Blossom

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
-Anaïs Nin

Flowers long to see the sun. They long for the spring. Flowers were meant to bloom forth from the earth. And when they do blossom after the cold and harsh winter, they shine with brilliant colors. They radiate. They stand tall and proud, for they know they are beautiful. The flowers know that being confined and imprisoned in a cage is not their fate. Not their destiny nor their purpose.

 

And so it is with us.

 

We were not put on this earth to remain tightly closed in a bud. Imprisoned. Not meant to be bound by fear. By self-doubt. By self-limitations. By anxiety. You name it…we all know what keeps each of us bound in chains.

 

We were meant to flourish.

 

I know what it’s like to remain tight in a bud. And I don’t like being there. And then there have been the times when I did not, could not, and would not remain there. But I found myself blossoming. Opening my arms to adventure. To trying new things. To stepping outside of my comfort zone. To looking outside of myself and helping others. There have been times I have seen myself truly blossom, and it has been beautiful.

 

I’ve seen myself bloom the most since my daughter was born two years ago. I fought a battle the first few months of her life, an illness called postpartum depression. I fought that battle with every fiber of my being. I still have scars and I am wounded from that battle. That was a season. A season that I will call my dark winter.

 

That season of my life occurred during the fall and winter months. I remember we had an early spring that year, and my healing coincided with the sun coming out from behind the clouds. My healing came when the rain stopped falling from the sky. It came as the flowers rejoiced with me that the darkness had passed.

 

It was a season. A temporary season that did not last forever. At the time, every day felt like a lifetime. But the point is, that the winter passed. And the spring came.

 

I was healed. I had survived.

 

And, so then, I blossomed.

 

I seized the day. I thanked God for the breath in my body. For vanquishing away all the dark and scary thoughts. For taking my tears away. I thanked Him for my beating heart.

 

I was more thankful for life than I had ever been. I lived with zeal and had a newfound energy. A desire to get all I can out of this life, and to give. I helped others who were fighting the battle I had fought. I had new eyes. A new perspective. More compassion and understanding in my heart for those who stood where I had stood.

 

I created a support group. I was a leader. I did public speaking within my support group; something completely out of my comfort zone. But I had to. I had to help others. I wanted to. I shared my story. Over and over.

 

I did things I never dreamed of doing. Like going to boot camp. We’re talking about a girl here who took a bowling class as her athletic/P.E. course in high school! Who just simply doesn’t run. Not ever.

 

And I started doing yoga . . . something which I had previously always just rolled my eyes at.

 

Was I intimidated? I can say with a resounding “YES!”, I was. But I did it anyway. And I found out it wasn’t so bad. In fact, I found myself loving both boot camp AND yoga. I began finding that trying new things was kind of exhilarating. That I was filled with a newfound confidence that I was able to overcome my hesitations, doubts, and fears.

 

I don’t ever want to remain tight in a bud. I want to blossom. Every day. I want to encourage and inspire others to blossom. There is a world of opportunity out there, of adventures, just waiting for you. The possibilities for your life are endless. I love the saying, “Bloom where you are planted”. Go. Seek. Find. Right where you are now. Make the most of every day.

 

Be like the wildflowers in the valley surrounded by the mountains. They see the harshest and coldest of winters. Perhaps you are in that place right now. But when spring and summer come, the valley is covered in a rainbow of every color imaginable. Each flower is unique. They stand tall and proud. And they dance.

 

They dance in the wind. They dance for they know what it was like to be hidden away from the sun. To know only cold and darkness. And so, they rejoice with all their hearts to see the sun again.

 

May we be like the wildflowers.

 

May we dance in the wind.

 

img_4445
“In a field full of roses, she is a wildflower.” ~ Anonymous

 

 

The Beauty and Struggle of Being Vulnerable

I’m so tired of all the fake.

 

I’m so tired of all the masks.

 

You know what I’m talking about. In this day and age that we live in—it’s so easy to get caught up in the game. To get caught up in the race. The competition of life. To want to have our makeup looking flawless, our hair always done or to be proud that we can pull off looking like a “hot mess”. To be wearing the best and most fashionable clothes. To be making more money than our neighbor. To have a better-looking marriage or relationship than the next one. To have a profile picture that will make others envious. To have traveled to more places than “you.” To have more friends and followers on Facebook than we even know what to do with. To be eating more healthy and to be a better cook—wife, mother, woman, and all the above, because we have an Instagram-worthy, over-filtered picture to prove it.

 

To have more “Likes” and “Hearts” on our posts on Facebook than you. That will sure boost your ego, or the lack of them leave you feeling down in the dumps.

 

And the list goes on.

 

Man, do we appear to have it all together! Just look at our Facebook or our Instagram and you’ll think, “They’ve got it made! Made in the shade!”

 

I’ve been there. I do it. I try not to, but, oh yes, I still do it. I’ve found myself in the competition and the endless, fruitless, vain, and disappointing trap of comparison. I’ve wanted my life to look all good. “I’m okay! I’m okay! My pictures are here to prove it!” But that is not always the truth.

 

Go to church and you’ll see us sitting in our pews. Smiling loudly and singing enthusiastically for all to hear, when that’s really the last place we want to be that day because we’re hurting. We’re hurting and we feel like all around us is perfection. That can be discouraging. We feel as if we could never bare our souls and our wounds in the place where we need to be most vulnerable. The front pew is always empty every Sunday. Why aren’t we going forward? Why am I not going forward? Why aren’t we confessing our struggles? Why aren’t we being vulnerable? I see more vulnerability outside the church than I do within. That is a shame. There is a movement, a conversation in our society about being vulnerable. It’s all around us. If you haven’t seen it yet, look around harder. Books are even being written about the topic.

 

There is a hunger in our hearts. A longing to see others rise up. To rise up from their pew, from behind their computer, from behind their photo-shopped photographs and to take off their masks. To not only rise up, but to speak up, and to be real.

 

This world is broken.
We are broken.
We are wounded.
We are hurting.
We have scars that we hide.
And we need help.

 

Where does this help come from? I believe it comes or should come from different places. First, and always, we need God.

 

But we also need each other.

 

This is where vulnerability comes in.

 

One of the definitions for the word “vulnerable” found on the website http://www.dictionary.com is, “capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon.”

 

Woah. That will stop you in your tracks. And it might make you want to run for the hills. The risk that is involved with being vulnerable is what makes it so beautiful. It is knowing that, by baring your soul, you can get wounded in the process, but you still have the bravery and willingness to do so. And you don’t do it for yourself, you do it for others. That is one of the bravest things I could imagine anyone to do. Vulnerability is a soldier going to battle with no armor on.

 

Darts might be thrown you way—judgment, looks, whispers behind your back or words spoken to your face, but you must stay the course. Stand your ground. For you never know the power your vulnerability has—the change that it can create in the person next to you and in this world.

 

In Brene Brown’s book, “Rising Strong,” she discusses vulnerability and says that, “…hiding out, pretending, and armoring up against vulnerability are killing us: killing our spirits, our hopes, our potential, our creativity, our ability to lead, our love, our faith, and our joy.” She is exactly right. When we are vulnerable, it can create a chain reaction. We begin to understand one another better—we begin to really see them, and we are able to be seen. And, by stepping out in battle without any armor on, we can learn to love others more fully. We can empathize.

 

I’ve found that, through personal experience, it’s in the aftermath of sharing our stories and struggles to others that we can be hit with conflicted feelings. We want to sometimes reach out and grab the pieces of our masks that we’ve taken off and we want to desperately grab each piece and bring it back to us and cling those pieces close to our sides. We feel the need to put the pieces back together and put our mask back on again.

 

I envision the scene from the musical film “Phantom of the Opera” with Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum. It’s a powerful scene. Emmy’s character, Christine, desperately wants to see what the Phantom is hiding and what lies behind his mask. She catches him off guard and can’t help herself and removes the mask from his face. We, the audience, then see what he has hidden. A face full of scars. Memories and pain associated with those scars. He’s never wanted anyone to see that side of him. He becomes enraged at her and rips his mask back from her hands and instantly puts it back on his face.  It is heartbreaking. Your heart feels pain for the Phantom and you find yourself desperately wanting to help him, just as Christine does. When you learn the story behind how he got those scars, your heart aches even more.

 

When we do take off our masks, we can then have several thoughts:

 

“I overshared.”

 

“Oh my goodness, what are they all thinking about me?” And you can dwell there for a very long time and imagine all the thoughts people might be having about you.

 

“I regret letting others see me.”

 

“I want to hide back in my safe cocoon. I want to become a hermit and hide myself from the world.”

 

You will have those days. The anxiety that comes with opening up is real. It’s natural and it’s okay. It’s okay to feel all those things. It’s normal to feel a delayed reaction of shame about all that you exposed about yourself, whether that be to a group of people, or to one individual. It’s a process. It’s a learning experience; you’re going to find out some people will, unfortunately, shun you or judge you, but, more importantly, you will find your tribe. Your tribe that will encourage you and support you and bring light to your life. Cling, cling, cling to those people. Find them. Find those who can love and accept you for your story and for what you have to say.

 

By never showing any vulnerability, we are hurting not only our own hearts, but the hearts of those around us.

 

We hurt our own hearts by living a lie. By parading ourselves around like our life is perfect—like we are perfect—when we know what the truth is when we go home and when we look in the mirror. We begin to love the lie that we are living and the walls of silence that we build around us to guard us. But the hurt is in that we know the truth. We know we are being deceitful. And that eats at us. We feel a twinge of guilt when someone beside us falls down, and, we may be there to pick them up, but, in the process, we don’t get down in the dirt with them. We don’t dare say, “hey, I’ve been there,” or, “hey, I AM there,” or reveal any part of us. We keep our walls of protection up. We keep silent.

 

We hurt the hearts of those around us by never showing any vulnerability. By never revealing any weaknesses or imperfections to others, our actions, or rather, our inaction, can lead those who are watching us down a path of despair. They may already feel in despair, or “broken beyond all repair” and then when they see your world of perfection that you’ve created, they then see their own and they hang their head in shame.

 

Your vulnerability can help someone not feel so alone. That feeling that you are alone or having the thought that you are all alone can cause you to isolate yourself further away from the world. That is not healthy for the heart, mind, soul, or spirit. We need each other.

 

Even though I have found myself being more vulnerable with those around me as of late, I’m still scared. I’m scared to be vulnerable with others—it’s not easy and I’m not sure it ever will be. Why? Because it IS scary. As I said before, I think one of the biggest fears about being vulnerable is saying to ourselves, “What are they going to think of me?” It’s hard because there is risk involved.

 

I’m scared to write. I’m scared to write what I’m writing about right now. I’ve been scared to tell others my story. To open up and admit to someone, “hey, I’m struggling.” Scared, scared, scared. Yes, that word—that feeling is there—but you know what? You do it anyway. You open your heart out. You be real. You be bold. You start showing others what makes you you and why you’re you. You show them you.

 

And when you start showing you, who you really are to those around you, I believe that you will see a whole new world start opening up right in front of you. That world—the world where you’re being vulnerable—is not going to always look pretty. In fact, it will, some days, look and feel messy—you will feel messy. But, I also believe that it will be a world that you will delight in and that will fill you with wonder and awe. For it will bring you freedom. It will open your eyes. It will open doors and bring people into your life. It will open your heart. It will bring freedom to others. It will bring peace. Your courage to be vulnerable has the power to loosen someone else’s chains. It can help bring them healing.

 

It can bring them Life.

 

But, we’ve got to take off our masks.

The Nomadic Dreamer

What keeps us from going? What keeps us from doing? Going where we want to go, doing what we want to do? What keeps us from pursuing our dream job, from traveling to our dream place? What keeps us from pursuing our dreams, or something that is calling to us, but we are afraid to answer that call?

 

For those of you who know my husband Josh and I pretty well, in our first year of marriage, we did something pretty crazy. We did something most people don’t do. We followed our dreams. We went for it! I had always dreamed of just VISITING the country of New Zealand after watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy and being a huge nerd fan, but we decided visiting wasn’t going to be good enough for us. Why not LIVE there?

 

So, we quit our jobs, sold most of our belongings, including my bright red Mustang that I loved, got a working holiday visa, said goodbye to our families, and moved across the world. 7,639 miles away from home, to be exact. In our first year of marriage, which is supposed to be the hardest year (and which was, by the way, haha), we went to a foreign country when we were still in foreign territory as newlyweds and getting used to married life. But, we did it. And, it was AMAZING. “It’s just you and me, kid.”, is what it felt like. We met some wonderful people through the church and some who have become our lifelong friends who we can’t wait to return and see them again. But, for part of the time, it was just me and him, traveling through the rolling hills in a little red car, driving on the opposite side of the road, and just vagabonding from one destination to the next. I usually like to have a plan, but it didn’t quite work like that…we did have potential jobs lined up, working at backpacker type places, but everything was up in the air pretty much. At that time, it was a little scary and intimidating. But, it was also fun! And looking back now, I’d say it was actually pretty awesome just following the road or following your nose to the next destination. We passed up on a lot of potential jobs mainly due to the accommodation setup, but there were some jobs that fell into our laps by just driving around.

 

If I hadn’t followed my dream, I could never say that I went apple-picking before, in a foreign country! I wouldn’t be able to say that I climbed on top of a volcano, and that I hiked an active volcano, which did erupt just a couple months after we climbed it. A 19 kilometer day long hike, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, that truly tested your endurance and your mental strength. I wouldn’t be able to say that I got to feel like a hobbit as I walked through the real life Shire from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies. I also wouldn’t be able to say that I got to TRY OUT to be an extra FOR The Hobbit trilogy. I wouldn’t be able to say that I’ve visited the Maori village of Te Whakarewarewatangaoteopetauaawahiao. This crazy and complex sounding name is a geothermal Maori village located in Rotorua, where we got to see what the a day in the life of a Maori looks like; how they cook their food underground from the heat of its setting and watch them perform and sing their traditional songs and dances. During their song and dance, they make their eyes get really big and then stick their tongues out at you, which I found to be quite amusing. Oh, and the village has a wonderful smell of rotten eggs due to the sulphur emissions. Furthermore, If I hadn’t followed my dream, I wouldn’t be able to say that I witnessed my husband zorbing (globe-riding is the recreation or sport of rolling downhill inside of an orb). You get the point . . .

 

Josh and I relied solely on each other, and on God, of course, who guided us along our journey and then found us a perfect job for Josh, just when our options and money were about to run out, He provided for us. He found a job working in the capital city of Wellington, working at the Earthquake Commission, helping thousands of people who had lost their homes and livelihood due to the devastating earthquakes that had struck the city of Christchurch a few months earlier. I was able to be free, and not have to work. I got to do what I love, which is write, and I blogged about our travels while living there. We lived in a flat that overlooked the bay, and that was at the very southern point of the North Island, so I was a witness to all the ferry ships coming in from the South Island, and the airplanes flying into the airport. I got to see people coming and going, perhaps following their dreams, too, of visiting the magnificent landscape that New Zealand has to offer. As newlyweds, Josh and I clung to each other; it was such an adventure, and we grew closer faster, I think, than if we had just stayed at home. I got to live my dream, and now, I can’t wait to go back.

 

Why am I talking about our living abroad in New Zealand? To brag? No, well, maybe just to say that I am so proud of us for doing that, and I wouldn’t change any of it. I also say it to encourage others who are considering doing something that sounds “crazy” or unrealistic. It may seem overwhelming and intangible at first, whether because of money or just the flat out practicality of it. But, it can be done, just take the small steps, step by step, and GO FOR IT!

 

And now, there are things in my life that are calling to me. There are things that have always called to me, some from the time I was a little girl. One dream I always had was to go to Africa, yes, the very cliche mission land to go to, and visit an orphanage. Not only that, but to write a children’s book, and then read my book as the little children sit around me in a circle and listen to my story. And to have the proceeds go to that particular orphanage or other orphanages in the area as well. And in reality, I might have an opportunity to do that, very soon, in fact. Not to Africa, but an opportunity has presented itself to go visit orphans, like I have always dreamed of, in Costa Rica. I am undecided on it at this point, 85% sure I want to and need to go, but something is holding me back. I’m not sure what. And maybe that’s the question that holds us all back. That 15 %. Such a small number compared to 85, but, man, is it loud!

 

That 15% is all the reasons why I SHOULDN’T go. Why I can’t. Why I am incapable. Why it’s not practical. We can all relate. It doesn’t have to be my scenario, necessarily, but pretty much any situation where you are passionate about something or have dreamed about it, and you’re about to take that leap of faith, you’re almost close, so close actually, at the very edge and about to step off that ledge and leap, hoping you fly. We come so close to that point, but, more often than not, we close our eyes in shame, and turn back around, living in regret and wondering whether or not we would have flown if we had taken that leap. So, we turn around, and we go back to what’s safe. To what we know. To what we’ve always known. And that, my friend, is called an opportunity lost. A dream left to float in the wind.

 

Another dream I’ve had is to open up a Bed and Breakfast in France or Italy. If you haven’t learned by now, I LOVE to travel. I get bored being in one place for too long, because I know there is so much out there, so much to see! So many people to meet, different kinds of food to taste, different stories to hear, and to come back and to have a tale to tell yourself. I dream of one day hiking the Inca Trail all the way up to the sacred mountain of Machu Picchu. I dream of spending a week or two hiking from hut to hut in the Swiss Alps. I want to climb to the rooftop of Africa, and stand on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. My dreams that have been dormant because of a stupid illness called postpartum depression are coming back alive, and coming back with a vengeance. The fire is strong. With my healing that has really seemed to be happening more so within these past couple of months, I am finding myself again. The dreamer. But not only the dreamer, the do-er. Josh and I are people of action; we’re not just all talk. I am finding my gypsy soul again; my passion for life, for traveling, for helping other people. I think a quote that definitely describes me in a nutshell is by Isabelle Eberhardt, “A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.”

 

And I will travel to those distant and uncharted places. I will not let anything stand in my way. Sometimes it’s money, but so far, we have found out that God always provides. If you want to go, GO. Yes, it may take time, and you may have to cut out on things and have a tight budget, but if you want to travel somewhere that you have always dreamed of, then, why not? “Well, I have kids”, or, “Well, my job”. Guess what? More times than not, it will work out. You will get the money. You will find someone to take care of the kids, if you don’t end up actually wanting to take them with you. It won’t be the end of the world to your job if you take a few days to yourself and pursue your dreams.

 

One of my favorite quotes is by Saint Augustine. He says, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” I wholeheartedly agree with his thoughts, and I know I have so many more pages myself to discover, that I can’t wait to discover. But, I don’t want this to be just about traveling. That quote can apply to life. It’s not just about not traveling. It’s about not living, truly living life. You miss out on the world, not necessarily by not traveling, but by not being and doing. By living only for yourself. By not getting out of your comfortable chair, from your comfortable house in your comfortable neighborhood, and spending your time or your comfortable paycheck on yourself. There are so many grand experiences waiting for us in this life, sometimes opportunities that are SCREAMING at us, but we just ignore them and say, “not now,” or “that’s not for me.”

 

And you know that 15% of doubt that we have? I imagine sometimes that’s what screams to us, instead of the 85% telling us we should do it, or should go. We overlook all the reasons we should do something, or CAN do something, and we listen to that voice of self-doubt, or the negative voice in our heads. Call it Satan, call it reason, call it whatever you want, but I think it’s pretty dang annoying whatever it is! I imagine a tiny little chihuahua. They are so little, but they make the most obnoxious, loud, yelps that can drive a person crazy and wake up an entire neighborhood. They are so headstrong and defiant, and they demand their presence to be known, and man, do you notice their presence, though tiny they be. That’s the 15%. Now imagine; a beautiful, quiet, snow-filled forest. Not a sound as your eyes gaze across this picturesque scene; but then, your eyes see a huge, majestic and magnificent wolf, just staring at you. It doesn’t say anything…doesn’t bark, begging for your attention, but it just stares at you, its eyes piercing your soul. That’s the 85%.

 

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure,” writes Paulo Coelho, in his novel, The Alchemist. Oh yes. And all the “what if’s” that come with that. “What if it doesn’t work out?” Sometimes, it’s not just the obvious circumstances such as finances that stand in the way of something, but it is that we doubt ourselves. We doubt our capabilities. It’s human nature to do so. To use a biblical example, Moses even doubts himself. First of all, we see his fear.

“Then Moses answered, ‘But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ The Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A staff.’ And he said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’ So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it (emphasis added). But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Put out your hand and catch it by the tail’—so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—‘that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.’” [Exodus 4:1-5]

Often times, we run from what we think is a snake, instead of seeing that what God has given us is a staff. A staff to lead. You don’t have have to part the Red Sea to be a leader, and the staff doesn’t even necessarily have to represent being a leader, but just something that God has given us that we can use. Our talents, our dreams, our ideas.

Furthermore, the story goes on with the dialogue between Moses and God and Moses says to God, “‘Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.’’ [Exodus 4:10]. Moses is coming up with reasons why he can’t go lead the people. Self-doubt. “I am NOT”, he says. He is being negative and saying why he is incapable of doing what God asks of him. He’s listening to that loud 15% inside of his head, instead of the 85% of why he should and why he IS capable. For one, God is on His side and asking him to do this! But it’s human nature to come up with all the reasons of why not to go, why not to be, why not to follow your dream. In fact, he even goes on to say, “‘Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.’” [Exodus 4:13.] When we read further, we learn that God then became angry with Moses. If I were God, I would be too! Not only is Moses doubting himself, which I’m sure God doesn’t like, he is doubting GOD.

On the other hand, there is a biblical example of someone who was willing and who trusted the Lord wholeheartedly and gave no indication that he doubted himself or God. Isaiah 6:8 reads, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me.’” Wow! The use of the exclamation mark in the context really emphasizes, I think, Isaiah’s pure enthusiasm and excitement to go! No questions asked. “God, I’m here!” How we should all be like that! Instead of making a list of all the reasons not to go, or not to do this or that, we should be eager to say yes. We have to be practical to a point, of course. This can apply to so many instances in our lives. Not just necessarily going on a mission trip like I’m considering, or going for my dream job one day of working in real estate or eventually being our own boss and owning a B & B in a foreign country. You all have things….dreams, hopes, ideas, desires, that have been placed on your hearts, some of you for as long as you can remember. There may be a very logical and valid reason why you have not pursued that, and that’s okay. But for most of us, it’s time to toss the list in the trash and kick the obnoxious chihuahua in our heads to the curb. It’s time to GO. It’s time to DO.

And then, you may very well find the words of Paulo Coelho to be true:

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Fear

 

Fear.

 

It paralyzes you. Sometimes, quite literally. It can paralyze your body. I can vividly remember a time when fear left me trembling at the knees, and I felt the panic rapidly taking over my body.

 

I was standing on top of a mountain. Not a small hill, let me tell you. No, we were standing on rocky boulders at 14,000 feet in the rocky mountains of Colorado—Mount Bierstadt. We only had a few more feet to go until we were to reach the summit, but the natural elements began to intimidate me and I started to lose my grip; my grip on reality. When you are that high in elevation, the winds are cruel and whip your body around and slaps your hair across your face. The wind seems angry. To me, it felt like it was out to get me at that moment. I felt so vulnerable.

 

When you stand at the bottom of the mountain looking at your task ahead of you of reaching your summit and bagging your first “14’er” as people of Colorado refer them to, it of course looks challenging. But that’s what drives you and gives you the adrenaline. The will power and desire more than anything to conquer this beast. But down below, you are safe. You have not encountered the elements yet.

 

As we were near our summit, I felt my legs start shaking as I saw the drop off of the mountain not far to our right. The boulders we had to scramble over were huge, and all I could imagine, in my fear, was that I would fall and that would just be the end of it. The “fight or flight” feelings were settling in and taking over. I wanted to escape. I wanted to escape and run away from this situation. I wanted off this mountain. To make my fear worse, I saw clouds in the distance and snow falling from them. The snow was headed our way. “We are going to get trapped on this mountain!” I thought to myself.

 

We finally made it to Bierstadt’s summit, but I was terrified. I was breathing hard and my whole body was trembling. I told my husband, Josh, “I can’t do this. I can’t get back down.” I couldn’t imagine scrambling over those big boulders again. Each step was a risk.

 

It was time to get back down, off the mountain. The snow was approaching our way, quickly. It was time to leave. But I couldn’t. I literally could not find the courage to get up from where I sat down on one of the boulders. I said over and over again, irrationally, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this!” And I started crying. I was shaking so bad from my nerves. I was paralyzed. I think I might have even said something utterly ridiculous, like, “you are just going to have to leave me here.” My safety was ahead of me, by simply taking the steps to crawl over the boulders, but my fear stood in the way. I was putting myself in danger by remaining on the mountain . . . everyone else was starting to race off the mountain for they saw the snow coming too. I could imagine the white-out…I could see it all in those moments of panic. I don’t know how Josh did it. I don’t know what he said to me, perhaps he remembers, but he somehow knocked sense into me and gave me the courage and confidence to believe in myself that I could do this.

 

So, I took the first step. And then the next step. And the next. It was difficult as my legs were trembling but each step in the right direction and knowing I was getting closer to getting out of this dangerous situation gave me confidence and I soon found the shaking was lessening and my steps were more confident. I wasn’t crawling like a baby over the boulders anymore! I was conquering them!
Fast forward about two and a half years later. I am in a similar situation. Yep, a new mountain I have to conquer. Postpartum depression.

 

It also left me paralyzed. Some days, I literally felt that I could not move. That I could not get out of bed. I could not get off the couch. I was afraid to even walk around the house, because the anxiety was so high and my thoughts might start racing or the depressive thoughts might swarm my mind. I’d stay glued to the couch, finding something to obsess over, to distract my thoughts, whether that was staying connected to Facebook or I would research all there was to know about postpartum depression. I even started working on a research paper. Knowledge is power, they say, and I believe that wholeheartedly. But I was afraid. I was afraid of being left alone, because I didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts. Thoughts that told me “You are never going to get better.” “You are always going to have this”. “This postpartum depression will just turn into regular depression and will never go away.” “You are always going to suffer.” “This is going to take your life.” These intrusive thoughts filled me throughout the day when I was at my worst. I was so depressed. My psychiatrist diagnosed me as having SEVERE postpartum depression and anxiety. I felt so hopeless. I felt afraid to walk into certain rooms because that’s where I had had a panic attack and where I’d had terrifying nightmares or feelings of impending doom and gloom. It felt like the depression was limited to those rooms, that they were dangerous rooms, and I had to avoid them.

 

These intrusive, “Bad thoughts” as I would call them, some thoughts that were even suicidal, were the boulders, like on Mount Bierstadt, that I had to overcome. With each fleeting thought that I had, I overcame them. The fear of those thoughts chilled me to the bone, but I knew they were not me, they were not Lindsey. And with each passing day of my journey with PPD, it was as though each day was climbing over another boulder. A baby step, that yes, sometimes, I literally crawled on the floor and lay there and lay crying and wailing like a baby that beat out my 3 month old’s crying episodes. I was pathetic. But I was trying. I was trying SO hard. To make it through each day.

 

When I would lay there on my boulder, or couch as it was when I was going through PPD, or even laying in bed, afraid to get up and face the day and what it might bring me, my family gave me the pep talks to get off of the foreboding mountain. To get back down to safety. On to flat ground, where the beautiful green grass and wildflowers awaited me….where happiness and normalcy was compared to the boulders that I was scrambling over at the time. My husband, again, gave me the pep talk every day for the three months that I suffered the most. Sometimes, several pep talks a day. “You can do this. You are going to get better. THIS IS JUST TEMPORARY!”

 

I remember after climbing Mount Bierstadt, I had SUCH relief when we were on straight, level paths. And when I saw our car waiting for us in the parking lot. My legs were killing me. I was in control by now, and felt so happy that I was back in the beautiful valley. As we drove back home, I thought to myself, like in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” movie with Jim Carrey, how when he’s sliding down the mountain in his sled he totally freaks out and almost throws up because he is terrified what might happen to him as their sled races down a mountain past trees and huge rocks that could crush their sled. When he gets back down off the mountain and regains control of the sled and his mind, he says, “Woah. I almost lost my cool back there!” That’s how I felt and how I felt many times during my PPD experience. I would totally lose sense of reality and rationality when I had my panic attacks.

 

But the great thing is, Mount Bierstadt didn’t stop me. I climbed two more 14’ers after that experience, and I had SO much fun and it was amazing reaching the top of those summits. My confidence was back and I didn’t let fear stand in the way. I still plan on climbing more mountains, with one of my biggest dreams being conquering Long’s Peak, known for being extremely challenging. In fact, a little side note, but we named our daughter after Isabella Bird, a brave woman in the 1800’s who rode across Colorado on a horse, traveling all around, by herself, and she climbed Long’s Peak…in a dress! Alongside Rocky Mountain Jim, a man with a bad reputation, but someone whom she had compassion on and tried to reach out and help him out of his darkness he was facing. I suggest you look up the story of Isabella Bird, and read her story, “A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains.”

 

You know what the other great thing is? Postpartum depression didn’t stop me. That beast tried to take me down. It tried so hard. I conquered that mountain and made it safely to the valley of beautiful wildflowers, which is where I’ve wanted to be all along. There are still some days when the boulders get in my way, and the Fear, but sometimes we just have to kick fear to the curb. It keeps us from living life fully….keeps us from enjoying moments, opportunities, relationships, dreams. The beautiful valley I am in now is me fully recovering. It’s me having less and less days of anxiety and depression. It’s me looking at my daughter who I used to couldn’t look at without being thrown into a panic attack, but looking at her now with love and laughter. It’s laughing at her as I’m rocking her and she sucks her thumb and tries to find the corner of her blanket and then starts flicking the corner with her tiny little finger. The wildflowers are in those little, but precious moments, moments that I want to enjoy and savor for all time.

 

You can conquer whatever mountain you are facing. You can conquer your fears! It may take scrambling over the boulders in your way, slowly, and you may feel like a baby as you crawl over them, but those boulders will soon be behind you. And you will look back behind you at them, and you will laugh. You will laugh at them. For they did not take you. You won.

 

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
-Franklin D. Roosevelt
F-E-A-R
“Forget Everything and Run
OR
Face Everything and Rise”
-Anonymous