Posted in Depression, happiness, longreads, motherhood, selfcare

Melting Piles – How to Tackle Your To Do List

I live in Michigan, right along the shore of Lake Michigan. We are quite accustomed to winters when streets, sidewalks, and every possible open space become filled with inches, or feet, of snow. After every snowy winter storm we do what we can to live and work around this pristine annoyance: we shovel, push, and throw it into massive piles. We shovel it as far out of our way as possible then get on with life and the rest of our to do list. 

Eventually, the storms subside and give us room to breathe. The sun comes out a bit to help melt, or at least compress, some of what was left behind. We do what we can to cut the big piles back more and return to our daily lives while we wait for warmer weather to eventually cut us some slack. We wait for warmer days to handle the small piles in a few sunny days with temps over freezing

However, the large piles still loom well into the Spring. 

Until the machinery comes out, loaders and dump trucks, to scoop up the piles and take them off to a remote area of town. They can melt at their own pace without continuing to be a visual danger to drivers or threaten to flood our neighborhoods along with all the other snow slowly disappearing into the ground. 

Today I realized, as I watched the scoop and dump ballet play out near a behemoth cul-de-sac pile this week,  I couldn’t help but think about how we apply a lot of our snow dealing theory to our problems and to do lists in life. We push things to the side, let small problems disappear on their own, and create messy behemoths we must deal with at a later date. Ever catch yourself doing this exact thing? I do (all the freaking time…).

When problems fall into our lives, we handle what we can and group together what we cannot in that moment – we have to keep going on in life after all. When things slow down, we can start working on our problem piles to make them less intrusive to our daily life. And finally, one day when things are finally sunny, we can scoop what is left and deal with them properly. I know we do not have literal piles but our to do lists can feel just as daunting.

We don’t have to deal with everything or fix everything all at once. We don’t need to deal with everything in real time. But if we don’t deal with it eventually, the piles become unmanageable. It’s ok to handle what we have to, then what we can, before finally dealing with the bigger stuff when we have the time and mindset to do so; but we need to be careful not to put it off for too long. 

We don’t have an army of loaders and dump trucks to bail us out. 

Putting off hard conversations and real self-assessment is easier and more comfortable that willingly wading through awkward, messy, hurtful situations. I get that. But unlike the snow, the problems won’t melt away on their own. We have to take thing apart bit-by-bit on our own or risk being buried alive. 

We have to push aside the fear and believe we can do the hard things. 

The voice in your head telling you that you can’t are lying. The one telling you to push them off and ignore them are wrong. The one convincing you that you don’t have the tools, time, patience, or energy is just fear trying to hold you back from the life you deserve (and let’s be honest – the one you want). 

Nothing gets better and growth can’t happen without doing big things. They might be scary or feel overwhelming at first but that’s how you know it’s important. I don’t care if you’re trying to move a 10 foot tall snow hill or apologize to someone after saying some hurtful things – it’s hard and needs to be done. The sooner you start, the sooner the overwhelming pile starts to disappear. 

How do you handle your pile? One scoop at a time. 

I fix problems for a living and the best advice I can give is: make a plan. Which is easier than it sounds. Grab a piece of paper for this quick crash course:

  • Look at your pile and list everything out
  • Take a deep breath, quit rolling your eyes at me, I know the list is long but stick with me.
  • Prioritize the items into three groups:
    1. Urgent (like you’ll be homeless, hungry, in jail, or dead if you don’t deal with it soon 
    2. Soon (things you need to do soon like oil change, schedule bill pays, or make a dr. appt). 
    3. Upcoming (things needing attention with no firm end dates like dropping of Goodwill donations or cleaning out the crumbs from your floor mats). 

How long will each list be? That all depends on how long you’ve been pushing your pile aside. From here, I do one urgent per day (or more if time permits!) until it’s done, then move onto the soon pile. Eventually, the major pressing things are handled. It’s not as fast as a loader and a dump truck, but lifts a weight just as heavy.

The upcoming pile? Well that ones not so bad. You can sprinkle it in along with other things or just do it when you’re done. OR, you can look at it and see if there is anyone else who can do any of it or help you out. Does your spouse drive past Goodwill on the way to work? They can drop off the bags. Your kids are likely capable of vacuuming their own messes out of your backseat (or at least picking up the wrappers). Get them to work and maybe, JUST maybe…they’ll think twice before messing it up again.

Who am I kidding – they will not. but it’s off your list now, so you’re welcome.

The point is, nothing in life is too much – it just may be too much for one time. Even the most overwhelming and defeating mountains of problems or anxieties can be dealt with. It all comes down to never giving up, never giving into fear, and never doubting yourself. Whether it takes one month or twelve to dig out, making progress is all that counts.

Posted in books, Christian, Depression, Mantras, Uncategorized

What's in a letter?

What’s in a letter? The best self-improvement books I’ve read are scattered all over my house with loads of letters before and after the author’s names. I love self-improvement books. Some are religious (Lysa TerKeurst), some research-based (Brene Brown), and some are just inspirational stories (Anne Lamont). The idea people can overcome ridiculous situations and still be good humans is amazing to me. Certainly, hearing how people have done it and gathering tips I can use in my life is inspirational.

I have never found one book with all the answers. Please, no one comment with The Bible either. Even that leaves me scratching my head and not fully sure how to handle some situations in life at times. Therefore, I don’t think there really is a one size fits all book, which is actually pretty awesome in my opinion. That means we’re all capable of doing great things in our own way. I really like that. 

I was looking at the self improvement section at the bookstore recently and I noticed many books are written by people with many letters after their names. A few I see often include Ph.D, L.M.S.W., and M.D.. I know what they mean, these people worked really hard for those letters and I respect them. Besides, what’s in letter?

Other letters people should get

I also love how the aisle is also full of people with no letters after their names. They have a lot of info and wisdom to share also. As a result, I’d like to give them letters after their names too. Therefore, I started brainstorming a few:

B.T.S. – Been through Shit.

B.H.B – Been to Hell & Back

C.M.T.U – Can’t Make This Up

B.A.W – Bad Ass Woman

N.M.F.R. – Not My First Rodeo

P.O. – Prays Often

L.J. – Leaning on Jesus

M.L.B. – Momming like a Boss

F.Y.S. – Funny Yet Smart

Think I could add some to my byline? Danielle Peterson – B.T.S., B.H.B, L.J.

So what’s in a letter? What other letters can we bestow on people and what would yours says?

Posted in Christian, Depression, longreads, love, selfcare, Uncategorized

You don’t need a Valentine. Love yourself.

There are many definitions of love but my favorite is the verb form:

love : verb

 \ˈləv \

1: to hold dear : cherish

Living the verb life

I love (hold dear…cherish…) this form because it is limitless. The verb love isn’t tied to other people, places, or things. It can apply to anyone or anything which makes it the perfect form of love as we enter February. This love applies to us all. 

February can be a real downer month for some when they’re facing it alone. We all know alone has many different definitions too, so use which one applies to you. Whether now or in the past, we have all been alone on this day and it can be the worst. Like a flashing neon sign over your head announcing to the world “I am not wanted, worthy, cared for, or cherished by anyone!” every time another bouquet of flowers passes you by on its way to someone who has been chosen by another. 

I’ve been there. Many times. I used to believe I couldn’t celebrate this month, certainly not Valentine’s Day, without someone else in my life. There is some outdated idea that we can only be loved romantically and when others deem us worthy. I get it, Cupid is the love goddess’ kid and St. Valentine is the Saint of Lovers so that’s where it started.

But St. Valentine is also the Saint of epileptics and beekeepers, so if he can diversify, so can we.

We need to start every Valentine’s Day (and every day for that matter) by remembering love isn’t just gifted to us by other people, we have the power to gift it to ourselves too. In fact, we should gift it to ourselves because if we can’t love ourselves, how can we ever expect someone else to? If we don’t cherish our own greatness, it’s hard to find someone truly worthy of our love. 

Quit chasing love.

I know. Easier said than done. I am well aware. I have spent plenty of time over my lifetime chasing after people I hoped would see me as worthy of their attention. Maybe then they’d decide I was worthy of the love my heart cherished so badly. I could name many things about them I loved and was dying to hear them love just one thing about me in return. My happiness literally hung on their answers, which were generally not what I was looking for. 

I based my self love on their approval which completely removed the “self” part from the equation. It took me years to see the insanity I was putting myself through, trying the same things over and over while expecting different results. Each year, I was disappointed but not surprised. I just assumed love wasn’t for me. It took me a few more years to see that was a complete crock of shit. 

We don’t need love from any outside person to be loved. We are loved already and wonderfully made (see Psalm 139:14 for more on that). The sooner we start believing that, the happier our lives will be. Maybe with someone special, maybe without but there will be love. Lots of it. 

Instead of waiting for outside sources to “gift” us some other definition of love – we need to live a love verb life with ourselves. We need to hold dear and cherish ourselves. In this day in age, waiting around for some White Knight to show up and bestow affection on us is not only outdated but completely unrealistic. 

Learn to love yourself

This month: it’s time to love yourself. No, this isn’t selfish (unless you start treating others like crap to love yourself, then we need to talk). We will not hate our flesh but love and care for it like Jesus does (Ephesians 5:29, generously paraphrased). Everyone will be loved in their own way with just a few little tweaks to life. 

  1. Buy yourself some flowers. I’m not kidding. Go to the store and go as big or small as you want but get some flowers in your space. It’s dark and wintery, they will make you smile. Bonus: you will get ones you definitely love.
  2. Treat yourself. Yes, it’s hard right now. Money is tight for some and many places are limited on availability. That can’t stop you from still treating yourself to a little something for being awesome. Grab yourself something off Amazon or order your favorite take out to enjoy with a good book. Cook your favorite meal, even if it’s a little more work than the Hot Pocket you were planning on. Take a nap and ignore your dishes one afternoon. Hike that trail you love. Do something that makes you happy, no excuses.
  3. Pamper yourself. Hugging yourself isn’t the same as hugging someone else, I fully agree. That doesn’t mean your body can’t still be loved too. Take a long bath or shower. Make a playlist of your most relaxing music and soak. Get a new lotion, a facemask, paint your nails, practice yoga, meditate – just do something that leaves your body feeling renewed and refreshed. 

You are love.

Treat yourself the way you want others to. Love yourself fully and show the world what you deserve. Don’t settle for less. You don’t need other people, cheesy stuffed animals, or chocolates to make it known you are loved. Wake up, roll out of bed in love with yourself and the rest will fall in place in due time. 

You do not have a timid spirit; yours is powerful, loved, and full of self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Remember your power and love yourself fully.

Posted in Christian, Depression, happiness, longreads, love

Make Graceful Resolutions

We talked about skipping resolutions, but be honest – some of you still did it, didn’t you? I knew you would… so let’s be gracious in how we proceed here.

I hope you shall be in the 8% that keeps them (and is honest in their reporting to the people who track these sort of things). I also hope, whether you make resolutions or set smaller goals for the year that you remember to be kind to yourself. Give yourself grace. 

In years past, I’ve set goals to work out and eat healthy but I was never kind to myself. I took away everything I liked, signed myself up for things I don’t like doing, and internally scolded myself any time I stepped remotely close to messing things up. The moment I actually made a mistake in my goals, I declared myself a failure at my resolution and gave up completely. Sound familiar? I’m sure I’m not the only one. 

Why do we always focus on things we’re bad at in the New Year? We make a whole list of things we need to fix about ourselves without really stopping to look at all of the things that make us wonderful. Can a resolution or goal be to just keep being awesome instead of focusing solely on our flaws? 

This year, I challenge you to love you and be kind to you. You made it through last year, you made it through all the hard days, and you are still here. Celebrate those wins and build upon your goodness by growing your goodness and loving your imperfect self. I’m following this method for 2021:

  1. Take an inventory of what you’re really great at and do more of it. Be honest with yourself and don’t worry if others would agree – this is your list, not theirs. If you think you’re a great singer – who cares if you make it onto the voice? You love it, do more of it. If you are an amazing organizer, see if you can volunteer with a group or just help a friend get her crap together. Do more of what makes you amazing and launch that happiness into the world.
  1. Take an inventory of what you’d like to do and do more of it. You want to work exercise more? Then just do it a little longer than last year. If you do 1 minute or 1 hour more each day you’re doing it. Celebrate that win. You want to read more books? Get the Kindle app on your phone and stop scrolling Facebook in bed or on the toilet (don’t act like you don’t do that). If you read 1 more than last year, you did it! Whether you end 2021 with 1 book or 200 books read, you did better than 2020 and that’s a win. Do more of what your heart wants. 

3.    Smile. This one is easy. If you’re from the Midwest, we already do it. Make eye contact with people and smile. Smiling reduces your blood pressure, lowers your stress, and boosts your immune system. It literally makes you healthier with barely any effort (see more on its perks here https://www.henryford.com/blog/2017/10/health-benefits-smiling).

4. Live like Elsa. Just let it go. All of it. Quit yelling at people while you drive, fighting with strangers on the internet, and unfriending people with different political leanings than you. Just because someone says something you don’t agree with doesn’t mean you need to launch a verbal nuclear assault on them and their family. As my boy Thumper has been preaching since 1942: “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. Move on. 

That’s it. Low effort, big results, and completely doable. Focus on one day at a time, don’t bash yourself if you have a slip up – just try again. If 2020 taught us anything it’s that “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13. 

Let’s do 2021 with love. For us, for others, and for the world.

Posted in Christian, Depression, God

The gifts of 2020

Most years, our life is dictated by calendar squares filled with scribbled times. Appointments, birthday parties, meetings, classes, and other demands decided our daily pace. Very rarely did our family’s speedometer fall much below warp speed. We grumbled about being tired and wanted to slow down, but we couldn’t manage to stop. 

Until this year, when God gifted us a brake job.

When the world around us closed and our circle grew smaller, it was scary. The once overflowing calendar was nearly blank. Other than zoom calls, the days were clear. They were ours to fill, or not fill, together at home. We were finally stopped. God fixed our brakes and gave us a break.

We rediscovered family game nights. We played games we forgot we even owned. We laughed, sometimes argued, and celebrated our wins. Between turns, we swapped stories and thoughts about our lives we may have otherwise missed. We heard our kids’ feelings about life. They shared their hopes and fears about the world unfolding around them. We shared our hopes and wishes for them.  We created the inside jokes, love, and memories to hold together the crazy mess of our 2020 life. 

We enjoyed puzzles and podcasts at the kitchen table after the kids were in bed. Instead of solely operating as the championship caliber parenting team we are to get through busy days, we laughed and talked about things other than family logistics like two adults who genuinely love each other. We had fun as best friends, not just mom and dad.

We discovered courage and grace in ourselves. We were not experts on doing life completely from home. We fumbled through Google classrooms, Zoom classes, and online church. We still aren’t flawless with it all but we’re ok with that. We did brave new things like cut hair and master third grade math. We learned to play the guitar and paint. We learned how to ask for help and passed third grade math together. 

Nothing happened how we thought it would in 2020 but it turns out, that’s ok. Mary probably didn’t plan on giving birth in a stable and placing baby Jesus in an animal’s manger either but look how wonderful that turned out. This year, we finally understood the world around you doesn’t dictate the goodness of our life; the love we share around us does.

Posted in Christian, Depression, kids, longreads, miscarriage, pregnancy loss

The Highest and Lowest Day

This post is part one of an October pregnancy loss series.

“We can’t find the heartbeats, but that’s not uncommon. We’ll do an ultrasound and get them that way. Plus the first look at your babies.”

I was just excited as the doctor when she offered me a first look at the two sweet babies growing in my womb. They’d seen two sacs early on and my blood work numbers were off the chart; they told me there were two babies weeks before. I was equal parts scared and excited. 

Turning the corner into the second trimester had felt like a giant weight was lifted off me. I’d seen friends lose babies before and knew getting to the second trimester was a major milestone. One not to be taken for granted and one I thanked God for every night. I did it. I was in the clear. My first major responsibility as a mom and I had nailed it. 

I went to my check up that day alone, an ultrasound before 18-20 weeks hadn’t crossed my mind! The books I was absorbing every night didn’t say anything about ultrasounds earlier and I was over the moon to think I could see my little babies sooner than I ever imagined. I knew they’d look like little dough ball people, but they’d be my little dough balls and that was all I cared about. 

The next 30 minutes are still a blur in my mind, more than 15 years later. The dim room, the crinkly table, my paper gown, and the cool gooey gel started me on my happy adventure. The stark silence, the slight squint of the eyes, moving the screen from my view, then the tech leaving to get my doctor ushered me into a journey of loss unlike any I had been on before. 

I heard words like empty, nothing, lost, and gone mixed in with medical words. They asked if I could call someone for a ride. If I needed to go to work. If there was anything they could to help me then. I think I shook my head. I know I cried and slowly pulled on the maternity pants I had already needed once I was alone in the cozy ultrasound room. I walked into the room pregnant and loving my babies, I would be walking out broken and alone. Finding the courage to open that door and leave my hopes for them behind was hard. 

I went to my car, I called my husband to tell him what happened then I called work. I did not have an ounce of tact or decorum left when I spoke to my boss. 

“My babies are dead. I am not coming back to work today, I am not coming in tomorrow. I do not want to talk about it ever. Please tell everyone so I do not have to talk about it. I will be back Monday. I do not want to talk about it.”

I hung up, I drove home, I crawled into bed, and I cried until every inch of my body ached just as badly as my empty womb and heart did. 

When the doctor “catches” a miscarriage before your body does, you’re left with a terrible choice. You can walk around and wait for your body to start the painful process of expelling your sweet baby or you can go to the doctor for a D&C procedure to remove everything and start healing your body. Make no mistake, it is the same painful awful procedure as an abortion but they call is something kinder when you’re at lowest. I’m not sure why they change the name. 

I chose the D&C. Early the next morning, without eating anything, I crawled out of bed and called the doctor’s office right at 8am like I’d been told to do. They gave me a long list of things to do and don’t do before my assigned time to report to the hospital for the procedure. I walked through the house in a zombie-like state gathering comfy clothes, maxi pads, and doing a few chores I likely wouldn’t have energy for later in the day. Then we headed to the hospital. 

I recall nothing of arriving or going into the room. I do recall waking up next to my doctor in the recovery room. Visitors were not allowed back there, but doctors were. She sat by side so I wouldn’t wake up alone and empty in a strange place. Her kind blue eyes and the warm laugh lines on her face were the first thing I saw.

Immediately, I broke into the biggest, ugliest, most incoherent tears of my life. She leaned in and held me and let me cry. Everything hurt. My body was sore and I could feel it bleeding. I was woozy and dizzy coming out of the anesthesia and feeling ready to puke from the meds in my system. Nothing felt good or pleasant in that moment. From the very bottom of my soul to every corner of my body I hurt. 

My doctor remembering I was a grieving mother in a lot of pain meant the world to me. Her kindness and love got me through the few hours of recovery before I headed home for a miserable weekend of recovery.

I thought I left the hard part of the trauma at the hospital but I was wrong. 

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 Depression, longreads, prayer, sad, Uncategorized

Domestic Violence during CoronaVirus: a letter to the victims – SheProclaims.com

To the Women and Children being abused, 

I hope today is a good day for you. As good as the days can get right now. Your fear and worry are working overtime right now, understandably so. I hope fear and worry are all you have to endure today. 

I’ve been where you are, sort of. In the care of someone you are dreadfully afraid of. Trying to live in a home where you do not feel safe. You read every situation deeply, like a detective looking for a clue, gauging the situation while trying to make the world around him as pleasing as possible. Not pleasing for you, of course. It will probably be more difficult for you, but at least he will not be mad. Then you can drift through the day on pins and needles hoping the peace will last a little bit longer this time. 

I got so good at predicting and preventing problems. I went out of my way to make sure things were clean, nearly sterile, to avoid complaints. I set aside any of my own preferences and learned how to smile, shrug, and cheerfully go with the flow. It didn’t really matter, I felt so empty and dead inside. It always felt like I was watching a movie about my life, not actually living it. I know you know that feeling all too well. 

The irony of “stay safe, stay home” is not lost on you. It is not lost on me either. You’ve been on my mind since all of this began. Home is the least safe place for you, especially now, and you are stuck there for the time being. My heart has been hurting for you. The normal safe places of school, work, friends houses, the park, and church are closed right now. You are now stuck in a home with the one person you should not be near. The person who causes you heartache, pain, fear, and damage you aren’t even aware of yet. Damage you won’t find inside you for decades, if ever. There is nothing safe about staying at home for you. 

Is it your fault? Not in the least. Nothing you do ever deserves the reactions you are receiving. Nothing. Deep down, someone else’s fierce anger and self-hatred is overtaking them. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. They see your goodness and hate themselves for lacking that quality. It is a them problem which unfortunately becomes a you problem out of misdirection. They cannot see how to fix themselves, so instead they take it out on you. A good person, in a bad situation. 

People will say you should leave. You’d like to, wouldn’t you? That’s the dream. Getting away from that person, never going back, and moving on to a better life. It’s so much harder than just saying “leave”. It costs money to leave. You need time to plan. You need a minute alone to make a phone call to ask for a ride. You need a place to go. I know there are million resources out there, I’m so grateful for them all, but I also know how hard it is for you to get access. 

If you’re on the bank account, you are monitored too closely to stash anything away. You have no time to plan because you are living in uncertainty between rages. You can’t Google for help or make a phone call, it’s all monitored. Even if it wasn’t, if you are out of sight for too long red flags will fly, the anger will spill forth, and your day will end up much worse than if you hadn’t even tried. Besides, there’s also a chance few people will believe your story. They will think you are overreacting or struggle to correlate the person they know with the one you are telling them about. Right now, you don’t have the energy to convince people. You barely have the energy to get through the day. 

So that’s what you are doing now. Using your energy to get through the day. You’re doing your best to fly under the radar, keep the peace, and stay as safe as possible at home. I cannot imagine. While people are protesting their access to garden centers and hair salons, you are trapped in a prison of fear. Riding out a pandemic with someone much scarier than the virus. 

Please know I see you. Others see you. You matter and you do not deserve the situation you are in. Your options are really limited right now, I know. My heart is completely breaking for you with every passing day of isolation you get through. I am praying for you. I am here to listen if it is safe for you. When you can leave, I will be your number one supporter. The day will come even though it seems so far away right now. 

Your goodness will shine through. Hold tight to it in the dark moments. Remember who you are and fight to get back to that person as soon as this is over. The world knows you are hurting, we know you need us, we know you will need us. We will be ready and waiting for you as soon as you can get out. 

Until then, we love you. We’re sorry. We’re praying for you. 

A survivor. 

++++++++++

Domestic violence is a serious issue in our world under normal circumstances. Along with all of the “new normals” we now face, a major increase in abuse is happening and growing throughout the world. A 20% increase is expected over the coming months worldwide – including in your community. 

If you need help and can access it safely please reach out to a friend, community group, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can quietly and discreetly CHAT with them at https://www.thehotline.org/help/

Research in your community where you can donate time, money, supplies, or resources to help victims of abuse now or when they can finally leave. Purchases from the She Proclaims Shop also help support these charities – you can learn more at www.sheproclaims.com/shop

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, happiness, Meditation, nature, sad, school, Uncategorized, wtf

This Was Not the Plan – Corona Blues -SheProclaims.com

This was not the plan for these daffodils this Spring. They were placed in the ground last fall, with care, in a landscaped area near the porch. The plan for these flowers was to come up from the gloomy ground once the snow melted away to bring happiness to the corner of our yard while we waited for the rest of Spring to arrive. 

Now imagine their surprise, and mine, when they sprouted in the middle of the backyard this week. These flowers are nowhere near where they were planted. Their Spring plans are very much off track thanks to a mischievous squirrel. 

My first reaction was to pull them out of the ground when the first buds started peeking over the grass. I was annoyed to find my planning and work messed up for no reason. Then, life started changing quickly as we moved to working from home, home schooling, online church, and changing all the Spring plans we had for ourselves. This was not the plan we had in place for our Spring. Taking care of renegade daffodils slipped from my mind. 

Until today when I sat down for a moment of quiet in this strange homebound chaos and spotted the daffodils. In the wrong spot, nowhere near where they were supposed to be, there they were. Standing tall among the grass and leaves with their bright yellow petals spread for the world. 

Among the chaos and broken plans they still bring joy. 

Last week was been hard at our house. Everyone was acutely aware we should have been preparing for a Spring Break trip to Florida instead of preparing for which puzzle we would be doing next. School buildings were closed for the rest of the year, worrying us all with how we’ll adapt to a new virtual classroom life. Many tears were shed. A lot of them from me (I am FREAKING OUT!).

Close quarters now feel smaller, patience is wearing thin, and arguments are popping up with more frequency than before. It seems like one of us is angry every waking moment of the day. I can’t help but wonder, what are we doing wrong? Why are we suddenly falling apart and suffering?

I finally found the real reason for the range of our moods. We aren’t turning on each other or actually falling apart. It is much simpler than that.

We are grieving. You are too.

We are grieving the loss of our structure and routine. Coming to terms with losing our school plans and vacation fun. We are all shedding the hope and excitement of the Spring Break we booked last fall. All of our plans are gone and nothing looks how it “should”. Nothing is how it is supposed to be. None of this is right. This was not the plan.

We are not the only ones. I’m sure you feel it too. The daffodils get it.

They remind us that plans change. Sometimes we end up where we don’t belong. We may end up where we do not want to be with no way to change the situation. No matter how long or well we plan, sometimes things are out of our control. All we can do is keep moving forward, growing where we are, and bringing whatever joy we can to the world.

We can still be beautiful and grow new places. Even if everything isn’t how we planned.

Just like the daffodils.

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, happiness, longreads, wtf

Who Will You Be When This is All Over? – SheProclaims.com

Who will you be when this is all over? This question got lodged in my head somehow this week. Here in Michigan, we are “sheltering in place” for three weeks. It sounds like a long time and feels even longer, but in the grand scheme of life it isn’t. It’s only three weeks (for now…who knows what’s next). 

Caterpillars spend 5 to 21 days inside their chrysalises turning into beautiful butterflies. Three weeks for even the slowest of caterpillars to go from fancy worm to magical butterfly. If they can do that, we certainly can learn a few things in the coming weeks. The question “who will you be when this is all over” deserves a little extra thought. 

The way I see it, we have two choices. We can come out exactly how we went in – which I guess would be a caterpillar fail – or we can turn inward and see new things about ourselves. We can make a few changes and learn a few new things to make us better than we were before. Enhanced versions of ourselves. 

A Change of Plans

If life had gone to plan this Spring, we would be ferrying one child to ballet, theater class, and softball while the other needed rides to vocal coaching and extra choir rehearsals. Matt and I would still be working a lot of hours because we should be getting ready to load up the family truckster to head to Disney World next week. We should be packing and planning while living our busy, chaotic, beautiful life. 

Instead, I am working from home with the kids running around. Matt’s role, classified as essential right now, requires him to still go to work every day. Aside from that, we’re here. We’re reading more books, playing more games, watching more tv, and going for more hikes than usual. We’re disappointed in the things we’re missing out on but it is what it is at this point. We are cozied up in our home for the next three weeks. 

Our home has become our chrysalis. We can ride it out and stay the same or choose to be better. [Spoiler alert: I’m choosing to be better. Pretty sure you saw that coming.] 

Be Bitter or Be Better

I could be mad the store didn’t have the Cheez-Its I like (we’re all a little hooked on the white cheddar Grooves) but I choose to see how lucky I am for everything they did have. Things of actual sustenance.

Being upset with the hoarders and complaining about them openly is understandable but I choose to use my energy instead to help those in my community who need things right now instead.

I could point fingers and debate the politics of this situation with the rest of the world but I’m going to be really honest right now: I don’t care. Does it really matter who’s fault it is it started or what party someone with an idea belongs to? I don’t care about any of those stupid details everyone keeps screaming about all day long. Mistakes were made and are being made, I think we can all agree on that, I am focused on doing my part not to spread anything and loving on the people around me right now. Honestly, that’s what really matters. Everyone should be looking out for each other, taking the steps to prevent spreading it, and reminding each other we’re all in this together. No one is alone. 

I also want to learn the ukulele, finish a few books I’m reading, memorize Psalm 23, clean out this house, do some painting, clean the yard, and take a lot of naps.  

Who will you be when this is all over?

When I come out of my chrysalis, I want to keep giving. I want to keep giving food and medicine to people in need. I am spreading love and friendship to people feeling sad and alone. I’m giving more time to my friends and family. I will do one less chore per day so I can color one more picture with my daughter. Staying up just a little later so I can play one game with my son will be a priority. I want to sit on the sofa next to my husband instead of lounging in my favorite chair when we talk at night. 

I want to be a happier, more living, more peaceful person when I come out. Leaning into my life and my people like never before will be my new normal. I’m going to be a butterfly. 

Who will YOU be when this is all over?