Rituals

Daily I try to:

  • Wake up with coffee on the balcony
  • Let the sunshine in (we close all of the blinds at night)
  • Take my vitamin (no idea if it actually helps or not but it can't hurt)
  • Stretch/do a little bit of yoga to get into my body for the day
  • Brush my teeth, clean the sleep off of my eyes and get dressed for the day
  • Hydrate after drinking coffee
  • Learn the meaning of one of my tarot cards
  • Do my 365 + share it
  • Apartment work while listening to an audiobook (laundry, tidying, dishes, sweeping, etc)
  • Read (audiobook while cleaning counts)
  • Meditate (I am using Headspace and love it, this is a new habit for me)
  • Water any of my plants that are thirsty
  • Read some poetry
  • Apply sunscreen (I almost always forget this one. I am bad, bad, bad.)
  • Learn one new thing about Photoshop
  • Give Lena some exercise

I do a lot more than these things everyday, and I often don't get all of the things on this list done everyday. It just depends on the day. I love having a to-do list but no set schedule for the most part - that's pretty much my ideal structure.

Other random "rituals:"

  • Sunday mornings: reading postsecret.com with Edward
  • Burning incense all day long
  • Applying essential oils to my wrists many times a day
  • Saturdays lately: driving around with Edward listening to "Where Do We Begin?"

I try to balance apartment keeping/life/marriage/being an artist.

Alabama: Year One

It's been such a year and I'd venture to say it has been the best one I've had so far. I wrote this post almost one year ago about our first month in Alabama together (Edward lived here while growing up before moving to Saint Louis where we met) so I thought it would be fun to go back now and tell some of the stories of what's happened since then. I am going to be in Alabama for another three years - one more year in Birmingham, then two years in Montgomery. I'm in a really positive place and am genuinely excited about the future, instead of mostly afraid of it, which is a really nice change of pace. 

Things between Edward and I are going great. I don't know if I've ever been crazier about or more in love with him than I am lately. We got married in December and didn't really expect it to change our relationship much, but it did. We thought we would still just be us, Kait & Edward, and in some ways we still are but something about the ritual of a wedding and the new labels of "married," "husband" & "wife" changed things. It's been a very positive change and we are very pleasantly surprised by it.

Edward just finished his first year of medical school and has started his summer research position. Being married to a medical student is not the easiest of circumstances but we are getting better and better at it. I get lonely when he has an especially busy week or month with school but I'm finally starting to make my own friends down here and building a bit more of my own life in Birmingham, so I am not as dependent on him for everything socially as I was before. I also learned something about myself recently - I have trouble telling the difference between boredom and loneliness, they feel almost the same to me, so staying busier actually keeps me a lot happier and less anxious. One of my new favorite things is this app I found where you can organize to do lists into folders and such and check things off the lists as you complete them. The app makes a very satisfying sound when you check an item off as done. I add things to it constantly as I think or remember things I could/should do then whenever I have time to spare I do something from one of the lists. It's so simple but it's made me a lot happier, more productive, less bored, less lonely, less anxious and just better at life.

I have become a hardcore coffee drinker.

I joke to Edward that I consider myself to be 70% artist and 30% housewife. I divide my days between creating and doing the apartment/life things. I used to HATE housework but I've realized the power of great audiobooks. The work gets done faster and kind of mindlessly because I am so lost in the story and it isn't actually unpleasant at all anymore. So I've finally figured out that trick. I've been reading a lot too - real books, books on my Nook & audiobooks. "Life is so much better in a book haze," as my old friend, Brittney Lewis, told me when we were talking recently.

Lately I've been very focused on photography but I heard an author I really admire speak today and it reminded me how much I love writing and how therapeutic and pleasurable it is for me (though admittedly sometimes emotionally exhausting). I'm not planning on chasing publication in the near future though. I have two independently published books out right now - one of some creative non-fiction I wrote when I was eighteen years old that doesn't do much for me anymore and a book of poems and photographs. The first one was actually quite a project for me for a few weeks because I had gotten embarrassed about it when I was a freshman in college in 2010 and taken it off the market. Then this winter I found a used copy of it, decided it should be out in the world as a part of my origins and body of work even if I wasn't very proud of it anymore, retyped the whole manuscript from the used copy I'd found because I did not have the original manuscript files anymore and republished it as a second edition. The book of poems was just a way to release the ghosts (literary sage burning), finally stop futzing around with old pieces and clear the space in myself to begin writing new things.

Lately I've also gotten really into essential oils and incense. I bought an instant camera and a bunch of film and have been experimenting with that. I've been playing with filming little videos on my DSLR (Francis) because that's a new skill I want to develop. I've been teaching myself new things about Photoshop. I've become more interested in the stars and the cycles of the moon. I bought a deck of tarot cards that I fell in love with and have been slowly teaching myself how to read them. I've become even more of a gardener. Our apartment is filled with plants, they're on almost every surface, that I tend to and our balcony is a little jungle of flowers, herbs and vegetables. I was proud of myself when I grew kale, lettuce, basil & cherry tomatoes that Edward and I were able to use in our cooking.

I'm working on a manuscript called Mercurial and plan, instead of publishing it like the others, to just record myself reading it in parts and share them online. I'm bored with independently publishing books for now and this plan makes writing feel like a fresh medium again. I like that people will have to hear my words in my own voice instead of their own.

I've also been keeping myself busy with my 365 Project and my new Magical Objects Series. I've done a bunch of photoshoots for clients and have been selling prints of some of my work.

There has been some really hard stuff with my family (meaning parents and siblings) but I am feeling less weighed down by it all then I used to get. Not my circus, not my monkeys - I have my own little life to live now.

Edward and I have gone on many adventures in the past year when he's had a free weekend or a little time off from medical school. We went to a drive-through safari in Georgia where I loved the giraffes and deer but the petting zoo made me cry, checked out two different cave systems, Rock City, New Orleans as a little mini-honeymoon after the holidays (we went on a ghost tour and saw the grave of Marie Laveau!), visited the Great Smokey Mountains for the second time together and it was trippy because we were driving the same roads and but talking about how much had changed in our lives since the first time we'd been there almost exactly a year before, visited our old city of Saint Louis and went to the highest point in Alabama, which was beautiful.

I got a new tattoo this year, bringing my tally up to, I think, nine.

We got Sam, our great dane, shortly before Edward started medical school, I think we had just gotten him when I wrote that original post about our first month in Alabama, and he's now a big, boney goofball who weighs 20 lbs more than I do, full of love, hilarity, annoyance, copious amount of drool and sweetness. Lena is doing well. Sam adores Lena but the feeling is not mutual. Lena liked being an only child. I had a beta fish for a while but then I accidentally killed him while trying to clean his bowl. I felt terrible about it.

Today Edward & I ran errands and hung out and did a little housework together because it is Saturday. I woke up three hours before Edward so I got a lot of my artist work done then. Tonight we are going to drive a ways out from the city to go stargazing then come home and drink some champagne.

Lately I have been very into scents. 

I haven't been able to wear perfume since Edward and I got together because he's allergic to almost all perfumes - but the other day I bought two vials of essential oils to try and he's not allergic to them! I reapply them several times a day to my inner wrists. Lavender, which is calming, on my right wrist. Eucalyptus, which is exhilarating, on my left wrist. Then I rub them together. I chose these two because I really liked how they smelled separately and together and because calm + exhilarated is one of the best feelings I know.

I've also been burning so much incense in our apartment. I burn lavender and white sage together and adore the combination. The lavender, again, because it is calming, home-y and lovely. The white sage because it smells amazing and spiritual and it cleanses the space of negativity. I bought a third incense holder today so I can burn incense all around the apartment at once.

Today was one of the best in a while

I: woke up and drank plenty of coffee, washed and put away a load of laundry, took and edited some photographs, did my 365, backed up May's work so far, ran some errands, bought seeds for various flowers and lettuce, brushed Sam, swept the apartment + balcony, ate delicious meals including one with kale I harvested from my balcony garden, got my eyes examined, trimmed Lena's nails, hung out with Edward a bit when he wasn't in class or studying (he has an exam Friday), was social, learned how to do a new thing in Photoshop (I'm trying to learn one new thing everyday), listened to music, made and organized many lists, emailed back and forth with people about possible upcoming photoshoots, did some reading, burned lavender incense, tidied up the apartment, ordered a flash for my camera, wore my super comfy new shoes that I got for FREE from a friend they didn't fit and didn't get blisters (this is a big deal lol it's hard for me to find sock-less shoes that don't murder my feet), made a gratitude list (I try to do this at least once a month), got to pet a 4-week-old chi-weenie puppy that was one of the most adorable things I have ever seen... it was a busy day but for some reason I felt really good for most of it.

Recently I've mostly been up to: photographing, learning more about Photoshop + Lightroom, reading a lot, working on the manuscript for Mercurial, gardening, taking care of our home, talking to our new neighbor, learning how to use/experimenting with my new instant camera, talking on the phone a lot, being obsessed with an app that was recommended to me for organizing lists, on the internet (especially Facebook + Instagram) less than usual - which has actually been refreshing...

February + March 2017

So, long story short, I tried quitting smoking at the beginning of February. I got hypomanic and thought the nicotine patches were triggering hypomania in me somehow but Edward said he thought I was getting hypomanic already and that that’s what caused the urgency I felt to quit smoking. So then quitting didn’t work because I got super depressed. I remained super depressed until about mid-March when my doctor finally found an SSRI that worked to lift me out of my depression. One of the only good things about being bipolar, in my opinion, is that SSRIs work much quicker on us than people with just depression. It was really humbling because I’d felt confident that I was mostly done with the bipolar episodes and I have no idea what brought on the hypomania/depression rollercoaster again. Nothing happened in my life or with my meds that would explain why I suddenly got hypomanic. Luckily I didn’t do anything self-destructive while I was hypomanic or depressed – I just got a lot done, creatively and otherwise, while I was hypomanic then didn’t get much done while I was depressed because that is the nature of my depression.

Some bad things that went on in February and March: I meant to get a lot of reading and writing done and didn’t really accomplish much of either. I have like 9 books in a stack to read right now. I am hoping I can do better with getting a lot of reading done in April. I didn’t write much in this space but did overhaul it a little bit – tweaking the layout, removing posts I didn’t feel proud of, etc. The only downside to that is that when I put some posts back up it messed up the dates on them, but it isn’t a big deal. I’ve been meaning to write the Sophomore Year part of my mental health story for about two months but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I’ve been struggling a lot with motivation but am trying to do better/more. Another bad thing is that I was physically ill for over a month, I lost more than 12 lbs from just being nauseous and having no appetite, and after many stupid doctor appointments I learned that I had an infection. Then the antibiotics meant to treat the infection made me ill. But I have been feeling better since I got done with the antibiotics so hopefully the infection is gone. The worst part of February and March though was definitely the depression, I was crying almost everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, for everything and nothing all at once and all I could see was darkness.

Some good things that happened in February and March: I started my “Magical Objects” series and did an interview for a website that features artists and their work. I got a new tattoo on Valentine’s Day that has really been helping with my anxiety (I think I have eight or nine tattoos now, I’ve lost count, and some are so big and some are so small that counting seems a little silly anyway). Edward remembered that he had this fabulous stone, crystal and fossil collection at his mother’s house from his childhood so we got it and brought it to our home and I’ve been photographing it for said “Magical Objects” series. I love stones and crystals so this was very exciting for me. He said his childhood self would have been thrilled to know how excited his future wife would be about his rock collection. I started “365,” which is a challenge to take at least one photo everyday that a lot of photographers do. I’m now on day 23, I think. I’ve fallen behind a few times because depression/lack of motivation, but I am still doing it. Edward and I planted a little vegetable/herb garden on our little balcony, which I love looking at, with cherry tomatoes, broccoli, kale, butter lettuce, lavender, rosemary, fernleaf dill, a lot of basil and one other herb plant I can’t remember the name of. I discovered a new favorite bar called The Marble Ring which is 1920s themed (I had been watching Z: The Beginning of Everything on Amazon Prime and got super into the 1920s for awhile). Edward and I went swing dancing for the first time and it was really fun, though I don’t know if I’ll be able to convince him to go again… I watched season 3 of Grace & Frankie on Netflix, all the way through twice in a row, which was great because it got me out of my own head for a few days. I didn’t need any klonopin those days because I was so absorbed in Grace & Frankie land. And I finally started going to meetups! I’ve been meaning to since moving to Birmingham to try and make some friends but finally found the motivation to do it. Swing dancing was a meetup and it was so much fun. If I can’t get Edward to go back with me I might just go alone next time. I actually went to a meditation meetup because I’ve been trying to start meditating but it turned out “social meditation” meant mediating silently while staring at someone else who was meditating, not socializing, so I decided it wasn’t a good way to meet people and left early. Then I went to a meetup for people who use Wordpress but it was more for the more tech-savvy Wordpress.org users than people like me who use Wordpress.com, so I left that one early too. But still, I got out of the house and tried to meet people!

I think being married to Edward is the only thing that hasn’t disappointed me in life in one way or another so far. I love being married to him so much. He’s the kindest, most supportive husband I could ask for. I was feeling overwhelmed today, like my life was a little bit out of control, because I am a little behind on work for my art history class, I have some photography jobs coming up that I’m nervous about and I have been slacking off on the housework because of depression then lack of motivation. I also just hate housework but I need to get over that because Edward is really busy with school and I’m the one who has the time to do it. I think I am just used to living such a simple, very low pressure existence that now that I have more things to do, I just need to readjust to the stress that brings.

See some photographs I took of some of these adventures below, along with some others from February & March.