekend. It was 44 degrees out when we pulled up Sunday night! (I know I’ve been harping on the weather a lot lately, but I am just so tired of being constantly hot and uncomfortable and planning my day and wardrobe around the heat. I suppose it’s just something I’ve yet to fully adjust to…) San Diego was beautiful. Tij and I went there for vacation once 5 years ago and it was so much fun! Now that my mom lives in San Diego we’ll probably be back more often than once every 5 years – lucky us!

My cousins and I wandered down to the beach one evening to watch the sunset and boy, did I get some killer photos! There’s nothing like the sun going down over the ocean.

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The wedding festivities were over Saturday night so Sunday Tij and I did some sight-seeing with our family before driving home. We checked out a few museums and ate at this divine Italian restaurant where I had the best raviolis. (I’m a sucker for stuffed pasta.) I can see why people love southern California. I think Tij and I would want to live there too if it wasn’t for the insane cost of living and the traffic!

At the Maritime Museum I walked through a B-39 Soviet sub (talk about cramped!) and stood on a sailing vessel they used in one of The Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

The NAT (Natural History Museum) was hosting a King Tut exhibit which was really well done. The curators set it up to make you feel like you were discovering the tomb right along with Howard Carter and the original excavators. There was gold, gold, and more gold! I’ve always found ancient Egypt fascinating.

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aboard “The Star of India” a 151 year-old immigration vessel

This is all I’ll say about the wedding: the ceremony on the beach was beautiful and Tij and I are happy to be home now. We are looking forward to a quiet week of catching up on sleep and household chores.

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Oak Creek Canyon

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Tij had work off Monday so I dragged him on another hike in Red Rock Canyon. This hike was actually more of a glorified walk, but it’s good to switch things up. Oak Creek is a different area of the Park that we haven’t explored yet and we went in the evening when things had cooled off which was nice. (It’s still hitting 85 here in Vegas. Hasn’t it got the message that it’s fall yet?) We were in Salt Lake City two weeks ago for my cousin’s wedding and it was much harder to leave than it has the last few times I’ve been. The leaves were starting to change color, the air had a slight bite to it, (insert every other fall/autumn/harvest/pumpkin cliche you can think of,) and it was just gorgeous. One morning I took my sister and cousin for brunch at Bruges Waffles & Frites and then drove them around a historic neighborhood and just goggled at the charming homes and canopied streets. It just got me wondering about what our life would be like if we’d stayed in Utah, living the lifestyle that we’re living now…

Once we were back in Vegas though, I was happy to be back. I love our little apartment. Our ward family is wonderful. I missed our rat babies. And Vegas is beautiful in its own way. It’s not the type of beauty that I’m naturally drawn to or that I’m used to, but if you go looking for it, Vegas has a lot to offer and a lot to feast your eyes on. I don’t know if we’ll stay in Vegas permanently, but for now, I am really trying to enjoy all that it has to offer. I think part of my regret with Salt Lake is that whenever I go back I think about all the things I didn’t do, all the restaurants I didn’t try, and all the experiences I missed out on. (Tij and I were broke students with zero time so if I went back in time I don’t know if I could do anything differently. Our circumstances just really sucked.) I am determined to leave Vegas with no regrets! Maybe I need to make a Vegas bucket list? There’s so much to see and do here, I might need to prioritize!

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handsome and me

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Hello…?

Hello friends. I took a little break from the blog this last month. I needed a breather after toying with the idea of trying to be a “professional blogger” (AKA: becoming one of those people in impeccably styled outfits who have the cutest burlap DIY tutorials and adorable pictures of their children accompanied by witty anecdotes). I have been exploring things that I enjoy and trying to plan some projects and I thought “why not blogging?” I do so enjoy posting about our life and journaling on our blog and I was seriously considering whether I had the desire or the drive to turn this into something more than just a family blog.

Turns out I don’t.

And that’s ok. I tried really hard for a month to blog 3 times a week, come up with “features”, re-vamp my pages, etc. I researched blogging on pinterest. I read FAQs and advice columns from bloggers I admire. I reached out to friends who have tried their hand at the blogging game. And you know what? I decided that I really didn’t want to “brand” myself or feel pressure to share more of my personal life than I feel comfortable in order to grab followers. I don’t have the desire or the drive. I have some serious respect for those people who actually make money off of blogging, because from what I read it sounds like a ton of work and is incredibly competitive. I tried some new things out and shared some things that I wouldn’t normally share in an effort to flex my blogging muscles. I don’t regret that and it was an interesting experiment, but ultimately this blog is going to go back to what it was before: just a little blog about the von Nieda family. Maybe some pictures of our rats, our vacations, maybe some thoughts, but nothing fancy. I have some other fun projects I’m hoping to work on in the future instead. Thanks for reading!

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Life is Messy

sherlockfeelings This last week life has sprung some doozies on me. I’ve received the kind of news that makes you want to crawl back into bed and get lost in fiction, eat chocolate, and ignore reality because reality sucks sometimes.

First off: the first friend I made here in Vegas is moving to California. This is a wonderful thing for her and her family and I’m happy for them, but I also wish they wouldn’t leave me, ya know? I’ve moved a lot and so I’m used to doing the leaving, but being left is a new experience for me. I was hoping I could lean on her for emotional support over the next few months since she’s been in my shoes before and would get it… 

And what is it you ask? Well, big doozie number two: my mom is getting remarried.

And that GIF sums up how I feel about that.

I have debated how much of this I should share and I have edited and re-edited this post trying to find a way to put things delicately. I have decided that maybe right now, while my emotions are saw raw and new, is not the best time to release them to the public, but I still needed to share the news and ask for support and advice. I realize that I am talking about real people here and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or burn any bridges before they’re even built. I hope that my mom will be happy. She deserves that. And I am trying to be supportive. But I don’t think that supporting her means that I just ignore my own feelings and act like the only things I’m feeling are happiness and excitement.

So please send good vibes my way! I am grateful that I’ve spent the last few months really focusing on my mental/emotional health and I know I’m handling this much better than I would have before. I’m grateful for kind friends and family who I know I can confide in and who love me. And any advice would be much appreciated. Leave a comment or send me an email. I know I’m not the only one who has been through this before. Thank you, thank you.

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A Little Bloglovin’

Another one of the reasons that I blog is that I love to read other people’s blogs. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been taking things in the social arena a little slow. Blogs allow me to connect with people and have virtual friendships, all without being too overwhelming. Basically, I put minimal effort into our “relationship” and I make insta-friends. I recently discovered The Alison Show and I looooove Alison. (She has shared some of her own struggles with what she dubs “chemical imbalances” and reading about that made me feel like I could share my struggles too. It’s nice to know you’re not the only one who has issues…) Someday I hope to be as crafty as Alison is, but what really caught my attention was her “How to be Awesome Series”. She had the inspiration to create a video series about what holds us back and how to avoid those traps and reach our true awesome potential. It’s fabulous. You can see the whole series here, but I just wanted to share my favorite video: If You Want to See Different Results, Do Things Differently.

This is something I’m working on myself. If I want things to change, I’ve got to change the way I do things, right? Thanks for the inspiration and support, virtual friend Alison.

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Am I John Watson?

Thank you all for humoring me this last week. Things on the blog got heavy, but I really wanted to share. (Read my posts about depression, parts one and two, here and here.) That is really what this blog is about, I guess. I updated my “About” page a few weeks ago and I was trying to explain why I write this thing. I wrote: “I want to be able to show our kids someday that their mom and dad are human. I want them to be able to see that we don’t have all the answers and sometimes we make things up as we go along.” What I was trying feebly to convey is that I’m flawed! I make mistakes. And I’m still beautiful. Still worthwhile. This blog won’t always be deep or intense, but I really hope that this is a space where I can continue to explore myself and share a little of what I discover. Thanks again for reading.

Which brings me to my blog title: Am I John Watson? I hope you have all seen BBC’s Sherlock…? Yes? Then you know that when Watson returns from Afghanistan his therapist recommends that he keep a blog as a way to heal and adjust to life. As I published those last two posts, I breathed a sigh of relief. Getting that out there felt really good. And then, it dawned on me. That was very Watson-esque of me. I’m keeping a blog about the things that happen to me as a therapy technique. I don’t have a psychosomatic limp, but I am “the stay at home type”. Now where’s my Sherlock?

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Part Two: Discovering Happiness (And Other Emotions) Again

Today we get to the good stuff, the “happy ending”, of yesterday’s post (read it here). I was in such a dark place when we moved to Las Vegas. I couldn’t get out of Salt Lake City fast enough. As I followed our moving truck south, I remember feeling hopeful for the first time in several years. Things would have to be different in Vegas, right? They had to be, didn’t they?

Thankfully, they were.

I wish I could say that I had an epiphany one day. I wish I could say that through Tij’s unflinching love and support I was healed. But it wasn’t that dramatic or that quick. It just kind of…happened. Allie, from hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com, said her big turning point was when she was crying on her kitchen floor and she spotted a piece of corn under her fridge and started laughing hysterically. Depression is kind of nonsensical like that. It comes, it goes, it does whatever the crap it wants.

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picture courtesy of hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

Those first few months in Vegas were like an extended vacation. My only real responsibilities were to keep the house reasonably clean and food in the fridge. I slept (real sleep, not escapist sleep) as much as I wanted. I rarely went out, preferring to lay at home, reading, watching BBC, or listening to audio-books. i detached myself from the world. It was a relief that I didn’t have to “fake” it anymore. I didn’t have to go to work with a smile on my face. I didn’t know anyone in town yet so I didn’t have to socialize and pretend like I was enjoying myself. I wore pajamas. I rarely did my makeup. I just let myself be me. No prodding, no telling myself to “get it together”, no pressuring myself to “be better”. If it didn’t sound interesting or I didn’t want to do it, I just didn’t. That included showering and cooking dinner. (Tij is obviously a very patient, kind person. He has been incredibly supportive. He’s been through a lot with me and I’m relieved he’s stuck it out. He’s just the best.)

And then we got the rats. Pets can do wonders for your mental health. (There have been studies conducted that prove that petting a dog or cat can lower your heart-rate and stress level.) At that point, I didn’t care about much in my life, but boy did I care about my girls. I could 100% be myself around them. There were days when they’d sit on the couch with me for hours while I held Netflix marathons and they didn’t judge. They just made me feel loved and didn’t ask anything of me.

And have you ever heard of SAD (seasonal affective disorder)? Some people call it the winter blues? Yeah, that’s not really a thing here in Vegas. Being able to spend time outdoors and getting back in touch with nature has been really beneficial too.

Slowly, but surely, I mended. I went from feeling miserable, to feeling ambivalent, to actually feeling contentment. I remember truly laughing at one of Tij’s jokes and he looked at me and said “I haven’t heard that in a while”. Tij and I started dating each other again. I entered the social scene, tentatively at first. I still feel like I have to keep my social schedule small to keep myself from getting overwhelmed, but I’ve made some really good, supportive friends here. I tested out old hobbies to see if I still enjoyed them. I tried to look for new hobbies, but set no expectations for myself. I looked for my happy. I tried getting to know myself again.

I am not depressed anymore. But I am on guard. I know now that I am susceptible to depression and I want to avoid going through it again at all costs. I try to exercise (endorphins), I write (vent), I get enough sleep, I try not to over-schedule myself, and I pray. But it’s an ongoing process. The bad habits of self-criticism and self-abuse remain. I still struggle to manage my stress and anxiety. I get easily tired and overwhelmed. I am doing my best to better cope with life. I know that in the future I will not be so fancy free and more responsibilities will come my way. I want to be prepared so that I can enjoy them and not just survive them. Still, I am so, so grateful for this time in Vegas where I didn’t have to work, didn’t have to worry, and just got to heal.

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picture courtesy of hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

Again, thanks for listening. Writing about my life and experiences helps me so much. It’s all part of the process. What makes you happy? Are you finding ways to relax and deal with stress? I hope so. Life is a funny thing. It should be fun too.

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Part One: Realizing You May Actually be Depressed and Not Just Sad

As I mentioned in my last post, I have struggled with depression. This is something that I have been wondering about posting, questioning if it’s too personal, but I guess I feel like I’m far enough removed from it now to talk about it. I don’t claim to know everything about depression and from people I’ve talked to, different people experience it differently. I just want to share a little bit about my own experience.

My best friend once told me that she didn’t know how depressed she was until she started feeling better and could suddenly compare how she was feeling now to how she felt before. How had she not seen it? She compared depression to blindness. It blinds you to life, to feelings, and to yourself, which makes it very hard to self-diagnose. And that’s how I feel now. Looking back, I can clearly see that things were wrong. I can see how bad things were and how miserable I was. But at the time, it just seemed sadly normal.

I read the blog Hyperbole and a Half. The author, Allie, struggled with severe depression for about 2 years and wrote about it and illustrated it on her blog. Right after Tij and I moved to Las Vegas, I re-read her experience and a light bulb went off in my head. I understood exactly what she was saying. I got it! And someone else got it too! I made Tij read it and I tried to explain to him, that that, what Allie described, was exactly how I was feeling. (I highly suggest you read it here. Even if you don’t have depression yourself, you probably know someone who does, and this post may help you understand it or relate to them better.)

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picture courtesy of hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

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picture courtesy of hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

Allie breaks up her depression into two parts. Part One was largely characterized by floods of negative emotions and abusive thought-processes including: apathy, self-loathing, bullying herself, guilt, and shame. Part Two: not caring about anything, total detachment and boredom with life (AKA: a meaningless void of nothingness). I think my experience was probably more similar to what she describes in Part One. My life turned into a ground-hog-day-like-existence of disappointment, stress, and self-loathing. I remember once hiding behind the island counter and dry heaving/sobbing as silently as I could for about 2 minutes. (I was at work, nanny-ing, and didn’t want the girls to see me.) I was just overwhelmed by a huge wave of vague, inexplicable stress and sadness. Then I took a deep breath, got up off the floor, pretended like nothing had happened and took the dog outside to play fetch. I spent a lot of my spare time sleeping as a way to cope with the fact that I absolutely hated my life. I did experience some of that detachment that Allie talks about, especially with family and friends. I think that’s part of the reason why I basically made 3 friends in the whole 2 years we were in Salt Lake. Socializing was absolutely exhausting and it didn’t make me feel any better about myself. I avoided going to ward activities. I even avoided Tij sometimes. I was hyper-critical of myself, and felt worthless, pointless, and hopeless.

And why did I feel this way? How did this happen? Depression can be caused/helped on by lots of things: certain medications, stress, genetic predispositions, chemical imbalances, etc. It’s hard to really pinpoint exact causes, but I believe mine was probably triggered by huge life changes, accompanied by no support system, and helped on by constantly high levels of stress. I got married at 19. And while I certainly don’t regret it, it was definitely difficult. I was the first of my friends and family to get married. It was incredibly isolating. At this time my parents had separated and begun a 6-year-long process of are they/aren’t they getting a divorce? My younger sister was in Hawaii, a 4-hour time zone away. I went back to university and pushed myself, going to school year-round so that I could graduate before Tij left for graduate school. I felt lost, directionless, and confused. Throw in a few crappy jobs, being close to broke, and it’s not terribly surprising I struggled. (Note: I am not blaming anyone. Not my husband, or my friends, or my family. I am simply trying to state circumstances and think things through.) Depression is tricky. It kind of just does whatever it wants. Shows up when it wants, stay as long as it wants.

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picture courtesy of hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com

If you thought this post was, well depressing, my next post is about feeling better and moving on with my life. Come back tomorrow for the second (more uplifting) part of my journey.

Thanks for listening. It is incredibly therapeutic to talk about this. And that is partly why I’m doing this. I don’t ever want to go back to that place and talking about it and understanding it is part of the process of healing, at least for me. And I dunno…maybe it can help someone else? I really feel like Allie speaking out about her depression has really helped me with mine. All I can say is, if you are struggling, ask for help. Talk to someone. Start the ball rolling. Depression may go away on its own, but it might not. And what if it gets worse? Get a support system, see a therapist, check out your medication options, center yourself spiritually, read good books, see a doctor. Just do something. Don’t suffer in silence.

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