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

baseball & diamonds

If there was one sport I could live the rest of my life without watching it would for sure be baseball.

But then Bryan came into my life. And for anyone that knows him, he breaths, sleeps and eats baseball. I have now seen more baseball games in the past six years than I have in the previous 23 years and I’m okay with that.

Our story started many moons ago, even before I realized he would be my other half. You see, we met when we were in our awkward years and couldn’t do more than focus on tagging laptops after laptops at our internship. Friendship grew and eventually turned into interest. I was exiting a five year relationship- if you want to call it that. I knew nothing more than starting arguments over persons drinking too much and begging for us just to stay in for once. Bryan peaked my interest, but I wasn’t so sure it was a long term commitment. How could I trust someone yet again? The last thing I wanted to be was disappointed so I placed no pressure on the sparks of this fire.

We talked for a few months before anything became serious. It was here I attended my first baseball games while Coach Bryan led his cousin’s team in the slowest game known to man. I’d pick up the talent of sunflower seed eating and bought him a few too many warm Gatorades. When I brought him his first cold Gatorade, the family knew it was getting real. It wasn’t long before we were Facebook official and spending every Thursday on our date nights- mostly eating at every chain restaurant available because that was as adventurous as Bryan was.

Months had passed before Bryan mentioned wanting to play baseball himself on a men’s league. I put my google skills to the test and searched high and low before I found his first league- I barely missed three games of his couple year career with the Blue Rocks.

During one of the last years with the DC based team, Bryan was invited to coach high school baseball- which of COURSE he quickly accepted. I found my life coming in full circle as I sat at Southern watching Bryan coach his now much taller cousin again. His family became mine, as we spent so many evenings cheering on that kid behind home plate.

We took the next step in our relationship and moved in together, after many many nights of me convincing Bryan we could survive in the same residence together. Obstacles number 4-6 were faced. We each had our own bedroom- not because of religious reasons, but purely because I had gotten used to living alone and Bryan owned a child’s bed that I was sure as heck not squeezing into. I promised Bryan we wouldn’t grow apart from his family and that every Sunday we would hang out with them- to this day every Sunday we go over the house and spend the day watching baseball, eating seeds and sitting down at the kitchen table to all eat dinner together.

To this day, we have spent 312 Thursday date nights (give or take) at many more adventurous restaurants that the ones we used to frequent. We’ve spent the last four December’s on our adventures to Punta Cana. Sprinkle in a few trips to new cities for Lularoe and a few more just for fun. We may have made life look easy, but we played about as hard as we worked.

We’ve gone through as many obstacles as Bryan’s teams have lost games. But each time we step back up to the plate together to face the next pitch and the next inning. It was never easy and still isn’t. You can’t grow your team’s skills and increase your record without putting in work at practices and workouts.

One of the largest obstacles we’ve faced was starting the boutique. I don’t start off calling it OUR boutique for a reason. Bryan said he was onboard for the longest time, but did everything in his power not to be. Things got bad and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to us for a while. I knew I wanted this boutique to be something for me. I spent so much of my life being told I wasn’t good enough and I was determined to prove that otherwise, whether Bryan was on my team or not. Our communication skills grew and we finally came to the common understanding that this business meant more to me than extra income. From that point on, it’s been OUR business. Our goals, our successes and our failures.

It took us two months to achieve our first goal together, which got us to where I sit right now- on our front porch in our rocking chairs watching Bentley lay on the floor with his head underneath the railings just hanging his head off the edge of the porch (he is a strange dog). All while Bryan is off playing a double header an hour away. We wanted to be home owners and refused to stop until our finances were in the order they needed to be. Two months and our down payment was in the bank. Three months and we signed about 45 million pages of our very first home purchase. Another month of tirelessly ripping up flooring, painting and making this house our own. Two months of waking up every morning with our own roof over our heads all because of our teamwork.

I think back to the days of endless hours at the fields, the dirt in my car, the seed shells in the laundry and that stench that came from the cleats Bryan always felt the need to leave in the trunk… and I wouldn’t change a thing. I will spend the rest of my life scrubbing white baseball pants clean and probably will buy a million more bags of Jumbo seeds and I’m perfectly happy with that.

I always wondered what people felt when they found that one person that was meant to be in their life forever. For me, it means still hating the game of baseball, but enjoying sitting there for 3 hours while the love of my life stands in the outfield waiting for just one ball to fly out there and hoping I’m paying attention to watch him catch it. It means supporting each others dreams and picking up the slack when needed. And it means always having that person there whether you have the best game of your life or the worst.

In just over a year, I will stand on a home plate and vow to watch baseball with him for the rest of my life. And I’m perfectly okay with that.

midnight fires

I’m not talking about those ones that chase you in your dreams that you can never seem to scream in.

I mean the fire within that rises to the top ready to take over the world while everyone else sleeps.

Funny how that always seems to hit for me in the wee hours of the night, when the last thing I should be doing is getting up to change the world. But here I am.

There are so many things that I’m not totally honest about. That’s due to the fact that I’m not totally honest with myself. The common “oh I’ve got this, it’s just a moment, or a bad day, or a phase” constantly runs through my head on a regular basis. So let’s be completely honest right now- I haven’t had it together the past few weeks. Maybe longer than that, but I’ve thrown in the towel and I’ve just been fooling myself daily. Tonight’s midnight fire is that has to change.

No more doing things out of fear. No more cancelling events. No more doing things half assed just to try to make myself feel better by getting them crossed off the list. I need to get back to myself and unearth that firey soul that still lives within. I need to be healthy again. Do the things that inspire the fire and do them to my fullest extent.

So this is my vow to wake up tomorrow and get to work. No more midnight fires burning out while I slumber. This fire will stay lit through the hardest of rains because I can do this. And you can too.

Ink of My Life

Want to know what’s important to me? Just look at my arm, my shoulder and my feet.

Each piece of artwork painfully adorned on my body tells the world a secret. It’s been my way to tell the world about my struggles and my fears without whispering a word. Every time someone compliments my arm piece or asks if my foot tattoo hurt- it validates something in me. I’ve made it through hard situations and come out with something beautiful, just like getting new ink.

I’m getting the tattoo itch- not the one from fresh ink, but the one where it’s been a little too long since the latest and I have new life monuments to commemorate. It’s worse than a mosquito bite to be honest and those I can’t remove the itch to save my life! It takes me months to dream up each piece, most of the time… my first tattoo only took me 5 minutes, but that’s also meaningful in itself.

My most recent tattoo expresses my freedom and my journey to break out of my cocoon. For a very long time, I didn’t understand that I could take action to combat my anxiety and depression- so I stayed wrapped up in a cocoon. Surrounded by all things that made me feel safe and in control, I barely was living life. Not participating in things solely because I didn’t know about them in advanced… not a way to live. A black and white floral arrow adorns my left forearm telling stories of last minute adventures and leaps of faith. It represents the reality of living with anxiety with the arrow. An arrow must be drug backwards in the bow, sometimes with great struggle, to be shot forward towards its target. And if you have ever shot a bow and arrow before, yes- that’s on my have done list, it’s terrifying to pull that tightly strung string back right up next to your cheek only to just let it go. Similar to pulling those anxieties close where they could really do some damage and trusting yourself to just let them go.

I have tattoos in remembrance of a grandmother, one who taught me perseverance, laughter and strength. I have tattoos celebrating the other strong women in my family- my mom and my sister. And another to celebrate the unbreakable bond that holds our family together. Another piece of ink tells a story of taking the first step to break free from abusive relationships. And finally there is the one that took me five minutes to pick- the outline of a heart- in a hidden spot, received the day I turned 18. It wasn’t exactly my rebellious act against my parents, but more of an act to show I’m stronger than I seem and realize sometimes.

It’s been quite a while since I was last in a tattoo chair, wincing with addictive pain. And since that last visit, I have accomplished one of the most impossible goals I set for myself with pure determination. It’s not the monument of purchasing a home that I necessarily want to celebrate, but instead the action of working so incredibly hard to accomplish what I swore was impossible. It deserves a spot on the ink wall of fame. So now the journey begins of dreaming up the perfect art to salute the battle that was won. It must speak without explanation and tell a story for me. And in true left arm fashion, it must be in black and white.

A letter to my friends.

This applies to you if any of these things make sense. Even if they don’t make sense, they probably still apply to you.

I don’t have millions of friends. It’s a very large internal brawl for me to really have the few I have. Getting to know each other, having our first (or ninth) fights, learning your favorite things and how you like your coffee- these are all very tricky mazes that sometimes I just can’t navigate. Over time and seasons, our roots grow a little deeper and the friendship plant officially gets a spot in my garden. As mentioned in my last post- I’m not the best gardener. So with a little patience and a few reminders to water the dang plant- the friendships continue to bloom. These friendships are literally my life. I haven’t gone through a single traumatic experience without a friend by my side. I’ve been shaped into the person I am, love it or leave it, with help from my pals. I am still a novice at being a supportive friend though. Let me explain…

I’m always more than ready to lend extra hands- whether it’s to pack up your old home for a big move or help clean out your shoe closet or even just to sit around and keep you company while your husband is gone for the weekend. But there’s something I’m really awful at- like really, really god awful at. Talk to me about your feelings and I listen to every word, but then… I can’t help but try to fix it. I try to break it down into the causes of the issue and steps we need to start taking to correct it. Tell me you are having a hard day because your little one is super cranky and isn’t feeling well, I’ll probably be over here playing Dr. Rachel- walking through all their symptoms and suggesting to tuck onions in their socks while they sleep. I don’t know why I have a compulsive need to have a solution, I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. But it hasn’t been until recently that reality tapped me on the shoulder and said, “shut the hell up! She just wants you to listen.”

Ask Bryan- I do not do sympathy well. Lord help me when my future offspring scrapes their knee for the first time. I shouldn’t say that I don’t feel sympathy- because I definitely do. I just don’t express sympathy without doing something to help. Got a cold? I’m bringing soup. Headache? Peppermint oil and coffee on its way. Feeling lazy? This size three shoe can give a real good butt kick to get things moving. There are very few things in the world that happen that you cannot get up and do something about. But I realize that isn’t everyone’s support language and I want to learn how to speak other languages other than my own.

I appreciate all the patience you have shown me through our friendship. I appreciate your honesty when you don’t agree. I am thankful for every text you’ve answered and especially every ridiculous picture, video and meme you’ve sent. All the adventures, inside jokes and knee slapping laughs are irreplaceable. But most of all, over all of these other things, I am thankful for you trusting me enough to be you. You each need different things when you are venting or upset, so I am asking one small favor. Help me learn what your support language is- spell it out or teach me little by little, but know that no matter how I handle my own situations, I am ALWAYS here to help you handle yours in your own way. Sometimes I just might need you to tell me to shush up and stop trying to fix all the things. But I appreciate you all to the ends of the earth and want to be supportive in any way I can. So to all my friends, here is an awkward blog post explaining why I sometimes suck as a friend and an open permission slip to shake me out of my own head when you need me to just listen and not fix life.

home is a sacred space.

If I open the door for you, you better know that it’s the highest honor I could bestow upon you and your court.

Suffering from anxiety and facing the daily battles that brings, leaves you empty and powerless and in desperate need of a recharge. To recharge, the space must be freeing, under your control and safe. Your domain is so much more important than a Zen space. It’s where you regain control of yourself, your body and your mind. Home is that safe, sacred space for me. It’s where I know what to expect and where I know my escape routes if anxiety is trying to knock down my damn door. I recharge after spending hours painstakingly socializing with acquaintances out and about. It’s where I go and know that the biggest decisions facing me are whether to grab the can of Spaghetti-Os out of the pantry or thaw the ground turkey sitting in the freezer. It’s where I can sit on my butt on our chair and a half with my pup curled up next to me and just sit in complete silence. I control who I interact with when I’m home. I control if I’m hot or cold. I control 99% of myself when I’m safely tucked in my four walls.

Home is where my routines live. I religiously wake up mostly the same way every morning and brush my teeth. I religiously select something to wear for the day from the same closet and it’s where I almost religiously change my outfit at least once before entering the real world. There’s something to be said about having control over your surroundings when the smallest out of control situation can trigger a panic attack. Just a few days ago, we took a spur of the moment trip to the garden store. I love to live by spur of the moment adventures, but what I don’t do well is the spur of the moment decision making process. Fear sets in about wasting my time walking through the lush aisles of green when I can’t keep a plant alive for longer than a week- hence why we made our way to the garden store in the first place. Financial regrets loom over my mind about why these flowers are so damn expensive and if I’m really just going to kill it in a week, do I want to plant $50 worth of stems for them to turn brown and fuzz over with mold? It was a simple trip to a garden store, a five minute conversation with a wonderful and inviting employee, and what felt like a life changing decision for me that sent me over the edge. My face flushed as the anxiety took over the control I used to hold on my body. I couldn’t handle the pressure of picking one plant out of hundreds because I no longer had control. It took me hours to decompress at home to return back to my neutral state. Had we extended our adventure throughout the evening, I would have been on pins and needles in an awful mental state for much, much longer. I have found it to be a necessity to have a decompression spot that I can control.

My safe haven has the typical four walls, a roof, windows (lots of windows- I’ll get to that in a moment), and doors. MY chair in a half is beginning to show signs of my decompressing lean, where there’s a defined dip in the left arm where I like to curl up my elbow and put all of the weight of the world. It has a perfectly soft bed with matching pillow cases to the sheets- those pillow cases are where I wipe the dirt of the world when the tears have to be let out. My safe haven has a kitchen full of fruits and veggies mixed in with the sugary deliciousness of a walnut brownie on those days that I just need something chocolate to pep my step. It even has a basement, full of boutique inventory where I choose to spend time controlling my financial freedom. This safe haven is my home. I know the aroma of my wax melts and the creaks of the steps when I’m climbing them. I know I am safe there and protected.

I have never been one to have loads of friends walking through the revolving door of my home, matter of fact my door might as well be dead bolted four times. Growing up, my house was not my home. It was made of paper thin walls and egg shell floors. The ceiling was a black hole that just absorbed any and all joy before raining it back down upon us as anxiety. I didn’t invite friends into that house. Long ago, I convinced myself that there was far too much happiness and laughter in my friends’ homes so we should just spend our time there. I think that tepidness of opening the door to my home to people has lingered into my adulthood. I don’t like people marching into my parade and changing the direction. Making coffee in the cups that I only use for water to avoid that hint of flavor that was absorbed by the plastic. For me to extend an invite to my sanctuary, you are very important to me. I feel safe with you and trust that my home will be respected as your own. I have to have the house just right before you come over too, which means you are worthy of hours of obsessive cleaning from top to bottom- at least of the rooms that I’ll allow you into. It’s not how I’d prefer to handle house guests. Trust me, I envy people who can welcome me in with open arms and say never mind the mess. That is a true talent in my book. I worry about what people will think of my most prized possession. Will they think I cluttered the space up too much? Will they appreciate the naturalness of the gray color on the walls or find it utterly boring that all 48 walls of my home are the same shade? Will they question the worn out floral chair that’s shoved into the corner of the room that’s absolutely too big for the space, but I just have to keep it close because it was my Obachan’s? The list keeps going of things I worry about before and after your two feet step onto my welcome mat. Which by the way, I also worry that the welcome mat won’t get enough dirt off their shoes before they track it around my house. It’s exhausting.

Buying our first home has forced me into letting people into my sanctuary. It’s forced me to recreate my safe space in between four new walls. I found new characteristics to love, like the ample amount of light that pours in the windows on a sunny day. There are new places for me to decompress, like the front porch rocker on the right- that’s mine. The dent from my booty folds the chair canvas where I sit accompanied by the breezes that swing by to visit and the ridiculous amount of mosquitos that I’d rather not have swing by in the evenings. Before that door handle turns, I have meticulously detailed the house. I’ve gone so far to plan down to the minute that we would start cooking on the grill and who would sit where while we chatted about the home improvement projects in our future. But I’m learning to let loose a little more. Maybe next time I skip dusting the top of the refrigerator or folding all three blankets neatly into the blanket basket in front of the fireplace. At the end of the day, this dusty space is where I return to myself and fill my strength meter for the next battle. My home is my sacred space and I’m learning how to share it a little more and let a few more people in.

 

My routines have routines

Routine. Noun. A sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program. (Right from the good old dictionary)

Imagine you are starting the process of baking a cake. Maybe your mom has a big birthday coming up or one of your little one’s is celebrating their first, whether it’s a chocolate cake or Funfetti flavor- just follow me through this one. We are baking a cake (insert favorite cake flavor here). I personally bake my cakes from boxes, don’t judge me… those are the best cakes ever! I’ve gathered the box of cake mix, the bowl and pan, all the extra ingredients the box calls for and the electric whisk. I have intentions to follow the instructions, step by step until the cake comes out of the oven a golden brown with the aroma of Funfetti (or chocolate) floating through the air. If you bake cakes on the regular, you typically end up following the same steps every time. Kind of becomes a routine, right? Well on this fun occasion, the pups have lost their ever loving minds and are running havoc around the house, my phone is blowing up with text notifications about Facebook ruining lives again, and I’m on a very tight deadline to get this cake finished before the epic birthday celebration of the evening. I’m in a rush so I just start tossing the ingredients into the bowl, vaguely paying attention to the instructions on the box but also feeling like I know a little bit about what I’m doing. In goes the electric whisk as I flip up its switch, cake powder is everywhere. Maybe I should have read the part of the box where it said to mix on LOW. So much for following instructions. I still have this cake to finish and the minutes are ticking away. Throw the cake in the oven, wipe the sweat from my brow (apparently you can sweat while baking a cake), and walk away to attend to the dogs who have lost their manners and check my 24.5 texts- that half text was a “guess what” text someone sent my way and then proceeded to fall asleep without telling me, totally counts as a half. But guess what I forgot to set…? Cue trip to grocery store to pick up cupcakes while running late to the birthday celebration.

This is my life without routine.

Always in a rush to get things done before the deadline. Constantly running late to such deadlines. The simple inability to decide between chocolate and Funfetti cake mix! Making little mistakes that create huge messes that I am left responsible to clean. Never remembering the important things that I either told someone else I would do or told myself I couldn’t forget to do. Day in and day out always feeling overwhelmed, running behind, discouraged and like I’m letting everyone- including the dogs- down. My life without routine can be summed up with the vision of throwing me into an avalanche while I really believe I can still make it to the top of the mountain. That always works out well…

Routine gives my mind more availability to handle the anxiety that I face daily. I train myself into handling those daily activities naturally and before I know it, I’m brainstorming how I’ll write my next blog post while brushing my teeth instead of focusing on just simply getting my teeth brushed. So before I even walk downstairs in the morning, I’m feeling like a life conqueror, donning golden armor instead of the shoulders slumped second day of dry shampoo peasant. If I wake up at a pre-planned time every day, roll out of bed, change into an effort of an outfit, walk across the hall to the bathroom to brush my teeth, fix my hair and apply my face, take the stair case down to turn on the Keurig, keep walking down the stairs to get the dogs, let them out, and then make my cup of caffeine goodness for the day- I can nearly guarantee without an ounce of mental effort that I can check off each of those activities from my to do list each and every day. This already leaves me with more energy to fight off the negative vibes from that anxiety tribe that likes to follow my every move and focus on really having a great day.

My routines don’t stop at daily ones. I have a weekly routine for my boutique, a weekly routine for house cleaning, a weekly routine for the full time and, yes, we even have date night built into a routine. My routines have routines. Excessive…? Probably. But when you find something that works for you, don’t sweep it under the rug just because someone else shrugs their nose at it. If it works for you, WORK IT GIRL! Do whatever you need to do to give yourself more energy to fight back against your anxiety. If you are exhausted from juggling life all week, that depression monster is going to crawl out from wherever the hell that scary thing lives and eat you alive. The best way to take care of yourself and your mental health is to be well rested for the daily battle- and I don’t mean getting eight hours of sleep.

I have my days. Especially when my routine is thrown off. That is really the way to hit that big red flashing button that immediately sets my home base into lock down. Lock down consists of not showering for a week and attempting to cover it up with way, way too much dry shampoo. I should avoid lock downs at all costs, for your sake and mine. Those times that my routine has to be adjusted or is interrupted are extremely hard on my mental health. I can’t sit here and say YES BY GOLLY it is so healthy to not be able to be flexible or open to changes in my schedule. I’m working on handling changes to my schedule better and reserving more energy to handle those adjustments. Like I am developing a “routine” to put into play when my normal routine is interrupted- I am a planner for goodness sakes- cut me some slack! At least for now, I know when my routine is changed by force, I should be ready for a few things to happen. I know my usual strength will be on a hiatus until my routine returns. I know I will probably have to pull out more tricks to fight against that evil anxiety monster. And I also know that sometimes, I will fall victim to him and the monster will be spitting out my bones after being his main course.

It’s okay to not be okay all the time, as long as you keep fighting. If that evil monster gets you on a Tuesday, don’t let him eat you for Leftover Wednesday too. This battle is the most intense game of the season. Every defeat and low day is made that much less significant when you have the massive wins to celebrate. Days that my routine falls right on schedule are massive wins for me. Routines are my fixed programs to fighting back against my anxiety. Brush my teeth, put my face on, make my coffee and take on life with more energy to enjoy things like chocolate birthday cake instead of anxiety cocktails.

Here’s to the addition of writing regular blog posts to my routine!

OX,

Rachel