Anxiety Diaries 001

Last night we went out for dinner.

It was one of those perfect evenings, the kind every romance novel talks about and you see so rarely in real life – unless you live in Colorado, and then you see them every summer evening. (We live in Colorado, by the way.)

The neighborhood we live in is beautiful. “Resort-style living,” they call it, surrounded by rolling green golf courses, shimmering lakes, and friendly neighbors. Tiny sandpipers run along the beaches, and the sunsets are breathtaking. Nearly everyone owns a golf cart, and the clubhouse is just a half-mile away from our house. We took our cart there last night, on a Wednesday evening, nothing special. There was a soft breeze gently brushing our skin, and an exquisite view of the Colorado mountain range from our upstairs patio seats.

We both ordered the salmon, and our hands touched throughout the meal. We smiled into each other’s eyes like the idiots in love we are, and talked about how far we’ve come, and how truly, truly incredibly blessed we are. My heart was full and I was blissfully happy. I don’t think there was a single thing that could have improved the evening.

We ran into several people we knew and enjoy, and chatted briefly with them all. Then we drove home, and my husband left to check emails on his computer. I sat on the couch.

I was smiling to myself. It had been such a good evening, and I was truly happy.

Then I started running over the evening in my mind. And it slowly starting going faster, and faster, on endless loop. I thought about everything I’d said. I thought about everything I hadn’t said. I thought about everything I should have said, or definitely shouldn’t have said. My heart picked up its pace. My breath quickened. My hands started shaking. I shouldn’t have said that. I should have done that instead. Why did I do that? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be normal? What is happening to me?

By the time my husband came back from the office, I was curled on the couch crying. My mind was so off-track at this point that I couldn’t even tell him what was wrong. I told him I thought he got a broken wife and he held me and said he got a perfect wife. Bless the man and his patience. He stayed up with me, late into the night, and talked to me until the fears were put to rest and I could finally sleep.

That’s how it happens. It comes out of nowhere. Anxiety doesn’t always mean pointless worry about what could happen. It doesn’t mean not trusting God with your future. It is something that comes out of the middle of a happy evening and overwhelms you and tells you not that horrible things might happen, but that you are wrong simply for being. It is your mind turning against you, un-asked for and unwanted. It isn’t because you forgot to be grateful. It isn’t because you haven’t prayed enough (do those with anxiety ever stop praying?) and it isn’t because there’s something wrong with you. It’s just something that happens, sometimes.  

And if this is you, I’m here to tell you that it gets better. There will be dark days, but there will also be days of sunlight and joy. You are in the valley now, but you won’t always be. Give yourself a little grace, and don’t let anxiety tell you that you’re alone. You are not alone. This is something you carry, and you may always carry it, but it doesn’t get to tell you who you are. You’re still here, and you are so worth loving.

Saturday…Sales? (a new feature, perhaps?)

I wanted to share with you all a few things I’ve purchased recently that I’ve been loving!

Tropical pajama set

First up – I don’t know about you, but I instantly feel like I have my life at least 75% more put together when I am wearing matching pajama sets. These tropical banana leaf print pajamas are giving me major summer vibes! They are silky, lightweight, and fit true to size – I’m wearing the size Small.

Also check out the glasses I’m wearing in the above photo. They look normal enough but they’re actually…dun dun: Blue-light blocking glasses?? Yes, please! I work in front of a computer all day and when I come home I chill in front of …. My phone?  More often than not, a computer screen is a major part of life, and that blue glare can cause some major eye strain. Since I ordered these off of Amazon, I wasn’t able to try them on first, and they’re giving me some major 70s vibes with how ginormous they are! I’ve only had them for a day, so I can’t speak to how they help out long-term, but I wore them while writing and chatting on Facebook messenger with a friend for at least a few hours, and when I took them off – well I don’t know if it’s possible for eyes to cringe? But mine did. Check the glasses out here if you’re interested.

*links to Amazon are affiliate links.

a wish

“I’d like to add some beauty to life. I’d love to make people have a pleasanter time because of me… to have some little joy or idea or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.”
—L.M. Montgomery

NaNoWriMo?

Happy November! I can’t believe this year is nearly over. Only a few weekends left until Christmas! I have significantly less people to shop for this year, so hopefully that will go far towards making it The Most Wonderful Time of the Year instead of The Most Stressful Time of the Year. 😉

Have you ever heard of National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo, as it is affectionately known for short? It is a fun, misery-loves-company exercise in creative writing that happens each November The basic premise is that from November 1st – 30th, participants (and there are hundreds of thousands!) dedicate focused time and effort into writing a 50,000 word novel. NaNoWriMo believes that your story matters, and that the world needs your novel, and it is a wonderful way to jump-start the creative processes through fun competition.

I signed into my account at the beginning of the month and the little italics at the top of the page told me that I had been a member of NaNoWriMo for 13 years. Thirteen years! I’ve only participated for perhaps half of those, and I’ve finished with 50,000 words maybe half of that, but how in heaven’s name has it been thirteen years since I first came across it and wrote my first (terrible!) novel?

My girl Jacinta convinced me to join her in the challenge this year, and in a fit of recklessness and ambition, I actually agreed.

The truth is, I haven’t written fiction in years. Six or seven, perhaps. I’m just no good at it anymore, or perhaps it’s that it no longer holds the same appeal for me that it once did. It was always one of my childhood ambitions – to be a writer. I’m not sure if I wanted it so much because I loved writing, or because I loved books, or because so many of my friends wanted to be writers. I do have some modicum of talent in the area, at least I fondly like to believe so – but I am beginning to wonder if God has a different direction for me.

But I digress. I started off the month like a house on fire. Then I started losing momentum, realized I was stuck, and took a two-day writing break while my husband and I were road tripping together. Then I went back to the beginning and changed over my modern-day novella into a mid-Victorian historical. I was pretty excited about this, and completely caught up and maybe even surpassed my word count goals.

Now I’m stuck again. I utterly hate my heroine – you know, the biggest part of the whole story? I can’t relate to her at all, and that makes me hate writing her. I keep wanting to add secret depths to her, but right now that just isn’t who she is supposed to be, so I have to resist. And that makes me not want to write about her.

Jacinta, on the other hand – now I think she might have found her niche. She is posting her story publicly, and I for one am an absolutely riveted reader. I’m absolutely loving it! Go visit her website at A Walk In The Forest and check it out. 🙂

100 Days…

…to Brave.

<100 Days to Brave>

I impulsively ordered this book off of Amazon after listening to the author’s podcast one day. She was talking about how she had just moved to a new place and knew absolutely no one, and one thing she said stuck out to me in a really big way: She said YES to every single invitation she got. To meet up for coffee, to attend a Mary Kay party, to go out with a group. The answer was always YES.

And I thought to myself, how brave! As an introvert, I value my alone time. I glory in my ability to say NO to things. But often I tend to over-indulge this grown-up privilege and withdraw, keeping far to close to home when I should be out there being brave. So when she started talking about the devotional book she had written for girls just like me, perhaps more courageous than we allow ourselves to live, those surrounding themselves by fear (aka safety!) and living smaller than we should, I hopped right online and bought it.

The challenge for Day One is simply this: tell someone that you’re starting this journey. So I’m telling you. I don’t think I have massive amounts of blog readers so far, but sometimes it’s better that way, isn’t it? Imagine we’re sitting at a coffee shop, and it’s sweater weather and the fireplace is crackling and our lattes have that gorgeous art on the top and we’re Instagramming it all and sitting in the light surface-y conversation and then I draw a deep breath and confess to you, “I want to be brave. I’ve been living my life so small, and allowing fear to hold me back. So I’m taking this challenge called 100 Days to Brave. Do you want to take it with me?”

So how about it. Be brave with me?

Transition

Winter is here, can you feel it? I love the transition season of autumn, but its beauty is the flare of a match, blazing up in glorious color and then fading quickly, blowing out in a sudden gust of wind and leaving the cold and dark in its wake.

Windsor had its first snow yesterday; the earliest I can recall since I’ve lived here (going on 9 years this January!) And just like that, it’s as if the aspens never turned yellow, as if the October sun didn’t blaze golden and warm across fields of sunflowers. A family I was once incredibly close with took their annual family vacation in Vail last week – a vacation I was once invited to, a family I was once considered part of. My life has since taken a different path, and I do not regret the change, though the loss still hurts and the emptiness still echoes within me.

I cleaned my office this evening- my beautiful, built-with-love office. Whenever I enter it I am overwhelmed with that elusive feeling of home, of belonging. DJ made it for me. He worked tirelessly to paint the walls the perfect shade of greige; his hands assembled the desk and the bookshelves; he considered my love of light and of the ocean when he chose the mural, and he thought of my smile when he picked out the bookends, and he anticipated my astonishment and delight when he put the photographs I had thought were lost into their frames.

There’s a corner in the office where two large boxes sit, and have sat since the beginning. Inside them are remnants of a life I used to live – relics of the girl I used to be. I’ve lugged these boxes with me through a minimum of three different moves, and each time they’ve sat in the corner or in the closet or on a shelf, unopened and un-thought of, at least until the next move when I come across it and feel that tangible connection to the contents, that overwhelming reluctance and inability to get rid of them. I’m a hoarder, in a very gentle sense of the word. It’s hard for me to throw away things that I feel connected to; things that remind me of special moments and memories.

Today I threw out both boxes. It hurt, a bit, but it felt good, and it also felt somewhat symbolic. Holding on to the past holds us back. We should not ever forget the lessons we’ve learned and the paths we’ve walked, but holding onto baggage (emotional, spiritual, and physical!) only ever weighs us down and makes it harder to move forward.

It’s okay to throw things out. It’s okay to leave parts of yourself in the past. It really is.

There are times when I don’t know who I am anymore. But I know who holds me (as cheesy as that sounds!) and I know the kind of person I want to be, and somehow those things are enough to keep me grounded as I move forward. The love of people may change, lessen, and leave, but God’s love never does – and it is enough.

 

my girls

My girls. My tribe. Encouragers, truth-speakers, and some of the most courageous and strong women I have ever known. Words cannot express how honored I was to have them all by my side on my wedding day. They’ve been with me through so much, never wavering in their friendship, love, and loyalty. These are the ones who will circle the wagons, and be there for me when I need them – which they have proven over and over. Theirs is no friendship of convenience or ease, but fierce once-in-a-lifetime loyalty. I can’t imagine my life without you!

My only regret is how far apart we all live! My sister lives in Connecticut, Rissa in Mississippi, Heather in South Dakota, and Jacinta in Virginia! Honestly, when I look at all of us it’s amazing how we all stay connected. But some people are just special, and neither time nor distance separates you.

There are others I could list, others I wished I could say were there with me but who were not. But though my heart ached with the loss, they were all there with me, held close in my heart, and I’m overwhelmingly grateful I was able to share the day with these four. (Stay tuned, because I’d like to do a feature with each one of them!)

one month

It’s our anniversary! We have officially been married for ONE WHOLE MONTH! Technically, I suppose it was yesterday, but I completely forgot. I’m not sure how that happened, because normally I’m incredibly sentimental about anniversaries and dates. (DJ thinks he’s rubbing off on me. He’s not.)

I’ve been thinking back over the last month, and while I’d really like to give this a clever “Ten Things I’ve Learned In Our First Month of Marriage” or “Seven Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married” title, but I don’t have anything quite so neat. I have a few thoughts and observations, though, and some of them are likely completely unique to me and to my marriage.

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Our Honeymoon in Isla Mujeres

I’m a big fan of the road less traveled, and flying by the seat of my pants. But I also like to know that “it’s all taken care of,” too. That kind of describes my relationship with my husband, actually – I’m the dreamer and the free spirit and he’s the steady frame that keeps me centered. I like not knowing exactly what we’ll do or where we’ll end up, but DJ’s always there to make sure we have a hotel room to stay the night and a rental car to take us places. You know, responsible stuff like that. 😉

But I digress. I had asked DJ to surprise me with our honeymoon destination, and though he couldn’t resist letting me in on the final few options he’d narrowed it down to, I left the ultimate decision up to him. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when he chose Villa Rolandi on the tiny, tiny (only 4 miles long!) island of Isla Mujeres in Mexico!

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Wedding Day

I can’t believe how quickly the time has been going by since our wedding day! We’re at nearly a month right now, and I can’t decide if it feels more like just days, or half a year! I feel like I’ve learned so much since I married DJ, but at the same time like there wasn’t nearly the adjustment I was led to believe there would be. More on that later, but right now I just wanted to write down some of my thoughts before they start fading around the edges.

It was perfect. More than anything else, that’s what I remember about our wedding day: its sun-soaked dreamy perfection. So much of it is just hazy impressions and feelings. My first “real” memory was that morning when I heard DJ’s voice downstairs. He’d come by to pick something up and was trying to be in and out quickly and quietly because according to tradition, the groom isn’t supposed to see the bride before the wedding. But I heard his voice and I flew down the stairs in my dressing robe to see him, and that is one of my most favorite moments of the entire day.

It rained, and this pushed back the ceremony a good half hour. But it worked out incredibly well because we’d gone a bit overtime with the getting-ready photographs! DJ and I had planned to have a First Look before the ceremony, and this is one thing I am INCREDIBLY happy that we did! His face when he saw me is one of my most treasured memories and I will never, ever forget that moment. It took all the pressure off of us, because as no one was watching we were under no obligation to “perform” and could simply be ourselves and soak in the moment with each other. I’m not going to lie, I’d had butterflies up until that moment. The moment he turned around, though, and I saw him, I was ready to say “I do” right then and there! It absolutely crystallized in that moment: I am his and he is mine, and he is my future.

His face when he turned and saw me in my gown for the first time is probably my clearest memory of the entire day. Everything before and after that is a bit of a blur. I know I didn’t wait for my musical cue before I rushed off down the aisle to DJ, and part of me wishes I’d waited because my song was literally so gorgeous, but another part of me loves the fact that I was so eager to be DJ’s wife that I couldn’t wait.

Everyone asks what you’d do differently. I can honestly say it wouldn’t be much. I would have tried to focus more on people than things. I tried so hard to keep everything low-key and relaxed, but I think the empty space of not having plans locked firmly into place stressed out more people than it removed pressure. It was perfect for me, but with my heightened sense of empathy I not only picked up very quickly onto the stress of other people, I took the responsibility of it upon myself. So I ended up a stressed-out bride after all! Oops. COMMUNICATION, ya’ll.

Ok, fine. Two things I would have changed. BUT JUST TWO.

-MY VEIL WAS IN BACKWARDS AND NO ONE NOTICED until Heather did after the ceremony. I think about this little detail (hopefully literally NO ONE NOTICED) far too much. It was also twisted which is pretty obvious in many of the pictures but oh well. I have to keep reminding myself it really doesn’t matter, anyway. 🙂 But yes, if I could have changed the veil I would have chosen one with more fullness at the top so the wind wouldn’t twist it so badly. And put it in the right way. 😛

-NO ONE PRAYED. We were supposed to have a time of prayer and blessing over us and our marriage and everyone gathered around us, but literally NO ONE PRAYED AND IT WAS AWFUL. If there is ONE THING I COULD DO OVER it would be this. We had discussed it with the pivotal people beforehand – obviously the most important being the pastor, who was supposed to start and end the prayer time but he was dead silent and so was everyone else. I thought that the pastor was just taking his time but the silence settled….and went on…and on… and I felt this MASSIVE WAVE OF PURE PANIC rise up in me and DJ felt it because he squeezed my hands and whispered, “they’re praying silently,” which I am SO glad he did because otherwise I’m certain I would have burst into hysterical tears. Honestly, I still want to cry when I think about it. This was literally one of the most important moments of the ceremony to me and it was just skipped. There are no words for the level of my disappointment here. But I guess we’ll just have to go with “they’re praying silently,” because that’s way better than thinking no one wanted to bless our marriage. I still feel that panic welling up inside me when I think about it…so I try not to. haha

Are there things I would have done differently? Yes. I’m going to be honest, and admit that yes, there are things I wish could have been different. But in the grand scheme of things, none of them matter.  It was mostly exactly the way I had envisioned it. Our wedding was beautiful and gloriously wonderful and it felt like God was smiling down at us.

I get to be married to this amazing man, and life gets better every single day. Life is good.

God is good.