Posted in Anxiety, coffee, Depression, diet, exercise, happiness, healthy, longreads, Mantras, Meditation, moms, motherhood, selfcare

Stop telling me to take a bath and be happy.

I’m calling out every blog, magazine, and person who keeps telling me that The Secret to happiness is a long list of pampering disguised as self-care. I’m literally starting to get stressed out trying to fit in and afford all of these things people keep claiming I need to do.

If your calendar looks anything like mine it is difficult to even find time to paint your own toenails some days. I definitely can’t run all over making sure I spoiled myself constantly. I don’t think most people can.

I looked up the definition of self-care and found this:

Self care is the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

It says nothing about manicures, pedicures, expensive purses, spy days, or long candlelit baths will just the right blend of lavender/eucalyptus/hemp calming a oils and mood music to boost brain waves.

The way I see it? Self care is basically hygiene for your brain and happiness. Everyday we brush our teeth, wash, and generally try to make good choices. We want to take care of our bodies. Why don’t we do daily hygiene for our happiness? Wouldn’t that be better self-care then getting some sort of gold foil body wrap once a year, under a waning moon, on a pygmy goat farm in the Himalayas? Just seems like we’re being told to do extraordinary things for happiness, when happiness shouldn’t be a rare, fleeting feeling.

I’m no expert, just a really busy and tired mom who feels sad and lost sometimes but is trying to do her best. So here are my topu for ways to actually practice self care like a normal person:

Take 10 minutes. I don’t have the time or budget for pygmy farm or dsily spa treatments. However, I do have at least 10 minutes each day I can set aside for me. Personally, I get up early for my time but you can just as easily stay up late, hide away for 10 minutes of your lunch hour, DVR your show at night (you can also skip the commercials later than so that’s really a win-win), take a long shower, go for a walk, or just straight up look at everyone around you and tell them that you are about to lose your crap and you need 10 minutes of being left alone before you end up in a straight jacket. It seems extreme but trust me, that one definitely works.

Don’t set a budget. I don’t say this because I feel no amount of money is too much for your happiness. I say this because who actually can afford to go out and spoil themselves all the time? If you can, congratulations and you keep doing you. If not, realize that you don’t need to spend money to be happy. Read a book, drink coffee or tea quietly, talk to a friend, meditate, practice yoga, lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling, think about all you have to be grateful for, plan a random act of kindness you can do, or just set an alarm and take a 10 or 20 minute nap in the middle of the day. I don’t think most people understand how much better their lives are on the days that I get a nap. That’s everyone-care.

Quit putting crap in. I can literally think of some people who manage to bring me down when I am around them for real long. I can’t avoid them all but I can do everything in my power to not let their negativity bring down my happiness. Limit how much time you spend talking with those people, stop gossiping ( I’m working on that, this is a judgment free space so just move along here), think about all the good things in life instead of the bad, think about what could go right instead of what could go wrong. Take in positive messages, quotes, movies, books, shows, articles, or anything else. Remember that whatever you put in is what you were going to get out. We know what happens if we fill our bodies full of Cheetos, icecream, and prime rib four times per day. The same thing happens if you constantly allow negative people, pettiness, and a negative outlook into your mind.

Don’t Be Crazy. I would love to tell you that I eat nothing but healthy foods, practice yoga daily, and read a minimum of 17 inspirational quotes before I get out of bed each day. But none of that is realistic. Don’t set crazy goals and make this another huge thing you need to do each day – that kind of defeats the purpose. Some days my self care is laying in bed, lost in thought, and hitting snooze for half an hour before I get up. Some days it’s yoga. Some days it’s beer in the evening on the porch. Some days it’s Drinking a cup of coffee before it gets cold and I have to microwave it again. Some days its going to bed at early. Basically, just take 10 minutes every day to chill the F out and just be you for a little bit.

Self care does not need to be expensive or monumental. Are spa days, pedicures, and long baths wonderful? Of course! I recommend them whenever you have the time or the budget (feel free to send gift cards!) Are they something practical that we can do every day? I sure can’t. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t find other ways to still take care of myself I bring my best self to the table.

Stop telling me otherwise.

Posted in Christian, Depression, God, longreads, prayer, sad, suicide, Uncategorized

When a stranger’s suicide hurts deeply

I didn’t know you personally, but I knew who you were. I’d seen you walking the high school halls with your beaming smile and dimples in the past. You were so beautiful to me. So cool. The kind of girl I hoped I’d be in my own senior year, still four years away.

I didn’t know you personally but as it turns out, you were very special and important to many people in my life. Its clear that your friendly smile touched more than just an awkward freshman girl who never spoke to you.

I didn’t know you but I feel your story so deep. To my core. I understand. Wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, guide….while walking through a dark fog. One that consumed you. One that overcame you.

I cheered for you (and voted for you!) when you ran for office. I love seeing strong, intelligent women making strides in the world. I love the passion and hope thaty comes weeken people fight for change they believe in whole heartedly. I admire the difference you wanted to make.

I loved seeing you speak out for mental health. You were brave. You made it ok for people like me to get help and speak out. You started hard coversations to end the stigmas and help others come out of the darkness.

Now, as I scroll my Facebook I see your face, still covered with your warm smile and dimples, over and over. Pictures of your beautiful children. Memories being shared by people I love left here hurting.

Walking into chuch, the audible reaction to your passing left tears stinging my eyes. Those who loved you surrounded by love. Enveloped in arms of friendship and family. Every one in disbelief.

I am so sorry the sadness was so deep.

I am so sorry you saw no other way.

I am so sorry that life wasn’t as kind to you as it should have been.

I am so sorry that so many are hurting for you now.

I am so sorry I never said hello in the hallway.

I wish you felt how far your ripples reached. How many hearts you touched, both known and unknown to you. I wish you knew me. The conversations you led, the people you inspired, the struggles you shared that made us feel less alone.

You helped make it ok for people like me to speak up. Sometimes, we all need a little extra help and love. You gave others the courage to ask for it and, more importantly, showed others how to compassionately give it. Even through your loss, many others have been saved by your courage.

The world is a better place because you were in it, just a little bit darker now that you’re gone. Those of us still fighting the battle mourn you, you were like us, but we will fight on through the darkness. For you, for us, and for those we love or don’t even know – we will carry on the mission. You weren’t alone. Neither are we.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

–John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING OR HAVING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS – PLEASE REACH OUT TO A LOVED ONE, FRIEND, OR THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE:

800-273-8255

Posted in Anxiety, books, Christian, coffee, Depression, God, kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, nature, parenting, selfcare

When you look at me, I know what you see.

When you look at me, I know what you see. Your face and words say it all clearly: “you’re so fun! So crazy. So funny/strong/smart/organized/put together!”

Go ahead. Scroll my Facebook page. I’ve got all the “required” pics. Smiley, happy, spouse selfie? Check. Happy, well behaved kids displaying equal parts good behavior and precocious curiosity? Check. Yummy meals? Successful workouts? Got ’em.
Home based business? Got it. Great job? Sharing those company posts often! Pets? Theo the cat almost needs her own page. Don’t forget the amazing cakes, birthday parties, vacations, pretty house, DIY projects, make up looks, and amazing weight loss goals – I’ve got all that too!
What don’t you see? I am currently on the highest dose of Prozac a woman can take. This hair? Shoutout to dry shampoo and Bobby pins for the win! Cereal for dinner is a weekly occurrence here. I loathe the days my daughter DOESN’T want hot lunch. I got two separate emails at work today pointing out the areas I’m failing at. If I had one wish in life, it would be to stay in bed. For at least a month.
I regularly Google and price vacations I could take by myself. Just for a break from my life (which I am actually very happy for – even though I struggle to really share that everyday). Then, I check my bank account and remmember I am not a Kardashian and have a budget that doesn’t allow for such things.
I am a mom living with chronic, clinical, depression. I am a full-time employee, friend, daughter, sister, church-going, school volunteering woman who struggles to get out of bed some days. And honestly? I’m sick of it.
Why is this something we hide? Why are we ashamed of this? Why aren’t there more resources? Why do we spend so much time feeling alone and hiding our truth – when its so much more common than we could ever guess?
According to a 2016 study published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 16 million American adults (roughly 7% of our population for you number junkies) had a depressive episode within the past year.
That’s roughly 7 of every 100 people you know, struggling THIS YEAR ALONE. Look around your office, PTO meeting, church service, your gym, or merely on your Facebook feed.
Can you spot them?
Can you see their calls for help?
Or do they master blending into society while craving help so loudly on the inside that their needs and thoughts are all they hear?
I’ll give you a moment to take inventory. Though, if we know each other in real life or through social media, I bet you pegged me wrong. To quote a favorite show from my youth: “You think you know, but you have no idea.”
My alarm sounds at 5am. Why? Because I know that I feel better if I get up with time to myself, a cup of coffee, time with God, and time for my yoga practice. However, most days I just hit snooze for about an hour and a half.
I would love to tell you that every day starts with a nice warm shower for me, but most days it’s layers of make up and dry shampoo that get me looking presentable for the day.
I wake up my kids and devote every bit of energy that I have for the next hour and a half to making sure they are ready, have everything they need, and know just how much I love them before I drive them to school each morning.
I go to work each morning to a job that I have wanted for nearly a decade and finally managed to get. Then, I think about how badly I wish I were a stay-at-home mom. I propose selling everything and living in a cabin in the woods to my husband at least once a week. No joke.
Outlook reminders, to-do lists, and calendars are my secret weapons to presenting a very put together and organized front that manages to get 90% of my job done well each week. The other 10%? Well, it’s a mix of praying that I get good luck, my coworkers cover, or that the boss understands that I am seriously doing the best I can.
My lunch hours? They rotate between therapy sessions, volunteering at my kids’ schools, and running errands to keep our family aloat. There is no time and there are no resources for a mom to take a mental vacation. That is when things start getting real.
Why is there a stigma? Why are we expected to work like we do not have children and have children like we do not work? It is literally more than anyone should take on and a serious struggle for me, personally, on a regular basis. Why do we act like this is not a problem, not a national crisis, and not something we should be addressing as a society?
I know I have a good life. I know I am fortunate. I have amazing kids, a strong husband, a deep support system, and wonderful friends, but some days are still more than my heart can handle for no obvious reason.
I am tired of living in secrecy and shame. Those things which we cannot, will not, and do not name will continue to be our scariest demons until we stand up to them and say: no more.
I am done hiding from my truth. I am done with the “mom game”. I am done posting things portraying me as having everything figured out, when in reality I am one unscheduled softball practice away from everything falling apart.
We are absolutely all doing our best. I don’t care what your pinterest board says, you are just as messy as me. I am through hiding this any longer. I am coming clean to my kids, friends, and life that mom cannot do everything. And that’s OK. Life is a team sport. And we, as a family especially, are all in this together to make everything work.
I refuse to pass in legacy of burnout, over whelmed feelings, and inadequacies to my daughter. I also refuse to raise a son who thinks that women are invincible. That we can do all of the professional work, all of the children work, and all of the household work on our own.
There is no shame in needing a break. There is no shame in needing help. There is no shame in not being able or wanting to do it all.
My kids come first. Always. Whether or not the baseboards have been cleaned? Not even on my radar. Did I forget to work out this week? Well, my pants still fit so I don’t care. If our profit margins go down a percent or two over a month’s time? Nothing I’m going to lose sleep over. And yes, the Domino’s pizza app has saved our favorite order. That’s how I know everyone gets their favorite from time to time.
The ages of 25 to 44? Those are the most likely ages for any woman to experience depression. Smack dab in the middle of raisinsg kids. If that is you, like it is me, please know that you are not alone in this battle. We are in the trenches, mamas. Torn between raising babies, building amazing marriages, and forging successful long-lasting careers. No wonder we feel that we are falling short and find ourselves battling depressing thoughts.
But until we start being honest with each other and sharing our truths, this cycle will continue. Our daughters will be in the same spot that we are, which is exactly where our mothers were. But we have the opportunity today to be brave and stand up for what we need.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is the ultimate sign of strength. As Elizabeth Dehn said best ” You don’t have to do it all by yourself.”
So don’t. Don’t rob yourself or your family of the strongest version of you. Don’t hide the truest version of yourself to make sure everyone’s needs are met. You are more than accessory to everyone else’s life. You are a powerful being that deserves to be seen in all your mess and beauty.
Instead, remember that it takes an entire village to raise babies, grow families, and achieve a full life. Asking for help is nothing weak; if anything it is the ultimate sign of strength because you have looked deep within your self and seen what you can or cannot do on your own. That is where the real power of life lies.
I am a mom, wife, sister, friend, volunteer, and employee. I live with depression but it does not define me. I am calling it out, removing its power, and fighting to make sure future generations know that everyone has a struggle and that doesn’t make you weaker.
Please, love each other fiercely and completely. You never know what someone else is battling and how your kindness can help their fight.
If you need help, PLEASE contact one of these amazing groups:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression
http://www.ifred.org/

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
1-800-826-3632
http://www.dbsalliance.org/

National Institute of Mental Health
866-615-6464
www.nimh.nih.gov

American Psychiatric Association
703-907-7300
www.psychiatry.org/

Anxiety and Depression Association of America
240-485-1001
www.adaa.org

Posted in Anxiety, books, Depression, kids, longreads, motherhood, selfcare

The top six books to read when you’re depressed

When life is hard, I like to disappear into a book. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes self-help, religious, or motivational. The point is, I need an escape and books provide that to me. I meant to only write about 5, but I couldn’t narrow it down that much. So here’s my top 6 books for when you’re feeling down or overwhelmed.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I know, not exactly the most thought provoking writing of all time – but that’s exactly why its easily one of my top books to just disappear into when I’m really feeling low and can’t tolerate anything heavy.
Did you wake up today an orphan? Only to hear how sad everyone was you weren’t a boy when you arrived because that’s what they ordered? That your hair is ugly? Your manners are terrible? Then you’re doing better than her and she makes it out alright. Even ends up marrying a doctor.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I only bought this book because I think Beyonce the metal chicken is hilarious and I re-read it every few months on her blog (Google it, you’re welcome) then I saw she wrote a book. And the raccoon on the cover looked exactly what I’d look like if I were a raccoon. Then I started reading, checked with my parents to make sure I have no other siblings I was not aware of out there, and realized I am not alone. I may be depressed and totally nuts sometimes, but I’m still not completely crazy because I’m not the only one and there are books and support groups dedicated to people like me. You are NEVER completely crazy if there’s books and support groups. You’re good enough.
That is NOT a Good Idea by Mo Willems. Kids books are great when you’re down. They’re short, they’re pretty direct, and you can read it to your kid while also letting the words help you. Bonus points if, like me, your kid is big enough to read it to you! This one is a good reminder that no matter how evil a plan is someone is plotting against you, you can always get through it and out smart it. And have a full belly. I like eating.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Any book about the holocaust kind of puts things into perspective for me, personally. I have problems, but no where NEAR these problems. This book had me re-evaluating my situations with every page. Then *spoiler alert* you find out its a true freaking story? Nope. I’m good. Maybe not perfect or where I want to be, but good. I’ll get through this.
You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I think its just healthy for you to have something around you that is screaming how great you are, so this is pretty much the best book title ever. I also love this book because its the complete pep talk you would want someone to give you, if they knew you, to help you start to see yourself in a better life. If you’re an introvert like me, you know we don’t have those people in our lives but we can still use the boost. Even if you don’t read it, just get it and stand it up on your counter and look at it daily as a reminder.
Its Not Supposed to be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst. Sometimes I swear and I don’t always do things the most proper way, but this book (and really all her books) are staples in my house. Filled with bookmarks, sticky notes, my handwriting, and highlighted parts (I need to own books because I just have to write all over them and make the good parts look pretty for next time). My guess is, if you’re struggling like me, this is NOT what you had planned for life. But here you are. Now what? Another good girlfriend book.
I am an AVID reader, my interests span the library – no topic is really too weird, too boring, too old, too new, or too anything for me. If you need more recommendations, comment below! And if you’ve got a good book to share (whether is makes you feel good or just makes you feel good enough for now) PLEASE share! I’m always adding to my reading list!
Posted in birthday, longreads, motherhood, nature, wtf

Birthdays are weird.

This week was my birthday. For those who dont know, I don’t get older. I just go up a level each year, because being level 39 sounds way cooler than being 39 years old. So, the other day I went up another level and I’m stronger, wiser, and tougher that before. Badass.
What is it about my birthday though that makes my children lose their minds and insane things happen? Its like the universe finds it comical every time I manage to make one more trip around the sun. Every. Freaking. Year.
This year, we needed to celebrate early since my actual birthday day was crammed full of taking kids to school and events. So a few days before the big day my kids whined that they didn’t want to go to the store to buy a gift and card (they may be totally addicted to Amazon which may be my fault but we talk about that another time). I tried to help Matt out by reminding the kids about all the hard work I do for their birthdays each year in the form of parties and cakes, not to mention the fact that I sacrificed my bikini modeling career to give birth to both of them, and the fact that if they celebrate my birthday they get ice cream too. I’m not sure which guilt trip or bribe did it, but they finally got it done before we went out for my birthday dinner.
Let’s talk about birthday dinner as a mom for a minute: if I have learned one thing in all the previous levels, its that I want to go some place where I know my children will definitely find something to eat that they love. Or like. Or at least will nibble on before we bring it home to enjoy as lunch the next day. So I chose my favorite restaurant to go to with my kids so they will not drive me crazy during the meal. Level 39 me was crushing it.
We made it through the meal with only one little ruffle about straws (what kind of waitress brings one kid a bendy straw and one kid a normal one?!). Also, don’t start on me about straws and the turtles. I live with an 8 year old girl, I know all about it, I just wanted a nice level 39 meal so straws were a must. The rest was great. All in all, a win.
My actual birthday consisted of running all over, going to softball game, then going out for ice cream before coming home. All I wanted to do was lie in bed and binge Madmen. (Yes, I am aware that the show has been off the air for ages and I am insanely behind on the times, however I have no patience and zero chill so I prefer to wait for shows to run their entire course and ignore them until they are placed on a streaming service where I do not have to wait for annoying things like cliffhangers.)
Just as I was about to finish my second episode and roll over to go to sleep I heard our teenager yell from downstairs. I am totally a dedicated mom, but in that moment I was also an exhausted mom so instead of getting up and walking downstairs – I texted him:
Me: “Don’t yell, your sister is asleep. What’s up?”
Teen: “There is a bird in the fireplace.”
Me, now yelling and running full speed from the bedroom: “NOBODY MOVE!!!”
This is where Matt clearly gets me and why our marriage works. He didn’t ask for an explanation or really flinch at my outburst and sudden flight. He calmly paused the show (I seriously love him) and followed me downstairs where we were in fact greeted by a bird flapping around inside of our fireplace among the ashes.

Me: “Oh my gosh. What do we do? Someone has to grab it. But not me. Do we even OWN thick leather gloves for this stuff?!”
Matt: “Will open a window and to get a way to get it out.”
Me: “Let’s catch him in a pillow case!”
Matt: “You think you’re that accurate?”
Me: “In a sheet!”
Matt: “You will throw ash all over the house.”
Teen: “Is it hurt? Can we keep it?!”
Me: “NO. Get the sheet.”

My plan was nothing short of a play right out of Wile E. Coyote’s playbook. We would hold the sheet up over the open fire place, the bird would fly into it, and we would quickly wrap it around him then throw it out the window. This is completely doable for two regular grown ups (one of which may have been afraid of rabies at that moment). Right? It sounded good in my head.
As it turns out, this bird was a super genius. Now, I realize that at first glance the fact that the bird fell down the chimney and was trapped with people staring at him would lead you to believe otherwise, but as soon as we held up a sheet in front of the fireplace and opened the sliding doors he froze. He may not have known what a chimney was but he definitely knew a hunter green sheet with paint stains was not the sky and he should not go that way.
We finally agreed to try Matt’s plan (and by we, I mean me). We closed the room door, opened the windows, removed the screens, slid the the fireplace screen open, then moved the sheet so he could see the window.
That’s all it took for our visitor, he was probaly traumatized by the giants waving paint sheets at him, so he soared out of the fireplace, through the room, and followed the fading sunlight to his freedom!
We then seized this teachable moment to show our son how fireplaces work and why you need to close the flue when done. You’re welcome, future daughter-in-law, for teaching your future husband how to care for your home.
You owe me a birthday cake.