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, books, Christian, Depression, healthy, longreads, Mantras, Meditation, moms, motherhood

Mirror Mantras

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

I live with anxiety and depression.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are your eyes rolling yet?

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

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

  • You are enough.

  • Its ok to not be ok.

  • Keep going.

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

  • You are loved

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

  • All good things take time

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

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

Posted in 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 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.