An Ordinary Box? Or Something More?

Imagine for a moment, a medium sized moving box, (maybe one that you could put a couple loads of old clothes in).  Dingy, old and worn, smelling musty from being stored for a long period of time.  Maybe even a little water damage can be seen in the ripples of the beat up box.  Dust has begun to collect from the years of being untouched.  An ordinary storage box by outward appearances.

Ok.  Do you have that mental picture in mind?

Now let’s take this imaginary box to a new level.  Though ordinary, there is something different about it.  This box can not be seen by the naked eye.  Beat down, worn out, and barely noticed anymore.  But….YOU CAN see it clearly now.  And It is time to open this box and discover what is inside. For some reason, you are a little afraid of what you might find, but you decide to open it anyway.

To your astonishment, as you open the box, familiar things begin to suddenly appear in your minds eye.  There are loads and loads of memories inside.  Good ones, bad ones, happy and sad, success and failure, adventure, and despair.  But wait.  Some of these memories you recognize, and some you have never felt or seen before.  How can that be?  It is YOUR box, right?

Then you realize deep in your soul that these are ALL of your memories!   A Lifetime’s worth!  All of your emotions, your hopes and dreams, your adventures, your experiences!  Even those you haven’t had or seen before. All of them trapped deep inside this box never to be found.  And then it hits you!

It comes to you with great force, like a huge punch in the gut. You feel sick to your stomach as you realize that this  box was created FOR YOU!  Not only that, it was built BY YOU!

You suddenly realize that there is one emotion that is not trapped or missing.  It is the very same one that kept you from opening it to start with.  The very one that you are feeling right now.  It’s Fear!  Fear of what might have been inside.  Fear of what might have happened if you opened it.  Fear of the unknown.  Plain and simple, the emotion is  Fear.  And you realize that you have been filled with fear for a very long time.

Ok, snap out of it.  Back to real life?  How do you feel?

No worries.  The great thing about imagination is that it is just that, imagination!  And that means that you can change the way this story ends!

And you know what?  It is time!  It is past time for you to take control of your fear.  Kick it to curb.  Release all of those past experiences and failures that have made you afraid to experience your life. Afraid to try new things, to take risks, to become more than you are and learn something new.

Because no one wants to look back at their life as they take their last and final breath and see that there was so much more that could have been.  If only they would have opened the box!

Break free!  Your life is waiting for you!

XO, Wendy

What prompted this post:  I realized that since I was diagnosed with Bipolar 5 years ago, I have been so afraid of what might happen.  It took several years to get meds right and get my physical, mental, and spiritual balance back.

But since then I have been somewhat paralyzed by the worry that it will happen again (meaning I would end up in the psychiatric ward again).  So what if it does?  It wouldn’t be the end of the world.  I mean, I do NOT want that to happen for sure!  However I  have survived.  I’ve been surviving it most of my life (with the help of my Savior and redeemer carrying me every step of the way).

But the difference now, is that I am so much stronger.  Because I know.  I know what I am dealing with.  I know what triggers me.  I know what precautions I need to take.  There is absolutely no reason to remain stuck in this place.  It is way past time to see what is on the other side of fear!

And if you have similar feelings of being stuck and unable to progress or move forward.  Maybe it is time to take a good look at what is holding YOU back.  I’d be willing to place a bet that it is the box of fear that you have been hiding in.

I know it’s not easy to break free from.  Believe me I have been trying for nearly 40 years.  Do not let this be your story.  There is ALWAYS hope!

P.S.  If you have not yet heard of it, check out the book Limitless by Jim Kwik.  I haven’t finished it yet but it has made me realize that  my brain is not broken.  Just untrained, underused and misunderstood.  A work in progress, but truly limitless!

 

Where do we go from here?

Breathe

As I walked back to my house one early morning this week, through the brisk cool air and heard these words it was like magic to my soul.  I was listening to a podcast that had a guest that was sharing a harrowing experience about her life (All in: Brooke Snow).  And when she said these words “Christ is the breath of life”, it stopped me in my tracks.  You might say it took my breath away for a minute.  I let it sink in and wash over me.  As I listened to her experience, thoughts of my struggle with mental illness raced through my mind.  Time after time when Christ had become the breath in whom I trusted to help me make it through another day.

This pandemic has been a hard punch in the gut for a lot of people.  It has literally taken the breath away from most of us in all different ways.  It has caused us to reflect and remember the things that should take priority in our lives.  And it has been HARD.  In so many ways it has been hard.  So where do we go from here?  How do we move forward when at times it feels so paralyzing?

All of the plans that we had for this year have been irrevocably changed and we can never go back and change what we’ve missed.  Weddings, funerals, graduations, trips, and events.   Some people said that 2020 was the year of perfect vision.  The year when all our dreams could come true.  And then boom…. in an instant our world was turned upside down.  

But one thing I have learned through all of my struggles with depressions, anxiety and bipolar is that Christ is truly where it all has to start.   We are all capable of change.  After all, even though it’s been rough, we are making it through this change, somehow. Even though the path may not be clear at this moment.

Miracles can happen when we are willing to put our trust in Christ.  Let Him breathe life into our weary souls. Because He sees the big picture.  He sees what we can not.  And like a baby being born and taking that first breath of air, we must look to the Lord to learn how to breathe when breathing seems impossible or almost like we are suffocating.

About partway through this quarantine, I realized that I needed to increase my yoga (meditation process) to stay grounded.  Otherwise I think I would lose my mind and end up moving backward instead of forward with my illness.  Normally, I do it once a week. It’s a good way to stretch and let go. Release the worries of the previous week and look ahead to the new week.  But now I have been practicing it daily and it has made such a difference in my life and my days.  I am a beginner and have a long way to go. I’m learning to understand how yoga/meditation work. 

Important note: I am not saying that you should pick up yoga. But finding time to quiet my mind helps me to take things that are bothering me or frustrating me, and just let them melt away for a little while.  It has helped me gain a new perspective on me as a person.  I have found that I  am a lot stronger than I give myself credit for.  

So what I am proposing as you move forward as the quarantine is lifted, and slowly move back into a daily routine, work, school, sports, etc., remember the ways that you have changed through this experience.  Remember the experiences that have shaped you into a “new” person.  Because certainly none of  us can come out of this experience saying that we have not been changed in some way.

Find time as often as possible to sit for 5 minutes a day and just breathe.  Let Christ be the breath of life for you.  Just breathe in and out, deep breaths and let the worries of the world melt away.  Clear your mind and take just 5-10 minutes to remember this experience and how strong you have become as a person.

You are resilient, you are strong, you are in charge of your own mind and your own life.  Of course, there have been many negative things that have happened  because of this experience.  We may tend to look at it as one big negative.  But I strongly encourage you to take the time to recognize the good that can come out it.  

One thing that we can always be certain of, is that there will always be change.  

President Russell M. Nelson taught:  “We can change our behavior.  Our very desires can change.  … but true change–permanent–change can come only through the healing, cleansing, and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”   Let Christ Change you.  Let him help you breathe.  Let Him help you move forward and embrace what is going to be a new normal for all of us.  Christ is the breath of life.  

In Ezekiel 36 verse 26-27 we read: A new heart also will I give you, and  a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stoney heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.  

27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

My hope is that as you move into this next phase of your life that your heart will stay soft and if  it has been hardened through this trial, allow Christ to breathe new life into you.   Allow him to heal your weary soul.  You are His.  He loves you and wants the best for you.  Breathe in and breathe out and let Christ be the sail on your boat slowly pushing you forward. 

Where do we go from here?  In my mind the only answer is fearlessly forward!

XO Wendy

 

 

Quality “Quarantine” time

Being stuck in your house is not really fun for anyone.  The recent self isolation or stay at home orders have really wreaked havoc on our routines and daily living.  If we aren’t practicing intentional self care, our mental health can deteriorate rapidly.  It’s only been around a month for most of the country, but seems more like a year, lol!

So here are some practices that you can implement that might help alleviate feelings of depression, isolation, and mindlessness.

  1. Stay in a routine.  So your specific routine has changed drastically over the last month or two but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have A routine.  Start by getting out of bed at a specific time each day.  While working at home is great and being home with kids more, it does tend to allow you to sleep a few extra winks.  And while that may sound like a good idea in the groggy early morning hours, it will ultimately lead to being more tired throughout the day.  Setting a specific time to rise and shine is always a good practice and specifically in times like these!  So up and at ’em with a smile.  Ready to face your day!
  2. Make your bed!  It’s been said that making your bed daily is one of the best practices that you can get into and will start your day out right. Just ask U.S. Naval Officer William McCraven.  This is such a good watch that is well worth your time.  And will get you super motivated, not just to make your bed, but to make your life!

3.  Get out of your pajamas and leggings, take a shower and get dressed!  Sitting around in your pajamas or leggings all day just makes you feel lazy.  This time spent in isolation or “quarantine” can be a time that you can be super productive or it can be a time that you choose to make a temporary vacation.  And while vacations can be a lot of fun and very relaxing, it’s always good to come home!  So as you establish your routine, make sure that it includes getting out of those p.j.’s and into something suitable for your day.  Treat it as if you were not in isolation.  Dress in nice clothes as if you were going to see people other than your family during the day.  Put your make up on, fix your hair and definitely brush your teeth! Oh and wash your hands…again ;)!

4. Get Moving.  Moving your body will not only produce the feel good endorphins that help your brain, but will also help you to stay healthy physically during this down time.  When we are stuck in one place for long periods of time it can cause mental deterioration if we aren’t intentional with our health.  We can also find ourselves in periods of boredom which can cause overeating and overindulgence in other areas such as Netflix binging. I’m always up for a good episode of Grey’s anatomy.  But don’t get in the habit of making a day out of it.

5. Find and learn a new hobby or read that book that you’ve been too busy to find the time for.  Taking up something new, reading a book or learning something new is good for brain health and growth and can also help decrease the chances of Alzheimer’s  disease, believe it or not.  Here is a great presentation by Noelle Pikus-Pace that gives us some ideas of what we can do and how to make learning something new fun and rewarding.  This is also a fun watch and very motivating in getting you excited to do something you’ve never done before.

6. Take up meditation or yoga.  Learning how to stay grounded can be so significant in surviving this “Stay home, Stay safe” order.  One of the most important aspects of learning how to meditate or participate in yoga is to stick with it.  It may be difficult at first to feel like you are getting anything out of it.  But the more that you can make a practice out of it, the better at it you will become.  It will quiet your mind and bring your anxiety and stress to a controllable level. And you can do it almost anywhere.  So when we do get back to our stressful, busy lives, it will be a tool we can use effectively.

Let’s face this head on and make the most out of the time that we have on our hands now. It’s not going to last forever.  It will come to an end. And when it does, let’s be ready to jump back into our lives, healthy, happy and hopefully not (Covid) 19 pounds heavier!

Have a wonderful weekend all.  Keep your distance, stay at home, and stay healthy!

XO Wendy

A New Normal

We are living in a world that is going to have a “new normal”.  As the events of the past few months have unfolded before us, we’ve felt many emotions.  Fear, Shock, disappointment, loss, suffering, helplessness, hopelessness, and many more.  

For some that are single or live alone, loneliness and isolation have been a big part of the past month. As well as those who have had to isolate because of infection by the virus. Or people who have been otherwise hospitalized, who have had to do so without the support of loved ones by their  side.  

Whether for a sickness, or lingering illness, or the joyous event of delivering a baby.  Which has been bittersweet, both joyful and heartbreaking to not be able to share that experience in person with friends and family 

At the same time, as we have practiced social distancing and followed the “stay safe, stay at home”  orders that have been implemented in many states, we’ve felt a closeness to our families that may have been lost.  We’ve been comforted by the fact that we are experiencing the same feelings as people all over the world. We’ve felt joy, compassion, love, tenderness, empathy for those working on the front lines and those who are ill. We’ve mourned for those who have lost their jobs and livelihood and those that have had to give up dreams that they’ve worked their whole life for. 

Many of us have developed a great love for our leaders.  Whether they be government, church, educators, scientists, healthcare workers, or even company owners who have come forward to help in the face of tragedy.

We’ve felt a renewed love for our Lord and Savior and his atonement and suffering for all of us.  We have realized that we can not carry this burden alone. That nobody should carry these burdens alone. And so we have become united in purpose to eliminate and eradicate this awful virus that has infected not only our bodies, but our lives.

It has been incredible to witness the heroics of so many in our communities as we have faced the pandemic and world calamities (earthquakes and tornados, etc.).  Our hearts fill with gratitude as we see a world come together through something that can’t be seen but only felt.

As someone who already suffers from mental illness and the effects of isolation that it can bring,  I feel a deep compassion for those who have never experienced those feelings who now will find themselves in deep depressions.  Whether from loss, unemployment, isolation, financial struggles or family dysfunction which may have become front and center. Or those who will suffer PTSD from witnessing the most horrible experiences one can imagine. 

But I will forever be an optimist.  I know that we CAN come together as a nation and as a world to fight this horrible disease.  We can make our world whole again by the kindness and love and the attitude with which we choose to move forward.

Will it be easy?  Absolutely not. We have all experienced something that will forever be implanted in our very souls.  Something horrendous. But out of the ashes rises the Phoenix! We can rise as a nation/world. We can rebuild our world and each other instead of tearing each other down.

We can spread love and kindness and come together in a way that no one anticipated a few short months ago. We can find that “new normal” together.  We can build a new world from the love and common ground that we’ve found through the most tragic of events.  

We have been told that it may be much longer than anyone thought that we will be in this situation.  Both fighting for our lives and fighting to stay healthy. But through this time there are still ways that we can reach out.  There are still ways that we can stay healthy and maintain a good attitude. And with the Lord’s help we will conquer this pandemic while simultaneously building stronger families, friendships and communities.

Revelation Chapter 21

3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new

A new normal? Yes.  But possibly a better way of life? Most definitely!

All my love,

XO Wendy

 

All for us.

This week has been full of many different emotions.  From fear, to pain, to empathy. Love and loss, heartache and more love.  And then came a different emotion….connection. Connection to those around us who have lost so much this past week.  Connection through seeing our city torn apart and divided asunder and now the connection of working together on cleanup and rebuilding what once was.  

On March 3, 2020 in the middle of the night, a tornado ripped through the city of Nashville, Tennessee.  It was on the ground for an estimated 60 miles, destroying everything in its path. It was an ominous site to witness the destruction and loss that came in a mere matter of minutes.

As I have read and seen and been part of this experience it has been both heart wrenching and heartwarming.  But mostly heartwarming. I am amazed by our community of different faiths that have come together to clean up, repair, love and serve our neighbor.  Especially those in great need, but also those that are sacrificing their time to help in the effort. They have come from near and far. The first responders and the subsequent responders that have also been taken care of by the many volunteers that have come together in the rebuilding of a community that has suffered greatly.

As I thought about this, my mind turned to another city in another place on another night at a different time.  That of our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose blood dripped from every pore as he prayed for us that night in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Can you imagine the pleas and the struggle that he went through as he saw devastation and destruction envelop cities all over the world?  Cities like ours who were awakened with thunder and lightning so loud that it brought us to our knees with great pleas for safety and deliverance.  As He witnessed heartache and loss unimaginable? His heart was so wrenched that he cried out to the Father:

Luke 22:42  As He prayed He cried out to the Father saying; Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.  

He did it all for us. He walked the streets of Jerusalem carrying a mighty cross on his back, that was already raw with the open wounds from lashings that came from those who despised and hated him.  A crown of plaited thorns that was placed on his head while blood, sweat and tears dripped into his gentle eyes as he walked.

He carried that great cross to the hill where they would then lay him on it and drive nails through his palms, wrists, feet and side.  Then the cross was raised and planted in the ground and He suffered great pain, more than we are capable of comprehending, to complete the ultimate atonement for us.  His brothers and sisters.

Our Savior, Jesus Christ continues to succor us in our times of great need.  He loves us and watches over us. He speaks to us, if we are willing and ready to listen.  His voice is not of thunder or of lightning but of a still small voice. One that pierces our souls and spurs us to actions. We are told in

1 Kings 19:11- 12  And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquakeAnd after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

This is what I have seen this past week. This is what I want to remember.  All of those who have listened to His voice. Whether it was amidst the tempest and storm, or in the aftermath of the destruction.  I want to remember a city that came together to help their brother in great time of need. I want to remember the volunteers that came out, so many that they had to close roads to them so that the trucks hauling debris would be able to get in and out of the neighborhoods.  And then buses full of volunteers whose hearts were drenched with love for their neighbors in need, came to help in any way that they could. From manual labor of hauling and removing debris, to bringing meals, doing laundry, storing valuables that could be retrieved. And packing up homes that had been condemned because of too much damage.  Even offering free childcare to those hurting and those helping in the clean up effort.

It truly has been a sight to see and be a part of and one that I won’t soon forget.  I hope that as we approach Easter in just a few weeks that we will remember the suffering of our great redeemer.  And know that as we have all participated in this life altering event we have in some small way been his hands and his heart.  He died for us that we might live again. And we love our neighbor as he commanded so that He might live in us.

One last thought I wanted to share that happened the day after the storm.  I had been filled with a great anxiety as I am sure a lot of people have been feeling.  So I turned to the scriptures in prayer for some kind of relief. I stumbled upon, or rather was guided to, 

Helaman 5:12  And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

And again, I was reminded that He did it all for us!

XO Wendy

Does it ever get better?

Heavy laden

Does it ever get better?  Will I ever feel happy again?  Why is this burden so heavy and why was I asked to carry it?  These are just a few if the many questions that you may struggle with.  Some answers may come quickly then there are some that may never come in this lifetime.

Sometimes you may find yourself digging a deeper and deeper hole as you list off all of the negative ways that BPD (Bipolar Disorder) has affected your life. It’s so easy to throw a little pity party and blame ‘all the things’ on your illness.

But the truth is, there is so much more to you than your illness.  You are not defined by it!  There are certainly times in your life that it may seem to control your every thought and move.  And at times,  you feel like others truly define you by it (some probably do). But it is only Satan that will have you believe that you have no control.  He is the father of all lies.  He would have you believe that you can never get well, that you will continue to hurt others in your life, that your life is not worth living, that you are all ALONE.  But Satan is wrong!

You see, God will never ever leave you!  He begs you to come to Him.  He beckons you to lay all of your burdens at his feet.  To let Him Heal you!

One of my favorite songs by Sidewalk Prophets says:

To the thief, to the doubter
To the hero and the coward
To the prisoner and the soldier
To the young, to the older
All who hunger, all who thirst
All the last, all the first
All the paupers and the princes
All who fail you’ve been forgiven
All who dream, all who suffer
All who loved and lost another
All the chained, all the free
All who follow, all who lead
Anyone who’s been let down
All the lost you have been found
All who’ve been labeled right or wrong
Everyone who hears this song
Just
Come, come to the table
Listen to the song below.

I am reminded of so many times throughout scripture that the Lord pleads with us to come unto Him.  To let Him heal our broken souls.  He says in Mosiah 24:14

 “And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.”

As we approach Easter this year I hope that you will put the atonement of Jesus Christ to work in your life.  He is there for you.  He loves you.  And He has sent many people into your life to be His hands.  To help you and to guide you and to help you realize that you are not alone!

I sincerely hope that your day and weekend gets better and that the sun will shine over you as you push through the hard days in your illness.  Don’t give up! The fact that you are reading this post means that He does hear your cries.

XO Wendy

Remember that time…?

Trust hope and love.Remember that time I woke up with tears on my pillow because I felt broken and like our lives would never be the same and you rolled over and put your arms around me and held me until I stopped crying?  You saw me!

Remember that time that I did something so out of character for me, and yelled at you for not listening to or understanding what I was saying, when it made no sense at all?  You left and thought about not coming home, but you did.

Remember that time you came home and found me uncommunicative and pretty much unresponsive and anger turned to panic?  You burst into action and knew exactly what to do even though you were in completely unchartered territory.

Remember that time you sat with me in the ER as I chattered away about randomness and nonsense and was completely out of my mind?  You sat with me and listened and responded and laid your head on my chest and didn’t leave me.  You knew the real me was still in there somewhere.

Remember that time?  The time I kept you up all night chattering nonsense, and the next day you had to take me down to what is known as the transition unit?  I hadn’t eaten in a few days and you had to treat me like a little child because I was still out of my mind. You convinced me that the pineapple in the fruit cup tasted like candy and I should try some.  You sat with me while I ate a few pieces until I finally stopped chattering and fell asleep.

Remember that time when I woke up in an unfamiliar place on an unfamiliar bed and the first thing I did was call you to find out where you were?  And you were so relieved and happy to know that somehow I was still me and I still needed you.  Oh how I needed you!

Remember those days when you brought me lunch and visited me multiple times a day even though it was against the rules?  You walked with me in the gym and I threw the football at you as hard as I could because I was angry that you wouldn’t take me home.  Even though I already knew that I was still too sick to go home.  You did what you always do and made jokes.  You made me laugh until I was in a better mood and everything was ok.  You saw ME.

Remember that time that you came into my room and I rolled toward the wall and wouldn’t talk to you?  I told you I didn’t want to see you until you were there to take me home.  And you laid down on the bed, scooted up next to me and put your arms around me and held me while I cried.

Remember that time that you had to decide whether or not to check me out of the hospital on Halloween weekend?  And you knew you couldn’t leave me there alone another day, so you took me home and took care of me yourself even though you were scared it would all happen again.

Remember that time when we couldn’t find a Dr. who didn’t have a 6 week waiting period to get in to see them?  I sobbed and sobbed because I just wanted to feel like myself again.  You knelt down, held my hand and prayed with me, the most humble and heart felt prayer.  Remember, I fell asleep and then a Dr. called and said they had a cancelation for the next morning?  Remember that?

Remember that time that we woke up at home together in our own bed and you scooted over to me and held me and snuggled me and I knew I was “home”?

Remember that time….?  Oh there were so many times that you rescued me in my hour of need.  You had never done this before, you didn’t know what to expect or how to act.  But you did it all perfectly.  Because you see ME!  You always see the real ME.

Thank you for always seeing me!

XO Wendy

*An open letter to my husband, my biggest fan, my greatest support, my hero. And to all of the loved ones who are  caregivers and a support system for those that suffer with BPD or other mental illnesses.  #removethestigma #letstalkaboutit # mentalillness

If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.