Open Roads


Hey guys!  Happy November!  Okay, so I’ve wanted to do the November Thankfulness Challenge for a while, but always remember about 2-3 days in and feel like it’s too late to start.  This year, though, I was determined to do it.  So, last night as I left to pick up the Sunday night pizza, I was thinking about what I was going to start with.

It didn’t take long for me to figure it out….open roads!  Yes, that’s it, I thought, nodding my head as I backed out of the driveway and headed north.  I meant it quite literally, too.  You see, there are two ways to get out of our neighborhood, and the way we would normally go to get almost everywhere has been closed for construction for months and it’s finally back open!!  Gosh!  This is going to save me sooo much time, I was thinking!

And then my head went into overdrive and started overthinking about open roads and detours.  Did the detours over the last several months cost me time?  Were they frustrating?  Absolutely!  But, did I still make it everywhere I needed to?  Did I learn new ways around?  Did I see things I wouldn’t have otherwise seen?  Yes, yes, and yes!  Guys, I have taken so many backroads this year and wasn’t always happy about it.  Those backroads have also allowed me to see some beautiful scenery….like the barn with the sun setting just beyond it, or noticing {more than I normally would} the corn grow green & tall before fading to that golden harvest color.

Maybe your real life way is blocked right now-you’re frustrated and disappointed.  Take the detour!  Or don’t.  Find a new way around.  Change your perspective, don’t think of it as a blocked road, look at all the other open roads.   Take the backroad, watch the corn grow, notice the sunset.  You will still make it where you’re supposed to, even if it takes a little longer!  And who knows, you may end up liking the backroads better anyway.

Open roads, yep, that’s what I’m thankful for this November 1st.


Three Ways to Wear One Flannel

Hey guys!  What’s up?  I hope everyone had a great weekend.  We spent Friday night and Saturday at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  If you follow along on Instagram stories, you know we had an added bonus of seeing our oldest daughter Saturday night.  She lives in Florida but happened to be about an hour away from the museum at a conference, so of course we drove up to see her and were thankful for the hour and a half we had with her.

I spent Sunday with a friend at the Covered Bridge festival in Parke County, here in Indiana.  We came home with nothing!! That rarely happens, but we had a great time just hanging out.

Alright, so today I’m sharing three ways to wear this flannel from maurices.  I hope it gives you some inspiration. Everything is true to size, although I would say the graphic tee runs big, so size down if in between.

Look # 1

These jeans are older, but the pair I shared last week are similar, so I will link them below.
Boyfriend jeans, graphic tee, flannel

Look # 2

I’m not convinced I’m cool enough for this half tucked in look, but hey we’re goin’ with it.
Jeggings, flannel 

Look # 3

I was going to say I wasn’t sure where I would wear this, but I think I can get away with just wearing it to eat out somewhere.
Black dress, flannel

That’s all!  I hope you enjoyed this #mauricesmonday post.  Let me know which look you like best.

Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi Travel Log, Part 1

Ready to go on another trip with us?  Prior to my most recent post, I hadn’t written anything since January of 2020.  That post was all about the cruise we had taken in 2019, so I am anxious to tell you all about our road trip this summer.  We touched ten different states, made stops in at least nine cities or towns, drove more than 2,000 miles, and had an amazing adventure!

What are you waiting for?  Come on, let’s go!! 🙂

Day One: Travel Day.  It was a dark and stormy night when the four of us left our small town….just kidding, no need to be that dramatic.  We wanted to get a head start, so we left after work on a Thursday evening and headed toward Saint James, Missouri.  Doing that knocked about 5 1/2-6 hours off our drive for the next day.  While it did storm, there’s really nothing else to say except that our airbnb for the night was right on Route 66.  Picture the scene from Cars with the Sh-Boom song when Lightning McQueen has helped fix all the neon signs.  Got it in your mind?  Yeah….nothing like that, but our airbnb was cute.

Day Two: Oklahoma, here we come!  Somehow we left EARLY this morning.  What?!  That almost never happens for us.  We made a quick stop at Master Donuts in Saint James.  I would say they were better than Krispy Kreme, but obviously not as good as Jack’s Donuts [IYKYK].  On to see the Blue Whale of Catoosa, one of a few stops we made on Route 66.  A little history on the Blue Whale – a husband built it for his wife as an anniversary gift, and it grew from there.  Please don’t get any ideas, babe. 😉  Whoops! How could I forget?  On our way to the whale, we were bombarded with billboards for a town called Uranus.  Did we stop as goofy as it was? Yes, yes we did.  Were there some inappropriate things?  Yes, yes there were as you can probably imagine.  Did the boys enjoy talking about Uranus for several more days?  Yes, yes they did.  Alright, moving on.  Next stop, The Center of the Universe in Tulsa, OK.  No, it’s not really the center of the universe, it’s just an acoustic anomaly in the middle of downtown.  If you stand on the center of this circle, your voice sounds amplified  & there’s kind of an echo, but the people outside the circle don’t hear it that way.  Pretty cool & worth the stop, in my opinion.  Lunch time!  We chose Mother Road Market since it was a food court with options for everyone.  We had food from Howdy Burger, Curds and Whey, and Andolini’s.  Of course, we couldn’t resist a cookie from Farrell bread and bakery and ice cream from Big Dipper.  Alright, gotta go, we have a lot more to see and do before we can end day two.  Time to go to Oklahoma City.  First stop, the Centennial Land Run Monument.  This was a lot larger than I expected with several exquisitely detailed bronze sculptures celebrating the land runs of 1889, posed along the Bricktown Canal.  I had read a book by Jeanne Bishop in preparation for our trip, and I couldn’t help but think of a passage she had written:

“Celebrating the Oklahoma Land Rush was an annual school ritual.  Students were urged to dress up like settlers and pose in wagons meant to look like the ones pioneers had ridden into the territory.  An unfortunate photo exists of middle school me in such a wagon, wearing a long orange paisley dress and matching cap, my unruly mane of brown hair sticking out from underneath.  Years later, I heard a radio interview of a man with Native American ancestry saying how uncomfortable he was as a boy during these commemorations.  In the privileged cocoon of my upbringing, it didn’t dawn on me that the event we were reenacting was, as University of Oklahoma anthropology professor Daniel Swan put it, “a desperate, dark day” for Native Americans.  I am ashamed of that ignorance now.”

That passage just made me stop and think about ALL of the history behind the monument.  Getting tired yet?  We were, so we checked into The Daisy Duplex [our airbnb for the night], and rested for a minute.  We chose Whiskey Cake for dinner.  This restaurant isn’t unique to Oklahoma, but, as I wrote in my vacation journal, “it was pretty darn good.”  One more stop to make on Route 66 – Pop’s Soda Ranch.  Pop’s has soda, souvenirs, a restaurant, fuel, and our main reason for going – the giant [66 feet tall – how fun is that on Route 66], lighted soda bottle.  Must.keep.going. Skydance Bridge was our final destination for day two.  This is a pedestrian bridge with a sculpture modeled after the Oklahoma state bird.  It is lit with LED lights which change colors and made for a nice way to end the day.

Day Three: We started this day on a somber note by visiting the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.  I thought they had done a wonderful job on such a heartbreaking event.  One of the things that stood out most to me were the letters that family members still leave along the fence just outside the memorial.  We took the time to read some of them and they were incredibly touching.  If there are any Karen Kingsbury fans reading this, I would highly recommend reading her book To the Moon and Back, which partially inspired our trip to the museum.  If you’re into researching things before you visit, I’d also recommend the book I mentioned above by Jeanne Bishop – Grace from the Rubble.

The sign at the Memorial reads – “We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope, and serenity.”


We stopped for a quick lunch at Deep Deuce Bar & Grill, and then decided to risk it [we had plans in Fort Worth later] and try to make the other two stops in Oklahoma that we were interested in.  Those stops were Turner Falls and Travertine Creek.  *Tip- if you want to visit either of these places, get there early.  Turner Falls was at capacity for the day, and parking was full at Travertine Creek – 100% on us for not researching this better.  On to Texas!  I’ll share more about the rest of the trip soon!

P.S. We very much enjoyed our time in Oklahoma & would definitely go back for a long weekend trip to explore more!

Target Try-On Session No.1

Hello everyone!  It has been quite some time since I wrote a blog post, but I ran into Target last weekend & wanted to share all my finds.  Now keep in mind, I took most of these pics in the dressing room with no real thought of writing a post about any of this.  Why did I even take pics then, you ask?  Because I’m a terrible decision maker & was sending them to my waiting husband (who needed me to hurry up since he had a fantasy football draft to get to) to help me decide.  Love ya, babe 😉  The pics that aren’t in the dressing room were snapped right quick after I decided to share.  So without further ado, here is my first try-on post.  Hope you enjoy!

Let’s start with sweaters.

Up first, this Knox Rose cardigan.  The colors are more vibrant than this pic shows & I think I’ll wear it with several colors underneath this fall. I would say it runs a bit big.  Wearing in XS, so definitely size down if in between.

Beige Cardigan

Are you guys liking the shorter cardigan trend?  I wasn’t sure until I tried on this Universal Thread cable stitch sweater.  I’m sure to be wearing this on repeat this fall.  I also think you can wear a couple different colors with this one & dress it up with black pants.  I’m wearing it in the taupe color in XS.

Taupe Cardigan

This Knox Rose tie-dye sweater is at the top of the list for favorites from this try-on.  I love the fun colors.  It’s a thinner sweater (you will need to wear something underneath) which will be perfect for the transition from summer to fall.   Wearing in XS.

Gray Knox Rose Tie-Dye Sweater

Last sweater….I did not bring this one home, but that doesn’t mean I won’t go back for it later as I did like it but have to draw the line somewhere :).  This is also Knox Rose, in gray leopard print, although there are several colors available.  Wearing in XS.

Gray leopard print v-neck sweater

Moving on to pants.

This will be a short category as I only bought one pair.  These are A New Day brand, pull on (so comfy), and only $20!  I may go back for more.  Wearing in gray, size small.

A New Day pull-on pants

Okay, now for shoes.

Also, a short category as I only purchased these A New Day heels, but I also want these in rust & these in fresh white.

A New Day heels in tan 

Cover Ups

I know, I know it’s almost fall, but maybe you’re going somewhere beachy for fall break.  I loved the color of this Xhiliration cover up.  The website says white, but it’s really more of an off white or cream color.  I also really love the sage green.  Wearing in small.

Xhiliration cover up

Lastly, dresses.

Let’s start with this Knox Rose one I didn’t buy.  I liked the way it fit other than the length.  At only 5’2″, it just felt a little off to me.  I’m wearing the red in XS.

Knox Rose dress

This is also Knox Rose brand.  I love it.  We’re planning a trip to Charleston & Savannah, and I think it will be perfect.  Wearing in XS, but could’ve done the small too. *While I was writing this, I checked the Target site & it does appear to be sold out in a lot of sizes, but I turned the notice on to let me know when it was back in stock & was notified twice while typing.

Knox Rose 3/4 sleeve dress

Rounding out this try-on session, is this A New Day sweater dress.  Unfortunately, I do not see it on Target’s site yet, but will keep checking.  In the meantime, maybe it’s available at your local store.  *Yay! It’s finally online, updated with link.

A New Day sweater dress

That’s all for this first try-on post.  Hope you enjoyed it. Let me know what other stores you would like to see!

Five Simple Hiking Tips

If you had told me 10, 15, 20 years ago that I would like hiking, I would have thought you had lost your mind.  I am, by nature, (haha) not an outdoorsy girl.  The older I get, the more I seem to enjoy being outside though, and there is something about starting a task and seeing it through that appeals to me.  We are no experts (my husband & I), however we have learned a thing or two that might be helpful.

Download the AllTrails App.  I’m sure people have been hiking for years without technology, but it’s available so why not take advantage of it?  We use this app on almost every hike we go on. Some of our favorite features are the maps, trail reviews,  personal statistics tracker (miles hiked, elevation gained, calories burned, etc.). The app will show you trails near you or you can search by destination. The map feature is handy so that you can keep track of how far you have left (or how far you’ve already come!).  Just remember to download the map before you hit the trail as you may not have signal once you get out in the boonies, and many trails aren’t well marked.  Some features require subscription to the “Pro” version, but many are free.

Pack a bag.  Unless it is a super short hike, we always take at least one bag.  Most of the time, we each take one.  What do we take with us?  Water, water, water, and more water.  I know 2, 3,…5 miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but you want to make sure you have plenty (now, you don’t want to overdo it and drink too much either).  Snacks.  We usually take some granola bars, slim jim sticks, or snack crackers, just something to get a little boost of energy if you need it.  This is especially helpful if you have kids with you.  I mean they think they’re starving on a regular day, let alone on a 2-3 hour hike.  Rain gear.  We’ve been rained on more than once, so we now take a cheap poncho with us, just in case.  1st aid kit.  We have a small one with just some band-aids, wipes, and antibiotic ointment.  Bug spray and sunscreen.  If you’re not going to be out long enough to reapply, I would put some on before you head out and leave it behind.  No need to have extra weight to carry around.

Wear the right clothes.  Obviously, you will want to check the forecast ahead of your hike, if possible, so that you can dress for the weather you will encounter. Having said that, there are some basics that will apply regardless. First and foremost, wear shoes appropriate for the hike. We recommend hiking shoes or boots. They will be more likely to provide the traction, support, and durability you will want.  Maybe more important than the shoes is a good pair of socks. Merino wool is a good choice as it will provide cushion while also keeping your feet from getting too sweaty. As we said above, plan for the weather if you can, but dressing in layers will allow you to adapt to unexpected changes in weather.

Start early.  This will help you avoid a crowd on the trails.  Depending on the length of the trail, it will also help to avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day.

Let someone know where you’re going.  Last, but certainly not least, tell someone where you are going.  Goodness forbid something unforeseen happen, but if it does you want to make sure someone knows where you are.

Resolution or Improvement: You Decide

Resolution.  Definition:  a firm decision to do or not do something.

Improve.  Definition:  make or become better.

Last night (at this point, last night was 3 days ago) I wrote a few things down as resolutions for this new year, most of which I had written down at the start of 2018, and didn’t even bother with in 2019.  There’s the obvious lose weight or exercise more, be more organized, etc.  But as I was writing, I started thinking about my day to day routine and what I could do to improve my life one day at a time or maybe even help improve someone else’s day.

So many times , I get up (late most of the time) and am just blah about going to work, and then by the time I get there (late) I’m already frustrated.  One look at the piles of papers and I’m overwhelmed, which leads to more frustration.  I find myself just having a bad attitude.  Ouch!  Not what one likes to think about themselves.  It’s true though! Someone will compliment me, and instead of just receiving the compliment and being thankful, I’ll come back with “it could’ve been better”, or “well thanks, but….”  Gah!  Why do we do that?  Just say thank you!

Which leads me to one of the things I wrote down last night….pass out at least one compliment daily.  Be it at home, at work, out for lunch, wherever.  Do you know how many times I see someone wearing something I like, or I see someone do something nice, or a co-worker does a really great job on something and I just keep my mouth shut?  Why??  Maybe because I know how I react to compliments, maybe because I tend to be reserved…whatever the reason, it is my hope that this year I improve my attitude, pass out the compliments, and in doing so maybe improve someone else’s day.

So, for me, that’s what 2020 is going to look like: improving.  Rather than making resolutions that I’m bound to fail at, I’m going to work on improving one minute ( to work earlier) , one pile of papers, one workout, one blog post, one compliment at a time.

What about you?  Is there anything you hope to improve on in 2020?  Maybe you could join me in giving out daily compliments.  Imagine how many days we could improve if we all speak up when we see something we like or to recognize a job well done.

Five Hikes To Take In The Smokies

We try to squeeze at least one hike in every year when we go to the Smoky Mountains, so I’m sharing five of our favorites with you.

Rainbow Falls.  This trail is rated as moderate in difficulty, however you are climbing up most of the way to the falls.  That just means the way down is easier, right?!  It is 5.4 miles round trip and takes between 3-5 hours to complete.  You will likely hear  water flowing several times and think you’re close.  Just be patient… you will get there.   About half way to the actual Rainbow Falls, there is a smaller, but very pretty, waterfall that is worth taking a break and snapping some pics.  If it is a sunny day and you are lucky when you make it to the falls, you may get to see a rainbow created by the mist.  Be careful on the rocks around the falls, they do get very slippery due to all the mist.

Grotto Falls.  Another trail rated moderate in difficulty.  I would say that is more true on this one.  It is only 2.6 miles round trip.  Terrick was fairly young when we hiked this one, and didn’t have any trouble.  You are able to walk behind the waterfall which is a cool experience.  We did get to see some black bears in the distance, too!

Laurel Falls.  Laurel Falls is one of the most popular trails in the Smokies, so it can get pretty crowded.  I would recommend going early.  The trail is paved and is probably the easiest one we have hiked.  Depending on how much time you spend at the falls, you can make it there and back in less than 2 hours.  Of these five hikes (four with falls), Laurel Falls is the prettiest in my opinion.  The falls are 80 feet high, and flow down into a stream at the bottom of the upper section.  They continue under a walkway bridge and form the lower section.  Great spot for pictures!

Baskins Creek Falls. Phew!  This is definitely the most difficult hike we’ve taken in the Smokies, although it is rated as moderate as well.  This is a good hike if you don’t like crowds, as it is not one of the most well known trails.  Definitely take plenty of water and wear good shoes on this one!  There are a few places you will need to use both hands to steady yourself going up or down some rocky areas.  The waterfall at the end is neat, although getting closer to it is a little tricky.  Let’s just say one of us ended up with some wet pants, socks & shoes.  The trek back is mostly uphill, and we’re talking pretty steep.  If you hike this in the winter or spring, there are some decent views of Gatlinburg at the beginning of the trail.  We also spotted two deer on our hike. *Hint:  Don’t cost yourself extra time looking for the Baskins Creek Falls sign (it doesn’t exist).  The sign that says Baskins Creek Trails is indeed what you’re looking for.

Cucumber Gap.  I think this may be my favorite of these five.  There are two trail heads – Little River Trailhead or Jakes Creek Trailhead.  We started on the Little River which literally runs parallel to the river.  It was so peaceful, and this half of the trail is flat making it very easy.  I love listening to the sound of the water flowing and watching it flow over the rocks.  Beautiful!  About an hour in, if you start on the Little River Trailhead, you come to a bridge and will see a stream that is fed by Huskey Branch Falls.  Get off the beaten path just a little bit if you’re able and take the short climb to get a better view of the falls. Although not as large as some of the other falls in the park, they are worth seeing.  The second half of the trail is a little more difficult, but not bad.  There are a few exposed roots that you have to make sure you don’t get tripped up on.  There are also a couple streams you have to cross which, for me, just makes it more fun!  Be on the lookout for ruins of the early Elkmont settlers.  At 5.6 miles and about three hours to complete, it is well worth the hike.

Read my other post on what to do in the Smokies here.

Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls
Baskins Creek Falls
Cucumber Gap
Cucumber Gap

What to do in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg

Spring Break 2019 was spent in Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg.  Spring Break 2018 was spent in Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg.  Spring Break 2017….are you starting to see a pattern here?  We enjoy going year after year.  There are so many things to do.  You can spend as much money as you want or as little as you want and have a great time either way.

What we like to Do:

Oh goodness.  Where to start?  There is so much to do.

1.  Mini Golf.  We always end up playing mini golf at one of the many places to choose from.  One of our favorites is Professor Hacker’s Lost Treasure Golf, where you ride the mining train to the first hole.   There are two 18 hole courses to choose from. Crave Golf Club is one of the newer attractions in Pigeon Forge.  There is an indoor and an outdoor course that put a new twist on how you play.   They also offer mini bowling, which we’ve played the last two years.  If you are craving (pun intended) something sweet, grab a milkshake or a treat from the candy store.

Riding the mining car to the first hole at Professor Hacker’s.
The “twist” on how you play at Crave. Spin to see what you have to do…putt on one knee, close your eyes, etc.


Cocoa cliffs milkshake at Crave.


2. Parrot Mountain. Parrot Mountain is a sanctuary for birds that have been abused or just need a new home.  We went for the first time in 2018, and it was a request to go again this year.  I cannot say enough good things about it.  It is such a neat experience.  There are so many birds…parrots, toucans, peacocks.    In one area, you can feed, hold, or pet several of the birds.  We have not eaten there, but there is a snack bar area if you get hungry.  If you are really liking these birds, there is a baby bird nursery where you can pet the babies and make one yours if you’d like.

So much fun. Pretty sure we were having a deep conversation in the bottom right pic. Some of them will talk to you though…”whatcha doin?” has been my favorite.
Feeding the lorikeets nectar.


3. Anakeesta.  Anakeesta is a theme park located in the heart of Gatlinburg that offers several things to do.  Start by riding the enclosed gondola [one of us was a little apprehensive, so we did this the first time up] or the open-air chair to Firefly Village  where you can grab a bite to eat or do some shopping.  Take a humbling stroll along the Memorial Forest Walk area and read about the devastating 2016 fires and the resiliency of the people of Sevier County.  Sit in one of the many rocking chairs and take in the beauty of the mountains.  If you have little ones [or big ones…the boys may have checked it out], they will love to play in the Treehouse Village Playground.  Then, it’s on to the Tree Canopy Walk which is a series of sky bridges amongst the trees.  This was especially cool in the evening.   If you are feeling really adventurous, try the mountain coaster or zipline adventure.  One of the great things about visiting Anakeesta is the admission price is good all day long, so if you want to go back for dinner or to watch the sunset you can definitely take advantage of the opportunity!

Our daytime trip to Anakeesta.
Beautiful sunset from atop Anakeesta.
Tree Canopy Walk at night.


4.  Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.  Now, it has been a couple years since we went to the aquarium, but I’m sure we will make it back soon.  I hear they have a new glass bottom boat adventure that we need to check out.  I think my favorite part is the Penguin Playhouse.  The penguins are just so cute and always look like they’re having fun.

5.  Escape rooms.  While there are several of these to choose from too, we opted for Kryptology Escape Rooms in Pigeon Forge.  We did Da Vinci’s Challenge, and although we didn’t escape (bummer!) we had a blast.  I felt like it was family friendly, and the staff was great!

We had to blame someone for not escaping…sorry babe! 😉


6. The Island in Pigeon Forge.  We always end up here, if for no other reason than to take in the sights and sounds.  This is one place you can go that won’t cost you a dime, yet you will leave still having had a great time.  The dancing fountains are so pretty to watch.  There are so many stores to wander in and out of.  The Beef Jerky Outlet, Sweet! candy store, and the Parrot Mountain store (because you know…we didn’t get enough of the birds when we went to Parrot Mountain) are some of the stores we always seem to go in.  If you are wanting to spend some money, there are plenty of activities like The Island Ropes Course, The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel, or the Island Mirror Maze to name a few.

Dancing fountains with The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel in the background.


7.  Chimneys Picnic Area.  Back to Gatlinburg for this one.  This is one of our favorite areas, and also won’t cost you anything.  It’s so serene, but full of rocks to climb on.  Just be careful…they are slippery when wet!

Cades Cove, gem mining at the Pigeon Forge Gem Mine, racing at Nascar Speed Park, and taking the challenge at Magiquest are a few more of our favorite things to do.

Stay tuned for our favorite places to eat, shop, and hike.

Tough Girl (or guy)…You’re Not Alone

Anxiety, depression, self doubt, panic attacks….all words that, before late summer or early fall of 2016, I probably would have rolled my eyes at to be honest.  Not that I didn’t believe people could go through these things, I guess I just thought I was immune to them or maybe too strong for something as ‘simple’ as that to get me down.

Well….I was wrong, and wrong in a big way. We had just returned from a beach vacation, so I should have been relaxed, but instead I kept not feeling well.  My symptoms started out like this….I would be sitting at my desk at work and would feel dizzy.  I actually described it as somewhere between dizzy and passing out.  I told Dan if it kept happening I was going to have to go to a doctor.

So…go to a doctor I did.  In the middle of the night, to the ER.  I had gone to bed with a headache.  I was having terrible ones at this point (worse than usual as headaches had been a part of my life for awhile).  I woke up, head still hurting, heart racing, sick at my stomach, in a cold sweat.  If I remember correctly, the ER diagnosis was heart palpitations.  The reality of it was, it was a panic attack.  The first of many to come.  I just didn’t know it yet.

I had no family doctor because, well…I wasn’t sick a lot.  A sinus infection here or there, but that was about it.  So I had to start making phone calls, find out who was accepting new patients, etc.  A few weeks and several panic attacks later, I was finally in.

Before I talk about how things went at the doctor, let’s talk about what a panic attack looked like for me.  If I’m going to write this, I might as well share the whole ugly truth.  It was rough.  I would get one of those dizzy feelings and that would start the panic attack.  I would pace the floor (sometimes for hours), I would have trouble swallowing.  I couldn’t be still, I played with my hair, or was just fidgety in general.  I had to have people go with me, and/or drive me places. I missed work, or if I was at work, I would spend a good portion of the day fighting off whatever symptom I might be having that particular day.  Thankfully, I had been employed at the same place for quite some time, so they knew this was totally out of character for me.  My poor family couldn’t do anything for me.  Trust me…they offered, they asked, they tried to distract me when I was in the throes of a panic attack.

I went through lots of blood work, took a heart scan, wore a heart monitor, made another trip to the ER.  I kept telling my new doctor I was not an anxious person, there was nothing in my life to be anxious about, on & on.  He believed me…or at least I thought he did.  But when test after test kept coming back A-okay, there wasn’t a whole lot left that could be wrong with me.

Talk about frustrated…I KNEW something wasn’t right, and it wasn’t anxiety.  I didn’t want to see a counselor, I didn’t need to work anything out.  I was tough and could get through anything.  Come to find out, maybe I had been too tough for too long.

I tend to take on a lot of responsibility (especially at work).  I’m usually the one to call when there’s something that needs done…like rushing a parent or grandparent to the hospital, or picking up a niece when the other niece is in the hospital.  Yep, all of the above happened during the time I was having all these issues.  Every week, I would go in to the counselor having endured a new crisis, none of which would’ve been enough to get me down under normal circumstances.  But man, it was like I couldn’t catch a break, and these were definitely not normal circumstances.  At some point, I know I told the counselor I was exhausted.  I was on constant alert, trying to stop the next panic attack before it could start.

So what did I learn through all this?  Several things.  It’s ok not to always be the responsible one.  It’s ok to accept help.  It’s ok to take days for yourself.  But most importantly, I learned I was not alone.  So, so many people let me know they had been through something similar.  And that’s my sole purpose for sharing my story…to let you know you’re not alone.  I know it may feel that way, I know you think absolutely no one understands, I know it feels like it’s never going to get better.  It will though, and trust me there is someone out there who understands.

There were two songs I listened to on repeat during this time, “Chain Breaker” by Zach Williams and “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.  Sometimes it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but these songs were two more reminders that I wasn’t fighting this battle alone.

What’s In A Name?

Picking a name for the blog was probably the most difficult thing to do to get started.  I feel like I’m starting a little late in the game, so every name was already taken.  If the “.com” wasn’t taken, then the Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram was.  I knew I either wanted the name to have something to do with the beach or Ginger.  I used name generators, I asked my family, I made lists, I looked at everything I could think of that might give me some inspiration.  Every time I thought I was on to a good name, I would check and it would be taken.

Have I drawn this out enough? 🙂  Would you like to know why Ginger?  Ginger is my husband’s nickname for me…I guess because it sounds a lot like Jen.  The Just For Fun part is simply because this blog is just for fun, and I don’t want to lose sight of that.  So, there you have it…the reason behind the name of Ginger Just For Fun.