8/30/16

What Anxiety Feels Like





Anxiety...this is a word you hear so often in our culture. Everyone has it from time to time. But for some, it can be debilitating. And anxiety can look and feel different for each person.

For me, I feel anxiety physically as well as mentally. And it is exhausting. I feel like there is an elephant sitting on my chest. And no matter how deep a breath I take, I cannot get enough air into my lungs. When I feel this way, I recognize it is anxiety and focus on my breathing. Sometimes, I remind myself that anxiety makes me uncomfortable but it cannot hurt me.

Anxiety can consume me mentally, which is much worse then the physical symptoms I deal with. I get stuck on a thought. I can't let it go. It's always about something I have no control over. And the more I think about it the more out of control it gets. And the panic sets in.

For example, last week I was very nervous about my 6th grader walking to school because he had to cross a busy intersection. For two days, all I could think about was him getting hit by a car. I'm sure this isn't unheard of. But when my anxiety takes over, I can't let it go. It just replays over and over. The thing about anxiety is it is pointless. It doesn't change anything. By it is very real and for those who suffer, it can be so damaging.

I'm happy to say that my anxiety doesn't run my life anymore. I have moments. And some of them feel like real doozies but it's not every day. Anxiety isn't rational. And I recognize it for what it is, which only helps a little but it does help. Knowing what it is doesn't make it go away but it does make it better to know that it will pass.

I'm writing about anxiety today because last night I was in the car with someone who also has anxiety. We were pulling into an awful parking lot. And while everyone was commenting on the terrible parking lot (it's a corner lot, shaped like an awkward triangle where some of the spots back out into the road...but the pizza's great!), my fellow anxiety sufferer says "this parking lot is like what anxiety feels like". Her words struck me. They were powerful. It occurred to me that this tiny space was scary and chaotic and felt dangerous. I usually describe how anxiety feels as the weight on my chest. But she created a very good visual of what it can feel like. And this comment prompted my thoughts on anxiety.

So many suffer. And for those who do not, it must be so hard to understand those who do. Anxiety is one of those things, it doesn't discriminate. People with anxiety are normal people. Living normal lives. But, we are not alone. I feel pretty confident, that most people either know anxiety well or know someone who suffers with anxiety. And it looks different on each of us.

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8/24/16

The Night Before School Starts





It's here. The night before school starts. There are a lot of firsts for us tomorrow. I have one entering middle school and one beginning her last year of elementary school. Where has the time gone?

We've bought new clothes and binders and pencils and pens. Calculators and highlighters and dry erase markers too. We've bought a ridiculous number of folders (seriously, one child was told to bring in 12!). We've taken our practice walks to school and talked about what time to leave.

I guess you could say we are ready for school tomorrow. At least the kiddos are. Me? I'm mostly ok. I'm actually excited for both of them. But I'm also kinda trying to beat down the panic because both of my kids will now be walking...walking to either the bus stop or all the way to school.

I didn't see the panic coming with this one. I myself was a walker. Starting in 4th grade, I walked 26 blocks each way to school (no, it wasn't uphill both ways but there was one nasty crossing guard).
I did this for two years and was fine. I've often thought back to some of those days. I've never thought my parents were mean or that I was scared. I just had to walk to and from school.

The problem is this. I've spent so much time and energy keeping my kiddos safe, now I worry I haven't properly prepared them. I don't know if I am a classic helicopter parent because I have some tough views on parenting (yes, I let my infants cry themselves to sleep. Judge me if it makes you feel better. But my kids were sleeping through the night by 3 months old and I never looked back). I am part Tough Love. And I am part...keep them out of that situation because they could get hurt. I don't grossly cater to my kids (they pack their own lunches). But I realized tonight, my son will be 12 in a few weeks and he has almost never crossed the street on his own. In my defense, I live on a busy street. And drivers are so preoccupied with their phones and everything else...right?

So here I am, the night before I send him off to school on his own and I'm panicking because how will I know if he's safe? He hasn't had to look in every direction as he crossed streets because I've always done it. Ugh...

What can I do? Like I mentioned above, we've taken a few practice walks to the school. I've talked to him about constantly looking around (but don't make eye contact). Watch for turning cars because if the drivers are running late, they won't be looking for you. I told him to stop and really look before stepping into the road. We talked about which side of the street will be safer (traffic-wise). And that's it. That's all I get. I will pray he is safe and that he remember what I've tried to share with him.

I know in a few days, this will be our new routine and I'll just laugh about all this. I know enough about myself to realize this is just because its new. But it still sucks. Because if I had thought ahead I would have seen this coming and he and I would both be better prepared.

I know I haven't done anything wrong. It just struck me that in my efforts to keep my children safe, I fear I have stunted their growth. They will be fine. I will also be ok. I know this too. But I am really looking forward to tomorrow after work when I get to hear all about the first day. A lot of firsts for us tomorrow. That's scary, but exciting too. I'll be praying hard for the safety of my kiddos and for my own peace of mind. When you think about it, it's all the "firsts" that make us stronger.

Are you ready for school to start? Have you struggled with a moment of "I should have let them..."? How do you "hold on loosely"?




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8/11/16

The Trading Game




I kid you not, the conversation started like this.

Son: Mom, all summer (at day camp) there's been trading going on at the lunch table. But I've never done it. Today I gave it a try.

Mom: (remembering the days of youth, where I too traded lunch items) I responded...Really? How did that go?

(Remind me next time not to ask, haha)

Son: Great! I got a 6 inch sub!

Mom: What?!?!

Son: (still impressed with himself) Yeah, I traded an Oatmeal Creme pie and got a sub! That worked so well, I traded a pack of Smarties for a bag of chips!

Enter teachable moment....ok kiddo. It's fun to trade part of your lunch. I remember doing it. And I don't mind if you do. BUT, let's make a rule where you only trade side items, not the main meal.

I went on to say the other kiddo (who was 13 and should know better) didn't have a real lunch because he traded it away. Now my son began to feel bad and worry about the kid with no sandwich. While processing all this, he relays to me that he didn't trade for the sub from the kid who brought it. The sub had been traded once before he traded for it. Hmmm.....

He did make a point of saying if it was in a Baggie he would not have traded for it. But this sub was still wrapped in the paper and sealed with a sticker, so it looked safe. (Score one for mom teaching her kids to not take food that could be contaminated....I think?)

I'm not mad at my kiddo at all. It's kind of funny to me. I feel bad for the kid with no real lunch and the parents that paid for my sons extra meal. The Trading Food Do's and Don't's conversation hadn't happened yet but I'm happy to report, we survived it.

Kids are great. I love living through their experiences. At least the funny ones. Do your kids trade at lunch? Have you set ground rules?




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8/9/16

You Know You're Old When...




You remember when the Internet was invented. I was talking to a co-worker and mentioned that I remember when the Internet became a "thing". I was in college when the Internet became popular.

I had heard of the Internet but did not understand it at all. I was very hesitant to use it because it seemed very scary. How does this computer that I type research papers on, actually know how to research information? I admit, I used it as little as possible.

I'm not sure when I started using the World Wide Web but now I use google countless times a day! We do so much different because of the Internet. People read less paper copy newspapers and magazines. Libraries now have digital books. And I'd guess that most research is done online as opposed to the searching through the card catalog and tracking down the smelly research book on the shelf.

As I finished laughing at my own expense while recalling my fear of the unknown, my co-worker responded with "don't tell people that, you don't look old enough to have lived that". And this statement made me laugh again! Which made me think of Java Talk and sharing this "remember when?" moment of before using the Internet was a way of life.

Do you remember before there was Internet? Were you hesitant like me or did you jump right in and begin the life of instant answers?


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8/8/16

The Power of Music




I love music. I think most people enjoy music. It has the power to bring back memories. It can be uplifting. When we are feeling down, sad music might be our choice. It can make the mood or feed the mood.

Make the mood? For me, I love a good "bouncy song". These are the songs that I turn up in the car and, you guessed it....bounce to as I sing along. Feed the mood? I think it's pretty normal to pull out a certain CD when we are having our low days. When I was in college, it was Sarah McLachlan. Everyone is different. Music move us in different ways. But I imagine it moves most of us.

You have the break-up songs. And the empowering songs. The current favorite of my girl is "Fight Song". When this song comes on, she sings louder and prouder. I hear it. I love it. I join in.

This weekend, my cousin and I went to the Mixtape Festival. Together we relived the soundtrack of our teenage years. It was great! We endured a downpour then sat through hours in the hot sun to make more memories enjoying the music we grew up listening to.

We had so much fun. A lot of laughing. And reminiscing. Music is powerful. Within a few beats, we were transported to many years back, giggling and sharing the "remember whens". I loved it.

Some people are drawn to the musical portion of a song. I'm definitely one who pays attention to lyrics. Music can be very emotional, good and bad. A song can take you back to a specific place or with a certain person.

Would you agree that music is powerful? Does music make your world better? What are your thoughts?




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8/4/16

Genius Idea Alert!




I just saw something great. Such a simple idea really. But so smart that it will change how you handle this task from now on. So easy that I can't believe I didn't think of this myself. Or at least know someone who thought of it.

What is it? What is this handy idea that the moment I saw it (on Pinterest of course), I hopped over to Java Talk to spread the news?

Ok, ok, I'll tell you. It is what I would call a "life hack" for hanging pictures on the walls. If you are anything like me, behind each picture on my walls, is most likely an splattering of holes. Eventually I get it right enough, and they are covered up anyway, so who cares? Right?

Tiny hole smatterings will happen no more! Next time I have something I want to hang, I am going to dab a bit of toothpaste on the back, where I want the nails to be. Then I'll press the frame against the wall. And when I remove the frame from the wall...da...da...da-da! The toothpaste will be on the wall as a marker for where those nails should go. Simple. Almost too easy. Why didn't I think of that? I don't know who came up with this little shortcut, but as you can tell, I'm thrilled that I found it. And I can't wait to give it a try.

Have you ever used this trick when you hang something? Have you found another way to help decorate the walls without all the damage? I'd love to hear what's worked well for you.


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8/2/16

Getting Creative To Get It Done




If we are friends in life, you will know I've started boxing again. I've already written about how much I've missed boxing over the past few years. For years I was a cardio junkie. Loved just about everything I did. Zumba, step aerobics, high interval training...and many more types of workouts. But then I discovered boxing and nothing else mattered to me. Couldn't keep my interest.

As I've already mentioned, I've missed the feel of the gloves. The sound of the punch connecting with the focus mitt. As well as the feel of the impact of the glove hitting hard.

I'll be honest. I have a bag. It isn't even filled. It's sitting in my garage. In the past I've included time on the bag into my workout. But over the past few years, the bag has yet to draw me in. Mostly because I like working out with a partner. But also, because it's an inconvenience to buy all the sand and actually fill the bag. I get the feeling I'll be filling it soon though.

Why am I writing all this? I'm writing because I wanted to share that sometimes when we want to do something, we have to be creative to make it happen. For years, I've missed boxing but I didn't have anyone to partner with. A gym membership is no longer in my budget. No boxing. End of story.

A few weeks ago, I had a great idea. Offer to teach my friends. Teach them how to throw punches as well as how to catch them. And then we can switch back and forth, both getting a great workout in. Everybody wins!

It's worked. Each week I hope to box two or three times a week. So far, there has been a lot of interest and I'm thrilled to be hitting again. In the last several weeks, I've met my workout goal each week. I love that my list of partners keep growing. This way my workout doesn't become a burden on someone else. The longer the list, the more likely there will be someone available to workout when it fits into my crazy schedule.

It took me a few years, but I got tired of "missing boxing". So I had to think outside the box. And it's paying off. What have you been putting off? What have you wanted to do but because you hit a proverbial wall, you continue to wish you could? I encourage you to get creative and find a way to make it happen. If I can do it, you can do it!




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8/1/16

Best Dessert Maker




This weekend my girlie made dessert for our family dinner. It was super yummy and I'm sure very bad for you. But with the chocolate and peanut butter combination, it just can't be wrong. And if it is wrong, then I definitely do not want to be right!





At this point, the cake was made (in the crockpot!) and the mini peanut butter cups were already cut in half. She had made the peanut butter glaze and was topping it off.

It was fun watching her bake for us. And it was great getting to enjoy her delicious dessert. She did a great job. Watching the kiddo's get older and gain independence can be bittersweet. This was one of those times that was fun and just the perfect amount of sweet!

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