Thursday, July 30, 2015

Quiet Moments

 First of all, I need to just say an overwhelming THANK YOU after my last post. The moment I hit publish, I regretted it, worrying that I had made a mistake. I had made myself incredibly vulnerable, choosing to wear all my insides on the outside. What I wanted was for more people to feel free to come out and say "Me too". I wanted others to be able to share their stories and know they weren't alone, but I immediately began to wonder whether people would assume I was posting to get attention or to play the woe is me card. But you didn't. My inbox was flooded with people saying "Me too", "Thank you", "You aren't alone". People stopped over to give me a hug. Cards came in the mail. It was more than I could have ever possibly imagined. I know I'm loved. I never doubted it, but all of your comments and words of affirmation reminded me that my village rocks. You can never tell someone you love them enough, and I felt it. So THANK YOU!

I wish that meant that the bad days would have stayed away for awhile, but summer seems to have exacerbated the feelings. Sadness is taking over headquarters this week unfortunately. I shipped my kids off to camp this week. Jaedyn and Carter are there all week, and Sawyer is only home at night. Having too much time to myself forces all the feelings to come to the surface. All the thoughts. All the emotions. All the guilt, shame, and fear that I'm not good enough. So I'm wrestling. It's a good thing. I need to let myself feel things, and it's easier to be sad when you don't have to hide from anyone. I'm working through it, and it will be alright. My village is working hard, and I'm grateful for their presence. I'll see the doctor today, and hopefully she will have some wise words as well. Right now, I've gone MIA. I'm not me, and so I'm fighting like hell to find her back. I know she's in there. I've just got to keep searching. I think that means that more quiet moments are in my future. I won't find her hiding at the pool or running errands. She won't be in the glass of wine or in the queso dip. I'll find her when I'm still and when I'm ready to hear her.

 Writing has become therapy for me. I write this blog for my kids and for my friends and family, and anyone who might be able to take something away from it, but I also write it for me. I find clarity once I've thrown up all my feelings onto a blank page. I definitely don't feel like I need to publish everything I write, but I've always been an open book. It's who I am. I've lost too much of myself to throw away the rest of it, so I hope you all can understand that I can't always write the happy. This is the season of life I'm in, and I'm going to try to embrace it as much as I can. And my hope is that in the process, I find myself.

But I DO have some happy to share. We celebrated my dear friend Melissa's birthday a few weeks ago. I LOVE birthdays. I love celebrating with them and reminding them just how important they are to me. So we had birthday pedicures, birthday pool dates, birthday boating, and birthday wine tasting. It was awesome.

Birthday pedi date

Sunday sips and swings at Calico Skies

Part of our crew at the Garden's for Lis's birthday
Next week Dan and I leave for Royal Family Kids Camp. I'm super excited to serve these kids next week but also a little anxious that I won't be able to get it together next week. Please pray for my heart and soul to be there next week so I can focus my attention on the reason I'm there. Thanks friends! You are amazing. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

On Depression and Being Vulnerable

Thank you for sharing this space with me. It's hard to show up on here and be completely real. I want to remember the good, and so I try really hard to fill this place up with the happy. But I truly feel that in order to be my most authentic self, I need to be vulnerable enough to be a shameless truth teller. So with that being said, I feel like I've had a tugging on my heart to share my journey of depression. Be gentle.

Depression is such a misinterpreted disease. It wasn't too many years ago when I associated depression with people who were just inconsolably sad all the time. You could pick these people out of a crowd in a second because they were the ones always crying, heads down, not talking to anyone, suicidal. At least, that's what I thought... until more and more people started talking about it, and I realized that so many people I loved suffered from depression. And if I'm being a shameless truth teller, I have to include myself in this list as of the last year.

I don't know if I'm just being sensitive because it's so close to home or what, but I'm increasingly frustrated with the stigma that comes with depression. I think people tend to write it off because it is finally being talked about more. I think some people assume it's overdiagnosed, like kids who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Or maybe people just don't connect this disease with real people. It's a word that's constantly in the spotlight, and sometimes you can become desensitized to things if you don't stop to actually connect that word with a face.

A few weeks ago, after I wrapped up the Harry Potter series, I picked up a book I knew wouldn't disappoint- Carry on Warrior by Momastery writer Glennon Melton. I've read this book a handful of times, and each time, I find something new that speaks to me. One of the lines that hit me hard this time around was the one that said,  "People who need help often don't look like people who need help." This has rung so true in my life this past year. Let me explain.

After going back over my blog posts for the last 12 months, there are many posts where I started out with a disclaimer on how much of a funk I was in, a rut if you will. It wasn't until probably a few months ago when I was walking with my sister Amy, that I realized depression comes in all different forms, and that I had been suffering from it for almost a year. Those words are hard to write because I'm having to change my definition and my view on depression even as we speak. If you saw me at all within the last year, you'd probably never know that I was suffering from it at all. Not necessarily because I'm trying to hide it, but because it comes and goes in waves for me. I'm still happy much of the time, and I'm still social....which is such the opposite of the "norm" that I pictured depression to be.

I think the hardest pill for me to swallow, the part that makes it really hard to talk about this with other people is the fact that nothing really life changing or "big" has happened to me over the last year. Another myth that I had about depression. Can you have depression because big things happen in your life like death, sickness, or job changes? Absolutely. But it's not the ONLY time people suffer from it. For me, this has evolved from multiple smaller things, and has been somewhat of a chain reaction. Some of those include, but aren't limited to a stressful school year, friendship changes, winter blues, transitioning to busier kids' schedules, and so forth. Those things spiraled into less time. Time for me to workout, to decompress, to reflect, to spend time with my kids and my husband, to clean the house, to sleep or to prepare for the next day.

Picture me as a juggler (a really horrible juggler), and all the things in my daily life as the balls I juggle. There's no way I can keep all those balls in the air at one time. Eventually one is going to fall. That's normal. This is the way life is supposed to be- you drop a ball, you pick up another one. Life is a constant ebb and flow. This year, I can't keep any balls in the air without dropping three more. Instead of picking them up, I end up dropping more because I keep focusing on the ones that are down instead of the ones I have in my hands. So when they all fell on the ground, they just stayed there, and I found myself metaphorically curled up in the fetal position unable to move past it. That's how this year has been for me. It's taken a toll on me mentally and physically. I'm so tired from being sad that I have had a hard time motivating myself to stay healthy. I went from being in the best shape after having kids last April, to gaining so much weight that I am at the highest I've EVER been.

That's a sobering confession. I'm also trying really hard to pull myself out of an apathetic state. Which is oh so dangerous by the way. Not caring is the worst place to be. I'm not proud of it. In fact, it's a daily struggle to force myself to do things to better me: workout, eat better, reflect, find the happy. I'm trying so hard to pick myself back up. I'm making slow baby steps, and forward is forward I guess.

So where am I? I'm taking it one day at a time. Sometimes one moment. I'm trying to find the happy in every day. In fact, I'm starting my 14,000 Things to Be Happy About again. I think that book should be on constant repeat. I'm talking about depression more. I'm trying to workout every day. Sometimes to find my strength. Sometimes to find my peace of mind. Always to feel better. I'm working on eating better. This one is hard because there are so many quick choices that aren't healthy. They don't make me feel good, but they are within arms reach. This will be a forever struggle. I'm accepting myself and allowing myself to feel whatever I need to feel in the moment while simultaneously trying to claw my way back to "normal".

Why am I telling you this? Because I think it's super important to speak up. To let others know  they aren't alone. Depression is a journey that only gets darker the lonelier you are. There really are power in numbers. I want people to know that depression doesn't define you, but it will make you stronger if you let it. We've got to start building people up instead of tearing them down. In the day and age of social media, people find it much easier to tear others down from behind a screen and a keyboard. Stop it. Build someone up today. Be someone's light.

Which brings me to...What can you do? Well you can't fix it. If you are like me, you will want to. You want the people you love to be happy, but you can't make this better by waving your magic wand. You CAN however be present. Be encouraging. Be kind. Be a listening ear. Offer to take their kids for a few hours. Invite them out for a fun night. When you see them slipping away, and they will, pull them back gently.  Lay down in the trenches with them if you must, but don't let them fall back alone. Above all else...Validate their feelings. Their feelings may seem irrational or menial to you, but they aren't to them. They need to know they aren't "crazy". There are a list of "Don'ts". Please read them here. Sometimes we have the best intentions with our advice, but they can be damaging to the psyche of people who suffer with depression.

Obviously this is all based on my depression. My story. Everyone is different. What works for me, may not work for others. Know your loved ones. Be aware. "People who suffer with depression often look like people who don't suffer with depression." Above all else, love us. We may not look like we need or appreciate it, but we do. We so do.

And if you are like me, if you fight this nasty illness, all I can say is just keep showing up. Keep fighting. Keep swimming. Just do the next right thing. That's all you have to do. Know you are loved beyond comprehension. Know you are never alone in this fight. Keep talking. Be vulnerable. Keep your village close. We were meant to do big things. I promise. Much love and Godspeed.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Plethora of Catching Up

I've been MIA for quite some time. Mostly because I took on a full time chauffeur job when school let out and have done nothing more than cart children to VBS, swimming lessons, the pool, ball games and the like. Not that I'm complaining. The pool is a nice change of pace from a classroom for the next few months. Nevertheless, our summer has been flying with very little regard for my opinion on wanting it to stick around for awhile. Here was our June in pictures.
Vacation Bible School

I finally finished the Harry Potter series. It was a sad day when it was finished.

I got to watch my niece Marley and my beautiful cousins as well as former students in their Robin's School of Dance recital. It's one of my favorite things to do every year. :)

Our good friend Missy had a lead role in the Sioux Center Community Theater performance of "Quilters". It was a great play!

The pool is one of our hot spots. We hit it up about 3-5 times a week depending on the weather. Dan takes his one hour lunch break with us most days. The kids love it!

Celebrating Aubree's birthday at the end of June with cake and a park play date!

Jae's first year playing with the Sioux Center girls. It was a ton of fun to watch her grow in her position as catcher. I can't wait to see her continue growing next year!

Carter had a successful year in 3rd and 4th grade ball this year. He loved playing with the bigger boys. He had a winning season, a few pop fly catches and a 2nd place finish at their last tournament.

Our traditional trip to Getting's Garden to pick  strawberries with friends

A class taken with friends/colleagues turned into an impromptu overnight with Mexican, a trip to the candy store, lots of laughter and deep discussions, and an unforgettable story about a "wet dog" and some stinky shoes. Love these ladies.

Sawyer had a great year as well. He's getting better at making contact with the ball and following directions from his coaches. He loves t-ball!

Our grand finale ending our busy, yet fulfilling June was our family vacation to Long Lake in Park Rapids, MN. This was the first long vacation we have taken as a family without anyone else in forever. After much discussion and a few shed tears, it was agreed that Bayside Resort on Potato Lake needed to be retired. It's not the right fit for our family anymore, and I wanted to make sure the memories that my family and I had were good ones, so we found another cabin in the same area on a different lake and were impressed with the space the cabin provided us. We brought along our nieces too, and it didn't seemed cramped or crowded at all with the seven of us. 

Despite a chilly start, warmer weather came around. We spent our days and evenings doing a lot of swimming, hydro biking, fishing, playing cards, reading, and enjoying each other's company. We even took the kids to the Minions movie at the oldest movie theater we've ever been in. It was quite something. I love going away. I love coming home. I love how refreshed I feel after I've spent a week doing nothing but reflecting and enjoying my family. Ready to tackle July!

Our sanity was spared by cranking up our tunes and listening to headphones so we didn't go crazy listening to Spongebob for 3 straight hours. Parenting #win

Card game of choice this week- SkipBo. I think we played at least 30 times. No joke.

Even 63 degree weather won't deter their plans to take out the tube.

After MUCH negotiating and begging and pleading and bribing, we got all 5 of them on the tube for a slow ride (read drift).  By the end of the week, we had Carter doing Jaedyn speeds, and even smiling about it!

Okay. This kid melts my heart. He randomly plants one on you when you least expect it. I love my little dude.

My biggest little and my smallest little setting the tone for fun. 

Taking a little break from tubing to eat some snacks and play king of the raft.

Flex break

Everyone took turns driving the boat, but she's the one that looks the most natural. Wah. 16 is too close for comfort. :(

Riding the front of the boat waiting for the big waves is totally her thing. The squeals of laughter were to die for.

Their masterpiece.

Can I just say how awesome these hydrobikes are? They are like a cross between a bike and a paddleboat. Heck of a workout. Kept my kids busy all week.

Another daily event was the Maui Mat. They were quite disappointed that the trampoline had a hole in it, but they made do by making up plenty new games on the make shift raft. 

Dad doesn't hold back when he plays King of the Raft. This game gets quite intense.

Two peas in a pod

See what I mean? Heart snatcher.

Have to have at least one selfie on vacation.

Where we spent many hours of dock fishing last week. Hard to find a spot for 5 poles though. :/

After big brother caught his award winning bass....Little brother was super pumped about catching his own. While diseased and probably dying, he was on cloud 9.

Big brother's said catch. :) Making Grandpa Dave proud.
I have a lot of posts swirling around in my head. One in particular on depression and how it's kind of taken over my life this last year. I hope to be able to spill it onto a page in coherent fashion soon. Stay tuned. :)

Happy Monday!