Trusting the Process in 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015

I have written about overcoming fear quite a lot on this blog. 

I have gone through my archives, and I've realized that I am always, always, always trying to figure out the "hows" of overcoming fear.  It's a mystery that I've never really been able to solve, and may never solve. It's an ongoing, constantly shifting and evolving process. A journey that never really ends.

It's a topic that I don't like to write about anymore because it just seems like I'm repeating myself all the time. It's like, oh yeah, I want to work on overcoming fear...again. Here's my so-called epiphany THIS time, and here's what I'm gonna do THIS time.  

But I am fully aware that it is not something that can be figured out, or fixed, by just sitting around and thinking about it. I can come up with various "temporary ideas", based totally on how I'm feeling at that point in time. I can sit here and write yet another post that is supposed to fall under the category of "Inspirational" or "Faith". But I don't think I ever really believed the words I was writing.  I'm still not sure I do most of the time. 

This New Year's, I fear setting goals. Pretty much every year, or even in the middle of the year, I would set new goals for myself that I was so certain {at least on that day} that I would actually accomplish this time around. I would finally find an eating plan that works for me. I would finally get back into shape for ballet. I would spend time in The Word every day, and my relationship with the Lord would thrive. I would do all these things and more...and the result was supposed to be me finally feeling healthy.  THAT was really all I wanted. 

I lost way too many months battling with serious depression and anxiety. Months turned into years. Eventually I was either sleeping too much or not at all, and barely eating. And although I can very genuinely say that things are significantly better {especially in comparison to 2012...and I'll tell you that story eventually), I honestly don't even remember what "healthy" feels like. 

And as much as I can say I do want "healthy", I think I'm afraid of it...because it's unfamiliar. 
Unhealthy thoughts, unhealthy eating habits, unhealthy body image, physically unhealthy...that's all I've ever known. 

I can be so gung-ho about making changes in my life, and be super motivated to get started...for about 24 hours. Then the fear creeps in again and says, "Hey, what makes you think you can do any of this? You've never done it before. You won't be able to."

That's the enemies voice. And that's the voice of mood disorder. It's the easiest voice to listen to, because it's so familiar.

This year, what I want is to learn to let God's voice be louder. 
I want to look fear in the eye and say, "In the name of Jesus Christ, get behind me,"
I want to always remember that mood disorder distorts thoughts, and makes them not real.
I don't want to be a slave to this anymore. 
I want to be healthy. I am terrified of healthy. Healthy never existed for me. But I want it.

And, JESUS, I trust You to help me get there!

15 things I forget to thank him for...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"I'm sticking to my guy like a stamp to a letter. Like birds of a feather, we stick together."
-- Mary Wells


Now, I'm hoping that John-David actually knows all of the following things already, ha! But just in case, here are 15 things I want to say "THANKS" for...that I might just forget to say sometimes.

{one} For being patient with me...

Especially when I'm going through a depressive phase and I'm in a pit...when I don't want to talk, or to be touched. Your willingness to hang in there and wait for me to come out of it is very helpful to me. If I knew I was doing nothing but disappointing you by staying "hidden" for awhile, it would make things ten times harder. Thank you for making it slightly easier.

{two} For taking creative pictures of me...

And for making me look really good in them! Like this one you took awhile back! :))

{three} For taking me places...

You know exactly what I like to do, and you always pick the best locations for us to make excellent memories together! We always have so much fun...and I need that in my life!

{four} For doing all the "manly" things...

For lack of a better word {LOL}...Seriously though! I can't kill spiders. I can't install anything technologically related. I know zilch about cars. I can't carry heavy things. There are probably plenty of others...but I'm glad you are willing to step up and do all of this stuff for me!

{five} For spending time with all of the children in my life...

  You join me on a lot of my babysitting adventures, and it is so neat for me to see you with some of the kids that are super important to me, and that I've loved for a long time. It makes me so happy to watch them click perfectly with you. They are so used to me, and I like that they take to you so fast...that they LIKE you! It truly reassures me that you are going to be a really good father to our own children someday.

{six} For listening to me ramble on and on...

When I'm talking about "this thing" that happened at preschool...or "that dance class" that was super hard to teach today for whatever reason...or "this person" said "something" and I thought they were ridiculous, and here's why...I know this stuff probably isn't super significant to you. But I'm saying it, so you listen. And that's a big deal because you know I love to talk ;))

{seven} For making me laugh...

Especially with your Syd the Sloth impression...AHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

{eight} For letting me be myself...

For not questioning if I'm too overdressed for wherever we are going. For not telling me to "turn it down a few notches" when I'm in one of my too-happy, slightly manic moods. For not being embarrassed when I don't realize I'm "practicing ballet technique" in public places {i.e. using a shopping cart as a barre, doing an arabesque when trying to reach something high, doing turns in any kind of open space because open space equals dance floor}. 

{nine} For putting up with my constant indecisiveness...

Let's face it...I can't make a decision to save my life. I never know what I want. It takes me forever to just pick something. I appreciate that you don't get annoyed by that.

{ten} For letting me watch the things I want to watch...

I know you probably don't always want to watch things like "Downton Abbey" or "Pride and Prejudice" or "Anne of Green Gables". But when I'm being incredibly stubborn, and dead set against watching pretty much anything else {cue the indecisiveness again!} thanks for watching what I want. However, I do love that we have developed a mutual love for shows like "Friends" and "How I met Your Mother". 

{eleven} For loving me when I don't love myself...

There are many occasions that I don't feel pretty, or thin, or worthy of love. But thank you for always insisting that I am. Even though I probably won't believe you in the moment, it's always nice to hear. 

{twelve} For doing really awesome things with your talents...

I love that you've recorded so many of my students' recitals! I am so fortunate to have those videos to always look back on, and to watch how much the kids grow as dancers over time. And the parents have been thrilled to have them as well! 

{thirteen} For dealing with my tardiness...

I'm never ready when I say I'm going to be. {Isn't that how it is for girls in general though?} I have such a hard time getting out of bed on time. And I'm a little too laid back for my own good sometimes. I know you're not the biggest fan of being late to thanks for not getting irritated with me.

{fourteen} For coming to my concerts/performances...

I'm fully aware that an extremely lengthy Baroque music piece sung in Latin is probably not something you would listen to to on your own. But while I'm standing up there in the choir, it's nice to look out and see you sitting in the audience.
Oh...and to add on to that...thanks for coming to see my students perform too! 

{fifteen} For being THE SWEETEST!

You constantly put me first. You open doors for me, so gentlemen-like. You laugh at all my silliness. You send me encouraging text messages. You treat me like a princess.

I know I don't say it often enough...
i love you to the moon and back!

He Talks || Guy Behind the Blog, December Edition

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Whoa, my friends! I'm at the tail end of an incredibly busy season of life! After two super, super fun performances done by my dance students, I'm finally taking time to breathe, relax, and allow myself to just be much as I don't like it, ha! It's healthy. And, after this week is over, I'm looking forward to two full weeks off of EVERYTHING. One of which I'll be spending with my boyfriend, John-David, in Savannah, Georgia. I can hardly wait!

But before all of that, CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!
And today, I'm participating for the first time in a link up called Guys Behind the Blog, where the men-folk in our lives take over the blog for the day.

So, Boyfriend is here to talk to us about Christmas!

1. What's on your Christmas list this year?
Each year I find it harder and harder to make a Christmas list. As I get older the things I want are either to expensive to get as gifts or I just can't think of anything I really want. 

2. Did you believe is Santa as a child? Do you have any funny Santa stories?
As a kid I think I believed in Santa on some level but I don't remember my world being "shattered" when I found out he wasn't real. As for funny stories... I honestly don't remember any funny stories. 

3. What is a Christmas tradition you hope to pass on someday?
I think one tradition is like to pass on is opening one gift on Christmas Eve. I always loved that as a kid.

4.  Do you open presents on Christmas morning or a different time?
We usually open one gift Christmas Eve and the rest get opened on Christmas Day at some point. We aren't in any rush in my family. 

5.  What is your favorite Christmas song?  Movie? 
My favorite Christmas song is a tie between Christmas is All in the Heart and All I Really Want for Christmas, both by Steven Curtis Chapman.
As for a favorite Christmas movie, I'll have to go with "It's a Wonderful Life." I know that's probably a typical answer, but I'm not going to apologize for it.

Side note from Emily: Oh, we are soooo made for each other. 
"It's a Wonderful Life" is not only my favorite Christmas movie...
It's one of my favorite movies EVER! There are so many more things 
that we have in common too! I love that we can enjoy so many thing together.

This was really fun! I can't wait for us to do this again next month...and the months after that!

Tell us some of your favorite things about Christmas!

Sorry, Not Sorry || Things We Should all Stop Apologizing for

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Shame & Guilt.

It's an epidemic in our world. All the time, I hear people {MYSELF INCLUDED} apologizing for things they should NOT be apologizing for. 

Of course, it is always right to accept responsibility when we know we have wronged someone, and to ask forgiveness for our wrongs. THAT is an appropriate and necessary apology. But there are so many things that are just so silly that we feel so guilty for, and so compelled to apologize for!

What's actually happening here?
You're apologizing for *EXISTING*.

Whether you are aware of that or not. That's what you're doing.

Again, myself included. I find myself constantly apologizing about one thing or another. Even though I also spend a lot of time telling others around me, "That's okay!" and "No need to apologize!" or "What in the world are you apologizing for?"

I'm so quick to see the good in everyone else, and so quick to pick out all the negative things about myself, and I forget that I don't need to feel so guilty all the time either. I know a lot of others can relate to this.

We so often sabotage ourselves from good things, from success, because we are too busy apologizing for what we assume are weaknesses.

{{I wrote about distorted perception and shame RIGHT HERE}}

I've spent some time thinking about all of the things that I apologize for on a regular basis.
All things I don't really need to be sorry for because they are just...well...ME.

And I've made a list.

And from this point on, I'm going to start retraining my brain to not jump right to my go to phrase, "I'm sorry." every single time.

Join me won't you!

1. Passion
When I feel strongly about something, I want to share it with people. But I often hesitate because I am afraid that people either don't want to hear it, or that it will bother someone who doesn't agree with it. But now I'm taking a step back and thinking, wait a minute! People know me! Have I ever been mistaken for a mean or hateful person? People know that just because I don't agree with someone else's stance, or someone else's passion, doesn't mean that I don't like them. I would never cut someone down for putting the things they feel most strongly about out there...especially through social media outlets. Granted, I don't always like how heated, rude, and spiteful things can get, but I do understand, and advocate putting your passions out there. Even if I don't agree with them. So I expect that if I choose to do the same, I won't have to say I'm sorry for it.

2. Being Right
Thinking that you have to apologize for being right, implies that you're not actually confident that you're right. Granted, I don't want to be known as a know-it-all, but I also know that if I feel I'm genuinely right, I don't need to change my opinions or feelings to suit other people's opinions and feelings. Similar to what I said above, I know that not everyone is going to agree. But for my own emotional sanity, I need to stop feeling badly that someone may not agree with me. Because it can turn into a vicious cycle of guilt.

3. Not feeling good
Everyone knows...and I mean everyone, whether you know me personally, or if you've ever read my blog at all...everyone knows that I go into down phases sometimes. And when I do, sometimes it's bad enough that I don't want to go out, don't want to be around people, and don't feel like talking. It's nothing personal, but still sometimes people take it personally. Which is a problem because guilt finds me a lot faster when I'm feeling bad, and it makes me feel even WORSE. I work really hard to make the choice to not apologize for feeling bad. Please don't expect me to.

{While you're at it, check out my post about things you should avoid saying to people with depression.}

4. Saying No
I am a busy lady. And I enjoy being busy. I fill my time with things I love doing. But a person only has the brain space for so many things...and I tend to overfill my brain with entirely too many things. I feel like I am completely powerless to say no to people sometimes because I just want to make everyone happy. But if I have too much going on, I'm not going to have the time to devote to whatever extra commitment I made that I really shouldn't have made. That's not making anyone, including myself, happy. It's okay to say no if you feel you are too swamped already. And if people are not understanding about that, well, that's their issue to deal with.

5. Asking for help
It's not just that I want to try and do everything by myself, which I often do. That's a control thing for me, and I'm trying to work on that too. But it's that I'm always so afraid to approach people to ask a question. Especially if it's a person in authority, or someone who is obviously smarter or wiser than I am. I'm afraid it makes me look weak for not knowing what I'm doing, or not doing something exactly right the first time. So I don't ask...I stay in the dark, so to speak, too afraid to grow.

6. What I wear
I have always been a very "girly girl", and I enjoy dressing the part. Don't get me wrong, I don't constantly walk around with my belly button showing, or shorts that barely cover me...but I am not opposed to wearing a pretty little "spaghetti strapped" top in the summer. I'm comfortable wearing v-neck dresses. I do not consider myself to be an immodest dresser. But I refuse to change things about my appearance and how I dress because someone else thinks I am still "showing too much." Believe me, I understand that men are visual, but if they cannot control themselves, that is NOT my fault. Nor is it ANY woman's fault, no matter how much she is showing.

7. Doing something well
If I have a success...if I've put together a great show for my students, or I've had a great performance myself, I have earned the right to revel in that, be happy about it, and be proud of myself without having people think that I'm just self absorbed. Without having people think that I "lack humility". Feeling good about a success is perfectly legitimate, and no reason to feel ashamed.

Now, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are many things that absolutely warrant an apology! And those times tend to be very discernible. The point I'm trying to get across here is, that when you feel the need to say, "I'm sorry," give it some thought. Are you actually just apologizing just for BEING? Just because you ARE? 


From Distortion to Restoration

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I've lived with a distorted perception for as long as I can remember.

It's pretty much the least fun thing ever...

I cannot recall ever NOT feeling like I just constantly make mistakes, constantly disappoint, and that I will never belong anywhere. I cannot recall ever NOT feeling that I do not deserve the good things that happen to me. 

The problem is, I've always been SO SURE that this was how EVERYONE ELSE viewed me too!
But that's not true. It's always just been me.

This is called Emotional Reasoning: Believing that what you feel must automatically be true. "If I feel like a failure, then it must be true, and everyone else must think so too."

  • I feel completely inadequate in this, that, or the other thing...I'm sure everyone else sees that as well.

Another style of distorted thinking is called Overgeneralization: You come to a general conclusion based on one piece of evidence or a single incident. If something happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again.

  • One person may not have been completely happy with how I did I get it into my head that NO ONE is happy with ANYTHING I'm doing. 
  • I could make one error in judgement, and even after it gets resolved and I learn from it, I get it into my head that EVERY choice I make is a mistake, and I'm doing nothing but messing up and disappointing everyone. 

And this turns into such a vicious cycle...and it's EXHAUSTING!

I have spent so much time pushing people away, and blocking myself off from receiving love because, a) I didn't think I deserved it, and b) because I was so sure that they would eventually discover that I was not a likable person. Ultimately, I was so sure that they would just leave. 
But really, it was because I didn't like myself very much at all. I projected this perspective onto everyone else around me.

{Side note: There are actually 15 styles of distorted thinking. Maybe you are experiencing them, and you have no idea! To read more about them, CLICK HERE!}

For a person with anxiety and mood disorder, there is a predisposition to distorted thinking. If you click on the link I just provided above, you will find that a lot of these are common struggles and thought processes for many people, but for someone with a chemical imbalance, they become exacerbated. And it becomes that much more difficult to change your perception. 

Now...before this turns into another mental health education post that I'm desperately trying to avoid...

Here's my point...
While I was in college, my insecurities were at their absolute worst. My depression and anxiety was at its absolute worst. I was trapped in this horrible mentality that I just did not know how to get out of. And from my perspective, most people in my life would never understand. So, convinced that they were all going to end up disliking me anyway, I removed myself from their lives before they had a chance to leave mine.
But you know what...
I think many of them {even if it wasn't everyone} wanted to try to understand. Even if they never fully could. I think they were trying to help me, and be there for me in the only ways they knew how. But it was I who would not let them. I recognize that now. 

And since graduating from college, I've gone back and forth between being completely confident in my abilities and so sure of the incredible work God was doing in my completely crashing down, and believing that I was worth nothing, and that no one would ever want me around. And I could have gotten there based on just ONE SMALL THING! And for weeks now, I've been right there...

It's. All. In. My. Head.

It's MY problem to solve. And I'm really starting to work hard on solving it. I've discovered that so many of my relationships and circumstances had been sabotaged, because I was the one sabotaging them. 

So...with a LOT of hard work {that will take lots of time}, a great deal of support {which I already have heaps of}, and diving deeper and deeper into a relationship with my Savior {who values me higher than anyone ever could}, I anticipate being able to restore these lies I've believed for far too long, into TRUTHS that I know are there buried beneath them. I anticipate learning to see myself the way my Creator sees me. And that is all I want.