Monday, January 18, 2016

These are My Monsters...

In the wake of the passing of David Bowie, I found this quote of his that sprung out at me like a Jack-in-the-box on a mammoth dose of meth:

This is significant to me because I just recently landed the lead role of Maggie in a community production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I am beyond ecstatic to be playing such a dynamic female role on stage! That being said, I should also declare that I haven't been on the stage in almost 20 years.
And that terrifies me.
So, it's a leap into the deepest end of the biggest Perturbation Pool I can find.

Yet, I am no stranger to anxiety. I have dealt with it for as long as I can remember; always doing things people tell me to so I can "deal with" it, (I should mention that these people, albeit are well-meaning, have no idea what anxiety really is and how debilitating it can be at its roughest). These things usually include, but have never been limited to: 

"Take deep breaths" 
(The anxiety does enough of that for me).
"Try thinking more positively"
(Ok. I'm positive I'm having an anxiety attack right now and there's nothing you can do to stop it!!!).
"I heard counting backwards from 10 helps with that sort of thing"
(It's also supposed to be a tip off as to whether you're drunk or not so...)
"Try redirecting your thoughts"
(I'm assuming you mean into more meaningful topics, rather than my impending doom?).
"Turn to your spiritual/religious leaders"
(You obviously don't know me well enough to know there's a constant silent prayer in my heart forever trying to ward off these episodes).
"What you need is a good old-fashioned pep talk" 
(No, thank you. I don't need a proverbial egotistical smoothie choked down my throat).
"Look at all your past and present accomplishments"
(Yes, because those never brought me any anxiety either).
"Don't drink caffeine" 
(As if I'm not high-strung enough that I need caffeine to get me through the day).
"Maybe you need medication?" 
(Thought of that, thanks).
"Get more sleep" 
(I'll get right on that. Right, after my brain reminds me of all the things I didn't accomplish today).
"Just accept that you can't control everything/you can't be perfect at everything"
(This is so ironic, it hurts).
"What you need is a night out/a good laugh"
(And have everyone else fawn over and pity me?)
"You need to find out what triggers these attacks and avoid them" 
(Hmmm, then, I guess I'll just crawl into my hidey hole and die because one day it's the stage that causes these attacks, another day it's my work, and any other day it could be the fact that I screwed something up last year).

As a child, I went through a traumatic event that left me damaged emotionally.
However, it also made me a stronger individual, and consequently, a stronger woman.
Those are the positives I have been able to mold from the ashes of that situation.
It still left me scarred, no matter how I choose to look at and react to it.
I don't trust as readily as most.
I question motives.
I am a loner (yes, I'm an introvert, despite the fact that I am also rather outgoing).
In reality, I'm simply a people-pleaser.
I imagine the worst first.
I'm a perfectionist - leaving little to no room for error in even the most mundane activities, so that the worst (see above) cannot happen.
I doubt myself and my abilities but, oddly enough, never my capabilities.
(Abilities being my possession of certain talents and skills. Capabilities being the extent of those talents or skills). 

Every day, I must choose to not let that event affect my life or my daily activities. In fact, I've done a significant amount of self-motivated personal transformation so that I would not hinder anyone else in the wake of my struggle. This was more difficult than it sounds. 

In reality, it could be compared to patching a parachute with scotch tape while plummeting to earth in a death spiral of tangled cords...
not impossible, but certainly necessitating an utter feeling of urgency...or else, well, the worst.

I can't, for the life of me, remember what I was searching for when I stumbled across these images drawn by artist Toby Allen that depict different disorders and hindrances as mythical monsters. These monsters are given characteristics that, if they walked among you today, would be the epitome of the trials we face every day with our different demons perched on our shoulders. Although, the monsters are mythical, the struggles are anything but.
Some of us have more of these monsters lurking around the dark corners of our minds than others.
These are my monsters...
(click on the pictures to enlarge and read).

My attacker lent me this monster back in my childhood. However, I tamed my beast long ago and buried him alive along with the anger and paranoia he always seemed to bring with him. 

This little guy packs quite the punch when he comes out to play. As debilitating as it is to deal with, there is relief. 
Once I step onto the stage to perform, there's no turning back. So, the fear subsides. 
Once the party I planned is underway, it's all good. 
Once the company we are having over for dinner arrives and begins to mingle, I'm fine. 
But up until those moments, it's complete and utter torture. Sweating, nausea, shaking, dizzy spells because I'm hyperventilating, heart palpitations and racing heartbeat, the headache that forms at the base of my neck and creeps up to my temples, racing thoughts of failure and what-if's, all poke and prod at the psyche leaving it bruised and exhausted before the show even begins. 
The irony of it all is that as much as it scares me to be on stage singing, acting, dancing, giving a speech, whatever - it scares me 10x more to think that no one will show up at all.
In my own personal world of absurdly ironic struggles and quandaries, I'd rather you see me try my hardest and fail than for you to fail to see me try my hardest. 
Don't fear my failure for me. I do enough of that for the both of us. 

This usually accompanies the anxiety. Once I've had an attack, even a minor one, it takes quite a while to climb off the emotional roller coaster of it. The racing thoughts are usually the last to leave the little party in my head, overstaying their self-invited welcome by several hours. 

 I can at least say I only suffer with this little bugger on rare occasions. But its effects last for days because of the rest it stole from me for seemingly no reason at all. Sometimes, I've looked at the clock and it's 3 a.m. and though I'm beyond exhausted, my eyelids as heavy as manhole covers, sleep does not visit me. This spirals into feeling so fatigued the next day that I get nothing done around the house or I'm so tired I screw something up at work. These instances almost always trigger mini anxiety attacks that are usually self-contained with a little logical thinking about the sleep I lost. 

In my years of coming to realize that I suffer with anxiety (for a long while I was in denial - trying too hard to keep up my fractured facade) I have also come to terms with the fact that this sad creature lives inside me as well. For the last few years I have been able to keep him at bay, although he pokes his head out every now and then (usually during a mini panic attack). I give him a good cry or cursing out to tide him over for a while and have thus far been successful in his hibernation.
However, there is no telling when he may come bursting out at the same time as one of the other monsters and collide in an all out war over territory.

As a busy mom, a wife, an individual with hobbies that I rather enjoy and would like to continue pursuing, I decided to do the unthinkable.
(Clarification: "Unthinkable" for some).



That's right. I got help from a medical professional.
I was not deemed mentally unstable.
It was not jotted down in a little notebook that I was "crazy". 
The doctor didn't give me a look over his glasses that discounted everything I had just confessed to him about what I go through.
He told me 50% more women than men experience anxiety.
Only about 1/3 of the population that suffers with anxiety actually gets treated (I, myself, almost didn't go because of the different fears I experienced just imagining having to tell the doctor about my anxiety. Go figure!).
 Although, I will never be cured from my PTSD, anxiety, depression and maybe not even my sleep disorders, I found a way to coexist.
I took control.
These are my monsters. 
I claim them.

They do not claim me. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Confessions of Another Teenage Bride: Modest IS most definitely still Hottest!!

There has been an article circulating that I have read and read and I just don't get it.
You can find the article here.
I have a hard time with this post and here's why (and please know I am trying to be sincerely gentle and diplomatic in my presentation with this. I mean no offense or malice at all): My platform as a former Mrs. Oklahoma in 2011 was Modest is Hottest. I went to schools teaching teens and preteens of both genders about the importance of acting modestly and morally in all we think, do and say.
Saying that the phrase "Modest is Hottest" is a "shallow" thought (as I read in this link) is baffling to me.
1) It's a catchy phrase originally designed to remind girls and women that being modest is ok and in fact, cool. The term "hot" is relative to an individual's interpretation. I personally don't consider the word "hot" to mean slutty or ho-ish, as it seems others around me do. In the urban dictionary it states "hot" as meaning cute, pretty, attractive.
2) It speaks to youth! And if even one young man or young woman walks away after hearing someone give a positive speech about modesty using this phrase (as opposed to someone starting off a speech with modest is NOT hottest - how confusing is that?) then, that is one life and attitude changed. And isn't that the end goal?
[Side note:  I also understand this is also a lesson in semantics. But, it's also kinda the whole point, too.]
Now, I'm not saying we should dress in toe sacks. But I also think the article teeters on the line of shaming those women who are naturally thin, fit and attractive and look stinkin' hot in no matter what they wear (we all know one, right? lol), by making them feel that if a man outside of their spouse looks at them in the wrong way that it's their fault (I understand she didn't say that directly - I just see some underlying tones here that could be misinterpreted).
For instance, and I quote: "The idea that we can be virtuous and walk around looking hot at the same time does not add up". So, a young woman who wears a modest pencil skirt and button down blouse in high heels gets whistled at while heading to work.  Was she sinning because she was considered 'hot' by another's standards?  Is she to blame for their actions? (Again, I understand here that the point is trying not to be looked at as an object. Sometimes, that's going to happen no. matter. what. As the 2nd article I shared pointed out, so many in other countries who wear coverings from head to toe are still considered only objects and are raped and beaten daily).
In my opinion and in my experience, modesty has less to do with the clothes hanging in our closet and much more to do with how we act and how we feel about ourselves and how we project that outwardly through our individual personalities.

To quote her again: "If you want to be 'hot', if you want to be 'sexy', if you want to be 'eye candy', you won't find that while keeping your shorts long and your necklines high". I understand. We should not be wanting these particular shallow things. But this statement could EASILY be misinterpreted by teens, even with her explanation that followed, even as I misunderstood it when first reading it. I also think that delves into a realm of controversy with the idea that either A) women are the root of all men's evil thoughts about women or B) Women should be allowed to wear whatever they want and men should just control their thoughts. To quote a friend of mine, "Modest is hottest is not about control. It's about the preservation of value and dressing to your potential. It's not about propagation of 'rape culture' or shaming of women, it's about respecting your most valuable asset...Your body."  (And just throwing this out there: I think the girl that wrote this article is hot! Is that wrong of me to think? lol. In all honesty, she is very attractive and I, being one who loves to observe people - you might call it stalking, don't judge me! - would consider her a gorgeous lady and would watch her and make mental notes. I do the same thing with men. It's if I lust after that man or woman that I become sinful. And that's on my head. I, and only I, control my thoughts. I am not convinced we are puppets to our temptations).

I quote again: "There is a time and place to be hot, to be desired and to be sexy..." (totally agree!)..."and it's not in the grocery store, at work, or at school....a truly wonderful man will want you to be beautiful for the whole world to see! But he will want you to be hot only for him." ??
 No, no, I get it. I, as a grown LDS woman, understand what she's saying. But...if I'm wearing something that makes me feel beautiful, sexy, hot, (insert your own favorite adjective here), am I supposed to change my clothes before I go out in public? Should I ask my spouse if what I'm wearing is sexy and change if he thinks so? (It's absurd, I know, but indulge this not how some could interpret this?)

On another note, if we are to emulate our leaders, get our best education, be our best selves, wear our Sunday best: think about it, anytime you look your best we are naturally going to be more attractive.

Please, please don't get me wrong; There are several points I loved about each article.
i.e. "If you’re pro-modesty (by whatever definition that means to you), then live it and teach it as a means for empowerment and benefit to yourself, not as a service or protection for men. "
"If modesty is a concept you subscribe to, there is great power in changing the modesty conversation from what you LOOK like to others to what you FEEL like inside."
Modesty is defined differently by different cultures – even different families – and it’s time to stopshaming people into covering themselves and start teaching truths that need shouted from the rooftop: We are more than just bodies to be looked at. When we begin believing that, we begin acting like it, and female progress in every imaginable way will move forward." 
"So, to the girls who inch up your skirt just a little higher than you should... To the girls who pull that shirt down a little too low... To the girls who give a little more than you should be giving, thinking you will get that love you so desperately desire, only to be told 'it's not you, it's me' and left wanting what you gave back, feeling confused and broken..."

"But girls, I can promise you one thing. The guy you are going to want to be with, the guy who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated, is not going to be found with that mini skirt and low cut neckline."
So much good stuff can come from each of these articles. I just wish it didn't seem to require tearing one good message down to make room for whatever the next big phrase or idea or ploy will be. And, more selfishly here, I do wish the one phrase wouldn't be shot down so vehemently because some are choosing to interpret it under a different light (especially when a public figure such as myself has had SO MUCH success with it).

Bottom line, let us not judge each other for the battles we fight within. We all have our Summer cottages in Babylon. Nor should we push another in the way of our understand and interpretation, but let us allow each other our free agency and thought patterns. In the end, it is not what we have done in this life that matters so much, but who we have become. And for the record: I don't know about you, but I've never seen someone readily latch on to another's celestial map without first looking to see, out of sheer unabashed curiousity,  if their own map won't lead them to far greater blessing along the way.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Modern with a vintage twist Baby Shower design

Thankful and Blessed framed chalkboard print. Vintage glass bottle wrapped in burlap and rhinestones with vintage gloves and baby shoes. Handmade "Mom-to-be" keepsake pin.

Food table. White rosette pom bird. Mustard gold and cream polka dot fabric tablecloth. White serving dishes. 

Gift table. Fuchsia wall drape with turquoise table runner, blue Mason jars with fuchsia flowers. Vintage oval frame and gold letter E monogram. Orange and fuchsia paper lanterns.

Hand-lettered chalkboard with baby's name. 

Baby's nickname, "Junebug", for the banner. Made from muslin pennants, twine and gold tissue paper tassels.

Beautiful mommy-to-be. 

Gorgeous cupcakes and cake!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Our Adventures in Outdoor Autumn Photos

I think this was the best adventure yet!! Till next year!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

5 Tips for FABULOUS Autumn Family Photos

It's that time of year again - that wonderfully magical time when the leaves start turning brilliant colors of the spectrum and gracefully falling to the earth by the droves. The air is crisp and just slightly damp. You can drive with no air on, just the windows down in your vehicle.
But, most importantly, it's time for family photos!!
Pictures of smiling kids all in coordinating clothes perfectly matched with their parents attire complete with hats and scarves. And of course, everyone is smiling genuinely while playing in a field of golden and amber leaves.
What delusional island do YOU live on?! Please! To capture family photo like the one described above the photographer would obviously have had to drug the entire family with some kind of narcotic just to get them all looking in the same direction, let alone smiling at the same time.

But, I get it, you want to know how to get that photo...that one. prize. photo for posterity's sake. (Don't we all).
Well, let's do this! Where there is a will, there is a way.

Color Coordinating
This is the most difficult decision to be made of the entire event and, depending on your family size, can be the most costly. There are several things to consider in choosing your wardrobe. First of all, and most importantly, everyone. must. coordinate (not necessarily match - there IS a difference). Not only does it make for a more pleasing photograph to view, it looks more tasteful. It is worth every extra minute spent diligently searching for that one shirt in just the right color or skirt with just the right pattern to pull off the look you are wanting. (Plus, everyone gets new duds out of the deal which is just more incentive for them to suck it up and get it over with!)
Something else to consider that you may not have thought of is where in your home to plan on displaying this photo? You want the clothes in your picture to compliment the most prominent color in that room. Otherwise, it will get lost and looked over. Are you planning to give it as a gift? You need to consider this same concept for the receiver's space. The easiest and most convenient colors are most often neutrals paired with a darker neutral such as the classic-never-out-of-style white with denim or khaki pants (and this has so many cool modern twists to it now!). Also, try to stick with 2 or 3 main colors with 1 accent color/metal. For example, if you've chosen white, cream and ivory shirts with grey pants, skirts and shorts, don't have a lone child in a yellow vest, unless yellow is your accent color and everyone else is wearing just a touch of it (headband, flower pin, etc). Otherwise, your family and their beautiful faces get lost in a sea of color. The only exception, I personally have found, to this rule is pastels. You can pick as many coordinating pastels as you want and it seems to turn out well every time. As far as patterns go, beware! It's easy to go overboard here. It's best to pick the child(ren) to wear a pattern. If you have one child wear floral, one wear a coordinating striped coat and everyone else in solids, this is perfectly acceptable.
But above all else - DO. NOT. wear all black! It's dreary. It's dark. And it ends up making you all look like a bunch of floating heads.

Consider this photo. Although it's a good shot, they look like they just came from a funeral in this attire and their torsos get mingled in the sea of black and all you see is heads, upon heads, upon...well, you get the idea. There's no dimension!

For inspiration on color schemes visit
For inspiration on outfit ideas or to create your own for future reference visit

Glitz and Glam
Don't be shy here! If your daughter has a favorite headband, your husband a favorite bowtie and you a favorite pair of dangly earrings, wear them! This moment in time is a time to capture YOU and your unique family. What a perfect way to flash a bit of your family's personal style into the picture then by adding some of your favorite things? It adds pizzazz and dimension, an extra element of interest for the eye to observe. And don't forget the family pet(s)!

Indoor or Outdoor, That is the Quandary
This is tricky. The outdoors during the Fall is simply majestic and breath-taking and most photographers live for this time of year simply for the festive display of color outside. Make sure to have a Plan B: Too cold outside? Raining? Blustery? Allergies giving your eyes fits?
It's. OK!
Most professional photographers plan ahead for instances like this and will work with you to make your Plan B just as agreeable as your original plan, should you choose to give it the axe.
Nowadays, there are so many cool backdrops that studio photographers can get and the props to get ahold of are endless! Consider having the photographer come to your home where your kids will feel more at ease and relaxed and more likely to smile genuinely (rather than looking like their best friend from Pre-K drew their smile on for them).

Props add another element of interest to the photo. Make sure they aren't the entire focus, however! If you've decided to take photos outside this Autumn, a vintage basket of red and green apples or sunflowers dumped over to one side is the perfect accent. But be wise in these prop layers. If you're sitting on a long bench as a family and have hay bales in the background with the basket of apples and a pile of leaves at your feet and the family is holding a frame to frame their faces in front of a field of sunflowers - it's overkill.

Be Yourselves
It's natural to want (no, more like covet) that one perfect shot for your family. But let's be honest, that is relative. It all depends on how you look at it. It may not be the one where everyone is smiling perfectly and sitting up straight, curls and collars all primped and pinned. It may be the outtake of your daughter crossing her eyes in exasperation or the one of your husband desperately trying to keep Fido's tongue off the baby's face. My absolute favorite family photo didn't have my favorite facial expressions or hair position or clothing tucked in just right. However, it is my favorite because my son is giving a thumbs up, which shows off the complete epicness of his feeling for our little family!

This is an example of the perfect (indoor) family photo. Everyone coordinates but is not matchy-matchy. There is texture all over - in the ruffles of the babies' skirts, the feathers on big sister's skirt, the lace on the oldest sister's jacket, dad's bowtie and brother's glasses. The family pet is even included in the one cool prop.

And BONUS! Here is a cool printable (FREE, of course!) for organizing, coordinating and budgeting your family photos (as we know these precious memories can tend to eat a substantial chunk of a tight budget this time of year).

I hope these few tips help to ease your anxiety and answer your questions when it comes to this year's photo shoot. And by they way, maybe that delusional island isn't such a long and treacherous journey to get to after all!
Good luck and HAVE FUN!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

We've all had those moments, days, weeks, months, maybe years where we've felt alone. Whether it's having an illness that no one really truly can connect your struggles and pains with (although they sincerely try). Or if we've suffered from a bout of depression where no matter how hard we try to can connect with the outside world we still feel isolated on the deepest level imaginable. Or maybe it's just not feeling like you're being understood for a moment in time by friends or family and feel just a bit disconnected. Perhaps, it's the loss of a person close to us that leaves that deepest of empty feelings? There are so many moments like these some tiny, some gargantuan in our lives. This piece is a sympathizing one on all these aspects (inspired by a dear friend of mine being as brave as ever through her own personal struggles). 

"Sick Bed"
It is not what is said
but words left homeless
that inhabit the crooked crags of my heart.
Drowning in a dark bitter dread
of a life of time-less
study and wishing for mine to start.
Alone in the world I'm lead
but never companion-less.
Yet, here still am I left to fall apart.
And in my head
I'm smiling nonetheless;
a face that frowning smiles is an abstract art.
Where to be lead?
Away to convalesce
and leave you to tell the two apart.

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