8 topics to learn more about during self-quarantine:

As I find myself with more free time and feelings of restlessness, I have been trying to redirect my energy into positive activities that will promote self-growth. I have been trying to learn more during this time to try and briefly distract me from the daily crazy and heartbreaking news updates.

1. Family history: If you are stuck inside with your family members, now is the perfect time to ask them about your family history. If you aren’t self-isolating in the same house, you will also have plenty of time to talk to them over the phone! Here are some questions you can ask your family members:

2. Unsolved murders: I know that many people will turn away from this subject, but I personally find it very interesting. Hearing about horrible things that have happened makes me feel more prepared and protected in my everyday life. Some of the unsolved murders that I find most interesting are JonBenet Ramsey and The Lady of the Dunes.

Read more about the JonBenet Ramsey case here: https://www.cnn.com/2013/08/29/us/jonbenet-ramsey-murder-fast-facts/index.html

Read more about the Lady of the Dunes here: https://medium.com/true-crime-by-cat-leigh/lady-of-the-dunes-623d5d723030

3. A country you want to travel to: I was planning to study abroad in Iceland this summer, but that is now obviously postponed until next summer. In the meantime, I have been researching the history and unique sites of Iceland. I am very disappointed that I won’t be able to go there in June but knowing that I will eventually go has kept me excited. Where is a place you want to visit? Research some fun sites or activities and get excited!

4. Invasive species of the great lakes: The Great Lakes currently have around 180 invasive or nonnative species, which is a very high number. Some of the most damaging invasive species have been zebra and quagga mussels in Lake Erie. These creatures latch on to any hard surface and spread very rapidly, draining nutrients that the native species would otherwise use. I had to read The Life and Death of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan for my water quality class which provided a historical and political perspective of these issues and how they came to be. If you are interested in this topic, or protecting the environment in general I suggest you become more informed on this topic!

5. The reintroduction of the gray wolf in Yellowstone: This is a more positive environmental topic and shows the huge impact that one species can have on an entire ecosystem. If you are looking for some encouragement and distraction you can learn more through this video:

6. Greek mythology: Something is telling me there is no way for me to quickly summarize all of Greek mythology, so I suggest starting with the Percy Jackson series. Seriously, it introduced me to basic concepts and motivated me to learn more about the actual Greek myths! Greek myths are very interesting to me, and maybe they will be to you!

7. Synesthesia: I first learned about synesthesia by reading A Mango-Shaped Space in 6th grade (great book, I love Wendy Mass) and it has interested me ever since. To my current understanding, synesthesia is a response from one of your body’s senses from simulation of another body part. It presents itself in many ways, but an example would be smelling pizza and seeing red lines. I probably did a very awful job explaining that, but you can find more legit information here: https://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/what-is-synesthesia-and-whats-it-like-to-have-it

8. Dream interpretations: I have been remembering most of my dreams more than usual, and I have enjoyed looking up the symbolism or meaning behind them. I take these fairly lightheartedly, but I still find it interesting. If you are curious what your dreams mean, I use http://www.dreammoods.com/.

I know I am encouraging all of you to use this quarantine time to expand your knowledge, but that does not mean that you have to be perfect every day. This is a strange and scary time for all of us, and we need to be extra forgiving of ourselves. If you have learned about anything interesting through my recommendations, or you have a different topic that I have not listed please leave me a comment! Please leave me a comment with any interesting things you learned through this post or any other topics you think I should learn about. Stay well everyone!

Love, Olivia

finding motivation during hopeless times: the year of the bullet journal

Although this post has a relatively lighthearted subject, I might accidentally be creating an upcoming series of heavy posts, depending on what I actually decide to post, because the world and my own life are currently filled with heavy topics. Cue “Heavy” by Linkin Park and Kiiara. Currently, as the entire world slows down more and more, I am struggling to feel motivated in my daily life. The mildly overwhelming transition to online school has made me not have much time for other activities. Everything feels hopeless, and I myself was starting to feel hopeless.

As my days in self-quarantine blend together, I was feeling more and more unmotivated. I would make plans in my head at night, to have a productive next day filled with healthy food, exercise, and creativity, but the morning would be another story. I spent the majority of last week procrastinating homework in between crying (I’m okay, just a very rough week) and episodes of “My name is Earl.” By the way, sorry for being all over the place but, I LOVE this show and I feel like no one else knows about it. I used to watch it with my mom and sister when I was younger, and I have really enjoyed re-watching and reminiscing. If you have Hulu, check it out!

Anyways, this feeling of hopelessness and lack of motivation led to me unsatisfied with my daily accomplishments. I was not coming close to completing the lists I had made in my head a mere 24 hours before. In 7th grade, I had to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, which introduced me to the idea of keeping obligations made to yourself. If I remember correctly, the argument was you wouldn’t promise a friend that you were going to do something and then just blow them off (Well maybe you would, but a highly effective teen wouldn’t!) so you shouldn’t do the same to yourself. I was thinking about this one night, and I decided I needed to start actually keeping the promises I made to myself. I thought that making a list would help me in this task. Enter the bullet journal.

I have always been intrigued by the aesthetic of bullet journals, but it felt like something that just wasn’t made for me. I could never see myself recreating the pages full of calligraphy and stickers that I see on Pinterest. Making my own bullet journal and realizing that I wasn’t trying to recreate anything or please anyone else was very freeing. This journal is for me to feel more productive, and I can make it look any way I want or that my skills allow. So far, I have just made daily lists consisting of workouts, homework assignments, and chores that I want to get done. I have also found it to be very useful in brainstorming ideas. I have found myself writing down ideas for blog posts, which I am very excited about.

If you have been contemplating starting a bullet journal, I encourage you to just try it out during this time. COVID-19 has forced all of us to take each day at a time, in a rather slow and discouraging manner. Daily productivity tools, like a bullet journal, have helped me reclaim my days to take them at my own time. We will overcome this strange and scary time and things will go back to normal. You will go out to dinner with friends and have access to toilet paper again but until then make sure you are taking care of yourself and keeping the promises you make.

10 Things I Have Filled My Self-Quarantine Time With:

It is a scary time in the world right now, as we all learn how to handle a pandemic without panicking. For my own mental health, I can’t dwell on COVID-19. All I can do is take the necessary precautions like stocking up on a reasonable amount of frozen and dry goods, social-distancing, and you guessed it washing my hands. During all of this, and in an attempt to distract myself, I have done a lot of things that I normally don’t have time for. Here is a list of everything I have done (so far) in self-quarantine. I hope you can find some inspiration!

1. Read Books:

I am almost finished with “I’ll be gone in the dark” by Michelle McNamara. It is one of those books that I want to hang onto as long as possible. I first heard about it on the podcast “My Favorite Murder”, which I also recommend, and it has been on my to-read list ever since. If you are interested in true-crime, or just books in general, you will love this page turner.

2. Deep-cleaned my shower:

This is something that I have been putting off for about a year. My shower has been growing mold/mildew possibly hair? for way too long. The process wasn’t pleasant at all, but the final product is very satisfying. Now, my shower is much more relaxing to be in and I am actually able to feel clean while getting clean.

3. Decluttered my bathroom cabinets:

I had a disgusting collection of lotions and body sprays that I have accumulated over the years but hardly used. Throwing stuff away hurts my environmentalist heart, but in this case it was necessary. From now on, I am just buying what I need and completely using up that product before I buy another.

4. Rearranged my room:

I liked my room before, but it also didn’t feel very functional. My bed was centered, leaving very little floor space, and a misplaced chair left me constantly stepping around it. Now, my bed is pushed up against the wall, making my room feel bigger and cozier. The chair now occupies the opposite corner, giving me a nice reading nook. Rearranging your room can bring new life to your space and even spark creativity and motivation.

5. Sold old books and clothes:

While rearranging my room, I went through my bookshelf and closet and pulled out any items I no longer want. I sold what I could online and donated the rest. Getting rid of stuff and clearing out space is even better when you can make some extra cash!

6. YouTube workout videos:

I am a new subscriber to Blogilates and Madfit on youtube. I particularly love their workouts that go along to popular songs. They make working out fun, and they are pretty short so perfect for a beginner like me. I find that I feel my best, physically and mentally, when I am exercising regularly. It’s hard to find motivation sometimes, especially during this stressful time, but I always feel a little bit better after a workout.

7. Upped my coffee game:

I ordered a variety pack of coffee syrups on Amazon and I have been enjoying trying out different flavored coffee ever since. It adds a little bit of fun and variety to my everyday routine, which I feel like has helped me feel a little less stir-crazy during this stressful time.

8. Tried out new recipes:

It all started with an abundance of vegetable broth and a fridge full of perishable vegetables. I lightly followed a soup recipe but mostly just threw random vegetables in a pot. It turned out delicious. I also made chocolate chip muffins for the first time in my life!

9. Watched an ungodly amount of Netflix:

Netflix has asked me if I’m still watching about 75 times in the past week, it even had a brief popup window suggesting some new hobbies to me. Not sure which executive signed off on that but I don’t appreciate it. In all streaming service seriousness, this extra time has allowed me to find one of my favorite movies: Shawshank Redemption. I lived in Mansfield, OH last year where the majority of the movie is filmed so I have been meaning to watch it for a while but just assumed I wouldn’t really like it. After several crying sessions, I realized I was so wrong. I loved this movie and I recommend it to everyone, even if you aren’t familiar with Mansfield.

10. Officially started my blog:

I have been talking about starting a blog for a while, but this extra time at home really pushed me to do it. I have been writing drafts in a word document for a while but with the help of my boyfriend, Daniel I finally got the official website up and running. I am so excited for the future of this blog. If you are feeling up to it, I encourage all of you to explore your creative side!

♡ I hope you all are staying safe and healthy during this time. I hope you can draw inspiration from my activities to find some happy distractions. ♡

Overcoming Insecurity about Anxiety

Insecurity and anxiety are issues that everyone has probably dealt with at least once in their life. For me, these are daily battles. It is often manageable, but some days are way worse than others. My anxiety tells me that everyone dislikes me and finds me annoying. I want attention from these people in my life, but I consistently close myself off from them. I fear being burdensome, so I am often silent. However, it feels like I can never win. If I am too silent then I feel burdensome in a different way, like a heavy backpack full of rocks that someone is forced to carry through the hot desert. Something that is not useful or interesting to them, but actually makes their activity more difficult.

My anxiety is so cruel to me. So cruel that I often question if I am simply just self-sabotaging myself. Remember that you are not your anxieties or a static character. You are an ever-changing powerful being. Just because yesterday was a bad day for your mental health, does not mean you are a bad person. You are simply just a person, and people are very complex. Something important that I’ve learned in therapy is that my anxieties and insecurities do not define me. I have frequently visualized holding all of the negative thoughts and feelings in my hands. Being able to view them as something outside of myself gives me peace. This peace sometimes only lasts a few seconds, but other times can reassure me for days. Acknowledging progress, however small, is very important to me. I encourage all of you to reflect on your own life and how far you have come.

It has hurt many of my personal relationships and even ruined a few. It has also made me feel like I have lost myself at times. However, explaining my anxiety to people has helped me form closer relationships with them. I always thought it would appear insecure to ask what a person thinks about me or if their non-response to my text message was a passive aggressive act. My therapist has encouraged me to ask people what they are thinking of me or if their action meant anything deeper. It can be awkward at times, and often very hard for me to build up the nerve to even ask, but most of the time it is just a simple miscommunication and asking has saved me a lot of worrying and even strengthened my relationship with the person.

Talking about my anxieties with others is something that I never thought I would do. I thought I was a uniquely flawed human, with it being impossible for anyone else to relate to or understand me in the slightest. I thought this until I actually opened up to someone. Some of my best friends have the same anxieties and insecurities as me, they just present them (or hide them) in different ways. Everyone wants to appear like their life is perfect, but this can be extremely damaging to individuals when they feel like they are inadequate to others. Comparison kills. We can help change this stigma by practicing and encouraging vulnerability.

Starting the conversation can be difficult. It puts you in an extremely vulnerable position. Something I think about a lot is rejection. I was very scared to show a different side of myself only to have someone find me ridiculous or weak. If you are looking to talk to a friend about your anxiety, I recommend first talking to someone who you have a lot of trust in. This will make opening up more comfortable for you. Continuing to open up to people gets easier over time, and it can help empower them to share their own story. It’s not always sharing, it’s also very rewarding to listen to others’ experiences. It is definitely a process that takes time and a lot of effort. It is not easy, but opening up can help you overcome feeling insecure about your own mental health and even empower others to do the same.

I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by supportive people who fully accepted my vulnerability, but I know that many people do not feel comfortable opening up to people in their everyday life. I hope you can use this blog, and the comments to find your own accepting community.

Welcome to Thoughtfully Oliving

I am so glad you are here. My name is Olivia and I guess that makes my daily experiences: oliving. See what I did there? I wanted to start this blog to be able to share my story and form connections with people about things I care about. I journal regularly, recording daily events and feelings, but I would also like to explore opinion and storytelling pieces. I thought these pieces deserved a more formal platform than my trusty knock-off Moleskine. I also am a slight attention-hungry introvert. Just kidding… somewhat. We will discuss my life-long struggle with insecurity and anxiety that makes me want attention but avoid it at all costs at the same time in one of my upcoming posts. I know, very thrilling! I actually am very excited to use this platform to encourage vulnerability though. Both in myself and all of you, but I encourage everyone to be respectful of all comments, stories, worries, and fears that are expressed. This is the beginning of a supportive and friendly online community, and all comments promoting hate will be removed.

Photo credit: Olivia French

Now, a little more about me and what this blog will explore. I am a current sophomore at The Ohio State University studying environmental policy and decision making. I have a variety of interests spanning from hiking, true crime, sustainability, mental health, skincare, and animal rights. I plan on exploring some of these interests in each of my daily posts but also incorporating a lot of my own life stories. I am curious to see how well my personality and sarcastic humor is translated online. I encourage everyone to assume the best of me and I will assume the best of you! If you have any comments or questions, please leave them down below. I am very excited to interact with all of you.