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We All Got Bruises

5 Aug

You know what I love about blogging? I love getting a chance to read a glimpse of a stranger’s life. I love when someone opens their heart and pours everything out, showing you that they are just as human as you are. The incredible thing about living your life out loud, for the world to read, is that people connect with you. You get to know them. You connect with them. Pretty soon you’re no longer strangers, you’re friends. And if you’re lucky, you get to meet them one day.

You might just become friends for life.

We all have bruises, they’re what make us interesting. How boring would life be if it was all roses and sunshine every day? It’s comforting to know that we’re not alone in our struggles. Whether it be mental illness, alcoholism, financial troubles, parenting issues, divorce, the death of a child, or countless other curve balls life throws at us. We all have obstacles to overcome in our lives.

Music is healing for me and of all the things it’s done for me, the most important lesson it has taught me is easily, “What will be, will be” and I need to put my trust in fate.

If a song speaks to me, I play it on repeat for weeks. I lose myself in the lyrics and belt the tune out while driving to the farm or the grocery story. I used to be drawn to pop hits produced by music giants whose record labels end up writing the songs for them, pumping beats into the background of the synthesized dance tracks. These days I’m much more into singer/songwriters who tell a life story through their music. The kind of songs which make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, giving you goosebumps as you listen to the words.

You feel yourself nodding, “Me too,” as your soul soaks in the sweet melody. A good song gives me a new perspective on my troubles.

I’ve got Train’s newest album, California 37, on a loop lately.

These bruises make for better conversation
Loses the vibe that separates
It’s good to let you in again
You’re not alone in how you’ve been
Everybody loses, we all got bruises
We all got bruises

I’ve been a little overwhelmed by life lately. Wanting to pursue my dreams, but realizing that writing doesn’t exactly pay the bills {at least, not yet}.

A lump formed in my throat the other day when looking at finances. It was obvious that I need to pick up a part-time job. We live in one of the most expensive areas in the US, and the reality is that it’s really hard to cut it on one income. So I had a rough couple of days last week when Ben was traveling for work, filled with fear and self-pity and hugging my best friend while tears poured from my eyes, the kids looking up at me wondering what was wrong with mommy.

Once I calmed down and started to look at things with a clearer head, I quickly realized that things aren’t nearly as dire as I had thought. I was talking with my brother over the weekend about what was bringing me down and he told me to call one of our oldest friends who was looking for help with his business. It’s the type of work I’ll be able to do around the kids’ schedules, allowing me time to continue with my writing projects, exactly what I need right now.

Part of the reason I was so upset last week was because I was afraid that I’d have to give up writing to go back to work, and my heart was breaking at the thought of having to stop pursuing my passion. Sure, I’d still try to write in the evenings, but I know how hard it is to juggle everything and at the end of the day you’re just exhausted. I’m hopeful that this situation will provide the best of both worlds: the income we need with time to still pursue my dreams.

In the meantime, it’s songs like this that remind me to embrace the ups and downs of life for what they are.

Que sera. {What will be, will be.}
 
We-All-Got-Bruises
 
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Happify yourself!

29 Apr

Happify Pioneer Badge

 

I attended Listen To Your Mother DC yesterday and it was another incredible show. At the after-party, I met up with several cast members from last year’s show, as well as had the opportunity to meet some of this year’s lineup. It was really fun to get to know such intricate, intelligent writers. The stories from the show were so moving, funny, and touching, it was an honor to be in the audience listening {and drying an eye from time to time}. As we chatted over a carafe of yummy sangria, the conversation turned to blogging and I ironically found myself mentioning how I don’t really enjoy reading blog posts when the writer is reviewing a product.

And here I am writing my own. Funny how things come around, right?

I like to think this is a little different though, in that I wasn’t provided a bunch of free loot in exchange for writing a review on my blog. I wasn’t given anything, in fact, except this cute little button to add to my blog. I simply happen to enjoy this site and wanted to share it with my readers. I believe it has an especially positive impact on folks like me who live with some form of depression {or have struggled with it in the past}, because they may experience psychological benefits from participating and learning the science behind what creates our happiness.

{I am not a doctor, by any means. I have though, read about the positive adjustments we can make to our moods by learning and then doing the activities that make us happy. I very much believe in the science of happiness, and therefore, I believe in Happify. Please, read on to find out why.}

Several months ago I was contacted by one of the Co-Founders of Happify via Twitter and was asked whether I’d like to join on as a Pioneer. Happify is a NYC-based company with a vision of bringing the science of happiness to mass market in an entirely new kind of way. They created an exciting new social network product which uses media, interactive activities and games, as well as social connections and comment features which allow users to form daily happiness habits while at the same time “meeting” other like-minded happiness seekers. I was curious. My issue was with the number of social networks which I was already using: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, and Instagram. I can barely keep up with them all as it is, and wasn’t sure I wanted to add another one into the mix.

But who wouldn’t want to learn more about how to increase their level of happiness each day while enjoying a little break from our everyday reality? Sounded like a Win-Win.

So I signed up and immediately jumped into the site to set up my profile and get started. It’s very user-friendly and you determine how you will make the most out of the product, as you choose which “Happiness Track” to develop that set of happiness skills for specific life situations. You can switch between tracks if you get bored, and when you finish one you earn medals to show your progress in that happiness area. Members of the community are able to “Like” each other’s posts and comment back and forth, creating a wonderful sense of community of like-minded individuals.

I admit, it’s a bit of a challenge to stay immersed in another social media outlet, but it’s one that I enjoy and feel as though I’m benefiting from the time investment I’ve been putting into it (about 5-10 minutes a day, a few times a week). By participating in the Happify community, I find that I’m stopping to notice the little moments of happiness in my life more often, I’m seeking out activities in my real life that boost my happiness, and I’m able to adjust my outlook on life daily in general in order to allow happiness to rise to the top more often.

I’m noticing that I’d rather spend time on Happify versus Facebook, and I like this trend.

Anywho, if you’re interested in checking out Happify, they’ve provided me with a link so that my readers could sign up to try it out: www.happify.com.

Give it a try! I think you’ll find that you’re increasing your happiness with each click. Hope you love it as much as I do.

 

Happify_BML

 

Disclaimer: I was not provided any products or gifts for writing this review. The opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way. 

 

Kicking Bipolar’s Ass

5 Mar

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“She is bipolar.”

I cringe every time I hear these words, or see them typed out in print or online somewhere like I did today. You would never hear, “She is cancer.” Instead, after someone is cured of cancer you hear, “She BEAT cancer.”

That is so wonderful. I cheer along with everyone else when I read of someone’s victorious fight with the devil that is cancer. If you think about it, mental illness should be looked at the same way. I don’t want to be known as the woman who is bipolar and is married with two kids.

I didn’t ask for this condition, this heartbreaking, terrifying, complicated illness, to hit me at the age of twenty-seven when I was newly married and at the peak of my recruiting career.

And I am not my illness.

I am so much more than this condition I live with and manage each and every day.

I am a wife. A mother. A daughter. A sister. A granddaughter. A niece. A cousin. An aunt. A friend. An employee. A room mom. A church member.  A Sunday school teacher. A writer. A reader. A bubble bath-taker. A coffee lover. A vegetarian. A chocoholic. A fan of music. A dancer. A car singer.

You know, the type that knows every word to every song and loves to sing no matter how bad of a singer she is. Yeah. That’s me.

I am the sum of all these beautiful, wonderful things.

I am NOT Bipolar.

I may have bipolar disorder, but it does not define me. I am defined by the people I surround myself with, the people who I love and who also love me for who I am. The ways I spend my time help to mold me into the person I am becoming.

And I’m pretty happy with her. Most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of growing and learning to do. But I do think that I can be proud of how far I’ve come.

I turned 34 last month. I recently commented to my best friends how it seems like a third of our lives is gone already. They both reminded me that we’d have to live to 102 for that to be the case. Hey, it’s possible. But I guess they’re right. More than a third is done. Lived. In the books. {or, on the blog.}

Sometimes I wonder where all that time went.

I’m not sure, but I do know that I want to be able to say, for the rest of whatever time I have left, that I beat bipolar disorder. That I was an inspiration to others still fighting. And that I did my best.

I think I’m doing a decent job so far.

Love my StitchFix

16 Oct

Given how fashion-challenged I am, packing for our trip to LA/Malibu was a bit intimidating. To keep me from stressing out, I enlisted the help of StitchFix, an online styling service that chooses pieces for you based on an easy survey you fill out. For $20, they send you a fun box of five custom-picked items for you to try on at home, with all your favorite wardrobe staples, to see what works for you. Then you choose your favorites to keep, sending back the rest (free shipping both ways!).

I wish I would have taken pics of my box as I was unpacking it, but I was too excited to see what I had received. I had asked specifically for pieces that would work for a Malibu beach wedding weekend, and they totally delivered. I love that I didn’t have to commit to 3 months or 12 months, you can get just one fix if you’re skeptical like I was, to see if it works for you.

So my fix had a pair of silver earrings, which, while cute, weren’t very unique. I already owned a pair like them, so I immediately knew I’d pass on them. The other items I received were a cute cream-colored boxy sweater, beautiful red silk shorts with a sash tie belt, and an elegant brick red pleated halter cocktail dress (which I would have kept had I not already had a dress to wear to the wedding – it was super cute!).

I loved how they included a styling card with each piece, showing you how to pull items in your existing wardrobe to put together outfits. My only critique of these helpful cards was that they were attached to the pieces at the tag, which made it challenging to look at it while you were wearing the piece. (I sent them this feedback when I filled out my return questionnaire describing how I liked each of the five pieces, another awesome feature of StitchFix which helps them make your next fix even better.)

I did really like all of the pieces in my box, but since I’m on a bit of a budget, I ended up only keeping one item: the blue ikat print tunic. I was able to find items in my closet that worked well with it – I could dress it up or down. So in terms of building my wardrobe, I felt this piece was the best choice.

Here I am in Malibu wearing the tunic with my black leggings and black ballet flats. I will be wearing it again this weekend with jeans, boots and a cream-colored sweater. Love the versatility!

Thank you StitchFix for such a fun shopping experience! If you’re interested in trying them out, go here to fill out the request for an invite. It only took a week for mine to arrive and then I was off to fill out their online Style Profile so that I could receive my first fix! I’m already getting excited about requesting my next box – right in time for my 15-yr high school reunion. :)

xoxo

Bad day

18 Jun
You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You’re faking a smile with the coffee to go
They tell me your life’s been way off line
You’re falling to pieces every time
And I don’t need no carryin’ on
~ Daniel Powter, lyrics to Bad Day {2005}

This song conjures up all kinds of emotions for me. It debuted in the US in early 2006, right around the time when I had returned to work after my first two hospitalizations. I was fragile. I was sick. The level of anxiety which pulsed through my blood was so high I could barely keep my hands from shaking at times. I had been having many bad days, not just “a” bad day. And this song would come on over the radio on my commute home from the office almost every evening.

The tears would start to flow and it was so hard to get them to stop.

I knew what I had to do, although it broke me to pieces to have to do it.

Resigning from a career I had worked so hard for, I had poured so many hours of my life into, was one of the most difficult {and yet, at the same time, simple} turning points in my life. Only I didn’t know it was a turning point at the time.

It felt like I was digging myself a grave to crawl into. Like I would never be ever to build myself up to the high point I had reached in my industry.

I had lost every ounce of confidence that used to flow so easily from my voice, my mannerisms, my personality. Much of 2006 was consumed with crying spells, crippling anxiety, and self-doubt that I would ever be able to return to my former identity.


When that song comes on the radio these days, I think back on the low moments of my past when I was first diagnosed and realize that I’ve come a long way.

Man, have I come a long way.

I’ve learned that there are times in our lives which are going to be uncomfortable, dismal, and scary. We just need to stay positive as much as possible, lean on friends and family for support, and know that there is sunshine after the storm.

Secret Mommy-hood Confession Saturday: I love pinning

2 Jun

I freaking love Pinterest.

Oh, Pinterest. Let me count the ways.

First off, it is my number one method for boredom busting. Not that I have much free time on my hands to actually be bored. It’s just that sometimes, I happen to enjoy browsing around on Pinterest for neat ideas that I wouldn’t have found if I were just sitting around reading a book, for example.

I mean, can you imagine?

I also love Pinterest because it is inspiring. I’ve found a ton of cool {and free!} sewing patterns and projects ~ a few of which I’ve actually used to make gifts for friends {and stuff for myself, too}. I’m a novice sewer, but when I’m in the mood to sew up something fun, I just look at my Sewing Projects board to find some inspiration and then I’m off! Ten hours later I’ve usually been able to create something with a slight resemblance to the project I pinned.

I heart Pinterest because it helps me stay motivated and on track with my fitness and healthy eating goals. Now, I know what you’re thinking. There are TONS and TONS of chocolate and various other dessert recipes floating around on Pinterest. You’re right. There are. And back when I first joined the site, I totally fell into the trap of trying out all the recipes of those incredibly mouth-watering desserts in the photos. But you know what? After I stuffed one too many single-serve chocolate cakes into my mouth, I looked at my reflection in the mirror one day and realized I wasn’t happy with how I looked. So from then on, I made the decision to stop pinning {and baking} all those unhealthy desserts and snacks. I started to get myself back in shape and when I was craving something naughty, I’d search for healthy dessert recipes. And I found them. And tried them. And LOVE some of them. To keep myself from not getting bored with my workouts, I also search Pinterest for new exercises. There are tons of fitness blogs and healthy eating blogs out there and I have found some really awesome ones via pins.

It’s fun to stalk people via their Pinterest boards. It’s amazing to me that Pinterest, given how incredibly popular the site is, hasn’t created a setting so that a user can make a pin private. I recently noticed a girlfriend of mine through book club was pinning baby girl nursery ideas. She has a son a few months younger than mine, but no baby girl. I immediately wondered if she was expecting. Saw her about a month later and whaddya know, she was knocked up {but didn’t know the gender yet since it was way early, and wasn’t publicizing the news either}. Turns out she just learned that she is carrying a baby girl! YAY! So now she can put her pins to good use. Point of the story: don’t pin anything you wouldn’t want your friends to know or wonder about.

I sometimes get my Jesus on by reading a friend’s Quotes board. I’m not a highly religious person, but I do believe in God and Jesus and heaven. My friend is a Christian and her pins always make me feel so full of faith when I read them. I end up re-pinning so many of the things she pins there, I’m starting to think I should start a separate board on my wall for Faith Quotes.

If I ever need a unique gift idea ~ baby shower, wedding gift, housewarming gift, anniversary gift, birthday gift ~ any holiday, for that matter ~ I’ve been turning to Pinterest. One of the coolest ideas I’ve found {and cannot wait to try come August} is to tie a picture with a special recollection from your relationship to the ribbon on a helium balloon. Float the balloons in a room and surprise your loved one with a collection of memories that you can enjoy reliving for the occasion. Or, tie a love letter to each balloon, like this blogger did. Maybe I’ll save this idea and write my hubby a love letter for each month leading up to our 10th anniversary in 2013. In any regard, clever idea, huh?

So there you have it, folks. My confession of why I love Pinterest. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things I don’t like about this additional time-sucker of a web application, but I will say, I love way more things about it than I dislike.


Therefore, I will pin on. And on. And on. And on.

 

Something Something Button

Checking in with the doc & Kony 2012

19 Mar

Had a checkup with my psychiatrist today. I brought the kids with me since it’s only a 30 minute appointment and it was right at 12pm, so I fed them before we left and brought the ipad to try to keep them occupied. She brought in a few toys for my little man to play with and my daughter sat in the stroller happily tapping away at the ipad. A tiny bit distracting, but nothing a mom of two toddlers isn’t used to.

I like how my doctor asks about my writing. She knows it is important to me and she supports my voice. My last psychiatrist didn’t read my book draft since I became emotional during the one appointment when I told her about it, handing her the draft to read. She told me at the next visit that she hadn’t read it since I became so upset. The fact that she didn’t read it (or so she said) made me sad. I was handing her a glimpse into my thoughts, feelings, and emotions having lived with bipolar disorder and she turned around and told me what felt like “you’re not worth my time outside of paid appointments.”

I would have stopped seeing her, but didn’t really have a choice since insurance was covering my visits at almost 90%. So I stuck with her until our insurance changed and I was forced to find a new doctor. I was lucky enough to find a very good one whose office is only 5 minutes from our house.

 

We talked about my mood during today’s visit and I admitted I’ve had some hypomanic periods over the past two months, but they are manageable. I always have a good sense of awareness about my moods and when I feel an elevated period, I know that I need to get more sleep and nap when the kids nap. I take Ambien if my mind is still buzzing when I know it’s bedtime. I’m also fortunate in that my husband stays on top of things too and encourages me to get rest when he knows I need it. We work as a team to keep me healthy and I like that.

My doctor and I discussed the recent news of the Kony 2012 movement and how Jason Russell, the filmmaker who was the voice of the campaign, was recently hospitalized in California under a 5150 psychiatric hold. He was trying to raise awareness about a horrible war that was going on which most Americans probably knew absolutely nothing about until news of the viral video his organization created hit the evening news. When I first watched the video two weeks ago, I’ll be the first to admit, I was kindof shocked by the message of “Making Joseph Kony famous”. But then it hit me. What better way to slap the world in the face to get them to realize how much shear devastation this one person has caused to so many innocent children? The campaign had a call to action too. They want to get the word out to have Kony arrested and put to justice. By the end of the 30-minute video I was a follower. I even shared it on my Facebook wall, encouraging my friends to watch it.

 

And then the story broke on Friday about Jason’s detainment by police after he was found naked on the streets shouting obscenities and pounding the pavement with his hands. The first thing I did was remove the share post of the Invisible Children Kony 2012 campaign from my Facebook wall.

 

How incredibly narrow-minded and judgmental of me to act in such haste. I immediately didn’t want to be associated with the guy just because he had suffered a public mental breakdown? Wow. Talk about needing to have an introspective weekend.

All I could do was think back, all weekend long, about how his story has some similar characteristics to my own. Not nearly on the same scale, of course, but in small part, similar. At the time of my first psychotic episode, I was under a great deal of stress from my career and the goals management had set for me in the coming year, in addition to being in the midst of an emotional affair with a co-worker and mid-way through building a brand new single-family house with my husband. Talk about having a lot on my plate.

I feel so blessed to have had the support I did when I went through that most trying time of my life (and theirs, I’m sure.) My husband did not abandon me, my parents and in-laws wrapped their arms around me in support, and my closest friends were there to listen to what I was going through whenever I needed to talk. I was so lucky that I didn’t have to suffer in the public eye like Jason is right now.

I’m sure there were things said behind my back by people wondering what the heck was going on with me. But I didn’t have to read about it online or hear about it on the news like his friends and family are doing right now. I pray that they don’t read or hear the negative words being thrown about on the Internet and news talk shows, and that if they do, that it only strengthens their defense for him and their efforts to help him get well. I’m praying for him. He’s done so much good work. He does not deserve all the hate. Not one bit of it.

I am not proud of my initial reaction to what happened to him. I wanted to write about it here to help teach myself, someone who suffers from a mental illness which caused four psychiatric hospital stays, not to turn my back on someone because they are going through a trying time. Let this be a learning experience to myself and the other 83 million people who watched the video. Don’t turn away because I believe that some people come into our lives as blessings, and others come into our lives as lessons.

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