Are You One of the 9 to 11% of Americans Who…?

…would report feeling “daily worry and stress without a lot of happiness and enjoyment” in your life? Because according to the long-standing Gallup “U.S. Mood” Poll, 9 to 11 percent of Americans feel that way. Apparently and not surprisingly, the numbers were even higher immediately following the 2016 election, reaching a four-year high of 13.1%.

Personally, I fall into that depressing bucket now. But I’m also dealing with a lot of stress – fights with my boyfriend, anxiety about my career not moving forward fast enough (I’m 35), drinking too much to deal with the stress of uncertainty, and the general fear of Trump and losing access to Obamacare.

I used to be a lot more excited about life and my career in my twenties. The upside of the fact that I’m less happy now is that the happiness in my twenties made me somewhat dreamy and complacent, and so I wasn’t working as hard as I should have at my writing. Now, the fire is lit under my a** and I have been writing a ton more to deal with the anger at myself for not being further ahead.

While I don’t always experience daily stress and worries, because I do have amazing days where I feel recharged and refreshed, I do think I’d put myself in the 9 – 11% bucket of Americans who are struggling to find fulfillment.

So, what do you do if, like me, you realize that you would put yourself in that bucket?

Well, for me it’s all about testing variables to improve. Experimenting with your life. Making small changes and tweaks to see if you feel happier or more fulfilled from them.

Here are some things I’ve done and/or plan to do in the future:

  • Really analyzing my interactions with people to see if they uplift me
  • Trying natural anxiety relief supplements, like Omega 3 pills (heavy on the EPA and less on DHA)
  • Spending less time staring at my phone in public places
  • Writing EVERY DAY to push my career forward
  • Exercising at least once a week (wasn’t doing that before, d’oh!)

Would you put yourself in the 9-11% bucket, and if so, how do you plan to change it?

Women In Their 30s Now Having More Babies Than Women in Their 20s

For the first time in over three decades in the US, women in their 30s are having more babies than women in their 20s.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released data last Wednesday that the birth rate among women aged 30 to 34 last year was slightly higher than that of women aged 25 to 29. Also according to the data, women are having their first child at age 28 on average. Consider that in 2014, the average age for women having their first child was 26.3 according to the CDC. That seems like a pretty high jump in age to me, considering it’s been only 3 years since 2014!

Experts say that the change is partially due to a reduction in teen pregnancy rates. But that’s only part of the story. A lot of women, including myself, feel it’s okay to have children later. I’m 35, and I want children and haven’t had them yet. I don’t feel societal pressure to have children, only biological. And even that biological pressure is somewhat tempered by knowing many women who have had babies over 40, and the fertility options that new technology brings. I’ve definitely calmed down a bit more in the past year or so, because I know I’m just not ready yet and that it’s better to feel that I have the right partner and financial situation to raise a child than to ‘just do it.’

But, for my own peace of mind, I’ll be making an appointment for fertility diagnostic testing at USC.

Skin Discoloration In Your 30s

Have you noticed any skin discolorations since reaching your 30s? I have, namely brown spots and patches on my face (maybe only noticeable to me at the moment). I’ve started my own personal investigation into what’s going on (by that I mean obsessive Googling!).

Strangely, the first time I noticed it wasn’t while looking in a mirror. It was while doing FaceTime on my Mac. There was a little brown patch above my lip. When I looked in the mirror, I could barely make out this brown-ish area. I guess it was something with the light on the Mac.

Soon after noticing that first discoloration above my lips, I spotted a small brown spot on my cheek, and then…oh wow…what’s that? Small brown dots on my nose. Oy.

It kind looks something like these images below:

Looking at this spots jogged something in my memory – namely, a conversation I had with a friend a few months ago. She told me she has some discoloration on her skin, and said it was melasma. I figured that perhaps that could be what I had too. So I dived into some internet research, and sure enough (according to my own self-diagnosis, thanks Dr. Jane!), it seems like melasma to me.

What’s melasma, you ask? Well, according to medicinenet.com, melasma is:

A very common patchy brown, tan, or blue-gray facial skin discoloration, usually seen in women in the reproductive years. It typically appears on the upper cheeks, upper lip, forehead, and chin of women 20-50 years of age

And what’s it caused by? Many times it’s hormones. This is why pregnant women and those women on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) have melasma. It can also be caused by sun exposure. Personally, I only started to notice these spots in the past two years, and since I moved from NYC to LA about three and a half years ago, maybe that’s been the cause of my own discoloration.

So what can you do about it? Well, you can get a prescription for hydroquinone cream or lotion – which works by blocking the natural chemical process in your skin responsible for creating melanin, which produces dark skin pigmentation. You can also get a chemical peel or microdermabrasion.

And of course, wearing sunscreen will definitely help delay melasma outbreaks. Holistic healers also say that trying meditation and yoga can be helpful, as they can help re-balance your hormones.

I’ve yet to try any of these remedies myself, but I’m planning on making a dermatologist appointment soon.

Fear of Loss in Relationships

When it comes to sustaining peaceful romantic relationships, I’m not the best. I try really hard, but I have bad anxiety, and that makes me fear the worst. My brain can get caught in a negative thought loop pretty quickly — “Will this last?” “Does he love me enough?” “What if he learns more about me and doesn’t want to be with me anymore?” Or worst, I place too much emphasis on the micro-moments of the relationship (like, what does it mean that he normally texts me around this time, but today he didn’t?) that I forget about to be present.  GAH! It’s enough to drive anyone insane.

So, basically, I’m terrified of losing, to the point where I may self-sabotage myself to subconsciously have the relationship end. Stupid, right?

I’m not sure how to get rid of this nagging feeling, other than the normal things, like going to therapy and obsessively googling self-help websites for fixes. I’ve read a lot of Buddhist teachings about how you need to recognize that you can’t be attached to anything forever. And by truly accepting that, you won’t suffer. But still, it’s hard to not feel deep attachment to someone you love.

I just know that I can’t act from that place of fear – from the fear of the relationship ending at any point. I have to remind myself that acting out of fear is destined to cause problems in any relationship I may have, because I’m not present.

One mind trick that helps me when I’m feeling anxious about my relationship is to think about the absolute worst case scenario. And when I think about how it’s not life or death, I know I will be okay.

root-of-suffering-is-attachment-570x377

Rebooting Old Friendships

As an only child, I’ve been fascinated by friendship since pre-school, when I had the opportunity to make my very first real friend.  Whose name I don’t remember…oops!

On my birthday two weeks ago, an old college friend who I haven’t spoken to in maybe 5 years reached out to me. There was never a falling-out between us. Rather, she mysteriously disappeared. She stopping returned emails, texts, calls and just vanished. A group of her friends from med school and I tried to figure out what was going on, but we couldn’t track her down. Because we knew she had disappeared on other people at an earlier stage in her life, and that there had been recent drama in her life, we didn’t think she was kidnapped or anything crazy like that. We knew she must have chosen to leave of her own volition. Also, one friend heard from her and passed along the information that she was safe but not looking to be contacted.

Back to my birthday. I got an email from this old friend who disappeared. It was a very simple message – she wished me a happy birthday and apologized for missing so much of my live/events in my life, etc. and asked if I’d be willing to open up a friendship again. She didn’t mention why she disappeared or what happened.

While some people might have been hurt to have been left by a friend, I was excited to hear from her. She was someone who I didn’t depend on completely for emotional support, and I something I loved about her was her independence and free spirited nature. While we never had that much in common, I always enjoyed spending time with her and loved her intellect and passion for life. She inspired me because she gave 100% to everything she did – becoming a neurosurgeon, going to residency, and then deciding to quit it all to write. She’s now got a book published. It’s pretty amazing. She’s already accomplished so many big deal things in her life.

We’ve been emailing back and forth a few times, but we haven’t gotten to meaty subjects yet, though I’m sure that is coming in time.

I read an article this week about how to deal with re-building these sorts of friendships – ones that disappear and then re-emerge: A Psychologist Explains How to Revive a Dead Friendship.

The most important take-away from the article for me was this: when re-building an old friendship, you need to be willing to see that person with a completely fresh set of eyes. Easier said than done, but I think it’s the only way to have an authentically honest new friendship.

It’s like if an artist were to paint another painting on top of an already used canvas. Like, when art historians discover than underneath a Picasso was an older Picasso painting he painted years prior.

I’m not sure what will happen with my new/old friend, especially because we don’t live in the same city, but I’m curious to find out.

Turning 35 and A Great Relationship Analogy

Today I’m turning 35. I can hardly believe it. There’s something substantial about this age. It feels like I’m a real adult in the prime of my life. And the government must think so too, because, guys, I’m eligible to run for President now. Ha!

Anyway, birthday aside- I wanted to share something my co-worker told me yesterday that resonated.

I work in the film industry as a website editor, and my passion is screenwriting and television writing. Yesterday, my co-worker made an amazing analogy between what makes a successful film and what makes a successful relationship. Here goes the gist of what she said…

A film is ultimately art, right? The end goal is to make the audience feel something, touch their hearts in some way (even if it’s terrifying someone, as in the case of a horror movie). When I write, it’s to make people laugh and understand our shared humanity and maybe make them feel less alone. That’s what a good movie or TV show does for me.

But making films is also a business. You need to make money to be able to continue making films. The whole art and commerce thing…

So my co-worker’s analogy was this – the relationship between art and film is similar to the one between your heart and your head in a romantic partnership. Your heart may love the person you’re with, but your head may say that person is unhealthy for you. Ultimately, you want to find someone that you both love and is logically right for you.

heart head

How Much Money Do You Spend Per Day?

According to yesterday’s (2/20/2017) Gallup polls, the average dollar amount Americans report spending or charging on a daily basis (not counting the purchase of a home, motor vehicle, or normal household bills) is $101.

What do you think of that? That number blew me away, primarily because I don’t make nearly enough money to spend that kind of money. I realize though that the number probably reflects people who have children and other dependents.

I used to try to live in about $30 a day. Which seems like a lot of money, but in actuality, isn’t at all. If you want to go out to dinner with friends, you may be spending $50 or above for drinks and dinner. Before I let go of the $30 per day thing, the $30 balanced out in my mind – because some nights I’d stay in and cook, and be spending only $10 a day, and then other nights I’d use the leftover money to pay for the dinners and nights out. But then I started spending more nights out and treating myself to self-care things like massages and the occasional self-help book on Amazon and I couldn’t keep myself within that $30 per day rule. And then I’d feel bad about myself.

So, I try not to think about how much money I’m spending each day. That’s probably not the best approach, but for now, it’s the best thing for my mental health. I try to be conservative obviously but I don’t want to be limited everyday to a strict amount.

Do you count how much money you spend every day? Laura, my fellow blogger and bestie, told me she uses an app to track her spending everyday. But it seems like too much work for me at the moment, even though she’s assured me it’s easy to use.

If you’re interested in seeing more data of how the average American spends their money and their overall job satisfaction, I highly recommend the Gallup site:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/112723/Gallup-Daily-US-Consumer-Spending.aspx

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