Unconditional

Have you ever needed to express yourself so badly that it hurt, physically hurt? Is there ever something you needed to say, write, sing, dance, paint, play so desperately that it’s consuming your every thought? You can’t focus, can’t sleep, can’t hold a conversation because there is work, art and poetry that needs to be made and if you don’t do it now it may never get done! So you start, you grab your paintbrush, tie your sneakers, tighten the strings on your guitar or open up your laptop and then…then, what? What you have to say is so deep within you that you don’t even know where to start or how to express yourself in a way that is meaningful and beautiful enough to transcend to anyone outside of yourself. How do you begin?

That’s where I am.

I love people. I love them deeply. I especially love the people in my life. These people, my friends, my family, my coworkers, my bosses, my students, my neighbors, my doctors, my baby… I love them. I love them for who they are and how they love me for who I am. I love them because they are wise, funny, kind, compassionate, caring, creative, hard-working, beautiful, strong and so much more. They are also all a little broken, bruised and even odd. They can be forgetful, selfish, stubborn, absent-minded, late, annoying and disorganized. They have faults, many, because they are real. They are real people who need love, just like me.

type of person

All my life, I’ve been told to love. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love as God loves you. Treat others with love and kindness. Above all else, love. Love wins. Love is the one most powerful message I have learned from my parents, my church, my favorite teachers and my mentors. That message has stuck with me through the years. Sometimes it’s at the forefront of my thoughts, and other times it’s tucked back behind my anger and ignorance, but at some point it always rears it’s head to remind me of what matters. Truth is, sometimes anger and ignorance wins. On those days, I go to bed feeling exhausted, sad and disappointed in myself. What did I accomplish with my anger or fear? Nada. When I let go of my anger and allow love in instead, I see change. I see change within my own heart, and within others. Love truly does win.

The other day a friend of mine, a friend I love dearly, let me know that she is transgender.

Was I surprised? A little, but it wasn’t at all shocking. Honestly, I felt honored because I am one of the few people she trusted to know and still love her no matter what. And I do, and I let her know that I do and that I will always be in her corner.

threat

As I drove home, grief and confusion hit me, but not for the reasons you may think. (I have just as much anxiety for others as I do for myself, it’s exhausting!) Reality began setting in and I couldn’t help but think about the struggles my friend would face, the bullies she would endure and the pain that more than likely lies ahead. However, more than those sad thoughts were the people whom my friend couldn’t trust with her news. The ones who will choose to stop caring for her, the ones who will turn on her and the ones who will no longer have her back.

I let my non-stop mind go silent for just a moment (because I so often find the answers in the silence), just long enough to hear Katy Perry (the CD that was blaring in my car to keep Luna from crying) sing the word “unconditional”, and that’s when it hit me. Unconditional love. All those lessons on love through my childhood, were based on an unconditional love. When you “love others as you love yourself”, “love as God loves” and remember that “above all else is love” than you must love unconditionally.

Come just as you are to me
Don’t need apologies
Know that you are worthy ~ Katy Perry

When you love unconditionally, you love without conditions. That should be self-explanatory, but it seems that it needs to be said. You love someone for exactly who they are despite their race, religion, political agenda, sexual preference, gender, job, education or background. It’s true that each of these factors affect us and who we become, but they do not make us good or bad.

stutter

I have to tell you I know some awesome white, straight, Christian, educated, hard-working Americans. I also know some really shitty ones. In my experience it works like that for every single labeled group of people. There’s good and bad everywhere, but mostly good. And, if you’ve got good, kind, honest and courageous people in your life, you’re lucky.

My loved ones are all of those traits and so much more, and that is what matters. Nothing more.

above all

I do not judge I try very hard to not judge, for I do not wished to be judged either. I think we could all use a lot less judgement and a lot more love. At the end of the day, when you find yourself feeling all judgey it’s best to take a look at yourself, because most judgement stems from our own fears and insecurities. It’s got more to do with you than the person you judge.

Just love. Love yourself. Love others.

Cheers

Get Me Off This Emotional Roller Coaster!

During my first trimester I was a little emotional… Husband began to irritate me with things that never bothered me before being pregnant. I mean, seriously, do you have to constantly tap on me and hum while you eat??? I also cried a lot easier, which is really ridiculous considering that I already cry at 50% of TV commercials. However, once the second trimester arrived, I seemed to even out and feel like my more normal emotional self again.

Enter the third trimester.

My emotions have been all over the place the last week! I’m up, I’m down, I’m all around. Within minutes I can go from laughing to crying to fuming. I stayed up one night crying over sad things that happened in life two years ago. Sometimes I feel so elated with being pregnant, being with Husband and loving our life that I can hardly contain myself. Then, I find myself wanting to strangle Husband for putting a coffee cup in the wrong cabinet. The biggest emotional change has been my newfound fear of becoming a Mother.

If you want to scare yourself from having children, take a flight to anywhere. While flying back and forth between Nashville and Dallas I found myself thinking, what the hell did I get myself into??? There were SO many screaming temper-tantrum throwing kids. Normally, I find it easy to put on my headphones and ignore these naughty little ones, but this time I couldn’t help but notice the Moms. They looked exhausted, frustrated and a lot like zombies. I’ve never seen such dark circles under someone’s eyes. They were carrying vinyl diaper bags, princess accessories and wearing sweatpants. One family was eating hotdogs on the floor while their son threw chunks of bread and weenie out of his stroller. Is this what my life is going to morph into in a few months? Is it too late to back out? I was horrified.

Ten minutes later I noticed a toddler sitting with her Mother and eating fries and nuggets. She was adorable, singing to herself  and politely asking her Mom to blow on her chicken nugget even though it was obviously at room temperature by this point. Her Mom laughed with her silly little girl and snapped photos of her with a big cheesy smile to send to “Daddy”. It was so cute and sweet that I almost cried. It made me yearn for Luna’s arrival and our future Mommy/Daughter dates.

The whole trip went back and forth like this, and shopping was exactly the same. One minute I was on the verge of panicking as I watched siblings throw down in the middle of a store as “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” blared in the background. The next minute I was sappy and hopeful as I watched a little boy whisper his wish list sweetly into Santa’s ear.

I’m sure all of these scenarios are bits and pieces of what parenthood will be like and I’m certain Husband and I are both ready for this next step in life, but my God is it scary! I can definitely imagine us toting around princess toys and eating hotdogs on the floor at the airport, but sweatpants and vinyl bags is where I draw the line. Honestly, I found it hard to believe that this was the last trip I’ll be taking alone for a while. I became fully aware of my alone adult kid-less time and tried to savor every sip of Starbuck’s and every bite of Five Guy’s fries and felt thankful that I didn’t have to share my iPad with anyone.

Hopefully, this emotional roller coaster comes to an end soon. I’m ready to only feel excited again…does that even happen? Only 73 days to go! (Hopefully a little less than that!)

Cheers!

Being Brave

I had a doctor appointment today. It was just a standard check-up. My doctor wanted to see me one last time before I move to Tennessee. My last appointment went fairly well. My medicines had been working, and I really like my doctor so my nerves were relatively low. This doctor appointment was not quite as calm.

As excited as I am about moving and being a homeowner, I am also very very anxious. I don’t feel anxious. I feel excited and stressed at times, but not anxious. However, my body has a mind of its own and has been showing every symptom of anxiety, including: headaches, mouth ulcers, inability to eat/digest food, insomnia and panic attacks just to name a few. So, when my doctor asked “How have you been?” it took every bit of me not to cry.

I hate admitting that I am not don’t feel perfect. I typically only go to the doctor when I am sure that I am 100% healthy. I make sure to get eight hours of sleep the night before, eat only the healthiest of food the day before and I don’t even have coffee until after each doctor appointment. Every visit feels like a test, and I’ve always been a straight A student. I only want to answer her question with “Awesome! I feel absolutely perfect!”

The doctor just stared at me as I whispered “Not great” and then said “So tell me what’s going on”. I love my doctor she is calm, sweet, understanding and never treats me like I’m crazy. She takes everything I say very seriously and then proceeds to talk to me like child who is afraid of the dark. She assures me that I will be okay, things will get better and that it is perfectly acceptable to use a night-light when I am scared.

The doctor has been my substitute psychologist as well. She always asks me to tell her EVERYTHING, so I do. The words spill out of me like a faucet I can’t turn off….I’m moving. My husband isn’t here. I have to leave my job. I’m living out of a suitcase. I don’t have a new job. I’m scared I can’t get pregnant. I don’t know if I even want a teaching job. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t be at my house right now making sure the jobs are all getting done. I have one million things to do before moving. My medicine isn’t working. I had a panic attack in the stairwell….

She listened and let me talk without ever interrupting. When I finished she calmly said that she doesn’t deal well with change either. Some people just have a hard time with change. Even changes that one may be very excited about. She then gave me a list of things to do (workout more, eat healthier, drink less caffeine, don’t be too scared of my Xanax prescription, check blood pressure more often), and I just thought “awesome, more stuff to add to my list”.

We said our good-byes and thank you’s, and I left feeling utter relief. I began walking towards Starbuck’s (my big girl reward for going to the doctor) and without warning began crying. I don’t know if I felt so relieved to have survived another doctor appointment, or maybe it was verbally releasing all my concerns or that I just needed to cry. Whatever it was, I stood on the sidewalk between the doctor’s office and Starbucks and cried. I didn’t want strangers to start throwing pity change my way, so I pulled on my sunglasses and pretended to play on my phone as the tears rolled down my cheeks.

*I wrote this blog last night because I was feeling brave. Brave because I am still facing my fears, and brave for being so open here in my little blog world. However, I also felt wrong. After, all the news reports, photos and videos from yesterdays tornado’s in Oklahoma it just did not feel right to share a story about my “bravery”. I was brave, yes, but I cannot imagine the bravery the parents, teachers, neighbors, doctors, fire fighters and friends of the Moore and Oklahoma city are all showing.

Instead of ending this with a proper conclusion, which I suck at writing anyways, I’ll end by just sending out some positive vibes and a big giant prayer to everyone effected by the storm.

And with this video…because it’s so happy and so moving.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50147264n

This woman lost everything. EVERYTHING. She’s thankful to just be alive. Then, in the middle of the rubble, she finds her love! Such a miracle.

Cheers!

Facing My Fears

quote

I did it. I went to the doctor today. Whew….boy, do I feel better! Husband went with me for support, and because he needed a check-up as well. As much as I appreciated his presence, it was not very helpful. I was so sick all morning leading up to the appointment. I lay on the couch all morning, could barely manage to eat a banana, and almost threw up on the bus ride there.

While waiting in the doctor’s office I thought I might break down. Why on Earth do they play terrifying commercials in the waiting room of every doctor’s office??? 5 signs you are dying. A terrible story of a girl with a hidden disease. And, Everything you should be afraid of! I tried to tune out the disturbing messages on the TV. I tried to focus on the stack of papers I had to fill out, hands shaking, but it was a challenge.

By the time they called me back I was sweating and my heart was pounding in my ears. The doctor sat me down in her office first to get to know me a little better. I am oh-so very thankful she did this. I got to fully explain my fears, my anxiety and the whole reason for making the appointment in the first place. Of course, the second I opened my mouth I began crying. I hated to cry in front of her, but there was no stopping the tears. My body was just so relieved to let it out.

I told her EVERYTHING. Once I finished “letting it all out” she told me (in a very professional and understanding way) that I needed to be on anti-anxiety medication, to see a therapist and come back for regular check-ups. I agreed because I know I need help and more than anything I want to get back to being myself.

The physical was the most meticulous physical I have ever experienced. She took my blood, did an EKG, and a hundred other tiny tests. Surprisingly I learned that I have a heart murmur. I’ll be returning next week for an echocardiogram, but I am okay with this. She was confident that it is no big deal. Not surprisingly, my blood pressure was a little high…

It was 132/80. Not TOO bad, but not great. Husband’s was actually the same as mine, which is surprising. I will be working hard on keeping my anxiety under control, and we will both be eating less salt and exercising more (hopefully together).

The good news is that I feel much better. I found an understanding doctor, and I am finally on the right path. My journey is just getting started, and I’m sure it will get bumpy, but luckily I have all of you to support me and listen to my anxiety-filled stories. (Thank you so much for the sweet calls, thoughts and text messages today!) At first, I felt silly for having my friends worry about my simple physical, but it definitely made me feel stronger knowing I was not alone.

The REALLY good news is that the doctor said I do not need to quit drinking coffee; I just need to drink less. I can live with that. The second I got out; I went to Starbucks because I had not had any coffee yet and was suffering from a caffeine headache. The barista made me a large when I ordered a small…I think he knew I deserved a treat. Thanks Mr. Barista.

Here’s to many more positively not-so-panicked doctor visits!

Cheers!

I Cannot Get The Flu

shots

Under very normal, even under extremely positive, circumstances I am terrified of getting sick. Mostly, I am afraid of terminal illnesses, but I often think I have any illness anyone has around me. Hypochondria is just lovely, isn’t it?

Now, lucky for me, there is a flu EPIDEMIC. An epidemic! How serious does that sound!? At first, I thought, eh, the news is always over dramatic, it can’t be THAT bad. I have actually felt okay. I have not had any symptoms…even the ones I make up in my head. I have not even been too concerned.

Until today…not one, but two co-workers have come down with the flu. The students are dropping like flies, and Husband woke up with a sore float. The governor even declared a health emergency in New York. Luckily, I did not have work today. I did, however, have to run errands.

Running errands meant riding the train, shopping, exchanging money, and being around so many people. Eww. I tried so hard to ignore all the sneezy, nose-blowers all around me, but then….I…sneezed. Now my nose is running.

I cannot be getting sick.

I absolutely cannot get the flu. I have plans, big plans. I am flying to Texas this weekend to host my sister’s baby shower, and a huge project to complete at work. I have no time to be sick.

For those of you who may be wondering, no, I did not get the flu shot. Why? I don’t know… I am too busy to take the time to get one. I did not give it any thought. I keep hearing it doesn’t work. I hate going to the doctor for any reason. Basically, just a lot of dumb excuses.

Is it too late to get a flu shot? I just wish I could stay locked in my apartment until my flight on Friday…and maybe lock Husband out. Sorry babe, but if you get sick you may need to be quarantined. No offense.

I hope none of you have the flu, or get the flu. If you do, please stay home. Stay well everyone, and wish me luck!

Cheers!

A Horse Named Peanut

As a very young child I fantasized about one day owning a horse. My best friend and I used to feed the horses in her neighborhood and then spend the day pretending to be cowgirls and riding our imaginary horses around. When I finally had the opportunity to ride a horse I was over the moon. Sadly, the first horse I rode did not share my enthusiasm.

In fact, my first couple of horse riding experiences were nothing short of traumatic.

When I was about ten years old I went to a dude ranch with my church. One day we had a horse back riding adventure scheduled. Before the trip, I roamed the stables to check out the horses. While petting and feeding them I ran into one of the Cowboys who would be leading our group through the trails. I told him that I loved horses, but was terrified of them.

The Cowboy assured me that I would be fine and told me I would get the smallest sweetest horse, Peanut.

I loved Peanut instantly. It did not take long for me to calm down and enjoy the ride. We rode through the woods, over creeks, along cliffs, and eventually came to an open meadow. We stopped to listen to the head Cowboy tell us something important, I assume. I was only 10 and not listening to a word. I was happy just gazing into the meadow with Peanut. Sadly, Peanut did not share my content.

Peanut took off. He ran to the middle of the meadow and began bucking wildly while I held on for dear life. After a couple of cowboys calmed him down and helped me off the horse, I joined my Dad on his horse and rode with my eyes closed and my fist clenched tight the rest of the trip.

I never got on a horse again.

Zoey had a very similar experience. She was somehow convinced to ride again recently, and told me I had to do the same.

Her Uncle Kelly, (my Uncle too I guess!) is a real Cowboy. He rides and trains horses, has a farm, and makes the most beautiful things you have ever seen from leather. He assured me that he could teach me to ride his horse, and promised nothing bad would happen. I trust Kelly, so over the break we spent a day on his farm.

Call Kelly anytime! He's more than happy to show you around.
Call Kelly anytime! He’s more than happy to show you around.

Kelly was so calm, and has such a great bond with his horse Junior. I felt safe and comfortable the whole time, and even began to enjoy myself.

getting tips and tricks from the horse whisperer
getting tips and tricks from the horse whisperer
Love you Junior!
Love you Junior!

Horseback riding was not the only activity on the farm. We also took turns riding dirt bikes around the property.

vroom vroom
vroom vroom
Can you caption this?
Can you caption this?

When we got too cold we spent time in Kelly’s shop watching him work his magic with his leather and his tools. Husband’s family is very artistic.

Just a small portion of Kelly's tools.
Just a small portion of Kelly’s tools.
Hard at work
Hard at work

After a great morning on the farm, Uncle Kelly took us to his favorite country restaurant. I had turnips, greens, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and cornbread. Every dish tasted like something right out of a southern Grandmother’s kitchen.

Best meal I've had in a very long time!
Best meal I’ve had in a very long time!

I had the best day being a cowgirl, and I definitely plan on visiting again! Thank you so much Uncle Kelly!

Cheers!