My Journey with Anxiety

I had my first panic attack in August 2009. The previous two years were by far my busiest to date. It all started with my decision to leave the television studio job I had worked in since graduating from college six years prior. It was an incredibly difficult decision to leave and resulted in a series of changes that continued on for several years thereafter.

First, I started working a new job full-time in conjunction with starting full-time graduate school, where I studied Clinical Psychology, a subject I had no prior experience in. Additionally, I started dating a guy who would later become my fiance and then husband, all within the span of 17 months. We got married during Christmas break and came back from our honeymoon the day before I started my last semester of grad school (which also happened to be the same day we moved into our new apartment together). Our lives were blissfully chaotic. Grad school was filled with the difficult task of self-reflection throughout the many papers we had to write, along with being required to participate in 30 hours of personal counseling. I quit my job and started another part-time job where I got to work in the field I was studying and completed practicum hours doing therapy on college students, an equally draining and exhilarating experience. Life just didn’t stop moving. Days, weeks and months were long – good yet long – and at the same time, they flew by.

In August of 2009, my body, mind, emotions, they all gave out on me. Out of the blue I started experiencing panic attacks. If you have ever experienced a panic attack, you know that the effects are continually compounding. You not only deal with the panic itself, but you also must face the fear that another one might occur. Will you be out in public and begin to panic? Would you begin to feel trapped in the middle of a conversation and start to panic out of the blue?

A panic attack is a physiological response to an emotional stressor. For many, the stressor is identifiable – perhaps a fear of flying could bring on a panic attack. Or public speaking. Or a social situation. For me, the panic never fit the situation. It would occur at times I otherwise felt perfectly safe. I would panic among the company of close friends or coworkers. Or out grocery shopping, something I in no way feared or dreaded. They came out of no where.

I ultimately realized they were the result of an accumulation of two years worth of stresses I hadn’t dealt with. I never grieved the loss of a job I held during the formative years of my working life. I never grieved the loss of my singleness, something I had yearned for years to part with and yet once I did, I found myself missing at times. I never slowed down long enough to appreciate my newlywed status because the moment the honeymoon was over, it was back to the grind again.

Accepting change has never been my strong suit. But at no point in my life have I dealt with it in the way I did that summer of 2009.

My panic attacks lasted about a month. My boss, a pastoral counselor, felt I needed a time of rest after the chaos of the previous two years. She gave me a week off work with pay so I could unplug from the world and take it easy. I gladly took her up on it. I also decided, after much resistance, to try an anti-anxiety medication. I have suffered from anxiety my entire life but I had always been able to manage it. It never stopped me from participating in anything – work, relationships – anything. But the panic attacks scared me. They began to make me doubt whether I wanted to leave the house. Home felt safer. Home wasn’t scary. I never had a panic attack there so it was still a safe place. But as grateful as I was that home was my safe haven, becoming a hermit was not me. I missed getting outside and hanging out with friends and quite frankly – being happy.

The medicine started kicking in after a few weeks and I began feeling like myself again. When I look back on that time in my life, it feels like such a small blip on the radar but back then it was the hardest thing I had ever dealt with. It wasn’t all bad though. I can see that now. For one, it  deepened my husband’s and my relationship early on. It also changed me forever. It changed my perspective on mental illness. The fact that I have always been a worrier and tend to see the world through “poop-colored glasses” as my hubby tells me, is a direct result of my anxiety. It’s nice to have a name for the nebulous, negative feelings I have always known were within me. I have also adopted a new understanding of the benefits of psychotropic drugs. Why they are viewed differently than any other medicine that assists with chronic illnesses is beyond me. When I got on them to alleviate my panic attacks five years ago, they benefited me far beyond the isolated attacks. They also helped regulate my generalized anxiety. I stopped obsessing over things that were out of my control. I found myself viewing the world more positively. They increased my overall sense of well-being and I felt differently than I had my entire life.

I stayed on the anti-anxiety meds for two years, at which point I decided to wean off them. I knew that having a child could potentially bring up new dimensions of both specific and generalized anxiety and told my OBGYN before Ainsley was born that I may request a prescription again at some point. Shortly after A’s six month birthday I made that request. I have stopped obsessing over the many possible things that could happen to Miss A – choking, getting sick, being in an accident etc. I feel free from the trap that is anxiety – a straight jacket I have lived in for so many years.

It is also extremely important to me that I don’t pass on my anxiety to her. Sure, she may inherit it genetically, but the last thing I want to do is freak out about every little thing she does and cause her to become overly fearful in life. I pray that she views life as an adventure – full of opportunity, not obstacles, and that she does not become stuck playing and replaying worrisome thoughts in her head. That she would dream of the possibilities in her future and not dread change like I do. I desire to be the best mom I can be and that means being the best person I can be – optimistic, encouraging and ideally, not a helicopter parent, a role I would likely fall into quite naturally if left to my own devices.

Recently Jake sent me an article he found online about secondary drowning risks for kids. We hadn’t heard of it and were surprised to read the warnings as summer approached and we eagerly awaited going swimming with our daughter. He told me after he sent it that he was shocked at how well I responded, thinking I would mull it over constantly and catastrophize each cough or other incident A might experience in the pool. I have to admit, I did handle this new found knowledge well. There are plenty of scary things that could happen in this world but there are plenty of beautiful things too. I am going to choose to focus on those instead.

My sweet baby covered in a rash from her amoxicillin allergy. We conquered her first double ear infection, 102.7 fever and rash. Go us!

My sweet baby covered in a rash from her amoxicillin allergy. We conquered her first double ear infection, 102.7 fever and rash. Go us!

Why Saying “Don’t Cry” to Your Baby is Harmful

I made a decision when I first had my baby not to say “don’t cry.” It is a rather instinctual statement when she is upset and we have all said it to our kids, and perhaps others as well. Babies cry and we sshh them, hold them, and more often than not repeat the words “don’t cry” until they stop. I am far from perfect and the words do slip out. Yet, I still strive not to say it.

Even though she doesn’t understand my words, the statements I make now could have far-reaching effects. I am establishing habits that will carry over into toddlerhood, childhood and even beyond. The kind of mom I want to be starts now – with the kind of mom I am. So what I do and don’t say matters.

It’s important to me that this tiny human being, whom my husband and I are raising, feels comfortable expressing her emotions. Whether she feels angry, sad, vulnerable or anything else. Many of us feel the need to hide these emotions, ultimately creating a false version of ourselves that we show the public. Because this differs from the true feelings we experience inside, a sort of dissonance occurs and we feel confused, chaotic and often times alone because no one knows who we really are. We may not even know.

While kids receive messages from a variety of settings, their most defining relationships are with their parents. So it starts with us. What messages do we want our kids to receive? How do we want them to interpret our words?

“Don’t cry” sounds harmless, especially when spoken to a baby who doesn’t understand its meaning anyway. But if we say “don’t cry” now, will we say it later as well when our kids do understand the meaning? While we may not mean anything by it, we are sending a message that the emotions our children are experiencing are not okay. That the situation that brought them to tears is not worthy of such deep emotion. This leads to shame.

In working with youth for several years and counseling college students, I was continually reminded of the fact that situations feel much more dramatic a) when you’re young and b) when you’re in the midst of them. (I am guilty of the latter point as an adult as well). Once you grow up and out of the difficult situation, a new perspective emerges. We often laugh afterwards about what a big deal things seemed to be at the time.

What’s important however is that we each discover this perspective in our own way and in our own time. No one can do that for us. Sure it may help to hear someone older and wiser say that things really do get better after middle school graduation. But the drama we all go through feels huge at the time as do the emotions that accompany it. While we don’t want to teach our kids that emotions rule us, we don’t want to belittle them either. They are real, worthy of experiencing, working through and ultimately moving on.

So therefore, “don’t cry” will not be in my repertoire of comfort statements for my child.

The Freedom to Belch in Public

A couple weekends ago, Ainsley and I were out touring a local gym. As we headed up the stairs with the membership salesperson, listening as he described the cardio room, Ains let out a massive belch. When we got to the top of the stairs, she let out a second burp. Exercisers from across the room glanced over on their treadmills and elliptical machines, smiling at the discovery that such a tiny person had just let out such a booming sound.

When babies burp it’s adorable and hilarious but as adults this kind of behavior is taboo and quite simply, gross. At some point in our lives, we become aware of what is and isn’t acceptable socially and we begin to adapt our behavior accordingly.

While most of us would probably admit that belching in public is not preferable, there are other parts of ourselves that we hide due to embarrassment, insecurity or shame. For example, financial hardship, marital strife, a difficult child… we often don’t let others in on these struggles because we don’t want them to think we aren’t holding our families together. Or what about depression, anxiety or anger issues. At some point we learned that these are family secrets, not to be let out beyond the walls we’ve built around our lives.

If others find out, we fear they may reject us. They may not think we’re perfect (although, did they ever?). They may think we can’t keep it together… that we have issues. We were told that our tears are not worth shedding. That we “are just overreacting.” That “it’s not that bad.” That other people “have real problems.” We learned to hide instead of bring these feelings, circumstances and struggles out into the open. We are afraid that if we do, others may not like us anymore or we may become outcasts, when in reality, letting people in often results in the opposite; closeness with others and freedom for ourselves.

Sharing is a risk. It requires vulnerability. This is not easy and for some, the concept is entirely foreign. Shame and vulnerability researcher, Brene Brown, says in the Huffington Post article, Dare to Live Greatly:

Vulnerability is about uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. We have convinced ourselves that if we armor up every day — if we try to be perfect or know everything — then somehow we can minimize the things we fear feeling the most: disappointment, fear, shame, and unworthiness. But these emotions are part of the human experience. When we minimize them, we end up cutting ourselves off from the meaningful experiences that are born of vulnerability — that require vulnerability — including belonging, joy, creativity, innovation, trust, and empathy.

So how do we become more vulnerable, or at least more comfortable with the idea? According to Brene Brown:

What we need to figure out is how to have the courage to show up, to be imperfect, be human, be seen, ask for help, own our mistakes, learn from failure, lean into joy, and celebrate success.

That’s quite a list. What I’m working on right now is her first point; having the courage to show up.

This season has not been easy for Jake and me. Our little family has had our world turned upside down from a place of comfort and stability to the unfamiliar realities of parenthood, stressful work environments and isolation in a fast-paced new city. Each day we start over. We wake up to a fresh start and even if we accomplish nothing else, we simply try to be positive and present. We simply show up.

Guest Post: Observations of a Working Dad

This guest post is written by the incredible husband of yours truly and can I just say, he is the best man I know. Check out his perspectives on being a working dad and what he thinks about stay-at-home parents too. This guy is a class act.

fam

A few years ago, Anne Marie Slaughter’s engaging article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” sparked an extensive discussion about the scope and degree of professional success women could achieve without sacrificing their commitment to family.  Many who were critical of the article, myself among them, nonetheless agreed with Slaughter’s central premise that women have for far too long been denied the kind of professional advancement available to men.  And that much more needs to done to open those doors.  But what us critics disliked was Slaughter’s implicit assumption that it was only women who desired the appropriate (and ever elusive) “work/life balance.”  She scrapped the stereotype of the homemaker mother only by reinforcing that of the distant and career-devoted working dad.  I’m not going to rehash that debate here—though I think it’s an important one that has continuing ramifications in public policy and private enterprise.

J and A 4

I’d simply like to make some observations about parenting from the perspective of a working dad.  A working dad who yearns to more often snuggle his sweet baby girl as she wakes up in early morning, read to her as she drifts off to sleep at night, bathe her and play with her and laugh alongside her.  And yet a working dad whose chosen profession makes many of those yearnings unfulfillable.  That’s not necessarily a bad a thing.  On this, Slaughter and I are in complete agreement: because of a set of deeply engrained cultural expectations, no one, man or woman, can rise to the top of American industry and at the same time show up to every after school dance recital, Saturday soccer game, and weekend swim meet, not to mention supply the innumerable intangibles that it takes to be an engaged parent.  In short, no one can have it all.  This has been a hotly resisted but inevitable conclusion I’ve drawn since joining the workforce and parent-force simultaneously.  It’s not new, but now it’s mine—my very first observation about parenting: it’s hard trying to excel at both fatherhood and work.

J and A 3

Jolting though it was, that’s not the observation that most surprised me upon entering parenthood.  What most surprised me was how exhausting it is to be a stay-at-home parent.  This one is a true observation; I’ve had no first-hand experience at this (which I’m confident is largely the reason our sweet daughter is turning out so well).  I’ve gained a new respect for moms and dads who’ve taken on these ’round the clock parenting duties—and somehow managed to stay enamored by their little ones’ every new discovery.  While I haven’t been there, I get a glimpse into this world each Saturday morning when I hang out with Ainsley so her mother can make some headway on the aggregated sleep lost the prior week.  After this mere half a day, I’m always stunned by how demanding and disorienting full-time, complete responsibility for another’s life is.  And as much as I dislike my work some days, I honestly don’t envy the always-on-call, never-get-a-break rhythm of stay-at-home parenting.  I don’t think I could do it.  And so I often watch in awe and amazement, baffled by the combination of her acquired insight and motherly instinct, as my incredible wife identifies and satisfies all our daughter’s needs.  I have no clue how she does it.  She is truly unbelievable.  This was my second observation: stay-at-home parenting takes a rare combination of patience, fortitude, persistence, humor, diligence, and an endless supply of love.  I’m convinced those who do it are super-human.

A and J

My third observation is more prosaic.  But it’s one that only those with the unique vantage point of a working parent can make, perched where we are between the frantic attempt to balance personal and professional success and the recognition that we could never do what our super-hero spouses do at home all day.  This last observation is the surprising rapidity and consistency of Ainsley’s development.  It’s something that you just can’t pick up on when your days are consumed with constant changing, feeding, burping, holding, both wiping tears and shedding them, and so much more that stay-at-home parents miraculously accomplish each day.  But I see it; I see the almost-imperceptible trends of growth hiding beyond the seemingly random array of noises, movements, and discoveries.  I see the gradual yet linear development in Ainsley’s pre-verbal communication, hand-eye coordination, head- and body-control, and much more.  And I see how quickly it goes, in real time.  Understandably, days at home can drag on for my wife.  The little things consume her time.  When Ang was pregnant we were once told that when we became parents the days would drag and the weeks would fly by.  That’s the perfect way of putting it.  Except that the working parent sees more of the flying and less of the dragging.  And boy is it fast.  We try to cherish each moment, but it seems that by the time we catch our breath, Ainsley is on to the next stage, discovering new facets of being a tiny human.

J and A 2

These three observations—that a sustainable work/life balance is hard (read: impossible), that stay-at-home parenting is harder, and that infant development is both rapid and consistent—likely seem commonplace to veteran parents.  After all, none of them are particularly novel.  In fact, they’re fairly predictable.  But they have, nonetheless, shaped the way I approach both parenting and work.  And for me there is value in pausing to make these observations.  And pausing to consider their implications.  It might follow from these observations, for example, that I need to let go of some of the sweeping ambition that has hung around from my single or young-married days.  Or maybe I need to give up some of my (vanishingly scarce) personal time to study more intently my daughter and her needs.  These observations remind me that she’s worth it.  She’s worth any sacrifice, any dampening of ambition, any changing of plans, any expending of energy.  She’s worth anything.  Because she’ll only be my cuddly, tiny, adorable little baby for so much longer.  And that’s something I need to cherish.  Life’s too short for it to be about anything other than investing in the ones we love.

J and A 5

Have thoughts to share? Comment below!

The Truth About My Messy House and My Messy Life

You know what really gets to me? People who seem like they have it all together. You know the ones… the mom of four who you’d never guess was a mom at all by the looks of her washboard abs. Or the seemingly super happy person who always posts pics on Facebook of exciting adventures with their perfect family that surely never fights or disagrees about anything. I know it’s my naivete getting the best of me, but at times I actually believe the lie that some people have it all together. My mind begins to spiral and I start feeling really bad about my own level of accomplishment – or lack thereof.

If I think about it hard enough I know that no one has a blemish-free life. We like to pretend we do. We overcompensate. You know, look completely polished on the outside so people don’t find out that on the inside we feel chaotic and confused and lonely. We are so incredibly fearful of losing people, or losing the approval of people, that we choose to hide instead. What would people think if they knew the truth? That the woman with the washboard abs spends three hours in the gym every morning while her kids are at school. And don’t even talk about how bad she wants to say yes to that coffee cake only to find herself skipping breakfast most mornings in favor of just the coffee. Or that the Facebook friend only posts their absolute best, cutest pics and not the ones that highlight pimples and back fat.

I wonder if we were a little more honest about what’s going on inside and a little less protective of the outside part of us, the part everyone sees, that the people we encounter would feel that they’ve finally met their kindred spirit. If our vulnerability would actually enhance our relationships instead of turn people running, like we so often fear.

This isn’t easy though. I get that. So in order to clear up any rumors that I have it all together (ha, ha right?) here are a few insights into my inner world:

  • I can’t remember the last time I swept the floors and my house is collecting dust balls in ever corner.
  • Not only do I hardly ever sweep, when I do I am one of those people who doesn’t move the furniture around but rather sweeps around it. So if you were to remove everything off our living room floor you’d find a couch-shaped dust pile, an exersaucer-shaped dust pile and a variety of other furniture and toy-shaped dust piles throughout the house.
  • Lately, out of the blue, I have been having irrational fears about Ainsley getting sick.
  • There has been a huge Diapers.com box on the floor of our entryway for like four days.
  • I am one of those people who doesn’t take the clothes out of the dryer until I do a load of wash and actually need to use our dryer. So there is currently a load of clothes in our dryer that has been there for about five/six days since I last did laundry.
  • Most days I can be found wearing one of five outfits: (1) black leggings with blue v-neck fleece I “borrowed” from a friend 12 years ago, (2) maternity jeans with red shirt and gray hoody, (3) Jake’s navy blue pajama pants with Duke sweatshirt, (4) Jake’s gray sweatpants with USC hoody, or (5) black workout pants with white tank top.
  • More often the than not, the above five outfits have bodily fluids stained on them.
  • I much prefer to post pics of my daughter on social media sites than of myself because I have not yet come to terms with my post-preggo body and would prefer to hide it a little longer.

pic

So there. That’s my life right now. No makeup, unpolished. My homemaking skills are still in process and I should probably incorporate a few more outfits into the rotation. And while I’d like to say it feels good to be honest, it’s still a little scary. But maybe if we all did this it wouldn’t be so bad.

Linking up with Still Being Molly

The themes of our lives…

I’ve been noticing a reoccurring theme in my life recently. This has happened before where a conversation, will spark a memory of something I read the previous week, and perhaps heard in a sermon that weekend or overheard at work or all of the above. You catch my drift. It’s the same message over and over from, like, 10 different sources.

Be present.

As per my normal M.O., when I first noticed this, I immediately began to think of everyone in my life that needed to ponder that phrase “be present.” The message I was receiving though, loud and clear, was that I was the one that needed to consider it. Just me. Sigh.

If you have been reading Habit-Forming Success for a while, you have probably picked up on the fact that maintaining a calm demeanor in periods of high-stress or transition is not my strong suit. It’s ironic actually that I can sit in a room with someone else talking about their anxieties and be perfectly fine; even having something to helpful to offer in the process. But “therapizing” myself? Much more difficult.

Being present and consistently feeling anxious are completely contradictory. The most common phrase you’ll ever hear an anxious person say is what if? What if is all about the future and everything that could potentially go wrong. It takes you out of  the present and moves you into a world that has not yet occurred.

So message #11 in my life on the topic of being present is below, written by a very wise and insightful guy, who also happens to be one of the pastors at my church. Something more to think about…

I admitted to feeling occasionally very angry to a friend a few days ago. He responded, “. . .anger is a product of fear. What do you fear?”

It’s a great question. In the midst of feeling like something outside ourselves needs to change, or else, what if we sincerely asked, “what am I afraid of?”

Anxiety is very rarely based on something that IS happening. It’s always what might happen. What happened long ago that we don’t want repeated. What should be happening but isn’t. In truth, there’s nothing less present and alert to the reality of this moment than anxiety. We bring it into adulthood from the ashes of childhood. It serves as a shield against the threat of pain – with the unfortunate side effect of shielding against joy in the bargain. After time, fear normalizes. As though becoming part of our DNA, a mutation from longterm exposure to our family’s non-specific, general angst. It doesn’t do anything helpful. Much the opposite. But we’re so used to having it we can’t imagine life without it.

“…the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” -James 1:20, NASB  

Faith in Christ is as much about disbelief as belief. And today Christ invites you and I to disbelieve our fear and anger. To become at least skeptical about the efficacy of being upset. I’m persuaded that Christ isn’t trying to get us “righteously angry”, or upset about right things versus the silly things of our former life. Christ invites us into freedom, and free people have no fear. Free people don’t argue to get others to agree or conform. Free people aren’t angry, because they understand what Dallas Willard understood; “There is nothing that can be done with anger that cannot be done better without it.” (The Divine Conspiracy).

Here’s to freedom.

Here’s to peace. 

Steve Daugherty

Teaching Pastor

 

 

My Friend Crush

So I have a total friend crush. In my defense, I am pretty confident if we knew each other we would be BFF. Not to be creepy or anything. It’s on Shauna Niequist though, one of my favorite authors. I have linked to her blog posts before and talked about the impact her books have made on my life.

She posted about busy-ness today on Donald Miller’s blog. She describes it as her drug of choice because it both numbs her and keeps her safe. However, it can be dangerous because do we really want to look back on our lives when we’re old and gray and say “good for me, I lived a satisfyingly numb and safe life”? Not me.

I encourage you to not only read what she has to say, but think about it and… scary as it is… apply it! That’s what I’m going to do.

Here’s the post and Happy Friday! Is Busy-Ness a Drug?

 

Post-Easter Ponderings and My Favorite Tree

tree

The message this Easter was an interesting one. The resurrection itself was not the sole focus. Let me explain… It is not all about the resurrection because it’s also about the crucifixion. Without the first event, three days later the second one never would have happened. I love what my incredible boss and lead pastor of our church said, “There is no resurrection without brokenness.” Yup, that’s true. And I for one, am thankful for the power of the resurrection, because the majority of days I feel like a lost puppy, muddling my way through this crazy world and relieved simply to make it through the day in one piece.

My 2013 Easter week will always be marked by a bunch of heart-breaking and tragic realities. Not trying to be negative folks, this is actually true. It wasn’t one thing that happened. It was about five. There has been a heaviness in the air and the effects of the world’s brokenness have been ever-present.

But I find myself feeling thankful today. As we reflected on Sunday, our world is cyclical in nature. Every single year fall comes to an end and winter arrives. It is cold, bare and dark. Winter is rarely an easy season. But just as it is inevitable, so is spring. Life doesn’t stay difficult forever. Eventually the world seems to regain its color.

There is a beautiful tree I walk by every single day on the way to my car. For more months than I’d like to count, the tree is empty. It becomes difficult to identify as “the one” – my favorite one – when it just looks like a bunch of ugly brown branches, colorless and void. It’s almost like it happened overnight, but as I walked by the other day, I noticed that it’s full again, blooming with gorgeous white blossoms. I think it might be the most striking tree I have ever seen and each year I look forward to the enjoying its beauty after the starkness of winter.

I have never been more thankful to see this bright, blooming tree and I can’t help but wonder if it is a little gift from God to me, reminding me that winter is coming to an end and spring is right around the corner. This reminder couldn’t have come at a better time and every day since I discovered the new spring version, I have found myself smiling again.

Holiday recap

Getting up at 5am this morning was a tad brutal but memories of such a relaxing, tasty, fun-filled Christmas break are helping me survive this first day back to the grind.

Being back in California always brings up a mix of emotions. It’s such fun seeing family and friends. Reminiscing about old times and catching up on the latest happenings in our lives is absolutely priceless. The weather is pretty much perfect year-round (which contrary to the opinions of some of our North Carolina friends, means sunshine on Christmas day). Rest and rejuvenation in what we will likely always consider “home,” with the familiar surroundings of where we grew up, is essential each and every year.

But eventually our trip comes to an end and we fly “home”… to our new home. It’s funny how we call California “home” while in North Carolina and North Carolina “home” while in California. They both feel like home in some ways. Just not at the same time.

Anyway, every time I go, I come back with mixed feelings about where I want to live and where I could see my hubby and I in the future. The truth is, my plans for the past few years didn’t come to fruition and I am really glad about it now. Planning is good to an extent but ultimately life takes us in all kinds of directions we don’t expect. As far as the future… whether California, North Carolina, New York or Washington DC, we will have lived in all four places in a mere seven-year time span. We may even end up in one for the long haul. Or maybe none of them. Hard to say.

Anywho, here’s a look at our time in SoCal the past couple of weeks. We are so thankful to have such a beautiful refuge from “real life”…

My brother’s dog, Sterling. I am not a pet-person, but this puppy won me over!

We love food. So a lot of our must-do activities, involve food. In N’ Out (twice)… Mexican food (3 times)… the “best egg salad in CA”… these are the pulled pork salads from Cafe Rio and they are ah-mazing!

I have no idea why this pic turned out so weird but I still think it’s pretty cute.

Two hour walk along the harbor. Beaut!!

My friend’s baby is 4 months old already and I met him for the first time!! Kinda sad it took so long but well worth the wait!!

Last but not least, cherished time with friends and family. We never have time to see everyone we want, but so grateful for the time we do have and more importantly the people. This is at Souplantation where we generally stay and chat for hours… excuse the messy table.

I hope your holidays were lovely as well and Happy New Year!

Opinions, Debates and Food for Thought

I am not a very opinionated, political person in general but especially not on here. As a people-pleaser I have learned that being agreeable and not too strong on any one issue or topic, will keep me out of trouble. That said, over the past couple of years I have started wondering if friendly (and even passionate) debates are not necessarily bad as I have always thought. Maybe they could actually lead to new ideas and positive change. Maybe.

So I am trying to engage in them more. Well, that’s not necessarily true… I am trying to tolerate listening to them more and hope to one day participate without wanting to run away and hide.

Since I am not brave enough to speak my own convictions yet, I’m going to start by sharing someone else’s. I have linked to Rage Against the Minivan in the past. Not only is Kristen a riot, but she is also smart. Very smart. In fact she taught a class I took in graduate school so I got to see her smartness up close and personal. She knows her stuff and I learn something new every time I read her posts.

As we all continue to grieve the loss of so many sweet, innocent lives, there are a lot of heated debates going on regarding the topics of mental illness and gun laws. Kristen addresses both of these in Monday’s post, The Inconvenient Truth About Mental Health and Gun Control. I found this to be an incredibly thoughtful and interesting post about both of these topics and I hope it gives you something to think about too, no matter where you land on these issues.

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