Anxiety Advice

Recently, I shared my own mental health story with you guys. That was a difficult post to hit publish on, but I’m glad I did. Today I thought I’d share a few of the different methods I personally use to control my anxiety in particular. Most of these have the added benefit of helping with my depression and/or fibromyalgia, which makes them all win/win/win in my book!

yoga mat, Mindfulness in Plain English

1.  Diet & Exercise: Above and beyond anything else, changing my diet has made the biggest difference in the way I feel. I didn’t make any immediate or drastic changes, but rather I started with the small things – for example, I drink one caffeinated drink in the morning before switching to water or herbal tea for the rest of the day. Cutting out the excess caffeine cuts down on the anxiety and drinking more water keeps me better hydrated. Fun side note – I’ve discovered that no matter what’s wrong with me, drinking water helps 99% of the time. Turns out dehydration can cause all sorts  of chaos I’d never known about, but luckily I’ve discovered the secret to “drowning” it out – haha.

Exercise is the next best treatment. Let me be frank here, I hate exercising for a purpose. I don’t enjoy pushing my body to its limits, particularly if it’s just to meet some arbitrary social standard. I can, however, get behind the whole deal if it makes me feel better. So, I walk – a lot. I also start most mornings with 20-30 minutes of yoga. I hike on the weekends whenever possible. All of these gradually keep my body strong but also have the added benefit of soothing me mentally. You have to find those things you enjoy, that make you happier, that aren’t an even bigger challenge to you than the worry you’re trying to combat in the first place! The most important thing is to keep moving.

2. Meditation: Of everything on this list (with the exception of talk therapy), this is the one that’s hardest for me. If you suffer from anxiety/depression/etc., spending “quiet time” in your own mind seems like an oxymoron. There are all sorts of apps out there now that assist with meditation (the free version of Headspace is awesome by the way), but none of those are necessary. Do a bit of background research – there are all sorts of different ways to meditate. You can do the version that follows a voice (aka guided meditation; your breath (aka breathing meditation); a sound (like a gong, mantra, etc.); a candle / light of some sort; or any one of many other versions. You have to find what works for you!

I’m going to share a secret with you today that really helped me. When I first tried meditation, none of these worked for me. I was just too distracted and more often than not, I ended up more frustrated at the end of the 10 minutes than when I started. Then someone told me about an exercise that can help – a warm up if you will to prepare yourself for a more traditional form of meditation.

For 10-15 minutes a day, leave your phone in the other room, turn off the tv and any other electronic distractions, put your book down, find a quiet place free of interaction with any distraction, and just sit with yourself. Let the thoughts come, but don’t argue with them – just notice what they are. There will likely be boredom and a bit of panic, but sit through it.  If you can help it, don’t daydream or allow yourself to focus too long on any one topic – let your mind run the gamut. It’s an incredibly difficult exercise that often doesn’t feel as worthwhile as it is. You see, once you’ve done this often enough, you become familiar with yourself and the thoughts you might typically encounter. So when you venture into a more typical form of meditation, you know what to expect – the thoughts, the feelings, etc. – so there are less surprises. You’re better prepared to view them dispassionately and to just let them pass on a more subconscious level. it takes the pressure off and allows for a more relaxed meditative state. And there’s nothing quite so nice as a 10-minute break from yourself… (smile)

3.  Essential Oils: This one is my favorite. You can use essential oils in a number of ways – aromatically, topically, internally, etc. I will say that they do take a fair amount of research though. First you need to find a reputable place to buy them as they are not all created equal. I can make some recommendations, but the biggest things to look is where the oil comes from (not every plant on this earth should be grown in the U.S.) and it’s Latin name. These two indicators generally give you a good idea of quality. The ranking in the descriptions isn’t regulated, so it’s hard to depend on. And quality becomes a really important factor if you decide to use the oils topically or internally.

Aromatherapy is my personal favorite. I have a couple diffusers set throughout my home. Depending on how I feel, I mix and match the oils to get the effect I want. At first I didn’t believe this would work, but even in my darkest mood, certain smells can make me happy. Some days it even makes me a bit non-plussed at how well this works, but it does work, so I can’t really complain! Find what works for you and go with it – everyone has a different preference.

Topically and internally are a bit trickier for essential oils. It’s almost never a good idea to apply an oil directly to the skin or to put it on your tongue. In both cases the oils should be mixed. For topical application, a carrier oil (coconut, argon, grapeseed, etc.) is used to dilute the essential oil. Likewise for internal use the oil should be mixed with water, juice, etc. In both cases there are some oils that are just no go. For example, wintergreen is one of my favorite smells, but can be quiet poisonous if applied to the skin or taken internally (improperly, which it almost always is outside of candy, etc.). It’s really important to do your research.

4.  Vitamins / Supplements: Other than diet and exercise, I’ve noticed the most long-lasting and consistently positive results from taking a specialized cocktail of vitamins and supplements. The vitamins involved, the brands, the dosage, all of that has been a series of trial and error, but luckily my doctor was there to help me through it all. If I miss a day of any one of these I don’t immediately notice a difference, but I try not to miss more than one a week. It seems like vitamins and supplements really need to be taken consistently to be most effective. My blend comes from both my doctor’s recommendations and my own independent research. If there’s one thing I’ve learned on the holistic journey, it’s how to research. (smile)

I will say that much like essential oils, this can be a tricky treatment option. In the U.S., vitamins and supplements aren’t regulated like prescription drugs. This means that products vary wildly and there are no consistent standards across brands. Furthermore, some vitamins can have negative interactions with prescription drugs. Allergic reactions can also occur. For all of these reasons and so many more, it’s incredibly important to discuss any vitamins or supplements you may consider taking. At the very least you should ensure that your doctor and pharmacist are aware of which ones you take regularly so they can warn you of any possible interactions. I’ve found both to also be good sources for finding reliable brands and for figuring out the proper dosage. And that brings up another point – most vitamins and supplements contain way more of an item than you may need. In some cases, taking the recommended dosage from the bottle can even lead to an overdose for your system! Do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions of those in the know.

5.  Therapies – Talk & Massage: Of all these options, therapy of any sort is my least favorite. I’m uncomfortable talking about the cause of all these issues, especially in being pressed on ways to change the situation. I also get really tired of hearing the same advice over and over. I’ve studied enough psychology in school to know the basic techniques and frankly not only are the conversations uncomfortable, sometimes they can also be downright boring. It’s like repeating a conversation I’ve already had in my head a thousand times out loud – it can be frustrating. I also have a bad tendency to tell the person what they want to hear in order to avoid deeper conversation. Because of this tendency, this is usually one of my first confessions to the good doctor. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is when they then later fail to realize this is what I’m doing. But that’s neither here nor there – the important point is to find someone you like. In order for talk therapy to be useful, you really have to connect with the person you’re talking to. My favorite therapist was someone who would totally call me on my BS – it perturbed me at first, but then I really grew to appreciate her style. Those sessions with her have been the most productive of any of them, and I always feel better after.

Massage therapy may be a bit of a surprise, as most people enjoy massage. I, however, don’t like to be touched – particularly by strangers. The idea of stripping down and having hands all over me does not, therefore, really rock my boat. However, must like the talk therapist, you just have to find someone you connect with. I still get really tense, but I’ve found that focusing the massage only on certain areas really helps relieve and limit the tension. Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot about float therapy, where you float in a pod of saline water. I haven’t tried it – yet – but it’s definitely on my radar. I’ll let you know how that goes!
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You’ll notice that these are holistic options – that’s because drug therapy is so unique to each individual. I’m not a doctor and so I have zero basis for recommending any one drug over another. And in all cases, I encourage you to talk to your doctor about any therapy you wish to integrate into your treatment, particularly if it involves a major life change.

Anxiety Advice: A Holistic Approach to Dealing with Anxiety

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Confounded Anxiety

Please note that this is my personal story about dealing with mental health issues. All opinions are my own and unique to my story. Everyone and every situation is unique; as such treatment options vary and one should not be considered superior to the other in any way. Help is help. Help is good.

Irish coast

Off and on throughout my life I’ve dealt with depression. It came and went and came again depending on the circumstances of my life. Once in a while I would get anxious, but it was situation-dependent – a big test, a presentation, a difficult conversation, etc.  It was “normal.”

In law school, I began having panic attacks. These were stress-induced and given my life circumstances at the time, considered, if not normal, then not surprising. It was the first time I ever received medication treatment for my depression, and it was such a relief! I had resisted drug therapy for so long due to the social and familial stigma associated with such treatment. For the first time in my life, it occurred to me that no one needed to know – simple as that. It was one of the best decisions I made during that time period in my life.

After graduation, I moved out to Arizona and re-booted my life. The change of scenery seemed to be exactly what I needed and for several years I was fine, “normal” in my ups and downs. Then, as seems to happen, a series of unfortunate events occurred and I found myself back at the doctor’s office. Only this time it wasn’t only for depression. Anxiety had crept into my daily life like a thief, stealing all joy and hope. I could counter any positive thought with ten “what-ifs” or “buts.” In an effort to hide my suffering and to spare others my negativity, I also hid my thoughts. I would smile as friends tried to put a positive spin on a situation. I’d even go so far as to agree, to say the words they needed to hear to think I was alright. Every time I did this I robbed myself of comfort and my friends of the truth – I became a thief in my own right and to my own detriment.

By the time I sought professional help, I was having anxiety attacks. I find them to be subtly different from panic attacks, mainly in that I could see the former building while the latter generally took me by surprise. The same chest-crushing, end-of-the-world feelings were present for both.

I returned to my anti-depressants as if reuniting an old friend. The effect was profound and comforting. I discussed several options with my doctor for treating my anxiety and after much trial and error we finally determined an as-needed prescription would be my best option. The side effects of anti-anxiety medication can be overwhelming; in my case most drugs I tried were worse than dealing with the anxiety itself. Reading about the different options was discouraging to say the least – most anti-anxiety drugs also seemed to double as treatment for other illnesses;  few seemed made for the express purpose of treating anxiety.

Around this same time, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Doctors still don’t understand what causes fibromyalgia, but the consensus seems to think it’s normally triggered by a severe illness, a physical trauma (car accident, etc.), or prolonged exposure to severe stress. I fell solidly into the third category. My experience with FM is for another post, but I will say that the anger I felt about it all wasn’t helpful. I couldn’t help but think it was my own fault for landing myself in all of this – the choices I made led to these consequences. There was no one else to blame, so I took it all upon myself. Luckily, I was already seeking treatment for depression when this occurred or I shudder to think what might have happened.

I bring up fibromyalgia because it slots in so snugly with my mental health issues – does depression and anxiety cause FM or does FM cause depression and anxiety? It’s very much a chicken/egg sort of thing, which can make treatment tricky. The drugs for FM weren’t much better than the anti-anxiety options (in my opinion), so I decided to look into holistic options. Fortunately, I had a doctor who was open to that and helped me work through the various options. We finally settled on a holistic treatment plan that was best for me with very satisfactory results. The added benefit is that the treatment options selected also helped greatly with my anxiety – talk about a win/win!

It’s been decided that I will likely stay on my current anti-depressant indefinitely (or so long as it continues working). It treats the depression effectively and also seems to assist with some of the FM symptoms. Unfortunately, it can also cause anxiety to worsen. To combat that I do have an as-needed option to use in those situations where necessary. Otherwise, I try to take a very holistic approach to treatment. Most days this works really well, other days it doesn’t seem to help at all. You win some, you lose some.

What mostly frustrates me these days is the timing of it all – if I’m really excited about something such as an event or a trip, I can almost guarantee anxiety will swoop in to steal at least some of the joy. If it’s a concert, the crowds bother me. If it’s travel, it might be turbulence or a creepy person following me or lost luggage, etc. (basically all the parts of travel that make it an adventure). Most of the time I can foresee this and I try to maintain a mental grip. I have to work a little harder to find joy in the activity, but I do. I refuse to let the thief get everything. But again, I’m not always successful; sometimes anxiety wins. Dealing with that disappointment, learning not to blame myself when this happens, these are my new challenges. I know that I have other options to treat the anxiety. Treating myself with grace and kindness, however, is something I must learn to do for myself. There is no drug for self-love.

I share my story today in hopes that it might somehow benefit others. The attitudes about mental illness are a huge part of the problem and need to change. I can no more control my depression or anxiety than I could a cold or flu. I can, however, seek medical attention to help just the same. If we can accept treatment for one without stigma, then why not the other?

In the last year or so I’ve really tried to open up and share my experiences with my friends. It was so incredibly uncomfortable at first, but now it’s just another part of our conversation. I didn’t let it become a big deal and after a while, my friends realized it didn’t need to be. It’s opened up another level of conversation to us – it allows both sides the freedom to discuss parts of our life that we might otherwise keep hidden. It’s a safe space between us, which I have found to be invaluable, particularly on the bad days. I would like this blog to likewise be a safe space – for me to include my struggles in the conversation, but also for anyone else who might need to share in the comfort of knowing they are not alone.

You are not alone.

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Happy Holidays!!

I've gone to look for myself. If I return before I get back, please tell me to wait.

After much consideration, I’ve decided to take the rest of the year off from blogging. I have so many ideas for this space, but I need a break. I plan on spending my time catching up on my reading instead, both on- and off-line, so I’ll still sorta be around!

I wish each and every one of you a wondrous holiday season, no matter where you are or how you celebrate – may the end of 2016 be the best part of the year! 🙂

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Inspiring Optimism

Scotland blur

I recently ordered a canvas print of this photo for my bedroom so it’s now one of the first and last things I see every day (after kitty noses of course). To many people, this would’ve been a photo set for the delete button, but I just couldn’t do it. I see this scene and I remember exactly where I was, what I was wearing, how cold and clear the weather was, and how I felt in that moment – alive, content, happy, and optimistic. It reminds me that I have so much to look forward to, particularly returning to my favorite place (hopefully permanently!) for even more positive memories. (smile)

This week’s photo challenge is “optimistic.”

Happy weekend everyone!!

Travel Plans: 2016 Ramblings

Here’s a fact for you: making lists makes me happy. Making a list that involves travel?  Well that just makes me absolutely giddy! (smile) While I don’t normally make resolutions/share goals for the year, travel is the one exception. I really enjoyed checking off the 2015 list, so I’ve decided to have another go with 2016.

Cathedral Rock Sedona Arizona

2015 Review

I did really well with my travel goals for 2015. There was only one location that I didn’t get to – South Dakota – so I’m just moving it to 2016. Otherwise I had a great time exploring Arizona, visiting friends in Louisiana, and spending time with family in Ohio. Morocco…well, Morocco was beyond anything I could’ve hoped for, so I’d say that was a success as well! (smile)

Havasupai Indian Tribe, Havasupai Falls, Havasu Creek, Havasu Falls

2016 Destinations

Domestic

Arizona: I intend to make this the year of completing my Arizona Must See List. I checked a couple locations off this year (including Havasupai Falls) but I still have a few left (and perhaps a new one as well…) including Yuma, Grand Falls (aka Chocolate Falls), the slot canyons (e.g., Antelope Canyon), and Horseshoe Bend.

New Mexico: I’ve been to New Mexico a few times before, but I really want to visit Santa Fe and the White Sands National Monument. Both are a reasonable drive so no more excuses!

California: I would really like to spend more time with my friends in California this year. My niece is growing so fast – I want to be around for more of those special moments. I’m also determined to make this the year I visit San Francisco. It’s overdue.

South Dakota: I didn’t make it there in 2015 due to logistical challenges, but it’s happening this year! I’ve gone on and on about it so much that I now have volunteers to join me – maybe waiting wasn’t so bad after all…

International

Well, much like last year this one’s still to be determined. I have three four options in mind and only one of those is readily accessible and/or relatively safe. So of course it’s at the bottom of my list. (smile) I would love to reunite with a few of my fellow Morocco travelers, but we’ll see how that goes. No matter where I end up this year, I’m looking forward to the adventure and to meeting new people!

Where are you going this year??

 

 

Life Lately: Birthday Edition

If I had to choose one word to describe life the last month, I’d probably go with hectic. I feel like I haven’t had time to breathe over the last six weeks and while some of that is self-inflicted, a lot of it has been beyond my control. It’s definitely been a push/pull, love/hate vibe. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to make some amazing memories though, so I’d say that overall the good outweighs the bad. (smile)

Morocco

The Morocco trip was amazing. Fabulous. Perspective-changing even. I learned a bit about photography, got to see and experience an amazing country, and (perhaps most importantly) remembered a few key things about myself. Namely, that I am always happiest when I’m out of my bubble. And really, isn’t that the best kind of trip?? I’ve been posting a few teaser photos here and there, but I will definitely be sharing more soon!

I had just enough time to re-adjust my time zones before my dad and grandma flew out for a long weekend. I was so excited that they were able to come out and explore! The Grand Canyon has been on Gran’s bucket list as long as I can remember, so to be able to take her there and see her face as she first walked up to the edge is a memory I will treasure forever. We had a busy few days, but I hope think know she had a great time. I will admit, though, that I was more tired after that adventure than Morocco. Keeping up manners around grandma is hard work! Just goes to show that I’ve become a total heathen I guess. (smile)

Marrakesh Morocco

Work has gotten so busy! I believe there was a time a few months ago when I was complaining about not being busy enough… I hope this is a good reminder to my future self to not jinx such things! It is nice to be busy again, but of course it comes right when I have other avenues I’d prefer to explore. That’s life I suppose… It just means I have less time with my Kindle and more time with the laptop!

Sedona, Arizona

Looking at my calendar the other day, I realized that it’s not reasonable to think about coming back to this space in any meaningful way this year (aka the next 6 weeks or so!!!). I think it’s better if I just continue on casually for a bit and come back with a fresh perspective in the new year. I’ve kind of enjoyed being a bit sporadic in my posting truthfully, but there’s also something to be said for a schedule! I am a land of contrasts. Ha.

Speaking of contrasts, the weather in Phoenix has finally reached perfection. This time of year is the reason I enjoy living here – it’s absolutely gorgeous! (Not to brag or anything…) I’ve been on a hiking kick lately and have really enjoyed marking a few peaks off my list. I recently discovered that Phoenix has an annual Summit Challenge and I’m hoping to participate next year (if I’m still here!). The idea is to climb a certain number of the local summits all in one day – so time to get training!

I’ve also been taking a lot of photos the past few months. I haven’t ever really considered a full time career in photography, but lately I feel it shaping into something more than recreational therapy. I started a shop of sorts, which has been fun, but I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to really make it more than a random page. I’m really excited to work with that space more as I try to figure out where all this is headed. No matter what, I want to keep it fun though – photography has been such a positive activity for me, I definitely want that to remain it’s priority.

In other news, today’s my birthday! It does not seem like it’s been a year already… People really weren’t kidding when they said time seems to speed up as you get older! I like to think I’ll get the hang of this adult-ing thing eventually. In the meantime, I’m breaking out the bike to pedal over to my birthday brunch and bottomless mimosas. Adult-ing can wait another day. 😉

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand Victory

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Victory with a view 🙂

It took 83 years, but last weekend my Gran finally got to see the Grand Canyon. It was only her second time on an airplane and the first trip since my grandpa passed away in January. She handled it like a champ. (smile) I felt so lucky to be able to help her check this one off her bucket list – I can only hope I have half her spirit at that age! So this “victory” goes out to Gran – may you have many more! (big smile)

This week’s photo challenge is “victory.”

Happy weekend everyone!!

Life Lately: Something To Look Forward To

Well, here we are at the end of the third quarter staring down fall and my favorite 3 months of the year. Part of me is just as amazed as everyone else at how quickly this year has gone by, but mostly I’m just happy I survived another desert summer. For all those summer worshipers who hate me for saying yay to autumn know this – it has taken 7 years of perpetual summer to make me truly appreciate winter. Wherever I go next, there will be more seasonal variation than warm, hot, and head-in-the-oven hot. (smile)

Arizona Butte against cloudy sky

Things have been quiet around here because they haven’t been so quiet “in real life.” Work has hit new lows and the stress new highs. I’ve had to admit some hard truths, but I think the hardest has been that FM fog/fatigue is real. Sometimes that voice in the back of my head accuses me of using it as an excuse, but as this latest round has proven, that’s not the case. Usually I can coax myself out of bed and into the familiar morning routine fairly easily, and once I get moving I’m like the proverbial rolling stone on a smooth-ish hill. (smile) Lately, it’s felt more like pushing myself uphill the whole day, which is exhausting in and of itself.

At work, we’ve had 2 people leave in the last 2 months. If that doesn’t sound like much consider this: we have had an office of 8 people. In the last 5+ years prior to this round of departures, we’ve only had 1 other person leave. The fact that these 2 were our main admin people leaves a huge gap that someone has to fill. Normally these duties would be split between myself and another co-worker, but that co-worker was just diagnosed with and had surgery for breast cancer. With her out, I’m doing my job + the admin jobs + her job. It all equals out to chaos and long hours.

Oh and that co-worker, she just happens to be one of my best friends. She’s also one of the most genuine and positive people I’ve ever met. I know this isn’t a universal truth, but I’ve always wondered why it’s the good ones that seem to suffer the worst. Luckily, after the tumor was removed, we found out that it’s a very rare type of breast cancer that (miracle of miracles) is generally very successfully treatable and with a low recurrence rate. She’ll be in treatment for a while, but it shouldn’t be too bad. Certainly it won’t be as bad as it might’ve been. I’m not sure what the lesson was in this one; but I’ve been trying to be the positive for her that she’s always been for me. Amusingly enough, that takes way more effort than one might think – it’s clearly not my natural inclination. (smile)

Speaking of lessons, I keep having dreams about not having my homework assignments finished. Some people dream of being back in high school naked; I dream of forgetting that English essay that may or may not be due that day. Ha! I can only think this is somehow related to the studying I’ve been doing for my PMP. I’ll definitely be glad when the whole process is finished!

Arizona yellow flowers against butte

But the title of this post is something to look forward to – the future, not the past. The immediate future is one of hope, determination, and travel. The hope and determination are mostly to do with good health and finishing this damn PMP certification.

The travel, however, is pure fun. (smile) Next weekend I’m headed to California for my niece’s first birthday (!!!). Next month I’m headed to Morocco for a week-long photography tour (yep, it’s plane-tickets-booked official!). November will see my 83 year old grandmother flying to Phoenix so we can finally check the Grand Canyon off her bucket list (oh and my birthday!). Then it’s December; a time for family and gearing up to start a new year.

In between all those big occasions are the small moments that make up life. Outdoor happy hours and brunch dates with friends; turning the a/c off and opening the windows; hunting for fall foliage (it does exist here in AZ, you just have to find it); weekend hikes (now that I’m finally cleared to go again); and pumpkin-flavored baking. It will be a good fourth quarter indeed. (smile)

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Hello Earth Day Wednesday

My head’s been a bit out of the game lately, which makes pretty much everything more difficult. Usually I can bounce back relatively easily but this one is proving, well, more difficult. (smile) So while I try to clear my head and find my [written] voice again, I thought it’d be a good day to celebrate Earth Day by sharing a few photos from the weekend.

My friend volunteers with the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy and invited me out bird/nest watching with her. It’s still early for nesting, but the birds were more than enough entertainment. The area attracts bird enthusiasts from all around, most of whom are very nice and informative. And oh the cameras! I never fail to leave without a serious case of lens envy… someday! Maybe. (smile)

Huntington Beach Wetlands California

Beautiful bird, beautiful day 🙂

Huntington Beach Wetlands California

Bird on a wire fence

Huntington Beach Wetlands California

Squabbling over the best place for a twig #birdproblems

Huntington Beach Wetlands California

A different area of the wetlands

Huntington Beach Wetlands California

So peaceful 🙂

Sweet Home Alabama?

The topic for this week’s Travel Tuesday is “where you’re from and why you left.” I feel like I can sum that up in two words: Alabama + family. But that wouldn’t make much of a post would it? (smile)

sunset over Alabama field

Sunset on the farm

I am from the quintessential small southern town. We lived within 10 miles of the majority of my family, all of the neighbors were friendly (well, they knew one another anyway), schools were small, trucks were large, and church was supposed to be your second home. I grew up on a small farm with a variety of fuzzy creatures. I know where peanuts come from – and how to grow them. I also know how to castrate most any animal (TMI?). I can appreciate green fields and dirt roads just as well as any skyscraper or shopping mall. There’s a quiet, where I grew up, that is healing.

Alabama, outdoors, nature

From the dirt road

So why did I leave? Well, honestly, it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been able to truly appreciate where I came from. When I left, all I could think about was conquering big cities, seeing the world, and hopefully gaining some anonymity along the way. I love my family, but I’m pretty independent and prefer my privacy. My family all seems to translate that into stubbornness – so be it. I was determined to go forth and make my own mistakes; something I’ve rather successfully accomplished. (smile)

The question I frequently ask myself (generally because my family is frequently asking me) is whether I would ever consider moving back. The answer is usually a very hesitant “maybe.” Truthfully, I would only do it under specific circumstances and even then I’m not sure it would be permanent. I love my dad’s place – it’s in its own little bubble and absolutely gorgeous – but I’m still not so sure about the people. Perhaps a vacation home? Moving back would be just that for me – moving backward instead of forward. Forward for me is moving abroad. I will always have a soft spot for Alabama, but it no longer feels like “home” in the traditional sense. My home, in my heart, lies across an ocean.

Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.


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