Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Movies

As I was getting ready to go see a movie with a friend last night I noticed my movie anxiety start to kick in. What is movie anxiety you ask? You mean you haven't heard of it before?

  movie anxiety - all of the below attack your brain simultaneously     before you leave to see a movie
  1.   You can't be late - if you are late you will 
    1. miss the previews... of course you could watch said previews on the computer, but still
    2. risk the movie being sold out... um that almost never happens, but still
    3. not have enough time to buy snacks... the added calories are not needed, but still
  2.  You must get a good seat - if you get a bad one the whole movie experience might as well have never happened... of course all the theaters here are stadium seating so there really isn't a bad seat, but still
  3. You must get snacks - if you don't have snacks you will not enjoy the movie and you need to make sure to stop at the dollar store to grab some and make sure you have water but not too much water or you will have to pee in the middle of the movie therefore making the whole movie super uncomfortable or making you miss a plot change
  4. You must hope and pray you do not sit near a chatty cathy/chad or the snoring elderly  
I have dealt with this forever and EVERY time it hits me I think... WHAT THE HECK ELISABETH!? What is the worst thing that can happen!? You miss the movie... BIG DEAL!? 

And as I was yelling that very thing to myself last night while preparing to leave I started thinking... what if my friend KNEW what was going on in my head!?  She may think I was a bit looney and heaven forbid, may even catch a glimpse of my imperfect self. She may think "why can't ElisaBeth just be a "normal" movie-goer and not care if some dude sitting next to her sings along to the movie soundtrack as we watch? She needs to not get a tension headache preparing to pick her candy of choice, and needs to just get it together." 

Then it hit me... gasp... guess what!? People are imperfect all around me... it is time to embrace that I can be too. My friends can and will see me for who I am ... broken... and with funny strange quirks such as movie anxiety. I too, will see them for who they are, and love them all the same. Your true friends will stick with you no matter your quirks, and though eye rolling may occur at times, will love you for who you are.

I have been blessed to have so many amazing friends over my lifetime. I feel they have had essential roles in shaping who I am today. I find that in this season of life I have come to treasure my true friends more than ever. Possibly because I am now older and wiser, maybe because being with them is a breath of fresh air in the chaos of cute little ones, but also because I am able to see them for who they are... amazingly gorgeous and flawed... and I'm ok with that. I am too!!! 
 
Thank you God for placing friends in my life and for showing me your grace and love, so that I may try, though fail and fail again (which is the point), to extend the same to my friends. 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  Hebrews 10:24-25 

Who wants to go to the movies? I promise you will have the best seat in the house and be provided with ample snacks!
           


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Picture

Somedays... well most days... I have a moment... or a bunch of moments, where I think to myself:

 "Am I doing enough for my kids, am I being enough for them, am I exemplifying love, God's love? Is the love Dhrumil and I have for each other being seen by Mikayla and Nolan or do they just notice the chaos and sometimes frustration that comes after a long day and a thrown together dinner?"

On those harder days... those days where depression still lurks and bears its ugly head, my answer is always a big fat "NO!" I once again find myself clouded and unable to see my true self... my Godly self... covered in grace and illuminating love that can only come from Him. The true person who He has created me to be. Instead I see someone full of failure and mistakes who will only be able to pass on that failure and those mistakes to my offspring.

Last week was a tough one for me.  Setback weeks (as Dhrumil and I tend to call them) usually are. To put a smile on my face Dhrumil and Nolan came home from the store with one rose for Mikayla and one for myself. After putting the beauties in their vases I set about getting the kids in their seats for dinner and running around in my usual flurry of dinner chaos. As I was spooning food onto the kids' plates the song Better Together started playing over the speaker. Being our wedding song, Dhrumil grabbed my hand and pulled me into the family room to dance. Of course I was still in my "chaos dinner mode" but with Dhrumil's help, and the kids' cheers, I was able to stop for a minute and just dance. As we twirled around the carpeted floor Mikayla's megawatt smile was hard to miss though I didn't think much of it at the time. After dinner Mikayla was on a mission... she sat down with markers and paper and with determination on her face silently worked. Then she handed us this...

She captured the moment perfectly... I smiled, told her how lovely it was, felt loved and then hung it up in our room.

It wasn't until about a week later that I truly looked at the picture. My clouded view had somewhat lifted and I was struck by what I saw. Mikayla's view of the moment... the truth. All I had remembered about that day was what I hadn't been able to give her, but what she remembered about that day was what I did give her... happiness and love shown between her parents. This was the reminder I needed... I am doing so much more in a positive light than I am able to fully comprehend. I am doing a good job!

Dhrumil brought up a great question after I told him about my thoughts on the picture...If God were to draw a picture of you... what would it look like? Truly?

His child... beautiful, loved beyond measure, cherished, cared for, ENOUGH.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Small Voice

"Mama why don't you run?"

It was dinner time and the four of us were sitting around the table. The excitement from a busy family day was slowly waning and exhaustion and early bedtimes were creeping into view. Glancing at Mikayla, wisps of dark hair framing her face, large soulful eyes staring straight into mine, I could see see she was waiting for an answer.

I gasped... how could my four year old hone in onto something like this? How could such a simple question send my mind reeling? It is true I hadn't run very much in the past month... I have a long list of excuses and reasons why, but in this moment none of them seemed good enough.

I struggled to answer... and regrettably the first words out of my mouth were "Did someone tell you to ask that? Why are you even asking me that?"

I saw confusion come over Mikayla's face and I realized I had spoken harshly. The anger, guilt and frustration I had been feeling at myself for not running had come out in my answer. Quickly I tried to regain my footing and followed up with something along the lines of "Oh you are wondering because I was running so much before...um... sometimes mommy just gets busy, but I do want to run again."

This answer seemed to suffice and she went back to eating while happily chatting with Dhrumil about the day and giggling at some crazy antics Nolan was doing with his grilled cheese.

Thankful Mikayla was able to move on so easily from our exchange I sat overcome with all the thoughts and feelings that were pouring over me like a pounding waterfall. I kept hearing her little voice and seeing her eyes that seemed to pierce into my very depths. Why was this one question hitting me so hard? Why was I shaken to my very core? This was about so much more than running.

I felt I had let her down.

Ever Learning
I have never been face to face with the feelings of letting my child down. Of appearing vulnerable and seen as giving up on something... appearing weak... appearing human. For as much as I preach to myself and others how important it is for our children to see our imperfections, it was like a slap in the face knowing my daughter had just seen mine.

And really... who set up this "have to do" list anyways? ME! It should be a "have to do the best you can but you won't get it all done and that's ok" list!

And so I am going to try again. I am going to just be me. One who is imperfect in every way, one who has been saved by God's amazing grace and love. I pray that I can teach my children that it is ok to make mistakes...to be human. Life is an incredible balance of trying and trusting. We can do anything with Him and yet we will continue to mess up  and not do it all because... hey... that's life and that's OK.

"There are things that will remain unfinished in life, 
not because we do them poorly, but because that's how life simply is."

I went for a run this morning... I ran for me... with no strings attached... and it felt great. And if I don't run tomorrow... it's ok...

Monday, September 8, 2014

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

Last Friday night I found myself amidst 700+ people in the middle of a field in "Amish paradise" Pennsylvania. I definitely felt out of my element amongst the gobs of people (many Amish) who were all psyching up to run a 5K down tree and corn-lined country roads and through a field normally reserved for tractors.

Gulping in air pungent with farmland, the Amish pasta party and fuel from the burners filling up hot air balloons, I tried to calm my anxiety and remember why I was running...

SELF RESPECT 

A few months ago I was challenged by my counselor to find something that would be symbolic of the self respect I was building within myself. I started running back in April and along with the obvious physical energy it has given me, the mental clarity has been refreshing.

Ready to DO this!
Typically my type of running requires me alone, on a road, with nothing but the wind in my ears and a tune in my head to keep my pace up and my thoughts out. My jogging/running has been pressure free and 100% for myself.

My challenge for this 5K was to keep the pressure out while reminding myself that I was building:

pride and confidence in oneself; a feeling that one is behaving with honor and dignity...

As well as celebrating the fact that I was doing something I NEVER thought I would... that in itself
was confidence building!

And so with all of that on my mind I lined up with the hundreds of people waiting for the starting shot. Dhrumil and the kids were on the sidelines cheering me on and the friend who had encouraged me to sign up was right beside me. I was ready!
my crazy sprint

The energy and exhilaration that comes from running with so many people was astounding. I felt light as I ran... all judgements, pressures and anxieties floated up up and away, vanishing past the hot air balloons overhead. 

There were two times during that last mile when I was hit by cramps in my side, but my determination to continue running helped me charge on. I kept telling myself "SELF RESPECT" and "JUST CONQUER IT LIKE YOU HAVE BEEN CONQUERING PPD!"Coming up to the finish line I was overcome with crazy energy and hearing the cheers from Mikayla and Dhrumil I sprinted to the end. 

I did it... I showed myself respect and love. I finished the race... and I did it with dignity and honor. I pray I can use this illustration going forward. Each new hurdle life throws can be mastered God's grace, love and pride and confidence in myself.


Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what lies behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize 
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus
Philippians 3: 13-14

Praying my kids see God's confidence in them so they can see it in themselves!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Zoo Experience... Most photos can be deceiving



This zoo story needed to be prefaced by some important facts:
  • As I write this I am eating a mug of ice cream
  • The kids and I decided to join Dhrumil on his business trip to Toledo in hopes of enjoying the
    indoor pool, visiting friends in Dayton and basically not having to endure a whole week at home alone.
  • A week ago Nolan caught the Hand, Foot and Mouth virus...
  • 3 days after that Mikayla caught a milder version 
  • 3 days after that Dhrumil caught the adult version (yes by that time we were in Toledo)
  • Nolan has been waking up at 5:30am in the hotel, this morning it was 4:30 and he fell back asleep in our bed, head jammed against my side, for only about a half hour 
  • Nolan is going through a "yell talk" and "attempting to run everywhere or only be held by Mama while sucking his thumb" stage 
  • Mikayla is going through a... Yeah don't know how to explain her stage ;)
Ok so basically...  One heck of a loooooong week and a half, tired kids, tired mama, need to leave the hotel, it's Toledo, there's a zoo... type of thing going on.

And so... Did I think it would be all roses? No. Ok fine maybe a small part of me hoped for a miracle. I have never attempted something of this magnitude with both if them  in tow before, but I decided to just give it a go and if it got rough we would just leave.

We pulled into the zoo and after taking 5-10 minutes arranging the double stroller, strategically placing water and snacks within reach and taking a deep breath telling myself I could DO THIS I went to grab Nolan who had just fallen asleep. He was not happy I disturbed his slumber and let out a very loud wail as I tried to lovingly pin him down and strap him into the stroller. Mikayla got in easily and the three of us (one screaming with every part of him) walked to the entrance invoking  every pity stare and sighs of "thank God that's not my child" from all the people we passed. 

He eventually stopped and for about an hour we had a really good time. I had us go on the train ride around Africa and though the picture above may show what the majority of our time looked like, we did have a joyful experience on that train.

And here is the last hour in a nutshell:
  • Pushing my double stroller all over a zoo takes physical muscles
  • Pushing my stroller all over the zoo with a whining 4 year old and holding a crying 1 year old takes more physical muscle and even more mental muscle (especially when it includes and very steep hill to get to the overpass)
  • The kids would rather play on the zoo playground than watch the monkeys play on their playground
  • When I said "Mikayla look the wolves are so close" she said "can we see something else"
  • When I said "Nolan look the wolves are so close" he said "ball ball" (there was a ball in their area)
  • Throwing pennies in the fountain was the high point of the visit
  • When watching a mother struggle with her double stroller and heavy doors, trying to make it into the bird experience house with the grace of a peacock, DONT JUST STARE!
  • Mikayla on being hungry "I'm so hungry my tongue is going to turn red if I don't eat soon"
  • $8.50 is not a well spent dollar on a PB&J that was refused by a 1 year old
How long did we stay? Two hours... I was hot, sweaty, carrying Nolan, pushing a very tired Mikayla and just wanted to ask them to stick me in the Ape house where I'd yell "I give up!"

BUT it was worth it because..

I am thankful for seeing Mikayla's face light up in the bird house as the birds flew above her. I am thankful for watching Nolan popping his little face in and out of the play beaver house, giggles filling up the hollow cave. I am thankful for the quiet train ride, holding my babies close, feeling the wind in my hair and watch in the magnificent giraffes. I am thankful to know that I did it! A year ago, knee deep on my recovery,  I couldn't even go a week alone with the kids. 

This was a victory for me... All that other stuff? Just good stories to tell to the kids when they are older. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Search for the Truth

Being a believer of Christ since I was four years old, and having a personal relationship with Him every day since, does not seem to merit the title of this post. And yet... here it is.

Here I am.

It used to be as easy as knowing God, trusting God, fully believing in God... and that was that. And that is still how it is for most people I know.

Tim Keller  has said "Suffering awakens us out of our haunted sleep of spiritual sufficiency into a serious search for the divine."

When I read this quote a sense of relief calmed my anxious soul. It is ok to question. It is ok to search
for the truth. I still believed, and yet I wasn't 100% anymore. What did my relationship with God mean anymore? I had felt so abandoned by God in my darkest hours that I could no longer trust that He is who He says He is.

Message on a parking garage wall... I found it when I needed to
Lately... ok more like the past 10 months... I have been doing some major soul searching. My soul searching usually goes like this:

  • Feel anger towards God about my depression and all associated with it
  • Unable to speak to God
  • Must force self to go to church, to talk about God, to make it like all was ok with Him
  • God speaks through someone or something and it makes me think
  • I talk it out to Dhrumil or anyone I feel will listen with an open mind
  • I move a little closer back in the direction of Him
  • I have a setback
  • Feel anger towards God about my depression and all associated with it
You get the general idea...

Where I get confused about this soul searching journey is when I read over my posts early on in my diagnosis of PPD. They are full of suffering and yet they are also full of hope and trust in God. I was THANKFUL for my depression and I felt there was a REASON to it and I knew that God was with me. It wasn't until many months into it, when I started to mentally feel better, that the anger began.

Which brings me to last night, my incessant questioning and my latest challenge... what is the point to all of this suffering? Is it even worth living in such a horrible place? God what is the POINT to this life?

I saw the movie The Giver and it got me thinking... more like sat in the car after I saw it and stared into oblivion for good long while. And then I drove to the bookstore and sat in the bookstore and stared into oblivion for a good long while.

Do you see things in black and white? Wouldn't it be easier that way? No one would judge the color of one's skin. Life's rules would be understood. You do or you don't. Order would reign supreme.

What about the Bible? It could be interpreted in one way and one way only... every passage would be completely understood and every person would understand it in the way it was "supposed" to be understood. There would be no gray, no blurring, just clarity.

I will spare you the "book review" but the basic gist of the movie is that a community sees in black and white, they have been "spared" of all pain and suffering and they all go about their business in contentment and near perfection. The thing is that they have also been "spared" what love and true joy is.

I won't ruin the ending, but this was my takeaway:

With all of the crap in the world... the horrors... there is joy and love and so much to experience and through these experiences we still can see the true beauty of life. We were given choices, but there is also just life that doesn't come from choice, but just comes from living in a fallen world. But those moments of joy and love... those moments that give us glimpses of heaven and a tiny bit of what God's love is like... it makes it all worth it.

Black and white would not give you this. Clarity would not give you this. Like Mother Theresa said "I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust."

I have trust that this where I am supposed to be in my journey. Trust that hope can once more reign supreme. And trust that I will once again run into the arms of my Savior.

Monday, August 11, 2014

All Quiet on the Social Media Front

Something new has been evolving in myself. It is called the JUST DO IT effect. Usually when I make a big decision I debate it in my head, talk it over with Dhrumil and friends, debate it again, maybe get my toes wet with the idea, maybe back out, then get my toes wet again... you get the idea. Anyways the first time I noticed this "new me" was when I decided to start running back in April. I had been toying with the idea of exercising and eating better but then one night I said to myself... you just need to get healthy... and the next day, and consecutive days after, I did just that. The same thing happened with my social media pause...

A few weeks ago I decided to "break up" with Facebook and Instagram for a while. The thought of doing this terrified me for many reasons:

- What would I do when I was sitting in a chair with a few brain moments to spare?
- Who would I share my adorable kid pictures with?
- Who would I share with the AMAZING ice cream I was eating RIGHT at that moment!?
- How many births/marriages/adoptions/growths of little children/birthdays would I miss?
- Whose vacation pictures would I miss?
- How many good recipes would I miss?
- What would I do with my iphone?
- What would I do during commercials?
- I would be more - gasp - out - gasp - of the loop - gasp - than I already am being in mama-loo-loo land gasp!
- What would I do without the gobs of information posted by my friends?
- How would I parent without all of the important top 30 lists of how I could be better?

Enjoying THIS moment... wait is that over-share?
But even with all of those reasons (which seem SO petty and SO ridiculous when I read them) I decided that it just needed to be done.

My motivation? I wanted to honor and remember the time that I spent in the hospital a year ago. While
there, I was completely unplugged from tv, computer and phone. It was pretty freeing and though I didn't want to go all the way this time, I thought that giving up social media would be one small way that I could pay homage to what I had gone through.

And so I woke up one morning, a few days before my hospitalization "anniversary" and decided then and there that I would begin my day without a media life line.

How was it?

Well the first few days were tough. I'd stare my phone I was holding and try to think of something else I could do. I started reading the news (super depressing) because I had nothing else to read on my phone. I started texting pictures of the kids to my parents and sister because someone needed to see them besides me. But then something pretty cool happened. I put down my phone and focused more on my kids, my husband, my surroundings and myself. Here are somethings I learned:

- I took moments of silence as just that... moments to let my brain rest
- I wasn't tied into wondering why so and so decided to go there and eat that and instead I was able to enjoy where I was at in that moment
- I stopped thinking about my every day moves as potential Facebook posts
- I took photos for me and no one else
- I enjoyed what I was doing in that moment and not thinking about how I could "share" what I was doing with others
- I didn't compare myself to others in the sometimes "fictitious" world of social media
- I didn't feel the need to pull out my phone and scan status updates while standing in line or at a stop light (I know I know the phone shouldn't be anywhere near me while driving)

The list could really go on and on. Bottom line... it was a good thing a VERY good thing. I felt so much better about myself. I actually didn't want to come back.

Well old habits die hard and after my two week hiatus I took off right where I left off. It was so easy to fall back into checking status feeds constantly.

Recently Dhrumil and I have been having a conversation about if our lives would be better without social media. And what kind of example do we want to give our kids? We agreed that life would probably be a little better... but we also agreed that this is a constantly changing world, one that I, in mama-lala-land, would like to keep up with.

And so going forward I am going to try to instill some ground rules about social media for myself. Bottom line... I want to be able to get to a place where social media and I can coexist in harmony. I want to make sure I take time to smell the roses and not always have to take a picture and share it with all. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Dentist

Dentist... hearing that word usually revokes most to shudder in fear. I have yet to meet a person who gets excited by the prospect of teeth mutilation... I mean cleaning.

My lifetime of dentistry has been far from fun. I was always "that kid" who had those "deep grooves" in my teeth which were prone to "sticky situations" leading to cavities. I was also blessed with what I now understand to be "phase 1 AND 2" of orthodontic work. I started going when I was 8 and ended when I was 17. As an adult I have come to the conclusion that giving birth is more enjoyable than the scraping and poking of my poor and precious teeth.

So now you have my history.

When it came to bringing my own children to the dentist I was far from enthused. However, I needed to put on a happy face so they would think it was fun and exciting. Before Mikayla's first visit six months ago I spoke to her about the exciting passage into becoming a dentist going girl... "OOOO you get prizes! Yes you get to sit in your own chair! You get to pick the flavor of your tooth paste! A prize will be yours at the end! What color tooth brush will you pick!?" Happy dance... smiling... all the while cringing inside at the very thought of her laying silently and letting someone touch her teeth.

The appointment came and went and she did an amazing job. I had nothing to fear and when they asked me if Nolan would like a back to back appointment the next time Mikayla came in I didn't hesitate to accept. My rationale being it would be better to introduce him early on and since Mikayla is such a champ it would be a walk in the park. Excuse me... what!?

And then we come to today.

Normally preparation is the key to success for Mikayla. She is the type of kid who likes to know what is going to happen and why and how. Despite that fact, I didn't feel the need to prepare her with the dentist happy dance and words of adoration because:

  1. With her memory she would remember everything including how "fun" it was 
  2. I forgot
  3. She did great last time
  4. Life is chaos and I forgot
I also didn't feel the need to prepare Mikayla that her brother was going to also be getting his teeth cleaned because:

  1. No big deal
  2. It will work like clock work
  3. Yup
We arrived in the office at 9am sharp and after being given 6 pages to fill out (Nolan needed his own set of records... WHY can't they just copy Mikayla's?) I was dragged by my four year old to Frozen playing in the waiting room. While trying to wrangle Nolan and placate Mikayla who realized it was just the dvd menu of Frozen playing, I willed myself to remember dates and phone numbers and the like.
Our name was called and with my excited words of "hooray it's our turn" Mikayla followed me into the back. As we headed into the exam room Mikayla stopped and refused to go in. Wrangling Nolan, diaper bag and clipboard with most pages still not filled out, I was not physically or mentally prepared for her refusal. Thankfully the sweet hygienist got her in with "let's pick out a toothbrush." As I sat in the seat next to the dentist chair waiting for Mikayla to choose her toothbrush "Mama there are too many choices!" I took a deep breath and was thankful for Beauty and the Beast playing in perfect view. Then she wouldn't sit on the chair. And nothing would get her there except for me. And so with both kids sitting on my lap (Nolan squirming) we tried to coax Mikayla to open her mouth for the "chocolate" tooth paste. Not happening... she wanted brother to go first. The hygienist left to go talk to the dentist and I frantically filled out the rest of the paperwork.

After his cleaning
We were moved to another room, I again had to sit on the chair with Nolan on my lap. Staring at my legs that I had forgotten to shave in... "how many days?" I prayed no one would notice and looked over to see a happy Mikayla watching us and chatting with the hygienist. This whole time I uttered things like  "ooo look at that light" and "your turn next to get a teeth tickle!"  Nolan screamed in my arms as the dentist brushed his teeth. After an eternity (more like 5 minutes) the dentist was done, I was sweaty and had the beginnings of a tension headache and Nolan was giggling and playing with his prize.

Back to the other room we went (why, I do not know) and again Mikayla refused to get in the chair. I got back on, both kids in lap, dentist at the ready with determined "don't mess with me kid" look on his face. And then within about 30 seconds the following... Mikayla wouldn't open her mouth, dentist tried to "help" her which I knew in an instant was not the way to go, she started to scream, Nolan started to scream, hygienist took Nolan to be helpful which made his scream louder, Mikayla screamed like no one's business, I grabbed Nolan back, firmly told the dentist we were leaving and would come back another time when I was without Nolan. Headache pounding, kids whimpering, dentist and hygienist staring, dentist offering "she just wants to control the situation" UM SHE IS 4... we left.

Of course as a mother having my brain and depression still in the picture, the following had been running through my mind during those 30 awful seconds. "I don't want her to be traumatized by this, she will never come back without screaming, I'm not having her teeth cleaned by force, my children are screaming so loud, why isn't my child listening, why isn't she perfect, what if I'm not parenting her correctly, this is my fault, what should I be doing differently, what will these people think of me".... and it goes on and on.

After making it to the van and shedding a few of my own "OMG THAT WAS AWFUL" tears, I decided we would head to the park. "Why are we going to the park mommy?" "Because, unlike that visit to the dentist, we are going to have fun!" Mikayla giggled and the high standards I held on myself and on her melted in the joy that filled her face.

So how do we go forward? I'm definitely instituting a one child - one parent ratio for all dentist visits going forward for at least a few years.

Our experience was another in-your-face reminder of this thing we call life. It's not perfect, we are not perfect, and we are doing the best we can. Letting go of judgement on myself, letting go of the judgement others may be giving and just moving through each step with the ease of an elephant on point shoes... bumbling, falling, but getting up again... is what I have to do.

Ironically I have a filling tonight. Thankfully it will be alone...

They keep me on my toes
Turning the day around


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Next Steps

I have categorized the past two years of my life, indicating some of my feelings during those times, as such:
  • Pre-Pennsylvania (Working mom of 1, stable and happy but ready for a change) 2012
  • Pre-baby Pennsylvania (Stay at home mom of 1, lonely and isolated and trying to adjust while throwing myself into every possible activity to meet people) September 2012 - December 2012
  • Post-baby/pre-PPD identified (Stay at home mom of 2, lonely and trying to figure out parenting 2 kids while feeling intensely overwhelmed and numb) December 2012 - March 2013
  • Post-baby PPD identified (Losing self, trying to fit into new life, grappling with diagnosis) March 2013 - June 2013
  • Intense PPD (Chaos in the mind, a blur, loss of time, crisis mode) June 2013 - September 2013
  • Rebuilding myself with PPD (Trying to put the pieces of myself back together including the new pieces that I came across through intense therapy and learning to live with my illness) September 2013 - February 2014
  • Post intense PPD/Moving forward (No longer in survival mode, learning what it's like to be feeling better for the first time as a stay at home mom of 2 with friends and a life in PA) February 2014 - present
Wow... when I look at all I have gone through written out like that... I really want to just give myself a big hug and also give myself grace. That statement in-itself is a HUGE testament to how far I have come and how much I have changed. I have never been one to give myself grace even in the midst of such horrible suffering that was out of my control. I am so thankful that I now see clearly. 

Lately I have been having experiences which normally would be no big deal, but I see as huge next steps. These experiences haven't happened since "pre-Pennsylvania" times and therefore feel brand new. I recently accomplished one...

This past weekend I flew to Nashville to see a dear friend get married. When the invitation first came in the mail I knew without a doubt that I would be going; however I didn't think through the ramifications of where I was at (Post intense PPD) and when I had last flown alone (Pre-Pennsylvania) Dhrumil planned out all of the logistics for me (because he had realized the huge step I was taking even if I hadn't) and even printed out a wonderful itinerary and booked a gorgeous hotel. 

A few days before my flight I started to feel intensely anxious and overwhelmed by the slightest details of the trip having no idea how I was going to pull it off. The cycle of fear and doubt crept in which led to annoyance and frustration at myself. Pre-Pennsylvania I didn't have a problem with this! Pre-Pennsylvania I went on business trips alone including one while pregnant with Nolan overseas with a stop in Amsterdam to sightsee ALONE! How could I be freaking out about this!? Then I remembered that I was a new person, still fragile in my delicate newly adjusted skin. I had to give myself grace and love and remind myself that I was ready for this next step.

The trip was truly amazing. My therapist had challenged me to not take on too much during this short trip (ie. sightseeing, go go GOING) and go for the purpose of the wedding and that was it. I have been learning that I take on way too much and push myself to un-human expectations thus leaving me an empty shell with hardly anything left for my family, let alone myself. And so I took her challenge and let me just say I learned a huge lesson on what taking on just enough means. Some of what I did:
  • Drove to Philly, took parking shuttle, took plane, took shuttle to hotel, took taxi, took limo, hailed
    Me and the beautiful bride Dara
    taxi amidst the super drunk people of Nashville, took taxi to airport next day, took plane, took shuttle, drove car home
  • Went with the flow
  • Read magazines
  • Started a new book
  • Took a nap
  • Ate slowly at the hotel restaurant while reading
  • Took multiple showers and washed my hair every time (yes this is huge when you are a mama)
  • Spent precious hours with my friend while she got ready for the wedding
  • Was filled with joy at seeing her marry and had fun meeting her friends
  • Slept in
  • Had breakfast in bed
  • Came home tired but not TOO TIRED for my family and was not overwhelmed going into the week
And so here I am. Proud of myself for accomplishing a next step. I have been through a ton, but I am moving forward! I am slowly toughening up my new skin and loving myself in it.
I didn't want to leave the bed! ;-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Grand Conclusion

So it only took me... say... four and a half years to come upon what I shall now call The Grand Conclusion (cue the trumpets). Staring me in the face this whole time was the simple answer to my most innate and inner question yearning to be solved multiple times a day.

(cue more trumpets)

My house... my dwelling place... my peaceful abode... well it's going to be messy almost always. And I am just going to have to be ok with that.

SIGH

There you have it.

6am this morning... all sleeping peacefully in their beds, all things silently sitting in their places, toys picked up, kitchen clean, toilets flushed, laundry folded, no strange smells coming from anywhere.

6:15am and the little Tasmanian devil yells to all that he has awakened. An hour later (and already one clean up later done by my wonderful husband before he went to work) and things have started to appear in disarray.

9:00am having escaped the downstairs toy pile-up and half cleaned breakfast dishes I was attempting to
get dressed when I heard a huge crash in Nolan's room. The sound of multiple toys colliding together sent chills down my spine. The laughter that immediately followed allowed me to continue dressing and postpone the inevitable survey of damage.

9:15am I came out of the bathroom to see ALL of the pillows we owned surrounding Nolan in the
middle of my bedroom. He was gleefully allowing his sister to pile them around him and the more she added the more he cheered.

It was in that moment where I stopped the words that were about to leave my lips... the words that would have put a damper to their fun and would have been something along the lines of "what are you do... you have to clean... what the... why do I even...what's the point in... ahhhh." Instead I took a deep breath and The Grand Conclusion hit me in the face.

The kids were having fun... the cleaning would eventually happen... my world was ok with, or HAD to be ok with, mess. I decided to let their fun outweigh my sense of urgency to put every pillow back in its place. There are more important things in life and in these moments of little kid chaos than to constantly keep a straightened up home.

And so here I sit... staring at a mess... too tired to get up and clean it. And even if I did nap time will come to an end and the mess would be back again in two seconds flat. So I guess it's time to embrace the new me... the me who can go to sleep with the family room littered with toys, dishes in the sink and a less then perfect smell in the house. This season is sure to end and I don't want to look back on it remembering all the cleaning I did, but instead remembering the giggles and joy that can only come from two adorable chubby cheeked little kids.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I Blame Yo Yo Ma

Ah nostalgia... how I love you... how I hate you!

You often catch me by surprise, capturing my mind by the beauty of a memory. Toying with me as I remember who I used to be, and implanting longing to be that person again. You make me feel the highs that I once felt from my former self, the jubilation of a season that is past.

Then the loathing I have for you seeps like something sour that is meant to be sweet. I'm consumed with sadness for I can not experience those moments again. I feel anger towards myself for allowing myself to miss the past.

This bundle of feelings... this brain that will not cease to just be. This all came about today because of
Yo Yo Ma... I blame him!

The kids were strangely quiet and serene while I prepared dinner, allowing me to skip the normal Frozen soundtrack in lieu of something a little more peaceful... I decided on Yo Yo Ma. From the first notes of the cello I was immediately transported away from my vegetable chopping and mama-being, to a time when classical music, the violin, being an artist... they defined who I was. All the feelings about who I was then, and all of the work I put towards being that person settled over me. I remembered the camaraderie of other like minded young people, the friendships formed out of loving the same thing. I remembered the moment I watched Yo Yo Ma play... the opportunity to meet him... the anxiety that kept me from meeting him.... then the annoyance at my teenage self for skipping such an amazing opportunity.

Silly... still being mad at myself for something that happened almost twenty years ago. Annoying how everything in my life has to be a learning experience... which all seems to relate to now and understanding the role anxiety has played in my growth. With the anger towards my young self starting to overtake me along with the frustration and sadness of missing such a wonderful season in my life, I noticed the squash I had been chopping was now mush....

And then the age old question... the nagging, annoying question that nostalgia grabs from my very being again and again and again and again hit me like a ton of bricks... "WHAT WAS THE POINT OF ALL THAT!?" Look at who I am today... I'm wearing gym clothes covered in mashed banana and crusty lunch. I am referee, cook, cleaner, bather, nurse, magician, entertainer to two little kids who enjoy pouncing on me all day. Some days I go hours without speaking to another human being over that age of 4. What of my schooling? What of my work experience? What of my talents and gifts? Am I losing brain-watts every moment I try to teach my son to say "woof goes the dog?"

Obviously the answer is no...

No I'm not losing brain-power. And yes there was a point for my life before today. I am who I am because this is who I chose to be right now. Who I was is still in there, who I will be is in there too, and all of that makes the beautiful person I am today.

The past was a tremendous gift, but the present is so much more. Being a stay at home mom can sometimes blind me with loneliness, isolation, and longing to be more than, but the thing is I am SO much more than I can ever imagine I could be.

And with that I will end this post. To ponder on... to think on... you are SO much more than. In whatever you do, you were created in His image, in His likeness and you are special.

Darn nostalgia.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Beautiful Realization

It has been a struggle for me the past few weeks. The terminology would be "setback" but I hate saying that. It's as if I have been rebuilding myself brick by brick this past year and a bunch of bricks were just flicked off. So hard to build, so easy to tear down.

I believe I have been pretty open about my struggles with God these past months. As I have been reminded... those who have suffered greatly are bound to have a faith crisis at some point. It has been extremely hard to see God's role in my depression... especially in the setbacks. Of late I've been feeling abandoned by Him.

Coming up in the next few months are poignant anniversaries, if you will, of the worst moments in my depression. The first is next week. The knowledge of these anniversaries have put me on edge... the memories flood me like a dam that has been unleashed. These memories, along with the "setbacks," have given me an extremely negative outlook right now and further distrust towards God.

Today I was having a conversation with a dear friend who reminded me how incredibly far I have come this year. Her observation along with the conversations with my therapist and Dhrumil this week seemed to come together as I mulled them over in my head.

And then as I was I about to go to sleep last night the following poem came to me. Tears ran down my face as my own pen spoke the truth of the matter...

I have not been abandoned by God.
And I never will be abandoned by Him.

A Beautiful Realization

You know who you are
You see her right there
She's the one staring
Her eyes glimmering, Her skin fair

You see every flaw
Every sin
Every shame
But do you see the girl who is no longer in such pain?

Can you look past where you are
To see where you've come from?
You've climbed reach-less mountains
You've discovered the sun!

Don't dwell on the battles that are sure to still come
But turn your head toward the victories you've already won

God has been there too
or would you rather forget?
He is the one who saved you
AND He's not finished yet

So open your eyes my dear beloved one.
Give yourself mercy...
Give yourself the Son

Beauty and strength
Courage and might
They have all helped you win
Helped you fight the good fight

Now look again
See the girl who has come so far
You can do this, you can beat this
You are who you are

Beauty HE made you
Beauty HE sees
And He is real, He is there
He comes to you like the warm ocean breeze

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Panic Made Me Run

Who would have thought learning how to control my anxiety/depression and panic attacks would teach me how to run?

I have never been one for exercise. And I have definitely never been one for playing sports. Gym time and I have had a rocky relationship spanning almost 25 years. It was the fifth grade when I realized I couldn't quite kick the ball like the other kids. That led to the ninth grade where I was picked last for every team sport and overheard a kid complaining to the teacher that he didn't want me on his basketball team. Then on to the "fun" ultimate frisbee games my friends wanted me to participate in during my college years... all I ended up doing was huffing and puffing from one end of the field to the other. Oh the volleyball nightmares, the kick ball nightmares, the throwing a football nightmares, the running the mile in high school nightmares (I was always the second to last kid to finish.)

awkwardness at its finest via ballet costume
circa '95
Was I a couch potato? No way... I was always riding my bike somewhere. I was involved in classical ballet until 19... some say ballet dancers are the toughest athletes out there.  I could never be that kid who felt confident in the gym and unless the sport was archery... just leave me be!

I bring up my past because I feel it has something to do with how I looked at the gym in my adulthood... doesn't the past always have a way of creeping into our now? Anyways fast forward to age 26... the french fries and ice cream didn't just magically disappear anymore. It was time to get healthy... I had to begin exercising. Dhrumil signed us up for the gym... I went once after being dragged...it was awful. I couldn't bounce up and down on a machine I didn't know how to use a mere two feet away from some stranger. I went with a DVD at home.

Fast forward again (two kids later) to last summer... the Doctors said exercise would be good for my mental health. We signed up for the gym again. This time I didn't feel so self-conscience... I figured out the machine and I too bounced up and down... trying to ignore those next to me. But it was still work to me... horrible dreadful no fun work. And then it just became too much to drag myself there. And so me and exercise had another hiatus.

Funny how certain ideas/people/activities may pass you by multiple times in your life but you may not click with them until the time is right. How many times had I tried cheesecake and it wasn't for me, but now I love it? How many times did I roll my eyes at the chore of planting flowers, but now look forward to it? What about an acquaintance I had years ago who has now become a good friend? I could go on and on...

This is how it is with me and running.

Last year around this time I wrote a post about starting to run... running and I have had a hate-hate relationship. It has been a once in a 5 year thing for me... never lasting past the first day. It kinda went hand in hand with the hating the playing sports/gym thing. I could never get past the mental block that I wasn't good at it, thinking the feeling of burning lungs would never go away and feeling people were looking at me as I ran.

But then something happened. I decided it was time to get healthy... ever since I had Nolan I have been working insanely hard to just get back to a healthy mental place. Now that I'm somewhat there I knew it would be good for my mind and body to get exercise and to maybe try to lose those last few pounds. I told Dhrumil I was going to start running to which he just looked at me.... rightly so as he was well aware of my track record. But then with an encouraging yet cautious smile he replied... go do it!

And I did!

The timing was right. Me and running clicked. Everything I have learned in overcoming my mental obstacles found there way into my mind and set my feet into motion. It has now been a little over a month and I have run close to 5 days a week.

My recipe for success?

Third day running in a row... "hey maybe I can do this"
1. The pressure is OFF! 
There is no set time, no set route, you are doing this for you! Whatever you need today your body will do.

2. Focus!
Put the mental blinders on, concentrate on you, who cares who sees you, you know you are doing great!

3. Concentrate!
Don't worry about making it up the next hill, just think about your breathing, sing a song in your head, listen to the wind, contemplate life and where you are at, think positively

4. Be NOW!
You are here, you are you, no worrying

5. Don't Panic!
WAIT you're running!? You HATE running!? No don't panic, its ok, just breath, just relax, just BE

Whenever I finish a run... no matter how far or how long... I feel a great sense of accomplishment. If I had to stop for a few seconds to walk... no problem. If I took a shorter route... who cares. I got out, I did it for me, I am empowered.

Running has been a good reminder of what trials in life can do to you. They can make you stronger, they can make you wiser and they can push you to be you and to accomplish things you never thought possible!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Acceptance

Do you accept who you are? Do you accept your circumstances this very moment? Do you accept that you are human, that you are imperfect? However imperfect you may be... do you accept that you were created by a perfect God who knows you so intimately that He knows what you are going to say even before you say it?

This past year has been a lesson in acceptance... a lesson which is ongoing. From the moment I learned I had postpartum depression my journey of acceptance began. 

ACCEPTANCE: The act of taking or receiving something offered. Favorable reception; approval; favor

In the context of depression... the definition of acceptance seems ironic. Was depression offered to me? No it was forced upon me, out of my control. Did I want to take it? Of course not... I wanted to run the other way. Favorable reception that my life was being turned inside out!? How can someone be ok with that? 

Accepting the need to swing!
I had to be... if I was going to get through it. Knowledge that you may not be able to change your circumstances right away but being "ok" with where you are... it brings peace. I had to accept that none of this was my fault, that I was dealing with an illness, that my life was what it was. In suffering God may not bring healing immediately, but He will work through circumstances that will give you the tools you need to get through the dark days. God placed so many people, places, things in my life... all that helped me deal, helped me ACCEPT.

As I approach the "anniversary" of what were the darkest months in my life, I find myself once again struggling to make sense of it all. The enormity of what I experienced hits me with gale force winds making it difficult to shield myself. The lies which once permeated my every thoughts momentarily find their way back as whispers of self doubt. 

It is time for me to accept... once again... where I am at. To accept that I'm still going to have days where I need to fight a little harder. Days where I need to process what I went through and seek closure. And to accept that this journey is continuous... it's life... and I'm not alone.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

And I'm Feeling Good

While trying to find the words to write about this past month, a song Michael Buble sings popped into my head:
Birds flying high
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Breeze drftin' on by
You know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good
I'm feeling good

Are things just as they should be in my life? Um no... Are there still things that need to be worked on? Um yes... BUT the thing to focus on is that I have been able to spend the last four weeks feeling almost completely free from the horrible grasp of depression, anxiety and panic!

That in itself makes me feel the sun shinning (even when it's gross out) and watch the birds flying (anyone else notice the incredible amount of geese flying around?) and realize that this might be IT, this might be my "new life" possibly free of... or at least nearing the end of my road with... postpartum depression.

I definitely don't want to jump the gun on my assessment of myself. But I do want to celebrate the huge steps I have shown of late including no panic attacks for six weeks and throwing a huge birthday party for Mikayla.

It is funny because I thought when I got to this point I'd feel exuberantly happy about all aspects of my life and everything would be hunky-dory. I guess that is because I expected life had to be perfect for my depression to leave. That in itself shows how much I have grown this past year... life isn't perfect and it is never going to be perfect! I am never going to be perfect! My days will be filled with frustration and joy, that is what it means to be human. God covers me with his incredible grace each and every time I screw up. When the world fails me I know that God never will. 

Tomorrow I am 32 years old. There was a time not to long ago when I didn't want to see my next birthday. God saved me from myself and my illness to live and celebrate who I am... and who I will continue to grow to be until my time in this world is over.

Tomorrow is brimming with new challenges and new joys... and I can't wait to face them!

"Today you are you!
That is truer than true!
There is no one alive...

...who is you-er than you!
Should loud, "I am lucky
to be what I am!
Thank goodness I'm not
just a clam or a ham
Or a dusty old jar of
sour gooseberry jam!
I am what I am! That's a
great thing to be!
If I say so myself,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!"
- Dr. Seuss

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Husband

I have been wanting to write a post about my husband for a while now... and yet the thoughts, emotions and words in my mind haven't been able to create a cohesive story. At least a story that could be shared and understood. What I feel about Dhrumil, especially after this past year, somehow passes words altogether.

Parts of one of our favorite song by Andrew Peterson will be my guide as I write this.

                                                               Dancing In The Minefields

Well "I do" are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I've heard is a good place to begin
'Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
And I believe it's an easy price for the life that we have found

And we're dancing in the minefields
We're sailing in the storms
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that's what the promise is for
That's what the promise is for


No one tells you how difficult marriage is going to be. Taking two independent souls who have come from two completely different backgrounds and merging them into one? Sure no big deal! I wouldn't say Dhrumil and I went into marriage with our eyes closed, love did not blind us, but it did give us sunglasses. Leave it to marriage to throw you in front of a mirror to exam YOURSELF and see who you REALLY are! Cracks and all... selfishness and all... sin and all... the good and the bad. Marriage changed us... changed us for the better. Prepared us for the role of being completely selfless.

I believe God played a critical role in strengthening our marriage before I was struck with depression. We went through a difficult year after our first child was born... the very foundation we thought formed are marriage was crumbling. We both decided to fight for US and to work as hard as we needed to to save our marriage. With a support system around us and excellent therapists we came out on the other side united as ONE and stronger than we ever thought was possible.

So when I lose my way, find meWhen I lose loves chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith to the end of all my days
when I forget my name, remind me


'Cause we bear the light of the Son of man
So there's nothing left to fear
So I'll walk with you in the shadow lands
Till the shadows disappear
'Cause He promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of this chaos baby,
I can dance with you


During the darkest months of my depression I lost who I was. I had forgotten anything and everything good about me. Dhrumil was right by my side, holding my hand, reminding me who I was. He constantly spoke words of truth, trying so very hard to deter the darkness that was covering me. I can not imagine watching someone you love go through such an illness, an illness that is so out of your own control. But Dhrumil handled it with selflessness, grace and love.
He saw my beauty when I couldn't

It didn't matter how many times I questioned the good in life... Dhrumil was there to remind of the miracles that happen every day. No matter how many times I put myself down in front of him...he was there to encourage me and remind me how amazing I was. When I needed to leave the house... he was there to be with the kids and be the amazing father he is. When I was unable to function... he took care of me, the house, the kids, our life! When I turned my back on God... he let me feel what I needed to feel and ever so gently reminded me of God's love.

God has given me the most amazing gift... and that gift is my husband. The love he showed me and still shows me each and every day encourages me to grow and seek God out more and more. We are a team... however imperfect... covered in grace and unified to grow in God, to lead our children and to love each other more and more every day.

So lets go dancing in the minefields
Lets go sailing in the storms
Oh, lets go dancing in the minefields
And kicking down the doors
Oh, lets go dancing in the minefields
And sailing in the storms
Oh, this is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that's what the promise is for
That's what the promise is for 




Monday, January 27, 2014

Peace

Each snow flake is different
Why is it so hard for us to be ok with who we are? I'm sure even the most confident people have moments where they question themselves. What makes us yearn to be so much like another and not feel at peace with who we were created to be? What a boring place this world would be if we were all the same... would the beauty of snow be altered if each snowflake was exactly the same?

Somedays it is hard to look at myself in the mirror and not pick out an immediate flaw... external or internal. But why? It is like there is a wall between the part of me who knows how amazing I am and the part of me that wants to bash all thoughts on the subject.

Today I was at peace with myself. I had the energy to focus on the present and it was a wonderful day. Were the kids perfect? NO! Was I perfect? NO! But I'm ok with that.

My analogy of today has to do with what I've been staring at for weeks... snow. It's as if I were caught in a snow storm with the beauty and silence of snow swirling around me. Each footprint I left made a beautiful imprint in the snow, but within minutes it was gone, and so I just continued ahead... making new footprints. I wasn't worried about the prints behind me because they had already vanished and I didn't care about those ahead of me because I wasn't there yet. I just focused on that one imprint frozen in that one moment.

I witnessed true joy in a moment today... a very ordinary moment mind you! Not the so called pin-able moment of taking my perfect cookies out of the oven while dancing to music whilst my daughter laughed in front of the fireplace making a perfect craft and the baby built and perfect tower of blocks.  BUT the joy that can only come out of the chaos of "swirling snow" if you may.

As I sat in front of my mirror this afternoon... hair dripping wet... sweats on...baby in lap sucking his thumb contentedly... Mikayla joyfully attempting to use a dryer and multiple brushes on my hair at once... time stood still. I stared at myself... at my children... there was not a flaw to be seen and I felt ... peace.

I could ask the darkness to hide me
and light around me to become night-
but even in the darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the darkness shines bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Psalm 139: 11-13

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Should

I tend to forget what I have been fighting against is an illness... an illness which plays on the vulnerabilities in my mind and sets my perfectionistic tendencies on fire. An illness that has turned my self confidence upside-down, stolen my coping mechanisms and thrown me into a pit of overwhelming feelings.

And I thought it was just...me...

I have come far in my recovery and yet I seem to continuously grapple with the idea that I have not come far enough. In the therapy world, which I am now so familiar with, the professionals would say that I am "should-ing" myself. For example:

- I SHOULD be over this by now
- I SHOULD be able to not feel so anxious anymore
- I SHOULD be able to "handle" being a mother of two
- I SHOULD be so fully equipped with my mental "tools" that panic attacks would no longer happen
A day in the life with my little monkeys
- I SHOULD be able to not use SHOULD ANYMORE!

And thus I have led myself down into ElisaBeth's no-mans land of hopeless despair.

Today my frustration with my progress led to googling "how long does postpartum depression last" and the results were inconclusive. I guess if my psychiatrist can look me in the eyes and tell me so much is unknown about mental illnesses, google is not going to do much better.

Acceptance is key... I believe acceptance leads to peace. 

TODAY I accept.... where I am, that I am human, that I am doing a good job as a mother and wife, that I am not in control, that I am loved.

And so... on with life.