On Anxiety and Masks and Hating When Other People Are Right

I’ve been thinking a lot about anxiety lately. Mostly mine. I mean, I can think about yours if you want me to but I’m more familiar with my own. I’ve just had more practice with mine. I’m so selfish like that.

I don’t talk about anxiety very often. I’m not very good at it and sometimes it’s just easier to keep quiet. There’s always the possibility that people will start acting weird about it once they know. Maybe they’ll be uncomfortable with the topic. (I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. That’s not right.)

When I take better care of myself, I handle life much better. I wish I could remember that all the time, but I don’t. I seem to forget every time that life gets complicated and I stop working out or eating right or drinking enough water. You know, that damn oxygen mask we keep talking about. I keep forgetting the part about putting mine on first.

What can I say? I’m a terrible flyer.

I wasn’t always an anxious person. I’ve always been a champion worrier pretty much all of my life. But my actual, “hey there’s an elephant sitting on my chest”, introduction to anxiety happened several years ago after a few ridiculously stressful months. As I’m wont to do, I put off going to the doctor until I really couldn’t ignore it anymore. My doctor immediately caught on. Me? Not so much. I’M NOT WORRIED ABOUT ANYTHING! I kept saying. THERE IS NO REASON FOR ME TO BE ANXIOUS, I maintained. He (politely) humored me and referred me to a specialist while saying, “Hey…I’m going to prescribe these (super low-dose) pills for anxiety because you really should think about all the ways you are obviously in denial about having anxiety.

I never did fill that prescription.

Because I’m an obnoxious know-it-all. Clearly.

See also: stubborn as shit.

Pills aren’t always the answer for me. Of all the rotten side effects that might happen – there is inevitably something that does happen to me. I’m just lucky like that. After those doctor appointments I felt that my entire self, the whole me, needed a tune-up and I took a more holistic approach to feeling better. Say what you will about acupuncture, but damn if I didn’t feel a lot better after several visits and really paying attention to a little more self-care. The oxygen mask was on, bitches.

Until it wasn’t. Until I, once again, put everyone else first and made sure I came dead last.

After some rough months (stressful deadlines and, you know, worrying about every last thing and school and college plans and, and…) I ignored all the signs that kept telling me I was headed back to not being well. My body hurt all the time. I was anxious A LOT. I felt like every task was a huge struggle. I could focus only on what was demanding my attention which meant I operating on a pretty stressful diet of hurry up and OMG YOU ARE ABOUT TO MISS THIS DEADLINE. (Or I would completely forget to do things. Important things. And then miss the deadlines.) It wasn’t a great place to be.

It’s still not fabulous. But it’s a lot better than it was. And a lot of improvements happened this week when I cut some yucky things out of my diet and started to get my run/walk on a little more. (Ok, a lot more than I was at ALL.) Gawd, I hate it when those nuts are right about things, but yeah. I feel a little better. I’m not going to pretend that I’m now living in this magical place of always feeling great and good, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. The fact that I can write about this and maybe even entertaining the idea that I’ll actually hit publish is a big deal. There is so much room for change and improvement, but I wish I could remember that taking care of myself is important. I hope I can keep this (not exactly) bullshit oxygen mask on my face. I really like the me that wears it.

Left Foot on Green

I’m stuck.

It’s my own fault. I don’t know what ‘unstuck’ looks like. I’ve been too busy with being so busy, I haven’t stopped for two seconds and figure things out. I haven’t really been listening. I haven’t really been paying attention.

I may, or may not, be ignoring all the signs.

I read this Facebook status today. I, in no way, am trying to make someone else’s sadness or tragedy about me. But there’s this part that I can’t get out of my brain. Like she wrote it for me even though I know for certain that she didn’t:

Fifteen years ago, my pastor Veronica said that when she had no clue what direction to take, she imagined standing in a spotlight, as if on stage, and waited, prayerfully, until one more spotlight began to appeared nearby. Then she would go stand in that circle of light.

 

I surrendered. I lay down my weapons and went over to the winning side. I am a recovering Higher Power.

 

I’ve been standing still for a really long time. (I mean, metaphorically speaking of course.) I’ve been resisting change. You know, standing in my own way like I do. Tying my own shoelaces together and attempting to run. Falling flat on my face because, well, you can’t get very far like that. If I could just get my feet untangled and start walking, maybe I’d figure out where the heck I’m supposed to go?

I’m feeling very Dorothy, yellow-brick-road, need a brain/heart/courage right now.

But that pastor and standing on the stage and the light. Knowing what your next step is. Or the next place. Maybe it’s just knowing the plan or having a plan. Maybe it’s not. What if it’s all about putting your feet *right there* and then (THEN!) you’ll know what comes next.

It’s like Twister for real life.

That’s pretty powerful stuff. Not just because it’s a lot like Twister.

I’m just saying, A LOT could be learned by putting left foot on green.

Or stepping into your light. THE light. And just knowing.

 

 

Broken Things and Updates

I broke my website recently. I’m not going to get into the idiotic (I am an idiot) details, but I accidentally executed a broken blog perfectly. It was the internet equivalent of a PERFECT triple back flip into a cactus garden. Actually, it was probably an accidental backflip off a trampoline into a cactus garden but now we’ve gone to a weird place and I need to stop with the analogies and bad imagery.

All that aside, I really didn’t notice that I broke my blog because I hadn’t really done much with it the past few weeks. So I’m an idiot who doesn’t even know she’s an idiot. Or something.

Wait. I think most idiots probably don’t know they’re idiots.

::sigh::

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed (and maybe ever-so-slightly broken) right now myself. I hate when summer is over. Even though summer is so damn hard. I always hate when the girls go back to school and I feel like I have nothing to show for it. (I know that I do. A little bit. But it feels like I don’t.) I miss those girls of mine. I have guilt and regret for all that we didn’t get to do.

This was the last summer before senior year and all things college.

***

I didn’t cry on the first day of school. Either day. I’m pretty sure you all were expecting that I would. There’s so much going on in the world lately, especially last week, I think I was a little numb. But I’ve got a 7th grader and a senior in high school and I couldn’t be more proud. Or more excited for the both of them.

I freaking love these girls
I freaking love these girls

Ramona started school a few weeks ago. She loves her teachers. (I love her teachers!) We’ve had a pretty good transition back into a homework routine. Not perfect, but really good. She LOVES her Language Arts teacher. His master’s thesis was on Mine Craft so I feel like he teaches on their level somehow. At any rate, my cute Ramona has never been this excited about reading and Language Arts anything. She (secretly) stayed up to late reading last night. I know! She also worked super hard and made it on the school volleyball team. I’m beaming. Annoyingly beaming!

Beezus started her senior year excited about getting all the teachers she really wanted. With a jam-packed, kinda hard, class schedule, I was so happy that getting the exact teachers she wanted could be such a fabulous bonus. She decided to take this year off water polo so she can focus on schoolwork and competitive softball, which is so good for her. She was one of the Senior Mentors for incoming freshman and she was pretty freaking adorable about it.

Even if I’m sad for summer to be over, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year.

***

Did I tell you my sister and her family moved back to California? Nevada, Montana and Utah had possession of them for far too long. The moved back to where they belong a few months ago and it’s been pretty rad. For all of us. The five of us (and my parents) have never lived so close in proximity (as adults) before this past year. I always love getting together with my family, but holy crap it’s nice to have everyone around. We are so loud, we scare people away but we’re so freaking funny and awesome the people we scare away come back for more. But I have to tell you…having more moments with these weirdos makes life rad.

Yes, that's a banana in my shirt. Thanks, Jaye.
Yes, that’s a banana in my shirt. Thanks, Jaye.

***

I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. I still feel like there is too much on my plate, but at least I can carry it without falling in a black hold of yuck. Although, being on the other side of things, I can see how much I forgot about or had to put off while so very buried. (*cough* Broken blog *cough*) Wading through those (forgotten/ignored) tasks is pretty overwhelming, but I’m getting there. I mean, there are actually days when I can breathe normally. Progress! But yeah…if it takes me a long time to get back to you (or if I have forgotten to get back to you at all) I’m really and truly sorry. I’d offer to bake you something as a peace offering, but 1) I don’t have time for that and 2) At this point in time, I’m so distracted it would probably taste terrible. But I still love you. I promise. No really. I’m hugging you from here.

On Anger and Shame

I spent years trying to hide how young I was. Whenever I would attempt to make friends with other moms at the preschool, I would try like mad to avoid the conversations about high school and college days and the year everyone got married. I’m not dumb (and neither were they) they knew I was younger. I just didn’t want to get into how much younger.

There is so much shame in teenage pregnancy. I’m not saying that it’s something to aspire to, but it’s been close to 18 years and the shame I felt all those years ago burns almost as hot even today. I am not ashamed of the beautiful family that I am blessed with, but when I read this article that Kelly shared last week it brought up some very real anger and some pretty intense shame that I didn’t know still hung around. It’s been four days, and I’m still stewing about it.

I was 18 years old when I got pregnant. As teenage pregnancy statistics go, I guess I was on the older side of things. I have always been grateful that I was, at least, out of high school but I hate admitting that I am a college dropout.

A lot of you know my story. I even stood on a stage last year and read a letter that I wrote to 19 year old me. I thought I exorcised some of those demons. Yet an article about teenage pregnancy shame has sent me into some pretty deep feels.

I’m still really fucking angry and I really hate that I am.

I have spent so much of my life worrying that I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings if I told the truth and said how I really feel. I have stopped myself from telling so many stories, because it might make someone feel bad. But at the end of the day, who made sure that my feelings weren’t hurt? Who made sure that I didn’t feel bad?

Not many.

I am still angry that the religious institution that I put so much faith in abandoned me and made me feel like such a fuck-up. I am angry that I lost so many friends because I all of a sudden became the example of what not to do. I am angry that people tried to get me to put my baby up for adoption. I am angry that all the anger and judgment and shame gets placed on the teenage mom. I am angry that I have no happy memories of my wedding day because almost every single person in attendance was against us getting married. I am angry that I still feel the need to joke that “we did things backwards” even today as I meet new people because there is still so much shame in being a teenage mom – even though I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m mad that I can’t read an article on teenage pregnancy without feeling like I want to throw up.

I’ve buried my anger deep inside of me for many, many years. I have this beautiful family. I know how lucky I am. But I’ve spent so many years believing that I’m not allowed to be angry because my life has been so blessed.

That’s bullshit.

Instead of dealing with my anger, I’ve let it fester into a horrible wound that has never healed. As cathartic as it was to tell my story, I censored all the anger because I had built too many walls and it would’ve been too much work to break them down. And, of course, I put everyone else’s feelings before my own.

But you know what? I can be angry and grateful at the same time. I can sit here and let some of those demons fly knowing full well that I would do it all over again because my family is worth it. They are amazing and wonderful but it’s okay if I tell you how hard I’ve worked or how much I have sacrificed to make that happen. There has not been one bit of this that has been easy.

But I’ve given way too much power to the shame of it all. I wasn’t promiscuous. I’m not tarnished goods. And if you would like to talk about the “problem child” I’ve brought into this world be prepared for me to tell you about her straight A’s and Stanford dreams and her kickass little sister that rocks our world. I’m not sorry for any of that.

I shouldn’t be.

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Happy Camping

We recently found ourselves with a few free weekends in a row. This isn’t something we are used to, so we were a bit out of practice as we tried to decide how we would fill this (now) empty space on our calendars. There were family events that we actually said yes to. The girls made plans with their friends. We spent a Sunday afternoon in the pool. These are things that actually happened but I feel like a complete liar saying that they did because I’m just not used to it being this way. I kept waiting for someone to yell at me for not being where I was supposed to be.

As our family sat down to discuss our recent scheduling changes, it became painfully obvious that our family needed some down time. We weren’t staring at an open week-long vacation, but being able to see some free time in weekend form made us all a little excited. Then the kids got this look on their face and said “we can actually go camping!” and then I felt pretty bad that it had been so long. In fact, we did the math this weekend and realized that it had been four years since our family had been camping. Four. Years.

That one stung, you guys.

Thanks to my dad being a super duper camper-man, we were able to make an overnight camping trip happen this past weekend. He knows where to go. He has all the gear. He’s just really…GOOD at it and made things really easy for those of us who haven’t been camping in some time. Like, really easy. I should be embarrassed. (I’m not, though.)

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After we got up there on Friday evening and everything was set up, I sat down on a chair around the empty fire pit (too dry for campfires) while my dad and The Dude talked near me. I was part of the conversation at times, but mostly I just sat and listened. Sometimes I tuned them out and just looked at the sky as it got darker and the stars began to appear. The moon was so bright, there were actual moon shadows around us and no need for flashlights or lanterns. It was beautiful and wonderful. It was also weird and sometimes hard to sit there and do nothing. I am out of practice.

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I used to be really good at camping. I would go hiking with the family or youth group. Camping family reunions. As I sat there around the non-existent campfire, I replayed many of these camping and hiking trips in my mind. Almost all of them involved my dad. Most of my camping memories, my dad is right there making things happen. Just as he did this weekend. His granddaughters (and daughter) wanted to go camping so he made it happen. Some things never change.

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I didn’t realize how much I missed camping. This weekend reminded me that it’s still very much a part of who I am and what I love. I almost gave myself a guilt trip for not doing this more often, but I quickly put a stop to that so I could enjoy my cute family without interruption. I loved being out in nature, even with wicked mosquitos and questionable bathroom options. I loved sitting around an empty fire pit with some of the people I love the most. But I especially love remembering, and getting back to, a side of me I haven’t seen in quite some time.

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Dog Days of Summer?

This one has had a rough week.

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It started with a tick found when she was getting groomed. For a dog that spends more than 95% of her life indoors, finding a tick isn’t what I was expecting. I tried not to freak out or worry. But, be serious, you know me. That’s what I do! Monday morning found us visiting the vet to be sure that everything was ok. They ran a couple of test to check for heartworm and tick-born illnesses. All the results came back fine, and since we were there anyway, they went ahead and gave her the vaccines that were due. Oh, and the antibiotics for an ear infection. And this month’s dose of flea & tick prevention.

It was a lot.

The vet said she would be a little lethargic with all of that, so we didn’t think anything of it as we got her settled and we left for my sister’s house for dinner. But when we came back, she was a wreck. Red eyes. Red and swollen muzzle. I think she was so itchy, having some sort of reaction, she started messing with her tail, her ears and her feet. We cleaned her up, got some water in her and kept an eye on her for several hours before going to bed. She even seemed better the next morning. It wasn’t until later in the afternoon that she threw up and started acting really weird. Back to the vet office we went. But thankfully, while she was having a reaction to the combination of meds, she wasn’t anaphylactic at all. It was running it’s course and they could pump her full of fluids and send her home with us. And we all noted that our little, delicate flower of a dog can’t have all the things all at once every again.

p&p

It sounds all very dramatic, but I can’t have anything happen to this dog. I know, I know. (Gawd, we are so annoying, I KNOW!!!) I always say it’s ridiculous how much we love this dog but is it? (Yes, it probably is, shut up.) Is it so strange that this dog means so much to us? (Don’t answer that.) That we love her so much? People who aren’t even “dog-people” love Paisley. People who hate pets in general love Paisley.

I MEAN LOOK AT THIS FACE.

a reminder of her royal (stinky) cuteness

Ridiculous!

My kids wanted to make plans today and I told them no. Because I’m mean and I told them they had to stay home and watch Paisley. They didn’t even argue. It was like, you’re right mom! Paisley! Because remember? We’re completely ridiculous about this dog. You have my full permission to make fun of us all.

Houseaversary: Year One

Last week we celebrated a year of living in our house. And by ‘celebrate’ I mean that I’m pretty sure we had dinner that day together. I think. It was a really busy week, I can’t be sure and I don’t really remember. (I think we’ll celebrate this week. Maybe. Okay, next week for SURE.)

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Our House. Right when they accepted our offer.

When I think about this time last year, all I can remember is STRESS. There was so much of it. I mean…SO MUCH. There was all the regular moving stuff like packing and cleaning and OMG the paperwork from hell. Plus, a LOT had to be done before we could move in. Do you remember the old paint? Holy ugly. (But kinda fun to look at. Since it doesn’t look like that at all now, duh.)

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But you guys, the past year has been pretty great. I mean, we have this space that felt like home as soon as our paint was on the walls and our stuff was in the rooms. (Also, the new carpet. Because YES TO NEW CLEAN CARPET.) It so amazing to share this space with our family and friends. It’s been so special to see my kids build a life here. This space, this HOME, that I never thought I would have.

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We kinda like it here. I’m not sure you’ve probably noticed.

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Every so often, The Dude and I worry that our kids never had a house that they lived in for the majority of their childhood. We’ve only lived here for a year and the kids are 12 and 16. But somehow I know that they will remember this house as home base once they’ve gone off to college and started their own lives. We have happy memories from wherever we’ve lived. And I’m so, so glad for that. But there’s a part of me that hopes they (especially) never forget how much fun this past year has been and love the memories we’re making here. It’s been pretty gosh-darn wonderful.

Weekend Wedding

A little over a week ago, these two crazy adorable kids got married.

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I could go on and on about how beautiful it was. But, I mean…even my iPhone pictures can show that story.

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From start to finish, we had such a good time. Like, a really really good time.

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The beautiful bride with me and my beautiful girls.
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No really, he’s happy!

 It’s so beautiful when you can see how much a family loves. These two are bringing together some pretty amazing families.

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 As wonderful as it was to celebrate this amazing couple and their fantastic families (of which I am blessed to be a part of) I can’t even begin to tell you how completely amazing it was to have so much fun with my cute little family. We danced the ENTIRE time. We laughed and joked. Did I mention we danced the entire time? YES! EVEN MY HUSBAND!

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My goodness you guys…we had a blast.

We should have weddings at least once a month.

normal summerness

I’ve started three different blog posts this week. Three. I’ve finished none of them. Each time I get going, I start to feel annoyed by my own words. I mean, if I’m annoying MYSELF only a paragraph into a blog post, clearly I should just scrap it and move on with my life. For the sake of all of us.

The truth of the matter is that I wasn’t able to completely avoid the summertime blues this week. It happens every summer. The combination of a busy work life and not being home when my kids are off school is a tough pill to swallow. I knew it was coming! I know what my deadlines look like! I know that I hate not being home when my kids are home! It’s the same every year!

(See? I almost just clicked that “x” on the top right to close this without saving. ANNOYING. I’m annoying myself already.)

(Let’s switch gears.)

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I know the saying: If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you feel about it.

I know this. But sometimes it’s just really damn hard to change how you feel.

I was doing really great with my attitude. Saying yes to summer helped. Enjoying the backyard helped. Spending time with family and friends really helped. But getting a little stuck in my worry didn’t help. Getting angry at a team situation I had little to no control over didn’t help. Missing my kids while they’re off school didn’t help. Missing out on family events didn’t help. Being stressed about all the things didn’t help.

So.

I’m about to make the longest to-do list ever even though it’s going to overwhelm the hell out of me. (I need to get organized.)
I’m going to remember to take one thing at a time.
I’m going to schedule some time off.
I’m going to make sure to schedule time with my kids and time on my own. (Somehow.)
I’m going to remember make time for things I enjoy and love. (Like reading and blogging.)
I think I’ll watch a funny movie. Just to kick things off right.

 

Well, I got through a blog post. Perhaps I won’t annoy myself quite as much the next time around. Lofty goals!

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Thank you for the picture inspiration, Nora!!

The Day Off Dilema

I took the day off work to get things done around the house. When your weekends are spent elsewhere (softball tournaments, etc) and you work full time, tackling household projects is especially challenging. Even when we do have weekends off, we have to make a choice between doing something fun with the family or…chores. Our weekdays are usually so packed, a little downtime on the weekends is extremely necessary. So we tackle a little more than the bare minimum so we’re not living in squalor and filth.

I promise we’re not living in squalor and filth, but damn, I have a lot to do.

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But this morning is quiet. The Dude had an early morning so I’ve been up for hours surfing Facebook and watching the Today Show. I’ve been drinking (too much) coffee. (See above: up early.) I’m sitting on the couch just giving myself a chance to enjoy not rushing off to the next thing and letting my kids sleep in upstairs. It’s really, really nice.

But even just sitting here, I can’t just sit here. I was reading. Or Facebooking. Or (now) blogging.

And actively avoiding housework. Whatever.

In a few minutes, I’ll turn into the mean mom and wake up the kids. I’ll enforce the chore lists. I’ll hear “but I don’t want to” or “I did it last time” arguments about why they shouldn’t have to do a particular job. I’ll have to convince myself to do a particular job, let’s be honest. I’m also supposed to find time to do something with all of these apricots. (We’ll see if that actually happens.) (It probably won’t happen.) It will be such a busy day, it won’t feel like a day off at all.

It never does.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining. I’m obviously terrible at just sitting still. I mean, I could’ve gone back to bed a couple of hours ago and I didn’t. I could’ve sat quietly on the couch doing nothing and I didn’t. Here I am not doing “nothing” again. I’m obviously part of the problem. Or the root of the entire problem. Something.

Either way, I don’t have time to debate it. I have bedding to wash, floors to scrub, closets to clean out, grocery shopping to do, ceiling fans to dust and Gilda to blame for it. I’m swamped!