Holiday Shit storm.

Well, we’ve officially made it to the part of December where we endure the weird five day limbo stage between holidays.

Personally I love it, because new years eve/day is my favorite holiday. I really enjoy the in-between where things slow down just enough for me to cross off the final things on my “end of year to-do” list and then prepare everything I need to start the new year out fresh.

I love making plans for the new year, and the five day limbo is just long enough for me to do that. I feel motivated and excited for a fresh, clean slate, but that’s not always the case for everyone. The holidays are a hard time of year.

Let’s be real. December is a crazy month because it’s all about making big plans and meeting expectations. I’m sure you’re one of many who gets to the last page on the calendar feeling a little sluggish from Thanksgiving and all the shenanigans that come along with that, and then you begin to worry about if you’ll be able to meet expectations and do enough in December.

“Have I cooked enough? Have I cleaned enough? Decorated enough, gifted enough, visited enough, celebrated enough, seen enough, rested enough”…the list goes on. Whatever it is, it’s been floating around in your head for the last 28 days, and right now, as December is a mere three days from coming to a close, you’re probably still feeling like shit about your ability to meet expectations and wear 5 million hats during the holiday season.

Maybe you’re realizing you never used to feel this way, not up until the last few years.

I can explain that in two words: social media.

The holidays are already a difficult time, but they become increasing challenging when you’re staring, day in and day out, at everyone on your facebook and instagram pretending, not only that they are doing enough, but that their enough is easy and flawless.

I know you spent at least a few days looking at Suzy’s freshly published photo album on facebook, eyebrows furrowing at her immaculately decorated tree, pinterest-esqu living room, spotless dining set, and too-perfect family photos. With each swipe you feasted your eyes on another picture perfect photo and with every one the expectations grew and grew.

I know you did it. I did it too. And so did Suzy. Because we all fall victim to the comparison game, and that’s what social media is good for: making others jealous of their ability to pretend things are merrier than they actually are.

Here’s the thing though, for every perfect photo you see this holiday season, there is most definitely a disaster going on behind it.

I can promise you that Suzy’s cat probably knocked that immaculate tree down twice, and she had to sweep up the broken ornaments while her belligerent husband shouted and took swipes at the satisfied fuzzball. I’m almost positive that instead of hand crafting those living room decorations, she took out a small loan to fund her unnecessary show. And I can guarantee you that those family photos did not go as smoothly as all those rosy red cheeks would have you believe- minutes before the camera flashed, Suzy’s husband was probably bitching about how much he hates family photos, little johnny was wiping boogers on baby Madeline’s shirt as she screamed in horror and Suzy was sitting in her deodorant stained red sweater wondering why she wanted to go through with all this in the first place.

It’s not just her though. It was you too.

Uploading that photo of two wine glasses and a plate of cheese and crackers immediately following a huge fight with your boyfriend. Posting that status about how excited you were to see your parents when you were actually dreading being in their presence. Commenting on your mother in law’s post about family dinner explaining how delicious it was, when you actually placed your napkin over half the food you didn’t eat so no one would know you were throwing it away because the potatoes were lumpy, and you have never liked fruitcake. But it was all a show. Changing your profile picture to that angelic photo of your 11 month old who just shit all up her back 5 minutes ago and has begun regularly saying the word “shit”.

Don’t worry, it was me too.

I uploaded photos of the stockings I made when my mom was actually the one who bought the supplies because we’re too broke to afford dollar store materials. It was me when I posted photos of stuffed peppers that we made and only ate half of because I filled them too full and the beef wouldn’t cook through no matter how many extra minutes I put them in for. I added an album to facebook with photos of my tree that I purchased five days before Christmas from walmart for $20 with money I got from cans I returned from my dad’s canoe trip.

That’s right. Facebook saw the holiday card we sent out to family members, but they didn’t see the thank you note to the women’s resource center for paying my fall term tuition or the past due heat bill that went out with those holiday cards.

Yes, I admit it. I’m guilty too.

We’re all making sure our most highlighted moments make it to the facebook homepage face-tuned and photo-shopped because we’re trying to meet expectations set by others who are just as good or better at setting the bar for pretending.

Suzy, you, and me.

So before New Year’s eve, while we’re in this limbo thinking about our past year and making plans for the new year and/or just trying to stay afloat and keep swimming, let’s take some time to acknowledge this comparison game and take note of the shit storm that’s probably lurking behind every perfect photo we see.

Let’s assert that our life, too, is one wild moment after another- ripe, and beautiful and messy all wrapped in one, and that’s OKAY. We don’t need to be perfect all the time, and we shouldn’t feel like we have to make everyone think we’re perfect all the time. It’s perfectly okay to show the raw, unfiltered moments too.

All that being said, as you gear up for the last bit of the holiday season, whatever your major or minor struggle or unexpected circumstance: financial hardship, loss of a loved one, trouble with the law, mental illness, recent breakup, academic pressure, failed semester…whatever the case, keep it in the back of your mind and just be gentle.

Please remember that while it doesn’t always make the front headline, your friends and family are struggling, just like you. Commit to finishing the year out by going easy on yourself and on others.  Maybe take a break from social media. Maybe pledge to keep the last holiday of the year simple, and maybe follow that theme through 2018 to reduce the expectation/comparison game that had everyone chasing their tails in 2017.

Relax, give thanks, celebrate, count blessings, rest, enjoy, live (even if everything’s not perfect).

Merry everything and a Happy always from mine to yours.


What you need will find you.

For some reason this morning I decided to take a little journey back in time using my Instagram feed. If you’re close to me you know how much I love taking pictures, and even if you’re not, you only have to be one of my followers to know what an Instagram whore I am. Contrary to belief, I don’t post these photos for anyone but myself.

A lot of people use Instagram to promote popular brands or mainstream labels, but for me Instagram is like a diary, a way to quickly blog something that’s just happened with a photo and caption so I can revisit that slice of my life at a later time.

Trust me, it works really well. I got a taste of just how well this morning.

I had just taken the dog outside, it was our second time out since 5 am, and I was really grumpy. I was tired. I was annoyed, ‘how does he have to poop again?!‘ I kept saying over and over again in my mind.

But we got outside, and we walked for a while, and when we got to this little field that we visit sometimes behind the association we live in, I just kept looking at all the tiny daisies and how nice they look in this field and I started feeling sort of strange.

I started feeling really grateful.

I was out there, letting this little dog drag me around through these weeds, but at least they were pretty weeds, and at least he’s a sweet, cute little guy, and at least I’m well enough to be out here in these weeds breathing this air and standing on this soft ground, looking out at these apartments I’ve come to really like the past six months.

A year ago I don’t know if I could say these things. I don’t know if I could look at all this with the positive perspective that I have now. One year ago I was a completely different person, an extremely unhappy person, pretending to have it together, and I was in a totally different, miserable place.

When we got back into the apartment I sat down and pulled up my Instagram feed just to see what exactly I was doing, to the day, a year ago. I found these two photos, among several others, that mark the early summertime period we’re in now, 365 days ago.

It’s hard for me to look at these photos.

To someone else it looks like I was reading Game of Thrones at the beach during the day, and snuggling my kitty in my comfy bed at night. But I know better than that.

I was extremely depressed. My close friends knew it and they kept telling me that I should talk to someone, I should see a doctor and get help trying to take care of it. But I didn’t want to. I wanted to be normal and okay and I wanted to be able to figure it out myself, on my own, like everything else in my life. I wanted to feel in control.

I was trying so hard, but the longer I waited to see someone the worse it got, and the more out of control things became. I never ended up seeing a doctor. Instead I wound up pregnant, which was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, even if I didn’t realize it then.

Last summer was a scary time for me. It was dark and exhausting. I was drowning but I wanted to be the one to pull myself to safety, not realizing that sometimes you can’t do it- you need help. I can look back at the photos from my Instagram feed during that time and know exactly what I was going through. I can remember exactly how I felt and the pain that I was in like it was yesterday.

But I haven’t felt like that in several months (the first few months of my pregnancy were really terrible, as bad as the summer was, because we were in such a pickle and just couldn’t grasp what was happening, but we finally did and since then everything turned around). I’m so thankful for that. It was like becoming pregnant gave me a totally different perspective on life, and gave me the strength I needed to pull my head out of the water I was drowning in.

Friends of mine have told me that they haven’t seen me this happy in a really long time, maybe since high school. I know that every day I wake up feeling okay is a good day, and I rarely have bad days anymore. I’m glad I kept going, and got to see things turn around in my life. I’m not saying everyone who feels depressed should get pregnant, but you should definitely keep going, because some way, some how what you need WILL find you. If you’re struggling, just keep going. Everything I went through was worth it.

Here’s why: It might be a strange thing to say, but I’m so grateful for that hard time I went through, because it really helps me appreciate how amazing my life is turning out to be now. I don’t feel sad every day anymore. I don’t feel like sleeping every second because I don’t know how to deal with the next several hours. I don’t hate where I’m at and what I’m doing. I’m not so distracted by how much I’m hurting that I can’t notice things like daisies in a field. I don’t feel like I have to pretend to smile, I just do it- without thinking.

Maybe that’s what I’m most grateful for. The chance to finally smile, and feel like things are exactly right.

The more I think about it, even when I’m grumpy in a field and the dog is pulling me through the mud and I’m panting and annoyed, I realize that things are still hard, there are still struggles in my life and times when things don’t go according to plan. Things are not perfect or easy by any means, and once this baby is born things will only get harder, but I’m still grateful. No matter how hard it is, I am grateful and I’m genuinely happy. And that’s how I know I’m better; that’s how I know things are exactly like they should be right now.

Everyone deserves this feeling. So if you’re in a tough place, just keep going. What you need will find you. It found me.