Write & Serve Whether You Feel Like it or Not

Today I don’t feel like writing, but I know I should. I’ve tried the daily word count, which I admit has been forgotten multiple days, and I have started the A to Z Challenge, which has not gone as well as I’d hoped. Image

Fortunately, a friend posted something on Facebook this morning that got me to thinking about some things.

I currently live with three men: one is only home on weekends and long holidays, one recently moved in, and the third actually rents the house. The biggest difference in living with the three of them is that one helps me clean when he’s home, one compliments me when I clean, and one ignores me when I clean. Image

Before I say anything else on that I’m gonna have a little side track. That is that for many years I was the perfect people-pleaser. I would bend over backwards to please everyone around me, not realizing that it’s not really possible. I tried all the time, always looking for a way to make everyone but myself happy. In my mind making everyone else happy meant not getting yelled at or stepped on. It meant making my life easier even if it wasn’t happier.

Eventually I stopped people-pleasing merely to make my life easier and everything I did to please others was when it really did make me happy. I like seeing others smile, like being the source of someone else’s happiness, just not at the expense of my own, which brings me back to the present.

The renter of this house has been gracious enough to let all of the other inhabitants live here for a variety of reasons, and I see no problem in helping keep things clean. After all, I have helped with rent and utilities sporadically when I had money, though it’s not my biggest contribution. However, my contributions keeping the house clean and the laundry done has become more and more of an overlooked thing. It is not unusual for me to spend several hours washing dishes or washing and folding laundry and hear nothing about it.download (3)

In the last few weeks it has been increasingly difficult not to become petulant over the matter. I mean, really, no one likes to feel under-appreciated. However, this morning my friend shared a Bible verse that helped me put things in perspective:

“Whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20: 26, 27

This reminds me that it doesn’t matter how I feel I should always have a servant’s heart. It doesn’t mean let everyone use me or make me a doormat, but I should always be willing to help others even if it goes unnoticed. Christ served everyone. He spent most of his time with those that the majority of society shunned. Likewise, I should serve everyone, not just those I feel like.images (5)

 

A is For Acceptance

Today I am beginning my April A to Z challenge. For those of you that didn’t read the post I re-blogged about it a few days ago it means I will blog 26 posts this month as I go through  the alphabet in addition to other posts. Acceptance

Deciding what to blog about today was a bit of a challenge because there are so many good words that start with A and are applicable to my life at the moment. The one I settled on is acceptance because when I woke up this morning that is what I felt: acceptance of God’s love and His plans for my life. It’s difficult to describe, but when I woke up I felt more at peace than I have in a while. I felt like God was reassuring me that I can let go of everything I’m worrying about and stressing over, not just the small stuff.

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I have accepted the peace He is offering and I have accepted that He wants what is best and will guide my life if I let Him. No more drama and worrying about whether I’ll be happy or not in the future. He has promised and He will provide. I accept His gift. I accept the life He wants me to live.

I also accept my life as my own. I accept responsibility for whatever I haven’t taken responsibility for in the past. I accept that I am human and will make mistakes. I will never be perfect though I can strive for perfection every day. I accept this as fact and will conduct myself each day as God asks me to to the best of my ability.acceptance

What are the things in your life you need to accept?

Sunshine & Summertime

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Yesterday I wore a tank top from morning to evening without being cold. Today the sun is shining and I can wear a tank top again if I choose. The weather forecast for tomorrow is sunny and warm. It looks like spring has finally made an appearance and that means summer is just around the corner!

This excites me for multiple reasons, the main one being that it’s my absolute favorite time of year! Being from the coast of Alabama, I grew up in the sweltering heat and high humidity and I dread cold weather.

Anyone can argue why a certain season is their favorite and I could  certainly have a lengthy conversation on the subject, but this post is not for that. I am merely reveling in the warmth and joy of today and hoping that at least one other person is seeing the beauty in the changing season and enjoying the day. However, while I’m at it, I will throw out the top five reasons I think summer is the best season ever and you as readers can discuss it among yourself if you please :

  1. I can wear tank tops and shorts every day
  2. I can take the dogs to the dog park or out on a walk without needing an Eskimo suit
  3. I can play at the pool or the beach and get a tan
  4. There are beautiful colors everywhere in the flowers and trees and butterflies
  5. Sunshine makes your body release endorphins and endorphins make you happy

The main point of today though is: whether you’re from the North or the South and whether you like the cold or the heat, enjoy the beautiful day outside. The world is a beautiful place if you’re looking in the right places.

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There is No Magic Pill for Anxiety or Depression

I have a confession. Sometimes I have irrational fears.

Sometimes I’m afraid of the dark. Sometimes I’m afraid that I will walk outside and my dogs will be gone or simply dead, lying lifeless on the cold concrete of the car port where they are tied. Sometimes I’m afraid I will walk into a room and everyone will turn and stare at me for no reason.

anxietyattacksQuite often I have anxiety attacks when I think about such things. My heart starts pounding. My breathing gets faster. My thoughts start racing and each thought is more horrible and gut-clenching than the last.

Nowadays when this happens I know that it’s irrational. I know that I just need to take a few deep breaths and calm down, but it doesn’t ever really work like that. My brain is screaming that I need to chill out, but the rest of my body doesn’t comprehend the command. Everything else in my body is screaming that I’m under some sort of attack, so the rapid pulse, near-hyperventilation, and racing thoughts continue.

This anxiety has happened for as long as I can remember, starting before college and before high school. I knew it was odd long before I could categorize it as irrational. There were even times I would have vivid dreams that would cause me to sleep walk and when I woke up in the middle of them with someone asking me what I was doing I would have a panic attack and go back to bed without answering them.

Unfortunately, as my anxiety got worse around people I found myself falling in and out of depression. I would have crazy, wild mood swings where I’d go from happy to cursing angry to bawling my eyes out in a matter of hours. The worst days were when my anxiety triggered my mood swings which generally triggered my depression.

The older I got the worse everything got and I became more and more of a social recluse who was too anxious or depressed to be around anyone else except when I absolutely had to be. Eventually I recognized my mood swings and depression as having somewhat of a cycle, but I still couldn’t control it. It took many, many years before I found a close friend to talk to about it and many more to talk to others about.anxiety cycle

Now, I know many of you who are reading this would like to hear a happy ending about how I realized what was going on and I took a magic pill and everything was rainbows and roses after that, but that’s not how it worked, at least not for me. It would be nice if it did, but it didn’t. In fact I still struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, and depression. I do a myriad of things and talk to specific people about it to keep it under control, but it’s a constant struggle. There is no magic pill, no secret antidote for it, just me and the resources I utilize to make it better. That may be very discouraging and seemingly unhelpful to some of you reading this, but don’t let it be.

There were times in my life where I couldn’t function as a normal human being. There were times when I was so crippled by what was going on inside me that I would sit on my living room floor with my arms wrapped around my knees sobbing and thinking about ending it all. But somehow I pushed on. I would tell myself that it was selfish to commit suicide when I had family members and friends who loved me so much and would be devastated if I did. It may seem silly to some, but just having my dog Dirk depending on me every day helped pull me through some of those dark times. He would sit close and let me cry into his long, soft fur and he would lick my cheek and tell me in his own quiet way that it was going to be ok and he needed me to be there.

Each time I would come out of my depression I would try to find something or someone else to help me stay out of it a little longer, or manage it better. I talked to my best friends, I made lists of coping skills and things that made me happy, things I felt blessed for. Eventually I summoned up enough courage to talk to a counselor and try to find the root of the problems. panicattack

It’s not easy. Like I said before, I still struggle with it on a regular basis. There is no perfect answer, but it can be overcome if you really want to overcome it. There is help that doesn’t include drugs and alcohol (I tried the latter one and it failed miserably). So if you’re reading this and you feel overwhelmed and hopeless, take a deep breath. The sun is still there I promise. There are people who care and there are ways to change wherever you are right now, no matter how low or dark that may be.

Sincerely,

An Anxious & Depressed Individual Who Fights to Overcome it Every Day and Wins More Often Than Not

 

I Celebrate My Friend, Maya Angelou

Tonight I finished Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou. For those of you who haven’t read it, it is a rather moving collection of essays and poems about Maya’s life. The last few chapters were a bit random and didn’t seem to fit with the feel of the rest of the book, but it was worth the read.

The best part of the book though was the revelation that Maya Angelou sounds just like one of my friends, Winter S. She happens to be a 6′ tall African-American young woman with a fiery passion for life and she has humor and wit that could rival Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act (which by the way is a great movie).

Winter is a woman who will meet you at 7am, after coming off a long third shift, and spend an extra 15 minutes sharing her newest book and/or comical experience to start your day with a smile. She is a strong-willed, independent woman and, not unlike Maya Angelou, she inspires women around her. She encourages them to look at the positive side of any situation, she influences and challenges women around her to aspire to be better to themselves and others.

ImageToday’s society celebrates people with money and power. The media spends all of their time talking and writing about celebrities like Britney Spears, Tom Cruise, and Reese Witherspoon. The media cares about what shoes these people are wearing, where they go shopping, and how much their cars and houses cost.

They celebrate Maya Angelou for her beautiful poetry and insightful memoirs. That’s great, but what about women like Winter? Winter, who makes a difference in other people’s lives not by writing about her own, but simply by living as an example. What about women like Winter who make my life richer and more complete.

Today I celebrate those women. I celebrate Winter, my friend. She shows joy and love to everyone she meets. She is proud of her independence, proud of her character, and so am I. So today I celebrate her friendship and her beauty, inside and out. I celebrate the woman she is and the woman she is becoming every day.

Reputation vs. Relationships

It seems that every day someone is writing an article or sharing a quote about honor and ethics and morals. I guess everyone wants to show just how decent and virtuous they are. Unfortunately, most people don’t actually think about whether their actions align with said written article or quote when they share it. They are more interested in hearing people say wonderful things about it, re-Tweeting it on Twitter, or liking it on Facebook. They want to pat themselves on the back and say “good job, you shared it with the rest of the population and now they think better of you for it.”

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It’s sad really that our society has come to the point where people care more about their reputations than their actual relationships. If they get enough likes on Facebook, enough followers on Twitters, then maybe they have some worth. Maybe then they don’t feel so bad about the way they looked at the strangers in the supermarket, or how they whispered and gossiped with their friends in class about a new student.

If people cared more about genuinely talking to people, re-building broken trust with people they know and forming trust and comradeship with new people, and less about whether or not the doe-eyed girl down the street still thought he was perfect or whether the man she met at a party thought she was hot, the world would be a better place.

Stop Whining

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Why? It is the most frequently asked question.

Why did this happen? Why did he leave? Why me? These are the questions everyone asks at some point in their life, usually more than once. I know I’ve been guilty of it. But as I’ve gotten older and experienced more I’ve come to realize that the more important question is why not?

Everything in life happens for a reason, whether that reason is because you’ve made the wrong decision or because God decided it should happen.In addition to a reason, and perhaps more importantly, everything that happens has a consequence. It may be good or bad, but there is always a consequence.

The cool thing about consequences is that you can learn from them, good or bad. So maybe that guy you were seeing betrayed your trust. Now you know how important communication and trust is in a relationship. Now you know some qualities you DON’T want in your next relationship. Maybe you lost your temper with a coworker and work is suffering. Now you can learn conflict resolution and better interpersonal skills. Now you can create an atmosphere of deeper trust and understanding by talking with that coworker and working things out.

Every interaction is a chance to learn and experience something new. It’s not always easy. Heaven knows I’ve dealt with more than one man who didn’t know what trust or respect meant, more than one coworker or friend I’ve lost my temper with and had to utilize new skills. Each time I grow from it and I move on stronger than before.

I decided a long time ago that life is too short to constantly be living in self-pity and asking why me? I don’t want to live in regret and remorse for things come and gone. It happened. OK. Now its done and its time for you to move on.

Life is much more beautiful when you learn and appreciate each one of your experiences instead of seeing them as a reason to sit in a corner and dwell on what could have been different.