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.

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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.

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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!

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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 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.
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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.
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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.
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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. 
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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.
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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!
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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!
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To find out more about Simone you can follow her on Facebook or check out her photography blog!
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Cheers!

Pardon Our Dust

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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!

Laxy Day

I wrote this yesterday, but our Internet has been out all weekend, so I am just getting back into the blog life. Gotta say…the vaca was kinda nice!

We have been so busy the last few days that I have not had enough time to sit and write anything. It was a really fun kind of busy though, so I really can’t complain. We had a 3-hour 10-course dinner at a ridiculously fancy hard-to-even-get-a-reservation restaurant (the Catbird Seat), shopped at the enormous annual Nashville flea market, enjoyed some sales at Opry Mills mall, ate at the famous Prince’s Hot Chicken, hungout with friends and enjoyed some Greek food, did lots of T25 and even participated in a Pepsi commercial that involved free Pepsi sundaes and free food trucks. We spent two whole days running around with Luna and it was exhausting, which is why I declared yesterday “Laxy Day”.

my find at the flea market
my find at the flea market

When Luna woke up at 6am yesterday I couldn’t keep both eyes open long enough to walk to her room. My body ached, the dark circles under my eyes were forming their own dark circles and brushing my hair seemed like waaayyyy too much effort. I considered the messy house and the list of  writing sitting on my desk, but thought the couch and my huge soft blanket sounded so much better. When Husband got up and joined me in the living room I decided to announce that we were having a day of rest. I was debating weather to call it “Relaxing Day” or “Lazy Day”, but because my head was so foggy it came out “Laxy Day”. I almost corrected myself, but then decided “Laxy Day” was the perfect name.

The only problem with “Laxy Day” when you have a baby is that babies do NOT understand the importance of laxing. I tried very hard to explain to Luna that “today is laxy day…the day of lax, it is NOT day of cry or day of being constantly entertained”. I even sang to her “lax little baby don’t say a word, Daddy’s going to buy us a Sephora shopping spree”. (I’m not a fan of birds.) However, even with all the explaining and singing my little girl refused to lax. So, laxy day was more of a play with a baby, take a nice walk, wash the cars, do the laundry, clean the floors, cook dinner all while staying in our PJ’s kind of day. Still a very nice day.

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Taking some time off has me feeling completely refreshed and ready to do lots of writing and sharing! Get ready for some new reviews, giveaways, and tales of strawberry picking, picnics, growing babies, workout updates and more!

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Cheers and Happy Memorial Weekend!

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!