Tag Archives: happiness

5 Minutes to Relaxation

I have a hard time relaxing. Even when I sleep, I stay tensed up in my neck and shoulders. How do I know that? Because I wake up with killer tension headaches. :C

I don’t think I’m the only one who suffers from chronic tension. In fact, I’d wager that many of us walk around with so much everyday tension that we’ve honestly forgotten it’s there. This tension is not only painful (mentally and physically), it eventually eats at our health. I’ve seen my father suffer the effects of long-term stress, with chest pains, swollen legs and feet, breathlessness, and painful joints; I don’t want to end up in constant pain like he has.

Why Traditional Methods of Relieving Stress Don’t Always Work

I don’t know about y’all, but I find traditional methods of stress relief to be BO-RING. Meditation is great; meditation works for some people. For me, it’s 10-15 minutes of letting my brain run absolutely amok–it will not shut up, and it requires something else to focus on besides my guilt and worries. Meditation, for me, causes more tension than it relieves because I am alone with my thoughts…and that’s not a good thing.

Writing things down sorta-kinda works for me, except for the fact that handwriting takes soooo veryyyy lonnnggg when I’m used to typing almost as fast as I can think. In this case, my frustration with the medium (pen and paper) stop me from relaxing, because I hate the slow pace of my handwriting. (I definitely don’t think I’m alone in that, LOL.) I wish I could write faster, but as my hand cramps very badly from long years of not using my handwriting, I end up scripting words at a snail’s pace, often making stupid and obvious spelling mistakes because my brain is light-years ahead of my pen. (One more frustration!)

The 5-Minute Methods that Work for Me

  • Focused, deep breathing.

    Yes, I know, this sounds weird. Why would deep breathing work for me and not meditation?

    I think it’s because deep breathing forces me to focus on a task (breathing in so deeply that my belly expands, and then letting it out through pursed lips). With something concrete and simple to focus on, my brain momentarily pushes away all the other junk that would normally be clouding my thoughts.

  • Tensing and relaxing muscles.

    I read this in an old-as-grass health book back in middle school, and I’ve used it to good effect since then. Basically, you lie in bed, and squinch all your muscles up as tightly as you can for at least 30 seconds. Then, starting with your feet and legs, relax all the muscles, moving up through your body until you’ve relaxed everything.

    This always leaves me feeling pleasantly warm and relaxed, as if I’d had a brief massage…and it makes you realize just how much tension you’ve already been carrying around!

  • Rural driving at dusk.

    For me, driving on an unhurried evening with a beautiful vista surrounding me (and very few cars around) is very, very relaxing. You would think driving would tense me up, but in fact, moving through the landscape at 35-45 mph, watching the shadows slowly lengthen and the colors slowly change toward night, is quite lovely. Now, I do need a rural setting for this–having to deal with sudden brake lights ahead of me and annoying tailgaters behind me isn’t relaxing at all–but if I can find me a nice, empty road to drive on, it works.

  • Eating pasta–any kind.

    Fettuccine alfredo? Oh yeah, I’m there. 3-minute mac’n’cheese heated up in the microwave, with a little garlic powder added to taste? Sure, bring it on!

    No matter the price point, pasta always relaxes me. Perhaps it’s the heaviness of the meal or the fact that it feels so good to eat something so non-diet…but it’s definitely “comfort food.” 😀

  • Turning a fan on and wrapping up in a blanket.

    Sounds counterintuitive, but for some reason, feeling a breeze on my face while being otherwise snuggled up is relaxing for me. It’s just cool enough that I can unwind, but I’m not tensed up and freezing my fat off.

  • Smelling lavender and/or vanilla scents.

    This has been scientifically studied and proven over the last century–these two fragrances are most calming and stress-relieving. I scoffed at this until I started cooking with vanilla extract one day and found myself in a much better mood, despite having to deal with some iffy burners and an almost-epic-fail or two on the stove. Since then, I have begun using vanilla and lavender around my home to subtly affect the air, and combined with a good movie, a warm blanket, and a full tummy, this sends me into relaxed sleep in no time.

    Vanilla and lavender both are pleasant scents and are easy to come by in body fragrance, home scents, and even in cleaning products, as the Essential Oil Use Chart for Cleaning will attest.

    Other links for learning more about these scents:
    Vanilla and Aromatherapy
    The Sensational Power of Scent
    Uncommon Scents Love Nose Best

How Do YOU Relax?

In the end, these ideas of mine are simply that–ideas, presented as options for you. If you find that these work for you like they have worked for me, then that’s wonderful. But if they don’t, you might just need a little more research into what might relax you most. It took me years to find these tricks…yours might be hiding and waiting to be discovered, too!

Wisdom Teeth and Headaches Gone

I had my wisdom teeth extracted on November 3rd…as in, 10 days ago.

I bet you’re wondering why you’ve seen so much more of me on the Internet since then, instead of seeing me drop off the face of the Internet. One reason: the headaches I have had for EIGHT MONTHS are finally gone.

Symptom: The Burning-Sensation Headache

I started having burning-sensation, throbbing headaches in my temples around April of 2011, and I thought it was just another one of my body’s quirks. Since I’ve suffered migraines, blood-pressure headaches, menstrual headaches, and tension headaches throughout much of my life, I figured this was just another headache to add to the mix.

But this type of headache was odd. It behaved somewhat like a migraine, except misplaced–it didn’t occur in my eye or in the veins in my forehead like all my other migraines, but it made me feel nauseous and sensitive to light, and left me with no energy. And yet, it behaved something like a tension or cluster headache, too; my neck and shoulders stayed tense all the time, and it felt as though the headache rocketed back and forth along the trigeminal nerve. But that wasn’t all: if I pressed a fingertip to the source of pain at my temple, I could feel what felt like a corded blood vessel, pulsing and pounding just like a blood-pressure headache. It seemed that this headache had multiple personality disorder.

I suffered these headaches, often up to 10 times a month for 2 or 3 days at a time, for seven months; they were untreatable by most medicines, so I had to suffer through them. By the time October rolled around, I had had inexplicable trouble sleeping (going to bed at 5 AM and waking up at 1 PM, anyone?) combined with the headaches, and all throughout the month of October I felt as if I was too tired to live my life anymore. Pain was constantly with me, in the burning of my temples, and my life had shrunk to what I could manage versus what I wanted to do.

The Health (and Dental) Epiphany

To add insult to injury, at the end of October, my bottom right wisdom tooth began to act up–it and its three brethren had been playing hide-and-seek with me since I was 20, painfully bursting through the gums over a period of weeks, staying out for a few months, and then partially covering themselves back over with gum tissue. I figured this was another episode of the same stuff, so I did nothing about it, just switched over to eating softer food for a few days until the gum quit complaining.

But that was the odd thing: it didn’t stop complaining. In fact, it got worse, so much so that my jaw ached and it caused another one of those burning-sensation, normal-life-ceasing headaches. In desperation, I called my dentist, and they scheduled me for an appointment later in the week.

When they saw me, they first did an X-ray to see what might be the trouble; the X-ray results came back a few minutes later, and the dentist (an old pharmacy-school friend of my parents’) said, “Looks like your wisdoms are infected.”

Come again? INFECTED? How the heck could TEETH become infected?

But infected they indeed were–he showed me on the X-ray where the infection in each wisdom tooth had eaten into the jawbone, showing up as a small black spot behind each wisdom tooth. Ugghhh. I was sick at hearing that, but even sicker was the thought that the infection might have been going on much longer than I thought.

Out, Out, Darned Teeth!

An appointment was quickly made with an oral surgeon in the same building to extract all four wisdom teeth as soon as humanly possible, after a 10-day course of antibiotics had been run through me to dispel the grave infection. And so, on November 3rd, after 13 days of worrying and lots of praying, my dad drove me to the oral surgeon’s office to have my wisdom teeth removed.

I was so nervous about the surgery that my blood pressure and pulse were well above normal–the attending nurse noticed that the blood pressure reading was 133/90-something, though I didn’t catch the pulse reading. In fact, I was so scared that my nervous quivering was literally vibrating the dental chair underneath me. It wasn’t until the oral surgeon himself came in that I began to calm down, and that was mainly because he explained everything that was going to happen, including the effects of the general anesthesia I had opted for (I wasn’t about to be conscious during this stuff).

A peace I still don’t understand descended over me, just before the oral surgeon numbed my arm to put the anesthesia in. A minute or so after the anesthesia had been administered, I began to experience my vision fluttering, like the vertical hold on an old television gone slightly off-kilter, and then…blessed nothingness.

Well, I shouldn’t say exactly “nothingness.” I did have a dream under anesthesia, about my uncle (my mom’s late older brother) talking to me. As I recall, the dream felt about 2 minutes long, and felt absolutely real…and then I awoke to the nurse asking me if I felt like walking to the wheelchair they had waiting for me. I was clumsy as ever getting up out of the dental chair, so I figured I was back to normal (LOL). My jaw and mouth were all over numb, and I felt like I had Jay Leno’s chin extending out from my face, even though I was not swollen externally much at all. (“Phantom sensations,” I think they call that.)

I recovered quickly in the office’s recovery area–the guy in the curtained-off area beside me wasn’t doing very well, bless his heart. Not sure what was going on with him, but it sounded like he was in a lot of pain. In comparison with him, my experience was a cakewalk. Dad drove me to Cook-Out, where I got a lovely vanilla milkshake (doctor’s orders)–it quickly became a vanilla-and-blood-flavored milkshake, but I was able to eat soft foods and able to talk within hours of the procedure.

The Unexpected Blessing

2 hours after the surgery, I realized something. The blinding, face-ripping headache I had experienced the night before the surgery, which had tempted me to consider tearing the trigeminal nerve out of my head to spare myself any more agony, was GONE.

Not only that, but it has stayed gone, even 10 days after the surgery. Sure, I’ve had a little bit of burny pain in my temples here and there as the wisdom tooth sockets heal and the other teeth get used to not having their pushy neighbors around, but it is NOTHING like what had dragged me down for eight months. I am left to conclude that my wisdom teeth and their infection were to blame for my headaches and inexplicable fatigue…and now that they are gone, my energy and my old personality are back. I finally have mental energy enough to play Clix with my boyfriend again, to design and update my websites again, and I feel like hanging out with people again…it’s like I got 75% of my life back by removing 100% of my wisdom teeth.

My only regret in this process? That I didn’t get my teeth seen about months ago. If I had, maybe I could have actually LIVED more of 2011 outside my house instead of lying in my bed, clutching my head and crying. Moral of the story: if you have burning-sensation headaches that you just can’t explain, your wisdom teeth (if you still have them) might be the hidden cause!

“Woot!”

I say this often and about the most random things. Someone just got through a terrible traffic jam without getting hit? WOOT! I just found out one of my Sunday School class is out of the hospital and resting well at home? WOOT!

Some might think it’s weird for me to holler “Woot!” about small things like this. After all, the saying “WOOT” supposedly came from gamers saying “We Own the Other Team” (which I highly doubt because “Woot” is clearly a celebratory noise). But I use it like I think it means–a sound of joy, celebration, happiness restored. And I’m not shy about using it, even though I’ve had people tell me I need to be quiet or I need to stop using it because it sounds stupid or childish.

My opinion is, if we don’t celebrate the small things, praise God about all the little things He’s done for us, then we won’t be used to praising Him when the big miracles come our way. “Woot” is simply my way of praising with joy and abandon. If we forget how to be happy and instead practice complaining, soon there won’t be much for us to “woot” about in our whole lives. Being more childlike, being willing to shout for joy rather than clamming up just because it’s “not proper” to hoot and holler, is how I’d prefer to live.

I’m willing to look a little stupid in front of others, if it means I praise God, Who has done the wonderful thing I’m shouting “woot!” about. Sure, in that moment I don’t sound like a woman in her late twenties who “oughta know better.” But maybe I don’t have to “know better.” Maybe I’m perfectly okay allowing myself to celebrate even small victories. …And maybe we’d all feel a little better if we let out a “woot” or two about our own small wins.

My Style In Pictures

mystyleinpictures
With the advent of Pinterest, we all find it easier than ever to describe our personal styles through pictures. As a plus-sized, partially disabled young woman, I can’t always wear or create all the things I pin (and who can? LOL!), but I’m still drawn to certain fashions, makeup looks, and hairstyles. Thus, my Pinterest boards have become both a realistic portrayal of my personal taste as well as a fantasyland of things I’d love to wear.

Scroll down and see key elements of my style (which I call “Comfortably Classy)! (You can click on the pictures to see these pictures on Pinterest, too!)

Hairstyles

longcenterpart headbandandroll auburnwaterfall
clawclip braidandbun bigwaves
sweptup highbun longsmoothhair

Makeup/Beauty Looks

oldhollywood naturalblush
contouredglowingskin darkstunning
smokyeyeredlip ombreliner

Jewelry

filigreedrop swirlingtear pearldiamondstuds
doubleinfinity fairynecklace crownring

Clothing

offtheshouldertop longjeans blackpencilskirt
boatneckdress ladylovesongdress blueskirt
capelet bellsleevedress pedalpushers

Shoes

jeweledflipflops anklestrapballetflats
wedgeheel ankleboots
stilettos

leatherballetflats

See More!

You can find even more examples of my style (plus a ton of life hacks, organization and decor ideas, health tips, etc.) over at my Pinterest!

Perfect Little Moments

perfectlittlemoments
As a break from the weightier Tuesday on the Soapbox posts of the last few weeks, I give you this poetic entry as food for thought…all the perfect little moments we live through every day, but rarely take time to really experience. Hope you enjoy the ones I’ve listed here from my own life, and I also hope it makes you think of some of your own perfect little moments in your life, too.

  • Driving down the highway, windows down and music turned up, with a bunch of best friends.
  • The faint, pleasant chill of early morning coming in through open windows, as you lie in bed, perfectly snuggled up in covers, perfectly aware that it’s your day off and you can sleep in.
  • Stepping out from a dreary building into a rain-washed world, where even the sky looks bluer and the sunlight seems cleaner.
  • Finding the cool spot on the pillow.
  • Bare feet on a gently sun-warmed wooden porch.
  • An honest, much-needed conversation over hot chocolate on a chilly day.
  • Being the only driver on the road as far as you can see, both ahead of you and in your rearview mirror. (Perfect time for serious, out-loud contemplation, or enthusiastic singing along to the radio)
  • Watching dawn or dusk creep across a quiet, rural landscape…soft light and shadow playing across the streets and into the fields and forests, colors of leaves and branches shifting in the changing light.
  • Coming into an air-conditioned building from the sweltering heat and humidity of high summer–like diving into a pool without getting wet.
  • Putting on still-warm-from-the-dryer underwear.
  • When the knot of traffic ahead finally eases and you can speed up at last.
  • Bowing your head to pray, and feeling all the worry and hurt ripple out of you as you honestly talk to God.

A Cluttered Mind

aclutteredmind
Many of us suffer from physical clutter in our homes (myself included). It’s a modern housekeeping malady–we have tons of stuff, lying all over the place or squirreled away wherever it can fit. Most of us don’t even want to THINK about opening our storage closets or outbuildings anymore.

Clutter Isn’t Just Physical

But clutter doesn’t just manifest as piles of old receipts on the desk or stacks of old books on the floor. Clutter appears also in our heads. I find myself pushing aside various half-completed mental to-do lists and worries in order to try to complete a task; when I drive, I often start sorting through old guilt, things I forgot to do, and random ideas that pop to mind when, of course, I can’t stop to write them down.

Yep, my mind is a very cluttered place, just like many of the rooms in my house. Any horizontal space in my home is instantly a clutter magnet, and any free neurons in my brain are instantly taken up with endlessly processing and reprocessing worry and guilt. The worry is about tomorrow, and the guilt is about yesterday. Today is too full of failing to even process most of the time.

I would feel fairly safe in guessing that most of us suffer from cluttered minds. If you look at the increasing instances of car accidents, workplace problems, and relationship/family strife, it all seems to point to stress and overcrowded minds. Victims and perpetrators of car accidents alike say “I never saw him/her coming,” for instance. We were too mentally busy to properly look, perhaps, or to properly brake to avoid an accident. I’ve had more than a few near misses myself, so it’s easy for anybody to slip up. We also slip up in our emotional lives, hurting others and never even noticing because of the mental clutter we are tripping over.

Housekeeping for the Mind

Trying to de-junk our homes is one thing. It seems to be easier to separate out what is clearly too broken to save, too dirty to bother cleaning, and too old to matter when we are handling physical objects–well, at least for people who don’t hoard random stuff like Propel water bottles. (Not my finest moment, I assure you.)

But what about de-junking our brains? It’s much more difficult to discard old bad memories, especially when it seems like they hold a terrible truth about the kind of people we really are inside.

For example: Sometimes I lie awake at night thinking about the time I chucked a rock behind me during recess, trying to get back at some of the mean boys who were throwing rocks at my legs as I ran by. I hit another little girl instead, and I really hurt her leg–bruised it up something awful. And I never truly apologized. It’s been almost twenty years and I still think about it, because in those moments I was vengeful and selfish, and it led to carelessness that hurt someone else. And not only did I hurt someone, I never apologized. Is that the kind of person other people remember me as? Is that the kind of person I still am?

That’s one small example of my guilty mental clutter, among the many dirty and shameful memories I have stacked in my mental closet. It’s like I hoard these memories as a reminder that I am capable of being an awful person, just in case I ever get a little bit too full of myself, just a little too proud of the person I’ve become.

I have a feeling that a lot of us do this to ourselves, maybe not always to de-puff our egos, but for reasons of our own. Maybe we feel we’re not good enough to warrant being happy, or maybe we keep these old memories around as a way of keeping ourselves from backsliding back to where we were. In any case, these cluttered memories, those old worries, guilt, and fears, keep us from living the kind of life we want to live, just as the stacks and stacks of junk in my room right now are keeping me from living the kind of life I want for myself. We can make ourselves literally sick doing this kind of stuff to our minds–anxiety, depression, insomnia, and chronic stress don’t just appear from nowhere.

Courage to Pick up the Mental Broom

If we want uncluttered minds, we have to be willing to work to clear it. My very wise and very forgiving boyfriend has talked with me often about letting go of old guilt, even saying one time, “You know, you’re probably the only one who even remembers that this happened. If the people you hurt or offended that long ago have forgotten it, then why are you still holding on to it?”

I explained my point above, about my old actions possibly revealing an ugly truth about me, and he said, “Well, if you didn’t have any flaws and never made any mistakes, you’d be Jesus, and as awesome as Jesus is, I don’t know if I could date Him.” We laughed, but he was right. I needed to let go of old junk in my head; even if the “ugly truth” was true at the time, I can work now to fix that flaw in myself now. People can change, houses can be clean again, and minds can be clear.

I can’t say I sleep like a baby at night now, because I don’t. I still have old guilt and new worries swirling about on my mental floor. But at least I am now armed with a broom, and can sweep those problems out. You can be armed with a mental broom, too.

Soul Notes

soulnotes
Since I was a child, I’ve often “heard” musical pitches whenever I meet someone. It’s not a actual sound, but a tone resounding between my ears–a strange “mental hearing.”

This probably sounds pretty wacky to people who don’t experience this. I mean, how can somebody “hear” something that’s just in their heads? But for me, these pitches are not just random occurrences; they are clues to that person’s personality, and perhaps even their soul. I call them “soul notes.”

Detecting Soul Notes

My perfect pitch likely helps a lot in this, but it seems to be an automatic, possibly instinctive process to pick up on someone else’s soul note.

For instance, when I met my boyfriend for the first time, I heard, clearly and distinctly within my head, a high B, as if played controlled and soft on a stringed and bowed instrument. This matches his quiet mien, his way of carrying himself, but it also matches how he approaches life–with utmost self-control and logic. The key of B is gentle and subtle, but definitively “there.”

By contrast, when I hang out with one of our mutual friends, a very boisterous (and funny) person, the brassy trumpet-like sound of an F is in my ears, at a barely-conscious level, the whole time. F is a key of celebration to me, a key of joy–but also a key of solidity and strength. While our friend may be a little loud and wild at times, he is also a steadfast buddy and a family man at heart.

As for my own soul note? Well, it’s been quite a bit harder to hear than others’, but I believe my soul note to be C-sharp (aka D-flat). It is a very deep, “original”-sounding tone, almost foundational, and it can both fade into the background as well as sound itself loud.

Soul Notes as Predictors of How I Get Along With Others

It’s funny how the harmony or dissonance of these perceived notes seems to predict how another person and I will get along together. My boyfriend’s soul note and mine are a major-second interval apart (B and C-sharp)–they could strike against each other in disharmony, and yet when played together, they form a shimmering duet of each not overpowering the other.

Our boisterous mutual friend, on the other hand, reacts with my boyfriend differently than me. B and F pull against each other a bit more, creating the framework of a B-diminished chord; C-sharp and F are a major-third interval apart, more harmonic. It’s weird; I sometimes understand our mutual buddy better, understanding possibly why he gets mad or frustrated, while my boyfriend can be puzzled by his reactions to situations.

Usually, other people’s soul notes interact with mine on first meeting, and then get stronger as I continue to be around them. A person I met a few months ago had an indisputable A-flat (G-sharp) soul note, which sounded harmoniously but hollowly with my C-sharp. Being a fifth apart, it had the potential to either be a major chord or a minor chord, to either have a happy sound or a sad sound. This interaction mirrored how we got along–we were usually in accord, but there always was a little tension, as if we were both waiting for the other person to disagree.

How I Use These Notes

Initially, I use these notes as another clue to the person, doing my best to harmonize with them not only verbally, but subconsciously. As I get to know people, however, I’ve also been able to write and perform piano music that “represents” people in my life, writing how I “hear” their note (and eventually a melody) in my mind. (Most famously, I wrote a representative song for my boyfriend, about a month and a half before he became my boyfriend… 😉 )

I write and play these songs because they are great ways to honor friends and family. It’s not always a love song, but simply a “This is what you sound like to me” song.

Summary

Most people are either amused or weirded out when I tell them of this ability, because it is so unusual–I’ve never heard of anybody being able to do this, or of others even being aware of musical tones in their heads. It’s not like I’m hearing voices or anything, but it is a very cool phenomenon. I like to think of it as just one of the ways God is making my life unique and fun. 🙂

Dusk…My Favorite Time of Day

duskfavoritetime
3863536906_76da7abb33_b
Beautiful, evocative dusky road; picture found at Alan Yahnke’s Flickr.

I have always loved dusk more than dawn, ever since childhood. Dusk is a time of trees turning deeper green and casting lengthening shadows, of harsh sunlight fading into lovely colors, arcing deep into the west. It also is a time of winding down for the day, a time when it seems like you can be outside without being attacked by zillions of bugs, and you can rest without being swarmed by your to-do list. Not only that, it’s cooler (especially during the summer).

Forest dusk Wallpaper__yvt2
Look at this beautiful dusk light effect! Ahh… picture found at ScenicReflections.com

I love driving at dusk, walking at dusk, or even looking out the window at it. The transient time of late afternoon passing into early evening brings out some of the most beautiful and ephemeral colors in the landscape, and it seems to put away the endless noise of morning and midday, bringing with it a sudden stillness with light cricket accompaniment.

1299649558_1024x768_dusk-forest
Deep blue-green forest; picture found at Flash-Screen.com

Dusk, in contrast to dawn, is the end of stress and rushing around, and the beginning of “me time.” I’m usually done with all my work for the day and can now devote a little time to writing, watching some TV or a movie, talking to my boyfriend, family, or friends, or even just thinking quietly. Lying in bed, feeling the heaviness of my own limbs pressing into the soft surface, breathing deeply for the first time all day…it’s a languor that dawn does not allow, and dusk revels in.

Dusk also seems to bring out the relaxed conversation I love most. When I’m out at dusk with lots of people (or even just a few people), our words seem to turn to the philosophical and the meditative, the peaceful and the glad. Talk to anybody in the morning (just after dawn, usually), and you’ll likely get a string of complaints, worries, pains, and problems–well, either that or they’re entirely too darned happy ’cause they’re morning birds, LOL! But talk to anybody in the evening, and you’ll likely get a little slower and gentler conversation, maybe dotted with a bit of griping about the day…which eases off as dusk transitions the world toward sleep, as if the time of day itself helps wipe away the day’s concerns.

I guess you could say I’m a night owl because I love evenings more than mornings, but I think it’s probably more relaxing for me to know that relaxation, togetherness, and sleep is ahead rather than a rushed meal, gridlock, and expectations. Dusk is an escape from all that, an escape without anything else necessary to enhance it.

Sheltering Branches

shelteringbranches

overhanging_tree
I love the thick green of forest leaves in late spring and summer. Somehow, it feels as though the very air is thicker with life than it is in the barren, cold winter; birds hop along branches, and squirrels scurry up tree trunks to hide in the foliage. The delicate beauty of each thin leaf combines with its brethren to make a soft silhouette of shade on the grass, promising rest and relaxation.

Maybe it’s my inner hippie coming out, but forests have always felt sheltering to me. It surprised me to learn, while I was studying for my English major in college, that in literature, forests have often been used as the sites for sorcery and evil being afoot, such as in Young Goodman Brown. I guess it’s because my house is planted square in the middle of a large forest that I’ve always viewed forests as places of rest and safety. The screen of leaves, tree branches, and trunks fully obscures my home from the road, generally keeping us safe from robbers and trespassers. Sinuous branches arching over parts of the driveway and house may present a slight danger during ice storms, but for much of the year, they provide welcome respite for all sorts of little animals (and tired humans returning from shopping trips!).

tree_hanging_over_water
I’m the kind of person who will drive down the road, sight a particularly beautifully-shaped tree, and stop and take a picture of it; I’ll do the same for lovely vistas of foliage allowing just hints of sunlight to pierce through to the ground. What I love most is that trees and forests aren’t just beautiful, but useful–when I’m taking refuge from the sun under a pretty tree, it feels sometimes like I’m being watched over and protected. Other people seem to think the same thing, albeit unconsciously; when looking for a parking spot in the summer, the spots with trees shading them are usually taken first!

Even though trees might besmirch our cars with their sap, overly shade our front lawns, or even threaten our houses when they die and begin to lean, I still think they provide a restful counterpoint to human life. You can’t just stop and watch a tree grow, and yet they are in constant cycles of growth, as their rings tell us. They are perpetually still and yet vibrantly alive in the same moment, like a person in meditation. We spend our days rushing around for sustenance and shelter and comfort; they derive their sustenance and comfort from the ground underneath, and provide us with a little of the same.

Photos belong to: IPadWalls.com & The.Rain.Man’s photostream.

Scheduling Posts Using WordPress

schedulingposts
One of the things that first drew me to using WordPress is the ability to schedule posts. Since I had horrible 26.4 kbps dial-up internet at home when I started my blog in January 2011, I had to grab Internet time at libraries and coffee shops as I could. Thus, scheduling posts worked beautifully for me, enabling me to write posts at home and upload them for later publishing to keep my blog active. And now, even though I have fast internet at home, scheduling posts still works for me–I can work ahead and still space out my posts across days. Awesome!

How to Schedule Your Posts

When you’re on the Add New Post page of your WordPress Dashboard, look over to the right side of the screen. A module will be on display there (shown at left), with options to save your draft, discard what you’re working on, etc. One of the options reads “Publish immediately.”
You can click the “Edit” option beside the text “Publish immediately” to expand a form with text boxes (shown at left). This will allow you to change the post’s publish date and time.

When you first open the Scheduling option, the current date and time will be in the text boxes. In this screenshot, it was May 4th, close to 2:00 pm (WordPress has a 24-hour clock, so keep that in mind!)

Now, all you have to do is fill in the date and time you want your current post to appear!

I have deliberately highlighted the date and time text boxes to call attention to the changed publish date and time: May 16th, 2011, at 9:01 AM.

Click the white OK button, and the text in the box subtly changes to “Schedule for: May 16th, 2011, at 9:01,” as seen at left. (This is how my blog posts magically appear at the same time every day, whether I’m actually awake/at my computer or not–another great function of scheduling!)

Why Scheduling Posts is Awesome

  1. You can schedule dozens of entries well ahead of time. This is what I’ve done with my Friday link posts–I’ve scheduled them several weeks in advance, since they are easier posts to put together. This means less writing overall for each individual week.
  2. You can get around having limited Internet access or blogging time by scheduling the week’s posts in advance. I generally upload the coming week’s posts on Saturday or Sunday of each week, so I don’t have to worry about it during the week.
  3. You can have posts lined up for publishing even when you’re going on vacation or will otherwise be away from your computer. This is a good option if you want a week or two without having to worry about blogging, but you don’t want your blog to lie un-updated for all those days.
  4. You can post announcements ahead of time, right when they need to be posted (such as a warning an hour before an online contest closes, etc.). Timely updates ensure your visitors that the site is being watched and updated regularly, and is a great interactive tool.

Summary

WordPress makes it easy to do posts in advance, for whatever reason, with its Scheduling option. Try it out sometime–it’s certainly been a lifesaver for me!