Tattoos, Anxiety, Depression & Jesus

Tattoos, Anxiety, Depression & Jesus

In this episode of the Two Kids and a Career podcast, host Jill Devine interviews Laura about why she created Seeking The Still after she was taken down by depression and anxiety at the age of 37. Jill and Laura talked about Laura’s journey and the process towards healing.

In the episode, Jill also asked Laura a lot questions about Christianity/Faith and why Jill would even think Christians would frown upon visible tattoos. Laura reminded Jill that Jesus is for everyone … no matter what you look like, no matter what music you like, no matter what! Laura said she has noticed the church has been typically known for what the church is against and not what the church is for. Laura would like to spread more awareness about what the church is for so more people know they are welcome, no matter what.

How to Not Do It All (And actually feel good instead of guilty)

How to Not Do It All (And actually feel good instead of guilty)

I kissed my girls goodbye and stoically rode shotgun with my husband to a treatment center for anxiety, insomnia, and emotional and physical exhaustion.

A life can be so full that it’s actually empty.

I see you there. The lovely one who volunteers for PTO, class parties, and church boards.

Yes, you, who not only chauffeurs your own kids to volleyball, dance and soccer, but also the neighbor kids and the straggler whose father frantically texts you that he is stuck at work and would you please…?

Yes, you, the employee who wins teamwork awards and gets promoted for achievements (which may mean more money, but always means more work).  

Yes, you, the one who looks at her calendar every night and feels her chest constricting at the rainbow blocks of commitments on deck for tomorrow.

You can’t remember the last time you had no one to take care of except yourself. The last time you filled a day with only the things that fill you. The last time your mind felt happily still, your body rested and your soul satisfied. And let’s not even mention the ever-growing distance between you and your partner. When’s the last time you talked about the dreams you once shared?

New research published this year found a significant increase in stress among mid-life people compared to just a decade ago. When did it become normal to be burned-out, stress-out and checked-out? How do you change the course of your life to avoid a full-on breakdown and anxiety diagnosis like mine? 

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not by committing to fewer things, it’s by committing to the right things for you and joyfully opening your hands to let the rest of it go.

It’s Time For An Energy Edit

I had an “ah-ha” moment yesterday as I binge-watched a new Netflix show called The Home Edit where organizing gurus Clea and Joanna tackle rooms in homes of celebrities like Reese Witherspoon alongside ordinary families like mine. There is a method to their magic, and I realized that the way they organize things is similar to the way I’m learning to organize energy and time. Here’s a quick overview of how I’m learning to stop living like life is an emergency and start being intentional about savoring moments of my life. You can do this too!

ASSESS your time

Ask these key questions about your current commitments.
– What on your list do you have to do?
– What on your list do you enjoy doing?
– What gives you energy?
– What steals your energy?
– What makes you feel lighter when you imagine not having to do it?
– What time of day do you feel most energized?
– What time of day do you crash?
– What tasks could you delegate to someone else?

what are your GOALS

It’s important to dig deep when thinking about the goals you have for your time and energy. Be specific. Consider all aspects of your life as well as your body, mind and spirit.
– What are your priorities? God? Family? Work? Hobbies?
– How much margin do you have? How much do you need?
– Are you scheduling every bit of your time, or do you have margin for when things go wrong (which they will)?
– Do you practice a Sabbath? One day a week when you practice downtime and delight. If not, it’s time to fix that.
– How are you prioritizing people over projects?

just say EDIT

When it comes time to edit your commitments to make your time and energy correspond with your goals, remember that “No” is a complete sentence. Feel free to consider me your official “Noach,” AKA No Coach. It is not selfish to protect your time! I remember when I was overwhelmed with three part-time jobs. I was literally sick to my stomach when I thought about resigning from one of them, but then I remembered that I work to live. I don’t live to work. I resigned and immediately felt the weight lift.

If you’re worried about hurting feelings of people who depend on you, here are some phrases I’ve learned to use when editing my time. You’ll be amazed at how you empower others when you model the wisdom of editing your schedule. And contrary to what you may believe, you are not the only one who can perform tasks well. Often stepping aside allows someone else to rise to the occasion.

Steal These Lines For Saying “No”

– Thank you for asking me, but I’m carefully protecting the margin of my schedule right now.
– I’ve really enjoyed serving with you, but I’m editing my time and need to step down from this volunteer position.
– I appreciate your faith in me, but adding another responsibility to my schedule will take away precious family time and I am prioritizing that in this season of my life.
– No, thank you! 

ORGANIZE What’s Left

Look at the flow of your energy and schedule. Just like you organize objects in a closet to make it more efficient, you can organize your time. Right now I’m experimenting with “batching” my work schedule. Mondays are for my team and weekly planning. Tuesdays are for organizational meetings. Wednesdays are for tackling my to-do list, Thursday is my video day and Friday is Freedom Friday. When I work hard to get everything done throughout the week, I can use Fridays to do things I enjoy and work on Seeking The Still. By scheduling similar tasks together and theming my days, it makes sense in my head, which helps me stay on track. I try to do my creative work in the mornings when I have the most energy. I find that I can do writing projects in much less time because I’m focused (the coffee helps, too). 

ENJOY THE FREEDOM

My default mode used to be pleasing everyone and saying “yes.” Kind of like my shopping habit and overflowing closet, my schedule was packed and my energy was tapped out. This was a big reason I broke down. I’m still learning and will continuously have to go through the Energy Edit process, but there is such freedom in knowing that I can choose to do what God created me to do and say no to the rest.

If you find yourself saying that you don’t have enough time in your day, it’s time to take a look at how you’re spending that time, where you can edit things out and how you can maximize your efforts. There is no reason you can’t have a weekly Sabbath day where you have downtime to only do things that connect you to others and delight you. In fact, that’s what God commands you to do! Free yourself from your overwhelmed life. It is possible and so worth it. I’m here to help.

Be Still,
Laura

P.S. I am sharing more Energy Edit hacks over in my Instagram stories this week and am also offering three free Energy Edit sessions where I’ll walk you through this process and help you implement it in your life. If you’d like to be considered, answer these three questions. The best is to come! 

Enter Below for a FREE Energy Edit Session with Laura!

Winners will be notified on October 15, 2020

[Podcast] Will you Choose Fear or Faith?

[Podcast] Will you Choose Fear or Faith?

In that moment when things don’t work out the way you planned, you have a choice.

Will you choose fear or faith?

 

 

In that moment when things don’t work out the way you planned, you have a choice. Will you choose fear or faith?

thatupcycledlife.com | SCROLL DOWN FOR SHOW NOTES & LINKS!

GIVE US A “THUMBS-UP” AND COMMENT IF YOU WERE ENCOURAGED BY THIS EPISODE!

In this episode, Laura Fleetwood reflects on episode 2 of That Upcycled Life with Christine Chappell and TUL Uncut Interview with Bobbie Schae and Niki Hardy. When something doesn’t go the way you planned, you can respond one of two ways. With faith. Or with fear. To learn more about Laura Fleetwood and her mission to help you seek the still in your chaotic life, visit seekingthestill.com.

———- Episode description: In episode 2 of “That Upcycled Life,” host Christine Chappell discovers familiarity with a project doesn’t mean it will be easy to complete. Watch as she pauses her vintage window rehab plans to upcycle an old thrift store glass container, and travels to Virginia to take another stab at completing her original window shelf project. This episode’s Upcycled Minute guest is Niki Hardy, writer/speaker and soon-to-be author. (nikihardy.com) In the minute, she shares encouragement about experiencing Jesus’ promise of “fullness of life,” even when current circumstances aren’t going our way.

———- Sign up to be notified about new TUL content weekly and receive 6 free phone lock screens as our gift to you! Join here: goo.gl/jB65pq

———- If you are a Christian author, writer, speaker, teacher, or conference/ministry leader whose passion is to encourage others through hard times, or to share your testimony of how God has “upcycled” pains from your past, we’d love to connect with you! Email us at team@thatupcycledlife.com ———- Be sure to connect with TUL on social media for even more DIY, faith, & fun! Facebook: facebook.com/thatupcycledlife Instagram: instagram.com/thatupcycledlife

———- “That Upcycled Life” airs new show episodes every other Friday. Stay tuned for the next episode of “That Upcycled Life” to air Friday, March 23rd!

Niki reflects upon personal grief, tragedy, and a medical diagnosis that lead her to discover that thriving in the midst of life’s storms was not mere wishful thinking, but a difficult-to-grasp reality that God promises to those who belong to him. Through her story, we also get to see how the Lord has upcycled that difficult season in awe-inspiring ways. Even the most broken things can be upcycled in the right hands! TUL Uncut is an unedited, unscripted video interview series that digs deep into real life stories about real pain to share the redeeming hope of the gospel message. It airs on opposite Fridays of the TUL show. Set your calendar for Fridays at noon EST so you’re the first to see new episode content.

———- Sign up to be notified about new TUL content weekly and receive 6 free phone lock screens as our gift to you! Join here: eepurl.com/dgB7qj

———- Connect with Niki! Here are some helpful links to learn more about Niki’s writing & speaking ministry: Website–nikihardy.com Free resources mentioned in this episode–goo.gl/tKaWHv Connect with Niki on Facebook: www.facebook.com/NikiHardyaut… Connect with Niki on Instagram: www.instagram.com/niki.hardy/

———- If you are a Christian author, writer, speaker, teacher, or conference/ministry leader whose passion is to encourage others through hard times, or to share your testimony of how God has “upcycled” pains from your past, we’d love to connect with you! Email us at team@thatupcycledlife.com

———- Be sure to connect with TUL on social media for even more DIY, faith, & fun! Facebook: facebook.com/thatupcycledlife Instagram: instagram.com/thatupcycledlife

 

 

 

Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open!

Dreaming With Your Eyes Wide Open!

Dear Messy Miracle,

How do you know when “busy” becomes “too busy?” Where in the world is that magical line?

I’ve been pondering that question a lot recently, because there is SO MUCH going on. When I cross the line between comfortably stretched and completely overwhelmed, the result is never pretty. Even though I know this, my tendency is to want to do ALL THE THINGS. Because they are all good things that help good people.

I’ve recently discovered something that truly helps me with this dilemma.

Have you seen the movie/musical The Greatest Showman? If you haven’t, you must! There is great music and several awesome messages about life hidden within the story and the songs. The soundtrack is now an anthem for my girls and me.

One of the songs at the end is titled, Come Alive and it repeats the phrase…I’M DREAMING WITH MY EYES WIDE OPEN.

The first time I heard those words in the the song, I wanted to sling my arms up in a perfect cheerleader pose and shout “YES!” That’s it! That’s the perfect phrase! I want to dream with my eyes WIDE OPEN.

You see, after my burnout & breakdown, I was afraid to dream at all. I was scared that I’d revert back to my perfectionist, too-much-activity ways. I was afraid I’d sink back into the darkness and the anxiety and the unrelenting overwhelm if I took on new projects, new commitments, and new dreams. And going back to the darkness was my greatest fear.

But God has been showing me that I’ve learned so much! I’m NOT the same Laura that achieved her way into an anxiety disorder. I’m different. Praise God! Because I’ve learned I’m not the One in the control. It is ok to dream and commit and do things I love because THIS TIME, I’m dreaming with my eyes wide open. I know I have a limit. I have a plan, and most importantly I am learning to live in God’s strength, not mine.

I hope this encourages you today as you face a new week ahead. There may, indeed, be some things on your schedule that need to go. There are some commitments on mine that I’m going to graciously surrender this week. And what’s left, I will give to God and ask Him how I should spend my days. With that attitude and by simply doing the next right thing, there is always more than enough time.

Thanks for reading & Be Still,
Laura

P.S. Here are a few things I shared over the past week. I pray they bless you!

 

To The Gal Who “Has It All Together”: Recognizing These 7 Hidden Anxiety Symptoms Can Radically Improve Your Life

To The Gal Who “Has It All Together”: Recognizing These 7 Hidden Anxiety Symptoms Can Radically Improve Your Life

People expect everything you touch to turn to gold.

You’re an achiever who’s always prepared. The go-to girl. The person everyone wants on their team. You’re so good at hiding your anxiety that you may not even know it exists. 

You appear to have it all together on the OUTSIDE.

But you are one mistake or unkind word away from falling apart on the INSIDE.

 

I know this woman well.  She was me.

For more than 3 decades, I thought I was slaying life. I was a model student. The first born of four girls. After college, I was a corporate jet setter traveling the world. I married an amazing man and eventually left the corporate job to stay home with my beautiful girls. Then at age 37,  I had an emotional and physical breakdown and discovered that while my external life was thriving, my internal life was slowly being eaten away by anxiety.

Looking back, all the signs were there from the time I was 7 years old.

I completely missed it. My family missed it. I was so capable. So smart. So headstrong. Sure, I was a perfectionist, but that earned me straight As and accolades. Sure, I worried all the time, but that meant I was prepared for any outcome. I was a problem solver. A dependable fixer.  I stuffed my feelings, which meant I was pleasant and nice to be around. I was diplomatic, never making waves or causing pain.

My anxiety masqueraded in qualities that the world rewarded.

But make no mistake. I was suffering quietly even as I relished in the praise.  All those years, the struggles remained hidden and dismissed where they grew and grew and grew, until my human mind and body could no longer contain them.

Please hear this. Anxiety is treatable. It is manageable. And there is great hope for those of us who struggle.

But FIRST we have to recognize anxiety for what it is.

7 Signs of Anxiety You Might Be Missing

 


#1 PERFECTIONISM
It’s great to do your best, but NOBODY is perfect. Fretting over anything less than ideal, cringing about the smallest mistake or imperfection, thinking about what could have been over and over and over again are just a few ways perfectionism revealed itself in my life. These tendencies often mask an intense fear of failure, a hallmark sign of anxiety.

#2 DISLIKE OF ASKING FOR HELP
When life gets overwhelming, it makes sense to ask for help. But people who have anxiety can view it as weakness or failure. I took extreme measures like regularly sacrificing sleep, self care, and joy in order to get things done.  I refused to ask for help. For someone with anxiety, asking for help feels a bit like crushing the soul.

#3 HIGH ACHIEVER
For some people, it’s difficult to be still. For most of my life, as soon as I completed one project or achieved one goal, I was immediately on to the next. This makes for an impressive resume and stellar accomplishments, but it’s exhausting and unsustainable. Individuals with anxiety often have a difficult time relaxing, so they fill their time with one achievement after another. It feels easier to chase self-worth through accomplishments rather than digging deep to see where the need to achieve is originating.

#4 REHASHING CONVERSATIONS
Overanalyzing conversations and outcomes can be a sign of anxiety. For some people, this presents as being off-the-chart diplomatic or a people-pleaser. An off-hand, flippant comment may mean absolutely nothing to one person, but someone with anxiety may obsess about that same comment for days.

#5 OVER-SCHEDULED
It’s healthy to have boundaries for your time and schedule, but people with hidden anxiety have difficulty saying, “No.”  They don’t want to risk disappointing someone or lose out on an opportunity. As a result, they are often frazzled and stressed by their busy schedules without recognizing that they have the power to make better choices about their commitments.

#6 IRRITABILITY (PARTICULARLY AT HOME) WITH UNEXPECTED OUTBURSTS
People with high-functioning anxiety tend to be on their best behavior around others. They do not want to cause waves or upset the status quo, but those pent up emotions eventually burst. Often family is the misdirected target of such feelings. (Ask my parents about the time I threw roller skates into a wall or my girls about how I used to go ballistic when they left tiny footprints on still-wet hardwood floors). Anxious people may blow up at their loved ones over something small, because they have suppressed frustrations with others.

#7 EXTREME PREPAREDNESS
Planning is good and valuable, but planning for worst-case scenarios over and over again is not healthy. There things we cannot control, which is difficult (but not impossible) for a person with anxiety to accept. Individuals who struggle with anxiety desperately want to control their life. Part of that control is doing everything possible to keep their true feelings a secret. They becom adept at hiding their anxiety and are often the ones you LEAST expect to struggle.

 

But here’s some good news … Whether you are seven or thirty seven, all of these habits can be addressed.

 

 

You can live free from anxiety. But contrary to what you might believe, it won’t happen by trying harder or doing more.

As I continue to share my story of burnout, breakdown and transformation, many find it difficult to believe that a “wonder woman” (their words, not mine) was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder at age 37. Sadly, I’ve learned that is more common than you’d think. If you (or someone you love) has a life that appears worthy of superpowers, try viewing their success and accomplishments in a new light. TRUE superpower is the bravery it takes to recognize underlying anxiety and reach out for help. Hopefully it doesn’t take a breakdown like mine to force you to do it.

You CAN have a successful life. You CAN accomplish great things. You CAN take pride in your efforts. And you CAN learn to do it without the enormous internal pressure constantly threatening to take you down.

I’m living proof that it is possible. That anxiety does not get the final word. Freedom is awaits.  Claim it, my friend.

Be Still,
Laura

Did this resonate with you?
Perhaps today is the day you take a step toward freedom, Messy Miracle.
Here are a few steps to guide your way.

About The Author

Laura Fleetwood is a Freedom Guide for women and girls who look like they have it all together on the outside, but are falling apart on the inside. She is the creator of SeekingTheStill.com where you can read about her own journey through clinical anxiety, find inspirational stories, helpful videos and practical wisdom about trading anxiety, burnout & breakdown for freedom. There is hope and you are NOT alone.

Radical Trust

Radical Trust

Allow me to introduce the idea of Radical Trust.

  Trust not in myself or any man-made thing, but in the only One who deserves such trust. The One True God. A friend emailed me this verse today, and it was a much needed reminder of where my trust needs to be:  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:5 Read that last phrase again: We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. Did you know that fear, all on its own, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones? Fear is just a thought. That’s all it is, yet it has enormous impact on our bodies. I don’t have much control over much in this world. Especially things like anxiety disorders, depression, and medication. But I CAN control my thoughts. I can take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. The Bible tells me I can. So here’s what I’ve been doing since I read that verse. Every time my mind wants to worry about how I’m feeling…or how long this yuckiness will last…or whether I’m going spiral further downward…or whether I’ll have to feel like this EVERY TIME I change medication… or whether I’ll be able to make it to Anna’s party tomorrow… or whether I’ll ever get off this medicine or whether…you get the idea. As soon as a FEARFUL thought enters my mind, I’m TAKING IT CAPTIVE and handing it over to Christ. Literally, in my mind, I snatch it and give it to Jesus. And then I tell myself. I trust you, Jesus. I trust you. I trust you. I trust you. If God is who He says He is, I can trust Him. Not just with the big stuff, but the everyday fears and worries. Yes, even my messy medicine tapers. If I TRULY believe Jesus walked this earth and loved me enough to take my place on a cross and that He rose from the dead, then I have to be able to believe He loves me enough to help me make it through this current trial. On my own, it’s impossible to take every thought captive, I know this. So, I ask Jesus to help me. Take this fearful thought, Lord. I trust you. Take the what-ifs and should-haves and could-haves. I give them to you. Again, and again, and again. I trust YOU. I love you. Jesus. Only Jesus.   That’s Radical Trust, Messy Miracle. If the only way out is through, then Radical Trust in the healing power of Jesus is the only way I’m making it. I think it’s time for a Radical Trust revolution, don’t you? I believe it would look something like this. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus.  Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. He is the Almighty One. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. Through Him all things were made. He is All Knowing, All Powerful, Omni-Present. He is BIGGER THAN MY FEARS. He is WORTHY OF MY TRUST.  He STANDS ALONE, I STAND AMAZED, Jesus, only Jesus. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. Snatch…Hand it over…I trust you, Jesus. P.S. Please remind me that I wrote this tomorrow when I forget, ok? In fact, let’s all remind each other, and often. Because your story matters, too. Where is He gnawing in you? Where are the cracks in your armor that let His light shine through? Don’t try to stop the unleashing, love. Let it flow from your mouth, or your pen, or your fingertips. It may just be your time. Maybe you were created for such a time as this. QUICK QUESTION If I could help you with one struggle in your life. What would it be? What is making your soul R E S T L E S S today? Send me a message and let know, ok? BE STILL, LAURA