Project Semicolon - perhaps you've heard of it? Someone posted a link a few months back and I began to research. This organization, represented by this little symbol ";" struck a chord with so many, especially me. I could relate to the stories I read. It was beautiful. And it gave me courage to write this.
So, after talking with my mom and one of my very best friends, I decided to finally post this blog. It's cathartic for me to write (errrrr...type) and I'm not looking for sympathy. I just want to share my story.
I am someone who lives with anxiety. I'm not talking "nerves before a huge final" or being nervous about starting something new (although those are completely legitimate cases of anxiousness). I am someone whose mind hyperfocuses on one thing and will stay focused on that one thing. I will continually worry about the smallest thing, no matter how insignificant it seems to others. I am someone who occasionally feels as if there is a 1,000 pound man sitting on my chest and he. won't. budge. But, I am someone who now recognizes these things and is able to live and breathe.
My mom and I were discussing this yesterday. Those who suffer from anxiety present it in different ways. Some lash out, others live with constant fatigue, and still others act manic. My anxiety presents itself by me pulling away from those around me.
Let me backtrack a little.
I have never been someone who expresses my emotions well. Like, ever. My face may tell you what I'm feeling, but I am not one to really open up about feeling anything other than happiness. I feel uncomfortable sharing those feelings. Senior year of high school, I was taking a pretty heavy load of classes and was involved in several activities outside of school. I was one of six leaders of a retreat in Memphis. I was involved in retreats at my school. I was involved in my youth group. I had a part-time job that I loved. And yet, I wasn't happy. At all. I entered a very dark period in my life. I am being honest when I say that there are a few weeks of my senior year that are blurry - I was constantly anxious and sad. I couldn't sleep or really look my friends in the eye. I began to self-harm as a coping mechanism. The only way (I thought) that I could get rid of the anxiety was that. Anxiety can play cruel tricks on your mind. I am a perfectionist and part of my anxiety was believing that I was letting everyone else down when I didn't do A, B, or C. Was that true? Not a bit.
I opened up to a total of two people; yet, others around me knew something was going on. Finally, these brave souls spoke up for me when I couldn't, when I didn't have the strength to say "help." I entered therapy and was diagnosed as having Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. Neither really came as a shock to me. Instead, it was more comforting. There was a reason I was feeling this way. There was nothing wrong with me and it was workable. I don't say fixable because anxiety is always going to be a part of my life. Life was doable again.
But now, I knew that. I'm not saying that life turned around 100% right then. It didn't. It has taken me a lot of work to figure out what triggers my anxiety and how to deal with it. Anxiety is always going to be there. It's a part of me. It's a part of Rachel.
Fast forward to my mid-twenties. Hi. Still here. Anxiety? It's still there. But now? Now, I know what to do. I know how to remove myself from situations that could give me anxiety. I know how to recognize when I'm beginning to tailspin into that anxiety. Does that mean I'm always able to stop the panic? No. But, I'm better at recognizing it. I'm better at recognizing myself begin to give in to the anxiety.
I have the best support system there is. My mother? Yeah, she's pretty great. And honest. She has this sixth sense and she knows. If I begin to talk super fast or talk about the same thing a lot, she'll pause and say, "Rachel. Breathe. You're letting the anxiety talk. Not you." So, I'll slow down. I breathe. I breathe again. And when I'm done, I take one more breath. I go for a run. I bake. I read a book. And I breathe.
So, why am I writing this post? Because, like Sylvia Plath so wisely wrote, "I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am. I am. I am."
And I will continue to be. Because my story isn't over yet; it's just beginning.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
The words of this post have been floating around in my mind for the past few weeks. Worthy. Loved. Wanted. Desired. Adored. Those are hard words to accept. For me, at least.
Confession: I rarely feel worthy of God's love. I rarely understand that He, the One who created it all, wants me. He desires me. He adores ME. He wants the absolute best for my life and He doesn't ask much in return. At Mass a few weeks ago, I prayed that God would show me that I am worthy of His love.
But my little human mind has a hard time accepting that. Why? Maybe it's the anxiety of not being in absolute control. Maybe it's the idea that's been whispered by the Enemy that I am not good enough. Some days, it feels almost easier to believe THAT load of bologna than to think that the One who gave His life for mine and my sins chooses to love me in spite of my continual sin. Maybe it's easier to buy into a world of "no God" than it is to say "Thanks, but no thanks, I'll take Jesus." Maybe it's easier to think that there is no way at all that God could continue to chase me while I'm running a thousand miles away from him.
That's me in a nutshell right there.
Then, the unthinkable happens. For those who know me, I despise, with every fiber of my being, driving in thunderstorms. They terrify me. The winds, the rain. No thanks. I love watching storms from the safety of my couch. But driving in them? NOPE. So, today, where do I find myself? DRIVING IN A THUNDERSTORM OBVIOUSLY.
WHAT. THE. HAY. GOD?!?
So, I did what made sense. I prayed. While driving about -5 down the road and gripping the steering wheel with every ounce of strength that I possess, I begin praying to Our Lady for safe travels through the storm. Our Father after Hail Mary after Glory Be after the Fatima Prayer all. the. way. home. And the funniest thing happened (I kid you not) - every time I passed beneath a ginormous tree or power line or what-have-you, the winds would die down, the tree would stop thrashing in the wind, and the rain would slow.
I began to cry. My little feeble prayers were being heard and answered like right then. THAT NEVER HAPPENS. I was in complete awe. God was hearing me! My heart rejoiced like it never has before. Here was the proof that I had asked for weeks ago! Here was a previously whispered prayer joining with my litany of prayers being answered right before my very eyes. I was reminded of Jesus calming the storm in the Gospels. A sense of peace like I've never experienced before flooded over me. I am loved. I am wanted. I am desired. I am adored. I am worthy.
I am His beautiful, loved, worthy, desired, adored, and, yes, messy masterpiece. But more than anything else, I am enough.
It's that simple.
Posted by Rachel at 7:36 PM
Sunday, May 3, 2015
Lately (as in since November), I feel as if I've been in a loooooooong period of waiting.
Waiting for Thanksgiving.
Waiting for Christmas.
Waiting for my laundry to be done.
Waiting for the coffee to finish brewing (Every. Day.)
Waiting for spring break.
Waiting for Easter (best week in the Church, amirite?!?!)
You get the point. Always waiting.
Finally, the week after Easter, I realized what I was waiting for. It wasn't really any of the things listed above (except maybe coffee), but something bigger. Something more. I was stuck in a rut, waiting for my life to really begin. Let me be clear, I have a job I love, students that I absolutely adore, friends and coworkers who amaze me every day, and the best family in the entire world. I have a great life. But, still...I had this nagging feeling that I was missing out on something, I just could not put my finger on what. And I was letting it drag me down, slowly but surely. I was becoming irritable and complacent because I was waiting. What was I waiting for? What am I waiting for? I don't know. I mean, if I was in the one in charge of this show, one of the following would be my life:
Option A: Married and pregnant with baby number 20,000,000 (only a slight exaggeration)
Option B: Graduating with my third PhD in Astrophysics and I'd be off to live on the space station
Option C: Become a self-made gazillionaire at the ripe-old retiring age of 21 and travel the world constantly
Option D: Be an Academy Award winning actress whose best friends were Jennifer Lawrence and Theo James
Option E: Receive my Hogwarts Letter a few years late, attend Hogwarts, graduate with Honors and work for the Ministry of Magic (I'm still secretly holding out for this option...the owl must have just gotten lost, right?)
Okay, so maybe these are just a tiny bit embellished, but you get the idea. My life, at this point, would mean something - I would have accomplished something. Yet, the week after Easter, it hit me - I have accomplished a whole heck of a lot. Case in point: this note from one of my precious students.
Every time, I read this note, I cry. It's beautiful. It shows me that what I've perceived as a period of waiting is actually a period of me becoming the woman that He created me to be. He is using this time to shape me. To mold me. To grow me in ways that I could have never imagined.
That is not to say that this period of waiting isn't painful. It is. Trust me. There are plenty of nights where I cry out for Him to take the pain of waiting away. Because waiting can be painful. But He is using that pain to grow a heart that yearns for Him. That desires to know Him more. A heart that wants to accomplish His will, not my own human one. Not one of those options above would make me happy on its own because none of them included Him. Not. One. That's not His plan for me. So, yes, this period of waiting and the unknown can be painful.
But more than that, it is beautiful. Let me say that again, waiting can be beautiful. The not-knowing can be beautiful. That's a strange thing to say because I am one that likes to have control and know what's coming next.Yet, there is beauty in the waiting. That's what He's teaching me. And that beauty is getting to know him more. That beauty is being held and comforted and whispered to in my darkest moments of doubt. That beauty comes in knowing that He waited for His Father's will to be done, so I know that I can wait. I have grown to appreciate this time of waiting because I have never felt closer to God than I do right now. I have never felt more sure that He has put me in the right place than I do right now. Do I have tough days where I doubt? Well, duh. I am human. But, He is right there, holding my hand and my heart. He is right there, right in front of me, waiting for me to turn to Him with my pain, my heart's longings, my desires. And He whispers His desires for me, the great plans that He has for me, right to my aching and curious heart, one little step at a time shaping it to be His heart. There is nothing more beautiful than that.
So, like Mumford and Sons sing, "I will wait...I will wait for you."
Because the waiting is beautiful.
Posted by Rachel at 8:24 PM
Saturday, November 15, 2014
So, I survived my first quarter of teaching. In that time, I have been frustrated more than I thought was possible, stressed out more than I thought my body could handle, inspired by the little things around me, supported by my coworkers, laughed with my students, freaked out over lesson plans, had a birthday, walked down the aisle twice (as a bridesmaid), gone on weekend road trips, and earned another Master's degree.
All in nine weeks. Yup. Nine. Weeks.
WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?!?! Seriously. I feel like yesterday was my first day of teaching, and now here I am, 60-something days into the school year. It's almost Thanksgiving. WHAT.
I can hardly believe it. Let's talk about this first quarter...since I haven't updated since August (don't hate me).
It's been a whirlwind of teaching, growing, and changing. I constantly question if my students are learning anything because, really, who am I to teach them. Are my lessons well planned? Am I making sense? Are they grasping the material? Do I need to go back and re-teach a concept?
Then something amazing happens. I see that light bulb go on in their heads, whether it's about something we've covered in class or something we've talked about outside of class. I get an unexpected hug from the "tough guy." Or a student asks to read. Or a student says that they don't want to leave my room because we're learning...and it's FUN. Yeah, that's right. Learning can be fun, or so I've been told by several of my students.
Over the past nine-ish weeks, my heart has been stolen. Taken by my students. They are the most challenging, loving, insightful, and hilarious group of individuals. I never quite got it when my teacher friends would talk about their students and tell me to "just wait...they're going to steal your heart and not give it back."
It's happened. Does that mean the first year of teaching is easy? Absolutely not. I have sat in my principal's office more times than I can count, asking for advice on classroom management or not breaking down in front of my students. This past week was especially tough for my kiddos. But, yesterday afternoon, my homeroom all gave me hugs and high fives as they left for the weekend. Other middle schoolers came to my room to say goodbye. One class in particular told me that I looked like I needed to smile and their goal for class was to get me to laugh.
Guess what? They succeeded. I laughed so hard that I started to cry. They asked if they could stay in my room the rest of the day and keep working. Who knew the periodic table could be so entertaining?
The point is this - I never got it until now. Weeks like this past one remind me why I wanted to teach in the first place. I love my job. I love my school. I love my kiddos. And I wouldn't trade one second of these past nine weeks for anything. I am blessed beyond belief. So, yes, my heart has been stolen.
And I don't want it back.
Posted by Rachel at 9:21 AM
Monday, August 11, 2014
Wow. I haven't written one of these posts in a really long time. Note to self: Get better at posting the happy things in my life, of which there are plenty, and not just about being angry at God (thank you for your kind words, blogging world).
So here go, the best little link-up in the blog-o-sphere. My little happies.
(1). My classroom!
Ahh!! Today I started my first day of teaching. But, look, my classroom is done! And for this non-Pinterest-y girl, I think it looks pretty darn good. Don't mind me if I toot my own horn, but these are MY little happies. I am so excited to be in my classroom. I am also so nervous that I'm surprised I'm sleeping at night and not living solely off caffeinated beverages. Today went off as well as can be expected! I met my kiddos, introduced myself, explained how our classroom was going to run, and got to know them a little bit better. I can't wait to see what Day 2 has in store!
(2) This food!
So, a two weekends ago, I caved. And went to Five Guys. Never fear! They have a grilled cheese, for all you non-meat-eating folks out there. The grilled cheese is essentially a hamburger bun with slices of cheese in the middle. For good measure, I added grilled jalapeños. And a HUGE order of fries. Seriously, those fries should be illegal or something. They are way too good. I also wanted to eat salad for the next one million years. Or at least until I cave and go back to Five Guys (any takers??)
(3) My nails!
Okay, so indulge me for a moment. Please do not take note of the sloppy job I did on my nails. BUT, do note that they are glittery and magnificent. This nail polish, ladies and gentlemen, is called "The Horcrux of It." That's right. I found Harry Potter nail polish. I may or may not have had a
slight huge freak out when I found this beyond amazing website. And guess what?? They have two whole lines of Harry Potter-inspired nail polishes! No, I have not ordered more. I figure that I should let my heart calm down until I have a not-so-good day and then order a bottle as a happy for myself. Point is, HARRY POTTER NAIL POLISH. All is right the world (of Harry Potter nerds). And they all rejoiced (one million House points for the geniuses behind Harry Potter nail polish).
(4) A wedding!!
This past weekend, I got to attend my first-ever Jewish wedding ceremony. Yes, that is a Chuppah, and it symbolizes the openness of the couple's new home (love should have not walls to keep family and friends out). It was one of the most beautiful ceremonies that I have ever witnessed. The love between the couple was palpable to everyone in attendance. The Hebrew spoken was absolutely beautiful, and I found myself recognizing a few words. Most of the weddings I have attended have been Catholic, so it was interesting to see another faith's wedding ceremony. The food afterwards was DELICIOUS. The company wasn't too bad - I got to see my old coworkers! Happy Rachel!
(5) These beautifully amazing gorgeous people!
I love when friends come in town! The gorgeous lady in the photo on the left (not me, the other one) is my college roommate. She came in town for the night and we met up for brunch and fellowship. As she starts her medical residency, our time together is very precious. So, any chance we have of meeting up, we take advantage of it. Now to the beautiful people (and baby) in the picture on the right. These precious girls are my best friends from high school! The lady holding the baby is my best friend, Caitlin. She's getting married (AH!) and we had her shower a few weeks ago. I had been unable to attend her bachelorette trip, so helping to throw a shower was awesome! We played some fun games and we got to pass around sweet Noah (his mom is the one farthest to the right). We actually got asked who the baby belonged to because we kept passing him around. Side Note: I went to dinner with Noah's father while his precious momma was out of town and a college student informed me that I had a cute baby. I just said thank you, left the restaurant, and proceeded to break down into laughter. So did Caroline, thank goodness. I mean, he is a cute baby (his momma is pretty great too).
So, there you have it. My five little happies. I promise to try and be better about posting these. There are just so many little happies in my life right now that I don't know where to start. Right now, however, I'm going to go cook my dinner, eat, relax, and SLEEP before I begin Day 2 of teaching. Prayers would be appreciated!
Also, if you want to come cook dinner, I would gladly accept.
No takers? Fine. I'll go cook dinner.
Posted by Rachel at 4:32 PM
Monday, August 4, 2014
Note: this post is not meant to sound whiney. It's a general post about prayers and anger and venting to God/at God/with God. I know that we all go through things and that we all have hurts in our lives. So that's why I'm asking this question - is it okay to be angry at God?
This question has been stuck in my head for the past few days. I'm not a person who displays my anger outwardly, whether by yelling or raising my voice. I tend to hold anger in (my mom has told me that she knows when I'm mad or angry because I get very, very quiet).
And yet, when I'm mad at God or upset with Him, I express it through angry words, sometimes yelling, and lots of tears. I get frustrated with Him sometimes. Really, really frustrated. My prayers go likes this:
"Why aren't you answering my prayers? Are you even listening to me?"
"You know the desires of my heart. YOU put those desires there. SO WHY AREN'T YOU FULFILLING THEM?"
"You say in the Holy Scripture that you are there. But I can't feel you. Where did you go?"
"Can't you see how much I need you? I am falling apart and you're not there!"
"I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for 'X' to happen...is it time yet? What's taking you so long?"
"You have given me so much...but what I really want is 'insert desire here'...so can you get on that please?"
"SERIOUSLY, GOD. I'M MAD. I'M MAD AT YOU."
So, is it okay to be angry with Him? Because I am sometimes. I get so upset that I'm not where I thought I would be at 26. I thought my life would be completely different than it is. Am I grateful to be where I am? Employed at a job I love, looking forward to a new year? Absolutely, positively, 100 % excited and grateful. I have a wonderful family and the most amazing friends. There are exciting things happening around me and I am so blessed to be involved in some pretty amazing times in my friends' lives.
But it doesn't make this period of waiting and not knowing any easier. I almost feel stuck in my prayer life. I don't want to be mad at God. I love Him above all things. But, sometimes, I think it's easier to be mad at Him than to dwell on this hurt inside my heart. This hurt is very real sometimes. There are days where that's all I can think about and those days are hard. Very, very hard. Those are the days where I have to focus on being happy. Then there are days where I feel like nothing can get me down. That I am on top of the world and I am going to succeed in every little thing that I do. But, it's on those days where I feel downtrodden that I can feel Him carrying me. Because when I hurt, He hurts. When I cry, He cries. When I have those days, and I lash out at Him, I can picture myself just beating my hands against His chest until I collapse in tears.
Then I get these whispers on my heart. Lately, it's been Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope" or Song of Solomon 4:7, "You are all-beautiful, my beloved, and there is no blemish in you." To me, that means that this anger in my heart, that this hurt that I hold, is not a blemish against God. Instead, it's a time for me to draw closer to Him. By giving Him this hurt, I am giving Him my life. I am giving Him control (and for this type A personality, THAT is one of the hardest things. Ever).
Has He abandoned me? No. He never will.
Does He still love me even though I'm yelling in human anger? Absolutely.
Is it okay to be angry at God? Yes. Because this anger is not a reflection of Him, but a reflection of my own frustrations. You know the saying, We plan and God laughs. Yeah, that. That's where this anger comes from. But, He comforts me during this anger and whispers to my heart that He loves me.
So I'll keep venting and talking and listening. I'll keep questioning and looking and praying. I'll keep growing and learning and loving.
Because I am His beloved and He is mine.
Posted by Rachel at 6:13 PM
Sunday, July 20, 2014
I know what you're all thinking. "WOW! Two updates in seven days. THIS IS AMAZING."
Okay, so maybe that's not what you're thinking. But, in Rachel's Blogger World, it is (so, just pretend for me, alright?). My friend, Stephanie, over at Blessed to Be,
is forcing me to do this nominated me for a Liebster Award, where she poses questions and I answer them. So, here we go!
1.) Why do you blog?
Hmm...this is a tough one. I happen to be one of the funniest people I know and regularly tell those who will listen (AKA everyone around me) that I should have my own reality show. It would be the most watched show in the history of ever. For. Real. Okay, seriously, I blog because a wise friend *cough cough Stephanie* put the idea in my head. Really! She suggested starting a blog where I can talk about those things that are important to me, like my faith, family, and friends. And cupcakes. Always cupcakes.
2.) What is your favorite smell?
My favorite smell? I have no idea! I really like the perfume I have right now. It's Georgio Armani's Acqua di Gioia. To me, it smells like happiness. And sunshine. And cleanliness.
3.) What would you have as your last meal? Include appetizer, main course, and dessert.
Appetizer: rolls and BBQ sauce from Corky's
Main Course: Nonni's spaghetti sauce with penne and meatballs (and cherry peppers)
Dessert: Pumpkin Spice Latte cupcakes (they taste like fall-y yumminess).
Now that I look at these three, they don't really go together and probably wouldn't taste great one after the other. But they're three of my favorite foods and it would be my last meal, so I can go with whatever I want.
4.) If you could master any skill overnight, what would it be?
Another tough one! Any skill?? It would probably be...becoming a wizard. Seriously. I'm still waiting on my Hogwarts letter to arrive (the owl must have been lost for the past 15 years, right?)
A real skill though? Being more crafty. I can handle making cupcakes and crocheting. But those really cute pins on Pinterest where people are making adorable decorations for their house? Yeah, I want to be able to do that. I'm just not crafty. Like at all. Even a little bit. I can picture it in my mind, but that's about it.
5.) Who's your favorite Disney character?
BELLE. This question was easy. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie. I mean, Belle loves to read, sing, and she gets to have conversations with household items. Except for her, they talk back. The coffee pot will respond to my questions one day.
6.) What movie did you most recently watch?
Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine. Catholic Nerd Alert!!
7.) What song are you currently listening to on repeat?
Wolf Bite by Owl City. His music just makes me happy. And want to have a dance party, which happens on the regular around here.
8.) Cupcake or slice of pie?
Do I need to answer this? It's in my blog name! Cupcake, of course. I'm going to make Butterbeer Cupcakes soon.
9.) If you could have an miniaturized animal as a pet, what would you pick? (For example, John tells me he wants a mini-bear.)
Ohhh...a miniaturized animal? Probably...a Siberian Tiger. That would just be the best, provided it didn't, you know, try and eat me.
10.) If you just found out company was coming over in a few hours, what dish would you whip up for them?
My Nonni's spaghetti sauce and meatballs. My mouth is watering just thinking of that sauce.
11.) Summarize yourself in 4 words. GO!
Compassionate, Funny, Catholic, HarryPotterNerd
There you go! My first Liebster post. That was stressful. I'm going to go eat a cupcake now.
Posted by Rachel at 10:39 AM