This feels amazing.
It's been way too long since I have written on this blog. I have been taking a higher level English class this semester and after spending most of the day on the computer completing the writing assignments for that class, plus the assignments for my other classes, I just don't have it in me to keep up the blog with regular posts.
But, I miss it and I'm thankful to take a break from my 12 page argument research paper assignment to share a beautiful song on this Sabbath day.
Rest- Nik Day
I love the music that is specifically written to go with the Youth theme every year. This year's theme for youth in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is from the scripture found in John 14:15...
I love it! Such a great scripture to focus on this year and any year.
Another thing that I encourage you to focus on is the Savior's ability to help you find peace and rest in this sometimes unruly and wicked world. There are some scary things out there, enough to create massive amounts of anxiety and fear in anyone. How fortunate we are to have the Master Healer, Protector, and Prince of Peace on our side to help us overcome our fears and anxiety.
You Say- Lauren Daigle
Stop beating yourself up.
You are a child of God and He loves you.
You have an older brother, Jesus Christ, who suffered for YOU. He died for YOU. Believe in that kind of love in your life, because it's real.
Ready for another chapter? Me too. :)
Chapter 7: The Roller Coaster Ride
While I waited for the gene test results, I found myself stuck on a roller coaster ride of emotions. The fear and anxiety of all the unknowns sent me rushing downhill at an alarming speed. Then out of nowhere I would receive a tender mercy that would thrust me upwards to the crest of the next hill. That would allow me enough time to smile and catch my breath before careening down to the bottom again.
The emotional ride left me with a constant, throbbing ache in my head. I spent half of my time as a sobbing, blubbering mess. When I wasn't crying, I was trying to keep myself busy so that I wouldn't linger too long on all the possible outcomes that were roaming through my mind.
At times, I wondered if I had just been having a bad nightmare. I kept hoping that I would suddenly wake up and resume my normal life. After all, I didn't look sick. People who have cancer look sick, right? I didn't feel sick either. Other than some fatigue, I felt like I could run a marathon, or maybe a 5K. Yes, let's stick with a 5K. (I detest running.)
I did my best to try and NOT think about cancer, but found it impossible when every conversation I had with people started with, "Do you have any news?"
"Nope, no news yet," I would have to report time and time again.
(excerpt from my journal) Day Nine: "I... am... exhausted. Emotionally, physically, spiritually--you name it. I am tapped out. I just keep trying to stay busy and keep a smile on my face, but today was hard. I snapped at my kids a lot...then I got angry with myself. Our lives could turn completely upside down in a few days. I should be making every moment count. But I couldn't today. I just couldn't put on the happy face anymore and unfortunately my family took the brunt of it. I'm sorry, guys. Tomorrow is another day. I will try to do better...I just want to cry all the time--cry because I'm scared, cry because I'm angry, [and] cry because I just want this nightmare to be over."
I became extremely impatient with the whole waiting process. I needed answers! Because I was a planner by nature, this cancer thing was really cramping my style. I couldn't move forward with any plans in my life, particularly the plans for my upcoming preschool year. (I taught preschool in my home.) My life was on hold and I did not like the music that was playing in the background.
As the days crept by and the turmoil in my heart grew, I started down a dangerous path of self-pity and despair. "I don't want to do this!" my mind screamed. "What if I am not strong enough?"
However, it seemed like every time I started down that dark path of self-pity, fear, and doubt, my faith in Jesus Christ steered me back in the right direction. I found myself craving more spirituality. I devoured my scriptures, prayed every single minute of the day, and scoured the Internet for words of comfort.
It was in those times of reflection that I received some of the most tender mercies. I was led to verses of scripture such as "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Other tender mercies came in the form of earthly angels. My family and friends surrounded me in a bubble of love. Everywhere I turned I found someone giving me words of encouragement, sending me flowers, or bringing me food--lots and lots of food. That's one thing that we humans do when someone is suffering. We think of our favorite comfort foods and we share them. It's awesome. Especially when it involves chocolate.
My favorite earthly angel was my husband. When he came home from his business trip I felt like I could breathe again. It was so good to have him by my side. He was (and continues to be) the calm to my crazy and my reminder to take things one day at a time. Chemotherapy? Surgery? Radiation? Don't worry about it. We'll cross that bridge if and when we come to it.
He was right of course. Worrying would not change anything. The only thing that the worry was doing was causing me to lose precious hours of sleep, which, in turn, turned me into "grumpy mom." That was when I decided that I needed to find a place of peace and harmony within myself and ditch the roller coaster ride for good.
Thanks for coming back to check out another chapter! If you want to read what's in between these chapters and the rest of the story, click here or here to purchase your own copy. :)
It feels like it was a lifetime ago when I received the first copy of my book in the mail. After over 2 years of agonizing early mornings and late nights, the story of my journey with breast cancer was out there for all of my family, friends, and the few other people who have stumbled across it, to read.
I'm so grateful for every ounce of love and support that people have given me. I wanted to throw in the towel so many times, but then the Lord would send a tender mercy in the form of the inspiration I needed to overcome writer's block, someone telling me that they couldn't wait to read my story because they needed help with a trial they were facing, or just the knowledge that I knew this was something I needed to do.
In February 2016, I was finally able to share my story in book form and had two amazing book signing events. The memory from those nights I will cherish forever. It was so much fun. (Click here and here to see the pictures from those fun nights.)
Why the walk down memory lane?
Why the walk down memory lane, you may be wondering? Well, I have gone radio silent about my book for a long time now. I just felt like the only people that were seeing any of my obnoxious posts about it already knew about it and were probably like, "Ya. We get it. You wrote a book. Move on with your life."
I was never able to break out of my own little realm in social media to really get my book out there, which is fine. It was disheartening and frustrating for a long time, but life goes on and I am over it. I have said from the start that writing this book was never about making money or becoming well-known or anything like that. My only desire has ever been to get this book into the hands of those who may need a boost of inspiration to help get them through a tough trial. It took me a while to get to the point where I could say, "Maybe everyone who has needed to read it has read it for now."
So life has gone on. I have gone back to school and started a part-time job which leaves me very little time to write blog posts...which I miss terribly. But lately I have been thinking that maybe I should start posting excerpts from my book on my blog. It would be very easy for me to copy and paste, and as long as I keep the rambling before the posts to a minimum (already failed there), it should be a fairly simple thing to do.
Why post excerpts from my book?
Chapter One: 8-19-11
August 19, 2011, started out beautifully. I watched with excitement, nervousness, and a little bit of sadness as my oldest child, Josh, got ready for his first day of junior high school. How did he get so big? I could remember him toddling around on chubby little legs learning how to walk. Now I had to drop him off at the junior high so he could learn to walk through the seemingly endless supply of hallways and staircases there.
We pulled up to the school and after kissing his mother on the cheek, he jumped out of the car. With confidence and excitement oozing from every ounce of his 7th grade body, he strode off without even so much as a glance back in my direction. I suppose I had no need to be nervous. He was ready for the challenge.
My girls still had a few days before their school would begin. We had plans that day to enjoy the last of our summer freedom. Those plans included a figure skating lesson for Emma, and after looking at our bare cupboards, a trip to Costco as well.
After Emma's lesson, we were piling into the van when my phone started to ring. I was expecting a phone call from the Women's Center at St. Mark's Hospital because I had gone in for a biopsy the day before. I knew that this would be the call to tell me that the tissue from the lump in my right breast had been tested and the results were exactly what we thought they would be; it was just a fibrous mass and nothing else.
"Hello?" I said as I was juggling my phone, my purse, and attempting to buckle Ellie into her car seat.
"Hello?" Is this Desirae?" asked a kind, yet businesslike voice.
"Yes, this is she."
"Hi, Desirae. This is Dr. O'Neill. We got the results back from your biopsy and I am very sorry to say that things do not look good. I hate to
tell you this over the phone, but there were some cancer cells that showed up. I'm very sorry." (There was silence on my end for what felt like an eternity as my brain tried to process this information.) "Really. Wow," is what I finally choked out.
Have you ever wondered what you might do or say if you are told you have cancer? I have thought about it on occasion, but it was nothing that I pondered too deeply about. Cancer was something that happened to other people, not to me. I didn't have time for cancer in my busy life. I had groceries to buy, kids to cart around, and a life to live. I simply could not add cancer to my plate, so I got in my car and started driving. Maybe I was hoping that I could drive away from this stunning turn of events.
While I was driving, Dr. O'Neill was still talking away in my ear. I was hearing words like "MRI", "Grade 2 Cancer", "Surgeon", and a million other things. Why didn't I pull over and start writing these things down? Because I was in shock and avoidance mode, that's why.
With Dr. O'Neill still talking in one ear and my girls asking me, "Mom, what's wrong?" in the other, I knew that I needed only one thing- my husband. I needed him to wrap his arms around me and hug me tight. I also needed to hear him say that everything was going to be all right. Suddenly my driving had a purpose and that was to get to his office as quickly as I could.
Now that I was headed in the right direction, I could concentrate a bit more on the conversation with Dr. O'Neill.
"I will call Dr. Mainwaring to discuss some things with her. I will also arrange for you to come in for an MRI tonight. I will get back to you soon," she said.
I tossed my phone on the passenger seat and tried to keep my wits about me. I did not want to start crying while I was driving. The tears stayed in check until I pulled up to Mark's work. That was when the dam broke and I couldn't hold them in any longer. I could sense my girls'
nervousness increase when they saw the tears rolling down my cheeks. I told them, "It's okay. Everything is okay. I just need to talk to Daddy for a minute."
I called Mark and told him that I was sitting in the parking lot and that I needed to see him right away. When I saw him through the glass doors of his office building, I flung my car door open and ran to meet him. I tried to form the right words to say while the tears rolled down my cheeks. "They found cancer. They found cancer," I kept saying over and over again. I was trying to remember everything that Dr. O'Neill had told me, but it was all a jumbled mess in my brain. I know that Mark must have felt overwhelmed with the scene before him. He had his sobbing wife clinging to him and shouting the word "cancer" over and over again. The faces of his three bewildered girls were pressed against the van windows; the looks of fear and confusion clearly present. They were trying to make sense of what was happening to their crazy mother.
I am sure that he was also trying to find the right words to say. With this scene laid out before him, he did exactly what I needed him to do. He hugged me and told me not to worry. He said that we would just take things one at a time and figure it all out. We hugged for a long time. His embrace was rejuvenating. I did not want to let him go because I felt safe in his hug and I knew that as soon as I let him go, I would have to face this new horror head on.
Eventually, we stopped hugging and I was able to gain some composure. I wiped the tears away and told him that I would let him know when I heard back from the doctor. Then I sent him back to work, holding this new information like one would hold a porcupine- not quite sure of how to handle it. Finally, I got back into the van and the girls and I were off to Costco because I didn't have time to deal with cancer and we needed groceries.
And just like that, Chapter One is over. Stay tuned for more excerpts soon!
On to the next part of "Parenting an Anxious Child". Hopefully you have been able to read and/or listen to my first post on this topic. I felt that offering some background on why I have an opinion on this topic would be helpful before spewing my "knowledge" all over this blog. I have been trying to decide the best way to approach this second post and I think I will just start at the beginning and share some things I learned during each phase of Abbie's life.
Now, I don't want to have you think that Abbie was a terrible baby/toddler. She wasn't. She had plenty of sweet moments, which is why I kept thinking, "Is my baby bi-polar?" It was worrisome at times, but I did not know what to do. So, I prayed a lot, and read a lot, trying to find some answers.
One answer that I kept getting was, "This girl needs her independent spirit to do some really hard and amazing things, so you need to be patient with her."
Okay. Much easier said than done. Especially for a mother who has (or had, I am much better now) a short fuse. Some days would go really well, I was able to stay patient, and deal with the independence in a healthy manner. Other days...not so much. Those were the really hard days; the days I would go to bed in tears because I knew I was the most terrible mother in the world. What mother loses her patience with a baby/toddler? (Well, actually, I think it's safe to say that all mothers have done that at one point or another. The adversary just wanted to make sure that I felt alone in my trials. He's good at that. I don't like that about him.) But, that's a story for another blog post. Let's get on with some suggestions.
Suggestions for Birth-Toddler Years
*Don't forget to breathe.
*Upcoming family vacations involving eating out, amusement parks, condos with balconies, plane rides, or car rides give you nightmares.
Suggestions for Preschool Years
(Some are the same as the baby/toddler suggestions...)
*Don't forget to breathe.
To be continued...
Next time I will finish up my ramblings on parenting an anxious child with the elementary school years and middle school years (which I am in the middle of right now, so any suggestions from parents with older kids will be appreciated. :)
Meghan Trainor- Better When I'm Dancin'
I'll bet you don't just smile. I'll bet that some serious toe-tappin' is going to be happening.
Let the music move you, baby.
I have four children. My oldest will by 19 soon and my youngest is 11. In the realm of parenting, I feel like I am somewhere between the beginning and the middle...not a beginner, but definitely not close to the end. Becoming a mom was the one thing I wanted to do in my life. I didn't care about a career, schooling, or anything else, really. I just wanted to be a mom. Can you blame me when my kids have turned out this cute? Lol.
When everything didn't turn out like I had envisioned...
You know the vision I am talking about.
*You are the parent who patiently talks your kids through a temper tantrum and at the end of the tantrum, there are hugs and kisses and everyone is happy with no lingering emotional scars.
*Every day is filled with bliss because you have family scripture study every morning and you say your family prayers twice a day. There ain't no way Satan's busting through that armor...
*All of your children are well-adjusted, beautiful human beings who love being with each other, share with each other, serve one another, and basically never exhibit any signs of anything being "wrong."
Anyone else rolling their eyes and laughing at this point?
Ya. I know. I was living in dream land. This type of scenario is absolutely, 100% not possible. Why? Because we are human, that's why, and...our kids are human too. We all have weaknesses, frailties, and challenges that affect our thoughts, words, and actions, every single day. No one ever said parenting was going to be easy, and anyone who does say that is either not a parent, or is living in an alternate reality.
Skip to the good part...
Let's get down to it. You are here to learn about parenting an anxious child, not to read/listen to me babble on about how my journey with parenting is completely different than the journey I imagined it would be.
If you'll notice, this post is labeled "The Anxious Child: Part 1" because there is no way I would every be able to cover everything I have learned in one post. As I have pondered how to organize my thoughts for this post, I thought it would be best to start with a brief history of why I have experience with this topic.
Trying to tame the lion.
As Abbie got older, her independence and intense personality became more pronounced and there were some days where I truly did feel like a lion tamer. I loved her to pieces and she was the sweetest little girl, but sometimes I wondered if she had split personalities or if she could be bi-polar. The change from sweet to sassy was in an instant and there seemed to be no regular triggers that we could avoid.
I tried everything I could think of to learn how to be a better mom to her and be better capable of helping her learn how to use her strong spirit in good ways...
Many, many prayers said. Too many to count.
I remember when she was 5 or 6, I had the idea (or revelation from the Spirit who was trying to help me succeed), that I should offer Abbie some "Sweet Pills" when she was having a meltdown. This is one thing that did work for quite some time, so it's something you could definitely try in your own home. The idea was that I had a jar of little candies (I used the tiny Sweet Tart Mini Chewies, which were her favorite) and the only time she could have this candy was when she needed a "sweet pill" to help her chase away the grumpies and be sweet again. It didn't bring her out of every single meltdown, but a good majority of the time, it offered her enough of a distraction to reset to the point where I could at least talk to her without yelling (from me or her.)
Moving forward...and backward.
I say we moved forward and backward because even though we were learning great things during our therapy sessions, the implementation of those things at home was difficult. It took a great deal of patience (which I lack) and persistence (which is hard when you're just plain tired) to use the tools we had been given.
Not only was it hard to remember to use the tools in the heat of the moment, Abbie kept growing up and maturing, which then brought hormones into the game, which...changed the whole game. We decided that it would be in Abbie's best interest to start trying Zoloft as a way to help her brain function properly. When we first started down the therapy road, I did not want to resort to medication. But, as one of Abbie's therapists explained so well, if she was a diabetic, you wouldn't withhold medication from her, would you? No! That's crazy! Of course I wouldn't? So why, then, was it so hard to say, "Yes, let's try some mediation to help"? One word...STIGMA. There is a definite stigma associated with mental health and medication and I had fallen into the trap.
Abbie's brain was not functioning in a manner that was allowing her to face certain situations in a healthy, rational manner. Instead, her brain was forcing her to exhibit symptoms of anxiety and depression and there was nothing she could do to stop it. It was highly frustrating for her, who just desperately wanted to be a "normal" kid and not freak out all the time, but she just couldn't, no matter how many tools/exercises she used.
The end and the beginning.
That really leads us to where we are today. Abbie is now 14 years old and has worked so hard to battle these demons in her life. She continues to work hard every day and some days, the fight is just too hard. Those are really hard days and they are difficult to watch. But, she is a fighter, and just like she fought to live when she was born, she will continue to fight her mental illness until the day she dies. She is one of the strongest girls I know and I am so grateful to have her in my life. I have learned a lot of lessons just from being blessed to be her mother.
As I end this post, I leave you with the promise that this is only the beginning. Next week, I will share more information on how we battled each of the stages that I mentioned in this post. Thanks for sticking with me as I introduced Abbie. I felt it was important to share this background with you, in order to successfully relay to you some of the things that have worked (and not worked) for us.
Until next week...
Keep up the good work.
You're doing better than you think.
You've got this.
In Christ Alone- BYU Vocal Point
Are you ready for this?!?
Before we get too far, there's something you should know...
Let's get this party started, shall we?
And when I say party, I mean the kind where kids are hanging from the curtains, chasing each other with knives, dumping out their full cereal bowls on the carpet, laughing, and running away. 'Cause that sounds like parenting, doesn't it? At least, that's how it feels a lot of the time.
Parenting is a hard gig; no doubt about it. However, with all of the hard times, there are those magical "can it just stay this way forever" times that make your heart melt, like...
When your children actually exhibit signs that they DO love each other.
Starting at the beginning...
As we move forward on this journey together, I feel it will be important to recognize something... YOU WILL NEVER BE A PERFECT PARENT, however, you CAN and WILL have PERFECT PARENTING MOMENTS.
With that in mind, we can start in a good place, one in which we recognize that perfection is attainable in small increments. We also need to recognize that not only is it okay to make mistakes as a parent, but it's perfectly okay to ADMIT that you make mistakes as a parent. That is key to moving forward. Yes, parents make mistakes, and it's important that you recognize those mistakes, admit those mistakes, and help your kids see that it is good to admit when you are wrong and learn from your mistakes.
What topics will be covered?
Let's Do This.
The first topic will focus on parenting an anxious child. This was not how I intended to begin this blog series, but with a focus on Mental Health during the month of May, I thought this would be a fantastic topic to tackle. My plan is to post every Wednesday, so tune in next Wednesday as we begin to discuss parenting kids with mental health needs, specifically, kids with anxiety.
If you have any tips or tricks you would like to share that relates to the topic of parenting kids who battle anxiety, please share them with me!
Until next week...
Keep up the good work.
You're doing better than you think.
You've got this.
To blog or not to blog? That is the question.
Needless to say, I have spent some time pondering the future of this blog this week. I finally sat down and started writing out a plan of things I would like to post. As I did that, I found myself feeling excitement about posts that I want to do. The ideas started flowing and I got my answer...do not stop blogging. Even if no one reads my posts or cares if I blog or not, I need to do it. Maybe it will just be for me. Blogging is therapeutic. Maybe it will be for someone in my posterity who will want to read his/her grandmother's posts. Maybe it will be for someone who stumbles upon my blog someday. Whatever the reason, I'm excited to get going again.
Without further adieu...
Now that you have made it through my ramblings, let's get on with this week's Songs for the Sabbath post, shall we? In preparing for new posts, I went through my past Songs for the Sabbath posts so I could remember which songs I have highlighted. I realized that I have not shared the theme song for the youth in our church this year.
Peace in Christ
This year in our young women and young men programs in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are focusing on how to find Peace in Christ. The scripture that this theme comes from is found in D&C 19:23
"Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me."
This has been such a great theme and I have loved pondering and leading discussions on how we can find Peace in Christ in this world of turmoil, pain, and hardship.
I hope that as you listen to this song, you will be able to feel peace and know that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is the one true source of eternal peace and happiness.
Here is another version that the adorable Claire Ryann Crosby and her dad shared at Easter time this year.
I am loving my second chance at life.
What's Happening on
Copyright Desirae Ogden, www.desiraeogden.com, 2015.
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