Monthly Archives: September 2016

I’m Suffering from Election Year Anxiety

If you read my post last week, you’ll remember what stress I had been feeling and my total melt down as a result. I had hoped it was getting better, and it is, but for some reason this week, I can’t shake the feeling of anxiety. Webster defines anxiety as, “fear or nervousness about what might happen.”

What am I feeling nervous about? What am I fearful of?

Then today, as I was reading article after article and watching video after video of the presidential debate that occurred a few days ago, I had this gloomy feeling I couldn’t shake. Comments being made by candidates and other politicians are sending me into a tailspin of the future of our nation! Between Trump’s bigotry and arrogance and Clinton’s “crookedness,” and lies from both, I’m about ready to “jump ship.” Ugh. It’s really difficult for many, including myself, to find positive characteristics in either candidates and look forward to the future.

After 45 minutes of going deeper into the rabbit hole, I realized: I’m suffering from election year anxiety.

Self-diagnosed, of course. But this is a real thing that major news outlets are reporting on! I seriously thought I had just come up with a new dictionary term, but turns out NPR, The Atlantic, Time Magazine, Health Central, and Huffington Post are all reporting on this feeling. Also, they’re offering tips on how to cope with deep despair and anxiousness during an election year.

Sure, the articles above give a number of strategies for dealing with this anxiety, but as a Christian, many times we’re encouraged to consider how the Bible guides us toward resolving conflict. And I know the go-to anxiety verses in the Bible:

  • Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow has enough worries of its own.
  • Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

I’m sure you could also add a few more.

But God hit me in the head with a brick again (not literally). I love how ideas pop in my head and I recognize this is God speaking, not my brain doing the work. I had this thought: the leader of the free world will obviously shape America in a new way over the next four years. And if that leader is Trump, then God help us (I guess you know where I stand now). But really, the next president will only have so much influence. And as I started to pin all my hopes and dreams and fears and doubts on this one person, God reminded me that He is ultimately in charge. He will be the Grand Redeemer. And I should be putting all my hope in His plan.

As I consider that, part of me gets angry with God because that logic seems so…immature. Childish, almost. “Put all your hope in Him.” Is it realistic to put all my hope into a being that I often forget is a part of my everyday moment-to-moment actions? It’s easy to forget God’s presence when you’re working with a client at work or cooking dinner at home. But experience has taught me: when I really let go of an issue and ask God to take control of it in my life, he never disappoints. He always shows up. It’s miracle-like stuff, y’all. Been there?

Then I realized, while the president does have a lot of power, the three branches of government exist to balance each other out. And did you know that state and local governments have a more direct impact on your life than federal? It’s in your best interest to spend more time researching the candidates close to home because they’re determining funding for salaries and equipment to emergency services like police and fire departments, public works (like snow removal and street repair), and having the parks mowed and pools filled with water.

Needless to say, I could feel the tension in my neck starting to leave as I processed this. And I chose to take a few deep breaths.

1 Timothy 1-2 provides wisdom from God for one way to approach our government leaders: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

So for now I will pray for our leaders and potential candidates for all offices – federal, state, and local. And I will continue to share my views with those I come into contact with. I will continue to work toward overcoming this anxiety. And I will vote. And you should too. It really does

matter and it takes so little time to do. By choosing to vote, you are literally making history. Your grandchildren will ask you about this election some day. I believe it’s important for me to say that I did my duty as a mother, wife, woman, worker, and American to voice my opinion. I did not stand silent.

So take control of your election year anxiety by letting God have control of your worries about this future. Because He’s got this. Just give Him a chance to show up.

I’m Exhausted by Living the American Dream

The American Dream says I need to:

Be a loving wife who lets her husband enjoy his hobbies, encourages him even when you’d rather murder him for his illogical decisions, and offer sex several times a week.

Be a good mom who spends time with your kid. Don’t feed that kid trans fats. Play imaginative games. Read – a lot. Teach them new skills. Limit screen time. Discipline. Pinterest yourself into guilt and failure.

Take care of your home. (My floor needs to be swept and mopped daily – and we are only awake in that home six hours a day on weeknights. Key phrase: needs to be does not = actually happens. And you don’t even want to see the main bath toilet right now.) Keep washing clothes. Juggle the never-ending list of things to keep your home in order, which includes: freeze tomatoes, defrost the deep freeze, schedule an oil change (and don’t forget to go do it), pick up grass seed and dirt to patch the yard, go tree shopping, and do the monthly budget – which should have happened two weekends ago.

Don’t forget to have friends. Have great conversations. Even though you’re all stressed, exhausted, and just want to be sleeping instead of spending time together. But we know you’d be home pulling weeds or dealing with a screaming child if you weren’t together, so have another glass of wine.

Oh, and love Jesus. Read your Bible, do a daily devotional, pray, and be the best little Christian you can be. Radiate God’s love. Give – your money would be great, but mostly your time and energy. Which you have none of. Absolutely none.

It’s the American dream, y’all. All men are created equal.

But pull yourself by your own boot straps. Work hard to achieve success. And live in a 4 bedroom house with 2.5 children.

img_2399The thing is…J and I do work hard (and PTL we don’t have 2.5 children; one lil O is plenty for me right now). We worked to the point of exhaustion last week – first during the day at work, and second, doing upkeep on the home at night and taking care of lil O (hard work, y’all. You can see how I felt over this recent cracker package “dump”). While we’re both putting in 40-hour weeks, we’ve usually got additional responsibilities with our family and community. But what’s even more wild: we’ve said “no” a lot this month. No, we can’t help with a church project. No, we can’t visit family for a weekend away. So you’d think I’m sitting pretty, right? I wish…

Even with fewer responsibilities, I haven’t stopped to ask for help. I’ve reached the point where I don’t even know how to ask for help because I’m so damn overwhelmed and I can’t think clearly. And everyone around me – both friends and colleagues – feel the same. How am I supposed to ask when others are drowning too?

This feeling leads to me hunkering down and putting it in “go mode.” There’s too much to handle so I’ve chosen to be emotionless the past few weeks. I’ve simply shut out all feelings of frustration, loneliness, and even joy. I felt nothing. I thought it was the only way to handle the extra stress of this season of life. I just had to keep pushing through the to-do list. Because it had to get done. Right? I mean, what’s really the worst that could happen if I didn’t get it done? …Nothing, really. But I was on a mission. No time to consider the consequences. Just work your tail and get it done. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

But then, a moment occurred where things started to cut loose. Suddenly, it wasn’t all synching. It was likely watching 4th grade me try to hit a thrown baseball with a bat in slow motion. While I attempt to be, I’m not at all athletic. I’ve been less than blessed in this area, and by less than, I mean: bad. I’m straight up terrible at physical ability and coordination. So you can see where this is going…

I made a poor decision.

It impacted a few people negatively. Nothing earth-shattering terrible happened because of it, but I felt total shame. I didn’t fully consider the punch to others. I didn’t choose to feel the consequences. I didn’t ask for help. All my emotions boiled up and my composure couldn’t contain it any longer.

So I cried. I mean, “shut the door and just about wail” cried. I lost it because there is so much on my plate. I feel out of control. And I, like most, don’t handle “out of control” very well.

I know it’s important to give yourself permission to take a break. I read it on other blogs and hear it from other women all the time: take care of you first. I know why it’s important. I want to be better about it. But sometimes I just miss the mark. Sometimes I prioritize things over people, and everything over myself.

So God woke me up with a screw up. He reminded me I was doing life apart from Him. And once I realized He was trying to get my attention (which took 6 DAYS, y’all. This blow up happened 6 DAYS ago), my tightened shoulders suddenly let go of tension. I took a deep breath. I gave myself permission to sit down and close my eyes for a moment of peace. God’s not all that into living life drained. He’s more into living it joyfully – and together.

The thing is, I don’t feel any better about that huge to-do list today. And I definitely am not hitting the mark on “best friend,” “#1 mom,” or “wife of the year.” But at least I feel something today. Being cold to the world doesn’t help me have a better day or grow in relationship with anyone – including Jesus.

I remembered the American Dream isn’t so dreamy all the time. Because frankly: it’s exhausting. And God called me to be His before I call myself Uncle Sam’s.

Don’t Deny You Have an Embarrassing Junk Email

I have a junk email address that I’m embarrassed to give out. Don’t deny you know the one I’m talking about. It’s the one you made as a teen and are super ashamed of as an adult. But you don’t delete it. Because you need it.

The Internet really took off for the regular person when I was in middle school (and you bragged to your friends, “We got a computer!!!”). Instant messaging and chat rooms were the rage with my friend group, and we spent too many hours on both – when we weren’t riding bikes or raiding our moms’ kitchens in person. But to join all those online conversation platforms, I needed an email. And I had no idea where to start. My friends were coming up with things like:

  • hiphopgurl13@email.com
  • 1giant_titanic_lover@email.com
  • hansonisbetterthanboyzIImen@email.com

Ok, so not really THOSE emails, but you get the jist. And ridiculousness.

But it was the late ‘90s. And I was 13. What was I going to go with?

This dork of an early teen was really into geography (and I ended up being a social studies teacher and having a geo class for a couple years before I left the profession). I loved learning about cultures, where places were located, and just any random details of places OTHER than Nebraska (my home). So…I ventured into a book about the 50 Nifty United States.

Which also reminds me of my 50 State Quarters Collection book.

What? You didn’t have one of those? You lie. Or clearly lived a deprived childhood. Or a childhood not as sheltered as mine. Most likely that. ‘Cause I was real sheltered, y’all. You may remember the post about dates – the fruit. And I didn’t even try Runza or Amigos ‘til high school. Few experiences, y’all. Ungodly sheltered.

At any rate…I started to check out state slogans. I know, this post is not getting less dorky. But just hang with me.

When I got to North Dakota, I was in love with what I saw on the page.

Flickertail.

Oh, that sounded CUTE! I was gonna be a flickertail. No, I didn’t look up the meaning then. But I did just now. Apparently, this “refers to the…ground squirrels…abundant in North Dakota. The animal flicks or jerks its tail in a characteristic manner while running or just before entering its burrow.” Well, ok. Not exactly what I was expecting, but…that’s ok. At least it wasn’t “angelbaby.” (And I apologize if you were one of 6,592 people who had that phrase in your email address.)

I’d like to say that email filtered out after high school…but, it didn’t. I got an email from my college that I used for a number of years – even post-graduation (my school lets us keep that sucker for life!). I used that college email to get my first job, but left it for a new town with my new husband. I finally built an “adult,” professional email the week after I got married. I had a new name, and needed to find a new job. But I never gave up the flickertail.

In fact, I used it as a place for all the crap I didn’t want to have to filter through all the time. And it worked pretty well. Until this one day when I was in The Limited. You know, the women’s clothing store with very professional outfits – where I get quite a few work duds. The employees are obviously dressed like the place, and quite a few of the customers are also dressed the same.

So one Saturday afternoon I’m in there checking out the latest sales, and I look schlubby. It’s Saturday. It’s my day off. I mean, I could have worn cute flats or something, but no. I’ve got old crappy sneakers on and probably a t-shirt with a stain on it. I mean, it wasn’t like a, “I’m gonna go paint the bathroom” kind of outfit, but it was probably only one level up from that. For real. And I was going to the mall in those clothes. Seriously?! Poor life decision #1 of the day, obviously.

I get to the checkout and a few women get in line behind. I’m checking out, we get to the end of the transaction, and the sales clerk asks the dreaded question: “Can I get your email?”

Now this was several years ago, so I didn’t know better than to just say, “No.” End of conversation. No, I was a young, foolish 25-year old woman. But I was NOT going to get a daily email from The Limited in my coveted new I’m-a-grown-up-woman-and-this-is-my-big-girl-email-address. So I did it. I said, “flickertail…” and I just.about.died. All those professional-looking women heard it. They didn’t respond, but I did: in the form of a bright red embarrassed face.

I paid for my merchandise and got out of there REAL QUICK. I felt mortified.

So why am I bringing this up now? Because I needed to give this email out last week. I clearly needed the emails from this new place – but I didn’t want them clogging up my “good” email. And I felt embarrassed. It suck with me for far too long.

Checking the ol' junk email

Checking the ol’ junk email

I thought about it a lot. Why would feel embarrassed? Did the other person ever give any sort of negative reaction? No. Is flickertail really that bad? It’s not “wildpurplekitten.” (Ok, seriously, I will stop with these hilarious emails. They really are too much. But not before I share this Buzzfeed article about people who regret their teenage email address. Guy #13 is nearly too much for me. I snort-laughed, y’all.)

But now that I’ve had some time to reflect on it, I’ve realized…I’m 32. And I don’t give a damn what you think about me and my email. I’m not going to delete it because I need it for crap I don’t really need (yea, you read that correctly). And I’m not going to flinch when I give it out. So here’s to the next grown-up store that asks for my email and I proudly announce, “flickertail…”

Or maybe I’ll just say, “No. No email sign-up for me.”