New Site/Rebranding Update + Sneak Peek!

Hey guys!

This will be one of the last posts under this domain. Eep!

I’m working hard on the new site, and with all the ideas I have for it, I think it makes more sense to just launch it imperfectly and keep working on it as I go, and sharing the process.

Because realistically, it’s not going to be perfect from day 1, no matter how much time I spend tinkering.

But I thought I’d use this post to share some tools I’m finding helpful in case you’re considering a similar shift.

And also to answer a couple of questions I’ve gotten. 🙂

First the questions:

Why go self-hosted?

It’s definitely a big change and a learning curve. I’ve gone with Bluehost, so, so far, the actual hosting part hasn’t actually been too complicated.

I just want all the options and freedom that comes from self-hosting. Plug-ins and widgets and themes and just more creative control.

Plus, all the advice I’ve read from established bloggers is to self-host.

So, I’m giving it a try and hoping for the best haha.

With the caveat that I don’t 100% know what I’m doing and may regret part or all of my decision.


Why stop being “Blushy Ginger”?

I’d be lying if I said my heart doesn’t ache a teeny bit for moving away from this domain.

But I really want to stop having to manage (and pay for) two sites. I’ve had sadie-hall.com through Squarespace as my freelancing site for years. And I don’t like it, and I don’t have the time to manage two sites. So sadie-hall.com was being neglected.

At the same time, I don’t feel like I can use Blushy Ginger for everything I want to do.

So, what I think I’ll be doing is keeping my Instagram account as @blushyginger. I’ve been debating changing to something like its.sadiehall or bysadiehall or withsadiehall, but I think I’m not ready to say goodbye to blushyginger yet.

So yeah, that’s my thinking on it all.


now the list of resources!

I’m working on compiling a complete list of blogging tools and resources I’ve found helpful, but the links above give you the top of list! 🙂


And finally, a sneak peek at the new site!!!

Still some changes to make but this is the general look!

I hope you have a lovely weekend! 🙂

I’ll publish an announcement when the domain redirection is about to go live! The sad thing is that I think I will lose all my wordpress.com Reader followers, because the Reader is only a wordpress.com feature. So… that’s probably the biggest thing delaying the switch as a I figure out what to do.

Leave any questions below! I’ll answer them here and add them to a future post as well.

BEHIND THE SCENES: Changes I’m Working On

Happy Monday! Here’s what I’m working on (aka overthinking but like, strategically) this week.

Migrating from hosted (wordpress.com) to self-hosted (wordpress.org).

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while but been 1) too afraid of f-ing it up, and 2) unsure whether “Blushy Ginger” was going to stick as the long-term domain.

I am still very much afraid of f-ing it up, and if you happen to see this blog go dead sans redirection, you’ll know that I succeeded. In f-ing up.

The plan I’m trying to accomplish is to migrate this blog and its content to sadie-hall.com. This is a domain I already own and used to use strictly as a freelancing portfolio.

Anyway, this week, I’m setting myself up with self-hosting (Bluehost) under sadie-hall.com AND migrating blushyginger.com there.

I’ve got it mostly figured out behind the scenes, except for how to migrate subscribers and followers. Is that even possible? My research continues.

Why GO To all the trouble?

Why not just keep blogging on blushyginger.com? Well, to be completely honest, I want to make a living from my writing. I already freelance in the language services field as a translator and editor, but my real dream has always been to earn an income as a writer.

I just never had the confidence to pursue it.

I want to write for other sites, write my own books and guides, and write a successful and helpful blog (that earns an income).

And since I do business as Sadie Hall and not Blushy Ginger, it makes sense to rebrand under my own name.

The rough plan

I have a rough plan of how to do this.

  • From the blogging perspective, I know I need to be self-hosted, and I know I need to learn about Pinterest, and affiliate marketing and ads. I’ve always shied away from those last two. I know for sure that I don’t want to turn this into a sales-pitchy blogmercial experience. So we’ll see. I’m just researching at this point.
  • From the “becoming a freelance writer” perspective, I’ve been learning about content writing versus copywriting. My mental roadblocks are imposter syndrome (for content writing) and fear of sales-y language (for copywriting).
  • From the “selling my own writing” perspective, I know I want to write a memoir, but I don’t know yet about self-publishing versus finding a small publisher. I do know that I need a platform of readers before it makes sense to try to sell my own book.

Are you interested in the behind-the-scenes process?

Let me know if you’d be interested in hearing about this whole process! I’m happy to share behind-the-scenes, from the techy logistics stuff to the business considerations to the mental roadblocks.

And if you have any advice, feel free to comment or drop a link!

Okay now let’s all cross our fingers that I don’t sh- the bed on this whole thing.

Is Anxiety Medication Worth It?

Medication is not a magic cure-all. But it could be what lets you function well enough to do the deeper work (like therapy) and the physical stuff (like exercise). And sleep. And that’s pretty amazing.

Finding the right dosage and perhaps combination of medications can be a painstaking, drawn-out, frustrating process. But when you get the right balance? It can make all the difference in the world to someone who has already suffered enough from their mental health challenges.

And if you have anxiety, haven’t you already suffered enough?

Here are two things to know about when considering medication, based on my own experience:

1. Side effects are real (but they might be worth it)

There’s a lot of fear about side effects, and for good reason. I’m not going to pretend they don’t exist. Over the years, I’ve dealt with:

  • nausea
  • sleepiness
  • hypervigilance
  • sexual side effects
  • agitation
  • irritability
  • brain zaps
  • appetite changes
  • dizziness
  • and more

You have to weigh the side effects of medication against the debilitating effects of leaving the mental health disorder untreated. In my case, I would have suffered from a lot of the above from having severe untreated anxiety anyway.

This was my life before starting medication:

  • I couldn’t drive.
  • I struggled to go out and do things.
  • I would stress-cancel a lot.
  • I couldn’t handle even the idea of therapy.
  • I basically wanted to hibernate all the time.
  • I had a really hard time feeling like I was actually in charge of my own life.
  • My world became small and lonely.

Medication helped free me from my own mind enough to start driving, become a mom, start therapy, pursue my freelance work, and write about my experiences online.

At its best, effective medication can put you back in the driver’s seat (literally, in my case).

2. Medications can be combined to ease side effects

Combining meds can help you get the benefits of both medications, while trying to balance out some of the side effects of each.

For example, SSRIs can cause sexual dysfunction, but a medication like Wellbutrin (buproprion) can reduce that effect.

Personally, I’m currently taking Wellbutrin in the morning and Zoloft (sertraline) in the evening. Wellbutrin is an excellent medication for mood-related disorders, so it helps with my depressive symptoms.

But it’s also “activating,” and on its own it can make anxiety worse. I started to feel very squirrelly and agitated. So we added Zoloft, which is an SSRI medication commonly prescribed for social anxiety, among other things. It helps with anxiety-related symptoms and with balancing out the activating effects of Wellbutrin.

Final thoughts

Medication is not magic. But it can be a lifesaver.

We only get one life. Isn’t it worth making that life the best we can with what we know and what we have access to? For many people, medication can do that.

It’s like introducing a leash to this situation:

It’s not for everyone. But it might not hurt to look into it. You deserve to feel better.

I’m not a doctor, though. Listen to your doctor. Obviously. 🙂

Do you have any thoughts on medication? Leave a comment!

Powerlifting Helps Me Focus on Lifting Weight, NOT Losing Weight

Around February 2019, I realized I was completely and utterly BURNT OUT on trying to motivate myself to keep going to the gym with the goal of getting smaller.

Burning calories.

Making less of me.

My weight-loss breaking point

I had finally reached my breaking point, and I was ready to quit the gym (and exercise in general) because I felt like continuing what I was doing was just making me feel worse about myself.

I was so done with calorie counting, and FitBit tracking, and weekly weigh-ins. The harder I worked to “control” my calories in and calories out, to hack my macros, to measure my inches and photograph my “before” shots… the more I became a prisoner to disordered eating habits and distorted thinking. And I had nothing left.

So I told my trainer, “I’m tired of trying to lose weight. Can we just lift REALLY heavy stuff instead?” And that’s when I discovered powerlifting. Bench pressing, deadlifting, and squatting.

All of a sudden, I was working out to get STRONG, not get SMALL.

Powerlifting to the rescue!

Powerlifting is about strength, not looks. I can focus on trying to LIFT more weight instead of LOSE more weight.

Powerlifting has been the most liberating type of exercise I’ve ever done. I don’t do it as often as I’d like these days, but that has less to do with gym reluctance and more to do with being a human who is prone to December busy-ness, kids with winter colds, and the primal urge to hibernate. (Okay, so a little gym reluctance.)

How I deal with gym anxiety

One of the biggest reasons I’ve been able to powerlift consistently for the past 9-10 months is that I am lucky enough to have an amazing trainer (the one I mentioned above) who understands anxiety and depression, and whose coaching style is goofy and playful instead of “SUCK IT UP PRINCESS” (which would make me cry and quit).

On weeks where my gym anxiety is flaring up really bad, my training session is often the only time I make it into the gym that week. And my trainer gets what’s going on, and finds ways to give me a kick in the butt without making me feel like a lazy piece of garbage for struggling.

I have two other great sources of support:

  • My husband, Jesse, who joins me for my non-trainer lifting sessions whenever he can. Having my “safe person” with me makes the gym anxiety practically vanish.
  • Our gym’s fitness manager (@jesszakk) who strikes a good balance between tough love encouragement and being her clients’ biggest cheerleader.

I don’t always need help getting into the gym. I can be feeling confident on my own for weeks. But for those times when the anxiety is really holding me back, these three people help me get back on track.

So that would be my advice to anyone struggling with gym anxiety — as much as you can, find friends, partners, or gym people who can make working out a little less lonely and intimidating.

More affordable alternatives

I know it’s not in everyone’s means to have a trainer. We find a way to make it work because of how much it helps my mental, emotional, and physical health. But I know not everyone can do that.

I’ve seen a very cool powerlifting program online called Stronger By The Day that’s only US$8/month. If we ever stop being able to afford personal training, then that program is where I would look first. It helps that the program creator is Megsquats, on whom I might have a sliiiight girl crush.

I haven’t tried the program other than the free sample, so I’m mostly just sharing where I would look first based on how much I enjoy Meg’s YouTube channel and Instagram accounts.

Where my body image is at now

I’m not completely “cured” of my body image issues. I still have moments where I dwell on my “c-section shelf” and how it seems to always be visible (to me) no matter how I dress.

But changing my focus to building muscle has helped me stop weighing myself obsessively and tracking my calories to the point of neurotic, perfectionistic burnout.

I want my baby girl to have a strong, healthy-minded role model mama.

That said, I do find it really hard to find balance in one area, and that’s this: How do I make sure I’m getting as much protein as I “need” to build muscle, but do it without triggering obsessive calorie counting and restriction?

I haven’t figured that out yet, but a bad-ass weightlifting friend of mine (see her amazing lifting pin-up girl tattoos below) did share her approach, which we summarized as basically “intuitive eating plus a daily protein shake.” And I think that does make a lot of sense for people who have a history of disordered eating, or being on the restrict-binge pendulum (both of which are true for me).

Okay but seriously, aren’t Sydney’s tattoos GORGEOUS?

Conclusion: Barbells for everyone!

Long story short, I’m a super big fan of powerlifting. Clearly. It feels SO GOOD to feel strong. And it powers me up for everything else I do in life, like carry my cupcake-covered 3-year-old to the sink before she turns my friend’s house green.

Have you ever tried powerlifting?

Has another sport helped your body image or self-esteem?

Let me know in the comments!

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How Does It Feel To Have Social Anxiety?

Are you wondering whether what you’re experiencing could be social anxiety, or just curious about what the disorder feels like on the inside?

I’m not a mental health professional, so I’m going to come at this by sharing what it feels like from my perspective as someone with social anxiety. The list is not exhaustive (though the symptoms themselves are exhausting).

The signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder can be broken down into three groups:

  1. Physical what’s going on in your body
  2. Cognitive what’s going on in your mind
  3. Behavioural how you act (or don’t), what you do (or don’t)

The categories all work together and feed into one another. Let’s start with what goes on in the body.

Common physical signs (What your body does)

In anxiety-triggering situations, I often…

  1. blush (hard to hide as a ginger — during very stressful public speaking situations I often get red splotches all down my neck and across my chest too… which is a big reason why I avoid them most of the time) 
  2. sweat (a bit)
  3. feel my heart beat faster
  4. shake/tremble (I find this one pretty embarrassing — sometimes I can’t even smile without my lips getting all weird-twitchy)
  5. feel queasy/crampy (I spent most of my teenage years and early 20s thinking I had some kind of undiagnosed allergy or digestive illness)
  6. get lightheaded (and generally just feel very “out of it” or spaced out from reality)

Common cognitive signs (what you think)

The cognitive piece is what I sometimes call my brain bully. It is private torture but every bit as potent as the physical symptoms above. It’s gotten a LOT better through therapy, but at its worst, it looked something like this:

  1. They are going to think I’m [insert negative quality] and that I shouldn’t [do whatever or be however]. (I once told a counsellor that the title of my autobiography could be “The Lifelong Quest for Approval.”)
  2. I’m going to look like a complete idiot who is trying too hard and it’s going to be so embarrassing.
  3. I want them to like me… but I’ll probably just come off as [snobby/stupid/flakey/etc.].
  4. What if I’m overdressed? What if I’m underdressed? What if I was just invited as pity invite/courtesy invite? How will I know when it’s time to leave? What if they never leave my house and I need to go to bed but I can’t tell them that so we just sit there ALL NIGHT stuck in some sort of awkward social filibuster and then I DIE and THEY DIE and IT’S ALL MY FAULT and THE PAPERS ALL WRITE ABOUT WHAT A TERRIBLE, INCONSIDERATE HOST I WAS AND HOW IT’S AMAZING I HAD MADE IT THIS FAR WITHOUT KILLING ANYONE WITH MY SOCIALLY INCOMPETENT FOOLERY?!

….. that anxiety thought-spiral is an example of catastrophic thinking and definitely not likely to actually happen like probably not like almost certainly not or at least not most of it.

Right?

Common behavioural signs (What you do)

So we talked about the body and the brain pieces of the social anxiety trifecta. The last one is how you actually behave. Here are a few ways social anxiety influences my behaviour (during a bad anxiety flare-up):

  1. I am tempted to avoid many social situations. Like, I chose a job that lets me skulk in my basement office and communicate with people only via email. And also if you ask me to talk on the phone MY INSIDES WILL LITERALLY yes literally in the literal sense EVAPORATE INTO A PUFF OF TOXIC ANXIETY POISON AND THERE WILL ONLY BE A DRIED-OUT HUSK LEFT TO ANSWER YOUR CALL.
  2. When I am not ensconced in my fortress of hermitude and must interface with other humans, I tend to swing to the other extreme and be SUPER HAPPY AND PERKY AND CHIPPER.
  3. I apologize a lot. Like, even for a Canadian. If I could no longer apologize I’m not sure what I’d have left to say (I’m kidding… but not as kidding as you would hope for a functional adult).

If this sounds like you

You aren’t alone. You aren’t crazy (I mean, not more than me and I’m totally functional most of the time and more importantly I’ve made huge progress and so can you). It can get better.

There are people who can help. There’s medication if that’s something you’re open to.

You don’t have to display every sign and symptom in a description of social anxiety in order to “justify” getting support. (I didn’t experience every single piece of the description when I was diagnosed with very severe social anxiety a couple of years ago.) (I’m hoping I would fall into the “moderate” range now.)

If you think this sounds like you, then you’re probably right. At the very least, it’s a big enough red flag that there’s something worth looking into going on.

Reach out for help in whatever way you can. There’s too much at stake to just keep trying to soldier on alone. Believe me.

Good places for info:

You got this.

Have you experienced any of the signs and symptoms above?

Let me know in the comments!

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6 Things I’d Tell My Shy Younger Self (About Mental Health and Self-Acceptance)

How many times have you wished you could go back and give your younger self a hug, or maybe a good shake, to spare them (you) from all the tough stuff that’s still to come?

On the one hand, I know that there is huge value in learning the lessons and doing the work. I don’t know if I would *actually* go back and tell myself the things below. But on the other hand, it’s cathartic and therapeutic to imagine what you would say, you know?

So here are 6 things I would tell a younger me about shyness, mental health, and accepting myself (including my body):

#1 You don’t have to please everyone all the time

I’m not saying you can’t please people ever. I’m just saying you don’t have to do it at the expense of your own needs. (I say, as someone who still does it. But this is a time travel letter so I can change the past which then changes the future, right, so do as I say and not as I have done thus far in my/our life.)

If you spend your life as a chronic people pleaser, it will lead to:

  • thinking of yourself as a social chameleon
  • censoring and filtering yourself to match the energy and personalities of the people around you because you’re afraid of how people will react if they know the “real” you
  • feeling like your preferences (and often just your existence ) are an imposition on others

The more time you spend grooming yourself to be as inoffensive as possible to the world, the more you will be tormented by the question, “Who am I, then?”

Don’t live your life apologetically.

#2 It’s okay to make mistakes

Perfection is a toxic mind mirage, and pursuing it will shatter your self-confidence and productivity. You will become desperate to just reach perfection so that you can finally relax.

Perfectionism in the clinical sense is not healthy. It goes beyond just being driven, or “Type A,” or having high personal standards. It is disordered thinking.

Here is the ridiculous list of things you will strive to make perfect:

You’ll want to be:

  • the PERFECT mother
  • the PERFECT wife
  • the PERFECT entrepreneur

You’ll be obsessed with nailing down:

  • the PERFECT daily routines
  • the PERFECT home organization system
  • the PERFECT wardrobes for you and your children
  • the PERFECT meal plans
  • the PERFECT workout routines
  • the PERFECT defensive driving techniques (not even kidding)
  • the PERFECT path that PERFECTLY balances your PERFECT career choice and PERFECTLY PURSUED passions

What, was that annoying to read? Was there clearly an excessive emphasis on the word PERFECT?

YES, YOUNGER SELF. TRY LIVING WITH THAT TRACK ON REPEAT IN YOUR BRAIN FOR 20 YEARS.

Actually no, DON’T TRY THAT. I forgot the goal of this letter for a sec.

Listen. You will NEVER, EVER get “there.” Because “there” will keep moving even if you get closer to it.

Good enough is good enough and you’re good enough so stop it. (But also seek help because you don’t need to get over this alone.)

#3 Your body is okay

I’m not going to say “your body is perfect and flawless and you make sunsets cry” or any other platitudes that do no one any good.

No one has the perfect body. (If they did, they probably wouldn’t think it was perfect anyway and also everyone poops so next time you’re putting other people up on a pedestal just remember it’s not the only kind of pedestal they sit on.)

Someday, you’ll look back at photos of yourself over the years and realize how totally okay you’ve been all along.

But at the time, you were worried about things like:

  • Cellulite
  • Stretch marks
  • The scar from where the doctors saved you and your son’s lives with an emergency c-section (your tummy now hangs over the scar, creating what you consider a “shelf of shame“)
  • The fact that you think your face looks “weird” and “like a naked mole-rat” without glasses on. (You really need to work on your self-talk.)
  • The angle of your teeth (“underachieving on the bottom and overachieving on top”)
  • The slope of your nose (“it gets way too proud of itself halfway down and then wallows in its own shame at the bottom”)
  • Your cuticles (“who gave them permission to just keep GROWING all the time?”)
  • Your hair (“too ginger / not ginger enough / not the right kind of ginger / too curly / bad curly / too mom / too cocker spaniel / too unkempt / mutates when I sleep on it”)

And so on. You fixate on various things and then move on until you come back to them and realize they’re still there.

And in case you’re wondering, you will seek help for this and be screened for body dysmorphia. You will be told you don’t meet the diagnostic criteria, which will floor you, because if this level of body-criticism isn’t clinically significant, does that mean there are countless other women walking around thinking the same things about their perfectly imperfect bodies?

Look. It’s okay to care about your appearance and about looking/feeling pretty and dolling yourself up and exercising and all that stuff.

But don’t believe for a second that how you look is the most interesting thing about you.

#4 You are worthy of self-care

Many of us have a brain bully who whispers things like:

  • “The real you does not take care of herself.”
  • “You’re just faking it right now, going through a phase where you’re trying on self-care for size, but it won’t last because you never stick with anything.”
  • “You don’t really deserve this.”

The advice is simple here and comes from a future friend: “Fuck you, brain bully.”

It’s okay to take care of yourself. Act like you love yourself and slowly it’ll start to rub off on you. (It’s not that easy but it’s a start.)

#5 You deserve to heal

Eventually, when you burn out and hit your emotional rock bottom, you will see a psychiatrist and she will give you the permission you didn’t know you needed to start taking care of your mental health.

You’ll find out that over the past 20 years, you’ve developed severe social anxiety as well as perfectionism, generalized anxiety, and, eventually, depression.

And you will be RELIEVED to hear this… because you always thought you just “sucked at being a human.”

You will finally understand that this is more than just “sadness” or “shyness” or “being kind of hard on yourself.”

If you had been trying to walk around with a broken leg, you would have noticed it, addressed it, and let it heal.

Take your mental health as seriously as your physical health. Treat your mental and emotional wounds like a broken bone. Because broken bones can heal.

#6 You. Are. Good. Enough.

You have been seeing yourself through a cloudy, cracked, warped filter.

It’s the FILTER that needs to change. Not who YOU are inside.

Take a step back sometimes. Get out of your own head and take an honest look at other people’s imperfections.

Think about the people you care about and love. Do you see their imperfections and love them anyway? Of course you do, because you see the whole person. Start doing that with yourself. Start seeing your whole good messy self. (Yes, even when you have cocker-spaniel hair days.)

Give yourself permission to be a work in progress. Forever.

Life is not a fairy tale with a happily ever after. Not every day will go in the win column.

I don’t have it all figured out and I’m not writing to you from a place of “perfection.”

But that is exactly the point.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Let me know in the comments. 🙂

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