Confidence

If you have it — you can do anything. No one can stop you. Nothing. You can walk into the conference room with your head held up high, papers in hand, and give a presentation of a lifetime. You can hop on a plane and fly across the globe to a foreign country — where the language barrier is just one of the many odds against you. When you have it — you can climb a 14’er — summit the mountain without even thinking twice about all the dangers. When you have confidence, you can do brave things.

 

But what if you woke up one day and realized that it was gone? You didn’t have it anymore. Your confidence had left the building.

 

First, you might ask yourself and wonder, “How did that happen?” and “Where did it go?”

 

I came to a realization one day that I had indeed lost my confidence. I’m not talking about “self-confidence” in regards to how you view yourself, but the confidence you have in your ability to do things.

 

And I knew why. Why I’d lost it.

 

I’ve always been a girl who loves adventure. Who loves to do things that are brave and to be seen as brave. I wasn’t a wild daredevil, but I found exhilaration, when I was a little girl, to take my shoes off and run around barefoot — risking the chance of getting a “sticker” in my foot. Over the hot, Texas, summer days, I’d run across the street barefoot to my friend’s house — the black pavement burning my feet —but also toughening them up so they became hardened and resilient — perhaps even more resistant to getting those pesky thorns in my foot. I was a “girly-girl”, but I was also a tomboy. I loved climbing high up in the trees that grew in our backyard and sitting there feeling like I was Pocahontas and that I had a connection with the spirit of the tree.

 

As I grew up into a young woman, adventure was still on my heart and wanderlust filled my soul. I dreamed of traveling the world.

 

I met my husband Josh in December 2009. I loved this man — his passion for life and that we shared an affinity for travel. He had already traveled abroad and his stories filled my heart with a longing to see these things. But, more importantly, to see these sights with him.

 

We married in the Spring of 2011.

 

I had confidence back then. Oh yes, I had my doubts and my fears, yes — that is only natural for all of us. But I knew I could do things. I had a mindset, perhaps a bit of pride, that I could do anything.

 

And so, within the first few months of marrying, my husband and I quit our jobs, sold almost everything, packed our bags, said our goodbyes to family, and we moved across the world — from Texas to New Zealand.

 

This was brave indeed and it took a huge amount of confidence in oneself to be able to do this. With our working holiday visa, we were able to live in New Zealand for a year. And, along the way, I got to climb trees again! Well, not technically, but climbed a ladder and picked apples from the trees. It was like being a kid again. Wild and free. Yet working. So, I’ll admit, I didn’t like apple-thinning too much. I hated it. Josh heard me moan and groan a lot. It took only four days to figure out that Lindsey wasn’t meant for manual labor. But I had had my hand at apple-picking. I had tried it.

 

While in New Zealand, Josh and I hiked several trails — that’s one of my favorite activities in life to do is hike. Our greatest accomplishment was hiking the 19.4 kilometer Tongariro Alpine Crossing. I had confidence enough to do this treacherous day-long hike and to climb across volcanoes.

 

And, in New Zealand, I finally overcame my fear of driving on the opposite side of the road, and, after trying it, my heart swelled with pride and confidence. As the saying by Eleanor Roosevelt goes, “You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

 

I had a nickname growing up, given to me by my youth minister who later became my brother-in-law. It was “Linzena – Warrior Princess.”

 

New Zealand was a time when I truly felt like I was a warrior princess.

 

We eventually had to move back to the States, and our next destination became Colorado — so that we could continue to breathe in mountain air and revel in God’s creation. I “bagged” (the term used in Colorado when you accomplish summiting a peak) three “14’er”s as they are called in Colorado — meaning mountain peaks where the summit is over 14,000 feet.

 

To climb a mountain, it takes courage and bravery. It requires confidence in yourself.

 

Little did I know I was about to climb the biggest mountain — the most rugged, treacherous, dangerous one I would ever have to attempt to conquer. And I’m not talking about Long’s Peak.

 

I’m talking about postpartum depression.

 

Our first daughter, Isabella, was born to us on a sunny October day while we were still living in Colorado. It was one of the happiest days of my life. A flood of tears poured from my eyes when I saw her for the first time and heard her first cry. Everything was good — despite the anxiety that I felt intensely every day from the moment she was born.

 

A month after she was born — my mountain appeared. Postpartum depression hit me full force as I woke up on a Monday morning and had my first of what would soon be countless panic attacks.

 

I couldn’t take care of myself. I couldn’t take care of my baby. I was a wreck. The depression and anxiety debilitated me to the point where I could barely eat or drink, and I had thoughts of just wanting to end it all.

 

That is when it happened. Postpartum depression grabbed my confidence, my dignity, my pride, and it ripped it away from me.

 

I had no confidence that the “mountain climbing, world-traveler, Linzena Warrior Princess” could “bag” this foreboding summit that towered above me. That laughed at me. That made me say things like, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t!”

 

It made me feel weak. I couldn’t do anything. And I needed someone to be by my side 24/7, because I was afraid of being alone. I was afraid of the scary thoughts in my head.

 

But, amazingly, after four months of inching my way up this mountain towards recovery, I finally reached the summit! I conquered that which tried to take my life. I won. Postpartum depression and anxiety had been defeated.

 

When I found healing, you can imagine how my life changed. I was on fire! So thankful to be alive. Thank you, God! I had a deep appreciation for life again; for my life. A deep appreciation for my family. A bond that grew between my husband and I as we weathered this storm together. As we, like all the real mountains we climbed together before, this time, my husband carried me on his back many times along the way. I know he did. Our love for each other grew tenfold. I started connecting with my baby daughter again and not feeling so scared of her. It was all so beautiful.

 

It’s in the aftermath, after a battle as intense as the one I went through, that I realized I had suffered many wounds. One of those being, that I lost my confidence. There were ways in which I actually gained confidence after going through that. But, I felt robbed — like something was missing that I once had.

 

Even after recovery, I doubted myself.

 

That’s one of the worst feelings. And it keeps you from doing things. From doing what you used to be able to do.

 

Fear and anxiety still remain with me, even after recovery, and I struggle with anxiety to this day.

 

They say that, after falling off a horse, you have to get right back on. Shake the dust off and keep on.

 

And I have to do the same.

 

And so that is what I do. I “do the things you think you cannot do”. It’s not easy, and I’m still struggling to get a better hold of my anxiety, so that it doesn’t control my life. It’s not easy. But I’m trying.

 

I will continue to climb those beautiful mountains. I will do it with confidence —despite my fears and anxieties. I will and have continued to board those planes to foreign places that light my heart on fire.

 

And I will, despite the wounds I carry, live my life with courage and adventure. I will regain my confidence and, with hardened, tough feet — I will carry on as Linzena Warrior Princess, living out my life Wild and Free.

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.

 

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“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.