Survive vs Thrive

So I ended my last post with a phrase that I wan to go on a tanget about it – “are we thriving or just surviving” and because this is my blog, I can talk and rant and do anything I want and you just have to deal with it. Haha!

I remember one time I told Shelby (my therapist, remember?) that I didn’t want to “just survive.” I wanted to “thrive” during this life. Living every moment to its fullest. Doing anything and everything all the time. Giving 120% and beyond.

Of course, because it was therapy, she asked me to explore that further. Why was “thriving” so improtant to me and why was “surviving” so below my radar? Surviving means you are doing things that are nessesary to stay alive – water, shelter, food, etc… So why was surviving not the priority? Why was I trying to skip that important first step and go straight into thriving? Don’t you need to know how to survive in order to thrive?

I’ve already talked about this before, but my brain has wired itself to think that I have to prove that I’m deserving of this second chance I have. I have this hunger to show myself that I am capible and strong enough. Enough for what?? I don’t know how to discribe it… Anyway, there is something driving me to go waaaaaaayyyy past my limists, even though I know it’s ridiculous, I have to do it and if I don’t do it according to these made up specifications in my head, I’m failing.

And this is why depression is so hard for me, personally. I can see where I’m “failing” and my mental voice (I call her Fantacy Sarah – I’ll introduce you to her later in another post soon) is yelling at me because I’m failing and I know I’m failing but not wanting to do anything about it so she just yells louder.

Talking to Shelby about all of this definitly helped me recognize my need for going “above and beyond” my human needs and desires. I have learned that, yes, it’s okay to clean the kitchen when all you were planning on doing was unloading the dishwasher BUT it’s equally okay to only put dinner’s dishes in the sink. Those dishes are in the sink instead of on the table! That’s fantastic!

I know it can sound a little condecending, but I’m still learing and right now that kind of reinforcement helps me. When I feel like I’ve “failed,” I look at all the things that did get done today instead of what didn’t. That also kind of ties into to how important visual productivity is to me.

If you know me, you’d know that I’ll usually pick to clean the living room (from top to bottom) over taking a nap. Why is that? What’s going on with Fantacy Sarah that makes her feel like cleaning is more important? This is something Shelby helped me with – QUESTION IT. Figure out where that desire is coming from, understand why it’s important to me, make a decision, and then be okay with that decision.

So using this strategy and my mental percentage mesuring I’ve talked about before, I am now pretty well equipt with being kinder to myself and allowing myself to thrive in the ways I want…rather that what I thought it meant, even if that means I’m “just surviving” for a hot minute. 😉

She’s alive!?

I’m back! Life has been keeping me busy and crazy. (I also kinda got locked out of the blog, but I figured out how to get back in! Hooray!!)

So, what has happened since my last update in April? I think you all know what time it is…. PHOTO DUMP and STORY TIME, because that’s all I know how to do apparently! Haha!

In June, we went down to Ogden for some family time with the Taynors and came home the next day with someone’s wrist broken…. I bet you don’t even need three guesses to know who that was! 😉

Ricky was being “the fun uncle” and attempted to play on a hoverboard. He didn’t even get both feet on it before he went down. We we at my sister-in-laws house, so luckily we were literally right down the street from an urgent care. Our cute nieces came with us (one of them was our driver 😉 ) and provided us with some wonderful distractions at the hospital. In Utah, the put him in a splint and told us to call the orthopedic surgen when we got back into town.

Before that could happen, we went back into the ER because of pain. They readjusted his splint, gave him meds that worked much better for him, and sent us home.

Since then, he has seen the orthopedic surgen, gotten 2 different casts, and gon to physical therapy. Frustrating and annoyingly slow, but he’s been healing.

In July my family came down from Alaska to visit! It’s still very weird to think about… But they love it up there!

We also got to go camping with Ricky’s family – including extended family that I hadn’t met yet since they don’t live in Idaho or Utah! It was a wonderful weekend fo lots of laughing, no sleep, and way too much dust! Since Ricky had a cast during this trip, we were spoiled and got to sleep in the camper with Mom and Dad. I gotta tell you, as much as I LOVE camping, there’s something really nice about sleeping in a bed.

I super slacked on pictures, but this was taken from my bed one of the mornings! It was absolutly beautiful!

Ricky got a second job! He’s working with Superior Water and Air as one of their vendors, so now, we work together!! It’s been fun to have a buddy to talk to when I’m standing there doing nothing at my job! Haha!

So that’s been our summer! It’s been busy but we are still alive. Are we thriving or just surviving, who knows!? But that’s okay because life is wonderful no matter what!

Happy Heartaversary #9

April 21st snuck up on me this year. Kinda happens when you’re busy living life. I’m so grateful for that blessing!!

9 years!? How in the world has it been that long? It feels like a life time ago…but, at the same time, it feels like yesterday.

Every year my family and I try to do an act of service to pay it forward. It’s been so fun to include friends, roommates, and my spouse/his family in it too throughout the years!

Ricky and I have a stamp card for the Soda Shak and only had two more until our free drink…so this year, we bought the two and then left the freebie for someone else! (It wasn’t very grand, but that’s not the point.) Hopefully it put a smile on someone’s face and made them feel loved. ❤❤❤

I don’t remember much from the day my angel heart became mine, but things I do remember are so vivid….

• Riding in the elevator, surrounded by nurses, doctors, iv poles, and monitors with Mom in bed with me hugging me so tight and Dad/Grandpa Brown giving me a blessing

• Feeling SO guilty and not wanting to tell any of my heart buddies or their families because that means they didn’t get to have it

I remember the feelings of gratitude, happiness, excitement, grief, terror, uncertainty… So many emotions all at once for someone so young. I’m so grateful that I have since been able to talk to Shelby and learn about how all of these things have shaped me into who I am and how that Sarah has helped me be so strong!

I’m so grateful for my parents and their continued everything my entire life. I’m grateful for my siblings and even though most of them didn’t really understand what was going on entirely, I’m so grateful they had so much faith and willing to just go along with everything as it happened – and the ones that did, thanks for still going with it.  I’m forever grateful for my heart angel, their family, and their gift of a second chance. And of course, I’m so grateful for My Father in Heaven and His love.

Along with gratitude for ALL of them, I am so thankful for all of the other prayers and fasts and love and support and everything that has been done in my behalf! So, thank you! ❤

Welcome to BBW, Sarah!

I started down a new path last week. After almost two years of staying home and hiding from everything, I got a job! I applied, got a call, and had an interview, went in for paperwork and videos last Thursday and I had my very first real shift on Monday. Yay!

In a span of a week, I went from nervous to excited back to nervous all the way to legitimately scared. It’s such a big change. I haven’t been “out in the world” for so long. How in the heck am I supposed to be safe AND still live life?!

The night before I was supposed to go in for my first day, I was laying in bed in total panic attack mode. Ricky was at work so I was at home by myself trying to sleep. I started crying and honestly kind of freaking out. I immediately got on my knees begging my Heavenly Father to help me calm down.

As I was finishing up my prayer, my sweet husband came home and found me surrounded by my emotional wreckage. He held me while I cried and talked, offering no solutions or fixes, just hugs. When I was out of tears, he offered to give me a blessing. It was exactly what I needed. We stayed up a little longer and had some ice cream. (Ice cream ALWAYS makes things better!!) Then went to bed.

The first day was pretty boring – paperwork and videos. Yesterday was much more fun. I got to actually be on the floor doing things. It’s definitely going to be a learning curve, but I’ve done retail jobs before so I’m not super worried about it. Everyone I’ve met has been super sweet and excited for me to be there. I’m looking forward to getting to know these girls!

As for my anxiety about it all, it’s still there. It’s always going to be there. I just need to pay attention to it and really be in tune with myself. I know that I can do things that seem scary. I know that I’ve got so many people in my corner who love and support me. I know that I can turn to my Father in Heaven anytime I need that extra hand to hold. And finally, I know that this is going to be a fantastic experience!!

Sitting vs Running

If you’ve been around for a while, follow me on social media, or know me at all, you know that I love books. I’m always reading. I always have a book with me where ever I go. A few weeks ago, I pounded three 500+ page books in less than a week. Great books. Loved ’em all! As I was picking out a fourth, Ricky mentioned that maybe I need a break. “Take a breather.” So I did. I didn’t like it.

I’ve read books to escape real life and my anxious brain my whole life. Reading isn’t just entertaining for me. It’s a way to get away from my thoughts. Duh. That makes sense. Everyone has something like that in their lives – books, food, tv, games, drugs… The list goes on. There’s a line between “loving ____” and “running away.” It’s important to find that balance.

Now that I’m talking to Shelby, there’s been new things/feelings that were coming up. Things I didn’t necessarily want to deal with. It’s a lot to work through and it’s very uncomfy. I don’t like how I feel or what I’m thinking, so I pick up my book. Easy.

I had a week between the book binge escape and my next appointment with Shelby, so I talked to Ricky, we decided that I needed to take that week to sit in my feelings. Try to navigate my way through it.

It was a really hard, long week. I could really see what reading did for me. But I didn’t want to keep mentally running away. Talking to Shelby is important but it’s not going to do anything if I don’t take the things I’m learning and use them. So I didn’t read. Instead, I would try to work through what my anxiety was saying. There were lots of tears that week.

When I finally had my conversation with Shelby, I told her about my week, the binge reading, the not reading/sitting in my thoughts and feelings, and what I’d learned. She was so proud of me for learning about myself and how I handled the whole thing. She was happy that I was willing to do what I need to to grow.

My homework that week was to start questioning why I’m reading. Every time I pick up my book, I have actively stop and ask myself: Why am I reading? What am I avoiding? Or is a book is what I’m craving? I’ve learned how to analyze the reasons I’m wanting to read. If I am not trying to avoid anything or if I’m just really wanting to read, I go for it. If I’m running away from a feeling or an anxiety, I have to stop and figure out what it is and why.

It’s been a couple weeks since that appointment and I’m doing better with the balance. I’m still reading, but for happiness and entertainment. Because I’m reading with purpose, I’ve noticed that I’m reading slower and enjoying the story more. I am a fast reader, regardless, so I’m still plowing through books pretty fast, but it’s with joy now!

Learning To Not Be Okay

In talking with Shelby (my fantastic counselor and new non-biased best friend), I have discovered that I put a ridiculous and overwhelming amount of pressure on myself. Pressure on myself for what? To be a good wife, a good daughter/sister, a good friend, a good disciple, a good human…. The list goes on and on.

I have also learned that I’m really good at judging myself when I don’t reach the impossible goals I set. I have to learn to be more compassionate with myself. When a friend comes to me with a problem, I don’t judge. I love. I wouldn’t question every little thing they did. Well, Sarah is just as important as that friend. I need to love her just as much. I have to understand that I’m not perfect – and that’s okay. I also need to ground my expectations.

It’s so hard. I’ve been told my whole life that I’m strong and that I can handle anything. I have now burned that into how I live my life. If I’m not strong, then that means I’ve failed. If I can’t handle the things that are going on in my life, then everyone was wrong, right?

I’ve also constructed this Idea that in order to show my heart angel how grateful I am for their gift, I can’t say no. I have to live my life 110%! If I don’t then I’ve disappointed them and showed they that I didn’t deserve it. And on top of that, because I was such a sick kid, there was so much I “missed out on” so I have to make up for that in my adult life because I’m healthy now.

If I’m not thriving, then what am I doing? “Just” surviving isn’t an option. I have to be strong and take everything with a smile on my face. And if I don’t, then something’s wrong with me? Why did I not do it right? Why? Annnnd….que the self judgement.

Now, I know that these are just thoughts trying to protect me and they are not true, but they’re there and they are loud. And they are valid. Every thought I have is valid. But not every thought serves me. I’m still learning how to ask what the purpose of the thoughts are. I’m going to be learning for a while. This is a hard thing to readjust.

So for now, I am practicing being compassionate towards myself, understanding that it’s okay to simplify my goals, and know that I’m still doing a good job at living life if all that happens that day is waking up.

Today was one of those days. I was very much in my feelings today. Life’s hard and I’m tired of it being hard. I haven’t been too understanding or compassionate to Sarah today. And I know that I should be and so I judge myself on how I’m lacking and it turns into a big old circle. Round and round.

But it’s okay to not be okay. Sometimes surviving is the best we can do. So, I’m trying put a stop to my circle and tell myself that I am doing my best and it’s okay that my best today was getting out of bed and taking a shower. That’s awesome! I’m so proud of myself!

Sometimes I slip back into the circle, but that’s okay. I’m still learning. I can’t wait to tell Shelby all about how hard today was. I can’t wait to tell her the moments that broke me because I know she’ll be proud of me for trying. She’ll tell me that I’m amazing for doing the best I could. And you know what? She’ll be right! I did good today. It’s okay that It was hard and you know what? Tomorrow is a new day to keep trying!

Sarah’s Head

It’s kinda crazy in here… In my head. There’s so much going on all the time. It’s always busy with something or other – singing a song, quoting a movie in its entirety, thinking about the book that I’m currently reading (or the one I just finished), worrying about situations that my or may not be in my control, being self-conscious about how others see me, questioning everything I do, wondering if I’m living up to my potential or if I’m wasting my second chance. See? It’s a little insane being in my head. Lots of whiplash!

You see, I was “unofficially” diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and maybe ptsd. I say “unofficially” because at my last annual heart appointment, I mentioned that I was struggling in that area of my life – the mental side. My heart team called in the physiologist that works with the team, and we had a little conversation. He asked me what was happening and I told him that I had been “sad a lot” and “I wasn’t always happy like I used to be.”

We talked a bit before he told me that he was pretty sure that I had depression and anxiety…with isn’t a big surprise with what I have been through throughout my life. I guess it’s a common diagnosis, especially in transplant patients. Since then, I’ve been on a dose of an anti-depressant and meeting with a wonderful counselor!

Since that heart appointment, I have actually received a diagnosis. I have General Anxiety Disorder. What does that mean, personally for me? For me, it means that I am overanalyze and question everything every single moment of the day. One example of this that makes me smile is the night before I met my counselor. I was laying in bed, trying to go to sleep, wondering what I should wear the next morning for my appointment. It was the first time we were going to meet each other. I wanted to give a good first impression. I struggled with this all night.

The next morning, after worrying out loud, Ricky reminded me that it didn’t matter. She was going to see me of good days, bad days, and all days. It didn’t matter. It kind of helped ease my mind, but I still struggled with making sure I was cute and put together. It turned out that it actually didn’t matter, and since then, she’s seen me in all sorts of appearances. Haha.

Another one that I struggle with and am exploring with her is my constant questioning of “if I’m a good wife.” I was talking to her one day and we were discussing the different spirals that I often find myself trying to not drown in on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. She asked me about what my most often visited one was. I told her, “if I’m a good wife or not.” With that thought, I immediately started down the rabbit hole. The sink was still full of dishes, the laundry wasn’t folded, I hadn’t made any plans for dinner yet, the house was a mess, the garbage needed taking out… Everything on my “not done” list led to some pretty dark stuff.

Once she was able to help me out of the spiral, we talked about what it means to be a “good wife” and what things I’m supposed to do to accomplish that. I told her that my mom is a good wife and so are both of my grandmothers. Good wives are loving, kind, supportive, and so on. I also explained that I know my husband loves me even if the dishes aren’t done and that he’s told me that he’s willing to help with things that I don’t get done, but my brain is focused on that he’s at work all day and I’m home so I should be handling the house.

We talked about that for a minute and then she mentioned a really interesting thing. From the beginning of time, we’ve had thoughts… Some of them true, some of them not. But whatever the thoughts are saying, they’re there to protect us, even if it’s worse case scenario. “Oh, I’m hungry…” (okay, eat so your tummy doesn’t hurt) or “I have to make dinner before Hubby gets home… (otherwise he’ll leave you for someone who actually makes him food.) See? It’s crazy stuff that our thoughts come up with.

With help, I have been able to understand, rationalized, and acknowledge the thoughts I have in my head without following them down their individual spirals. It’s been interesting to take that time to realize how much power I’ve been giving these thoughts.

Some of them are good and do me well, some of them are irrational and serve me no purpose, and some of them are silly and make me smile. I’m still trying to differentiate the difference and question (superficially for right now) why I’m having them. I’m excited to explore my mental health and take control of my anxieties with the help of my fantastic counselor! Wish me luck!

Vulnerable

Over the years, I’ve struggled with letting myself be vulnerable on my blog. I debate with myself every time I get ready to post something less than happy. Not because life isn’t hard, but because I want to be a source of light and hope.

There have been points in my transplant journey that weren’t always sunny, There have been posts about heartbreak and starting over. There have been moments where I have put myself into a vulnerable place here.

And. That’s. Okay.

This blog is my journal. This is where I can authentically be me in my thoughts and words. So, I would like to promise you (and myself) that I will try to do better at that. <3

Thoughts With Sarah

I’ve been trying to figure out how to best express my thoughts and opinions about the COVID-19 pandemic and everything surrounding it without causing offence. I knew that I wanted to put my views into the world. I wanted people to know what was going on in my head… BUT I didn’t want to cause any arguments or issues because I know everyone has their own beliefs, thoughts, and opinions.

I also know that my beliefs, thoughts, and opinions are valid and I wanted to share them in a way that is safe for me. After some thinking, I realized that that’s part of the reason I have this blog. So, here I am and here are my thoughts…

I was born with a sick heart and because of how sick I was, my body was dying. After lots of surgeries and medical intervention, I was blessed to receive an angel heart seven years ago. This heart is a foreign being in my own body, since the antibodies and stuff don’t match me. When our bodies don’t recognize and match other things, it attacks it. Since my heart doesn’t match me, my body is constantly trying to attack it.

To help prevent this, I am on several different medications called immunosuppressants. These meds lower my immune system. One of the side effects on being suppressed is I get sick way easier than other people who aren’t on these meds.

As an immunosuppressed person, I am in the category of “high risk” people. That means that if I somehow catch this horrible illness, I am sent straight to the hospital…and maybe live. No, I’m not being dramatic. That’s my life.

When all of this started back at the beginning of March, Ricky and I were so blessed to have already had moved in and living with my parents until things became more normal. It was a huge relief to have had their love, support, and company during the shutdown/quarantine. During this time, we all kicked our already obsessive sanitizing habits into high gear – constantly wiping down door knobs and light switches, washing our hands continuously, and Dad even reinstalled a sanitizer station by the front door. All of us joked that “this is what our previous training was preparing us for!” Since we were already in the habit, it wasn’t weird to be doing this.

While everyone was hiding in their homes, bathing in sanitizer, I was reminded how normal this was for me, my family…and other immunosuppresed people. I saw several “now you know what MY life is like” or “welcome to my world” posts all over social media by people who have issues with their immune system. Yes, the “high risk population” are in a constant state of anxious cleaning and paranoia that we could get sick.

After my transplant, for quite a while, I work a mask. It helped protect me from breathing in germs. I wore it to church, work, the doctor, shopping, to my friends’ houses, outside…everywhere. Anytime I was around other people, I wore that mask. To me, my mask was my shield.

Several officials, including health professionals and scientists, have recommended that we continue to wear masks when we are in public places and around people, along with correct social distancing. There have been studies that show how effective this is as a preventative method, both to ourselves and for those around us.

The world is scary and we want to be “normal” again. But how can we do that if we are all so divided in our thoughts and actions? Getting back to “normal” isn’t going to work unless we are strong and work together in one common cause – doing everything we can to keep each other and ourselves safe. In trying to figure out how I wanted to write this post, I came up with a really cool metaphor. Are ya ready?

When you bake a cake and follow the directions exactly, you have a delicious cake at the end. When you choose to not include one of the ingredients, or don’t put all of it in, the cake doesn’t turn out…and you’re not going to want to eat it. Well, it’s the same thing as what’s going on right now! When we do what we’ve been asked, we will get the result we want – we will all be kept safe and healthy – but if we are divided and don’t do things all the way, it’s not going to work and turn out the way we’re expecting.

There is a song that I learned growing up that pops into my head almost every morning. I’d like to share the words with you:

“I want to be kind to everyone, for that is right you see. So I say to myself, remember this: ‘kindness begins with me!'”

(Words and music by Clara W. McMaster)

There are so many different ways we get our information and everything is so confusing… I totally understand why we’re divided. I think the very best way to get through the rest of whatever this is is to just be kind and respect one another. We all have our own experiences and opinions that we base all of our actions on. I don’t know why some people choose not to wear their mask because I don’t know what they’ve been through, but please don’t be mean because I wore mine.

We Moved!

Happy Sunday everyone. I just wanted to write a quick post to update everyone that we are back! Wanna know the story as to why Pocatello? Well, too bad, because I’m gonna tell it anyway….

The July after we got married, we came up to spend the 4th with my family. As we were sitting on the soccer fields, Ricky looked over at me and smiled. I asked him what he was thinking and he told me, “We gotta move back.”

No way! I thought. Why in the world would we need to come back to a place we both didn’t want to be in our adult life? I protested and he told me we’d talk about it later.

Later came and he told me that he had received a prompting that we were supposed to move back to Idaho but didn’t know when. I still had a good year left of school, so we decided that our move would have to wait until after I graduated. We took our decision to the Lord and He was okay with it.

Fast forward to the next years July/August – I’m done with school and once again, Ricky got the prompting that we needed to move to Pocatello. We lightly talked about it and then kinda pushed it out of our minds. We didn’t want to go. We loved our life that we had created in Utah.

A few weeks later, Ricky had a super strong prompting that the move was something we really needed to ponder because it would be huge for our little family. We discussed, fasted, and prayed, asking our Father in Heaven when. “Soon.” Okay, well how soon?

The answer we had been searching for came when Ricky started his job at Maverick in December. The manager told him that if we could wait to move until February/March, we would be able to be transferred. We’d move with Ricky having a job already! It was perfect!!

About this same time, Jodee and Dick call us up for a family meeting. We sit down with them and they proceeded to tell us that Jodee’s niece was getting married at the end of February and they were looking for a place to live. Since we’d be out by then, it would be perfect! Everything that was happening looked like all the puzzle pieces were lining up!

I was getting excited….even if it was Pocatello we were moving to. We both have family in Pocatello, so even though I felt like there was nothing there for me, I’d have them! We were “looking” for housing and getting ready. As things started to get closer, it started to feel more real. I started to dig my heels in a little harder. I’m leaving Utah. My life was here. This is were my friends are. This is were our family started. I didn’t want to leave. This was something I didn’t want to do and didn’t know why I had to do it.

After some personal pondering and some wonderful conversations with my Father in Heaven, I was told that I needed to trust my husband. I was reminded that my sweetheart is the priesthood holder in our family and he can see things that I can’t. I also relearned that I needed to have faith in my Father and His plans for my life.

About the time we were getting ready to start seriously looking for houses and a job for me, Ricky slipped on the ice and had to be taken to the ER. (I swear this boy is in the hospital more than I have ever been!😉) We found out that his fall had caused some beautiful internal bruising and at least one cracked rib. The doctor excused him from work for a couple of days and then added “light duty” for at least two weeks. His job was more demanding than what he could do, so he was let go.

So with him not working or getting transferred when we moved, we didn’t know what to do. We talked, cried, and prayed with our Heavenly Father about what our next steps needed to be since our plan we had worked out was ruined.

But it wasn’t ruined! The plan just needed a little tweaking and a little bit of speeding up. We called my parent’s and asked if we could move in with them for a bit while we looked for jobs and could afford a place of our own. I put my two weeks notice in at work and we started packing! Those two weeks went by so fast! Before we knew it, everything we owned was in the back of a U-haul.

Here we are, two weeks into living in Pocatello again. The reasons Heavenly Father has for us being here have started to show themselves little by little. Some are still kind of fuzzy, but I think I’m starting to be okay with the move now. Haha. It’s been fun to be close to siblings again and building those relationships back up. We are excited for our new adventure and look forward to all the learning and growing we are going to get to do together!