My Fifteen Winter Necessities

Today it is cold. Yesterday it was cold. And I just checked the weather for tomorrow, and do you know what? It’s still going to be cold.

Me and the cold aren’t exactly the best of friends.

After being diagnosed with cold urticaria (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_urticaria) two years ago, I have spent the months of November to March in pain, anger, and frustration. Now, in 2018 I’ve made a resolution to look more toward the sunny side, and living with annoyance for life five months out of the year just isn’t going to cut it. And for that reason, as soon as my four years of undergrad are complete, you can catch my permanent address being somewhere in Arizona. It’s doctor recommended, after all.

But… that’s in four years. So what will I do until then, besides complain and freeze? I have a few necessities to get me through, and I’ve decided to share them with you.

  • Uggs:
    • You know what Uggs are. Some call them “ugly” (get it?), but frankly my dear, when the wind chill is below 0, I don’t give a damn what I look like. These boots are fur insulated and make the cold mornings a little more cushy and bearable.

 

  • Ugg Mittens:
    • Basically, boots for your hands. Highly recommend.

 

  • Beanie Hat:
    • My newest winter find this year was a brand called “Love Your Melon”, known for the fur ball protruding from the top of the head. That may not sound as cute as it looks, but it’s very nice.

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  • A scarf the size of a small blanket:
    • Anyone can wear a small scarf and hope to be warm, but it takes a scarf that is roughly the size of a small blanket to truly protect you from the frigid elements. You may waddle a bit from the extra weight and bulk around your neck, but it’s all part of the heat exchange.

 

  • Warm Skin” cream: (https://www.warmskin.com/)
    • My mother found this product online after I was diagnosed, and somehow, it works! Created for people who work outdoors or engage in winter sports (one word.. why?!), and basically it’s a thick lotion much like sunscreen. You apply it all over your exposed skin, and it creates a thermal layer between you and the wicked temperatures. Thank you, Science.

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  • Peppermint Hot Cocoa:
    • Because plain hot cocoa is so 2016.

 

  • Phone background of a desert or beach:
    • As many times a day as I complain or moan about how I can’t feel my fingers, I am reminded that there is a much better, happier, sunnier place somewhere in the world, and it’s certainly not here.

 

  • An actual trip to the desert or beach:
    • And when your phone background just isn’t satisfying enough anymore. Treat yo self. Get away from it all, escape while you can.
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What I woke up to two weeks ago in Phoenix, Arizona

  • Soup:
    • Whether you’re a homemade or can brand of person, it really doesn’t matter, because most of the time, I eat soup when my mouth is numb and my taste buds can’t sense any difference. A good way to warm up for sure.

 

  • Heated seats:
    • We can’t all drive luxury cars, but I’m telling you, heated seats is one way to know that you’ve really made it somewhere in life. There’s nothing like driving down a snowy road with icicles hanging from the branches while your entire backside is a flame. Can’t beat the feeling.

 

  • Coffee:
    • The hotter (and darker, in my preferences), the better.

 

  • Lotion and chapstick:
    • These two go hand in hand, and every crucial space in my life contains the duo. My writing desk, my car, my purse, my backpack, my bathroom, the kitchen, next to my bed, probably even in my closet. I refuse to let my personal beauty succumb to the dark nights of winter.

 

  • More meditation and positive thinking:
    • I have been doing this for a few months now, and I would like to think there is some improvement. Visualizing the sun and a beach and cactuses and sweat is one way to make the season a bit more bearable.

 

  • Heated Blanket:
    • I received one for Christmas, and it beats me how i survived 19 years without one. It is also much harder to get out of bed, thanks to it.

 

  • A higher tolerance and patience level:
    • I’m going to be real honest: the winter makes me very anxious. Very antsy, from being cooped up inside with all this stale air. Very mad, that I can’t plant a garden or take my dog for a walk without suffering from frostbite. Very, very sad, from the lack of natural light. And most of all, just very TIRED. I am tired of living in the cold climate and a place that makes me miserable, so I am hanging on to the thread of a desert backyard in the next five years. It is very necessary for me to develop a higher tolerance for the many annoyances I face in the winter, as well as a patience level to help me put up with all my whining.

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If you’re looking for me, I will be curled up in my blanket with a cup of peppermint hot coca, daydreaming of the warmer times.

Yours, Madeleine

 

Furry Therapy

I have been spending the last few weeks sleeping in my childhood bed, organizing, baking (oh how I missed an oven and a stove), catching up with old friends, reorganizing everything again, and reading so much I forget what time it is.

It’s good to be home.

Another thing about coming home, besides the automatic cleanliness and good food, is that I get to see my dogs again. I wouldn’t want to keep all their joy and shedding to myself, so I figured that finally, I am going to introduce my dogs to the Internet.

The first thing you should know about my dogs is that they are the biggest suck-ups, especially when you have food in your hand. They will follow you for hours, even after the slice of toast you were carrying around is long gone. But their puppy-dog eyes and persistence is tough to resist, and they will more than likely receive the entire loaf in exchange for their love.

Yes, I admit it. I bribe my dogs to love me with the use of food.

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Cooper: A work of art 

And I have to admit something else. I have a favorite dog out of the four. My baby, Cooper, is a white golden retriever, and never quite grew into his full size. He’s much better that way, because he’s the perfect size for any bed. He also has abounding energy, which makes him to ideal dog for morning runs and after-dinner walks.

I also understand how impactful therapy dogs can be, because I truly believe these animals have a sense of emotion, and can easily pick up on human feeling as well. I recently went through a sad/anxious state of mind, and during a particular blue moment, I heard a scratch on my door. I typically don’t like the big dogs to come into my bedroom, due to the amount of dog hair I’ve pulled out of my mouth, my makeup, and my sweaters, so they’ve been trained to avoid the often-shut door.

But Cooper could feel that something wasn’t right in the room, and I opened the door a crack and he came flooding in like a white-streak with wagging tail. He didn’t shed, didn’t jump onto the bed, didn’t move from my side until I recovered, and then he left the room as if nothing had happened.

Cooper is the best therapist I’ve ever had, and he gets every food scrap I can find in thanks for his services.

Our other dogs, two other golden retrievers, Rosie and Bear, and an excessively overweight Maltese named Ellie, make up the clan of Rheinheimer pets at the moment. Maybe when my youngest brother moves out and my parents feel a midlife crisis craving, we’ll get a few more puppies to lift spirits and fill the clean carpet with dog hair, but until then, we’re doing just fine.

 

Sincerely,

Madeleine

Reawaken

Sometimes, as I read through my old blog posts, I curse myself for being so creative, for writing so well. Though this may sound like a blessing in disguise, I am sad to confess I’ve looked at many things through a negative mindset in the past year. Instead of thinking, “I wrote breath-taking posts, and I still write wonderfully!” I think to myself, “Damn it. I am one year older than I was at that time, and I can’t even compare my writing today to then. All momentum is gone. There is no sun. I cry so much. Why am I like this?”

Alright, this may be a bit of an exaggeration, but some days this is my complete train of downward spiraling thoughts. I was trying to correct myself just an hour ago as I read my New Years post from 2016: https://illiterateblondes.com/2016/12/31/live-on-purpose/. I visibly cringed as I read: “My advice to you in this upcoming year is to take control. Grip that damn steering wheel with both hands and white knuckles, because this is your life. Live it on purpose.

Reading my own obliviously cheerful advice put me in the worst mood, because do you know who never listens? Me. I don’t even take my own advice, and I feel like this is a major betrayal to all who read this.

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But I’ll let you in on a little secret: sometimes, writers write for their readers. And this causes us to turn a blind-eye to the words we preach. However, I don’t look at this as a waste of my breath. Because as long as what I’ve written, said, or shouted at the top of my lungs is heard and received by one other soul, my goal has been accomplished. Even if 99% of the time that soul is not mine.

One year ago, I summarized 2016 as five words: “I got my shit together.”

Today, my 2017 can be summed up to just two: “Just kidding!”

I hate to sound pessimistic in public, because generally I reserve the sass for closed doors, but I had a bit of a collapse at the end of this year. Too many months of worked up stress, anxiety, worry, nerves, and new adjustments brought my tower, the strong foundation I had been building endlessly for so long, came crashing down in flames. I began crying for no reason, my stomach aches lasted for weeks, and I craved nothing more than to be alone and sleep.

Unfortunately, my once-sharply focused vision line of my career, my hopes for the future, and my writing goals became blurred. I lost interest in writing for others, and eventually interest in myself. The endless tears ruined my eyesight and made my sadness to center of my life. In 2016, I decided that I would live on purpose, but on 2017, I defaulted to just trying to make it through the day, week, month, semester, and finally, the year.

And here we are.

But I forgot that in 2017, I published my second book.

I celebrated my one year anniversary with my high school sweetheart.

I went to the gym nearly every day.

I got two tattoos.

I graduated high school.

I raised and owned five chickens.

I sat in the audience for a TED talk.

I donated and cleaned out nearly 50% of my possessions.

I left toxic relationships behind.

I did a lot of yoga.

I attended church every sunday

I went to a Twenty One Pilots concert.

I went to a Coldplay concert.

I made a new best friend and long-lost sister.

I visited Arizona twice and California once.

I stopped eating red meat and chicken.

I tested my limits.

And most of all, I survived.

2017 may have brought down a few levels from the woman and writer I once was, but as I sit here and look out at the color of the sky, I am thankful. I am thankful for my lowest points, because it made the high ones oh so much sweeter. I am thankful for my weakness, because it showed me my strengths.

And most of all, I am thankful for the opportunity 2017 gave me: a new beginning.

Because if I only keep one resolution, it’s to take my own advice and write for myself as well. With this in mind, I’d like to speak into existence the focus of 2018: reawaken what you thought was gone. Refresh your mindset. Redirect your thoughts. Revive your life, because you’re only nineteen years old once.

Best of luck to you, and me.

Yours with truth,

Madeleine Rheinheimer

 

Writing: 12 DOG

Today is officially a holiday, but I planned the series this way. Writers don’t take days off, unless we suffer from a deadly case of a creative block. I would honestly rather get the flu than writer’s block. And to tie everything together, on this 12th day of gratitude, I am going to express my love for writing (as if you didn’t already know).

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Summary of my writing life:

  • Fourth grade: We would write as a class nearly everyday for an hour. I first discovered what a true passion felt like when I would experience a deep sadness every time we were instructed to put our pencils down. I could write for the entire day, and maybe the whole night too. Later that year, I filled a full notebook front to back with short stories. This was my first real book.
  • Junior high: I took a “careers” class, and I was 100% committed to being a writer, while my classmates chose nursing and business paths.
  • Early high school: I frequently wrote short stories and nonfiction essays, entering into contests and sharing with my friends. I switched from writing in notebooks to writing on my laptop, and this helped the words flow even faster.
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  • Late high school: It was time to decide on a college, and my main focus was the English program. This helped shape my decision greatly. As if this wasn’t overwhelming enough, I wrote and published “Undefined” in the fall of my senior year, and “Project 105” in the summer after my senior year.
  • Today: I am entering into my second semester of college, and enrolled in two workshop writing classes. I blog frequently, and am in the process of brainstorming a novel (surprise!). I write to rid myself of anxiety, frustration, and fear. I also write because it’s what I was born to do.

Reasons I write:

  • I write to express the feelings I can never say out loud.
  • I write to make an impact on the reader’s perspective and mind.
  • I write to make tangible, lasting legacy for my future family to have.
  • I write to let the passion that’s bottled up in my chest escape.
  • I write to please the creative muse that keeps my fingers furiously typing.
  • I write because I want to.

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Reasons I don’t write:

  • To please other people.
  • Because I have to.

I am thankful for this beautiful creativity that comes with the arts, literature, and music. Most of all, the main reason I write is because I have something to say, and I will not be silenced by fear.

Always,

Madeleine Rheinheimer

 

PS: Thank you for following along with my 12 Days of Gratitude series, I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday and my entertainment.

 

Travel: 12 DOG

As the series is winding down, I have come to realize what a truly overwhelmingly blessed season this is. I nearly forgot about today, because I was so caught up in last minute shopping, doing yoga, and eating sushi. I’m certainly not complaining, because this is my “break”. But even on my time off from class and college, I still want to work every day to improve my reading and writing, and this blog is just one way I do that.

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So on this eleventh day, I am going to express my gratitude for travel. To me, traveling just means that you aren’t limited to one place, you have a more broad horizon, and you can expand your perspective farther than your own driveway.

About a month and a half ago I dvelved into the subject with my “19 in 19” series, with the post: https://illiterateblondes.com/2017/11/04/19-in-19-traveling-outlook-vs-view/

To quote myself, “Some travel for research, business, visiting relatives, vacation, sports, or mission trips. Some travel because they need a new home, need a new start and a new perspective. Some travel because they want to get away, or find something they lost. And some, like me, travel because my mind deserves to wander farther than my backyard.”

I think this summarizes why we travel, but what does this mean? I am thankful for traveling because of the opportunity to gain a new beginning, a new start, and a new outlook on life. Switching the view is one easy way to slip on the rose-colored glasses, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to get to where you need to go.

You see, I think that the idealized “vacation paradise” is false and untrue: you don’t need to lay on a white sand beach with a sugary drink and crystal blue waves to feel relaxed and free. You need a place that brings ease of mind and ease of spirit, and if that’s a field of tall grass a few hours away, then it counts as traveling just as much as going to an island.

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I am thankful for the possibility to leave when I need to, and to have the ability to choose a new frame of mind.

Yours,

Madeleine

 

Laughter: 12 DOG

Today is the tenth day of my gratitude series, and I am in disbelief that Christmas is this week. I feel unprepared and vulnerable, as if I am unready for the piles of ripped wrapping paper and tape.

This season is packed full of expectations, and with expectations comes disappointment. If the cocoa isn’t the perfect temperature, if the present isn’t what was hoped for, if the cookies turned out a little burnt, Christmas is ruined. Okay, that might be slightly dramatic, but I’m just sick of the slushy melted snow roads and the crowds of people at the store.

I’m complaining and off-track, and this series is supposed to highlight my gratitude. I am just thankful to have the opportunity to write this and share it with you, but above that even, I am thankful for laughter.

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For me, laughter is the best medicine. There hasn’t been a dark day that wasn’t cured (temporarily at least) with a good, deep laugh. My favorite kind is the breathlessly gasping for air with tears in your eyes, unable to stand straight, laughter. This to me, is pure happiness, and especially in the cold, sunshine shortage winter months, this is what writer Anne Lamott calls “carbonated holiness.”

I could certainly use a little more carbonated holiness in my life, whether it be bubbles of light and joy, or a simple smile.

This season, I am especially thankful for the people who have the ability to make others laugh, whether it be intentionally or unintentionally. We humans have a tendency to trust those who can make us giggle, and I don’t see the problem with this. Because these are the kind of people I want to surround myself with, people who will lift me higher rather than bring me down. Laughter floats, laughter soars, and laughter raises even the most frozen, dismal of spirits.

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And thankfully in this day and age, when the loneliness is particularly crippling, we are blessed to have access to countless videos of puppies, babies, and comedians. All at the click of a button, five minutes of puppies jumping on a trampoline and the atmosphere softens.

Laughter is just waiting to be spread this season. Call upon what you need, especially when it comes to carbonated holiness.

Sincerely,
Madeleine

 

Family: 12 DOG

Today’s subject simply is too much to cover. I cannot do it all in one blog post, one day, or even one series because my gratitude for these people is far too big.

On the ninth day of this series, I am thankful for my family.

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This blog is around three years old, and if you’ve been following me for a while, then you’re bound to already know something about my family. I have already touched a bit about them in this series already, on the subject of what home means to me. Home is family, but home is the feeling of accepting myself/my circumstance. And this feeling of acceptance was introduced and reinforced by my family unit.

For nineteen years, my two major influences in life were my mom and my dad. Both intelligent, successful, and flourishing people, I did my best to follow in their footsteps by creating my own path. Despite the times I got lost along the way, my parents continued and still are my map; they are my way back home.

Sometimes, the speed bumps and road blocks in the path were too scary to face alone, but I’ve learned a thing or two from my younger brothers. I’ve learned about persistence from the endless ways they annoy me, and about courage from their fearless nature when I begin to yell and threaten.. Just kidding, their persistence and courage springs from the fact that they are two strong boys who fight for what they want in life, and stand up to any barrier in their way. I’d like to attribute their toughness to my constant teasing growing up, but they’ve been resilient all along.

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My entire family, grandparents included, have supported me through every sport, every school program, the decision to go from a public to private education, and most of all, through the process of writing and publishing two books and beginning my career at age seventeen. I owe every success in my life to their teachings, and for this, I am thankful.

Very, very thankful to not be alone in this process.

Sincerely,

Madeleine

 

Art: 12 DOG

As I decided what to write about today, everything I am thankful for tried to overwhelm and muddy my brain. However, just last night as I flipped through a book,  I was reminded how lucky we are to have this thing and I will continue to celebrate and study it for the rest of my life. Today, I am going to discuss my love of art, which is quite up there on the scale of things I love (sushi of course, dominates the scale most days).

In the first grade, I painted a Cat in the Hat portrait that was nominated for an art award, and I am proud to say that 13 years later, that baby is still hanging on the walls of my elementary school. So yeah, you could say I’m an artist.

I’m actually somewhat kidding and somewhat not (the Cat in the Hat thing is real, I swear), because I have always felt a calling toward art. Whether it be creating it, or spending up to 3+ hours wandering around a museum (my brothers despise me for dragging them through this), art and writing go hand in hand.

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Taken at the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha NE

These days, I tend to love and appreciate art more than I have in the past, because in my first semester of college I made the profound discovery that writing isn’t my only passion. I was enrolled in a 200 level History of Art class, and I quickly discovered that studying art was something I could get carried away in doing. After my boyfriend became tired of hearing about the influences of Monet and the techniques used by Neoclassical artists such as Jacques Louis David on our weekend date nights, he suggested that I take more classes in art history.

“Yes, I would like that, but I’m an English major,” I replied.

“Yes, and poetry is a form of art,” he countered. As the little light bulb flickered in my head, I thought to myself that a minor in art history sounded rather sophisticated, and that I was dating a genius.

After talking to my advisor, we lined up my classes and declared my minor, and now I can happily take as many history of art classes that I can possibly squeeze into my schedule. I am fascinated by so many things about art, but I think the most appealing is the fact that it’s just another expression of self.

As a writer, I am enthralled with the attempt to articulate the jumbled mess spinning inside one’s deranged self. When it comes to the arts, anything from dancing to photography to painting is a way to represent this, and I am overjoyed with the long list of options.

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In the end, when it comes down to understanding the inner turmoil of the human being, literature and art go hand in hand, but sometimes the extra pop of color and movement give a sense of mystery in the open. I love art because of the freedom of interpretation it presents to the viewer. I hope someday to travel and continually study the styles, movements, techniques, symbolism, and visual effects of the infinite artworks around the world.

Joyfully,

Madeleine