This is what anxiety looks like:

Sometimes anxiety looks like groceries laying on the kitchen floor for a day and a half. Maybe because it’s too overwhelming to put them away thinking about the money spent on them, or lamenting the time it took to shop, or the plastic, the waste, the convenience, the junk. Sometimes anxiety looks like the shame spiral that ensues next because some people don’t have too many groceries to put away, and really, who finds it so difficult to put snacks in the pantry anyway?

Sometimes anxiety looks like buying a world map for the kids’ play area in the basement because it’s supposed to supplement real life world experiences, but leaving it in the package for years because we all know it doesn’t. Looking at it every day adds debris to the tornado that’s already spinning because of the groceries, and a missed appointment, and that thing I said 15 years ago.

Sometimes anxiety looks like letting the kids get messy because I like to pretend I’m a laissez faire parent, but really that’s just a cover-up. I imagine what others say about me as a parent. It’s the same harsh criticism I give others because then it’s fair. My judgment of them makes their judgement of me true. And around the cycle it goes.

Sometimes anxiety looks like letting friendships lapse.

Sometimes anxiety looks like writing this post a thousand times in my mind. To stop the words from spinning, I instead let them collect dust in the draft. And editing, editing, editing. Sometimes anxiety looks like waiting until it’s safe to share. Am I not the brave, powerful woman I display myself to be? Is this self-serving? Is this just noise amongst noise? Am I ready for the consequences, real or imagined? I haven’t decided yet if I’ll publish. (If you’re reading this, maybe I had a momentary lapse of judgment.)

Sometimes anxiety looks like, “It’s just postpartum anxiety!” because that’s easier for us to understand. #hormonesamiright? The truth is, anxiety has been around long before my children, and will be here long after.

Sometimes anxiety doesn’t look like anything. Can you tell? Am I biting my cheek? Staring out into space a little too intensely? Laughing at myself? Did I cancel our plans? Am I rubbing my forehead? Can you hear my heart racing? It’s really loud. Maybe I’m wringing my hands or cramping my muscles or gritting my teeth. Did you blink? I think you missed it.

Sometimes anxiety looks like ordering the same thing at every restaurant because the options are too overwhelming. Or signing up for the training or the workouts or the race or the groupon and then not following through. Or spending double the time avoiding a simple phone call because it’s easier to collect and hide racing thoughts in written words.

Sometimes anxiety is the non-physical representation of a carousel gone out of control. Someone keeps pressing the button and the speed increases. It’s spinning so fast, you can’t see the horses. The nuts and bolts start flying off in different directions because of the pressure. The glass breaks, and the metal twists. Hang on too tightly, and break. Let go, and fly away. Close your eyes, slow the spinning, and try not to throw up. Being adventurous is for other people.

Sometimes anxiety looks like me.


Chaos Defined

I feel like to begin on this journey I need to define (my) chaos. I think it’s been so hard for me to do because I have constantly submersed myself in this swirling madness and made it normal. And so now, I am standing on a precipice. I can continue on in the direction I was going, the direction most of us are going, and basically hang on for dear life and hope to feel like my life was put together at the end. Or I can take the birth of my 3rd child as a true new beginning not only for her, but for me.

When my first child was born, my husband and I made the choice for me to stay at home. It was a relatively easy choice for us as my husband had a good income (and I really didn’t) and it was something we had discussed pre-marriage. While we did have some initial struggles to balance a budget, adjust our spending, and for me specifically to learn how to become a mother and manage a household, it was an easy transition. (I do recognize my privilege in saying so.)

And so from there, I MANAGED IT ALL. I was a queen, if I do say so myself. I got the baby on a sleep schedule. She was on a feeding schedule, and I made my own baby food. I did monthly meal planning (which you will see featured in the earlier posts here). I made homemade bread (has it really only been 5 years?). The baby wore cloth diapers. I cleaned my whole house top to bottom every week – like even the baseboards clean.  I started a blog (as one does when you’re intellectually bored). I was really feeling pretty high on myself at this point. I mean, people were asking me for advice like I was an expert! <future self rolls eyes>

My second child was born, and my world came crashing down. I know you saw that coming, didn’t you? I. Did. Not. Regardless of what people told me about managing 2 kids, I did not believe them. I really got served a huge slice of humble pie as my son did not sleep well, did not eat well, and I struggled with postpartum anxiety (though I did not realize it at the time). It was here where I thought to myself, WELL, let’s just throw the whole organizational thing out the window! No one wants their schedule to be a burden. Yes, I am now going to be one of those FREE moms, who just lives life on a whim, is happy all the time with messy kids and a messy life.  I don’t wash my hair, don’t care.

Well, spoiler alert: that really did not work either. It took quite a bit of time, therapy, and real life lessons to come out on the other side of that mess. Not to say I’m not still a work in progress, because full disclosure: I don’t have it all together; but I am figuring out who I am and what I need. Now that we have 3 little ones, I really feel the balance arriving. It’s a managed chaos. It has to be. I need to have a meal schedule and a sleep schedule and a when to wash the clothes and wipe the counters schedule (and I really can’t fake it, though trust me, I still try). But I also have to let a lot go – including washing my hair every day…which is apparently better for your hair, who knew? I don’t need to rebel against being organized in order to be free. These are not mutually exclusive, and in fact during the weeks when I am most organized, I feel the most like myself and happy.

Parenting has really taught me a lot about myself, and I feel like I am coming full circle around to the person I was always meant to be. Not an extreme version of one or another, but just completely and truly me: semi-organized, sensitive, focused and free. When I am this best version of myself, I find so much meaning in the every day. And it is that which I hope to share with all of you.