I haven’t posted in a while, but things have been a bit hectic in the Hartsburg household. Chris accepted a new position in Erie, Pennsylvania and we will be moving within the next month or so. No pressure there AT ALL. 

Last week was a whirlwind of selling both of our cars to get something bigger (and safer for those nasty Erie winters), traveling to Erie for Chris’s press conference AND to try and find a house in just two days of searching. Yikes. I will admit I did not think things would go very smoothly. 

But guess what…we found the perfect home, our offer was accepted and now we just need to sell our current home in Lincoln. 

I got the flu while we were there and spent a good 24 hours in our hotel room (missing the press conference – sorry Chris) and puking my guts out. Thanks a lot flu shot. Our travel day home yesterday was miserable. Not only did I pack my xanax and zofran in my suitcase (not very helpful for flying when you can’t get to it) but I also spent the entire time trying NOT to use the motion sickness bag…not my finest few days. I can’t even tell you what I ended up wearing on the plane, just that it was black leggings and the most comfy t-shirt I could find in the dark of our hotel room when we got up at 4 am. 

(The view from our hotel room with beautiful Presque Isle in the background!)

Today I’m on the mend but the past two days of vomiting and nausea did not allow me to take my daily anxiety meds…bad timing and cause for the beginning of the dreaded withdrawal symptoms. 

If you’ve never experienced withdrawal from a medication you’ve taken, count yourself lucky. If you’ve never heard of, or experienced, ‘brain zaps’ count yourself EXTRA lucky! One of the drawbacks of being on a daily anxiety med is that you cannot stop cold turkey. However, when you can’t keep anything down, you don’t have much of a choice.

I write this, just so others will know they aren’t alone. Withdrawals aren’t just for drug addicts or alcoholics – they can also happen to normal every-day people like me. Do I like being dependent on a medication that causes this reaction when not taken every single day? No. But the alternative is scary. So today, I’m hydrating, trying not to think about the huge list of things we have to do before we move and kicking myself for letting Greyson have his binkie the whole trip.  

Sometimes you just do what you have to do. I’ll keep everyone updated on our move. We are so very excited to be returning to Erie (we lived there for about 11 months 3 years ago) and can’t wait to get back to the community, team and friends that made it home before. 

So the clouds in this picture are called Mammatus clouds and are apparently seen after a severe storm or tornado has passed. I think they are creepy and just can’t quite appreciate them like the weathermen on the television who call them ‘beautiful’. I keep expecting a tornado to pop out of one of them. And by the way, the cable is now out. Sigh…

We just had a tornado warning (different and more serious than a tornado ‘watch’) here in Lincoln and of course my husband is out of town…queu the anxiety attack that I just now got under control. Nonstop lightning and thunder that sounded like it was right above our house, strong winds, pitch black sky, hail – the works. That’s right, I’m a wuss and I. Hate. Storms. Usually my husband is great about calming me down during these warnings, but tonight I was on my own. 

I tried my mindfulness, I tried my breathing exercises, but this one was a doozy. Chest pain, nausea, the shakes and shortness of breath…lovely. This was a job for Xanax. I needed my head clear should anything progress to the point where we needed to head down to the basement. 

My mama bear instincts kicked in and to be there for my son, I needed to have it together myself. Sometimes I feel guilty about needing Xanax during these times – and I’m working on trying to release that guilt. I need to practice what I preach and let that guilt go. My son slept peacefully through the whole thing and his tranquil little face helped to bring me down a notch or two as well. 

The funny thing is, I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where ‘The Big One’ is something everyone talks about happening. If you aren’t familiar with that terminology, it means a huge earthquake that people believe will level Seattle and possibly other surrounding cities. We also lived near active volcanoes that at some point will probably erupt again. 

Sooooo it’s not like I’m new to the possibility of a natural distaster. But the weird part is that I never worried about those things. They didn’t give me anxiety, I just never thought about them. Out of sight out of mind, right? I mean besides the times  when it’s actually sunny and clear and you can see Mt. Rainier – it’s beautiful and instead of thinking about the looming threat of an eruption, I’m always in awe of the size and beauty of it when the clouds clear and it appears. 

See, tornadoes are not beautiful and the storm that comes along with them aren’t either. Anxiety is like that. A storm in your body and mind, that builds up until the turmoil reaches its pinnacle and things spin out of control. Maybe that’s why they scare me so much, because they remind me of the out of control feelings of a bad anxiety attack. My thoughts just start spiraling and spinning until I just can’t even think straight. 

It amazes me when the physical symptoms begin – how can something in my mind create palpable (and painful) feelings in my body? And every time, I somehow start to panic that those feelings won’t stop, that my world won’t stop spiraling. But just like a tornado or a bad storm, there is always an end to it. The calm after the storm. 

The thing about anxiety is that you never know when or why it is going to strike. I think that’s the part that stresses me out the most. It’s kind of like my migraines, I feel like I am on edge all the time, just waiting. In my mind, I imagine my anxiety looks like a dark shadowy figure that is just waiting to smother me. It is heavy and takes away my breath – like an elephant sitting on my chest. With every increased heart rate, I tense up. Will this be another anxiety ridden day, or was that just a normal thing that hearts do sometimes? 

This week, I have been stressed about taking Greyson to his very first swim lesson. My rational self says, ‘he loves the water, it’s important that he learns to swim, and it will be fun to watch him enjoying the pool.’ My irrational, anxiety says, ‘but you don’t know where to go at the gym to get to the pool, is your two piece bathing suit inappropriate for a kids swim class – but you don’t own a one piece so will you have to buy one just for this 6 week class, where will you change, what if he hates it and cries the whole time, what if you do something wrong?!’ So many what ifs that spiral around in my mind until I am exhausted and on the brink of telling my husband I just can’t do it. 

He reminded me yesterday that this was FOR Greyson. And then, along with the anxiety, comes the mom-guilt. If you are a mother, you know exactly what I am talking about. I then start the negative talk in my mind – why can’t you be a better mother, why are you so selfish and can’t put your son before yourself, why would you skip something that you know he will love and could possibly save his life someday? And the worst – you are just a bad mom. I hate that voice. If I could somehow strangle the life out of it, I would. 

So yesterday, I couldn’t eat breakfast, or even have my morning coffee because it was THE DAY. We were packed and ready to go an hour ahead of time – which, if you know me is a miracle in itself. I’m notoriously late or just barely on time to most things. But guess what, it was easy, it was – dare I say it – fun! Greyson laughed and splashed and his joy made my heart burst. Why had I let myself get so worked up!?

After these experiences I get so down on myself. Why can’t I be ‘normal’ (but is there really such a thing anyways)?! Why can’t I enjoy these life experiences with my child? I don’t want to look back and realize I missed out on so much because of my anxiety. 

Last night and this morning the anxiety still lingers. Last night in bed I wanted to crawl out of my own skin. I felt like my insides were pushing to get outside of my body and I couldn’t lay still – this is what my physical reaction to anxiety is like. It is, like I said above, exhausting. This morning I am still exhausted and still anxious after a poor nights sleep. But there is also a tiny part of myself that is so proud I didn’t chicken out and that I pushed through and took Greyson. 

If you have never experienced anxiety (and just know how jealous I am of you) this all sounds so crazy. I know that. But for those of you that have, especially moms, just know that none of us are perfect. We will all make mistakes as mothers. There is no such thing as a perfect mom. We get up and do our very best every day. Regardless of anxiety, in our kids’ eyes we are the best mommy ever.  

Know that you are enough. Despite your shortcomings, or even when you feel like you are failing, you are enough. This is easy to say, but even harder to believe, but I try to repeat this mantra to myself multiple times a day. And maybe someday it will sink in. 

I pray all the time that I will be the best mother possible for Greyson, and you know what, I truly believe God will help me do that. Because most days I feel anxious, crazy and out of control of my own life, I can’t do it on my own. 

We are all trying to be the best mommies, and you know what – we are. Because we love our children fiercely and unconditionally. And there is nothing like that in the world. 

There’s just something about a long drive through the country that is soothing to my soul. Last week I drove to Seward, NE to meet a teammate from one of the small businesses I am currently ending my time with. June 2nd was actually my last day with this particular business and it was so bittersweet. 

(The main downtown of Seward was adorable, complete with cobblestone streets.)

(I have a slight obsession with spiral staircases too…)

I’ve always had a love for long roads dotted with farms and fields. I grew up in a small town an hour north of Seattle. Lots of dairy farms, logging companies and the most adorable little Main Street.  If any of you remember the horrific mudslide of 2014 in Oso, WA, that was just right outside my small hometown of Arlington. Whenever I come home to visit, I love the drive into town from the freeway. It just makes my heart happy and full. The river, mountains and trees are where I am most at home. 

(Out on one of my favorite drives during my last visit home in March.)
When I was younger I couldn’t wait to get out of that town, but now my soul craves the small town vibe and gorgeous natural scenery. When I was in college and people would ask where I was from I would get one of three responses: ‘You mean Arlington, Virginia?’, ‘Oh Arlington, Texas?’ and my favorite…’That hick town?!’ And these responses were coming from actual Washingtonians. I guess I can’t blame them, during our many moves for my husband’s job, I’ve found most people outside of Washington can only name one city: Seattle. 

My other love for the country comes from the childhood visits we would take with my mom to visit family in Miami, TX. This is a small town in the Panhandle of Texas that was around the size of about 650 people when we were visiting 30-some years ago and where my grandma was born and grew up. We would go every two years, and I am sure this is where my love of horses and horseback riding developed.


(This is me in 8th grade, seems like so long ago!) 

 My grandma’s family has a large ranch there and I was enamored with the barns, cattle guards and actual cowboys we would see. I loved the long dirt roads, the tiny cafe in town and getting to check out the by then abandoned building that my great grandparents had run their butcher shop in. 

(My great aunt out driving at the Ranch.)

There was just a special connection to the people and the land. Some day I will inherit a portion of acreage on that ranch and my heart knows it is something that will stay in our family forever, passed down from generation to generation. 


(Cousins – photos probably taken about 20 years apart. The three girls in the car are the three blondes in the bottom picture!)

So this drive to Seward rekindled my love of the country. I drove leisurely, stopping to take photos (I didn’t have my camera just my iPhone, but I couldn’t resist) and to soak it all in. I noticed a content feeling in my chest and the absence of my usually always present anxiety – a VERY rare way of feeling for me.  You know that quote ‘Do what makes your soul happy’? I used to think that pertained to only jobs, and I was very narrow-minded in my understanding of it. You should do even the smallest things that make your soul happy! Take a drive, roll your windows down, sing your heart out, take photos if you love that! It was such a simple way to feel good and overcome my nagging anxiety for that short time. What small things make YOUR soul happy? 

Take a drive and explore places close to where you live, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find! 

Last night we went out to dinner for my husband’s birthday. It’s not his actual birthday yet, but when you have no family nearby and rely solely on sitters, you go when they are available! So that happened to be last night. 

I’m only 5’1″ so I usually wear heels or wedges when we go out because everyone else is always towering over me. When I was little I was afraid of some pretty odd things, one being tall people so I think I was doomed to be short from the start. I was also terrified of clowns and the drain in the bathtub sucking me into it – but those are pretty self-explanatory right?  

The length from our front door to the car can’t be more than 15 feet and I managed to bite it for the first time of the night in that short distance. I had on a cute pair of wedges and must have stepped on a branch and lost my balance, I righted myself and immediately proceeded to fall completely over onto the ground. Right in front of the busy street we live on and most likely right in front of the babysitter too. My husband laughed, and then asked if I was ok. 

We met up with some friends for dinner and then ended the evening at their place for a glass of wine AND I learned a new trick of putting your phone in a glass to amplify the sound when playing music…I’m probably the last person on earth to learn this trick, but that’s ok. I’m easily entertained. 

When we walked out to our car this time, I tripped over the curb and fell almost completely on my face – and this one hurt. I think I was too embarrassed to immediately recognize the pain in my knee and foot but last night when we finally got home, I could barely put any weight on it. I barely slept and went to the walk in for X-rays this morning where I had to explain how I had injured my foot and why I was walking like Quasimodo. Luckily, there was no fracture, just a bad sprain. 

The funny thing is that I fall ALL. THE. TIME. I don’t know what it is but I am a complete walking disaster. I’ve fallen in the middle of a bank with the teller not being able to finish my transaction because he was laughing so hard. At me, not with me I might add. Sheesh. One Easter I was heading back to my apartment in Seattle after spending the holiday with my family and fell in the middle of our street just saying goodbye to my sister – I wasn’t even moving, just standing there. She laughed, got in her car and continued laughing for probably a good five minutes. 

I really can’t recount every embarrassing place I’ve fallen – there’s just too many. I even slipped on a flower petal walking down the aisle at my own wedding. Luckily my step dad is a pretty sturdy guy, so I didn’t actually fall down – nevertheless I was still mortified. 

At least it makes for some good stories and laughs, after the fact for me anyways. I hope you all had a way better Memorial Day weekend than the last half of mine. 

Our winner is Kelly Woods! Congratulations Kelly and thank you for following my blog❤️

Kindness

I was checking out the categories and tags most searched for my posts and anxiety and GAD were leaps and bounds ahead of any other categories. This, along with finding out two people I know suffer from severe anxiety this week got me thinking. Why are we all so anxious and stressed out?! 

I know where mine comes from (it runs in my family) and it’s always triggered by events like terrrorism or mass shootings. I think I stated that 9/11 was the first terrorist type attack I can remember feeling anxiety about, but before that was actually Columbine. I was a freshman in high school and I can remember just being in disbelief, shock. Shortly after that there was supposedly a ‘hit list’ found at our high school with specific people and a date listed. We were told we didn’t have to attend school that day if we felt uncomfortable even though it was deemed to be a false threat. I, of course, stayed home that day. A safe place for me had turned into a place I was nervous and anxious in. We had ‘intruder’ and ‘active shooter’ drills along with the normal fire and earthquake drills we practiced yearly. 

In my mind I couldn’t fathom that something like that would ever happen again. But it has, countless times. There are very few places I actually feel safe now that I am an adult. Just a few months ago I went to the grocery store and couldn’t go inside because I saw a man walk into the store with a large duffel bag. My mind raced and I broke out in a cold sweat. I was convinced the duffle bag contained a bomb and that I would indeed die if I entered the store. This is not normal or healthy thinking but it has become our reality. I don’t watch the news and I don’t read news articles online. I can’t. 

After the San Bernadino shootings, offices started having ‘active shooter’ courses. I can remember having to take sexual harassment courses at larger offices I worked in before I became a work from home mom, and I honestly don’t think I could handle a course on what to do in the presence of an active shooter. It makes me sad that American life has come to this and in turn raises my anxiety levels. 

Before my parents divorce, we would get random hang up calls at our house. This was WAY before the days of caller ID and even cordless phones. My dad would tell us it was ‘bad guys’ he had arrested (he was a deputy sheriff and as far as I know still is) calling to try and harass him. Actually, it was the woman he was having an affair with. This lie made me paranoid even as a small child that someone was out to get us. I had a reoccurring nightmare of my dad being shot in front of Safeway. When I finally found out the truth I was angry. And reflecting on this, I’m not surprised that I have developed such severe anxiety. I’ve been dealing with feeling unsafe for most of my life. 


But I’ve been trying to see the good in this and realized this has definitely changed my perspective on how I treat people in life. I no longer honk at people driving like morons for fear of road rage. And the ‘weird’ or ‘odd’ people I come across in life I try to smile at. I try to treat people I encounter with kindness every day. And I won’t say I always succeed, I definitely have my moments of being less than friendly. But I’m working on it. 

I truly believe we could all be a little more kind. A little more friendly and patient. Tim McGraw’s song Humble and Kind has become a sort of anthem for me. What if we could all just be kind on a daily basis. I know it’s a little thing, but I truly believe that something small like that can make a huge impact. Will you join me in trying to make our world just a little bit less scary?

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Some of you may recognize this quote from the always classy and quotable South Park. I kid, I kid! But really, this statement made by Eric Cartman has been on my mind since I decided to start seeking MY passion/bliss/dream. 

I’ve been proud of myself the last few months in that I am slowly (but surely) learning to ignore that nagging voice that says ‘but what will people think?’ and replacing that with the aforementioned title of this post. It doesn’t come easy yet, but I know that with practice it will. 

I grew up extremely self conscious and worried constantly about what other people thought of me. My fear of failing at ANYTHING kept me from doing a lot of things I wanted to do. I wanted to try out for cheerleading, run for student body and maybe try out for a play or two. But my need to appear “perfect” paralyzed me with fear of not making the cut, and that is something I regret. 

This continued into college – I was never one of those girls who rolled out of bed and attended lecture in sweats. I would be late for class before I would ever show up without a full face of makeup and a put together outfit. I envied my friends who were finding themselves and shedding the insecurities of high school because mine were still firmly rooted in my brain. I didn’t know what I really liked or what I wanted because I was so focused on appearing like I had it all together. There were few people who knew the real me and I burned many bridges because of my inability to open up and just be.

I gained more than the freshman fifteen my first year and felt like a disgusting failure, and then felt a sick satisfaction my sophomore year when I dropped to under 100 pounds and no longer fit in any of my clothes. I had developed a full blown eating disorder which wouldn’t be diagnosed until a few years after college. I NEEDED to be perfect. I NEEDED to be a size 0 and I didn’t care what it took. I wasn’t even concerned after passing out in the hallway during a summer quarter literature class. I had been trying to get to the bathroom and thank God I had the wherewithal to sit down on a hallway bench before I passed out and awoke drenched in cold sweat with a random girl shaking my shoulder. You would think that might be a wake up call for me, but I am extremely stubborn and hard headed. I needed to be skinny and hear all the compliments more than I wanted to be healthy or admit I had a problem. 

As embarrassing as it is to admit, I still struggle every day with thoughts of weight, food and body image. It’s something I will most likely struggle with for most of my life. But on the flip side, I am beginning to care so much less about what people think of that fact. I kept it a secret for many years and was ashamed for what I perceived as being ‘weak’ and out of control. I can now speak about it without shame, because I know I fight daily to overcome those thoughts and I know it’s not easy. I’ve gotten over worrying about what people think of me, what I wear or how put together I am – because the truth is nobody cares about that. People care if you are kind, thoughtful, and trustworthy – not what size jeans you can squeeze into.  

But as I said, I’m slowly leaving those insecurities behind. Maybe this is what being in your 30’s is all about. Coming into your own and not giving an ounce of care about what people think. That and the two day hangover that happens now when I have too much wine…what’s that all about? 

I started a few small businesses in the past year and really seemed to ‘find’ myself. Both required posting A LOT of selfies on social media. At first it gave me a stomach ache when I didn’t get enough ‘likes’ on a photo, but now it doesn’t phase me. I rock bright red lipstick when I feel like it (something I would have never had the guts to do before) and even dyed my hair pink a few times, because I wanted to. I wear what I like and what makes me feel pretty. The funny thing is, the more I let go and stop caring, the more confident I’ve become. It’s freeing to let go of those old hang ups and give yourself permission to just be. 


This is what I wish for everyone. That we could all let go of the hang ups holding us back from enjoying and experiencing our lives. So…in my quest for bliss, I’ve found that learning to love myself despite my flaws and despite my anxiety must be the very first step. 

The Journey Begins

A few nights ago we watched the movie La La Land. I loved it, Chris doesn’t like musicals but he humored me anyway. The storyline really struck a chord with me – not because I’m a struggling actress or jazz obsessed pianist – but because the two main characters are so passionate about their hopes and dreams in life. They really pursue and *SPOILER ALERT* ultimately achieve those dreams through thick and thin. They sacrifice jobs, money and relationships for their dreams. But ultimately they find their bliss in life.

This got me thinking. About my dreams, my life and this blog. I’ve never been one of those people who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives or had a career I was so passionate about that I knew it would be my future. I flip flopped majors in college with the delusional idea that I would meet my husband at the University of Washington and be done having children by 25 – this now makes me laugh just writing it. My husband, on the other hand (the one I met when I was 28 and didn’t have a child with until I was 31), is one of those people. He played hockey professionally until injuries forced him to retire, and has coached ever since then. He comes from a hockey family and his dad recently retired after 30+ years in the NHL. It’s in their blood, and there is little doubt in my mind that this passion will pass on to my son and I can’t even ice skate. 

I’ve asked my husband before what it’s like to work every day doing something you love and are so passionate about, but he really can’t explain because he’s never known anything else. In a way, I’m jealous. I’m passionate about being a wife and mother but what about a part of my life just for me? I enjoy my small businesses – one more than the others for sure, but are they my passion? Are they the bliss I have been so fervently seeking? The short answer is no, they aren’t. The things I love in life – my family, good coffee, interacting with and meeting new people, shopping, photography and writing aren’t things I can make a living with. Or are they? What if I just need to let go of what society tells us and just follow my passions come hell or high water?

 

Quoting the fabulous Jen Sincero again, I need my faith to be bigger than my fear. Which sometimes seems IMPOSSIBLE when living with anxiety. But do you know what’s even more scary…not following your dreams and becoming the person you feel in your heart you are meant to be. Now that’s scary. Life is short and none of us knows which day will be our last. I want to live a blissful life – able to enjoy my family and the time we spend and also feel accomplished and proud of what I do for ME. What that will entail, I’m not sure yet. But I’m working on it.