Happy Friday! We’re pretty much all moved in! With the passing of each day this week, the apartment I now share with Sugarface feels more and more like home. This weekend I plan on grabbing the last of my stuff from my old apartment and tackling my closet.
Here’s this week’s installment of links that made me feel things.
I already broke in our kitchen a few times and this was my first dish cooked in our new kitchen. Sugarface says it’s now his favorite dish I’ve ever made him.
We are still unpacking and making room for our stuff, but this made me want to go garage sale shopping for pretty glasses.
I’m easily anxious and have to work hard at neutralizing my habit of worrying. Naturally after I was laid off, I noticed a spike in my anxiety and had to pay attention to when and how it manifests in my life, which is typically a lot of ruminating, clenching of muscles, and holding my breath. Here are 7 actions I take to combat the gnawing anxiety that lurks around the corner as I search for a new job.
Do What You Can
One of the best things I’ve done that relieves my anxiety is to apply to jobs. I know this is obvious but it serves more than just the pragmatic “income to live” need. The act of applying to jobs helps quiet the panicking voice in my mind. I couldn’t control the fact that I was laid off but I can control what I do about it and the most important thing is to find a new source of income. Every time I’m faced with an obstacle, taking productive action helps me feel better.
Being isolated during a hard chapter for a prolonged amount of time can cause a downward spiral. My first instinct was to hole myself up and throw pity parties for myself, which admittedly I indulge in every now and again. However, seeing my friends and catching up on their lives and laughing have been especially beneficial to me during unemployment. Moreover, your social network can be of great service to you during this time! I’ve scored a couple of interviews because I reached out to people I know. My friends also keep me in mind when they come across job leads!
I’ve journaled since grade school but for a while I only did it weekly. Now I strive for three long-form pages a day first thing in the morning. If I can’t do it in the morning, I try to complete it before the day’s over. The concept of Morning Pages is to rid your noisy thoughts and worries on to the page to clear your mind and face the day. If you do it long enough, you may even have moments of creative inspiration as it’s hard to write about nothing for three pages every day.
Develop New Skills
Now is a great time to learn a new skill. I’ve been focusing more on photo editing. I used Photoshop very sparingly pre-layoff. Now I force myself to stop using easy phone apps and to open up Photoshop. I find myself getting into the zone and giggling to myself maniacally when I learn a new trick or hack. In fact, I might have done that when I edited out an entire human from the header photo of this post. You can also now list your new skills on your resume!
When I’m running or working out my mind is quiet and I can be present and stop forecasting trouble. Also, delicious endorphins!
There are perks! I’ve taken more walks with my dog in the middle of the work day, had more lunch dates with Sugarface, and even went on a few trips (they were already mostly paid for or planned). If you had money set aside for a trip that you didn’t want to squander your PTO on, now is the time! It’s such a freeing experience to travel without worrying about what’s happening back at the office.
After I’ve had my fun traveling, I started to buckle down on my budget. I reduced the amount of meals eaten out drastically and started cooking more. It was fun to make some of my favorite recipes for Sugarface. I also started to do small odd jobs, used up years worth of gift cards I’ve accumulated, and chose economical or free events to attend for fun.
Questions: What would you add? How do you calm your anxiety?
My favorite moment in August was recorded on Instagram as a doodle. It was Sugarface’s birthday and we had driven 5 hours from Dallas to his hometown to have dinner with his family and pick up his pup. After a home-cooked dinner, we took his family’s boat out on the lake and the night sky was clear and I saw my largest bounty of stars since Marfa in 2012. It was breathtaking and quiet. The next day we drove 8 hours back to Austin. I’ve counted. Sugarface and I have done six 8-10 hour drives.
August was my second month of being unemployed and it wasn’t as carefree as July. As yearly expenses like car insurance and lease ending start to creep up, I found it hard to not be anxious. To combat the anxiety, I focused on things I could control, like cooking more instead of eating out and walking and running to counter the mind chatter. My friends were still treating me to meals out for my birthday in July. A surprise birthday package arrived mid August. I had complimented my friend on her scent when we were in Chicago last month and she surprised me with my own bottle. Another remedy for anxiety is focusing on what I have instead of what I don’t have. And I have great people.
Last week I read Stories I Only Tell My Friends and listened to Love Life. Enjoyed them both but would recommend you listen since Rob Lowe himself reads them and because his impersonations had me laughing by myself in the car. They were both encouraging reads as I job search.
One of my favorite things to do is to introduce people to boba and watch their facial expression change as soon as they have a ball in their mouth. Really, not being ironic here.
I dragged Sugarface to IKEA about a month before we started dating and then paid him with pizza to help me build a table and bookshelf. I still giggle at the memory of his IKEA commentary on our trip there. He pointed at a map and said in a leveled voice, “Oh look, a map of my personal hell.”
During my last visit to Houston, my mom showed me a short letter I had mailed to her. She is not the kind of person who saves physical things for sentiment but what I said in this letter meant so much to her that she continues to read it off and on. It reminded me to take more time to write more love letters. This link was another reminder. I should warn you, you might cry!
My friend Thomas asked me, “Next time you’re in Houston, do you wanna try to explore the underground cistern with me?” UH, YAS!
One of the perks of unemployment is having enough time in the morning to do Morning Pages again. It’s mentally cleansing and I start my day with less noisy mind chatter. See the video by the author who came up with Morning Pages.
And while we’re on the topic of movies, here is a movie analysis of the only movie I’ve seen 3 times in theatre. Spoilers ahead! If we ever have coffee in person, I can tell you my story about this story.
I started July with a middle of the week visit to one of our creeks in Austin with Sugarface and his pup. Every time I find myself doing something fun during normal work day hours I make sure to be grateful for one of the perks of unemployment. We then drove eight hours to Arkansas to spend Fourth of July with his family. It was a perfect few days spent barefoot in our bathing suits and eating amazing home-cooked meals.
My friend Treavor came to visit me that next weekend and gifted me early birthday presents to add to my home library. We talked really late into the night, watched Magic Mike XXL, which we both really enjoyed, and worked to find work in coffee shops.
I joined Sugarface during one of his work outings. Again, as I sat under a tree with him in the middle of a Tuesday, I thought to myself that this could have only happened while I’m in between jobs. Along with the lunch dates we’ve had.
July really had wonderful weekends. The third weekend I spent in Chicago with girlfriends. I went with my current roommate, a former roommate who now lives in Florida, and a friend I often travel with. In Chicago I met up with my friends who live in Chicago, one of whom was a former roommate! I could start a sisterhood of lovely women I’ve had the pleasure of living with. There was a moment in time prior to this trip where I wondered if it was prudent of me to go on a trip while unemployed. I’m glad I went! It was mostly paid for by the time I was laid-off and it produced such sweet memories. We went with the purpose of eating and singing along with Taylor Swift. I wish I could show you how excited my roommate was when Taylor surprised us with Sam Hunt.
The last weekend I spent with my girlfriends again. Stephanie picked me up bright and early with breakfast and treated me to great conversation while floating on stand-up paddle boards. My roommate and I hosted our monthly brunch, our theme being “Totes Toast”.
I ended the month turning another year older, feeling very loved with the gifts in the mail and cupcake and plant deliveries. On the actual day, Sugarface made me my favorite breakfast. I met up with my old coworker who was also laid off and we applied to jobs. I had lunch with my best friend and then dinner with Sugarface at my favorite restaurant. It was a quiet day and made me very happy.