I Is a Thankful Duck

I spent this last weekend home alone (not completely, but my sister was at work most of the days, so I was pretty much by myself), and so much happened that I’m really thankful for. So, for this post, I’m basically gonna tell you about my weekend, and some of the things I’m really thankful for.

In prep for my parents to leave, we were considering what to do if the power went out. We had a super bad snow storm two weeks ago, so we were trying to figure out what to do if we lost power (who we’d call, where we could go with our two dogs, etc.). My mom mentioned it to one of her friends, and almost immediately she said “Oh, they can come to my house.”

Thankful thing #1: how giving, and willing to go out of their way, so many people have been while my parents are gone; I’ve had multiple people make sure we had rides if we needed them, and be willing to go out of their way to help us

My parents left on Thursday. Thursday was a good day. I basically did whatever I wanted (and some school). There wasn’t much that happened, but I really enjoyed the peace and quiet. I was nervous about being left completely home alone because I didn’t know how I’d do if I was anxious or depressed and alone. But, it went great. I did pretty well not being anxious about things I had planned for later in the weekend, too.

On Friday, I didn’t do so hot. I did my best, but I was still pretty nervous about my best friend coming over later that night (my anxiety tends to pop up in social situations), so I spent a lot of the day battling anxiety and trying to calm myself down. Eventually, I called one of my youth leaders, and she really helped. She calmed me down, and she talked with me on the phone as long as she could/ as long as I needed to so I’d be distracted. Of course, when she had to hang up, my best friend hadn’t shown up at my house yet. I started getting nervous, but then I calmed myself down and when my bestie showed up I ran out and gave her a super big hug. We had a super fun night, and it was exactly what we both needed.

Thankful thing #2: people who take time out of their day to help me, and be there for me; even if it’s hard, even if it’s ugly, or scary; they’re still there

Next comes Saturday. Saturday morning we had puppet practice at church, and I was ecstatic. The lady who’s in charge of puppets said she’d pick us up and drop us off (even though she doesn’t live anywhere near my house). What made me so excited/ happy about puppet practice was that I felt completely normal. I was awake, I was ready, had no anxiety, and no nausea. Usually, when someone comes to pick me up, I’m a wreck. But, I felt just as normal as I did long before any of this even started. Saturday night I had a small group party, and the same thing happened with that. I felt happy, and excited, and not the least bit nervous.

Thankful thing #3: I have a friend who lives nearby who was able to give me rides Saturday night through Sunday afternoon; so, if I felt bad (anxious, nervous, nauseous), I had someone there who knew what to do, could help me, and wouldn’t ask many questions or worry about me because she’s pretty in the loop

Sunday morning was one of the primary things I was thankful for. If I’m anxious, Sunday mornings are always the hardest, so I had no idea how I’d feel that week. I woke up super early on Sunday (not on purpose), so I had plenty of time to wake up, and get a good state of mind going. As far as anxiety goes, I had a little. (That’s primarily because I had some sort of bug this week, so my stomach was upset, anxiety or not.) I think I did really well with managing what little anxiety I had. I went to church, felt great, and felt normal. I was able to do all the things I used to, and I really enjoyed them.

A friend of mine really started getting me into talking to people about my anxiety, and not being afraid to talk about what’s going on in my life. So, while I was helping in the 2’s and 3’s room that morning, I didn’t shy away from talking about it when some friends of mine asked how I was doing. These friends of mine are adults, one of which being my friend’s mom, and they’re the dopest (that’s a technical term).

I don’t normally hug this friend’s mom (nor do I normally hug random people, as hard as that is to believe), but I did that morning because it just seemed to fit, and she’s dope, and I figured she’d like hugs. So, I gave her a quick hug, but then she held onto that hug way longer than I did. So I stayed there, and while we were hugging she told me a verse that has to do with anxiety. I don’t know if she was trying to be encouraging, but she totally did, and it really helped. Not only is scripture helpful, but knowing that I have people in my life who love me, and are willing to help me, makes going to church, and doing anything, a lot easier. (And, hugs in general are great.)

Thankful thing #4: I’m thankful for all the people at my church who love me, and tell me that; there are so many people I could go to if I needed anything, even if that’s just a hug

Thankful thing #5: all the BEAUTIFUL kids at my church who bring joy to my life; they probably don’t know it, and I doubt they ever will, but they’ve really made this time I’ve been anxious a lot easier (anytime I’d feel anxious, or like I really didn’t want to “people”, I knew I could go and get a hug from one of my kiddos; it really made me feel a lot better)

And, Thankful thing #6: I am thankful for all the super cool moms I’ve gotten to know through working with kids at my church; all these moms show so much love, and they treat me like a person, not just a kid; they encourage me, and treat me like a friend; I don’t know why that’s always stood out to me, but I do know that there’s this crazy band of strong, godly women in my life, and I’m incredibly thankful to be able to call them my friends

Disappointment

This was my senior year of High school. At the beginning of the year I was determined to do as many things as I could. I was gonna hang out with friends, go to as many Youth Group activities as I could, be on the Youth Group worship team (and maybe join the worship team on Sundays). I was gonna be someone the middle schoolers could look up to, and I was gonna be there when my friends needed me. I had a plan, and I was gonna do it all. Guess what? Plans changed.

It hasn’t been a lot (although it feels like it), but I’ve had to miss a some things because I either haven’t felt well, or because of my anxiety. And, to be honest, there are times when I’m really upset about it. I’m not really upset that I’ve had to miss things, but I’m upset because I let myself miss things. I let myself get so anxious that I had panic attacks. Let myself hide from the hard things. Let myself tell people I couldn’t help them. It “feels like” (we’ll come back to that “feels like” in a minute) I’ve been a bad friend because I couldn’t be there for people. And a bad youth grouper because I wasn’t there being an example for the other kids.

Everything I wrote above is a “feels like”. It “feels like” I was a bad friend. Doesn’t mean I was. “Feels like” I’ve been a bad youth grouper. Doesn’t mean I was. Most often these “feels like”s have a truth to them that show you how wrong you really are. It’s pretty nice.

Now, back to the main point. I could spend all year long disappointed in myself because of all the things I couldn’t do. But, even with everything that I’ve been battling this year, I did some pretty cool things. Observe:

  • I stayed on my church’s puppet team
  • Went to as many youth groups as I could
  • Made some new friends
  • Stayed on the youth group worship team
  • Made my preexisting friendships stronger
  • Did every single offertory I signed up for; despite anxiety, and despite fear
  • I got to know some really cool little kids at my church
  • I’ve made it through some really busy mornings at church

To be honest with you, I could keep making that list longer, and longer. For every one thing I may have done to disappoint myself, I kept thinking about one thing I did to encourage myself. Basically, I had this conversation with myself: “Remember that one time you skipped out? Sure. But do you also remember that one time you kept pushing even though it hurt, and then you won?”

We aren’t going to be perfect. We can’t do everything. It was kinda stupid of me to try to do all the things. Because, anxiety or not, I’m not perfect. The cool thing is, that even though I had anxiety and was pretty much terrified every time I went to church, I still went. I still did a lot of things. Sure, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. None of this year has really been what I wanted. But, it’s what I got. And, I’m making the choice to learn from it, and use it. That’s what I’ve had to do my whole life, and that’s what I’m gonna keep doing.

So, to sum up (you better get used to my rabbit trails; they’re not gonna stop): Everybody has something they’re fighting, or working towards. If you’re giving your all, don’t hate on yourself because you think you’re not “doing enough”. Be thankful for what you have been able to do, and remember that you did your best. That’s all any of us can do.

Sorry, Not Sorry

My whole family has spent the last month or so being sick. At first, I didn’t feel too bad, but the more I went on, and tried to do all the things (hanging out with friends, youth group, church), the worse I felt. Not just physically, but emotionally. At this point, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I need more time (especially when I just don’t feel well). I just have to let go, and take some sick time. Even if I don’t want to.

I’ve learned that, when life is busy, there are going to be times when I just need to take a break. At the moment, I can’t do as much as I may want to. Which is okay. But sometimes I feel bad. I feel bad when I can’t go to church and give my best friend a hug because I don’t feel well. I feel bad when I have to cancel (sometimes multiple times) because I just don’t feel well. HOWEVER, I can’t do everything. Maybe the lesson here is that I need to cool it a little with my scheduling. But, what I was originally getting at was, I’m not sorry. When I feel awful, and I have to cancel, I’m not going to say I’m sorry anymore. It’s not like I’m sick on purpose, or like I’m emotionally exhausted on purpose. I just am.

The moral of the story is to stop apologizing so much. I’m not going to be sorry that I feel bad, because that doesn’t fix anything. If anything, it makes it feel worse by making this whole thing seem like my fault. And, sure, some parts of it are, but focusing on the fault isn’t gonna fix anything. What’ll fix things is focusing on what can happen next, and how I can move forward. Sometimes that’s by taking sick time, and sometimes it’s not.

For me, it’s really hard not to apologize. I hate it when people comment on how I’m not at church (especially because sometimes it’s not my choice to go or not). If someone makes a comment on it, my first inclination is to never miss another day of church again. However, that’s a BAD REASON (and, yes, I am using caps as emphasis; DEAL WITH IT). What’s the point in going to church if you’re just trying to avoid people’s potentially stupid comments?

I get accountability. Accountability is good, and important, and sometimes we do need a kick in the butt to get back to church. But, if you’re thinking about making a “comment”, even if you’re trying to be funny, maybe consider why you’re making that comment. Even if you’re trying to be funny, sometimes it can really hurt someone.

On the flip side, those “comments”, are just people saying stuff. If they wanna choose to be rude to you, then that’s they’re problem. It’s not your responsibility to do ANYTHING (there I go again with the caps) to make them happy. Make sure, though, that you don’t hear them say, “Hey, I’ve been missing you at church lately. You okay?” And then think they’re saying, “Yo, what the heck? How come you’ve been lazy and skipping out?” It’s really easy to hear one thing, have it go through your emotional lens, and think someone’s saying something completely different just because you’re hurting (see here for more information on hurting people).

What To Do? Pt. 2

On Tuesday I wrote about the importance of not fixing things for other people (again, see why in, I’m Such A Mom), and not pressuring them into things. And, that’s true. We can’t make anyone do anything, and we can’t force anything down their throats. BUT, sometimes we need to confront people about things. Pointing something out to them, or talking to them about something once or twice, is completely different than fixing things, or pressuring them.

As Christians we’re called to look out for each other, and confront each other, and help each other out. The difference being when you try to control someone, or parent them. That’s not good. It may come from a good place, but it’s not a good thing. One of the side effects of pressuring people to do something (even if it may be good for them) is that they may get tired of you. They’ll get sick of you trying to tell them what to do, and it’ll usually keep them from wanting to do whatever it is you think would be good for them.

So, there are two perspectives. The first is from someone trying to help, and the second from the someone who may need help. We’ve touched on pretty much everything I can think of from the first perspective, and now it’s time to discuss the second one.

No one likes to be told what to do (for the most part). But, sometimes we need it. With my anxiety I’ve really struggled to go into social situations, so I talked to my mom and she’s agreed to make me do what’s scary. I need that push to be brave and do things so I remember that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Sometimes we need someone to come into our lives and give us that hard push.

There comes a time when we all need to put on our big girl panties and fight whatever’s bothering us. And we can’t do it alone.

I think I’m going to give all my blog posts relating to anxiety their own category. This being my current stage of life, I have a lot of thoughts on it, and I’m learning a lot about it every day. Check back next week for a post relating to when it’s time to stand up and fight (it’s a working title).

What To Do?

Sometimes life is just hard. Sometimes for us, and sometimes for other people. We see those people struggling and think about all the times we wish someone was there for us when we felt bad, so we do everything we can to keep that person from feeling the pain we felt. We try to fix their problems for them.

I get wanting to help people. It’s generally a good thing. But, sometimes helping looks different than we think. Most often, if I’m going to someone with a problem, it isn’t because I need them to fix it. And, if they fix it, then I won’t learn it as well (see this post, I’m Such A Mom, if you’re interested in more thoughts on this topic). I’m a smart kid. I know that if something’s really wrong, I need to go to my parents. But, sometimes life just sucks, and I need someone to talk to. Sometimes I go to a friend, or a youth leader, and I just need to talk, or vent. I don’t need them to fix everything for me, I need them to listen. Not every problem is a crises that needs fixing.

Some of my favorite youth leaders have always done a really good job of not fixing things for me. they’ll ask me questions to make me think through things. They’ll listen when I need someone to talk to, but, when they see something they think is important to point out, they talk to me about it. Without pressuring me. They give me space to screw up, and always remind me that they’re there when I need them.

When life is hard we don’t always need answers, or solutions. Sometimes we just need to cry. Just need to vent. Just need to talk. We don’t always need fixes, or people pressuring us to fix things. We need to be reminded that we’re loved, that the people who love us have our backs, and that eventually we’ll learn our way through what’s going on, and we’ll be stronger in the end because of it.

I think what I wrote is valuable and important, but I also think there’s another side to it. Check back on Thursday at 5pm for the second half to this story.

Hurt People Hurt Other People

Being home schooled, I’ve spent my entire life hearing how “easy” I have things. All my friends have said it a time or two (or a lot), and then I just get disregarded. It sucks. Yeah, some things about being home schooled are easier, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, and I’ve had to deal with some things the last few years that few people I know have ever had to go through. Being disregarded, and being told I have life “easy”, really hurt. Over the years it’s made me really defensive about things, and it’s made me want to shut people out. It’s made me angry.

I was talking with a friend last night, and she said something that set me off. She didn’t mean to be hurtful, but it hurt. And, because I was hurt, I was angry. I told her that, and that I needed some time to cool off. I spent most of the night hurt and angry, and I didn’t like it. I think it’s because I knew that if we had had that conversation in person, and not over text, it could’ve been a lot worse simply because I was hurt. I was thinking some not so cool things about my friend, and I don’t know if I would’ve said them or not if we were in person.

When I woke up this morning, after I had cooled down, I realized just how easy it is for hurt people to hurt other people. I hated the idea of potentially hurting my friend just because I let my emotions get the better of me. It seems so stupid to hurt someone else because of MY situation. But, it happens. This morning my friend told me she kind of did the same thing to me, and we talked it out.

I think more often than not there’s more to the story when someone’s upset. If someone is just being a butt, and you don’t understand why, take a sec and ask them. Don’t retaliate, don’t feed their anger, just take a sec and listen. Dig deeper. It’s like a cranky little kid. You could punish them for being cranky, or you could put them down for their nap because they’re WAY tired, and that’s what’s actually wrong.

Emotions are deceptive. That’s what makes them so tricky. Often when something’s wrong, or something’s going on that I can’t really make sense of yet, I get angry. I don’t know why, but I do. I’ll walk through my house being this little ray of hate until I get things figured out. It’s easy to fix the surface problem and just say, “I should stop being angry.” But I’m not going to stop being angry until I figure out what’s making me angry.

So, to recap:

  • Emotions are deceptive; if someone is angry, or upset, and you don’t know why, ask them about it; don’t just retaliate
  • Hurt people hurt people; if you don’t want to hurt the people around you, you gotta work through what’s hurting you (or learn to let it go); if anything, know what hurts you so that when you’re hurt, you can take some time to cool off before talking about it

Plan B

I’m a planner. I like being prepared, and knowing what I’m doing. I like being able to look forward to what’s ahead. That’s great most of the time, but not all the time. A lot of things this year haven’t turned out the way I hoped. I know we’re just at the start, but my plans have already changed.

With everything that’s been going on, I’ve been kinda down. Not necessarily depressed, but I haven’t been excited about these changes to my plan. I don’t like them. But, they’re what I have, and I can do one of two things with them:

  1. Sulk, and spend forever sulking because I don’t have what I want.
  2. Use what I have and make the most out of it.

I kinda came to the realization that I was stuck in “sulkville” when we had puppets last Sunday (there were a few other things God was slapping me with, but I can’t remember them at the moment).

The ENTIRE puppet skit was about looking for the good in our situations. One of the puppets was explaining to his friends why he had a sling, and a bandage on his head, and foot. So many bad things happened to him, but, after every situation he told them about, he had something good to say about it.

Lately I’ve really lost my touch when it comes to “looking for the good”. I can coach anyone on how to do it, and I still know how to, but I keep forgetting to actually do it. I’m letting myself only think about what I don’t have, and what’s gonna happen later, and what I’m afraid of. I’m forgetting to look around me and see what’s actually there. I have a family who loves me, amazing friends, and a God who won’t leave me when I need him, or when I screw up. I have mom hugs, and hugs from my kids at work, and flowers, and clouds, and the color blue. I have music, and dancing, and art.

I think, to remind myself to enjoy the good, I’m going to post something I’m thankful for every day (if not a few things). Just a short little “I’m thankful for: …”, but I think it’ll remind me to focus on the good instead of all the bad.

My Way

I read something interesting about Jim Hensen on Facebook this morning. The post said that Jim had no training when he started doing the Muppets on TV, and he that had barely any experience with puppets in general. It said he basically made it up as he went, and learned from each trial that came his way.

The post was from a home school mom I follow. She shared it to point out that, when you’re home schooling, you can make things up as you go. You aren’t exactly following any else’s example, like the public school system generally does, so you have freedom to do things your way. You learn how you work, and sometimes you learn a new, better way to do things. Jim Hensen made it up as he went, and look at where the Muppets are today.

I really want to enter ArtPrize in 2020. I’ve only been drawing and painting for a year and a half, so I really doubted my abilities. I wasn’t sure I had enough skill to enter (keeping in mind that I will have two more years of experience when I enter). However, my art, and pretty much everything else I’ve done, has always been my style. It’s been different, and when I try to paint what other people want, or what’s “popular”, I usually bomb. It just doesn’t look how it “should”, and I get discouraged. That’s because it’s not mine. I learned that painting, or “arting”, as I like to call it, isn’t about what people want. It’s about sharing what you see, and how you see it. I wanted my art to have all my imperfections, be from my heart, and my mind, and be as unique as me. Nothing I ever do will look like what’s “popular” because I wasn’t the one who made it popular. I can’t replicate what someone else has done (yet 😉 ).

So, I’m going to enter ArtPrize, despite what my art may or may not look like. I have a story I want to tell, and a dream to fulfill. I’m going to enter what I’m happy with, and what I’ve put my whole heart into.

Poster

I made myself my very own inspirational poster. (See below.)

It’s based off a verse from the song, “Towards the Sun,” by Rihanna. The verse is, “Turn your face towards the sun. Let the shadows fall behind you.”

I’ve been trying to let go of whatever anxiety, or fear, that I’ve been having because usually I don’t know why I’m feeling what I do. So, I try to just block it out, and let it go. The verse from the song, and the painting, remind me to just let it all go. All my fears, all my struggles, are the shadows that fall behind me. And that’s all they are. Just shadows.

I Know My Limits

Sometimes you just need to stop. That’s okay. Sometimes, after a long week, you just need to take some time to rest, and heal.

I’d been feeling kind of off all last week. My mom thought we’d been kinda sick, but I felt mostly fine, so I did most of the things I had planned. Then, come Friday, I felt pretty bad. Both physically, and emotionally. I knew I needed some time to stop, and reset, so I chose not to plan anything for the weekend. I wanted some time to clear my head, and just rest. This post is about knowing when to rest when life is difficult.

I’m still dealing with a little anxiety when I go out and do things with people, so going out and doing things can be pretty hard. I haven’t stopped doing them, and I’m not hiding from them because they’re hard. I’m just taking a rest. It’s like training for a marathon (not that I’ve done that). You don’t train 27/7 until that marathon. You train slowly, taking breaks when you need them, so that you aren’t completely exhausted, and sometimes in more pain than you started with, come race day.

Something I’ve been learning through this whole process is self-care. Being a natural extrovert, I’ve always been inclined to go out and do anything with anyone no matter how I felt. That doesn’t always work. As a kid, it kind of does, but the older you get the bigger your struggles are. The more you need time, and space, to stop and think. To evaluate the things that are going on.

You know your limits. Sometimes it’s good to push them, but make sure you don’t push too much and hurt yourself more in the process. Everyone needs time to stop and heal every once in a while.