Mental Health

Five Sure Steps to Becoming More Brave

Every step towards growth is a step that matters. But sometimes taking those steps is uncomfortable…and scary. Uncomfortableness can lead to some pretty intense anxiety. Figuring out how to manage the stress and anxiety, is to combat it with every weapon you can brandish. Here are just a few things that helped me get through another week of being brave.

1. Invest in some fantastic waterproof makeup. Because sometimes being brave hurts a little. Because being honest and authentic is hard. Saying those honest things is harder. And if you’re sensitive, there may be days filled with intermittent crying sessions. But if you have waterproof makeup, you can have a tiny cry when the moment arises and then you can still look like the new confident rockstar you actually are.

2. Keep a tight schedule. For me, being brave is hard. And it means being completely open and honest with how I’m feeling. Which in turn has meant that I’ve had to be more vocal about my feelings. Confronting and voicing those feelings can be uncomfortable. I am not advocating keeping yourself so busy that you don’t take care of yourself, because that doesn’t make sense. But in line with keeping goals, spend your time working towards them. Chase those dreams as you move through the uncomfortableness. It will help ground you and keep you focused.

3. Don’t neglect your self care. Because if you are going to tirelessly chase your dreams and improve your life, you will burn out if you go full stop. At least in my case. So schedule downtime and honor it. (I hope you all know, I’m saying this because this list is more for me than anything). Watch a movie with your friend or by yourself. Listen to Justin Timberlake and dance around in your underthings. Just make sure you are honoring whatever it is that feels right to you.

4. Exercise is important! If you are prone to anxiety attacks this might be especially important. When you go about doing brave things that shake you out of your comfort zone, the moments before you do it and even for a bit after can rattle you a bit. In order to move through this, breathing becomes especially important. And what better way to do it than to get your yoga or swimming or hiking exercise on. So get out your mat and do some sun salutations and strike some warrior poses. Your body and your calm mind will thank you.

5. Prayer! Keep on talking with Heavenly Father. He will help sustain you and direct you to more opportunities in which to be brave. If you don’t believe in a higher power, I say meditate. I do that too. Slowing down and being mindful of where you are and checking in with how you feel is a great way to figure out if there are any adjustments you need to make to your new brave routine so you can keep fighting the good fight.

And with that, I will leave you with this quote:

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” -Nelson Mandela

*photo credit to Catherine McMahon

My First Novel

An Introduction to Grace’s Mom

Brianne: Christmas 1990

The rumble of the MAX shook the abandoned building Brianne was sleeping in. She shivered as she woke. Fumbling for the dirty canvas tarp she was using as a blanket as she wondered how long she had been out. Her stomach growled loudly and simultaneously she felt nauseous. Her head was pounding from lack of food. Pulling the ragged purple beanie further down over her ears, she realized she was sweating. A tremulous shiver ran down her spine and she closed her eyes willing her body to warm itself and hopefully drift off to sleep.

After a few minutes she had to get up. Brianne paced agitatedly the length of the makeshift bed she had fashioned. Pulling at her hair and itching her arms under her thermal shirt. Sifting through her scattered thoughts, she attempted to construct some kind of game plan for the day. But she didn’t even know what day it was. “Was the shelter full? Is today the day Jaxson was back from the coast?” she thought as she tugged her sweaty and oily hair under her beanie. “My hair used to be so beautiful and healthy,” she thought dismissively and switched back to wondering what day it was.

The rain on the roof was thundering and only intensifying her anxiety. She grabbed her dirty red jansport backpack with all her belongings, pulled an old scarf out and threw it on. She donned her backpack, shoved her sleeping tarp and makeshift cardboard box pillows under some random garbage on the side of the room and set off to check out the shelter scene.

The icy Oregon winter rain penetrated her thermals almost immediately. Brianne couldn’t feel her toes in the holey boots she was wearing. The rain seemed to penetrate into her very bones. Her beanie was good protection from the rain, but not from the intense sweating she was doing underneath it. Brianne’s thoughts were jumbled and she couldn’t quite remember where she was going. If only Jaxson were back; maybe she could then shake this nauseated feeling and maybe she could be warm again.

By the time she reached the shelter her teeth were chattering and she was shaking so badly she couldn’t see straight. She felt a tremendous urge to vomit, but she wasn’t sure when the last time there was even any food in her stomach. “How long was I out?” she thought listlessly. She hadn’t reached the doors, but a nearby garbage can provided a place for her to dry heave in. Trying to stand up straight proved to be impossible as the world around her began to spin. Brianne suddenly felt the only thing she could do was lay down, and so she did. She fell in a heap to the wet and icy ground

Humor · The Fair Young Maiden

The Night a Blog was Born. 

THE FAIR MAIDEN’S FIRST ADVENTURE: AKA THE GREATEST SADDEST STORY EVER TOLD
Once upon a time in a land, I like to call, stupid effing ever never land; Our fair maiden is the same as before, same long hair, same cheerful disposition. She is called Mandalicious. She was busily cleaning her kitchen and making supper and preparing her meal for the following day when she heard a knock at the door. Slightly annoyed at being disrupted during her Beyonce solo, she dried her hands and answered the door, slightly suspecting it may be her sickly neighbor. Alas, it was her.

“I have to get an emergency cat scan,” she said. “Of course you do,” the fair maiden thought.

“Can you please watch my dog for me while I go?” she pleaded desperately. “Of course I will,”  Mandalicious instantly replied, because how was she going to say no. She didn’t mind really, since she is a lover of all furry creatures. The two neighbors decided the best solution would be to leave the sickly neighbor’s door as well as Madalicious’ door to let the dog roam at his leisure.
It was getting quite late for the poor maiden, as she deeply values her rest. She turned on the tv to watch some Beauty and the Beast (for the second time that week) and waited for her neighbor to depart. The neighbor needed to be fasting for four hours before getting the CT Scan and had to delay her departure for another 45 minutes. The fair maiden had taken her nighttime medicine at this point and was indeed ready to fall into some kind of slumber, whether it is deep or shallow, it mattered not. Her back hurt from cleaning and she desperately needed her bed.
At long last, the neighbor took the dog out one last time and departed. The sweet dog loves his mom, so he was very concerned and went down the stairs to wait by the door. Mandalicious convinced him to come up to her room. He seemed desperate to get into bed with her, but he was just too fat to make the jump on his own. So she lifted his portly body onto the bed, said her prayers and turned out the light. As she snuggled into the covers, the dog became restless. He fervently paced on the bed and would not be calmed. So she patiently put him on the floor in the hopes that he would go back to his bed in his mom’s room, and thus saving his poor dear little life.
At this point it was 11:30 pm and the fair maiden fell asleep quite quickly. Between midnight and 2am the stressed out dog would run out of the poor maiden’s room and then into the hall and down the hardwood floor, “click click click click,” went his nails. And then muffled little barks when he would run back into her room. Her sleep was intermittent and the poor lass was unbelievably vexed. At 3am she scooped his chubbiness up onto the bed in hopes that he would just snuggle up and go to sleep. It soon became clear to the sleep deprived girl that this fussy dog needed to relieve his bladder.
This was something not even the pirate eye could keep from fully waking her. She got out of bed and put some clothes on. Wearily she plodded to the neighbor’s apartment and retrieved the leash. Even though she was frustrated she was still loving to the poor creature, but happy she was not.
She gave up on pirate eyeing it when she got outside. The doggie sniffed everything and peed and then sniffed everything else. While she was out there she was thinking about how this was going to make a great story to tell in the morning. And then it came to her, this is the way she should write. And then, She thought of a blog name. Either Manda’sfairytaleinprogress.com or afairytaleinprogress .com.

After the short walk around the house, The pup seemed content to accepting that his mom was not in the yard as he had previously expected and took up a vigilant watch at the top of the stairs while he waited for her and did not bother the fair maiden the rest of the night. Because the pirate eye did not work, she laid awake for another half an hour and drifted off to some restful sleep. However, despite 4 separate alarms being set, she didn’t wake up until 725am and by some miracle, was in the car by 735am and was not late for work.

Approximately one hour into her work day she had a headache, but her attitude remained positive.
The end…or kinda the beginning. 

My First Novel

More from Grace

The next day. Grace rested on the sizzling wet cement. The towel she had put on the ground was bunched up into a pillow under her neck. The sprinkler on the lawn kept the ground under her body wet and cool. Her short wet brown hair stuck to her cheek as she inhaled deeply, drinking in the smell of the mixture of warm cement and the grass her grandpa had cut earlier that morning; before the sun had time to start smothering the crispness the night before had left behind. Grace had to keep her eyes clenched shut in order to keep the sun from blinding her. She was downwind just enough that she could feel the light spray from the sprinkler. 
Soon enough, she was pulled out of the mire of her thoughts by the slam of the screen door and the Cody screeching happily as he ran out to stand over Grace. Feeling his little shadow blocking the sun from her eyes, she left them closed, “Yes Cody?” At just that moment she felt his little finger poke her cheek, “Gwacie come eat,” he giggled and poked her two more times. Grace’s eyes flew open.
“Ah c’mon Cody, that hurts,” she muttered as she swatted lightly at his tiny hand. She took his little hand in hers and pretended to bite him. “Mmmmmm you tasty,” she said in a growly monster voice, “nom nom nom.” Cody squealed in delight and ran away towards the house, giggling and screaming something nonsensical. She heard Grandma open the screen door and holler, “C’mon Grace,” as she pulled herself up off of the ground and dried herself off a little better. 


When she was mostly dried she walked quickly to the front door. She could smell that Grandma had fried up some bacon and immediately surmised that BLT’s were most likely on the menu; Grace’s favorite! As she entered the house, she took the steps two at a time and raced into the kitchen. Grandma was slathering mayo onto the toasted bread and Grace’s stomach growled. Grandma must have heard it too, because she immediately said, “Now Grace, you know you are not going to sit on my chairs in a damp swimming suit. Go change and it’ll be ready to eat when you get back.” She didn’t have to ask Grace twice, not when there was bacon involved. The little imp darted into the bathroom and hurried into her dry clothes. Just as she was tugging her shirt over her ears she heard the telephone ring. Grace glanced in the mirror and tried to smooth her wet drying hair out of her face, encouraging it with all her might to just lay flat. After about 5 seconds she lost interest and saw her unsuspecting Grandma pick up the phone while she scooped Cody up who was trying to sneak out of the kitchen and down the stairs again. She hadn’t strapped him into his high chair yet and he was sneaky. 
“Hello?” Gran said. Her face fell and her old, soft, brown eyes flashed in anger. She put the receiver on her chest and handed Cody to Grace, “Buckle him in would ya?” Turning the corner from the kitchen into the hallway to try and hide her phone conversation from the kids. Grace’s heart started pounding a little. There were only a few things that made grandma’s eyes flash, and Lily’s daughter was one of them. 

My First Novel

Grace Excerpt 2

Just then Grandpa came booming in from the garage hollering, “ Now, where are my favorite grandchildren!?” Cody and Grace both ran over to their grandpa and he picked both of them up. He smothered them with the best scratchy beard kisses known to man. Grace immediately took Grandpa’s dirty old ball cap and put it on her head. She grinned happily at him.  It was too big for her and it smelled like the garage, sweat, and his aftershave, but she didn’t care. Cody wiggled to get down and Grace hung tightly with her arms wrapped around his neck. “How’s my Gracie?” he whispered. She shrugged her shoulders and he gave her a big squeeze. She was happy to be there. It was peaceful at grandma and grandpas. But there was usually a small ache in her heart at the beginning of all of her stays with them.

Mental Health

Two Tricks to Help You Get Out of Bed EVERY Morning

I hate mornings. And when I say hate, I actually mean: I loathe, despise, and abhor them. Even when I am not in one of my down swings, I hate them. Sleep is my favorite drug always. And anyone who knows me can attest, that I am a happier lady if I can get 8-9 hours of sleep. But who has time to actually get that much sleep? I know I don’t. This might be because I am actually a night owl whose work starts promptly every weekday morning at 8am. I am a chronic snooze button hitter. It could be a loathing I developed at a young age. 
That being said, in order to eat and actually do my hair and makeup I have to get up at 6am. So this means that if I am to be as happy as the cutest early bird you have ever seen, I have to be asleep by 10 pm AT THE LATEST. I know this seems easy, but really, for me anyway, it has been almost insurmountable. When I get off work I usually have a project to do, sisters in my ward to visit teach, 2 book clubs to manage, eat, shower (my hair doesn’t blow dry anymore in the morning…takes way too long), Netflix to watch, and now finally, writing! That leaves little time to get to bed as early as 10. However, I finally feel I have a purpose, and I will get to that soon.
My first suggestion to combat hitting the snooze button is an easy one. Not even an unheard of proposal. It has been suggested to me my entire life, and I have even tried it: Put your alarm clock across the room. This never worked though, because I would turn it off and crawl back into my bed. It never felt like I truly had anything worth getting out of bed for. And over this last year, that is changing. 

Since cellphones have basically replaced alarm clocks, I slept with mine on the bed or nightstand…most often on my bed next to my pillow. This method was not useful in advancing progress in the desired ability to get out of bed. Even if I set multiple alarms, I would ALWAYS fall back to sleep. If I wanted to get to work on time I need to leave by 7:30am. Often, I would get out of bed at 7:15am. It was getting to the point where I wasn’t even trying to make my top knot look fancy. And “What makeup routine? Are you kidding me?” Don’t get me wrong, I love my job., but dag yo, it just wasn’t enough; isn’t enough. 

Last week,  I took some steps to make some real changes and I can already see them working in my life. The first step was simple; I started putting my phone across from my bed on the vanity. One adjustment changed things in two ways. Phone addiction is a real thing. Instant gratification is lurking behind a simple touch screen device and is so hard to resist. Especially when I am trying to sleep and I think of a person I forgot to text, or an idea for something important needing to be dictated into my notepad on my phone. It has replaced more than just my alarm clock; my calendar, jigsaw puzzles, phone calls with texting, and now that I am starting this blog social media is super important. So now, if I am trying to sleep and I think of something that needs me to touch my phone, it waits. Because by the time my book stops playing, I am tired enough that getting out of bed isn’t an option. So instead of planning and setting reminders, I sleep. Weird right? Sometimes it has even been as early as 10:30pm. Equally important, sitting up and hitting the snooze button after it starts playing Warm it up Chris, by Kriss Kross, gets my blood pumping. I start drawing myself out of my slumber. And I know in the depths of my heart that the biggest reason is because I am working on things I love.  

Last Thursday I joined a writing group. Some people and something has been pushing me, prompting me to start a blog. In the same vein, I don’t think I can count how many times I have started a novel, only to give up after one or two chapters. Part of it has been fear of what others think, but also the fear and belief that I would fail. I second guessed myself always and have been frightened of expressing myself, thus making myself vulnerable to other people’s criticism. Taking stances mostly terrifies me. But there is one thing I do know; I have so much to offer. My life has at times been tumultuous, but I feel that it has made me empathetic, compassionate, and loving. I have been gifted with a decent sense of humor ( I mean, I think I am hilarious). Blogging has helped me get up. Being challenged to write a chapter of a novel that has been brewing in my head for the last ten years by the writing group is fueling my creative passions. Best of all, I have faith in myself.
Let me repeat that. I HAVE FAITH IN MYSELF. Where did that come from? I can tell you that it has not been easy, and I am sure I will have to remind myself from time to time of my own worth. But what a wonderful thing to have. What an amazing feeling it is to actually focus on yourself and discover that you actually do love yourself. I realized, (not without encouragement from some amazing people) I am good at a lot of things. I love to paint, not exceptionally well, but I enjoy it. Whereas writing is something I have always had a knack for. My 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Johnson told me so, but I never put much stock in it. Mrs. Murdoch, my 7th grade English teacher, encouraged me; yet I did not even begin to know how to believe her. I have faith in myself and I am following a dream. I don’t know where it will take me, but how can you not get up if you are living your life passionately and chasing your dreams?

Mental Health

4 Things to Help Turn Negative Thoughts into Positive Ones

THE TAPES IN OUR HEAD
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I have long loved this quote! But what a difficult concept to master. I mean it makes sense; you have control over how you react or how to feel when someone bullies you or tries to make you feel less than. That’s usually just a reflection of the bully, not you. Simple right!? Not always.
We all have tapes that have recorded over time. Life experiences that have taught us how to think, react, feel. They’ve recorded what our parents and other role models have taught us regarding our worth. Well, what if those people taught and recorded on your tapes that you were worthless? How do you rewrite that tape? How can we record over something filled with vitriol, with something that uplifts, honors, and edifies us? Things that remind us of our true worth instead of what our grownups, the media, bullies and other people who influenced our childhood have recorded onto the tapes we play in our head.
We are often lucky enough to have people who see or saw all the amazing qualities within ourselves and tried to help us see it. But for whatever reason, the bad seems to be easier to remember. In my own experience with this has been difficult to overcome. I have to fight to rewrite my tapes EVERY DAY. Sometimes it is easy; other times it is like trying to dsafasdfsd
I understand what it is like to have a tape that has no business running through anyone’s head. I know what it means to have to rewrite so many things I was taught to believe about myself. It is not easy. Those tapes will start playing in my head after stretches of days where I have managed to listen to the loving tapes I’ve created in my mind. Something can still trigger the negative stuff and sometimes it can take a while to find the strength to force myself to listen to the positive ones.
So the question is, how do we rewire our brains? How do we fight the negative recordings? I don’t know all of the answers, but I can tell you what helps me eject the negative tapes and play the positive ones.
1. Find the Right Support System
· Not everyone in your life is going to understand you. There are people who can’t or don’t want to handle your crazy. We all come with baggage and it is so important to find people that don’t mind helping you either carry it, or help you rest from carrying it everywhere. And this baggage may be too much for others. ( I am not saying you should find people to completely dump your baggage one, but you need people in your life who can be patient with you). Fortunately I have some amazing people who accept me for who I am and are patient when I need them. There are those people who stick around and love you flaws and all. No one is perfect. No one can keep it together all of the time. You need individuals who stay through the good and the bad. I am lucky enough to have several people who have seen me through every stupid decision, and every dip I have ever had and I couldn’t be more grateful. Find the people who stay and forgive the ones that can’t or won’t. Because there are people who understand. There are people who will stay. Find them and keep them. Most importantly, appreciate and love them. The ones who stay are keepers. Take care to get rid of enablers, haters, and people who demean you. For obvious reasons, this is not healthy.

2. Be kind to yourself

· Taking time to actually to do something nice for yourself can take a lot of practice. But it doesn’t always have to take a lot of time or money. It can be as sumple as just saying no to something you don’t feel like doing or even spending a day at the spa. I know I don’t have a lot of money to go to the spa regularly so here is a list of inexpensive ways you can show yourself some love

  • Take a walk “endorphins make people happy,” Elle Woods.
  • Hot bath, with or sans bubbles
  • Take time to read
  • Paint or color
  • Hike
  • Say no
  • Home pedicures, facials, etc
  • Shave your legs!
  • Invest in some candles for bath time.

3. Daily Affirmations
· This feels soooo goofy! But I promise that this is the best way to rerecord your tapes. If you are not constantly working on it and telling your brain positive things you need to hear and believe. I can attest that it works! I will also admit that I need to add this into my routine. It is more difficult to let the negative in when you are filling your head with positive vibes on the reg. I promise I have always felt my best when I have chosen to put this into practice daily.
4. Self Care: and these are sometimes the hardest for me.

  • Clean your living space
  • Get up out of bed and put on something you love. Do your makeup and hair, only because it makes you feel good!
  • Wash the dishes immediately after you eat
  • Chase a dream. Schedule it. Joined the writing group, or the book club, or the Bollywood Troupe.

Honestly, I feel so much better when I apply these things to my life! When I take time to do something I love and even chase a dream, I feel worthy of something more. Playing those negative thoughts over and over is never helpful. The best we can do is be aware and acknowledge that we are struggling. Be patient with yourself and take steps every day to try and rewrite those tapes. It takes work, but it gets easier to pull yourself out the bad when you work on making this a daily positive habit.