Recovery is a Series of (Potential) New Beginnings

Changes are happening! I’m moving in September. Each time I get ready to move, I daydream about my new routine, my new home, my new self. I imagine setting up my spaces just perfectly, waking up early in the morning, drinking the yummiest coffee, writing lots, never procrastinating on anything ever again. Like a new home is gonna magically make me a different, better person. I know that that’s not the way it happens. I know that I need to actively make changes in my life if I want a fresh start, and I also know that I don’t need to wait ’til I move to a new place to make a fresh start; I can start making changes today.

What changes do I want to make? I know I need to be specific to get anything done, but sometimes it’s just a feeling I’m looking for, or I’m imagining my life in images rather than actions. So I need to define what I want. Right now, what I’m looking for is:

– a healthier sleep schedule (staying up all night writing is fun, but I prefer getting out of bed early, writing/reading while I drink my first cup of coffee of the day, and the feeling of possibility that comes with having a whole day ahead of me; a night owl schedule is fun for a bit, but I end up getting sick & cranky)
– a space that makes me feel inspired (my current home is perfectly beautiful and I have probably written more in this apartment than all my other apartments combined, but it’s time to move on, and having a new space tends to re-energize & inspire me)
– save my pennies! quit making impulsive purchases! eat cheaply & deliciously!
– drink more water

So now that I’ve written a list of changes I want to make, the task now is to figure out how make those changes.

One trick I’ve learned to wake up early is to set my alarm on the other side of my bedroom, so I have to get up to turn it off. Once I’m up, I’m less likely to go back to bed and curl up under my blankets. Another trick I’ve learned is to fill my coffee maker before I go to bed, so when I wake up, all I have to do is flick a switch and coffee is now being prepared. I also make sure my blinds are open when I go to bed, since the sun rises across my bed as I wake, and I know that I like to do something creative right away, so no matter where else the rest of the day takes me, I still begin with a sense of accomplishment and meaning. I go through phases with my sleep schedules, falling out of my healthier habits and into unhealthier ones, then trying to get back on track again. It’s a hard to maintain consistency, and I know I can’t do it all the time, but it’s worth trying.

Do you have any tips for maintaining a regular, healthier schedule? What works for you?

Having a space that makes me feel inspired is my goal with any place I live. The most basic thing I have done with most of the places I’ve lived thus far is simply painting the walls. My first living-by-myself apartment was pale mint green and I hung up colourful art prints and postcards. When my mom and I lived in a tiny house together a couple years ago, I had two rooms to myself, so I painted my bedroom black & red and got all black bedding, creating an atmosphere that was dark & cozy to invite sleep after dealing with a majorly destructive bout of insomnia, and I painted my other room bright lilac and filled it with colourful things. My current home has a lavender livingroom, sage green bedroom, and yellow kitchen. I don’t know if I’ll be painting my next place, but I am already planning where I’ll put my furniture and what I’ll put on the walls.


My gorgeous purple desk, found at a yard sale, spraypainted in my old back yard.

For me, it’s important to live in a place that expresses my personality. I don’t like living in places that feel temporary, or places that look like they were decorated by an uninspired landlord. No matter where I am or how long I’m gonna be there, I need my living space to feel like a home. It gives me a place to enjoy spending time in, look forward to coming back to, and it helps me take good care of myself.

What do you do to make your place feel like a home?

As for saving money, moving is gonna help me out with that since my rent will be cheaper (I’ll be living with roommates for the first time in five years! Adventure!), and I’m also trying to make better decisions about the food I buy. I do like to treat myself to fancy soy lattés now and then, but it’s not something I can do everyday, or even every week, so something as simple as a vanilla soy latté can actually be a bit of a special occasion for me.

Learning how to not make impulsive purchases is something I am constantly struggling with. Despite knowing it’s untrue, and knowing all the brainwashing that has gone into making me feel this way, I am one of those people who thinks that buying something is gonna make me happy and change my life forever. Whether it’s a book, a notebook, or a dress, I pick an item up at the store and imagine all the changes it’s gonna make in my life. This book is gonna be the best ever and it’s gonna make me write my own book! I’m gonna write the most magical things in this new notebook! Somebody’s gonna fall in love with me when they see me dancing in this dress! And so on… I need to constantly tell myself, This Purchase Is Not Gonna Be Life-Changing. It’s more likely that I’m actually just gonna feel intense anxiety as I throw my money away on something I don’t need, and I might not even keep it longer than a few months or a year anyway.

Also, while I tend to end up expecting This New Thing to make me so darn happy, I also really like getting rid of stuff, clearing out the clutter in my apartment & my brain, and I know that my new clothes are gonna end up in a thrift store, and I’m gonna sell my books to the used bookstore down the street anyway. So is this purchase really necessary?

Another way I prevent myself from making foolish purchases is this: with each thing I consider buying, I carry it around the store with me considering whether or not I really need it. For example, I went to Chapters today and was immediately drawn to their discount rack, which was filled with stacks of notebooks. Notebooks are my favourite! I found three notebooks that I liked, carried them around the store with me, and found another book I was interested in, a discount hardcover copy of a book that’s been on my to-read list for a while.

When I was ready to leave the store (i.e.: when all the bright lights & colourful things & expensive things hurt my brain & my body and I needed to escape), I sat down on the floor and began making my decision. I had three notebooks and one book, and I left with only one notebook. I left one notebook behind because it was too big to use as a daily journal and I knew I wouldn’t like carrying it around in my backpack all the time like I do with my journals; the second notebook I left behind because I was gonna use it as stationery, but I already have a ton of stationery as it is, and there’s no need to accumulate anymore right now; the book I left behind because I don’t like reading hardcover books, and I knew I’d be getting rid of it when I was finished reading it anyway, so why not seek it out at a library once I’ve read all the other unread books on my shelves. The notebook I brought home was a tiny graph paper Moleskine, which I decided to keep because I rarely see Moleskines on sale (50% off!), it’s small enough to carry around with me comfortably, and graph paper is so satisfying to write & draw on. (I am notoriously bad at making decisions, and felt that documenting the process of this seemingly simple decision would be useful.)

As for drinking more water… That’s easy! I try to keep a glass of water beside me at all times so that I always have something to sip on, plus I know that water makes me feel way better than soda or juice or whathaveyou. I even sometimes write down each glass of water I drink to make sure I’m getting as much as I need. Water is also good for preventing headaches, which I get often, so that’s more encouragement to keep chugging it down.

Positive decision-making, and changes to my daily routines, are crucial in my recovery (recovery with borderline personality disorder and alcoholism, to be specific). New notebooks and new living situations are good excuses for fresh starts! So, now that I’ve figured out how to make those changes I wrote in my list, it’s time to actually implement them into my daily life instead of just talking about them!

What changes are you currently trying to make? How would your life be different today if you implemented those changes right now?!

Decisioningly Yours,

P.S.: Have you heard? TELEGRAM: A Collection of 27 Issues is being published by Mend My Dress Press in October 2012! My very first book!

P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!

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