Listing our Healthy Coping Tools

*Content warning: discussion of anxiety, panic, and how Seasonal Affective Disorder can present itself in my life.
**This post may contain affiliate links.

So, lately, I’ve become more and more aware of the end of summer. Today in the town where I live, school is back in session. That means that the grocery store will get really busy at around 3:30 again and soon I’ll have to slow down through some of the best routes around town. Maybe it means that I’ll be able to get coffee with some of my mom friends more often?

It also means the end of summer.

And, look, summer isn’t my favorite season by any means. I’m not the kind of kid who deals well with heat at all—though I’m dealing with it better in the past few years. But soon the sun will start going down at around 4:00 pm and I’m not ready for it.

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and winters can be so hard on me that even in August, I’m starting to stress out about knowing that the darkness is coming and there’s really not much we can do to stop it.

Last week Ryan came in the house and I was stuck on the couch. I wanted to get up and go outside but my limbs wouldn’t work for me. I was lying there holding a pillow in front of my face to hide that I was crying.

The panic kind of sweeps in out of nowhere like that. One minute it’s a sunny August day and your dog wants you to take her outside and the next minute, you’re pinned to the sofa and all I could verbalize to Ryan was, “It’s. Getting. Bad. It’s. Getting. Bad.” He sits by me and rubs my back until I yank away from him because he’s making me hot but I don’t have the words to explain—so then there’s another thing that gets added on. Sure, we’re already drowning in panic out of the blue let’s take on a bunch of guilt too, why not.

Ryan’s amazing when I’m in a space like that. He gets this really calm voice and tells me true things. He exaggerates his breathing to encourage me to match him. This particular time, it didn’t get so bad. I wasn’t completely swallowed and I felt really good about it. I’ve worked for years on dealing with panic attacks and sometimes it feels like you’re not getting anywhere. But those times when it doesn’t ruin your entire day is such a massive victory and it deserves to be celebrated. Any time you live through a panic attack, though, to be honest, it deserves to be celebrated.

After I calmed down, I explained to him about my worry. That I’ll get depressed when the sun starts to go down and I’m scared of it. I’m scared that this year it’ll get really, really bad because I don’t know if I have enough energy to fight it off this year.

We decided to not waste a summer night. So we went for a drive to Coronado Heights. I took a lot of photographs.

He’s so beautiful.

He had a birthday on Sunday, you know? He’s worth celebrating.

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I was reminded, today, of the importance of not only having a list of healthy coping tools handy but also keeping a schedule. I have the best friends who remind me of what I need and remind me to remember what has helped in the past.

What has helped me in the past (items in bold are usually reliable quick fixes, the others are more long-term solutions):
Riding my stationary bike often.
Painting regularly.
Cooking and eating meals that do good things to my body.
Watching game shows on television.
Taking a shower.
Wearing clothes that feel good on my body.
Cooking meals that we only get to eat when it’s cold outside.
Meditating.
Visiting with friends and checking in.

New things that I want to try:
Getting a “happy lamp”.
Taking a Vitamin D3 supplement.
Keeping the house cleaner than usual.
Learn about Hygge and lean more on that vibe.

Another thing that I want to remember is that it’s okay to not be okay and trying to fit a square peg into a round hole only makes things worse.

Please, I would love it if you’d share your list of coping mechanisms or other things you use to get through the hardest seasons for you. I’m going to keep a list in my planner, next to my bed, and in my phone. I never want to be without it. Let’s help hold one another up as the days get shorter.

XOXO, Lib

July Things

Here’s a list of some of the things at the front of my mind for the past month. What have you been reading, thinking about, buying, enjoying??

Kansas Friends: the Primary Election is in one week! Who are you voting for? Here’s a link to a sample ballot so that you can research everyone before you hit the voting booth!

So, I made a declaration that as a Fat Activist, I don’t want to spend my money at or advertise for clothing stores that don’t serve sizes larger than what I wear. Because what good is this work if I’m only here to help myself? Anyway, after I made that announcement on Instagram I was really nervous that I just limited all my clothing options even further than they already are. And I did but it’s okay.
THE NEXT DAY Soncy launched!! It feels like a dream come true, really. There’s a new kid on the plus sized retailer block that I’m very excited about. Let me show you the things I want so badly!
This dress.
This jacket (for my pin collection!).
And I love this sweater. I bet it will be really fun for those cozy, work from home winter days.
Quality plus size clothing isn’t cheap and fall and winter are a comin’ so if you feel so led, feel free to make a donation to that paypal. 😉

Oh, other clothing that’s good for the fats? FGF Basics. I think one of each of the raglan t’s and perfect t’s will carry me through the changing seasons quite nicely.

I was so psyched to get to see the whole #planebae saga going down in real time on Instagram Stories. I was that kid ferociously refreshing Rosey’s Instagram feed and quickly searching for a place to charge my phone.
Yeah, it does bring up issues of ethics and privacy and there’s certainly room for those conversations. I know I, for one, would not like to have my flight experience documented and posted to the internet. So, if you completely remove the humanity of those involved, it’s a very sweet story.

Another thing that I would love for the world to let me have: these cookies. As an act of self-care, I decided that I should make these cookies because I knew that I had a lot of sprinkles in my kitchen. Things that, it turns out, I did not have: eggs, butter, milk, sugar, or flour. So I just put on a face mask and watched Johnathan Van Ness’ Instagram account.

Troye Sivan and Ariana Grande’s song Dance To This has been my favorite in July! But you know what’s better than that song and music video? The music video that was recreated with lil baby kids!! AH!

Speaking of music, Ryan surprised me with tickets to see Band of Horses last weekend! We don’t really have a song but we definitely have a band. That fateful day that Ryan came to my house to ask me to be his girlfriend, I was listening to Infinite Arms and Cease to Begin on repeat. We probably listened to those albums at least twice each during the course of our conversation and ensuing make-out session.

Anyway, here’s a pic of me and Ryan with his brother Joshua and our friend Karley at the show!

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Image description: Libby is in charge of taking a selfie that gets four people in the frame. It’s dark and grainy but it’s happy!

I got this lip gloss from Winky Lux in my last Birchbox. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do! I see myself ordering a lot more from Winky Lux in the future [affiliate links].

Oh yeah, and if you want to sign up for Birchbox, here, use my link! (Make sure that when you sign up for goods and services, check with your friends to see if they have a referral code. It blesses everyone!)

A friend sent me a copy of Landwhale and even though I’ve been in a reading slump, I devoured it in two days. It felt really good and got me back into reading just in time to get into Homegoing for our August book club pick!

Other places I could be found on the internet in July:

I was interviewed for Paper Magazine about the new Netflix original, Insatiable. I’m really excited that people are actually talking about this and I was also really excited to be counted among such hard working people in the Fat Activism community!

My friend J has the best little YouTube channel called Comfy Fat and Ryan and I are featured in their vlog! Go check us out. It was soooooo fun to get to spend time with J and Corissa and I can not WAIT to hang out again. Go follow J on YouTube and Instagram.

Why Don’t You Call Ryan Your “Husband”?

A few weeks ago I asked for people to send in any questions that you had about me so that I could answer them and we could get to know one another better. The following question is one that’s come up over and over again in the past few weeks. So I figured, rather than just letting the answer live for 24 hours on an Instagram story, I’d also talk about it here.

More or less, the question is, “I noticed that ever since you came out as queer, you started referring to Ryan as your ‘partner’ instead of your ‘husband’. What’s the story?”
This also is a subject that has come up a few times since an interview that I did for the Hutchinson News (which I’ve never been able to find online so I can’t link it for you) came out where Ryan is referred to as my partner.

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Image description: Libby takes a selfie with Ryan, sitting at a bar. She is closer to the camera, wearing a green tank dress. He is in a red t-shirt. They are both smiling wide in front of an exposed, brick wall. 

For starters, I don’t think it’s something that I started doing since I came out? Maybe I started doing it more after that? I’m not sure. I’ve been calling Ryan my partner since we started dating because being 32 years old and saying “boyfriend” felt really weird in my own mouth. Also when we were engaged, I couldn’t bring myself to say the word “fiancé” because it’s just so… fancy. When we were first married, I did like the way that “husband” sounded for a while but I just keep going back to partner because it just feels the most right to me.

Personally, in the past year or so, I’ve been trying to remove unnecessarily gendered words from my speech patterns. For example, I’ve been trying really hard to say, “hello friends” instead of “hey guys”. It sounds like a really easy swap to make but it can actually be quite challenging!

I have a few friends who identify as genderqueer, non-binary, or agender and a few of them go by “they/ them” pronouns. I want to respect those friends by using words that make them feel included and in doing that, I want to also train myself to see gender in my language and make changes where/ if I can. It’s just something I want to be pro-active about in my own life. As someone who has experienced the feeling of seeing that certain spaces were not created for my comfort, I want to do what I can to make my spaces into something that’s inclusive and welcoming for as many people as possible.

I’ve also started (trying to remember) to add captions to my Instagram stories and image descriptions to images that I post online when they’re related to my blog. It’s just some small habits that can make interactions with me more pleasant and welcoming for more and more people.

But really, when it comes down to it, I simply call Ryan my partner because I like the word. I think it describes our relationship really well. We live in partnership with one another. We’re teammates. I’ve asked Ryan how he feels when I call him my partner and he says that he doesn’t care one way or another. He calls me his wife–that feels good to him and it doesn’t bother me at all.

I added a new category on my blog called Q&A, so any time I get a question that might make a good blog topic, I’ll tag it as such. With that in mind, feel free to reach out with your questions either via comment, Instagram, Facebook, or email (libby (at) xoxolib.com).

What about you? What do you call your person? If you’ve ever been engaged, did “fiancé” feel as weird to you as it did to me??

XOXO, Lib

Will This Be Together or Separate?

A few weeks ago I hosted a super informal and unscientific experiment on my Facebook page. I asked my friends, “when you and your partner are out to dinner (without kids) and it comes time for the check, how often does the server ask if this will be on separate checks or all together?”
My answer: every single time.
Continue reading “Will This Be Together or Separate?”

Meet Me Monday: On Tuesday

Hi. It’s me. I forgot all about writing up a Meet Me Monday post! No reason. I won’t blame anything or anyone. I juuuuuuust forgot. Like you do. We all forget stuff now and again. I haven’t looked at my planner in about two weeks… that might have a little something to do with it. I also forgot a skype meeting that I had planned for Sunday morning… cool. I’m really killing it these days. Seriously though, chill vibes only. We practice self-forgiveness.

So anyway, it’s 4:15 pm on Monday, I thought why not interview myself? I’ve got a few more interviewees coming down the pike but starting in May I’m running low. So if you or anyone that you know would be interested–hit me up! Let me know. I want anyone and everyone. It’s not about showing off fancy, interesting people, it’s about showing how ordinary people are also interesting.


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How do you want to introduce yourself to these readers?

I’m Libby, a writer, a painter, and co-creator of &/Both Magazine living in Central Kansas. Kansas is my most problematic fave. I live with my partner, Ryan, and our pets. In our off hours, we can often be found on the couch watching old TV shows from our childhood, sipping on beers at Noffy’s pub, or running around with our old lady pup at the dog park. Meal planning and grocery shopping are my primary forms of self-care, though I am just as interested in sheet masks and serums.

What parts of your life are you finding most rewarding, lately?

Planning ahead. Lately, I’ve been trying to consider what Future Libby is going to have to go through because of what Current Libby is slacking on. Sometimes I really load up Future Libby’s plate but I try to at least be aware of it. Other times, just a little extra work right now can make something infinitely easier in the long run.
Also, meditation. For the past few months, I’ve been meditating before bed. At first it was just because I was having trouble sleeping but as time goes on, I’ve found myself reaching for this app whenever I’m feeling stressed or bummed or any way that I would normally consider completely out of my control.

What word/ phrase resonates the most in your life?

This summer, my friend Kalene told me so often that it still rings in my head like a song that gets stuck, “you always have a choice.” Every time I feel like I’m stuck in a corner or have to do something that I don’t want to do–there’s always an option. There’s always a choice. I’m always in charge of the things that I do and say and the way I respond to the things that others do and say to me.

What does your ideal day look like?

My ideal day has a strong mix of work and pleasure. I’ll sleep in with my partner and then we’ll go get breakfast at our favorite cafe–even though it closed down earlier this year. On my ideal day, Mr. B’s is not closed.
Then I’ll grab my laptop and head to the coffee shop where I’ll get really in the zone and write a couple blog posts without any difficulty or struggle at all. When I’m done, a friend of mine will happen to walk in and we’ll sit there another half hour and talk.
Ryan and I will take Fiona to the dog park and let her run her guts out. Then, we’ll head to a friend’s house where they’re having a potluck dinner. I’ll bring two bottles of wine and peach cobbler and we’ll sit around until night time talking with all our friends while the kids run around.
That’s my ideal day.

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XOXO, Lib

PS: I did not proof read this.