Mental Health

If You’re Sad and Feeling Blue

So if you’ve read my blog, you know I struggle with depression. This month it’s been coming on ever so slowly. I hate it. I can use my tools as much as I want, but eventually, the crash will come and I hate it because I know I can’t fully stop it. The worst thing about depression, is watching it arrive, only to fight it, and still pick yourself up… again…only to know that it absolutely WILL come to visit again.

An unfortunate constant. Especially when I literally have nothing to be sad about. I’ve been writing more, been getting outside more, I have lost over 60 pounds, and I feel beautiful. Confident even. I should be celebrating.

The weekend I went to the cabin I thought maybe I had beaten this round. Yet, I may have found myself driving to work, wishing something apocalyptic had happened so Life could be canceled…or I could just not exist anymore. Folks, I wish I were kidding.

I don’t mean to alarm anyone. If things like that are creeping in, I reach out to someone. And I did and I ALWAYS do. This is part of depression. Everything is going great, but there are those tapes we’ve been playing in our thick skulls since as far back as we can remember. A negative thought sits on the outskirts of our brains. Soft at first, insisting you don’t deserve to be happy. You keep pushing along, because you know there are reasons to celebrate; reasons to thrive.

I’m so grateful I have learned to utilize the tools I’ve learned that help me pull myself out of the meanest sets of the doldrums. Find time to create✅ Reach out to a few of my MANY solid friends✅ (again, guys!! Grateful🙌❤️) self-care✅ Spend time with some of my cherished Little’s ✅

I started out the day on the verge of tears, and tonight my heart is full. I am so loved. I am so blessed in like, every single way. There is hope and picking yourself up again is always worth it.

Tonight’s post written to:

With the game muted in the background. Go Warriors!

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

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!

Humor

Help with Writer’s Block

Once upon a labor day, the fair young maiden stayed in her house all day long. She wasn’t being lazy, she was finishing up painting projects, reorganizing her clothes, and even  organizing her kitchen cupboards. Mandalicious even managed to take a very long nap, watch two Harry Potter movies, When Harry Met Sally and the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. After a while, she began to feel claustrophobic and antsy. She wanted to write, but couldn’t think of anything remotely clever. She even felt convinced (for about twenty-three seconds) that she had no more funny to give.

 

Knowing that was incredibly silly. The young lady had an arsenal of humor and inspiration. She just needed help brainstorming. So she called Gus. “Gus!” she declared, “I can’t write. I have nothing to say, but this blog thing… I want to make it work! Willst thou help me.” Now Gus is a good lad, and he turned off his new tv show to try and help Mandalicious get her creativity flowing. For a few minutes they argued about whether or not the young maiden was attracted to arrogant men, like Sir Robert Downey Jr., Gus was clearly trying to make her ragey and soon they decided to change the subject. Instead of arguing, he suggested she take a walk. He offered to stay on the phone with her whilst she walked.

 

“But it is 9pm! And alas, I have no footwear nor brazziere on,” she declared irritably. He quickly reminded her that these things were easily fixed, so knowing he was right (even though he is only right occasionally)she pulled herself off of the couch, quickly donned her shoes and undergarment. Somewhere in the background while her telephone device lay on the bed, she heard someone beat boxing while she readied herself.

 

“Ok! I am ready. I am wearing a ratty Statue of Liberty t-shirt and a pair of Utes pajama bottoms,” she uttered hoping this would get her out of it. He insisted that because it was dark no one would care. And then insisted further that no one would care even if it was daytime. In fact they argued about that for the length of her street. When she turned the corner and started walking east, she noted aloud that the moon was quite beautiful. It was full and bright. Remembering this a walk that intended to get creative juices flowing, he asked her to describe it to him. “Ugh I know not,” she sighed,  “it is just beautiful.”

 

He, knowing how to vex her and push her to try harder, teased her relentlessly until she gave a half hearted attempt at describing the moon. She said, “because it is beautiful and still.” It was the still part that really got her thinking. The moon is so far away and we are so small in comparison. Yet here we are, on this little planet where we are exposed to so many beautiful things. She suddenly noticed how the air wasn’t frigid, but almost a perfect temperature. There was a warm breeze blowing around the scent of a summer that was starting to fade. There were crickets singing. It reminded her of camping adventures she had with her father as a young girl. The whole setting gave her a feeling of comfort and peace.

 

As she continued to walk and talk about the things which were popping into her head, her anxiety and restlessness released. The fair maiden felt more relaxed, while simultaneously feeling sweaty. Sprinklers were on and she could detect a hint of the wet cement smell, a scent she quite loved. There were roses to be sniffed, while there were lavender sprigs and sunflowers that begged to be stolen; and very possibly were in fact purloined. For the fair maiden was encouraged to “live dangerously” and snatch the coveted delicate flowers. The lass never fails to rise to any challenge and she may or may have not proven her worth in this matter when it comes to the lavender sprig…the sunflower was from a vacant lot.

 

While this adventure did not set the maiden off on a fervent writing spree that night, it had reminded her what she needed to focus on when writing. She thanked her silly yet amazing friend and gladly stored some fodder for writing on the morrow. She utilized the creativity to write this silly post, but also a few others that will later be published. It is her strong offered advice that if one is stumped with writer’s block, to go outside. Even if only for a little while (18 minutes is all it took for her). The fresh air and the other elements worked wonders on her restless heart and her head which was devoid of any creativity. One must foster creativity by giving it something to expound on. This lesson she did happily learn and did look forward to the days ahead where she would most hopefully come up with other funny and insightful writings for her readers.

My First Novel

Grace

Yesterday I was brainstorming about topics for the blog. I have a list of ideas, but none of them were grabbing me. So I asked some friends what I should write about. One friend asked me to talk about something so personal and so exciting and at first  I couldn’t decide if I wanted to share! My dear friend asked me to tell you about a novel I have been thinking about in my head for probably the last ten years. There…I said it. Publicly and on the interwebs where everyone can read it. Am I scared? YES! Why? Let me tell you.

 

There have always been stories teeming around in my head for as long as I can remember. When I was in junior high, my friend and I were planning a collaborative piece about cloning; thank you Michael Chrichton and Jurassic Park for the inspiration. We spent countless hours doing research. The internet wasn’t in full swing yet, so we could only use the resources in the library. It was going to be so legit! However, it never passed the initial research phase and the ideas are somewhere hidden in the deep recesses of one of my many journals. Which honestly, is probably for the best. I don’t think my calling is as a science fiction writer.

 

Several other ideas have popped in my head. I have countless halves of first chapters written. My journals are filled with stories that never even had a chance to spring forth into life. So I have been pondering why I haven’t finished any. (Not finishing things is kind of the story of my life). There is really only one answer. To put it simply: fear, thrown in  with a tad bit of laziness, and a complete inability to believe I have anything of value to say. I am sure this fear is more than relatable; not just to writers, but any artist or person with an idea swirling in their brain. I mean seriously, what if I tell EVERYONE my idea to write a novel;  like on a blog post where everyone with internet access can witness not only my big promises, but possibly, my huge failures? Then again, why NOT? After all I am only human. Isn’t my blog titled A Fairy Tale in Progress? Progress people, which means I might fail. But the beauty about failure, is there is always an opportunity to pick ourselves up and try again.

 

So here I sit writing at 6am (as per previous mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t do mornings). The night before I first started this blog, I joined a writing group and attended my first chapter meeting. The assignment was to write something  for critiquing to share with the rest of the group. I felt simultaneously thrilled, scared, stumped, and challenged. I thought and thought about what I might want to share. Finally I decided I needed to introduce the world to Grace. (My heart literally skipped a beat just now and I held my breath while I wrote that sentence).

 

Grace is 9. There are several different plots running through my head about which direction I want to take her plot. Here is what I know about her: childhood has been a struggle for her. Her parents are non existent, or if they do exist, they suck.  And by suck, I mean really suck. But whatever her story, she ends up happy, loving herself, and conquering all the bad stuff. She has been my heroine for years and I think it’s time I set her free and tell her story.

 

Some of you readers who know me might be going, “hmmmm this sounds familiar.” And it is! I am going to draw from my own experience. Grace and I have always been different you see. She was happy in the end, and for so long I haven’t been. I think that was part of the block as well. How could I tell the world her story, when I didn’t know how to get to the happy part of life on my own, in the real world? They say to write what you know. Well for the longest time, I have not known what it truly means to have a happy ever after of my own. But folks, I feel like I am getting the hang of it. I just wanted Grace to be happy, and I think I finally know how she will become fulfilled and content. And it is most definitely because I think I have the answer. Well, most of the answer, as there is always room to grow.

 

So here I am, just a girl sitting in front of a computer at 6am (thank you Notting Hill), hoping against all hopes that I can keep this momentum of positivity in my life going. I am terrified that the other shoe is going to drop, that it will fall so hard onto the proverbial ground that I will be standing here with nothing but a bunch broken promises and half written chapters for the rest of my life. When you suffer from depression, the shoe usually does drop. And I am so happy, and I hate that I know it is going to hit me again. Because that is part of my life. Depression will always be a part of my story. However, the older I get the more I develop the tools to pull myself up. I have learned to give myself more patience and more love. I feel like for the first time ever, I believe what all the people who have ever loved me have been telling me my whole life. So I am going to do this. I am committing. Grace is going to get her story and I am so thrilled.

 

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Feel free to comment if you think you’d like me to post excerpts of her story as I move along in the process. Her first chapter is scheduled to be written tonight, because tonight is when I have to submit my piece for the writing group, and I am a procrastinator. Thanks for taking time to read this! And thank you love (you know who you are) for encouraging me to write about it.

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?