Friday, September 28, 2012

California dreaming

I had a whirlwind visit to San Francisco earlier this week. I flew out Sunday, had a job interview all day on Monday, then flew back on Tuesday. Needless to say, I've been recovering ever since. The interview went well and I felt like I developed a good rapport with most of the people that I met. I should hear a yay or nay in a few weeks, so fingers crossed!

I managed to do a bit of sightseeing, like I had hoped, but I didn't get to see everything that was on my list. The first place I went shortly after I got settled in my hotel wasn't even on my list for some reason, but when I discovered it was only a few blocks away from my hotel, I couldn't possibly pass up a trip down Haight Street to see the infamous Haight and Ashbury intersection and soak in all of the patchouli scented hippie shops.

After having a delicious lunch at a nearby coffee shop, Reverie Cafe, I hopped on the Muni to see the sea lions on Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf. 

All I had to do was follow the sound of their barking to find them. These guys really draw a crowd and are hilarious to watch. I didn't realize how huge some of them get to be!  

After smiling and getting some warm and fuzzies from the sea lions, I hopped on the Muni again to go to a beach and dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean. Spoiler alert: it was really freaking cold.

I made a crab friend on the beach and you can see him to the left of me (as tired and windswept as I am). At this point, I took the Muni back to my hotel so that I could get ready to have dinner with the head of the search committee. It wasn't until after my interview the next day that I got to go back on in the city and do a bit more sightseeing.

Once I managed to convince myself to get out of bed after I lied down after my exhausting interview, I headed up to Crissy Field to try to get a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge which had managed to escape me my whole trip. On my short walk from the Muni to the bridge, I passed by the Palace of Fine Arts and the Exploratorium and was sorely disappointed that I didn't have more time to, well, explore.

Once I got to Crissy Field, here's what I saw:

That's right, a big fat nothing. It was super foggy and the only way I would have been able to see the bridge is if I were practically on the sucker. Since it was getting late and I was starving for dinner, I decided to give up on seeing the allusive bridge and enjoy wining and dining myself instead. I headed to the Tipsy Pig for their famous Strawberry Fields cocktail, perfectly seasoned salmon, and a plate of handmade ice cream sandwiches that I barely managed to make a dent in. It was a perfect way to congratulate myself for a job well done.

Even though I was exhausted for practically all of my trip, I enjoyed my time in San Francisco and hope to one day return (maybe to live?!) and take the time to explore the city properly. 

Have you ever been to San Francisco? What are/were your favorite haunts?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Interview series: Becky

First up for my children of hoarders interview series is Becky. Take it away, Becky!

My name is Rebecca. People call me Becky at my Dad's insistence, he said that Rebecca was from Sunny Brook Farms and did not want people relating to me in that manner. (I love that story!) I am 38 years old. I am the mother of 3 children. Two of them are now "legal" adults and my youngest is 6 years old. I have my own small in home Day Care business. I enjoy being around the children, playing with them, helping them learn and watching them grow. I live in NE Arizona in a small mountain community. I love it here. When my time is not spent with the children, I like to create things through crafts, and read when the time permits. I am also taking college classes to eventually get a degree in Early Childhood Education.

Which parent hoards? My Mother was the hoarder. She was quite good at it. I lived with her up until I was 13 when my parents divorced. My Dad then married my Step Mom and moved back into the house and my Mom moved out. My Mom died 10.5 years ago. She lost her battle with Cancer. We were not really close, yet not estranged. I would like to add that my Dad has been known to collect things. He usually has 2 or more of the same thing. He is not a messy or dirty hoarder though. And.. his house and space are accommodating to his things. Like, he is a mechanic and has 2 huge tool boxes. Filled with tools.

Do you have any hoarding tendencies? Yes. I would consider it an organized collection of my things. I do day care out of my home so I have a lot of toys. I also have adequate storage for the toys. A toy box, and various totes for the toys to go into. I also do scrap booking and just recently have organized it and all my craft stuff into plastic roller drawers. My Non organized stuff has to do with my papers. Piles of mail that I am not sure if I have to keep or just put in a pile cause I do not want to deal with it. My house is clean though. (with some table clutter)

Is there a history of hoarding in your family? If so, who else hoards? My Mom's Mom hoarded. (I was 13 when she died, and I do not remember going to her house ever. I did see pictures. It was like the worst of the worst on tv. My parents had 4 kids and all of us do not have a Martha Stewart house.

What are your hoarding parent (HP)’s favorite things to hoard? For my Mom, she did not throw stuff away. I always thought that she just did not know how to clean.

How is your relationship with your HP? I moved from CA to OH when I turned 18. I am 38 now. I moved to AZ 11 years ago. (my Dad and Step mom lived here... they are now divorced 2 years ago. My Dad moved back to CA with my sister. He is 74.) Since my Mom has died we have a fantastic relationship, I talk to her when ever I want! (I have a sense of humor.. sorry) But before she died, since the internet had just taken off.. and everything was on dial up. Long distance was very expensive.. I lived 1200 miles away. Last time I saw her was 7 years before she died, due to me living so far away.

About 2 weeks before she passed away, I called her to ask a question. We ended up staying on the phone for 2 hours. A week later she was in the hospital, a few days later she was in a coma. I never got to go to her to see her to say good bye. But our phone conversation to this day means the world to me. She spent a lot of time telling me how sorry she was that she was not a better mother to me. I explained to her that she was a great mother and I have a lot of wonderful memories because she tried so hard... She did a great job to make it so we had life outside the house. She tried so hard. At her Memorial there were so many people who knew nothing about the conditions of her house. Funny thing is when we went to her Mother's memorial all those years before, we heard them talk of our Grandmother and kept saying to each other.. who are they talking about?? Some how a lot of the hoarders are the best people. I wanted to add this because I now know I am not ashamed of her, or what happened in her home because she was broken. I choose to live differently so my kids do not have to experience what I did. I also want to spend the time with them instead of working out of the home. They also did not do a whole lot of extra activities. I am starting Cub Scouts with my 6 year old son. Maybe I can bring some of her great memories back to me.

Do you still live at home? If not, when did you move out? I moved out before I was 18 into my sisters house because I was pregnant. (Step mom moved my stuff out) I did not consider moving into my Mom's house because I did not want my child in that environment.

Does anyone besides your HP currently live in the hoard? If so, who and how are they handling it? When my Mom died, she lived alone.

Who else, if anyone, knows about your HP’s hoard? Her children, my Dad, her Mom (before she died), two of her friends, her Grand children

When did you first realize that your HP’s behavior was abnormal? For as long as I can remember I knew it was not right. So maybe 4? But, when I was told my friends could not spend the night. I would go to their house and it was clean, nice.. you could walk on the floor, find and play with their toys, clothes, etc. When my Dad sat on the porch on Christmas because he could not let one of his Cousins inside. I was about 8.

When, if ever, were you able to disassociate yourself from the shame of hoarding and begin opening up about it? When my parents divorced, I was 13. I was put into counseling. We talked about things in there. When I lived with my Step Mom and Dad.. she taught me how to clean a room. Where to start, what to do. I began cleaning my room/space better. I visited my mom Every other weekend and tried to clean her house, but it was too much.. and she would get mad. When I completely moved to Ohio and had my own house to clean, that was when I really figured out how to clean a house and get rid of things. When the shows came out about hoarding, I am able to talk to people about it because it is more known about, talked about now. So.. I am not sure. I recently came across pictures that were evidence in the divorce. I saw pictures of my room, the rest of the house. Part of me thought that the mess was just in my head and it was not that bad. As a parent, I look and I am floored at the conditions. I guess we all tried to down play it.

Have you ever sought any kind of therapy for dealing with your HP and living in a hoard? I was placed into therapy by my Dad and Step Mom 25 years ago. I am not sure if we talked about the hoard though. It was the mess and the divorce. I do not think I would need therapy now to deal with the HP now that she has died. Living in the hoard was in my early childhood. I do know that some of my behavior toward my Day care and my son, and my older teens toys and room has to do with when I was a kid I could not play with my toys because they were never together. How do you play with a big plastic farm with no animals to go with it? Or a puzzle when pieces are missing? Or Lego's when you cannot find them all? So, I spend a lot of time re-organizing the toys so they are together and the kids are able to play with the items together.

Do you have any hope that your HP will eventually stop hoarding? Why or why not? As far as my Mom, she died from Cancer. I am sure if she would have taken care of herself better, sought treatment sooner, she may have had a better chance to beat it. But she lived a life where everything was a secret and did not think that things were wrong when they were. Ended up dying at only 59 years old. I am 38 and I have had 3 mamograms already and I go to the doctor when things are not right with me because I believe if my Mom would have, things would be different. Also, I do not want my kids to go through loosing me because I was too scared to take a test. As for my Dad, he is a different kind of hoarder, or collector as I call him. He goes on missions to get items. Like, Pressure cookers. Now, all 4 of his kids have different sizes, with the different parts, and he photo copies the recipe books for all of us. He does not get things, to keep only for himself. He likes to share them with us also. So, I think there is hope for him. Besides, he is 74 he has earned the right to have an extra tool if he wants one.. as long as he is not tripping over it!

What is the most disgusting or interesting thing you encountered in the hoard? I think for me being so young I experienced it differently. The basics to me now of disgusting is the refrigerator, no counter tops to cook in, the kitchen floor.. ew. Those are things that I clean off the most in my home. OH ... we had animals, and when I was small I thought dog poop was supposed to be white. That to me now is disgusting.

What are some ways you coped with living in a hoard? My brother and I had rooms over top of one another, we put a rope out the window and a little box, and we passed things to each other. We also had walkie talkies that we loved to play with when we could find them and the batteries were not dead. I also spent a lot of time across the street at my friends house. Her mom later became my Step Mom. (I now say "be careful what you wish for") I learned to throw things that looked like trash away when my Mom was not looking. My Dad was a member of a Camping Club. We used to go camping one weekend every month during my entire life. That weekend we did not have to be at home.. fighting the mess. We were normal kids for that weekend. My Dad still talks about how he tried so hard to let us be normal. He had to let her go and the mess. I never saw a man cry harder than he did at my Mom's Memorial. He loved her truly but could not fix it .. those were his words. He is an amazing Dad. I am so lucky to have him.

Do you have any advice for others currently living in a hoard or trying to cope with their HP? My advice would be to seek professional help for the HP. See if any one can help the parent or person learn a different way. As a child, I was angry with her. I did not understand why we did not have a nice clean house like my friends did. As a teen I learned that it was sort of a sickness that she had that I needed to accept. I did not want to. After I moved away I was not a part of it all. I did not see her home until after she died. By that time my siblings were asking me if I wanted anything. Then, I did not. Now, I wish I would have looked to see if there were anything small. Jewelry, ring? Something.. that I could hold that was hers. Now I only have pictures. Items that she had lost over the years I tell myself they were victims of her hoard. That I might still have my yellow Monkey named Sassy if I would have saved her. Now, I feel sad that she lived so alone. So in her world that she was trapped in. I was thinking about her yesterday. Wishing I could hear her voice again. I hope that others who have a parent who hoards can see past the hoard to who the person is. What they contribute outside their hoard, their home, their comfort zone. I know now that a part of the mind breaks and allows the hoarding to happen. That my Mom's broke when she was a young child and her father died when she was only 8. I know how much my Daddy means to me and if I were to loose him so young I would have been broken also. I feel sad that she broke so young. Now that she has passed and I can talk to her when ever I want.. I tell her how much I love her, and how I am glad she is fixed now. I forgive her for the way I grew up because it was not healthy for me to hold onto such pain. I wanted my kids to know different. I watch the shows, hoarding, Burried alive.. etc.. I record them so I remember and then I clean something. Organize something else. It is like my therapy. I wish at moments things could have been different for her then they would have been different for us.. but I would not be who I am today with out her, so do I wish she were different?? I am not sure. I just know that today, I accept that she had a problem that was bigger than she was and it is over. We are both at peace.

Thank you so much, Becky, for being brave enough to be my first interviewee! If you are a child of a hoarder and are interested in being interviewed over email, please shoot me a message

Monday, September 24, 2012

Interview jitters

by arrozyasado via Flickr
Today is my (all day) job interview. In honor of this major event, I leave you with these encouraging words that I hope I am repeating to myself throughout this entire nerve wracking experience:

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right." -Henry Ford

"Do or do not, there is no try." -Yoda

"If you're going through hell, keep going." -Winston Churchill

And my new personal favorite:
"Even if you fall on your face, you're still moving forward." -Victor Kiam

Saturday, September 22, 2012

West coast, here I come!

by joe-azure via Flickr
Tomorrow I am San Francisco bound. I will have a few measly hours to spend with the city before job interview obligations take over all of the remaining time I'll have there. Since I do love a good list, I have come up with a few things I would like to see during my short time in San Francisco:

  • Try to see the sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf
  • Check out the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Explore Golden Gate Park
  • Dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean

If my best laid plans go awry and I can only do one thing, I am most determined to meet the Pacific.

Do you have any San Francisco suggestions for me?

Have no fear, I have posts scheduled for while I am gone. I will catch you all when I return.

P.S. All good karma will gratefully be accepted! xoxo

Friday, September 21, 2012

How to decide if you should continue working while in grad school

by clok_moitie via Flickr
Two weeks ago, I outlined some tactics that I used to survive working full-time while going to grad school full-time (part 1 and part 2). While I wrote those posts as a way to help out those who are in a similar situation or who are going to be in a similar situation, I thought it would be even more helpful to explain why I decided to undertake those two years of hell and present some questions to ask yourself if you are debating whether or not to do something similar.

A case for working full-time
The main reason why I decided not to quit my job to go to grad school was because I knew my field. Believe it or not, library science has become a pretty competitive field these days thanks to drastically slashed budgets (meaning fewer positions available) and a high number of newly minted librarians finishing their degrees every year. I knew from reading job postings and from participating in many, many job interviews at my library that experience is a key factor in landing a library job. Many entry level positions require you to have anywhere between one to three years of experience (sometimes even 5!) to be seriously considered for the position. If I had quit my full-time job, I would have been cutting my experience length short by at least two years and I had no guarantee that I would be able to secure an assistantship and or part-time library job to add to the experience I already had. It was a risk I was not willing to take.

Another key reason I did not quit my job was because of the paycheck. By keeping my job, I was able to take out fewer student loans to cover my expenses. The only loans I took out were to cover tuition and a new computer; everything else was paid for by my salary. The smaller debt burden was a huge relief for me.

Things you should consider when debating whether or not to quit your full-time job to pursue grad school:
  • Your field. How competitive is your field/the field you want to break into? Is your current job in the field you are interested in? How much work experience does the typical entry level job require in your field? Do you have the required work experience already? If so, would a few extra years make you stand out from the competition? 
  • Your financial situation. If you continue working, would you need to take out student loans to pay for tuition? How about living expenses? If you don’t continue working, would you need to take out student loans to pay for tuition? How about living expenses? How much student loan debt do you already have? Are you comfortable adding to that debt?

A case for going to grad school full-time
The main reason why I decided to go to grad school full-time was because I knew my "school stress style," for lack of a better term. In order to get back into the swing of being in school, I took a graduate level class that was not related to my library program the spring before I started grad school (which is something I would recommend to anyone thinking about going back to school full-time, but who has gotten out of the swing of school). Even though it was only one class, it took over my life. I spent all of my extra time reading, writing, and studying for that class (even though the grades I got weren't really going to count for anything beyond a personal sense of satisfaction since it wasn't a part of my real graduate program and it was at a different school). I knew that taking one class would already leave me stressed out and time crunched, so I figured I might as well take multiple classes because I knew that less classes did not necessarily mean less stress for me. 

Another large reason I decided to go full-time was because of my pretty open schedule. I didn’t have kids to take care of, a husband to feed, a business to run, an organization to chair. I worked full-time and that was about it. Time is a gift and I decided to take advantage of the relative abundance of it that I knew I would have at my disposal over those two years. If I dragged school out, there was a possibility that my time would not be as open in the future and my degree would take forever and a day to complete. 

Which leads me to the next reason why I did grad school full-time: I was simply impatient. I wanted my degree and I wanted it right then. I was already chomping at the bit knowing that I was going at it as fast as I could. I just knew that if I slowed it down any, I would feel like I was going to burst out of my skin with anticipation. The only thing holding me back from the life and job I wanted was a few measly letters after my name. That small hurdle was targeted and phasers were set to destroy. 

The last reason for my choosing to go full-time was my belief that it was a requirement in order to get in-state tuition. You see, Virginia does not have any library schools and so I was entitled to in-state tuition from whichever school I attended that was a participant in the Academic Common Market (I did an online program which was also included in the agreement). One of the requirements to get in-state tuition is supposedly full-time status, but the school I got my degree from wound up not enforcing this technicality.

Things you should consider when debating whether or not to pursue grad school full-time: 
  • Your school stress style. How do you handle stress from school? Would one class be just as stressful for you as taking two or more classes? 
  • Your schedule. How busy are you? Can you drop any obligations in order to free up more of your time to dedicate to schoolwork? Is there anything coming up in your life over the next few years that would hinder your ability to attend classes and get your schoolwork done? 
  • Your eagerness. Do you feel like you’re being held back by not having your advanced degree? How tenacious are you about earning those extra letters? Would you be a Grumpy Gus if you felt like you were going at a snail’s pace? 
  • Your financial situation. Are there opportunities available to you for either saving or earning money that are only available if you are a full-time student? If you went to grad school at a slower pace, would you be able to pay out of pocket for school expenses rather than having to take out student loans to cover a full-time course load? 

I realize (and I hope you realize too!) that just because jumping in with both feet worked for me, it will not work for everyone. Please look at your own situation with honesty and evaluate what is doable for you. Grad school is a big commitment and you should not take it lightly. Taking it at your own pace will be far more rewarding than pushing your limits unnecessarily and not getting anything out of it but gray hairs.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mediocre minds

by happy-batatinha via Flickr
"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence and fulfills the duty to express the results of his thoughts in clear form." -Albert Einstein

Monday, September 17, 2012

Someday is Today: Sassy pants

Most of the goals that I've covered so far have dealt more with my physical nature: acne, exercise, and drinking more water. I'd like to shift gears a bit and discuss something that's a little less tangible: my attitude.

Growing up, I began to cop an attitude with my mother when I was a teenager. If she said or did something that I didn't like, I became the typical wiseass teenager and would put my sassy pants on to let her know how I really felt. As time wore on, I left those sassy pants on whenever I disagreed with my mother and didn't leave them behind in the phase pile. To me, I felt justified in putting on my bitchiest attitude when dealing with her because her compulsive hoarding hurt me more than she, or even I, knew that it did. I felt like I could be the biggest bitch because of what she made me live through. She put me through years of humiliation, so me being super sassy was totally okay, right? Especially because I was super nice and patient with everyone else in my life.

Well, fast forward to present day and my readiness to put on my sassy pants when I feel either hurt or impatient with the one whom I love the most and am closest to (i.e., my boyfriend) is now a habit. A really awful, hurtful habit. I've been trying to make sense of my tendency to be a bitch at the drop of a hat to someone who has always been so kind to me and I can only conclude that I have become hardwired from dealing with my mother to lash out when I feel the most vulnerable. Basically, it's kind  of like my emotions turn into a 3 year old and yell out, "I'm going to hurt you more before you can hurt me more, nah nah!"and sticks its tongue out before I start spewing out words that are dripping with disgust.

As you can imagine, this is absolutely horrible for a relationship (and makes me feel like an awful human being). Why would someone put up with being bombarded with either hurtful words and or words spoken in a hurtful tone? Yeah, I don't know either. I guess I'm dating a saint. No one deserves to be treated that way, not even my mother who is basically a puppet for a shortage in her brain. Knowing all this does not always prevent me from checking my attitude when I get upset though. I guess it's just been that engrained into my behavior. It also doesn't help that it's hard for me to detect inflections in my own voice.

So, what can I do to stifle that sassy tone? I'm going to make an honest effort to try some of these tactics and see if the boyfriend and I can notice a difference:

Take a step back from the situation, breathe, and think before I say anything. Is what I'm about to say going to be overkill? Is it going to be hurtful? What's a better way to say this or maybe not say it at all? Ask myself why I'm upset. Remind myself that I love him, first and foremost.

Be patient. I can't expect everyone to know everything that I know, just like I don't know everything  they know. That's impossible. Explain it in a way that isn't unintentionally insulting to his intelligence, just like I would like to hear something being explained to me.

Communicate in a way that makes sense for him. Tough love might be effective for me to get my ass in gear, but it can backfire and be really hurtful for the boyfriend to hear. Find a way to say something that will be effective and increase his receptiveness while being sensitive to his feelings. We all communicate and react in different ways and I need to be respectful of that.

When all else fails, pretend like I'm talking to someone else. This sassiness only tends to come out for my mother and my boyfriend (lucky them!). If I can't get the edge off of my voice by another method, try to imagine I'm talking to my grandmother or best friend. My words tend to be far softer when I speak to them. 

Do you have any suggestions for me on how I can avoid turning into a megabitch?

Short update on other goals:

Acne: Honestly, I'm not really talking to my skin right now. I want to find something that is more effective, but I'm not willing to try things out right now because I have a job interview in a week. I don't want to chance it and have my skin be worse than it already is.

Exercise: Thanks to traveling and a hectic schedule, I haven't been swimming or going to yoga for over a week. I'm all set to get back in the saddle today for yoga!

Water: My water intake is up and I've been visiting the bathroom nearly every hour to prove it. My headaches continue to be minimal and I'm feeling all around less blah.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Finding beauty

by daves-f-stop via Flickr
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, September 14, 2012

Interview series: Me

As mentioned previously, I am starting a children of hoarders (COH) interview series. To start things off and to break the ice, I thought I would answer my own questions myself. I've mentioned some of these details here and there throughout the blog, but I thought it would be nice to have them all here in one place so that it will be easier for others who are interested in learning more about my past to find that info.

I have a few interviewees lined up that I will be posting soon, but I'm definitely looking for more COH to talk to! If you're interested in being interviewed, shoot me an email and we'll make it happen.

Without further ado, here's me interviewing myself (which was admittedly a little awkward):

Which parent hoards? My mother is the hoarder.

Do you have any hoarding tendencies? No. When I was younger, I would hold on to things because I thought that it was normal, but as I’ve gotten older, I am pretty adamant about fighting clutter and keeping things neat.

Is there a history of hoarding in your family? If so, who else hoards? As far as I know, my mother is the only hoarder in the family.

What are your hoarding parent's (HP’s) favorite things to hoard? My mother loves to hoard clothes, mail, newspapers, and food.

How is your relationship with your HP? At this point, I barely have a relationship with my mother. I see her a few times a year, usually for holidays and family events, but otherwise, I don’t go out of my way to see or talk to her. Because relating with her was just too painful and stressful, I put that ball in her court a few years ago and have barely heard a peep since.

Do you still live at home? If not, when did you move out? No, I do not. I moved out when I went to college when I was 18.

Does anyone besides your HP currently live in the hoard? If so, who and how are they handling it? Thankfully, no. My brother and I both lived with her after the divorce when we were young, but once the hoard started to build back up in our new place, my brother moved back in with our dad. I moved out for college and since then my mother has been living alone.

Who else, if anyone, knows about your HP’s hoard? My brother, my sister-in-law, my dad, a handful of my friends, some of my sister-in-law’s family. The word has slowly been spreading.

When did you first realize that your HP’s behavior was abnormal? I think in the back of my mind, I always knew that our house was different since my friends’ and relatives’ houses were clean and tidy in comparison. I don’t think it was until the hoard got so bad that I couldn’t invite friends over anymore that I realized that there was something wrong about the situation.

When, if ever, were you able to disassociate yourself from the shame of hoarding and begin opening up about it? Outside of two or three people that I told in high school while I still lived with my mother, I didn’t really start talking about it to other people until I was in college and had some physical distance from the hoard. The more I talked about it and lived on my own, the more I realized that the hoarding was my mother’s problem and not mine.

Have you ever sought any kind of therapy for dealing with your HP and living in a hoard? Yes, a few years ago, I went to therapy for about 6 months or so to work through some issues, including my childhood and my relationship with my mother. I highly recommend therapy to any COH.

Do you have any hope that your HP will eventually stop hoarding? Why or why not? At this point, no. My mother still lies about the fact that she is a hoarder, so I don’t see any hope in a behavioral change until she can admit that she has a problem.

What is the most disgusting or interesting thing you encountered in the hoard? The most disgusting thing I found in my mother’s hoard was when I came home from a summer away working at a resort and found the toilet full of feces and maggots.

What is at least one positive thing you were able to glean from living in a hoard and dealing with your HP? I learned a lot about resourcefulness from my mother. We learned to make do so much that it became a natural thought process for me. I’m also content with having very little because I’ve seen the dark and ugly side of having too much.

What are some ways you coped with living in a hoard? I think I was lucky in some ways because I was able to escape from the hoard every other weekend to visit my dad. I also had friends who liked to have sleepovers. I really savored any time I was able to stay in a normal household and tried to recharge my batteries that way. I also kept my bedroom as neat as possible so that it felt as though I had a type of haven when I just couldn’t handle all of the decay around me.

Do you have any advice for others currently living in a hoard or trying to cope with their HP? It will get better. I would encourage you to get out of the hoard as soon as you possibly can if you are still in it and then try to find a way to deal with your parent(s) in the most guilt free and painless way you possibly can. That might mean severely limiting or cutting off contact with them. This is okay. If that is the only way you can love them and stay sane, then that is what needs to be done.

For more info about my past, you can check out this post.

If you would like to read more children of hoarders interviews, Becky and Deedee were both kind enough to volunteer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Shabby Apple retail lustings

As a continuation of my previous retail lustings post, I wanted to add these absolutely stunning dresses from Shabby Apple. The best part? From now until September 14th, you can get 10% sitewide with the code favorite10!

The PhD trench dress would be the perfect dress to wear just about anywhere, don't you think? Dress it up, dress it down- I can definitely see this as a great go to dress.

As stated previously, I've been wanting to add some more red to my wardrobe. The Red Queen lace dress is just the punch of red I've been looking for!

If I were feeling more demure and shying away from bright colors, the Mad Hatter lace dress would offer that same simple elegance with a more neutral palate.

I'm a sucker for classic styles and clean lines. The Panthera fold over collar dress is causing my preppy heart to go pitter pat!

Maybe it's just my desire for summer to last a little bit longer, but this Toe the Line chambray dress is calling my name like a siren. Perfect for a picnic and a romp through some parks.

Be sure to check out more of the gorgeous dresses at Shabby Apple and don't forget to use the code favorite10 by September 14th to get 10% off your purchase!

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The fierce urgency of now

by darrentunnicliff via Flickr
"We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, 'Too late.' There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: 'The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.'"

-Martin Luther King, Jr., emphasis mine

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Retail lustings

Well, folks, I'm trying to keep a lock down on most of my funds at the moment since my savings account needs to be beefed up in anticipation of moving expenses and my student loans are officially off deferment at the end of this month (boo hiss), but I'm a human (a girl human to be exact) and I have wants that do not listen so well to budgets and rationality. Since I can't put these items in my closet, I'm gonna put them right here: 

J. Crew
I've been wanting a mustard cardigan for ages. If I get any of these items, a mustard cardigan is the most likely contender. I won't be paying full J. Crew retail for it though, I can tell you that. I might luck out and find one at a thrift store.

In addition to brightly colored cardigans, I've also been eyeing patterned cardigans a lot lately. This Madewell beauty fits the bill.

c/o Ruche
I have a surprisingly low number of dresses and exactly zero color blocked, pleated ones.

c/o Ruche
This striped dress would definitely make my closet more colorful and fun, don't you think?

Big, chunky necklaces are also something I've been wanting to spruce up my wardrobe with. While I'm not a huge fan of gold, I like the quirkiness of these mismatched beads.

 Again, not a huge gold fan, but the simplicity of this necklace wins me over.

c/o Need Supply
I'm such a sucker for loafers. I stand no chance against these blue beauts.

What have you been lusting over for fall?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to survive grad school while working: part 2

by ian boyd via Flickr
This is part 2 of my posts based on my experiences surviving full-time grad school while working full-time. You can find part 1 here.

In part 1, I talked more about things you can do to find the right head space for dealing with a full plate and to prevent defaulting into a ball of stress. In part 2, I'd like to focus more on actual actions I took to get all of my work completed.

Time management
As a high schooler, I was a horrible procrastinator. As a college student, I was a procrastinator. As a working grad student, I didn't have the luxury of pussyfooting around. It may have been easy to go 36+ hours without sleep as an 18 year old, but let me tell you, the older you get, the harder it is to function on less than your normal nightly dose of Zs (I'm only in my mid-twenties and feel this already).

In order to squeeze in school work, paid work, and life obligations, I took advantage of every extra second I had throughout the day. I always had my class reading assignments with me so that I could read whenever I had downtime: I read on the bus, I read at mealtimes, I read when my boss wasn't looking, I read while I was waiting for a friend to show up or a doctor to call me into his or her office. If my online class was particularly boring, I would listen while cleaning, catching up on emails, or cooking. If I managed to get my assignments completed early, I worked ahead, especially if I knew I wouldn't have time to later.

Basically, I strived for peak efficiency in everything I did throughout the day.

Technology is your friend
One of the best things I did for myself during my two years of hell was to download a PDF reader onto my iPod Touch. Most of my professors assigned online articles to read instead of reading chapters out of a book. In order to read them where ever I was, I downloaded them onto my iPod when I had a wifi connection at home and whipped it out whenever I had some extra time and I wasn't near a computer. The same can be done on a smartphone.

The second best thing I did for myself was to use Google Docs for all of my assignment drafts so that I could work on them at home, at work, or where ever and not have to worry about which version I was working on. Google Docs was also awesome for group assignments for the same reason as everyone in the group can work on the same version. While we're on the subject of Google, I put all of my due dates on my Google Calendar at the beginning of each semester and synced that baby with my phone so that I could always check to see what was on the horizon.

Work smarter, not harder, friends. There is some truly awesome technology out there that will help you get your work done in less time. Take advantage of each and everyone that works for you.

...Technology is also your enemy
While social media in all of its forms can be fun and a great way to stay in touch, it is the biggest time suck if I've ever seen one. Stay away from Facebook. Stay away from Twitter. Stay away, stay away, stay away. It helped for me to "schedule" social media time and to stick to those pockets of time to get my daily hit. If you lack self-control, download a browser plug-in like LeechBlock or StayFocused to automatically block these sites at scheduled times. It was also incredibly helpful for me to simply not sign up for sites that I knew would grab my time away from me like a greedy kid in a candy store (Instagram, Words with Friends, Pinterest) until after I finished my program.

Remaining work/life balance tips
  • If there is anything that you can take care of in one shot rather than over multiple times, do it in one shot. I did all of my errands in one trip once a week. I cooked all of my meals for the week over the course of a few hours on Sundays. All I had to do when I got home from work was pop the leftovers into the microwave before my night class started. I thanked myself each and every time for that foresight when I was concurrently short on time and a hungry, hungry hippo. 
  • If something can wait until you're on a semester break or even until the end of your program, let it wait. There's no sense in adding unnecessary pressure to get something done or to squeeze something in that isn't urgent.
  • Clear out all clutter, physical and electronic, from your life before the beginning and after the end of every semester. Unsubscribe from as many email lists as possible, opt out of receiving Facebook and Twitter notifications, read through all of your unread mail, file away your important papers, inbox zero all of your email accounts. Clean slate, free mind.
  • Make as many class projects as possible work-related, especially if you're working in the field you're getting your degree in. By basing library school projects off of needs at the library I worked for, I was able to do classwork on work time and gain valuable work experience- a huge win-win!
  • In order to comfortably get home in time for my night classes and to attend a few oddly scheduled classes, I needed to adjust my work schedule slightly. My employer was happy to work with me in order to make this happen. Don't automatically write off a class or even a whole program if the hours don't work well with your work schedule. You might be surprised at how willing your employer is to give you some leeway. Even if the degree you're earning isn't directly related to your job, advanced education is highly valued in every field and smart employers will be happy to benefit from your increased knowledge. Also, you never know unless you ask.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it- working full-time and going to grad school full-time sucked, but it was doable. It was very much like ripping off a Band Aid- it stings, but if you do it quickly, you won't have to suffer for very long. Just like anything important to you in life, the sacrifices you endure will be nothing compared to what you gain from the experience.

When you encounter naysayers (whether they be internal or external), repeat this Chinese proverb that was brought to my attention by Chris Guillebeau"The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it."

Do you have any specific questions for me or have any suggestions to add? Feel free to comment below or shoot me an email!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

How to survive grad school while working: part 1

by topgold via Flickr
When people find out that I went to grad school full-time while I worked full-time, their reaction is usually along the lines of, "Are you serious?! How the hell did you do that?" I typically just shrug my shoulders sheepishly and say that it I didn't sleep much and didn't have much of a life in order to spare them the agonizing details of how I planned out those two years of my life. While it is true that at times I did not sleep much and did not have much of a life, I did have a whole arsenal of tricks that I used to get all of my school work and day to day work finished. I'm going to share these tips over the course of two posts, this being the first, in the hopes of aiding stressed out students get through this period of their lives and reassuring them that it is completely possible to survive. While I realize that everyone's situation is different, I bet some of my tips can be used by others who are co-working and schooling or who just have a lot on their plates.

I found that the most important thing for me to get through my two years of full-time hell was to have the right mindset. I constantly reminded myself that my situation was temporary. Anyone can practically do anything trying if they know that there is an end to it. I knew that one day soon, I would not have to sacrifice so much time and effort to complete classes and that my future would be brighter thanks to my hard work. Knowing those things eased my mind and gave me a fresh focus.

Creative outlets
To go along with a right mindset, if you are a creative person, do not close yourself off from creative outlets. I started this blog in the midst of my two years of hell because not writing was simply not an option for me. Sure, my blog posts weren't super amazing or frequent, but at least I was able to release some of the tension that was building up inside of my head. Draw, paint, play an instrument. Maintain that balance to keep your mind more at ease and ultimately less distracted.

Keep yourself healthy
Whenever I sneezed over the course of those two years, I seriously began to fear that I was getting sick. I simply did not have time to be ill when I was expected to work 40 hours a week and attend classes three nights a week. Lying comatose in bed was not an option. Eat a well-balanced diet, try to exercise as much as possible (while I wasn't able to swim or do yoga, I did walk to and from work, so I was able to get some exercise in), and make sleep a serious priority in your life.

Learn to say no, but not always (a.k.a. re-prioritize)
When I began grad school, I stopped attending the handful of social groups I belonged to, I scaled way back on my nightlife activities, I slowed down on dating, I passed up parties and trips. It was a bummer, but, in order to get all of my work taken care of, I needed to say no to things that were going to interfere with my goals. If you're worried about what other people will say when you keep declining their invitations, bare in mind that anyone who seriously cares about you will understand and encourage you to keep your nose to the grindstone because they know that your degree is way more important than a few beers at the bar. 

I did allow myself an occasional splurge about once or twice a month to maintain some kind of balance in my life. In order to splurge though, I had to look ahead and do what needed to get done beforehand so that I could enjoy my time off. If I didn't manage to get the work done, I didn't allow myself to go. Simple as that.

Continued in part 2, where I talk more about actual actions I took to finish grad school at lightning pace.