Love Trials

When she looked at him, all of the stress, anger, and troubles of life seemed to slip away. Her day was no longer about work but about the beautiful relationship that was forming before her eyes.

When she looked at him, her life didn’t seem real. She said it didn’t seem real because it was all too good to be true. Could someone really love her in the same way that she loved them? Why hasn’t he gotten tired of her yet? What was she doing differently this time that made her so special? These questions never got any sufficient answers no matter how many times he tried to reassure her that she was amazing, beautiful, smart, worthy.

It didn’t feel real because nothing had ever felt so mutual. She was never held to a high standard. She never set a high standard for herself. She always settled for less than she deserved and, ultimately, her excuse to herself was, “This is what love is”. Like that excuse was, somehow, supposed to make it all worth her time.

When she looked at him, she saw her world morph into something new. No longer did she have to dread going home. No longer did she have to walk on eggshells around everyone. She was able to seek refuge in the comfort of his arms without fail. She was, finally, able to receive the love that she was continually giving to others.

When she looked at him, he saw her. He didn’t just look at her body; He gazed into the deepest parts of her soul and found what she kept hidden there. She hid her fears, her thoughts, her dreams and all it took was for someone to care just enough to uncover the things she left behind the walls that she built around her heart.

When she looked at him, she realized that the efforts made in past relationships were not a waste of time but, rather, trials to show her that, eventually, someone would come along to appreciate all of the things that she did for the ones she loved.

When she looked at him she saw someone who was able to fall in love with all of her pieces. He was able to fall in love with the prices that she had spent so much time creating and perfecting and would still come up short but he loved her just the same. She was never going to be perfect and her efforts may not always come off the way she expected but her attempts were always with the best intentions.

She was an indefatigable lover; she loved without borders and without fear of commitment.

When she looked at him, she was home.

Passion

Passion is hard to find and even harder to hold on to. Passion manifests itself in so many ways. It can show up in the excitement in his voice when he talks about movies. It can show in her bounciness when she sees the new line of hair products being released from her favorite brand. It often shows in the sparkle in their eyes when they see each other.

Passion speaks volumes without a single word tumbling out of the mouth. Nothing really has to be spoken to see true passion. We can find it in an open field full of wildflowers. It can be discovered all alone, behind closed doors or in the large crowd of people at a bustling event. All of these opportunities, and some people still live their entire lives in search of it but never happen to find it.

Other times, we find it but never learn how to hold tight to it or nurture it the way that it deserves. Eventually, it slips into the spaces between our fingers.

If we are lucky, in our lifetime, we can find passion and live, love, and laugh honestly and fearlessly because, to find passion, is to find happiness.

To Tell Someone

“Whatever you are feeling right now, there is a mathematical certainty that someone else is feeling that exact thing” ~Neil Hilborn

To tell someone would mean to let someone in. It would mean letting someone see my true self… all of me. To tell someone would constitute vulnerability and transparency. Neither of those sound particularly appetizing. They cause the burn of bile in the back of my throat. It is the rising heat in mid-May coming up from my torso. I believe that this is a painful thing for a lot of people to experience. To tell someone would mean that they have the ability to understand me which, in turn, would give them the power to crush me.

To tell someone would mean giving them the knife and telling them where to cut.

 

Letter of Recommendation: Off-Roading

Off-roading has just recently given me a renewed outlook on life. I took a trip out to the West Mesa in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. This trip was not my choice but it was a much-needed escape from my life and I am now glad to have been dragged along for the ride.

In my life, I struggle with depression and anxiety. My depression lurks at random times and it doesn’t let me forget that it is there. The only way for me to get away from it is to literally run away. I found my happy place that is secluded and, for the sake of keeping it secluded, I will not disclose the location. I didn’t realize that when my boyfriend, Matthew, asked me if I wanted to see something beautiful he was taking me on some far-off trip; I had to ask, multiple times, if he planned on dropping me off, never to be seen again.

Anxiety tends to be the sibling to depression and, for whatever reason, stays long after the gray haze has subsided. Anxiety keeps you constantly thinking about Murphy’s law. It will give you every possible situation in which something could go wrong. This might be worrisome before you even leave the house. You would think, from this explanation, that off-roading would be more stressful than enjoyable and, while that may be the case for some, it was not the case for me.

On this little one hour side-bar to our day, I was forced to smile, not because of Matthew but, because of the way the vehicle moved underneath us when he weaved through the shrubbery and over the bumps and grooves of the soft sand. I got this feeling in the pit of my stomach that just made me want to grin from ear to ear. It was as if the tires moved independently. There was fear intertwined with excitement and, conveniently enough, I think that is how a lot of us spend our lives. Even though there is a fear of something bad happening, more times than not, it is short-lived and, once we are out there living it, it is much more exciting than fearful.

Off-roading, when someone else is driving the vehicle, is similar to how a lot of us live. We live our lives out of control and, while out in the vast expanse of dirt and repetitive hilltops, there is a moment where we can experience this overwhelming sensation of submission. We are then able to let go of the fear, anger, and stress of the everyday monotonous behavior that we have all, as adults, grown accustomed to. Experiences like these give us a way to focus solely on what is ahead of us and not what we have left behind. Looking in the mirror and seeing the dirt that the over-sized tires have kicked up into view is a freeing feeling. We can then focus on what it is that we have ahead of us and what is yet to make its way into our view, forgetting everything that is not directly related to what is going on in front of us.

When on this trip, it became clear that there was more to off-roading than I originally thought. I found, with this experience, that I learned a lot about myself in the process. I focus on a lot of things that are not necessarily conducive to the type of person that I would someday like to be. Secondly, I learned that I spend a lot of my life focusing on the past and not the life that I am working toward and building for myself. This simple experience, the aggressive movement of the car underneath me, the car tilting from one side to the other as the hard dirt makes patterns on the earth, has shown me what it is like to break away from the chains of my past failures. These new life journeys can show us what we have been missing and can make us more aware of what we are doing to our own psyche by looking back so often.

Relatively, it is nice to have a destination. Our trip climaxed at the peak of a hill amid all the other nonchalantly placed hills just like it. The clock ran past five o’clock just as the sun descended behind the horizon and, for a moment, instead of feeling fear, anger, regret for past choices, depression or anxiety, I felt content. I also found myself understanding what I thought so many people were crazy for thinking about New Mexico when I stated to Matthew, “It really is beautiful”.

 

10 Simple Ways to Boost your Mood

I have compiled a list of things that I have found to be effective when working to boost my own mood. Not all of these have to be done at one time and in no particular order. Find one that jumps out at you and give it a try.

1. Meditate

Meditation is a great way to boost your mood. Sitting with your legs crossed with nothing on your mind has a way of clearing any negativity from your day and can instantly boost your mood if done right. There are many different ways to meditate. Meditation doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to sit with your legs crossed and your hands on your knees. Meditation can be reading a good book or listening to one of your favorite bands.

2. Find a hobby

Finding a hobby can help with keeping your mind occupied and keep negative thoughts at bay. One of my favorite hobbies that keeps my mind focused is crocheting. Having to think about every stitch as my hand moves is helpful in boosting my mood. Another good hobby for me has been archery. Archery causes me to clear my mind of everything that is not necessary for aiming at the target. Find a hobby that does the same for you.

3. Reduce stress

Reducing stress could mean a lot. It can also be quite difficult depending on your current stress level. But don’t let it discourage you. Try reducing a little at a time. If it financial stress, attempt to reduce debt. Come up with a plan and tackle your stress a little at a time. Step by step, you will see your mood start to improve because of the reduction in stress.

4. Grounding

If you have never heard of grounding before, it can seem a little intimidating, or even nonsensical, at first. Grounding is walking or standing barefoot in the grass. This will bring you closer to nature and, in doing so, releases serotonin in the brain.

5. Cut out toxicity

This is another one of those things that can be pretty intimidating when there is a lot of it to be done. Once again, tackle this a little bit at a time. If the toxicity comes from a dead-end job, maybe it is time to move on and find something more fulfilling. If it is from a relationship, there may be a conversation that needs to happen or it could just be time to call it quits. Whatever it may be, the toxicity is only going to bring down your mood.

6. Listen to happy music

We all have the terrible habit of listening to sad music when we are sad to, for whatever reason, make ourselves more sad. Stop it! Put on some upbeat music, crank it up loud, and jam out. This is something that has helped me boost my mood on countless occasions.

7. Give yourself time to recharge

I cannot express how important this one is, especially if you have a very hectic and people-oriented schedule. The more time you spend with the people around you, the more time you are going to need to recharge. This means, meditating, taking advantage of that new found hobby, relaxing for a weekend instead of going out. You cannot boost your mood if you are constantly focused on everyone else.

8. Set goals

Goal setting is a big factor in just keeping yourself accountable to your own mind, body, and soul. Pay attention to what these parts of yourself are trying to tell you. If you are unhappy, set goals to find time to adjust habits to boost your mood. If your body is unhealthy, set health goals. If your soul is drained, set goals for “me time”, which leads me into my next point:

9. Set aside “Me Time”

Setting aside “me time” is related to giving yourself time to recharge but it is more focused on your body than your mind. If you look good, you feel good. Get out, get a haircut, get your nails done, buy a new outfit.

10. Exercise

Exercising has been proven to boost your mood. There are a number of studies that have been done showing that exercise can help improve your mood and reduce anxiety. It is important to take care of your body so that you can, in turn, take care of your mind.

These things may seem difficult at first, but when you start implementing them into your everyday life and get into a routine, they become second nature. Boosting your mood and getting out of a slump that life, society, your relationships, your health, etc. have put you in can be an immense challenge but once you start to adjust one thing, the others will start to fall into place. Keep working at it!

A Christmas Miracle

Jeremy and Shaina Laughlin’s Little Christmas Miracle

Sometimes we pray. Sometimes we throw our hands up to the sky and relinquish control. Sometimes we ask for help and people respond with love, admiration, and kindness. 

I think all of us, at some point during the holidays, have had a time of hardship and needed a little bit of help to get through. 

Asking for help can be hard but this wonderful family has been able to do just that. Please read up on their cause, donate if you can and share this to get their story out. They need all the help they can get.

Thank you so much to all of you, my lovely readers. You are all beautiful. 

Jeremy and Shaina Laughlin’s Little Christmas Miracle

5 Mental Health Benefits of Green Tea

1. Enhance Memory

Green tea has been proven to increase connectivity in the regions of the brain that are associated with memory. This study was conducted in 2014 at the University of Basel. Green Tea extract was given to a group of healthy individuals. After one dose per week for four weeks, it was found that green tea had helped to improve the memory of healthy people. 

2. Increase Mental Focus

Although Green tea has half the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, it still help with your focus and awareness throughout the day. Being able to focus on your work is just as important as remembering the task that you’re supposed to be working on. Aside from Caffeine, an amino acid found in green tea, L-theanine, may help those with anxiety and attention deficits focus on their daily tasks. You’ll have to take the L-theanine in a supplement if you want to reap this benefit as there isn’t enough in a cup of green tea for it to make much of a difference. 

3. Combat Depression

Green tea may help lessen depressive symptoms. A study conducted by Public health nutrition in 2014 shows that individuals who drank 4 or more cups of green tea in a day were 51% less likely to show symptoms of depression. It is also known that just drinking one cup can temporary boost your mood. If you spend all day drinking green tea, why wouldn’t you start to feel happier?

4. Reduce stress

Green tea has been shown to reduce stress up to 20%. In people suffering from psychological distress the saw improvement by drinking 5 cups of green tea per day. Reducing stress can improve a lot of other physical ailments as well. Skin irritations, muscle fatigue, delayed motor function, and inflammation can all be results of living your life stressed out. 

5. Calm and Soothe

Green tea gives a great calming affect without making you drowsy. I have found that green tea is especially helpful when meditating. Drink one to two cups of green tea before meditating to help soothe the mind. This natural process will have you reaching a calmer state in no time. 

Your happiness is dependent on you and there are things that you can do for yourself to help your body along in the process. 

Another Good Read

I’m Alive, Oh I’m Alive, written by Devon Nicole is an inspiring piece about determination, self-love, and persistence. What a beautiful soul she must have to speak for many others that are trying to find their voice. Thank you for the heartfelt read Miss Devon.

A beautiful reminder of humanity and I don’t think it only applies to the striving author. This is a wonderfully written reminder of how difficult it can be to see value within yourself. Take a look via Am I good enough?

 

A Letter to my Teenage Self

It does get better although, at the moment, it doesn’t feel like it. It takes a long while to find who you are so enjoy the ride. Learn to breathe through the pain. It’s not going anywhere but it calms eventually.

Accept Help. Let your loved ones in. They’re only trying to be there for you and, although you may not know it or feel it, they love you. The loved ones I am talking about are not the ones that see you body but the ones that see your soul. Accept the fact that some people will not see you the way that you deserve to be seen. You may not feel it now but you are beautiful, strong, and just as important as the person sitting next to you in class.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Regardless of how cliche it may sound, it is the truest statement that anyone will ever say to you. Never, in this life or any other, will everyone like you. You can’t please everyone so say what you think (without being hurtful) and be true to yourself.

You are worthy.  I am not trying to sound like some broken record here but you are worth the time, love, and patience of those around you. Just remember: you have to be willing to grow and adapt. You cannot stay the same person and expect those around you to change for you. What you put into this life you will, eventually, get back but you have to be patient.

Be willing to wait. Wait for what’s right. Don’t you dare settle for less than you deserve and remember the simple fact that we all accept the love that we think we deserve. The people that you surround yourself with are a direct representation of the kind of person that you are.

You have a choice. In everything that you do, you get to choose. This is your life and no one else gets to live it for you. That’s your job. Make it something that you can be proud of. You are the only one that gets the final say in what, ultimately, happens in your life so live it wisely.

Love without fear of the future. Do this but be cautious with you heart. Love the genuine people in your life and learn to wade through the people who want more than you have to offer them. When he tells you he loves you, believe him but don’t ignore the signs that tell you otherwise. People in your life will tell you, “actions speak louder than words” and they are right. Directly related to this theory is to say that if he doesn’t shower you with compliments every second of every day but he shows his love, care, and energy to you, also believe him when he says he loves you. Men are kind of complicated… and so are women so there’s no getting around that one. Sorry my love.

Listen. When Mom tells you, “You’ll find someone better”, LISTEN. Mom has always been right and I can guarantee she has never steered you wrong before. Yes, sometimes she’ll push her wants on you but that’s what moms do. Get over it.

Love yourself. It’s okay to say that you love yourself. It does not make you a narcissist. It makes you strong. It may seem, on some days, like there’s a hurricane in your chest but you’ll soon learn how to calm the storm inside yourself. Also keep in mind that you cannot truly give someone else the love that they deserve until you love yourself for all that you are and are yet to be.

Be humble. Always. Compliments are great but, remember, there is always going to be someone, somewhere, who is better at whatever the compliment is pertaining to. Allow for the compliments, say thank you, and always remember where you came from.

You are not invincible. Have fun but just know that you are human just like everyone else. You get one human life and you have people here that care about you. Take care of your beautiful body. Try to treat it the way that you would want someone else to take care of their own.

Take your own advice. All of your friends come to you for advice for a reason. You are brilliant. Learn to accept the advice that you are giving to others for yourself. You know what genuine human connection feels like so why accept anything less for yourself than you would want for your best friend, your sisters, your brothers, your mother, etc?

Fall in love with the silence. Lastly, I want you to fall in love with the silence. On those rare occasions when the thoughts finally quiet and the silence shows up to occupy the noisiest parts of your brain, take a moment to appreciate it for what it is and always, always keep your head above the noise.

Instructions not Included

I am more than certain that everyone, at some point in their life, has had to ask the question, “How do you do it”. Asking this question can either be a testament to the person being asked the question or it could be a cry for help. We can usually tell by the intonation in someone’s voice what is needed for an answer.

We have asked this question before and I’m sure everyone has had someone answer this question by simply saying “I just do” or “I don’t know”. I know that I have ask someone how they do it and have genuinely wanted to know what steps they took to achieve the result that they think I am just complementing by asking the question in the first place.

When asked this question by someone, the one thing I can ask of you is to answer the question to the best of your knowledge. What did  you do to get yourself to the point that you are? What can you tell that person to make them feel like they can walk away from the conversation feeling more confident that you know what you did?

I say these things because there have been times in my life where that sort of guidance would have helped.

I remember being lost in myself and seeing people, as confident individuals, being themselves and loving who they are in their own skin. Asking that question to them, the answer was always, “I just do” or “I just am”. Living a life that is special to you is critical and although your situation is specific to your life, there are ways you can help others get to the point where maybe they have a path follow.

In this life, there are things that we eventually have to figure out on our own. Nobody has any answers. Nobody has the secret key to the kingdom that is your happy ending. Only you can figure it out what your life is going to consist of but to be able to help someone else through the same predicament is really what genuine human connection is all about, right?

Step by confusing step, we walk and, sometimes, crawl through this life in search of what is going to make us happy. What is going to make one person happy is different from the next. There are moments in life that are going to be painful and figuring it out can be brutal but with the right people around, it isn’t so terrible. Asking for help and for answers to the most pressing questions could end up being a lot more beneficial than you may think.

Along with the scary, confusing, and thought provoking parts of our lives are the simple, beautiful, and serene moments. Wading through the rough patches can be the most gratifying thing in the long run. We have to make sure that the fleeting moments of positivity outweigh those which make us overwhelmingly unhappy. There are some moments in this life that you’ll want to hold onto forever and you’ll have to remember that beauty is not meant to be held captive or kept in a cage.

My advice to you, as I’m trying to figure this out myself, is to accept the help, love, and positivity as it comes. Let those around you be your beacon. And, for what it’s worth, I think you’re pretty cool.

Experience of Youth

When we were young we would wear happiness on our sleeves like we wear pain now. Youth has never been defined by age but by experience. The moment we experience something traumatizing, gruesome, sad, or even sexual we lose our innocence like some sort of evasive monarch. It stays for only a moment and then it’s gone.

Young. Before pain. Before the first time I fell off the monkey bars.

Young. Long before I was scared of the dark. Before I knew there was something in the dark that I was supposed to be scared of. Before the dark became my best friend because, suddenly, it was all I knew.

Young. When innocence was the only option. When we played outside without fear of assumption. No fear of people wanting to play games that we didn’t. When the games were just as simple as the innocence that we were fighting to preserve. When we though preservation was something simple.

Young. Before I learned that the glowing blue light on top of the stove hurts when you touch it. Before I learned that the video tape I got from my neighbor was actually not The Muppets. Come to think of it, I never knew what it was to be innocent, if this is the way I choose to describe it.

Young. Before he touched me. Before he made me an object. Before he acted like he was spoiling me so that I didn’t tell Mom. How young must I have been to not remember what it feels like to be innocent? Before the closet was a decent hiding place. Before blankets were no longer safe. Before feeling like my own skin was still filthy after my shower.

Young. The shower no longer safe because, “we don’t lock doors in this house”. He always wanted to play a game that I didn’t and the only reason I knew it was wrong was because we were alone… and I had to keep quite.

Young. When I didn’t know how to preserve something like innocence because I didn’t even know the word. When there was nowhere to hide but in plain sight. When I didn’t want people to leave the house without me and they thought it was because I was being rotten.

Young. Before he told me that I was nothing but a good fuck. Before my depression held me captive in my own mind.

Young. When I wore pain the way most children wore their snap bracelets.

Young. When everyone expected a girl to be “seen and not heard”. I could only stay quiet so long. I had stayed quiet too long.

Young. When I spoke but no one heard me. When I was tired.

“Tired? You’re too young to be tired”.

Stressed.

“What do you have to be stressed about”?

Alone.

“Why don’t you talk to us? We are all here for you”.

Young. When all of the voices fell silent. I was so young and no one wanted to see why or they attributed it to teen angst, or whatever you choose to call the darkness that I wore draped over my shoulders at the age of sixteen.

I was young, so they called me inexperienced. They called me naive. I was the definition of naive. I was so young when I believed that I had seen so much and really hadn’t seen much at all.

Young. When he told me to close my eyes because it would only last a second. When I wore the darkness like a pelt around my throat so that it didn’t wear me. The cloak thick, shielding me from outside forces but holding me hostage within myself.

Young. Before the dark made me old and the experiences made me…. new.