Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Little Things ARE The Big Things

It's the little things, really.

Singing loudly to a song on the radio.
Giving in to "just one more snuggle" before bedtime.
Getting weighed at the doctor's office and not freaking out.
Going to lunch with coworkers.
Being able to step in and help someone else.
Teaching dance and watching your tiny dancers improve.
Talking to a friend on the phone.
Full on belly laughing while watching The Office for the hundredth time.
Hearing the words "I love you" without prompting from your children.
Getting a surprise visit from your sister and her kids.
Being invited over to dinner at someone's house.

All of the little things add up and they become quite big.

I'm feeling all of that this week.

The kids have been adjusting to the new co-parenting schedule and it was touch and go there for a while. The changes seemed small to me but when it includes different people dropping them off or picking them up at school, it feels huge to the kids. I lamented to my mom a week ago how hard it is to parent without yelling or losing my mind but that I truly believe that is what my kids need from me so I'm working hard at it---BUT IT'S SO DANG HARD! The kids had both been on a streak of disrespectful behavior. I heard phrases like "I hate you", "Shut up", and "I don't care" more than I've ever heard out of their mouths before.

In fact, I can count on one hand how many times I remember the phrase "I hate you" coming out of either of their mouths.

It lasted almost a full week and I was feeling extremely defeated. I know they're struggling to feel stability. I know they react like this when they're scared.

But it still hurts.

I was nervous for the weekend because I didn't want it to keep getting harder.

Each time my children had lashed out, I had reacted with compassion---although sometimes I was faking that compassion and holding back hurt feelings and anger.

But as the weekend rolled in, there seemed to be a calmness in our home.

We spent a lot of time together doing some of our favorite things:

Watching National Geographic movies on elephants, white wolves, gorillas, and polar bears.
Playing games together.
Turning cleaning into various different races and games.
Going to the movies.
Eating out.
Separate date nights with each of them.

It was probably the best long weekend we've had. Ever.

And as the week progressed, it started to feel a little bit more normal in our home and less hostile.

But the growing pains are still there. On Wednesday, there was a mix-up and Hayley was almost an hour late for dance which resulted in meltdowns throughout the next 3 hours of dance. I went and got her favorite snacks and let her teachers know what was going on and everyone was patient with her. Oh how grateful I am to her teachers for understanding. In fact, one of them took her out in the hall and braided her hair and talked her through her emotions before taking her back to her class. I will forever be grateful to Miss Melissa for doing that for my girly, knowing they have competition in a week but making sure Hayley's feelings were a priority.

The fact of the matter is, none of this stuff is their fault. The kids didn't choose divorce or co-parenting or schedule changes. They don't choose who picks them up or whether they're dropped off at the correct times with the correct things they need for dance or play practice.

Co-parenting is often messy at it's best. 

But I am so thankful that my lingering anxiety hits hardest when the kids are gone. And I'm so thankful that they're not gone from my side often. And I'm so thankful that I have friends and family and therapy to help me through the times when they are gone.

Because it makes it so that I can enjoy those times that they are with me. And I'm learning to practice self-care when they are gone.

And all of those little things that make me happy are truly not little.

They build me up and remind me that life is so beautiful. They remind me that there are always multiple things to be thankful for.

And most importantly, they remind me that my Heavenly Father knows me personally and is looking out for me.

I'll get through this rough patch of anxiety because I have support. And my children have support. And those things mean the world to me and remind me just how blessed we are.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lingering Anxiety

In June of 2017, my world felt like a complete mess.

I'll be honest---my ex-husband getting remarried was not easy for me. It came with a lot of changes and also a lot of heartache, as I watched him start a new life while I was still alone.

But on top of that, I was awoken early on the day of Hayley's summer dance recital to someone banging on my front door and ringing the doorbell over and over again.

Apparently, that's what court servers do... 

The constant door banging and doorbell ringing had woken everyone in my home up at 6:00am, including our foster baby. And then the man explained that he was serving me court papers for a change in child custody.

I could hardly breathe.

But after sobbing on the phone to my mother for a few minutes outside, I picked myself up and walked back into my home to get all of my children ready for the day.

Before we left for the dance recitals, I called my home teacher and received a Priesthood blessing. In it, God told me there were specific reasons this was happening and that I would gain knowledge throughout this process that would help others throughout my life.

And somehow, I managed to make it through the day of dance recitals without crying.

But it was that night that I completely lost it in my room. And it was almost every night after that for the month of June that I sobbed into my pillow as I fell asleep.

Every time my children were with me, I kept them close. And each time they left my side, I felt anxious.

Every choice I made was made carefully. Normal, every day things scared me. I shut my blog down for 5 months. I put my foster care license on hold. I took a semester off of school. I was constantly worried about the future and haunted by the past.

I found myself at the court house four different times and each time, the anxiety I felt on the inside was almost unbearable. But somehow I kept it inside and was able to get through each of those court appointments.

I met with my attorney on numerous occasions and felt anxious each and every time I had to speak about the possibility of the future.

Any time an email would come through from my attorney or the opposing attorney, my body would immediately revert to a state of anxiety, without even knowing what I was about to click on.

The entire process was extremely traumatic for me.

And the week before trial, the panic I felt anytime I was separated from my children heightened.

I'm a planner by nature. And thanks to my diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I hate feeling like I'm not in control. And this whole thing had me feeling very much like the choices of our future were not in my control but in the hands of a judge who doesn't even know our family.

It has been almost nine months since I was woken at 6am on a Saturday morning.
I spent most of 2017 wondering why this was happening and how this would affect my children.

And last Sunday, I asked my bishop for a Priesthood blessing as I was going into the week of trial.

In the blessing, I was told that I would be able to speak calmly and feel peace during this process. I wasn't sure I believed it because I know myself---and I am not an eloquent speaker nor did I believe it would be possible to feel peace inside that court room.

But I tried so hard to trust that blessing.

And when Wednesday rolled around, I decided I was going to have a great morning with my kids and trust that God would be there when the afternoon hit.

And all I'll say about the trial is that God delivered on His promises. I felt incredible peace and reassurance and I spoke more clearly than I've ever been able to before.
It was miraculous and beautiful and empowering and since that day, I've said prayers of gratitude daily for a God who was there exactly when I needed Him.

It's now over.

And all of the promises made to me were given.
And in so many ways, I am grateful for the past nine months and everything I have learned.

But what I've experienced in the past week has been really difficult.

I assumed when this ended, the heightened anxiety would end.
Unfortunately, it didn't.

Sometimes the anxiety hits when the trauma is over because our brains tell us it's safe to feel

This isn't the first time I've experienced this and it won't be the last. It's hard to have a major portion of your heart walking around without your protection for most of the day. Motherhood is the greatest thing I've ever been given and yet, it comes with a lot of anxiety because I cannot always protect my children when I want to. 

So this is where I'm at. It has been a long nine months and I am extremely grateful that the hardest parts are over. But please be patient with me throughout this transition. It's going to take me some time to feel like I'm back to a new normal again.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018

Wow.

2017. 

As a whole, I hated this year. But that's mainly because of a bigger picture issue that started in May/June.

When I really think about it, 2017 wasn't half bad. 

Hayley was baptized in January.
I graduated from ASU with a bachelors degree!
We dove into foster care with our sweet Yaya and since then, have been taking a break due to the 'bigger picture' issues mentioned above. But hopefully, 2018 will bring with it more children into our home that need us.
Hayley chopped almost ALL of her hair off!
Hayley also made Company at her dance studio.
I started teaching dance again in July at the same studio.
We were surprised and blessed with a new van in July---and with it, a stability that was something I hadn't even realized would bring so much comfort to my heart.
Andersen was baptized in October.
Andersen also landed an ensemble role in The Lion King play and will perform at the end of January.
We were able to go to Carlsbad twice.
Andersen tested into the 94th percentile nationally in reading and writing at school.
Hayley got her aerial and a round-off back handspring (and she's super close to her back tuck)!
I got to spend this second half of the year focusing on my kids while taking a break from my schooling.

So many amazing blessings came to our family this year. 

And it truly would've been a near-perfect year without those dumb 'bigger picture issues' clouding my brain and making this year feel darker than it actually was.

I have had moments of doubt and despair this year, as I've considered how our family situation will change in 2018. I have let fear and anger control me and have relied on my family and friends to talk me through those hardest moments where I don't feel like I can continue to be brave.

But through it all, I am stronger. Through it all, I am learning so much about myself.

And because I want to have gratitude for the good intertwined in those darkest hours, here are some things that the 'bigger picture issues' have taught me: 

I have kept my 2017 goal of being more present with my children. I have tried to make this year a year of making memories, teaching/practicing patience, listening more and talking less. I have realized just how precious every moment with my children is and have tried so hard not to take our time together for granted.

I have grown closer to my parents and have a deeper sense of appreciation for everything they do to support our family. I have felt the love they have for me and for my children in a completely new way this year.

I have learned more than ever how to deal with my anxiety. I definitely still have panic attacks. I definitely still get knocked down with feelings of fear. And I definitely still thank God for the creation of Zoloft. But I have learned how to help those feelings leave quicker. I have learned to talk myself down when I am scared about the future and I have learned how to stand up for what I believe in, no matter how scary it feels.

I have prayed more and have drawn closer to my Heavenly Father---knowing that if there is not a good outcome when all of these 'bigger picture issues' are decided, I will need to rely on Him to help me through.


I was praying a few weeks ago about what my next steps should be in life. I wondered if God was going to give me something to focus on in 2018 like He has in the past. Because this is certainly shaping up to be a big year and it is starting with our family facing some significant challenges.

I didn't want to pick another synonym for "brave", although that was exactly what I needed in years past and is honestly something I still remind myself of daily. I wanted it to be something different, something with a more clear purpose. I wanted to be able to set a goal with a path that I could work on periodically throughout the year.

He didn't answer me right then but a few days later, after speaking with a family member, I knew exactly what I needed to focus on in 2018. I knew what path I needed to follow, a path I had been avoiding for years because I was scared of the final outcome and honestly wasn't sure I could succeed in finishing.


The word I've chosen for 2018 is
Forgiveness. 

I have decided to start the LDS church's 12-step program and really dive into those pieces of my life that are still painful and have not been easy to let go.
I've attended these addiction recovery meetings before but only ever as an ex-wife needing support. I have never attended them while having my main focus be how I can improve and let go of the past.
*And although it might sound weird to start an addiction recovery program when I want to focus on forgiveness, the LDS's 12-step program is so much deeper than just recovering from an addiction. It is for everyone. And I have faith that if I work this program through all 12 steps, my life will be changed for the better.


Although I have been adamant over and over that I have forgiven my ex-husband for leaving our family, I think I've always held onto this tiny piece of anger that still flares up from time to time.
Yes, what my ex-husband did was hurtful and traumatic for myself and for our children. And I think I've been afraid that if I don't hold onto some piece of anger toward him, everything that I went through during our divorce would be negated.

And those painful memories are ones that are almost sacred to me. They teach me and remind me and they were very real. And I have always been worried that if I down-play everything that's happened in the past 10 years, I'll just be left with being the crazy single mom who has anxiety.

So I'm working to truly forgive and let go of all of the hurt surrounding my marriage and divorce.

I have also been holding on to some deep-rooted hurt feelings toward a group of people whom I used to call friends. Mostly for the same reasons---if I let go of those feelings, is it like they never happened in the first place? Because some of those traumatic events left me feeling worthless and completely devastated.

I had a really painful experience this past week that revolved around those friendships ending and I realized just how much I need to let that go because the only person it is hurting now is me.

Super profound, right?
{You'd think by now I'd just trust the things I was taught as a young child in Sunday School...}

But I think the person I need to forgive more than anyone else is myself.

Because in both of these situations, and in many others, I have made decisions that were not the best ones I could've made. I hurt people---and I hate hurting people.

I let fear or anger or hurt feelings drive my decisions in how I handled the situations I was put in.

And that is not the type of person I want to be.

I've blamed myself for ignoring red flags, not knowing better, being young and naive, not being good enough, not being compassionate enough, etc. And when I find myself in darkness, it is easy to hate myself and blame all of the hard things in my life on my decisions and actions.

I hold a lot of anger toward myself and most of the time, I don't even realize it. So in 2018, I'm going to dig in and figure out how to let that all go. Because I deserve to be treated well and loved---especially by the person staring back at me in the mirror.


On top of forgiving, I have a few other goals I'd like to be accountable to.

Although I improved this past year in some areas, I lacked in others.

I made a goal to be more organized and that one became a joke as I struggled just to deal with my anxiety. So because I am praying the end to those anxious feelings will come in a week or two, I am re-making the goal to be more organized. I want my house to feel like our home more than it ever has before. I want it to be cozy and calm and inviting of the Spirit. I want less chaos and more peace.
Going along with that, I am going to cook more this year. I did amazingly well this past year and cooked more than I ever have before (which was still am embarrassingly low number) and this year, I plan on showing my kids that the natural question is actually "What are we going to eat for dinner?" and not "Where are we going to eat for dinner?" . 
I made a goal in 2017 to attend the temple once a month and that did not happen. In fact, about mid-February, I pulled the reigns back on the religion thing and then started to ease myself into it from there. Because going back to a religion I left was harder than I had anticipated it would be. But it's now been a year and I'm pushing along each and every day. So 2018---more temple attendance. Because I like that place.
And going along with that goal, I am making a goal to keep asking questions in 2018. Because it seems that when I stop asking questions, my testimony gets halted and stagnant. I want 2018 to be a strong year and so, when I don't understand something or agree with it, I will speak up and ask the people I trust to help me better understand this church I love so much.

2018 is going to be a good year because I plan on making it a good year. 

I have already proven to myself that I am capable of greatness this year and I plan to continue that throughout the year.


As a last sidenote, if you were a part of our lives in 2017, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. We were so blessed and supported this past year and really felt the prayers and strength you gave to us when we needed it most.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Children of Divorce

Hayley came home the other day and was jealous because a friend of hers had gotten special attention from their teacher.

I'd like to say that 9 is the "age of jealousy" but Hayley has struggled with this her whole life.

Jealousy is such a hard feeling.

I remember being a kid and celebrating my older sister's birthday one year. She was unwrapping presents and opened something that I had been asking for.

So of course, I lost my ever-loving mind! Right there in the middle of her party. I made a huge scene and I'm pretty sure I spent the rest of the party in my room.

And two months later, when my birthday came around, I unwrapped the same gift and sheepishly thanked my parents.

Because what I hadn't known two months prior was that they had bought us both that present but planned to give it to us on our respective birthdays.

Quite honestly, I'm surprised they still chose to give it to me after that episode...

Anyway, as I was listening to Hayley complain and feel hurt that she hadn't gotten any special attention, she gave me the name of the other child and I immediately knew why this girl had gotten that special attention.

And then Hayley yelled, "And it was all because her parents are getting divorced! MY parents are divorced too!!!"

Sigh...

And so I sat down with my sweet and sour little girl and we had a conversation about how divorce affects children, especially in those painful beginning stages.

I explained that four years ago when her dad and I were getting divorced, she got to move her desk to be right next to her Kindergarten teacher. Also during this time, I took her on numerous extra special date nights. And my parents and siblings and friends poured extra time into my children's lives.
And although those things were the most important, my kids were also showered with extra gifts during this time to help them feel loved and remembered.

And then she turned the conversation more personal and asked me why we got divorced---a question I have answered for her many times but that does not make sense to her still.

I think that's why she keeps asking even though she gets some kind of answer every time. 
I have never shied away from this question but I also only answer what is appropriate for her age and understanding.

So we went over it again. How people have their agency and we cannot force them to stay. How sometimes people make decisions that hurt others even when they don't mean to. How these same people can be good, loving people.

I explained that hurt people hurt people. 

And her response to this was, "Well I never hurt anyone when you guys were getting divorced." 

Which wasn't true. 

Because sometimes when you are the safe person, you are the person who takes the brunt of a child's confusing anger and instability.

And I was that person for my kids. 

The instability that Hayley was feeling when she was 5 was very real and scary for her and she would often lose her temper and tell me she hated me and kick me and smack me. And usually, these tantrums would end with us both laying in her bed and me promising that I'd always be there for her.

Of course, as I told her this, she began apologizing for her 5-year-old behavior. And then she asked me why I didn't get angry and hurt her back.

And so I explained that when you love someone as much as I love her, often times you can see beneath their reactions. So when she would kick me, I knew she was reacting to her scared feelings. And I knew what she needed was a mom who would prove to her that I wasn't going anywhere, no matter how many times she screamed.

Sometimes I felt like Hayley was testing me during this time, like she was testing to see what the boundary was where my love for her stopped.

And I'd like to think that I proved myself throughout that first year. I hope I proved to her that nothing can change how much I love her.


This conversation ended like most of them do---I laid next to her in her bed and promised her that I would always be there for her.

But as I sat on her bed and watched her fall asleep, I kept replaying all of the ways that divorce has affected my children.

---Anxiety. The confusion of waking up one day and one parent just being gone. I can't even imagine being 5 and having this happen and trying to make sense of it. Because before August 24th, 2013, I don't believe my children had ever considered their parents NOT living in the same home.
This confusion created anger and sadness and instability. It created attachment anxiety and my kids needing constant affirmation that I wasn't going anywhere. Andersen started to have pretty bad anxiety during our divorce and reverted back to a lot of 'baby behaviors'. He still can be pretty clingy at times and we often lay his schedule out ahead of time so he knows where he is going and what he is doing.

---The negative impacts on extracurricular activities. Scheduling Hayley's dance stuff can be really stressful for me and in turn, she gets stressed out sometimes. There are times she accidentally leaves a dance outfit or dance shoes at her dad's house and we can't go get it before it is needed. Andersen also goes through this when his soccer games are every weekend and he switches houses every weekend so we have to make sure everything is ready to go days ahead of time so he is packed and won't be missing anything.

---Heartache when interacting with children of NON-divorced parents. Sometimes my kids come home from a friends house or from church and they seem to have this reoccurring realization that most families aren't like ours. Most families have a mom and a dad who live at home and go to church together with their children and attend activities together. And every once in a while, my kids will get sad about this realization and will experience a range of emotions that are hard to feel.

---The worry that they are going to lose more family members. This rides alongside the attachment anxiety. My kids used to ask me questions like, "Is grandma going to leave the family?" "Will my cousins always be my cousins?" "When you get remarried, do we still get to see our dad?", etc. because to them, these are valid concerns. If one person can just move out of the house they've always shared, what stops other people from leaving?

---Guilt. My kids have struggled with feeling guilty. This one especially affects Hayley. She is always concerned about her dad's and my feelings. She will retract a sentence if she thinks I'll interpret it as her loving her dad more than me or vice versa. We work on this a lot because I want her to know she can love us both and that saying something good about one of us does not negate her love for the other person.

For me, the hardest part of divorce has been not being able to take away the pain my kids feel. It is so hard to watch your children experience really difficult emotions and not be able to take that from them.

But the good news is that they can still live amazing lives. We can support them and listen to them and show up when they need us.

I don't quite understand what my children have gone through because I did not grow up in the same environment they are but I believe that if I continue to be there and love them and give them as much stability as I'm able to, they will be ok.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Me Too


You can tell her eyes are blue, even in a black and white picture.

But can you see her kindness? Her intelligence? Her compassion for others?

No. Because those are not things you can tell just by staring at her face. Those are things that come from within her soul.

She is my world and I plan on teaching her all of the beauty and heartache she may experience, being born a female in this world.

I worry about her because she will not grow up in the same world I did.

She will grow up in a world more perverted with sex and pornography being normalized.

And so I will start younger than my mother had to with me. I will make sure she knows that her worth is not based upon a number on a scale or a bra size or the shape of her face or the color of her eyes.

Because what I want more than anything is for her experiences to be different than mine, better than mine. I want her to have the self-esteem to say no and the knowledge to keep herself safe.

But it's sad that I even have to teach her these things. It's sad that we have to worry about safety and that we have to teach self-worth over and over again and hope it sticks.

***
Me too.
***

These are words you've most likely seen.

They've been on your Facebook news feed or you've seen them in articles recently.

After reading why my friends were posting this as their status, I knew I needed to join their voices.

I posted the status that I did for so many reasons. 

In high school, I had pretty low self-esteem. Attention from boys was my number one concern. And because of this, for the first three years of high school, I didn't say no when I felt uncomfortable. Luckily for me, the situations this placed me in were not as bad as they could've been but that doesn't mean they were non-existent.

And as a senior in high school, as my self-esteem started to rise a little, I said no for the first time that I can distinctly remember.  

I was sitting alone in a basement with a guy who I thought was my close friend. After a few minutes of talking, he leaned in and tried to kiss me but I pulled away and laughed a little. And then he tried it again {because that's apparently normal?!} and I verbally said, "No." but in a really kind voice. AND WHEN HE TRIED A THIRD TIME, I got pretty angry and fiery and I shoved him away and yelled, "No!" in his face, before running upstairs to be with the rest of our friends.

This rocked me for a while because I didn't understand why my polite "no" had been ignored. I didn't understand why it took me yelling at him and physically moving him for him to stop trying.

He was my friend. And I had trusted him before that moment.

And he betrayed that trust.

As an adult, I am so proud of 18-year-old Suzanne for shoving him away. I hope he learned as much from that experience as I did.

Sadly, what I learned is that I'm not always heard. I learned that sometimes the giggly "no" registers to the other person as "Not unless you work a little harder for it".

I didn't want him to work harder. I wanted him to stop. And he misread that---except it shouldn't have been misread. 

Because I used the word NO.

This was not the first time and it wouldn't be the last. But it was the most significant one in my memory.

Aside from this experience, I can remember a time in my life when I used to walk the 2-3 miles it took to get to work because I wanted to save money and get some exercise for my upcoming wedding. I remember how often a car would drive by and men would whistle in my direction or try to talk to me and I would ignore them.

I stopped walking because of how uncomfortable it made me.

They were never men my age. Always, always older. And I hated it so much that older men would find that appropriate or funny.

Because it wasn't.

So the "me too" campaign is personal. And I think it's something the majority of us can relate to.

We all want to be seen for more than what is on the outside.

I guess my hope is that we change.
My hope is that we continue to take a stand and say, "That's not right!" when we are put in positions that are uncomfortable and inappropriate.

Because I want better for the world my children are growing up in.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas After Divorce

Christmas has always been my very favorite holiday---second only to my own birthday and my children's birthdays.

I love giving gifts.
I love how the world just seems brighter in December.
I love how religion gets simpler and the majority of religions focus on the same thing---the birth of our Savior.

It's a beautiful time of year.

But then you throw divorce into the equation and some of the Christmastime beauty is tarnished.

It just is.

Because after divorce, you have to give up part of your holiday time with your own children.

And that is the worst feeling.

I used to have this irrational picture in my head of us still spending Christmases together to give ourselves and our kids a sense of normalcy. But that wasn't well received and then I felt crazy for even bringing it up.

And it doesn't matter how many Christmases pass---I don't think I'll ever get used to it.
Maybe it'll be easier if I ever remarry and am not completely alone.
Or maybe when my kids get older, it'll be easier.

But because I have two littles who still believe in Santa and the magic of Christmas, it's hard to give them up.


A few days ago, I found out I won't get to see my kids on Christmas. And I found out there was nothing I could do about that decision.

And I'm a little angry but mostly heartbroken because I didn't have time to prepare myself for that. Three weeks isn't long enough---I swear, it isn't---to let it sink in that I won't be with the babies on December 25th, 2017.

And really, that just comes as one last punch in the stomach for a year that I have found to be incredibly difficult.

I'm trying to let it go. 

I'm trying to remember that the 25th of December is just a day and that we can make any other day of the year as magical as that day.

I'm trying not to be bitter. About divorce. About the events of this year regarding divorce.

But that is proving to be extremely difficult. 


Divorce {with kids} is truly the worst. It bleeds into everything. It makes easy decisions harder. And it makes harder decisions nearly impossible.


But I've made it through four years of harder Christmases and I don't plan on giving up now.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Rise Above It

I realize I'm guilty of not rising above certain conflicts in my life.

When I think about that word that I picked for 2017, I imagine the definition to be something similar to "being the bigger person" or "letting go of pride" or "rising above fears".

And I have wholeheartedly tried to implement that word into my life this year. 

'Tried' being the keyword. 

Let's get real here---we can all be really stupid sometimes. Really. Stupid.
And it's HARD to "be the bigger person" when someone is acting like an idiot.

Every bone in my body consists of sarcasm sprinkled with a hint of impatience. iknowright?

And I've let my impatience get the best of me many times. I've taken my sarcasm way too far.
But the worst one---the one I'm trying so hard to fix---is letting my fears dictate whether I will rise above a situation.

This one seems to be the least controllable, although it is absolutely still possible to control.

Maybe it's my anxiety or maybe it's just my hyper-sensitivity to controlling my own path but when fear gets involved, I am not always the nicest person. On the inside, I start to panic and it portrays on the outside as impatience and intolerance.

I'm not proud of this.

But it still happens sometimes.

I've been feeling a lot of this lately while dealing with some stuff. You know, that annoying type of stuff that may cause someone to shut down their blog for five months out of fear. The type of stuff you're not ready to post about because you're still in the thick of it and you don't want to end up making the situation worse.

That kind of stuff. theworstkindofstuff 

FEAR is the absolute worst. And it can be debilitating at times.

I am SO MUCH  a planner. Our schedule is wild and crazy but it is organized. I thrive on our crazy, busy life.

So when I don't know what the future holds and I can't even see a glimpse, I start to let fear control the way that I react.

And ironically /exceptnotsoironically/ this does not help.

It just does not help!

Reacting in a negative way does not change the things happening. It just makes the build up feel worse, which in turn makes the actual reaction feel worse.

So letting fear win actually makes things worse.


Rise. Above.

I'm glad I chose the specific word RISE for 2017.

Because it turns out that RISE was the exact thing I needed to learn.

I've had moments this year where I thought I'd be better off abandoning the whole church thing all together because I was letting fear control me.

I've had moments where I almost didn't choose bravery---new job, divorce stuff, dating---because I was listening to my fears.

But for the most part this year, although it has not been easy, I have risen.

And I didn't abandon everything and run away like I've wanted to.

Five months ago, I faced one of the scariest days of this year and I so badly wanted to give up.

But I faced my fears head on and I'm trying to practice kindness instead of continuing to let those fears consume me.

Lately it seems to be working. A few times over the past five months, it did NOT work.


But I'll get up and keep trying.

Because that is the true definition of rising.


Rising does not mean being perfect and getting it right the first time. To me, it means getting up over and over again after failing and never giving up.

So that's the plan for the rest of the year and leading into 2018.
And I guess it should be the plan for the rest of my life. 

Rise.