Waiting in the Wings (for the ones who pushed me to greatness)

In life we are constantly in search for our own accomplishments. We strive. We hustle, we push; we fail and we succeed. And yet so often we forget about all of the hands who were there to help us along the way; how many people stood in the background while we thundered through our moment of glory, basking in our own personal spotlight. Today I was so quickly reminded what a simple kind word or thoughtful gift could mean to someone in the midst of the struggle.

Nothing will bring you back to reality like bonking at a physical fitness challenge. I am currently participating in Ragnar Relay- as I mentioned yesterday; two vans, twelve people, two hundred (ish) miles in two days and one night. I didn’t train like I should have, and thus- it has been a challenge, to put it mildly. 

I was terrified when my teammate showed up to our exchange full of energy and good vibes, slapped that bracelet on my wrist and sent me on my way to run my very first leg. You see, even though you sign up with large teams and spend your days in the company of five other people- the actual act of running is pretty solitary. It’s you and the road, two feet stomping pavement as you follow the signs (and other runners) to that ellusive exchange zone. You get to take your magic slap bracelet and tap someone else to begin their own portion of the journey. 

My leg was at 11:00, the day was hot, the wind was scarce and the sun was set to extra strength. In the first part of my run one of the officers patrolling the course actually stopped to ask me if I was okay. After explaining that yes, I was, and my face just always gets that red when I’m running, I trundled on my merry way. But the problem was- my body wasn’t ready for this sudden jolt of activity. I was not physically prepared for the challenge I signed up for.

So I struggled, and I walked (a lot!). I pushed myself as hard as I could go as person after person passed me by (which is actually saying a lot because my speed walking if nothing to sneeze at). Every person who passed by called out words of encouragement; which made a big difference to me. They recognized my struggle (which can be embarrassing), but also acknowledged and appreciated the fact that I was still out there in pain, exhausted, sweating- and still putting one foot in front of the other at whatever pace I could muster.

There is a difference in the type of support that people offer you; the officer, who meant well, approached me as if he didn’t think I could do it, concerned for my safety he wanted to make sure I was okay. This is something I deeply appreciate, but his lack of confidence in my abilities forced me to question what I was doing there that much more. It took the winds out of my ebbing sails. And yet the other runners out there never once questioned my ability to be ranked amongst their numbers; they saw the exact same stuggle as that officer, but they approached me as if me finishing that leg was a guarantee. They had faith that I could do it because I wanted to do it. They had no hesitation when they offered me their simple unwavering support. 

And then there was the van of amazing women who completely changed the tone of my first leg. They had a runner on the road who was consistently near me, so they would pass me and see me as they waited for her. Instead of only caring for their own person, they paid attention to me as well. Even going so far as to pull over to ask me if I needed a little bit of water. This may not sound like much, but it was exactly what I needed at the perfect time. I was hitting a wall and wondering why the hell I had even signed up- and their words of encouragement a small gift of water completely changed my perspective. It reinvigorated my body and soul for the road that was still winding ahead of me. 

There are moments in our lives when we are the runner, and there are times when we are the cheerleaders. Both are vitally important. Just a small act of kindness, a tiny nod of encouragement can morph a struggle into a beautiful experience. Without the people on that road pushing me forward, the mental struggle I was waging could have easily changed my entire experience.

When you are standing on the sidelines in someone else’s story, never forget how important the supporting characters can be. Always offer a kind word; you never know if that will be the tipping point that will propel them to greatness. And when you are standing in the spotlight, carrying the show- don’t forget all of those people standing behind you who have helped you on your path. Don’t let them forget that they are a big part of the reason you are standing where you are.

So to everyone who yells out words of encouragement to friends and strangers alike; to all of you out there who rang your cowbells and cheered me on as I pushed past my own endurance- thank you. To the man with the rainbow shorts, long beard and no shirt- you made my day with your encouraging words and contagious enthusiasm. And to the ladies of the black and pink van who stopped to help a runner in need of both physical and emotional replenishment- thank you, I would not have had the same experience without you. You are truly inspiring, thank you for welcoming me to this amazing adventure.

Excited amazement that I actually survived my first leg- in the van on the way to support our next runner as he hit the road (and killed, by the way- shout out to Cody)

Running Towards Adventure (literally)

Sometimes the best adventures are the ones you are least prepared for. It’s easy to plan every step of your life; plot the trail from A to B, color in the lines and keep moving. And yet there comes a day when the whispering voice of adventure reaches your ears and tickles at the nape of your neck. Some days you simply have to throw caution to the wind and jump, even if you feel completely unprepared and terrified.

I spent my evening packing up my bags and charging my headphones. This morning I helped decorate a van, hopped in the car with five other people and we started driving. At the moment we are still on the road; listening to music, eating way too many snacks and soaking gummy bears in pineapple rum (it’s a bit of an experiment- I’ll let you know how it goes).

Tomorrow morning we will be standing at a starting line before the sun has even said hello to the earth. We will be in a crowd, full of nervous energy waiting for the signal to literally run into the arms of adventure. We will all take turns, one after the other passing the baton all through the day, pushing through the night with only the stars to keep us company, and slamming through one more entire day and crossing the finish line that evening. Two vans, twelve people, two hundred miles along the gorgeous Puget Sound.

What the hell did I get myself into? I’m not entirely sure. I didn’t train nearly enough for the 14.4 miles I will be running (although, to be fair, they are split into 3 different legs). But alas; I am owning my lack of preparation and jumping in anyways. Because that’s what you do when you are ready for an adventure. And my team isn’t even remotely competitive; we are owning the ‘just for fun’ mentality. On Saturday night I will be sure to let you know exactly how fun it was.

Mentality is going to be key here; instead of beating ourselves up for not being as fast as others, we are going to make fun of it. Our team name is Worst Pace Scenario. Our mascot: the sloth (and yes, before you ask- we do have sloth onesies for our entire van). The motto on our team shirts: “fine, I’ll run- but I’ll complain the entire time.”

Yea, my friends, sometimes you just have to live, do something crazy and reckless that you are completely unprepared for. If I die trying to run this- at least I will pass in a beautiful place! I’ll keep you updated on the progress. Wish us luck, my friends- I think we will need it!

My Own Mirror of Erised

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

-Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

If you are unfamiliar with the lore of Hogwarts, if your heart does not trill with the magic that dances within its stone walls, then perhaps you do not know the legends surrounding The Mirror of Erised. The mirror is magnificent, stretching up to the ceiling of a forgotten classroom buried within the stone walls of the school. It was held in an ornate gold frame with clawed feet and an inscription was carved along the top ‘Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi.’ At first glance it seems like a beautifully imagined language, but much like its own name, when read backwards it begins to make sense: I show not your face but your heart’s desire.

The happiest man in the world could look into its glass and use it as a simple mirror. But for everyone else, they will see whatever they wish for their lives; no matter how grand or unattainable that dream may be. For Harry, who had never known his parents, he was surrounded by family. For Ron, who had always felt overshadowed by his many siblings, he stood above the rest. The story begs the question: what would you see? 

It’s an odd occurance when you come close to reaching a long coveted goal and the idea of its impending conclusion consumes you. Whenever I get close to grasping one of the milestones I have laid out for myself I get a laser focus. Aliens could invade tomorrow and I wouldn’t notice a thing out of the ordinary, even if they stood right in front of me and introduced themselves before tap dancing to the nearest 7-11 for a slushy. I can see my future so clearly I can taste it. I’ve been spending far too much time staring into my figurative mirror, my desires burning me up from the inside. Perhaps it’s a good thing my acceptance letter got lost in the post (they must have had one lazy owl on duty that day), because I can’t help but wonder if I would be that student so consumed by thoughts of their future that I would never step away from that glass.

Patience is a virtue, as the saying goes. Sadly, I don’t really know- it’s not something I’ve ever been particularly good at. Don’t misunderstand- I know how to wait, in fact, you could say that I’ve mastered the artform itself. I tend to take long strategic steps in my life, moving one piece after the others are all in their proper place. But I am never even remotely patient about it. I get anxious and antsy, desperate to keep moving, even if I only manage to spin my wheels. It feels like I’m at least doing something, making an attempt, though I perhaps have no progress to show for my efforts.

I stand knocking on the doors of my own opportunity, seeking admittance to the wonders just beyond. Once that door dares to crack just a hair, leaving open an infinitesimal possibility, I try jumping right in. This is both a blessing and a curse- sometimes it’s all about the timing, and being the first to hop up gives you the best shot. Other times you aren’t fully aware of what you are careening into and find yourself treading water in the deep end of the pool without your water wings.

Most good things in life come with some amount of sacrifice. If you want to be the best in your career or have a happy and healthy relationship, there is hard work involved. If you want to be a writer then you invest your time, your heart and your soul. If you want to make it through school with as little debt as possible you must sacrifice a certain amount of independence and privacy- to live with other people and find a certain level of financial security. But there are things in life that are well worth the sacrifice it took to get them.

My hopes for my future are not particularly grandious in design; I want a house to call my own, a place where my dog can run amok without bothering any roommates or relatives we happen to be living with. I want a certain level of financial security, though I have never needed much. I want to cook dinner in my own kitchen while dancing to my favorite music. I want to sit on my back porch and write the stories that trill through my soul. I want to let the passion of the words consume me fully as I delve into a world of my own imaginings.  This is what I see when I look into my figurative mirror. I see a girl who gave up a lot to secure a future that is still a bit precarious. I see a girl who finally made it to that place so many people take for granted. I see a house that I can make a home. I see happy creatures and the man I’ve build a life with cuddling up to watch an episode of our favorite show. I see words seared into a page, my name on the cover- even if no one ever reads it. I see someone who can run a 5K on a whim without feeling like her body is careening dangerously close to self-destruct mode. I see a woman where a girl once stood. I see sacrifices that were well worth the pain of their investment. I see the fruits of my labor finally coming to fruition. 

The fact that I haven’t reached certain milestone by now has been a tough pill to swallow. Even though I know that these conscious decisions were made with my own best interests in mind. It still smarts a bit when I see where others are in their own lives. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself not to compare my life to theirs because our paths are very different. I think it’s human nature to stack up your accomplishments, deduct your failures and see where you stand amongst your peers. In some areas I am so proud of where I am and who I have become, and in others I know that there is more work to be done.

Suddenly and inexplicably, I have reached a point where a few of those visions I see in the mirror might actually become realities in the near future. Even though I’ve been worked towards it for so long, I was still caught off guard. The thing with unrealized dreams is that the moment you think there is an inkling of a possibility, you want to jump and snatch it before fate dangles it out of your reach again. This is where I have found myself. I am so giddy and entranced by this possibility that the thought of waiting another moment is excruciating. How is it that I could be so patient for years, and suddenly, now the thought of another few months tears at me?

The problem is that I’ve been too focused on the image I see in my own little Mirror of Erised. I have been sitting here watching that dream unfold on the other side of the glass, pressing my palms against it in the hopes that I can melt into this other world. I spent too much time looking in the mirror and forgetting that I needed to live it instead. I need to learn this thing they call patience and remember that there is still work to be done. The sacrifices that we make do not guarantee success. We make our decisions and cast the die, praying we weighted them enough to roll in our favor.

It is far too easy to lose perspective and stumble at the finish line. I may have a habit of taking the long way around, but sometimes the scenic route can be so beautiful if you slow down to enjoy it. Life will do whatever it wants with you- you have to learn to roll with every punch and leap at every viable opportunity. But don’t jump too soon, because you might land on some shaky ground. 

I must always remember that on this road, in persuit of my dreams, I cannot forget to look around and appreciate where I am. Life will not always be like this; for better , worse or indifferent. This moment is just as important as the others. So turn from the mirror, blink your eyes and find the joy in this moment right now. It’ll all work out in the end. You must have faith that you will find the road that will lead you home. Perhaps someday I will look in the glass and it will be just another mirror. Until that day, I still have dreams to chase. And I can only do that right here in this moment.

When the water rises, you swim (finding beauty where you didn’t look)

You must find beauty where you would least expect it if you want to survive in this world. It’s okay to fall under the heartache, the pain, the anger, the frustrations- but you must always find the strength to search out your reason to stand again. You must open your eyes and search for the beauty that will inspire you to move forward. It will always be there, though you might not always be ready to see it. 

It doesn’t happen very often that the world tosses a perfect analogy into your lap. When the fortuitous hands of fate decide to gift you with a little ironic gem, it is best to grin and say thank you. This past weekend- I found my figurative self in literal nature.

There’s a park by my house that I don’t go to all that often. It’s called Cottonwood Beach because it has a small sandy shore right along the river. During summer, this is where everyone pretends they are lounging alongside the ocean, though we are several hours from it. There’s history along this river; Lewis and Clark traveled through here, and you will see statues and monuments peppered all along their trail. In fact, they even wrote about this particular little beach after spending six days camping there during March and April of 1806. It was in the running to be the winter camp for the group of explorers, but eventually it lost to Fort Clatsop. To commemorate their stay here, we have a park named in their honor, as well as beautiful monuments and statues placed in memory of their fearless pursuit into the unknown. Large cement canoes sit along the upper shore, there’s the outline of an old post, and beautiful walkways to enjoy.





Now, it’s no secret that I’ve been struggling with my anxiety issues lately, and if I’m honest, I’ve been feeling that persistent burn in virtually all areas of my life. On Saturday, I was starting to feel like I was drowning, slipping under the frustration that I was letting envelope my life. So I did the one thing I know to do in those situations. I called my sister and we went to the park.

What I find so ironic, is that I reached out because I felt that I was figuratively slipping underwater. And then we ventured off to this little park on a beautiful 90 degree day- and this little spot was literally underwater. That’s right- after a few weeks with very little rain, we still managed to flood. Nature has an odd sense of humor, but for once- the irony to be found in this analogy hit me right between the eyes. There was no missing this nudge. 


At first I was a bit annoyed- what were we going to do now? Of course, it was just my luck that the one time I try to go here, there really is no ‘here’ to go to. Well, my dear friends, if there is any lesson you should take from me it is this: if you can’t beat them, join them.


Instead of turning back around like everyone else, we waded in and headed for the little patch of dry ground on the other side. There is something thrilling when you follow an underwater trail (even a gravel one that is only headed straight). We enjoyed the fact that for once the place was calm and quiet. We sat in the partially sunken cement canoes and listened to the calming melody of the river. We watched three different families of geese paddling around right beside us. It turned out to be completely and utterly beautiful. This misadventure that I nearly chalked up to another moment of bad timing and rotten luck wound up being the salve I needed to soothe the panicked voice inside. When I climbed into that cement boat, I was climbing into my own personal life preserver. I found solace in the beauty of a nature that cannot be contained by human elements. I found a moment of clarity in a world that is always running so damn fast.





Sometimes when it seems like the world is turning it’s back on you, when nothing is going right and all you can do is throw up your hands and yell ‘of course!’ Perhaps you should take a moment to stop and really look around. The world could be holding out your saving grace- you just don’t recognize it. There is beauty in every moment, there is an adventure in every story- you just have to find it my friends. I found mine sitting in the bottom of a cement canoe in the middle of a flooded park- the last place I would have thought to look. Imagine how many gifts the world has offered you, and you just walked by without recognizing them. We are guilty of this, but we do not to be. I must always remind myself to slow down and tilt my head so I can see the world from a new angle. It’s all about perspective, my friends. Don’t be afraid to look- you will be disappointed.

Crossed-Wires: Anxiety in Overdrive

Sometimes I think that whoever wired my brain used the wrong schematic. They took the plans and flipped them upside down. They crossed the red wire with the blue wire, and thus I was born- an odd little duck in a world full of geese. I am a collection of juxtaposed ideals tied together with a pretty bow of contradiction. I am an enigma, even to myself some days.

For a long time I didn’t know that there were different types of anxiety. I saw one of my best friends fight every day to simply function the way that many of us take for granted. I knew what a battle it was for her to just get out of bed, get dressed, and make it through a day at the office. I still remember the last time she willingly engaged in a conversation with me- where she was convinced that I was only speaking to her out of pity, she refused to believe that I genuinely cared. I know what a battle with debilitating, soul-crushing anxiety looks like. But I did not fit that description. It felt disingenuous to claim a seat within those ranks. So there I was, struggling with an enemy that had no face, no name; a phantom that perhaps existed only for me. 

I’ve always known that I reacted a bit differently to the world than other people. The older I got, the more insistent my internal dialogue became. A small part of me was aware that I was being overly-critical, that I was looking too deeply, that I was causing problems where none existed. But I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t self-correct my thoughts and my fears. I was a runaway train slipping off the rails. And truthfully, that’s a feeling that has never completely gone away.

I was always envious of those people who appeared to flit through life so effortlessly; the ones who could make random conversations with perfect strangers. I was jealous of the people who were good at making friends, the ones who didn’t turn bright red at the drop of a hat. I wanted to be like them; I wanted to crack a joke without getting tongue-tied over the punch line. I wanted to be able to order something in the drive-thru without rehearsing it to myself before the person’s voice broke out over the speaker asking me what I would like today. I wanted to simply not feel a rise of panic inside when I saw someone approach me. Truthfully, I think it’s a bit of a wonder that I have managed to maintain friendships at this point. After all, it took me an entire year to really even start speaking to people where I worked. They politely say I was just shy; but that’s a rather simplified answer. It takes me a long time to get to know people because I can’t get out of my own head.

I can put on a smiling face, I can make conversation when it’s required of me; you might not even notice the way I nervously tap my fingers together as we talk, or the way my toes bop in my shoes. Perhaps you think I’m trying to flirt when I play with my hair- not realizing that it’s just another outlet for that fight-or-flight energy that takes over my body. Since my rapidly firing neurons can’t seem to distinguish a pleasant conversation from a life-threatening lion attack; I have to find these inconspicuous outlets for my energy.

I will berate myself for days if I stutter or stumble on a word. I will replay a conversation over and over again in vivid detail if your reaction to my comments wasnt what I had anticipated. I will dissect every word and every gesture, I will tear myself apart trying to find the deficiency in our interaction. Because I know it’s not you- it has to be me. And next time we speak, you may wonder why I appear more guarded, why I look to the ground so often- it’s because inside I’m insecure and, honestly, terrified that I will mess up again.

You’ll probably see me on my phone during down time; sitting in my car before work listening to an audiobook while playing a game, or reading my kindle while waiting for dinner to cook. Perhaps you’ll catch me scrolling through social media while I wait at the doctor’s office. You may dismiss it as the actions of a millennial who simply can’t unplug from the technology she wears on her hip. But if I were honest- I would tell you that my reasons are a bit different than you would expect. I don’t do it because I’m incapable of unplugging; I do it because I’m trying to tether my anxieties to the ground so they can’t carry my away. Idleness is dangerous for me; when my brain has too much free time, it starts going down dark alleys and jumping on trick staircases. When I have too much time on my hands, then the internal panic is able to catch up with me. I’ll suffocate on the fear if I’m not careful. So I stay busy, I tread water because I’m afraid I’ll drown if I slow down. I am constantly moving because I know what it’s like to fall down that rabbit hole; and it terrifies me. 

When life starts to overwhelm me, then I start to lose myself in more tasks and random occupations. For example, since January of this year I have read over 115 books. That isn’t because I’m an avid reader with a personal challenge- it’s because reading is one of my outlets; when the world goes wild I get lost in a book.

Sometimes I think that’s why I love writing so much; it’s a sense of control I can feel when so little in life makes sense. I can edit and rewrite my character’s words until they shine. I can choose their flaws and their reactions. I can decide what battles they will face. I can write the story I want to read, I can create the people I want to know. For just a few fleeting pages I can become someone else. I don’t have to be my own worst enemy. And for once, all of those worst case scenarios that dance through my brain and torment me- they come in handy. Because worst case scenarios are a writer’s best fodder. I can take my own fears and construct something dangerous and enthralling. I can take the worst of me and force it to serve a beautiful purpose.

Anxiety is not romantic, my neurotic moments are not charming or adorable, contrary to what the movies would like you to believe. I look for the silver lining because I have to; because if I thought this internal pain and struggle was completely pointless- I would probably lose my mind completely. Telling myself that it might somehow assist my creative process is how I have learned to accept it. I can’t change the way that my brain is wired. I cannot convince my innate responses that I am not in life-threatening danger when I am ordering a burger at Red Robin. I am who I am. Some days I am okay with this, and some days it makes me want to pound the ground with my fists and cry.

For some people anxiety is a palpable shroud that hangs around their shoulders. For others, it is hidden behind smiles and avid productivity. Some people can’t get out of bed in the morning, and others can’t slow down in fear that they will fall apart. I move constantly; I stay busy and focused from the moment I wake up until I drop to sleep in the middle of a page. Its bittersweet to always be moving; and yet I miss the days when I would just sit there and breathe deeply, focusing only on myself and the way my body moved in the world. I miss viewing downtime as a luxury, not something to be afraid of. I constantly make to-do lists to get me through the day; because I find comfort in having a plan. It will consist of little things; read the paper, check emails, read ten pages, ten minutes on Facebook, research, write for 30 minutes. I intentionally put more on the page than I can accomplish because that means I won’t risk having extra time at the end of the day. 

You will never know the struggles a person is facing, or the reasons they act the way that they do- not unless you really watch what they are doing, not just listening to what they are saying. We need more compassion in the world, we need to remind ourselves that we are all doing the best that we can with the tools that we have available. Just because a person does not respond to the world the way that you would expect doesn’t mean that they aren’t still going through more than you can see on the surface. Sometimes we can’t help our eccentricities. For those who suffer through the various forms of anxiety, simple daily activities can seem like insurmountable obstacles. Just because a person isn’t falling apart on the outside doesn’t mean that they aren’t still fighting those same demons. I look like I have it all together- but my big secret is that I don’t. I have to focus on one day at a time, I have to fight for every step. My anxiety and I are inextricably intertwined. As much as I like to pretend it is some other entity that influences me- I know that it is just another facet of the woman I am. I was wired differently; but hopefully I will be a better person for it.

Long walks in the woods, great friends and good wine

There is something about Mother Nature that soothes the soul and puts a troubled mind at ease. We tend to forget that these concrete jungles and civil constructs  are human inventions; and truth be told, we’ve never been particularly good at knowing what was right for us. Stepping back into nature can feel like coming home after a long day.

Whenever I find myself feeling suffocated by obligations and expectations; when my smiles come less frequently and my mind can’t slow down long enough to let me breath- I know that it is time to hop in the car and find salvation on a trail. Truthfully- when my friends made plans for us to go on Sunday- I didnt want to. I was struggling internally, barely managed to pull myself out of bed the day before. I knew it was going to rain and that we would be up early. But they had managed to finagle a promise out of me on Friday night (a couple of drinks helped their cause). So, true to my word, I set my alarm and drug myself slowly out of bed. It was the best thing I never wanted to do.


Sometimes I forget how fortunate I am to live where I do. The Pacific Northwest is know for its rain, rain, and then for good measure- a little bit more rain. But there is a beautiful benefit to this onslaught of wet weather- our forests are lush, wild and green. You can’t go too far without stumbling across a babbling brook or a raging river. Which means that the hiking is fantastic.



There is a clarity and peace that you will only find when confronted with your wilder self; the fresh air, the trees, and yes- even the rain; can wash away the taint of the city and the stresses that inevitably accompany it. I was a bit of a hippy as a kid; Henry David Thoreau was an idol of mine, soon to be followed by the likes of John Muir. I wanted nothing more than to traipse off into the woods and live an unconventional life without the trivialities we inevitable bombard ourselves with. But then I remembered that I also like indoor plumbing, hot baths, not hunting animals, and space heaters. I grew up and became a rather conventional human being- though my soul is still as wild as it was when I was a little girl dreaming of traveling through nature’s hidden secrets.

It’s refreshing and calming when you spend your time focusing on the world outside of yourself, when you are able to slow down and immerse yourself in the beauty surrounding you. This world has so much to offer us when we take a moment to truly enjoy it. So we walked, we took pictures, we ate snacks, and when we made it to our destination we celebrated with a small glass of wine. (I will note here that this probably isn’t the best idea in the world- do not imbibe too much when you are in the woods, near cliffs, or having to traipse through difficult trails to rejoin civilization. Be responsible, my friends).

A world of worries fell away in those hours; listening to the potter patter of the rain on the canopy of trees, feeling the burn in my legs as we climbed up and up, slowing down to watch caterpillars and snails, taking pictures of dew drops on leaves, feeling the force of a waterfall that carved out a cavernous pathway behind it. I am reminded of how small I am in the grand scheme of things, and rediscovered my connection to this hidden world of wonder and beauty. Being out in the world reminds you to feel alive. This is not a lesson I will be forgetting soon.











The blue-clad people to the left of the falls are for scale; no picture can do this place justice

Cheers, my friends, may we always find an escape when we need one, and may we always have time to rediscover this beautiful world of ours

Fighting the Tide

When I was a little girl I was swimming in a crab hole at the beach with my sister. We didn’t notice that the tide had changed and the sand bar hemming us in had been submerged. We just kept swimming around, buoyed by our life jackets as we raced around the deepening cove. It took a while before we noticed that we were drifting out into the ocean. And when we realized that our feet couldn’t touch the sandy bottom anymore, we bristled into a full blown panic. ‘Just swim back’ everyone said- a simple solution coming from someone sitting safely on shore. But we weren’t strong enough or big enough to fight the outward current. We just kept slipping slowly with each wave. Finally my cousin swam out and towed us back, all in a row like wayward ducklings. That event never stopped us from plunged back into the frigid ocean, but it did make the dangers more poignant. It kept me aware as I grew up that sometimes you can be swept away by something much stronger than yourself.

As writers we feel everything deep in our souls, magnified tenfold; joy and pain, peace and chaos, love and hate- we mirror the emotions swirling in the world around us, our hearts bear the sweetest burden of empathy for this life and those who struggle and persevere alongside us. It is one of our most pronounced strengths, and also one of our most misunderstood weaknesses. Oh, what a strange curse; to feel the world so deeply, to carry all these stories in our hearts, swarming with every emotion imagineable. Some days I feel like I’m crazy. The very power that makes me able to create is also the very thing that can cut me to the quick when wielded incorrectly. That being said, it should come as no surprise that at times those darker shadows hidden inside can pull at me, sucking me in to an uninvited embrace.

I’m known for being a positive person, for finding the silver lining, for rolling with the punches that life can throw, for shaking it off and moving forward. Most people in my life don’t realize that this trait is one I’ve  intentionally fought for; I see the light because I remember when my world was full of darkness. I say positive things because I need to hear them in order to believe them. I was young the first time I slipped into my own version of Dante’s Inferno. I walked through my nine circles of hell, climbed my mountain of Purgatorio, and found myself on the other side. I know the value of this journey because it’s seared into my soul.

I made my way through and felt a genuine peace on the other side, but there’s something that no one talks about when it comes to the taboo of mental health. Even when you ‘win’ your battle- that doesn’t mean it’s over. I am able to embrace the small joys in life, but there will always be a piece of me that remembers. There will always be a sliver of who I am that is holding its breath and waiting for the other shoe to drop. A part of me cannot help but wonder if and when I may slip back into that abyss.

It started with an anxiety attack. I’ve always had these to some degree, so I wasn’t all that worried at first. But then they got worse, culminating in one that left me physically shaking and trying not to cry in the back of a car on a short road trip just a few weeks ago. It’s just stress, I told myself. Everything is fine. I didn’t notice when the rest of the warning signs started jumping out; looking back it is so obvious that I was heading for deeper waters, but I couldn’t see it. I lost interest in everything, didn’t have the motivation on for the simplest of tasks. I told myself that I was just getting lazy when I didn’t clean or write (this Nano has been an ongoing struggle), but it went deeper than that. I couldn’t focus anymore; realizing halfway through a conversation that I had no idea what the other person was talking about. Or rereading the same line over and over again because the meaning wouldn’t soak in. Editing my novels became a nightmare of repetitive actions with nothing truly behind them. Some days insomnia kept me awake, and other days I could barely keep my eyes open, my sleep schedule moving up into the double digits. 

Even the dog noticed before I did. Link is not particularly cuddly; he only wants to be close like that when someone is sick. I should have known that he sensed something was wrong when he wouldn’t leave my side, pressing himself close beside me when I lay down; one day even going so far as to flop down right on top of me and lay flat- like he couldn’t get enough skin to fur contact. And then on Saturday I could barely get out of bed, opting for sweatpants and a baggy shirt because I didn’t have the energy to do my laundry or put jeans on. I had no choice but to admit that I’d been blind to all of my warning signs once again; I had lost my footing, and had slipped for no real reason. There I was, halfway out to sea before I even realized there was a hint of danger.

There’s something about depression that makes you feel so damn small, so insignificant, so pointless. There’s something about that darkness that makes you feel so weak, so helpless, so broken. It’s hard to admit to yourself and to others that perhaps you can’t do it on your own. People want to fix you without realizing that you are not a math problem to be solved neatly on graph paper and turned in on Monday morning. Not everyone understands that you can be sad deep in your soul without having a reason you can articulate. You can have a good life and still feel like you are drowning.

I’ve been down this road before, and the only real benefit is that I learned all of the wrong things to do once upon a time. Mainly; trying to fix it all on my own. It goes against our nature to admit out weaknesses. But at the end of the day, it is the bravest thing you can do. Instead of pasting on a plastic smile, this time I took a deep breath and I opened up.

We always forget that we are not the only ones who have been forced to face our demons. We are not the only ones who have hurt deep down in our souls. When I made my confession I had a certain expectation when it came to their responses. And yet I was so wrong; instead of judgment, I was met with compassion. When I couldn’t force myself out of bed, my fiancé curled up beside me with healthy snacks and turned on our favorite show. When I wanted to stay there all day and melt into the mattress, he coaxed me out with simple goals that would nudge me back towards normalcy without sending me diving under the covers again. He didn’t try to offer solutions when there were none to give, he didn’t get frustrated with the fact that he had a hundred other things more important to do. He just gently reminded me that I wasn’t alone and that it was okay to let myself feel it all for a little while without wallowing in it.

My friends forced me to get up and go out with them- no questions, no expectations, just a group of us in the woods on a rainy Sunday. I always forget how healing nature can be, how easy it is to put your life and your problems into perspective when you are surrounded by so much beauty.


There are some battles you should not face alone. And that’s why I’m here right now, spilling the less-than-glamorous secrets of my life for anyone to see. So if I don’t post as often as I used to- be patient with me, I’m still trying. Every day is still a bit of an effort; some more so than others. I’m just reminding myself to take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other. I slipped, got in over my head, and now I just need a little help to tow myself back to shore. I can do this, but I do not have to do this alone. Sometimes the bravest thing you will ever do is admit that you need someone else to help you on your path.