Monthly Archives: March 2016
In honor of World Bipolar Day, I’m sharing a post written by my younger sister, Tiffany, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Tiffany has shared a monthly guest post on my blog since February 2015. The purpose of these posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. I’m also hoping the posts will help readers recognize that we all have hopes, dreams, challenges and mountains to climb regardless of our mental health status. If you’d like to read the posts I’ve written about Tiffany’s journey and all the guest posts she’s shared on this blog, check out the mental health page. Without further ado, here’s Tiffany.
I’ve had some major ups and downs with my emotions lately. The word hope has entered my mind a number of times because sometimes that’s all we have. Please join me on a journey as to what my life has been like lately.
My mental health worker came over, and we were discussing how my thoughts are all over the place lately. I can’t concentrate on anything. I’ve been writing short journal entries, but nothing worth sharing with anyone. I told her that maybe all these thoughts will work together.
I met with my psychologist and felt happy to be seeing him. I get to talk and receive feedback from someone who is getting paid to talk to me. He can’t complain about me giving too little in the relationship. He pretty much knows every detail about what’s been happening in my life. He told me that it’s natural to be feeling low self-esteem because of everything that has been happening. After doing a life satisfaction questionnaire, I found out I am around 60%. He asked, “If you had one wish, what would that be?” Hmm…I sat there for awhile. Maybe for my dad’s lung transplant to be done and for him to be healthier again? After leaving his office, I realized this – my one wish would be to be loved for everything I am, and to be loved back in return, in a romantic sense. To have a perfectly-feeling family. What would you wish for if you had just one wish?
My ex-boyfriend just moved back from Montana. We have only seen each other briefly, one day, over the past year, but we kept in contact while he was gone. Some kind of sparkle, or hope, he gave me each day. Last week, I went into Target and walked up to the pharmacy counter. I looked to my right and my ex-boyfriend was standing there with his mom. I said “Hi.” He said “Hi, Tiff.” He did NOT look at me like “I am so excited to see this girl.” I started to shake and felt extremely dizzy. He asked me if I was cold. I said, “No, I am just nervous.” We said goodbye. I walked away and attempted to calm myself down. I was glad that my mental health worker was waiting in the car so I could explain to her what just happened.
After the panic attack in Target, I questioned what I was wearing that day. I did NOT feel comfortable or confident in myself. Why couldn’t I have been wearing something cute, something smaller, something new? Why did my ex-boyfriend have to catch me on one of the worst days of my life? There was no sparkle in his eyes when he saw me. Maybe there wasn’t too much sparkle in my eyes either. I questioned the way I looked. I look in the mirror and don’t see the pretty girl I want to see, the confident girl.
I’d like to share another experience I had in the aisles of Target during a prior visit. Instead of feeling unlucky over everything that has happened, we’re lucky there is hope. I ran into a friend of mine the other day in Target. I had not seen her for a year, possibly longer. I yelled her name and proceeded to walk up to her to talk. She has a boy my daughter’s age who was standing next to the cart. He looked taller, but I could tell that something was going on. She told me her son has cancer, and just got done with a major appointment. That same day, my dad was entering into a five-day series of serious medical testing. I just looked at her with tears in my eyes. We exchanged numbers and proceeded on. The next day I called my friend and explained to her that I wasn’t really sure what to say about her son and the cancer. She said, “No, you’re fine!” We decided we’re going to get together soon. We seem to adapt when life doesn’t take us on the path we have planned.
One day I was having a bad morning. I spoke with a family friend who calls me often, especially when my parents are out of town. I was so stuck that morning. Stuck in my head. After we talked, I called a good friend who brought sunlight into my day. I took some time to pray after talking to her. That moment I felt free of anything holding me down. I felt confident that everything was going to be alright.
A few days this month, I was feeling hopeless. I always think of my kids, and they seem to give me some kind of major hope. I walked around outside my town house and asked people what gives them hope everyday. I was moved by the responses. I asked my daughter first. Her hope is to play with friends everyday. I guess I wish the same thing, but I enjoy spending time with her too! Another girl’s hope is for her mom to not put so much pressure on her, and to not be so angry. She wants to go to college and be a scientist. A younger boy hopes for a good education and wants to get through school. As adults, our hopes for each day change. Maybe they don’t, depending on our situation? We are all unique and have our own way of perceiving life. A couple adults I talked to just wanted their kids to be okay, or for their kids to behave, or to just make it through one more day. My mental health worker sat with me as I was analyzing the idea of hope. She asked me what hope I had for my life. After a few minutes, I came up with this – to feel happiness, to live in harmony, friends and family who understand me and allow me to be myself, good health and proper support, respect and inspiration.
Sometimes I just sit and stare off into nothingness. Some days I keep busy as much as possible. Everything depends on the day and what’s going on. Sometimes hope is all we have. No matter how old we are or who we are, we all have hope for something. A friend suggested to find hope one day at a time. Having expectations for any given situation can leave a person hurt. When there are no expectations, anything that happens is alright. So find a little HOPE to get through the day.
I have to be honest. I’ve been struggling with something significant these past three months. Today, I would like to share that struggle. Some of you might relate.
Recent life circumstances have caused me to think HARD about the definition of WORK.
What is WORK?
I “stopped working” at the end of December 2014 to stay home and pursue writing and photography.
Since then, I’ve been through two months of eye cancer with my husband, two months of spring cleaning, three summer months of caring for our three children, four months of crazy-good chaos, and three months working on four books I hope to have published someday. Add to that daily care of our children, tending to and working on our marriage, kid paperwork, homework and activities, household chores, keeping up with finances, a sister who’s battling schizoaffective disorder-bipolar type, a dad who’s going through testing to determine if he’s a candidate for a lung transplant, and a mom who’s trying to help them all. Add to that a small photography business launched in hopes of it becoming something bigger, editing someone else’s book, and now, volunteer work on a mission advocacy team at our church.
I earned VERY FEW DOLLARS in 2015.
I haven’t earned ANY DOLLARS in 2016.
I’ve struggled with this definition of work, this WONDERING if I’m WORKING, this WONDERING if I’m WORTH anything, for three months hard now.
A couple weeks ago, I took a short walk with one of our neighbors. Our kids rode their bikes while we chatted. I don’t remember the details of the conversation, but one thing stuck with me. At one point, my neighbor said “Oh yeah, you don’t work anymore, do you?” I responded with “Yeah, I don’t.” The conversation continued.
I didn’t correct her, nor did I correct myself. But I should have.
Her question and my response hit home hard.
None of it was ill-intentioned.
It’s just awfully coincidental that “You don’t work anymore, do you?” was the question swirling in my mind prior to her asking. HER question confirmed MY struggle.
“Oh yeah, you don’t work anymore, do you?”
Honestly? I didn’t give her the right answer.
The better answer would have been “Yeah, I stopped my work as a speech therapist, so I’m not getting paid right now, but I AM working. I’m home watching our kids full-time. I’m also a writer and I’m working on four books I hope to get published someday. I also launched a photography business last summer and plan on doing a lot more photo shoots this spring, summer and fall.”
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to give my neighbor a better answer because I haven’t been 100% confident that my WORK is WORTH something.
I’ve been asking big questions…
Is WORK only WORK if it’s paid?
What about all the stay at home moms?
What about the worker who’s laid off and actively seeking employment?
What about all the people who do volunteer work? Don’t they call it “volunteer WORK” for a reason?
What about all the retired folks who “don’t work anymore,” but are active, fully-functioning, contributing members of society?
What about the spouse who’s providing endless hours of care for her failing husband?
What about the grandparents caring for their grandchildren?
What about the artist who’s yet to be discovered?
What about the writer who’s working on her first novel?
What about the musician who’s playing the streets of Nashville for coins in a guitar case?
What about all the staff at orphanages around the globe who work for little to nothing but a meal and maybe a place to sleep?
What about anyone else who knows in their heart they’re doing hard and worthy WORK, but aren’t getting paid for it?
What is the definition of WORK?
Is WORK only considered WORK if it’s paid?
Are we only WORTH something if our WORK is paid?
Turn these questions personal, and here’s how they sound…
Am I working? (Because I sure feel like I am.)
Does my work only count if it’s paid?
Am I only worth something if I’m PAID for my work?
Notice the difference between question two and three. ONE is about the worth of my work. The second is about MY worth. I have begun to confuse MY WORK with MY WORTH. I have begun to believe that my WORK only has value if it’s paid. Culture and recent experience tells me that WORK can only be defined as WORK if it’s paid.
But my gut, my heart? They’re revolting against this notion.
I KNOW I’ve been working these past 15 months. I know I’ve been working these past three months as I’ve been writing and battling these questions of WORK and WORTH. In my heart, I know WORK has a much broader definition than the way it’s typically defined in our culture.
I’ve not arrived yet.
But I’m beginning to realize it’s up to me.
I get to decide.
I have to decide.
Am I working, or am I not?
Is my work worth something, or not?
Am I worth something, or am I not?
I looked up the definition of work this morning. I had to.
Type it in.
Just do it.
Type “definition of work” in Google search.
(Then make sure to click on “Translations, word origin and MORE DEFINITIONS,” which is immediately below the first two noun and verb definitions of work.)
See what you find.
I thought I’d start this post with the various definitions of WORK. Little did I know, there’s not enough room in this post to share all the definitions of work. I’d have to plagiarize because there are SO many definitions, noun AND verb. “Earning an income” is just ONE of MANY, MANY definitions of WORK.
Yes, I had to do it.
I had to KNOW if WORK is more than earning an income.
I had to do it for myself.
I’ve barely been paid anything for 15 months now. But I know I’ve been working. I know I’m working.
My heart tells me so.
In this season, I’m learning about the hidden, the unseen, unpaid WORKER. I’m learning for myself, and I’m learning so I can become an advocate.
We’re working warriors.
Culture tells us our WORK isn’t WORTHY unless it’s paid.
I beg to differ.
The value of WORK is more than a paycheck.
The value of WORK lies within us.
The value of WORK lies in what we have to offer the world.
Work it. Paid or unpaid.
Today is St. Patrick’s Day! Easter is in 10 days. And Mother’s Day will be here before we know it. With that in mind, I’m already planning my annual Mother’s Day guest post series, Special Mamas.
In May 2013, I hosted my first Special Mamas series. The series featured guest posts from a variety of moms who experienced unique journeys to and through motherhood. The series went fabulously and I knew immediately I would continue it annually.
Time got away from me in in the spring of 2014, so I skipped Special Mamas and wrote a month-long series titled Motherhood Unraveled instead. It, too, went well, but I always knew I’d return to Special Mamas in 2015.
In May 2015, I went full in and hosted the largest Special Mamas yet. It was an incredible honor to host 13 moms as they shared their unique stories to and through motherhood.
As the host of this month-long series, I can tell you with certainty that it is a high honor to stand beside you as you share your stories with the world. Real life unfolds your mothering stories, you write them down in whatever way works for you, I receive the stories and pretty them up with formatting and photos, then we stand together, sharing the struggles, the joys, the mountains climbed, the valleys endured to get to and through this story called motherhood.
The readers? They LOVE it. They WANT to hear your story. I’ve done this enough to know it’s true.
Motherhood is a journey.
It’s real. It’s important. And it’s holy.
All of us, every one of us, have a unique path to motherhood and a unique journey through motherhood.
We are special mamas.
So here we are. Mother’s Day will be here before we know it! I run the Special Mamas guest post series all of May, which means it’s time to start lining up a group of special mamas who are willing to write about their journey to and/or through motherhood.
In 2013, I personally invited all the special mamas who guest posted.
In 2015, I opened the invitation to anyone who wanted to participate.
This year, I’m mixing it up. Two moms have already accepted a personal invitation, but I’m also extending the invitation to anyone who would like to participate!
Think you might be interested?
Here are the details…
1) You like to write! And maybe you’re good at it too?!
2) You’re willing to share your mothering story publicly in a guest post on my blog, divineinthedaily.com.
3) You’re willing to be vulnerable in telling your story. These posts will have the greatest impact if you’re willing to share your journey, but also your thoughts and feelings about the journey. Perhaps you’ve had to be patient. Perhaps your faith has led you through. Perhaps you’ve had to tap into community to help along the way. Perhaps motherhood isn’t anything like you expected. Perhaps you’re frustrated, in grief, or elated beyond belief. I don’t know your story, but we want to hear it.
Listen moms. I need you to hear this. Your story doesn’t need to be perfect or resolved or awesome or incredibly holy and inspiring to be good. Don’t disqualify yourself because you think your story isn’t “good enough.” I want ALL the stories. The easy ones, the hard ones, the inspiring ones, the off-the-wall ones, and everything in-between. I KNOW there are hidden gems out there.
4) Your guest post will need to be between 500-1,200 words in length. I will accept longer submissions up to 2,000 words if your story necessitates, but will not accept submissions shorter than 500 words. Please note, you are responsible for revising and editing your story before sending it to me.
5) I’ll need a minimum of 4-5 photographs from you to include in the blog post, horizontal orientation strongly preferred. More photos are just fine. This blog is big on photos! If I read your story and feel additional photos would be helpful to tell the story, I may ask you to send more.
6) You have plenty of time to write and edit your guest post. All posts will be published on my blog, Divine in the Daily, between May 1st and May 31st, 2016. All posts need to be submitted to me 7-10 days in advance of your assigned date of publication. When you sign up to guest post, I’ll ask whether you prefer to be published early, middle, or late May. I’ll assign a date based on the preference you indicated!
7) Once your story is in my hands, I promise to read it and send you general thoughts and impressions within THREE days. This series requires that I am on top of my game, constantly pulling in content, sorting it, organizing it, and pushing it back out. But I am WHOLLY COMMITTED to honoring your story by reading it and responding in a timely a fashion, even if I’m not able to get to details until closer to publication date. TWO and THREE days PRIOR to publication, I will be in contact with you heavily via email to review details, provide updates, and gather additional information.
8) You don’t have to be a blogger to participate in this series, but bloggers are more than welcome! If you’re a blogger, I will NOT edit your post unless I catch spelling errors. If you are NOT a blogger, I reserve the right to make small edits to your post, with final review by you prior to publication.
9) Let’s just say this…I am open to giveaways and special surprises! If you have any ideas along these lines, please let me know and I am happy to discuss the possibilities.
Last, but not least, you might be a good fit for this series if you are…
- A foster mama
- An adoptive mama
- A mama in the process of adopting
- A foster mama who turned into an adoptive mama
- A mama who’s going through infertility
- A woman who REALLY WANTS TO BE A MAMA, but isn’t yet
- A mama of a child who has special needs of any kind
- A mama who has a mental illness
- A mama of a child who has a mental illness
- A mama of multiples
- A mama with multiple children (6 or more children)
- A mama who has one child (by choice or for other reasons)
- A mama who’s going through a major life transition
- A missionary mama
- A mama whose husband has passed away
- A mama living abroad
- A mama who’s been through divorce
- A teen mama or someone who gave birth as a teen
- A military mama
- A mama whose mother passed away at an early age
- A mama who never had a mother in her life at all
- A mama who was adopted as an infant or child
- A mama who’s single
- A woman who doesn’t plan to have children
- A mama who’s living in poverty
- A grandma who’s raising her grandchildren
- A grandma who’s actively helping raise her grandchildren
- A stepmom
- A mama who’s experienced more than one miscarriage
- A mama who’s experienced stillbirth
- A mama who’s lost a baby or child
- A mama whose child HAS experienced or IS experiencing a significant medical crisis
- A husband who would like to honor his wife’s mothering journey
- A father who would like to honor his daughter’s mothering journey
- A mother who would like to honor her daughter’s mothering journey
- Children (small or all grown up) who would like to honor their mother’s journey
If you don’t see yourself listed above, but think your mothering story is similarly unique, please let me know! We’ll connect and definitely get you in the series if your journey seems to fit.
If you’re unsure and want to get an idea of what the guest posts are like, I strongly encourage you to look through last year’s series. CLICK HERE to connect to Special Mamas 2015, then scroll to the bottom where all 13 posts are listed and linked.
If everything I’ve listed above feels like a match, and you’d like to write a guest post for my “Special Mamas” guest post series in May 2016, please fill out the Survey Monkey form below. It’s just a few questions and shouldn’t take you more than a couple minutes. This is a way to share your name, email and brief summary of who you are without making it public quite yet.
CLICK HERE TO CONNECT TO THE SURVEY AND INDICATE INTEREST IN WRITING A GUEST POST FOR THE SPECIAL MAMAS SERIES 2016!
This year, I’ll be featuring a total of 9 moms in the Special Mamas series. I already have 2 mamas committed to sharing. That means, I’m looking for 7 more mamas to share guest posts in May.
Thanks everyone! I can’t wait to see who’ll be sharing this year. I’ll keep an update here on the blog and on Facebook so you know when I’ve reached 9, or if I’m still looking for submissions. In the meantime, if you know anyone who might be interested in sharing their story, please share this post!
I started a re-entry post, got all the way to 384 words and decided it wasn’t right. So here goes. My second try. My second shot. My best attempt to tell you where I’ve been these past two weeks.
No need to beat around the bush.
I need to write something bold, something brave, something public even though it’s not perfectly composed.
So let’s jump right in.
Let’s start with this bombshell of a reality.
Some of us need to start feeling ALL the feelings.
That’s what I said.
I’m truth telling today.
Have you anesthetized yourself?
Have you anesthetized your life so it’s clean, pretty, tidied up good?
Have you anesthetized your emotions so all you are is a robot, living in the gray middle ground of safe, don’t offend, don’t ruffle any feathers?
Yep, that’s me.
How about you?
Blah. Blah. Blah blah blah.
It definitely doesn’t describe all of you, but undoubtedly some of you.
Perhaps you’ve gone dead. Perhaps you’ve turned parts of you off. Perhaps you lost your fire, forgot how to cry, or don’t ever get angry anymore. Perhaps you play nice guy, good girl, or I’m down with that ALL the time. Perhaps you say you don’t care when you really care a whole lot. Perhaps you’re fearful and you play brave. Perhaps you’re dying inside and nobody knows. Perhaps you’re crying a river behind closed shades and everyone thinks you’re winning every corner of life. Perhaps you’re insecure hiding behind the security of jobs, money, bigger cars and bigger bank accounts. Perhaps you don’t have a clue as to what the purpose of your life is and you’re pretending you got this, man. Perhaps you’re ticked off and you haven’t let on for one minute that something’s irking you. Perhaps you’re wishing for a friend and you haven’t a clue how to be one so you just keep pretending it’s all good. Perhaps you want to rock the world upside down, but you’ve played meek as a mouse your whole life long. Perhaps you have a whole lot of opinion, but you’ve decided it’s best to just shut up and zip your lips. Perhaps you’re vibrant and lively, but clean and easy doesn’t rock the boat nearly as much. Perhaps you were hurt badly and you’re having a really hard time forgiving, but you let those burdens fester until they dry you up inside. Perhaps you’re jealous, envious of their vacation, their home, their pool, their children, their career, their spring wardrobe, their holiness, their carefree, optimistic lifestyle, but you blunt it and play fake. “Yay, we’re so glad for you!” when inside you’re dying, won’t acknowledge you haven’t tended your soul for a decade, maybe more. Perhaps you love the Lord, but you’re playing secular to be liked. Perhaps you want to be independent, but you let everyone wait on you hand and foot because it’s easier that way. Perhaps you’re addicted and you don’t know how to handle life anymore, so you numb and blind yourself to your dangerous reality because it’s easier that way. Perhaps you haven’t sat down for a minute to ponder what’s going on in your life, so you keep running and doing and working and trying hard to quiet the reality in front of you. Perhaps you’re tired, but nobody’s there to help so you suck it up. Perhaps this world feels all too much and you just can’t do it anymore, but everybody else seems to be running the race, so shut up and shape up and ship out because it works for everyone else, so why not you? Perhaps you need help, but you never ask. Perhaps you’ve blamed and shamed yourself for years, for all the things you did wrong, for all the ways you went wrong, and you push it away, you push it away some more, but it festers and you ignore it and you numb it and that little voice won’t stop talking, but you listen and keep it quiet, to yourself. Perhaps you need to grieve, but you shove it down because there is no time for grief. Perhaps you have opinions, big opinions about politics, but you keep quiet because you don’t want to rock the boat. Perhaps you eat doughnuts, fast food, endless energy drinks and fudge chunk brownies late at night. Perhaps you work out like a mad person. You count every calorie, watch every morsel in some pursuit of better, more, less, I’ll be better if, I’ll be better when mentality. Perhaps you’re playing angry when really you’re just plain hurt. Perhaps you’re hurt and you’re just plain numb. Perhaps you’re numb because you’ve never let anyone see ALL of you.
Yes, we anesthetize ourselves.
It’s true. And it’s no good.
Searing and singing the bottom, top and middle gray-grounds of our emotions is toxic, troubling and terrifying.
It’s better to be reserved, you say.
Better to hold it in.
Better to be kind and nice, patient and understanding.
Better to suck it up.
Better to use good judgement.
Better to be discerning.
Yes, have a discerning spirit.
For the sake of those who need to hear it, let me say this…
Some of us have been far too discerning for far too long.
Stop discerning every detail up, down and sideways.
At its worst, hyperactive discernment leads to hyper-vigilant awareness of ourselves, our emotions and our surroundings, which leads us overthinkers, overachievers and people pleasers to believe the best solution is to anesthetize ourselves and our lives.
Stop. anesthetizing. everything.
FINE is no longer FINE.
FINE is an anesthetized life.
Let us feel all the feelings.
I cannot and will not live anesthetized any longer.
I must practice authenticity.
I must live with integrity.
I must show how I feel.
I must speak up when I don’t feel right about something.
I must tell you when I don’t understand.
I must tell you when you’ve crossed the line. Gracefully, of course.
I must tell you when you hurt me, when that doesn’t work for me, when you’re trying to shut down part of me and I don’t want to be shut down anymore.
I must work through my emotions instead of letting them simmer down in.
I must not hide.
I must be true to myself.
I must be true to the world.
Anesthetized people. Let’s wake. Let’s rise. Let’s be who we are. Let’s stop hiding and harboring it in. Let’s live. Let’s live on the fringes and everywhere in-between. Let’s live WHOLE lives instead of SAFE lives. Anesthetized is safe. Safe is good, but let’s be honest, it’s not that good. Let’s live boldly. Bravely. Let’s gain a little ground for the sake of authenticity.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of the anesthetized life.
The world needs all of us, not just the safe, pretty parts of us.
How about that for something to ponder?
Awaken, precious soul.
Rise up and feel again.