January 25th: Save a Life

The 15th installment of January guest blogs: “Your scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!” If you would like to participate find me on Facebook- I would love to share your story!

January 25th: Nicole: Save a Life

My scary, crazy, amazing goals for 2015: if you could accomplish ANYTHING.”  Wow; that is A LOT to take in and pondering these ideas has been a goal in and of itself.  I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this while procrastinating on finishing my grad school application, and it got me thinking about the past few years.  I think this was a vital step before being able to begin thinking about how to transfer all of that energy into the future.

The last four and a half years have consisted of putting a ton of energy and focus into myself: figuring out who I am, what I like, what values are important to me, and why I am the way that I am.  (For those of you who don’t know me or didn’t read my guest blog post from last year, here is the short version: I decided to make a change in my life, stopped using any substances – including alcohol, moved to a brand new city where I knew absolutely nobody, and the universe has put some pretty amazing people and paths in my life since making these changes.)  Now that I’ve successfully reached the point that I truly love myself and can honestly believe/state that I am one AWESOME lady, it is now time to put all of my energy into helping others and doing everything that I can to make America the best place it can be for the next generation of all my friends’ adorable (at least the majority of them are adorable- I have a resentment against my neighbors’ kid that doesn’t do much but cry) babies and tots.

The universe has granted me the privilege of being mentored by one of the most amazing ladies I have ever met in my life and she has opened up my eyes to some pretty incredible ideas and organizations.  I’ve met a lot of incredible people, all working to the greatest good for the people around them.  Working with the Chicago Recovery Alliance (CRA), a needle exchange program, has shown me how important it is to help people stay safe and healthy while making whatever choices they want to make on their own without being told what to or not to be doing.  Treating people with the utmost respect, dignity, and love is the way to live life; and yet, so many people seem to forget the importance of this.  I’m not saying this to seem like I am calling people out or anything; I just think that people get so caught up in their own daily lives that it is relatively easy to forget or be completely oblivious to the ways in which they are treating others around them.  My goal is to make sure I’m not partaking in this obliviousness.

In case you are reading this and wondering what the heck a needle exchange program is, I can fill you in on the work that goes on at one, at least at the CRA.  We provide needles and almost anything else needed to use opiates in a sterilized and clean manner so that blood born diseases (HIV and Hep C to name a couple) won’t be spread by the sharing of equipment.  We give participants sharps containers so they can dispose of their needles in a safe way so someone doesn’t come along an accidentally sit on one at a park.  We give out free vaccinations and do tests for things such as HIV, Chlamydia, and Hep C.  Here is the best part- we give out Naloxone (also called Narcan), an opiate overdose reversal drug, for free, to SAVE LIVES.  People who are dead can’t be helped – so why wouldn’t anyone want to promote something that keeps people alive!? We provide a safe and nonjudgemental environment for people to come in order to take actions, on their own free will, to stay safe and healthy.  I, personally, have known too many amazing people that have left this earth far too soon because of an opiate overdose; and none of them had ever heard of Naloxone.  It is so important to get the word out there about this life saving drug so that we stop losing the people that we love.

Naloxone Saves lives

So.  The first part of my scary, crazy, amazing goal is to use all of my stored up energy to focus on my awareness: treating people with nothing but dignity, respect, and love regardless of any extenuating circumstances they may be facing or that may be occupying my on thoughts.  The second part of my goal is to be more vocal about the harm reduction work I am doing with the Chicago Recovery Alliance in order to help open up some peoples’ closed minds about how truly amazing harm reduction is, not to mention all of the evidence-based data that supports it. (Or just inform them that these things actually do exist!)  Think about it – most people wear seat belts and use car seats for their children – am I right?  There is one concrete example of how you are already utilizing harm reduction in your own life!

Regarding the title of ‘if I could accomplish ANYTHING’ : this would include continuing my advocacy work with needle exchange programs and using my knowledge and voice to reach policy makers.  This would include a change is legislation and federal law to give significantly higher amounts of funding to needle exchange programs across the entire country, stopping the war on drugs that is wasting money without seeing any positive changes from it, and completely demolishing the stigma that is associated with addiction or needle exchanges.  I think the first step in these goals was writing this post because many people who have never even heard of a needle exchange program might now be aware of their existence from reading this post and be eager/curious to research their own information on them!  I hope everyone has their best year yet in 2015 and I hope that I can make everyone I have interactions with, going forward, feel respected, loved, and happy to have met me!

P.S…. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about Naloxone! I am happy to help 🙂 pallasnicole@gmail.com

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January 19th: Fearless

The fourteenth installment of January guest blogs: “Your scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!” If you would like to participate find me on Facebook– I would love to share your story!

January 19th: Dana: Fearless

This is the second year I have been asked to be a guest blogger and it’s always an honor and hard to write because I want to do it right.  I want to bare my soul, lay it all out on the table and say this is how it is.  What stops me is what always stops me, the fear of hurting someone in the process, fear of putting myself out there for the world to see.  Here’s the thing though.  If laying myself on the line and writing a blog post that has the potential to touch at least one person, help one person realize they aren’t alone, or change one person’s life.  Then how can I not. So you ask my what would be my “scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!”  Can I have more then one?  I’m going to have more then one, but I’m going to blog about the big one.

FEAR.  I want to live a FEARLESS LIFE.

Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t have fear because most of the world was foreign to you.  The first time I was stung by a bee I didn’t know what the bee was or what it could do, but I learned quickly and from that moment on bees make me a little nervous and I avoid them for fear of being stung.  That’s how it starts.  As the world opens up to you, the fears begin to pile on. Fear can be crippling.  Not knowing you are doing things because you are afraid is even worse.  I guess it’s true what they say “First step is admitting you have a problem.” because you can’t change if you don’t know and even when you do know, change is hard.

I started off 2014 in the best place ever.  You know how you felt on Christmas morning as a kid (perhaps even now), when you got a raise at work, reached a goal, first day of vacation?  That’s how last year felt for me, every day.  It lasted about 2-3 months.  I’d experienced this exact euphoria before but it had only last hours, a couple days, weeks at the most and here I was thinking this is how the rest of my life was going to continue.  It wasn’t.  Don’t get me wrong 2014 wasn’t a bad year by any means and I wasn’t miserable just something changed and it was slight, not recognizable at first and it slowly gained as time went on.  I wasn’t even sure what it was I just felt like there was a tiny cloud above me trying to move in on my sunshine and I chose to accept it rather then explore it.  I took the easy answer and blamed wedding planning on it and figured once the wedding was over that feeling would return.  It didn’t.

I got married this fall and afterwards things were great for about a month and then that cloud came back but this time it was darker and more demanding of my sun.   I finally decided to go see my therapist who I hadn’t seen in about six months.  I don’t mess around anymore.  The moment I feel a depression coming over me I make an appointment.  I refuse to let depression take hold of me again.  The appointment was good but not life altering.  My therapist is fantastic so this isn’t a slight to her in any way.  We talked about a lot of things and I left with new things to explore.  As usual one day it hit me (told you she was good).  I wasn’t living.  I was but I wasn’t.  I was allowing fear to stop me from living the fullest life and when I took a good look I realized I had a long list of fears.

Dana

Never getting out of debt – I feel like I’ve known debt my whole life.  I’m not good at managing money, I can be impulsive (damn Pisces in me).  I didn’t grow up with the best example of what it was like to save and be financially stable.  Could I sit here and blame my lack of being financially free on not having a good example or being impulsive cause of the day I was born?  Sure.  I won’t though.  It’s my fault.  Times when I should have said “no” I said “yes” did I REALLY need that new outfit?  It’s my fault and mine alone.  If you need me I’ll be by this hole slowly but continuously shoveling dirt back in it. Starting my own venture – I want to have my own business, I’ve actually wanted to do that for a long time now but I don’t feel like I’m giving it my all and my only guess is it’s from fear of failing.  What if it doesn’t work out?  What do I have to offer that isn’t already out there? My depression coming back – I always thought this was normal and part of life and who I was.  Realizing it wasn’t and was the cause of suppressed anger changed everything.  It opened my eyes and any time I feel depression coming on I can freely explore the route of it and usually I’m able to move from it, if not I make a therapy appointment.  Now, don’t get me wrong depression is different for everyone and I by no means am I saying that you can easily get “past” it because it’s not true.  Depression to me is like being stuck inside an invisible box, you can see everything around you and want to be a part of it but you can’t step outside the box.  Like those dreams you have where you’re screaming but nothing’s coming out of your mouth.  Depression is crippling.  If it feels like that to you then I hope you have the strength to seek professional help because thinking it’s normal or you can “fix” it on your own is a lie your depression tells you.  Also, you’re not alone and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Losing my confidence again – I remember the last time my confidence was broken and it took lots of therapy and self-exploration to build myself up again.  Lack of confidence caused me to be defensive, fight with Clifton, let jealousy rear it’s ugly head and the stress and anxiety caused by second guessing myself on every single decision I made was unimaginable.

My marriage failing – I know I just got married I should be enjoying it and not worried I’m going to mess up or think that 5 years from now I’ll mess up, but I do.  I made a promise to my husband and in front of our family and friends and I meant it.  I’m in this for the long hall.  I just want to make sure that when life throws itself at us, neither one of us forgets that day and the promises we made.

Turning into my mother – This sounds harsher then I mean it.  I love my mother.  Things have changed in her life and somewhere along the way she broke.  I won’t get into the reasons because that’s a story for another day.  It is what it is and I miss the mother she was when I was young, the one people tell me about.  I can’t bring her back, only she can do that and my fear is breaking one day too and not being able to come back. Losing someone I love – This has and will probably always be a fear of mine.  I think you get it.

Being hurt/deceived by a friend/loved one – Too often I give myself to people.  I welcome them with open arms and bend over backwards and more then once that person has intentionally hurt/ taken advantage of me.  Which is why I find it easier to not let new people in.  More then that I feel I’ve started to close myself off to those I have let in for the same reason.

Gaining weight – As mentioned earlier I’ve been on a healthy lifestyle journey for over 10 years having finally gained confidence in my body, I’m afraid of losing it, going back to old ways because it’s so easy to do, letting old habits slip into every day and the next thing you know you’re back at square one.

Losing myself – Before I met Clifton I was independent and confident living life on my own terms.  I’d move to Texas, lived here by myself for several years, moved to Dallas on my own and now I’m married and as much as you try to stay separate the lines can blur and I’m always afraid I’ll lose sight of who I am and what I want because I’m too busy worrying about Clifton, the critters and one day, hopefully our children.

Becoming Complacent – I love routine.  I love enjoying my coffee on the weekend mornings while I read a book and mess around on social media.  I like knowing what lies ahead.  I also like spontaneity and surprises but my routine side fights with that side and it seems the first always wins and I just want it to start losing more.

There you have it, my biggest fears. Told you there was a lot.

dana3

I remembered recently something my therapist told me in my first session.  She said something along the lines of “You’ve had bad things happen in your life and you’ve survived them, stop worrying about what can happen because you can’t prevent it and when something bad does happen know you’re strong enough to survive it.” So here I am, expressing each and every one of my fears to you, putting them out into the universe so I can start living a FEARLESS life because “FEARLESS’ is not the absence of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid… FEARLESS is having fears.  FEARLESS is having doubts.  Lots of them….FEARLESS is living in spite of those things that scare you to death…” and that is exactly what I want.

January 14th: Hives? I am not a bee.

The thirteenth installment of January guest blogs: “Your scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!” If you would like to participate find me on Facebook– I would love to share your story!

January 14th: Bryn: Hives?

When I was asked if I wanted to participate this year in the Guest Blog series, I thought of many things that I could write about for my “Fun, Scary- Amazing goal for 2015” but couldn’t quite figure out which direction I wanted to go in. I think after a New Year we all really have the same goals- travel more, eat less, take care of our bodies, have more patience (moms of kids get this the most), but I wanted to try to really pinpoint what my life needed the most and what was lacking from my constant day to day. Last year I also contributed to the Guest Blogs, mine was the one about being the Solo-Parent. My husband travels and I have a 2 year old, blah blah blah. About 2 weeks after that blog was shared, I found out that I was pregnant and my second amazing and beautiful son was born in September. My husband is around more, but still traveling a ton, and I’m still “attempting” to master the solo-parenting role. New baby has brought on a whole lot of love and growth for our family, but also a whole lot of work and certainly new goals for the New Year.

I had my thoughts all ready and was going to begin writing about my goals, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks, or hives to be exact. Just yesterday I ended up in the acute care for a case of hives so bad it felt like my entire body was on fire. The itching was unbearable and as I waited in the room for the doctor I kept imagining that they would tell me I had an allergic reaction or got bit by something- no such luck. Doctor came in, saw the whelps all over my body and within 10 seconds she diagnosed me with “stress related” hives. What? Then she asked me if I seemed to be stressed more than normal (what was “normal” when related to stress?) and that I needed to try and relax and perhaps rid myself of my triggers. I left the office with my cream and meds and a mind full of how I was going to figure out what was bothering me so much that my body was physically having a reaction to it. My body was giving me a warning sign, as the doctor put it, that I needed to slow down. Sure I have a new baby and a crazy toddler and a traveling husband, but other than the baby, nothing new was happening. I even had the thought “was I allergic to my kids?”—For real, being a mom is hard work, but clearly that’s not the case. It did get me thinking that I was on to something there though, and I realized that I was putting too much stress on myself when it came to being a mom and about my kids. After much thought I decided that my mantra and goal for this year would be “They are only young once, stop stressing (hives lady).”

Bryn

When the baby isn’t sticking to any sleep schedule and once he does, it changes like 2 days later, I have to keep reminding myself it’s just a phase and there’s no controlling it. There is no way to rationalize infant sleep, and sometimes you just have to give in and let them be the way they are. There will be plenty of time for me to sleep train him in the next year, and he will grow up sleeping fine just like his brother. They are only young once, stop stressing.

When my 3 year old is begging for my attention, attention that I have less of now to give him, and he acts out in ways you can’t even imagine. I need to get down on his level and “be” with him, even if just for a few seconds. He won’t stop talking, and talking, and talking and sometimes I find myself trying to shush him so I can finish what I’m doing or my thought. They are only young once, stop stressing.

When I can’t remember the last time I washed and dried my hair, or put on more makeup than just some lip gloss while running out the door, only to see myself in a mirror at some point and pick apart all the flaws I see. I look like that because I am busy being a mom, that’s a good thing right? Sure I may look like I live in gym clothes (don’t kid yourself, I don’t actually go to the gym) but that won’t be forever. Instead of spending those last 15-30 minutes of my morning when both boys are actually sleeping at the same time trying to get a little nap, one day I will be able to get myself ready. They are only young once, stop stressing.

When I wonder why my house is a constant mess, and as soon as it’s clean, within 30 minutes it can be destroyed again. Kids play, and they mean business when they do. My 3 year old hasn’t mastered the art of picking up after himself (will he ever?) and I am constantly going round and round with him about this. From now on we will take baby steps and I will be happy that my son has such a bright imagination and thoroughly enjoys the toys that friends and family spend their time picking out for him as gifts. They are only young once, stop stressing.

When I wish that my husband and I could travel more, even as a family with the kids. Then we start thinking about all the “required items” you have to bring to travel with a baby and a toddler. Just going to someone else’s house for the night requires a full trunk. Instead of being sad we can’t walk out the door at moment notice, be grateful that we will soon. They are only young once, stop stressing.

When every single book and advice column I read tells you so much baby advice. Hell, even the stranger in the grocery store will give you advice on your own baby. Don’t hold your baby too much, put him to sleep when he’s awake but about to fall asleep (my personal favorite because it’s impossible), don’t let them cry it out too young, don’t let them cry it out at all, make sure he’s having a good amount of tummy time. No. Stop. I will figure it all out with what works for me and my baby. They are only young once, stop stressing.

When I feel like I am covered up in shit, and that’s not a metaphor. Potty training and dirty diapers for days in this house, and I can’t even begin to explain where and what I’ve had to clean poop off of in my home. No amount of preparation with the toddler mattered because once baby brother came into the picture; all prior training we had mastered went out the window. Something called “regression” that I wasn’t made fully aware of, or chose to ignore at the time. Either way, there’s just too much shit. They are only young once, stop stressing.

When I’m trying my hardest to work from home (I kept the same job but work part-time from home now) and I just can’t seem to get anything done. Perhaps I take off a little time until the baby is on some sort of schedule, or perhaps I just finally have the guts to tell my husband that I don’t think my little bit of extra income is worth the stress. Watching what will probably be my last child grow up and not be so worried about work would be amazing. They are only young once, stop stressing.

When I crave and need some adult and girl time and I just can’t ever seem to make it work. Have trust in my friendships and know that the right people will always be there no matter what. Besides birthday parties- where we spend most of our time watching and chasing our kids- I would love more opportunities to really visit with my friends. That time will come again and very soon. They are only young once, stop stressing.

When I’m running down my lists of “wants” and “needs” and not focusing on what my family already has right in front of us. Two healthy boys who may challenge us at times, but are learning and soaking up all this world has to offer them. My husband and I are learning at the same time how to be parents and navigating this new journey the best that we can. Stress will come, maybe even in the form of some very unwanted and unattractive hives, and I hope to take it day by day and not let it overcome me anymore. This year I will stop stressing. They are only young once, enjoy every minute!

January 12: MORE.

The eleventh installment of January guest blogs: “Your scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!” If you would like to participate find me on Facebook- would love to share your story!

January 12th: Monique: More

We have this family phrase; “Healthy, Smart, & Strong!” It started when I was pregnant with Ryder, our crazy – ALL BOY – 5 year old. It was a prayer, slogan, and maybe a way to just wrap up all our desires, worries, and blessings for this new person growing and coming into our life and all the expected-unexpected life happenings to follow. I love this because it’s all encompassing of how I pray daily for my family and for myself.

Monique3

I want to be healthy. Physically & mentally. I know everyone says this in the New Year and how we’re going to get in shape and be better people than we were last year, ditto, ditto, & ditto… but I really want to do it this year! I find myself at 35 years old, losing some mental ground at times, stressing about the kids, asking myself am I being a good mom, wanting to be a great wife, do my friends know how much I love them, and the responsibilities of a part time job, even at a place I love working at- when do I stop stressin’? A friend of mine told me about her latest visit to the “girly” doctor and how she was told, “now that you are almost 40, your period and hormones will start changing, you could go through menopause early, just feel free to come back anytime, and ask me anything J” WOW! Ok, thanks doc. I feel like someone hit the fast forward button! When did I turn into this person? How did I grow up so fast? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve embraced every moment and the gains from the pains. I wouldn’t change a thing because I am who I am from those grooming moments. I just need better time management now, at the same time just get up and go, to make it happen! We got gym memberships for Christmas and that is how I can make a change. My scary, crazy, amazing goal is get Healthy- GO TO THE GYM! (This should help me mentally too right?)

Monique1

I want to be Smart. I need to read more, journal more consistently, and maybe take a language course to learn Chinese! (I grew up speaking Vietnamese, but I’m illiterate) I feel doing a spin class and body works plus abs class- not in the same day, is only half of me. My mind needs release and challenge and a work out too. I always talk about participating in Boozy Bookworms, or accepting a freebie book with every intention of reading it!! So I guess it may start with being smart with my time and learning how to just do it! I need to be creative with my time since I have two rowdy boys that also need my attention all day, every day. A big goal this year is reading. So I need to carry my book or kindle with me and read a page or two, here & there. Instead of Facebook, Instagram, or mindless google search, just READ a book. (I guess technically I am reading when I’m on social media… how else do I support Memoirs of a Modern Mom?!!) You know what I mean though?

Book: Parenting Beyond Your Capacity

I want to be Strong! To have peace and balance and not let the influences of others or my surroundings take away my JOY. I have a strong foundation in my relationship with God and my family, but it doesn’t make me invincible to my own mind monsters. I often think I am strong and feel that I can’t be bothered, but as a therapist once told me, “you act all tough and in control, but you’re still a little girl inside that wants to be taken care of and held tight.” I guess to be less emotionally impulsive and to be emerged in my identity. So many times my mind has answered questions before I ask or I may let my husband’s mood or kids’ attitudes dictate how I feel and whether or not I am screaming back at them or choosing to be better and stronger. As Dr. Seuss so eloquently says it, “I AM I!”

So my goal since I can do anything is to be MORE! I guess it could be my word for the year as well. More healthy practices, more smart choices, and being stronger than last year! Not in a greedy way do I want more. I want to love more and give more. Take in the most I can of this wild ride call life and make myself more present, experience more JOY, and play MORE!! As the kids get older so do we. I want to know that I have no regrets and gave everyday my best. If you know me, then you know I am an optimistic person and do love fiercely those dear to me. I am high on life and at the same time I am human and have moments of insecurity. However, to allow MORE to enter my life in all that I do, I know it will make 2015 the best year yet!!

January 11th: Emetophobia? What the hell is that?

The seventh installment of January guest blogs: “Your scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!” If you would like to participate find me on Facebook– I would love to share your story!

January 11th: Claudia: Emetophobia

Emetophobia. Ten points to anyone who knows what the hell it is. Anyone? It’s OK – I’ve met two psychologists who had never heard of it either. But I know, because I’ve been living with it for over 15 years. Ready for the answer?! It’s a fear of {drumroll, please} vomiting.

Now, I think a normal reaction would be, There’s a phobia devoted to that? Really? I mean, no one likes throwing up, but it’s just something your body naturally does — it sucks, you maybe cry and then you get over it. Unpleasant, but necessary, like a colonoscopy or happy hour with your boss. And how many times does that really come up — once, maybe twice a year?

But for me, the phobia, and its accompanying anxiety, has managed to worm its way into every facet of my life. I never drink because I’m afraid it will make me sick (I tell people I don’t like the taste of alcohol). I eat very, very little meat because I’m afraid it won’t be cooked properly and will make me sick (I say I’m veggie because I love animals, but that’s really only part of it). Everywhere I go, I have to know where all the bathrooms and exits are, and if I’m meeting people somewhere, I insist on driving myself, alone, so I have an escape. If I hear a story about someone having a stomach bug, I have to wash my hands.

It’s a bit weird writing all this down, because I’ve never spoken about this with anyone, really. But this year I want to focus on bringing anxiety disorders, and all mental illness, into the light, and why not start by speaking out myself? Here goes …

When I was a senior in college, I had a lot of shit going on. Taking 18 class hours, working 30 hours per week, planning my wedding, looking for jobs after graduation … it was overwhelming. That fall, I began having crippling episodes of nausea. It got so bad that I basically stopped eating, my rationale being that if I didn’t eat, I wouldn’t have anything in me to throw up (let’s not look too closely into my intellectual abilities, agreed?).

See, here’s the kicker — I’ve had emetophobia since childhood, I just didn’t realize it. It had lain latent in my subconscious for years. And whatever it was that was causing these bouts of nausea — I still don’t really know what started them; I assumed it was stress from college — had awoken that sleeping phobia and sent it clawing into my everyday life.

The nausea persisted, daily, and my weight plummeted until I was dangerously thin. I attributed it to college stress, but then it continued. For years. And all throughout, I willed myself not to throw up, no matter how sick I felt.

Case in point: I haven’t let myself be sick since I was 11 years old. That’s nearly 27 years.

For a long time, I muddled through. I went to a doctor, who did a ton of tests on me and found nothing physically wrong. I got worse. Because, as if the nausea wasn’t bad enough, I developed crippling anxiety as well, because I never knew when it was going to hit me, and I became paralyzed with fear that I might end up being sick IN PUBLIC (gasp!) or that people might find out I was hiding this weird phobia and terrible panic attacks (oh lord, no, we mustn’t let anyone know we’re NOT NORMAL!).

Then one day, I read an article about anxiety disorders. I found it entirely by chance, but it was like this article was speaking to me. This was something other than depression, but still just as real and debilitating. I got myself a new doctor, booked an appointment and within a week had my first real diagnosis: severe panic disorder and agoraphobia. Medication and therapy followed, and now I have some tools to help me deal with my anxiety when it does happen.

Probably the biggest lesson I learned from all this is: Don’t hide. Don’t be ashamed. It’s OK to admit when you need a minute (or an hour). Your mind screams, “But people will think you’re CRAZY!” And you just have to tell it to shut the fuck up. If people want to judge me, that’s fine. They don’t understand how utterly exhausting it can be — trying to “look normal,” to smile through your kid’s band performance even though you feel like you’re about to die, to drive them to school despite being in the grips of a panic attack because there’s no one else around to do it for you.

I hope that through my kids, I’m helping to raise a generation that is compassionate, understanding, nonjudgmental. My kids have been around my anxiety disorder their whole lives (they’re 14 and 10 now). For years I tried to hide it from them, but eventually I learned that that was doing them a disservice. They love me, they want to support me, and why not let them?

I found out just how much they really “get it” on a recent plane trip. I often don’t travel well (What if there’s turbulence? What if I have a panic attack? What if the “fasten seatbelt” light is on and some bitchy flight attendant won’t let me get up?!!), and on this day I was feeling particularly anxious. We were sitting in our seats, about to start taxiing, when my eldest, Maddie, looked over at me.

“Are you not OK?” she said.

I shook my head no. She reached out for my hand.

“Mom, just remember, everything ends eventually — this flight, your panic. It’s not forever.”

And I really felt better. All I’ve gone through — maybe it has done some good.

January 9th: Hide the Kids- its a Homosexual!

The eighth installment of January guest blogs: “Your scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!” If you would like to participate find me on Facebook– I would love to share your story!

 

January 9th: Ian: Homophobia

This past year, I resolved to cut out the people and things from my life that acted as a saboteur. I actively chose to surround myself with people that are achieving, thoughtful and that can empower me as much as I would like to empower them. The one thing I didn’t realize until now is that apparently I can’t cut out family… But they can definitely cut themselves out!

For those who don’t know me, I am the brother of the Modern Mom herself (The modern uncle maybe?). We have many cousins, but the particular cousin that inspired this guest blog came from the quirky, uncommonly Christian side of our family. Let’s just call him “Ryan, Protector of Family Values”, or RPFV for short. Throughout the past few years, I have been receiving concerned Facebook messages from RPFV warning me that I will eventually be gnashing my teeth in Hell and to avoid “atypical” things like doing it up the butt with my husband (RPFV must be a germophobe). Most recently, he requested that I inform him when my husband and I will be attending family gatherings. That way, he can adjust his schedule and not take his family to the same event. My husband is a handsome ginger, so I figure RPFV’s children must be allergic to freckles or something.

Love is love, stop homophobia

All jokes aside, my cousin is wildly homophobic and an ass. If it’s gay, he doesn’t want it touching him with its ten inch pole… See what I did there?

I never initiated these Facebook conversations. Every time I read a new message from him, it upsets me. They make me nettled, wrathful and indignant. I have written him back long, considered responses about my thoughts on the Bible and my life decisions. My fingers fly across the keyboard as I attempt to defend myself from the internet tirades of someone I see twice a year.

The moment after I opened his most recent sermon, I gave up on trying to reason with him. His message was sickly sweet and very clear. If The Gays are at family events, he doesn’t want to be at that family event. This message was him launching the nuclear bomb in our mini Cold War and drawing a very clear line on where he stands.

For all of that build up, I don’t really know what to write next. I want to write something about how childish he sounds and how I’m so over it. I want to write something about going to pride parades and being an example for all of the kids out there with asshole parents like him. I want to write about how you should be ashamed of yourself if you agree with him. I want to give links to PFLAG and beg you for donations.

Love is love, stop homophobia

The Memoirs blog is about writing from the heart and being unconventionally honest. I feel incredibly sheltered and it bothers me that I am letting this affect me so much. I feel sad and angry that kids have to grow up with assholes like him and I feel slightly guilty that I didn’t. Mostly though, I am overwhelmed by the amount of gratitude I have for my everyday life and the people in it.

This past year Brantley and I have both been steadily employed, bought a car and have an apartment with a new washer and dryer (THAT WE OWN!!). Ryan has since been blocked and I have taken another saboteur off my list. My next scary, crazy, necessary goal is to learn how to be comfortable being still. To toss aside Facebook and learn to disconnect from the everyday swarm… if just for 15 minutes.

You're an asshole

January 10th: Toddlers and Travel

The ninth installment of January guest blogs: “Your scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!” If you would like to participate find me on Facebook– I would love to share your story!

January 10th: Aarnes: Toddlers and Travel

I have had enough wine, maybe I can write this…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

So…crazy amazing goals for 2015….this is way more difficult than I ever imagined! Last year was kind of our year. I guess the usual weigh loss, like everyone else, but maybe with a twist of travel involved! I have about 30 -40 more LBS before I am at my goal weight. Yeah ok, fine, I will eat more salad and be more committed to the gym- easy fix if I can stay on it. That’s the trick. Its always the trick.

Travel, that is a WHOLE new task. When it was just me going where ever, that was fine, one person traveling is no problem…two…two is totally different. Travel accompanied by a 4 year old, that is a whole new ball game! I would like to get my daughter to Philadelphia, Ft. Myers, and Sioux Falls for sure. If I could manage to schedule a trip to California and/or Las Vegas (adults only, please) that would be great! That would be a vacation.

Yeah, it isn’t that exciting, but it would be amazing to see all of our family that only keeps up with us through posts and photos on Facebook! My sister, Savannah,  is making this big move across the country and it is so exciting to be a part of getting her ready for this massive move. She is moving to Sioux Falls to be closer with our family up there. Watching Savannah prepare for the move reminds me how much I miss traveling and a real-life connection with our family.

Here’s to hoping and to traveling! Cheers to you and yours and crazy amazing goals for 2015!

January 8th: Nurse No More

The seventh installment of January guest blogs: “Your scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!” If you would like to participate find me on Facebook– I would love to share your story!

January 8th: Kathie: Nurse No More

2015 is going to be my year.  I have finally retired!

I tried to retire a couple of years ago and had to got back to work for financial reasons.  But this time is for real.  I’ve been a nurse for more than 44 years.  Somewhere in the first 10 years or so, I realized that the career I had chosen when I was 18 was the wrong one.  But with family, many moves around the country and the lack of a college degree (I became an RN in one of the now defunct hospital based diploma programs) there was no easy, affordable way to change careers.  I became a psychiatric nurse which was more in line with my interests and abilities, but still was not really right.  I always did a good job and was highly thought of by my employers, but it sucked the life out of me.  Even working part time seemed to drain all my energy.

So now, this is my time.  I have so many things I want to do.  And while I would love to do things like travel, most of my desires are home based.  Time to craft, read, sew, cook, and organize all my “stuff”.  I really think one reason I have held on to so much is that I didn’t really know what I wanted or needed because I was waiting to live my “someday life”.  My son Dan has wisely told me to not try to put pressure on myself to do or figure out everything right away.  So for now I am trying to “feel” what is right for me.

It is interesting to notice when I feel as though I am in the right place or doing the right things.  It is not surprising to those who know me that being in church or sitting at my sewing machine might feel like “right” places, but who knew that being at the gym would feel like a “right” place!  Sometimes just cooking in my kitchen feels so right.

So, among many goals (like cleaning, organizing, losing weight, and decluttering) my main goal for this year is to get to know myself and what I like and what I want.  I’m kind of excited to meet me again.

January 5th: Cosmic Calendar

The fifth installment of January guest blogs: “Your scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!” If you would like to participate find me on Facebook– I would love to share your story!

January 5th: Monica: Cosmic Calendar

Lets see if I have enough brain cells to write this post after binge drinking-in the new year. Happy New Year everyone! This foray around the sun is off to an oddly positive start. It’s as if a second wind has come through pushing my sails into beautiful waters. And so far I haven’t over-analyzed it as I’m about to now: my marriage is solid, my pack of friends is tighter than ever, and I’m finally happy with who I am. That last one means a lot to me since I became existential about morals. I’ve spent the last five years down a path of questioning my world and also inventing a new one. And now I can coast on my years of research and enjoy the knowledge I so eagerly sought out. It seems as though my opportunities are ripe for the picking this year, and all I have to do is reach. I’m bolder than I’ve ever been! I have some belief in an acquiescent world and that belief has given me the incentive to push myself in ways I’ve always wanted but never had the courage for. I’m standing here in 2015, patting myself on the back for the distance and strife’s I’ve overcome. Good job me! Keep it up!

I have an interesting goal for this cosmic year; to meet my future self. That is, to strive to be the most driven self I can be this year which will then catapult my future in household time travel which will lead to me traveling backwards through the space time continuum to present day (2015) to shake my former self’s hand. Did you get that? Who I choose to be today, in every moment, will determine who I am tomorrow. My goal is to make the right choices, trust my ethical gut and forge the life I am destined for. I think it will go something like this: I’m starting school at a new University this semester which is where I will meet Fritz Farnell, a cool brilliant young man. He studies Aerospace Science and Art History and his music interests include Brett Dennen, Kanye, Phoenix and Kid Cudi. We are destined to be best friends.

This is how my path to inventing time travel starts. Years later, after graduation Fritz and I will team up with Nova Waldorf, a champion mathematician. She will later win the Fields Medal for her work on the Hypothetical Cloning of the Universe. It is this trios’ hard work that will project mankind forwards and backwards in time.

The first attempt concluded with an astronaut named Wayne and myself hurtling 4,700 years into the future. We were far from mastering the science of time travel back then and I’m glad to say that trip was merely like looking through a window to another world. Wayne and I promised each other we would never share what we saw and I laud that oath. Eventually we work out the kinks and that is how I come to shake my future self’s hand. Is this hypothesis crazy? Yes. Far fetched? You bet. But if there ever were a year to accomplish such a quixotic feat, it’s 2015. Onward we march into the future, never knowing what really lies ahead.

I believe that you summon your own future (to an extent). If the possibility of imagining this exists than there’s more than a chance that it can come true. This year challenge yourselves to believe in the most impossible events coming true. Make your own future. I know I am.

January 4th: No kids??

The fourth installment of January guest blogs: “Your scary, crazy, amazing goal you would accomplish in 2015 if you could do absolutely ANTHING!” If you would like to participate find me on Facebook– I would love to share your story!

 

January 4th: Janet: No kids??

Happy 2015!

If I could do absolutely anything for myself in 2015, it would be to live the life I want without explanation. Let me explain (failed already…lol). Kids, kids kids. I LOVE kids. When I was a kid, I taught dance to younger kids! I have worked with kids in some capacity my most of my life and I love it. What I don’t love is people asking me continually about having my own kids.

Kids? No? Why? Stop Talking.

I have been with my love for 9 years this year and we’ll celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary in the latter half of this year. The constant explaining to everyone (literally everyone, even perfect strangers) about OUR life and OUR decisions is wearing me out. I’m done with the explaining. I’m done with people looking at me strange when I say, “Nope, no kids” and saying “I don’t know, maybe not,” when they ask if I want any. Then comes the, “Well, why not?! You’d be great parents.” Guess what, we probably would be great parents, but we are amazing at being an Aunt and Uncle. We are great at being the only childless haven for our friends that just need 10 mins away from the screaming baby. I’m great at listening to the issues that my students have due to the parents they have not really wanting to have that job as a parent anymore. I’m great at supporting my exhausted girlfriends that question their sanity after a rough day with their kids. Those are the things that I love to do and damn sure couldn’t give 100% to if I had a little nugget of my own running around.

I don’t understand why it’s anyone else’s business. It’s to the point that I’m about to lie and tell people we can’t conceive to make them feel like assholes for questioning the decisions that we make in our relationship.

So in 2015, I encourage those around me to STOP ASKING. It’s none of your damn business and I don’t owe anyone anything. If we pull the trigger and decide to give parenthood a try, I have no intention of explaining why we changed out minds either.

Sorry this sounds so pissy. I’m generally the happiest girl you’ll meet!

Cheers to 2015 and living life on our terms.

 

Thank you,

Janet Jordan

janet