Wednesday, September 30, 2015

So you want to help prevent suicide....

Not too long ago it was suicide prevention week I guess, because people kept posting about it on social media. I kept noticing something.

I think it's funny how we always tell depressed/suicidal people to reach out and create a strong network of support when that is one of the things that their condition stops them from doing. Depression is a condition that folds in on itself. Depression starts out small and over time turns into persistent lack of happiness, then lack of all feeling, then isolation, then loneliness, hopelessness, and despair. Saying a broad "You are loved" on social media doesn't make a dent.

You want to REALLY help someone suffering from depression (you know, the people who kill themselves)? Pay attention. Listen. Read about it. Learn about it. Figure out how to talk to the people in your life who are struggling. And learn how to spot signs of a hurting person because they are often good actors. Don't say, "Snap out of it." "Get over it." "Just think positively." "Things will get better!" "A lot of other people have it worse." Or walk away out of fear or pride. What those afflicted with depression need are people they aren't forced to wear masks around. People who calmly, without expectations, without trying to smile them into feeling better, reach out and say, "I notice. You matter. I'm here. And I know you don't feel it, but you're hella strong."

Here's a brief crash course brought to you by Pinterest.


I have a good excuse for not posting in a while. I got married in August.

It's been absolutely crazy on my end. Since about my birthday (mid July) I've been busy busy busy trying to get everything taken care of for the wedding. On top of that, I was going to the chiropractor to try to fix my increasingly painful back problems, trying to not go crazy from taking birth control, still trying to settle in from moving a month and a half earlier, and several other things.

I'm going to be honest: some of the wedding shenanigans sucked. Big time.

By the week of the wedding, I was thinking maybe we should have just done something extremely simple or eloped. It was causing me so much anxiety and stress! But in the end, I'm really glad we did what we did.

My grandfather sealed us for time and all eternity in the House of the Lord. That's really all that mattered! (I was so relieved to just have that part DONE!!! Finally legitimately married instead of just thinking about it all the time!)

But it was really nice to have all the other stuff too. I loved our family dinner the night before, my beautiful dress, the lovely flowers, our reception at the Proctor house, my family coming in for the weekend, and all the delightful photos I now have to remember the day by. There's only one time where you can dress up like that and have flowers and a cake and a big party with all your friends. I wanted to take advantage of it.

And I recently got all the photos back. I have hundreds. And they're all spectacular. But I'll condense them and share some of my favorites with you!

Seriously, these photos make me SO HAPPY!

And here are photos from the reception.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

One Introvert's Story

My name is Holly, and I'm an introvert. I like peace and quiet. I enjoy being alone. In fact, I need to be alone sometimes. I prefer small groups over big crowds. I feel uncomfortable and overstimulated at dances and parties. You've probably never heard me shout. I get stressed out by noise and contention. I pay attention to everything: words, actions, movements, etc. I notice things most people never register. I sense everything that is going on around me.

I have always been this way.

The problem with introversion is people don’t understand it. It seems to me that most extroverts truly believe that introverts are handicapped people who just need to "let go" and "lighten up" and "stop being lame." And it boggles my mind that in the year 2015, half of our population still doesn't understand the other half; they don't even care to try.

I was a pretty happy kid. When I was young I had lots of friends, but about the time I started becoming self conscious, my family moved. I became a loner, and in a way, I rather liked it. As a teenager, I had some friends, but honestly, not that many. I knew I was different—that I didn't fit in. The words "come out of your shell" and "lame" and "boring" cropped up increasingly, and I tried so hard to make them go away. I tried to be "fun" and likeable. I wanted to be that person so badly, but no matter how hard I tried, I never was, and I only exhausted myself trying; I usually ended up in tears. (EFY was absolute torture.)

After years of trying to be something I wasn't, I finally learned that being who I was was so much better. You see, there are things I can do that most people can't. I can talk people through their struggles. I can listen to someone who needs someone to care. I can give advice to someone who is lost. I can comfort those who are in pain. I can connect with people through writing. I can understand my own emotions. I can usually analyze and think my way through any problem I'm having. These are nearly invisible qualities, but they are important. So, no, I may not be the life of the party. I may not be wild and crazy. I may have a hard time "letting go," but what I can do is so much more.

Even so, I've been burdened with self esteem problems since puberty. Why? Because I never fit the mold. It's not cool to like reading and learning. It's not cool to be smart and get good grades. It's not cool to prefer listening to news radio over music. It's not cool to stay home when you could go out. I can't tell you how many times I've heard that the things I like are "boring" or "lame." Even at age 26, I still hear it! And every time I do, I can't believe that the people I'm hanging out with haven't moved past their tiny mindset from their teen years, where they see themselves on top of the social pyramid, keeping others like me down. I just don't buy into it anymore. And it only makes me want to stay home all the more to avoid the judgment and the pain of being misunderstood and unappreciated.

So please, stop judging introverts. Stop telling us how uncool we are. Instead, why don't you try to understand us? It would go a long way.

Note: It would be wrong to say that ALL extroverts are this way. They're not. I'm marrying one, and he's been incredibly understanding and accepting of who I am. There have been many other extroverts along the way who have been loving and kind. I appreciate them all. (And I love our differences!) :-)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Stop Being Agreeable and Speak Your Mind!

I just want to throw something out there: your thoughts matter and feedback is really important.

I just sent an email to someone close to me trying to persuade them to make a change for the better. I noticed something, I thought a long time about it, and I realized that it actually shows great care to bring hard things up.

But it's not just for big things. When the waiter asks you how your food was, be honest! Don't just say "great!" and grimace as he turns away. The poor restaurant owner will be forced to close his establishment and he'll never know why.

Don't post on social media about how terrible a place is without contacting them first; they're in that business for a reason—they think they can provide something that people want. Give them a chance to make it right. I've found that most places will make it right because they appreciate feedback and want to provide the best products and services they can.

Positive feedback is the most powerful, and that's why I sent my dermatologist a thank you note for his awesome service recently. How often do you think places receive thank you notes? Not often. It'll make their day.

Positive and negative feedback help people improve, and you're actually doing people a disservice when you're not open and honest with them. There is never a need to be mean or hateful; just be honest.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Youngest

It seems like I'm constantly seeing some post or article describing children who are the youngest in their family. Risk-taker? Limelight-lover? Spoiled? HA!! I think you have it all wrong. First of all, I am the opposite of all of those things.

Youngests are used to taking a backseat to everyone elseliterally and figuratively. They're used to being ignored. Now, I don't like to be ignored for real, but there are many times when I wish I could go unnoticed, or I'd rather watch than participate because that's what I grew up doing.

Youngests are used to hand-me-downs. (Me not as much as others because all my siblings are boys, but I still enjoyed my siblings' old video games and t-shirts.)

They're observant and learn from others' mistakes. Very observant.

They also know how to be alone and connect with people older than them because they're the ones who are left behind with mom and dad in their teen years.

And this one is key: they have to at some point assert their independence because if they don't, everyone will always treat them as "the baby."

That's MY experience anyway.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Why do we encourage others to make poor eating decisions?

I was at a female-only gathering recently where food was advertised to be provided. The fare ended up being Domino's pizza, bagged salad, and cookies. It was on a weekday, and many guests came straight from work. They were hungry, and the only filling food was pizza. What do you think people do when they're hungry and food is in front of them? They eat it no matter what it is.

Tangent: I really think people planning things like this should consider providing healthy, fresh options not only for those who want to be healthy or lose weight (which is probably the majority of people, particularly women) but also for those who have food allergies. (For instance, I'm lactose intolerant and don't eat pizza because of the cheese. Lots of people have gluten allergies too.)

But consider this: did you know that one slice of Domino's cheese pizza has 290 calories? Have you ever filled up on just one piece? Ha! Nope. When hungry, we always go for at least two. That’s 580 calories, right there. Have three and you're at 870! EIGHT HUNDRED FREAKING SEVENTY CALORIES. My calorie budget per day is just over 1,000. THE WHOLE DAY. So clearly, Domino's pizza is not a wise choice any day of the week or really ever.

Anyway, what I wanted to talk about is a girl who was sitting at my table. A great, nice, talented girl whom I like. She mentioned that she wanted another piece. Quickly, anyone who heard said, "Then get another piece!" She responded "But I've already had two." They quickly fired back, "So?" And I hear things like this all the time: "Calories don't count here!" "You're thin; you can eat anything you want." "Calories don't count on holidays!" "Just do it, you know you want it." But calories do count. All the time. And the foods we eat and the choices we make affect us.

Why is it okay for us to encourage bad habits or behavior? How many of us are trying to eat healthier but still encourage ourselves and each other to eat things we shouldn't? It doesn't make any sense.

I felt silenced. Everyone else at the table encouraged her to eat another piece. I wanted to say, "No! Don't eat another piece. They're terrible for you—you obviously know that. If you're still hungry, wait and eat an apple at home. You'll feel better physically and emotionally." But no, somehow that's not socially acceptable. So she ate another piece.

Maybe it's because they know they don't have to deal with the consequences of another's bad decisions. If that's it, that's selfish. I mean, how many times have you binged a bit and your stomach felt like lead for hours, and on top of that you felt like you just ruined your goals and defeated yourself? I've done it many times, and don't lie—you have to. It's the worst. Why would you want to encourage that for someone else?

Three things I wish for in the future:
  • that if we provide food we provide better food at social events
  • that we all understood how much what we eat affects us
  • that we could all look out for each other a little better in this arena

That's all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A word on leggings

So I've seen a ton of stuff about leggings on Facebook lately. The truth is, if every woman wore leggings, this wouldn't be a conversation at all. We'd all just think it's normal. But right now it's a new popular clothing item, and people aren't sure what to think about it.

We're all a bit too caught up in the idea of *modesty.* If the reason behind modesty is to keep people's mind's pure, you're never going to win. Back in the day, showing your ankles was forbidden. Then it was your bellybutton. In some places currently, a woman's hair must be covered for fear of lust. In temperate coastal places, people hardly wear anything, and it's normal and fine. So clearly there's no universal line to cross with women's clothing that makes something inherently inappropriate. There are cultural expectations, but those are prone to change.

I'm not taking sides. I'm just saying it's all relative. It really really is.