Self-Care Series pt. 3: Find What Fuels You

Self-care is important.

And part of self-care is just finding out what fuels you — what gives you energy, life, and rejuvenation. In the first two parts of this series on self-care, I walked you through the importance of rest, and then exercising & eating well.

Today we are talking about the things that not only bring you peace, but also joy. Things that not only make you feel rested, but also make you feel motivated.

A few things that give me life are spending time outside, meditating on scripture, and connecting with others (more on the last in a post-to-come).

Opt outside

I love to be outside. Whether it’s a hike or a bike ride, a climb or a picnic, I love to soak up the sun and breathe fresh air. There is something about spending time outside that makes my soul sing.

Unfortunately, the greater Dallas area does not have much (or really anything) to offer in terms of mountains. But when I am able to escape the 214 and hop on a plane to Colorado, or most recently Utah, it’s always time well spent.

While I prefer mountains, I’m not too picky — I also appreciate the piney woods of East Texas, or the simple parks in DFW. Thankfully, being a happy dog mom means going on a minimum of two walks a day. At times they are short and sweet, but I always treasure these times in the morning and evening.

Meditating on scripture

Spending time alone with My Heavenly Father also fuels me. It both brings me peace and lifts my spirit. I will admit I am not the most disciplined at my daily quiet time, but when I prioritize a slow morning with God, I notice a tangible positive difference in my energy and attitude the rest of the day.

I have found that having a designated devotional helps me be more dedicated when reading scripture. It gives me direction and focus, and it overall helps me have deeper, more intentional time spent with The Lord.

Find what fuels you

Maybe you’re not like me. Maybe the great outdoors or a spiritual relationship don’t speak to you. Maybe instead you’re fueled by alone time, volunteer service, or long car rides. We are all different and that’s okay! We can all like different things and have different environments, activities, or relationships that fuel us.

During times of apathy or lack of inspiration, I encourage you (and myself) to find things that motivate you. I encourage you to find what speaks to you, what gives you life. Find what gives you joy and pursue it!

A Heart Full Of Thanks: My 10 Top Blessings Of 2020

Thanksgiving is here!

My favorite food, my favorite people, my favorite holiday all wrapped up into one day and given to me in a pretty little bow! This Thanksgiving will look drastically different, smaller, and quieter than years’ past, but that doesn’t mean it will be a bad one–just different.

This has been a hard year for everyone, but I know we can still give thanks. We can count our blessings, we can remember the good things, we can share the highs and lows and in-betweens. We can be glad for what we have, sad for what we don’t, and still feel blessed.

I’m full of thanks this year.

Here is my list of my top 10 things I am thankful for:

  1. A well mind– I haven’t struggled with depression in over two years, and I cannot express just how huge of a blessing this is. It is a gift to pursue dreams, be happy, and laugh genuinely.
  2. A healthy body– A body that can stretch and dance and move and bounce and CLIMB.
  3. My climbing community– Truly the most welcome and inspiring community, I am thankful for strangers who turn into friends so quickly. They are kind and inclusive and just plain fun!
  4. My church community– The ones who keep me rooted in Christ and point me to what matters, the ones who love me deeply and fiercely and wonderfully.
  5. My family– My new roommates! They have welcomed me into their home, given me reason to laugh, and supported me every step of the way of my law school journey.
  6. Taylor Swift’s Folklore album– It’s a bop! The end.
  7. My pup Jack– The light of my life, the center of my world: he is small and cute and fluffy and scruffy and scrappy and the best thing that happened to me in 2020.
  8. Coffee– The fuel that gives me life!
  9. My job– I get paid to welcome people into the climbing community! I get paid to love people! I get paid to climb! (Ok, not really, but kind of).
  10. My education– Perhaps the most concrete evidence of God’s faithfulness in 2020, I am so thankful that I was able to return to school this year to pursue a law degree. Virtual learning has not been easy (and neither is law school in general), but it has been such a gift.

I encourage you to consider what you are thankful for this year.

Maybe you can’t come up with ten or even five things, but I bet you could find at least a few: maybe it is your health, your family, maybe it is your community, or favorite hobby.

And come Thanksgiving day, you can share what you are thankful for with whomever you may be celebrating the holiday with. You can sit around the table, eat, drink, and be merry, and remember the good things, remember the blessings.

It Is Well: Words To My Younger Self

I turned 26 in August.

26 is a big(ish) year for me. I am no longer at a quarter-of-a-century, but over it. My 26th birthday was great: I spent the day before climbing outside with friends, I spent the day of going to law school downtown, I made a friend (Hi, Meredith!), and I ate dinner with my family. I squished my tiny nephews’ faces. And I was gifted my first pair of biker shorts, which have really been a game changer.

This year is so much more than biker shorts though, it is also a big year because I finally started law school! And when I say finally, I mean finally. Four years had passed since graduation, since my life in Nashville, since the revelation of realizing I wanted to pursue law. Lots of unfulfilled promises to myself and lots of prayer passed before I finally, finally, FINALLY began my law school journey.

And now that I am here, at this milestone of life, I am just looking back feeling overwhelmingly grateful for all of the moments that have led me to where I am today.

Here are some words of positivity and truth I’d speak to my younger self:

  • You are stronger than you think. When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I felt puny and weak and insecure. But I have since seen the benefits of living with bipolar disorder, and I have overcome so much hardship because of it.
  • You are great a taking care of others, but care for yourself, too. Learning to say no to people and yes to myself has been a great lesson that keeps on giving.
  • Cling to Jesus, and he’ll cling to you. My faith is important to me, and over the years it has become obvious that when I pursue Jesus and value my time with him, I feel his love and faithfulness and kindness even deeper.
  • Dreams are for chasing (and achieving). Finally starting law school has made me realize that chasing & achieving dreams is so utterly rewarding!
  • It takes a village. A lesson that is a continual theme on this blog, I am so thankful for the people who have encouraged and inspired and shaped me into who I am today.

A few less serious truths would be: tacos are for more than just Tuesday’s, dog mom life will rock your world and make you better, and dry shampoo is a girl’s best friend.

Self-reflection is really good for me.

It’s good for my soul to look five years, ten years, fifteen years back and to see how far I’ve come. It’s good to see who has come (and who has gone) and how they have molded me in a positive way. It is good for helping me feel blessed and at peace with where I am today.

I cannot wait for these next few years in law school to teach me even more. I cannot wait for the rest of Year 26 and even 26 years in the future. It is well with my soul today. And it will be well with my soul tomorrow, and the day after, and the weeks, months, and years to come.

The Monthly Update: September

September highlights:

  • One of the last Saturday’s in September I spent participating in Summit’s 12-Hour competition. The all-day comp involves hopping around the DFW locations, and plenty of sweating and grunting and fist bumping. It was SO fun, but also exhausting.
  • One of the last Sunday’s in September I attended church with my parents, but this service was special because they relocated to the Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. My brother and his family also came. It was great participating in corporate worship again, and also spending quality time with my sweet nephews. Plus the weather was gorgeous!

September lowlights:

I honestly cannot think of a single lowlight during the month of September. What a blessing!

This month, I was filled by:

I hosted a dinner party with a few near and dear friends. We ate Chinese food, drank wine, and devoured delicious Crumbl cookies. We engaged in kind and uplifting conversation, and shared plenty of laughs. It was an evening of pure delight!

This month, I was emptied by:

Law school is starting to get real, and it’s hitting me hard. The stress of assignments and looming midterms started piling up at the end of the month.

In October, I’m looking forward to:

  • Seeing as I am posting this a bit late, some of the things I was looking forward to have already passed, including a weekend getaway to Broken Bow, OK with my gal pal Tink and my pup Jack. More to come on that later!
  • I’m going to my sweet friend McKae’s wedding in Colorado toward the end of the month. I am excited to 1) get out of Texas and experience some cooler weather, but mostly 2) to celebrate McKae & Creed’s love with some great friends of mine!

A Thankful & Delighted Heart: On Non-Plans & Law School

I’m going to law school.

Let me say it again and say it louder: I AM GOING TO LAW SCHOOL!!!! Four years ago in Nashville, I decided I wanted to pursue a law degree. For the past three years, I battled debilitating depression and discouraging anxiety. I had mood swings and low dips and dark, dark moments. It was hard for me to dream and plan for my future.

Last year (and really all of 2020), I miraculously felt healed in a lot of ways. My medication finally kicked in and I have only faced a handful of depressed days since. It truly has been the biggest and most surprising blessing.

So I decided to go for it! I took the leap of faith, bought some LSAT study books, took the test (twice), did okay on the test (twice), and applied for schools. And here we are, with my dream and plan unfolding right before my eyes, as I begin classes in just over a month.

Quite literally nothing went according to plan.

In undergrad, I never planned to go to law school. I never planned to veer off from my degree and career path in public relations. I never planned to move back home to Dallas so soon.

Post-graduate degree, I never planned to have bipolar disorder and struggle on and off and on again with it. When I began to dream about law school, I never planned for it to take me three years to take action and four years to finally attend.

And even going to law school now, I didn’t plan to stay in Dallas. I didn’t plan to move back home with the parents (again), and I didn’t plan to attend UNT Dallas.

But here we are!

Even though nothing has gone to plan, I am eager and excited and over the moon at seeing this dream come to fruition. It has been a rewarding and humbling and downright giddy experience. My poor little brain was pushed, pulled, and stretched mentally as I studied for the test, wrote personal statements, and applied for schools.

Lately, I have prayed for a grateful and delighted heart. In all honesty, I am not too thrilled to go back with living with my family. I love them dearly and treasure their relationships, but I know the dynamics of being an adult at home will be difficult. And I am not too thrilled to stay in Dallas. I love this city and it will always be home to me, but I was ready to spread my metaphorical wings and fly.

But here we are! I am trying to be thankful for the opportunity to go to law school, for parents who are generous enough to welcome me into their home, for a city that houses a community I cherish.

I am trying to be delighted at the way these non-plans have unfolded, to be delighted in that The Lord has been so gracious to me during this incredible journey of chasing a dream I feared would never happen.

So here I go!

It’s just little ole me with a big-hearted dream and a big-hearted plan to do big things and love in big ways. It’s just little ole me ready and waiting for good things to happen this year, my very first year of law school and my second time around living at home since returning to Dallas.

I am hopeful and expectant and giddy and excited! I am nervous and anxious and scared and intimidated. But it will be a wonderful journey, and I am just grateful and delighted to jump headfirst into it.

Get Up & Follow: On Grace That Moves

Have you ever been paralyzed by fear?

I know I have.

When I first moved back from Nashville and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I faced crippling fear and anxiety. Afraid I would always be depressed. Anxious that I would never be able to feel a sense of normalcy again. Afraid I would always be alone in this fight. Anxious I would be stuck facing intense mood swings and manic episodes for the rest of my life.

And for a long time, my fear and anxiety won. For a long time, I just sat in my room and wept myself to sleep every night, because I just did not see any good coming out of such a devastating life change.

I’m not afraid anymore.

It was not overnight, and it certainly took time and prayer and encouragement, but I’m not afraid anymore–at least not in the same way I used to be. It took months and months. It took prayers upon prayers. It took lots of crying, lots of therapy, lots of setbacks, but I’m not afraid or anxious about my disorder today.

The other day I read my morning devotional, New Morning Mercies, and it really spoke to me. It began by saying this, “We have a grace of empowerment. So get up and follow.” 

And it also said, “You have been granted by the very same grace all that you need to be what God has called you to be and to do the things God has called you to do in the place where he has put you.”

Now those are some words I needed to hear.

When I look back at my past, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and humility. I never would have chosen to suffer from a mood disorder, I never would have chosen to move back to Dallas and live with my parents again for a year.

But God’s grace moves! His grace is kind to us and gives us exactly what we need and when we need it. Even though it is an everyday challenge and obstacle, God chose for me to have bipolar disorder. He chose for me to return to Dallas. He chose for me to share my mental health journey as an encouragement and light to others.

I feel hopeful and expectant of the future.

There are plenty of challenges and obstacles that lie ahead, but as I begin law school (finally!!) and move back home with my parents again, I know good things lie ahead. I know school will be hard and demanding, I know relationships with my family may be tested.

But I also know that God’s grace has been kind to me as I take major steps in becoming an attorney. God’s grace has relieved me of major depression and empowered me to pursue this longtime dream. God’s grace has given me the best support system and the best opportunities to keep pressing on, even when times were hard, even when I felt hopeless of the future.

Dear friends, it is okay if you feel a little afraid and anxious–that just means you’re human, that just means times may be tough right now. But please, please do not forget that God’s grace moves, God’s grace calls us to be where we are and empowers us to pursue big dreams and do big things and love others in big ways.

I know His grace is sufficient for you, because it has been sufficient for me. I know His grace loves you in an unfathomable way, because I myself have been left speechless. So get up and follow! Let’s get up and go! Goodness lies ahead, and God’s grace endures.

Hold Onto Hope: On Easter Sunday

Lately I have felt pretty hopeless.

With all of the chaos surrounding the coronavirus, it is easy for me to feel hopeless because I can’t change/control/fix the situation. I can’t come up with a cure. I can’t tell you when social distancing will be over. I can’t heal those who have the virus. I can’t leave my home when I want. I can’t magically start my jobs up again.

I can’t do a lot right now, and it makes me feel overwhelmed and weak and powerless. It makes me feel doubtful and anxious and insecure. I’m sad, I’m down, I’m at a loss.

Ironically, this upcoming Sunday is all about hope.

Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, is focused on the hope of Jesus Christ, a hope that is radical and unchangeable. When Christ died on the cross, he left the disciples and his family and his followers devastated and confused and empty. He left behind people feeling doubtful and anxious and insecure.

But behold! He rose three days later, Easter Sunday. He rose again and proved he was the Messiah, the Savior, a being that we can put our hope and trust and faith in.

It isn’t every day a man lives and dies and lives again for you. It isn’t every day your Savior rises from the grave and gives physical, tangible, undeniable evidence of his love for you. That is why this Sunday is so special, amazing and unbelievable.

I can’t do much these days, but I can trust in Jesus.

Romans 15:13 says this:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Even though there is so much I cannot control, so much I question and doubt these days, I can stand firm in my faith. I can seek out those still, quiet and serene moments with my Heavenly Father. I can press into Truths found in scripture, I can lean into His promises.

Hope found in Christ gives us joy and peace. Hoping in Christ means I can find little joys every day, even when quarantine is hard and makes my heart heavy. Hoping in Christ means I can have peace with all that is going on, even if it is a lot to take in.

Sometimes it is hard to hope in Jesus Man. I can’t see him or hear him, sometimes I can’t even feel him near me. But the evidence of his life, death and resurrection show his love for me. They give me reason to hope. And I hope they give you a reason to hope, too.

The Monthly Update: January

Is it just me, or was January long?

Like, really, really long. The month felt like an entire year to me, dragging on and on and on some more.

With a new year and new decade, I would like to introduce a new series of blog posts I will (hopefully) share every month: monthly updates! These monthly updates will include highlights and lowlights, laughter and sorrow, thoughts and musings.

January highlights:

  • I have been loving my new job at the climbing gym, it seems like I made twenty new best friends all within a couple of weeks. And I get paid to hype up climbing!!
  • I finished all of my law school applications–whew! They were weighing me down, and it feels so nice (and scary) knowing they are done.

January lowlights:

  • I did not nanny for two weeks in a row (the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Day), it was nice to have time off, but I missed my little buddies. It seemed like they grew so much in just a span of a couple of weeks!
  • I have not seen my therapist, Chelsey, since November. My appointments are really on a come-as-needed basis these days, and while I feel mentally healthy, I know I am due for a check-in. Thankfully, I will see her this Thursday!

This month, I was filled by:

  • Making new friends at the gym and following up with old ones that I had lost touch with.
  • Plenty of puppy time–no, but actually, I dog sat my friend’s little chunk Butterball and my heart was overflowing.

This month, I was emptied by:

  • Not prioritizing corporate worship over other little things, I missed a couple of church services and felt spiritually drained.
  • People pleasing instead of prioritizing my need to rest first

In February, I am looking forward to:

Going to Austin in a few weekends!! I get to see some dear, old friends and stay with some beloved extended family members. Quality time in one of my favorite Texas cities!

I am really excited about this new series!

I think it will be a great way for me to reflect and process on each month as it comes and goes. And it will be a great way for me to share updates on my life, what I am doing, how I am struggling, what makes me whole, etc.

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read about little ole me. I hope you have a wonderful start to your February!

I’ll Tell You What I Need, What I Really, Really Need

There’s a difference between wants and needs.

It’s a simple concept that I often forget. For example: I want pizza, but I need nutritious food. I want to be the best climber, but I need to practice and refine my skills. I want to do things my way, but I need to remember God’s plans my differ from my own.

Lately, I’m trying to learn the difference between my constant wants and my true needs. I’m trying to choose my needs over my wants, even when it’s hard and I just don’t feel like it.

Things I want:

  1. To run around 24/7. To see people and places and things and to go nonstop, to never experience FOMO (fear of missing out) because I’ll always be present for the best things.
  2. To hang out with my friends constantly. As a quality time addict, I wish I could be with my people at all times. They’re so much fun!
  3. To not experience hard things or heartache. I hate those things. They make me sad and mad and frustrated.
  4. To never have depression or anxiety again. I want to always be mentally fit, to never have to monitor my moods or sleep because they won’t bother me or impact my mental health.

Things I need:

  1. Rest. I always, always need rest. Physical and spiritual downtime to just recharge and recenter my heart on what matters: seeking the Kingdom first.
  2. Community. When I get quality time with quality people, I feel loved and ready for whatever life throws at me. They support, love and encourage me, they make me better.
  3. Eternal peace. Even when things get hard, even when my heart breaks, I need to rest in God’s Truths and remember this earth is not my home.
  4. Wellness. To do the things that are best for me, like therapy and taking medicine, working out and resting. To do all of these things to make my mind better, even when I’m down or anxious.

I wish I could just be this powerhouse of a woman, to always go and never be stressed or never need rest. I wish I could be the best of the best at everything I do, to be loved by everyone and to only have good things thrown my way.

But I need to dwell and abide in Jesus Man, in his word and truth and presence. I need to do what is best for me, not what I want to do or what I like to do.

It isn’t always easy and it certainly isn’t always fun or preferred, but it is good for me and I guarantee it’s good for you, too. Let’s breakdown our wants and chase after our needs. Let’s sometimes say no to fun things and always say yes to what’s best. Let’s seek wellness and wholeness and all good things for our minds, bodies and souls.

2018 Lessons & 2019 Resolutions

2019 is here.

It’s amazing how quickly 2018 came and went. A lot of life happened in that year, including becoming an aunt, going on my first solo trip and receiving my first promotion. Lots of good, bad and in-between.

Thankfully, 2018 didn’t leave me stagnant or stale. Instead, it sculpted me more into the person I would like to be. I’d like to share a few lessons I learned in 2018 that shape my current 2019 resolutions:

  1. Life is short — so I’ll say “I love you more.” Unfortunately, I lost three friends in 2018. It was a year of heartache and hurt because these friends passed. Their leaving only made me realize how truly valuable each moment is, so I’d like to affirm my friends and family by telling them I love them as often as I can.
  2. Life is fast — so I’ll pause more. As said, 2018 passed in the blink of an eye. Starting this January (and hopefully continuing in February), I’m going to only use my phone from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (excluding emergencies). I hope these unplugging hours will help me breathe and take more time for myself.
  3. Life is sweet — so I’ll savor it more. Similar to pausing, I’d like to soak up the sweetest of moments more. Take more pictures, write more words, remember more smiles, melt into hugs, spread more laughter.
  4. Life is great — so I’ll give thanks more. Hurt and heartache included, God is abundantly good to me. Though 2018 shared its difficulties and challenges, it also proved God’s provision never ceases. He doesn’t stop giving good things. I’d like to say thanks to Him and everyone around me more.
  5. Life is hard — so I’ll be more kind. After so much loss in 2018 (for both myself and friends and family), I realized just how you never know the hurt someone might be going through. Because of this, I’d like to share kind words and kind thoughts and kind actions.

2019 — it’ll be short and fast and sweet and great and hard.

It will be all of these things and so, so much more. I’m not sure what to expect or what to do or how to prepare for it. But I have hope and joy and peace that it will be a wonderful year, even if and when challenges arise.

I hope and pray you are having a wonderful start to this new year. I hope and pray for good things for you!

Peace & Blessings,

Mae