Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What Anxiety Is To Me.

Having anxiety is like walking around with a huge plastic bag surrounding you that’s connected to your thoughts and feelings. It’s clear and spacious enough that sometimes you forget about it. Not because it goes away, but because you get used to dealing with it. You can still see through it so sometimes you can trick yourself into believing it isn’t really there. Until you have that first negative thought of the day. And then that bag begins to wrinkle and deflate a little bit at one end. And that thought leads to another one and another side of the bag crinkles and pulls in a little closer toward you. And then after that thought leads to another one and another one, suddenly you realize the bag isn’t spacious at all. In fact it’s becoming tighter and tighter around you and more and more wrinkled and the realization that the negative thoughts have caused the bag to collapse in on you causes more negative thoughts and then without warning you’re being suffocated not just by the negative thoughts but also by thinking about the negative thoughts and the repercussions of having them. And before you know it, you’re suffocating. You can’t see past the wrinkled bag that’s become a second skin and you know it’s your own fault because if you would have just stopped thinking the thoughts that caused the bag to deflate and warp in the first place, you wouldn’t even be in this mess. And even though you know that’s  how it should work, because that’s probably how it works for other people, you know that for you it’s different. You’re different. You don’t get to choose the thoughts and you don’t get to choose your minds reaction to them. All you can do is deal with the aftermath of a skin tight bag around your body and hope that once you finally fall asleep, after tossing and turning and thinking thoughts you don’t want to be thinking for hours, it’ll loosen up enough that tomorrow when a negative thought hits and it begins to tighten up again, that there’s enough space in the bag that you’ll still be able to breathe.

(photo credit: TiaDanko)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Texas Strong

I can honestly say that I have never in my life been as scared as I was three nights ago when I found out that our neighborhood had a voluntary evacuation notice because the Brazos River was most likely going to flood our neighborhood.

I've tried to write this post three or four times now and somehow I just can't find the right words. How do you describe the feeling of helplessness and fear in your gut when you realize that every possession you've ever owned may be swept away from you in the next 28 hours? And more than that, that your life and the life of those you love are suddenly in jeopardy. How do you describe the gut wrenching nausea that hits you when you realize you may have to choose between saving yourself and saving your helpless, beloved pets?

The only thing that has overpowered the intense feelings of confusion and helplessness in the last few days have been a sense of awe, pride, and hope in people. Though I don't like to admit it I'm a bit of a pessimist. I try to see the good in people but it's not something I do naturally, I have to actively think about it. But in the last few days it has been incredibly easy to see the good. I've seen so many acts of kindness that it brings tears to my eyes. The selflessness with which people are coming together right now is something I never even imaged could exist in my community. From complete strangers rescuing each other in flood waters, to people in other states caravanning in to lead rescue teams in their personal boats, to neighbors offering up the second stories of their homes, to my family and I being taken in by family friends a town over.

The amount of good coming out of this situation is so much more powerful than the bad. However, I am under no delusions that it's easier for me to say that right now because I was able to evacuate and so far, though projected otherwise, our street has not flooded. So I might be able to go home in a few days once the water begins receding and go back to a relatively normal routine. Some people have not been nearly as fortunate.

What a lot of people, mostly those who have never been in a situation like this, don't understand, is that this doesn't just end when it stops raining. The Brazos River overflow doesn't just dry up over night so that everything can go back to normal. The sun might be back out this afternoon, but the water remains and will remain for days in some places. Possibly weeks. Those watching news stories from states away, from the comfort of their clean, dry homes will almost surely forget this even happened as soon as the social media and news reports decide Hurricane Harvey is old news. But the people who lost their homes in the last week don't get to just stop dealing with it because it's "over". For them it won't be over for a long time, or possibly ever. The devastation that an event like this causes is unimaginable to most.

I am California born and have never identified as a Texan, never wanted to. But after what I've seen in the last few days, I tell you what, I'm proud to be a Texan. I am proud to be associated with this state and it's many, many selfless people. My social media feeds are full of people asking for help right now and even more people offering it. It's incredible.

With so much devastation I'm not sure yet where we go from here. This is far from over. The sun may be out today, but the water is still there and the Brazos is still rising. What I do know is that we will all continue to come together as friends, neighbors, and yes, Texans to help each other through this. And without a doubt, we will rise stronger than ever.

Below are some ways you can donate to the flood victims. Please consider donating or even volunteering in some way. I promise you won't regret it and you'll make a HUGE difference in the lives of people who really need love right now.

Donate to River Pointe Church HERE!

Purchase the Texas charm from James Avery HERE!

Purchase the Texas Forever shirt from Magnolia HERE!

Donate to the Red Cross HERE!

Purchase a Pimpin Joy t shirt from The Shop Forward HERE!
Currently all proceeds go to flood victims in Texas.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Show Your Age

I was watching YouTube the other day and a commercial (that didn't give me the "skip" option) came on for a skin care product in which Gwen Stefani was the spokesperson. She claimed that this product would make you look "years younger." First of all, Gwen, you haven't aged since like 1995 and I'm pretty sure it wasn't because you used L'Oreal moisturizer. And second of all... why is this a thing? What is this obsession we have with youth? What did youth ever do for us anyway? Give us pimples? Make us feel awkward because we didn't know how to talk to the opposite sex? Give us anxiety over needing a job to get experience but not having enough experience to get a job?! All of my worst moments took place when I was younger than I am now (because that's how time works). When I was less experienced. When I had less confidence and less knowledge. I wouldn't want to go back to my mental state as a fresh faced 18 year old (or even 21 year old if we're being honest), so why should I be expected to still look like those ages? Why can't our outsides match our insides? I'm in a different stage of life now than I was then and you can see it in my face and my body. And that's okay. That's how life works.

I understand that we all want to look younger because that is what is valued in our culture. But what I don't understand is WHY. Intellectually, for the most part, we all want to be mature. We want to be established in our careers and valued in our relationships and stable enough to at least act like the adults we know that we are, even if sometimes we feel like imposters (or is that just me?). So why can't the maturity that we work so hard to gain on the inside be reflected on our bodies on the outside? Why can't we value laugh lines and stretchmarks and scars as proof of a life well lived? Of things we survived. Of lessons we learned.

I'll be the first to admit that getting old terrifies me. But would it still be so scary if the world around us didn't tell us it's so bad? The actual physical process of aging is often not fun, anyway. No one wants hangovers that last days instead of hours, and heartburn after eating things you didn't even have to think twice about consuming as a kid. And the older we get the more our bodies break down. And it sucks. But it's life. As a 20 something I'm still young and therefore don't have the experience that people twice and three times my age have. But I can only imagine how much harder the process of aging is, not just physically, but mentally when everything around you is telling you that you're less valuable, less beautiful, just less in general, simply because you've lived to see your current age.

I truly value the wisdom and beauty (both inside and out) of the older people, specifically women, in my life and it hurts me to think any one of them believes they hold less value in our society because their age is reflected in their outward appearance. It's absolutely preposterous. Something has got to change. And it has to start within each of us. Recognize your value. Look for beauty in the physical and spiritual parts of yourself that you once hated or were told are things to be hidden, not appreciated. Because until we stop buying into the bullshit and allowing it to change our opinions of ourselves we will all continue to perpetuate the lies.

Love your age, love your self.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Salt for the Soul

A lot of people like the beach because they can sit in the sand and drink a beer, get a tan, and cool off in the water on a hot summer. But I think it has to be more than that that draws so many people to it over and over again, myself included. I think that it feeds our souls. It calms us and relaxes us. Something about it calls to us. The wind and the deep water and the colorful, almost magic sunsets and the smell of salt and sand. Something in us yearns for that connection to nature, that connection to God. Nature doesn't change. Physically, yes. But nature is always nature. It is uncontrollable and unpredictable. It works in ways that sometimes can't be explained, at least not by the average person. And no matter how many unnatural things we erect in the name of progress, nature is ancient and far superior. It was here before us and will be here after us and though we are hurting it in many ways, it's still here. Always growing, always moving, always transforming. And oceans seem to be the greatest representation of that. While nature can also be a garden in your backyard or a park full of trees, nothing represents untamed nature like an endless ocean full of unseen life. And the endless sky that reaches far above us into yet another somewhat unknown sea. 

I believe with everything in my heart and soul that nature is one of God's greatest blessings to mankind. And that has to be why we yearn for it. I don't know about you but the deep breathes I take inside of four walls or in my car are never quite as satisfying as ones I take standing with my feet covered in wet sand and my hair blowing in a salty breeze. Nature reminds me of God's endless love and creativity. It reminds that he's always there, in every breath I take. Somehow it's easier to remember Him when I'm surrounded by his work, instead of ours.

And I think that's why we love it so much. Even sub consciously I think we are always seeking something greater than ourselves, a higher power, if you will. And what's second best to the creator himself? His work.

All photos taken this week at Orange Beach, Alabama
The one at the beginning of the post was taken as I wrote this post.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

You and the stars are endless.

I've always been good at remembering to smell the roses. And to find shapes in the clouds and appreciate sunrises and sunsets, but the thing I always forget about is the stars. I live in a place full of lights. A place that never sleeps it seems.  But when you're in a coastal beach town and sitting outside on a balcony with nothing infront of you but dark sea and dark sky, you see the stars. And they're endless and magical and all the things you used to think about them when you were a child and still thought about such whimsical things. The bright spots of wonder in the endless expanse of darkness make you remember how limitless life is. How limitless the universe and love and creativity and spirituality and happiness can be. It's easy to forget that you and your immediate surroundings are not in fact the center of the universe. So on days that you forget that your minor problems are just that, minor.... drive out onto a pier or take a walk down the beach or a country road. And look up. Be reminded of the tiny little lights that float in the sky. Of their magic and their twinkle and their magnetic pull. Remember how small you must be from their view, and how endless the space is between each of them as well as between them and all the things up there that you can't see, but know are there. Like planets and moons and galaxies and astroids. Be reminded that magic is endless. Life is endless. You are endless.