Posted in Christian, Depression, God, longreads, Uncategorized

Playdoh & Patience

“And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.” 

Isaiah 64:8

I love this verse. It is something both hopeful and reminiscent to me. Something I can relate to easily. I remember the playdoh of my childhood. The smell, the squishy feelings, and the fun tools seemed to give life to unlimited possibilities of what I could create. I would recreate my favorite foods (I make a mean playdoh pepperoni pizza) or the required craft of little girls of the 1980’s: a rainbow. I always tried so hard get the color rows the same width for equal uniform bands in my sculptures. 

Sometimes it worked out, sometimes not. And that is the beauty of playdoh: you can make something beautiful over and over again, fixing the mistakes, and it never stops allowing you to change its shape. 

When I finished something, I’d leave it be for awhile. Enjoying its brightness, proud of my creation, and sometimes use it in some fantastic story play. Eventually, it would be time dismantle my creations – whether it be that I was tired of them, needed to “fix” something, or it was time to clean up for the day. I’d take the pieces apart, trying to keep the colors separated, and squish them into their containers for another day. The creations were no longer there but the PlayDoh was ready for next time. For the possibilities and great ideas I’d bring to it next. 

I didn’t hate the PlayDoh. I didn’t hate my creations. I didn’t pack it up because I thought what I made was terrible and I couldn’t stand to look at it. Quite the contrary. I squished it all down because I saw how I could make it better. Or because the day’s plan called for it to lose its shape into the containers for awhile before I could bring new life to it with my next fantastic plan. 

As I’ve grown, those feelings have come back when I read Isaiah 64. We are more than clay to God. We are His precious creations that He is so fond of. He formed you tenderly with His own hands and loves to look at proudly. You are valued, treasured, loved, wanted, and important. And, like any child or potter with their clay, sometimes even God needs to make changes to His creations for whatever part of life we’re entering into next. 

He needs to break us down sometimes to build us back up into something better. Any potter will tell you, sometimes you have to bring your creations back down to nothing and start over. To help it be better. To improve your design. To make sure it’s ready for the purpose you have in mind for it. What looks like and feels like destruction is actually the start of something great. 

It’s hard to see it in the moment. When you look around and see your life slowly being torn down. The clay of your being slowly caving in on itself until all that is left is a mound of shapeless you. Without a solid base, strong form, clear design, or obvious purpose. These moments often come with little to no warning, leaving you scrambling to understand why. Wondering what area of you needed the improvement and what you can do to help things along.

I know these feelings all too well. I am there with you. Lying on the potter’s wheel and feeling it slowly spin. Just enough that my form is staying a cohesive lump and not merely falling flat, but not fast enough that I feel any changes or growth.

It’s hard to be in this place. I liked how I was before this. After many years of struggles and insecurities, I was finally reaching a point in life where things were mostly happy, stable, and satisfying. Of course I wished I could drop 20 pounds or win the lotto and work a little less, but if someone had asked me how my life was going the answer would have been: wonderfully. 

Clearly, I was wrong. There were areas in my life and in my soul that needed attention. They needed more work and some reforming, so like a skilled potter, God has taken me back down to the wheel. All of me is still here, in this shapeless lump. He’s starting to rebuild me with some improvements that are hard right now but will be so wonderful when they’re done.

I thought I was comfortable in my skin. Perhaps I was to an extent or more than I used to be, but the last six months have made it clear to me that there was room for improvement. The moment I came face to face with someone that was thinner than me, prettier than me, and living a life I wanted – I fell apart. I stopped eating. I stopped functioning at all. Everything I thought I had gotten past from years of previous hurts from multiple people was still there. I hadn’t moved on from anything, just ignored it and kept going with life. 

That’s the thing about potters and God: no matter how much their creation seems finished they can see the areas that need some work, even if the rest of us can’t. They know how to fix it, how to slowly build it back up, form it, and give it new life. I couldn’t see the flaw buried deep inside myself, but God knew. He knew it was holding me back from being a strong and complete as He wants me to be. 

The hard part is being patient while He does His work. Letting go of control or preconceived ideas of how God should fix us or our situation. I am beyond guilty of feeling that He is taking too long or not doing things right. And by right, of course, I mean how I want them done. I am not sure when I started to think that I knew all the answers and I know how my life should go, but I know I’m not the only one who thinks these things.

You probably do too. This impatience is just one more flaw He’s working on at the pottery wheel with me. Shaping me and holding me in place until I can start to fully let go and trust in his process. He can’t finish making all the improvements to me until I can calm down and let Him make a solid foundation. One only He knows how to make. 

That’s really hard for me. I’m a doer and a fixer and a very impatient person. This is trying all of my patience and then some. I see those who have hurt me living comfortably and seemingly without pain while I struggle to get through the day. 

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil.” – Psalm 37:7-8

But of course, God knows what He is doing. He knows the plans for me and how He will make them happen. My job isn’t to tell him how to do this. My job is to give and take with each loving knead He makes in me. To grow, shift, and change as things around me do; all under His watchful eye. 

Posted in Anxiety, books, Christian, Depression, healthy, longreads, Mantras, Meditation, moms, motherhood

Mirror Mantras

Update Feb 10, 2020: a lot of people are asking me about positive thoughts and mirror work. Here’s a piece dear to my heart!

I live with anxiety and depression.

I used to hate thinking or saying that out loud. Its not like its something that I’m proud of, but its part of me. I also live with red hair, lots of freckles, and about 20 extra pounds I wish I could lose. Its all just a part of what makes me, me.

It took me a long time to get to a somewhat comfortable place with that. I think its hard for a lot of people to talk about because its been kept in the dark so long. We’re all just supposed to be “ok” (whatever that means) when lots of us just aren’t. But just because you’re not meeting someone else’s definition of “ok”, it doesn’t mean you’re failing at life. Which is exactly how I have felt in the past.

I would tell myself that people who make more money, take more trips, do more work, or have more things are more valuable to society and successful in the world than me. The same went for anyone taller, thinner, tanner, sportier, or with less wrinkles than me. They had clearly figured out some easy way to have everything while I felt I was barely treading water.

I was literally telling myself every day that I was the problem. I wasn’t good enough. I was my own worst critic and enemy. Some days I still am. The nagging, negative words in my head became how I saw myself, no matter how many people tried to tell me otherwise.

This was a major argument I had with my therapist. She would tell me, “just change how you talk to yourself. say nice things.” Uh, yeah, if it was that easy I wouldn’t have been paying her out the nose to try and help me get there. We debated this for weeks, with me leaving her office in tears and frustrated at times. I could not “just do it”. So I decided to really start looking for HOW I could try to do it.

Then, something I had rolled my eyes at (and that you may be rolling your eyes at right now) fell into my lap in all my searching: mantras.

When I first thought of mantras, all I thought of were hippies and bald monks reciting uplifting words while meditating in the woods somewhere (no disrespect to hippies, bald monks, or woods intended). Or, someone staring at themselves in the mirror saying it over and over to get pumped up for the day. It felt too weird and forced for me. Fake even. I mean, I’m pretty good at telling when someone is lying to my face – especially when its me. Faking it to “trick myself” into believing the words wouldn’t cut it.

So instead of saying them in the mirror, I took a dry erase marker and wrote my mantra across the bathroom mirror. I didn’t have to say it or recite. I just had to see while I was brushing my teeth, doing my hair, applying make up, taking a shower, or just using the bathroom. And instead of telling myself how great I already was, I decided to talk to myself like I would to a friend. Build me up slowly and support me. On the mirror.

Are your eyes rolling yet?

I started with a very simple one to start: “You’re doing your best and that’s enough.” I knew I couldn’t fix all of this overnight, but trying was at least a good start. And at that moment, about all I could do. That was up on the mirror for a few weeks. Until I got comfortable with seeing words up there. Then, they started to sink in. I felt calmer and a little kinder to myself – even though I still had a long way to go.

Over the last 12 months I’ve rotated through quite a few “pep talk mantras”. I change them when I feel I need to, to suit where I am in life, and they range from quotes to thoughts to Bible verses or notes from other books I’ve read. There are no rules.Here are a few examples I’ve used or love that you can try:

  • You are enough.

  • Its ok to not be ok.

  • Keep going.

  • Live in the Upside Down (a reference to the piece by Lysa TerKeurst in her book Its Not Supposed to be This Way)

  • You are loved

  • You are clothed in strength and dignity (a twist on Proverbs 31:25)

  • All good things take time

  • “Its been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will” (Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables)

Have you ever tried a mantra? Got one to share? I’m working on a running list and would love YOUR input. Need a mantra? For a specific place? Share that too. Together, we can all build back up.

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Mantras, motherhood, Uncategorized

Taking my time…

I’m as guilty as anyone else when I pickup a book or read a blog of someone I am interested in. I always seem to think they have life figured out and life without problems. I am well aware there is no truth in the previous sentence, but I still do it. 

I’ve been working on my book intently lately. So intently the blog is slacking a bit (look me up on Instagram @She.Proclaims where I’m more active). There are a ton of things in my mind and happening in my life I want to share but it just isn’t time yet. Some things I am still figuring out and some things are such fragile situations I need to get through them before I can share them. 

Just know, I’m here and still around. More updates are coming, I am just working through them right now so I can share them in the best most honest way I know how in the end. A few random thoughts:

  • I updated my mirror mantra the other day. I’m reminding myself “One day at a time.” My anxiety and depression have been trying to run the show here but I’m not letting them. What mantra are you focusing on right now?
  • I think parents should get to walk across the stage at graduation with their kids if they choose to. I’ve lost more hours and tears than I can count this week doing math homework. I’m actually better at the 8th grade stuff than the 3rd grade stuff, but we’re all collectively getting through this. I know I’m not alone. Hats off parents!
  • Valentine’s Day is coming up and I don’t care if you think it’s a Hallmark holiday, I’m freaking excited. Romance is easy to lose in the busyness of everyday life. If you don’t need it and you’re that low-key, good for you. I am not low-key and I need it so I’m pumped there is one day per year RESERVED for love and signs of it. Look at your spouse, if it matters to them, don’t drop the ball. A $10 bouquet from the grocery store will do fine (although florist trucks are extra special). But just be fully completely lost in love for one day. Even if you don’t buy cards and give into corporate pressure. 
  • I wish people worried as much about homeless people, lack of medicine for the poor, and all of the other actual problems in the world as much as they are about the Super Bowl halftime show. Oh the problems we could fix if we put that rage toward something meaningful.

That’s it!! Seriously, email me, follow me on IG or Facebook and stay tuned. SO many big things are happening right now. I’m beyond excited to share them with you at the right time!