• THE NEW NORMAL

    It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on my blog, and although I do want to return to regularly scheduled programming soon, I felt the need to address my absence. Not because I think anyone cares or noticed, but because it would have felt weird for me to continue on as though everything was normal, as though everything was the same as before.

    Normal is an odd concept.

    Society thinks that it’s common sense, that’s it’s fact. That it’s always been and will be always be. But the truth is it changes constantly. It’s relative. It depends on the year, the location, the country, the culture, the family. Everything changes. Society changes. Normal changes. In the personal sphere, normal is what’s known, what’s comfortable. What we do everyday. Normal life. But normal changes. Sometimes it’s expected, it’s slow, it’s predictable. But sometimes it’s none of those things. Sometimes things change so quickly it causes whiplash. Suddenly you’re plunged into the unknown, the new. Abnormal life.

    But that’s the funny thing, it may seem abnormal at first. It may seem so foreign and strange. But soon it simply stops. It stops being foreign and strange. Soon it becomes everyday life. And it’ll surprise you how fast that happens, how quickly it all becomes normal: going in and out of hospitals to visit, talking about insurance, joking with the guy in the opposite bed about cancer after finding out that he had the same type several years ago. It’s now the new normal. Things have changed, and not the slow gradual change that most of us experience throughout our entire lives. This had been sudden. A sudden new normal.

    That is not necessarily a bad thing. You learn things; you learn about yourself, about life, about the people around you. You figure out what this new normal looks like; what you look like in this new normal. And thankfully in this situation, things may eventually go back to being, for the most part, like they were before. We may need to make a few adjusts, but at the end of the day we’ll have the same laughs, watch the same quiz shows together, argue the same petty things. No matter what happens, it’ll become normal. It always does.

    I’m sorry this post has been vague, but it’s not my story to tell. I just wanted to get this off my chest before starting to post again. As I said, regularly scheduled programming will resume soon.

    Jane x

  • SUMMER IS COMING

     

    Okay, I know everyone loves summer. The longer days, the sunshine, the heat. But I’m not convinced… For starters, I’m Irish. Do you see how pale I am? I was not made for the hot weather. I can only last about 10 minutes in the sun before it really starts to affect me. I actually don’t burn burn as quickly as you would think, unless I’m around water, but I get headaches and sunstroke symptoms pretty quickly. My eyes are also super light sensitive which doesn’t help anything. And my hands swell up pretty bad in the heat and that can get painful. I told ya, clearly not made for the hot weather.

    All of this gives me a lot of anxiety around summer. I want to love the nice weather, experience it the way other people do, but my body just doesn’t process the heat well so it’s harder for me to enjoy it. I get nervous about doing things outdoors because I know I’m going to over-heat and feel sick. But there’s another reason that summer gives me anxiety. I’m just not happy with my body. I want to be. I’m working on it. But I struggle with how to dress for the heat and feel comfortable. I spent all of last summer trying to figure it out but honestly I just feel so gross all the time. I get sweaty so easily and my thighs rub together which is one of the most painful things to experience.  There’s so many cute summer clothes our there but I know I would just feel horrible in them.

    But I’m trying to be optimistic about it, focus on what I know I like. For example, I love wearing my Birkenstocks. I like wearing flowy dresses with compression shorts underneath to prevent “chub rub”, so that’s what I’m going to look for. Hopefully by focusing on the positives, I can find ways to make myself more comfortable and relieve  some of my anxiety, while also working on how I feel about my body. Sounds easy, right? Urrrggghhhh…. Wish me luck!

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    Jane x

  • ALL ABOUT BED OF NAILS ACUPRESSURE MATS

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    I know the spikes look scary. They look like they hurt. And they do, a little bit. But you do get used to it very quickly, I promise. You can always put a layer of fabric between you and the spikes to ease yourself into it if you want. But honestly, I don’t think it’s necessary. I wouldn’t say I have the biggest pain threshold and I can handle it. Now that that’s out of the way….

    What are acupressure mats and how do they work?

    The mat is based on the theory that the body is lined with pressure points which, when stimulated, release the body’s natural pain-relieving hormones, similar to acupuncture but this doesn’t involve breaking the skin. The idea for the mat comes from the bed of nails concept which originated in Asia over 1,000 years ago and was used by gurus in the practice of meditation and healing. These gurus would lie on sharp metal nails with heavy blocks stacked on top of them and while this idea can be a bit shocking, it’s not as painful as it may seem as the weight of the body and the blocks is distributed evenly across the nails. The same is true of this modern day equivalent, which is made up of a thin foam mattress with more than 8,000 non-toxic plastic spikes, harmless to the skin, but boosts the same numerous healing benefits, inducing deep relaxation.

    In fact, the Bed of Nails website states that if used regularly for a long enough period of time their products can:

    • Improve circulation
    • Increase energy level
    • Reduce blood pressure
    • Reduce stress and anxiety
    • Alleviate headache
    • Relieve tension and muscle aches
    • Improve sleep and relieve insomnia
    • Relieve chronic neck and back pain
    • Activate the parasympathetic nervous system
    • Benefit weight loss by reducing cortisol levels
    • Improve heart rate variability
    • Revitalize and rejuvenate
    • Improve skin complexion
    • Relieve constipation
    • Alleviate malaise

    That’s a hell of a lot of benefits. I haven’t used my consistently enough to see all of them, but I’ve found even occasional use can help. I got my mat over a year ago because I was having trouble sleeping. I’ve had sleeping problems on and off for years, so I’m always looking for things that can help. And this definitely helped. It’s a weird sensation at first, not quite painful but you can feel the spikes. After a few minutes though, I always start to relax. I would love to be someone who meditated but I struggle with being able to shut off, however this mat helps me feel more at peace and allows me to just lie still for a while.

    After about 10 minutes, I can feel my circulation start to increase as my back starts to heat up. Honestly, the experience is hard to describe but I really enjoy it. Although the sensation when you sit up after lying on it for a while is so bizarre. I’m still not sure if I love it or hate it; it’s pain and pleasure all in one! Speaking of pain, I’ve also found the mat really helps when I have a sore back. My boyfriend’s job involves manual labor and he’s also used it to help reduce tension and pain in his muscles.

    I only recently purchased the neck pillow because I’ve been experiencing pain and stiffness in my neck but I hate massages (weird, I know…). After using it 3 tries, I’ve already noticed a difference. I really do want to start using both the pillow and the mat as frequently as possible because I don’t doubt that their products can produce all of those benefits they state on their website.

    Note: Both my pillow and mat are from the company Bed of Nails. I haven’t done a ton of research but I think you can find cheaper options out there, I just like the quality of their products.

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    Jane x

  • MY SCRAPBOOK

    I’ve always loved the idea of scrapbooking. I literally have boxes of tickets and other mementos at home. I have such a terrible memory so I think that’s part of the appeal, I’m just drawn towards different ways to keep records of events and things that happen to me because I know I can’t rely on my own mind. The problem is, I also love crafting so I always get carried away and in the past, I’ve spent over a week working on the first 2 pages of a scrapbook before getting distracted and not continuing it.

    However, I was really inspired by Gabriella Lindley’s (VelvetGh0st) scrapbook, which was mainly pictures.  It wasn’t as detailed as the ones you see on Pinterest but it was something I felt was achievable. Last year was pretty crazy for me; I moved to another continent and did lots of fun new things, so I decided to back track quite a bit and make a scrapbook for all of 2016 using the photo stream on my phone as a guide.

    I order a bunch of photos from here and sorted out all the mementos I had. I bought a black paper sketch pad (here) and a silver gel pen (here) from Amazon. I also used multiple glue sticks, super-glue and the label maker my boyfriend got me for Christmas (here). I love scrapbook paper and washi tape but I knew if I started down that rabbit hole, I would never get it finished.  It still did take me a bit of time but I’m pretty proud that I managed to complete it.

    PLAYING AROUND WITH LAYOUTS

    When I printed my photos from the Social Print Studios website, I got 5 different types that they offer: Mightly photos, Miniprints – Rectangular layout, Miniprints – Square layout (these are the ones that look like polaroids)  and Squares. I tried to play around with different layouts, some pages have a lot going on, some are more simple. I dedicated multiple pages to bigger events, but put multiple smaller fun times on the same page. I used my label maker to make headings for different events and used the silver gel pen to write little things to explain the photos. I wanted someone who wasn’t me to be able to look at my scrapbook and know what had happened to me.

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    KEEPSAKES

    I also tried to add texture by adding all the little mementos I collected through-out the year. Tickets are the easiest thing to keep but there’s a lot more you can add into the mix.

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    Lanyard from a work conference

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    I cut out different parts of the ferry schedule pamphlet and added a picture of us on the boat.

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    While we were in the metro parks one day, my boyfriend picked this flower and gave it to me. I pressed it for a few months so I could keep it.

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    My cousin, my boyfriend and I won tickets to a Cavaliers game, so I included the tickets as well as our winning raffle ticket.

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    During the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 NBA Champions parade they shot confetti everywhere and I saved a few pieces.

    INTERACTIVE ELEMENTS

    I added some interactive elements, different cards and things like that so that there was some fun movement in the scrapbook.

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    A Thank You card from a friend

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    Map from the hotel I stayed at in Florida

    CAPTURING A FEELING

    As well as capturing the big things that happened, I wanted to capture the atmosphere and the feelings I had as well. This proved to be a bit difficult but I played around with a few ideas. I think if I want make another scrapbook for this year, I need to make a conscious effort to photograph the little things around me.

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    I included a page showing some of the little Christmas details around our apartment to remind me of that time.

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    Unfortunately, my cousin had a miscarriage on Christmas Day. Everything else in my scrapbook is about happy times and I did struggle with whether or not to include bad things that had happened. This had a big impact on me and my family, and I wanted to make sure the baby was remembered so I decided I had to include it. 

    Jane x

  • FOCUS ON THE LIGHT

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    I’ve been struggling with anxiety the past few weeks. It ebbs and flows but it’s seems to be always there these days, lurking in the background or banging against my rib cage. I’ve had anxiety issues for years, that’s nothing new. But it seems like every time it gets a bit better, my brain magically forgets what it’s like when it’s bad. And then it gets bad again and I feel just as helpless as I did when it first started. I have to learn all over again how to manage it. There isn’t one cause to my anxiety, but I guess that’s normal. I just feel over-whelmed with everything and it all just keeps coming. But I’m going to try to focus on the positive, focus on the light. Because really what else is there to do. With anxiety, it’s often sink or swim, and even though it feels like swimming against the current nearly of the time, that’s the only choice.

    In an effort to shake myself out of this feeling, I’ve been trying to experiment with my style. I love clothes, I love style, so it’s a good thing to use to distract myself. Focus on things you like, focus on the light. I was really attached to my skinny jeans for a long time but last year, I found the Kimmi boyfriend jeans on ASOS and they changed everything. They’re comfy and super flattering. I do find that the different denims they come in changes the fit and style a bit; the black ones are a little stiffer (I sent them back) and the 2 pairs of blue ones I owe have a slightly different fit. However, they are so much more comfortable than skinny jeans and I really like the way they fit.

    This top is also from ASOS, the ASOS WHITE collection to be exact. I wear it a lot with black skinny jeans to work but thought I would try give it a different feel. My Doc Martens are new but I’ve been loving them (they’re the vegan ones). I like the juxtaposition between the top and the bottom of the outfit. It’s a bit unexpected. It’s hard for me to wear a baggy top and baggy jeans, I love the oversized look on other people but on myself I find it difficult to make it work. I also just end up feeling a million times bigger than I normally do. But it’s fun to experiment and figure out what could work for me.

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    Jane x

  • CHRISTMAS DECOR IDEAS

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    I love Christmas. I love the cold, the magic, the hot chocolate. I know people hate it, but I feel more myself in the dark sparkly cold winter months than in the sweaty hot disgustingly sunny summer days. However, this year is the first that I wouldn’t spend Christmas in Ireland with my parents. I know Christmas in Ohio won’t be bad, there’s even a chance it’ll actually be white. But it won’t be the same. So  I’ve tried to surround myself with lots of holiday cheer. Little pieces of magic that bring a smile to my face to distract me from the longing I have to book a flight and run home to snuggle with my doggies.

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    I put lights up around the top of my apartment the week we moved it (and by ‘I’ I obviously mean my boyfriend). I love fairy lights, they just make any room better. So in the run up to Christmas, we added red tinsel all the way around the ceiling where the lights are and some silver baubles (which match our tree) on our green accent wall. Nearly all our decorations are from the Dollar Store or Family Dollar, by the way.  Cheap and cheerful!

    Little Touches
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    I didn’t realise how much I loved flowers until I had my own apartment. I get annoyed at how expensive they are and I get sad when they die but for some reason, I still love having them in our apartment. And I’m enjoying incorporating Christmas colours into my blooming choices. I popped some Nutcrackers (again from the Dollar Store) in front of my potted Poinsettias and voila! Instant Christmas vibes. We also used command hooks to put some special Christmas ornaments on the wall by the door, just because I did’t want them to get lost in the tree. We also have little ornaments on every door handle in our apartment, like the little Santa pictured above.

    Sidetone – also important at the holiday season: candles. Remember, ABLC. Always be lighting candles.

    The Tree
    img_6144Ahhh the tree, the pièce de résistance. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but our tree is beautiful. Most of the ornaments came from the dollar store and I think it still looks fabulous. I have to give credit where credit is due, my boyfriend did a great job of arranging the baubles and lights and tinsel, while I instructed him on what worked and what else was needed. I’ve never picked out a theme for a tree. At home we use the ornaments that have been collected over the years, most of which don’t match. So suddenly standing in the Dollar Store faced with different options, I felt very overwhelmed. I decided on red because the ornaments didn’t look as cheap and we have a lot of red accents in our apartment already. Plus I thought it would look good against the green tree. Then we went with silver to compliment it. We bought a silver multiply pack of ornaments, which came with dark silver and a few goldy silver ornament too. I think these helped to bring some colour and dimension to our tree. We also added some candy canes cause tis the season and all. Now we just need a tree topper… oppsss…

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    Jane x

  • Cope-plaining

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    I can hear myself complaining all the time; hear myself spew negativity. I can feel myself trying to mask the disdain in my voice when I talk about the US, and I remind myself constantly that I need to stop romanticizing Ireland in my mind. Some people are intrigued; intrigued by other countries, other ways of life. This is all they know. They want to hear about how different the US is. But I’m sure even that has it’s limits.

    I make fun of myself for doing it.  I know it’s annoying.  But it seems like people just accept the way things are here, that’s why they don’t complain. I realise that that’s probably one of the main reasons I do it. If I don’t complain, I accept it, then it becomes normal and Ireland starts to feel further and further away.  This becomes my home.  And it is, to a degree, my home for now.  But it’s not who I am or where I’m from.  So I complain as a coping mechanism, to remind myself of Ireland and remind myself that I don’t belong here. As a coping mechanism, it’s self-destructive. It’s not healthy but it’s a double edged sword.  In one way, it reminds me that I’m not stuck here, that I don’t belong. That this is just an experience and it won’t last forever. But it also reminds me that I don’t belong, that I’m not a part of this place, that I’m by myself. I only really have me. Sure, there are people around me to help if I need it, but they don’t really understand where I’m coming from. They don’t know how strange this place is for me. They don’t know Ireland.

  • Planned Parenthood

    Driving there, I felt alone. I wasn’t sure why, I’ve always been independent. I’ve always done things by myself, for myself. But I felt lost. He said he wanted me to feel comfortable with my decision. But that was the problem, I wasn’t comfortable with any decision. I don’t want to go on the pill but I also didn’t want to not be on it. I was scared of what would happen to my body that was outside of my control, no matter what I decided to do. There was no real choice, it was the lesser of two evils. He had been supportive and inquisitive. I didn’t remind him I was going and he didn’t text me about it, before or after. Nobody wanted to tell me what to do with my body and I didn’t want them too. But that was a lonely place to be; I was the only one struggling. I was the only one unsure and torn and sad and confused and frustrated. I know other woman felt this way but even people who had been in this situation couldn’t make any decisions for me. In reality, I knew I didn’t have a decision. I had to be on birth control if I was going to have sex. That was that. But that was a hard pill to swallow and I was going to take it alone.

    EDIT:

    These t-shirts are great and 25% of the profits go to Planned Parenthood.

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  • Closer To My Roots

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    My favourite thing about Cleveland is the Metroparks.  I will actually choose the longer route to and from work most days so I can drive through them.  Everything is starting to turn green and bloom at the moment and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I don’t know why, I’m not a super ‘outdoorsy’  person.  I can’t only handle being in the sun for more than about 2 minutes before I need to crawl into the nearest hole and hibernate. My mum calls me a mushroom because I spend too much time indoors.  The other day, I was at my cousin’s track meet and I had to hide from the sun under an umbrella. Yup, I was that person.

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    But there’s something about the leaves and the branches and that speckled sun light… I grew up going on hikes with my Mum. She grew up in the Dublin mountains and the little cuts she got falling out of those trees turned into scars. She can’t escape it, the rivers and the plants fueled her as a child and shaped her into the adult she is today. She’s a hippie.  Not the tie-dye-wearing, incense-burning wannabe type, it’s just who she is.  Well that particular apple didn’t fall too far from the literal tree. Being surrounded by trees makes me feel at peace and my Mum is probably the reason that I love pretentious quotes like this:

    ‘By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance of our schemes. They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us’ – Robert Macfarlane

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    Anna Saccone-Joly necklace available here!

    So I’ll drive an extra 10 minutes so I can feel modest. So I can feel all warm and fuzzy inside, feel closer to my roots and closer to who I am.

  • Timing is Everything

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    Timing is everything. The moment. The regret. When to act and when not to act, it’s a game of chance. So many variables that you don’t know and have no control over. Should you do it? Why didn’t you do it? Not enough time to think anything through. People everywhere. Stay cool. Stay within the lines. Follow the crowd. Be respectful. But, but, if only.

    Okay live and learn. Let it sink in. Let yourself feel the regret. Make note of what you’re going to do the next time. And move on. Embrace time, while embracing the lesson. Let the two intertwine, and be a little bit more of who you want to be at this time tomorrow. Because timing is everything.