Monthly heartbreak

Unless God has other plans for me, I know that my period will be arriving shortly.

Some women see this as a blessing, because that means that they have avoided that “close call.”

Some women anticipate it on a regular basis, and then panic if they are a day late.

For all women, a period means one thing: I’m not pregnant.

Some sigh in relief. Some expect it. For me, it is a sad reminder that I one again do not have the one thing I want…a baby.

Granted, my husband and I have only been actively trying to get pregnant for six weeks or so, but last month, when my period came, my heart shattered. Deep down, I knew it was going to be the scenario most likely to happen. Few women get pregnant in the first month they start trying. However, somewhere inside me I was hopeful.

I was told five years ago that I would never have children. And yet, here I hoped that the first month my husband and I were having unprotected sex, we would get pregnant.

I pray daily that the doctors are wrong…that I was misdiagnosed. However, it is incredibly daunting to think that I might never be a mother.

I am just putting my faith in God that if I am meant to be a mom, He will allow me to be, one way or another.

So when my period arrives in a few days, I will fall apart. I will break down in tears, not because I despise being on my period, but because starting my period means we were unsuccessful in conceiving a child.

It breaks my heart.

Waiting…

I know it has been a long time since I have posted anything. Since my last post, I accepted a job as a reporter for a local newspaper, and I wasn’t sure how blogging would play into that. However, I have since decided that I don’t have to choose between writing for fun and writing as a means of employment. I can have both.

I cover education and arts related news for a living. I hang out with amazing teachers and see some of the most inspiring art (whether music, theatre, or paintings,) and hear the stories behind them. However, I still feel like there is something missing.

I actually saw a tweet today about Joanna Gaines writing on her blog, and it’s like a lightbulb suddenly went off for me. In the past, I had blogged about political type stuff, but mainly, it was just a way of expressing my thoughts, kind of like a journal.

By the way, Joanna Gaines is kind of my spirit animal.

So I am coming back to blogging. I always thought I would blog about raising kids, but my husband and I still are not parents, so there is not really a whole lot to say. Except for the fact that we still are not parents. We have been trying for months, with no success, and I am truly struggling with that. I think it is important to share my experiences out there with women who may be facing the same things as me. I follow a blog about infertility, and even though I am not sure whether or not we will ever have kids, I find hope in the fact that God has a plan for my family. I just don’t know what it is yet.

I hope you will follow me on this journey. I am going to share the highs and lows, and hopefully sooner rather than later be able to make the announcement that my hubby and I are going to have a baby. For now, no news.

Life through a Lens

My nephew, who is one, ran through a mud puddle for the first time this weekend, and we were all there to see it. My first instinct was to grab my phone so that I could document the moment, and that was the second my worst fear came to life: “Cannot take photo. There is not enough available storage to take a photo.”

What was I to do? Here my nephew was, splashing around in this puddle, laughing in mass hysterics as mud ran up his legs, and all I could do was stand by and watch. So that’s exactly what I did. I watched. I got to see that perfect moment with my own eyes instead of through a screen. And it was beautiful. 
So often we are worried about documenting every single moment so that they can remain frozen in time, that we miss out on how beautiful life truly is. That was something I experienced firsthand when I was forced to put down my phone and actually see what was happening in my life. I may not be able to go back through my photo stream and see pictures from that day, but I can recall in detail his reaction: his giggles, his excitement, his joy. That moment is so much more valuable than the photo that I was unable to capture. So I challenge you: put done your phones, and stop living your life through a lens. I’m not saying that we should stop photographing everything altogether. What I am saying is that we miss out on so much because we are afraid that we are going to miss something. 

I’m from the Holler

Inspired by George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From

I’m from the holler. 
The one where all the drug dealers are. 

From stares that I got when I told where I lived. 

Like they wondered what secrets my parents harbored

What they did when no one was looking

I’m from where the neighbors get their checks from a mailbox. 

Where it was a crime to actually have a job

To earn an honest living

To break a sweat 

I’m from the holler where I found Jesus

In the same church where I found heartbreak in a heroin addict

And a pastor who made it nearly impossible for me to trust anyone

I’m from the water hole where my sins were washed clean

A new girl at the age of thirteen

I didn’t really know what it meant to sin 

But thought I needed forgiveness

Now I drive past that hole of water when I come up the holler and I feel bitter

Now I need forgiveness

But there is no one to pray for my salvation

I’m from the poverty 

The hand-me-downs 

The shame of relying on the kindness of strangers

Or worse

The kindness of someone I knew

I’m from the holler. 

The one where the drug dealers are. 

The Sky is the Limit…

When school started back in my district and I was not teaching, discouragement flooded my soul. I talked to the teachers that I used to work with, who had become my family in the three years that I had worked there, and a part of me wondered if I had made a horrible mistake in leaving. I missed doing first day procedures, seeing the excitement in students’ faces as they embraced a new year, and accepting the challenges that a fresh new beginning had to offer. Instead, I observed from a distance as my teacher friends and former students did all of those things without me, and it made me long for my former career that much more.
As I discussed with my husband for my ten thousandth time how the previous year had ended, I revealed to him an experience that I had had during the last day that he hadn’t heard before. On my way out the door, I stopped by the school’s guidance counselor’s office to tell her goodbye. She told me not to be discouraged, because she believed that everything happened for a reason, and with this door closing, another door was bound to open for me. She also told me that she thought that I was too good of a person to not have other opportunities presented to me. That really made a positive impact on my self confidence, because by that point, I was pretty beaten down.
As I sat in her office, full of emotion, she told me that recently she had been driving, when the radio personality told the story of the comedian Steve Harvey and how most of his early life and career had been one of adversity. At one point in his life, he found himself divorced and living in a car, but he still continued to pursue his dream. Now he is one of the most well known comedians of his time and he has made millions of dollars. All because he refused to give up when times were hard. As she continued to tell me this story, I broke down into sobs of emotion. I needed to hear that there was still hope for my future, because as I left the school where I had devoted so much of myself and my time, I felt like I had failed.
When I got home that evening, I checked my mail as always, but to my surprise, found that the latest edition of People magazine had Steve Harvey on the cover telling that exact same story of how he overcame obscurity to become the success that he is today. I immediately sent my guidance counselor a message, admitting that it was all going to be okay. God gives us exactly what we need exactly when we need it.
I had been adjusting fine with my decision to leave the middle school all summer long, but it was really easy when all of my teacher friends were on summer vacation. But then their summer vacation ended, and I continue to sift through the menial jobs and even worse, those I am not qualified for. I had spent my entire education preparing for a career that ended way before I had planned. I expected to retire from the education system, but here I am, only four years in, with the belief that enough is enough.
Just recently, my husband and I had this exact conversation. I explained to him how I felt like I had failed, because I had left the career that I had planned on staying in until I retired. That was when he said something that really stuck with me. He told me that we spend our entire lives being under the impression that we are going to pick a major in college, get a job in that field, and work there until retirement, when in reality, that’s not how life works at all. People change jobs, some multiple times. And that’s okay. As he spoke to me, I felt this sort of burden lift from my shoulders. That’s when I had my own revelation. I had spent the last seven months feeling like I had dropped the ball, like I had screwed up somewhere, when in reality, that’s not how it happened at all. I didn’t drop the ball; I threw the ball down. I needed to go get a different ball to play with for a while.
And who knows…one day I may decide that I want to go back and pick up my other ball and play with it for a while longer. But for now, it is not what makes me happy, so I am optimistic that there are other options out there that are more suited for what I need. I think that is something that teachers need to hear. If you’re not happy in your classroom, leave. Pursue something else. There is no law against playing with a different ball. Throw down the one that makes you unhappy and choose something else. The main thing is that you are happy where you are and with the ball that you are playing with.

Living Life With Anxiety

I had my first panic attack when I was a freshman in high school. I was on my way to take my math final when I felt this intense pressure come over my chest and my heart started racing. I thought that I was having a heart attack. I stopped where I stood in the hallway and held on to the railing of the ramp like it was the only thing that would save me. Other students passed me by, but they were only faces. I didn’t recognize any of them for who they actually were, and if anyone would have asked me if I was okay, I wasn’t sure if I would have been able to speak to tell them no. I definitely was not okay.

 

So began my life with my anxiety disorder. I was fourteen years old. I had a lot of stuff going on. My parents argued all the time and my dad drank too much. The conditions in which we lived were horrible, and I realize now how surprising it is that child protective services did not intervene. My anxiety disorder did not begin with my first panic attack in the halls of my high school. I have always been a nervous person. I spent a lot of my childhood at the doctor’s office because of stomach pain and I bit my fingernails compulsively. The older I got, the worse my anxiety issues became. Of course, I was not diagnosed with anxiety until I was in high school. Even then, the doctors did not say that I had an anxiety disorder. They just said that I was having panic attacks and gave me tools for how to deal with them.

 

I coped with my disorder until after I graduated from college. However, I still knew that I had something wrong with me that separated me from everyone else. I could not handle certain situations the way everyone else did, and I struggled with being different. When I was put in a situation where I was asked to deal with any kind of conflict or tackle anything unfamiliar, I panicked. My heart would race and I would burst into tears. I was labeled “hypersensitive” by those around me, and everyone walked on eggshells around me for fear that they would say or do something that would cause a meltdown.

 

When I started teaching, my meltdowns became more frequent. I was unhappy at the high school, and feared that I had made a horrible decision. I cried every day and struggled with how to cope with my failures. After another year of teaching in the public education system, I finally went to the doctor, and was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. I was prescribed with an anti-anxiety medication, which seemed to aid in easing some of my anxieties. I took it three times a day, and if I missed a dose, I could tell that I had missed a dose. I became jittery and nervous, and did not calm down until I took my next dosage at the appropriate time.

 

That worked for me for a while until I injured my back in January of this year. With my injury, I could not lift or bend, which left me unable to perform most of the tasks that I considered my “job” as a wife. My husband was forced to do all the major cooking and cleaning, as well as washing the dishes and doing the laundry. All the while, I watched from the couch, feeling completely useless. Why did he keep me around?

 

My pain also changed the way I taught. I was no longer the teacher who was up amongst her students, pacing the classroom to ensure that all of her students were engaged and focused. Instead, I spent most of each class period behind my desk sitting in my computer chair with a lumbar pillow behind my back. It was the only way I could make it through the day.

 

When I came home, I was a sobbing mess. I felt worthless. I felt like my husband could find someone better than me. I felt like he deserved someone better than me. I laid the option of divorce out in the table and he shoved it away with zero consideration. He reminded me of our vow to stay together in sickness and in health, and promised me that he meant that with his whole heart. It meant everything to me to hear him say that, but it did not make me feel like any less of a woman. I pushed myself every day to do as much as I could, but with every bit that I pushed, I caused myself additional pain. I was in a lose-lose situation.

 

I had been to all kinds of doctors about my back, and no one could find the cause of my pain. I finally went to a doctor who not only prescribed me some strong pain medication, but also heard my pleas about my anxiety and how my injury was affecting my marriage. I explained to her that the anxiety medication I was taking just wasn’t working anymore. She asked me how I was taking it, and when I said three times a day, she explained to me that the kind of medication that I had been prescribed was an as needed drug and that I was only supposed to take them when I was having an anxiety attack. She prescribed me another anxiety medication that I take once a day, and that has changed my life. I can now cope with situations that would previously have sent me into a panic. My personality has shifted into the person that I was before anxiety took over my life.

 

I am not saying that medication is for everyone. There are multiple coping techniques for anxiety such as meditation and breathing techniques. Many people with anxiety also turn to activities such as journaling or exercise to ease their mind and help with their disorder. Those techniques have been proven to work for people with anxiety, although not for every person. When you have a disorder like anxiety or depression, you have to find what works for you. For me, I found that I needed to take medication to get my disorder under control so that I could get back to the life that I was used to living and the life that my husband deserved to have with me. It is a choice that each individual needs to make for themselves.

 

The key is that anxiety does not have to be a disorder that ruins your life. With the right treatment, a person with anxiety can live a normal life with few limitations. I am living proof of that.

 

Something to Believe in

Belief: an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. As children, we believed in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. We believe in higher powers that are in control of our fate. Many believe an eternity beyond this world in which we exist. We all believe in something. Having beliefs give us hope. Beliefs give us clarity and understanding in our fellow man and the choices that he makes. I have written down ten things that I believe, and I hope that my beliefs might give you encouragement.

  1. I believe in destiny. My husband and I will tell you that some force had to bring us together, because if it were up to either one of us, we would not be married today. It is the most amazing story, of how we met, and one I will share in another post, I promise, but I assure you, destiny played a huge role in it. Long story short, we met because his dad and the lady that I worked for during my time in college started dating. I resisted even meeting him. When we did meet, I fell for him immediately, but he resisted, because he thought that they were using me so that he wouldn’t take his dad’s new relationship so hard. It took almost a year after we met before we started dating. He was destined to be my husband, and I believe that with every fiber of my being.
  2. I believe in love at first sight. When I first met my husband, I knew instantly that I wanted to be with him. He didn’t even have to speak. I knew by the way he carried himself and the way he interacted with others that he was perfect for me. I believe that you can fall in love with someone the moment that you meet them, and fall more in love with them every single day. Trust me on this one: I am living proof.
  3. I believe in commitment. My husband and I take the vows we made on our wedding day very seriously. Too often, those vows are just words, and couples are quick to file for divorce. My husband and I refuse to give up on one another. We never argue. We discuss our conflicting opinions on issues, but we never raise our voices to one another. We never go to bed without resolving whatever issue we are discussing. We work together. We have been married for almost two years and known each other for four, and we have never had an argument. We apologize to each other when we are wrong. We admit our faults. We share when we are struggling. It is working for us. The most important thing is that we absolutely refuse to give up on one another.
  4. I believe in saying “I love you.” I tell my husband “I love you” every time I talk to him. Whether it is before I hang up the phone, at the end of a text conversation while he is at work, or before one of us leaves the house, I am sure to let him know how I feel about him. I do the same thing with my parents, his dad and girlfriend, his grandparents, and anyone else that I love. It is so important to me to let those that I love know it. It’s not that they don’t know, but you never know when your last second on this earth is going to be, and I want to ensure that there is no doubt about how I feel about those I love.
  5. I believe that laughing is the better alternative to crying. My husband gets so annoyed at me, because when we are put in frustrating situations, I laugh about it. I can’t help it—it’s a knee jerk reaction for me, because if I don’t laugh about it, I will cry about it. And let’s be honest, it is so much better to laugh than to cry. I have been working hard not to get upset about the little things, so if I can get humor out of them, it is a win for me!
  6. I believe that music heals. When things really suck, I believe that a good song can shift your mood. I have been in situations where I have been having the worst day ever, and turned on some upbeat music, and my mood has changed drastically. I am not alone on this one. A 2013 study from the University of Missouri found exactly that—when a person listens to upbeat music when they are sad, it helps improve their mood. However, I also listen to sad music when I am down in the dumps. In particular, when I am thinking about my mammaw and just need to cry it out, I play “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan, and let the tears roll. I feel better for not bottling up the emotions that I needed to release.
  7. I believe that most people are kind. My dad jokes that he and I have never met a stranger, which is true, because we both have a tendency to carry on a conversation with people that we have never met. As a child, I used to be incredibly shy and wouldn’t talk to anyone. As I grew older, I came out of my shell and now I cans trike up a conversation with just about anyone I encounter. I have found that most people are friendly, and if you treat them with kindness and respect, they will reciprocate. Everyone has a story to tell and a burden to bear, and if you lend a kind ear, they will welcome that kindness. People are only hateful when given a reason to be.
  8. I believe in second chances. I believe in second chances in so many capacities. I believe in forgiveness. I also believe in redemption after missed opportunities. I think that that everyone deserves a second chance to make things right. If someone has the courage to come back and try again, I think that they should have that opportunity. I am very fortunate that I have an understanding husband who let me leave my career and try a different avenue when we realized that teaching wasn’t for me. Otherwise, I would have been stuck in my misery. I don’t think that God intends for us to be miserable, which is why He is the God of second chances and continually offers second chances through an altar of forgiveness. We need to model His grace and forgive when given the opportunity.
  9. I believe that dreams can become a reality. I have always wanted to be a writer. I wanted to have my work published and for people to read it. Of course, my dream was to have novels and to be a bestselling author, but my dream has come to fruition with this blog. I am writing, and people are reading my work. I hope that I am making a difference, even if it is on a smaller scale than I may have planned.
  10. I believe in hard work. I am the only child of tenant tobacco farmers. I grew up in a home of extreme poverty. My parents get up at daylight and work until dark for less than a minimum wage salary. But they work hard and own everything they have. They taught me the value of hard work, and I believe that when you work hard, you value what you have more than when it comes easy for you. Coming from the background that I came from, I so genuinely appreciate my husband and what he does for our family, our home, and my education. My parents instilled those values in me, and for that, I am ever thankful.

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