Sunday, May 1, 2016

Anxiety is...

Anxiety is texting 5 different people at once and still thinking "Nobody likes you"

Anxiety is avoiding class because you'll have nobody to sit by: "Everyone will know you're alone."

Anxiety is getting that dream job and still thinking "You're a failure who's good at nothing."

Anxiety is that quiet thought at 3am that whispers "Nobody would notice if you were gone."

Anxiety is that tightness throughout your body when you try your hardest to ignore those thoughts.

Anxiety is the inability to breathe as you try to hide the fact that you're anxious.

Anxiety is...
exhausting, terrifying, inconvenient, and all-consuming.

It's not beautiful, or romantic. It gets in the way more times than not, and has ruined more than a few good things over the years.

But my anxiety is me. It's a part of who I am, but it's not my whole self.

The best way I've found to conquer the anxiety is to take away its power over me.

To focus on the positives, even when the anxiety whispers "All hope is lost."

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thoughts on Loss

… Time will ease your pain
Life's about changing, nothing ever stays the same

How can I help you to say goodbye
It's okay to hurt, and it's okay to cry
Come, let me hold you and I will try
How can I help you to say goodbye
(c) 1993 Warner/Chappell Music

Loss is hard. Always has been and always will be. When we lose someone, their suffering ends but ours is just beginning. We know that they would not want us to be sad, but it is an unavoidable reality. It is even possible to feel grief over a situation that involves a loss that isn’t supremely personal. In a weird “seven degrees of Kevin Bacon” phenomenon, even if you never personally knew the deceased, your heart can still go out to those close to you that are affected by their passing.

Grief is an emotion that nobody should be left to wrestle with alone. It truly takes a village. I’m sure everybody thinks of the traditional sending of flowers, or making of meals for a family that has lost someone. For me, I am 1800 miles away from those who need me most. Flowers and a casserole just aren’t going to cut it. I’ve struggled with not being able to be there for those I care about most that need a comforting hug or a cuddle buddy to watch chick flicks with under a fluffy blanket with hot chocolate. I’m beginning to learn, however, that being there for those we love doesn’t always mean physically being present.

There are many ways that we can support those going through a hard time. Phone calls, Skyping, or even a nice hand-written letter take time and commitment that show you care. Those that are hurting understand if we cannot be there for them, and appreciate even the smallest of gestures that says “I’m thinking of you; hang in there.”

Life isn’t always fair. Sometimes we do not have the capacity to do exactly what we’d like to do in order to show our love for others. This is when we must trust in Heavenly Father to take care of those we love by asking him to do so through prayers. Sometimes life not only gives us lemons, but pelts us in the head with them. Once we can grow past being angry at how unfair and hurtful this is, we can see that if we didn’t get pelted with lemons once in a while, we’d not be quite as appreciative of the showers of glitter and rainbows.

Peace and Love,

Monday, May 18, 2015

Home is...

I think God must be a cowboy at heart
‘Cause he made wide open spaces from the start.
He made grass, and trees, and mountains
And a horse to be a friend
And trails to lead old cowboys home again.
(c) 1994

It’s summertime, which means I’m home. But not only in an emotional and spiritual way, but physically as well. My “home home” if you will. The good ole Diamond G. Our setup isn’t fancy, and it isn’t a lucrative business. We only have 360-odd acres of pasture and field acres, and only about 60 head of cattle. Depending on where you’re from that might be a lot or just barely a herd. But home is, well I wrote it out like this.

Home Is

Home is where the sunrise and sunset can be seen
with nothing but trees in the way
Home is where showers are a necessity
not just part of the routine

Home is animals of every kind
young and old and big and small
Home is working all day long
and there’s always a new project to find

Home is family and happiness
but also struggles and fighting
But everyone knows we wouldn't trade it for anything
because home is where your heart is.

I know this is a short blog, but I hope this gives everyone a glimpse into where I call home :)

My loves: Max, Emma Swan, Smudge, and Baby Boop

Our buddy Gus, who is now
grazing the greenest of pastures.

I can see for miles! (kind of)

Monday, March 30, 2015

I'm a Mormon! Ew.

I was all out of hope and all out of fight
Couldn't fight back the tears so I fell on my knees
Saying, "God, if you're there come and rescue me."
Felt love pouring down from above
Got washed in the water, washed in the blood and now I'm changed
And now I'm stronger
There must be something in the water
Gonna look ahead, no turning back
Live every day, give it all that I have
Trust in someone bigger than me
Ever since the day that I believed I am changed
© 2014

It’s official! This past weekend I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’m super-duper excited! I’m not one to talk openly about religion very often, so I figured I’ll share a little about my journey before I describe the awesomeness that was this weekend.

I've gone through a lot in my life, but who hasn't, right? But anyhow, those things were pretty rough, and led me to be a devout Atheist. Science all the way. I was content, but not really happy. My first semester here at Ohio State was rough, to put it lightly. There was a lot going on in my personal life that made it hard for me to branch out beyond my studies in a way that I wanted to. 

Fast-forward to February of this year. I was in a grumpy mood, and was running late, but that’s nothing new for me. Trying to keep my head down and just get to where I was going, I heard someone say, “Hey is that an FFA jacket?” Best pickup line ever! Haha Sister Slater stole my heart when she asked me that question!

Normally when people try to solicit things to me on campus, I’ll be a nice person and listen, and then politely decline. So I was planning on going through that routine with these girls, but as I was talking to Sister Love and Sister Slater, I got this feeling that I should take them seriously. I didn’t even know they were missionaries until after our conversation when they handed me the card that had LDS on it! (Missionaries are real people, with real personalities, and can hold conversations about more than just Jesus. Shocking, I know). They invited me to come see their church and get a tour. I had a prompting that it would all be okay, and that I should go. In my scramble to figure out what was going on in my brain, I stammered through what I hope was a polite yes.

Over the past two months since that first meeting, everyone at the Church has taken me under their wings in a way that blows my mind. I’ve gone to church, and stake conference, and had lessons, which is where I met the wonderful soul that is Gretchen (shoutout to you lovely, I know you’re reading this!). Very early on in the process, the Sisters gave me a Book of Mormon which they encouraged me to read. I’ll admit, it sat unopened for a week. But once I finally got up the courage to open it, I decided to flip to a random page, and landed on Mosiah 5:3. I got goosebumps, because I feel that this was the answer to my meek, half-said prayers of “Why me? Why are these thing happening to me?” that I had uttered so many times before. This is the first of many events, most of which cannot be described with words, that have helped to show me that the Church is true, God loves me, and that this is where I belong.

Obviously, the Sisters extended the offer of baptism to me, which I accepted. I have to say that I wasn’t too sure about it at first, even though I was excited. I went home from that lesson and I prayed out loud, which I normally don’t do. I asked God if I should be baptized, if it was right. I looked to my Book of Mormon during that next week, which I’d been told is the best way to let God talk to you, and I ended up flipping to Ether chapter 4. Verse 19 talks about enduring until the end, being faithful to God, and ends with “And behold it is I that hath spoken it. Amen.” Well I was spooked! I had gone looking for an answer, but didn’t expect to find it so quickly. After that, I had no doubt that baptism was the right thing for me to do.

So that’s the curtailed and abridged version of my story J Now on to the fun stuff!

Baptism day was Saturday! I was a big slurry of excitement and nerves. My (biological) sister, Sara, ended up being able to come, which made me super happy. My friend Vinny also came to support me, which was super cool and helped calm my nerves. I’d never been to a baptism before of any denomination, so I didn't know quite what to expect. But unsurprisingly, everyone was super helpful and kept pointing me in the right direction all afternoon. Gretchen talked about baptism and Sister Springer talked about the Holy Ghost. I absolutely love both of them! Gretchen made me laugh by staring at me while she talked, and Sister Springer made me cry tears of happiness with her encouragement. They are both just so awesome. The silly Elders waited a long time to fill up the font so when I stepped into the water I felt like a Lobster! It was so hot, but I can’t help but think of the idea of cleansing through fire. Always look on the bright side, right? I was concentrating on not drowning (I have a weird thing with water) so I wasn't paying attention to everything Chris was saying, but I guess he mispronounced my name on the first try, so I got to be dunked twice. Normally when I’m submerged in water I freak out, but when I was being baptized I didn't feel any of that, which helped to strengthen my testimony even more. Overall, the whole service was just awesome, and I was shaking the whole time, but mostly out of pure happiness.

Sister Love, Me, Gretchen, and Sister Slater! I love these girls!

My big sister Sara! So glad she could be there!

They told me they'd never seen anybody look so cute in a jumpsuit before!
They're too sweet.

My main man Chris! He braved the hot water with me!

On Sunday I got confirmed, which I also had never seen done before. Chris got to give me the gift of the Holy Ghost and a blessing from Heavenly Father. I love that he got to do both my baptism and my confirmation; he’s such a great guy whose faith is so strong. At the beginning of my confirmation I was concentrating on sitting still, because there were these guys who were trying to hold their hands on my head haha. But after a little bit I forced myself to focus on what I was feeling, which is a question that Mormons love to ask, so I wanted to have an answer ready! I know in that moment when I started focusing that I felt the Holy Ghost. I just felt so much love and happiness enter into me. It shocked me a little because it was the kind of love that was always described to me growing up—the kind of love that you can’t describe with words, but you just know to be true. As Chris was giving me a blessing, he said things that were encouraging and I definitely needed to hear, but the best part was the end. As the blessing ended, Chris said something along the lines of “…so that you will always remember that you are His daughter.” I feel that those words came directly from Heavenly Father, and when I’m struggling in life I know I will always have that message to hold onto.

This weekend is one that I will truly never forget. My journey towards God has only just begun, and yet I’ve already been blessed so much. I want to thank everyone that’s been praying for me, and supportive of me as I make this choice to enter into a covenant with Heavenly Father.

This is me as a baby with my momma at my dedication!
Consider it a bonus for making it to the end :)

*note* I know I talked about my experiences with reading the BOM a lot. I also love the messages found in the Bible, but I've grown up with them, so they're just less moving most times than the BOM verses. The Bible and the BOM are meant to stand beside each other along with Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price. I just wanted to clarify!

Monday, March 2, 2015

So you want to date my best friend: An open letter to potential suitors.

But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door
Hi there.

First off, let me congratulate you on scoring one of the best fishes in the sea, my friend. I don’t know who you are, or how she met you, but I do know this: she cares about you. I could list all of the things I love about my best friend, but I’m sure you’ve already noticed them. She’s loving, stubborn, and quirky in all the right ways. I’m sure that if she’s let you into her life and you’re reading this, you two have something pretty special going. However, I wouldn’t be a best friend if I didn’t meddle. Know that I’m doing this for your benefit as much as hers, but mainly for hers. Because I want her to be happy. So below I have listed 5 things that I know will help your relationship.
1.   Forget the flowers

Did you make her angry? Is it Valentine’s Day or your anniversary? Don’t get her flowers. Flowers wilt and die (and balloons are just sacks of your breath – weird). If you truly want to stay in her good graces, grab her a cup of tea and a good book. Don’t know what book to get her? She’s been hoarding a list on Goodreads for years.
2.   Cinnamon

If you’re looking for a little pick-me-up when she’s feeling sad, candy’s a solid bet. Chocolate will do the trick most of the time, but if you know what’s good for you you’ll get the girl some cinnamon. What kind of cinnamon, you ask? It doesn’t matter. Cinnamon gummies, cinnamon hard candies, cinnamon tea—if it’s made with cinnamon, her mood will improve.

3.   Practice patience

This might be a given in any relationship, but my best friend demands more than the normal amount of patience. She loves to sing off-key at the top of her lungs. When she gets an idea in her head, nothing will change the way she sees it. If she gets an idea in her head about something you should try, indulge her. It’ll be easier than trying to get her to stop pestering you, along with the fact that she has the potential to see greatness in people before they see it in themselves. With patience, comes trust. If you have a lot of both, you’ll be just fine.

4.   Become an Avenger

Captain America will forever hold my best friend’s heart. She is in every way just as kick-ass as Agent Carter, and so she deserves someone just as awesome as Steve Rogers. Take a lesson from Steve and Peggy’s love story, and I’m sure yours will (live long and) prosper.

5.   Embrace the feminist in you

My best friend is truly "feminist as fuck". She will always be an advocate of equality between the sexes, and will take none of the fake bs that likes to be thrown around. You don’t necessarily have to agree with her viewpoints, but at least make an effort to understand her side of things.

I pray that you take my words to heart. Some of the things I’ve listed might seem a little silly, but they all have weight in one way or another. I’ve known this girl you’re dating for a majority of the years I’ve been on this planet, and I love her dearly. She’s giving you a chance, which means that you’re pretty special. Just a warning though that if you ever decide that you don’t want to spend the rest of your life immersed in the wonderful craziness that is my best friend, be gentle. Don’t play games, and don’t outstay your welcome. I’ve watched enough Bones and Castle to have a pretty good idea of how to get away with at least a terrifying kidnapping – I’m kidding, of course, I’m sure you’re a lovely person (well I’m probably kidding). Oh, and one more thing: You’re welcome J

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cliches and reflections on a year

Life's a dance, you learn as you go.
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.
Don't worry 'bout what you don't know,
life's a dance, you learn as you go.

As a disclaimer, I may be suffering from displaying the effects of watching quite a few (about 6 months worth) vlogbrothers videos in one sitting; the way I express my emotions is freer and I am phrasing everything like John and Hank Green would. Bear with me. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go about reading this blog and then look up their channel on YouTube. Crazy good stuff. Oddly enough, this blog might be easier to read than my others, but let’s get to what I want to talk at you about.

So they say that in a year, a lot can change. Most times when I hear/read someone emote this, I normally judge them for being so cliché. But sometimes there's a reason for phrases being cliché: they can be applied to a large number of people’s situations over a sustained period of time. As I have more experiences and take more revolutions around the sun, I’ve come to identify with this idea.

“Well Amy where were you a year ago,” you may ask.

“Interesting question,” I would respond to that hypothetical question that I’m sure at least one of you thought for a millisecond.

Exactly 365 days ago (from writing this) I was returning home from what I decided then was the best day ever, and my opinion on that has not changed. I was in a great relationship with a great guy who happens to be frustratingly talented at simultaneously keeping secrets and planning surprises. I knew we were going to be together that evening because it was our 6 month anniversary and also happened to be a Friday – perfect date night. I knew that he knew that I was expecting something special, and that was only because I knew that he was that kind of guy.

The only hints I could pry out of him in the approximately week and a half leading up to the date were that it was hinged on (a) the weather and (b) my answer to the question “cookie dough or cake?” which he asked very abruptly in between going to classes so I didn’t have time to interrogate him about the reason for asking but rather had to decide in what is for me a very short amount of time between two desserts that I like equally (I should’ve said both—probably wouldn’t have been an acceptable answer though).

So Friday rolls around, and all day at school I’m dying to ask him questions, but he’s threatened me with no date if I keep asking (because I’m a child and need threats to be motivated to behave in an adult manner). So I wait with about as much willpower to not ask questions as kids have willpower to sleep on Christmas Eve. After waiting patiently for what seemed to be forever and a day, we ended up cuddling and watching the sunset while eating raw cookie dough that he had made from scratch—which happened to be delicious and also my tied as my favorite flavor with chocolate.

“Hold on! That’s not romantic at all!”

Sure you could argue that he didn’t spend a lot of money on me, and we didn’t go anywhere special but I would like to point out that “special” is a relative adjective. I found what he had planned very special and that evening taught me a lot about relationships that I find I am better able to absorb being a year removed from the situation. Bring on the clichés!

First off, I learned that love is about more than superficial things. The amount of joy I felt about watching the sun go down behind what was a mostly cloudy sky while eating raw cookie dough is so indescribable. To me, it shows that being next to someone you love is always more important than what you’re doing—all that matters is that you’re with that person that makes existing more awesome.

Secondly, the Hollywood-ized idea of romance being a whirlwind of emotions and time and that somehow that special someone you’re going to be with forever just pops up out of the blue is a skewed view of reality. And the fact that I believed this idea growing up angers me. I’m learning with time that romance is something that develops. It’s not magical (as much as the chemicals in our brain would like us to think). It takes work. A great romance doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve found Prince Charming (or even Eric or Philip), either. You can love someone without them being the one. Albeit, all of my experiences are only from one relationship, but I’d say that I found a pretty great guy on the first go-round. Accepting the possibility that love doesn’t always end in marriage is something that I’ve had to wrap my head around, and I’m still working on that.

Lastly, I’ve learned that everything happens for a reason. Every person you have a relationship with, whether it’s romantic or not (like your best friend or that kind elderly woman that you play Uno with at the nursing home) you have met for a reason—your relationship formed for a reason. I have liked to brush this cliché off in the past as well, but it is slowly coming into focus over time.

Crazy example/rant/break time: Think of all the people that knew George Bailey (from It’s a Wonderful Life). Those people had an impact on who George grew up to be, but their encounters with him, no matter how short, also had an impact on them. Sure, he saved some people’s lives directly, but think about all of the people he helped indirectly. Like the kids who had a house because George loaned money to their parents with no more collateral than a handshake and a promise. Those kids had a stable home to grow up in because of George Bailey’s kindness. Pretty neat to think of, huh? Just me? Okay.

Back to the point at hand:
Because of Q, I have what I think is a pretty good model of how a guy should treat a lady. Opening the door, offering up the only jacket when I’m cold (chivalry’s not dead!), letting me cry miserably about anything and everything-but especially that character from my favorite TV show that he doesn’t watch but I persist shouldn’t have made that particular decision- and also being fantastic at keeping secrets. I realize that at the time I didn’t exactly mirror his A-grade relationship partner characteristics, and that’s probably why we are not together now. But that doesn’t make our relationship meaningless. The 16 months, 2 weeks, 6 days, and roughly 9 hours (for the record he counted not me) that we were together covers what is at this point in my life a considerable chunk of time.

So I guess the point of this long-winded blog is be thankful for what you have, but also be thankful for what you had. And to end where we started:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Talking to Myself: Leggings

You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything
You've got to be your own man, not a puppet on a string
Never compromise what's right and uphold your family name
You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything

© 1991

This chart was showed to me by a dear friend about a year ago, and I love it to this day. Very useful.

I consider myself lucky to have been raised in a conservative household. I realize that conservative is a relative term, but believe me when I say that if my family could pick a favorite decade, it would probably be the fifties—which should say a lot about our values. Within my crazy household that at one time had 8 people running around in it, I was taught that having opinions is a good thing, but only to a point. But also, education is the best way to fight ignorance.
For those of you who have known me a long time, you know that I am prone to having conversations with myself. Once in a blue moon, these conversations are productive. I have been having a recurrent conversation over leggings lately, and over time it has morphed into something that I thought was worth sharing. Take it or leave it, but please read the whole “conversation” before commenting in agreement or disagreement. As always, thank you for taking time out of your day to read my ramblings.

“Leggings and yoga pants should be accepted as a piece of fashion, and girls should not be shamed for wearing them.”
I agree that shaming is bad, but you should be willing to listen to the other side of the arguments. This also includes not making assumptions about people who oppose the legging fad.

“I wear leggings and yoga pants because they’re comfortable!”
That’s awesome. If they are comfortable, that means they are serving their purpose. Leggings go farther back than yoga pants, but they are lumped together in one category today which is most times dubbed “athletic wear” or something similar. As much as going through the stresses of everyday life might require grace and lots of practice to master, it’s not a sport. Unless you’re on your way to gymnastics, ballet class, or the Tour De France, please consider wearing real pants.

“But Amy, if I can’t wear leggings and yoga pants, the only thing I have left is sweat pants.”
Story time! A long long time ago, during the time of the Gold Rush in the 1800s, lived a man named Levi Strauss. He had a friend named Jacob Davis. Together they created a new kind of clothing called jeans. To this day, they are still a widely acceptable and accessible piece of clothing. In fact, they became so popular, that Levi’s “jeans” are now duplicated by every clothing manufacturer in one form or another.

At this point, I have gone to just saying “leggings” instead of listing similar pieces of clothing, but my views are the same for all items.

“But jeans are expensive. Leggings are so much cheaper!”
The fabric that makes up leggings is, most times, some combination of spandex, polyester, lycra, and/or elastin. These fabrics are made synthetically from threads that are pretty much pure plastic. The main ingredients in these plastics come from coal, oil, and natural gas. By creating a demand for these fabrics, more drilling and mining must be done. This destroys the precious environment. Also, the gasoline industry has to share their oil with fabric manufacturers, raising prices. So which would you like: paying $10 more for pants, or $25 more on that fill-up?

“My car is environmentally conscious and I only need to fill up twice a month.”
You are still condoning/causing the destruction of the environment with your pressure on the synthetic fiber industry. Don’t try and pretend that having a diet full of items from Whole Foods and driving a car that gets 50 mpg makes you environmentally conscious. If you don’t look at the whole picture, you are simply a hypocrite, whether it is intentional or not.

“I should be able to wear whatever I want. Freedom of expression!”
I am not even going to touch that issue. I will urge you, however, to think about how what you are wearing portrays how you view yourself. It does not necessarily portray how you act, but it shows a lot about how you much respect yourself. If you go around with painted-on bottoms, people are going to make assumptions about you and how you perceive right and wrong. It’s not an issue of whether you should be allowed, but more of an issue of the consequences of your choices.

“That makes no sense. You are just an anti-feminist.”
I whole-heartedly disagree. I think women having more rights is a great thing. I am not trying to tell you what to wear. I am simply giving you my views on the subject, and letting you take from it what you will. A few years ago, this issue was described to me by a teacher and that discussion has stuck with me and I think about it every time I decide what to wear. I don’t remember the exact words said, but here it is in a nutshell:
When you put on an outfit, it can greatly change your personality. No matter who a person is, they are going to act differently in sweat pants than they would in a ball gown or a suit. Take for example, the FFA jacket. When a student slips on that corduroy, they become a piece of the greater whole. Members are encouraged to act with respect, dignity, and kindness. If you run into someone in an FFA jacket, no matter where they are from or their background, you can expect these virtues to be displayed. It says a lot about the organization that over the entire nation, the members are some of the nicest people there are.
I took those words to heart, and I notice these personality differences in people I see on the street. That’s not to say I condone judging of strangers, but you can tell that people act differently, as a whole, when they have different clothing on.

“Wait, so what’s your point?”
Personal expression is great. I completely advocate for it. Whether you want to wear a burka or booty shorts, I care not. But what I do care about is the young people who are being raised into this culture. In today’s society, greater emphasis is on self-image, and people are getting involved with social media at younger and younger ages. When I was 8, I was not concerned about how many ‘likes’ my selfie had on Instagram-I was more concerned with the new book that the library at school had gotten last week. Young people need to be taught that beauty is on the inside, not the outside. And that’s a cliché that has been around for ages, but it is more prevalent today than ever before. Girls—and boys – are increasingly exposing themselves with their fashion choices in order to be liked and fit in. As a society, we need to do a better job of teaching respect, whether that is towards ourselves, or others. The rest will come naturally.

     So there it is folks. A glimpse into the inner workings of my psyche. This might make more sense to me than it does to others, and I’m expecting that; after all, these ideas have been swirling in my head for about a month now. I welcome feedback, positive and negative. What I ask is that we all respect each other’s beliefs, ideas, and thoughts. Please no bashing just for the heck of it. Also, if you would like more of these “conversations” I have a few saved up that I could share on different topics.

As a side note: If you happen to share my beliefs on the emphasis for teaching about inner beauty, check out the Gardiner Sisters. They are a group of actual sisters that are pushing their way into the music scene using YouTube, and they use their popularity to spread the word of true love and beauty. Their Be Real Beauty campaign is fantastic work. Thanks for reading!