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

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. 

Mental Health

Depression!? Here’s How to Fix It!

Or at least, attempt it.

Tonight I had a great talk with one of my little sisters. As I have mentioned before in my posting, I am going through a real change, but there is a sense of anxiety about when it’s all going to fall apart, not just for me, but her too. Unfortunately it will, and that’s just the nature of depression and codependence. Sometimes I am filled with so much sadness and simultaneous rage that I can’t cope in healthy ways. But I know there is hope, I know it’’s there and that’s why I keep fighting. I am working hard on combatting my demons, but sometimes they feel like they will consume me. My family has watched me struggle. They have seen my life fall apart over and over, and they are as scared as I am about when it starts to fall apart again. I think it is important to admit that I am scared, but to still allow this positivity to flow without allowing this ever present shadow that haunts me even when I am at my happiest to overcome me. It is normal I think for there to be concern. My family and friends all want to make sure I am healing healthily and most importantly, lastingly.

There has been some momentum in the positive aspects of my life and everyone can see the positive effects all this change is having on who I am. I am happier than I have ever been. There is an internal and almost intrinsic belief that I am good enough, beautiful enough, and smart enough to be happy on my own. I still have bad days. Those days don’t really happen as often, or for as long as they used to last. I have moments where my heart beats so fast and I worry about the future, and agonize over my past so much that I can’t breathe. But I am moving forward. With each bout of depression, I feel like I come out of it stronger. Each low comes with more tools to cope, and more realization of what is working in my life vs what hasn’t worked. Happiness is a choice, and with depression it can be work. Part of that work is recognizing when you need to make changes.

 

Upon talking to my sister and pondering for a bit after our conversation, I have come up with a game plan to get me through the next low. Hopefully some of these things will help others who struggle with depression. I am not an expert in profession in treating any mental illness. However, through the scope of my own perspective as someone who struggles with mental illness, as a daughter, a niece, a friend of others who struggle, I feel that my perspective is of some value. It is my hope that this can help others; and maybe even myself through my readers’ perspectives and responses.

 

Continue to learn and develop new coping skills.

I think in order to do this one you have to really become acquainted with yourself and  what actually brings you joy. And then you have to engage in those kind of activities. For me, I love to be creative. So anything that involves painting, writing, coloring, just creating, brings me joy. I love color and I love words. So combine both and I am in heaven. And the more I practice, the better I am getting. The better you get at something, the better you feel about what you have accomplished. Feeling a sense of worth in this way is important to drawing yourself out of depression.

 

Really you have to pick something that works for you. In my article, 4 Things to Help Turn Negative Thoughts into Positive Ones, I list several ideas on how to show yourself love and kindness. I think finding things that bring a sense of peace and purpose are great things to work on. I am a big fan of exercise more in theory at this time in my life, but I know that exercise does help me immensely. Especially with anxiety, It forces you to breathe through it and there is something incredibly cathartic in the practice of exercising and movement.

Admitting When You Need Help

When I am in my head, it can be hard to get out of it. Usually I have lots of inner conversations about how I am a burden and shouldn’t ask others for help. And oh how easy it is to convince yourself of this when you are in a state of depression. You MUST NOT believe this. There are people who care about you. When I look back at my most depressive episodes, the kind of episodes where the hope is absolutely gone and I can’t seem to find the will go on, I am so grateful I did reach out when I knew I needed help. I think the trick is probably learning to admit to yourself when those triggers start. Being self aware can sometimes feel icky, because we are our own worst critics. The thing is, by becoming self aware, by being willing to admit when it is time to reach out, or to not get on the defense if someone pointing it out in sincere concern, you have to admit that you can’t always do everything alone. If you feel alone, talk to a therapist, a friend, a sibling, a parent; anyone you trust.  I promise if you start talking about it and hashing out where the downward spiral started, you will be able to pull yourself out of it quicker with each attempt to avoid the downslope.In conjunction with this, I have promised my sister after this talk we had that I would be more open to her help when I start spiralling. My goal is to not be defensive, and I told her to use all my words against me and she has willingly accepted this challenge. For this, I am eternally grateful.

 

Practice Using the Coping Skills When You are Feeling Down or Anxious.

In conjunction with learning and developing the aforementioned coping skills, practicing them is essential. And in this sense I don’t mean practice developing your artistic skills. I mean practice turning to the coping skills you have set up for yourself in your own game plan when they are needed. You have to actually put them to use. You can’t set up a game plan and then not activate it when you need it. It is pointless. This is where the work comes in. This is where you have to choose.Sometimes I don’t want to. There are times I would rather lay in my bed and force myself to sleep in order to avoid the things that are tormenting me. And there are times when I let depression win. But I also know that is when I end up feeling even worse about myself. As time moves forward, I do make more of an effort to turn to the healthy coping mechanisms I have set in place. Sleeping and eating only make my depression worse. When I feel like I can’t cope I reach out to someone. The people I turn to are people I know truly love me. And even though I HATE being told what to do, I feel like I listen more readily. Because when my brain is shutting down and I can’t make good decisions regarding my health, I have to turn it over to loved ones. It is hard, and sometimes I grumble, but 98.5% of the time I know their help is not only well intended, but in fact, productive in alleviating my depression and/or anxiety. You have to be willing to work and listen.

 

Depend on yourself too.

So I say all of this above because it is all important. But where codependence comes into play, you have to learn to depend on yourself too. For me, chasing everyone else’s love in order to fill a hole that was never filled by my mom, I have lived my entire life codependently. I have tried to find love in ALL the wrong places. I chased it to whatever hell it led me. If I have been sad, I have reached out and then when nothing is offered up by others, I have been angry and hurt. This expectation of reciprocation is where you have to let go. There will be times when your main support people are in a meeting, sleeping, with their families celebrating a holiday or a birthday. It is going to happen and we have to be healthy enough to reach inside ourselves in order to pull us up out of a depressive or anxiety ridden hole. Again, this requires work. Reaching out is important, but being angry or hurt because someone is unavailable is just asking for misery. So much energy that you could be putting into your own recovery can sometimes be misplaced in anger or hurt in regard to something you or your support person can’t control. This is why practicing your coping skills is so important. There will be times when the support you may need at that moment can’t be accessed for whatever reason. You need to develop your game plan and practice it in order to be able to rely on yourself to pull out of a bad moment. And if you can’t find it in yourself at the moment, there are therapists and crisis lines that can help talk you through a bad moment. I have used them and one in particular saved my life. Remember there is always hope!

I am still working on all of this. Codependent behavior and depression has been developing inside of me over the course of 36 years and it is going to take some time to overcome. But I know as I move forward in my journey, I will get better and better at overcoming all of this. Sometimes the progress will be slow and other times I will look back (as I do often these days) and be proud of overcoming every hurdle I have jumped.

If you need help you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

For Utah in particular you can call:

Crisis Intervention & Hospital Diversion Services at  801-587-3000

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. 

Mental Health

A Video Every Woman Should Watch

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE

 

This post is brought to you today because my baby sister sent me the link above. And when I was done, I was in tears. In fact, I am still tearing up. One thing I will constantly try to share on my blog is the importance of self love. This concept is something I have struggled with, as previously mentioned. It is something I am conquering, but it is something that can be easily forgotten. It takes work! Especially when every thing you’ve ever thought and felt has told you you do not deserve love. This video points out just how badly we can perceive ourselves in comparison to the extraordinary light others see in us. It hit me right in the feels because I know too well how hard one can be on themselves. What if we could stop being haters and see ourselves as other people see us? How much would our souls heal in response to seeing our own light within ourselves?

I can relate to these women, as I am sure most women can. I can tell you every insecurity I have about my face and my body. Double chin, greying hair since I was 21, freckles, my eyes get too squinty when I laugh, and I have a hard time not thinking I look like a sumo wrestler when I have my hair pulled into a tight topknot. I am not sharing this to fish for compliments, but more to demonstrate how ridiculous and critical we can be towards the most important person in our life, ourselves. I didn’t start this post to brag about myself either, but I am proud of who I am and my beauty. I know that my eyes and smile are beautiful and they sparkle when I am truly happy. I know I am warm, inviting, and genuine, which can be seen in my countenance. I am beautiful, and I actually believe it. But man, I have spent so much time concentrating on the flaws, only seeing the negative.

My weight has been a struggle my entire life. I also suffered from severe emotional and physical abuse as a kid at the hands of my mother. I could go into more depth about this, but I will save it for another time. Because of this dangerous combination, my self esteem has basically been non-existent for me my entire life. I always thought that my weight was the root of all my issues, and if I could just be thinner, maybe life would be better. As I grow older I know this is not the case. This defeatist perception of self is simply hopeless. I know that if I can love myself just as I am, I can find happiness. It is so important to accept yourself. With each passing minute, week, and year, I discover I finally have an honest belief as to just how fabulous and special I am. I have so much to offer. Sometimes I beat myself up because it has taken me so long to realize it, but then that’s not really an example of showing myself love and acceptance is it?. So I am going to be forgiving and gentle with myself because I deserve it.

Ladies, and even gentlemen, let’s commit now to truly loving ourselves. Let’s start trying to see ourselves from an outsider’s perspective and really try to appreciate how beautiful and uniquely amazing we are. Stop worrying about what others are thinking, because people don’t notice the things you are insecure or worried about. People see goodness and light. It is what draws them to you. It is so important that we take a minute and truly take in and believe we are gorgeous and deserving of love. Not just from others, but from inside yourself. I want to challenge each of you to practice being kind to yourself. Appreciate the uniqueness of each beauty mark, wrinkle, and grey hair. They are part of you. Each thing you think is negative probably adds more character and life to an already fascinating specimen of humanity. Let your light shine unabashedly. The love you give yourself, will only attract those who want to share in your warmth.

 

When I watched this video, I thought every woman in it was beautiful. They were different and unique and I loved it. I wasn’t sure in the beginning what the outcome was. But when I started hearing what the strangers were saying about the women in comparison to their own thoughts about themselves, I couldn’t stop the flood of tears. I knew immediately that I needed to share my thoughts on it. Comment if you are with me on this challenge!

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.

Humor

To Be a Spy or To Not Be a Spy

When the fair young maiden was in high school, she wanted to travel the world and be a spy. There was something incredibly enticing about something so dangerous and let’s admit, a tiny bit sexy. Some of her favorite movies outside of the Rom-Com genre were The Saint, Mission Impossible, and The Bourne Identity. This could be because her fine father raised her on action movies with heroes played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Mel Gibson. Her exposure to this obviously taught her that the coolest and bravest men were spies, police officers, CIA agents, FBI  agents, and hard core military men. They were in fact, the BEST kind of men. They led the most thrilling lives, with danger, and oftentimes, romance. It didn’t hurt that the leads in these kind of films were all incredibly attractive. So obviously if she wanted to be a spy, she was more likely to find a handsome spy husband. The maiden was a hopeless romantic and has even been accused of being optimistic from time to time.. Not to mention spies knew several languages, and the girl wanted to learn at least five.

 

Mandalicious was 17 and in the counseling office staring at the overwhelming bulletin board. There were flyers from local schools, schools in far away lands, and schools she had never heard of. Where was she even to begin? And there it was, staring her right in the face. It was a tiny green piece of paper that said something along these lines: “Want to learn multiple languages and work for the CIA? Call this number for more information.” Now, she doesn’t recall the exact wording, but it truly did reference the CIA and learning all sorts of languages. She excitedly jotted down the digits. Her heart leapt while she thought, “Oh my gosh! This is it! I am going to try and get into the CIA!” She hurriedly raced home. With bated breath and trembling fingers she dialed the numbers and waited. She thought she was going to get some pretty exciting information about how to work towards this amazing lifestyle she had convinced herself she had truly wanted.

 

Alas, it wasn’t to be so. Instead of a receptionist, she got a recording. It didn’t tell her she reached a number that had been disconnected. It said she reached a number that DID NOT EXIST. It was trickery! She double, triple and probably quadruple checked the numbers she had written down and called again. Same thing. The maiden even went as far as to check what she wrote down with the flyer in the counseling office. They matched. Mandalicious called the line a few more times, hoping it was some kind of screening process that she was failing for some reason and maybe with some persistence they would let her talk to someone. Eventually the disappointed lass gave up. Ands she is certain that it was two things: either it was a cruel guidance counselor’s idea of a great joke or the CIA somehow knew she would never do well as a spy.

 

Well, practice at anything can make anything perfect right? While this is true, some flaws and traits are so ingrained in people that they can’t ever really shake them. For our heroine, she happened to be a terrible liar. In fact, she could barely handle keeping a gift or birthday surprise from someone.  Let alone some terrible state secret. If she had to assassinate people for a living, the girl would currently be in a padded cell.  Mandalicious has had people ask her to keep secrets and can keep them, but if the pressure is on and someone is asking about something she is not supposed to say, they always knew by the expression on her face that she was not telling them the truth. Eventually, she was able to keep her cool whenever someone tempted her to tell a secret. But honesty was her virtue to a fault. It was as if keeping someone else’s confidence was a crime and she was terrified when someone caught her keeping another person’s secret from them.

 

Being unable to lie is not a bad trait, but in the spy world it would have got the poor girl killed. For one thing, torture is so not her thing; Mandalicious would have cracked, “Please no! Please, I’ll tell you anything!! Just don’t hurt that poor helpless puppy!!!” To this day she firmly believes that it is entirely possible that the CIA knew her number and that she was a terrible liar. As fortune would have it her career as a spy was never launched. She had a sensitive heart and was not cut out for the hardened life of a spy. She has never forgotten the experience, but still sometimes wonders what could have been.