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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In The Moment

"This I say is the present moment; this is the first day of the summer holidays.  This is part of the emerging monster to whom we are attached." -Virgina Woolf, The Waves

I am truly happy for the first time in a long time and instead of being able to enjoy it; I'm scared how long it will last.  This morning I was at my counseling session and I brought up my fear of not being content in the moment.  My counselor recommended we try a visualization exercise.  I am pretty sure her couch is magical because it is the only place I can quite my brain enough to do these exercises. 

The exercise required me to imagine myself by running water.  The first thing that popped in my head is being in Connemara, Ireland watching the waves crash up against the rocks.  I was then told to imagine myself throwing sticks into the ocean that represented my thoughts.  This is where I ran into a problem.  All I could think about was my inability to throw. 

I brought this up to my counselor and she reminded me that the tide was going out and I only needed to set them down.  In my mind I just could not let go of the sticks.  So I needed to address why I couldn't let the sticks go.  I know this all may sound weird, especially if you have never tried these visualization techniques but they actually work (and this is from a skeptic).

I was able to come up with the realization that I can not let my thoughts just float away.  I want to be "in the moment" but it causes me a great amount of anxiety.  I want to just enjoy life and not let my thoughts get the better of me.  I am hoping with this realization I will be able to work through this and start being in the moment.

One of the down falls of not being able to be in the moment has been my inability to be a good friend.  I have some amazing friends but I know it is not easy being my friend.  I am not the type to call, being on the phone in a non-work situation makes me uncomfortable.  I only use the phone for practical reasons.  My dad even answers my calls by saying, "what's wrong?".  I can go long periods without contacting my friends not because I don't like them or I am mad at them.  It is just often easier and more comfortable for me to keep busy or be alone.  It is my way of avoiding being in the moment. 

The good news is this is getting better.  I don't call up or text my friends as often to cancel plans do to an illness.  The illness part isn't a lie, I have usually gotten myself so worked up about attending the event that I have made myself ill.  It helps that I have been living with family for over two years now, it is a lot harder to shut myself off from the world.  The more I face these situations the easier they get. 

So tonight instead of over thinking my post, I am just going to be happy that I am putting myself out there.  I am going to enjoy my opportunity to write.  I am not going to think about what I'm going to write next or what people are going to think.  Tonight I just want to fall asleep happy.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I'm Not Faking It

One of my brother's favorite sayings growing up was "you are faking it" whenever I got sick.  There was even one time I was covered in hives and he said this.  He did have a point, I was sick all of the time when I was younger.  As far back as I can remember I have had some sort of illness.  Now that I look back I wonder how much of it was due to my anxiety.  The more I learn about anxiety and its affects on my physical wellbeing. 

Going to the doctor when I was younger was a horrible experience for my parents.  I was a horrible patient, on one occasion I even bit my mom's wrist as they tried to test my blood.  I was nine when I finally got some answers to my illnesses, I was diagnosed with a hernia.  This was the first of many times that I became overwhelmed and passed out.  The doctor thought he needed to describe the surgery to a nine year old.  Resulting in me passing out and almost hitting my head on the sink in the exam room.

The passing out became a regular occurance in my life.  My second time was very humorous to my fellow classmates.  We were in fourth grade and watching the video on how our bodies were going to change.  I passed out right in my desk and had to go to the nurses office.  The next time was just as exciting as it was at an amusement park.  They said it was due to heat stroke but it was more likely caused by panic, as my friend fainted before me. 

I can laugh about these situations now but it is hard knowing that at any point I could become overwhelmed to the point of passing out.  My body also likes to use other ailments when I get anxious.  I missed seventeen days of school my freshman year of high school due to hives.  I went through a ton of testing and even saw a specialist at the University of Minnesota.  They could not figure out what was causing the hives.  The hives came less often as I went through high school but were replaced by an ulcer. 

Since I became diagnosed with depression and anxiety I am starting to understand myself and symptoms better.  Unfortunately this also has me questioning when I have a pain, if it is anxiety or something real.  I also have to try and keep my self as calm as possible when I do have an illness or injury because it intensifies the situation.  Not only did I pass out the last time I had my blood drawn but I got severe abdominal pains that then lead to my having convulsions.  I had to be given something to calm me as well as for pain and nausea. 

I don't know how many people realize the physical symptoms that come with depression and anxiety.  I am not asking for sympathy for myself but others that are going through the same struggles. I hope as things are changing and that people will become more open about these types of struggles. 

On a more positive note I went to the doctor today for a sinus infection (not the positive thing) and had to take my usual depression and anxiety test.  One of the things you find out once you are diagnosed with depression and anxiety is that you get to take a quiz every time you go to the doctor.  I currently am required to do it once a month but my score today was so good I might not have to take it for another six months!

So here are my recommendations if you are dealing with these issues or know someone who is:
  1. Talk to a doctor - there are amazing studies and tests available to determine what is the correct medication.  GeneSight
  2. Find a counselor you can be honest with.
  3. Be Patient! It took me over three years, two counselors and switching medications to get this low of a score.  But it can happen; you can get better.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What Makes a Person a Quitter?

Several times in the last few weeks I have found myself in conversations regarding quitting.  It made me start questioning the idea of quitting.  I started to think about things like when is it ok to quit, what is classified as quitting and isn't quitting better than never trying.  There have been points in my life that I have labeled myself as a quitter.  But now I am starting to question the whole concept of quitting.

Looking back over my life there have been lots of those little activities that I have quit.  The first thing I can remember quitting was playing the flute.  I honestly don't know how long I even went to the lessons, it did not last long.  I never even wanted to play the flute but you had to in order to play the piccolo.  I also quit volleyball after playing it for two years in middle school.  I don't think anyone would hold it against me for quitting I was horrible.  I spent the majority of my time braiding the other girls hair.  I just was never that great at organized school activities but I did try. 

As an adult I have continued to jump into activities that I think I would like and not always followed through.  I don't do this on purpose I just get bored easy and I don't want to spend my time on an activity I don't enjoy.  I pose the question is it better to not try something new if there is the potential of not enjoying it and quitting?  One activity I took up several years ago was cake decorating classes.  I thought this would be the perfect activity for me since I love baking.  I did not consider though I hate frosting and I'm a perfectionist.  So these classes did not last long.  I got sick of being covered with frosting.  I also had unrealistic expectations for myself and got frustrated that my cakes didn't look like a professionals.  I don't regret spending the time and money on this class even if it wasn't a complete success.  I have even tried to put my anxiety aside a few times and made cakes for family functions. 
Looking back now I realize all these little things don't really matter and are not reason to label myself a quitter.  Obviously I have quit jobs, but by no means have I been the type to just quit for no reason. I have always quit to try and pursue something different or better.  I have been with my current company for over ten years.  I did though quit college after one semester for really bad reasons.  I was home sick and missing my boyfriend.  I also chose that school for bad reasons.  I made my decision based on where my friends were going.  Would I have been better to just transfer to a smaller school than quitting, yes.  It ended up being more of a detour than quitting, I finished my Bachelor's degree just short of my 31st birthday. 
So when is it ok to quit?  I tried to do some research on this subject and to be honest there isn't much out there.  You can find tons of information on how and when to quit things like jobs and smoking.  I think this has to be a personal decision.  I don't think there is a definite answer.  I know going forward when I want to quit something; I'm going to ask myself what are my reason's for quitting.  Is this going to get me to where I want?  Am I quitting out of fear of imperfection? An example of this would be me quitting volleyball.   I was never going to be a professional volleyball player, you can ask my brother, so there was no reason for me to keep playing. 
 I am also going to ask myself, is this really quitting or am I just putting my time and energy in a different area?
People may disagree with me on this subject and I'm ok with that.  I think though we spend to much time and energy worrying what other's think.  I can attest to this and it only feeds my anxiety.  I also  know in the end it is my decision and people are always going to have their opinions  You are never going to please everyone so why not start with pleasing yourself.  If you are one of those people not doing what you want to be, start asking yourself these questions:
1.  Is this helping me get to my goal?
2.  Is this making me happy?
3.  Am I doing this for myself or someone else?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Visualize Your Goals

"The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance - and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning." - Oprah Winfrey.

Several years ago I was reading through a copy of Oprah's magazine O and found an article on setting and achieving goals.  She talked about the practice of making vision boards.  In the article they acknowledged those that have a visual reminder of their goals and visions were more likely to achieve them.  I had every intention of making one at that point of my life but like many things I did not follow through.

In the last few years my life and goals have changed.  I brought up to my counselor around October that I was ready to figure out what direction I wanted to go with my life.  I wanted to set obtainable goals and have a path to follow.  I was unsure though how to go about this.  She suggested two exercises one helping me define what I want in my life and the other was to make a vision board.  I quickly remembered this activity from the O Magazine article.

I arrived at my next session empty handed and frustrated.  I had several ideas of what I wanted to put on a vision board but I was struggling with how I wanted to put it together.  I was also struggling with the thought of putting these goals on a board and setting a time line for these goals.  There was only three months left of 2014 and I also didn't want to wait for 2015 to set goals.  I know this sounds like something very silly but in my mind this was important.

I left the session that day wondering what I should do and felt very passionate that I needed to accomplish this vision board immediately.  I decided to head to the store and check out the craft section for some inspiration.  I am not a crafty person other than I enjoy purchasing crafting supplies.  On this occasion I got inspired and came up with an idea that allowed me to remove and add my goals as they changed.

It is a wooden frame from the craft department and each square is also wooden and I have each attached with Velcro so I can remove them when they are either no longer relevant or I have accomplished the goal.  I used a combination of paint and scrap booking supplies. My four year old nephew was very game to help, which was a problem for this control freak.  Thankfully he was content with his own chunk of wood and paint.

So what are my goals and or visions?  On the top left is all about travel.  It is a reminder that every decision I make should help support my desire to travel.  The top center block represents the Aveda corporation.  I have the goal of some day working at their corporate location, in the salon operations field.  The top right is to get myself back in shape so I can enjoy running 5ks again.  I hurt my knee a few years ago and have not been able to get myself back in running condition.

Don't worry my goal is not to have a castle; my goals are realistic.  I think of the castle more as a metaphor for my desire to have my own home but it need not be a big.  The center block it empty for the time being.  The middle block on the right is all about love.  My goal there is to be comfortable again to find love.

The bottom left is about my writing goals.  I am happy to say that this goal is being accomplished with every blog.  The bottom center block is not the desire to play a musical instrument.  I have tried that goal many times and failed miserably.  This one is like my travel square were it is more about making an effort to attend more live concerts.  And my bottom goal, yes again is travel but more specific.  I would really like my next adventure to be a return to London and a trip to Paris.  I was hoping to accomplish this goal next fall but I think due to finances it might have to be pushed back another year.  It is not a failed goal just a postponed goal. 

My vision board sits off to the left of my bed and is never out of my view.  I like that I can consistently look up and remember what I want to accomplish, my bigger picture.  Sometimes I want to just be lazy and watch t.v. or purchase something I really don't need but if I look up I remember what is truly important. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Back to Reality

One perk of traveling is the feeling of coming home.  I think we can agree that you don't truly appreciate things until you are separated from them.  My heart gets that warm and content feeling as I look out my airplane window and spy the Twin Cities.  This time the feeling of happiness did not last long and it wasn't just due to the negative 13 degree temperature. I am starting to feel discontent with my life.

As I sit here this evening writing I am trying hard not to just cry.  I look at Cappy sitting at the end of my bed and know that running away isn't an option for us. We need to come up with a plan so we can accomplish our dreams and that plan can not be the lottery.  I don't want people to think I am unhappy with my life but I want more and I know I'm the only one who can make that happen.

I think a lot of my inspiration comes from visiting the JFK memorial and the 6th Floor museum. Yesterday when we visited the 6th Floor museum it was more than just witnessing where our President was assassinated. The museum does an excellent job of describing and immortalizing that tragic day in our history. In addition to preserving where the infamous bullets where shot they tell the story of the man who so tragically lost his life that day.

Kennedy in his short life was responsible for organizations like the Peace Corps and preventing nuclear war with the Soviet Union.  Regardless of political views and all of the other stuff that has been speculated since his death, you have to admit that is impressive.  Walking through this museum and taking in all this history I realize how fortunate I am to experience these pieces of history.  I also realized how great my desire it to continue to have these experiences.

So instead of being sad with the idea of reality,I need create a reality that I can be content in. I want to be a person who like Kennedy accomplishes his dreams. I would even like to be the type of person who leaves a mark on this world even if it is the tiniest of marks.

I have hope over the next few months that I can establish what I want and what I want to accomplish in this world. If I want these things to become a reality I need to come up with a plan to conquer my goals. I can not expect my life to change without focusing on my future and putting my past where it belongs in the past.

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." - John F. Kennedy

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

O Happy Day

There are those moments in life were you just can't help but smile.  I had one of those moments this morning at a point when most people would be so far from smiling.  My plane originally was suppose to land in Dallas, TX at 11:30p.m.  but due to a delay it was closer to 1:00 a.m. when it landed. It would have been perfectly normal to be crabby,considering I have a cold and I still needed to wait for my baggage, get a car and make the thirty minute drive to my hotel.  Not this girl, I was tired yes but so happy.

What is it that put me in such a good mood?  First traveling makes me content and I can't explain why.  Second is the satisfaction that I can do all this without my traditional worry and anxiety.  I was able to check in, make it through security and fly without one moment of anxiety. I did have a little bit of worry that I would have a lapse when I got to the car rental place but I didn't. I have never actually rented a car so I worried those unknowns would cause anxiety but I handle it all amazingly.

It was about 2:00 a.m. and I was cruising down an unknown interstate in the rain and I had the biggest smile on my face.  I was so happy with myself!  I don't think I could have ever imagined I would have the courage to take a flight on my own rent a car and drive in the middle of the night into the unknown. I hope that moments like this propel me to continue my journey into the many unknowns.  I want to continue to remind myself that conquering those unknowns lead to unforgettable moments.

One of these new unforgettable moments today was visiting the Fort Worth Stockyard exchange. I am here in Dallas visiting a friend who is from back in Wisconsin so we decided to go exploring. My parent's suggested we go visit Fort Worth and watch the cattle drive. We laughed as we pulled into the Stockyard Exchange area, we would expect all of Texas to look like this.

I apologize everyone who is visiting Dallas/Fort Worth today because I have apparently brought the cold arctic air from Minnesota/Wisconsin. I really can't believe how big of a baby I was today considering it was 30 degrees warmer than home but it was cold.  Despite the cold we decided to brave the elements and watch them drive of the cattle.

I am glad we got to witness this event even though seeing long horn cattle is nothing new to me.  I have grown up around cattle my entire life and my grandpa went through a long horn phase.  I even joked with my friend that I know way more about cattle than I should or hopefully will ever need to know. Despite this it was fun to be a tourist and join in. We did agree it would have been funny if one of them hit one of the parked cars; I have the extra rental insurance.

Thankful I brought my jacket.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Gypsy Child

The fear of traveling alone would be a understandable fear, it actually is a fear I do not have.  I can only relate this to my passion for traveling. "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." - Augustine of Hippo

I am not going to say that the first few times I traveled I did not have that initial fear but that fear had more to do with the unknown.  I think one of the reasons I am so comfortable with traveling even alone is the amount of technology available to prepare yourself.  A great deal of my anxiety comes from the unknown and with things like apps for airlines and maps it takes away a lot of the unknown. I am a planner and traveling allows me to utilize this strength.  I have just as much fun planning a trip as I do going on it.

The first time I traveled alone was a two week tour of Great Britain which was a celebration of finally finishing my Bachelor's degree.  I was not completely alone for this trip but traveled through the school with people I met once before the trip.  It had been a dream of mine to visit England and after wasting my twenties on a man I was going to live my life in my thirties.  So I set out for the adventure of a life time!  I loved all of the United Kingdom it was an amazing experience that six years later is one of the greatest highlights of my life. 

Two years after visiting the UK I decided I needed another trip; something more than a quick trip to Vegas.  I asked around but no one would really commit to going.  So I got out my computer and started doing a massive amount of research on tour companies for a trip to Ireland.  I decided if I was going to be going completely alone this time I needed to at least use a tour group.  After spending days researching the benefits of each tour company as well as the various locations they visited I decided to again go with  Globus Tours the same company the school used for the UK trip.

Yes I do realize it is beyond crazy that I cannot walk into a gym without freaking out or even a family event but I can travel across the world and spend two weeks with strangers.  I don't know what it is but I love nothing more than visiting somewhere new and just blending in.  I think my love for discovering new places and visiting places I read about trumps any fear I could have.  

So tonight I am boarding a plane and flying to Dallas, TX to visit a friend for a couple of days.  I am beyond excited about not only getting to see that friend but getting on that giant bird in the sky.  I use to drive by the airport every day on my way to work and it took everything in my power not to just exit there and jump on a plane.  I would give anything to just wonder the world.  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

It Is Not Because I Am Single

My goal for this Valentine's Day is not to make everyone miserable with my negative attitude regarding the day.  I try to remember that those around me did not contribute to my bad Valentine's Day memories.  So this is year two of trying to have a better attitude about "single awareness day".

I am the first person to blame for my negative attitude.  My problem goes back as far as I can remember and I think it is from my unrealistic expectations.  My favorite authors are Jane Austen and Cecelia Ahern two authors who's work represents true love.  I am a romantic at heart and this has lead to many unrealistic expectations set for Valentine's Day.
Valentine's Day in school was more of a popularity contest then a testament of true love.  This did not stop me from dreaming that I would receive a Valentine from a mystery man. The last two years of high school I even had a boyfriend from another school and continued to be disappointed.  Let's be honest boys at 16 & 17 are not usually that romantic.

I actually ended up being with my high school boyfriend for over eight years.  I never seemed to grasp the fact that mine and his reality of Valentine's day was completely different.  I would go out of my way to create a memorable evening.  Mr. Practicals idea of the perfect gift was a gift certificate for an oil change.  Obviously over the years the gifts weren't always that bad but it showed how different we were.

Our last Valentines' Day was the one that put the nail in the coffin for me regarding this magical holiday.  I was a silly girl in love with a boy who had fallen out of love with her.  I should not have honestly been surprised when our relationship officially ended that night but it didn't stop it from hurting any less.  We had gotten engaged seven months before after many years together and lots of ups and downs.

It wasn't long into our engagement and things started to fall apart once again  I don't know from his side of things  what happened; I have never gotten answers.  I sadly was way more in love with him tho than he was with me.  At that time I also did not understand that I had depression and an anxiety disorder.  My behavior was erratic to say the least as our relationship fell apart.  I moved out on Thanksgiving but we decided we would continue to try and work things out.

So on February 13th in my true style I arrived at our home with Valentine's Day gifts and the intentions that we would work things out.  I should have known that the evening wasn't going to end well; he was doing everything in his power to avoid the elephant in the room.  It was of course officially into the next day, Valentine's Day, when he told me he could not marry me and he wanted things to be officially over.  So we spent Valentine's Day morning sitting on our kitchen floor holding each other crying, knowing this was the end.

I would like to say the pain ended their but it was just the beginning.  I felt like when I lost him I lost my will to live.  When I would be driving I would want so badly to crash my car.  I did not want to live without him in my life.  It was a few weeks after all of this that I really hit rock bottom.  It was the middle of the night and I just couldn't handle the pain anymore.  I knew that my parents had a bunch of pain killers so I headed out to the kitchen with the intentions to take enough to never wake up again.

When I got to the kitchen that night I thought about my parents in the other room.  As much as I wanted my pain to end that night I knew I couldn't put my dad through another suicide.  I don't really remember my uncle but I do remember the pain my family went through when he committed suicide. I love my family too much to put them through that again, regardless of how much I hurt.  So I woke up my mom and she sat with me all night.

This lead to my first diagnosis of clinical depression.  I started medication and counseling, unfortunately I did not stick with either of these things.  So it has taken over ten years to deal with all of this and better understand myself.  At that point in my life I wasn't ready to deal with the real issues or end my contact with him.  The medication and counseling was just a band-aid.

The last two years I have made a ton of progress even regarding Valentine's Day.  I owe a lot of that to my best friend who told me to stop making everyone else miserable as well on Valentine's Day.  So I worked towards changing my attitude and making the best of the day.  Last year I spent it with two of my favorite little peeps.  Nothing like spending a romantic evening at a Mexican restaurant with a three and five year old.  This year they have ditched me but I will be hanging with another one of my best friends  who has been gone the last two years in Uganda.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Is There Something Wrong With This Mirror?

My six year old niece asked me a question this morning and I quickly gave her an answer.  She then informed me I was very smart and asked why I wasn't on t.v.   My reply was I don't like my picture being taken.  This response has bothered me all day long.  I don't want my nieces and nephews to think my poor body image is acceptable.

I hate that I don't ever remember a time were I was ok with my appearance.  I am ashamed of how much time and money I spend obsessing over my appearance.  You would think for the amount of clothes, makeup hair product and gym membership I would be all into my appearance.  This is so far from the truth; I use all of those things to try and mask my fear of rejection.

The tricky thing is I can occasionally look in the mirror and be ok with what I see and then twenty minutes later catch my reflection and be horrified with my appearance.  I sometimes wonder if the mirror is broken.  How can I have such a distorted view of my image? I look at pictures of myself and I want to cry.  I have avoided so many events solely based on my fear of being photographed.

My mother and sister are beautiful, actually the majority of my family are very attractive people.  I have always felt like the ugly duckling, accept I haven't turned into a swan.  Not only do I have a completely different personality than them I look completely different.  We have even been out and men can't believe we are sister's because we look nothing alike.  I hate that I focus so much attention on this but you can't ignore the comments.

I was skinny for short periods of my life over the last few years and of course I wasn't happy with my appearance.  I also really struggled with the extra attention I received due to my weight loss.  It was just as hard to be skinny as it is being over weight.  It doesn't matter your size you will still be judged.  We live in a society were we focus so much attention on appearances.

So what is my goal? What am I going to do to stop feeling like this?  First, I am going to stop beating myself up. I need to learn to not be so critical of myself, it only leads to self destructive behavior. Take today for example; I set out to get a new haircut.  I had gone on Pintrest and looked up "haircuts for fat faces" and yes examples do show up.  I went and had the majority of my haircut into what I thought would be a super fun haircut.  I hate it!! I feel like it only emphasizes my fat face.  So what did I do? I went to Chipolte!

Of course that did not solve any issue but I have a bad habit of emotional eating. Yes, the smarter choice would have been to get a healthier meal and to have gone to the gym today, not the salon.  So now I sit here with a haircut I hate, wondering what is next.  Well it is just hair and I'm going to have to just deal with it.  I know I'm going to get some weird looks for a bit, but they will not kill me.  Thankfully there will be those in my life that are too nice to mention it looks stupid.

Next I need to start doing all those sill healthy things that I know I can do and I need to do.  I need to use the gym membership I pay for.  I need to face my fears and go in there even if it is busy.  I need to make my health a priority not for appearance sake but for my mental and physical wellbeing.  I am never going to beat this disease by filling my body with junk and being lazy.  I need to spend less time worrying about what is on the outside and focus on my inside.  I can't change what I look like but I can change how I treat myself.  I want to be a good example for my nieces and nephews.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Set Backs

Over six months ago I hit a major set back in my recovery and growth.  It was suppose to be a day to celebrate my recent promotion and say goodbye to my current co-workers.  The day took a drastic turn when we received a phone call from my cousin that our shed was on fire.  I remember hearing the word fire and looking the direction of our home and at five miles away seeing the massive amount of dark smoke rising from the trees.

Immediately panic set in and I felt out of control sitting in the back seat as my dad raced to our home. If you were to ask me what was worse the unknown or grim reality; I do not think I could give you an an answer.  I felt like we pulled into a war zone or a horrible nightmare.  My immediate intentions was to move my car but instantly realized that would not be happening since it was ablaze.  The only thing we were able to move was my Dad's semi.

I cannot honestly tell you how long it was until the fire department arrived.   I do though remember my poor pregnant cousins standing there crying as she held her young son.  We all seemed to be shouting at each other.  My cousins's husband kept telling my dad to stay away from the fire.  I kept pleading with my Dad to let me sneak in the backside of our house and get out our dogs.  Our shed isn't far from our home and we didn't know if the house would be next to set ablaze.

What made the shouting and panic even worse was the magnitude of the heat and sounds coming from the fire.  Our shed is a 60x40 foot shed that had become a catch all for our belongings.  It sounded as if it was filled with fireworks but it was various things exploding.  We were unsure at any moment what would be next to explode.  Would our propane tank that was attached to the shed and our home be next?

My Dad and cousins's husbands became my heroes when then risked their safety and ran into our home to save all nine dogs.  Don't worry we are not hoarders; we have fosters and dog sit.  I can now laugh at the thoughts of these grown men running our of our house with fury little dogs tucked under their arms.

The fire department arrived and immediately were able to start watering down the propane tank as well as our home to prevent further damage.  Unfortunately there was not much left of the shed or my car.

We were very fortunate there was only exterior damage to our home. The roof, siding and one window will need to be replaced.

The events of the day did not really hit me until that night.  I think it helped that so many of our friends and family arrived to see how they could help.  In true style,our family laughed and joked; the only way we seem to know how to deal with stress and emotions.  Those that didn't know us probably thought we were off our rockers.

The hard thing is you can only joke and laugh for so long.  That evening I did something, so out of my comfort level, I crawled into my dad's lap and cried.  I felt so ashamed to be sad over the loss of possessions.  I know everyone kept repeating how lucky we were that no one got hurt and we didn't loose the house but that didn't make my pain any less. Six months later I still struggle with the shame of being sad for the loss of my possessions.

Almost everything that I owned was in that building and burned.  When I had moved into my parent's house I had only brought my clothing, tv and a few books into the house.  I know that all of that stuff can be replaced in some aspect but for example we can't replace the blanket my grandma crocheted for me.  The things I had been given over the years from my various grandmother's were very special to me. Most of the stuff was burned beyond recognition but a few of my belongings that were on the far end of the shed were recognizable.

These are pictures of my two prize possessions first is my books. I had a lot of books!! My family hated every time I moved.  I cannot in all honestly say how many books were out there but it was well over 700.  I dreamed of one day having my own library and had been collecting books as long as I can remember.  I dreamed of the day I could share them with my nieces and nephews.  The second is a picture of the bunny my dad gave me the day I was born.

The week was a roller coaster of emotions.  I have never felt so loved and cared for as I did that week.  Our friends and family were amazing.  They were there to help with the clean up, providing tools and even meals.  My work family was wonderful they not only covered my remaining shifts at work but gave me a gift card to eventually start replacing my belongings.

The nights though were very hard I was faced with horrible nightmares.  I had the constant fear that our house would start on fire.  It took several days for us to physically tear down and clean up the shed.  During that time the wood beams were still burning and often at night we would have to go out and spray them down with water.  It was also 4th of July weekend and the fireworks were not welcoming sounds.

I became a mess to put it mildly.  I had no control over my emotions: I was scared of every little noise and weird smell.  I did not want to leave our house.  I thought if I stayed there I could prevent anything else bad from happening.  I felt like a little girl who just wanted to be protected by her mom and dad.  I guess looking back now I know on a positive note it made my relationship stronger than ever with my parents.

I had to start my new job the following week.  It became a welcome distraction but a distraction was all it was.  I was not dealing with all that had happened my fears and guilt.  I still was not really sleeping and I had started to gain a lot of weight.  I found energy and comfort from junk food. I soon realized I couldn't go on this way it was time for help.

I'm not ashamed to say I had to go on extra medications to get me through that time.  I also got myself back into counseling - this is one of the blessings I know that came out of this situation.  It did not happen over night but I started making progress.  I know that I have made progress because I am sitting here writing.  Yes I did have a set back but I tackled it and I am moving forward.

I would like to say though one important thing I learned during this event was compassion.  There were so many people that were wonderful and understood my pain and did not judge.  There were those that kept repeating "well at least no one was hurt and it was only stuff".  I get that and I know we are truly blessed that no one was hurt.  What I don't get is who gets to determine what warrants tears? Who has the right to determine whether or not your pain and suffering is just.  I hope that I will always remember my tears and give others there time to cry how little or big I may think the situation is.  

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Why Don't You Tell Me What You Mean

One thing I can seem to count on is music when I am in one of my moods. There just always seems to be a song to either embrace your bad mood or even cheer you up.  Not to mention, so often a song can bring you back to a special memory.  So what is the soundtrack to my life?

I have a very wide taste in music from alternative to musicals and almost everything else in between. One of my favorite bands currently is The Airborne Toxic Event and I am especially obsessed with their new song "One Time Thing".  It is one of those songs you can feel pulse through your body; you just can't seem to play it loud enough.  You want to sing along at the top of your lungs because you feel like it has stolen you thoughts.

"Why don't you tell me what you mean" is one of my favorite lines in the song.  Wouldn't dating be so much easier if the other person would just tell you what they mean.  The games that go along with dating are exhausting!  We spend so much time trying to figure out what the other person wants or if it is more than a "One Time Thing".

I'm not sure if it is my anxiety, being a woman or just part of life but it is hard not to over analyze every little detail when dating.  You are constantly looking for "that sign" is this real?  It just seems like dating would be so much easier if we all told each other the truth even if it hurt for a bit.  I think of all the nights I wasted wondering if there was more to a relationship.  Yeah it would have sucked for a bit if they said it was a "mistake" but it would save a lot of questioning.

I guess when I finally get back into the dating world, I am going to try and practice what I preach. He also is also going to have to love music and especially The Airborne Toxic Event because they put on an incredible show and I look forward to seeing them as much as possible.  I saw them in October at The Rave in Milwaukee on a girls road trip.  I even went home with a souvenir:

I would like to say I caught it but I have no talent for catching it landed at my feet.  I almost went home with a drum stick but to prove my lack of catching it bounced off my forehead and I guy who looked very much like a "Weasley" from Harry Potter ended up catching it.  It was an amazing night that I got to share with my best friend.

If you are interested in checking out new music I definitely recommend checking them out - they even have a new album coming out the end of February.  Here are my top five songs from them:

1.  Somewhere After Midnight                            
2.  One Time Thing
3.  Hell and Back
4.  Wrong
5.  Bride & Groom
The Airborne Toxic Event

Thursday, February 5, 2015

It's Not That I Don't Like You

Tonight was not a good example of the changes  and growth I have made. Last night after writing I spent some time reading Joyce Myers book "Never Giving Up".  I went to bed questioning if fear or lack of discipline was keeping me from my goals.  

I pondered this all day while I was working.  Yes I do believe there are things in my life that I lack discipline over; shopping being one example.  I do not believe though my fear for example, of going to a zumba class is a lack of discipline - I truly believe that has to do with my social anxiety.

So the better part of today I decided that I would be disciplined tonight, face my fear and walk into the gym and go to zumba.  I reminded myself all day long that no one is going to judge me or make fun of me.  I would not be re-living the horrors of gym class as a child.  

This fear did not get faced tonight.  I really thought tonight was going to be the night but for some reason it was not in the cards.  The reason I did not go was because I did not pack a shirt. (My only option was a boys 4T sweatshirt. My nephew must be leaving clothes in my car.)  So this is being shelved for the time being but not for long.

Sadly I continued to make a mess of the evening.  I arrived home to a house full of guests.  My mom was entertaining and having people over to discuss the Young Living oils. I was initially excited to see a friend of hers and her new baby.

As the amount of people increased I felt myself getting anxious.  I started feeling greatly overwhelmed by the madness.  Where does my panic come from?  I worry about what to say and what if I say something stupid.  I worry what the people are thinking of me.  It just becomes too much. I feel overstimulated by all of the people.

So I took my dog and one of my mom's dogs and hid in my room. You would think my family would wonder what happened to me but they know and understand me.  I love the fact that my mom and sister are so understanding of this.  

Do I wish I would have stayed out there, yes.  Now that everyone is gone I see how silly I am that I didn't stay out there.  I now can wonder if I did far more damage by leaving than if I stayed and on the off chance did say something foolish.  Now I can wonder and worry instead, if they wonder what my issue is.

On the lighter side of things I did have a wonderful friend offer to have a pizza delivered to me while I was hiding out!  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I Need An Off Switch

Sleep is one of my favorite activities!  I am not a pleasant person if I have not gotten enough sleep, especially in the morning.  The problem with having an anxiety disorder is getting to sleep can be quite the challenge. I am not one of those people who can just jump into bed and fall asleep. I have a crazy process to get myself to sleep.

Bedtime would be amazing if I could just shut my brain off.  It does not matter how tired I am the moment I get into bed and the quiet starts; my mind starts racing.  For the most part these thoughts are harmless and I can usually get myself settled.  The problem is when things seem to get out of control.

There have been many nights when I head to bed and all those things I have not wanted to deal with start creeping up in my mind.  Something as simple as wondering why I haven't heard from someone in a while can quickly start to blow up into so much more in my mind.  It doesn't seem very long from that point that my mind turns very negative.

A variety of things can happen at this point.  I usually text one of my poor friends with what is usually a very self deprecating claim. My friends have been amazing at talking me down and usually getting me to focus on what is really bothering me.  Every day I am amazed how they have stuck by my side and never texted me back, "get a life".

The harder nights are when I become very irrational.  I can not get out of my mind and more often then not I start having physical symptoms.  I remember the first time this happened.  I had always believed that a panic attack was when you felt like you couldn't breath.  I did not get those symptoms. Instead I had the strangest sensation in my leg. At the time I did not realize it was a panic attack.

My legs felt as if they were being electrocuted and the only way to stop the feeling was to run.  So I found myself running through my apartment at four in the morning. I'm sure the people downstairs loved me.  Once I realized this was not going to work I sat in a ball crying and rocking back and forth.  I then did the only thing I knew could possible help, pray.  Thankfully it wasn't long and God calmed me and I was able to sleep.

This happened several years ago and since then I have learned a lot about myself and anxiety.  I now have a routine that I do to try and avoid these restless nights.  Yes they do still happen on occasion but I am usually able to calm myself with prayer and or oils.  I have not taken medication for anxiety attacks for a couple months now.  Not that I am against medications, I recently had an allergic reaction for the one I was using.

So what does my night time routine look like?  First, I really try to avoid my electronics right before I go to bed.  This is one that I struggle with the most.  I love information and for some reason because I can not switch my brain off; I think of the weirdest things I want to 'google' minutes before I should be falling asleep.  If I had an apartment or house I would probably avoid having them in the room all together.

Second, I found things to calm myself and my mind.  I found that I need either a fan or music playing.  I can focus on those sounds and not what is going on in my mind.  I also apply two to three of the Young Living oils on my feet.  Cappy also enjoys having these put on at bed time.  I sleep with no socks because as my friends and family describe it, I do a weird cricket thing with my feet until I fall asleep,  You can laugh, I know it is weird.

Last if I'm still struggling I put on the sleep mask; the darkness helps me to further shut down my mind.  If you struggle with sleep I really recommend looking online and following the recommendations.  Find something that works for you.  I think when we get appropriate sleep we have better relationships and make better choices during the day.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Maybe You Shouldn't Tell People That

I love asking people when I interview them for a job: "tell me about yourself". It can be such a loaded question that can bring the conversation in many directions.  You hope the person tells you a brief description of what makes them qualified for the position.  But more often then not, they start by describing who they are as a person.  This would be great but too many of them forget to put on the filter that is required for a job interview.

I am not one to judge those who give out too much information. I have often been told I am too honest.  I do though know that you must find a creative way to spin your less than flattering facts or even try and leave them out of the conversation.  How do I know this?  It is because I find myself having to practice this often.

What would you say if I told you I am a single, thirty-five year old woman who lives with her parents?  Many people would think something has to be wrong with that chica!!  I'm not going to say I don't have issues; obviously I am writing a blog on conquering fear.  But I also think it is important to not judge a person by there circumstances. 

So how to do I usually spin my story? First, I am not very open with my friends and family about my dating life.  When people ask, I just inform them I am not interested in dating. The sad part is I often find myself believing this white lie.   The truth is it has officially been three years since I have dated.  No he did not break my heart; it was broken long before him.  Honestly, when it comes down to dating I'm beyond scared to be hurt again.  When I tried dating in the past, I was always waiting for the relationship to come crashing down. Finally I decided it was just easier to avoid it all together. 

How does a thirty-five year old live with her parents and not look like a low life? Yes I do have a job and a college degree.  I could be more financially stable but it is common to find people my age burdened by college loans.  So when I am asked, "where do you live?" I could casually mention with roommates.  Instead I go with freely admit that I am 'staying' with my parents, while I decide where to live.  If I am still getting a weird look I am able to add, "remember all of my stuff burned in a fire this summer". (story to come) 

I am sure the question is now how many cats do I have?  I hate to disappoint but I am not a cat fan.  I do tho own this adorable little guy....

Captain Wentworth aka Cappy.  I adopted him this summer and he has brought me such happiness.  

As I continue this journey I will let you know more about me and you can decide if I am truly crazy! 


Webster's dictionary defines determination as a quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult.  I set out a week and a half ago with the mindset to use determination to finally start conquering my fears.  For years now I have struggled with the question "I am either truly lazy?" or what else keeps me from obtaining my goals and dreams.

Recently through the help of a counselor I have realized that fear seems to be my underlying issue. Years of living with fear, anxiety and depression have kept me from truly living.  Fear has not only prevented me from doing thing I enjoy, spending time with others but also reaching my goals.  I have let these fears control my life.

This is were determination needed to come into play.  My first step was to find something to inspire me; give me that drive and fire.  I naturally turn to books, whenever I want to tackle a problem I search for a book for inspiration.  I went on to my Kindle and searched 'determination' two books that caught my attention right away were: John C. Maxwell's "Make Today Count" and Joyce Meyer's "Never Give Up".

I decided to download "Never Give Up" first.  I jumped right in and was immediately feeling inspired.  Then I had to pause, yes I do have troubles with giving up especially when I am scared but I have a greater issue with getting started in the first place.

This lead me to needing a new inspiration. When I am not enjoying a good book I turn to movies. I started thinking about movies that inspired me over the last thirty or so years.  That is when I thought about one of my favorite quotes from the movie "Strictly Ballroom Dancing". 'Vivir con miedo es como virir en medias.' a Spanish proverb that means "a life lived in fear is a life half lived".

Now that I have some inspiration behind my determination I decided to conquer my first fear.  My first fear is acknowledging my dream of being a writer.  I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember but I have always been too scared to pursue this dream. This dream was put on hold at a young age when I discovered my inability to spell would hinder my ability to write.  (Little did I know that several years later there would be a nifty little thing called spell check.)  I feared rejection and ridicule from my inability to spell.

So today I start this blog as an apology to that little girl who dreamed of writing books like Laura Ingalls Wilder and plays like Shakespeare.  We are going to use our love of writing to face our fears live the life we always wanted. My goal is to track this progress as I work toward living a full and happy life.