You’re Not Screwed.

I have a feeling here, a lightbulb, and I want to stay with it for awhile. Maybe forever.

It’s about anxiety. Again. And maybe it will always be about anxiety here, but I don’t believe so because it’s situational anxiety for me, with years of mellow, calm seas. Besides that, I’m a fighter. Even when I think I’m not. Even when I think I’m screwed.

I am not screwed.

I had a lightbulb series of moments when talking with a wise and helpful mentor today. I was saying that sometimes people talk about anxiety and even depression as lies in their heads. People talk about voices telling them that they’re worthless and that they can’t do anything right. For me, the anxiety goes further than that. It’s not just voices. It’s symptoms, that I believe probably stem from hidden words and voices. Maybe, hopefully, other people don’t get to that point of symptoms that I get.

Maybe I don’t always get to that point. Often, I don’t.


So I thought about everything I feel – about Scarlet in kindergarten and Des in daycare and my Nana’s death at 100, and whatever sad, happy or existential thoughts they give me. And I thought about aging and mortality and my father’s death and money and work and photography and writing. I just pictured it all as one big, black mass. I was asked where I feel that mass and I said I feel it mostly in my chest. I was asked what that big, black mass would say to me if it could talk and I said it would say:

“You’re screwed. You can’t do anything. You’re screwed.”

And what would make someone feel that way? Does it matter? What would make someone feel so powerless and so breathless at times? Could it be the death of my father at age four, because really, what more do you need? What more could you really look for in childhood details, stories and traumas. In photos and memories and overturned stones. That is enough. It’s enough.

mental illness

And here is what I’m not doing. Been abused or abusing. Looking for unhappiness. Stopping my kids from happiness. Drinking, smoking, or doing drugs. Even prescription ones, although I realize that is a necessity for many and that is totally important.

Here is what I am doing. Saying no more often and setting limits. Although I confess that if it’s something that will make me money, I probably am not saying no. Sadly, that’s the way the world works. And I do great things for money. With blogging too.

And mostly for these moments in photography.


And I am fighting and taking back myself, because there are many things I want to do and that I can do and I just don’t want my own voices and symptoms to try to get me to stop. So here are my words. I was totally going to write about something else today. I was actually going to go wordless. Just photos. Old photos. Catch-up photos. No words. Nothing to read here.

I need the words to come because otherwise they get choked and stuffed into my chest, throat and lungs. And I’ll feel like I can’t breathe or I can’t talk or I can’t cry or I can’t do anything if I can’t do this right here. No Wordless Wednesday for me today.

Not only do I have words, I have pictures too. I have lots of pictures.

So here I am. I am not screwed. I am not hopeless. I am certainly not photo-less, but mainly, I am not screwed.


you're not screwed


not screwed

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“Run towards the light,” I’ll always tell them. “Look towards the light,” They always seem to know.

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  1. You said a mouthful here and you know I can so very much relate. Seriously, I am sitting here today definitely feeling a bit more anxious worrying about Emma’s 5 year old well check tomorrow. As if I can’t catch breath enough, still can’t believe she is 5 and just not sure how time lapsed this quickly for us. But still, I also definitely not screwed, but still just slightly she’ll shocked, I suppose. Hugs and love you always! πŸ™‚

    1. Well since we’re being candid, I was SO nervous for Scarlet’s five year appointment. I was actually nauseous. Pathetic. And of course it was all totally fine and she did great. Even though Des tore apart the examination room!

        1. Please do! If I can help in any way. Just remember that Scarlet is in the FIFTH percentile for height. And remember that Des tore all the paper off the table. That should make you smile. Imagining bringing Des to an appointment!

          1. It should, but Emma decided last night to step on the top of a broken eraser on a pencil and has a nice whole in her foot. Stopped bleeding quickly, but thinking she might need liquid stitches quite possibly. So, on top, of everything else now I get that to worry about, too!

  2. You are definitely not screwed or hopeless – you are brilliant!!!
    And, Scarlet in the boats?! I had no idea she was a cowboy boot wearing girl – she and I could be best friends!!!! I love my boots – although now I’m a little jealous that I don’t have any pink ones!!!

    1. Oh yes! My mom got her those boots years ago, same ones, but she outgrew them. Just our luck, we got the same ones as hand-me-downs in two sizes up! Yay!
      I grew up as a cowgirl. My mom even has horses at her home! And a mule.

  3. You are most certainly no screwed, my friend! You are beautiful. Your words are beautiful. You photos are beautiful. That black and white of Scarlet with the hands just makes me smile!

  4. Today I was at a loss for words. There has been so much crap going on… stuff I can’t write about and I’m feeling suffocated by an anxiety that loves to rear its ugly head. Then I come here and find some peace and comfort in your words.

    I’m so glad you could find the words. Such beautiful words and beautiful photos. The light is totally where it’s at.

    Hugs and peace my friend.

    1. Hugs and peace to you too! So sorry about that anxiety rearing its highly ugly head. It does that, but not always, and that’s what helps me through the harder times.

  5. That last picture of Des….breathtaking! I just took 4 days completely off (well almost anyway) and it felt rejuvenating. I feel so much less anxious now. I’ve had that stressed out feeling all summer long, maybe a little break was just what I needed.

    1. That sounds so good! I still have yet to do something like that. Maybe in the fall when I’ll really need it. I’m so sorry you had a stressful summer. It wasn’t my best either, and usually summer is my favorite.

  6. And I am having problems doing this on the phone…my typing just stops working for some reason. You’re definitely NOT screwed…beautiful post!

  7. I LOVE SCARLET’S BOOTS!! And wow, Cassidy doesn’t need a chair to step on to paint the entire door. I love that you tell your kids about the light. It has so many significant meanings. And no, you’re not screwed at all!

    1. Wow! And you said that about another one recently. It is so nice to see that I can still produce favorites for my favorite readers. It means I’m not screwed, right?

  8. Ah… You know where I’m going to go, don’t ya? Yeah- God. You see- I come from an abusive home, full of depression and alcoholism and divorce and trauma after trauma…year after year. I went through years of torture with the sickness of my daughter from birth- turning blue. Suffocating fear and anxiety acquired. And for years I begged and pleaded for God to help me, save me from these nightmares. From my huge gaping holes I was drowning in…

    And as I opened my heart more and more to Him, and His Word- slowly… those gaping holes seem to be little divets in the ground. I know what’s beneath them. But they are filled now. I often slip into one and twist and turn my way out… as the haunting memories collide with life. And I reflect and remember how awful it was to exist in that place. It’s miraculous really- how far I’ve come.

    My favorite verses that soak into my heart as if by some mysterious force- not pushed or placated- just drifted into my soul and somehow filled the craters of my heart. Strength inevitably rises… in time and in growth and in the years of realizing the record behind me.

    You’re on that same journey- I think.

    Philippians 4:6-7

    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    Psalm 56:3

    When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

    2Timothy 1:7

    For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. <— this one is my absolute favorite. Because it helps me realize that God did not create us to be anxious! But His desire is for us to live in the power of love and self-control.

    I challenge you to memorize these. Just try it. What have ya got to lose? I started memorizing verses in my 30's…when a principal of a Christian school I taught at told me to memorize the Philippians verse because I told him I was terrified of driving in the rain downtown. I was a young Christian with a crazy spirit and little biblical knowledge. I groaned all the way home, knowing he would ask me about the verse the next day.

    I memorized it.

    To this day? God brings me that verse through the oddest places. Miraculous places. Random. But totally on purpose. And ya know what?

    I'm not afraid of driving anymore. I'm not afraid of a lot of things anymore. My anxiety has been soothed by the power of Him. I truly believe that.

    Okay- preaching OVER!!


    1. God! And you! I love your preaching. If you were a preacher, I would be the most religious person in the world. I’d be in the front row. I am very good at memorizing and I could see memorizing this. I do like to make up affirmations that I use to soothe myself during hard times. The power of words is amazing.
      Your comments see you. And I love to hear about your story but mostly about what you have learned from them. And I’m sorry about all of the hard times. I don’t know much about them. Yet. I feel like our friendship hasn’t yet cracked the iceberg. There is so much wonder to explore.

  9. I know you probably recently read the post that Dana just published a few days about about her red tights? For whatever reason, I see a resemblance in the photos of you and your sister (I think that is here) in her and her mom on the old photo she shared. Creepy? Coincidence? Tell me if I’m crazy. You might not agree. Oh Tamara, I’m so glad that you are writing these things out. I believe it is like a balm to your heart right now. I can see that it is somewhat broken in some ways from life’s natural progression which seriously, sometimes when I think about it, it makes me sad, too. The fact that my kids will have to get older. Family members will have to die one day. It can all be very depressing. And then certain things happen in life that make me happy again or make me start thinking of things in a new way. I know I’ve said it before, but I truly think this too shall pass, my dear. πŸ™‚ Keep writing your heart out. I love to read what you have to say. πŸ™‚

    1. I did read the red tights post and I totally thought the same thing! When I met Dana in person, I did get a feeling of familiarity from her.
      Sometimes I feel very raw, and that everything hits me hard. And other times, mostly, I just feel the pure joy and spirituality of everything.

      1. I thought I heard someone talking about me…I see the resemblance too. I see the resemblance between our dads whenever you post the photo of the two of you. A little strange but I don’t think it’s creepy – it’s strangely comforting.

        I appreciate this organic post, Tamara. I don’t often feel a pressing need to write, but I have the last few days. A lot of sadness around me, and I’m having trouble processing it. I often feel that when I read your words, I can more easily process my own stuff. Thank you for that. xoxo

        1. I’m so happy you found your way to this comment! I was totally thinking that I wished you could tag someone in a comment, like Facebook.
          And exactly – not creepy at all. Comforting. I felt that way in person too, even though that weekend.. wow… sleepless and nervous and all sorts of crazy.
          I can’t wait to see what you do write, if you do, and I hope you do.

    1. They are two different languages, for sure. And it’s funny that it seems like I was built to speak them both. Which is good, because I forgot all of my Japanese from high school!

  10. I’m SO glad I found your blog Tamara. Anxiety – my ugly friend – seems to be with me always. Some days stronger than others, but always there. Your words are so comforting to me – knowing I’m not alone. I love my life and I’m able to focus on that most days. Thanks for this beautiful, honest post. Ahh…and the pictures πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks for coming! I can’t wait to get to your blog. Anxiety is a very ugly friend, in a very beautiful world. And I love my life too, and I love the way you said that.

  11. Another great read, Tamara! You mentioned the “black mass”…and that is eerie. About 20 years ago as kind of a last ditch effort my aunt took me to a spiritual hypnotist for my anxiety. I to this day refuse to take meds for it. The one and only time I’ve ever done that in my life (seeing a person who does that). He did get me into a relaxed state…though not hypnotized. He also was able to help me visualize the anxiety in my gut as a black ball that I can mentally will to leave my body and enter the ether. I still use that to this day when I don’t get snowballed up in myself. That was probably more than you wanted to know but it does work if you can close your eyes and quiet your mind and visualize, then picture it leaving you. Anyhoo, I LOVE, LOVE the pics of Athena and Scarlet! Thank you, they made me smile πŸ™‚

    1. I’m honestly not sure there is such a thing as more than I wanted to know from you, Mike! Awesome story, and inspiring. And so cool that I didn’t know about it and that is how I pictured my anxiety. And I think that I can picture it so that I can will it to leave.

    1. Thank you! And forever hopeful. And I like the way you said for me to look at life through my lens. I think figuratively and literally, that really comes in handy for me.

  12. Oh the setting of boundaries. It is like you are in my mind…or, actually, not in my mind, because I haven’t been doing a very good job with that lately. And I’ve felt scattered, and drawn in all at the same time. I’m so very glad you added your words today. They were good.

    Just remember that the anxiety and everything that comes with it, lies. And even on the days when you feel the worst, you have got this thing. You are winning at life.

    1. I bet your mind is working just as brilliantly as always. And I’m glad you get that.
      I don’t want to sound like I don’t do things for free. And there are certain things, like my blog and SITS that are always happy priorities.
      Total lies, anxiety. I hate it so much.

      1. There are definitely things that I do for free as well. Some of them have payment of the non-monetary variety. Some of them just feed my soul. My boundary issues (the last few weeks) have more to do with extended family and my own heart.

        1. I call it energy exchanges. It’s where we swap favors in childcare or photography or blog post or haircuts. I’m perfectly happy living my life mostly that way.

        2. Doh! And I hit send too soon. I do this on my WordPress app, which is why I can’t just go to edit it. What I meant to say is that I really do get it about the limits with family. I’ve been trying to be more honest about why I can’t do certain social engagements, or whatnot.

  13. Even if you don’t have the words, your pictures say SO much! Anxiety sucks and honestly I keep myself very busy (not in a glamorous way) to avoid all of it. You have got a lot to process these days so I understand why you would have these feelings.

    1. That seems very wise! Keeping busy really does help me a lot. As long as it’s the kind of busy that I can control, and not just the stuff being thrown at me.
      Once fall hits, with two kids starting school and my sister getting married, I think life will get a lot more calm. Maybe I’m just wishing.

  14. I was feeling a little bit of that last night. And I hear you on saying “no” but not to opportunities to make money. I’m feeling stressed about not having an income (for now, hopefully that’s temporary and this year will end with a profit) of my own, so I said yes to an opportunity to make some money tomorrow, even though I’m feeling pressed for time and don’t really want to do it, but at least I can bring Eve with me and it involves walking, so exercise is good (assuming this rain stops before then!) Anyway, that was a long sentence, but I’m glad you let the words out. I can’t always put my own feelings into words, even when talking to Sam, but getting out those feelings helps so much!

    1. Sometimes it’s hard for me even to talk to Cassidy, but it strengthens our marriage and it strengthens me when I can talk to him about this.
      And for many years I had no income, and we didn’t really have a good understanding about it, like I think you two do. You are brilliantly talented. And you’re doing wonders for your baby. All wonderful things for you!

  15. I love your description of the big black mass! It’s spot on! It’s like everything that makes you a little anxious gangs up into this one big unrecognizable scary blob! Just look to the light, mid Sept when everyone is settled, you won’t be anxious about those things. I hope writing today helped take some of the air out of the blob. It did for me!

    1. That is totally helpful. About a month from now, I do believe things will be smoother. I will still be planning or helping to plan a monster wedding for my wonderful sister. That’s good stuff, right?

  16. for some reason I don’t think the comment I posted a little bit ago went through

    but love the pics – the kiddos are getting so big!

    and glad everyone is looking on the bright side

    keep on keepin on as they say πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for your wonderful positivity! I think your other comment did go through, but not right away. I will check and release it if it’s trapped!

  17. Your post makes me recall a nervous condition I had as a child. I was 10 years old. I would suddenly cry for no reason and bite my knuckles. Yes, bit them raw (repeatedly) from anxiety, stressed and sad because I didn’t know why I was even feeling that way. After many episodes of this, I looked at my knuckles one day and realized the physical toll the anxiety was taking on me. I decided enough was enough. No more biting my hands. I slowly worked through the sadness and came out strong in the end, but I still have those scars on my knuckles even now. They’re battle wounds from a fight that I won. You can win, too. You ARE winning. Just keep your head up.

    1. That is amazing. Well done. And the battle scars just remind us even more that we won. I can think of nervous habits I had as a kid that I don’t have now. It only comes back into my brain when I see my own kids facing things that I didn’t face as well. And that’s just another sign that I’m winning.

  18. Of course you are not screwed! Happy that you can realize that and fight through the tremendous weight that is on your shoulders. Love the photos of Scarlet walking the pup and also Des looking into the ray of sunshine. Love that it connects with the words you wrote. And oooo, a blue front door???

  19. Yay friend, let it out. Say what you need to say, whatever will make you feel better. Of course the pics are awesome like always and Athena is so beautiful!

  20. We are not our thoughts but yet, we are our thoughts. This always perplexes me. And we have more control over our thoughts then we want to believe. So powerful what we tell ourselves. My anxiety always gets worse with transitions – end of school, back to school, birthdays, new opportunities. Ps. The door is now becoming a Tardis? Makes total sense!

    1. I get very perplexed about it too. And I do think we have more power than it seems sometimes, when we are feeling weak. And yes the door is going through a slight transition. Slow, rather.

  21. “And I am fighting and taking back myself” BRAVO!! I think that’s the key everyday for all of us to overcome what we feel our limitations are or our struggles and just try to do better the next day. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we don’t and sometimes we just plain screw up, but that doesn’t mean we’re screwed πŸ™‚

  22. It’s great that you know that you are not screwed. I’m happy that you are saying no more often, but are still able to take advantage of money making opportunities. I don’t think I would be able to say no to an opportunity to make money either. I haven’t made any money in a long long time.

    1. I had a pretty well-paying job in New Jersey. It was more money than I needed, as a single woman. Then I moved to California which was temporary, and it sort of led to many years without a steady income. Having children of course put that on hold. These days, I am working to build my business at a manageable level. It is hard with two kids, but if I set down the stones now, when they are both eventually in full-time school, I hope to have a blooming business. Hoping!

  23. Awww, you are far from screwed. You are magnificent. You are doing the best you can with the most limited resource of all: time. Follow your own advice. Run toward that light. Hopefully it leads to feeling weightless instead of held down.

  24. You’re doing it better than I am. For real. And please give me a photo lesson??? Also? LOVE YOU.

    1. I want to give you a photo lesson! And take photos! Aren’t you supposed to be here by now?
      And I don’t know about doing it better than you are! Do you ever find yourself having anxiety attacks in your bedroom, while your kids are downstairs? To my credit, it only happens if another adult is here.

  25. For all your hardship and anxiety, you do a wonderful job not letting it affect your kiddos. Kudos to you for that, my dear. I’m sure they are also the shining light in your black mass. Keep on Tamara! Keep writing it out.

  26. Funny, I always assume everyone feels this way – sometimes or all the time. And then I realize that, no, everyone does not feel that way and that it’s something to work on. Like you, I’m working on it.

    1. I’m glad! Working on it takes bravery. And I’m the opposite – I always assume NO ONE on earth feels this way. And of course, they do. Some do. Some don’t.

    1. Yes! And yet, mostly we are wrong and we are not screwed. Too many resources. Too much support, even if it doesn’t seem that way for everyone.

  27. You are definitely not screwed! You are loved! This week has been such a stressful week for me and today I actually have an appointment with my psychiatrist, yes I do have my issues that I don’t talk about, but we are definitely not screwed. We are strong and survivors. This post really touched me today because I so needed to read it.

    1. Thank you!!! Wish I could travel the world and take photos of everyone.
      Total Whovian family! My husband grew up on the Tom Baker episodes and has always loved it. He had to show me what it was, because several years ago, very few people around here really knew what it was! Now it’s popular which is fun.

  28. I am glad that you chose not to be wordless today. I do not think you are screwed, you have a gift through your writing and phototgraphy, and I hope you realize how much joy it gives others.

  29. Another beautiful post. You are not screwed and anxiety is real for many of us. I was anxious all day when my daughter started school today.

  30. I don’t want to just run to the light — I want to be blinded by it. Because it’s better than pain blindness. You know?
    But no, I can say I am finally at the place where I am know I am not screwed.
    lovely photos – that definitely put a smile in my heart and a light in my step. πŸ™‚

  31. My anxiety constantly tells me that I can’t just be, that I can’t just exist in the world and soak up the moment, but that I always need to be running, chasing, seeking. My anxiety tells me I can never just be happy with the way things are. And eventually I hit the point of exhaustion, and that’s when the physical symptoms emerge. It’s so exhausting!

  32. Like your very first commenter said, I am the one left wordless!! Beautiful post with beautiful photos, as always. I can definitely relate to the overwhelming anxiety most of us have at certain times in our lives (or even certain times of the year, month, week!!).

  33. You have such a wonderful gift with your photography and I’m so glad you’re willing to continue taking pictures. You are by no means screwed! You are a lovely woman with beautiful children who is in tune with herself. You’re just great!

  34. I love this post. I feel it too. Also in my chest. I’ve felt that someone or something really heavy has been sitting there for weeks now. I don’t think that feeling is going to leave anytime soon. But I love how you’re pulling back. I think that might help me. And no, you are not screwed. (And neither am I, I hope!)

  35. That omnipotent anxiety is difficult to minimize sometimes. I am glad you see all of the different lights in your life. Keep holding them up. You will find your way home. xoxo

  36. There is great power within you, Tamara! My daughter is dealing with some stupid bullying right now and we talked about it this morning. We talked about reasons why people say hurtful things. And I told her that I was proud of her for not being able to go down that path. She has an inner strength that humbles me. Even though she is hurt, she’s not taking that hurt and hurting others. That’s great power too!

  37. it’s so hard not to get caught up with the anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. goodness, i am feeling so anxious/stressed as a new mom. i think to myself, oh there’s so much i want to tell my baby, tell him to believe in himself, to be positive, to stay strong. then i think, i should be taking my own advice!

    1. That’s such a strong statement! I feel that all the time. And you have so much time to tell him. And there will be so much he will just know by living with you.

  38. Your words and pictures brought me to tears…you reminded me I have a new camera and I should be happily snapping picture. Soon I will get to it. Thank you for sharing this raw and honest post. You are not screwed. None of us are screwed.

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