New Year’s Refresh and Reveal: From Anonymous to the REAL Me!

I’m so excited to finally write this post. I’m not big on New Year resolutions, but this is definitely something I’ll be able to check off my list.

When I started this blog six years ago, I knew I wanted to write about mental health in general and specifically, my journey to recovery from panic disorder and agoraphobia. Like many other blogs centered on mental illness, I chose to be anonymous.

Over the years, I’ve become more open about my issues. Now I’m a mental health advocate, something I wasn’t necessarily striving for when I started my blog. But that’s what has evolved — by writing about it here and on other mental health-related websites, including NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), The Mighty, and Thrive Global. I’m also a speaker for NAMI’s in-school mental health awareness program, Ending the Silence. I talk to middle grade and high school students about the symptoms of mental illness and what to do if they notice those signs in themselves or a friend.

All of my writing in regards to mental health has been under the pseudonym Jenny Marie. I’ve always known that one day I’d change that. I just wasn’t sure when.

And now, I’m ready.

Going forward, I’ll go by my real name (drum roll)…

Jeni Driscoll

Eeks!!! It’s hard to explain, but it feels so strange (and a bit scary!) to reveal that. Plus, I’ve never posted pictures of myself!

It’s like opening the curtain, letting people get a glimpse of the real Jeni. I feel vulnerable. But it’s not like I’m a different person or haven’t been authentic in my past writing. I’ve been true to my real self through ALL of it. Every single post I’ve penned is filled with my own thoughts and experiences. My life. Just different names.

I was away from the blog for much of 2020, but am happy to be back! I’ve had fun giving my site a little update, like changing the header background to olive branches. I chose them because they symbolize peace.

As with different seasons of life, my direction pivoted this past year. Partly because of the global pandemic and partly because I chose to focus on other endeavors.

Last year I completed a manuscript for a middle grade contemporary fiction book about a girl with anxiety and panic attacks. I’m currently querying agents, hoping to find just the right one to champion my book.

Sometimes we all need fresh starts. What better time than now, after making it through the extremely difficult and challenging year of 2020.

My wish and prayer for all of us is a healthy, peaceful New Year.

Take care,

Jeni

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is new-year-refresh.png

Time to Connect

New Year,-1

Ah, it feels nice to sit here at my computer and write a blog post again. I took time off of social media during the holidays. The past few weeks have been filled with family, friends, food (too much, of course), and special moments.

I spent time with family I usually see just once a year because we’re scattered throughout the world. I met my 10-month-old great nephew for the first time and couldn’t get enough of him. My husband Alex and I spent lots of time with our daughters, who live away from home. It was awesome to re-connect.

But the holidays weren’t all magic and sparkle. There was anxiety too, which has a way of creeping in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I couldn’t keep track of the times I told myself to take a deep breath and relax.

To add to the stress, we started a major remodel on our business the week after Thanksgiving. I know… not great timing.

Life is calming down a bit now — sort of. It felt good to box up our holiday decorations and declutter. The house looks a little bare, but fresh.

January is a clean slate.It's a new year and a fresh start! Make 2015 be your best year yet and do things that make you happy! Live for you!! Happy New Year!

Yesterday Alex asked what my New Year’s resolutions are. I don’t like to make them, it’s too much pressure. I prefer to set goals throughout the year, instead of a long list in early January. But his question got me thinking: is there anything I’d really like to change? Some area in my life I want to improve?

Like many people, I want to eat healthy, exercise, and lose five pounds. I want to read more and carve out time to meditate, do yoga, and work on the puzzles and mindfulness coloring book my mom and dad gave me for my birthday last fall.

But there’s something else I want to work on, a different type of resolution for me.

Connections.

A few months ago, I had coffee with a friend (I’ll call her Teresa). She talked about the importance of finding and maintaining connections. I was intrigued because this is one area in my life I’d like to improve.

Life is all about connecting with others and being vulnerable enough to let them into our lives. Friends to laugh with, cry with, learn from, share experiences with, to support, to love.

I  have a close group of friends and wonderful family relationships. But I’ll be the first to admit I’m not great at taking the initiative to keep in contact or arrange time to get together. Building and nurturing friendships takes effort, for both sides.

Pinning on this board...It helps me in my own journey and I hope it helps in yours. Thanks for being there, Pinterest people.

Teresa told me about author and motivational speaker, Brene Brown, Ph.D., and  suggested I read Brene’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.” Alex bought it for me for Christmas and so far I’ve read the first couple of chapters.

I relate to much of what Brene talks about, and I love this quote:

“I define connections as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”

It’s giving and receiving with an open heart. And despite the fear of rejection, putting yourself out there to connect on a personal or professional level. Maybe it’s asking a friend to go to lunch, joining a club, taking a class, or calling a business contact to further your career.

Connect.

So that’s my resolution: to nourish the relationships I have and create new ones, even if it means stepping out of my comfort zone.

I’m excited to see what bonds will forge this next year.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy 2018!

Image result for quotes on connecting with others

 

Second image courtesy of here

Third image courtesy of here

Fourth image courtesy of here

 

 

 

 

Why a Target Ad Made Me Sad

Last night my husband and I were watching TV. A Target commercial came on and I felt myself wanting to tear up. What? It was a really cute back to school ad, with happy kids and parents buying colored pencils, notebooks, and backpacks.

It hit me. I don’t have any more “Back to Schools.” Mackenzie graduated college three years ago and has been living and working in the city. Talee graduated college this past June and works at a “big girl job,” as she calls it.

No more school days.

Even when the girls were in college, and we no longer did the traditional K-12 back to school shopping, I still had a back-to-school-time-of-year. Shopping for their dorms or houses, getting them some clothes and makeup, and maybe a notebook or two.

Mackenzie, Talee, and I have great memories of back to school shopping. The girls have often told me that their favorite part — more than buying new outfits — was going to Target or an office store to get their supplies. There’s something about clean, fresh paper, sharp pencils, clean erasers, and folders that don’t have anything written on them yet.

A fresh start.

Last September when Talee started her senior year of college, I’m surprised I didn’t think about it being my very last back to school year. Not that I would’ve done anything differently, it just didn’t cross my mind. And it’s important to me. One of those things you think will always be there.

This fall Talee will be moving out to be closer to work. It’ll be fun to shop with her for plates, silverware, pots and pans, and towels. I guess that’ll be my version of back to school.

My husband and I will become empty nesters again, and that’s bittersweet. I’m proud to watch my daughters become independent and grow in their careers and adult lives. But I miss their younger days. I miss driving them to school, picking them up, making lunches, and helping with homework.

Those days are gone and that’s sad to me. But I’m thankful I treasured those moments and cherish those memories. A new season is about to start and we have to move on.

A new beginning.

Maybe the next time Mackenzie and Talee are home together, we’ll go to Target or the office store and get some new pens, sticky notes, and journals. They’ll never be too old for that. Neither will I.

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here

Third image courtesy of here