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Weekend notes.


For the past six months (and by “six months” I mean my entire life) I’ve carried this looming sense of having forgotten to do something really important, but being incapable of remembering what it is because I’m so overwhelmed by all of the things I either procrastinated doing or discovered I had to take care of at the last minute. It’s a terrible feeling, but it’s one that’s come to define how I (mal)function on a day-to-day basis. Everything is always about catching up. I never feel on top of things. I am always certain I’m disappointing at least one or two or a dozen people, including myself. Any time I feel like I might be getting close to making progress, something happens—usually I get sick (like yesterday, which was spent lying on the sofa curled up with a box of Kleenex and a couple of dogs), but sometimes my website gets hacked or the furnace breaks. You know, normal things that happen to people. When you’re already struggling to keep up with the rest of your life, though, those little roadblocks start to feel uncrossable.

That’s when the recurring dreams start. I have a few that keep coming back to haunt me, but the one that I associate the most with stress is what I call “Forgotten Animals.” In this dream, there is either a small room or a basement or some neglected space in my house that I enter after a long absence, only to discover that it’s filled with animals (usually mice or rats, but sometimes ferrets—all pets I’ve had in large numbers in the past) in cages that are dead, dying, or living in filth and suffering. They are pets I’ve forgotten about that had bred out of control but have no food or water source. I immediately struggle to get their cages clean and hydrate and feed them, but I can’t move quickly enough. It’s a terrible dream, and it’s one that I have at least two or three times a year. It’s not hard to figure out what it means, and I try to take it as a warning.

Well, THAT was a fun therapy session! Anyway, yeah, I need to heed the dream warning. I need to figure out how to get myself organized so I can deal with the simple stuff and not get overwhelmed by the big stuff. There’s no reason to be in a constant state of chaos. I’m not really into resolutions, but I guess I’m kind of making one.

I don’t want to end on a low note, so here are some nice things from this weekend…


Top to bottom, left to right:

VIVA HATE banner on my living room mantel by Going Steady Shop.
Next up on my reading list, Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure. Have you seen the trailer?
My new jade plant has passed the three week mark, which might be a record. I’m determined to not kill it.
I’ve been OBSESSED with Patrick Townsend’s Orbit Chandelier for years. This was a very, very nice thank you gift from Victoria, and it’s going up in my living room just as soon as I figure out how to deal with the old, non-standard electrical box in the ceiling medallion that thwarted my efforts this weekend. (Sigh.)
Daniel and Max came down for lunch this weekend. I made fancy grilled cheeze sammiches and we watched Flowers in the Attic. Perfect Sunday?
Nothing really, just admiring the tiles in the living room fireplace. So nice.
Fritz had his 6th birthday yesterday! Remember when he was brand new? (Warning: SO CUTE IT HURTS.)

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  • Reply Adam January 21, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    I too have the “forgotten animals” dream, usually when I am feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Mine usually involves the guinea pigs I had when I was younger. You are the only other person who I’ve ever known that has that dream. It really is horrible, that dream stresses me out like crazy. Thankfully since I sold my house I have it a lot less. I’m sorry you are feeling overwhelmed, I hope that feeling goes away for you as soon as possible! xoxo

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      Thanks, honey. xoxox

      (Isn’t it weird that we both have this dream about pets we’ve had in the past, and not about our dogs?)

    • adam January 22, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      That is strange that it is about former pets. There must be some sort of reason for that, but whatever reason is the dream is aways horrifying no matter how many times I’ve had it before!

  • Reply Cori Magee January 21, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    So jealous of your new Orbit Chandelier!

    Maybe what you need isn’t more organization and “getting on top of things”… Maybe you need to accept that no one is ever really on top of things. We’re all catching up, forgetting things and wishing we could do more. Just do what you can and be content with that.

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Well, there’s not doing everything you want to do and there’s not doing everything you NEED to do. When you’re not meeting obligations and responsibilities and your failings are affecting other people (sometimes a lot of people), that’s a problem. I think we (self included) tend to be too quick to offer comfort in the form of “you did the best you could,” because that’s often not the case—I know it’s not for me.

    • Cori Magee January 21, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      I hear ya, and I agree. Maybe a little of both then (speaking to you and myself)… More organization+less procrastinating AND more acceptance.

    • Cori Magee January 21, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Also, no more Viva Hate banners… sold out I guess. Boo

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Just send her a message, she takes custom orders. I’m sure she’d be happy to make another!

    • Cori Magee January 22, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Sweet, thanks! I also like the “I Don’t Know”…. cause I just don’t know.

  • Reply Sarah January 21, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    It must feel great to share that! I’m really surprised to read that you feel like you don’t get enough done since you seem super productive with all of your renovations and DIYs. I totally have that falling behind feeling constantly. It’s so stressful. And instead of dealing with what’s in front of me, I pile on more responsibilities and meetings and obligations that I also don’t want to take care of. I make a lot of to do lists but I’d love to figure out the secret for staying organized and on top of things. One day, maybe.

    Maybe we are actually accomplishing more than we give ourselves credit for.

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      I don’t think there is a secret, at least not one that can be applied to everyone. In fact, my constant failings at implementing organizational strategies that work “for everyone” usually wind up making me feel even more defeated. For me, it all comes down to focus and learning how prioritize. (And then actually doing it, of course.) Show up and get to work.

      The blog thing is funny when it comes to creating a false sense of accomplishment. If I put up a new post every day detailing everything I’d done during my waking hours, you’d wonder what the hell is wrong with me and why I’m so painfully lazy and how I manage to drag out things that should take a few hours into months or even years. Instead, you see one or two posts a month about some minor accomplishment, and maybe three posts a year about something major—but somehow, that says in your mind as being constant productivity. Know what I mean? That’s how I feel when I look at other people’s blogs, too.

  • Reply susan January 21, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve never had the forgotten animals dream but I did once have this totally bizarre dream about a son that I completely forgot I had and I didn’t have any idea where he was and he was still just a baby. It was just awful. I still don’t know what that one was trying to tell me.

    On a completely different note, that Fritz. What a heartbreaker!

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      I think that’s very similar, Susan! I have friends who have had that dream. 🙁

    • Jen January 22, 2014 at 2:56 am

      Susan, I’ve had several dreams in which I had a baby, but forgot about it. By the time I remember and find it, it’s died because I didn’t feed it. Horrifying. This one started showing up when I got old enough that we really had to make some decisions about whether we were going to have children. I guess my subconscious was voting “no.”

    • Lisa January 22, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      I see your dreams and raise the crazy:
      I too dreamt that I gave birth. To a litter of kittens (!). Only to forget about them, and then remember a week later that I’d had them, but I knew they would have died because . And no matter how illogical it is, the feelings that overwhelm you in the dream just seem so REAL.

      Also had the dreams where realise there was a class I didn’t finish in high school, and now the exam is TODAY, and I know nothing about the subject. Somehow in the dream, the feeling of dread is of the magnitude that my entire life will collapse if I fail the exam.

      Another one, luckily rare, is that I have murdered someone. In the dream, I have no moral qualms about being a killer, the only thing on my mind is that I know I will get caught, and the horror of punishment and other people knowing I’m a murderer. That one simultaniously makes me feel incredibly relieved, and like a horrible person, when I wake up.
      If anyone else has this dream, feel free to comment, so I know I’m not THAT crazy.

      I have a few other ones that reoccur too, but with other themes. It’s the worst to wake up terrified, or angry, or even sometimes crying.
      I hope you feel better soon Anna, that you manage to focus your energy, take care of yourself and most of all, not judge yourself for not having it together. We are all frauds in our own minds.

  • Reply Elizabeth January 21, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Exactly the post I needed to read this morning- though I’m sorry to know someone else has that unnerving dream!

    Mine is with found animals that I have no clue what to do with. In real life I’m a nurturer and a confident problem-solver, basically the perfect person to save some creature in distress. In the dream I’m dull and then frantic. I wake up off-kilter, doubting myself, and the feeling can stay with me for weeks. It’s disturbed me so much that when I first brought my puppy home, I set hilariously unnecessary iCal reminders for her feeding times. Needless to say, the dog is healthy and happy, and I eventually had to give myself a stern talking-to: the dream animal is a symbol for the responsibilities in my life that are not as easy to care for.

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      Yes, yes, yes. (And I’m not surprised your dog is doing just fine!!)

  • Reply Brent January 21, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Be sure to let us know if you come up with a solution to this problem. I honestly can’t remember a time in my life where I felt totally on top of everything, and I too am familiar with the stress dreams. Anxiety prevents me from taking shit in stride like a well-adjusted, non-lunatic human being, although tackling small stuff each day seems to help. Nothing helps calm that feeling of chaos (rationally, it’s probably not chaos at all, I’m just incapable relaxation,) for me like organizing something. I find that lots of those tiny accomplishments during the day can really help ward off the panic/existential crises 🙂 Good luck!

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      I nodded my whole way through this comment, Brent! And you’re right, it’s not really even chaos at all—it’s almost like we *want* it to be chaos because that gives us an excuse.

  • Reply Kate January 21, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I have had that exact same dream, many times–it’s so horrifying. I don’t think I could bear a dream like that about my dogs, mine is also mostly rodents or other caged pets that I’ve had in the past. I’d never stopped to think what it might mean… Probably the same thing. I think I spend more time worrying about procrastinating than actually doing.

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      Wow, it’s amazing how many of us have had similar dreams! And again with the small, caged animals…so interesting.

  • Reply lau January 21, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    oh boy! i talked about so much of the very. exact. same. things. in therapy yesterday. that my mental state is at its worst / a breakdown is inevitably coming when i feel the most chaotic and overwhelmed. i really, really feel you on that one. there’s got to be a way to turn the chaos into order, and i’m determined on working to find it.

    big hugs.

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm


  • Reply Ellen January 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Oh gosh, when you have this figured out, please feel free to share. I am suffering so much from the same inclination…! And trying to combine all these different roles in life, loving every minute of it, not being able to choose your priorities, doesn’t really make it easier, right ;).
    I always dream of something or someone chasing me.

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      I’ve never had a dream about being chased, at least not that I can remember. I tend to think that most bad dreams are about stress at their roots, though, and about feeling as though we’ve lost control over our own lives.

  • Reply Josie // Hello Josephine January 21, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    I have the same recurring dream, and it is the WORST. I had a horse through much of my childhood, and my only recurring dream I have is the awful realization that it’s been months or years since I’ve gone out to the barn to care for him (I never have the dream about any of my current pets, only this horse). I spend the rest of my dream feeling awful and doing my best to give love and care to my poor neglected horse and resolving to never let it happen again. I wake up feeling terrible and it lingers through the morning.

    I have no suggestions that you probably haven’t already tried or considered already… but I hope things calm down and you find a way to rest/recharge soon. I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but I do enjoy your blog, love your style and read regularly.

    • Katrin January 21, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Good lord Josie, we totally have the same dream. So weird. I too used to have a horse and always, always dream that I forgot all about him and it feels terrible.

    • Marisa January 21, 2014 at 11:24 pm

      Wow, my dad has that same recurring dream (he also had a horse when he was growing up). It’s very strange to read about someone else (more than one person, even!) having it. He’s described it very vividly, and it sounds terrible.

  • Reply daniel @ Manhattan Nest January 21, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    I had a dream last night where I took my parents to IKEA for the first time and they HATED it. Then I had another dream that we all had to escape Costa Rica in a van full of farm animals and they were still more upset about the IKEA thing than the van thing.

    I don’t know, man. I really don’t. But your grilled cheese sandwich was super delish, and I really hope I didn’t get you sick, and I really hope you’re feeling better. I have to get back to feeling overwhelmed and disappointing people now. <3

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      I think it was just anxiety more than being actually sick. 🙁

  • Reply maggie January 21, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    That sounds horrifying. My recurring nightmare usually involves me driving and not being able to keep my eyes open and I have no control of the car. I think it is normal to have these dreams when you are very overwhelmed but you are right, you have to heed them!

  • Reply martha January 21, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Sick dreams can be so crazy! Hope you are feeling better. Sometimes those roadblocked filled projects eg: dealing with the old, non-standard electrical box in the ceiling medallion can be a beat down! You seem to get stuff accomplished light years ahead of me so don’t be so hard on yourself. 🙂

  • Reply Ashlee January 21, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I’ve never had a ‘forgotten animals’ dream (though it sounds particularly horrible. I, however, have a recurring stressful dream whenever I find myself in unsatisfying friendship situations. I start getting a series of dreams where I’m yelling at the ‘friend’ or soon-to-be former friend and telling them everything I’ve been holding back inside (sometimes I say things that don’t make sense too or things that make total sense that I hadn’t previously voiced). I’m screaming at the top of my lungs right in their faces. Sometimes they try and move away from me, act totally indifferent, or sometimes they argue back. I find myself violently chasing them down so that they hear me and what I have to say. The location is never the same, but the content of the dream is always the same. It’s super stressful. I know my friendships are in bad places when I start having those dreams. It never fails. It brings stress into the conscious world…so I totally understand how your dreams relate to your feelings of not being on top of things. I’m wishing you well this week as you sort it out.

    I also watched Flowers in the Attic this past weekend and I love that chandelier! Ahhh!

  • Reply MareePSasja January 21, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I periodically have a similar dream in similar circumstances – but mine isn’t quite so harrowing. Mine is more about the guilt of having not done everything I feel I should – and it usually involves me having ‘forgotten’ about the budgerigar I had between the ages of 11-16. I walk into the room of my parents’ house where his cage was kept, and discover the bottom of the cage is filled with bird poo and fallen feathers (clearly not having been cleaned for months), the seed container is full of nothing but husks and the water container is dry! It’s so awful!
    I agree with you – the dream is a strong message that needs to be heeded. Slow down! The world won’t stop turning if you don’t get everything done today.
    I wonder how on earth I could have forgotten about something so important to me, something I truly love 🙁
    By the way, I was given the budgie by my parents but have actively campaigned for animal rights since about the age of 16, and became a vegetarian at age 24 (26 years ago!). I have long hated the idea of caged birds but when I was 11 I didn’t have such a developed animal welfare sensibility. All the same, Peter was very loved, and very well cared for – and spent a good proportion of his life outside of his cage – with freedom to fly around the house.

  • Reply Noor January 21, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    I have some of the strangest dreams. Many of them are me in elementary school and I miss my bus and get very scared. So weird! I love your banner and I really want to see the new Flowers in the Attic as well.

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      I have dreams about getting lost at a young age…sometimes involving a school bus or a supermarket. It’s scary and I always feel sad when I wake up.

  • Reply Lucy January 21, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    You are clearly an overachiever and perfectionist. Perhaps you could aim to get less done instead of having a massive to do list and only ever achieving half of it, making it hard to ever feel relaxed. Easier said than done, I know. But having lower expectations of yourself I think might be the thing. If you’re functioning to a really high standard but you expect even higher of yourself then you’re going to feel rotten about yourself instead of feeling good that you’re actually doing alright. Accept the chaos and the drawers that are disorganised and the unpainted piece of furniture….I have found comfort recently in thinking of a lot of things in life as being in a ‘beta testing phase’. That way it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect – it’s just an R&D process.

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      You’re giving me far too much credit, unfortunately. The stuff on the to-do lists I post are just avoidance strategies, really. Those are the things that don’t matter and don’t have a timeline. I try to get those things done just so I can have a fleeting sense of accomplishment.

      Meanwhile, the things that are real responsibilities and normal adult human things that NEED to get done remain waiting…and waiting. And you’d be surprised by how utterly chaotic and messy my house and apartment are most of the time, and I accept that, but the fact is that I’m NOT doing alright. This isn’t OK. I’m not functioning to a high standard, and that’s obvious to everyone around me.

      Perfectionist, yes. Overachiever, absolutely not. Don’t let a blog fool you—mine or anyone’s! Nobody documents the weeks spent avoiding a research project or putting off taking care of tax forms or ignoring their ringing phone. It’s not about unpainted furniture…

    • Lucy February 17, 2014 at 1:33 pm

      I am exactly the same – I have an ever growing (never shrinking) to-do list. Even adding to the list gives me a hollow sense of accomplishment (and I believe, perhaps foolishly, that it helps relieve the constant clutter in my mind of thoughts that I ‘should do’ this or that). Things like organising my bathroom cupboard into IKEA boxes (Larsson style!) – I think you know the type of thing. It is the big, important things that don’t get done. Important projects and tasks and tax forms like you say, and even things like exercise and visiting family. Blogs can definitely be misleading (just by their nature). I used to think I wanted to have a blog (much inspired by yours and a few others). However I know now that it’s probably something I shouldn’t take on because my time management is rubbish and I should probably wash the dishes from last night’s dinner…

      That being said though I can see that it’s possible that taking on more works for some people who thrive on busy-ness. And maybe it would even work for me but at this point there are too many other projects I’m procrastinating on so there’s no point taking on another thing.

      I never came back to check the comments so this is a very belated reply. I’m not doing so alright either lately which is why I’m awake in the wee hours (Australia) commenting on your blog. But surely a little self-awareness goes a long way and we can get slowly but surely better at this stuff. I hope so!

  • Reply Jules January 21, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    I could have written this post. My problem centers on an inability to say “No” and a refusal to practice self care. Why sleep 8 hours when I can function on 5-6 and those 3 hours means I can read/procrastinate? Because that’s why I’ve realized: the time I take away from healthy endeavors isn’t time I’m using productively. I’m not reading any of the books I’m so far behind on for the library, I’m not working on the projects I promised people, and I’m not spending it in an engaged manner with family/friends/pets.

    If I could find a magic pill that would take care of those two character flaws, I bet I would be far more organized and far less overwhelmed, less behind, less dissatisfied with myself.

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      “those 3 hours means I can read/procrastinate”

      That’s it right there. It’s that need to cram in more time at the expense of well-being (sleep!), but that extra time doesn’t actually result in anything productive getting done. And you know what’s extra frustrating? Taking vacation days/time off just makes it all so much worse…

    • Marisa January 21, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      This is me exactly. It’s like I know that self-care will make things better, so I intentionally don’t do those things because I feel like I don’t deserve a ‘reward.’ As soon as I start doing a better job of taking care of myself (less TV and more exercise, it’s not rocket science) I feel better… for a while, but then I have a lazy weekend or I get sick or something and I’m right back to procrastinating about everything.

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      Yes, YES. It makes me so sad to read this, because it’s exactly how I am and I know it’s all wrong.

  • Reply kory January 21, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    one interpretation of that kind of dream is – the animals (or baby or whatever) are yourself. the self is telling you: take care of me! stop caring about everything else all the time – take care of ME!
    And that is the interpretation I kind of believe.

    I’m also like that (being nervous about the most basic life tasks and always thinking I’m late with stuff and people will hate me if I don’t do this and think I’m shitty and lazy if blah, blah… and how come everyone else blah, blah …), and according to my shrink that’s just being neurotic (OK) and there’s no need to always put feelings of everyone else before your own. why not simply do what you want to do, and expect people you care about to be happy with you being happy? (assuming you are talking about your private life, of course!) Well that kind of sounds like the definition of being selfish, right? but somehow it’s not…
    anyway, i tried this a few times… turns out, I would always exaggerate in my mind how hurt someone would be about something I did or did not do. Also, sometimes other people’s expectations are their own problem, but we are so used to it that we take on responsibilities we’d rather not.

    Of course, there is a way to get too self absorbed, but I don’t think you are in any danger of that. Perhaps just for a while – I see it as a pendulum, has to swing from one side to the other, and in time, it will get to the middle…

    • Anna @ D16 January 22, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Lots to think about here, Kory. Thank you…

  • Reply Becky January 21, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Fritz! What a snuggle pup.

    Chiming in with the neglected animal dreams. Mine are nearly always rats (love the ratties!), and they are all about to die from lack of water and food. 🙁

    The trick to staying organized and on top of things is to be methodical when you can and to be self-forgiving when you can’t. We can’t always be methodical, so we can’t always be organized. When the method breaks down, gently re-start it. There’s nothing less organized that a shame spiral.

  • Reply Leslie January 21, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    I have been having this feeling more and more lately too. Is it society? Or is it just that I seem to have more and more to do? I have worked hard to stay on top of things lately, and I have crossed some pretty big things off the list (renovate 2 bathrooms, obtain an official title to my car to replace the one I lost, have surgery to repair a hernia that’s bothered me for years) but it seems like no sooner do I cross something off the list than 5 more little annoying things pop up, and nothing is ever accomplished in one step, it takes several trips and phone calls and waiting in lines to fix. And I agree, when I take a “break” to “relax” I just end up getting even more frazzled. I keep thinking that I just don’t want to be an adult anymore, with everything it entails!

    I don’t know the cure, unfortunately – I am resolving not to start any more house projects at least until April, to see if that helps. I am trying not to buy more things, in hopes that I can ease some anxiety about money while also not having to spend so much time managing “things” around the house. I have moved twice in the last two years, and I am staying put for a good long time, and hopefully things will quit breaking in the new house eventually! I am trying to focus on exercise and eating right since you can never go wrong with that, I suppose.

    And I wonder if your dreams are similar (psychologically) to the ones I have had, where I am back in high school and realized there are classes that I didn’t even know I signed up for, and I have to get to them, but I can’t get my locker open, and the bell keeps ringing for the next period? Ha!

    • Anna @ D16 January 22, 2014 at 11:26 am

      I think it is a similar kind of dream, Leslie, and I’ve had ones like that too. Usually it’s about some paper I was supposed to write in college and I don’t remember it until the morning it’s due.

      Getting myself back to eating right would be a huge first step. I know this. And yet…sigh.

    • jennifer January 22, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      I have the class dream too! It’s always finals week of high school or college in my dream, and I’ve suddenly realized I’m signed up for a class, though I haven’t attended all semester. I get to class for the final, and skim the syllabus to get an idea of what the class was even about, and realize part of my grade was attendance 🙁 and all these assignments I missed. I sit there and wonder if I should go thru with the final [which is pointless bc I’ve missed everything else that contributes to my class grade] or bail. It’s always really stressful and all the people in the class, and the instructor, look at me like I’m a stranger [which would make sense bc I had missed the entire semester, but doesn’t makes me feel worse. 🙁 ]
      I also dream about finding really dilapidated staircases and rooms in my house, that require more repair than anything I’ve attempted before. I spend most of my dream trying to keep my son safe from the falling apart/dangerous house features.

  • Reply Karen Ane January 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Years ago I took an Adlerian Psychology class at Berkley and the prof identified me as a Messy Perfectionist; I expect/demand such a degree of perfection and, knowing that, and that it can never be realized, I just procrastinate and make excuses. Such was my life – interrupted by rare bouts of fever-pitch activity and cleaning when I’d fall into bed at 4am dresser drawers cleaned, clothes hung by color and in the same direction, a nary a dust bunny under the bed. I don’t know when things changed, but eventually they did. I think I just said, “fuck it” because I was sick to death of being that way and all the energy it took to maintain that idea that that was just the way I was. And you know what? I changed.

  • Reply Kathryn January 21, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I think I’ve given up on being able to remember it all and just resolved to become better at apologizing. I’m especially good at apologizing to myself, sorry self, there just wasn’t time to exercise today because you needed to read that blog/book/whatever. Which is ridiculous because I make time for the stuff I want to do. Or just sit and continue to covet the orbit, which will someday live in my home. And that picture of puppy Fritz makes me wish we’d seen our tiny dog in puppy form, we adopted her at a year.

    • Anna @ D16 January 22, 2014 at 11:24 am

      I think I might be a little TOO good at apologizing. I preemptively apologize for everything, and then I do it again during and after the fact. I think it makes people a little scared of me, though, which isn’t my intention at all…

    • Kathryn January 22, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      Right now I’ll just apologize for apparently having forgotten all grammar and writing rules when leaving that rather nonsensical comment. Yikes.

    • Anna @ D16 January 22, 2014 at 10:33 pm

      I understood it!

  • Reply Brigitte January 21, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    I have the EXACT same animal dreams and I have the same hangups so I’m sure it’s related? I find the neglected animal dreams crazy stressful too.

    • Anna @ D16 January 22, 2014 at 11:19 am

      It’s really amazing that these animal dreams are so common. I had no idea!

  • Reply Abigail January 21, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I have indoor cats. My recurring dream (when I’m stressed? probably.) is cats, my own and many more, getting out and needed to be found or corralled.

    Finding solutions for what you describe is extremely personal – like finding the right white! – but I will say that short and simple mindfulness practice has been helpful to me.

  • Reply riye January 21, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    I know the feeling! When it gets bad I keep telling myself “Finish what you’re doing and then move on to the next thing. Don’t do anything else right now.” Otherwise I’m trying to get several things done at once, nothing is working, and I’m getting frustrated and (sometimes) weepy.

    A while back I started trying to “take charge” of my dreams. It doesn’t always work but, more often than not, if the dream is an especially upsetting one, I stamp my foot (in the dream) and yell “I don’t like this dream. Give me a new one!” And the dream shifts. I’d never pull a stunt like that in real life so its kind of cathartic for me. 🙂

    • Anna @ D16 January 22, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Oh, I know. I try to take the “finish that you’re doing” approach ALL THE TIME and with such good intentions, but then an urgent email comes through or I lose my internet connection (or whatever), and it throws everything off the rails. Then I can’t seem to get back on, even though I’m totally aware of what I *should* be doing.

      (And I wish I could shift my dreams like that. Friends have mentioned that strategy to me, but I don’t think I know I’m dreaming until I’m waking up!)

  • Reply Cindy January 21, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    When I am stressed, I dream about tornadoes or very large ocean waves. I like to think of these dreams as loving messages from my brain: “Slow the heck down!!!” Seriously, I usually make a change or two in my schedule after I have one of these dreams. Or at least make myself a cup of tea and breathe deeply.

    Good luck! It doesn’t feel good to feel like you can’t get your head above water.

  • Reply Charlotte January 21, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Thanks Anna – I sent the link to this blog entry to my husband with a “substitute the pets for the classes that I think I need to make up years after graduating from school but can’t ever figure out how to find the classroom for the recurring dream” and you’ve got me when I’m stressed out and anxious. And the truth is that we got a helluva lot done last weekend, and all I could focus on is what we didn’t get done. This post makes me feel human. Thank you and hope you are having a good week.

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      Glad it resonates with you, Charlotte, even if it’s for cruddy reasons. I’m always amazed when so many people say they relate to things I’ve written about that are really difficult/painful/stressful, but I guess I shouldn’t be anymore.

  • Reply Miriam January 21, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Have you ever heard of the Enneagram? It’s this incredibly old passed-down-orally-and-now-finally-documented-in-the-80’s structure of different types of humans and ways of seeing the world. It sounds exactly like the type of dumb personality test someone might want to avoid, especially when recommended by a stranger like myself. And you probably think I’m some crazy new agey weirdo, BUT, may I assure you that it’s fascinating and has been super life changing for so many people. You might want to see if you can figure out what number you are (there are 9). I haven’t met anyone who’s learned about it all that hasn’t felt freer by it. Hope that helps!

    • Anna @ D16 January 21, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      I’ll look it up, Miriam, but only because of all of your disclaimers. 😀 (I like weirdos.)

    • Kim January 22, 2014 at 12:53 am

      Wow! Thank you so much for commenting about the Enneagram. I’ve never heard of it (though apparently my crazy new agey weirdo husband has 😉 and just took a few minutes to learn about my number type. I’m kind of in shock, it’s so accurate. I think the most important thing about these types of personality categorizations is realizing that you are so not alone in feeling the way you do. That, nevermind having a computer monitor somehow speak to pieces of yourself that you thought were “secret”, can be so incredibly reassuring and empowering. Thanks again!

  • Reply Alex McKellar January 22, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Anna, I’m always in admiration of your productivity so even if if all feels a little overwhelming at the moment, just know your’e a constant inspiration to many of us to get our arses off the couch and go paint that wall!

  • Reply Judi January 22, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Oh, Anna. Wish I could take you out for coffee. Failing that: I could write a long essay (as I’m avoiding the work I ought to be/have to be doing right now) about how this is just like me; how Jules’ comment is just like me; about how Marisa’s comment is just like me. I hate that I have whole days where I spend ten hours on the couch watching Lifetime movies (clients, if you’re reading this, this NEVER happens when I’m working on your projects!). I hate that I can’t get my life together. I hate that I try never to answer the phone (again, clients, this does not apply to you; not usually, anyway). I especially hate that I have a cadre of people who seem to think that I’m a mentor to them and in reality I’m just this completely disorganized fraud of a failure. at least in my own mind. That said:

    I’m half way through my 51st year now, and I think I’ve decided to accept that I’m always going to be angry about my imperfections. That’s not the same as saying that I accept that I have imperfections–what I mean is, I will always be a perfectionist, and I will never get it together sufficiently for me, and I will always be overwhelmed and avoiding, and I will always be pissed off about that, and I accept the anger part of that even as I refuse to accept that I should stop trying to achieve perfection. Reading that, I hope it makes sense to you, because it seems that I can’t get it out of my brain perfectly (hahahahahahaha).


  • Reply Valerie January 22, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Whenever I feel like that I remember how lucky and privileged I am and how insignificant these worries are when we think that around 80% of the world’s population doesn’t have enough food, water, electricity and shelter. I also try to think of the worst that can happen – and the worst will never be as bad as the best probably is for others. Watching and reading the news from all over the world helps me to put things into perspective.

  • Reply nancys January 22, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    OMG – I’ve had that same dream. About 3 different times but all within the same year. And only about animals I’ve previously owned!!
    Being a pet lover I don’t know what it means – if anything.
    I won’t even tell you how many weekends I’ve spent in front of my laptop catching up on TV shows, doing the grocery run 45 minutes before the store closes. And that’s only because I have another mouth to feed in the house.

    Honestly it makes me feel a little bit better that I’m not the only one……………

  • Reply Sarah January 22, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Solution: I recommend Evernote. This has gone a huge way to helping me with exactly the same dread situation. It sounds too simple/naff – but like you say, slay those little things and it’s amazing what a difference it makes. Their website has a great explanation/ideas for using their services.

    • Anna @ D16 January 22, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Thanks, Sarah. My husband loves Evernote, and it’s great for people who like digital record-keeping (I don’t). My issues are deeper than just a method of technology, though, unfortunately…

  • Reply Elin January 22, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    My mum has that dream whenever one of us children is in any kind of trouble – in my family it signifies a feeling of stress that she won’t have done her job properly but we won’t know until it’s too late. I hope you’re doing ok xxxx

  • Reply Alisa January 22, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    This is my life. The “always feeling like I’m disappointing someone,” is sorta my bag. Or feeling like a fraud somehow. And also the furnace 🙂 After many heat- and hot waterless days in November, I’m happy to report that we’re warm right now, but not without having spent near $1K to get there. And then the refrigerator died. And then we had a pinhole pipe leak. And then my husband got 3 red-light tickets in one day. And then I heard a mouse in the walls. And then, and then, and then…

    I medicate and see a shrink weekly. I think it helps, but sometimes the roadblocks definitely feel uncrossable despite all my best efforts. I hear ya. Feel better soon.

  • Reply Lindsay January 22, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Though I do procrastinate and cause myself unneeded stress(I have a small biz and let the paperwork/taxes get completely out of control!) my comment is about Flowers in the Attic! Omg, we had a viewing party for that train wreck……cheesy awesomeness! Now I’m going to DVR Lizzie Bordon 😉

  • Reply enannanhelena January 22, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    And I hear you! I also struggle with bigger and smaller “hurdles” in everyday-life, having a sometimes crappy body. But I try to remember that perfect is just another word, a kind of boring word really. And not a state of mind. I try to picture the word HARMONY behind my closed eyes instead. Sometimes it works…

    Love your weekend pics. Those dogs. 😉


  • Reply misa January 22, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    I have that same feeling of being constantly behind. It bleeds into everything. I have so much to catch up on at work that every morning I panic as I drive in. A friend emails and it takes me weeks to respond. The oven is broken and the sink won’t drain and I feel too overwhelmed to fix them. Every time the phone rings, I feel a sense of dread.

    I feel sick about it all the time. It’s a truly terrible feeling, and I’m so sorry you’re feeling it, too. But thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Dusa January 23, 2014 at 9:56 am

    Anna – thought you might like a little eye candy (It always helps me when I’m stressed)
    {the kitchen looks eerily familiar 🙂 }

  • Reply Dieda January 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Anna, I’ve been there and sometimes still am there. I remember whole weeks, months even, that I spent procrastinating, avoiding important tasks, feeling ashamed, becoming constantly more anxious. It is really stressful and unhealthy. My blood pressure was elevated, I felt exhausted even when I had barely done anything. (Sitting on the sofa and doing nothing left me exhausted!) I changed my ringtone regularly, because after some weeks I used to get tiny anxiety reactions the second I heard it. (Even if it was just somebody else’s phone ringing with my tone.)

    Have you considered taking a yoga class once or twice per week? It might seem counterintuitive: having a lot on your plate and signing up for even more. However, to me each of my yoga classes was like a tiny vacation, extremely helpful to reduce stress hormones. While I used to rush to the classes, always on the last minute, stressed out and in a bad mood, I always left them deeply relaxed. (Oddly enough, the only other thing that helped me relax was going to the opera. But that’s usually not possible on a weekly basis.) Obviously yoga does not help you get “on top of things”, but it will probably help reduce stress and anxiety.

    All the best to you!

  • Reply Fritz January 23, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    I am glad I am not a shrink

    I see the dreams as neglecting your “inner animal”

    what makes people neurotic? they refused to feel something, that is all I know but I am not sure that is right

    Take two aspirin and never call me in the morning

  • Reply Teresa January 24, 2014 at 8:43 am

    OK, you probably don’t want/need a cheerleading session but I still feel it necessary to cheer you bit. Firstly, you are young enough to be my daughter and I admire you tremendously. I LOVE how you are so emphatic in what you like. You seem to have such a good sense of “self.” I think that’s pretty unusual, no matter what age. You accomplish so very much and it inspires me. A couple of weeks ago I looked at a list of goals I’d made in 2012. In 2013, I accomplished everything on that list. It made me feel so good even if it was a year late. I suggest you do the same but I have to say, part of your appeal is your somewhat dark point of view. I hope you understand what I mean and take it for the sincere compliment it is. I enjoy and look forward to your posts very much. Just keep being you, I like you just the way you are.

    • Anna @ D16 January 24, 2014 at 10:27 am

      Teresa, thank you so much for this comment. It’s so kind, and your words could not come at a better time—I admit I’m sitting here more than a bit teary-eyed after reading it. Thank you. You’ve inspired me to go out of my way to do the same for someone else today.

      I think this blog really serves as a list of my past accomplishments, which is part of the reason I keep blogging. It’s good to look back. I am really not a goal-oriented person, though, so I try to consciously avoid trying to set targets to meet going forward. (That’s what my whole presentation at Camp Mighty was about, actually!)

      And yes, I do see having a “dark point of view” as being part of my charm. 😉 Thanks again, Teresa. xo

  • Reply Joy January 24, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    one day, someone will love me enough to give me an Orbit…jealous but excited to see how great it looks in your place!

  • Reply Christina January 25, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Hi Anna,

    I haven’t had one for a while, but I get recurring dreams that I’m dying a prolonged and violent death while trying to rescue someone I love. Sometimes I’m fighting a war and being chased by guerillas; sometimes I’m wandering deep into a mine shaft, only to be hunted by deranged, wizened miners; sometimes I’m hiking through the mountains being chased by mountain men, a la Deliverance; and so on, and so on.

    The details of each dream are usually different, but the general idea is always the same. They used to freak me out, but after several years, I noticed that they usually came at a time of great upheaval in my life. Not external circumstances, but personal growth. It’s like my subconscious is trying to tell me that I’m tearing my old self apart so I can rebuild something smarter, better, faster, stronger. So, while the dream itself is terrifying (I’m not a sleeptalker, generally, but I’ll often wake up shouting or crying from these dreams), I welcome them afterwards because I know something good is upon the horizon.

    …and maybe the same might be said for you? That these dreams come to you at the forefront of a major insight or reinvention? I hope so.

  • Reply CindyE February 5, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Interesting -the dreams. I too, had a recurring dream (when I was much younger) that is kind of in the same realm. In it, I happen upon new, found rooms, in my old house – like, wow, I didn’t even know there was a hall and 2 more huge rooms! At first glance, the rooms seem to be loaded down with all sorts of cool vintage treasures. But as I begin to look closer, it seems like junk – just junk. Then the “found” rooms suddenly feel scary, like I need to get out, fast. I did have this dream when I lived in a truly haunted house??? Dreams, weird.

  • Reply Chee February 5, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    I’m new to your blog but have been reading it periodically for the past couple of months.

    Wanted to offer you some advice regarding your reoccurring dreams. Don’t watch the Orphanage if you haven’t already. Will bring chills down your spine. Or maybe you should watch it if you like an old fashion very scary movie.

    Love the honesty and thought you put into your posts, let alone the fantastic home improvements.

  • Reply robin lindsay February 27, 2014 at 2:06 am

    I had no idea that other people had this dream! I had that dream 11 years ago and I can still remember it well. My animals were rabbits in cages and I was keeping them in a small room in my apartment. I forgot about them until one day I opened the door to see what was inside. Cages were stacked to the ceiling, all filled with flopping dying grey rabbits. For me tho, I knew the meaning. I was pregnant with my first child and worried about the responsibility of caring for a baby….also rabbits are a fertility symbol. I wonder if two people have the same dream if it can be interpreted the same way…or can they have different meanings for each person. Maybe the basic underlying meaning is the same? Forgotten animals=fear of not being adequate, fear of too much responsibility? so interesting

  • Reply Vanessa January 16, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    A year late, but I want to comment because these feelings (that we probably ALL have) of being a loser are the worst. I have the not-ready-for-the-math-exam dream a lot and when I was younger it was the not-being-properly-dressed-in-public dream. First things first, studies show that people do get happier as they become older – wrinkles plus a light spirit, it seems like an odd combination but I’ll take it. Secondly, there are people all around who would love to be asked for their help. It makes other people feel good to help so you are giving them a small gift by reaching out in need. That is the opposite of what us independent types tell ourselves, but it is true. Third, there is a very good book that I pick up when my thoughts are taking me in the wrong direction called, “You are not your brain.” No miracle cure for neurotic thoughts but a framework for addressing the negative thoughts that brings relief. Finally, intentionally get more sleep.

  • Reply Ilse March 24, 2015 at 6:52 am

    OMG. I Have that dream. I usually find the pets in my old room in my parents house were I actually had mice and marmots when I was younger!

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