Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Someday is Today: Clearer skin update

It's been two weeks since I shared my plan for clearer skin and I thought now would be a good point to evaluate how I'm doing.

I've been following my plan closely and continue to be pretty happy with the results so far. Thanks to exfoliating often, I have far fewer blackheads. I still have more than I'd like though, so I think it's time I tried something different. I'm seriously considering trying a baking soda scrub tonight instead of using my usual scrub.

Last week, I had a few large, unsightly pimples crop up that ticked me off to no end. Luckily, they didn't stick around for very long. I'm thinking/hoping that stress may have triggered these guys to make an appearance since the last few weeks have been a bit stressful. If I notice more large pimples in the future, I'm considering buying a lower percentage benzoyl peroxide cream to apply as a preventative to areas where pimples tend to crop up the most, as per acne.org's recommendation.

Moving forward, I want to continue to focus on my jawline since I'm still experiencing more blemishes than I'd like around this area in particular. Additionally, for the past couple of summers, I've been experiencing what I think is heat rash mixed with dry skin spots around my neck and chest area. I want to give these areas some extra attention to help clear up these spots. I'm going to try to apply lotion more often to see if that'll help. If that doesn't seem to do the trick, I'll probably give some aloe vera a shot.

Speaking of aloe vera, I went to the beach on Sunday and got some pretty bad sunburn on my shoulders. I should get a bottle just for that alone.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Waiting is the hardest part

by CmdrFire via Flickr
As I've mentioned previously, I am searching for a new job. I've been seriously searching since May, when I finished my masters. I haven't felt super pressured to find a new job immediately because I currently have a stable, full-time library assistant job. As I also mentioned previously, however, I'm getting rather sick of feeling stuck in an in between phase. I know in the grand scheme of things, an almost 3 month job search is not a very long one, considering the state of the economy and the state of librarianship, but I can't help but feel desperation growing inside of me.

It's not that I've been getting rejection letters. Since the start of my search, I've had one interview and two rejections. All of the other jobs have either just closed or are still posted and accepting applications. I can handle being turned down, but this not knowing is killing me.

I'm starting to reach a point where I'm considering some alternatives that I hadn't considered before. I could stay in the area and get a part time job at another local library or bookstore where I could work nights and on my days off so that I would be able to afford an apartment and student loan payments. Or I could apply for a better paying staff position outside of the area and get a part time job for night and weekend work if it doesn't pay enough.

I think what I'll do is wait until the new school year begins to shift into this desperation mode. Since many of the places I've applied to are universities, they are most likely looking to hire by or near the start the fall semester. If I don't hear more from potential employers by then, I think I'll let my nerves and anxiety get the best of me and start taking more drastic measures.

If you're also in libraryland, does this sound like a reasonable plan to you? How long was your job search?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Finding hope

by Moyan_Brenn via Flickr
I have been, rather slowly, reading What is the What by Dave Eggers the last few weeks and came across a wonderful quote:

"But without [my friend], I would have forgotten that I had not been born on this journey. That I had lived before this."

The book is about a man who had to flee his village in Sudan when he was a child and walk hundreds of miles with gunmen and hungry animals at his heels to find freedom (more info). Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges in front of him, he was able to find comfort in friendship.

Whatever you're going through, try to surround yourself with reminders that help you remember that whatever challenges you're presently facing, you have not always faced them or, if you have, that you not always will. Most of our problems in life are temporary. If we keep that simple fact in mind, the problems will shrink and seem less daunting. Just as life has gone on in the past, it will continue to go on in the future. The present is not the whole picture.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer blues

It must be a relic from my schooldays, but every summer, I fear that I am not embracing the season enough. When summer vacations used to be clearly delimitated by the end of one school year and the start of the next, there was a pressure to squeeze as much fun and relaxation out of everyday you didn't have to spend at school. I don't know about you, but I still feel this pressure at the start of every summer even though I have to go to work as if there were no such thing as a summer break.

These days, this anxiety usually springs up around mid-July, even though summer has clearly already been in full swing for a month or so. I think I live in denial during most of June, alternatively thinking that it doesn't matter that it's summer, it can't possibly be summer yet, or I'll have plenty of time to enjoy the weather. July tells me what's what though and then I start to scramble, trying to take road trips, sunbath, swim, and socialize.

This year is no different, yet it's entirely different. I still feel this rush to do summer things, yet I feel as though I can't really do them. The weather hasn't been helping this feeling: it's either been way too hot to stick even a toe outside or thunderstorming like you wouldn't believe. The main culprit for this apprehension though is the in between phase I've been in since May.

Since I moved to my dad's, I feel as though my life has been stuck on pause. I'm waiting and waiting for the job interviews to roll in and for me to figure out the next stage of my life. I feel as though I can't make extensive plans since I don't know when I'll get a call to come in for an interview or where I'll be living the next month or two. I'm a planner by nature, so this not knowing and up in the air feeling do not sit well with me. I want to know and I want to know now. Add this to the facts that I now live in a different town than my friends and boyfriend and I'm reliant on another person's schedule for my car pool to and from work most days, and it feels like I'm just going through the motions.

I love summer and all of the opportunities it presents. I keep trying to remind myself not to take this all too seriously or I really will miss out on all of the fun. I have to take what I can, when I can get it. Even though I can't make elaborate plans, I can find new places to explore and visit places nearby. I have to remember that it's not all or nothing, it's what I make of it. If I purposefully plan to squeeze sun into my day, I will no doubt feel better than if I didn't make an attempt at all.

This afternoon I sat outside and read during my lunch break so that I could get a taste of the beautiful weather. I feel better already.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Don't go chasing waterfalls

Last week, I got the itch to go swimming, but not in a swimming pool. I wanted to go for a dip in a river or lake; something scenic and semi-rustic. Richmond has the James River running through it, but I am not brave enough to put anything past my knees into that water. The city's sewage often gets dumped into the James and I know of and have heard so many stories about people getting sick from swimming in the river. Also, on hots days, masses of people flock to the banks of the James and I wasn't really feeling up to dealing with a mob of strangers when I just wanted to relax.

I took to Google to see where I could find a nearby body of water to swim in. After some hunting, I came across a waterfall that was a little over an hour away: Nottoway Falls. I had never heard of it before and the thought of a waterfall was more appealing than a simple lake or river. I convinced the boyfriend to take the trip with me and we headed to Crewe, VA on our adventure.

We found the river with no problem and parked at the boat launch. The path to the waterfall was not marked, but it didn't take long for us to find it and trek past the dam. After a few more minutes walking the path and brushing aside cobwebs, it branched off to the river bank. What lay before us were the falls or, more accurately, what should have been the falls. Large, smooth shelves of dry rocks with a stream and small pools of water greeted us instead. The waterfall was mostly dried up.

Despite the disappointment, we sat on the rocks and had a picnic lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. After noming, I sat in the stream of water and took in some sun. I should have thought that, with all the extreme heat we've been having, there would be a chance that the waterfall wouldn't have been at its peak. We bummed around the rocks a little while longer, then decided to check out the Crewe Railroad Museum before heading back home.

Apparently, Crewe had been built around the old Norfolk and Western (now Norfolk Southern) rail line and was the midway point between Norfolk and Roanoke. We hopped aboard the trains that they had on display outside before sweating our weight in water and calling it a day.

Even though I didn't get to go swimming like I had hoped, I had fun exploring a new part of the state. I'm still on the search for a swimming hole to take a dip in this summer and am hoping that a nearby lake will do the trick.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A very merry unbirthday

by Cayusa via Flickr
I am not a vindictive person. I do not do things intentionally to hurt someone. If I know that my actions will unintentionally cause someone else some sort of discomfort or inconvenience, I try my hardest to soften the blow. I like to think of myself as a considerate and compassionate person.

So imagine my dilemma when it comes to my mother's birthday and Mothers Day. Some sort of acknowledgement is expected on those days, but for the past few years, I have not called my mother, sent her a card, nor given her a gift for these occasions. This makes me feel incredibly shitty, but I do it anyway.

My mother's birthday was last week and I continued my non-celebration of the date. I am not upholding silence to hurt her, even though I'm sure it does, just as it hurts me when she barely acknowledges my birthdays or accomplishments.

I am distance and silent because she needs to know that she still has sincere apologizes to make and actions to take. I have not forgotten her actions and it is not okay for her to continue to lie and ignore the situation at hand.

The only way I can love my mother right now is from a distance. It has taken me years to figure this out, but now that I have, I avoid one on one interactions with her. I hate for it to seem like I'm withholding gifts and signs of love as a punishment for her bad behavior because that's not the case. I am withholding gifts and signs of love because they are a gateway for her to be close to me and the pain would be too much for me to let her back into my life without her having found a way to heal herself. Also, she's a hoarder. She doesn't need any more things to clutter her life with.

My brother has now reached the same point as I have with our mother. We are both sick of her empty words and blatant denial. I hope that this year she'll look inward to discover the answer to why neither of her children contact her on her birthday or Mothers Day. I hope this year she finds the someday that she has always talked about.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Someday is Today: Clearer skin

For my first Someday is Today goal, I want to address my acne. Now, my skin isn't horrible, so I don't want to make a bigger deal out of it than it deserves, but I feel as though, as an adult in my mid-20s, I shouldn't have to be dealing with as many blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples as I do. Instead of continuing to say to myself that it'll clear up on it's own someday, I'm going to try to be more deliberate in how I take care of my skin.

My skin is typically quite dry and, as I get older, it seems as though it is growing more sensitive. As a teenager, I only had blackheads on my nose and chin. Now it seems as though I have them everywhere on my face. These are by far my greatest problem. Additionally, I'm getting occasional whiteheads sprinkled around my chin and cheeks as well as pimples around my hair line, jaw line, and forehead. I also sometimes get a few pimples on my neck, chest, and back. I seem to break out more in the warmer months, probably thanks to the increased sweat production, so it seems appropriate to address this problem now.

As I said before, my skin is not horrible, so I don't feel as though any drastic measures need to be taken, but I'm fed up with squeezing blackheads only to have more replace them seemingly overnight. I always thought that having blackheads was a way of life until I did a little bit of research. Lo and behold, it's possible to not have any or only occasional blackheads. Sweet Jebus, I can only imagine the happiness I would feel to look in the mirror and see a handful or less of blackheads instead of innumerable clogged and angry pores staring back at me.

Before embarking on being more intentional about taking care of my skin, my routine was pretty much washing my face with cleanser morning and night. I would exfoliate when I remembered (not very often) and would put 
benzoyl peroxide on pimples when they were really big or stubborn (not very often). I'm pretty good about putting lotion on my face in colder weather, but figured my face didn't really need it in the summer.

So, what am I doing now about this acne of mine? Well, as I mentioned, I've been doing some research. Everyone's skin is different, so there's no one surefire way to get my pores under control. Based on what I've read and my knowledge of my own skin, I've decided to take the following actions:

  • Gently wash my face every night and only splash my face with lukewarm water every morning. I'm afraid washing my face morning and night was drying out my skin, so I'm only going to use cleanser at night (I'm currently using Burt's Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream).
  • Gently exfoliate my face every two or three nights. My blackheads and whiteheads are most likely due to dead skin cells clogging my pores and people with dry skin tend to have a lot of dead skin cells lying around. Exfoliating often will help to slough off those cells before they can clog my pores (I'm currently using Burt's Bees Peach and Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub).
  • When drying my face, don't rub the towel vigorously; pat gently instead.
  • Apply face lotion morning and night even if my face doesn't feel particularly dry (I'm currently using Desert Essence Daily Essential Moisturizer).
  • Be diligent about applying benzoyl peroxide to my pimples or problem spots every night after I apply lotion (I'm currently using Clean and Clear Persa-Gel 10).
  • Stop touching my face! I'm awful about resting my chin on my hand and picking at my face. I need to be more aware of when my fingers drift faceward and get those digits far away.
  • Use blotting paper to soak up extra oil on my face when I notice it's extra slick (I'm currently using Earth Therapeutics Shine-Free Spot Blots).
  • Use blotting paper, astringent, and or pore scrub on my neck, chest, and back when I notice these areas are extra oily and or pimply, especially before bed (I'm currently using Sea Breeze Naturals astringent). 
  • Use clear pore strips every or every other week (I'm currently using Earth Therapeutics Clari-T Clarifying Tea Tree Pore Cleansing strips).
Since I wasn't using nearly enough of my products, I'm going to try to incorporate them into my routine more and see if they make a difference before going out and buying more products. I'm trying to use the products I already have instead of just accumulating more clutter right off the bat. If I feel as though I haven't made much improvement after giving these products a fair shake, then I'll start looking into buying other products that are as natural as possible. 

I started being more mindful of my face two or so weeks ago and have been pleased with the progress so far. I seem to have fewer blackheads and the ones I still have look smaller than the ones I had in the past. I'm still having occasional pimples, but they don't seem to be sticking around as long. My jawline is still pretty bumpy, so I'll need to give that area some special attention. 

I still have a ways to go before I'm pleased with the state of my pores, but it seems like I'm headed in the right direction. I would like to try out a few
natural scrubs, as well as give the Oil Cleansing Method a real chance (I've done it a few times, but haven't stuck with it long enough to see if it makes a difference). 

I'll be sure to keep you posted on my progress!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Why I did 30x30 and what this blog is about

[Fair warning: this is a lengthy post. If you don't have the time or interest to read the whole thing, here's the summary: I participated in the 30x30 wardrobe challenge to put a face to the name of a child of a hoarder, to reinforce the fact that you don't need a large wardrobe to dress well, and to live with intention. To fight against the habit of pushing goals to someday and most likely never achieving them, I will be posting the progress of my own small goals and challenges to keep me accountable and to encourage others (especially fellow children of hoarders) to better their own lives, one step at a time. This project will be called Someday is Today.]

Some of you might be scratching your heads and wondering why I decided to do a wardrobe challenge on a blog that primarily addresses growing up with a hoarding parent. The connection may not be obvious, especially to those who didn't grow up in a hoard or who don't know me very well, so let me see if I can clear up the confusion.

Building good habits

First, I did it to force myself to get into the habit of updating more often since I fell off the bandwagon for a few months thanks to grad school and I wanted to establish a much better routine.

Exhibit A: Child of Hoarder

Second, I wanted to put a face to the name of a child of a hoarder. Many children of hoarders who blog do so anonymously or as close to anonymously as they can make it. I considered going this route myself because hoarding is such a personal topic and can be very embarrassing. I have changed many names of friends or simply have not given names so that my friends, family, and I can have some privacy. Ultimately though, I decided that for those who are unfamiliar with hoarding and for those who are currently living with a hoarding parent, seeing the normal looking face of a person who went through living in squalor can be powerful for the uninformed and comforting for those feeling isolated in their cluttered environment. Anyone you see, whether they look like they live or have lived in a hoard, could be affected by hoarding. It's much more common than you think. Someone does not have to look dirty or disheveled to be a hoarder or to have grown up as a child of a hoarder. In fact, many hoarders go to great lengths to look and have their children look well dressed and put together in public because they do not want anyone to be suspicious of what is actually behind closed doors.

Less equals more
The next reason why I wanted to do the 30x30 challenge is because I wanted to reinforce the fact that a large wardrobe is not required to dress well. One of the items my mother hoarded and continues to hoard religiously is clothing. We couldn't eat on the dinning room table because the table itself and all of the chairs were covered in clothing. My mother could not sleep in her bed, let alone enter her bedroom, because the bed was piled high with clothing and bags upon bags of clothing were scattered about the floor. We didn't have hampers. We had two teetering piles of dirty clothes in the hall. Our closets were full of old clothing we never wore. Clothing was not put away after it was washed and dried. It was placed in the dinning room until my mothered ironed it and we wore it that same day.

My mother was and still is a fanatic about ironing. She irons absolutely everything: t-shirts and pillowcases included. While I took a shower, she would frantically iron a top and bottom for me so that I could pull them on before running out the door. I didn't have the luxury of planning outfits when I was living with my mother. She picked out what I wore the morning I wore it. I had very little say in what I wore and, because there was so little time and planning in the morning dash, I wound up wearing a lot of the same outfits over and over again. Instead of attempting to remix what I had, we would simply go shopping fairly frequently and, therefore, add to the ever growing clothing hoard. (I would also like to add that my mother did not like me to wear anything remotely formfitting nor spend very much money, so I wound up with a lot of cheap, ill fitting clothing.) Since moving out of the hoard, I've tried to keep a smaller sized closet of items that fit me well and that I actually wear. Doing the 30x30 challenge affirmed my smaller closet and opened my eyes to new ways I can wear the clothes I already own, thus reducing my impulse to go shopping because "I have nothing to wear."

Enough of the somedays
While all of these reasons would have been enough for me to go ahead and do it, the main reason why I wanted to participate in the 30x30 wardrobe challenge is to fight against what many of us children of hoarders (and many, many other non-hoarding affiliated people) have heard our whole lives: someday change will take place, action will be taken. Someday. Hoarder's Child recently wrote a very well written, pithy post about this same idea. Someday my mother was going to go through the clothing with me. Someday my mother was going to fix the leaks in the basement and bathroom. Someday my mother was going to call the eye doctor and make an appointment for me. These somedays never came. Living in this "someday syndrome" environment caused me to think this same way for many years beyond living with my hoarding mother.

While I was battling a deep depression that landed me in the hospital, I had an epiphany: if I want things to change, I need to take those steps and those actions in order for that change to happen. Very, very few things are just going to fall into your lap without you putting in some effort. If I wanted a better life than one wallowing in depression, I needed to go out and seize it. If I wanted to save money, I would need to watch my spending and transfer that money to savings. The money just wasn't going to appear out of thin air. If I wanted to visit another country, I needed to set aside the money and make the arrangements. I wasn't going to just magically wake up in Europe one morning. If I wanted to dress better, I needed to sit down and see what I have and what looks good together. I wasn't going to look down and be wearing a well planned outfit without the planning part.

What this very lengthy post is really all about is pushing myself to live mindfully and with intention. My mother is always a victim, letting life happen to her instead of shaping her own life. I thought for a very long time that that is simply how life is, but I've come to discover how wrong that perception is. She claimed that she would clean the house someday when she had more time. I went along with that thought process, thinking that one day she'd miraculously have nothing to do but clean. What we both failed to see (and what she still fails to see) was that she sat for hours in front of the TV everyday and never made an effort to fill those hours with something more productive, like cleaning. There will never be the perfect time to reach your goals. There will always be other life things going on. She didn't need to find more time, she needed to prioritize. 

I took the 30x30 wardrobe challenge to remind myself that if I want to dress myself better, it requires some effort on my part. On a big picture level, I shared my 30x30 experience to act as a gentle reminder to my readers (especially those who are children of hoarders) that making goals, even small ones, and pushing yourself to achieve them is an incredibly important part of gleaning meaning and fulfillment out of life. It's very easy for the goals to get lost in the mix and for you to push them to someday because it's easier to do that than to take action. Plus, achieving small goals gives you the strength and willpower to achieve the bigger goals on your list.

Someday is Today
Going through 30x30 gave me the push to get my blog back to what I want it to really be about. One big step in that direction is executing the idea to start a project called Someday is Today. I will be picking a smaller goal that I've been wanting to work on and sharing the progress on the blog. My goals will cover all aspects of life and will vary in length depending upon what the goal entails. Sharing provides the duel purpose of keeping me accountable and providing encouragement for readers (especially fellow children of hoarders) to tackle their own goals. 

Stay tuned for my first goal! I hope you'll be inspired to start turning your somedays into today.

Monday, July 16, 2012

30x30 wrap up

Now that my 30x30 wardrobe challenge is over, I'd like to post all of the outfits as way of a summary, pick my favorites, and address some lessons learned.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pleated vs. pencil

Librarian job search

by AngelaArcher.com via Flickr
As I mentioned previously, I am in the midst of a job search. My current employer does not have the budget to boost me from a library assistant to a librarian, so I've been hunting for and applying for jobs over the last few months. While there aren't gobs of librarian positions currently available (hi, budget cuts!), there are some to be had. You will more than likely have to move for them though. Luckily, I am in a position to move, so I've been searching far and wide for jobs. I figured for my own reference and for those in a similar position as me, I would list where I search for librarian jobs. I would love to hear if you have other suggestions, so hit up that comments section!

Now, job searches are very personal things. We all have different preferences, requirements, experiences, and aspirations. I'm going to outline what I've been doing, but what you might want to do or are currently doing may be very different since, chances are, we're looking for different types of jobs. I'm currently looking for a job that generally deals with electronic resources, scholarly communications, and or collections development/management. I'm searching specifically for health sciences focused jobs since that's the type of experience I have, but I'm not ruling out more general positions. I'm focusing on academic librarian positions, but again, I'm willing to consider other environments if the position sounds good. I think that my job search strategy is general enough that you can tailor it to fit your own needs.

First, I like to look for jobs on a micro-level. I search for jobs in my own city and the surrounding area. I search the following websites for jobs:
  • My city's job board
  • Surrounding counties'/cities' job boards
  • Any local museums/organizations/institutions that I know have libraries
  • Local universities

Next, I search on the state level:
  • My state's website (this job board includes all public universities and state agencies in Virginia)
  • Websites of any private universities/museums/organizations/institutions I'm interested in
  • My state's library association job board (Virginia Library Association's Jobline)

After exhausting local resources, I pull out the big guns and visit nationwide job boards. Again, the types of library associations and job listings you'll want to look at will differ depending on what type of job you're looking for. I'm focusing on technical academic with possible health sciences focus, so these are my picks:

Lastly, I'm also signed up for some job listservs, including my alma matter's and IFLA's LIBJOBS. I'm sure there are many more that you can sign up for (as well as set up some RSS feeds for the above job boards), but I'm the type that prefers to go and look myself instead of getting emails or feeds.

I hope that a peek into my job search will help out your own! I know that I am missing out on some resources, so if you've happened upon a valuable source, please share!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Philly in a day

I thought I would share more details about the day trip we took to Philadelphia earlier this week.

We started our visit at the Independence National Historical Park to see the Liberty Bell. We also got tickets for Independence Hall, but our tour time wasn't for another two hours and we weren't nearby when the time came. Oh well, something to see on the next trip. I was concerned that since we were visiting so close to the 4th of July there would be mobs of tourists, but it surprisingly wasn't too bad. 

After queuing up to get our pictures taken with a piece of American history, we peeked into the lobby of the Curtis Center, right across the street from the historical park, to see Tiffany's Dream Garden mosaic and soak in a bit of the AC. It's considered one of Philly's hidden gems since few people know of its existence. Even though we only gazed for a few minutes, I'm so glad I stumbled across this find and was able to see this stunning work in person. At this point, we were starting to get peckish, so we walked up to the Reading Terminal Market to find some lunch and check out the vendors. I had a bowl of Thai shrimp and bamboo shoots while the boyfriend and sister in law both had Philly cheese steaks (of course!). 

After lunch, I noticed that we were only a few blocks away from JFK Plaza (a.k.a. Love Park), so we made the trek (and passed by the massive and beautiful city hall) to see the iconic Love sculpture and enjoy feeling the mist from the fountain. 

Our final stop was to see The Magic Gardens. Most of my pictures are from this incredibly colorful and eclectic mosaic labyrinth. 

Talk about an amazing labor of love. Everywhere you looked was a great picture. My nephew was transfixed by all of the colors and shiny materials. 

On our way back to the car, we passed by the entrance to the Batcave. No worries, Batman, your secret location is safe with me ;-).

As I mentioned before, I haven't explored Philly much despite growing up nearby. I always thought it was just a dirty, uninteresting city. I'm really glad we were able to go, see some of the sights, and change my opinion a little bit. 

Hidden city

Thursday, July 5, 2012