A Practical Guide to Worrying

When I was young, I used to worry about high school. My brother is four years older than I am, and he used to delight in showing me his math homework, telling me, “one day you will have to do this. Doesn’t it look fun”?

The thing is, I liked math. But his homework never looked fun. Probably because it was shrouded in fear for me, but who can really say.

When we “see” the future, we don’t tend to give ourselves any kind of context. I imagined being four years older, doing my brother’s math homework, with no further training than where I was at in that moment, completely forgetting that my brother was in my exact same place four years before. His homework would have terrified him, too!

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The hard things I have been through in life, for the most part, have not exactly turned out to be the things I worried about. And if they were, they weren’t exactly as I imagined them to be.

As it turns out, I am terrible at predictions.

And the hard things I have faced? I have made it through them all alive. The truth about hard things is that in our minds, they are monsters in our closets. In reality, when we are forced to confront them, we don’t always see them for what they are (things we should have been worrying about)–we just face them. Because in that moment, the time has passed for worry.

When we first found out I was pregnant, I spent a good amount of those first few weeks worrying that something would go wrong. I didn’t let myself get truly excited, because what if the worst happened? What if the baby died, what if the fetus didn’t develop properly because of something I did, what if, what if, what if.

The only way to truly be effective in our worrying–to make it worth our while–is to be more thorough in our worry. After a few weeks of worrying about my pregnancy, I realized something: If I am going to really do this worrying thing the right way, I shouldn’t limit myself to worrying only about the life of this child inside my womb. What about when/if it comes out? My newborn could die in his/her sleep. My baby could be hit by a car. It could be deathly allergic to strawberries, it could be kidnapped, it could die of the flu, it could be bullied, or emotionally damaged by something I said, or eaten by a tiger at the zoo. Eric could die, I could die, the child could be an orphan, the child could be teased for not being athletic, or for not being very smart.

It took me a while, but I plainly saw that I wasn’t worrying about enough. There is always so much more to worry about. How will we ever worry enough? What if we forget something that needs to be worried about?

So we should ask ourselves, when we are worrying about one small, solitary thing: what else could we add to our list of worries? And after a few moments, when we realize that we can never possibly worry about enough, we should work ourselves into a tizzy and ignore the things around us that need to be taken care of. We should worry until we can worry no more, and collapse into a state of worried panic. How useful we will be in that state!

Our only other option, if we decide not to worry about everything, is to worry about nothing.

That is the only logical alternative. If we are capable of worrying about everything, and are able to do something about all of our worries, then by all means let us spend our hours worrying. But if we are not capable of worrying about everything that needs to be worried about, then we should not worry about anything. Because it is entirely pointless.

So, to sum up this practical guide to worrying, we can be productive in our worries in only two ways: by worrying about absolutely everything (and not forgetting anything!), or by worrying about nothing, and simply deciding to face whatever trials come before us with courage. When it comes to worrying, it is all or nothing. We either have complete control, or we don’t. We must choose to act accordingly.

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P.S. Two more guides:

A practical guide to jealousy

How to Keep Your Heart Intact

Favorite Finds

Well hello, and happy Friday! I haven’t done a Favorite Finds post in a while, so I have a lot to say about the material things I am loving right now. Keep reading if you want to know what drink is making me feel like superwoman these days, what old school electronic is floating my boat, and what is helping me stay in shape during my second trimester.favorite finds

1) I am loving this sweet almond oil for my dry winter hands and face. It also feels lovely on my growing baby belly, and I’m hoping it helps ward off stretch marks in the coming weeks! I have always loved coconut oil for moisturizing, but its one and only drawback is that it doesn’t absorb quickly. It is great for wearing to bed, but not as great as a heavy-duty moisturizer before applying makeup. I find almond oil to absorb a little better. Coconut oil, you are still my favorite!

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2) I keep having to remind myself that I am basically training for a marathon with this whole giving birth to a human being thing that is apparently happening to me whether I like it or not in a few months. I have always enjoyed exercising, to an extent, but knowing that I am working toward something tangible (a human being coming out of my body… eeeeeh), I have found a little extra motivation to work out these days. I have been sticking with walking, yoga, squats, and using this mini trampoline. Nothing too crazy.

Jumping on the ground is not recommended for pregnant women, but jumping lightly on a mini trampoline is fantastic for many reasons. I used to jump more vigorously before I was pregnant (and before I knew I was pregnant…oops), and it is just so much fun! Now, I barely lift my feet off the mat, and focus on pushing my weight downward to build muscle. It is so relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time, especially with dance music. I try to jump for at least ten minutes every day before the rest of my workout.

(p.s. The one I linked to is the one I use. It is a little pricier, but I don’t pay for a gym membership, or buy fancy exercise equipment, so it is totally worth it! If you are interested in the benefits of jumping on a trampoline, google “health benefits of rebounding” and be amazed.)

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3) If you follow me on instagram, you may have picked up on the fact that I am in love with kefir. My mom made me try it when I was visiting from DC this past summer, and since we moved here, she has shared her starter with me and I am officially an addict. Have you tried it? It’s basically fermented milk that is loaded with probiotics. Sounds delicious, right? I know it doesn’t. But blended with fruit and honey, it becomes a thing transformed. And I can’t get enough. Along with a million probiotics, it also produces serotonin and makes you feel amazing. And I do. I feel amazing. I plan on dedicating an entire post to kefir soon. Get excited!!

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4) In college, my sisters and I lived in a house together, and we used the extra bedroom as a dance room. It had wood floors, awesome acoustics, and a killer stereo system that was older than us. Sure, we used ipods or whatever, but my favorite thing about it was my record player. A few weeks ago, I dug it out of my old bedroom at my parents’ house, and hooked it up in our living room. Most listened to record? Handel’s Messiah. I’m working on growing my ’70s rock collection, but right now I am content listening to Messiah on repeat. It’s just the most beautiful piece of music my ears have ever absorbed.

I am also re-reading parts of this book, which made me love Messiah even more a few years ago. If you enjoy Handel’s Messiah, or music history, I highly recommend it. Or, if you don’t love Messiah, but want to love Messiah, this book will help you out.


I’ll leave it at that before I get too carried away. As Christmas approaches, I grow wary of sharing links to things that cost money on my blog because I know how old “must buy this season!!” posts can get this time of year. Forgive me if I include links in the next 30 days, but I’ll try to limit them to things that absolutely-must-be-shared-or-else.

Have a wonderful weekend! And as always, I would love it if you shared what you are loving right now in the comments, as well as a link to your favorite blog post you wrote this week (or this month…whatever). Tis the season for sharing. Well, almost.

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Two Things That Made Me Cry Last Week

I’ve never really been the crying type. I like to be in control of my emotions, and reserve tears for times when they are totally warranted. And then I became pregnant. Despite my best efforts, sometimes pregnancy has a way of making a fool out of you.

So just for fun and because I am learning to embrace new emotions, I am going to list the two things that have made me cry this past week.

 1) A commercial about a rejected idea. A real tear-jerker. Watch at your own risk.

This commercial is probably the saddest thing I have seen to date. What is so sad about it is that it “supposedly” has a “happy” “ending”, but really, all the brilliant idea gets for all his heartache is BRIGHTLY COLORED TAIL FEATHERS. Has a minor cosmetic improvement ever made up for a lifetime of societal rejection? It is so tragic on so many levels.

 2) The birth of my newest niece, Penny

More specifically, I shed a tear or two while standing outside of my youngest sister’s hospital room while she literally pushed life into the world and the first gasps of air, followed by crying, could be heard from an adorable newborn baby girl on the other side of that door. Her name is Penny Eve, and we are obsessed with her.

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It wasn’t a surprise to any of us that Penny was born with a head of hair ready to be styled and trimmed (just look at her mom).

Side note, for just a few weeks, my sister-in-law, sister, and I were all pregnant at the same time. Here is a picture of Sally and I a few weeks ago. It was fun being pregnant together for four months, Sally!

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So there we have it: sad (pathetic) tears, and happy tears. Tell me, what commercials tug at your heart strings? Or do you have another weakness?

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Creating a Creative Routine

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I can’t technically say that I am working from home, because I think that implies I am earning a salary. But, I am currently working from home (unpaid) as I work on a few projects that will hopefully allow me to work from home (paid) in the future! That makes perfect sense, right?

For the past couple of months, I have been trying to figure out a good work-from-home routine. And it has been challenging. But, after a lot of reading and listening and experimentation, there are a few things I have found to work for me so far. I am still doing a lot of tweaking. But it’s progress.

1) Listening to podcasts

I work better when I have other people around me to bounce ideas off with. While I enjoy solitude for certain types of work (editing, for example), other times I would prefer noise and voices around me. To counteract the silence of my home during the day, I started listening to podcasts. Specifically, podcasts about creativity, writing, and blogging. It is such a jump start for me and always gets ideas flowing in my brain. Two of my favorites right now are How They Blog and The Accidental Creative.

Listening to interviews with all kinds of people on all kinds of topics is helpful for me. Even if someone just says one thing that you can grab onto and glean inspiration from. It is helpful for me to feel like I am surrounded by chatty, creative people.

I also try to use the listening time to work on sketches for blog posts. Podcast time feels so productive! When my sisters and I were younger, we would sprawl out on the floor and draw for hours while listening to cassette tapes. It was so therapeutic, I wanted to incorporate it into my adult life. I find listening to pod casts the perfect time to sketch mindlessly. In fact, I drew the illustration above while listening to a podcast. There is something about listening and drawing that removes the pressure of perfection. I think listening helps remove the distractions of the left side of the brain (logic and reason) and allows creativity to flow freely.

2) Utilizing the time of day to my advantage

I am usually tempted to do easy work when I first open my laptop in the morning: final editing, responding to emails, or responding to blog comments. But some of the best advice I have read from people who work at home is to know when you are most creative, and use that knowledge to your advantage.

For me, I am a morning person, and do my best creative work first thing in the morning. I do my best editing in the afternoon/early evening. I am toast late at night. I know that about myself, so I fight the urge to reply to emails first thing in the morning (even though that feels so productive!), and save it for when I need a little bit of a mental break. I have learned that if I save my hardest creative work (writing, for example) for later in the day, I lose my momentum pretty early on.

3) Setting a timer

You have probably heard this tip: for the work that feels overwhelming, that you are dreading, set a timer for 15 minutes and see how much you can get done. Tell yourself that all you have to do is work for 15 minutes! That’s it!

Setting a timer is something I need to do more often. It is a perfect method for me. I tend to put off things that overwhelm me, because I just know they are going to take up so much of my precious time. That stupid 15 minute timer has proven to me that my internal thoughts are all lies. It’s pretty humbling, that stupid little timer. Do you know how much you can get done in 15 minutes? A lot. And do you know how much you can get done after the timer goes off, and you ride with the momentum? Even more.

If you have never tried it, I highly recommend it.

4) Making lists

In order to avoid getting lost in an internet rabbit hole of things that are most likely interesting but entirely irrelevant, I have to make lists to stay on task. Even if it is just a short, broad list of the main things I want to accomplish that day.

I keep a little moleskine notebook full of daily lists, so I can look back on my previous lists and remember that I do actually accomplish things. I also keep another notebook near by for writing down ideas that I don’t want to forget, but could potentially be distracting if I focused on them in that moment.

5) Taking breaks

I am really good at getting distracted, but not so good at deliberately taking breaks. I can easily work for four hours straight without realizing I haven’t eaten or moved my muscles. I try to take frequent breaks now, and have made it a habit to shut down all work when I feel burnt out. And if I am still going strong by the time Eric gets home, I make myself put it all away. I need those evening hours to reboot and get away from the screen.

So those are the five things I am learning right now. I am still getting the hang of everything, and there is room for improvement of course, but I think I am off to a good start.

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What about you? Do you work from home? Or at least, set aside time for creative work outside of your “real” job? How do you stay productive and inspired? What works for you? What podcasts do you love? Please share!