Posted in Anxiety, Depression, happiness, longreads, Mantras, motherhood, sad, selfcare

When You Can’t Choose Joy – SheProclaims.com

Choose joy. 

You’ve seen it plastered around the world and on your screens. I know I have. It’s a novel idea. An idea which aims to empower us and make us happy. Everyone wants to be in control of their life and feelings. They want to be happy and love their life. We would all love to choose joy, but it isn’t as easy as the quotes want us to believe. 

I Can’t Choose Just One Feeling

Life is full of complex emotions. They very rarely come to us in an orderly single-file fashion. Instead, situations we face are filled with conflicting and smooshed-up emotions. We feel happy, sad, and mad but we also feel emotions like nervcited (nervously exicted) and angity (angry pity). We experience glarrow (glad sorrow), desohope (hope in a desolate place), charenity (serenity in chaos), and thousands of other nameless compound feelings I haven’t made up names for yet. 

Shoving them all aside so we can simply choose joy robs us of the tapestry of the human experience. Also, it’s impossible for many people, myself included.

Is joy all that great if we don’t have moments of despair as contrast in our life? I am not sure we actually enjoy joy if we don’t know what the opposite feels like. Does joy alone help us to process great loss in a healthy manner? Can joy single handedly cure depression and mend broken hearts? If choosing joy, and only joy, were really possible I suppose it could do all those things in a very monotone manner. 

Of course, if you’re someone who struggles with finding happiness, failing to choose joy as easily as everyone else feels like just one more failure in your life. The exact opposite of what the sentiment means. I’m like that. I can try so hard to choose to be filled with joy and gratefulness and all the good feels in spite of difficult circumstances but it doesn’t actually change things. Then I am sure I am doing it wrong. Which leads me further into my shame and depression. Which then leads to me eating way too much ice cream and needing new pants. The absolute opposite of joy.

Stop Choosing, Start Looking

Instead of “choosing” joy, let’s start looking for joy. Just a tiny little bit each day.  

Looking implies we may not find it easily or right away. I’m still looking for a set of car keys I lost when we moved back in 2014. I haven’t found them yet, but I might. I look for hair ties at least four times per day. It shouldn’t be as hard as it is since I own 4.7 billion of them but I always have to hunt for them. I always find one eventually. Looking is so much better than choosing. It’s less pressure. 

In theory, you should see one joy per day. I really think that is generally an achievable thing. We had a terrible night last weekend filled with nightmares for our daughter and little sleep for me. At the end of the night, we saw a sunrise so bright and colorful it filled the whole sky out our window. It was full or purple, our favorite color. I could not choose joy in that moment as a tired, overworked, worried mom but I found a moment to smile about. 

Some days I find a huge joy or multiple joys. A cozy fire and happy family on Christmas. Everything at Disney World which makes my heart want to explode with joy. My favorite meal surrounded by my favorite people. Spending a whole day reading a book. Warm baths, good beer, long naps, salon day, game nights, owls, my people, my kids and zillions of little things. 

Some days, I find very few. Some days joy is celebrating the end of a very difficult day. Making it through something you thought would destroy you can be a strange joy but it still counts. 

Choosing Joy is Hard

I cannot choose joy and it is ok. I am ok. You are ok. We are doing our best to get through the strange journey of life. We may be on top of the world one day then lost in our lowest lows the next but we are doing our best. You are doing your best. Choosing joy is not a fair expectation for everyday living. 

Just remember to look for joy each day. 

Posted in books, Christian, happiness, moms, motherhood, selfcare, Uncategorized, What I'm Reading

The Best books to read in Quarantine – according to me.

The Best books to read in quarantine – according to me. I’d like to say there’s some science behind this to prove how correct I am, but there isn’t. I just love books.

So, I guess the best books to read in quarantine may be a stretch, since they’re all a matter of opinion, but I’m giving it a go anyway. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared what I’ve been reading so this seems like as good of a time as any. As always – I want to know what you’re reading so can add it to my list 🙂

My top 5 favorite reads right now

  1. Untamed by Glennon Doyle – It’s no secret I love her. She is real, she is full of love, and she has overcome some serious things to find her happy place. This book is no exception. I am currently reading this and its taking me a bit because I’m so busy underlining things and drinking in every word. If you’re feeling like life isn’t what it should be or that you aren’t feeling how you “should” about life, this one is for you. 
  2. It’s Not Supposed to Be this Way by Lysa TerKeurst – I seem to suggest this book constantly but that’s just because it’s so freaking good! There’s no denying life is going to get messy or mixed up and not always turn out how we planned. This book walks us through those hard times from a Christian perspective. My poor copy is full of my handwriting and highlighting , which tells you how great it is. 
  3. My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella – sometimes a light, humorous, “chick-lit” book is what is what life needs. It’s not a style I read often but this one is good. What happens when you get everything in life and it all seems to be going perfectly before it all comes crashing down. We all know that feeling right now, don’t we? But of course, good things can come from change and do. 
  4. A Perfectly Messed Up Story by Patrick McDonnell – yes, it’s a picture book. Yes, its meant for kids. I started reading it because my daughter loved it and asked for it at bedtime. Now, I think it applies to us all. Young or old, get a copy and embrace it.
  5. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – Honestly, I haven’t read it yet. I’m starting it soon. This looks so good AND there is a Hulu show to start watching too. But read the book first. Always read the book first.

What am I missing?

These are some of the best books to read during quarantine according to me. I could go on, but then you’d have no time for reading books! Get lost and inspired in a book to ride this out. What else should I read?

*this post contains affiliate links, to help support the costs of hosting and running this site*

Posted in Depression, longreads, selfcare, Uncategorized

This is important: learn to step out of your comfort zone.

It can be scary to step out of your comfort zone. I like volunteering at my kids’ schools. I wish I loved it, but the idea of having a weekly commitment makes me itchy and takes the joy out of it for me. I’ve done the weekly commitments but sporadic volunteering is by far my strength. That is what I like. Specifically, the book fair. I like the book fair because I love books. And shopping. This combines the two for a good cause! Plus, I can score some great deals on Christmas gifts. It’s literally the perfect gig for me.

A few weeks back, was the fall book fair. I’m sure you’ve seen a similar set up before. Large metal bookshelf carts form a large horseshoe in the center of the school library. Brightly colored tables display books for every age. It’s a visual reminder to me of my children sitting on my lap with plump board books, now curled onto the sofa with chapter books I’m not a part of. Some books have memories and some I wish I had a child small enough to buy it for.

That night, I stood near a table of posters and books, watching families weave through the maze of shelves. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed an older man with a young boy walk into the library. Grandparents and grand kids aren’t an unusual sight at these events, but something about these two caught my attention. 

Most kids jog into the book fair. Or at the very least power walk. This boy walked in slowly, almost unsure if he should even be there. He paused next to the first metal cart, briefly inspecting the chocolate calculators no child can resist touching, before his eyes fell on a table full of his favorite books. 

Silently, he approached the table and began flipping through the pages of each book. I wasn’t the only one who took notice and soon his grandpa was by his side asking him questions about the books. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation:

“Do you like these books? Have you read them”

“My teacher has them. She lets me read hers. I read this one, but she doesn’t have all the other ones.”

“You can read them though? The words make sense and you like the stories?”

“Yeah, I like them a lot.”

“We should get you one. Everyone should have a book to read. Which one do you need next?”

“Are you sure? How much are these?” the boy held up the book and the man looked around the table for a price sign.

“I don’t know. I don’t see a sign and I don’t really know how books work,” he took the book from the boy, flipping through the pages and spinning it in his hands trying to spot a price to no avail. 

“Its ok grandpa, I can get it at the library,” he reached for the book to place it back on the table, but his grandpa pulled in back.

“No. This is important. I might not know how this works but I know its important, we’re finding someone to help.”

It took all my self-restraint not to buy every book on the table for the boy. When grandpa and I made eye contact, I stepped in to tell them the price of the book they were holding. He asked if I could show him and his grandson “how books work”. I gave them a quick crash course on where to find book prices, what the book is about, and what number it is if it’s part of a series. Things I take for granted that my children and I know, were totally new info for the two standing before me. They paid for the book and left. I returned to where I was watching the book browsers but I couldn’t quite shake the older man’s words. 

“This is important. I might not know how this works but I know its important. We’ll find someone to help.”

They could have said nothing and walked away. The grandpa could have been so ashamed about his lack of book knowledge he directed his grandson back out into the hallway. He could have just thrown the book on the counter and prayed the cost wasn’t going to be something out of his budget when it was rung up. Instead, he admitted he was not an expert, did not shy away from asking for help, and made sure they got what they needed before heading out that evening. Not only did he step out of his comfort zone – he bravely long jumped himself into the unknown.

That’s kind of how I feel about my journey in life and wherever this is going. I do not know it all. I am actively still in the middle of figuring things out. The only thing I am really sure of is how important it is to share, even if I need help along the way. I am not an expert on many things. I hold no fancy degrees in psychology, social work, Christian studies, writing, the Bible, marketing, or depression. I can still know those things are important. Instead of hiding away, I can find the help I need to get the outcome I want and share what I learn with anyone else in need. 

I think that’s something a lot of people allow to hold them back. I am totally guilty of it. I see people doing or achieving things I want to, then I quickly assess my progress toward those goals. If I am not on par with them or at least catching up, I immediately believe I am not as good as them. The idea of working through those feelings or getting help doesn’t cross my mind. You’ve either got “it” or you don’t, right? I know I’m not the only one carrying these ridiculously high standards with me.  

I wonder how many amazing things I have missed out on because I didn’t feel I was an expert at it soon enough. How many things have we all missed out on which could have helped improve our lives or the lives of others? Why do we let doubt and fear take the wheel so often? Why do we act like we can only do the things we already know? When you step out of your comfort zone, you take back control. 

If a man in his 70s can wander into an elementary school library and admit to his grandson, then a woman he never met before, he doesn’t know how books work – we can chase after our dreams. If he can stand there, surrounded by Captain Underpants, Dogman, and Baby Shark books while he learns where to find information on a book sleeve without an ounce of embarrassment – we can ask questions and allow others to guide us too. You just need to step out of your comfort zone.

If you don’t know how, but know its important – do it. Do it scared, unsure, shaky, and uncertain – but do it.

Posted in Depression, happiness, longreads, moms, motherhood, selfcare, Uncategorized

F those people – they aren’t yours – SheProclaims.com

F those people in life, who will not understand you. They will think you are too much or not enough. No matter what you say or do or how you try to explain it to them – it just won’t make sense. That’s all ok. Those people are not your people. Fuck those people (yes, Christian mom and sometimes I cuss – that’s how I roll). Find different people.

Those people and their opinions are not paying your bills. They are not in charge of you or your life decisions. It is not your job to make them comfortable or contort yourself to fit the mold they want you in. Your responsibilities in life are to be kind, do good things, love others, and be happy. That’s it. You live your life for you and no one else. You don’t need to hate them or be mean to them or rude to them – just take a deep breath and move on.

I learned this the hard way.

Many years ago, I was in a relationship which was definitely not the right fit for me. I am not sure why this person seemed so important to me at the time, but my craving for acceptance was so strong I was willing to do most anything. I changed my personality, interests, and worked myself to the bone to keep him happy. Comparing pictures from the start or our relationship to the end, you can watch the light in my eyes slowly fade. 

When he dumped me? I was a mess. I didn’t know who I was or what I liked anymore. I had pushed away a lot of friends and felt like I didn’t even know myself anymore. I felt discarded, worthless, crazy, and unworthy of anyone’s attention (especially his). I mistakenly let someone else drive my bus. When he pulled over, hopped off, and walked away I had no idea where I was, where to go, or how to even drive the dang bus. 

I wasted years of my life trying to be someone else for someone else. I wished I could be different, better, more worthy for him. I was so busy chasing his dreams that I lost mine. I missed out on part of my life because I was so focused on trying to make his better. I didn’t value myself one bit, and in the end neither did he. 

There is no “happy medium”

I was too quiet when we were out with his friends (never mine), then I was too loud. I never did find the right balance so I stopped being included. 

I was too lazy when I wanted a night at home with movies, then I was too wild if I wanted to go out for drinks. I gave up suggesting and just where he wanted. 

I dressed like a slut, then like a frumpy nun. I let him pick my clothes to save the fight. 

I spent too much money, then didn’t buy him nice enough things. I couldn’t even have a debit card to my own account.  I let him decide what I spent. 

Repairing your soul takes time

I am still healing from the damage that I allowed him to do, 20 years later. The damage I invited in, encouraged, and tolerated. Looking back on it now, all I can say is it was bullshit. In every sense of the word. There were people around me who love me deeply warning me of the damage it was doing to me; but I didn’t listen. I decided they couldn’t stand to see me happy and pushed them away. They became the villains in my story. I wish I had listened to them instead.. 

What I have learned since then is that I do not live my life for anyone but me. I will be too much or too little for some people and that’s ok. There is nothing wrong with me or them, we just aren’t meant to be kindred spirits. I will be too loud, too liberal, too conservative, too outspoken, and too vulnerable for some people. That’s ok. My job is not to make you comfortable, it is to live my best life and do as much good as I can. 

I suffered in silence for years, dying a little each day, trying to keep my depression and anxiety away from the world. I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, after all. Until the day I woke up and realized I was slowly killing myself this way. I was robbing my husband of his wife, giving my children only part of their mother, and hiding away my authentic self. The people that matter most were getting the least, because I didn’t want strangers to feel bad

F Those people.

Living your life for someone else is a waste of time. Nothing good comes from it, so I do not recommend it. I was a shattered, hollowed out soul when I found myself completely alone and regretting how I had allowed my life to go. Into a direction I didn’t want and didn’t enjoy. I missed out on fun times with family and friends because I was so devoted loving to someone who didn’t love me. Someone who didn’t let me love me either. 

Somewhere out there, I know someone is that place I crawled from. Ignoring the little voice in their head and the tug in their heart telling them they deserve more. They are feeling lost, unfulfilled, and adrift in a story they do not fully love. Maybe you’re the someone and you need to hear this. Maybe you know someone who needs to hear it from a completely unbiased source. This next part is important: take it in, share it, and live it. F those people who are holding you back.

Live your life

Do not live your life for someone else. F those people who try to limit your greatness or dim the light in your eyes. They are not your people, move along. Be kind, be loving, but don’t let others drive your bus. You do you. Be your authentic and original self. Shout your truth from the tops of mountains. You deserve happiness. The people who don’t “get” you are not worth worrying about and certainly not worth changing for. 

Wake up each and every day with a commitment to yourself to give your all to your own life each and every day. Bring the best and fullest version of you to the people you love. To the people who feed your soul. Those, dear friend, are your people. The people who see your messy, loud, quiet, lazy, crazy, true, real self are the ones that matter most. F those people who can’t handle your full life self.

Posted in Christian, Depression, God, longreads, Mantras, prayer, selfcare, Uncategorized

Bible Verses for Depression: My top 5 favorites – SheProclaims.com

I want to share some of my favorite Bible verses for depression with you today. Living with and working through depression is hard no matter who you are. I know from first hand experience. You can see and acknowledge good things going on all around you but you cannot feel them. You are numb to the warmth and peace the good parts bring, which is both frustrating and infuriating at the same time. It certainly doesn’t help you to feel “better” (whatever that term means). 

Living as a Chistian mom with depression comes with its own unique challenges. Our religion is cemented in the faith that someone good (God/Jesus/Holy Spirit) loves us and is taking care of us, even when life doesn’t appear that way. Short of the Bibles containing the words that remind us, though, we have nothing concrete to cling to in order to feel that love and keep our faith. Christiantiy is a religion of feelings – love, trust, faith, gratefulness,mercy, forgiveness – but what happens when we can’t feel all our feelings? 

Bible verses for Depression

These Bible verses for depression help me through my darkest times. Are they perfect? No. Do I feel better as soon as I read them over once? Not even close. But they do give me something to focus on that is constant and unchanging. The are promises made thousands of years ago and to billions of people. Surely, they apply to you and me too. 

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. 

Normally, when someone’s well-meaning but overly simple advice to “look on the bright side” is given to me, it makes me want to puke. I get that its well meaning, but it’s not that simple. Sometimes, there is no bright side to a situation. Sometimes the only bright side is that the struggle will end, but there’s no guarantee it will be a good ending.

Thankfully, Paul isn’t telling us to look for the bright side. He just wants us to think about anything from any time to keep our minds and actions pure. That is doable. Today may be hard, but at some point in life, there was a good day or place. Think about it quietly for a few minutes. Write about it. Draw it. Tell a friend about it. Look at pictures of it. You will not be removed from your difficult situation, but you can get a little break from it. Little breaks and reminders life is good are invaluable gifts. 

Psalm 40:1-2

I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard me cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to go through difficult times. David reminds us that there is no time limit on how short or long a cold season in life will last in this verse. We just need to remember we must be patient and talk to God. When it is time, He will take us from the most disgusting, deep, dark, and difficult places and get us back on our feet. We are not being left in the pit forever. 

The world is full of normal people like you and I overcoming huge obstacles and very deep pits in their lives. They are not Prophets from the Bible, they are real people existing in our real world who have lived Psalm 40 completely. Google some for inspiration (you know how much I love Google). They were all pulled from the pits and placed back on solid ground. They were not alone. It happens. All the time. It will happen for you when the time is right. Just be patient. 

If that’s not enough or a little hard, read a little farther into Psalm 40:11-17 for an honest prayer you can say or remember in your pit.

Matthew 11:28 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

This is my go-to, easy to remember Bible verse for depression for those late nights when the gears in my mind are turning at record speed and sleep evades me at every turn. My brain likes to replay my day at bedtime, but not as a highlight reel of everything good that happened. Somehow, those things never make the cut and instead I end up watching the world’s longest blooper reel looping through my mind. It’s like the worst Blockbuster store ever, playing the same awful movie on replay until every bit of the movie lodges into memory forever. 

It’s easy to get lost in these thoughts and let them take over, I know because I’ve done that more times that I care to admit, but it’s also in those times when Matthew’s words comfort me. I am tired, I am worried, I want rest – so I start talking. My prayers are not pretty, they’re somewhat informal, like we’re best friends almost, but I think that’s ok. As I talk to God, my worries fade and the next thing I know – I have found my rest and it is morning.

Deuteronomy 31:8 

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

This has been one of my all time favorite verses for many situations; but these words feel like a verse about depression to help keep us going. I feel alone a lot, like no one understands how I feel (myself included). It is a scary place to feel so lost and unsure, but I find a lot of comfort in knowing that I am not alone. 

The author hints life can be scary or hard, but we should not be afraid or discouraged. Easier said than done? Absolutely. However, keeping this around to read or repeat to myself in the hardest times has been a life saver for me. I recommend keeping this nearby in your purse or on your phone. Something you can peek at when you’re feeling down easily.

Isaiah 41:10 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand.”

Teaching my kids how to ride two-wheel bikes without training wheels was no simple task. The looks of terror on their faces communicated they thought they were not ready, struggling with the concept, and certain great bodily harm was in their future. I knew they were big enough, strong enough, and ready for this big step. They just needed hear I would stay by them, to feel my hand on their backs, and see me running next to them at first; until they got the hang of it. I am proud to say they both ride bikes brilliantly today. 

I think that’s exactly what this Bible verse for depression says for us all. We may not feel we are capable or ready to face whatever is pulling us down, but we are not alone. God will stay by us, with his hand on our backs even if we can’t feel it, and run beside us. Or walk if we’re talking about me, because as God or anyone I know will tell you – I don’t do running. The point is, He will meet you where you are, stay by you, and give you the strength you need to move on. The only thing you need to do is show up and believe in his loving words. 

Fill your war chest

There are a million other Bible verses for depression worth reading but these are my absolute favorites. My “war chest” of verses for the really big battle days. Reading these verses about depression reminds me these feelings are not new or only known to me. People have struggled with similar feelings since we left Eden. Feeling less alone makes it so much easier to keep going. 

Do you have any favorite Bible verses for depression or books that help you through? Feel free to share them! I would love to check them out and build up the war chest!

Posted in Anxiety, Christian, Depression, guest writer, happiness, longreads, Meditation, moms, motherhood, sad, selfcare, suicide, Uncategorized

Sorry My Depression Makes You Uncomfortable – SheProclaims.com

“It’s just difficult for us when we don’t what your mood will be today. Your depression makes us uncomfortable.”

I am sorry my depression makes you uncomfortable. Want to know why people suffer in silence? Don’t get help? Get lost in the darkness, leaving everyone shaking their heads saying “I had no idea…”? It’s because too often, others make your depression about them. They shame people into feeling small, bothersome, and crazy for struggling when they don’t feel we should.

I have gone over this before, remember this post? But that’s fine. I’m will not going away. I’ll address it until I die.

I’m done with the mask. I will not going to tell you I’m fine, when I’m not. I also won’t breakdown sobbing and unleashing all my problems on you. Instead, I’m going to be quieter than usual when you see me while I work things out. It’s going to get uncomfortable, but I’m ok with that. Uncomfortable is where change begins.

I’m so sorry if my depression is inconvenient for you. Clearly, I am doing this to make you uncomfortable and cause as much disruption to your life as possible. It’s a well known fact that people choose depression and other mental illnesses out of spite most of the time. And for the fame and admiration which comes with being labeled. Right?

I realize that even though it takes a 30 minute pep talk and prayer meeting to will myself out of bed, I am making life your life hard by not being perkier in the mornings.

Even though I am often exhausted from insomnia and constantly talking my anxiety down to a manageable level, you’re right. It’s my responsibility to make sure everyone else is completely at ease around me at all times. Instead of a simple polite smile when you say good morning, I will try to light up like the Griswold family’s Christmas lights and enthusiastically greet you. That won’t feel fake or awkward for anyone.

Its great when you ask what will make me happy. Obviously, I withhold that one thing from myself just to ruin your day. I am thinking of a number between 1 and 100 billion, as soon as we reach that number with the question, I will spill it and we’ll all have a good laugh at this game.

You get bonus points by demanding I tell you what is making me sad. That is definitely going to help – especially if you can raise your voice during the conversation. Maybe…just maybe, you’ll be the one to “set me straight”. Worst case, we’ll be closer to the secret number.

Please keep inviting me to things only to get offended if I politely decline. If I do go, get ready to be irritated when I don’t have as much fun as you think I do. Probably a good time to interrogate me more too. Maybe in front of a group? That might help.

Thank you for telling me about 10 people you know who are in worse positions than me. Nothing pulls one out of depression faster than knowing things can get worse. Make sure to use lots of shame and guilt to hammer that point home. People with depression and mental illness are known for having large amounts of self esteem. Good idea pointing those faults out to bring us all back down to Earth.

Clearly, I choose to struggle with food, sleep, chores, work, socializing, and productivity. All because I want to annoy and inconvenience those around me. I’m a very selfish person as I wake up every day and decide “I’m going to be sad today. Again.”

Actually, I’m sorry I’m not sorry at all.

I’m sorry if me speaking up, speaking out, and asking for help is uncomfortable for you. I’m sorry if its frustrating you or inconvenient for you. I know I’m supposed to suffer in silence out of respect for your comfort level and desired ignorance.

Wait, no I’m not. Not sorry at all. My job isn’t to make you feel good about the world. Your happiness and level of comfort are not my responsibility. Stop trying to make it so. I will not apologize if my depression makes you feel uncomfortable.

Requests that I just be happy, just be fun, smile more, and make others comfortable is ridiculous. I’m going to admit when I’m struggling and need help until everyone can start thinking about how we can help people, instead of how we can try to convince people they should be fine – then hope they hide their pain.

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 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 kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, parenting, selfcare

I’m over “Mom guilt”

I’m over “mom guilt”. I don’t know why its a thing or when it became a thing, but we need to stop it. Our mothers and our grandmothers didn’t heap this crap on themselves – so why are we?
Somehow, it almost seems to be a weird badge of honor among moms. Like, mom A loves her kid so much that she hand makes birthday treats for class straight off her Pinterest board because she could never live with the “mom guilt” that a bulk box of prepackaged rice krispie treats would bring upon her. Failure to bring the Pinterest treat is clearly failure as a mom, in loving your kid, and makes you less of a mom.
Huh? I don’t follow this at all. And I’m not playing. And I’m calling b.s. on all the moms that do. We have a hard enough gig just keeping these little humans alive some days. Why would we PURPOSELY add more struggles and guilt to ourselves?! For absolutely no reason!?
I will not feel guilty that I am not helping at field day. I would rather get a root canal than try to herd 23 kindergarteners through a three-legged race. If that’s your thing, more power to you. Thank you! If you didn’t enjoy this, it wouldn’t be happening. And if you don’t enjoy it, you shouldn’t be doing it. But I will not feel guilty for not doing it.
I will not feel guilty that I didn’t go to the zoo with my kid’s class. I’ve been to the zoo. Like, 100 times. And at least 80 of those times, I had that kid in tow. We’ve got pictures, souvenir mugs, and a three foot long pink cobra stuffed animal to prove it. WHY would I feel guilty for not hopping on a bus and riding an hour to look at this stuff with her for the 81st time? I’m not. Go have fun. With your friends. With your teachers. With kind adults you have never gone to the zoo before who are super pumped to go. And I will listen eagerly when she gets home and love all the stories!
I won’t feel guilty because I work. We wouldn’t be going to the zoo without money. Which my job gets for us.
I won’t feel guilty because I don’t work some days. Cleaning, laundry, and driving people are important too.
I won’t feel guilty when I hide in the bedroom for a bit on a Saturday or take an extra long shower. Mom needs a break sometimes and everyone will be FINE for half an hour.
I won’t feel guilty for buying prepacked food, some days that’s all that gets us by.
I won’t feel guilty for the $11 late fees at the library. I remembered everyone’s doctor appointments, school needs, extra curriculars, and kept everyone alive. Library books are a minor casualty. Not feeling bad at all.
I won’t feel guilty for waking up each day, loving my kids, doing my best, and keeping myself happy, healthy, and well. Maybe I do more than others in some areas, but I promise you I am not keeping up in others. And that is ok. Completely. Nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about.
The kids are fed. They are kind. They are loved. They are happy.
Mission accomplished. Well done making it to the end of the year with me ladies. That is something to be proud of!