Becoming Neurotic for Ask Away Friday.

Now you may be thinking, “Becoming neurotic? Girl you already have the market cornered on that one!”

And you may be right about that. However, in this case I’m talking about this week’s Ask Away Friday partner – TiaMaria from Becomin Neurotic! Tia is my Facebook friend, my blogging friend, a wonderful supporter to many people, and the mastermind behind a blog about what it’s like to live with chronic illness. Not only that, she is loving, inspiring and funny too.

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Meeting other bloggers and making new friends is one of the best parts of this online world!

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If you need a laugh and someone you can know has ‘been there too’ stop by and visit Echo from Domain of a Mad Mommy. Don’t mind the madness it’s all part of the fun of being a Mommy.

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Be sure to read TiaMaria’s answers to my questions HERE. And now my answers to her questions:

1. You and your husband work hard to keep the magic alive for your children. What has been your favorite magical memory?

Are you talking about for the kids? If so, I’ll work with that right now. It’s so hard to pick just one. The Disney vacation, the Magic Mailman and the puppy.. I think the kittens story might be my favorite because it was just so.. ludicrous – to find kittens in your garden and to think fairies brought them? And if childhood-magic-ludicrosity is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

She had been asking for a kitten named Dinah for ages. No one expected two.. but life happens as it happens.

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2. You recently photographed your first wedding and battled a lot of anxiety to get the job done. What is another instance where you’ve overcome anxiety?

Cool. Really. This question gives me butterflies in my stomach in a good way. I can think of a lot of recent episodes of this, but I’m going to go back into the past. It was a year after Cassidy and I had first broken up and I was still in love with him. I thought that maybe since a year had passed, he didn’t know that I still felt that way. It was my birthday and I had always heard that people have more power on their birthdays. So I got advice from my mom, my sister, my friends, even HIS mom, and I did it! I called him and gave him a very grand gesture of love, one that may or may not have included me offering to leave my entire life and run to San Francisco to maybe stand under his window with a boombox playing, “In Your Eyes.”

He totally shot me down, by the way, and not necessarily kindly either. It’s all good now, though.

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3. I also love sundresses and flowy skirts. What is another must have in your closet?

Jean jacket! And skinny jeans. Love them or hate them, they are so darn comfortable and they go great under boots, which is another staple of my fall/winter wardrobe. Brown or black boots. I wore skinny jeans while 38 weeks pregnant with Scarlet:

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4. Your husband is a Phish fan, but you’re not so much. What band/artist do you love, but him not so much?

hmm.. that’s a good question because I DO love Phish, in that it makes him so happy, it reminds me of some of our fantastic times together, and it is highly soothing for me. I think I just like more of a climax and then an ending with my music. Not into.. 20 minutes of the same jam. That said, to actually answer your question! Well I love Tori Amos and I don’t think he’s ever shown a lot of interest in her music. It hit me at the right time in my life. I do think he’d absolutely be open to seeing her live with me.

5. Besides your camera or computer, what one object can you not live without?

Well I’m glad you ruled those out, because they’re at the top of my list! And I’m not obsessed with objects but those two are my tools for photography and blogging! I’m going to have to say my phone. It’s just that good at keeping me connected.

6. You’ve made 2 cross-country moves. Are you guys pretty settled now, or would you contemplate another big move? Where to?

We’re pretty settled right now and the thought of moving again, even within town, gives me the heebie jeebies, I guess I’d never say never. If money were not a problem, I’d honestly live six months of the year in Sonoma, CA. Without a backwards glance here at buggy summer and dreadful winter. I love a lot of things about being here, although not everything, but a lot of things.

I always dream of the west, though. I wonder if I always will.

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7. What is your favorite tool or app that helps you as a blogger/writer?

I honestly love the WordPress app! I can write whole posts on my phone, although I never do, but mainly it helps me with commenting. Not only do I answer my comments right on the phone while waiting for things or when I have a free moment – for all of you people who ask me why I’m so good at replying to comments – but it also lets me know if someone has replied to a comment I wrote on another WordPress blog. I also love my Bloglovin app for when I’m away but still reading blogs.

8. I’ve been following along with your tales of kittens. Have things calmed down a bit there? Where are you now on being a cat person?

Another cool question! Yes, things have calmed down. There’s a bit more of a rhythm now with feeding, litterbox cleaning, and what to do about their midnight and 5:00m crazies – the answer is to keep them on the first floor of the house overnight! I’m not a cat person. I will never be a cat person. They’re yucky to me. It’s hard to admit this, publicly no less, but I do adore one of them more. Dinah the black and white one has one setting – affectionate. She’s goofy, cuddly, and fearless. Bella the Grey (like Gandalf the Grey, but so unlike Gandalf the Grey) has two complete personalities, and they change by the minute. So she can be all in my face and cuddled into my neck and purring, but the next minute she’s scared of me. It’s one-sided a lot. She only gives me the time of day of anyone, but will tolerate Scarlet. She always has a wet mouth and she farts terrible farts. Want a cat?

Just kidding. She’s on my shoulder as a write this. Like a furry, purring parrot.

Cutie Dinah is often on my desk while I’m writing blog posts and editing photos!

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9. What is your favorite funny memory of each of your kiddos?

I think it was the day I took a not even three-year-old Scarlet with me to the doctor for Des’ appointment. It involved talk of balls, peeing on floors, and a hamster in a cage. I wrote about it, actually. Link HERE.

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10. I love your stories about your husband. Do you have any tips for a successful relationship?

Other than all the usual.. I’d just say to be positive. If you’re having a great date, a great vacation, a great kiss, a great night – don’t use that chance to say, “We never do things like this.” That’s like finding the negative spaces in a wonderfully whole circle. It deflates. Congratulate your partner on successes, and be someone they would turn to when sad, angry, mentally ill, etc.

Dream about the future together.

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Taking It Easy With Old School Blogging.

This post had a runner up title – it was to be called, “Summer Breeze, Makes Me Feel Fine.”

And somehow, this Eagles song came into my head. And you know? I don’t like The Eagles at all. I do like Don Henley. I saw him live with Stevie Nicks and they slow-danced while singing, “Leather and Lace.” I think they used to date, and I found it to be wildly romantic in a sad and wistful way. So for that and many other reasons, I do love Don Henley. And this one Eagles song:

We may lose and we may win though
we will never be here again
so open up, I’m climbin’ in,
so take it easy…

It’s Old School Blogging out there today. It’s Wordless Wednesday out there today. Also, you all know I don’t really ever take it easy, even when I say I’m taking it easy, but having these wonderful summer questions to answer IS taking it easy in my world.


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What was your favorite thing you did alone this summer?

Did I do anything alone this summer?? Why, yes! I did! I went to a blogging conference. Ok, it was technically still during the school year, actually. Ok my favorite thing I did alone was to photograph a wedding. Now hear me out because it was work, and HARD work. I did it alone because they didn’t need me to have an assistant. I did it without my kids and husband. It was one thing that scared me so very much, and it was one thing that was mine alone. I’m still riding the high from accomplishing this.

What was your favorite thing you did as a family this summer?

Without a doubt, it was going to Cape Cod to be with family. I still have to share those many photos, and that will surely be done in two posts soon. It was a wonderful time. I might have actually taken it easy in the real sense. Even though vacation with kids is not very vacation-y, I had zero allergies out on the Cape, and minimal anxiety, if any. We truly needed a family trip, and every summer I mourn the loss of chances to look for moose and I mourn the loss of chances to visit Cassidy’s family’s beach house.

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What books did you read this summer?

I read “The One And Only” by Emily Giffin and it made me breathless. I read “Tempting Fate” by Jane Green and it was.. interesting. I read “All Fall Down” by Jennifer Weiner and I think I cried through every chapter. Now I’m reading “This Is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper. I have no idea where I got the recommendation for this one. Probably from many places!

What do you WISH you had done this summer?

I though it would be different, you know? Don’t we often think that? I thought it would be the Summer of Scarlet, before kindergarten. I thought I’d be booking inns and chasing moose and eating ice cream every day. Ok, that last part? Nearly. I just thought I’d be more carefree and light. I didn’t think I’d be so weighted and anxious and cloudy. Ultimately, it’s ok. It was the summer of Cape Cod and corn on the cob and new kittens and total, utter fun. For the kids. And that’s what matters. That I didn’t harsh their mellow. I wish I had done more traveling, of course. The summer is not over, though. Anything can happen.

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What movies did you see this summer (if any)?

None in the theater, but I did watch Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier last week and it totally held my attention.

Where did you travel this summer?

New Jersey, Cape Cod, and then an assortment of fun day trips.

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What was your favorite treat (as in dessert) this summer?

On my birthday, Cassidy got me my very favorite cookie dough ice cream from a favorite ice cream parlor. (Mt. Tom’s) And he special-ordered my favorite cookies from my favorite cookie store. It’s when they put two of their famous chocolate chip cookies together as a sandwich. Six of them had chocolate buttercream in the middle and were dipped in a chocolate glaze. The other six had vanilla buttercream in the middle and were dipped in white chocolate glaze. There were rainbow sprinkles too.

What did you celebrate this summer?

A LOT! Father’s Day, Scarlet’s birthday, my birthday, my dad’s birthday, my ten year anniversary of meeting Cassidy..

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Did you grow anything this summer?

Cassidy grew a truckload of tomatoes, some berries, tons of flowers, some peppers, eggplant, kale, swiss chard, butter lettuce, hot peppers, and many other things that I can’t remember yet. It was an odd garden year.

What is a favorite post (if you blog) that you wrote this Summer?

Honestly, it might be my one from Monday. Link HERE. I don’t generally reread my posts.. makes me cringe.

What is a favorite photograph that you took this summer?

Sadly, I think any favorites I have aren’t even up yet because I’m so behind in my personal photos. And the wedding ones from the weekend aren’t ready yet. So I’ll go digging right now and find a favorite photo, if not THE favorite photo:

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Or maybe..

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What do you want to do next summer?

Moose. Ice cream. More adventure without feeling weighed down and anxious. Less sadness. More time in Cape Cod. Maybe some time in Maine or New Hampshire. More time with friends. More time alone. Maybe some shooting stars. Go on day trips. See you?

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And now for the Wordless Wednesday portion of the post, we have: “Bubbles” and “Elsa”.

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Sometimes I Don’t Give Myself Enough Credit.

I photographed my first wedding on Saturday. That was huge. I can’t even discuss the nerves I had beforehand..

It was a gigantic walk outside of my comfort zone. I find I have been doing that lately, when it seems like everything is out of my comfort zone. When I’m anxious, that is the truth. When I’m not anxious, I can barely blink as large things fly at me. It’s just my way. On the way to the wedding, I gripped the steering wheel and thought that no matter what happened, if I got too nervous to even stand, if I twisted my ankle, no matter what, I still had to go to this wedding. I felt trapped. And feeling trapped can be the best propellor. Forward. One foot in front of the other. As long as I can still move forward..or sideways.

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There are reasons that August makes me fall to my knees. Sometimes it’s a hollow in my stomach, and the hole in my heart.

Whenever I hear the song, “Boys of Summer” in August, I nearly can’t take it. August makes me weird because it seems like each time it comes around, and burns through like a sunset, I find myself mourning the loss of the chance to just go find moose whenever I want. And yes, long ago are the days in which I was very young with more money than I needed. Now I have more love than I ever imagined possible, so there is that. Even if I have more limits than before – money, time, and mental balance.

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Not a lot of people know much about this, and that’s mainly because I’m still learning how and when to slap words around it, but when I was 16, I got randomly depressed one day. Now I get situationally anxious, and of course situationally sad, but this was different. I don’t think it was really as random as I once thought it to be. I think it had to do with my sister going to college, my friends drifting away, and the fact that I was about to embark on my longest trip ever without my family. A pretty long trip too.

There was a boy. Isn’t there always?

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I was in a relationship with someone, in title only, and I wasn’t ready for anything like it. I mean that on an honest and innocent level. I could not conceive of, or share that level of emotion. Not yet, anyway. It was too much. I didn’t have the tools for it. So I got sick – suddenly nauseous. Every time he came over. For days. At first I thought it was bad Burger King (which seems likely, right?) but it happened every time he came to pick me up for a date. As the days winded down from a trip to New Hampshire to see my parents, through these nauseous days, and towards my big Canadian trip, hurtling towards a new autumn with my sister in college and me having to start working harder to get into my first choice college..I buckled. I couldn’t contain the feelings.

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I got depressed. And lost. It was a new feeling for me.

It wasn’t about feeling too much, which is usually the case. It was an absence of feelings. It was like being in a black and empty room with no senses. It was dark without light, and life without dreaming. It was the sickening feeling in my stomach that everything was dead wrong, or lost forever. It was a dizzying, shifting sensation. It wasn’t growing pains, but growing torture.

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There is not such a thing as no hope in my heart, but this was probably very close to it.

I would never dream of downplaying what happened, because it was excruciating, but it did not last long. It was debilitating and torturous. It was made up of more facts than feelings. The only food that sounded good to me was apples. The only companionship I craved was with dogs or even a stray cat I met in upstate New York. I could barely drink any water, but I still set forth on my long trip and I was able to climb the Watkins Glen Gorge in this strange, hungry, thirsty, exhausted state.

At night, on that first or second night, they had a laser light show on the walls of the gorge. It was all about the history of the world and dinosaurs and humans. The light from the walls of the gorge shown a bit into my soul, little by little, and for sure.

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I took that little light with me to Niagara Falls, where I was drenched on “Maid of the Mist”, charmed by happy face french fries at our hotel, and asked by smiling tourists from all over the world if I would take their photos in front of the falls.

Then we delved a little deeper into Canada. Toronto. I remember the first sight of the CN Tower, which back then was the tallest freestanding structure on land in the world. I know it was reflected in my wide eyes for miles as we got closer. I stayed up late those nights, writing postcards in a windowsill that overlooked the tower from our hostel. I won a free breakfast from the college kids who ran the hostel and I know they pulled my name on purpose. I was letting more light in, maybe more than ever before, much less on that trip. Shaking off the darkness made me stand taller, reach higher and smile wider. It was a thing.

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Then we went deeper yet, into Canada and into my heart. Gananoque first, land of 1,000 islands, three hour boat cruises, and stories of heart-shaped islands built and given out of love. There were small cafes and mystical stores along the seaway. When I was 16, I didn’t know anxiety like I do now. All of the life – good and bad – was still bubbling over the surface. Finally, it was breaking wide open and spilling out. While I’m in my 30′s, I don’t know depression like I did for those four or five days when I was 16. That’s right. That’s all it was. It wasn’t chemical or chronic or long-lasting. It was brutal and life-altering, though.

It was an extended gift, as well, for I don’t know now the darkness I knew briefly then.

That feeling of being split apart so the light can get in. It’s not just about what goes in. It’s about what needs to come out first.

Then we found ourselves in Montreal. I searched in vain for something I had been looking for since Watkins Glen, NY – raspberry ice cream. I found it in Lake George, at the tail end of our trip. On a boardwalk and with rainbow sprinkles. I was ready to go home. Little did I know, that it would take me about a decade to even start to talk about what had happened. It has no words. There was a song I listened to on my walkman during the roadtrip. It’s called “Cloud on my Tongue.” I couldn’t even listen to it for years without getting full body chills. I did it anyway. It was a good full body chills, if that makes sense. A happy high.

When I got home, I was taller and skinnier than before. I could see brighter. I started getting high on life, pretty much all of the time. Many things could trigger it. It was about connection, love, spirituality and most of all – survival. It felt/feels like nothing I’ve ever imagined. Lightheaded, but amazing. I had felt it before, as a kid, simply from a good book, a spring day, or a cookie.

This was consistant, intense and deep. And still, this was way before romantic love, kids, photography and writing.

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When you walk away from that kind of battle in that kind of war, no matter how long or short, staggering or mild, you want to thank someone. You want to credit someone. For some people, it’s God. Or Gods and Goddesses. For some people, it’s other people. And I have never figured out where I stand on that, I admit, but what I really want to do in retrospect is to thank myself.

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I let the light in, so some of the darkness could finally escape out. I put one foot in front of another.

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I climbed a mountain to see what was waiting for me at the top. In the literal way, it was a water fountain.

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I was very thirsty. I nearly crawled to it, but I found the strength to walk.

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I found the courage and strength I needed within myself. It’s not always the way and it’s not often the way and maybe it’s not even the best way, but it’s how I approach my adulthood situational anxiety. This set the stage for how I would begin to deal with trauma within my life. Splitting apart to let the light in, no matter how much it hurts, or seems unbearable.

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It’s the only way to grow.

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Every day I’m still learning. Every day I’m still finding new ways to talk about August of 1996, even though it’s all been much higher, lower and more intense since then. It all had to start some time, didn’t it? And I’m so very grateful that it did.

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These days I’m learning to talk about it more, and write about it, and even shout about it, rather than fight my own battles only. That’s my next step on this journey. Reaching in. Then reaching out.

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