Friday, October 30, 2015

Spooky Thoughts, Spooky Feelings: Panic Attacks and Symptoms

Anxiety is a spooky disorder and it is the most common mental health disorder in the USA affecting at least 18% of the population according to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). There is not a true difference between an Anxiety attack and a Panic attack; these terms are interchangeable. My preference is to call them Panic attacks.

These attacks occur for people affected with different anxiety disorders and it is seen as a symptom of an anxiety disorder, but people who have a panic attack due to the fear of having a panic attack are diagnosed with Panic Disorder which is commonly in addition to another anxiety or depressive disorder or other mental illness and is rarely diagnosed as a standalone disorder.

Feeling a chill, you get goose bumps down your neck and down your arms. The hair is standing up and you can feel your skin, some even say it feels like their skin is electric or vibrating. This feeling and the goose bumps happens frequently for people who have anxiety. Goose bumps and feeling your skin (different sensations for different people) is a common symptom of anxiety.

For me this feeling and the goose bumps are a warning to me that I am about to have a Panic attack or an anxiety attack. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. I had struggled with these disorders since I was a teenager and then being in a highly abusive relationship re-enforced my mental health disorders.

In 2010, I had enough of the debilitating nature of these disorders and I had hit the peak of severity as well as hit rock bottom in my abusive relationship. I finally had the courage to seek help in getting out the abusive relationship and I began to take a look at myself. I realized I needed help with me as well.

I needed to make changes and start to conquer my disorders. I had enough of being controlled. I was ready to be in control of my disorders and of my own life. As someone who has multiple different anxiety disorders, I have experienced a variety of panic and anxiety attacks. I sought professional therapeutic help and thus began my journey toward recovery through cognitive behavior therapy techniques.

Learning about Panic Attacks
The first step to making changes is to realize that changes need to be made. I had that plus motivation! Next I needed to learn more about Panic attacks and about the anxiety disorders that were affecting me. With this post as well as my post about trauma, which is found here, I hope to help others understand more about these disorders and their symptoms.

There are over 15 different anxiety disorders, not including OCD Disorders, listed in the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) which lists the criteria for mental health disorders including symptoms of those disorders. Each of these disorders has the potential to have the symptom of having Panic attacks.

While some experience just a few symptoms during each panic attack, others may experience most or all of the symptoms at once. Also the symptoms experienced may vary with each panic attack and between different people. Some people who have panic attacks will experience the same few symptoms each time. The point here is no one experiences Anxiety the same as someone else.

A key factor to Panic attacks is that they typically hit a person without warning and many times without real reasons. Panic attacks can be normal for people who face crisis situations, like a car accident or someone breaking into their house, but for people with anxiety disorders panic attacks are not rational and happen without a realistic cause.

Panic attacks tend to peak within a few minutes and this peak normally last 10 minutes or longer. Feeling worn out and tired is very common after the panic attack subsides. According to DSM-V, at least 4 or more of the following symptoms must occur simultaneously for someone to be considered having a Panic attack. If less than 4 are present, than it is simply called having some anxiety.

Symptoms of Panic Attacks:
Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
Sweating, clammy palms
Trembling or shaking
Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering/unable to breathe
Feelings of choking
Chest pain or discomfort including but not limited to tightness, heaviness, and pain
Nausea or abdominal distress (may vomit)
Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
Chills or heat sensations
Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
Fear of losing control or “going crazy” and/or feeling as though you are
Fear of dying and/or feeling as though you are
Derealization - is when you have thoughts and/or feelings of unreality
Depersonalization - is when you have the feeling of being detached from oneself (like feeling out of body)

A More Uncommon Type of Panic Attack
Some people may experience a less common type of panic attack called an impending doom panic attack which is when a person has a strong overwhelming feeling of fear disproportionate to reality and they feel as though someone or something is going to get them. The latter feeling is one that can be both delusional and paranoid or it can be one or the other.

I was unfortunate that I had numerous impending doom panic attacks. I was afraid of monsters in the shadows and behind corners. I believed during an impending doom panic attack that there really were monsters and that they were going to jump out at me to maim and kill me. I would be on the edge of edge, more than just jumpy, when in this state and any little surprise or unexpected noise would startle me to the bone.

Within seconds of these attacks subsiding, I would break free of those delusions and I would feel childish and silly for having thought and believed such nonsense. But during these attacks nothing could convince me of the truth, that monsters aren’t real. I even stopped watching monster movies, horror, for a few years thinking this would help me by preventing new ideas of spooky scary monsters from slipping into my memory to be used against me later during a Panic attack.

Anxiety is Treatable
There is help for anyone who has Panic attacks. Professional therapists are out there who specialize in helping people learn how to cope with having panic attacks. Some people are able to get to the root cause of their fears and the reasons behind why they are having attacks. Once that issue is resolved, panic attacks tend to diminish and go away.

For others, the reason why can’t be resolved completely and those people need to learn better coping skills and what works for them to stop a panic attack when they happen. For some, medication is what helps them most, but this is not a long term solution. It would be much better to resolve the issues causing the attacks and learn how to cope with them.  

Exposure therapy and Self-talk are two techniques that helped me.

When faced with my delusions, I began to challenge them with self-talk. I would talk to myself in my head questioning my thoughts and stopping them from continuing, like changing the subject in a conversation, I would change what I was thinking about and this would help to end the panic attack. This was the most valuable technique I learned on how to stop a Panic attack from escalating and at times I could stop an attack in its beginning. Self-talk is also very good for giving me confidence and reassurance. I use self-talk with exposure therapy as well as by itself.

Exposure therapy is when I would put myself in uncomfortable situations that caused me great anxiety and could throw me into a panic attack on purpose and with the intent to stay in that situation for as long as it took for me to start feeling comfortable with it. I would start small and increase the difficultly as I mastered the lesser tasks.

Example of Exposure Therapy  
I was afraid of the shadows and darkness. I learned through self-exploration that this was really me being scared of the unknown since I can’t see in the dark that well and seeing in the shadow is also difficult. Fearing the unknown is not something I can just get over or resolve. So I started small by trying to sit in dimmer light while working on homework or blogging. This made me uncomfortable but not too much. That uncomfortable feeling went away and it felt easy to sit in the dimly lit living room.

Next I turned all the lights off in the living room and surrounding rooms, but did this only during the day. It was even dimmer, but some light from outside still shown through and gave me some light. I was once again uncomfortable with this, but not too much. And once again over time and repetition, that uncomfortable feeling went away and it was easy.

Finally, I made it most difficult by doing that same no lights on at night. Now I was very uncomfortable, but not nearly as much as I was in the beginning before I went through this process. Although I was uncomfortable in total darkness, I was no longer feeling a panic attack coming on. I was able to handle that darkness without the delusional fears creeping into my mind. I continued to work in total darkness until that too became comfortable and it was easy. And now I no longer fear the darkness and I haven’t had a panic attack from the darkness in over 2 years!

This has been a post in response to Fabulous Fridays weekly prompts linkup. This week’s prompt is Spooky. Interpret the prompt any way you wish, but be sure to link up with us!

Fabulous Fridays is brought to you by the admins of Bloggers for Life, a Facebook blogging group. If you have not joined already, we would love to see you in there, so stop by and join here.

Next week’s prompt for Fabulous Fridays is 10 Fun Facts about You!

Link up with us! This week will stay open until Thursday, November 5th at Midnight.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

10 Quotes for Inspiration in Life

“It is not the strongest of species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

I think what Charles Darwin is saying here is that humanity needs to remain flexible in life. By staying flexible and working with what comes our way instead of fighting the changes, we as people will have the ability to adapt to new situations. This will prevent undue stress that is mainly created in our mind. Which brings me to the next quote:

“The mind is everything. What you think you become.”  – Buddha

I agree with Buddha! The mind is a very powerful thing and a major part of our lives. If more people would focus on their own thoughts and in what way are they thinking about things, I am confident that these people would have more control over their thoughts and hopefully they will realize that all the negative thoughts they have are making their lives more negative. So think nice and positive thoughts that way nice and positive things will be in your life.

“You can’t do anything to change the past, but by changing your thoughts and actions in the present moment, the future is yours to create.” – Tom Venuto

Many times people get caught up thinking about the past and what could have been. Instead it would be much more beneficial to live in the moment and focus on your present thoughts and actions. Making the appropriate changes to increase the positivity in your life will also increase your overall happiness. We all have the power to pave a better future for ourselves. All we need to do is let go of the past and focus on the here and now.

“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” – Epictetus

This is a very true statement. By trying to control something is truly outside of our control is utterly useless and can create a great deal of stress. By letting go of things outside of our immediate control we are left with only the things we can control which lessens our stress levels and increases overall happiness. This is something I have been working on in myself for the past few years and I have made tremendous progress. I have felt a great weight lifted off my shoulder and I feel much freer to just be and that makes me happy!

“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” – Robert A. Heinlein

Love is about giving and very little to do with receiving. I think it is much better to give your heart and soul into the love you have for others. There are different kinds of love, but one thing remains the same across the board and that is the fact of caring more about that other person’s happiness above your own. I agree with this ideal of love and what it means to love someone else.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

Life and time do not stop for anyone or anything. The only way to succeed in life is to keep moving with the flow of life. It’s important to me to improve my life and keep moving forward. I try my best to stay focused on the now in order to pave the way for the future that I desire. If you try to stop then you will most likely crash. Crashing in life is not a failure, but merely a setback that takes times and energy to fix. I have had my share of setbacks and in fact I had one this year. It has been a hard year for me, but I have picked myself back up and I am once again moving forward with my life. It may be hard, but sometimes the best thing in life is to keep moving despite the hardships.

“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” – Winston Churchill

Courage is a valuable attribute for anyone to have and it is much needed. In order to keep moving in life, and to be flexible with life’s different changes, it is important to have courage. By having courage, we as people are strong and able to overcome any and all adversities that we are faced with. Sometimes I struggle with having courage, but I seek out little reminders and support that signal to me that I am able to handle this situation. Nothing in life lasts forever and this tough situation will soon pass. This is a statement I tell myself when things get really hard and I feel like giving up. By talking to myself and reassuring myself, I give myself the courage to continue and not give up.

“Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” – Charles Swindoll

While it is true that things happen in life that are outside our control, the truth is there is something we can always control and that is how we react. The best reaction is to act with careful thought. Focusing your thoughts on what you are about to do or say will help you make sure you are doing the right things. You can always be in control of yourself and I believe the first step to this is to control your thinking.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Sometimes words carry heavy weight and can mean the world to people, but what they remember isn’t what you said word for word, but rather they remember the feeling those words invoked in them. Having someone help you to feel a strong emotion makes for a strong memory. Sometimes memories are all we have left and I think it’s highly important to leave your loved ones with good memories and that means creating strong (hopefully good) feelings between you. Sometimes the simplest thing, such as smiling, can make a huge difference in the way interactions take place. I hope people become more aware of the affect they can have on others as well as the feelings they are helping to create in others. Let’s try to make happy positive feelings!

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”  – Robert Frost

I can remember the many times my mom would ask me ‘why must you always take the harder path?’ and I remember thinking to myself that I wasn’t trying to take hard roads, but I didn’t believe I could just take other people’s word on what I should do. I had to learn for myself and make my own mistakes. Trust me I have made plenty of them, but I am grateful for all of my life’s experiences. I have learned and grown into the woman I am today, because I had refused to take the easy route of following in someone else’s footsteps. I wanted to create my own road and travel down it on my own. I had always been more individualistic and I felt I needed to be myself. By taking that “hard” road, the one less traveled, I have become strong and I have been fortunate to have many great opportunities for both success and learning.

What are some quotes you find to be inspirational?

Have you been taking the road less traveled? What are the pros and cons to taking the harder road?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Trauma: Knowledge and Encouragement

What you need to know about Trauma

When people are faced with traumatic experiences, they can sometimes experience severe emotional issues and others have lasting psychological damage because of being traumatized resulting in emotional disorders. Many people who are traumatized as a child will become adults with emotional disorders.

While trauma does cause emotional disturbances, some adults and children have better resilience and overcome the trauma in a shorter amount of time and those individuals normally do not having lasting psychological damage. Another way to prevent lasting damage is to intervene quickly when someone is struggling to cope with the traumatic experience.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), trauma is an emotional response to a horrible event which causes extreme stress. Events that cause trauma in people varies from person to person and examples include but are not limited to rape/assault or being the victim of a crime, war, natural disaster, death of a loved one, and abuse/neglect. These are just a few of the terrible events that can occur and have been known to cause trauma in different people.

Emotional and Physical responses to Trauma are normal

People need to understand the difference between normal responses to trauma and the signs and symptoms of someone who is struggling to cope with trauma. Knowing when someone is struggling could benefit that person by knowing they need extra help. On the other hand, if that person is displaying normal responses to trauma it would help people not attract unnecessary attention and fuss over that person which could cause undue stress to that person.

It is completely normal for people to experience emotional disturbances and physical symptoms immediately after a trauma experience. Symptoms and disturbances from trauma can last from a few days to a couple of months. The symptoms and disturbances can start extremely strong and debilitating, but should fade over time as the person processes and copes with the trauma.

                   Normal Symptoms of Trauma:

Physical Symptoms               Emotional and Psychological Symptoms
Insomnia or nightmares             Shock, denial, or disbelief
Being startled easily                 Anger, irritability, mood swings
Racing heartbeat                    Guilt, shame, self-blame
Aches and pains                     Feeling sad or hopeless
Fatigue                              Confusion, difficulty concentrating
Difficulty concentrating             Anxiety and fear      
Edginess and agitation              Withdrawing from others
Muscle tension                      Feeling disconnected or numb

If someone is displaying these symptoms for an extended time frame or for a lasting intensity that doesn’t seem to be improving from day to day, then they are most likely struggling with their trauma. Also people who drastically experience one symptom over any other and it too is lasting, they too are struggling with their trauma. People who struggle with trauma truly need some extra attention and care for them to overcome the trauma.

There are also more obvious signs of someone who is struggling to cope with their trauma. These signs are more easily seen and most don’t need to be told to you by the person experiencing trauma. These signs are big red flags and those people should seek professional help to cope with their trauma and the issues they are dealing with.

Signs of someone struggling with their trauma:
Having trouble functioning at home, work, or school
Avoiding things, people, or places
Withdrawing from friends and/or other social situations
Using alcohol or drugs
If they are experiencing nightmares or flashback and terrifying memories

Someone who is suffering from severe emotional responses to their trauma can develop emotional disorders if they do not seek treatment and/or therapy. These severe emotional responses are typically fear and anxiety or depression. In some more severe cases, people can experience all three simultaneously.

If you see or know someone who is struggling with trauma, please reach out to them. Someone may just need someone to talk to and other may need the encouragement to seek professional help.

What you can do to support someone dealing with a Traumatic experience:

One of the biggest things you can do for someone with dealing with trauma is to let them express themselves. Most people will feel better after they talk about what is on their mind and how they feel. When trying to help someone open up and talk it is best not to ask that person, who is in extreme emotional pain, “what’s wrong with you?”. This is a big No, No!

It is much less insulting and less painful to ask the question differently. It’s better to ask “what has happened to you?” than to ask “What’s wrong or What’s wrong with you?”.  If you are truly trying to help that person open up and talk about what is causing them so much pain and turmoil, then you need to find a way to approach the topic without shutting down the conversation.

I know that after my mom died, I struggled with being able to talk about how I was feeling and the thoughts that were going through my mind. Even though it was hard, the more people who cared helped me to talk about it, the more I started to feel better and stop thinking about it the way I was. The people who helped me the most ask brief open ended questions and then let me talk while they actively listened. With my loved one’s help and a grief counselor I have been able to pull myself out of depression and stop the cycle of thoughts that were only bringing me down.

When trying to help someone open up it’s important to ask open ended questions. Once you get that traumatized person talking, let them talk! Make sure to actively listen to them. Try your best to show them you understand where they are coming from without saying “I know how you feel” as this is also a Big NO, NO! Even if you are sharing in the loss of a loved one, you don’t know exactly how someone else feels. People hold different roles and had different life experiences with that lost loved one and because of this no one experiences death the same.

If the person who has been traumatized is a child, then talking about the experience may not be that helpful. Little ones can still be encouraged to express themselves and should be in order to help them process and overcome the trauma. Children can express themselves in a variety of ways. Be creative and join them in their activities of expression because this will help the bond you share as well as give the child a sense of security while exploring tough feelings.

Ways children can be encouraged to express themselves:

Role-playing/Make believe
Writing activities
Reading books about the topic
Making a scrapbook or other craft project

What I hope you remember:

Comparing your pain and trauma to another’s extremely unhealthy and unjust. What causes extreme distress to one person may not be as distressing to someone else. Everyone is different and therefore they experience trauma differently. Having compassion and loving without judging is the best practice.

Keep an open mind while having concern!
Reach out to those in need!

Resources for those needing help: (children’s resource)

Thank you!
Thank you for reading and please leave me a comment I would love to know what you think.

Has this post helped you?
Do you have more to add?

Could you think of more ways to encourage children to express themselves?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Know About the Future of Emily Rose

I have been a blogger for over two years, but I took nearly a year break while I wasn’t writing and I was focusing on making money working as a social worker for children and families involved with child protective services. While this job was rewarding it was also emotionally draining. I quit working there and while I didn’t have a job I decided to try to get back into blogging.

I joined different blogging communities and I began to learn more about what blogging is really all about. I also discovered there were ways to earn money while blogging. As of right now I am not really earning money from my blog, but maybe one day I will be. Making money will be part of my goals, but right now it’s not my main focus.

Currently, I am making plans and setting goals in order to improve my blog and gain a following. I hope to gain readers that come back and read more as I continue to post on my blog. When I reach my goals for a larger audience, I will begin to make plans about making money. For now, my primary focus is developing and improving my overall blog and the content I am posting.

I have recently begun a new job where I will be working with emotionally disabled children and young adults. I am excited to start working again and make a difference in the lives of others. Human Services work is very fulfilling for me. I have my bachelor’s in Psychology and I would love to use it to help people.

While I want to work, I also love to write and I believe I can keep a blog and write for a living in addition to working. I work part-time and I am also taking classes part-time. I hope to be able to continue to fit blogging in part time as well. Lately I have been blogging more full time because I haven’t been working, but when my hours pick up at work I will not have as much time for blogging. Therefore it’s important to me to make a goal about how many posts I make per week.

Right now I have been posting 5-8 times in a given week which means I try to post to my blog at the minimum of every other day and some weeks I manage to post every day. I would like to keep posting at the minimum every other day or 3-4 blog posts in a week minimum. I think it’s important to consistently post as part of my plans and overall blogging goals.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been taking a harder look at my blog and what my goals are for my blog. I have realized a few things. First I want to help others and second I think my audience would be any adult of any age wanting to improve their life and have a more improved self-esteem. I would like to share my life experiences and help people understand emotions and emotional disorders. I want to help people by giving advice and tips as well.

One of my biggest goals for my blog is to be more consistent. I have passion in my writing and I thoroughly enjoy writing, but I tend to jump around with my topics. I hope to focus more on mental health topics and trying to help others with their feelings and emotions.

Having a background in Psychology and having personal experiences with emotional disorders makes this topic something I can write passionately about and I am fairly knowledgeable about. Therefore, I have decided this is a good place to start and as I make more plans and eventually move to my own site off blogger, more changes and improvements will be made to this blog.

Now people know what the future holds for this blog. And hopefully more awareness will be created about emotions and emotional disorders through my blog. I hope to give inspiration and motivate people to improve their emotional wellbeing. By following my blog, my audience will be able to learn and grow alongside my own journey through this mystery thing called life.

Thanks for joining me on my blog. I appreciate all the readers who take time out of their day to find this page and read what I have to say! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

10 Ways to Never Be Lonely

Struggling with Loneliness? Feeling sadly alone and lonely?

Here are 10 ways I deal with loneliness:

#1 Learn to love yourself. How can you possibly get lonely when you enjoy your own company so much? By increasing your self-esteem you will lessen that lonely feeling and maybe even squash it completely.

#2 Do things for others. When you’re spending your time things about others and their needs you will not only feel fulfilled, but you will lose that lonely feeling altogether.

#3 Call your parents. No one supports and loves you more than your mom and dad. No matter what age you are, your parents would love to help you get rid of that lonely feeling.

#4 Realize that Loneliness is a feeling. Just because you feel lonely doesn’t mean you are alone. Sometimes we can feel down, but if we take the time to look around we will see the truth that we aren’t alone after all. Reach out!

#5 Just breath. By slowing down our breathing patterns we can slow our heart rate and lower our blood pressure which will naturally relax the mind and body. Taking a moment to relax will promote happier feelings and will lessen negative feelings, like loneliness.

#6 Get a pet. Having that companionship from a pet is very special. Animals have a way of brightening your day, helping you smile, and preventing that awful lonely feeling we sometimes get.  

#7 Get a hobby. Keeping busy is a great way to ward of lonely feelings. Doing something with your hands, like knitting or crocheting, will also keep your mind busy.

#8 Take a nap. Sometimes we just need to unplug and hit reset on our minds by getting a few winks of sleep. After you wake up, you will feel refreshed and may have rid yourself of that lonely feeling.

#9 Read a book. It’s so wonderful to escape to a different world from your favorite author. The characters in the story seem so real inside our heads.

#10 Get on Social Media. There is always someone online, day or night. Don’t be afraid to meet someone new and maybe from another part of the world. New friends are great!

I hope this helps anyone struggling with loneliness. I know I struggle at times with this feeling and these are just a few of the ways I deal with being lonely. What are some ways you overcome such a sad feeling?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reminiscing about Our Jamaican Vacation

My boyfriend’s parents have been married for over 40 years now and in 2013 his parents celebrated by renewing their vows on the beach in Jamaica for their 40th. I was fortunate to be included in the family’s trip to Jamaica making for a romantic vacation with my boyfriend as well as fun family bonding with his parents and siblings.

I’d like to start with my favorite picture from Jamaica and I did not take this photo. The photo was taken by a photographer that took the photos for my boyfriend’s parents’ vow renewal. I love this photo of me and Dan so much that for our anniversary the year after the trip, I had it framed and gave it to him as a gift. It now hangs in our living room. I think this photo captures our love and the elegance of the photo is astonishing.

There was so much to take in and see while we were in Jamaica. The nature was breathtaking and the architecture was amazingly beautiful. We went on a catamaran boat cruise and I was busy taking photos of all the structurally creative resorts on the beaches. This photo of the blue and white castle was my favorite. I loved the way the setting sun’s rays on the castle played and reflected in a shimmering sort of way. I can only imagine was the inside looked like and I hope it was as nifty and cool as the outside.

There were always boats around and some were named fun and interesting names. Also while on that catamaran boat cruise I saw some funny names for boats. This one in particular gave me a smile since I know that Dan’s dad likes Star Trek and honestly I had been watching and starting to thoroughly enjoy Star Trek as well. I got great amusement out of seeing this boat!

While in Jamaica, I had a fantastic time full of fun and great things to do. Every day on the beach there was different kind of band playing music for all to hear. This picture was from around lunch and they placed up closer to where we ate. It was wonderful to hear the Jamaican music live from very talented musicians. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish watching due to getting sick and I had to go to our room to lie down for a while. Dan took this photo of the band and I am sure glad that he did. I may have missed most of the music, but I will never forget the little bit I got to see and I feel as though I can even hear those notes play as I remember our time in Jamaica. 

There was so much to do and we tried to do as much as we could every day. We kept busy and had a blast. One day while there, we got to go snorkeling. I was nervous at first, but as soon as I got in the water and submerged my head looking at the reef and all the colorful fish I felt all the tension wash away and I was bewitched by the beauty of that underwater world. I was so mesmerized that I wasn’t paying close attention to the rest of the group and I swam away from them getting separated from them by the reef. At first this too was nerve racking, but it was only a brief moment feeling on edge, because the tranquility of the ocean would not allow me to stay nervous. After that experience, I am now intrigued to take it a step further and learn to scuba dive. This is a new dream of mine that hopefully one day will be fulfilled. 

Another thrilling activity I got to participate in was parasailing. Dan’s sister and her husband, plus Dan and I went on a ride parasailing. Dan’s sister took this photo of Dan and I at the beginning of our ride showing thumbs up to let the driver of the boat know we were ready to go. Parasailing was fantastic and as we climbed higher in the sky I could see more and more of the marvelous island. During our ride, the driver slowed the boat which let us drop slowly and as we dipped down toward the water, I began to get scared and I started to say the water as well as asking if we were going to crash. We were dunked into the water about chest deep and they within an instant we were high in the air again. The driver of the boat did this on purpose and what a thrill!

While walking along the beaches in Jamaica, there were vendors everywhere selling handmade items. One of these vendors was selling hand carved wooden figurines. I looked every day for a horse and he never had one. He asked after a few days what it was I was hoping to find and I told him a horse. The next day there it was this horse and it felt as though he made it just for me. I am lucky that Dan’s mom and dad are such nice and generous people. They bought me this horse and forever I will keep it as a praised piece to my horse collection.

The days were full of fun and things to do. We spent hardly any time at all in the room as we wanted to enjoy all the fantastic activities they offered us. When we did go back to the room, there was always a pleasant surprise awaiting us with how they folded and arranged the fresh towels they gave us. One night when we had finally gone back to the room we found this swan designed towel with flower petals. This specific design was a very romantic gesture. I liked each of the designs, but this one was my favorite.

All the photos from Jamaica are valued memories for me. This picture especially is one to remember and cherish. In this photo, I can really see how happy all of us were in the same moment. The photo itself is very creative and artistic. I think the angle was brilliant and I really like how it turned out. I will hold dear these photos of such a magical vacation.

After the wedding in which Dan’s parents renewed their vows as well as his brother and his sister renewed their vows with their spouses, we all got together and had pictures taken. These photos were very special to me. I really felt included and part of the family. This picture is of everyone who went to Jamaica together. The men sure do look handsome and the women look very pretty. I like this photo so much, it hangs on my refrigerator that way I can see it every day as a reminder.

Thanks for joining me on this photo journey remembering such a lovely vacation with the most wonderful people. We shared spectacular times while in Jamaica and it was great to have been part of it. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

10 Unforgettable Moments From My Life

#1. The day my daughter was born. Nothing will ever take its place as the most unforgettable and most moving and changing moment of my life. The little person I carried and knew from the inside for nine months had come into the world and being able to see and hold my little girl has been the most powerful and moving moment of my life. I had become a mom and that feeling blew me away; I was in awe.

#2. The day my mom died. It was sudden and shocked me to my core. I had a hard time accepting it and my grief hit me hard. Some days it’s still hard. My mom meant more to me than I think she knew. I love my mom and when I think of her I can see her smiling in my mind. I know and I have faith that she is in a much better place, full of understanding and free of pain. Losing my mom was a tragic life changing moment, but because of it I have come to a realization about a few things and by doing so I have been able to refocus and prioritize what’s truly important in my life.

#3. The day I got my daughter back from when her biological father took and hid with her for two weeks was a day of relief and I was thanking the Lord Above that my daughter had been returned to me. I was lost without her and I worried constantly while she was away. When I had her back, my heart felt as though it had been healed and my mind could finally rest. I now cherish all the wonderful mommy moments even more and I will never forget the way if felt to have her ripped away from me. I want now more than ever to ensure that the time we have is quality time and my daughter knows how much I love her.

#4. The day I graduated from college with my Bachelors of Science in Psychology. I had worked hard the last 3 years of going to college. My first attempts at school I had failed miserably and then my attempts at community college were hindered and very slow progress. I was more determined and I worked harder when I went back for my third attempt, when I returned to Peru State and I succeed in my dreams of being a college graduate. I feel very accomplished and proud of myself.

#5. The day I left a domestic violence situation and moved into a domestic violence shelter with my 1 year old daughter. I felt alone and scared out of my mind. At the time, I wondered if I was making the right choice and what effect this may have on my daughter. What I learned was that I saved my daughter from furthering negative effects and the bond between my daughter and I was strengthened over the course of the next year. Which brings me to…

#6. The day I left to Miami Florida to another domestic violence shelter to get away from my abuser who had begun stalking me and using family to stalk me. I remember the day I left and arrived in Miami so vividly. My mom was the only one who knew I was leaving and she drove me to the airport in Omaha. And I wondered if I would ever be back and thought about everything I was forced to leave behind. I realized in that moment all the times I took the people in my life for granted and how now I may never see any of them again.

#7. The day I decided to come home back to Nebraska. I remember looking out the window at the sky there in West Palm Beach Florida and thinking to myself I wondering what awaits me when I returned. Would people accept me back or would I be hated. I worried about my abuser starting to cause me problems again and I thought could I be making a mistake. I took a leap of faith in believing Nebraska was a better place to raise my now 2 year old daughter. I came home and in the hope that people would give the new me a chance to show how I had changed and was still trying to change into a better person. I learned in returning that I have the strength to face my past and not everyone will forgive and accept that I had changed, but that’s okay. I just keep being the best I can be and that’s enough.

#8. The day Dan looked sweetly into my eyes as though he was looking at my soul and he cupped my face with his hands while telling me he loved me for the very first time. I remember his eyes, the way he smiled and I can still hear his voice. Nothing in the world will take this sweetest of memories away. The way my heart fluttered out of control as all my dreams came true in one small simple gesture. I had been swept off my feet and I had fallen from a height I had never been. But he had caught me.

#9.  The day I got my first job in social work was a very exciting and fulfilling day for me. I felt as though all my hard work had paid off and I was taken seriously as a college graduate. I felt important and valued while working there and I believe I was able to make a different in the lives of others. It is very powerful to feel like you contribute to society and help others in need. Although I no longer work at that first company, I am still doing social work and I find myself being empowered by the difference I make.

#10. Today and every day! I make moments to remember every day! It is the best way to live. I try my best to make the most out of each day. I try to keep in mind that each moment and every situation can be different. It is up to me and how I choose to act and think that will shape how my day will progress. I can make any day good or bad by my choices. Today I choose to be happy and I choose to spend this day with my children and family. Tonight we will be going to a children’s haunted house at a sorority of a local university. It will be moments to remember!