Oh, hi!

Oh, hi blog! I didn’t see you there…

Okay, that’s a lie. I’ve been consciously avoiding you.

The last month or so has included a lot of stress, anxiety and generally feeling sorry for myself and I’ve started to think that this kind of blog might not be for me. I’m an over-analyser at the best of times and blogging intensifies that, particularly the negative stuff.

Really, I just want to live my life. Not analyse and record it and DEFINITELY not be one of those lame people who spends more time taking photos of their experiences than actually enjoying them.

So it’s been a fun experiment, and I might be back one day in a different form. I’ll still be out there reading lots of blogs though. There are some inspirational people out there in blog-land and maybe one day I’ll figure out how to be one of them.

Or not. That would be okay too.

Not Superwoman

It turns out I’m not Superwoman.

I know, I was surprised too!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a proper update, so let me catch you up.

I hate this time of year.

I find Christmas an expensive, stressful hassle that has no real meaning for me (I’m not religious). My husband and I thought we would simplify things this year by going away, just the two of us, for five days over Christmas but it has turned out to be even more stressful because we have to squeeze in all of our family obligations before we leave.

I applied for what I thought would be my dream job a little while ago.

At the time of writing, I’m waiting to hear whether or not they’re going to offer it to me and I’ve reached a point where I genuinely won’t mind if they don’t. They had some serious doubts about me, which I think may have been more about the person who was in the role previously than about me personally. Through the selection criteria, three interviews and a written response to some issues raised by one of my referees, I’ve just tried to be honest with them and if they don’t think I’m the right fit for the team, then I’m probably better off not trying to force something that wouldn’t work.

My back and hip pain was vastly improved after visiting the musculo-skeletal specialist.

I was doing my exercises every day and feeling much better and then, on Wednesday night, I was at a meeting for a community group I’m involved in and my calves started getting sore. Then my hips started feeling tight. And by the time I got home I was in almost unbearable pain which didn’t improve by Thursday morning.

So I went back to the specialist yesterday and he poked around and gave me some new exercises and that was all fine. And at the end of the appointment I asked him if stress could have anything to do with making the pain worse and his answer was predictable. Absolutely. He said stress is like a hot wind to a fire – it doesn’t start the pain, but it can sure as hell make it a lot worse.

I had my third interview for the above-mentioned job on Wednesday last week and I know they spoke to my current boss (who was NOT the referee who raised the concerns they asked me to respond to) last Thursday afternoon. So starting Friday I was expecting a phone call with news. When it didn’t come I spent the entire weekend feeling pretty anxious, which worsened over Monday and Tuesday.

By Wednesday morning I was planning to call them if they hadn’t called me – the recruiter only works two days a week so I hadn’t wanted to push her. And then I got the phone call outlining the faults a previous boss had raised and asking me to respond to them. It wasn’t much fun, I can tell you. There may have been some tears when I called my husband to tell him about it.

So it really shouldn’t be surprising that I was in so much pain by Wednesday night.

My body has always reacted badly to stress. At a particularly stressful time in my life a few years ago I went to the GP one morning with an earache that had kept me up all night and got sent straight to the emergency room. I wound up in hospital for a week having IV antibiotics pumped into me to try and kill off an ear infection.

Yesterday after my appointment I went home to a warm epsom salts bath and spent a bit of time chilling in my library. I even downloaded some relaxation music (piano only, I’m not a big fan of bird sounds or pan flutes) and closed my eyes while listening to that for a while.

But unfortunately it was back to work today. All I wanted this morning was to stay in bed with the covers pulled over my head. For a week.

I have Christmas drinks at my mum’s tonight, my best friend’s birthday drinks tomorrow and Christmas lunch at my dad’s followed by Christmas drinks with other friends on Sunday. Each of those things would be fine on their own, but all four rolled into one is a bit much for a single weekend.

All this has got me thinking about my body and my mind and how much stress I have in my life. The funny thing is, I feel like I have far less stress than a lot of the people I see around me, but I don’t seem to be able to handle it as well. I get anxious a lot more easily and clearly my body has some serious problems dealing with stress.

But it feels like it would be weak of me to say that I need to cut back on things in my life, because compared to so many people, even some close to me, I have it so easy. And being judged as weak is something I’m not sure I could bear.

So am I willing to just maintain the status quo until the next time stress causes my body to erupt? Not really, but finding a solution won’t be easy and requires some serious thought.

Dear Blog

Dear Blog,

I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you recently. I’m currently working on the theory that if you can’t say anything nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all.

I look forward to giving you more attention when I am less tired, sore, grumpy and impatient.

Yours sincerely,
Alice.

Personality profile

Today one of my girlfriends did the Myers-Briggs test and emailed me and another friend to find out if we thought her result matched her actual personality (the answer was yes and no). Our other friend had done the test pretty recently as well and her result was absolutely spot on.

I did the test years ago, when I was first out of uni, and I couldn’t remember what the result was. But I started looking at some of the different profiles and have come pretty satisfactorily to the conclusion that I’m an INFP – the Idealist.

You can read more about INFPs here, but the key points that stuck out for me were:

INFPs do not like conflict, and go to great lengths to avoid it. If they must face it, they will always approach it from the perspective of their feelings. In conflict situations, INFPs place little importance on who is right and who is wrong. They focus on the way that the conflict makes them feel, and indeed don’t really care whether or not they’re right. They don’t want to feel badly. This trait sometimes makes them appear irrational and illogical in conflict situations.

My poor husband has to deal with this the most. We don’t really “argue” as such but the closest we get is me telling him that something he’s done has upset me. And most of the time there’s a perfectly logical reason behind what he’s said or done, and even if I can understand that, it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like it and don’t want him to do it again. I know, even when we’re talking, how irrational that is, but I would rather he knew I was upset than incorrectly believe I’m a sane person ;)

INFPs have very high standards and are perfectionists. Consequently, they are usually hard on themselves, and don’t give themselves enough credit… The INFP needs to work on balancing their high ideals with the requirements of everyday living. Without resolving this conflict, they will never be happy with themselves, and they may become confused and paralysed about what to do with their lives.

This is absolutely one of my defining characteristics and, unfortunately, one that causes me a lot of anxiety if I don’t recognise it and deal with it as it’s happening. In the first few years of our relationship, Shane was constantly telling me to go easier on myself – every little mistake and misstep, whether real or in my own head, resulted in me beating myself up. When my anxiety was its worst, sometimes this was a literal beating (thankfully I never managed any actual damage).

Recently I’ve become much better at putting things in perspective faster, but that’s not to say the beating up doesn’t happen in my own head. I just manage to put it aside and move on much easier than ever before.

INFPs are usually talented writers. They may be awkward and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally, but have a wonderful ability to define and express what they’re feeling on paper.

I like to think I’m a good writer; I certainly love to do it. But you would need to meet me in person to understand that I am 100 times better at expressing myself on paper than I am verbally. That’s not to say I come across as a gibbering idiot in person – I can facilitate meetings and go to job interviews and chat with my colleagues in the lunch room all without any problems. But I frequently have trouble finding the write right words in conversations and I struggle to keep up with people who talk really quickly or loudly. I’m that person in a group who starts to speak and then gets cut off by someone louder or more interesting.

So I feel like I’ve adequately self-assessed with a little help from my friends! Who needs an actual test?

I comfort ate in a big way today. And the worst part was, I felt rotten WHILE I was doing it, so I didn’t even get the fleeting moment of satisfaction that normally comes from tasting something deliciously bad for me. I knew it was a bad idea and hated myself for it before, during and after.

Nice work, genius.

Clearly it did nothing to help my already bad mood.

But, as always, there’s no point dwelling on it. I just need to move on and aim to do better next time. (I really want to write about why I was in a bad mood to begin with, but that would be dwelling on it.)

To get my mind on to happier matters, I started putting some thought into what kind of sweet treats I’m going to prepare for Christmas this year. I like to make biscuits or slices or other delicious things to give to colleagues and friends. They’re also useful when I go to Christmas parties with extended family or family friends where the Christmas present protocol isn’t clear – I can both give them in return if I’ve been bought a present by someone unexpectedly and give them to people who haven’t bought presents, without them feeling guilty.

I spent some time browsing recipes and getting excited about a few new things – these collections in particular had some fantastic ideas.

But in the end, I decided I don’t have time to try new things and risk them not turning out, so I decided to go with my two tried and tested favourites.

Baileys Truffles

And Chocolate Chip Star Cookies

All up I probably need 20-25 gifts worth of a combination of the two over the next week and a half. I’ve always made them no more than a day ahead in the past, but I need to look into whether I can freeze the cookie dough or if the truffles will keep in the fridge for more than a few days. I have an entire day free this Sunday (my last one before Christmas) so it would be great if I could put on some music and just have a baking day.

This is about as close to the Christmas spirit as I get. I normally find Christmas a huge, expensive hassle (a lot of that comes from too many years of negotiating which parent to spend Christmas Day with growing up). My husband and I won’t be home for Christmas Day this year so we’re not even bothering to put up our tree.

But I do get a lot of joy from making people happy and I think baking is one of the best ways to express my love and appreciation for the important people in my life. And that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and not at all grumpy anymore!