If We Were Having Coffee…..

If we were having coffee, I would wish you a happy Pi Day! You’d probably give me a strange look and then I would change the subject by asking how you were and how your week was.

If we were having coffee, I’d say I worked a lot this week. There are several studies on the go, a grant proposal in the works, a poster to make, student posters to edit, another presentation to make and my own research on top of that. My own research always ends up being at the end of the list. Everything else has an upcoming deadline or someone else depending on it. Those ending up getting pushed forward and my research trails behind.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’ve been communicating with an industry rep this week. I contacted him about using his product in my research over a year ago. We’ve been talking on and off since. Currently, he is having trouble entering the market here and thought I’d have some insight. I am all kinds of nervous about talking to him. When I took a moment to rationalize my anxiety, I realized it was because I thought he was better than me. He is a grown up with a real job, a title, a salary and he represents a company. I always see myself as some incompetent kid, but I’m not anymore, am I? I am almost 30 and a Ph.D. candidate. I know the field, I know the right people, I understand his product, why wouldn’t he want to talk to me? I just feel like a fraud, about to be seen through at any minute.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you work has been bringing me down lately. I’m not really sure why. There are some things on the go that I like, some that I don’t. Isn’t that the way work usually goes for everyone. I’ve been trying to lift my spirits with the 30 Day Colouring Challenge hosted by The Daily Marker. Colouring always soothes me a bit. Plus, I have new Neocolors and Gelatos to play with. Today is Day 11. Here are my entries so far.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I came across a rather nice surprise yesterday. I was starting a page in my art journal, trying a new technique. This technique required me to turn my book upside down to let paint drip down the pages. When I did this, two stencils fell out! One was dragonflies (my favourite!!) and another was a bird on a branch. I knew right away who put them in there. It was my aunt. I checked and sure enough, she was guilty. The last I saw her was at the beginning of February though. That would mean they were hiding in my journal for over a month!! She’s sneaky! I never would have been able to keep quiet that long if I were her.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you another one of my friends is having a birthday this month. She lives far away and is having a really rough time. I want to do something to cheer her up a bit, but I’m not really sure what to do. I thought of sending her a care package or some happy mail, but I’m not sure what to send. It can’t cost too much and should be small to keep the shipping costs down. I tried to think of her hobbies, but she doesn’t really have any. She spends time with her family and goes to church. I was thinking of making something. Maybe some cards with inspirational quotes or some of our favourite memories. I’m just not sure. Would you enjoy getting that sort of thing in the mail? Do you have any suggestions?

(This conversational coffee post is part of a weekend link-up hosted by Part-Time Monster. Join in the fun!)

Self-esteem Challenge: Day 21

This blog challenge was developed by betterthandarkchocolate.tumblr.com. If you missed the introduction or want to see a summary of all the questions, go here.

Day 21:
When do you feel your most attractive? Why?
Name at least 5 things that you are good at.

It’s not often that I feel attractive. I guess I’d have to have just done a tough workout, had a shower, had time for my hair to dry and be dressed in clothes that fit well with makeup on. A tough workout makes my muscles feel tight and used. That creates the illusion that I am thinner, stronger and more defined than I really am. Sometimes it’s hard to make yourself take a shower, but you always feel better when you are clean. My hair has to be dry so you can see the colour, which is my best feature, I think. Good clothes and makeup just make me feel better too. They hide the flaws more and amplify the good stuff.

5 Things I am good at….I’ve been thinking about this question for a while and haven’t been able to come up with anything. I was hoping it was because I’m so tired my brain isn’t working and not because I’m not good at anything. After a nap, I tried again. To be considered good at something, you don’t have to be the best, right? I think that was getting in my way. So here are 5 things I’m good (not the best) at…

  1. Faking it. I think I’m good at putting on a show for people when I am feeling bad, physically or mentally. Most of the time people can’t tell how I really feel. I can be friendly and pleasant when all I want to do is crawl under my duvet. I can also put on a good show when I’m being eaten alive by anxiety, like a conference presentation for example. It’s exhausting, but I can do it.
  2. Making people feel comfortable. I do best with people one on one. Like I’ve said in previous posts in this challenge, I work with older adults and make them comfortable during their appointments with me. I get them talking and they are usually very appreciative. I have experience working with children too. I worked at a summer camp for 6 years. I often worked with the kids who were having trouble adjusting or causing trouble. I have an endless supply of distracting games that don’t require equipment that get kids to open up and feel more comfortable.
  3. Crafts. I like to try different things. They don’t all turn into masterpieces, but I have fun with it.
  4. Doodling. Whether I’m actually good or not is subjective, but I love to draw. I’m never without a doodle idea.
  5. Memorizing things. I haven’t had to do this for a while, but in school, I was really good at memorizing and reciting passages in English class. I have a degree in Anatomy and there’s nothing you can do there to learn but memorize the names of everything. Currently, I’m pretty good a birthdays. I remember the birthdays of kids I went to elementary school with. Kind of useless, but I’m good at it!

anatomical heart red


Sugaring Off

In Canada, you know spring has arrived when you see smoke rising from the maple wood forests. No, we aren’t burning the trees down. We’re collecting sap and boiling it to make maple syrup. It’s sugaring off season! Have you ever had real maple syrup? I don’t mean corn syrup or Aunt Jemima. I mean the real stuff… straight out of a maple tree and boiled to perfection. Once you’ve had it, there’s no going back.

Sugaring off entails going to one of the maple syrup making establishments. They aren’t factories. They are little wooden shacks in the middle of the woods. A horse and wagon ride is usually required to get you into the woods. You get a demonstration on how the sap is collected and made into syrup and the associated maple products (taffy, maple sugar, maple butter, fudge etc.) There is usually a bonfire, some folk entertainment and activities for the kids. Of course there’s lunch too….Canadian specialties accompanied by maple syrup and sugar pie for dessert. Sugar pie is basically maple fudge on a pie crust, except the fudge is the same consistency as the goo in pecan pie.You can only get sugar pie in Quebec. I’ve lived in Ontario, it’s just not the same.

This past weekend was my first sugaring off experience in a really long time. I was feeling fine when I agreed to go, but as the date approached, I began my descent into doom and gloom. I was dreading the sugaring off experience for all the usual reasons depressed people dread outings, but on top of that, an extra worry. I was going with the in-laws.

I’m very lucky. I get along quite well with my in-laws. They don’t know about my depression and anxiety problems though. My husband told me one time that his mother didn’t believe in mental illnesses like depression, so I thought it best to keep the in-laws in the dark. This can be a bit of a burden sometimes. When you are feeling this low, the last thing you want to do is put energy into hiding it. I was relieved when I awoke on the day of to find a blizzard. Maybe it would be cancelled and I could stay home. I don’t know why I thought that. This is Quebec, we don’t call in the army when it snows. We shrug and start digging!

So as I put on my blizzard gear, I went through my acting check list to make sure I was ready. I like lists, can you tell? Here’s my strategy for faking it when I need to.

  1. I smile. I hide behind a smile when I don’t want people to know how I am really feeling. I usually don’t feel like smiling. I try to have a joke or something in my head that I can’t help but smile a little. Lately I’ve been singing the Lego Movie song, it works well for me. “Everything is awesome…” I didn’t have to sing in the end, I was so bundled up that you couldn’t tell if I was smiling or not! Score!
  2. I redirect the conversation. If someone asks how I am, I say fine and then switch the conversation to something about them. Something more than how are you. I ask about their work or their kids for example. People like to talk about themselves. They never notice that I’ve redirected the conversation.
  3. I try to look healthy. I slap on a little tinted moisturizer and some foundation to cover the darkness under my eyes and I’m good to go. There is nothing like a pale face or bags under your eyes to make people ask questions. I imagine doing this would be easier for women. For guys, or at least the ones that don’t wear make-up, there is a little more preparation involved. I would make sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before and stay hydrated. This keeps you looking fresh.
  4. I like to have support. I told my husband how I was feeling. Having someone know was a relief on its own. Throughout the day he would send me little smiles and put his arm around me. It made it easier knowing he was there to back me up.
  5. I don’t give details. I say I’m just not feeling right if someone asks why I am quieter than usual or something. Giving details leads to thinking, which usually leads to tears. Never a good thing when you are trying to hide it.
  6. I give myself a break. It’s okay not to be the life of the party or hide it perfectly. I’m participating, I didn’t flake despite really wanting to. I have to give myself a little pat on the back for that.

I’m Fine.

Do you hide behind “I’m fine.”? I do. Four days without medication. This pretty much sums it up today.

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