Tag Archives: self discovery

Riding the waves of depression.

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Sometimes happiness seems very far away.

Sometimes happiness seems very far away.


So like many people I know, I have a large range of ups and downs. I have discussed this with a doctor. According to him I’m within normal range, if on the higher end of things. I do not do anything harmful or majorly self-destructive. Please note this is my experience, and if you have depression, please check with your doctor to make sure you’re safe 🙂

Anyway last night I felt a shift. I’ve had a few lower stress days, but my life hasn’t really changed, just my perception of how to live. I don’t know if I can explain it but I went from feeling overwhelmed and incapable to What can I do right now to make things better?

I can tell when I have a break through, as opposed to trying to give myself a pep talk because I flossed. YES, I should floss every day, but my barometer for how depressed I am is if I floss. When I get to the point that I don’t care, and too tired, or just don’t feel like flossing then I know I’m sinking and I do my best to be gentle with myself.

So last night I flossed, yay! And then this morning I exercised, another important tool in keeping my mood even. I’m hoping going to bed early will come next.

My focus for managing my depression is sleep, diet, and exercise.

Sleep is usually the first one to go under the guise of reading a book so good I can’t put it down, never mind that it’s a book I’ve read before.

Exercise? Now this one is tricky because even when I’m depressed, I will go to the gym with my friend. It helps temporarily, but it is the daily exercise and the willingness to do it in my home without anyone that lets me know when I’m feeling more stable. This morning I did a ten minute dance quickie, Hula Hoop for one song (I’m just starting out), and then did some yoga. I love yoga. I’m never sure why I don’t make time for it every day, but depression isn’t logical and it can take away things we enjoy.

This was not extensive, hard-core exercise—this was moving my body in ways I enjoy, getting blood pumping, and opening myself up. I feel better, and even if I don’t go to the gym, those few minutes will sustain me for the day.

One of the yummy meals my daughter made for me.

One of the yummy meals my daughter made for me.


Food? Now I am extremely lucky. My hubby does the grocery shopping, makes me breakfast, and my daughter makes dinner. This means when I get depressed and want to eat crappy food I have to go out of my way to get it, and when I’m depressed I don’t want to leave the house.

“But you could order in,” you say. And you’re right I could, but with my food allergies, even that is limited, unless I want to have migraines and curl in bed for days with painful stomach cramps. IF I WAS WILLING TO DO THAT TO MYSELF I WOULD SEEK MEDICAL HELP FOR MY DEPRESSION.

I used to fight these times of depression. My inner thoughts would become vicious and ugly, and I would ask myself why I couldn’t just suck it up. I’ve learned this makes things worse and once I recognize what is happening and can be gentle with myself, I don’t sink as deep and I don’t stay depressed as long.

I feel that now that I know myself better, I am stable for longer periods of time. A huge turning point for me, which just happened, isn’t about creating the perfect routine. My life isn’t that stable—things change too quickly and in ways I can’t control. So I now do my best to focus on What can I do today? How can I take care of myself right now?

Some days it's chocolate that makes everything better.

Some days it’s chocolate that makes everything better.


Some days it will be yummy salads, hitting the gym, writing 2000 words, and spending time with my family. Other days it will be five minutes of yoga stretches, crackers and hummus while I do paperwork, and reading while a child fitfully sleeps between throwing up until 2am.

How can you tell you’re sinking into a depressed cycle? What do you do to help yourself out of it?

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Ten to Twenty Years

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Alica Mckenna Johnson

Photo from Tar Sands Blockade


No I have not FINALLY been caught and sentenced to prison. Rude!

I have recently turned forty and been a bit introspective, thinking about the rest of my life.

And now I’m worried that I might only have ten to twenty years left, if I take after my parents. My mom died sixteen days before her fiftieth birthday and my dad died just before Christmas at sixty- one.

After a moment of panic and realizing exactly how little time that is, I kind of calmed down and thought about what I would really like to do if I really only have that little time left.

I only have three big things on my bucket list, having my books published and sell well (yes I have an image of what that looks like specifically), traveling, and spending time with my family.

Alica Mckenna-Johnson, tropical beach, vacation dreams

From wikicommons I want to be here with my family someday.


Of course I am hoping I have a lot longer than ten to twenty years, but I feel more determined to live and fight for what I want now that this ‘time limit’ is looming over me.

What about you, do you have a bucket list? Have you done any of things on your list already?

Now We Are Forty

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birthday, forty, Alica Mckenna Johnson

Photo by PublicDomainPictures


So as I turned forty last week, there was a real chance that I was going to spend the day eating ice cream while hiding under the covers. However, my daughter had other plans. It turned out that I had a good day and didn’t fall into a massive depression. YAY! Go me.

I’m not where I was hoping to be, or the size I was hoping to be, or as self-actualized as I was hoping to be by forty.

I have a good job, three novels in various stages of editing, a hubby who puts up with me, two great happy kids, and friends who let me talk about characters as if they’re real people. So all in all everything thing is really good

Phoenix Child, Alica McKenna-Johnson

My New Book Cover!!!! See I have things happening 🙂

But I also feel that this is a turning point, not that my life is going downhill or winding down. I’ve been told by older friends that life begins at forty, so yay!!! But the things I have been unhappy about in my life haven’t changed in five years. Somehow I feel different about these situations, able to see things in a new way and I feel a bit stronger and more capable My bullshit tolerance level has dropped, and I’m less likely to put up with anything.

But I’m also feeling the pressure of should weighing upon me.

Should I wear more conservative ‘grown-up’ clothes now that I’m forty?

Should I only think nasty dirty thoughts about guys who are over thirty, now that I’m forty?

Should I magically have more will power and self-control, now that I’m forty?

Should I stop buying pop-culture tee shirts, now that I’m forty?

I did this same kind of thing when I got pregnant. I gave away my purple Doc Martins, black leather motorcycle jacket, and all my heavy metal CDs because ‘good moms shouldn’t have those things’. I was nineteen and stupid, but as you can see at forty those same limiting thoughts are creeping into my head. At least this time they aren’t winning.

I’m excited to see what the next third of my life holds. Yes, I plan to live until one hundred and twenty. I’m excited to see where my low tolerance for bullshit, self-confidence, and strength take me.
Was forty a difficult birthday for you? Does life really begin after forty?

Women Who Make Me Purr

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So I post pics and videos of beautiful men sometimes, a lot, as often as I can get away with. And I thought it would be nice to post some videos of women who make me wish to be them, or fall at their feet in worship. 🙂

 

This is the first Shakira video I ever watched, and I was addicted instantly. When she is doing chest pops and looks down at herself, so sexy.

 

 

The control Rachel Brice has over her body fills me with awe, and I kinda want to lick her stomach 🙂

 

 

Suhaila Salimpour another amazing belly dancer. When I see her I feel inspired and lustful.

 

 

Of course I can’t mention Suhaila without showing you her ass, OMG, doing butt bumps right now.

 

 

When I imagine myself being all badass in the Zombie Apocalypse Michonne from The Walking Dead is who I see myself as. She is intelligent, fierce, and her arms are amazing.

 

 

So give me more intelligent, sexy, powerful women to covet. Who inspires you? Or gives you lustful thoughts 🙂

 


Yoga pants—the 24/7 pants.

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yoga pants, Alica Mckenna-Johnson, Herban Devi

Love these yoga pants by Herban Devi

I love yoga pants. They are the perfect pants. They fit no matter what; they always make my butt look good; and I can wear them all day long. YES—all day long, thereby saving tons of time in switching pants.

“Um, Alica,” hubby says, looking over my shoulder at what I just wrote, “it only takes a few seconds to switch pants.”

“Have you watched me get dressed???”

“Yes, but my brain short circuits when I see you naked.”

Awe, isn’t he awesome and such a little liar.

“It takes forever to pick a pair of pants,” I explain, maybe still blushing. “First I have to decide if I am going to wear one of the three pairs of pants I know fit.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

Oh, how little my hubby knows. “By choosing one of the pants that fit I am admitting defeat. I am admitting that I still haven’t lost weight, I am saying yep this week is a bust, I shall look this way forever, I am doomed to wearing only one of three pairs of pants because my love for cheese is greater than my desire for fit thighs.”

My husband groans and buries his face in is hands. “Well, why not just pick one of the other tens pairs of pants in the closet?”

“If only it could be that simple. First I have to check them all. Can I even remember which pair fit last time I tried them on? Then once I choose, I have to try them on. If they fit, then everything is fine. But if they don’t fit, depression sinks in. I have just proven to myself that I am fat and even though losing weight has been a goal for the past six years, all I’ve actually done is gain weight. Then in shame, I hang the too-tight pants up and put on a pair I know will fit and spend the rest of the day mentally berating myself for being such a failure.”

“But,” my hubby wails, “they are just pants.”

“No they are little cocoons of ego-destroying cotton. Which is why YOGA PANTS are awesome. They fit, they always fit, and I don’t have to change all day long. After my shower I put on a pair of forgiving, loving yoga pants. I can then curl up on the couch, chair, bed, or floor without any problems.”

“Yoga pants enable me to do my Writers Butt exercises through the day without evil, pinching waistbands cutting into my delicate belly. IF I don’t spill anything on myself I can sleep in them, so no drama with too tight sleep pants.”

I think Hubby whimpered at this point.

“And when I wake up in the morning I am ready to work out, if I so choose. Nothing can stop me in yoga pants.”

“What if you have to go somewhere nice?” Hubby asks.

Herban Devi, Alica Mckenna-Johnson, Yoga pants

See the lace makes them dressy and sexy 🙂 Photo and pants by Herban Devi


“Then I put on a nice shirt, one that falls below my butt.”

“What it it’s really fancy?”

“Then I get fabric glue some toddlers and sequins and let them have fun.” Did he really believe I didn’t have all the answers? “Or I could buy some yoga pants from Herban Devi.”

“So you need more yoga pants,” Hubby says.

“Yes, but in different styles and colors. I don’t want people to think I wear the same pair of pants all the time.

Alica Mckenna-Johnson, Herban Devi, yoga pants

I need these!
Photo and pants by Herban Devi


Hubby walked off muttering under his breath. Poor man, maybe I should get him some yoga pants?

My brain is mush.

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Sorry I’ve been gone, but at work I got the 13mo old and he is teething- but only at night 🙂 joy, and he is super cute and sweet, but I haven’t had a good nights sleep in over a week and I’m so not used to functioning at this level.

I do find it fascinating how quickly everything ha degraded. My self talk is awful, I don’t care what I eat, I’m depressed all because I’m being woken up several times during the night. So when people say important sleep is, they mean it! Oh and to top it off, the six pounds I lost gained back in four days, yeah super fun.

Going back to basics, squats and push-ups after each bathroom break, using Sparkpeople to track calories, and napping during my time off, which sucks because I’m 90% done writing book 3 but I haven’t found time to write in days.

*deep sigh*

Anyway trying to get back on track and because you don’t just want to hear me whine here’s a funny video I found on youtube. Well I think it’s funny but my brain is sleep deprived. 🙂

Two Things That Have Helped Me So Much!

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Photo by Lynn Kelly Author

Photo by Lynn Kelly Author


As a rule I bounce between being a gung ho, do everything perfectly, type-A person, and a lazy, whiny, couch potato. But I have finally found a solution! Now this might not work for everyone, but I wanted to share the two posts that for the past six weeks have kept me focused, goal oriented, and getting the things done that are important to me.

The first is this post by Kristen Lamb. She talks about ADD and writing, and there a bunch of funny and useful information, but the one that hit home for me is FEELINGS LIE. At some point I had mixed my instincts with my feelings, my whiny, lazy feelings that told me I didn’t have to write if I wasn’t in the mood, that if I was too tired to exercise it was okay, and of course if I was craving nachos then there must be something in them I need.

Alica Mckenna Johnson, Kristen Lamb, 40 yard line

Feelings lie, you might be tired but it’s not time to nap.
Photo by Kristen Lamb

Now I take a deep breath, remind myself that feelings lie and I focus on my long-term goals and not whatever emotional numbing food or behavior my emotions are trying to trick me into doing.

It doesn’t always work, there are days when I lie in bed reading and eating foods that aren’t going to help me get healthier, but I’m not eating things that I’m allergic to, which is a huge improvement to my binges.

The next blog that helped me is Ginger Calem’s Writers Butt Wednesday. She gives you small, simple things to do throughout the day. When I started this I wasn’t working out at all, and for me having a small exercise that I do all day was really helpful. Writers Butt encourages you to do 10 squats or 10 push-ups every time you go to the bathroom, and of course since she has you drinking a lot of water you go a lot!

Lyyn Kelly, Alica Mckenna Johnson, bathroom

See plenty of room for squats.
Photo by Lynn Kelly Author

Because taking care of myself and getting myself healthy was in my thoughts all day, it really helped me stay focused on my long term goals. For a few weeks it was just push-up and squats and the water, then I added small work-outs. Spark People has free work outs on their website. I also have two DVDs that have 10- or 15-minute exercises. A few weeks after that I added yoga, because I missed doing yoga. And now I and a friend have started going back to the gym.

You might roll your eyes at doing squats or push-up after going to the bathroom, but really the squats are very easy to manage in almost every bathroom, and I save the push-ups for when I am not working. To help inspire you I have taken a tally of how many squats and push-ups I did in one day.

Squats 60
Push-ups 20

Not too shabby obviously I need to even it out.

So what pieces of advice have inspired you? What words of wisdom or even offhand comment helped you see things clearly? What small steps to you do every day that helps you to stay focused on your long term goals?

Hold My Hand I Have to Plot

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Photo by aarongilson

Photo by aarongilson


I have the best critique group. We support of each other, and always find the gems in a steaming pile of shitty words and clichéd actions. Not only can we find the gems, we help each other get rid of the crap so the story can shine. We put goals above ego. Because we are friends, we forgive each other for not instantly loving our works and we have learned how to curb our tongues to soften the blows. No need to use a broadsword when a stiletto will get the job done just fine.

Mary asked Kilian and me to help her plot her first cozy. I said ‘yes,’ not only because I want to help my friend, but this meant three weeks before I would have to bring any of my work for slaughter. Kilian, our editor, is the one who has to drive the dagger into our stories with her battle cry “PLOT HOLE!” Leaving us gasping for breath and curled into a ball on the floor.

It took three weeks, one week for each act. But what Mary achieved was a great structure that hit all the major points with room to pants as she wrote them, and, most importantly, no plot holes. This aspect was a bit more painful, but with the help of chocolate and wine we got through it.

When we finished Mary’s book, which is going to be awesome BTW, she turned to me an evil glint in her eyes and said. “Alica, I really want to plot out your third book.”

As a pantser, I cringed and threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Agreed, and so the next week I brought poster board, sticky notes, and a rather adorable pout.

In the past when I have plotted, I have felt the energy of my story bleed away and it takes weeks for me to be able to write any of it.

I can’t recommend plotting with your critique group enough. Not only was it fun, but it has saved so much time in re-writes because several plot holes were found before I even wrote a single word. We hit the major points, creating a skeleton for me to work with, but nothing was done in detail, allowing my pants self to dance and frolic as I write from one scene to the next.

Now I will admit before I started writing, I still wore my adorable pout and felt like maybe this wasn’t really my story any more, but once I started writing it, adding dialog, action, and TONS of description the story came to life for me.

And, yes, I still have the sticky notes. I also wrote a summary of each act before the next plotting session to help up remember what we did, and I am using the summary. When I get stuck on what to write next, I open my summary and highlight what I have already done and read over the bits I still need to add.

In the past week I have written over ten thousand words! They’re flowing because I know the basic structure of what comes next.

So not only do I suggest getting an awesome critique group, who are willing to kill your darlings, but also try plotting with them, especially if you are a pantser like me.

Do you plot alone, or do you need to hold someone’s hand?

I am a Movie Grinch

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My poor husband I am so mean to him.

My poor husband I am so mean to him.


I love movies, and I enjoy going to the theater, but I HATE spending that much money. It’s crazy for me and my family. To go and buy drinks and popcorn is over $80! For two hours’ worth of fun, I just can’t stomach it.

My hubby on the other hand LOVES going to the movies and the whole movie experience. So I bite my tongue and try not to act like the movie-going version of the Grinch when he asks the kids if they want anything.

They are children, the money sucking vampires, of course they want something!

I flinch when the total comes up and think of all the things I could have bought with the money we just spent, add in the money for the tickets, too, and my aversion to going to the movies grows. I keep these thoughts to myself as my hubby and the money vampires are now happily munching popcorn and slurping sodas.

Instead I settle in and allow myself to get lost in the film. We really don’t go very often, so the movie watching part is great.

Once the movie is over, I go back to the money issue. Did we just have eighty-plus dollars’ worth of fun? In a few months it would have been at the cheap theater (we have second-run three-dollar movie theaters in town) or even better at the video store. (Yes, I still go to one). Then the popcorn would be organic and a thousand times cheaper than the first-run movie theater.

Photo by Veggiefrog

Photo by Veggiefrog

Again, I do my best to keep these thoughts to myself. Because I live in Arizona, going from the cold dark theater to basically the face of the sun when I step outside, my scowl is mistaken for a personal war against the heat.
Thankfully we don’t go often due to not having a car, not having any free time, and me sighing and saying ‘Are you sure it will be worth it? What’s on Netflix?’

So are you a movie Grinch? Or do you love the movies enough to pay ten dollars for twenty five cents worth of popcorn?

Type A persona engaged—warp speed ahead!

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Alica Mckenna Johnson, pasta

Photo by Nebulux76

I was watching So You Think You Can Dance, which I love it is one of my favorite shows. So there I am watching these amazing beautiful power dancers, while eating a huge plate of spaghetti. Then they showed this interview with a young male dancer who’d been in a bad car accident, and his back had been broken.

I teared up listening to his parents talk about how scared they were. Listening to his story, watching him work out with the trainer to re-gain his strength and to be able to dance again I was inspired. That he could go through all of that and fight his way back to being able to dance, and dance beautifully, gave me chills.

As I sat there eating spaghetti, I thought about how hard he had he had worked and what he must have suffered through to be able to dance again, to re-claim his body again, and yet somehow I can’t lose ten pounds and keep it off?

I thought about this, about how if this is something I want, then I should fight for it. And that’s when I realized I wasn’t even sure what I was fighting for. I have been overweight for so long that I no longer remember what it is to feel good about how I look. I want to feel sexy, strong, healthy, and confident in my body. I have no idea what that is any more. And in truth the last time I felt that way, I was a teenager. The body I remember liking was two children, 20 plus years, and thousands of cartons of Ben and Jerry’s ago.

Will I even like my body after I lose weight?

I mean I’ll feel better, be healthier, stronger, and when the Doctor comes I’ll be able to run away from Daleks and such. All very important. But will I like it? Will I think I look pretty, sexy, or be happy at all?

I have no idea, and I think that sense of wondering, that not knowing, makes things harder. The dancer could remember what it felt like to spin, leap, and move across a stage. He had a very clear goal in mind. And I think that goal, that focus, helped him get through the hard times.

I don’t have that. When things get hard some I have some ambiguous idea, but no “I’ll be stronger, I’ll be healthier, I’ll fit into a smaller size,” just isn’t that inspiring. And in that moment, I usually give up—I eat something fatty, I sleep instead of working out, I stay up all night to read instead of getting the sleep I know I need.

How do you stay focused on a non-tangible goal? Do you find a goal you can’t quite picture or feel harder to stay committed to?