Blue Heaven

There’s nothing like vacation on our favorite beach.

As I sit on our balcony taking in the view of Dominica Republic’s beautiful beach line, I can’t help but relax and contemplate the vast deep blue expanse in front of me. There’s something so amazing about the powerful sea. Every wave that rolls in is relatable. It speaks to me like a grandmother whispering words of wisdom.

Living with a generalized anxiety disorder is like living within the crashing waves of the strong ocean. Life is as beautiful as this tropical island, but when your living in the sea of dread- you dread every approaching wave. It could be the best wave you’ve ever ridden, but it’s the possibility of impending doom that leaves your muscles tense. Will this be the wave that takes you down? Will it have the torrential strength to pull you back to sea with it?

Being here reminds me that, like the sea- I am strong. Just like the sea controls the land, so I control my life- who is a part of it and what I’m willing to deal with. The ocean is always there, always rolling with waves- full of life. So today I choose to be like the sea- strong and full of life.

Vacation Eve Panic

There’s something about the excitement of a trip that puts me into an utter panic- and not the good panic.

We look forward to this trip every year. Every December for the past five years, Bryan and I pack our bags right before Christmas and head off to our tropical paradise. A place where the drinks are delivered to you pool side, the food has no end and the responsibilities simply do not exist. We work hard all year so we can enjoy this one week in December. And as much as I absolutely enjoy myself- the days leading up to our flight out of here are pure torture on me.

Take this girl out of her routine and you have a bit of a mess. Cram her routine into two days and the mess just cannot be contained anymore. I’m doing better with being flexible. Challenging myself to go with the flow and not shut down at the first sign of change. I can see my improvements during a regular week, but Vacation eve is different.

Maybe because it’s not a regularly occurring event that I just never seem to have enough time to prepare. But if I’m being honest, I back myself into a corner with seconds left to spare. My excitement about going overwhelms me, so I just compartmentalize it- shove it into a tiny box until I don’t have a choice but to let it bust out. It comes in like a wrecking ball y’all. Every tiny thing I don’t even really need to do before we leave gets added onto the to do list. House must be cleaned spotless, you know? For all those people that won’t be there while we are gone. I don’t give myself enough energy to actually plan what I might need on the trip- so I pack it ALL. Anyone else end up with snow mittens in their tropical vacation bag just in case we come home and it’s snowing?

This year- I don’t want the Vacation Eve Panic. I want to go with the flow and keep my focus on the minimal I need for a week of relaxation. If this sounds like I’ve been a fly on the wall during any of your Vacation Eves, listen up. We can have control of our loss of control. We don’t need to schedule every single minute leading up to leaving. It’s okay to take a minute to sit and relax before you officially are on vacay!

Here’s what I’m doing this year to combat the panic and accept that I will not have control of it all:

1. Prioritize the to do list.

Now I stopped making my daily to do lists a couple months ago. Once my therapist showed me how the lists were aggravating my GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) I quit cold turkey. That’s been a battle in itself for another day, but for special occasions where I simply cannot forget to do something- I’ll write my list. But the list has the expectation that not everything will be completed on it. So I prioritize it- what absolutely has to be completed before we can leave? Find our passports. Take my final for coding class. Pack my toothbrush. Those go to the top of the list. The items at the bottom? I won’t die if I don’t get them done before we leave. Accept that.

2. Focus on the minimal

To enjoy a day on vacation- what do I minimally need? Swimsuit. Check- pack it. If I don’t bring all 45 swimsuit cover ups- I will survive! If I forget a bandaid and get a cut, the resort has some! I try to keep my focus on the minimal needed while packing and before I know it- I’m ready to go!

3. The house doesn’t need to be clean

Y’all- why do we do this to ourselves? We aren’t going to come home and be immediately offended at the new layer of dust that’s settled across the fireplace mantel on top of the layer that we didn’t care about the whole month before. If the house looks like a bomb went off while packing- THEN LET IT! Again- we will not die if we didn’t scrub the kitchen floors before we leave.

4. Breathe

The final step I’m taking. I will stop and let myself breathe in my excitement. I won’t keep telling Bryan to shush every time we brings up how many hours we have left til we leave. When he asks if I’m excited, I won’t roll my eyes and tense up at the thought of all I have to do before leaving. I will allow myself to breathe and live in the excitement. Because without doing this step- you really might die so make sure to breathe 😂

We officially have a little over 24 hours before we board that plane, am I packed? Not yet. But guess what? I am for sure excited!

Chosen Family

Friends are the family you choose. They choose you and you choose them- it’s the perfect mutual agreement- if it’s true.

A true friend chooses to be there through life’s toughest spots. They choose to spend their valuable time with you. They choose to let you into their lives and hearts, even at 2 AM. And you reciprocate that. Through all of the world’s chaos, in friendship- two people are choosing love. True friendship is based on truth. Being honest and vulnerable with someone that could chose to use the truth to ignite the TNT of your life, but instead they lead you further away from harm. Not when its convenient for them, but when its needed. Basically, friendship is all based upon the free will to choose.

I have the tendency to recognize all acquaintances as true friends. Identifying everyone as a true friend, opens the door for unfair expectations for both parties. I expect everyone to return the same amount of love. I expect everyone to willingly serve my needs in them. I expect them to identify when I even have a need. That’s just a setup for failure. Not every acquaintance is meant to be a true friend. I’ve slowly started to evaluate relationships in my life for service. Do I have a cup to fill in their life? Do they have a cup to fill in mine? If there are no cups to fill, I’m learning that its okay. I don’t have to scrounge around to find a superficial cup for them to fill. I am learning to spend that effort on my true friendships.

There are so many journeys that happen through life that are treacherous, difficult to climb, and even harder to get down from. Think of all those moments in your life where the weight was crushing- now look at what’s surrounding you in those moments- friends by chance? Too often, we are deadly focused on ourselves and completing the journey through the obstacle in one piece, but the more focused you are on your pain and struggle- the more consuming it is. All of a sudden, you can’t tell up from down and the exit is no where to be found. That’s where friendship is the hero- a shining exit sign in the darkness. That person takes baby steps with you, out of the consuming darkness, let’s you walk at your speed and does whatever is in their power to lend you their strength.

Possibly in unpopular belief, I don’t think any one friendship is any more important than the next. If the relationship is deep and true, based on more than just commonalities- it serves a purpose. There’s that word again: purpose. Just like Lularoe served a purpose in my life, each friend is gifted to serve a specific purpose in my life as I serve a specific purpose in theirs. I have found friends, true friends, through my Lularoe chapter. Those friends began as customers and grew past a commonality based on women’s fashion. I’m looking forward to serving my purpose with you. I look forward to connecting on a playing field that will deepen our relationships. I look forward to gaining new friendships through my next chapter. Through these friendships, my cup fills to the point of overflow. And unlike the bad fortune of an overflowing tub, this overflow brings good fortune. It is what will make the widest impact on the most people. It only takes one ice cube square to overflow to fill the rest of the tray. By being a friend, you are serving more than just yourself. More than just me. You are spreading a fire that will eat hate and pain for breakfast and then snack on anxiety and depression before dinner.

Take a moment to acknowledge your true friendships today. Then take a moment to strengthen one. Because we are no stronger, than our strongest friend.

Snagged Leggings.

Everything in life serves a purpose.

Whether they be terrible things that have happened in your past or amazing opportunities presented to you for your future- they are designed all to lead you to something you need to fulfill a piece of your story.

My story needed Lularoe. My business with the company is responsible for so many chapters of my life. Personal growth, experience growth, and let’s be honest- so much social growth. I learned to challenge my anxieties and not accept the darkness. The business made me dust off my emotions and spread them around like I was watering a garden- well, that’s basically what I was doing. See, while running our Lularoe business, I was planting seeds in my life’s garden unknowingly. A seed to begin healing from my childhood. A seed for trust- trust in myself and others. A few seeds for the strength to focus on the light and not allow or accept the darkness. Seeds were planted that grew deeper relationships with people in my life and others grew new relationships. There was a whole row of seeds planted that will provide the tools to truly fulfill my purpose and do things bigger than I ever imagined. Running my business has watered these seeds, weeded the gardens they live in, and kept those pesky deer and rabbits away from the leaves. While I couldn’t keep even a real mum alive through the fall, I was a regular old Farmer Joe when it came to my theoretical plants. But plants follow a lifecycle. Eventually, it becomes time to step back from the constant care of the seeds and harvest the bounty that comes from the full grown plants that were raised. And while I’ve been meticulously careful about being sure it truly is harvest season- it is time for me to reap the harvest that Lularoe has fertilized and prepare the garden for my next season of growth.

I’m not able to pin point the exact date, but at some point in the not so distant past- a theoretical snag happened in my leggings. Maybe it happened because I got caught up with the dogs- enjoying their constant energy and snuggles. It could’ve gotten snagged on my engagement ring while I was writing the fifth draft of our invite list and chatting with Bryan about the men’s attire. Or it could have possibly been while I was working on a project for the house- maybe one of my many rearranging projects. This snag was left because my focus began to shift to things that brought joy. Unaware of this shift, I just tried to cover the snag up. Pretending it wasn’t there, I moved full steam ahead with every ounce of my energy to continue the growth of our business. Eventually, from all the hustle and bustle and the constant running in circles- the snag grew. This growth is a different story than the growth of the seeds I mentioned earlier… or maybe its the same. It got harder to hide the snag, I started to worry more about if the leggings were just going to rip in half. Focus continued to shift from the business to this growing hole in my leggings now. Months passed, before I found myself unable to do anything but stare at the massive tear in the leggings. I stopped wanting to put them on- they didn’t make me feel accomplished anymore, but instead reminded me of the constant dread and fear of tearing threads. One day- I looked at them for the final bittersweet time and only saw of what they used to be. It was then that I decided it was their time to go.

That theoretical snag was a real snag in my life and in my business. There are so many aspects of running my business that still fill my cup- but that snag grew until it became overwhelming. Things I tried to ignore, push to the side and just sprint past when it came to business growth all came into focus. Lularoe served its purpose in my life, but when a whole of something fails to bring fulfillment, joy, or passion into your life anymore- why do we stay? It was a moment of heroic braveness to start our Lularoe business and now it was taking even more courage to finish that chapter. It took a tiny snag to grow into an endless black hole for me to put my foot down. I refused to go back down the path I had come from. I would not let darkness swallow me whole. So I’m digging up the courage to write the ending to my Lularoe chapter, turn the page, and begin my new chapter. A new chapter of empowerment and personal growth.

Everything that God’s given me through my life thus far has been with purpose. A purpose that has been unclear for most of my life, but through the past few years- a clarity has set in. I found life’s spectacles and I can finally read the signs. I have a story to share. I wasn’t given courage and fight to keep it to myself. These gifts were given to me to share with hope that someone who needs it just as much as I do, reads this one day and their life changes. So I will shift my focus from constantly just selling feelings- to constantly sharing them. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if anyone will even keep following me or read my blog. But I do know that this was my purpose all along and I have faith. This new chapter will be full of honesty- lots of very raw and ugly truths. Because this struggle is not all inspirational quotes and cute pictures of my outfits. It’s unfair anger directed to the wrong people. It’s the same pajama pants for five days because there is so little energy remaining from your battle with anxiety. It’s having real conversations with real people to connect far past your favorite legging print or favorite dress.

My days, for now, will be focused on recovery and healing from my past. I will spend my hours doing things I didn’t have courage to do before. And I vow- right here and right now- to share every real honest truth with you all- my family. I will continue to grow our online community, with a shift from shopping the latest fashions to support, love and the pursuit of mental health. We will continue to have an online boutique as an accessory instead of the focus. There are amazing days in our future- I know it. Lives will be changed and it won’t be just me changing them. I can feel your ability to impact others powering up and glowing. You ladies are the foundation for a new community where the broken will walk in and the healed will walk on to share hope.

I won’t lie- I’m terrified. Change is traumatic for me. But if you’ve ever felt that deep pull that comes from somewhere right under your heart, you understand the internal battle I’ve had for the past few months. One chapter may be closing, but I have faith that God has bigger plans for my next one. If there’s anything that I’ve learned during the Lularoe chapter, it’s that you are strong. Much stronger than you give yourself credit for.

Morning Sunshine is different than afternoon sunshine

Morning sunshine holds new promises, new beginnings, clean slates and all of the motivation. Afternoon is a whole different story.

I should just set up my front porch as my office at this point because it’s where most of my posts are written. There’s something about the fresh air and nature’s music that unlocks the strings of analogies to flow from my inner brain. Today, I’m sitting in the warm sun rays roasting me while the air is crisp and chilly, like an apple stored in the fridge. It got me thinking, morning sunlight is unlike any other aspect of nature. It’s so pure and unaltered by the triumphs or failures of the day to follow. It’s completely opposite of the coming afternoon sun.

The afternoon sun beams down with disappointment and judgement. Leaves you basking in every item on your to do list you haven’t gotten done. It throws scowls at you that you should be up and doing something instead of soaking up the rays. Mocking every second that you’ve wasted on an attempt to enjoy the quiet. Afternoon sun is like the aunt that sits back and waits for you to miss your opportunity, then pounces like a lion- asking you every question about yourself as if you didn’t already ask them yourself. Like the age old question: “when are you having kids? The internal clock is counting down!” Aunt Afternoon Sun refuses to get off your back.

Morning, on the other hand, graces you with it’s presence. Like a mother’s touch when you aren’t feeling well, it’s there just to make you feel loved. This sun glued all the broken pieces back together and encourages you to make the day yours. With each ray that lands on your feet, it’s whispering inspirational messages. It’s clean, refreshing, energizing. There’s no judgement about what you haven’t done yet. No mocking about the minutes you spend soaking it all in. You have the whole day ahead of you. Morning sun should be a requirement. What a world it would be if we could wake up everyday to the sun flowing into our bedroom windows, dancing off the crystal hanging creating dancing rainbow fairies across your room. Morning sun is that magical.

Too often enough, we don’t pause our lives to enjoy things like morning sun or the twilight sky. Life zooms by, we’re juggling our coffee, laptop and keys as we run out the door late for work, cursing the morning sun for being so bright on our drive to work because we’re too short for the sun visor in our car to be helpful. Pause today. Go outside and just sit. Feel every aspect that nature has gifted us today. And instead of thinking about the afternoon sun that is to come, just enjoy the morning one.

Instagram means Instaglam, right?!

Instagram is the original IG, and it’s just about as confusing as a Rubix cube. I do not know where in the world to begin, so I shall give you a peak into my mind while creating my latest Insta account.

Instagram account created. Great! I’m already winning at life- I’ll instantly find old friends on here and connect with them! Social anxiety is no more when I have a screen between us! Even the ones that I haven’t actually spoken to in 12 years… yeah, I’ll add those in too. It’s all about the numbers in this game.

I need to upload a profile picture… a round one? Well that’s fancy I guess. It cuts out half of the outfit that I spent a good 3 and half hours trying to put together, but that’s fine. Equal playing field I guess.

Name is pretty self-explanatory. I know who I am right? But maybe not, those people have Emojis added to the end! Let me add a couple of my favorites. The extra spaces are pretty, very minimalistic and modern. I’ll add the extra spaces in between my letters. Forty-five minutes later, my name looks like a cave man drawing a message to his ancestors. It’s fine.

Username?! I just finally figured out what my actual name would be and now you are telling me I need to be even more creative?! I’m just using my normal name. That username has been taken. Please try again. You are kidding me right? I’ll just add a number on the end. Taken. WHY would anyone have the last four of my social listed in the same exact username?! Let’s rewind and look at this from a new angle. OH! Let’s also add one of the periods in between my first and last name. Taken. Alright… who is this evil twin I have?! And I thought the name field was difficult. Starting from scratch and a blank username field. Come on Rachel, think! Let’s just keep it simple and use the shop name. Taken. OH. MY. LANTA. (Adds in a period between the thrasher and the boutique) Accepted! This is worth my gray hairs, This is worth my gray hairs, this is worth my gray hairs.

Bio is next. A blank area for creativity as far as the mind can see- well at least for 150 characters. I’ve heard using hashtags here can be helpful to finding a new crowd. Oh lord now the entirely foreign language of hashtags needs to be figured out just for my 150-character bio that people really only look at for like 2.5 seconds. I settled on a bunch of emojis, #instagramvirgin, and the ever popular… follow my link below!

-Thirteen days later-

WHEW! I think I finally got every field completed for my Instagram account and are finally ready to make some new friends! Maybe I should have some content up first so that they know I’m a real person that they really want to be friends with. I should also probably stop calling it “friends” because “friends” is for Facebook (which we have already established SUCKS) and “following” is the Instagram term. I think likes may also be important, but that’s for a later date.

Okay first post- better make it good! I’m currently staring at a mug on my desk that has about an inch of two-day old coffee still hanging out in it- maybe that would be a good post? I mean it’s a cute mug, I’ll just take it at an angle you can’t see the mold in. Or what about my outfit of today?! I mean clearly today’s outfit is worth sharing with the world because… well… its more than my usual PJ shorts and hoodie. My hair has actually seen a brush for once. Outfit of the day may be worthwhile. My other option is definitely to post a picture of my lunch. Can’t do my dinner because the lighting is too dark, but my lunch would be perfect! Maybe I’ll re arrange the tomatoes on my salad so they bring out the color in the lettuce!

Eh- I’ll just post all three.

Voila! My Instagram is officially live and ready to prowl the hashtags for equally amazing users to “follow”.  Why don’t they teach a class on Instagram in college? I feel like it should be an entire PhD program with all of the genius-level knowledge that goes into getting set up. Hashtags could be their own entire Minor. If someone told me twenty years ago, back when we were still calling the symbol the POUND sign, that a hashtag would basically run the internet- you would most definitely be getting some side eye. Ya’ll, I had dial up internet that my mother could kick me off simply by picking up our corded house phone. Try hash tagging that (I’m not even sure that was a word…)! But I think I have this Instagram thing pretty figured out! I’ll just gain all the followers now and I’ll be able to see what everyone is up to, maybe even get enough followers to influence people too!

Wait… what did you just say? Post daily? Follow, comment and like every day?! I thought this wasn’t rocket science?! I didn’t apply for another full time job…. goodness. Well, let me just rally up my troops and let them know they will be marching out to Instagram for battle tomorrow until I have enough followers to influence someone to buy beauty products that I don’t even know exist yet! How hard is it to be #instaglam?!

Dear Facebook

I have some special words reserved for you, but they aren’t appropriate and I’m quite possibly liable to be marked as SPAM or thrown in Facebook jail, so I’ll keep the words PG.

This note is on behalf of small business owners just trying to utilize the extra couple hours they might have in their already packed schedule to make some extra dough in hopes to eat more than Ramen one night this week because their student loan bills claim more than half their career paycheck before they even work the hours who worry everyday if the refrigerator is going to die because god forbid we have to find $500 laying around for a new one. This is on behalf of the boss gals, the boss ladies, and just the bosses that want to scroll through Facebook and actually see something current for once. This is on behalf of the people who actually connect with like-minded individuals across your platform through one of the many Facebook groups and now all of a sudden can’t even get a notification and are missing all of the cute puppy pictures being posted.

Stop screwing things up.

I’ve never once spoken with someone who has been excited about a Facebook change! I think that will be the day pigs fly- when someone joyfully sings out like a choir of angels “Oh boy! It’s Tuesday- time for Facebook to make more changes behind the scenes so we can all visit Facebook jail for logging in!” I mean the colors for the groups was cool, except you forgot to roll it out to everyone so half my groups are colored like a rainbow threw up on them and the other half are just sitting in the corner, covered in dust like that long forgotten TV remote under the couch.

We just want things to go back to normal.

Like when we used to be able to post what we were doing and one of our friends could join in the banter about that one time we did that together. Gone are the good ole days. Now, no one will see your dog’s new tricks unless you happen to catch it on Facebook Live on the most active day at the peak time of the evening and tag 33 of your friends in the video. Why won’t you just let us indulge our animal loving souls?!

For those small business owners- creating engagement has become about as hard as actually getting engaged anymore. Have an item everyone is going to go crazy over? Don’t post it on Facebook! The staple pair of solid black leggings are shared and your great Aunt might give you an angry face emoji on accident- but don’t expect too much more than that. Also be sure to not over use Facebook either- too many likes, comments and gifs in too short of a time period will be an instant go to jail card and- no- you won’t be collecting $200 as you pass Go because you’ve been blocked.

It has become nearly impossible to interact with people that you actually want to follow. I thought Facebook was supposed to be the platform to make connections across, build new relationships and deepen current ones- but it’s really just deepening my stress lines across my forehead and growing new gray hairs.

You know it’s bad when you find yourself asking- where is the founder of MySpace and can we get that little site re-opened?

So Facebook, unless you are trying to lose users, break up friendships, and kill communities with a slight change of code- PLEASE let us control our news feeds again and our notifications. Eventually, you will have given a large portion of the young human race PTSD because we thought for so long it was us- when you really just hid all our friends from us.

Sincerely,

A girl that just wants to sell some leggings to pay off her student loans so she doesn’t have to spend every other free minute waiting tables