2020: A Year In Review

It was a weird and hard year to say the least.

Honestly, that is a major understatement: it was a wild, wacky, devastating, life-changing, year. From start to finish, it was a long twelve months.

This was the year of COVID-19 and heightened systemic racism, but it was also the year I started law school and became a dog mom. This year I wrestled with singleness, but also gained wonderful friendships. This year I was out of a job for nearly two months, but I eventually returned to the climbing gym–a job I absolutely love!

This year I was reminded of the intermingling between joy and sorrow, love and loss, mountains and valleys. I was reminded Jesus is good and loyal and loving toward us no matter our struggles, battles, or hardships. I was reminded that giving while we grieve helps even while we hurt.

2020 had its highs:

  • Getting into and starting law school!–the journey to becoming an attorney has been filled with ups and downs, but I am so grateful that I committed to pursuing this dream.
  • Becoming a dog mom!–my sweet pup Jack has changed my life for the better–his unconditional love and never-ending cuddles fill up my heart.
  • Learning how to lead climb– and continuing to practice this special type of climbing. Saying no to fear and yes to bravery and yes to trying new and hard things!
  • Celebrating one year on desk at Summit–a job I enjoy and excel at and love! And landing a promotion over the summer was a wonderful surprise.

2020 had its lows:

  • Getting rejected by plenty of law schools (but ultimately winding up at the one that was best for me was a high).
  • Moving back home–I love my family and am grateful for their generosity, but I miss my alone time and being messy! Hehe.
  • Coping with systemic racism–I live a very privileged and blessed life, but I know that is not the case for every American (or person, for that matter). It’s been a learning and growing and mourning process, it’s been an eye-opener to consider my colored friends and their daily struggles and hardships.
  • Surviving COVID-19–just like everyone else, it’s been a hard and life-changing year: having to adapt to wearing a mask everywhere, to staying at home as much as possible, to taking virtual classes.

Despite this weird year, I feel blessed.

I feel blessed to have made new friends at the gym and welcomed so many new faces into our climbing community. I feel blessed to have built new relationships, but kept the life-giving ones. I feel blessed to have consistency in my life: with Jesus, with my family, with my well mood.

I feel blessed to have learned and grown and refined who I am. I feel blessed to have loved and lost. I feel blessed to have grown in strength and independence during a year of singleness. I feel blessed to have continued writing stories and sharing my life and learning more about content creation.

It’s been an odd and life-changing year, but I am grateful and thankful and happy and whole! I hope that despite the lows and recognizing the highs, you feel grateful and thankful and happy and whole, too!

But if you do not, I hope you know you are not alone in sadness and struggles. You are loved, you are treasured, you are a delight in the Lord’s eyes. Go in peace and love, go in grace and mercy, and may you have a better 2021.

The Monthly Update: November

November highlight:

A big highlight from last month was competing in Summit’s Pumpkin Spice Open bouldering competition. It was my first comp since September, and even though I didn’t necessarily go HARD, it was lots of fun hanging out with friends, encouraging each other on the wall, and getting some good sends in.

November lowlights:

I experienced a COVID scare, which put me out of working/climbing, and placed me in quarantine for a couple of weeks. It was a bit scary and overwhelming, but thankfully, my results were negative. Praise!

This month, I was filled by:

  • I had my first therapy appointment with Chelsey in a long time; even though I was only touching base, it was still good for my soul to talk through life and law school and lessons with her.
  • I started attending couch church–where I watch church from my home group leader’s couch–which has been a good way to keep accountable to tuning into Northway’s services. It is also a great way to start my week!

This month, I was emptied by:

The time away from the gym during my COVID scare was tough–I missed my work friends, climbing community, and just climbing in general.

In December, I am looking forward to:

  • I began the She Reads Truth Advent devotional at the start of the month. It has already been a source of encouragement and delight, and I cannot wait to continue diving into God’s word with this resoure.
  • Dressember is here! We are nearly halfway through the month, and I am three-fourths of the way to my goal of $1250. I am thrilled to participate in this challenge again, and to continue to advocate for human trafficking victims.

Hello, 26: Takeaways During My 25th Year

Well I’ve (almost) made it another trip around the sun!

I turn 26 on August 31. Year 25 was a big one: I pursued attending law school (and got in!!), quit a job, started two new jobs, became a dog and plant mom, and experienced quarantine with this pandemic.

A lot of life happened this year, many good and not-so-good things, many highs and lows, many in-betweens. Overall, I am so grateful for every moment, because they have led me to where I am today.

Let’s review this year’s most memorable takeaways:

  • Don’t give up on yourself. Four years ago I dreamed of going to law school. In the years since, I struggled with very severe on-and-off depression. I didn’t think I had what it took to get into law school. But lo and behold, during Year 25, I pushed through, and was accepted! It feels amazing to say that and equally amazing to begin this law school journey.
  • Give yourself a break. Early on into Year 25, I quit my stable job of being a legal assistant and chose to work part-time as a nanny and part-time at the climbing gym. Everyone thought I was crazy, but this break was exactly what I needed to focus on both myself and law school. It was every bit rewarding and liberating and just what I needed.
  • Do things that make your heart happy. Climbing rocks, drinking coffee, eating tacos, all of these make my heart sing. Let’s do more of what makes us happy.
  • Puppy love is the best. Adopting Jack and being a dog mom has been the best thing ever. There’s no love like puppy love!
  • New things are scary, but they can also be fun. Starting law school this fall (next week!!) is terrifying to me. I have to re-learn how to study and prepare for class and take tests. But I am also excited! It should be a fun, hard journey.
  • It takes a village. Without my friends, family, church, climbing, and blogger community, I do not know where I’d be today! I have been blessed with the kindest folks and sweetest community, and they help me get by on the reg.

Year 25 was refining, challenging, stretching. It was eye-opening and humbling. I pressed into some hard moments and hard conversations. I took care of myself, I loved others, I spent time with Jesus.

I am thankful for all of the change I experienced in Year 25–job adjustments, career change, moving, and more. It was one heck of a year, and I can’t wait to see what Year 26 holds. Bring it on!!

The Monthly Update: July

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July highlights:

  • Fourth of July was a blast! I spent the entire day at my sweet friend Emily’s lakehouse with her husband and family. It was wonderful spending time in the sunshine with people who are practically a second family to me.
  • I went climbing in Austin at Reimer’s Ranch in the middle of the month. There was lots of sweat, but also lots of fun memories made. I led my first route (a special type of climbing) and I made new friends. The best of times!

July lowlights:

  • Thankfully, I do not have a true lowlight from the month. However, saying goodbye to my tiny apartment on Friday was the most bittersweet moment. I will miss living alone, nestling up in my place, and being close to my favorite Dallas neighborhoods. But I also am looking forward to growing as I live at home with my family again.

This month, I was filled by:

  • On July 25th, I had the privilege of seeing one of my oldest friends, Bryanna, get married to the love of her life. It was such an encouragement to be apart of such a special, joy-filled day. It reminded me that even though times are tough now, especially with coronavirus, there is still plenty to be thankful for and celebrate.

This month, I was emptied by:

  • Just like everyone else, I am very ready for this pandemic to be over. It is a struggle wearing a mask everywhere and adjusting to this new normal, but I am extra thankful for my health and my family’s health.

In August, I am looking forward to:

  • I officially begin law school on the 24th! It is absolutely wild to see this four-year-long dream come to fruition, I am utterly blown away.
  • My birthday is the last day of the month! Year 26 will include a lot of change, especially with starting school and moving back in with my parents. But I am excited and ready to see what else will unfold in this new year of life!

Slow & Steady: On Resting Well

CommSandwichLife is different now.

Even as I go back to work at my climbing gym, my life has looked drastically different than it did just a couple months ago. And I have a feeling yours is different, too.

Remember the moral of the story about the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady wins the race? Well if life was a race right now, I would definitely be winning. And maybe you would be winning, too.

I’m not used to slow and steady.

My life is typically the opposite: fast and unpredictable, busy and spontaneous, constantly moving, constantly changing. But these days, whether I like it or not, life is slow and steady–and it probably will be for a while, even after COVID calms down.

Pre-COVID, my life was a lot of leaving the house at 8 a.m., going to my job, going to my other job, and getting home at 11 p.m. And on days when I didn’t work, it was a lot of running around, seeing people, making friends, planning trips, crashing on my bed in the wee hours of the night.

I’m learning how to rest, and how to rest well.

Rest for me can be a lot of things: emotional, physical, spiritual. When I need emotional rest, I like to talk to a friend or journal. When I need physical rest, I like to nap or simply lay down for a bit. When I need spiritual rest, I spend time alone with God and read scripture or pray.

Resting well means being intentional about seeking it out, making time for it in my everyday life. Resting well means saying “no” to phoning friends, or leaving a video call game night early. Resting well means waking early just so I can have an extra slow morning with Jesus, drinking coffee and opening up the Word.

Resting well means assessing my needs and what I am lacking, and taking steps to meet those needs. Resting well means valuing this alone time, this me-space because I know when everything goes back to normal, it will be harder to find this time to myself.

I have a few tips for resting well:

  1. Assess your needs: ask yourself what you type of rest you need–emotional, physical, spiritual, etc.
  2. Consider how to meet those needs: when you have identified what form of rest you need, then think about how to meet those needs. Is it by prayer and meditation? Is it by sleep? Is it by saying “no” to others, just to say “yes” to self-care?
  3. Follow through: it is easy to assess and consider without following through. It is easy to ignore your needs and instead pursue your wants. But when we follow through, we are giving our body, mind, and soul the nourishment and attention they need.

It’s important to rest.

It just is. Our bodies, minds, and souls need it. Our spirit craves it. Our eyes love it. Even though things are slowly starting to open up and we are beginning to have some sense of normalcy, I want to prioritize rest more than I did pre-COVID.

It’s important for me, it’s important for you. Let’s rest and rest well, friends.

 

The Monthly Update: May

It is hard to believe it’s June!

Though some days seem long, the month flew by for me, and so has 2020 in general. Let’s go ahead and hop into this month’s update.

May highlights:

  • Celebrating Mother’s Day with my family was great. I got to see my cutie-pie nephews, and sitting around the kitchen table and eating lunch with the people I love was just nice.
  • Summit, the climbing gym I work at, re-opened this month! It has been so nice reuniting with the climbing community. And I was promoted to Assistant Manager. Nervous-excited about this new opportunity.

May lowlights:

  • Now that the gym is open and I have returned to work, my pup Jack and I are trying to get used to being apart. He definitely feels some separation anxiety, but we are working through it.

This month, I was filled by:

  • Now that things are starting to open up, I have been meeting friends for park dates. They’re exactly what they sound like, usually with Jack in tow, we hang out with a friend at a park, just catching up and enjoying each other’s company.
  • My home group has been meeting virtually since social distancing started. It has been encouraging to have that solid community during such odd times.

This month, I was emptied by:

  • The news of George Floyd has been devastating and heart-wrenching for me. I opened up a bit on my Instagram about scripture that encourages me during this time, and where I am starting as I seek to support my black friends and community.

In June, I am looking forward to:

  • My nephew turns two this month! It is hard to believe Mason has been with us for two years. He is a whirlwind of joy and giggles and mischief. I am excited to celebrate him.

The Monthly Update: March

March was a hard month for me.

And it probably was for you, too. My world has turned upside-down the past couple of weeks, as both of my jobs were put on pause, and a Shelter In Place order went into effect in Dallas.

But, as promised, I am delivering you your monthly update. I have plenty on my mind and heart lately, and I am looking forward to sharing with you in the days and weeks to come.

March highlights:

  • Right before my job at Summit was put on pause, I was promoted to Event Manager at our Dallas gym (my home gym). When we re-open, this will entail me fostering community at our gym through hosting events and competitions. I am so excited to reunite with the climbing community!
  • I got my second tattoo mid-March, a simple “joyful” in script with flowers. This little ink is a reminder the Fruit of the Spirit lives in and through me. Even on my down and depressed days, joy is in my soul and bones.

March lowlights:

  • The coronavirus crisis and social distancing is affecting everyone, including myself (obviously). It has been hard to stay home alone and physically distance myself from friends and family, but I am thankful to be safe in my apartment, for video calls, and for food delivery.

This month, I was filled by:

  • While everyone has been physically distant, I have seen so many people come together during this time: supporting one another, praying for others, sending each other love in the form of flowers, cards, and treats. There is so much encouragement and love swirling around, and it brings me utter joy!
  • I was able to have a video therapy session with Chelsey, my therapist of four years(!!). I had not seen her in a couple of months and the timing could not have been better. I loved catching up with her, listening to her wisdom and advice, and left with high spirits.

This month, I was emptied by:

  • The news of having both of my jobs put on hold was tough and discouraging. It made me feel sad and down and even minorly depressed for a couple of days.

In April, I am looking forward to:

  • Time to myself that I can use for creativity, writing, playing music, and more.
  • Continuing to connect with friends via video chats and phone calls, doing my best to spread the love near and far!

How To Love Yourself: On Self-Care

My friend Rachel and I have a saying:

“Help me help you help me.” This phrase among us started as a joke, but in reality, it’s not the worst advice. Yes, it sounds selfish and manipulative.

But hey, let’s look further than that and get to the point: Self-care is important, and we should all partake in it often.

I am often preoccupied keeping up with every little person and thing but myself: my job, community, involvement, church, chores and house maintenance. It’s like the whole world completely absorbs me and I’m sucked in to-doing my life away.

But then I become over-exhausted and overwhelmed and fully aware I need Jesus and rest. I must get a grip on self-care before I take on the world.

Here are my top 10 self-care activities:

  1. Reading the Bible — spiritual rest is as important to me as physical rest. When I feel rundown and drained, I sit at the kitchen table with my Bible, pen in hand, expecting good things to come and peace to wash over me.
  2. Climbing — exercise can be a great stress-reliever for me. Whether I climb alone or with friends, it harnesses all of my energy and focus into one place, one sport, one mindset for a good hour or more.
  3. Phoning a friend — I’m a quality time and words of affirmation person, which can wither long-distance friendships. It’s always nice to phone a friend, someone I care about, and be fueled by their encouragement and verbal presence.
  4. Baking — similar to climbing, baking distracts me from my worries. It’s hands-on and demands attention, so I’m sucked into the world of measuring, mixing and making something tasty.
  5. Finding a dog — as hilarious as this trick seems, petting animals really soothes me. Cats give me anxiety, so the closest domestic animal is a dog. Sometimes I’ll go to my parents’ to give my brother’s dog Champ some well-deserved attention.
  6. Resting — even if I’m not asleep, it’s helpful for me to lie down or just sit still for a few moments, to clear my mind of my worries and tasks.
  7. Playing or listening to music — music has a way of letting me escape reality, it calms me and requires my presence.
  8. Walking — I’m not a runner, never have been and likely never will be. But walking slows me down and lets me engage in self-reflection. I’m typically down for a walk-and-talk quality time with dear friends to disengage from the real world for a bit.
  9. Taking a bath — sometimes I just feel dirty, so I grab my bubble bath, light a candle and start that hot water to rejuvenate my evening. It’s always nice to feel clean.
  10. Turning off my phone — I often need a break from the world: from Instagram photos and Facebook statuses, texts and calls. Time away from my phone renews my mind and lets me focus on what matters: the present.

I encourage you to care for yourself.

I don’t think we can fully help others until we help ourselves. We do not have the capacity to 110% love and give and go and do unless we ourselves are loved and have received. I don’t think it’s selfish to think this way, I call it self-preservation.

If we help ourselves, we can help others. If we give to ourselves, we can give to others. If we care for ourselves, we can care for others. So help me, help you, help me.

Anxiety 101: How I Combat High-Functioning Anxiety

Anxiety affects different people differently.

For the longest time, it was hard to recognize anxiety in my life.

thought waking at 2 a.m. with a racing heart was just a normal college thing, a side effect of a busy lifestyle. I thought thinking and believing and dwelling on failure was just a normal woman thing, a side effect of striving for perfection.

But neither of these are “normal,” neither of these experiences should happen often, yet I had them on a weekly basis for the longest time.

I struggle with high-functioning anxiety.

Instead of hiding in my room or bursting into tears or even self-harm, I thrive when anxious. In an attempt to look good, feel good and be good, I work work work hard at maintaining a perfect image.

I do my best to look normal on the outside, when I feel anything but on the inside.

My anxiety births itself when I am busy, when I have plenty to do and plenty more on my mind. It comes to life in the form of insomnia. It breeds negative and false thoughts.

So how do I cope with anxiety?

As said, anxiety affects different people differently, so different people cope differently. In the past year, since discovering my anxious habits and self-destructive thoughts, I have worked hard at abolishing my fears and doubts.

Here are my go-to’s:

  1. Prayer- I lift up my anxieties (Am I able to pay next month’s rent? Am I able to fall in love?) to the One Above who hears my cries.
  2. Meditation- Sometimes through yoga, but often simply laying in my bed, I sit in peace and quiet. I breathe in and out.
  3. Exercise- Climbing often takes my mind off worries and doubts and fears. I zone out from the demands of this world and zone into breathing, reaching, stretching.
  4. Rest- Physical, and more importantly, spiritual rest help me thrive. I nap and I read my Bible and I focus on my hopes and dreams and all good things currently happening in my life.
  5. Rejuvenation- This usually comes in the form of spending quality time with a quality person. I’m thankful for wonderful friends who speak Truths and encourage me when I am wary.

I hope you don’t struggle with anxiety, but if you do, I hope you know you are fully able to combat it with the right practices, prayer and people.

I hope you know you are an extraordinary person and you are strong for fighting this silent killer.

I hope you know you are not alone and never will be, that anxiety takes a toll on many of us, you just can’t see it.

I hope you know you are capable of living a full and happy and wonderful life. Because you, yourself are wonderful. Because you are loved. Because you are more than anxiety.