The most peaceful sound

9 Mar

This is a clip of me winding my yarn. I love the sound of the ball winder. Check it out. I could hear this forever.

www.youtube.com/watch

Advertisements

How I rocked a Pinterest party

26 Jan

PInterest is great sometimes. Bits great for ideas. But don’t ever think you have to look like the professionally photographed parties.

My 10 yr old wanted a detective party. I looked up detective games. Sure I could pay $45 for a whole party of printable banners and signs and stuff. Ya right.

I started at party city and found mini notebooks, a pack of mustaches, disguise glasses, and eraser puzzle cubes. The the dollar store for pencils, a display board, some candy, and glow sticks. Also 2 rolls of crepe paper.

Hobby lobby was pricier. I got some stamps and ink pads to do fingerprints but we will have those forever now. I also got some card stock.

Then Walmart for the cake, Ice cream, chips, oranges, drinks, trail mix, crackers and cheese. Daddy hit one more store for guacamole and salsa (because we’re guacamole snobs and it has to be from HEB).

Yellow crepe paper went around trees in our yard to make it look like a crime scene. This actually fooled my parents and they thought something happened. Really.

Red crepe paper to be a laser maze.

The display board had all our games and clues for where the cake was hidden.

I stuck it with thumb tacks and strung red string all over.

The kids had to take fingerprints.

Then word a word find that I made in a free word find website. It was really good!! Even my dad had to work really hard to find all the words!

They had to do target practice with a hula hoop and some lawn darts I got at the dollar store. I also got a few dollar store games to have as prizes.

Next game was a memory game. We collected all kinds of things around the house that could be clues. I jumbled them on s tray and covered it with a towel. Then exposed it for only s count of 5 seconds. Then people had to write as much as they could remember. This was fun for the adults, too.

A hammer, letter opener “sword thingy” (sting), a crocheted gun, old digital camera, magnifying glass, rook, diploma boat, lego raft, Spider-Man, pipe cleaner, hot wheels van, and foam crown.

After that they had to go through the laser maze and find clues. I gave them the rest of the clues and they had to decode and decipher the answer. Another kid had a book on secret codes so we used one of them to code the letters. Then they had to figure out it spelled C-A-B-I-N-E-T.

Then! They searched the kitchen cabinets for the cake!

It was pretty good for a short party.

Snack foods were:

Bomb cheese was cubes of cheddar and Monterey Jack with some pepper jack thrown in. Mystery snacks were mixed flavors like 3 diff kind of goldfish. Or 3 different kind of oranges in a bowl (I don’t think anyone really caught in to that one). Then I saw the bottle drinks with a truth serum label. Thought that was cute, it’s lemonade. Licorice dynamite sticks, hot on the trail mix.

I’m exhausted, but the kids had fun (no one cried). There were 10 kids and 9 adults and everyone smacked and ate and played and visited.

Jane Austen was right!

17 Dec

​Philippians 4: 8-9  

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.  Then the God of peace will be with you.”

These verses follow my absolutely favorite passage, written about here.  Again, Paul really knows how to hit home for the mentally ill.  Telling us how to think.  Telling us what to think, as though it is always so easy.

How often are we stuck in the negative memories?  Especially the thought of what immediately preceded right now.  Second guessing yourself, your words, your actions.  Am I a good mother? I shouldn’t have said that.  Was it wrong to act that way? Ugh, I am such a horrible person.  I am a rotten rotten failure.  I am always getting it wrong!

Paul is gently but firmly trying to get us out of this habit of thinking.  It is a habit that can be changed.  The anxiety/depression chemical cocktail of the brain makes it easier to stay in the negative thinking, but we can and will change it.  

I strongly believe that the first step is often to improve the chemical brain situation.  Sometimes with a chemical boost from medication. Sometimes with diet change (eliminating sugars, artificial scents, flavorings, nasty chemicals).  Sometimes with the chemical and mental support of essential oils (don’t buy junk!  Buy the right stuff here!).  

Once we have a better handle on the chemical fight, we can tackle the mental fight.  Paul tells us to think about the true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, praiseworthy things. 

Let’s analyze the main negative anxiety phrase: “I’m a bad mom.” 

Is that true?  My anxiety brain wants to say yes and tell me all the reasons why, but come on!  It is not true.  I love my children and care for my children.  It is exhausting but it is exhausting because I am DOING it.  I am a good mom.  That is true.

Is it honorable? I am a child of God created in the image of God (that is what we are teaching our children with their homeschool RE each week, I should listen).  I am worthy of respect and honor as a child of God.  It is not honorable to God or myself to ignore all the good things I do as a mother.

Is it just? Is it correct within moral or civil law to condemn myself as a bad mom?  Of course not.  I am not the judge of my own fate, that belongs to God.  I can be critical when I make mistakes or sin, but it doesn’t make me a bad person.  I can work to improve the errors, but making them doesn’t make me a bad mother.

Pure? Certainly not.  Comparing my performance as a mother to some arbitrary perfect mother is entirely inappropriate.  Our perfect mother was Mary.  I am not Mary, but I also know that I cannot be her.  She was created without Original Sin.  I have Original Sin.  I am going to make mistakes.  I am going to make poor choices.  But calling myself bad is not pure in the slightest.

Lovely? Nope.  Calling myself a bad mom is filled with nothing but darkness and garbage.

Gracious?  Of course not!  These kids are amazing!  I have five of them!  Five amazing creations made with my body, my husband’s body and the gift of the Holy Spirit.  These children were all created because I love my husband and my husband loves me and the Holy Spirit, the result of the love between the Father and the Son allowed the love of my husband and myself to create a new human.  That is freaking amazing!!!!!

Excellent or Praiseworthy?  When was the last time another mother said, “I’m a bad mom” and you followed that with, “good for you, sweetie, I am so proud of you for coming to that excellent assesment of your actions”?  I mean, that only comes across as the most severe sarcasm, right?

Therefore, if we are to dwell, think intensively, on anything, it needs to be in the positive form.  True-Honorable-Just-Pure-Lovely-Gracious-Excellent-Praiseworthy.

In the words of Jane Austen in Pride & Prejudice, “Think only on the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.”

“Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.”  Keep on doing what we have learned.  Paul has basically instructed us on the facts and merits of cognitive behavioral therapy.  Change your thoughts through the power and knowledge of Jesus.  Then practice over and over changing those negative thoughts toward the positive.  If you need help, then here is the check list.  Is it true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, praisworthy?  No? Then change it!  

“Then the God of peace will be with you.”  Thank God!!  Peace.  Isn’t it the dream of everyone with anxiety?  It is possible.  You can do it, with God. Mind-Body-Soul.  By adjusting how we feed our body, and through careful and persistent changing of our mind, we can have peace in our soul.  All with and through God.

Have no anxiety, Rejoice!

17 Dec

The third week of advent is Gaudete Sunday. The priest and deacon wear rose colored vestments. We get to light the pink advent candle. Or in our house, tie the pink ribbon around the Christmas tree. It is all about rejoicing.

Gaudete means rejoice. From my Latin lessons way back in high school, the ending of this word is making it the verb form where you are telling someone TO rejoice. It’s not just talking about people who rejoice in the Lord, it is telling you, commanding you, to rejoice in the Lord.

The second reading this Sunday is from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  Written to the Christian community while Paul is in prison! Chapter 4, verses 4-7.

“4Rejoice in the Lord always.  I shall say it again: rejoice!  5Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.  6Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. 7Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

This passage, especially verse 6, speaks to me.  I have felt a special connection with this passage since before I was married (FYI, that means before I realized my anxiety).  Paul is telling us to have no anxiety.  But what does that mean?  Is he just saying “hey, don’t fret” or “don’t worry, be happy, mon” or is he talking to the person with clinical anxiety and saying “stop it! Stop it right now!”?  Because, if it is the latter command, I would be really upset and angry.  

How many times have we heard from people, “just stop worrying,” “just be happy”?  I often look at them thinking, “you have no clue what is happening in my head right now.” Or we hear those words and start down the rabbit hole of “Why can’t I control it? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I stop worrying and just be happy?  I’m so messed up!”

If someone doesn’t have experience with mental illness (either directly, or through someone else) then they have a really hard time understanding the inability to control one’s thoughts.   But anxiety is more than uncontrolled thoughts, it is the inability to control our reactions to the thoughts.  It is good to feel panic when the lion is at the door.  Those feelings help you to escape.  But anxiety is feeling the panic when we think about the lion.  The lion isn’t actually there, the threat is not real, but the mere act of thinking about the thing is perceived as a threat which ilicits all the same physical responses in our body as if the lion is really in front of us.

Telling the anxious to stop being anxious is like telling the diabetic “internally control your blood sugar!  Make your pancreas work properly.  Just DO it!”  

So when Paul says, “have no anxiety at all,” is that what he means?  The way we hear this command can have different results.  If I think, “but I can’t,” then what follows is a very defeated sort of feeling.  “I am incapable of controlling my thoughts and responses, therefore, I am incapable of stopping my anxiety.  What’s wrong with me? I should be able to do this if he is telling me to do it!”  However, if I read this with a more positive outlook, I can see hope.  Paul is telling me to have no anxiety at all which implies that I DO have control over my thoughts.  It IS possible.  I am not going to suffer this forever!

He goes on to explain to us how to achieve this great feat.  “By prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”  Now, on the one hand, this starts to sound like all the people that tell me “just give it to God,” “pray your worry away.”  Prayer is good and important and powerful, but, again, if someone doesn’t fully understand mental illness, they don’t understand that I could pray a million rosaries and still have anxiety.  

On the other hand, the mind is extremely powerful.  Why else are we feeling all these chemical responses to the mere thought of a perceived threat?  Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is all about training your brain to respond in a more positive and calming way when your anxiety tries to trigger all the painful feelings.  Look at what Paul says, “with prayer AND petition.”  He didn’t say, “pray and stop it!”  Petition is about listing grievances.  To write a petition to the Lord, we have to know exactly what we need.  It forces us to think (cognate) about exactly what reponse (behavior) we would like to change.  

What’s next? “With thanksgiving,” um, can we say gratitude?  Volumes have been written about how having a sense of gratitude can have tremendous effect on our emotions and our outlook on the world.  I think this is also about thanking God in advance of the help that he is going to give us.  We know that our prayers might not be answered in exactly the way that we desire, but “with thanksgiving” helps us to appreciate the fact that our prayer will be answered in the way that God knows is best for us.  Gratitude gives us hope.  Hope changes the way you perceive things (looking for the positive rather than the negative).  It helps us to change the way we respond to our thoughts, too, and that is EXACTLY what CBT is all about!

Then Paul tells us “make your requests known to God.” We are going to have a conversation with God, after we have carefully, and gratefully, examined the situation.  This conversation is ongoing.  I think it can truly be involved in the T of CBT, the therapy.  A therapy is a repeated or ongoing event.  We are going focus and practice and pray for assistance and strength over and over and over.  As we continue this process, it will get easier because we have gratitude and hope.  CBT uses the brain’s own power to overcome and change those innate responses so that we can think of the lion without the rush of adrenaline.

Gaudete

Let’s circle back, now, to the beginning of this passage and the reason that gives the name to gaudete Sunday.  Paul tells us to rejoice.  Not just once.  “Rejoice in the Lord always.  I shall say it again, rejoice!”  It’s so important, he has to say it twice.  Our pastor had a fabulous homily about this passage.  He explained that Paul isn’t simply shouting in our faces “be happy!” Furthermore, real joy is more than just a feeling or emotion of happiness and excitement.  It can be those things.  I certainly saw joy on my daughter’s face when she saw her younger sister for the first time.  But, to rejoice in the Lord, is a much deeper commitment.

Father explained that rejoicing is more about knowing.  At least, that was what I heard.  When we know that Christ is with us, really with us in the here and now, we have a contentment of heart that gives us Joy.  This is what Paul commands.  He is telling us to know that Christ came for us, is coming for us and has come for us.  We are waiting, through Advent, to celebrate the coming of Christ as a baby.  But gaudete is telling us that Christ has come and IS. WITH. US. NOW.  Right now.  Now now.  As they say in Spaceballs, “everything that happens now, is happening now…We’re at now now” and Jesus is with us.

“The Lord is near.” When we know this fact and accept it in our hearts, we have joy.  For me it is also confidence.  Knowing that Jesus is with me gives me confidence that I will be able to survive the mental freakshow that my brain sometimes wants to play.  Rejoicing in the Lord helps us to take control through efforts like CBT.  

Paul is deep.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God is talking directly to us, the anxiety sufferers.  “Have Joy.  Know that I am with you. Always. I never leave.  You can do this because I am here helping you every step of the way.  Now think. Think very specifically about what you want to change.  Tell me what that is.  Say it again.  You know that I am here, you know that I am helping you and you KNOW that I will answer this prayer, therefore, before even asking me, you feel the gratitude that comes from accepting my great gift.  Have thanksgiving.  Feel my positivity wash over you as you make this request because you are confident in the knowledge that I love you, I am love.  Love is willing the good of the other and that is all that I want for you, your good.”

“Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” This sentence needs almost no explanation.  But I think the preceding sentence, that you probably think I skipped, depends greatly on it.  “Your kindness should be known to all.”  When we have this confidence and peace of heart because Jesus is with us, our kindness will be visible to all.  Especially to other sufferers.  Your kindness might mean the world to them in their own suffering.  Telling someone, “I understand” or “good job!” in the middle of the grocery store could change someone’s whole day.

The Lord is near, rejoice, let the knowledge and confidence in our Lord’s presence fill you with Joy.  Allow this joy to transform all your actions into kindness.  Calmly think of the specific requests that you want from God.  With gratitude in your heart, ask God for these things because you know that even though His answers may not come in a way you expect, they will come. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  

Surpasses all understanding.   We will NEVER know how much peace there is from God.  It isn’t just a little peace, it is so much we can never comprehend it.  That vast, infinite amount is what is guarding our hearts and minds.  Guarding. Protecting. Not only providing a barrier to negativity but fiercely fighting it back.  I see it as a soldier with a shield and a sword. Not only guarding my heart, my soul, my emotions, my feelings, but also guarding my mind.  We are mind-body-soul.  Always and in every way.  God’s immense, unknowable, undending peace will guard my mind!  My mind!!!  God is protecting me from myself!  In Christ Jesus.  In the fulfilment of the salvation promise, in the embodiment and incarnation of God as man, in his suffering and death for our sins and in his resurrection from the dead, and in our involvement in that redeption through the Eucharist my mind is guarded!

Can you see how much I love this passage?  Paul is a genius.  Did he know, 2,000 years ago, sitting in prison, that his words to a Christian community would have so much meaning to a young adult in her late 20’s? To a young wife and extremely nervous new mother? To a mother of 3, 4, 5 children?  I love it so much.  I should embroider it on a huge canvas and put it on my wall to see every day as a reminder.  We need the reminders because it is not easy.  I know that I couldn’t write this as calmly as I am, now, without the aid of medication.  I need a chemical boost to get me to the point where I can have a rational spiritual discussion with God.  One day I will try to reduce that form of assistance, but for now it is helping my body, and that’s ok.

So my dear fellow moms, while you are washing dishes,wiping butts, making that grocery list and cooking dinner, know that Jesus is with you.  Every step.

To the tired Mom in the grocery store

5 Dec

Dear Sweet Momma,

I see you standing there pushing your cart.  You have the wonderfully protective cloth seat cover over your basket and a sweet little dumpling of a baby inside it.  I see you.  I see your exhausted face.  I see no smile on your face.  I see the mouth turned down.  I see your sad eyes.  I see your entire face looks like someone did a hard wipe down from your forehead to chin and your muscles never picked back up.

Sweet momma, I know how you feel.  Getting out of the house was hard.  Going to the store feels like drudgery.  You looked at the checkout lanes and only saw the mostly empty lane.  You didn’t see anything past what was immediately necessary to you.  I know that feeling, you only have the energy to deal with the most important things and anything that exists beyond your “what matters” radius is simply invisible to you.  But not just invisible, dark. Almost like The Nothing fom The Neverending Story.  You are in a cave with a candle.  That candle is only as bright as the energy you can muster for today.  Both physical and mental energy.  The light forms a perfect sphere around you and beyond it is darkness.

That’s why you didn’t see me ahead of you with 3 of my 5 kids.  No fancy cloth cover on our car-cart.  I did remember to put hand sanitizer on them, so I feel slightly protective.  But you didn’t see beyond your little sphere of light.  So when I said to you, “Lookin’ pretty tired there, momma.” you looked up with surprise.  Look! Your eyebrows do work.  You heard a voice from beyond your bubble.

Then I stepped into your sphere.  You admitted you were tired and pointed to the baby.  Let me get closer again, “my first wanted to feed every 2 hours for the first year and a half.” Such relief on your face!  You are not alone. (did I see you almost tear up?)  It is not abnormal that your baby wants to be with you so frequently.  You are not the only one hurting from lack of sleep.  That knowledge doesn’t exactly make it better but at least you know your baby is normal.

I asked if you have visited La Leche League meetings.  “no, I looked them up but I haven’t gone.” “Oh they are great, it’s wonderful to be around other moms.” I gave you my business card and said, “do not feel bad about emailing me, just say ‘I’m that random mom from the store.’ it’s ok.”  I had to move on because my 3 girls were about to start screaming again and my checkout was complete.

I walked away and said a prayer that you would reach out to contact me.  But I know it isn’t likely.  So here is my big hug to you.  I’m still here.  You can come over anytime and let my girls play with your baby.  We can have some coffee and chat.  You can see my messy house and feel better about your own.

Exhaustion zaps energy.  Low energy leads to poor food choices.  Poor food choices leads to even lower energy.  All this low energy leads to reduced brain function.  When the brain can’t function properly the worry, doubt, self deprecating voice gets louder. You start to seriously question yourself about everything.  Questioning yourself leads to anxiety and depression.  Depression causes even more exhaustion.  Aaaaand we are back where we started.  hoo.ray.

We need to break that cycle.  For me, the answer was medication.  It was the most surefire solution to interrupt the cycle.  I couldn’t magically make my kids sleep more.  I was too exhausted to drastically change my diet to improve my energy.  But I could take a pill.  I could interrupt that nasty voice in my head.  Once my brain felt normal, I then had the energy to make other better choices about food, activity, and simply acknowleding that my existence was worthwhile.  I could read books.  I could learn about the value of suffering.  My prayer life expanded with meaning and purpose. Life improved.

Medication may not be the answer for everyone and it may not be the best long term solution.  But when you are in the pit of darkness, you need a life line, rescue ladder to pull you out of that pit.  Medication should not be ridiculed, or denegrated, or underestimated for it’s life saving ability.

Mind-Body-Soul.  That is what we are and how God created us.  Our being exists in all 3 forms.  Our illnesses, especially mental illness, certainly affect all 3 forms.  Therefore, full and total treatment needs to address our mind, our body, and our soul.

Dear sweet momma, I hope you reach out to me.  If not me, please find more mommas.   It feeds our soul to commune with other moms who may be trucking through the drudgery, also feeling alone.  Don’t pretend everything is rosy when it isn’t.  Share your reality with another mom and you might hear a solution that can work for you.  I hope this letter finds you.

With all the love from another suffering and surviving mom,

Emily

Facebook Update

14 Jan

This blog was put on hold for a very long time.  I started it when I was in the midst of some very tough post-partum anxiety.  I found my way out through a variety of treatments of my mind, body & soul.  Please visit BeLikeLilies on facebook to see the videos I have posted thus far telling my story.  I plan to add more through this blog as we go along.

The Pregnancy and Post Partum Anxiety Workbook

23 May

This post contains affiliate links.  That means I get a small commission when you purchase the item through this link.  Your price doesn’t change, but it helps me to continue with this blog and information for you.

Next Video

Catholic wife and mom of 5 shares the primary resource that helped her on her journey of recovery from anxiety. The Pregnancy and PostPartum anxiety workbook.  Visit https://www.facebook.com/belikelilies/ on Facebook for more resources and videos. That is an affiliate link to amazon. I will receive a minor amount from your purchase.

Get your own copy right here.

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ss&ref=as_ss_li_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=fiatfiberarts-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1572245891&asins=1572245891&linkId=79d1395b145c745df592c89994a84f74&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true