What’s Cookin’ Good Lookin’

My biggest fear about getting married was that I was going to have to cook dinner every day in order to be the perfect wife. I was terrified. Rarely did I actually cook a full meal for myself, let alone another person. I felt like if anything made me not cut out for the job, that was it. Naive, I know, but that was my biggest hangup.

Luckily for me, my husband is really easy going and doesn’t make me feel bad when I only have enough energy to make macaroni and cheese from a box. However, when I do cook meals, I like to cook meals that are well balanced and a bit healthier than carbs on carbs on carbs. So, I just went grocery shopping (and stayed under $100, woohoo!!!), and I’m setting a goal to make healthier dinners for at least 4/7 days this week. The other days account for when my husband has to work evenings and I can survive on zucchini and sweet potatoes.

I know a lot of people, wives, husbands, friends, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, whoever you may be, can get hung up on the smaller things because they seem so important to us. It can be an extremely heavy weight on our shoulders to feel like we just don’t measure up to what we think the expectations are.

My question is, who decides on those expectations? Who decides that we aren’t good enough?

For me, the thoughts that I have to cook dinner every night in order to be a good wife comes from my mother. She’s NEVER ever in her life said that to me, she’s never even implied it!! And, let’s clarify, we had plenty of leftover or fend for yourself nights when she didn’t want to cook, too. But my mom is my greatest role model, and she showed her love through her cooking for my dad. He always got his food first, and she would always cook according to what he liked or wanted that day. So, growing up with such an amazing cook for a mom, inadvertently taught me that in order to be as wonderful a wife and mother as she always has been, I have to cook dinner!

(these are some of the meals my mom makes, she’s perfect, I know)

Your committee members may be different, but the important thing is recognizing that you have a committee made up in your mind deciding what you should/shouldn’t do/feel/be. And they are not always right!!

My mom would never call me a bad wife for not cooking dinner! She would point out the good things I do, like keeping the house clean and organized, or always doing the laundry so everyone has clean clothes. My committee in my head is completely fictional, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to ignore.

I had a friend tell me a story a while ago of when she was a new mom (she has four beautiful kids, now). On the outside, she comes off as the most put together person I have ever met, but she will not hesitate to tell you that she lives in sweatpants, no makeup, and a messy house because that’s what mom life is like for her. When she was a new mom, though, she lacked a lot of that confidence that she has gained over the years. She felt pressure from her committee to be perfect – to keep the perfectly clean house, to have the perfect body after baby, and to always have dinner ready when her husband comes home. Finally, she cracked, and her husband came home to find her crying in the corner of the kitchen because she just could not make dinner that day. Her sweet husband picked her up off the floor, comforted her, and proceeded to make dinner himself. In everyone else’s eyes, she was still a super mom and a super wife. Her husband did not love her any less for coming home with dinner not being made, things scattered throughout the house, and a mess of a wife on the floor. But in her eyes, she was a failure.

Friends, what can we do to change our mentality, to stop being such perfectionists and people-pleasers? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it out. But it starts with recognizing that there is no such thing as perfection in anything we do. There’s just not. What we might think is perfect is an absolute disaster to someone else. We have to find a balance in our own lives of trying our best and being okay with being less than perfect. I promise your husband will still love you if you don’t put eyeliner on every day. He married you for more than your perfect wings, ladies.

So this week, as I try to make dinner every night, I’m going to remember that it doesn’t have to be a spectacular event every night, or else I’ll just get burnt out. I’m going to do my best to get a balance of proteins and vegetables, but I can already promise you that one night, we’ll be making frozen pizza at 9pm because I just won’t have the energy to do it all.

IMG_1980.jpg

See, I CAN cook!!

Learn to love yourself and learn to give yourself credit for the effort you put in. You’re already the best thing in someone else’s eyes, so don’t beat yourself up over a few flaws or mistakes. You’ve got this.

Ride the Wave

Before I begin this post, I just want to clarify that I, in no way, have this concept mastered. I work on it daily and it has been life changing, but I still have a long way to go!

For as long as I can remember I have absolutely despised change. The slightest change in plans threw me for a loop and I just couldn’t seem to get over it. I lived in constant worry of things not working out the way I had imagined them. It led to plenty of tears, tantrums, and major disappointment. When I first left home for college, I was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, I wasn’t sure how to handle being on my own, and I didn’t know how I was going to measure up in all my classes. It was a rough start, I mostly kept to myself, but I started to branch out and try new things. I started learning what my mom had been trying to teach me my whole life: I could only control myself and how I handled situations I was put in.

This principle became a focus in my life, and I’m still learning it. Life has only gotten more difficult and more unpredictable as I’ve gotten older. Recently, while talking to a professional about this, she coined my new favorite term and told me, “sometimes, you just have to ride the wave.”

photo-1518837695005-2083093ee35b

Riding the wave is the PERFECT analogy for this concept!! Waves are completely unpredictable, just like life is! It can be really scary to watch the waves when it’s windy or stormy out because they’re absolutely huge and strong. It would be so easy to lose control and get carried away in the current. But then, there are other times where it’s completely peaceful and calm and you don’t have to worry about getting punched in the face by giant, salty waves (I think I finally understand the term “salty” now…).

Now, I don’t surf. I’d love to learn, but the opportunity has never presented itself. I DO know how hard it is to balance on land because I’m completely clumsy, so I can only imagine how difficult it must be and how much skill it must take to balance on a board while standing on top of actual moving water. Yikes. The more I think about it, the more perfectly it represents my life literally all the time. Being a married college student is far from easy, and in all reality, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing the majority of the time. I’m just trying to stay on top of the board.

Let’s break this down a little more. How much stress do you go through as a student? As a wife/husband? As a mother/father? As an employee? Or even just as a human being?? It gets pretty crazy pretty fast sometimes. I know for me, all it takes is just to think about the number of assignments I have to fit into one week on top of my job and taking care of my house and my husband and my dog and myself??? Sometimes it just feels completely overwhelming and nearly impossible. This is what it feels like when your ten years old and you’re so excited to go to the deep end of the wave pool but you don’t jump fast enough and you get a face full of water for the next five minutes because you lost your footing. Yeah. Not fun. Especially if you’re in an actual body of salt water. Then, not only does it suck, but it burns. No one really wants to go through that. That’s when we tell people that we’re drowning. And if you’re me, you get overwhelmed, put on your sweatpants, put your hair in a ponytail, and binge watch New Girl on Netflix while eating oreos and milk because you can’t handle life right now. Drowning. It’s an endless cycle and only gets worse the more you click “continue watching.”

Now let’s take the flipside. It’s a long weekend, you don’t have any assignments due, you don’t have to go into work or check your email, the kitchen is clean, and you can make everyone happy by ordering a pizza for dinner while you can relax and read a book or watch a movie and not have to worry about any commitments for the night. What a life that must be. This is what I think of when I think of really calm waters. You can just lay down on your surfboard and glide over the teeny tiny waves that come through. I love floating down rivers and that just sounds like heaven to me.

During our lives, we face so many different kinds of waves. Sometimes we feel like the big waves won’t stop coming, other times we have months at a time of just floating along in the water. The important part isn’t the wave itself, it’s not even necessarily how big the wave is or how long it lasts. What’s most important is how we respond to the waves when they come.

We can’t just assume that our giant waves are going to pass faster if we ignore them. That just hurts more. We have to be willing to relax our bodies and ride the wave. Whether it be floating in the water, or fighting to keep your head above sea level, riding the wave will always be easier than fighting it or pretending it’s not there. That doesn’t mean we just submit willingly to the biggest waves life has to offer, it means when waves come based on circumstance or consequence, we have to accept them and ride them out until they pass. Don’t drown in your own pool of sorrow and pity. As my mom would say, “put on your big girl pants and deal with it!”

Friends, life does isn’t a miserable place to be. And even if it feels that way, we have the power ourselves to not be miserable in it. We can get up, get out of bed, put some pants on, and get to work on improving our lives ourselves. Because, let’s face it, the waves aren’t going to do it for us. By choosing how we respond to the waves that come into our lives, we can shape ourselves into the people we have always wanted to be. We can be strong. We can take back control. We can be happy, even when it feels like we’re drowning. We can ride the wave.

*A really great book that goes into more detail on being happy people and focusing on positivity is called “Drops of Awesome” and it’s by my really great friend, Kathryn Thompson. You can read more about it on her blog at dropsofawesome.com. Also, here’s a link to her book!

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=evergreenwife-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1939629276&asins=1939629276&linkId=c3e803352bafd54b1e2bd2ed84b2b22a&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066C0&bg_color=FFFFFF

After Dusk

I had a very good friend that loved colors. He could hear your favorite color and would then be able to tell you different things about your personality. I was pretty skeptical at first, too, but surprisingly he was usually right! It was intriguing to me, so I began to pay more attention. We would talk frequently about what different colors meant and the feelings behind them. We worked hard on being able to perfectly describe a color in a way you could feel, not just see.

It was beautiful. The colors were usually whole, uplifting. I realized that the colors I chose to describe were usually some aspect of light. For example, when I was asked what color I wanted to be, I responded with the color you see when a single ray of light pokes through the clouds.

It wasn’t always that way.

Have you ever tried to describe the color “midnight”? That color alone has so many different connotations — hope, fear, mystery, sadness, exhilaration… the list goes on!

This is the story of how my midnight went from feeling like the end to feeling like a hopeful beginning.

Depression combined with anxiety is very common; if you have one, it’s pretty normal for you to have the other as well. I’m one of the “lucky” ones that fits into that category. As most people with a mental illness know, there are really good days and really bad days. Some days I’m a beautiful gold color, glittering in the sunshine. Other days, I’m a dull gray, like the days where the sun doesn’t even come close to breaking through. Those are what I like to call my “floor days,” because it’s seriously so hard to even convince myself to get up and do anything. But as we from the PNW know, if you wait for it to stop raining, you’ll be waiting a loooooooong time!

Sometimes, if I let myself go too long without processing my emotions or whatever I’m going through, I break. And when I break, I really can’t get myself off the floor. I get stuck in this whirlpool of negative thinking and I’m not strong enough to swim out of the current.

This is what dusk feels like.

The sun is setting, it’s quickly growing darker, and there’s no end in sight. It signifies the end to another day, but doesn’t necessarily provide the promise of a better one tomorrow — if tomorrow even comes. It’s a hopeless feeling.

I remember when I was first experiencing these emotions, it was terrifying. I couldn’t remember how to feel happy, how to be excited — it was as though the memory had completely left my brain. Looking back, I feel awful for the way I would treat those around me during those times. Not being able to understand my emotions led me to hurt others as well. It wasn’t just happiness I couldn’t feel, I wasn’t capable of feeling sympathy, love, or excitement. It was all just gone. The people around me couldn’t understand how to help me because I couldn’t understand myself.

They always say “it’s lonely at the top,” well sometimes it’s lonely on the ground, too.

Unfortunately, many of us know these feelings. We become stuck; we feel like we’re being trapped in a dark room. There’s no way out, no one to help us, and absolutely no sign of light.

But that’s just it, isn’t it? We forget so easily that the darkness is actually required to truly find and understand the light! Think about it this way — we talk about how we can really comprehend the blessing of being able to breathe through our nose when we have a cold. It’s because we experience the opposite that we have the power to appreciate even more the simple blessing of not having to blow our noses every two minutes. In that same way, we know the incredible joy of light because we have felt the despair and loneliness of true darkness.

Alternatively, there’s a really short but wonderfully beautiful quote that I want to share.

“You will never find your way out of Darkness, until you remember that you are the Light.” -mjr

We who suffer, we who are trapped, we who can’t pull ourselves off the floor: look inside and see. We are always the beautiful, single ray of light poking through the clouds. On our darkest days, we can look around and see the stars. We can, and we will, overcome dusk.

Because only after dusk, comes dawn.

 

Zander Baby

Okay friends, let me introduce you to the (second) love of my life. Zander Thaxton just turned 7 years old, he is a german shepherd mix, and he is my sweet baby boy.

Zander was the main reason I met my husband, so I owe him a lot. But that cute husband of mine owes him so much more. Zander is a service animal and has saved his life more than once. My husband had a form of shingles that entered into his spine, brain, and all throughout his body. It required a large amount of heavy duty medications and affected the majority of his body. Zander would remind him to eat, to sleep, to get up, basically all the normal functions needed to survive daily life.

Recently, my husband hasn’t needed the additional help that Zander is trained to provide. So, our sweet baby has been able to grow back down and act more like a puppy than a service animal. It has been so much fun to watch him run and play and learn how to give kisses. Every morning when we wake up, he comes into our bed and will put his nose to our nose and we will just wait to see if he wants to give us kisses or not. Some mornings he doesn’t, other mornings he will give both of us two or three.

Zander is my best friend. Because he still remembers what he was trained to do originally, he has been an incredible emotional support animal for me. Dealing with my anxiety and depression is really hard sometimes, and on many occasions, he has found me on the ground having a panic attack and will push against me and won’t leave my side until I start breathing normally again. He has been such a blessing to have in my life and I’m incredibly grateful for all he has done for both my husband and myself.

Thanks, Zander baby, for making me the happiest human in the world.

Crying, Cuddling, and a Cookie

When I was little, I would always imagine what it was like to be older. I always saw adults as having a glamorous life, one where you could make your own choices, work at a job you love, have amazing friends, and go out whenever you want. I was (and still am) a classic daydreamer. You can find me staring off into space, content in my own little world, on a regular basis. I always dreamt of the future, my future, hoping it would come faster.

Unfortunately, those shiny daydreams of my future life hit a wall when I realized how hard it actually is to grow up and how fast it really came. Getting older hasn’t proven itself to be as glamorous as I always imagined it would be. Instead it’s full of stress, heartache, and pain. Don’t get me wrong, there are and always will be those days and moments of pure joy and blissful peace, but it’s definitely not all that I had in mind.

One of the hardest things for me has been learning how to cope and deal with all of the craziness that accompanies adulthood. It used to be so much easier, I could just curl up on the couch and sleep the day away. If I was lucky, I might have even been able to enjoy some chocolate chip cookies with my mom while she sat with me and I cried. Now I live about 1,000 miles away from my family and I have many more responsibilities, so that’s not really an option anymore.

Mental and physical illnesses don’t help the stresses of being a responsible adult. It can be so draining that an entire week goes by where all you want to do every morning is crawl back under the covers and wait for the nightmare that is your own mind to quiet down so you can get on with your life. At least, that’s how it is for me sometimes.

We tend to let ourselves think that mental and physical illnesses can and do define us. That instead of being ourselves, we just are depression or anxiety or cancer or whatever it may be. We see ourselves as broken. And we let that run our lives for a while. Suddenly, we’re not just dealing with work and school and trying to balance a social life and all the stress we already deal with, but now, on top of it all, we’re also broken.

Now, I don’t know about all of you, but that is just not how I want to live my life! I hate when other people see me as broken, so why do I let myself believe it? So I don’t live that way. I choose not to.

People ask me a lot how I can be so sick physically, going through hell mentally, and yet still smile and laugh through all of the pain? I tell them what my mom always told me, you just have to put your big girl pants on and deal with it! It doesn’t make it any better to sit around and mope all day that my life is really hard and poor me and all that jazz, so why not live a little and find joy in the misery?!

If I didn’t tell people I was sick, they would have no idea. You can ask anyone, I look and act totally fine. I still go out with my friends, I still laugh while watching New Girl” in my apartment, and I still score really well on my exams. Even though my body is incredibly weak from being sick and taking medication, I still go hiking or to the gym, which sometimes can prove to be a very comical adventure (I totally tripped off the treadmill because I got really dizzy one day, it was hilarious).

It’s not easy. Living with any kind of mental or physical illness (or anything even remotely hard for that matter) has never been easy, and it probably never will be. But sitting at home all day, every day is letting it win. We are fighters. We are strong, even when we feel so weak. And we can’t afford to let it win. So we keep on living our lives, the ones we want to live.

Truth be told, I still have really bad days where I break down and just can’t do it anymore. No matter how strong I feel, no matter how many methods I use for coping, it doesn’t make all of my problems disappear; sometimes it’s just too much for me to handle.

I had one of those days about a week ago. All of my triggers were going off, I was very quickly overwhelmed with everything that was happening around me, and I finally just broke. I was, thankfully, surrounded by some of my closest friends who transported me back to my childhood days of crying, cuddling, and warm chocolate chip cookies. The next day was a new day, and I went back to the person I want to be: the real, genuine, happy me.

 

The point is, we can’t live our lives waiting for everything to go away. It’s not going to. We have to deal with everything that is thrown at us. We have to fight, and we have to win. And we will win.

But sometimes, we all just need some cuddling, crying, and a cookie.

 

Back to School

Well, friends, it’s almost my favorite time of year!!!! I love fall and everything that comes with it. The colors of the trees, the crisp mornings and nights, sweaters, and, of course, football games! Side note: somehow I managed to marry a man who doesn’t seem to have much of an opinion about football. The good news is he married me, so his opinion is now that he loves it and we will always cheer for the Seahawks (despite his protests).

Bonfires, Halloween, and fresh apple cider aren’t the only parts of fall that I love. Call me crazy, but I loooovvvveeeeee back to school time. It’s probably like my third favorite holiday (Independence Day and Christmas come before, obviously). There’s something about the excitement of a fresh start and blank notebooks that just drives me wild. Most people my age are quite the contrary. Back to school is just another semester and just more work that you don’t understand how to do it or why it’s important.

It’s not the thrill of getting up and going to class everyday that I love so much, it’s the opportunity to learn more and get better grades than last semester. It’s about meeting new people and making new connections. It’s about being one step closer to graduation and starting my career. The excitement of it all actually keeps me up at night. I’m not even kidding. My husband’s school started two weeks before mine and I was so jealous that he had homework that I started my coursework an entire week early because I couldn’t wait any longer.

40790468_1793504220699038_3824660908139872256_n

There are some really big worries and fears about going back to school. College is really stressful. You have X amount of credits and Y hours of coursework but only Y-3 hours in a day. On top of all that you have your part time (or maybe full time if your insane) job and a home and a spouse to take care of. Holy cow. It’s no wonder so many people don’t want school to start, that’s all they can think about!!

So let’s take a second now, while the school year is still just beginning, to talk about one of my very favorite subjects – organization and stress relief. Okay, I’ll admit, the organization is my favorite part and the stress relief I’m still working on, but I’m excited to share some things I have learned! PLEASE for my sake and everyone else’s, if you have more tips that you’ve found to work, leave a comment!!

ORGANIZATION

Let’s start with the easy one for me. If you ask my husband, I might have an actual problem with how much I enjoy organizing things. Even when I was younger, I would tear apart my bedroom just to reorganize it and move things around. In order to clean my bedroom, it required the prep work of listing everything out and where it would all go. Twice the work, but it thrills me. It’s like problem solving, but with real stuff, ya know?

With school, it’s extremely important to stay organized. This helps relieve SO much stress just by knowing where everything is, when assignments are due, and how long you have to finish that group project literally no one wants to do.

My first recommendation is to have a planner.

I use three different planners. For events, like work and actual classes, I use google calendar. It’s really simple to use and you can change the color of different kinds of events to make it easier to understand at a glance. I use it mostly on my phone, but using it on a computer is also really nice and easy to understand. It also communicates with all your other google applications, so you can add a location to your event and easily pull it up on google maps when it’s time to go.

40560286_247889946066632_6762540137717956608_n

I also use a plain grid journal as a bullet journal to keep track of assignments and deadlines. It’s probably my favorite of all the planners I use because it’s small enough to carry around with me, but I also get to design it however I like to. Google calendar does have an option for tasks, but for me it’s easier to write them down. I also live for checklists and crossing things off when they’re done, so the option to write it down is huge for me.

Finally, I use a Me & My Big Ideas Happy Planner to write down detailed assignments. I don’t use this as often as I would like to, but it is very helpful to have at home to keep track of my own work and additional details a professor may have clarified about specific assignments. Here is a link where you can get your own happy planner and see how fun it is to use all the stickers and decorations!

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=evergreenwife-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B07B6M85ZP&asins=B07B6M85ZP&linkId=e7f368bc9be2ecf0b59c227855947723&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff

 

My second recommendation is a note-taking system.

It’s so important to keep your notes organized and legible so you can keep track of what’s important and be able to use it when you’re studying for exams. It can be really difficult to keep track of loose papers and even notebooks (if you’re like my brother and only use one notebook for four classes). If you prefer taking handwritten notes, I recommend getting separate notebooks for each class. I use a lot of paper when I take handwritten notes because I like to write everything down, so I prefer to take notes on my tablet. Some people can keep track of things in word documents, but I prefer using google drive. It keeps everything in one place and you have multiple file types all in one place. It also makes it easier to do group assignments and share your notes in a study group by simply inviting others to join your document.

My third recommendation is to have your own study space.

In seventh grade we had this class that was basically a home ec class. I remember my teacher talking to us about how important it is to have our own desk or study space. All I could think then was, what kind of money do you think a twelve year old has??? Now that I have my own space, and even before when I was in a shared bedroom in an apartment with five other girls, I’ve realized the value and importance of having a set place to study. While it’s tempting to get in your sweatpants, get in bed, and cram for your exams, studies have actually shown that it has a negative impact on your health when you do that. Your body will rewire itself to think that your bed is for studying and your sleep schedule will get all mixed up. Or, if you’re like me, it will be the other way around and you’ll just fall asleep studying. If you can, set a place where you will do most of your schoolwork. It doesn’t have to be in your home, it could be as simple as the library or your favorite starbucks. Wherever it is, get in a routine of going there to do your work instead of your bedroom.

Finally, I HIGHLY recommend making a study schedule at the beginning of the semester.

I am a major procrastinator. You could definitely count me as being the kind of person that will totally push it off until the last minute, then have a panic attack because you have to rush your assignment, promise you’ll never procrastinate again, then go through the exact same thing on the next assignment. It’s a vicious cycle that will keep going the whole semester if you don’t have a plan. For the most part, teachers will give you an assignment schedule with the syllabus on the first day of class. Using your fancy new planning skills, take some time that first week to go over your assignments and plan when you will do them. I find it best to give myself a range, that way I’m not discouraged if I don’t make it on the original day I planned. It’s especially helpful to write down the dates of your exams and determine which weeks will be your busy weeks – ya know, the weeks when every teacher decides to give you a ten page research paper on top of three group projects and an exam. Determine a plan that will work for you when you’re going to be the busiest and how you can work efficiently to get the job done without being too overwhelmed.

Overall, being organized for me is basically just starting off on the right foot. I’m a firm believer that if you start the semester off on the wrong foot, it’s going to make it a whole lot harder to be successful with your busy schedule than it would be to start out with an organized plan.

STRESS

Let’s face it, no matter how amazing our organization is, we will all have those awful weeks where we want to give up and we just have too much going on to even function anymore. Usually, I would want to just pretend I don’t have anything going on and binge watch a new show. Unfortunately, that usually just creates more stress for me. So let’s talk about some ways we can get through those times when we just can’t.

First, remember to step back and breathe.

The only thing that gets me through finals week is remembering that my grades don’t define my worth. They are definitely super important to me, but if I let a grade get to me, I know it would tear me apart and I would just want to give up completely. There are a lot of great, short meditation practices that can be super helpful when you’re stressing. My favorite app for guided meditation is called “Insight Timer”. It’s super great for people who haven’t ever done meditation before. It can also be really helpful to just take a deep breath before you start trying to conquer your mountain of assignments.

Second, it is so important to take care of your body.

I took a chronic disease class and we talked a surprising amount about stress in students, mostly because our teacher was amazing and she genuinely cared about us. She taught us what we called 8-5-2-1-0 and she challenged us to do our best to live it for a semester and see what happened. Fun fact, this is actual the general “rules” for healthy living. Okay, so it’s 8 hours of sleep each night, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or less of screen time daily(excluding work and homework), 1 hour of exercise daily, and 0 sugary drinks. It’s probably the hardest thing to get 8 hours of sleep, but the rest were surprisingly manageable and it made me feel so much more prepared and ready for the things I needed to accomplish each day. Exercise, especially, can be a great stress reducer.

Third, and finally, take time for yourself.

Being a student alone is hard, but when you add on a job, extracurriculars, a social life… it gets pretty tough to balance everything. With all the things we have to do, it’s hard to find some time to just relax for a minute and take care of ourselves. This isn’t the excuse you’ve been looking for to not do your homework because you need some “me time”, but it’s something you should put into your schedule for yourself. Maybe you want to go on a walk every morning, or maybe you really just need that 20 minute episode of your favorite show to relieve some stress before you dive into your homework. Whatever the case may be, don’t shove yourself in a corner and tell yourself you can’t have any time for yourself because of all your responsibilities. You’ll thank yourself later for your healthy study breaks.

Overall, school is exciting and learning and improving yourself is exciting! I love being able to enjoy this time of year without worrying about what’s going to happen next month when I’m bored of my classes. Right now, with these tools, I’m in control of my own life. I get to decide how my semester is going to go, and taking the steps to organize myself and managing my stress will only help me be more successful this year.

Let me know in the comments what you’re most excited about this school year!!

Peace

I’ve heard a lot about how when you have kids you can’t go to the bathroom alone anymore. Well, no one bothered to tell me that the same can be true with your HUSBAND?!?!

We found out that our bathroom door lock is one of those locks that is basically just for show and to provide a false sense of security. Apparently, you can unlock it from the outside if you just twist it. It wasn’t very long until I had to start moving the laundry basket in front of the door if I wanted to be able to use the bathroom in peace, otherwise my husband would come in and have a full conversation with me while I am trying to go.

I remember my mom always used to say that my dad was her biggest child. I didn’t realize how accurate that statement was until I had one of my own.

Through all of this I have discovered the value and importance of alone time. When my husband and I started dating, we were together all the time. Well, as much as you can be when you have school and work and, ya know, seperate lives. Even then, it was super important for us to take time for ourselves, do things we enjoyed doing before we met, and make sure we were taking care of everyday life things, like laundry. We weren’t very good at it at first because we lived in the same apartment complex, so we never felt the need to really leave and do other things. We were just always there. It wasn’t long until we started realizing we weren’t eating well, we were spending a lot of money eating out, we hadn’t done laundry, we hadn’t spent time with our friends, and we were desperately low on energy from staying up so late.

Now that we are married, the everyday life things are much easier. Laundry is done, meals are cooked, bedtime is earlier, and waking up isn’t so bad when you wake up next to your forever best friend. That being said, it has NEVER been so important for us to take some “me time” throughout the week.

I think there is a serious misconception that newlyweds always want to be right next to each other, don’t have any issues with space, and share absolutely everything, down to the minute of their days, with each other. Thankfully, that’s not how it works. Maybe that’s how some newlywed couples feel, but I strongly believe that this is not how it works for everyone. If you and your new spouse don’t work that way, don’t think you made the wrong choice. It’s just going to make everything worse if you start doubting because you don’t have the fairytale life right away. Everyone needs self care, alone time, and personal space.

One of my favorite things I have ever learned is my own self-worth. I definitely am a people pleaser – I can’t help wanting everyone else to be happy!! Unfortunately, it got to a point in my life where I couldn’t be happy if everyone else wasn’t happy, too. I would cry myself to sleep sometimes because I knew that I didn’t please everyone that day. One comment implying the possibility of discontentment was heartbreaking to me and I would work hard to fix it. I was so focused on other people and how they felt around me that I frequently forgot what it even meant to take care of myself.

I know you’ve heard this about 5 million times, but you really can’t help others if you can’t help yourself. I wanted so badly for people to be happy around me, but when I wasn’t taking care of myself, I wasn’t a happy person to be around. Of course they weren’t happy! In marriage, I wasn’t able to take care of my husband past a certain point because I was so frustrated and frazzled from not having any time to myself for self care. It became really difficult for us to be able to talk without arguing because I hadn’t had a break for myself in so long and neither had he. We had reached our breaking points.

Real talk. If you want to change lives, you have to change your own first. It doesn’t make any sense that we constantly try to make people happier than we are. It doesn’t work that way. We can’t teach people to be better at math than we are. We can teach them what we already know, but they then have to make the choice to move forward and progress that knowledge. The more we know, the more we can teach them and the smarter they will be. The happier we are to begin with, the more we can help other people learn to be happy.

We are not perfect people. We have hard days, weeks, even months and years sometimes. But even on the worst days, we can find reasons to be happy. It’s during those most difficult times that we need to do whatever is best for us. If you’re already swamped with school work on top of your part time or full time job and keeping your house clean, maybe you don’t agree to be in charge of the halloween party this year. Maybe instead you take a book and go sit in the grass (or the bubble bath, whatever fits your style), and read for a while instead of making dinner. The world isn’t going to end if you take a few minutes for yourself.

You’ve got this friends. And if you, like me, have to push the laundry basket in front of the door for even a few minutes of peace, right on. Take a break, collect your mind, and feed your own soul before you starve while trying to feed everybody else’s.

 

*Bubble Bath Book Recommendation: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”

I just finished this book about a month ago and it was absolutely incredible. I could not possibly recommend a better book! It’s been a long time since I had a book that I just couldn’t put down, but the writing in this book just pulls you in and the plot makes you wish it would never end. I promise it will not disappoint.

 

 //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=evergreenwife-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400032717&asins=1400032717&linkId=a89c3e62fa58f379664d3e554b9d81fc&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff

My Miracle

I wasn’t originally planning on posting much about my personal life, but I think it’s only fair with how personal my content is to provide a bit of background on who I am and how I got to be the person I am today.

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My family joined the church when I was about four years old and I remember every moment of having the missionaries over and learning for myself, at such a young age, the truth of where I came from, why I’m here, and where I’m going**. It was then that I decided I was going to be a missionary someday. On July 20, 2016, that dream came true. I entered the Provo, Utah Missionary Training Center (MTC) to begin my 18 month service for the Lord. I was assigned to the Tucson, Arizona mission and I was to focus my efforts in helping and teaching those of the Spanish-speaking population. And I loved it.

19904942_10155672104004015_7042821116797071148_n

Being from the rainy, cold state of Washington, being in Arizona was like being in an entirely new world. I had never seen desert before. The cacti, tumbleweeds, roadrunners, and distinct lack of almost anything green made me realize just how different my life was going to be, and I didn’t want to be anywhere else. Arizona very quickly took hold of my heart and I decided early on that I never wanted to leave.

Unfortunately, that dream of never leaving was cut short. I became extremely ill about two months before I was supposed to return home and complete my mission. Without going into too much detail, I was unable to keep down any kind of nutrients. I couldn’t eat anything, and I couldn’t drink much other than water and gatorade. They were my lifeline. This lasted about five weeks. I didn’t want to leave, so at first I just kept working as hard as I knew how. I felt an extra sense of urgency because I knew I didn’t have much time left and I wanted to use every second of that time to work and do everything I possibly could to help the people around me. Not long into my sickness, I lost almost all of my energy. I couldn’t get out of bed or the car without falling, I couldn’t walk very far without needing to sit down to rest, I couldn’t even focus my thoughts for too long without feeling weak and defeated.

But I kept going. It’s interesting how, when you really want something, you’re able to pretty much do the impossible. I know I had the help of Heavenly Father, because through all the tests they ran, I should have at least been dehydrated, but everything kept coming back perfectly fine.

23518839_10156054469204015_494805280378197533_n

Eventually, after five long weeks, it was clear I needed to be sent home early to determine a better treatment plan than what I was able to receive while being a missionary. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much as I did when I got on the plane to return home. I didn’t understand why I had to leave early, only having been able to serve 16.5 of the 18 months I expected to, but I knew there had to be a reason.

24232952_10154891726442027_6504014067772990725_n

Upon my return home, I was taken to the hospital to run more tests in an attempt to determine what was causing me to be so sick. Originally, the thought was that I was so sick because I have generalized anxiety disorder and they thought I was just anxious about going home. They put me on antidepressants and an anti-anxiety medication, but, while it definitely continues to keep me sane, it didn’t fix the issue at hand. I had ultrasounds, full body scans, blood work, and I was even tested for H. Pylori which causes ulcers, but the only thing we found was that I was perfectly healthy, except for the fact that I couldn’t eat anything.

We never did figure out what was making me so sick, but after about a week at home, and some heavy duty medication, I got better and I was able to keep down my food again, just in time for Christmas!

While we don’t know exactly what made me so sick, we did find something else that was even scarier. Upon returning home from my mission, it was recommended that I got tested again for tuberculosis. I will never forget the moment the doctor told me I tested positive for exposure to TB. I cried. I was so heartbroken. Everyone told me that I would be so blessed for serving my mission, but it just seemed like everything was against me. I felt so hurt and alone and like my efforts weren’t enough. Thankfully, my chest x-ray was clear, so I just had to go on a 9-month daily medication to “cure” the TB that decided to make my body it’s home. If I took the medication every day, I wouldn’t be at risk of active TB ever again.

Now, almost 9 months later, my immune system is still rebuilding itself, but I’m so happy to be almost done with the medication and done with tuberculosis!!

At the time, it seemed like the TB diagnosis was the reason I had to come home from my mission when I did, and being so sick could have been the first stages of the TB trying to activate. Looking back, I could clearly see Heavenly Father’s hand guiding my life. I guess someday I’ll know for sure exactly why I had to come home when I did, but for now I get to just keep guessing.

Coming home when I did allowed me to return to school at Brigham Young University for the winter semester. I loved being back in school, but it was hard for me and I struggle for a while in finding my place again. My first week I felt so overwhelmed, trying to remember everyone’s name and major and apartment number… it was a lot to take in having only been home and in normal life for a few weeks.
26731559_10156213734149015_5464126812789405249_n

It wasn’t long before I met my husband. We lived in the same apartment complex and I was friends with a few of his roommates and best friends with his dog, Zander. About a month before the end of the semester, I came home to find him and his roommate in my apartment with Zander, who was already the love of my life. We only talked a little, but when he left, I turned to my roommate and told her that I needed to go on a date with him. I didn’t know why then, but thankfully he felt the same way. Long story short, and a few short months later, we were married.

cropped-38805756_1758969194152541_7601833548298846208_o.png

The night before our wedding, we decided to write each other letters that we would read by ourselves before the wedding. It was the perfect idea and the greatest reassurance to read his letter and how perfectly it mirrored the one I wrote to him.

When I read his letter, I broke down in tears. It was in that moment that I knew, with zero doubt, that I was exactly where Heavenly Father needed me to be. It wasn’t coincidence that I was sent home early, that I was sick, that I went to school when I did. It was all a plan for my own happiness. It was all designed so that I could meet this wonderful man and, somehow, be a blessing in his life as much as he was a blessing in mine.

 

I know, this is suddenly really sappy, but I have learned so much in this journey. This year I have learned what it means to truly love someone as well as how to let someone truly love me. My story isn’t unique. It isn’t even that interesting, really, but it’s the reason I believe in every day happiness. It’s the journey that shaped me into a confident woman, who is willing to stand against everyone to do what I know is right. Not everyone is going to understand the things we go through. Not everyone is going to be supportive of the decisions you are most sure about. But by following what you know is right, by loving those around you no matter how difficult it may be, you can find true happiness in your own life. You can learn that the opinions of those who aren’t involved in your situation really don’t matter as much as you think they do.

I believe we each have miracles in store for us, and if you haven’t found yours yet, keep going. I promise it’s not too far. And on your way, remember that there really is a plan, and you really are noticed and loved and important.

 

**for those of you who want to know more about where you come from, why you’re here, and where you’re going, head on over to lds.org or mormon.org to learn more!

Dinosaurs

***DISCLAIMER: My life is NOWHERE near perfect!! Life is not easy, and being a newlywed and a college student does NOT make it any easier! Please remember that there is a positive side to every day, and that’s what I want to focus on here.

Think about when you were five years old. Nothing could stop you, you were completely invincible. The dreams you had seemed perfectly reachable, whether it was being an astronaut, or, in my case, a princess. You were free to run wild with your imagination.

But then we grew up and everything changed.

My current job is working with kids who struggle with mental illnesses and hard home situations. It breaks my heart to see how “grown up” those kids sometimes become so quickly because of their circumstances. What’s worse, is that the term “grown up” means being boring and not having any more fun. WHAT ON EARTH HAPPENED TO US??

We used to laugh and play and run and daydream about things that were never possible but were so fun just to think about! I saw this Facebook post the other day:

38818129_1790752021038992_5040125898309763072_n

Well I think it’s time to start caring again.

My name is Halley Thaxton, I’m 21 years old, and my favorite dinosaur is a stegosaurus because they’re really tall, friendly, and downright awesome. I’m a college student, a mental health worker, and the wife of the greatest man I have ever met (whose favorite dinosaur is a giant brontosaurus or a giganotosaurus – it’s a toss up). I’m from Washington State, I’m in love with tall trees and rainy days, and I am obsessed with elephants. When I grow up, I want to change people’s lives for the better through public health. And hopefully be a princess.

When I got married, a lot of people told me I was too young, it was too fast, and I was never going to be able to accomplish my dreams. Basically, I felt like a Disney princess all the time, trying to explain that I love this man and I can get married and still run the world someday! I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Our marriage isn’t perfect, we have bad days and good days, and we are still figuring out how to live life together, but we are so happy to be married, so happy to live together, to problem solve together, to fall asleep watching movies together, and to just plain old be together.

I created this page to show people the JOY of marriage, the SUCCESS we have with all odds against us, and how we create HAPPINESS in the hardest moments.

There is too much negativity everywhere and, frankly, I’m tired of it filling up my newsfeed. I’m not doing this for attention, I don’t think I will change the world by doing this, but I love my life and I want everyone to know why. If I can help one person (even if that person is me), it’s worth it.

So here’s to loving dinosaurs, being weird and random, creating joy and laughter in the home, and letting our imaginations run wild again.

Here’s to forever living life in the moment and loving it.

37111256_10156710093054015_7552826197629992960_n