I feel like people often view me as a strong, confident, independent woman; but that couldn’t be farther from reality.  Inside I am really just an insecure mess.  I’m always worried about something. I worry about what others think of me, about the way I look, and about the things I say and do. I am always tearing myself down in my head and second guessing everything I do.  I can certainly put on a good show outwardly so that you would never know what was going on in my brain at the same time. I guess maybe in some ways I am strong and independent, but that is because I have no other choice.  I have to keep it together for everyone else’s sake while crumbling inwardly.  No matter how strong I am, I am equally just as insecure.  Why is it that as women we feel like we have to hide our insecurities?  We all project this perfect life when it is often a lie.  I feel certain that the most secure and powerful women in the world have insecurities as well.  As a society we see insecurity as a weakness, so we just hide it and suffer through it alone. We don’t talk about how we feel about our bodies or about our worries about being a mom, wife, business woman, or whatever else we judge ourselves on.  We hold it all in until it manifests its way into anxiety and sometimes depression.  

More and more women are being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and are taking medications to help manage it.  While I have never been diagnosed, I am fairly certain that I have it as well.  There is nothing wrong with needing and asking for help, but we do need to ask ourselves why this has become such an issue with women in the first place.  What are we doing as a society that the cases of anxiety disorders are on the rise? Why are we allowing the pressures of the world to affect us so much? Yes, I put the pressure on myself to look and be perfect, but where did I get the idea that I needed to be that way in the first place? It’s because we’ve been programed not to show our weaknesses. We don’t talk about it…ever.  We put our best life on social media and hide the truth. The so called “perfect life” is on display for us 24/7, and we feel like we are failing when ours doesn’t look the same.  Those little snapshots don’t show the whole picture, though. Those filters don’t show who we really are, but that is what we put out for the world to see. We don’t show those insecurities.  Instead, we try to hide them.  It is something that we as women should talk about.  Think of how much better it would make you feel to know that those strong, powerful women you idolize felt the same way you do. Think of the power it would give you to know you aren’t alone! 

We also don’t believe it when others say something good about us. We don’t accept compliments.  My husband gave me a compliment last night and I laughed it off, rolled my eyes, and said “yeah right!” Instead of saying thank you and allowing myself to feel good, it made me think about all the negatives about myself.  We as women do this all the time.  We say, “Thank you, BUT…” and talk ourselves out of the compliment. We end up putting ourselves down either verbally or in our heads instead of letting the kind words sink in and warm our hearts.  We don’t allow ourselves to believe that anyone else could really believe those nice things about us.  We turn the compliment into destruction. I do it all the time. I honestly don’t know if I know how to truly accept a compliment. I let the compliment fuel my insecurities instead of taking it for what it really is.

Women have got to band together and put a stop to all of this and make a real change.  Having insecurities is not a sign of weakness, but there is a way to get past them.  We have to start by having real conversations with our friends, family, or spouse about our insecurities. This will make them not so taboo.  It will allow us all to see that we are normal for feeling the things we feel and maybe make the insecurities go away. Next, we have to stop only putting the good out for others to see.  Stop using filters. Show the real you. It’s ok to say that you had a rough day or that you are struggling with something. This will keep us all from having a skewed view of real life and real women. It will be actual proof that we aren’t alone. Then, start believing the good about yourself.  Allow a compliment to sit in your heart and fill it with joy. Don’t allow yourself to turn it into something it’s not. Take it in and feel it. Only then are you going to change the narrative in your head. Finally, give your self compliments. Speak positive affirmations to yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and tell your self boldly and proudly that you are beautiful, strong, and confident. The more you tell yourself that, the more you will come to believe it. It is the truth!

Let’s work together to empower each other and force that anxiety curve to plummet downward!


The Beast

I have seriously been staring at this screen for over an hour with my mind wandering a million different places.  I am so distracted today.  I guess I have a lot on my mind, and I am having trouble sticking to one topic in my brain.  I am thinking about things I have to do, a friend that I need to pray for who is struggling, and so many other random things.  It is like popcorn popping in my brain and every second a new thought pops in my head.  I wonder if that is what it is like for both my girls with ADHD struggling to stay on one topic at a time.  Sometimes on days like today, I wonder if they got it from me.  I feel like this happens around this time every year, though.  Life gets crazy busy and hectic during the winter months with competition season in full swing.  There is just so much to keep up with.  I have this constant feeling that I am forgetting about something important.  I try really hard to keep everything straight in my calendar, but I still worry that I will miss something.    I tell myself that it won’t be long until both girls are gone, and I will miss all this chaos.  When I am in the midst of it, though, I just want it to crawl into a hole and sleep until the season is over.  It’s a lot. 

It is times like this when I am distracted and stressed out that my anxiety kicks in.  Whenever I am stressed and have a lot going on like I do right now, I tend to take everything and elevate it to an emergency level when, in fact, it is something small and inconsequential. I get so wrapped up in whatever I am worried about, that I can’t focus on anything else. I think it has been getting so much worse as I get older. My husband tells me all the time that I am blowing things way out of proportion and that I worry about things for nothing. I know that he is right, but I don’t know how to stop my brain from automatically going to that high level of anxiety.  Once it is all over, I can usually see that I was stressing for no reason, but I just can’t seem to see that when I am in the midst of it.  I go into panic mode when something pops up that is out of my control or that throws a wrench into my plans.  I don’t like wrenches.  They cause too much chaos and make me feel like I am losing control.  I like control.  I thrive on control. I like to know what is coming and when, and I need it to all happen with no hiccups.  I don’t handle it well when things aren’t in my control.  I guess that is just part of my severely type-A personality.  I wish I could take a step back and breathe. I wish that I didn’t let those little hiccups get the best of me.  I try so hard to stop and refocus when I get all worked up, but I am not always successful.  I let things eat away at me.  It is something that I have struggled with my whole life.  No matter how many books I read, how many times someone tells me it will all work out, or how many times I try to settle my thoughts, I just cannot seem to stop the anxiety from creeping in.  I am thankful that my anxiety is not debilitating like it is for so many people, and it doesn’t get to the point that I can’t function.  It just adds extra stress to my life that I don’t need.  It probably gives me a few more grey hairs too! 

Why am I telling you all of this? I am telling you this so that you know that I am not perfect. I have struggles just like everyone else.  I am telling you this so that you know that you aren’t alone.  I am a work in progress, and sometimes I have bad days.  I am learning how to release the tension and let things go.  It isn’t easy, but I know that for my long-term health, I have to find ways to reduce the stress and anxiety that I bring on myself.  Prayer and meditation are things that I am trying to be more consistent about because those things tend to bring me peace.  Making lists, prioritizing, and checking things off also really helps me.  It allows me to see that I am making progress and makes me feel good about myself.  I think it is important to take the time to figure out what works for you to keep anxiety at bay.  Some people do Yoga to release stress and anxiety. Some run. Some close themselves off and take a moment to breathe and reset alone.  Some even turn to friends to help relieve stress.  Whatever works for you is what you have to figure out.  Just know that you aren’t alone, and you aren’t crazy.  


Embrace the Chaos

Embrace the chaos! I have seen this on shirts and heard many people say it, but it sure is hard to do. I am really trying today, though. I have one of those hectic days that seem to be becoming more and more frequent lately.  Things just keep getting piled on my list of things to do. I feel like I cross one thing off and then add 3 more.  I started feeling the stress of everything I have to do today about midday yesterday.  Then, I got a text from my daughter at around 8:00 PM stating that I need to make an orthodontist appointment for today because one of her brackets came off.  You can imagine that the thought of adding one more thing to an already crammed day about sent me over the edge. Why is it that when you have a lot of things going on, that is when disaster strikes? It is like disaster after disaster keeps happening.  Some are only minor disasters, but when you are already feeling stressed, those minor things become huge.  It’s the little things like running out of ink in my printer when I have a million things to print that that just add more chaos to an already chaotic day.  I won’t bore you with all of the many details of small to large disasters or my long list of things to do today. The point is that I guess am really not good at embracing chaos.  

My husband will tell you that I don’t handle stress well, and my kids would probably agree. My friends and outsiders, though, would tell you that I am great under pressure and that I handle stress really well. I guess that I would say that I am somewhere in the middle of the two extremes and that it depends on the circumstances.  I am really good at hiding my feelings and stress from most people.  It is the ones closest to me (husband and kids) who tend to get the real brunt of my stress. Those are the people that you let in and that you are free to show your ugly to.  They are part of your comfort zone, and you feel safe letting it all show to them. When you are around other people outside of your safe space, you feel the need to keep it together and not show how crazy you really are.  I assume it is that way for most people.   I would also say that stress in general doesn’t bother me as much as the stress of a time crunch.  For example, when I have to be somewhere at a certain time and things keep happening that make me feel crunched for time like today, I become really anxious and more stressed.  I don’t like to be late or miss things.  Those are the times when I become, as my husband would say, neurotic.  The hour before we have to be at a competition or we have to be somewhere important is typically pretty stressful for me.  That is really when my anxiety ramps up.  I get so consumed by the thought of being late or forgetting something, that I get flustered and I start yelling at everyone within ear shot.  We are very rarely actually late for things, but just the thought of the possibility makes me crazy. I don’t know why, and I so wish I could control it better in those instances.  I just can’t.  I swear that my husband will do things, like waiting to take a shower until 5 minutes before we have to leave, that make me feel like we are going to be late just to set me off.  He says it is his way of trying to teach me to chill out.  Well, he has been doing it for almost 20 years now, and I haven’t learned that lesson yet! I do think that maybe part of it is that I am really wrapped up in other people’s opinion of me. That goes back to my need for perfection. I have this warped thinking, and I don’t want people to have a bad impression of me. Being late gives people a negative impression. I know it is messed up and that 99% of people could care less, but it is how my brain works.

I really don’t think that there is any magic cure that is going to make me stop from freaking out and stressing over things like I am doing today. Everything today seems to be setting me off, too. That’s what happens when I am stressed. I am just a really high strung person who gets wound up easily, worries about other people’s impression, and has a hard time “going with the flow.”  I have just accepted that is who I am.  It doesn’t mean that I am not going to continue to look for ways to keep my stress levels down or that I am not going to at least try to embrace the chaos.  I really do want to chill out.  I don’t want to be wound so tight.  It’s not good for me, and it certainly isn’t good for my health or my family.  Honestly, I am not really sure what embracing the chaos even really looks like, but it has to be better than the anxiety and stress that I constantly feel whether I show it or not. If anyone has any tips, I am all ears! Maybe if I make myself a shirt that says “Embrace the Chaos,” I’ll actually start to do it. Wishful thinking, right?


This Too Shall Pass

I am currently sitting at our new house, which is completely empty, waiting for Closet America to arrive. It is kind of weird to be here with it so quiet.  I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we can finally begin to move in.  I have said this a million times, but I am ready to be settled.  Nine months of living in a house that never felt like home has been rough.  I’m so ready! I am also sitting here struggling with what to do with my youngest child.  I believe I have mentioned before that due to all of her medical conditions, she has developed an anxiety disorder.  She doesn’t do well with change.  She really struggled with the move here, and now she is struggling with the move to the new house even though nothing is changing but the address.  She will still be in the same area, same school, same cheer gym, and same everything else.  It is just enough of a change, though, that it is about to send her over the edge.  That, coupled with the ever-amazing daylight savings time and adding a couple of classes at her gym, has her in the worst mood possible.  I am seeing her anger and irritability return, and she and I are like oil and vinegar when she gets like this.  It had really gotten under control and things were better, but not this week. I am the one that she takes it all out on.  I am the one that bears the brunt of it all.  She claims that she hates the new house but can’t give a reason why other than she prefers our current house.  It is simply that she doesn’t like change.  Something about change scares her.  

In an attempt to make things easier for her, we allowed her to choose new bedding for her new room as her birthday present. We are also letting her choose the color to paint her room. We were hoping this would help ease the transition, but it doesn’t seem to matter with her this week.  Knowing that we were officially getting the house this week has sent her anxiety into overdrive.  I wish I knew how to help her.  I think it is tougher for me not only because I am the one she attacks, but because this was my job. This was what I did for a living for 17 years, and I was darn good at it.  I worked with kids like her that had difficulty with change and transitions. I have worked with so many kids that have anxiety.  Somehow it is different when it is your own kid.  All of the tricks I have up my sleeve just don’t work with her.  Maybe my delivery is different because she is my kid and I live with her day in and day out.  I don’t know?  I just seem to make it worse. My husband handles her much better than I do when she is like this, but I think that is because her anger is directed at me and not him. Dealing with it day in and day out wears on you, and I admit that I loose it with her more often than not.  I raise my voice and then she just gives it right back to me and we get in a yelling match. It is really sad.  In the moment I am just frustrated and angry too, but then afterwards I feel horrible because I let an 11 year old get to me.  I would never respond to my students that way, so why is it that I do with her? I wish I knew the answer.  I do think, though, that overall I have come a long way with her in the last year or two.  I have really made an effort to do better, and I see an improvement in her behavior for the most part. I think that part of the improvement is due to me changing my approach with her, and the other part is that she is getting older and maturing a little bit. Then weeks like this one happen, and we take two steps backwards. I really am at a loss yet again.  Being a parent is hard.  Being a parent of a child with special needs is even harder.  The struggle is real.  You want to be able to just fix it, but you can’t.  There is no easy fix.  It is not like a scraped up knee that you can just put a Band-Aid over. It doesn’t work like that.  It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of worry, and a whole lot of prayer. I can do hard things. I may not want to, but I can. This season will pass and we will be able to move on. I know that.  It is just hard in the thick of it.  It is going to take some time and a whole lot of faith, but this too shall pass!