Two weeks ago was USANA’s 30th Celebration Convention. (If you don’t already know, I partner with USANA who is the leader in science-based nutritional supplements.) I was unable to attend convention in person, but was able to watch it virtually.
The theme of convention was “Start Something”. The point is to challenge yourself to do something, anything, to get you moving in the right direction and/or make changes to your life. It could be that you want to start inspiring people, so you start a podcast or blog. Or maybe it’s more specific, such as, start eating more vegetables. Whatever it is, I encourage you to think about what you would want to start doing right now.
The past summer I had my own “start something.” For me, I decided to start taking care of my mental health. Now, if you’ve been reading my blog posts and watched me unload and process my thoughts here, you’re probably thinking, “Finally! She needs some help!” 😉😂
In June, in order to help with our stress and anxiety, my 10-year-old daughter and I started knitting! We began with a knitting class at a yarn store, then had my neighbor (who is the GM at the store) come give us private lessons. I never expected to love it as much as I do! And it has been really good for my stress.
Secondly, I finally started seeing a counselor. Past hurts have caused me to create unhealthy walls with people. I hold so much inside me that I was feeling overwhelmed. Too many times, I try to do things on my own instead of utilizing the people around me who love and care for me. I decided I needed a change and God led me to an incredible counselor. So far, it has been a journey of healing and forgiveness…and creating new, better habits.
So, what about you? What’s something you can start doing today? Let me know if the comments!
May is Mental Health Awareness month and hits close to home.
About a year ago, I wrote a post about my daughter, Elise, and her struggles with anxiety (you can read it here). After the 2020-2021 school year ended, I took her to a counselor. At the time, she was so anxious that her clothes felt weird, she was paranoid, and talked of wanting to kill herself…at 9 years old. We were all struggling and heartbroken.
After her first counseling session, we met with her pediatrician and she was diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsion Disorder). We put her on some medication and saw a huge change in her disposition…I felt like I was finally getting my sweet, smiling girl back.
Her anxiety and emotions ebb and flow, but we have come so far from where we were last year. I try to remember this as we go through the ups and downs of mental health.
When people hear of OCD, they think of constantly checking locked doors or counting obsessively, etc. That is just one way that OCD manifests itself.
For Elise, it’s more about the obsessive thoughts. When things go wrong or she feels hurt, she can’t stop thinking about it. If she thinks a friend is mad at her, she gets incredibly anxious and worries that they won’t be her friend anymore. Elise loves BIG and is incredibly loyal…and expects the same from others. So, when she feels that a friend doesn’t have her back or care the same way, it tears her up inside.
When she feels overwhelmed, she works on breathing, uses fidgets, or escapes the room to process. Oftentimes, when people don’t allow a person with OCD to use their strategies and get in their personal space, it can lead to anger and frustration.
My little girl is incredible. I’m so proud of her and how hard she works to manage everything. And I desperately want her to know that there is nothing wrong with her — she is amazing.
Being seen and known
Mental health is often an invisible struggle. I want my precious daughter to know that she is seen and known…and loved. As we work through her struggles, I want her to know that I’m always on her side, helping and praying for her. I want her to know that there are so many people looking out for her and caring for her.
My sweet, smart, and kind girl is so incredibly fierce and brave — facing some hard issues. But, I believe, that she is only going to grow stronger and develop an empathy for others and their mental health challenges. I’m hopeful and excited to see how God is going to use her trials now to help others in the future.
Do people still call their friends when they need to talk? Or is it just text messages?
I’ve shared my journey over the past year of increasing vulnerability in my relationships with friends. God has brought some amazing new friends into my life that minister to me when I’ve responded to his voice and shared my life.
Most of the time, I send brief text messages to my friends during the week and then try to meet-up for coffee or lunch. However, as I become more real with people, I feel the need to call a friend just to talk about things.
Sure, I talk on the phone with my family, but it feels like years since I’ve called a friend when I need a listening ear or need help. Perhaps it’s a reflection of how closed off I am in my relationships. Or, perhaps, our world is so busy, that I don’t think they’ll be available to talk. Probably a little bit of both.
So, what’s the verdict? Do people still call each other? Do you have a friend that you can call when life gets hard? I have friends that I believe I could call and they would listen. And I’m always free to talk with a friend who calls me. Face-to-face is always my favorite, but that phone call can fill the gaps.
Every Wednesday night, our church does Care Night to reach those who are struggling with anxiety, isolation, and addictions. Recently, our Care Night Pastor was encouraging people to attend and talked about how there is power in our weakness. We find God’s strength when we are able to admit our weaknesses and trust in him. Those words really struck a chord with me.
I’ve been learning a lot about vulnerability and sharing my weaknesses this past year. I’ve always been a perfectionist and I hold things close to the chest. Even when I try to be “in the moment” there is a since of control to it. I recently saw a video of me singing on worship team. I remember feeling to free to move to the music and raise my hands, yet as I watched the video, I was surprised how controlled my motions seemed. Apparently, 43 years of perfectionism is hard to break!
The problem is that being perfect pushes people away. And to be honest, being perfect is exhausting. There’s so much self-doubt, self-criticism, and loneliness. I try so hard to be perfect on the outside, but I’m a mess on the inside.
I’m not perfect. I have nervous ticks that come out even more when I’m stressed — from rolling my eyes, to scrunching my nose, to slightly nodding my head or stretching. It’s embarrassing to me because it is such an obvious physical imperfection. My daughter struggles with anxiety/OCD and is getting a tween attitude that leaves me at my wits end and struggling to know how to help her. I’m more angry, frustrated, and depressed than I want to admit. But that’s okay. God’s power and strength is found in my weakness.
My previous church talked a good game about grace and forgiveness, but made it clear that if you didn’t appear perfect (say the correct things, be involved in certain ministries, wear the right clothes), you didn’t fit in their church. It hurt. But in my feelings of weakness, God led me to a church that values our differences, welcomes us, cares for us, and points us to our Savior. I find myself being more vulnerable and real with people…and they still want to hang out with me! 😉
Jennie Allen gives a great example of being known, not perfect, in her book Get Out of Your Head. She writes:
“I met a new friend after the move to Dallas. Ellen is sophisticated and always says the right thing…she was the kind of new friend who is so awesome, you feel intimidated to be around her (though she would never want you to). The first time we met, I remember playing it safe. I thought I’d hold back and feel her out.
“But the second time, I decided to go for it. I was all of me — opinionated, loud, honest, and passionate. She laughed and started calling more often. She liked me in all my chaotic glory.”
When we stop trying to be perfect and share who we are with others — strengths and weaknesses — that’s when the deep relationships form. That’s where God can meet us and grow us.
As I have been willing to share my hurt and pains with others, I’m realizing that I’m not alone and creating deeper friendships. God is bringing joy and healing to my heart by being real and weak. I’m thankful for recent women in my life with whom I’ve been unapologetically me…and felt known and loved.
And I’m thankful for God’s hope and strength in my weakness.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Our sermon this past Sunday at church was about respecting authority. While my parents did a great job of teaching me to show respect to others, I’m also a control freak.
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with enneagram, but I’m a 8w9. As an enneagram 8, I like to be in control and I don’t like to be controlled by others. Not a great combo when it comes to how I deal with authority!
And the past couple of years have caused even more stress for this control freak! People telling me to stay home, wear a mask, get tested, etc. There is already so much I can’t control (weather, gas prices, etc.) that these additional requirements about sent me over the edge.
On top of all the pandemic nonsense, we went through some really tough stuff last year that I was out of my control and left me helpless and broken. And when I feel that way, I find myself desperately searching for something to control — which usually ends up being my husband and kids.
Loving or Controlling?
Instead of being a team player with my husband, I’ve been digging my heels in on issues (where we both have valid points) and trying to control God’s story for his life. I want to rush him through his healing process and take away his pain. Countless times he reminds me that I don’t get to dictate his feelings. That w9 of my enneagram (8w9)…that’s me wanting peace and happiness. So, I try to control my husband and my kids’ feelings to get to a state of peace and happiness, instead of just listening and letting them move at their own pace.
My 10-year-old daughter (who struggles with OCD and anxiety — which I definitely have no control over) keeps telling me that I’m not listening to her. I am listening, but I’m trying to fix her problem or make her feel better…control how she feels. What she’s trying to tell me is that she wants me to just listen and allow her to feel. She doesn’t want the solution or for me to show her the flip side of the coin. She wants to be heard and validated.
And I get it. Because I hate when people do that to me too. I want to be able to tell my frustrations and process through it, not have someone tell me what to think.
What’s the Solution?
Ultimately, it’s about trusting God. Trusting Him with those I love. Trusting God with the future. And trusting that He cares for my family more than I do and will handle every situation. I’m learning that, even when everything feels out of control, God is in control. And I’m trying to learn to let go, listen more, and let people be.
And this is how I can best love the people in my life.
Eight and a half years ago I was diagnosed with asthma. It wasn’t what I thought it would be like or how it looks in the movies. There was no gasping for air or breathing into a paper bag. It started with a cough that cracked a rib.
Every July for about 3 years, I developed a cough that persisted for weeks. In the summer of 2013, I actually coughed so hard that I cracked a rib. I had a chest x-ray and Mammogram that all came back normal. After two months, my doctor recommended that I see a Pulmonologist. I was skeptical, but my husband convinced me to keep the appointment. I told this doctor my issue and right away he told me I had asthma and had me do a breathing treatment. Holy cow! I immediately felt a difference!
The little things I had been feeling the past few years finally made sense! I didn’t have as much breath support while singing and just thought I was tired. Earlier that summer, I saw a doctor because my breathing felt like I was pregnant when I ran. I struggled through a half marathon where I should have felt fine. But because it was all so small, I never realized how it was impacting me.
After the treatment, I was able to take a full breath — one that I hadn’t been able to do in years. From then on, my runs felt better, I was energized, and had full breath support when singing! Now, I know exactly what to look for and how to fix it.
A Life Lesson
I remember telling my dad that this story would make a great sermon illustration. 😉 Well, it definitely is a mirror of my spiritual life the past few years.
I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts how God has brought me back to life the past seven months. For years, I was drawing from an empty well. I left church services frustrated and tired, trying to fill my heart and soul through personal worship and devotions alone.
This past August, God led me to a new church. From the moment I stepped in the doors, I felt alive. Since then, that empty well is full to overflowing and I feel as if I have fallen in love with Jesus all over again.
And I have seen huge changes in the little things! I am more open and vulnerable with people. I’m reaching out to others more (where I used to keep to myself). My desire for church and community has grown. Most importantly, my worth is found in Jesus and not in my husband or anyone else.
Just like the air in my lungs, my love for others and my love for Jesus was slowly fading away. But God has used my experience to breathe new life into me!
Praise God that he uses everything in our life to guide us, to point us to him, and to fill our souls!
15 years ago I said, “I do!” to the love of my life. It’s been a roller coaster of good and bad, joy and tears, but I wouldn’t change a thing. My life and who I am as a person is so much better because of my husband. Here’s just a few things that make my husband so amazing…
Not only is my husband incredibly hot (I mean, he just gets better with age!), but he’s incredibly kind and caring. He is the first in line to help a friend move or solve a computer issue. He coaches our kids admirably and shows an amazing amount of patience with all the players. He is the Dungeon Master to six junior high boys 1-2 times/month at our house…I mean, he should be given sainthood for that alone! 😉
He has taught me how to love and care for others, to be less judgmental, and to truly grasp the Gospel. My faith and love for Jesus and others has grown because of him. He encourages me to interact with others and develop friendships. Most importantly, he loves me even when I’m controlling (enneagram 8 over here!) and overbearing. He loves me when I’m emotional and critical. He loves me for me.
The crazy thing is, he has no idea how amazing he is and how worthy he is of love. Even in his worst moments (and we all have them), I see the incredible man that God created and all the great things God has in store for his life. My deepest desire for him is that he will truly know how loved he is by me, our children, and God.
15 years is a great time to celebrate, however, every day with him is one to celebrate. He is the love of my life and I’m forever grateful to God for husband and best friend.
If you’re familiar with enneagram, I’m an 8w9. The 8 means that I like to be in control and don’t want anything to control me. The w9 means that I have a peacemaker side. How this often looks in my life as an 8w9 is that I want to control people’s emotions and have everyone be happy.
I used to think that I wasn’t an empathetic person, however that isn’t true. My empathy just has a time limit. Meaning, I will empathize with you, but then I want to get you feeling better again. Yes, I am great at seeing the silver lining and finding the blessing in the pain, but I tend to rush people to feel better. I want them to “shake off” the emotional pain as if it were just a scraped knee.
But, I need to be willing to sit with people in their pain and not rush them. God isn’t in a rush, so why should I be?
I’ve been reading through the book of Job in the Bible recently. Job is known as “blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.” Satan comes to God and claims that Job would curse God if you took everything away from him. God disagrees. He know Job will remain faithful.
Job loses everything! His livestock, his farm, his children, and eventually his health as well. He is utterly destitute and miserable. Job doesn’t sit and think about how blessed he is or look for the silver lining. Job is mad a God. He is severely depressed and wishes he was never born. BUT, he never turns from God and curses him.
I love that God has the book of Job in the Bible because it reminds us that it is okay to feel mad at God and/or depressed. He can handle it. So, hold tight to the truth of God through the hard time. Job trusted God even through the hard, even as he waited for a change.
In the meantime, I’m going to work on letting people “feel” and not trying to manipulate or control their feelings. Because it’s okay to have feelings, it’s okay to be angry, and it’s okay to be hurt. And it’s also okay to find joy and see God’s work even while your still struggle. God’s not in a rush — we don’t need to be either.
The top of my LinkedIn profile says “Empowering Freedom” and below my profile picture it says “Empowering women to design a life they love.” I talk a lot about empowering women and moms, but what does that actually mean?
Empowerment is defined as the process of becoming stronger and more confident. On LinkedIn, it’s about women finding their way in business and their personal lives. I believe that as women, we were created to do so many things and that we can do big things! I want women to feel empowered to thrive in life.
However, society says that what you need is inside you and you just need to dig deeper to find it — that you are to rely on yourself and no one else. It says that empowerment is taking control of one’s life and claiming one’s rights.
But I believe true empowerment is found in Jesus Christ. See, the amazing thing about Jesus, it that he was all about women’s empowerment! Jesus took women from a place of shame (in their culture at that time) and gave them honor…and he still does today!
If you want to know what a strong woman is, look to the Bible. If you want an example of a man bringing honor and empowerment to women, look to Jesus. You don’t need to look to yourself, you just need to trust Jesus and look to him for the honor, respect, strength, confidence, and power he has given to you already.
Balance…the word brings images of peace, calm, and stability, yet it also feels so far away from our lives.
As a mom, there’s the balance of taking care of your kids and yourself. Add in a job and a working mom must balance work, kids, and self.
In relationships, we often strive to balance others emotions and our responses.
Health-wise, we need a balance of foods that give us energy and help us and foods that can cause inflammation (you can have your cake and eat it too…just not all the time!). With exercise, we find ways to make our bodies stronger and have better breath capacity without breaking ourselves down, leaving us injured or immobile.
Where are you needing balance in life?
I shared recently that for this year, I’m not setting a bunch of goals. I’ve learned that balance, for me, is taking one day at a time. When I set lofty goals for my business, I can push so hard and do so much that I burn out.
I love to eat healthy and stopped eating sweets over 5 years ago. Yes, I don’t crave them, but I also fear even taking a bite and trying something. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, so I’m working to find balance having a piece of dark chocolate every once in while without the fear that it will start controlling me. 😉
I’ve spent a lot of my life closed off from people, resisting community, and compartmentalizing my life. I’m learning to balance my relationships by opening myself up to others and allowing them to invest in me while I also invest in them.
Where do you need balance? Work? Relationships? Health?
Start with one area and start making changes. Remember, small changes over time make a big difference.