Writing Heals, It Really Does

A couple of months ago, an article popped up in my Facebook feed with a title that went something like….10 Facebook Pages Every Writer Needs to Follow!  I would never ever call myself a “writer”, but I do enjoy writing and am always looking for ways to improve my writing so I read the article and found a couple of pages that offered writing prompts, quotes, interesting articles and whatnot.

I followed the pages, then, I completely forgot about them and because Facebook is super annoying these days and only allows certain people and pages to show up in your feed, I didn’t ever see any of their status updates, until today. Today, a status from NaNoWriMo magically appeared in my feed and caught my interest. It read…

“Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.”

Today’s writing prompt? Write a sentence summing up your year so far… then write the next sentence in that story as you look forward to the rest of 2015!

So I tried it. It’s much harder than it sounds. Go ahead try it. Just think of a sentence. Here’s what I came up with… (It’s 3 sentences, but whatever.)

Happily trying to keep my head above water as I finally figure out how to manage life as a Mom. Everyday feels like a race these days, but it’s a race I never want to end. I only want to continue growing, learning and chasing dreams.

Afterwards, I went on to read the actual article from the New York Times that is linked on NaNoWriMo, and found it no only intriguing, but oh so right! OF COURSE the power of writing can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness! Isn’t that why I write. Yes, yes it is. Don’t I always tell everyone that writing is what helps my anxiety most? It keeps me sane. It brings me back. It reminds me of everything that really matters. And, now I’ve found proof.

why i write

Apparently there have been studies done that prove that writing about your life, your problems, your loves and your dreams can actually “improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.”

When I write about any issue that has been eating away at me, and nervously press that powerful “publish” button I immediately feel a weight taken off my shoulders. Sharing my truth allows me to let it go. Then, when I begin connecting with you, reading your comments and emails, and learning that I am not alone, I am lightened. Beyond that, I learn more about myself, my mistakes, my habits and my fears through reflection. Putting pen to paper (err..fingers to keyboard?) allows me to make corrections, outline my future and began creating a new chapter.

write what

Perhaps, the most powerful quote in the article is the last…

 

“When you get to that confrontation of truth with what matters to you, it creates the greatest opportunity for change,” Dr. Groppel.

That’s important. How do you get to that truth? Do we all find it through some form of art? Can you write and tell your story? Would you prefer to paint it? Choreograph it? Photograph it? Will it have the same effect as writing? I think so. I think, perhaps, we all have a way of finding and sharing our truth. Find yours.

Writing this blog has changed my life. It began as a way to share my life abroad with friends and family and has since morphed into therapy. Therapy, that is constantly curbing my anxiety, healing me after many health scares and teaching me what’s important. Thank you for being a part of the process!

how yo do it

If you are ever debating to write, or not to write, whether it be in a journal, a blog or an email, please do it. You will not regret it.

Cheers!

Why am I Blogging?

I took a break from blogging this last few days because I needed some time to step back and reflect on not only what I’ve been writing for the past few years, but where I want the writing to go in the future. I began blogging to keep in touch with family and friends while traveling overseas, and continued blogging because I not only enjoyed it, but it became very therapeutic and a much needed creative outlet. It’s true that writing benefits my soul and my need to “let it all out”, but I’ve learned that it does so much more. I’ve been able to make connections with people from around the world, find new friends and reconnect with old friends. It’s grown and I’ve grown right along with it.

Enjoying the beaches of southern Albania, where my blogging all began!
Enjoying the beaches of southern Albania, where my blogging all began!

Positively Panicked actually began as Adventures of a Teacher. My blogged centered around teaching and traveling in Europe for year, and I thought it would end there. Then, I moved to New York and decided to continue sharing my new adventures. Soon after, I created Positively Panicked as an outlet for my anxiety with a hope that I could reach out and relate to people with similar issues. However, a lot happened over the last three years and I began blogging about weddings, life in the city, reviews, giveaways, marriage, moving, buying a home and of course, having a baby. When I look back over my post it reads like a diary or a blog-themed reality show. Honestly, it’s a hot mess of ideas, stories and the misadventures of me.

A whirlwind of coming back to the states, going to Disney, getting engaged and moving to NY!
A whirlwind of coming back to the states, going to Disney, getting engaged and moving to NY!

The one theme that has remained is positivity. I try my best to be a positive person. Whether I’m chasing after a missed train in Italy, losing luggage in New York, crying in the doctor’s office, freaking out over seating charts, creating elementary curriculums, learning to live in the country or losing sleep because of a newborn; I have tried to find the silver lining or the light at the end of the tunnel and I owe that to this blog. I am definitely not always positive. My life has some really crappy moments like everyone else’s, but when I decide to write and share these moments with you I begin to look at those crappy experiences differently. As I write, I learn to find the good.

Trying to find our way in Stockholm.
Trying to find our way in Stockholm.

There are many days that I wake up wanting to do nothing. Sometimes (okay, lots of times) sleeping late, staying in my pj’s, ignoring my phone and binging on Netflix and frozen pizza is what I want most. Sometimes I give into these lazy days of indulgence because we all need a good pajama day, but most days I choose to find an adventure. I choose to get out, to live, to meet people, to face my anxiety, to jump off that cliff, run across the train tracks, buy that one way ticket, attempt to cook, attend that party and everything else. It all began because I needed something to write about. I needed stories to share, so I went out and found a story, and now? Now, it’s a beautiful habit. Now, I know I’ll be more than happy that I got out and faced some fear. Now, it’s easier to see the positive side of life. Now, I hope to encourage some of you.

Just "monkeying around" in Costa Rica
Just “monkeying around” in Costa Rica

Don’t let fear rule your life. It’s so easy to stay home, to make excuses and dwell on everything wrong in life, but why settle for easy? Challenge yourself to find daily adventure. Quit putting off that getaway, that coffee with a long-lost friend, that sewing project or that overdue doctor appointment. Look at it like a new adventure and search for that silver lining. It’s not always easy, in fact, it’s often a huge challenge, but that’s what makes life worth living. Some days you’ll fail and settle for a pajama day, but other days you’ll jump and you’ll wonder what you were ever so afraid of, and you’ll learn a lot about yourself and a strength you never knew you had.

Meeting Luna
Meeting Luna

That’s where I want my blog to focus. I will be sharing my adventures (the good, the bad and the scary), writing about the times I succeed and the many times I fail while searching for the good in it all. I hope you join me for the ride!

Cheers!

An Oldie, But a Goodie

 

Alright, I have been out of commission the last two days thanks to a lovely little thing called mastitis. In case you don’t know the wonders of this super fun infection is basically the flu and one very very sore boob. Now, that my fever is gone and antibiotics are doing their thang, I’m kinda up to writing something. By “kinda” I mean I am going to post something I wrote 4 years ago.

Four years ago I moved to Albania to teach at an International school and started my first blog “Adventures of a Teacher.”  This is one of the first posts I wrote, it describes our arrival…enjoy.

First off, let me say that we did not receive the warmest of welcomes upon our arrival in Tirana. After 20 hours of traveling (NYC-Rome-Budapest-Tirana) we get to the airport and find NO ONE waiting to pick us up. Trying to stay positive, we wait around hoping they are just running late. After a few hours of sitting in a non-air conditioned airport, with creepy taxi drivers harassing us, and no sleep for 36 hours, we decide to get a non-creepy taxi to take us to try and find the school. (We later learned that this taxi driver ended up charging us A LOT more than he should have charged.)

The taxi driver speaks no english and drove us around the city for two hours trying to find the school. (We were apparently given the wrong address.) Finally, I said “forget it, and get me to a hotel, any hotel, that has internet access before I pass out.” We arrive at a tiny hotel in an alley way. Our room’s AC had been turned off, so we just laid there, in our separate tiny twin beds, until the room cooled off and we passed out…for many hours. (I emailed the school first, of course.)

The next morning (just about the time we were beginning to think this was all a hoax) the school contacted me and said they thought we were arriving the next day. (Interestingly, they never apologized for leaving us stranded in a foreign country.) They quickly came and picked us up from the hotel and brought us to our apartment. whew….

Our apartment is big, nice, completely furnished, and hilarious! You will have to look through the pics I will post to get the gist of it upon our arrival. We have moved a lot of the weird kitschy decor since we’ve moved in. Some of the “highlights” are a headless statue, a lava lamp, a kitty cat poster, chairs that look like they came from the Haunted Mansion, a VCR complete with Albanian VHS’s, cassette tapes, etc, etc. Also, when you get off the elevator at the bottom of our apartment there is a hair salon you basically walk through to get out. Besides all of these things that give our new home character, it is a very nice place. We have 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, kitchen, dining area, living room, large entry way, and a balcony.

living room lava lamp

We also went to the school today, got the grand tour, and learned the philosophy behind the school. I’ll have to write an entire separate blog about the school tomorrow. There is ALOT to type about.

This evening we went grocery shopping at a tiny market near our apartment. Two of the items we bought that we thought were milk turned out to taste like very rotten milk; the rest of the groceries are pretty basic. Our choice of dinner (first thing to eat in 48 hours – minus half a bag of wheat thins) was veggie pizza.

We have not got to explore much of the city, but what we’ve seen, we like. It’s big and very crowded. All the streets are lined with hundreds of little shops and thousands of cafes. What I like best is the fact that any time you walk outside the cute little tables outside of the cafes are full of people relaxing and having coffee. Everyone is so laid back and faithfully takes coffee breaks 3 times a day. My kind of town…. Where we live is surprisingly quiet and is the greenest part of the city, which is also very nice.

There is much, much more to learn and explore, and I cannot wait to write all about it! Wish me luck!

The end. And, we had no idea what that year had in store for us!

Cheers!

 

New Friend Friday: Meet Katy

Okay this is very exciting for me… About a year ago I came across a random blog post on Facebook and thought it was hysterical and knew I just found a new blog to follow. After reading it I immediately hit that little “about me” icon because I had to know who this writer was that was the exact right amount of wit and sarcasm. MUCH to my surprise I learned that the author was my elementary/middle school BFF, Katy! (Actually she was my BOFF, but I can’t tell you what the ‘o’ stands for due to some sort of first grade oath).

Aww, aren't we adorable?
Aww, aren’t we adorable?

Katy was the kind of friend who always spoke her mind, taught me all about sarcasm (my Mom really appreciates that BTW) knew the cool music to listen to (she introduced me to Presidents of the United States of America when we were 11),she had my back no matter what (out of her way, mean girls!), she was the first and youngest vegetarian I ever knew (which is some sort of miracle considering we grew up in Texas) and she’s basically the exact same person. Anyways, we kind of grew apart in high school, as friends often do, but we’ve managed to keep in touch over the years. We met up in NYC a couple of years ago and now we stalk each other on Facebook and I just wish we lived closer to each other so we could actually hangout.

That's us on the upper left at my 3rd grade slumber party.
That’s us on the upper left at my 3rd grade slumber party.

Today, I get to introduce her and her blog to you! Please get to know my BOFF, Katy!

katy
a much more recent photo
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Katy. I’m a big nerd and I am constantly making completely normal situations weird and awkward. I live in Austin with my boyfriend and derpy dog who is also making situations awkward. Like the other day he tried to run from the shadow of an overhead bird and almost dragged me into oncoming traffic. So.. yeah. I guess that about sums me up
What is your blog, Awkward Burpees, all about? 
Me, my wonderful city and my journey to get fit, stay fit and the ups and downs of it all. I try to serve this up with a little humor because I love to laugh. I feel like finding the light side makes a writer more relatable, especially if it’s a topic not everyone is super into- like fitness. Like, not everyone is going to understand the complexity of holding crow pose, but everyone gets that it’s hard not to fart in yoga. Oh and all the uncomfortable situations I get myself into (like farting in yoga and faking a coughing coughing fit try to cover it up)
What convinced you to start blogging? 
Um…remember Myspace? I used to write these bulletin posts on there about ridiculous fashion disasters and it always got such positive feedback that it lead me to start a personal blog. And then my interest turned more from fashion to fitness.
So you’re a Beachbody Coach…whats that all about? 
Beachbody coaching is the FUNNEST! I get to spend my free time advising people on what workout programs might work for them which I spend a lot of time doing anyway. And then when they start a program I get to be their cheerleader. It’s kind of exhilarating. And the beachbody programs are LEGIT, y’all. They are products that I’m happy to be associated with. When people hear Insanity or P90X they know you’re not talking about some fly-by-night, get-skinny-quick scam. Also, the community. Every single other BBcoach I talk to is basically the nicest person I’ve ever met in the world. I love the positive energy
You work, workout, blog, coach, have a life and a boyfriend…that’s a lot. How do you manage everything without losing your mind? 
Well, working out you just have to make it a priority. And if that means setting your alarm clock for 4:40 am some days (ugh) that’s what you got to do. Also, I am extremely lucky to have the support of my boyfriend in everything I do. He works out with me and if he doesn’t that day he makes sure to give me my space so I can. He reads my blogs and tells me he’s proud of me. Any new workout I want to try, job I want to apply for, ambitious recipe I try to cook- he’s always got my back. He’s just so, so supportive and I’m so lucky to have him.
When/if you do lose your mind, what do you do to relieve the stress? 
Netflixing. Some people meditate. I watch “Medium” for 5 hours straight.
Tell us a little about your British boyfriend, we don’t all get to date guys with great accents!
I don’t know if you’re aware- being American- but the world cup is going on right now. I know so much more about soccer than I did 4 years ago! Also, don’t call it soccer when you’re in England!
We have pretty much overcome the language barrier now. There’s a lot of slang that just hasn’t made it across the pond yet. Like when we first started dating he called something “the tits”. The conversation had nothing to do with anatomy so I was a little confused
Tips for busy people wanting to get healthy? 
Find the time to meal prep. Find the 30 minutes a day to workout. It’s there. Wake up earlier. Make all your meals for the week on your day off. There are always excuses not to do something. Finding the time to make healthy meals and eat well is an investment in your future! I saw something- a coffee mug that said “You have just as many hours in the day as Beyonce”.
Fav vegetarian recipe? 
I could eat (drink?) green smoothies for breakfast, lunch & dinner. That and stuffed portobella mushrooms. Shut up. Just shut up right now and go make one. Spectacular, aren’t they?
Something you want readers to know about you? 
I cannot tell time on those wrist watches with hands but no numbers.
Best beauty product? 
My dermatologist told me not to use it anymore (I have like overly redonkulous cystic acne that has not gotten the memo that I’m not freaking 16 anymore!!!) but I love, love, love Clean and Clear deep action cleanser. It makes my face feel like Christmas morning sprinkled in fairy dust. It’s especially good for helping me wake up in the morning for those early morning workouts.
Most common color in your closet? 
 I had to go to my closet and look. I thought it was going to be mustard, but it was black. How boring. AND now I’m depressed
Most embarrassing song in iPod? 
The entire Britney Spears “Femme Fatale” album. Ugh. I just can’t fight it anymore
Finish this sentence: My dream vacation would….
be on a magical beach where calories, hangovers and underboob sweat don’t exist
Thank you, Katy!
Alright, people go check her out at Awkward Burpees and give her a like on Facebook (she posts funny stuff, I promise!).
Cheers!

New Friend Friday: Meet Simone

I’m so happy to introduce you (or re-introduce you) to my friend Simone. I’ve talked about Simone from ST Photography a few times on here. She took our 2nd annual Friend Photos, our extended family photos and our very first family-of-three photos. I also went to high school with Simone and we were even in the same youth group for a few years. It’s so cool that over ten years later we can keep in touch through social media and even catch up when I go back to Texas and have her take our photos. Simone is much much more than a photographer and tonight I get to share her story with you!

Meet my friend Simone: (and I’ll sprinkle some of her awesome photos throughout her interview too!)

Simone with her two beautiful girls.
Simone with her two beautiful girls.

Tell us a little about yourself…

Well, I am a wife, mother, photographer, hydraulic sales assistant, and beach body coach. Wow, I’d like to see all that on a business card! I love big families, all out belly laughs, simple moments that should never be forgotten, beautiful light, polka dots, baby toes, soft smiles, baby feet in cake, selfies with my babies, being on the golf course with my love. I have three tiny humans, 7, 5 and 3, who give me more joy and a messier house than I ever imaged! I have also been married to my best friend for the past 9 years. I love to tell people about how he took me to my highschool prom.
2014-03-23_0024
You have multiple jobs and multiple kids…how on Earth do you manage to juggle so many responsibilities without totally losing it? What’s your secret?
I love Sonic Tea. Ha! The Beach Body coach in me should tell you to run away from the sweet tea, but hey, I am an imperfect person and strive to be completely honest! But for real, I have the best most supportive husband in the world. Our life is crazy and not perfect in any way but I couldn’t do it without him. We have had a crazy ride in our 9 years of marriage and we always have remained thankful. I guess that is how I keep going, in the midst of the crazy, I am thankful for what the Lord has provided me and look forward to the future…..and hit up Sonic happy hour every chance I get.
When did you get into photography and why?
I have always loved photography. My aunt gave me my first camera, a Nikon SLR, when I graduated high school. It went everywhere I did and I still have it. In college I took some art classes which furthered my love for capturing the moment. I got a C (I am not an artist!) but it helped me grow artistically. I started professionally taking pictures 6 years ago.
2014-04-23_0069
What inspires you?
I am inspired by artists who started with nothing and now are my role models. I am inspired by woman who stay at home day in and day out and are an example of grace and Godliness while doing a million thankless things for their families all day. I am inspired by the future and what it can hold for me and my family.
Tips for Moms who plan on getting professional photos of their families?
Two things. One, find a photographer you trust and can connect with. It makes all the difference! Look over their work, ask questions before the day and make sure both you and the photographer know what you are looking for. Secondly, have fun with it! What does your family like to do? Who are you? Try to incorporate that in your family pictures. Play with your kids at the session and don’t worry about trying to get that perfect shot. If you keep your cool and stay relaxed the real moments will come and I guarantee you will have moments of love, happiness and joy.
945636_652993824717477_1832665048_n
Favorite workout or workout move? How has becoming a Beachbody Coach changed you/your life?
I LOVE T25. It was my first program and still a favorite. I don’t know anyone who has not seen amazing results from this program. For me, being a BB Coach has been amazing. Not only do I get to help others live a healthy, active life, but I am pushing myself to do the same. I have literally sat at my desk and cried over messages from people so excited about achieving goals. I helped them. Nothing beats that moment.
How do you handle anxiety?
I would love to give some amazing secret miracle to anxiety, but honestly I don’t have one. We did talk about Sonic happy hour already, right?? Honestly, I am a worrier. I don’t let things go. So in order to sleep at night I talk it out with two very special ladies in my life. They listen, give advise and support. 
945713_686285988054927_195795195_n
Funny memory from photo session.
Oh! This one is pretty recent, but I loved it. About a month ago a super sweet family brought frogs to their session. Yep, frogs. And we had frog racing on a picnic table. It was one of the funnest moments I have ever had! And goes back to what I was saying earlier….who are you? what does your family do? For this family, having their boys play with frogs was perfect. It was their life. I loved that.
Something you want readers to know about you?
I genuinely care for each and every family I come in contact with. I love watching their families grow. I am happy with them in their joys and have cried and prayed for them in times of need. I think it’s why I have such a hard time saying no sometimes – I want to be there for everyone because I care about them.
1544929_792857160731142_621967922_n
Best beauty product?
This is totally not my specialty, but I do love MilkShake leave in conditioner! Its awesome with Texas humidity and my girls love that it smells like cookies.
Most common color in your closet?
Mint / Teal. I am a little in love with that color right now!
1907322_873201919363332_456600702850944109_n
Most embarrassing song in iPod?
Oh goodness, I would say the Grey’s Anatomy Season 1 soundtrack. I love it!
Finish this sentence: My dream vacation would….
A cabin somewhere near the mountains. Somewhere we could play golf, enjoy nature, roast s’mores and end the endings playing board games with the kids. And of course get some updated family pictures in the beautiful scenery!
10310682_851810614835796_3054759246382074504_n
To find out more about Simone you can follow her on Facebook or check out her photography blog!
DSC_7441 copy
Cheers!

Pardon Our Dust

under

I am so excited to say that I will soon be moving from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. I am positive that this means nothing to most of you, but it’s a huge deal for me! It’s basically moving from a fill-in-the-blank template style blog to a do-it-yourself create-everything-yourself with full creative control blog. It’s not easy and I need A LOT of help, but it’s happening! My blog shouldn’t look different for a while, but if it does or if it seems to not work correctly over the next few weeks please forgive me.

There’s a chance I may have to not blog at all for a few days too, but hopefully I can avoid that. In any case, good things are coming and I’m very excited about it. Thanks for your patience and for sticking with me!

Cheers!

My Dilemma

Lately, I feel pulled in a few different directions and sometimes not pulled at all. I’ve made several big life changes over the last few years…moving to Albania, moving to Manhattan, getting married, moving to Tennessee, buying a house, quitting my teaching career and having a baby. All of these decisions have felt right, but one. One is still troubling me.

I am having a difficult time being a stay-at-home. I shouldn’t. I have wanted to have kids and stay home with them for as long as I can remember. I’ve always wanted to have a big family, cook healthy meals, make lots of crafts, be a soccer/head of the PTO/volunteering kind of Mom. I used to dream of the days I could volunteer making costumes for my kids’ school plays…yes, I’m serious. That’s just the kind of Mom I’ve always wanted to be. I’m fortunate that I even have the option to do these things. However, lately, I’m not sure what I want at all.

The other day I saw a report about a teacher who was freaking amazing. She had raised thousands of dollars for her low-income students to travel and learn about their curriculum in a real hands-on environment. She was taking her students to places they have never been, bending over backwards to help them comprehend every skill and was so loved by her students. It made my heart hurt a little. I don’t want to boast on myself, but I know that I am a good teacher. In fact, I often feel it’s what I was meant to do. I’ve always been the sort of teacher to literally do whatever it takes for the good of my students. So, is it wrong to quit doing something I do so well? Or, will I be using all of my teaching skills to be one badass Mom?

I wonder…just how important is a job? I believe that we should all be using our God-given talents to better the Earth, people around us or just humanity in general. It’s such a waste for anyone to squander away something they could be using to help others. For some, I think they do this through their job. I know many people who love their jobs and consider it part of their identity. However, I know others who are forced to work 9-5 boring jobs and spend their time off doing what they truly love. Then, I have friends who are stay-at-home parents like myself and are raising beautiful children, helping their friends and family who work and working for no pay all the time. All of these people are doing the right thing for them, but what’s right for me?

Lately, spending so much time on the computer has brought around a new round of guilt. If I stayed home to spend more time with my baby, why am I spending so much of the time staring at my laptop? I am trying to run two blogs and desperately trying to learn wordpress.org (BTW, if anyone has any advice for learning how to manage that PLEASE share!). I have been breastfeeding as I type and even setting Luna in her jumper just so I can finish an article. What’s the point of staying home if I’m still working?

Would it be a better use of my time if I volunteered more? Learned to garden? Spent more time remodeling the house? Should I be in a classroom? Is my time spent writing and sharing my own life lessons with the world wide web valid?

I don’t know.

Yesterday, my sister and I had a conversation about this very topic. She is a working Mom and has a lot of guilt about not getting enough time with her son. However, she feels comforted knowing that she’s doing what she loves, using her talents wisely and helping her family financially. I, of course, have the opposite guilt. Maybe it’s just normal for Moms, or all parents, to feel guilty no matter what we decide.

Unfortunately, I have no answers for you today. Honestly, I think I am meant to stay home, at least for a little while, but who knows what the future holds. I may be running a new website on wordpress.org, I could be in a classroom or maybe digging up a garden and learning to paint with Luna. At this point, I think anything is possible!

Cheers!