Confessions of a Caffeine Addict

I’ll admit it — I’m addicted to caffeine. And no, I don’t mean that I’m a coffee junkie (although I do love my coffee). I mean, I am 99.9% certain that I’m addicted to caffeine, specifically energy drinks.

Confessions of a Caffeine Addict
Image: “Shining Red Bull” by reynermedia on flickr.com, used with Creative Commons attribution 2.0 license; text added

Now, before you try to lecture me, please note that I understand energy drinks are bad for me. Especially drinking as many energy drinks as frequently as I do. I know it’s a problem and I’d love to quit… but they are just so delicious!

I’ve tried several times to quit drinking energy drinks but the withdrawal symptoms, particularly the headaches, make me legitimately afraid to quit (check out this article on caffeine withdrawal). The headaches get that bad. Some have been so severe that I couldn’t manage to function — I even had to take a trip to the ER once for the worst headache of my life after giving up energy drinks and all other caffeinated beverages. I’ve also been to the ER for an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath which was most likely related to drinking energy drinks, although I was drinking far less at that time than I used to.

My sophomore year of college I could drink up to four in one day and often did. (I know, that’s absolutely horrible, disgusting, and unhealthy.) Recently I’ve been drinking at least one each day but I’ve managed to go energy drink-free for almost a full week now. I have had a couple caramel macchiatos… One thing at a time, right? On the plus side, I have been able to quit drinking pop permanently.

Yes, the once delicious nectar now takes like a concoction of disgustingness, so at least I have that going for me.

Trying to quit energy drinks has been much harder, though, especially since they were part of the reason I was able to quit pop. I just love carbonated, sugary beverages. I’ve been able to make it a few months at a time without drinking energy drinks before, but then water loses its appeal. And then I’ll try to go back on pop, telling myself pop is better for me than energy drinks, but then I feel like I need to quit drinking pop and need some energy, and BOOM! I’m right back on the energy drinks. I tell myself that I’ll just have one on a certain day because I’m tired and need it, but then, as I’m sure you can imagine, I find that I “need” to drink another one the next day.

Image: "Rockstar Sparkling Energy Drink, 9/2014 by Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube" by Mike Mozart on flickr.com, used with Creative Commons attribution 2.0 license; text added
Image: “Rockstar Sparkling Energy Drink, 9/2014 by Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube” by Mike Mozart on flickr.com, used with Creative Commons attribution 2.0 license; text added

Part of my motivation for giving them up again comes from wanting to protect my teeth. I cannot stand having cavities (specifically getting them filled), and I am looking into getting Invisalign. I had braces in junior high and into high school, but I hated wearing the retainer because I had thought I had done my time. Now, my teeth are starting to shift and I want to have a straight smile. Since you get Invisalign from dental care professionals, I figure they will want a mouth free of cavities, and so I want to make sure that the energy drinks do not destroy my teeth.

I’ve tried to quit “cold turkey” before, but that usually leads to massive headaches that interfere with my ability to function, and I simply do not have time to put life on hold in order to nurse a pounding migraine. Hopefully, slowly backing off the energy drinks will help eliminate them completely, and maybe even rid me of a few more pounds.

Wish me luck, everyone, I’m going to need it.

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A Case of the Mondays

A Case of the MondaysI was all hyped up last night for today. I was going to get up early and get some work done. I just KNEW I would get up on time, I’d fix myself a nice pot of coffee, add some caramel macchiato creamer, get comfy on my couch, and rip through all the assignments I had due this week.

Turns out, I overslept by an hour and a half. Groggy, I made my way to the kitchen, let pup out of his bed, put his harness on him, opened the door, and, ta-da! It’s pouring the rain. I fumbled with my pup’s raincoat, got it around him, hooked him up to his cable, and set him loose.

I trudged through my morning routine, made it back to the door to let pup back in the house, and through the door he runs, shaking the rain across my apartment all the way. Still, my day isn’t going so bad.

I get ready to leave the house, make it to my car, and run to a nearby town so I can go to Hobby Lobby and a few other places. As I make it through the aisles, the rain starts coming down harder, the parking lot begins to get flooded in a few areas, and as I leave, I soak my shoes in the puddles.

Back in my car on the way home, I almost rear-end someone who decides to slam on their brakes in the pouring rain. I go off to the side a little because my brakes don’t seem to be stopping quick enough and, while I manage to avoid hitting the car, I do end up hitting the curb a bit. I’m not sure what it did to my car because I’m afraid to look, but the sound of it didn’t seem so great.

I get home, set my drink on top of the car as I get my bags out of the backseat, and all of a sudden, although my umbrella is protecting me from the rain, I am suddenly soaked. My drink had fallen off the top of my car and landed on me and the backseat of my car. Lovely. And the day has just barely begun.

I’m doing my best, however, not to let the dreary day get to me. My Mondays aren’t usually this bad, but they could be a whole lot worse. So, in order to spread the cheer, I’ve come up with a few ways to get rid of your “Rainy Monday Blues.” I hope they help you.

  • Watch the rain on the window. Remember when you were a kid and you would be in the car staring out the window as rain fell outside? Go back to that time, pick a couple drops running down the window, and try to pick which one will win the race to the bottom.Sail Away
  • Dress up. I know that your mood may say you should be in comfy sweatpants and an oversized sweater, but dressing up always boosts my mood. If you need a little confidence boost, people will likely be giving you more compliments than usual when you dress up on a Monday because everyone else will be dressed to fit their mood. Try a pop of color to add a little extra cheer.
  • Play with a puppy. I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of research that says puppies relieve stress and make people more cheerful. What else will make you feel better faster than a cute, fluffy puppy who will give you tons of love and kisses? If you don’t have a puppy or know someone with one, then head to a shelter or pet store and play with them there.
  • Go to the gym. This one always works for me if I can manage to get myself there. Exercise helps your endorphin levels – a.k.a. it makes you feel good. Don’t feel like being around people? Try one of those fitness regimens that do not require any equipment. If you’re pressed for time, there are always five- or ten-minute routines you can try!
  • Reward yourself for making it through your Monday. What do you enjoy? Chocolate? Movies? Both? Reward yourself for making it through your Monday (or even during a break for not losing it by that point in the day) by giving yourself something you love. If you have a favorite movie, watch it. Been craving a brownie? You deserve it. Make Mondays work for you.

No matter what you do to make your Monday better, just remember: the weekend is only 4 days away!

Do you have some other way of beating rainy Mondays? Let me know in the comments below!

Photos:
“A Case of the Mondays” taken by Volkan Olmez. Available on unsplash.com
“Sail Away” taken by Hugo Kerr. Available on unsplash.com

At Peace With Myself

Ugh. My last post talked about resolutions and how I would share them with you. Here I am, 24 days later, still trying to write about my number one goal. Sure, it’s better late than never, but that’s really no excuse for over three weeks of silence. My apologies.

Anyway, my number one goal. Are you ready for this? To be okay with myself.

Inspire with ImperfectionsI’ve screwed up quite a bit in my twenty-some odd years of life, and there are things I regret more than I could ever possibly let you know. In fact, I still struggle with one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make that happened in September of 2013.

It took me a long time to forgive myself for my decision (I’m still working on it), although I felt that it was the best decision for myself and others around me at the time.

When I start feeling awful about things I’ve done, I have to remind myself that I’m human and it’s okay to make mistakes. In fact, I find the following song to be of great comfort when I start being hard on myself:

The song is “Human” by Christina Perri. Sometime we can just be too hard on ourselves because of own views of ourselves or letting someone else’s opinions get the best of us. I have had problems letting go of regrets (and grudges) and forgiving myself for mistakes. Well, it’s time to finally make peace with myself.

There’s no point in going through our lives disliking or even hating ourselves for our decisions. Things work out like they are supposed to in their own time, even though it seems like it can take forever to see it.

I used to have (too much) pent-up depression related to my relationship with my mother. For a very long time, I thought something was wrong with me because my mother raised my older sister but not me. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t good enough for my mother.

It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I realized it wasn’t through some fault of mine. I had a better life with those who raised me than I would have ever had with my mother and I was loved more than I could have ever imagined. My mom loves me in her own way but we just don’t get along. But that’s a story for another day.

Too often, we all let other people’s opinions get the best of us. I feel like I’ve gotten better at accepting that some people just won’t like me, but I still struggle from time to time. Then I ran across the following saying by Bill Bullard:

“Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding.”

I am Enough.Those words are really powerful for me. Someone’s opinion of you or your decisions can be baseless. People do not need any background information or to understand what you are going through to form an idea of the type of person you are.

People are able to come up with some idea about you without ever knowing anything about you and you don’t owe them anything. People don’t need anything from you to make judgments. And you don’t need their opinions of you to be favorable.

This year, I want to make sure I remember that I am enough. No matter what I do or the situation I face, I am enough. No matter what others think, I am going to do my best to be okay with who I am. We each have our own battles and hard decisions that others will never understand.

And that’s okay.

6 Ways to Keep Those Pesky Resolutions

6 ways to keep those pesky resolutionsWell, the holidays sure did fly by. Christmas always seems to come and go in no time at all. And I guess I’ve finally reached “Christmas Adulthood” this year.

I asked for a paper shredder and a filing cabinet, which I received. When telling my boyfriend what I got, I knew he would make fun of me for my two proudest presents. And what did he say, you ask? “You’re such an adult.” He then proceeded to laugh in my face. Go figure.

Anyway, it’s almost time for 2015 and those wonderful resolutions no one can ever seem to keep up with. To help you along, I’ve compiled a few ways that may help you stick to those pesky goals you’d love to achieve.

  1. Don’t compare your goals with those of others: Comparing yourself to others is a no-no, as is comparing your goals to those of others. You are living your own life and have your own hopes, dreams, and issues. Your life is not the same as someone else’s, so why would your goals need to be similar to someone else’s? You don’t need to try to out-do people either. Live your life and set goals that will improve your own life. In fact, make one of your resolutions to stop comparing yourself to others.
  2. Have someone hold you accountable: Have your significant other or friend or family member or whoever hold you accountable to your goals. Tell them your resolutions and have them check on your progress throughout the year. Having someone hold you accountable will most likely make you want to stick to your goals and should help your motivation when it seems like your goals are out of reach.
  3. Don’t let a minor setback sway you from your goals: Did you set a goal to only eat out once a month and end up going through the drive-thru twice in one week? These things happen. Remind yourself of your goals and get yourself back on track. Did you plan to lose forty pounds this year and you feel like you’ve stuck to your diet long enough and it just doesn’t seem to be helping? Just because you don’t see progress immediately doesn’t mean you aren’t making any. Stick to it. See the next step.
  4. Set goal milestones: You need to celebrate your little victories to help keep you motivated and on track. Break down your big goal for the year into smaller parts and set minor goals for each month or every other month or every six months—however you decide to divide it is up to you. Do you want to put $1,000 into a vacation fund? Set $100 minor goals and do something snazzy when you reach them.
  5. Make your goals specific: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Making your goals specific will help you measure your progress toward your goal. Do you want to save money and lose weight this year? Specify a specific amount of money you want to save and a specific amount of weight you want to lose. Simply stating, “I want to lose weight,” is not going to keep you motivated; you need to set a specific number.
  6. in order to change, you have to focus on the newDo it for you: Most importantly, you need to set goals that you personally want to achieve. Don’t say you want to cook five times a week because your parents told you that you should. If you want to personally cook more homemade meals, then set that goal. Just like you shouldn’t compare your goals to those of others, you shouldn’t set goals that you don’t personally care about. Don’t set a goal because you “think you should.” Set a goal because it will make you feel better in the long run.

I’ll be setting my specific major and minor goals soon and I’ll share them with you when I get them planned out to help with my accountability. I hope you set awesome goals that you want to achieve and that you achieve them (and maybe even surpass them). Feel free to share your own tips in the comments! I wish y’all the best of luck in 2015 in everything you do and wish you all a “Happy New Year!”

O’ Money Tree, O’ Money Tree, I Wish I Could Live Frugally

Wouldn’t it be great if money really did grow on trees? How much easier would life seem? I guess we would be more likely to take what we already have for granted if it did, but for those who live paycheck to paycheck, being able to go out in the yard and pick up a few more dollars when they need it would be a true blessing.

For those who are trying to live frugally and save up some money while barely scraping by, I’ve gathered a few tips to help put away money here and there in order to build up some savings:

  • Keep track of your spending: I know this seems like a weird way to save money, but if you keep a close eye on what you are spending and why, you may notice that the $5 you spend twice a week on coffee adds up to $520 per year. Just cutting down to one cup of coffee per week would save you $260 per year. All those little purchases you make throughout the week ($2 here, $5 there, $3.25 there) may seem small, but they really start to add up. Keeping track of these small purchases (or even cutting them out) will help you manage your money better. Instead of making those random small purchases, add what you would spend to your savings!
  • Cut back on the take out: Do you buy your lunch at work every day, or even a couple days per week? Stop eating out as much as you do and you’ll save tons of money. The same idea from the previous point applies here: if you work five days per week and spend $5 on lunch every day, then you’re spending $1,300 per year on lunch. Take your lunch to work a few times a week and save the cash you would usually spend and watch your savings increase! (And you may even drop a few pounds by taking a healthier lunch to work with you!)
  • save-your-loose-change
    Image used with CC license: text added

    Save your loose change: If you are anything like me, you probably don’t like to pay with change, let alone carry it around with you everywhere. I hate digging in my purse to find it (I have a change purse yet the change never seems to make it in there), and it just takes up more time than I find necessary at the register. I’ll find tons of change in my car, my purse, the bottom of the washing machine, and random other places. I’ve started putting all the change I find into a jar, and, at the end of a few months, I have quite a bit of money to add to my savings.

  • Do it yourself: Not only will you save money by doing things on your own, but you can build and learn new skills! Instead of going out for dinner, cook yourself a gourmet meal at home. Instead of going to a seamstress to have your clothes hemmed, learn to sew yourself. Instead of buying expensive wooden signs for your home or abstract pieces of art, buy some supplies on sale and try your hand at being creative. Not only will you have a truly one-of-a-kind piece for your space, but you can customize it to fit your décor perfectly.
  • Entertain yourself at home: Do you go to the movies every weekend? Do you like watching the game in person? Try cutting back on the out-on-the-town nights once in a while and entertain yourself at home. Try renting a movie and cuddling up on the couch with some popcorn and enjoy the glow of your own tv. Replacing a few nights out with a few nights in will boost your savings.
  • too-much-on-coffee
    Drink water and stop spending so much on coffee.

    Drink water: Get a water filter and drink tap water to save the most money possible. You can also buy large packs of bottled water at the store for under $3, and they will last you longer than that 12-pack of pop that costs $4.50. Not only will drinking water help you save some money, but it will allow you to drop a few pounds, too! There’s nothing like looking your best and saving money while doing so!

  • Don’t miss payments: Really, do NOT miss any payments on any of your bills. Pay up as soon as you have the money to do so instead of waiting until the last minute and realizing the payment won’t go through on time. Making payments on time will keep you from getting hit with late fees and save you from the credit card company raising your interest rate. As a bonus, pay more than the minimum payment on your credit cards and loans to pay down your debt a little faster.

Hopefully you can put a few of these tips to use and bolster your savings. While the tips may not help you grow your own money tree, hopefully they will help you put a few extra bucks in your pocket. And, if you’re looking for a last minute Christmas gift, check out these money trees: Tall money tree, money topiary, and money tree with a star.

Image sources:

loose change CC image: Linus Bohman, flickr.com

coffee beans: Daniel Ruswick, unsplash.com

Surviving Christmas Break

Hey, everyone! I apologize for the lag in posts—this week has been a whirlwind of events. I finished my first semester of grad school (with a 4.0! Hooray!), I accepted an internship offer, and I traveled back to Ohio to visit friends and family for Christmas break.

My pup traveled with me to Ohio, of course, so that made my trip a little longer than what it would usually take—he’s small and with that comes a small bladder. After we crossed over from North Carolina into Tennessee, we stopped by the welcome center to stretch our legs.

tennessee-mountains
© 2014 – nightskiesanddragonflies.wordpress.com

The mountains were gorgeous and had just a dusting of snow on the top which was beautiful. My dog didn’t admire the mountains as much as I did, but he did give some undivided attention to the posts along the pet walk trail.

Anyway, I expected a few days just to relax once we got to my family’s house, but, boy, was I wrong. I’ve run around every day since I’ve been back and I am exhausted already. I don’t make it back to my hometown too often and, when I do, there are always a million events to go to and plenty of people to see. I can already see the need for a break from my break.

If you’re like me, you probably struggle to make it through all of your holiday obligations. Here’s some tips to survive all your holiday events and make your time with your family more enjoyable:

  • Don’t buy-in to the drama: We all have that one family member who thrives on creating problems out of nothing. You know, the one who stirs up drama and then places all the blame squarely on your shoulders? Don’t encourage them; if they are intentionally trying to get a rise out of you, which they undoubtedly will, ignore them and strike up a conversation with a less stressful member of your family. If the drama-lover won’t stop talking, just ignore them—trying to argue with them will only be a losing battle, so just let them talk. Once they realize they aren’t getting a rise out of you, they will move on.
  • Be okay with being wrong: If someone is arguing with you and insisting that something you said or something you did was wrong, sometimes it’s just better to agree that you were wrong and let them have their small victory (even if you were right). There’s a saying by Katherine Miracle perfect for this type of situation, “When you have a disagreement with a loved one, I challenge you to say, ‘I love you more than this argument.’” Sometimes, the relationship is more important than some trivial matter that you won’t remember later on.
  • escape-planHave an escape plan: Always drive yourself to family events. I do not ride along with other family members because they may want to stay long past the time you are ready to leave a family party. I’ve learned this from experiences of riding with others who decide to stay and play card games until well past midnight when I was ready to leave at 6pm. I’m not an entirely social person to begin with, so I always have a plan ready for why I need to leave by a certain time in case people question why I’m leaving.

Hopefully these three tips will help you survive the holiday events that are sure to fill your calendar this month. Enjoy your time with your family and remember this time only comes around once a year. Whether that’s a blessing or you wish you had more time is purely a matter of opinion. Just remember, some folks don’t have any family at all, so listen to your loved ones and let them know you appreciate them. They’ll thank you for it.

Here’s a few more tips to surviving the holidays from Stanford University. If you have some tips of your own, share them in the comments!

“Escape Plan” image: Forrest Cavale, www.unsplash.com

Procrastinator Productivity… Or Not

Has your butt ever been adhered to the couch? Mind has. For like 12 hours. Last night. Until 4:30 in the morning. What is wrong with me?

procrastination-centralI am a no-holds-barred procrastinator through and through. I always make plans to be better but never follow through. Why? I don’t know. I guess I like the challenge of trying to create something of quality in one night that my professors say is impossible. In fact, I wrote a 15-page midterm the day before it was due in less than six hours and I earned an A.

I guess you could say that I like a challenge.

Anywho, procrastination. I said I was going to better in graduate school, damn it. I even made plans to have a daily schedule like my professors suggested and I planned on reading all of the readings and I planned on completing my assignments in advance.

Did I? If I had would I have been glued to the same spot on my couch until 4:30 in the morning sucking down energy drinks and pecking away furiously at my poor computer’s keyboard?

I said I’d be better in graduate school. I was awful in undergrad. I even did my entire senior project the night before it was due.

Why am I telling you this? Because may you are a procrastinator and maybe you want to change that. Although they haven’t helped all that much, here’s what’s helped me somewhat anyhow.

  • The dreadsteps-to-productivityed to-do list: Yes, the awful to-do list actually helps. I often add way too many items to my list because I decide I need to clean and read for class and complete all of my upcoming assignments and complete some freelance projects all on the same day. But there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of crossing items off your to-do list. Make checking an item off your to-do list part of your to-do list. BOOM. You’re already on your way to productivity.
  • The dreaded schedule: Why do I dread making a schedule? Because I feel like I have to stick to it 100% and something always comes along that messes up one of my time slots (some spur-of-the-moment meeting for an assistantship or group project or something). When one of my time slots gets messed up, I immediately throw the whole schedule out the window. Don’t be like me. Even if a time slot for productivity gets interrupted, keep to the rest of the schedule you’ve set and you’ll be on your way to productivity in no time.
  • Try out some productivity apps: I have a couple apps on my phone centered on productivity. They allow me to plan out my schedule and set time limits for working on various tasks. An alarm goes off when a time limit is up and alerts me of the next task and starts counting down the time. Having little reminders like these really help out to get you moving on the next task you need to accomplish.
  • Break up the tasks: Don’t sit down and crank out a 25 page paper in 12 hours straight like I did. Just don’t. Use apps or some other time limit and set each task you work on for about 30-45 minutes, take a break, and go on to the next task. Give your brain a break now and then and don’t fry it by working on one task for too long.
  • Reward yourself: That’s right. Use that schedule you made and schedule in some time for a Netflix binge-watching session or to eat a whole pint of ice cream. Did you finish an assignment early? Bake yourself a cake. Or buy one from the store if you’re not a good cook. Did you clean your apartment (or at least pick your clothes up off your bedroom floor)? Go have a drink with friends or cuddle with your dog. Reward yourself for your accomplishments and you’ll be productive in no time.

procrastination-to-productivityI hope these five steps help you to not procrastinate and get stuff done. My supervisor for one of graduate assistantships has “G.S.D.” written on her wall to remind her to “Get S(tuff) Done.”

Just do it and get it over with so you don’t have to struggle to complete everything you need to accomplish.

What are you still doing here? Go get some stuff done! (Or watch Netflix. Either one.)

(Image Sources: Photographers in the order the photographs appear are Jonathan Velasquez, Jake Hills, and Patrik Goethe. Images retrieved from www.unsplash.com)