All in Being Authentic

Thankful

Yes, it’s cliché to write a post called Thankful at Thanksgiving time. I know. Don’t care. 😁

I am so full of gratitude as we head into this holiday season. It’s been a crazy upside-down year for me and some of my family members. At the start of the year I would never have guessed that it would end the way it has, but I couldn’t be more thankful.

My daughter, Jordanne (23), and I had a difficult relationship while she was growing up. She was strong-willed and therefore hard to raise. And my personality was probably very difficult for her to understand. We joke that I’m a “don’t rock the boat” kind of person while she’s a “toss a hand grenade in it and see what happens” kind of person. Both types have their merits and it’s likely the best course of action is somewhere in the middle, most of the time. But that combo made it hard on both mother and daughter through the formative years.

Someone once told me that she had the same kind of relationship with her daughter and they ended up being best friends when her daughter was in her 20s. I remember hearing that, while in the thick of it with 11 year old Jordanne, and hoping—but mostly not wanting to get my hopes up as things were so hard. I couldn’t picture it actually coming to fruition.

Anxiety, Panic Attacks & Things I Wish I'd Noticed Sooner (Mental Health Series Pt. 3)

For a time I was convinced my 5 year-old-son was allergic to The Home Depot. Not in an “Ew, I hate that store” way but in a “Mom, my throat is closing up” way. I can remember standing in an aisle looking for some random thing, baby Josh was in the cart along with a bunch of odds and ends and Jordanne and Jacob were standing beside me when suddenly Jacob grabbed my arm with panic in his eyes, saying, “MOM, I can’t breath. I can’t breath in here. I think it’s the sawdust!” And he was so scared and literally having so much trouble breathing that I handed the baby to Jordanne, picked Jacob up and we ran out of the store—full cart stranded in the middle of aisle ten.

Actually, Yes, I am Depressed (Mental Health Series Pt. 2.5)

So I started a series on mental health and my first topic was depression and about how it’s okay to ask for help. Ironically, about one week after I published the post on depression, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I had the strangest weekend. It was like I’d open my eyes in the morning and my first thought was, “I don’t want to do anything but close my eyes again.” And I felt angry that I had to get out of bed.

The temptation to shut the world out and sleep away my day was so strong. I got up but I wasn't happy about it. That was my first indication that maybe I wasn’t doing so well emotionally. I went through the motions of my day, all the while very cognizant of the fact that just barely under the surface of my thoughts was a black hole threatening to swallow me up. Everything just seemed shaded over in varied grays. Other than the fact that life is stressful in general, I couldn’t think of a single reason I would be depressed. It made no sense. The following meme's from instagram that weekend perfectly described my mood…

Am I Depressed? (Mental Health Series Pt. 2)

Sometimes, we have a blah day or two. Maybe a week, even. Perhaps we’ve gotten some bad news or work is really tough or financial woes are keeping us up at night. We might even say we’re depressed, but we can feel depressed without having clinical depression. So what’s the difference?

Often the distinction comes with how long we’ve been feeling low; blue; tired; unmotivated; numb; down or just plain miserable and how difficult it is to pull out of the fog. There are also some risk factors involved. A tendency toward depression can be hereditary, just like anxiety and other disorders.  

I had experienced rare "down times" before, but after I weaned my second child, the blue feeling just stuck with me. Like that old cartoon character with his own personal rain cloud. I couldn't seem to shake it. I tried—really hard. I prayed harder. I got more sleep. I drank more water. I read my Bible more. I did everything I could think of to make myself “get it together.” But nothing worked. (Okay, not EVERYTHING—I’d like to say I exercised but that would be taking hyperbole too far. Walking from my room to my couch doesn’t count, right?) But back to the depression…


Call Me Crazy—Or Don't (Mental Health Series pt. 1)

We’ve all got that “Crazy Aunt Betty” who talks to dust bunnies or that clowning uncle who always has a bit too much to drink at the family reunion. We’ve all seen people walking down the street alone, waving their arms, apparently in a heated discussion with no one in particular. (Of course, this was easier to spot before the advent of Bluetooth ear pieces!) We recognize that those people may be dealing with some mental health issues. 

But how about the quiet girl sitting in the corner of the coffee shop with her ear buds in, angled toward the wall. She has ADHD but you would never know that to look at her (Okay, she’s me.). Or the bespectacled professor at the front of the classroom with his perfectly tied bowtie; You’d never know he has a thirty-point checklist of things he has to do every time he leaves his house—and that’s better than he used to be with his OCD. Often mental health issues can be hidden to all but those who are very close to the person struggling. I know most people would never guess I’ve dealt with depression, ADD and even some anxiety. I mask it well, most of the time. But it’s still a very real issue I’ve had to deal with. 

You’ve probably heard the words, “That’s insane!” or “She’s got to be crazy.” Most of us say these things innocently—lightly. But the problem is that mental health isn’t something we can take lightly anymore. We see the effects of mental illness on the “breaking news” ticker daily. Whether it’s a disgruntled employee going off on a rampage, a bullied loner opening fire on his classmates, or a well-known celebrity ending her life, these things affect our world regularly and most of the time the roots of these stories are buried deep in the world of mental health. 

On What Makes Us Tick

I started this new blog a few months ago with the idea of it being a place to talk about the issues and ideas that seem to resonate with both me and a lot of the people I know. At first glance, these things may not seem to be related (which is a problem if you’re trying to figure narrow down what your blog is all about) but when I listed off the subjects that energize me I realized that they are all basically topics that flow into what makes us tick. I’m interested in talking about and understanding why we are who we are in relation to:

Imperfect Progress

But I was doing so well. Hmmff. (Insert pouting face here)

I was very proud of myself. I’d started up this new blog in February and I was determined to write every week. However, let's just say that consistency has never been my strong suit. It's never actually even been in my closet or card deck or wherever that expression comes from. So telling myself I would write weekly seemed a bit of a stretch. But I set my weekly writing time and I did it. For about two months I pushed “publish” once a week and if felt fabulous. (I know, two months doesn't seem like much to all my well organized and motivated reader friends. But for me...it was practically Mt. Everest. So go ahead, take a moment and silently applaud. Aw, shucks. You're making me blush.) Anywho...then life happened, as it does.

First, I went to a writer’s conference in April—which you would think wouldn’t be something to throw off my writing, but it did. Initially, just because I was gone for five days and then had to catch up on work and life stuff so my time was limited. But also because I was suddenly filled with so many ideas that I couldn’t seem to settle down and pick one to work on.

Days after that, in an effort to focus, I joined an amazing online course called Author School, taught by my favorite literary agent, Rachelle Gardner (you may be wondering how one decides on a favorite agent but when said agent reps all your favorite authors and has an incredible, generous website chock-full of vital info for writers, it's a no-brainer). Author School is a weekly live video course plus tons of extras online and on our Facebook group. It’s truly invaluable information and you would think that would have been something that got me writing again. But just after I started the course, my grandma passed away and that took me away from home for five days but also, obviously, took up some of my emotional bandwidth. 

So then, after I got home, I was going to get back on track. No doubt. It was gonna happen.

Until it didn’t. Because a few days later,

Tribute To My Feisty Irish Gram (1920-2018)

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine—” my alto voice cracked as it blended with my dad’s tenor. We held gram’s hands and sang one of her favorite songs, as she passed from this world to the next place. “—you’ll never know dear how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.” I couldn’t get the last three words out.

She was a feisty ninety-eight-year-old Irish woman with a room full of loved ones who spent her final hours with her. We were told she could hear us even though the morphine kept her from being able to respond with anything more than a few occasional groans. I believe she could. When I arrived, I ran my hand along her feverish forehead and back and forth through her thick gray hair. She groaned loudly. I think she knew we were there. She did the same when she heard her ninety-four-year-old sister’s voice on the phone that afternoon. Auntie Joyce was on her way from Canada and you could tell gram heard her sister’s last words to her, even though she couldn’t respond.

Just two days before, she’d been giving my dad and Uncle Jim hell because they’d kept her waiting longer than she wanted while they enjoyed a round of golf. My poor Aunt Trudy had to calm her and assure her they’d be at the nursing home to visit her soon. She didn’t want to hear it. She was spitting mad.


Maybe she knew.

"Everyone has ADD."

This is my normal. If you're horrified right now, you can just stop reading. It's okay, this is too long for you to read if you're not emotionally vested at this point. 😂

But if you're nodding your head in total understanding—while simultaneously thinking you have other things to do so you should probably stop reading...but you know you'll just end up scrolling instagram for the next ten minutes anyway—read on...

I never suspected I had ADD when I was young. I didn't fit the typical mold. I wasn't a hyper boy in the 80's who bounced off the walls if given a sip of kool-aid. I was actually a quiet dreamer in school. (While at home I was a non-stop talker...right mom?) I would look out the windows and let my brain take me where it willed. Or I would sit at the front of the classroom taking notes so I could pay attention to what the teacher was saying. And I did very well in school. I didn't get in trouble or have poor grades. 

Burn Calories by Bathing??

Saw this on instagram today. First of all...yay for baths that burn calories. Although, as someone who is close to six feet tall, I have to say that bathtubs really aren't made for tall people. How are we supposed to stuff our entire body in there? It's like trying to re-wrap an overstuffed Chipotle burrito...no matter how creative you get, something's gonna be sticking out. So in a bath, I always end up being half in, half out; half hot, half cold. I think that probably cuts the calorie burn down. Except, I also read that being cold can burn calories. So maybe I'm good? Maybe I'm burning double the calories?

Moot point since I won't actually bother taking a bath. Sadly, I'll never get to use that awesome hashtag: #Bathlete

But the reason I loved this instagram post was not for the idea that we can burn calories by bathing but for the humor in Glennon Doyle's post that accompanied the headline. And any time someone can justify me not running, I'm all in. My sister Sammie and I are actually going to take up running.

Tomorrow. Always tomorrow. (Right Sammie?)

Back to Glennon and humor, have you noticed how some people are just naturally funny? I think it takes looking at the world through a certain kind of rose-colored lens. One that looks for the humor in situations and remembers