Back from the Brink

The Brink

Well shoot. Never thought I’d be sharing this. This is really scary for me, but I want people to know so they can find hope, for themselves or others. It was internet sites like afsp.org that brought me back from the brink of despair and prevented my suicide. One of the major symptoms of depression is irrationality, so even though I was surrounded by loved ones and opportunities, I felt completely isolated, alone, unloved, a failure, trapped, and completely sunk under everything, with no way out. It was simply too much. How could a failure like me even have anything worth giving? I felt that I didn’t, and thus nothing worth living for.

A scientist at heart, I decided to do some research on the web on the best way to commit my suicide. What I found instead were complete strangers reaching out to me in love and compassion to let me know that I was actually and indeed very much loved, wanted, and needed. That there was a way out. That I could do this thing called living, even though it was hard and felt completely and utterly pointless.

I read these sites every night for weeks, months. Even years later I reflected on the love I’d found from complete strangers who got me, who sympathetically understood my burden without knowing anything about the details, only that it was hard. Each night I wept bitterly.

It would be years before I no longer felt the need to end my existence, and many more before I regularly thought of it as a viable option, and there are times still when I wonder if it may be a solution.

However, I found a way out of those troubles that plagued me. It did take time, but on the other side of it I discovered that my talents and skills, the very ones I thought inept and inadequate, were in high demand! That I was wanted, and that I had the power and ability to change my life, which I did. Drastically! The biggest change being me and the value I see in myself, for the troubles keep coming and always will (that’s life after all!), but I am more than equal to them.

Thank goodness 10+ years ago someone saw the value within me without even ever seeing me, that knew I had a calling and purpose in life, that I was needed, and that I was loved deeply, everlastingly, and abidingly.

Let me just reassure you, if you are as I was and still sometimes am – whether you struggle with depression or whether it’s just a bad day, month, or year – those statements in the last paragraph apply to you also!

YOU ARE AMAZING!

YOU are loved everlastingly, abidingly, and deeply. YOU have great, infinite value. I see your heart, and I see it as big and wide and loving as the ocean. YOU are meant for great things. Your unique experiences, skills, talents, hopes, and dreams are NEEDED. You are the only one that can fill that role. Your wild, courageous, meek, warrior heart, oracle mind, brilliant talent is irreplaceable. No one can accomplish the things you were called to do. I sincerely believe that we were ordained to callings in this life: all of them unique. There are and will always be things all through your life that only you were meant to do. YOU ARE AMAZING! YOU matter to Him.

The hardest thing about life sometimes is living it. I’m ever so grateful to those that help me daily, weekly, yearly, or even just that once. The Lord asked us to bear one another’s burdens. Then he gave us unique gifts and talents to share with others, to fill their needs and their lives as no one else could because no one else is who we are!

To the YOU that was/is like me: now I find strength in carrying on because if little ol’ me can carry on, certainly YOU can too! Not because your life is easier, but because YOU are more than equal to the task!

YOU \ggg{\sum{\text{your troubles}}}

YOU are much, much greater than the sum of all your troubles! (The  \ggg{} symbol is used in mathematics to indicate a major inequality.)

A joy beyond measure

As a side note: This is why I created Nancy’s DoGooders. I have rarely found such relief from my burden than when I was using my unique experiences, gifts, and talents for others: whether that was through my work, as a volunteer, as a much needed friend, or as family. Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure! (We’d love to have you like our Nancy’s DoGooders facebook page to join us in our missions!)

The Walk

As I mentioned in Just when you think what you aren’t making a difference, my friend Paige, a fellow sufferer, suggested Nancy’s DoGooders next mission be to help raise awareness and understanding for suicide and depression by participating in the SLC “Walk Out of the Darkness” on September 19, 2015. We’ll be wearing green. And if you’d like to show your support even if you can’t attend, then Paige came up with a brilliant idea for you to do so! Please check out the Nancy’s DoGooders Special Op Mission: Out of the Darkness Walk for how!

Already in sharing my participation in this event with others I’ve felt lives be touched, and who knew how much it would touch my own?! I’ve rarely shared these dark moments before (only with those very close to me). It scares me witless to do so! (Also, I can’t believe I thought witless was spelled with an ‘h’!) I’ve cried through typing every letter of this post. But if it even gives one person the branch they need to hold on to, then I gladly share.

“Never give up. Never Surrender!” ~Commander Taggert

There is hope. There is much mire, but you are more than equal to the whirlwinds of life. You are an infinite being with power, and resources to call on in your hours of need. God doesn’t always, sometimes feels like never, relieve us of our heaviest burdens, but he will always be with you as you strive to be with him. He will always come to your aid, in ways you never dreamed of, usually small and simple, sometimes grand and glorious. Hold out for those moments. They are oh-so-worth-it! You are too!

All my love, prayers, and angels to aid your way,

Fancy Nancy

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Just when you think you aren’t making a difference…

State of anxiety

So… I’ve been in a state of anxiety ever since this summer when I conceived the idea of a group of people using their God-given gifts (Which sounds silly, but is accurate: they are gifts God gave us after all!) and talents to uplift the lives of others.

Then someone challenged me (Thanks Mindy!) to show up to that vision and make it happen!

I about did all the things that people do when they’re afraid: crap my pants, scream, cry, I think I actually threw up a little, and I did hide!

I know what I am doing is right!

But then I did it. I showed up to my vision in hope and faith that it would show up to me. I did it because my friend Mindy told me that it doesn’t matter if I end up looking like a fool while doing what I feel I was meant to do. She told me to trust my instincts and spiritual insights. I made that a daily declaration:

I fall in love with my ideas. I trust my instincts and spiritual insights. I follow my heart, no matter how scary or how foolish I may appear to others. I know what I am doing is right. I show up to my vision, and my vision shows up to me.

She was going through this herself: showing up to a vision that scared her, and that encouraged me as well. I found an image online that inspired me with this quote:

“She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans.” ~Kobi Yamada

Dreams into plans!

Time to be this “she”! Time to make can’ts: cans, and dreams: plans! So I bucked up and stuttered my way through inviting one of my best friends to join me on the journey. I totally messed it up. I texted her crazy stuff, didn’t make sense, it was awkward, and I was so embarrassed! It took me a week to “trick” her into seeing me one-on-one so I could explain myself in person. When we were one-on-one I was too nervous to come out with it and instead did some venting. Then while she was talking I rudely interrupted her to tell her what I’d come over for! I explained my vision and how I wanted her to join me, and she, amazingly, was pleased and excited to join me — and, might I add, hadn’t thought anything weird or awkward about the texts I’d sent! I knew some people would not feel drawn to my cause, but all the sudden here was this wonderful woman telling me how honored she was that I asked her first, how much she already believed in my vision, and how excited she was to be my right-hand hench-woman! Little does she know how much she is MY ROCK!

With that victory in hand, I invited my little sister to join us. I knew she was busy with PA school, but I needed her on my side. She was honored to join us — and does all she can in the midst of her busy schedule, which is really just hearing me talk about it and supporting me. And all that is all I need from my left-hand hench-woman!

I have since invited one other to join our team who declined, but that’s okay. I wanted him to know he was invited, and it’s okay that he doesn’t feel pulled to my cause, that his life is calling him currently elsewhere. I love him just as much as I ever did! And undaunted because I actually know he has a part to play with us in the future which he will love, and he will be amazing at!

Nancy’s DoGooders, a Team of Pure Awesomeness!

On August 31st, 2015, we did our first good deed together, Paige and me, and it was amazing! Paige and I, mostly Paige (I just gathered the information, helped with suggestions, and then cooked us dinner) made homemade pies for a bake sale to raise money for a baby’s heart surgery for a family I knew personally. And as we were doing it I knew my vision of doers of good needed something more! So I created the facebook page Nancy’s DoGooders, a Team of Pure Awesomeness that same day to encourage others to share their gifts and talents to uplift and brighten the lives of others.

That was when the panic started! I just told the world what I was doing. I just told them my vision! I just, what did I just do?! AH!

Should I just give up? Should I quit?

I immediately started scheduling doing good quotes for the page and came up with the idea of simple weekly missions. I went through my list of friends and invited people that had been generous to me. A couple people liked the page! And my aunt liked my page description! So with that courage in hand I went through my friends list again and invited a couple more people. I worried and fretted. I was so scared to just invite people openly to join. Not many likes. Should I just give up? Should I quit?

Never give up! Never surrender!

As I pondered on these things, the spirit brought to my recollection two of my favorite quotes:

“Never give up! Never surrender!” ~Commander Taggart, from Galaxy Quest

(Which just goes to prove that even a parody of science fiction can have lasting effects on our lives. Whatever your calling, follow it!)

“Never, never, never, never give up!” ~Winston Churchhill.

(From a man the world admires!)

and in cleaning out my closet, a task I was doing to hide from my calling, I found this one:

“When you cannot make up your mind between two evenly balanced courses of action, choose the BOLDER.” ~WJ Smith

Worth it for the one!

These three bulstered my own tenacious spirit, and I discovered that it doesn’t matter how many people like the page or the posts, or hates the group, or dislikes me. If Nancy’s DoGooders facebook page and missions helps just one person show up to their gifts and talents to help others, if all the many posts only brighten the life of one, and even if all the silly things I do makes only one person happy, that is enough. Just one is more than plenty! The worth of a soul, even just the one!, is GREAT in the sight of God. So once again I carried on through the mire. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, what I look like, what I think it might appear to others to be! It matters only that I’m heading in the direction that I feel God has called me to go in, and that makes my heart sing! And that’s scary!

Our next mission!

Yesterday, September 9, 2015, my friend Paige, my right-hand hench-woman, got in my car to go shopping with me, and one of the first things she said to me (after handing over the potato chips that she checked the ingredients list on to make sure I could enjoy them with her! <sigh> She’s so awesome!) was, “I have our next mission.” I will honestly share here what I felt: excitement, and dread. What if she suggested a mission I wasn’t interested in participating in? I think she was feeling the same, What if she isn’t interested in participating in my idea? But thank goodness she didn’t let that hold her back! Her project was amazing! It showed she understood exactly what my vision was about! It showed she knew me!

And so Nancy’s DoGooders next Special Ops Mission is to participate in the “Out of the Darkness Walk” event in Salt Lake City, UT on September 19, 2015 to help raise awareness about depression, suicide, and help those in need of hope. We made it a special ops mission on Nancy’s DoGooders page, and then posted about it with our personal donation pages on our facebook timelines.

Nancy's FB post about the Out of the Darkness Walk SLC 2015

What was I thinking?

I personally did this at 2am this morning. That’s when the panic attack hit me. I have been really sick for several months. I am on the up and up, but I don’t know that I will actually be able to participate in the actual walk. AH! I was so nervous what people might think about all my Nancy’s DoGooders stuff, and about that personal post. What was I thinking?

I didn’t want to get out of bed!

I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. I certainly didn’t want to check facebook and see all the people who were ridiculing me and didn’t care — at least that was I was thinking! But I did want to check to see if our friend Alina had joined our team, so I braved the misty waters and noticed that not only had Alina joined our team, but that our little team had already received donations! Someone had donated on my personal page! WHAT?!?!

I am on the right track with the right people behind me! How blessed I am!

My dear dear friend Tammy Sauer had donated and left me this beautiful message:

“I LOVE you for doing this…Dad I miss you everyday!!! Lets help put a stop to suicide…” ~Tammy Sauer

I broke down in tears immediately! Now that was worth it! It was all worth it for Tammy and her dad! I immediately thanked her and asked her permission to share, and she immediately gave it! What an amazing woman! Then I thanked my Paige for thinking of this mission! Wow! Two great women!

That’s how I know what I am doing is right. That’s how I know I am on the right track with the right people behind me! How blessed I am!

Victories piling up behind me!

I look back over the past couple weeks, COUPLE WEEKS!, And see the victories piling up behind me, the lives changed, the hearts that sing! And I remembered that I shouldn’t judge! I don’t know whose heart resonates with my own! I openly invite every one to join my Nancy’s DoGooders! You know what happened?! People immediately did!

If it makes your heart sing, join us! Join Nancy’s DoGooders!

The world has need of helping hands! It needs your strength, your unique experiences, God-given gifts and talents, and your compassion. That’s what Nancy’s DoGooders is about! Using your own uniqueness and overflowing love and joy to fill the needs of others in ways no one else can, because they’re not you! We need you! We need what you can do! If it makes your heart sing, then join us! Join Nancy’s DoGooders on facebook. We are only just starting, and there is so much more good to follow, so many great things you will do!

We can’t wait to have you on our side!

Gah! THIS IS SO EXCITING!

Living half a life

It can be hard to do what we dream. Hard because it’s new. It’s different to us. When we do new things we can look silly, people doubt us, we fall on our butts, we embarrass ourselves, we look incompetent, etc., etc., etc. But even if you end up looking silly, losing friends, stuttering your way through, and bumbling onward, at least you’re going for it! At least you’re striving for the life you were meant to live! That’s so much better than sitting back, doing nothing, and living half a life.

Enhance your study time and improve recall with Color-Highlighting

Since it’s back to school time what better time to talk about using colors to enhance your study time! (Note to teachers: this can help you in preparing study aids as well!)

Why willy nilly color highlighting (including the lack there of) isn’t benefiting you

If you’re like most people, you probably only use one color to highlight, or just whatever pen, pencil, or highlighter you have to hand. While it may seem more efficient — who doesn’t have a yellow highlighter hanging around? — it’s less efficient in processing/memorizing the information and scanning the text to review. It also won’t necessarily trigger the parts of the brain you want triggered when reading and reviewing certain passages.

If all you use is one color to highlight, it can fade into the background and you can miss important points, vocabulary words and definitions, or important do’s or don’ts.

If instead you just willy nilly swap between colors with whatever is on hand, your brain will toss out all those colors as if they were just one because you have no method behind the use of your colors.

So here, I’ll share with you a SIMPLE method of what I like to call Color-Highlighting that has worked for me; it helps in the first pass to parse the information, and it helps in reviewing old texts so I quickly find the information again!

What’s the Benefit of Color-Highlighting?

Having a purpose behind which colors you use in highlighting and when greatly helps your brain parse data: putting it into correct categories and helping you remember and recall that data. If you have a method behind your color scheming then you are on the right track!

But Color-Highlighting is more than that. This isn’t your typical color coding: where you just put like objects in a group by using similar colors. It’s about assigning those like objects, in this case text, to colors that will trigger the right part of the brain so you store it properly as well! It can even calm you down while taking in all that new information, or stimulate the brain to process it!

Psychology of colors in learning

Before implementing a color strategy, it’s important to know how colors affect the brain. I got this image that explains it very well for all your basic colors from a fellow blogger:

ColorsForLearning

The Color-Highlighting Method

You can obviously use the colors in whatever way seems best for you, but based on the above information, this is what really works for me:

  • Yellow: for all miscellaneous highlighting. As it’s stimulating mental activity, and it’s light color making text easier to read, no wonder everyone uses it for all general and miscellaneous highlighting! Continue to do so for all your general highlighting needs. Whatever grabs you in the text is something to highlight! You’ll definitely go through more yellow than any other color. Stock up on yellow!
  • Blue: for vocabulary words (not the definition, just the word). Since blue is calming and is for things that may seem too complicated, it’s the perfect color to use when highlighting new vocabulary words so your brain doesn’t freak out over yet another new word! Keep calm! This also helps your eye instantly pick out those vocabulary words when you need to go back and look them up, and helps your brain store them!
  • Green: for vocabulary definitions (not the word). I like to use green to highlight the definitions as it immediately ties it to the blue highlighted vocab color since it’s an analogous color, but also since some definitions are longer and green is restful to the eye and brain, you can take in the definition in a relaxed manner.
  • Red: only for really important items and warning. Use red for highlighting warnings and you’ll always be able to avoid those don’ts and find them again quickly before doing a task incorrectly. Red stops the eye. So use sparingly.
  • Orange: as an invitation to do something. If there is a fun task the author is inviting you to perform a task — especially if it’s fun! — use orange. I love orange. It’s a great color to have on your desk as well. Not the whole desk! But have a stress relieving toy in that color and it’ll help give your mind a break when studying and reduce any boredom you may be experiencing.
  • Purple: you can really use for anything along side the other colors, including yellow, but I like to use it for quotes, important dates/people, and for highlighting code snippets. For quotes, I highlight things that really stand out to me personally, for myself. I’ve found them in all kinds of books, even the math ones! So it’s nice to be able to pick them out because of their purple color. For my programming books, it’s nice to be able to highlight some important code. That’s again when I use purple.

You can use additional colors: pink, gray, yellow-green, and others, all have good uses too. Just be consistent with how you use them. (See additional hints below.)

Additional Highlighting Tips

Use smooth crayons for highlighting

I prefer to use crayons in my highlighting as they don’t bleed through the page and “highlight” information on the other side, which makes for easier reading. They’re also softer in color than typical highlighters so it’s less of an assault to the eye. AND they don’t rub off nearly as easily as markers (which keeps you again from unintentional additional highlighting). I’m not talking about the box of crayons you had as a kid which come out chunky on the page and are a little too opaque for highlighting though. I like the twistables (affilate links!) or scripture marking crayons work even better as they are smooth crayons that were specifically designed to be used on thin, delicate pages!

Use lines and boxes to “highlight” long passages

If it’s a long passage that you really like, instead of highlighting the entire section and having an assault to your eyes (and also making it difficult if you want/need to use multiple colors to pick out smaller details), you can just use your highlighter to draw a line along side the text or box it. Sometimes I’ll even draw a brace around it and then write a few words in pencil to the side describing why I liked it or summing it all up. You can use this method with any color.

Keep a ball-point pen in black or dark grey or a pencil at hand as well.

Often it helps to write near a passage why you like it or a quick summary of it, and this is most easily done using a regular writing instrument. You can even do this for entire pages. At the top of the page write a short sentence or phrase that sums up the whole thing. You don’t have to do this for every page, but if it’s an important topic, or you want to be able to find the information again quickly when skimming the text, this is a great method. It’s also nice to have the pen/pencil to hand so you can jot down some of your own thoughts next to the text that sparked it. Do this only for thoughts you can write down succinctly. I’ve gained great insight into texts by rereading some of my own thoughts on it! Side note: pencils do rub and can blur over time. Same with gel pens (which can do it nearly instantaneously), but pall point pens, once dry, tend to stay put, so I typically choose that, unless my pages are really thin, or I prefer to be able to erase.

Why black or gray? So you can make general comments without interfering with the highlighting colors you’re already using. If you want to color-highlight what notes you’ve written you can also do that, and it’ll be lots easier to read if it’s in black.

Change color method as necessary per subject and textbook, but be consistent (or as consistent as possible!)

It’s okay to switch your highlighting techniques from text to text. Different subjects will call for different highlighting techniques (like using purple for quotes to code snippets, or highlighting important dates!). Just whatever color highlighting method you decide to use, be consistent throughout! And remember to make a key!

Have a Key

It can help to make yourself a key and keep it in the inner front cover of your text for yourself (and others!) to reference, so you are consistent with your highlighting throughout your text, and so that you can look back on what the different colors are for so you can then look for the color you need in the text. Even with a simple system you may forget what color to use where, but especially if your system is complicated (you’re using more than just the six basic colors), you’ll really want your key so you can be consistent throughout the text (and future texts).

More tips on studying

Of course there’s more to studying than just Color-Highlighting. That’s why I delve into my own study techniques in my next post!

But that’s it for now! Good luck!

It goes like this:

Zeke: I sick.
Me: I sick.
Dad: I sick.

Wait a couple minutes…

Me: I sick.
Zeke: I sick.
Dad: I sick.

Repeat.

It is also texted and IM’ed when it hurts too much to talk or if you’re in different rooms and can’t move. Email also works. Instagram isn’t recommended…

This is it. 101 posts on this blog. (Side note: is it 101st? or 101th? because they both sound ridiculous.) Anyway, it is an exciting milestone to have “published” so many posts. I feel like I should give a 101, or mention how when I hit 99 I thought of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” (only that didn’t really make sense since I’m counting up).

But I’ve decided to do neither. Or anything really. Doing nothing seems the best conservation of energy ever.

So there you have it. The 101st post. A waste of your time.

Perfect.

The Brit Diet Revisited and the New Diet

So this is kind of sad. I had to read my own blog to remember what I’ve posted about being sick/recovering; when I reread my “BRIT diet” post I realized quite quickly what BRIT really stands for: Broth, Rootbeer popsicles, Italian Icees, and Tea (in particular peppermint tea, my favorite). Sounds like the best clear liquid diet ever.

I am happy to report that I have long since abandoned said BRIT diet, but have picked up another new “diet” that this time is, I’m afraid, for life. There is no easy way to describe the diet I now eat.

I now eat a whole-plant, low fat, and mostly vegan diet, which also excludes yeast and other fungus, fermentation, corn and corn products, gluten, nuts, apples, grapes, bananas, artificial foods/flavorings/sweeteners, chocolate, maple sugar, processed vegetable oils, ginger, and going sparingly on a few other items. (As soon as anyone has a name for this diet, it’d sure help me out!)

This list makes it difficult for people to know what to feed me. So I made a google doc which I share with friends that seem interested in knowing the particulars of what I can and acan’t eat. (The doc includes lists of common foods that contain products of the foods I can’t eat.) I’ve also started inviting friends over to try out recipes with me. There have been some flops, and some impromptu deliciousness. It can be really fun to cook/bake when it’s all an adventure! I even sent out a recipe to my family for cream of vegetable soup. I think some of them might have fainted from shock: a recipe, from Nancy. They didn’t know I had any!

I am so much more sympathetic to people’s eating restrictions now. I had no idea how it cuts into social interactions and activities. When people ask me to lunch or over for dinner I either decline, bring my own food, or have to suggest a very picky restaurant or recipes that they may hate. But I have to be careful what I eat or I get really sick. So it is what it is.

Some days this list is really hard to stick too. Very, very, very few people are willing to eat, let alone buy and/or prepare foods with such restrictions. It makes it really hard to go to social events centered around food or go on long distance trips as there is hardly ever anything I can eat outside my own kitchen. And if there is any food I can consume, it is almost always just a couple raw fruits or vegetables. Nothing with real flavor, or heartiness. This is okay. I don’t expect people to go out of there way to cook just for little ole me. I’m just stating that it makes it hard because I LOVE FOOD, and now I can only eat some of it, carefully prepared and no one but me seems to eat like this! 😦 I’m a busy girl too, so the times when I haven’t had time to eat a meal, or have a snack on hand and I give into the temptation of a delicious smelling lasagna made with cheese and whole wheat pasta, I think, “Nah, it’s not that bad. I’ll just have a little.” And even that little makes me sick. Ah! It’s not their fault. It’s mine. But it makes me not want to attend these events, or visit friends at their places. It’s easier for me to stick to the foods I can eat when I’m surrounded by them, instead of by all foods I can’t. Just today I was at my sister’s and I made the comment that I’m pretty sure she eats the Nancy complement diet: everything I can’t eat! It was funny. But it also made me kind of sad, and very hungry.

Sticking to the list makes me feel healthier though; I’ve even dropped a few pounds, though that’s not the purpose. The purpose is to be able to eat yummy foods and still feel like a normal human being.

Still, there are always things to be grateful for: firstly, I know what foods make me feel good and which ones don’t. I’m also grateful for all the lots of folks that have already had to go through finding foods to eat within a restricted diet that there are a million recipes already out there for me to try! And I’m so grateful for a chef friend that loves cooking so much she’s willing to try my crazy, always altered, recipes. And toss out the flops with nary a sad glance. Impromptu deliciousness always finds its way into our cooking time together, because we’re awesome!