Thursday, August 30, 2012

That is why we need to travel

by via Flickr
"That is why we need to travel. If we don't offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull. Our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes don't lift to the horizon; our ears don't hear the sounds around us. The edge is off our experience, and we pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We wake up one day and find that we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days.

Don't let yourself become one of these people. The fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable will conspire to keep you from taking the chances the traveler has to take. But if you take them, you will never regret your choice. To be sure, there will be moments of doubt when you stand alone on an empty road in an icy rain, or when you are ill with fever in a rented bed. But as the pains of the moment will come, so too will they fall away. In the end, you will be so much richer, so much stronger, so much clearer, so much happier, and so much better a person that all the risk and hardship will seem like nothing compared to the knowledge and wisdom you have gained."

-Letters to My Son by Kent Nerburn, emphasis mine.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oh Shenandoah, I hear you calling

This weekend I was reminded that Virginia is fucking beautiful and nature is fucking awesome.

I also learned that hiking for 6 hours straight makes every muscle and joint in your body scream at you each and every time you move over the course of the next handful of days.

The short version: I climbed a mountain. This one, to be exact:

Old Rag
The long version: the boyfriend and I went hiking on Old Rag Mountain, spent the night at Big Meadows Lodge off of Skyline Drive, and visited Luray Caverns.

We left Richmond around 8:30 on Sunday morning in an effort to try to make it to Old Rag before a flood of hikers got there. Our plan seemed to work as we only came across a few clusters of hikers here and there on our way up.

This hike is not for the faint of heart. I've hiked a handful of times over the years, so I thought Old Rag wouldn't be that big of a deal. Boy, was I wrong. It's uphill for a seemingly impossible length of time and then you have to climb up, over, and around boulders to get to the summit. And by climb, I mean climb with your hands, knees, and anything else that'll pull you forward. It's a freaking beast. If the views weren't so breathtaking, I would say that Old Rag is not worth it, not in the least, but it absolutely is. Once you reach a certain altitude, it seems like every 50 feet there is another overlook that offers an absolutely gorgeous view. See:

Once we reached the summit and began heading downhill, I was so tired and, frankly, sick of hiking that I felt like I was going to start going delirious. I thought for sure that I was going to start seeing things at any second from the overwhelming effort it was taking to stay upright and moving. I made it out alive and in one piece though and I felt like a such a champ for telling that mountain who's boss sweating out all of my water weight and living to tell the tale:

Check out those guns!
Once we made it back to the car, we sped toward Big Meadows as fast as my car could safely carry us to check in, take a long shower, and lie comatose until dinner. Once I could manage to get back on my feet, I ate fried green tomatoes (for the first time!), sweet potato fries, and blackberry ice cream pie because I had just climbed a damn mountain and I deserved it, damn it. We had a bottle of wine delivered to our room after dinner because we are awesome and super special scored a sweet package deal on Living Social and then watched cartoons until we fell asleep. That's what all mountain conquerors do, right?

In the morning, we got up super early to get (free) breakfast before checking out and going to Luray Caverns (also included in the Living Social package. The boyfriend and I have talked about going to Luray for such a long time that this package deal was really perfect for us). Walking down the rather short set of stairs to get to the caverns was admittedly painful for my sore knees and legs and I may have grunted like an old man a few times, but again, the sights were well worth the pain:

I've never visited caverns before, so Luray was really something else for me to see. I had to keep reminding myself that what I was seeing was real, made over millennia, and not manmade. Nature is really spectacular if you take the time to really look around you.

If you ever find yourself near the Shenandoah National Park, by all means, go! No ifs, ands, or buts, y'all. It is far too beautiful to pass up. One night was by no means long enough. I cannot wait to visit again after I, you know, fully recover.

Totally worth it

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Someday is Today: Water and updates

It's been a few weeks since I last did a Someday is Today post so it's about high time for an update!

First, I've decided to challenge myself to drink more water. I've never been particularly good about drinking enough water throughout the day and now that I've been more intentional about exercising, it's extra important for me to be well hydrated. I'm also very headache prone. Dehydration is one of the main reasons people get headaches, so increasing my water intake should help battle my frequent headaches.

I have a standard sized travel mug/thermos/tumbler that I keep at my desk and fill with water everyday. My guess is that it holds 12 ounces (I should check on this). Before I started paying attention to how much water I drank, I usually only filled this mug up about once a day. Not good.

Since I started being more intentional about drinking more water, I've been filling it up two or three times a day. I want to get up to consistently filling it up three or four times a day. I've noticed a definite decrease in the number of headaches I've had the last few weeks. I'm not sure if the extra water is the only cause for this decrease, but I think it's safe to say that it's been a large factor. Usually, if I feel a slight headache coming on, if I can gulp down some extra water over the course of a half an hour or so, the headache either lessens or goes away entirely. High fives all around!

Now let's talk about some goal updates.

I'm very proud of myself for sticking to my exercise goal so closely. I've been swimming every Saturday and doing yoga on Mondays when it's offered. This past Monday, the gym did not offer yoga, so I was SOL. But! My carpool schedule has changed a bit since the guy I ride with started his fall classes this week. Thursdays he has a class that ends at 6:45, so instead of trying to catch a ride home with my dad or take the bus, I went swimming after work and then went home with my carpool buddy. So I essentially made up for missing yoga on Monday. I might not be able to go to yoga this Monday since I'll be in the mountains, so I'm planning to swim on Thursday night again to make up for it. On a "normal" week, I'm planning to do yoga on Mondays and swim Thursdays and Saturdays. I managed to find that third session I was looking for! It's really all about finding those pockets of time that otherwise would have slipped through the cracks.

I noticed that now that I have a plan in place, it's much easier for me to just go and exercise. For me, if I don't have a schedule, I lack the motivation to go and can make up just about any excuse to not go. If I know for sure that on Saturdays I go swimming in the afternoon, then I don't have to have a battle of the wills about it. I just go and do it like it's completely natural for me. Also, once I just go and do yoga or swim, I break down that barrier that tells me that it's too hard and it'll be awful and I prove to myself that it's really not that bad. Momentum achieved!

Truth be told, I'm not as excited about my acne goal. The last time I updated you all on my progress, I was pretty jazzed about the changes I was seeing. My skin seems to have done a 180 over the last few weeks though and I've had a ton of blemishes, especially around my jaw line. Some blackheads are coming back and adding to my frustration. I'm wondering if my increased exposure to chlorine and the cooler temperatures are causing my skin to react this way. Most of my blemishes are now in the healing stages and so far it doesn't look like any new ones are cropping up. I'm going to wait it out a bit to see if maybe my skin just needed to adjust to the environmental changes.

What kind of headway have you been making with your goals?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Children of hoarders interview series

by Rusty Sheriff via Flickr
Are you a child of a hoarder? Do you know a child of a hoarder? I would like to start a guest post series that revolves around interviewing fellow children of hoarders.

We all have a different story to tell and telling those stories will help us to create a stronger community. The Children of Hoarders message board on Yahoo! is an excellent resource, but I often don't get a good sense of someone's background and, therefore, can't connect as well. Also, when someone does introduce themselves, their message tends to get buried rather quickly.

I want to start this interview series so that we can all get to know each other better, especially those of us who blog or are active with social media. If there's anything I've learned about being a child of a hoarder, it's that a support system is essential to creating a healthy balance in your life. Would you be willing to be interviewed? Send me an email at squalorhollerblog at gmail dot com so we can get started!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Whirlwind weekend

by scrobz via Flickr
I am super tired y'all, so this is going to be short, but I wanted to recount my weekend since it was largely awesome.

The boyfriend and I made reservations to stay in the Blue Ridge Mountains next weekend and I cannot wait. I've been wanting to go out there for such a long time and we're finally doing it- yay! We're going to go hiking, probably around Old Rag, the first day and visit Luray Caverns on the second day.

I went to a college friend/past roommate's bridal shower on Sunday with another friend of mine. It was out in Lynchburg, so the drive was long, but it was so great to catch up with both of them, see a new city, and have some delicious pizza while I was at it.

Monday morning I checked my email to discover that the university in California that I phone interviewed with wants me to come out and do an in-person interview! Majorly exciting, relieving, and terrifying! I'm still waiting to see what day it'll be, but I know that it'll be in September. Baby's finally going to see the west coast!

Two more of my college friends (one of whom was Jess from Animated Cardigan) passed through Richmond last night and stopped to have some Mexican food and frozen yogurt with me. We also posed for some goofy pictures which I'm sure will be posted on Jess's blog soon.

Lastly, my weekend ended on a sour note as the boyfriend and I had our first argument over my pending move. We both walked away with a lot to think about and way more questions than answers. It's hard to make any plans or say anything for certain since I don't know where I'll be getting a job (California is looking promising though), but I will be moving somewhere and we need to decide if he'll be following me eventually or if we'd be better off going our separate ways. We're leaning more on him following me and the relationship potentially leading to marriage (gulp!), but life is unpredictable and only time will tell.

I cannot wait to get home from work and go to bed. I'm going to sleep all of the hours and catch all of the Zs.

I hope you had a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Live the questions

by dhammza via Flickr
"You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer."

-Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Take care

by qwghlm via Flickr
For as long as I can remember, my mother has never really taken care of herself. I don't mean that she doesn't keep up proper hygiene. She's always been a clean (albeit at times a bit shabby) looking person. What I mean is beyond just hygiene. Her physical and mental health as well as her own personal development  have always suffered or taken last place because everything else always seemed more important to her.

My mother is a devoted bargain hunter. She buys the majority of her clothing at thrift stores; food, personal, and household items at dollar stores; any other necessities for as cheap as she can get them. Now, these habits aren't bad, per se. I enjoy shopping at thrift stores and getting the best price for items. My mother crosses the line into being cheap though because she rarely values the quality of items over the cost. It's always the cheapest, period, for her. While some of this cheapness is fueled by financial reasons, the main driver behind her stinginess is her hoarding mentality. The reason I mention her miserly ways here is because I think it has a lot to do with her approach to her appearance and health. She's reluctant to spend money when she doesn't feel like she has to. Her appearance and health don't make the cut, so they fall by the wayside.

Up until a few years ago, my mother didn't really pay that much attention to what she wore or how she looked. She simply wore the clothes she had already or the cheapest items she could find. It didn't matter if they didn't fit her very well or if they were looking a bit worse for the wear. She wore the same lipstick color everyday and never could keep up with her roots showing. Thankfully, my mother, the TV addicted person that she is, came across and started paying attention to What Not to Wear. Her style has improved a bit since then, but she's still an all out cheapskate with dark magenta lips and a gray part.

In the ten years that my mother and I lived together after the divorce and before I left for college, I don't think she once went to the eye doctor. She requires glasses to drive and, truth be told, she should probably wear them all of the time. Even after I sat on her glasses in the car, my mother refused to get new ones or to get a check up. If she fell ill, and she did often, 90% of the time she just waited it out. She, of course, suffered from mental issues, but never sought assistance from a psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor. The only doctor she visited regularly was the dentist.

When I was in middle school, my mother's health was declining in an undeniable way. She would fall asleep at the drop of a hat, she was losing hair excessively, and despite being a thin woman, she was losing weight. She finally gave in and went to the doctor, only to discover that she had Grave's Disease, a type of hyperthyroidism. She had suffered from this disease for years and never mentioned her symptoms to a doctor, so there was significant damage to her thyroid. If the doctor hadn't finally caught it when she did, she would have had to have surgery. I should note that when she was seeking treatment for her thyroid, her doctor gave her a prescription for Prozac because it was obvious that my mother had some other deep seated issues going on, but my mother was offended by the suggestion that she suffered from depression and added the prescription to the top of a mountain of papers that wound up subsuming it.

While my mother was better about getting me the medical attention I needed, there were times when my health suffered unnecessarily. Most notably, the school nurse had to bully my mother into taking me to the eye doctor when I was in seventh grade because I was having trouble reading the board. She called our house once a week until I was able to present a pair of glasses in person to the nurse. A few years later when I was in high school, I noticed that my eyesight had continued to worsen. I asked my mother to make another appointment for me and she said that she would. A few months later, I asked again and she said that she would. She put it off and put it off for years and only when I was making enough money at my part time job the summer before college did I see the eye doctor. I made the appointment myself and I paid for a new pair of glasses and contacts with my own wages.

For as long as I can remember, my mother has also had a problem with prioritizing her life. She continues to place many things that she deems more important before her own health. Your life is dependent on your health. Treat your body well and treat it with respect. Suffering unnecessarily will not cause you to be lauded as a martyr. It will cause you to have nothing but regrets.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Guest appearance

by Joseph Robertson via Flickr
Today you can find me over at Hack Library School where I wrote a guest post about study abroad opportunities for library school students.

If you found your way to my blog from HLS, welcome! You might be interested in my other posts on librarianship.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Adding color

One of the things I realized after my 30x30 wardrobe challenge was that I do not have a colorful enough wardrobe. I particularly wanted to find a pair of red shoes to liven things up since I had seen so many bloggers style them with such success. This past weekend, I found a pair of red Mary Janes that I love along with a pair of purple corduroy flats at one of my favorite thrift stores in Richmond, Diversity Thrift:

Wow, I didn't realize how veiny my feet are...

These babies had barely been worn and were only $4 a pair! Score! They should definitely help me ease into wearing more color.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Someday is Today: Exercise

It seems as though everyone and their brother wants to exercise more. We know that we should move around much more than we do, but it can be so hard to find the time and to motivate ourselves to actually do it.

I was hesitant to make my second Someday is Today goal about exercise since life is pretty crazy and unpredictable right now, but there's no way around it: no matter what's going on, I should at least try to be a little bit more active.

I'm a pretty thin person; some may even call me skinny. My BMI is 19.9. I still weigh the same I did in high school and I even wear some of the same clothing I've had since middle school. Some of you may feel like tossing something blunt or even sharp my way, but I assure you: just because I'm not overweight does not mean that I am in shape. I am pretty weak, can barely run a block, and I've never once played on a sports team. Since many people are motivated to work out because they want to lose weight, much of the fitness literature out there revolves around weight loss success. Because I don't need to lose weight and instead just need to gain physical strength and increase my endurance, this literature is usually not helpful to me and I find it harder to motivate myself to be active.

When I was in therapy and before I started grad school, I was able to talk myself into going swimming three or four times a week and to go to yoga class once or twice a week. For someone who never worked out regularly in their life, I was making really good headway. Then classes started and I had no time or energy for anything extra in my life. Before a few weeks ago, I hadn't gone near the gym with any kind of regularity in close to two years.

A month ago, I was frustrated with my commuting schedule and how it didn't allow me time to do things like exercise. Then I had the brilliant idea of going for a swim during my lunch break from work on Saturdays. Saturdays are much slower than weekdays, so I can usually manage to sneak out to the gym for a little while. For the last four weeks, I've been doing just that.

Prior to moving in with my dad, I never thought of exercising on my days off because, well, they're my days off. My gym is offering yoga classes on Mondays, one of my days off, over the summer and the time worked out for my best friend, Lynn, and me to go together. For the last three weeks, we've tried to meet up for yoga regularly on Mondays, but only today did it finally work out. The first two times the instructor couldn't make it and the class was moved to another location without our knowing. Third time's a charm, right?

I want to stick with this schedule, swimming on Saturdays and yoga on Mondays, for the time being. If I can manage to swim an extra time or take an extra yoga class during the week, then that'd be even better. I don't want to put too much pressure on this goal right now since, like I said, life is unpredictable right now. I bought new sneakers and would like to start the Couch to 5k program, but I can't count on being able to follow it regularly, so I don't want to set myself up for failure. I figure, if I can manage to find the time to squeeze in a work out with my life the way it is right now, then it should be a piece of cake when I'm finally settled in a new job and home.

As far as motivation goes, I asked my boyfriend, who runs regularly and is in good shape, what he does to motivate himself when he doesn't feel like working out. His response? He just does it. He acknowledges the fact that he doesn't want to, but he just does it anyway. Moral of the story: I need to stop over thinking it so much. Just go and do it, Sarah.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Highs and lows

by mtsofan via Flickr
Well, friends, this week has been an interesting one.

My supervisor was on vacation this week and, boy, did she pick one hell of a week to take off. Things are gearing up thanks to the impending start of the fall semester and requests came rolling in. I felt like all I did was put out fires left and right so that my department didn't become consumed by a blaze.

Yesterday I received an email from my alma mater informing me that I was not chosen as a candidate for a librarian position I had applied for. I wasn't particularly surprised or upset by this news, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't sting a bit. The familiar feeling of desperation came back tenfold and I scrambled to find some more jobs to apply for regardless of how good of a fit they were or where they were located. My stress level soared and I began to make all sorts of alternative plans for myself. Clearly, if one library doesn't want you, none of them will, right?

As I lay next to my boyfriend after work, feeling pitiful and half watching episodes of Star Trek, I reached over and mindlessly checked my email. In between two pieces of junk was a sender's name I recognized. I sat up and poured over the email, simultaneously smiling and crying. A university in California wants to have a phone interview with me.

I don't think the reality of the whole thing has really hit me yet. Granted, the reality it's really anything permanent or sure. A phone interview is not a guarantee for an in person interview or for being offered a job. But it is a start. I'm waiting for confirmation on the time of the interview and I'm guessing once I have the date and time in mind, the reality and, therefore, the nerves will begin to set in.

One of my concerns about the position is the fact that California is really far away. The farthest west I've been is Nashville (which I think is pretty laughable). Living in California will be pretty lonely at first since I barely know anyone out there. Sure, I have some extended family members and an acquaintance of sorts who live there, but that's not much compared to the support system I have in place on the east coast. And we of course can't forget about the Virginia based boyfriend. I know that I'll make friends, just as I've always managed to make friends where ever I've gone, but packing your life up and starting over is a grueling process.

The job does sound pretty awesome though and my work experience fits well with their requirements. Moving to the west coast would enable me to have so many new adventures. It's not like I'll have to live there forever either. I could try it out for a year or two and move somewhere else if it doesn't pan out.

Sigh. Being an adult is tough, y'all.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


"Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others." -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Whenever you have the urge to judge or criticize another person, remember this quote and be humbled.