Happy Things

The first time I heard this quote, my girls were very young. My mom printed it out and framed it for me. It’s been on my desk ever since. It reminds me to take notice of the joys in life, both big and small. To embrace them.

My nephew and his wife had their third baby last week. I visited them in the hospital with my husband and our 21-year-old daughter, Talee. My great niece was two-days-old. She’s healthy, beautiful, perfect. Her cry is sweet. Her tiny hands and feet are precious.Her whole life is ahead of her, waiting for her to discover it.

When I held her, it reminded me of holding my two lovely babies. My husband held her, and I had flashbacks of him with our newborns. Talee held her, and I could easily see her becoming a mom.

Moments that take my breath away. Pure happiness.

Last week, Lulu of The Real Adventures of Becoming Me, nominated me for the Happiness Tag Challenge. Lulu is one of my oldest blogging friends. She’s amazing! Please visit her beautiful blog. I always appreciate her wonderful insight and inspiration. Thank you Lulu!

Five things that make me happy:

  1. Being with my family. I’m so excited because we leave tomorrow on a family vacation. We’re super close, and I’m very grateful for that. My parents live near us, so I see them often. I love to cook for everyone, and sit around the table eating, laughing, and sharing stories.
  2. The Fall. My favorite season is almost here! Cooler weather, boots, scarves, the fireplace on, football games, pumpkin lattes. Yay!
  3. Baking chocolate chip cookies for my husband. This is his favorite dessert, and it makes me happy to make him happy.
  4. Taking long walks in the mountains. It feels great to take a break from my busy life and go for a hike. I take deep breaths and can feel the stress leave my body. Being in nature reminds me to slow down.
  5. Writing. It’s therapeutic to put my thoughts on paper (or on the computer).  I never thought I’d love blogging as much as I do. Sometimes I start a story and it ends up taking a much different turn than I intended. And that’s fun. It gives my mind a chance to wander and to record my feelings.

Five songs that make me happy:

It’s hard to pick just a few. But here are some of my favorites…

  1. “Good to Be Alive” by Andy Grammer
  2. “Halo” by Beyonce
  3. “Freckles” by Natasha Bedingfield
  4. “H.O.L.Y” by Florida Georgia Line
  5. “Feel This Moment” by Pitbull and Christina Aguilera

True happiness needs to be passed on! I nominate the following bloggers (whose writing often brings me much gratitude and joy) to continue the happiness tag by writing about five things that make them happy and five songs that stir happiness in their hearts.

Happiness Tags:

Lori at Lori Greer in Portland

B.G. at Getting Through Anxiety

Tikeetha at A Thomas Point of View

Jen at The Anxiety Chronicles

itsgoodtobecrazysometimes at My Crazy Life

First image courtesy of here

Second image courtesy of here

 

Just Be

It’s mid January, and I’m just now starting to feel under control from the hectic holiday season. It was wonderful, and filled with family, food, and fun. And stress. And anxiety.

I took a blogging and social media break in mid December. Talee came home from college early that month, and Mackenzie, who lives in an apartment in the city,  visited as often as her work schedule would allow. I happily focused all my time and energy on the family.

It was a beautiful Christmas. It left me exhilarated but exhausted.

In the preceding weeks, I’d grown used to rushing around, moving quickly through my errands and long to-do lists. There were gifts to buy and wrap, decorations to display, parties to host and attend, and cards to mail out. Plus the usual business and home responsibilities.

For me, the day after Christmas is often a let down. But also a relief.

Both Mackenzie and Talee had to work on December 26. It felt strange to have a quiet household. But it also gave me time to regroup. My husband and I decided to get some much needed exercise, so we took our dog for a walk in the mountains.

It was really…peaceful. It actually took me awhile to adjust. It was just us and nature. Quiet. Almost too quiet.

When we started, I was wound up and felt anxious. My husband and I didn’t say much.  We both wanted to simply walk and unwind. We didn’t need words to do that. Conversation would’ve interrupted our chance to relax.

At first I had to remind myself to take deep breaths and exhale slowly. We climbed the first hill, which is the steepest. When we reached the top and recovered, I finally began to breathe slower. I felt my body relax, my muscles loosen.

The soft wind blew on my face. The sun warmed my back. I noticed the wildflowers and heard the birds sing. The sound of our footsteps on the dirt and rocks comforted me.

I looked around and took in the nature that surrounded me. When I’d been stressed about the holidays, this never changed. The mountains, wild grasses, flowers, and animals were here in their peaceful homes the entire time that I was rushing around like crazy. I know it sounds strange, but I felt almost jealous.

I thought, Take this in. Breathe this in. Be mindful. Be a part of this. Just be quiet and relax. Just be.

A lightbulb went off. Yes! That’s what I need to do. It’s really very simple.

Just be.

I’m going to remember this for the rest of the year, not only during the holidays. I’m going to be more mindful. I don’t want life to rush past me without noticing the beauty of it all.

I will take deep breaths and repeat my new mantra.

Just be.

 

 

 

Fight On!

Fight Song

Music moves me. It makes me happy, and it’s there when I need a good cry.

I’ve heard this song a few times the past week, and love the lyrics. It’s called Fight Song by Rachel Platten. It has a fun beat, it’s catchy, and reminds me I’m strong and not to ever, ever give up!

Small Steps

The hard part is getting started. Whether you’re working toward recovery, completing a house/yard project, or exercising to improve health, even tiny steps are progress.

steps to recoveryI love this cartoon for adults and children. It feels awesome to achieve a goal, especially if it’s something that scares or intimidates us. Like when Talee and I finally got control of our panic attacks. Or when Talee and Mackenzie went ziplining (fear of heights!) Or when I skied down a mountain (fear of skiing!)

I tend to get overwhelmed by projects. I’m impatient. My husband is the opposite. I’ve learned from him that I can achieve rewards if I take the time and have the patience to get there. That’s hard to do!

This is how I handle it: I tell myself, “I’ll make this one phone call” or “I’ll work out for fifteen minutes” or “I’ll clean the closet for half an hour.” I need to start with something, even if it’s small. Then I feel good I’ve accomplished that one part, and think, “Okay, I can do this, it’s not so bad.” Before I know it, I’ve been on the exercise bike for forty minutes, or cleaned four shelves of the closet.

Of course, there are times I feel like I’ve taken ten steps forward, and six steps back. So frustrating! But I know if I keep at it, I’ll eventually achieve my goal.

Small steps can reap great rewards.

***

Image courtesy of alifetimeofwisdom.com

I Miss My Happy Child

kids and laughter

My ten-year-old Talee went from being happy, outgoing, and carefree to nervous, sad, and anxious. I wanted nothing more than to hear her infectious giggle and watch her jump on the trampoline, without a care in the world.

I couldn’t stop her panic attacks. And since I had panic disorder, I knew exactly how she felt. I thought I should’ve been able to say or do something to make it better. It was miserable to watch her suffer and not have the power to take it away.

Parents are seen as heroes by their children. Kids look up to Mom or Dad to fix problems. But my husband and I were at a loss. We couldn’t get rid of her frightening symptoms. She couldn’t either.

Talee was always logical. She knew she shouldn’t be afraid of school. She had a lot of friends, liked her teacher, and got excellent grades. But she panicked there once, and was afraid it’d happen again.

The fear of fear was uncontrollable.

Each day Talee stayed home from school, she became more frustrated that she couldn’t make the panic go away. So she stayed home again, and again, and again. It was like a snowball rolling down a mountain, picking up speed and strength along the way. A vicious cycle.

It was hard for my husband and I to watch anxiety take over our daughter’s life. I knew Talee was mad at herself for not being able to stop the panic. I never wanted her to think it was her fault — but I think she thought it was. Such a heavy burden for a child.

sad girl

I understood why Talee was afraid to return to school. Heck, I never wanted to go to the grocery store because that’s where I’d always panic. But my husband never had panic attacks, so it was harder for him to relate.

One morning my husband couldn’t hide his frustration. “School is not an option, Talee. You have to go. It’s the law!” He was right, but it didn’t go over well with Talee. She cried and ran upstairs to the safety of her bedroom.

My husband and I wanted our funny, lighthearted, spontaneous girl back. And we knew that she wanted that more than anything.

 ***

Image courtesy of Cristal Moore on Pinterest. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/407646203744374936/

Second image courtesy of linzhouweb.com

 

White Coat Panic

white coat Today I had a doctor’s appointment for a       routine visit, a regular check up. No big         deal, right? Wrong. I get so nervous when I go to the doctor. My doctor is really nice, and I’ve been going to him for five years. I’m not scared of him. Then why do I dread going?

Because I’m afraid my blood pressure will be high. It always is — at the doctor’s office.

I’ve had this problem for years, and can’t seem to resolve it. My doctors say I have White Coat Syndrome. They tell me not to worry, it’s relatively common.

Web MD states, “Even if setting foot into a doctor’s office doesn’t feel like walking into a lion’s den, your body may be priming for a threat. As much as 20% of the population suffers from “white coat syndrome,” in which blood pressure surges when measured in the doctor’s office.”

I’ve been treated for high blood pressure for twenty years and it’s under control. When I monitor it at home, it’s normal. It’s a different story at the doctor’s office.

Logically, I know I shouldn’t be anxious. The blood pressure cuff doesn’t hurt, and it’s a routine test. Everyone has this done, even children. But I can’t control my nerves. I tell myself, “Even if it’s high, so what? What’s going to happen?” The answer is, nothing. (I should note that my blood pressure isn’t dangerously high, just higher than normal range).

When the nurse takes my blood pressure, I breathe deep and recite a mantra, like, “Life is good.” It never seems to help. Inevitably the nurse gets a concerned look. I tell her, “Don’t worry. That always happens.”

I feel like I failed a test in school.

I’m fine for the doctor exam. I feel calmer as I talk to him. Just when I think I’m relaxed, he gets out the blood pressure cuff. Ugh. Usually my numbers are lower than when the nurse took it earlier.

I’m nervous the entire morning of my appointment, and to be honest, I start getting nervous the day before. I know how silly this might sound. But I can’t help it.

This morning I drank decaf coffee because I didn’t want to add to my jitters. While driving to the appointment, I listened to peaceful music and practiced my deep breathing techniques. Good, I’m going to be fine. I arrived and could feel the blood nervously pumping through my veins. Shoot. It’s going to be high again. It was.

My doctor wrote a prescription for a blood test to check my cholesterol and other routine levels. I get that done once a year. No big deal. The needle doesn’t bother me. At least the lab technicians won’t check my blood pressure.

Any suggestions as to how I can get rid of this fear?

***

 Image courtesy of bookofdoctors.com