Meet Shannon– My Reproductive Syndrome

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This has been the longest, most painstakingly drawn-out summer of my life. Right now I’m sitting with a mug full of hot tea on a brisk day near the middle of September with two weeks until my first day of classes and not a whole lot to show for it. Actually I take it back. I went a few places. I did a couple of things. I talked to people in those places— when my foot wasn’t in my mouth. There was even a very exciting encounter with a bear, at least I think it was a bear. The point is, I had an arduously fulfilling summer all thanks to friends and family who let me tag along on mini trips to where the bears live (Tahoe), where the sun lives (Los Angeles), and where the Mormons live (guess) and thanks to Shannon.  On every trip, and during every dull day between, I was accompanied by Shannon. This post is dedicated to her.
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“It’s like a fat lady is sitting on one of your ovaries” my Gynecologist told me a few months ago. So I named the fat lady Shannon because why not. Shannon = my Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and the symptoms that come with it. In a nutshell, Shannon exists to make my life hell by causing me various biological inconveniences through way of hormonal imbalances that I’ll have to holistically supplement and treat for the rest of my life because as of today, there is no cure for PCOS. Dope. So now what?

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or in other words…
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 Shannon’s palette of side effects includes anxiety and depression. Hearing that was a relief. I’ve stopped counting the late mornings, absent conversations, and petrified phone calls I’ve made… let alone the number of times I’ve submitted to destructive feelings of inadequacy.
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Now I had someone to blame, it was Shannon’s fault. Not mine. A medical professional said so, even if she used a really shitty analogy to explain it to me.

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Shannon in all her snoozing glory …….
Understanding the separation between my essence and my emotions has been another subsidiary soundtrack to this summer. Shannon’s presence in my life has made me asses my emotions like I’ve never had to before. Shannon sometimes makes my mood unpredictable, so to help prepare family and friends for what’s coming on any given day, I came up with a morning mood rating system which goes as follows:
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screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pm– Puddle of emotion, vacuum of inspiration, tired, doubtful of my own abilities, 100% emotionally paralyzed
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screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pm– Anxious, mind is like a hamster running in a wheel, doubts, worries, pressures, fears all circulate, 75% emotionally paralyzed
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screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pm– Pacing, somewhat anxious but feeling more helpful and trying to wake the hell up 50% emotionally paralyzed
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screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pm– My mind has slowed significantly, good night’s rest, still on my toes but excited and only 25% emotionally paralyzed
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screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-15-at-8-36-56-pm– THIS VIDEO ENOUGH SAID.

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It’s Shannon who is my biggest handicap and Shannon who’s given me what no one else could. She’s taught me to grant myself allowance on the 1 star days and how to really get hyped on the 5 star days as rare as they are.
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In the middle of a 300+ member family reunion in Utah my anxiety levels were so high I literally felt like I was drowning. It had nothing to do with the toddlers and grandparents in matching reunion t-shirts around me but I felt grounded by guilt at the thought of leaving the festivities. It was Shannon who made the switch from fight mode to flight mode, and without realizing it, I had called a local friend and asked her to pick me up. It seems like a lot of over thinking for such a small thing but if that hadn’t happened I would have missed out on one of the best nights of the summer.  We cruised through Sandy, windows down and in a comfortable silence, against the backdrop of the purple mountains down for hours and hours and I’ve never felt more free in my life.
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Shannon taught me that there is a severely under appreciated art to accepting offers of services from others. It took having a panic attack on the side of the road to realize that I had a small handful of genuine friends who had all stated previously, “Call me anytime if you need to talk”, whose offers I had never taken up. One friend picked up, (you know who you are), and I can never pay back that person for talking me through the process of driving myself home that night. They never asked to be paid back. That’s what friends do.
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Sometimes when others aren’t there to listen or offer assistance, Shannon taught me that sometimes you’re all you need. Honestly ask yourself, “what do you need in this moment, right now?” If it’s a drive, get in the car. If it’s chocolate, go to the grocery store. If you don’t know, take a moment to lock the door, and breathe. Sometimes it’s the little rules we invent along the way that get in the way. Screw those. You’re allowed to get up in the middle of the night and eat something if you’re hungry and you can’t sleep. You’re allowed to walk away from social situations where you feel uncomfortable. It’s okay to not reply if you don’t know what to say. Venting isn’t pretentious or privileged.

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other days you just gotta hide in your hotel room and belt Coldplay on the uke
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If you need someone to tell you that you are allowed to feel what you feel, I’ll be your girl because you are.
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So that’s all I’ve got so far. We’ll see what the upcoming year brings besides another season of Stranger Things and a new President. Looking very much to one and not the other. Please be kind to yourselves and know that I’m here to talk if you or someone you know deserves a home makeover  is struggling, my email can be found in the “Welcome Mat” tab on the left. Lastly, thank you as always for lending me your time dear reader.
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Long live Barb.
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-SJT
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The Importance of Getting Dressed in the Morning

After I graduated High School I started to question why anything was really important at all.  

Any of these things may have included:

Celebrities in the Media. Why do people play into the hands of big-name celebs who are obviously stipulating for attention? e.g. Miley Cyrus, Donald Trump . I still don’t get it.

Employment nowadays. I’m sitting in traffic on the way home from work and I look around me and wonder, why do we participate in the rat races that make up the job market economy? Whatever happened to individuality and self-reliance?

I know Ron Swanson would be proud.

College. More specifically 4-year college and questioning the glamour that comes with it (parties, greek life etc). How important is it all? Really? Cause if say you were allergic to alcohol then it seems like you wouldn’t have much to do.

 

Getting dressed in the morning. This is another one I’ve thought about which is probably typical of a quarter-system student with an 11-week long summer coming out of high school. That’s a long summer, and for the majority of it where I wasn’t working I spent the day in pajamas slipping in and out of a Netflix coma.

Cue Ty Oakley’s most relatable tweet ever:

tyler oakley, laptop, lol

 

After days drinking nothing but decaf Earl Grey and finishing Once Upon a Time I realized that some part of me was missing because I had let it go.

My confidence, my health… some of the key components to my own happiness had vanished because I was spending too much time on the internet providing my appreciation of scenes that were a part of other’s lives by double tapping, and neglecting to appreciate the life I had been given.

But Sydney…

 

Source: Pringlei on tumblr
Source: Pringlei on tumblr

how can these lovely pictures

Source: Sincerely Kinsey on tumblr
Source: Sincerely Kinsey on tumblr

have the power

Markus Haltmayr
Markus Haltmayr

to make you hate yourself?

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Simple. Because wishful thinking can be draining.

The days where I decided not to get dressed in the morning were the same days I let all the internet confabulation and rapid scrolling down news feeds define what I thought of myself… no makeup, hair in a bun, reblogging or favoriting pictures of waterfalls and berry smoothies. It seems innocent enough, until one realizes that the internet is a deadly weapon of comparison.

This is what all my time spent online had led up to and I was tired of staying in my pajamas. I realized that the key was to find beautiful content in the world around me.

Next week I’m giving a talk at church about charity. In doing research I watched this clip from the LDS Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson and it turned my world around.

(If you want to cut to the chase skip down to the underlined section)

My favorite quote is around 11 min when he says,

” A woman by the name of Mary Bartels had a home directly across the street from the entrance to a hospital clinic. Her family lived on the main floor and rented the upstairs rooms to outpatients at the clinic.

One evening a truly awful-looking old man came to the door asking if there was room for him to stay the night. He was stooped and shriveled, and his face was lopsided from swelling—red and raw. He said he’d been hunting for a room since noon but with no success. “I guess it’s my face,” he said. “I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says it could possibly improve after more treatments.” He indicated he’d be happy to sleep in the rocking chair on the porch. As she talked with him, Mary realized this little old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. Although her rooms were filled, she told him to wait in the chair and she’d find him a place to sleep.

At bedtime Mary’s husband set up a camp cot for the man. When she checked in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded and he was out on the porch. He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, he asked if he could return the next time he had a treatment. “I won’t put you out a bit,” he promised. “I can sleep fine in a chair.” Mary assured him he was welcome to come again.

In the several years he went for treatments and stayed in Mary’s home, the old man, who was a fisherman by trade, always had gifts of seafood or vegetables from his garden. Other times he sent packages in the mail.

When Mary received these thoughtful gifts, she often thought of a comment her next-door neighbor made after the disfigured, stooped old man had left Mary’s home that first morning. “Did you keep that awful-looking man last night? I turned him away. You can lose customers by putting up such people.”

Mary knew that maybe they had lost customers once or twice, but she thought, “Oh, if only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear.”

After the man passed away, Mary was visiting with a friend who had a greenhouse. As she looked at her friend’s flowers, she noticed a beautiful golden chrysanthemum but was puzzled that it was growing in a dented, old, rusty bucket. Her friend explained, “I ran short of pots, and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn’t mind starting in this old pail. It’s just for a little while, until I can put it out in the garden.”

Mary smiled as she imagined just such a scene in heaven. “Here’s an especially beautiful one,” God might have said when He came to the soul of the little old man. “He won’t mind starting in this small, misshapen body.” But that was long ago, and in God’s garden how tall this lovely soul must stand!

I cried at that part. Today I watched it again and I almost cried a second time, but then I caught myself and wondered why. It’s a lovely story that would make a great film, but there was another reason. It was the same kind of bubbled over emotion I felt when my mom sat me down one day and asked me why I seemed sad.

I described to her how ugly I felt, inside and out. I felt like a hideous burden with legs. She just stared into my eyes and said so matter-of-factly,

“Sweetie you’re beautiful.”

I bubbled over then like I bubbled over at Monson’s story. Both reminded me that because God created us, he loves us and because of that we are innately beautiful and worth saving. Sometimes he sends people to love us and remind us of that. Sometimes those same people are the ones who help us get out of bed in the morning. In case you didn’t already get that, I’m trying to say thanks Mom.

The laws of superficiality seem to dominate how many of us view ourselves, and not just when we’re looking at god-bodied models posing magazines. The erosive effects caused by living in an appearance-driven world can break us down in subtle ways, eventually leading us to doubt our worth measured by social position, financial standing, and material growth.

When we can find the moral momentum to pull ourselves into a larger perspective, we can see that these laws of comparison are trivial.

No matter what your situation looks like, remember that you’re the chrysanthemum in the tin bucket. Regardless of disabilities, physical appearance, or social standing, remember that you’re a freaking chrysanthemum and don’t forget that life is better when you love yourself.

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Your soul painted by me

Have an amazing week lovely reader,

-SJT

The Saddest Week of my Life.

I wrote “love” on my arms on Monday for suicide awareness week, because that’s what it was. And then I  had to go over the faded letters again in pen on Tuesday, 9/11, because I heard about Sally. Her name isn’t Sally, but it’s better that I call her that.

Sally had done exactly what Suicide Awareness Week was established to prevent. She had succumbed to teen depression, and made a choice that would cause permanent results not just for her, but for her family and for her friends, and for her teachers, and any of those who knew her name.

This week a grey blanket lay over my school where she once laughed with her friends in the halls. It was sad at first, awfully sad. And then it changed to a solemn sense of remembering. Remembering her life, remembering if there was anyone else at school who had shown the same symptoms as Sally, or who had shown them that day. In my circle of friends, we found a few and checked in on them. We cried together as a school, and it was cold and dark. Not yet rainy. We cried together at lunch as friends and in classes with teachers. We held each other, and were always asking,

Are you okay?

My spanish teacher put her desk where she had sat in the back of the room facing the class, holding cards and flowers. The desk seemed sad. A table was set up by a wall where a poster read her name and people wrote messages to her. Unsaid thoughts written in Crayola marker on the poster and on the table sat flowers, several bouquets, just as beautiful as her life had been. A friend brought candles, and we lit them reverently.

I haven’t been the same. Nobody has. It’s hard to put any effort into anything, like studying or Volleyball. All drive to do things seems to be gone because there’s a hole in our school and sadness in every corner. But there’s always hope. I’m looking back up at the candle as I type… fire is hope and sorrow. It’s okay to be sad, but that sadness must spark a change. I’m still sad, but I also went to church today. Oh thank heaven for church. It’s thanks to my religion that I know where Sally rests. I do. Again, that’s faith.

All will be okay. It will be better than okay because there is still good, good life in this world. I believe that Sally is not lost, and she did not live her life here on earth in vain, because it was beautiful. And it was something to learn from. Something big enough to wake up a whole school and city. And I believe that I will see Sally again later, and we’ll all run up to hug her. We will all remember how to laugh again soon. Together. That’s what Sally would have  wanted. And may she rest in Paradise.

“Don’t forget to love each other”  – Our Principal

The night before GIRLS CAMP!!!

“Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end- the middle’s the most important. Think of… an Oreo cookie! Right now we are in the middle of our lives, and this is the time that matters most. We’ll get to camp tomorrow, and we’ll leave on Saturday. It’s up to YOU what you do with that creme filling.”

Words from a high-adventurer of a sister in the stake, witty and smelling of Hawaii and full of jokes as well as inquisitive wisdom. It was a great talk. Anyways, I’m leaving for camp in the morning. With my dear non-member friend K. who is absolutely stoked about spending a week in cabins in the Sierras overlooking a lake. Yes, a sparkly cold lake. Our volunteer cooks are also food gods. I have to go to my restful slumber party now (excitement will keep my eyes open anyway) but before I do, I want to wish you all a happy mid-summer, and a happy mid-life! Please, Enjoy the filling :)

(Via Sodahead)

High School’s a Fourth Over!

And the final bell rang… FLASH MOB!

Wow. I’m blogging at 11:30 PM! Yup, pretty sure it’s summer! Well school went out with no shebang, simply finals and teachers wishing off “happy summer”s. First year of finals, over. I dust off my hands, throw my backpack to the side and and run through the sprinklers. Funny how once summer starts, the average teen becomes nicer. I actually tickled my brother today. The stress of getting an education is over for a few months and ah, that’s where the good nature comes from. Bucket list for the coming weeks of sweet sweet freedom?

-Take bike on lightrail

-Fix fine focus on camera and figure out how to make this a partial photo-blog

-Have good social fun at least a hundred-thousand times (sleepovers, dances, screwing around good-kid style)

-Make 7 new blogging buddies

-Get J-Lo buff with Crossfit Sawmill, boom baby.

-Paint something mondo and splattery

-Hardcore babysitter (Like ten bucks an hour h.c.!)

-Be volleyball sensei to little brothers: teach the ways of the spike.

-Chalk mural on my old elementary school blacktop (Yes, blog about it)

-Take a train to Utah

-Watch all Ponyo & Rocky movies in two days

-Sketch Rocky Balboa Portrait

-Perfect Scone recipe

-Be a SOPHtdrink sophmore, paint a binder with 7UP design

-Get driftwood and shell shards from the beach… make something santa-cruzian

-See Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers when they come to town!

-Get rallied up for the NEXT THREE YEARS OF HIGH SCHOOL!

That’s right, hit us with your best shot summer 2012!

What’s on your bucket list?

Killer, and killer haircut there Nicki!

Seminary Comes to an End

Oh Friday afternoon. It’s  a breeze of cool, clean air purified from any tests, quizzes, or status-quos.  Viernes, un dia buenisima. But this year of seminary was even better.

What’s LDS Seminary like? Well, let me show ya.

First it’s cold and dark.

There you have it. A glimpse into the sleepy, spiritual, and chatty world of seminary where colored pencils satisfy boredom and epic scripture stories satisfy the teenage soul. It’s a great place to go before High School, and a great religion to be a part of. Thanks again to our AMAZING teacher Sister B. (We love you!) and to all “classmates” for the early morning laughs and yawns. See you next time!

(Oh and GO MOM! Running her first marathon in ten hours a thousand miles away in Ogden. Your hubster, kiddie-pies, and friends here in Cali are cheering Cheering CHEERING for ya, our thoughts and prayers are with ya every step of the way!!! Pet some wild horses for me!)

Have a great weekend guys!

The Warriors’ Mothers (Happy Mommy’s Day!)

When you’re a Mormon, you meet at a building according to where you live. and the people you see every Sunday and who live in your relative neighborhood are in your “ward”. There are thousands of wards across the globe. A ward becomes a family as people move in, move out, have babies, pass away… you get it. In a ward, the adults are given different assignments called “callings”, like chores within a family. These callings range from helping in the nursery to being the Bishop. (Equivalent to a pastor). Well anyways, my parents have the two coolest callings in the world. Mom is a Public Affairs Spokesperson which pretty much means she gets to know other church leaders from all faiths and works with them to do service within the community. She also helps to put on Mormon Helping Hands which is the big, annual mormon service project. Once again, I share this video a guy and friend in our ward produced.

This was filmed in our area at several of the sites we served at. This leads into my dad’s calling, Ward Mission Leader. Watch it again, and play iSpy for anyone wearing a rectangular black badge with white writing. (Do it now)

They are all missionaries, sent from our church to preach the gospel, and rake leaves when needed. My dad’s job includes the Young Men Missionaries, who have chosen to leave normal society for two years and dedicate those two years to God. My dad acts as a step-in mentor who drives them wherever they can’t walk or ride bikes, gives them what advice an ex-missionary can, and lets them Skype and call home on Mother’s Day. Destination reached.

Right now, two dedicated young men are contacting home to talk to their families, but most importantly, their moms. (Bing!)

” All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. ” Abraham Lincoln

Mormon Missionaries and their relationships to their mothers could be equated to the Stripling Warriors and their mothers. I would jump into a summary of this epic tale from the Book of Mormon, but I’m lazy and this one is so much better,

“Nearly 10 years after Captain Moroni raised the Title of Liberty the Lamanites and Nephites were once again at war. The people of Ammon desired to help the Nephites. But they had made a vow to never to take up arms again. Their sons had not made this vow. These young men entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites.

They were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. They were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.

These 2,000 stripling soldiers had been taught by their mothers that God was with them, that He would not let them fall. Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

Being led by Helaman, they were in many battles, but none died. The Lord rewarded and preserved them; for believing in Him, for having faith, for obeying His commandments, and for striving to serve others.” -mormonfind.com

stripling warriors, moms, mother's day, clouds, mommy, mommies, warrior, spear, courage, missionary
“Farewell my stripling warrior” Del Parson
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A Stripling Warrior Saying Farewell

Today is Mother’s Day. Regardless of your religion, be grateful for mothers everywhere who are preparing their children for the battlefield of life. Be grateful for women who have the patience to teach children to be warriors. Mom, thanks especially for teaching me how to be a smart warrior and to stop and smell the flowers along the way.

What were some battle skills your mom taught you?