The Real Emotions of Hurting People

I’m just going to be honest, half of the time I don’t know why I feel the way I feel. All of a sudden I’ll just start yelling at Jacob about something and he kinda gets wide eyed and dumbfounded. He’s started to actually speak up when it happens because most of the time, I don’t even know what I’m doing. He’ll say something like “Abby, what is wrong? Why are you so upset all of a sudden?” and it makes me stop and actually think about what’s going on.

Every day brings different emotions. Most of the time I’m so focused on just making it through the day, that I’m not even observing what I’m feeling or trying to find the root cause of those feelings. Unfortunately, Jacob usually gets the short end of the stick with this one, but he’s a pretty good sport. I wake up and my first thought is concentrating all of my energy on making it out of bed and out the door on time. I don’t go “Okay Abby, what are we feeling today, why do we think we’re feeling that way, and what can we do to put these feelings in check?” That alone would probably take up the 20 minutes I’m supposed to be using for getting dressed and eating breakfast. So, I start the day without even realizing what kind of mood I’m in.

Along with not knowing comes a lot of surprise crying fits, yelling fits, depression fits, and silence fits. I know it drives Jacob insane, but I also can’t always help the way I feel or control the emotions I’m having. With my combination of anxiety and depression, who knows what those imbalances of hormones and whatever other sciencey stuff does to my emotions.

One HUGE thing I’ve learned is that you NEVER have the authority to tell someone else how they should be feeling. Jacob did this once and I nearly tore his head off. I knew he meant well, but I felt even worse than I did before I asked him for help. I think it was something along the lines of not wanting to get out of bed and go to class one day because I didn’t feel like I had the energy or strength to do it. So then he told me that I had to try harder than that and stay on top of things so I don’t get too far behind. So then I exploded and told him he has no idea what I’m going through and if I need to stay in bed all day for my mental sanity, than damn it that’s what I was going to do. He backed off after that.

My point is, you never know where somebody is on their grief journey. You can’t assume everything is okay because they have one awesome day. Nor can you try to offer them advice on how to “get better.” Grief is not a disease that you can cure with some medication. Grief is an ongoing, life-long process and you have no concern trying to tell someone else how to hurt, morn, grieve, and so on. It is different with every person. Jacob has been doing some research and reading different sources to see how he can help me along this path. One night when I was particularly quiet and said I didn’t want to talk about anything, he brought up that one article he read said talking about things helped get it off your chest and speed up the healing process instead of letting it all build up. Again, I almost tore his head off. In fact, I think my jaw dropped and I just stared at him. I understand he has wants and expectations for how my grieving process looks to him, but it’s mine and I’m going to do with it as I want. I also know that he only wants to help and he’s just trying to make things better, but he’s never dealt with anything like this and I’m just extremely unpredictable.

The bottom line is, just offer your love and support to someone who is hurting. They don’t want to hear your positive vibe bull crap. Grief is ugly. Hurt is hard. Mourning is dark. Depression is brutal. I don’t care who you are, this sort of thing changes you. There’s a period of time that you don’t want people’s encouragement. You don’t want their empathy and stories of personal experiences. You just want someone to turn to who will listen. Who will give you a hug. Who won’t pressure you to be “doing better” or “moving on.” Every single person experiences these things in different ways and you are not the judge of whether they’re doing it right or wrong. Show love and grace and be open minded to what they have to say.

Keep it real, lovelies.

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Crash Course: Minimalism – Continuing the Momentum

So you’ve decided to try having a more minimalistic lifestyle. You’ve made the commitment and you’ve started your journey. You’ve probably thrown out endless amounts of trash bags filled with things you forgot you even had. But once you threw all your excess stuff away, you were left pondering what on earth are you going to do next? If this sounds like you, no worries, I’m here to help you. First, let me congratulate you on making it this far. I’m impressed with your dedication and hard work. Next, let me give you some tips to keep the momentum going for years to come.

1. Stop Shopping

If you’re anything like me, shopping is one of your talents. It’s a way to get exercise, spend time with friends, and have fun. Unfortunately, it isn’t a very minimalistic friendly hobby. You need to stop going out to shop “just because.” There are many other activities you can do to get exercise, spend time with people, and have fun that won’t unravel all of the effort and time you just put into getting rid of your excess stuff. Now I’m not saying you can never step foot in a store again, but you should have a purpose or reason to keep yourself on track so you don’t get distracted and suddenly your cart is filled to the brim with things you don’t need (I’m talking to you Target, with your cute little $1 section). If you have a goal in mind, like getting a new pair of pants, ingredients to make dinner, a card for a loved one, you are less likely to indulge the idea of also going home with that cute top over there, or those new flavored candies, or wrapping paper for a gift that’s already complete.

#2 Get a Hobby

Like I said in #1, shopping is my hobby. The thing is, I can’t just window shop, I have to come home with something. Accepting this reality helped me to come to the painful conclusion that those outings needed to start dwindling in number because my wallet and my home could not afford it anymore. So when the weather is nice, I go for a walk or go swimming or go to the park or host a picnic (even going out to eat is acceptable, it’s good to treat yourself! My favorites? Brio or Carrabba’s). I don’t jump in my car and drive to the store. When I want to spend time with a friend, I host a game night or have them over for dinner or invite them out for a movie. You are able to spend quality time with someone besides just the car ride to the mall. Find something that you enjoy doing. Maybe that’s reading a book (I LOVE taking trips to Barnes and Noble and shopping through the final clearance rack to get books for a few dollars each), writing in a journal, painting, playing guitar, golfing, baking, whatever it is, spend time doing the things you enjoy!

#3 Keep Decluttering and Paring Down

There’s a chance that when you were getting rid of things, you kept a lot of stuff that you thought you might use, or might miss too much, or might need for something. Although I applaud you for your efforts, there is probably a lot more that sucks your energy and time out of you while you store, maintain, and take care of whatever it is you kept. That shirt grandma got you that you swore you would wear again and hasn’t moved off the hanger in 5 months? Yeah, you can probably part with that. Those 4 extra notepads you were certain you’d go through but you’re still not even halfway through your current one? Yeah, they’ll still be $1 when you run out and need another one. That apple corer you kept because you convinced yourself you were going to start making apple sauce from scratch and now it has a thick layer of dust on it? Yeah, I don’t think you’re actually going to use it, like ever. There are items here or there that we keep because we don’t see the harm in it. But every item you keep is another item that needs your attention and upkeep. Think of yourself as knees and every item as weight. For every one pound you lose, it takes 10 pounds of pressure off of your knees. For every one item you choose to get rid of, you free yourself of a whole lot more. The opposite is also true; for every item you keep, you add a whole lot more responsibility on yourself.

And that’s a few tips to help keep you on track with your minimalism journey. What sort of things to do you do to help keep yourself grounded and focused in this kind of lifestyle?

Bitter or Salty?

These past couple days have just been extremely rough for some reason. Maybe it’s a build up of little things every so often, maybe it’s just me. But as we know, writing is therapeutic for me and to try and save myself from another night of tears, I’m putting into words what’s going on in my head.

A few weeks ago, I attended Winter Jam, a Christian music event. One of the artists on the lineup is Tenth Avenue North, which is a band who sings very emotional songs that I have purposefully been skipping when they come on so I don’t have to be sad (example A: By Your Side). I had myself prepared for this and had my tissues ready. Fortunately, they didn’t end up singing this song, but instead sang a new song titled “I Have This Hope.” In between some of the lines, the lead singer began to tell the back story of the song. One of the member’s wife had been diagnosed with cancer (I thought I escaped tears, but when I heard this my heart sank). But this story had a different ending than mine. Turns out that she went through treatment and is now in remission. Immediately I felt hurt, anger, jealousy, and everything in between. Then I felt ashamed and disgusted that I felt those things towards someone else’s miracle story, but I couldn’t help it.

Why does God choose to save some people and not others? Why does God let these awful things happen to such good people who mean so much to so many others? Why did God allow this awful thing to happen to my family even though I prayed through tear filled eyes and a cracking voice every night “Please, please, please don’t take her away from me. I can’t handle that.” Why are there no answers to any of these questions? No answers leave a wandering heart and soul unable to find peace and rest.

And don’t get me started on “blessings.” Have you ever noticed that when people experience some sort of horrible thing and they make it through alright, they talk about how much God has loved and blessed them? I get that maybe they’re looking to witness to unbelievers or whatever, but it’s actually damaging and hurtful to see or read. “God is so good and loves me so much that he brought me out of that car accident without a scratch.” “God is so merciful and has blessed me immensely by saving my marriage.” What about those people who don’t make it out of that car crash? Or those marriages that aren’t restored even though there’s been relentless praying and pleading? Does God not love, show mercy, or bless those people? Does God not love, show mercy, or bless me because he ignored my prayers and took my mom out of this world? Because it sure feels like it when I hear and read stories like that, and it sure isn’t helpful when I’m already struggling so much with my faith in God.

Life is hard. It keeps moving forward even when I’m not ready for it to. I have spent days unable to get out of bed because I can’t bring myself to face the day. I have spent days where I sleep for 20 hours and accomplish nothing. And people say “hey, that’s okay. You have down days sometimes,” but all it does is make me feel worse about myself. Like how awful is it that I have an 8 page paper to write, a chapter to read, an online quiz to take, and I’ve spent my entire day sleeping. That’s disgusting. Who does that? I have responsibilities and I’m supposed to be doing well in school, staying on top of my work, have a social life, and be involved on campus. But the most steps I’ve taken are to the bathroom then back to my bed. So there goes what little motivation I had. So I lay back in bed mad at myself but too upset to do anything about it.

And it’s been six months. People have moved on or forgotten about it by now. It’s not like the first week where you get messages, cards, meals, and all that stuff from people. Eventually it dies down and life somehow is supposed to go back to normal. To be honest, I can’t really say I’ve had many aspirations lately. I float in and out of everyday trying my best, but most days that’s pretty bleak. Other people may have moved on, but I’m nowhere near that point. I can’t be. This is my mom and now she’s gone. Nothing has ever been so permanent in my life before and I don’t know how to grasp the meaning of it all and deal with it. And just when I think I might be okay for a little bit, a sad song comes on, someone makes a joke about death, a classmate talks about their mom, cancer is brought up in class, one of those miracle stories is posted, a memory comes up on TimeHop, I see a mom and her kids out in public, or whatever else sort of event. Then I silently let it eat at me because nobody knows what’s going on and why should they care? We’re in class trying to get an education or at work trying to get the job done. It’s not breakdown hour where we cry and get upset because we’re feeling down.

The sad part is, nothing can make this better. Sure, people pray for my family or do nice things for us, but that doesn’t change the fact that my mom is gone and there’s nothing anybody can do to bring her back. And then that makes everyone else feel sad and bad for us which in turn makes me feel worse. There’s just no escaping this cycle…

Crash Course: Minimalism – Getting Started

Crash Course: Minimalism – Getting Started

Before we jump into the nitty gritty, let’s do a quick review (refer to Crash Course: Minimalism if need be). Minimalism is not about throwing all of your things away and living in a tent and peeing in the wilderness, it’s about living within your means, choosing to rid yourself of items and things that don’t bring you happiness and joy, refocusing and prioritizing what’s important in this life. It’s not an excuse for people who lack ambition or aren’t successful, it’s about thinking in simpler terms and not letting culture spoon feed you the belief that more stuff that you “need” is the key to your happiness. With that being said, let’s jump into the specifics!

Step 1: Why?

The first thing you have to do is decide why you’re choosing to live a minimalistic lifestyle. The reasons vary from person to person. Maybe you want to get out of debt. Maybe you’re tired of spending your Saturday mornings cleaning the house. Whatever it is, you need to make it personal and make it known. Write a list of reasons why and hang it up somewhere that you’ll be reminded of it on a regular basis. It helps keep you focused, determined, and reminds you why you’re doing this.

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Purpose Image Link

Need help finding a purpose? Consider watching Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. Or consider reading some books like Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life or The Joy of Less.

 

Step 2: Develop a Plan

Minimalism isn’t an overnight thing, it’s a process that can take a lot of time and can be daunting to begin. To start out, write down a list of a few things you want to accomplish by taking this on; think SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time based) goals.

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SMART Goals Link

These could include things like go through your closet, clean out the downstairs closet, organize files on your laptop, or read an enjoyable book for 15 minutes every night. Again, hang your list somewhere you will see it often so you can plan accordingly. Then once you finish your first list, you can write up another one. Remember to cross off the item once you’ve completed it. Physically marking off the project as done helps to improve your confidence and boost your mood along with an array of other health benefits.

Can’t think of where to begin? Don’t stress trying to recreate the wheel. Tons of people have done this before you and shared their journey. Consider checking out some blogs to help you develop your plan. Some of my favorites are Be More with Less and Becoming Minimal and The Minimalists.

Step 3: Do it

The third step is where a lot of people get lost. They like the idea of minimalism and they can think of stuff they’d like to do, but never actually take the time and effort to get the task done. This is why we started off small with your to do list. It’s much less daunting to say “I’m going to go through my shoes Wednesday night” than “I’m going to declutter my entire house this weekend.” Choosing to focus on one task that helps reach a larger goal is easier to swallow. So just do it. Write it on your calendar. Add it to your planner. Commit to conquering your first task on your list and actually do it. Need some accountability or help? Ask your spouse, a friend, a family member, your dog, and explain to them why you’re doing this, what it means to you, and how you need their help and guidance to accomplish it. If you’re honest and sincere, I highly doubt they’ll turn you down.

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Getting Started Link

Tried asking people and ran out of option? There are Facebook groups, blogs (as mentioned above, or consider keeping up with mine to see how my journey unfolds!), and YouTube channels to help guide you.

Step 4: Keep at It

It’s important to note that minimalism is a lifestyle, meaning it takes constant thought, effort, and practice. It’s not a one-and-done kind of deal. You can start small and work towards the final goal.

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Awesome Work Image Link

Once you complete your first list, keep making lists with projects to tackle. Once your home and life are where you feel you want them to be, then remember that when you’re out shopping and want to purchase that impulse buy item conveniently located at checkout, or when that $30 steak sounds good, but you know it’s not in the budget. Do you really need that new pair of $45 black shoes that look the same as your black flats at home? Minimalism should always have a seat in the back of your mind that helps you make final decisions on what’s best for you. When facing a purchasing decision, think about the cost of that product and if the worth of it is justified in your mind. But remember cost isn’t just monetary; it includes the space to store it, the effort to clean/maintain it, the gas it takes to transport it, the time it keeps your attention, etc. If at any point in the list you start to question the value, then maybe you don’t need that new item or to go on that expensive vacation. Don’t get me wrong, the goal isn’t to make your life no fun, it’s to help you make informed decisions. For example, one thing I will never give up is going out to eat. Some people think I’m crazy because it’s super expensive or utterly unhealthy, or whatever kind of view they may have. But to me, I’m okay paying $40 for my boyfriend and I to enjoy a delicious meal and spend quality time together. To me, that money, energy, time, effort, etc. is justified because it’s an enjoyable experience with people I care about.

More?

So that’s it! Here is your basic outline to getting started with minimalism. Keep your eyes open for some more blog posts about my personal journey and other helpful tips, resources, and products. Leave your thoughts and comments below!

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Crash Course: Minimalism

Minimalism. You’ve heard the term. You get that it’s about “less stuff,” but what’s really the point? Is it for lazy, unambitious people to give reason to not being “successful?”Is it some cult for people who are satanic about clutter and owning possessions? Wonder no longer my friends, for you have come across the first post in my blog series about minimalism. Post by post, you will learn more and more why this lifestyle has picked up traction and why people choose to live this way. For this post, we will cover the absolute basics to give you some foundation for the concept.

What is minimalism?

A lot of people have their own definitions of what minimalism is, because it is personal and a little different for each person. Essentially, minimalism is living with your necessities; the things that bring you joy and the basic necessities to survive as a functioning human being. For some people that looks like a 200 square foot house with white walls and empty counter tops. For someone else, it looks like a 1,200 square foot house with pieces of art on the walls, 2 cars in their garage, and closets with boxes and boxes of shoes. Everyone comes from different walks of life that include different world experiences, meaning the definition of the “bare necessities” and “bare minimum” vary from person to person.

Why minimalism?

Again, different people have different reasons for choosing to adapt a minimalism lifestyle. Some of the most common options are:

  • wanting less clutter/stuff
  • spend less time cleaning and doing housework to have more time to do enjoyable things
  • break the mold of consumerism and what society tells us we “need”
  • environmentally conscious of waste
  • cut expenses

Again, these are just a few of the many reasons, but if you find yourself agreeing with any of the above reasons, maybe you too are considering to work minimalism into your lifestyle.

Okay, I want in. Now what?

Well, young grasshopper, I’m glad I’ve been able to peak your interest. Down the road, you might decide that you don’t want to do this, but at least I’ve passed on some information to you about the idea. For now, I encourage you to search. There are a lot of articles, videos, and websites dealing with minimalism. Browse around on Pinterest and get some ideas, because this topic is going to be a future blog post in this series.

In the words of The Minimalists, “love people and use things because the opposite never works.”

Header Image From: http://uwmpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/minimalism.jpg 

Resolutions: New Year, New You?

I’ve never been one to really believe in New Years resolutions. I knew I would be one of the people who falls into the trap of having a lot of hope, but ruining everything by day 3. What’s so special about January anyways? If there’s something you want to change, why wait until the start of a new year to do it?

But throughout the month so far, I’ve had one message that seems to be seeping itself into every opportunity it possibly can (school, work, hallways, books, church, etc). And that, my friends, is self care. Some may say because of my experiences in the last year, this is obvious and something I should be doing anyways (especially with the extremely difficult holiday season that just passed where I experienced some of my lowest points ever). I agree that remembering to take care of yourself is important for coping and grieving, but I also believe this message extends beyond just that.

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Piece I took from the “Take What You Need” bulletin board in the dorm hallway.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m always ready to drop everything at the drop of a dime to be there for someone who needs me. My whole life I’ve always been “others focused,” meaning that I think about others and their needs and wants before thinking about my own (besides food, I’m pretty selfish when it comes to that). This has caused me a lot of heartache and stress in the past that my mom had counseled me through many a times.

With that being said, I’ve realized that I’ve stretched myself out pretty thin trying to make everyone else happy. I’ve neglected my own physical, mental, and emotional health as expenses to that. So with this upcoming year, it’s time to show myself a little TLC and grace. At my Vision Board Party last weekend, I even centered “Be Happy” on my board and placed many encouraging self care and self help graphics all around to help keep me accountable.

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My personal vision board.

Let me make a disclaimer here. I bet you have an idea of where this whole story is going. I want to make something very clear: taking care of yourself and putting your needs first is NOT always selfish or self centered. I’ve come to the point in my life where I’m running on empty and that’s just not healthy. By choosing to step back and focus on myself some more, I am only helping myself become a better person, which in turns help me be at my best when I’m helping others. In no way am I saying I don’t have the time to be there for a friend in need or to help out at some church event, but my own well being has moved up in importance drastically. I think it is unfair to my family and friends if they have to constantly deal with my struggles if I refused to work on myself.

With all of that being said, this year I really hope to make some changes; even if it takes more than this year! I’m not limiting everything to 2017. The whole purpose of this is to help myself heal, cope, grow, and learn. I’m getting back to the basics and living life the best I can. I run myself constantly and I’ve really worn myself out, but I have these expectations, that I need to have it altogether and keep everyone glued together and keep things moving along, that I place on myself. I can assure you I’ll have my days where I’m not in tip top shape (seriously, who has a good day every day?), but I’m hoping to learn how to be able to give myself some credit and allow myself to simply be human. I’m allowed to have bad days. I’m allowed to be sad. I’m allowed to fall apart, even if I tell myself I can’t.

So this year (and beyond), I’m on an adventure to learn more about myself, do more things that make me happy or bring me joy, cut myself some slack, and show myself the love, care, and attention I need.

What are your resolutions this year? Or do you not believe in resolutions? What’s an area of your life that you could work on improving, just to better yourself and not fulfill resolutions?

 

Header Image taken from: https://www.wdavidson.co.uk/self-care/

I’d Rather Be Dead

Death is a weird thing, yet it is something that everyone has in common. Eventually, one day, every single one of us will die.

Death is something that I have always been afraid of. I never liked to think about it, talk about it, or acknowledge the fact that it would happen. In fact, the first thing my mind jumped to when my mom got sick is that I was going to lose her; my ultimate fear. In fact, while we were on vacation in May, when all of this started as a “kidney stone,” I had a nightmare where balls of fire rained from the sky and one hit my mom and I watched her burn to death in agony. I woke up and told her about it and she said “I’m not going anywhere any time soon, baby.” This statement was quite similar to all the encouragement that came from everyone when we received mom’s diagnosis:

“She’s a fighter.”

“Cancer isn’t a death sentence anymore.”

“Everything will be just fine.”

“God can perform miracles.”

Little did any of us know.

 

I remember sitting in the hospital room, hearing my mom’s lungs fill up, and my dad facing my sister and I saying “Well, I think we’re facing the end,” while tears just rolled down my face. I wanted it all to be another nightmare. But it wasn’t. It was real life. And I knew that this was going to take time to deal with and I was going to need professional help to get through this.

At my first appointment with my therapist, we went over the five stages of grief and talked about each one of them. Of course I was in denial, but then we got into deeper things and I shared my view on death with her. This time, I added that death didn’t scare me anymore and I didn’t even care if I died tomorrow. Of course she asked the whole “are you suicidal?” bit, but honestly I wasn’t. I can’t think of bringing that upon myself, I just honestly didn’t care if I died because I felt like I have nothing else to live for. I didn’t want to be in a world without my mom in it, and I still don’t.

I find myself wishing I were dead quite often, whether it be in my thoughts or in conversation. I’ve even texted Jacob saying that I hate my life and I don’t want to go on like this anymore. It’s sad and it hurts, but there is a large amount of truth in it as well.

My mind, though it may be bright and creative and whatever else people want to say about it, is a horrible creature. It often feels as if it is its own separate being. My mind drowns me in sorrow at night. It paints pictures of awful things that feel realistic and is a smooth talker that can make me believe, maybe even do, things that aren’t true and aren’t okay. I am scared of myself and often feel on the verge of a mental breakdown. I’ve even told my therapist that I’m afraid to be alone because I don’t know what my mind is capable of.

I guess the good news is that I am getting help. Even with that being said, I face these things daily and a lot of the time I want to give up and not get out of bed. But guilt eats me alive because if I don’t do my daily routine and act like life is continuing on, people will be concerned. The last thing I want is people worried about me. By telling people what goes on and bugging them with my problems, it just generates sympathy, which really doesn’t help anyone. No matter what anyone says or does, nothing is going to bring back my mother, so why should I burden other people with my issues?

I already know that I have anxiety, but I often wonder if I have depression too. I’ve told my therapist about all of these thoughts and feelings, my issues with sleeping, my extreme emotional swings, everything going on in my mind, but she hasn’t thought much of it. I’ve told her that I’m afraid to have a mental breakdown and she didn’t seem to bat an eye. I guess this is “normal,” but it certainly doesn’t feel that way.

Maybe this all sounds dramatic or embellished or you think it’s a cry for attention, but this is only a small part of the things I’m experiencing. Believe it or not, writing is at least somewhat therapeutic for me. I like to organize my thoughts into words. I like to blog. Plus, I guess it’s supposed to be good to talk about what you’re feeling and thinking. At least this way, people have the option to click away if they don’t want to hear it.

Tips for a Relaxing Night

Recently, I’ve had trouble falling and staying asleep at night because my mind runs a million miles a minute. I’ve tried diffusing oils, using aromatherapy lotion, listening to music, and nothing seemed to calm me down enough to fall asleep. I find it difficult to calm my thoughts and focus on relaxing, let alone work on falling asleep. I talked to my therapist about it and she offered some food for thought on ways to calm my mind, relax my body, and get some sleep. I’ve tried some of her methods but they haven’t had as much success as I was hoping they would. Having a respiratory infection after being sick 2 weeks ago, along with a night off of work before a 4 day stretch of shifts starts tomorrow, I decided it was time to try and give myself a break.

For my birthday my boyfriend took a trip to Lush and had gotten me some products, including two that I tried tonight. I really like Lush’s idea for their products being fresh, handmade (sometimes organic), cosmetics made by people they donate money to. I had never gotten around to trying their stuff until I got some as gifts.

The first thing I tried was a bath bomb. I turned on some tunes and warmed up the water then dropped the bath bomb in the water. It was actually a lot of fun to play with because there were different colors inside of it and eventually all mixed together to make the water purple. It also made my skin really soft and smelled like fresh floral. It helped me calm down for a little bit, but it was short lived because it’s kinda hard to fit in my bath tub. After my bath, I took a nice shower.

Showers often include shaving for me because it seems like my leg hair grows a mile a minute. For Mother’s Day one year, we got my mom some sugar scrubs. I fell in love with them and then Walgreen’s started carrying the brand I really liked. And since I’m a sucker for buying things at Walgreen’s, I picked some up that we’ve used at the dorm and at home for a while. But recently I took a trip to Ulta Beauty and their selection was soooo much larger than Walgreen’s and I picked up a new scent to try. While there, I started talking to an employee about them and she made a comment about how she loved the scrubs because you could use them all over your body. I had only used them for my hands and it was like a lightbulb went off. So the point of that story is, use a sugar scrub on your legs after shaving. It takes all the icky dead skin off and makes your legs super smooth, plus you smell pretty afterwards. It helps boost my mood every time I run my hand over my legs afterwards.

After a good shave, you need to moisturize. Working in the cosmetic department always leads to me browsing products, especially when we get new ones. We just had a Beauty Must Have event that featured Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lotion. I ended up taking some home and fell in love with it. It smells like chocolate and makes my skin so soft, smooth, and most importantly, hydrated. So I slather some of that on my legs after I shave and my legs are smoother than a baby’s bottom.

Next, I decided to show my face some love and try the face mask scrub my boyfriend got me from Lush. It was awfully green, but it smelled fresh and minty. It was grainy and I loved rubbing it on my face because I could practically feel the dead skin flaking away. I let it sit for 5 minutes and enjoyed every tingling second of it. Then I washed it off with warm water. I wish I could explain to you the feeling of having a clean face. I love it. My face felt clean and soft and my skin felt like it was glowing. Probably something to do with the fresh and natural ingredients in the product.

And again, moisturize. I personally use Cera Ve PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion. I’ve tried other things in the past, but nothing seems to keep my skin moisturized as much as this stuff does. Plus, my face is super soft afterwards too.

So after that routine, my spirits were lifted, I had soft skin, and I felt good. My point is, you should really try to take some time for yourself to spoil yourself. You may not be into beauty products, and that’s okay. Maybe for you, taking time for you is reading a book, drinking a cup of tea, or baking cookies from scratch. Whatever it is, you not only should be taking the time to do it, you NEED to take the time to do it. We are so much more productive and so much happier when we do stuff we love. My challenge for you is to take one day this week to do something for you and see how that impacts your life in other ways.

And as always, stay positive and be kind to one another.

Let me know what kind of things you do and what the results are! Other people’s happiness helps keep me inspired!

Grace for the Griever

As you know, last post I talked about how hard it was to juggle schoolwork and being a college student with the emotional distress of having my mom battling cancer and her being in and out of the hospital. Unfortunately, that was the easy part. None of that is anywhere near as hard as actually losing you mom and trying to grieve and figure out life.

It’s been a little over two months since she left us. I play the last hours in my head over and over until I feel sick. I can’t explain the feeling of sitting in your mom’s hospital room listening to her lungs fill up with fluid because her body has decided to give up on her. I can’t tell you how many nights I sit up at 1 AM crying so hard and so fast that I wrestle to breathe, trying not to drift away into darkness and despair. I can’t explain to you the emptiness I feel; how lonely it is to be without your best friend and the woman who said she would always be there for you no matter what.

I wish I had answers. I find it hard to believe that a cancer that was supposed to be so treatable ended up being so vicious and life consuming. Chemo always worked; doctors had never seen chemo not work, even in patients with double Lymphoma like my mom. At the beginning of it all she told me we would get through this; that everything would be just fine, that she had weddings to attend and grand babies to play with and she wasn’t giving up that easily. Why didn’t she get better?

The hardest part is that I never got to say goodbye. Her body started giving in before I got to visit her again. I never got to talk to her again, or give her another hug. All I was able to do was wait for it to be finished.

Nothing in this world prepares you, at 19 years old, for your mother to get cancer out of the blue, and then lose her battle 3 months later. I cannot express to you the emotions I experience, the thoughts that cross my mind, or the immense pain I feel all too often.

I have done a swell job making it look like I have it altogether. I only briefly cried at the showing and was able to give a speech at the funeral. I went back to school and work a week later. Heck, I’m still kicking butt with my grades and my GPA.

Sadly, I believe it all to just be a face put on for the world because it is too much to deal with. I have to force myself not to think about it just to be able to function normally, especially because my mind likes to play all of the awful things from the final months instead of all the happy memories from the past 19 years. My chest physically aches when I try to sort things out in my head. And I know this isn’t healthy nor beneficial to me, but I can’t bear to think that my mother is actually gone; that I will never see her again on this earth. I’ll never have long talks filled with great advice, or be able to be wrapped up in her embrace. I can’t fathom that she won’t be at my wedding and that my future children won’t ever meet her. I see no way of moving forward with my life without her. I refuse to have a life without my mom; that was always my worst fear growing up, and it’s now come true.

So as I go about this holiday season and soon my 20th birthday, I remember the nights that seemed to never end of me crying and praying “Please don’t take her from me” over and over until I passed out from exhaustion. I remember that for some reason, God has taken her from us. I don’t agree with him at all and I don’t understand why, but I’m trying my best to stay faithful.

If there’s one thing I think my mom would want me to take away from her life, I think it would be her love for Jesus Christ. She may have been late to the game, discovering her faith in her early 40s, but she lived out her faith with every ounce of her being. I know all the lives she touched because of all the outpouring of love and support from people the moment she got sick and then at the showing and funeral. The people who sent us cards while she was going through treatment. The people who cooked us meals when my parents spent weeks at a time in the hospital. The people who bothered to just send a text message to see if we were okay.

My mother was an amazing woman and God I miss her terribly each and every single day. I feel so lost without her. She was always my #1, but now I have to try and put God in that seat and let him lead. This whole situation has taught me to really slow down and take one day at a time, because honestly, that’s all that I’m able to handle at once.

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My memorial tattoo piece for my mom.”love you baby” is in her handwriting and were her last words to me.

I know that this process is nowhere near over, and this is something that will affect me for the rest of my life, but I’m putting my faith in God that he will use this for his good, even though I don’t even begin to understand why. I have my fair share of fights with him and outbursts of emotion, but God is patient and kind and slow to anger. He loves me, even in my state of confusion and hesitant trust.

I guess my whole point is that I’m not even close to being okay (though I may look and act like it), and that’s okay. Other people may have moved on already and I haven’t even picked my foot up off the ground to take the first step, and that is okay. Nobody can tell me in what ways or how long I can grieve. God didn’t create us to understand death, and that is why all of this is so difficult. But I will continue to push through to the best of my ability, because I know that’s what she would want. She always told me I was so strong and that she believed in me, and I will do my best to prove that to her each and every day.

College: Round 2

I can’t believe how easy it is to jump right back into the swing of things after being away for what feels like forever.

Thankfully, first week of classes went well. I’ve made some new goals for myself for this year too; things like go to one event a week, get more involved on campus, and actually visit the rec center sometime. So far, I’m accomplishing all but the rec center part…2 out of 3 ain’t half bad.

So far this year, I’ve gone to a concert on campus, roasted marshmallows in the courtyard, and have walked past so many different club tables in the student center. This week, I have plans to go to an ice cream social and a hangout at the pool(which means I’ll go to the rec!). So I would say that I’m doing pretty well at trying to attend some of these events on campus.

Involvement wise, I’ve turned the dial up to 11. Last year, I was involved in one faith based organization. Since last spring, I’ve added a heaping spoonful of new opportunities. I joined H.Y.P.E. (Helping You Through Peer Education), which I underwent 12 hours of training for to help students on campus going through difficult situations. I was invited to join The National Society of Leadership and Success, which I gladly accepted. I’m part of the Public Relations Student Society of America, which is in the middle of completely revamping its image and mission, which is a really cool process to be part of. I am also employed on campus as an English Structured Leaning Assistant, where I’m able to facilitate collaborative learning environment and help new students transition to the college writing world. Somehow in all of this, I’m still able to squeeze in some Netflix and a warm cup of chai tea at night.

Another bonus? I actually have nice and normal roommates this year. We have all gotten along and I literally could feel a huge weight fall of my shoulders. This also helps the whole “sharing a dorm in college”situation and makes things so much easier.

With all of that being said, I’m so happy to be back. I always get weird looks or hard core questioning when I say that I love school, but the truth is, my major is so fascinating and I’m always learning new information. Communications is so interactive and something you have to constantly be involved in. It’s up to date and relevant to the world around us that we all live in. What’s not to love about all that?

Of course, difficulties have hit us hard this year, as my family is standing by my mom’s side as she battles double lymphoma, but I am confident that we will all make it through this, stronger than ever. My mom is my absolute best friend in the entire world. It’s so hard to see her go through everything that she’s up against, but I know she’s a fighter and she isn’t going to let cancer win. I probably cry at least once a week, because let’s face it, it’s just really hard, but I still do my best to be glad with the blessings God has given me on campus. I’m able to enjoy being a young adult in a fresh world of new experiences during the week, and then help take care of and nurture the woman who birthed me, as well as work my adult job on the weekends.

Here’s to another year, and all the opportunities that will arise during this year’s journey.