Mental Health and Self Care

In this season of quarantine and COVID-19, tensions are high and mental health is often ignored and forgotten. People are isolated, scared and lonely. Here are few tips to care for yourself and others in the midst of chaos.

  • Simply being kind to others is significant in this day and age. You never know what someone else is going though. 
  • Recognize that life is stressful for everyone so in turn take care of yourself mentally as well as physically. 
  • As a human, simply take notice of things and people around you, and simply see people. 
  • When life gets overwhelming, simply take a deep breath and take life 5 minutes at a time.
  • Therapy is a good-sometimes necessary-thing and shouldn’t be shameful. Therapy was the best thing that happened to me and I still go to therapy, from time to time, when life gets overwhelming.
  • Sometimes even medications are necessary and shouldn’t be shameful. Do we look down upon people that take medication for diabetes or blood pressure? It’s the same thing for your brain.

Mental Health is Health and we should keep the conversation going. 

Social isolation, Self-care, and Birthdays

My birthday is in 4 days and it’s a bit of a downer. I have to grow up and pay for my own insurance (I’m not intending to sound privileged but that’s the current reality of my life and it’s not the hardest thing or worst thing). The world is also shut down so there’s that.

Anyways, I turn 26 in 4 days, and here are a few things I’ve learned in the midst of a global pandemic.

 

  • Life is not all sunshine and roses and that’s ok.

 

Life is a mix of rainy days and sunshine. You can’t have one without the other. If you choose to fixate only on the good days and ignore the bad, then you are deluding yourself. But if you focus on only the bad, then you are also deluding yourself. What’s that saying, ‘Not every day is good, but there is good in every day”. Or something like that. Bottom line. It’s okay to not be okay sometimes. Life is not always ok, but it rarely ever stays there.

 

  • People matter. 

 

Yes, the correct term is social distancing but for some people, it turns into social isolation. Just be aware that some people aren’t quarantined with the ones they love so social distancing means they have very little social interaction. Reach out to the people you know. Write a note. Let them know that they aren’t forgotten in the midst of this.

 

  • You can’t choose the cards you’ve been dealt, but you can choose what you do with that.

 

This goes both ways. You can’t choose the negative things that happen to you-like in my case a car accident that changed my life. But you also can’t choose the good things that happen-like me not dying. You choose-positively or negatively-what to do with what you’ve been handed. You are not a victim of your circumstances, but rather acknowledge them for what they are and move on from that.

 

  • Self-care is uber important.

 

A lot of people, past me included, think they have life together, but I’ve learned that I don’t have to have it all together all the time. What a relief! I need to take care of myself. I’m learning that lesson again and again. I had the mentality that getting all better meant that I would have infinite energy and would be able to everything I used to. I was wrong. The idea in my head of how much energy I had is probably exaggerated and if it was right, it was honestly only a matter of time before I crashed in life. I probably was lucky I literally crashed my car. Just kidding, but in reality, I’ve learned a lot about listening to my body and resting so I can be the best version of myself. Self-care is offering people you love the best of you rather than the leftover parts of you.

 

  • Light always comes after dark.

 

It’s tempting to think this-the way the world is right now-will never end. But It will end, someday. The sun never ceases to rise again.

 

  • Yes, it can stink to celebrate my birthday in the midst of a lockdown, but the people closest to me are findings ways to still make me feel loved and cherished. Plus, it’s a cliche but I’ll seriously never take another birthday for granted because I truly am blessed to be alive today.

 

These are just a few thought about the state of the world and birthdays is social distancing. Thanks for listening to my thoughts and do your part to help this end soon.

Airplanes and other flying things

There is just something about taking off in an airplane.

There’s nothing quite like take-off.

You feel the momentum mounting under the souls of your feet. 

The plane starts to speed up, the energy building up and then you feel it take off from the ground and start to soar. That’s how I feel like these last six to eight months with God were. Here’s a few things that God has been indwelling in my heart recently with my move to hospital nursing, the Dominican Republic, and the pandemic.

 

  • God is here. He’s in the breeze and the rain. He’s in the quiet moments. He’s still there even though you think He’s absent. He’s there in the midst of chaos offering a nugget of peace if we choose to cling to Him. In some of the darkest moments and some the lightest recently, I recognized that God is still there even though I can’t see Him.
  • Smiles are the same in any language. Recently, I went to the Dominican Republic. We ran a clinic. I know a little bit of Spanish, but it warmed my heart that I could communicate God’s love simply through a smile as I was taking the person to see the doctor. God’s love abounds in those who allow it to permeate through them. I hope I am the hands and feet of Jesus in my daily life not just of mission trips to the DR.
  • Never underestimate the power of a well-placed kind word. We are all stressed out to the max-especially since the pandemic. We are all afraid of the unknown and then our bent is to lash out because we are afraid. In that case, a kind word means so much more because every word surrounding that is angry, fearful words. When people are hurting, a kind word is like a lifeline of hope. Be that lifeline of hope.
  • It’s okay to not be okay. I feel like this is a lesson I learn time and time again. I just recently had to deal with this mentality. I was coming back from the DR and I got a migraine. It knocked me down for a little while and I realized that I need people in my life. I need people to bring me food when I’m not feeling well enough to go to the cafeteria to eat. I don’t have to have it all together all the time-but I need to accept that I’m not okay all the time. God holds me up in those times and surrounds me with people that hold my arms up.
  • Those who say they can and they can’t are both right. There’s a fine line between accepting limitations and just sitting on my butt and complaining. A year ago, I chose to sit on my butt and accept where I was then, I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t be dating the love of my life and I wouldn’t be loving on little and bigger humans at the hospital. It took a lot of brave small steps to get me to when I am today, but I think if I didn’t have people reinforcing the idea that I can do it. I couldn’t do it without them.

PRESENT

I’ve participated in the OneWord movement for a couple years. The idea is to prayerfully find a word that is to be the focus of the next twelve months. 

My word for 2020 is PRESENT.

Present (adj) means: now existing or in progress, being in view or at hand and existing in something mentioned or under consideration.

My hope for this year is that I learn to be present right where I am. Over the last 3 years, I’ve learned how to be brave, how to live in expectation, and finally how to put my anchor down exactly where I am. In the past 3 ½ years post-college, God has gone over and beyond my wildest dreams. He has burst and continued to burst out of the box I place him in. 

This year, I want to be present in my life-my work, my small group of girls, my family. 

This year, I want to future elaborate on the idea of putting my anchor down and become present-smell the roses so to speak.

 

  • Celebrate the little joys.

 

Stop and smell the roses. Life is not all about the stuff you can accomplish and how much you can do. You miss a lot if you simply live life for the fast pace. You miss out on the sunrises and sunsets, the smiles of kids’ faces, and the smell of the ground before it rains. Life is more than the business of life. It’s about the moments between. 

 

  • Listen more graciously.

 

Listen to just listen, not simply listen to respond. Sometimes, people just simply need someone to listen to them. They don’t need someone to fix it, but to acknowledge that it’s hard. They just need to know that they are seen and loved.

 

  • Listen to my body.

 

It sounds weird to acknowledge that sometimes I sleep for 14 hours. One way I can be present in my life is to listen to my body so I can be the best me. I can’t be truly present if my brain isn’t clear. If I need to sleep for 14 hours so be it. If I crave chocolate, then I’ll eat it. The best thing for my brain and body is to balance rest and exercise.

 

  • Develop and savor little rituals.

 

Being present in the moment includes developing little rituals like waking up early to have coffee and spend one on one time with Jesus. These rituals help ground one to a place and people who you include in those rituals. 

 

  • Put down my phone.

 

I want to be remembered for more than just my presence on social media. I want to be remembered for my smiles and hugs and my encouraging words. I want to be remembered for my presence in my life and my dear friends’ lives.

Here’s to living and learning how to be present in my life and others.

 

 

 

 

 

12.17.2016

3 years.

This season is emotional. As the anniversary of my almost death-my life change-comes close I’m just a mess of emotions.

Let me just be honest.

Today was great but I was an emotional mess this afternoon-it was irrational.

BUT GOD.

ABBA-my favorite name for God-knew that I needed cocooned in His arms. He knew that I needed my small group of girls hugs. He knew that I needed Him.

I’ve learned a lot throughout my life, but here are just a few nuggets that, as the 17th roles around, feels a little more applicable.

 

  • God is “ABBA”.

 

The reason why I love this name of God so much is that I love the picture it brings to my mind. A picture of God standing with open arms as I run towards Him. He catches me and picks me up while twirling me around and around. I love that picture. A picture of a God that rules the world yet cares about the littlest thing that is bothering me. 

 

  • People can hurt you, but just because they can, all of them won’t.

 

This one is a lesson I’m still processing through. Throughout my life, letting people in has always been a struggle. I mean letting people into my core-the core of who Sara is. I have layers like an onion, and I learned the lesson of transparency without vulnerability. Let me explain that. I learned how to peel back enough that people were convinced that I was transparent but there was no real risk of me getting hurt. I worked through that and finally made progress and let a few people in. Then the accident happened, and I’m back at square one. I lost myself and figured that I was “too much” for someone to love. A person simultaneously proved that I was worth investing in and crushed my idea that I would ever find love. Then, enter God. God brought a certain person into my life as a friend and I was skittish. I liked him but I figured he would leave. I didn’t want to let him in, because I was afraid of the mess I would be if he did leave. We were friends and then he wormed his way into my heart. He was there. He stayed and who knows what the future holds, but he has taught me that it is possible to open your heart again. I love him for that simple fact and who he is. In opening your heart, there’s always the risk of hurt, but just because they can, doesn’t mean they will.

 

  • Nothing-no person-is a coincidence.

 

I don’t believe anything is a coincidence. I don’t believe that I was hired at MCS of a whim. I believe that I was there for a specific reason. I don’t believe God brought people in and took people out of my life for a reason. Each person I’ve interacted with over the years has shaped me into who I am today for better or for worse. 

 

  • My story is about more than just me.

 

My story while it directly impacts my day to day life, is not simply about me.  This life is about more than my happiness. It’s about God’s redemption of ALL humanity. If God uses me and my story to fulfill his purposes, then all the trauma will be worth it.

 

  • God is not afraid of emotions.

 

If I have learned anything in the past three years, I’ve learned that it’s okay to not be okay for a while, but I can’t stay there. I can’t pitch my tent in the mire and live there. I can visit there. There have been times that I pop right out of the hole, and there have been times where I have needed my brother or parents to give me a swift kick to the bottom (metaphorically) to propel me out of the hole. Love isn’t simply codling but love is telling someone the truth with grace. Two years ago, I hit rock bottom. Life didn’t look anything like I thought it would, and I dug myself a house down in the mire and was planning on staying there indefinitely. 

BUT GOD. 

God in his grace-oh sweet grace-didn’t let me camp there. He put people in my life to give me that swift kick in the butt that I needed, Oh it was hard. There were lots of tears as I lamented what was and could have been. I wrestled with insecurity, I made molehills into mountains, and I surrendered into God’s will. I’m not perfect at this in any means. I still am not quite there yet, but at least I’m not still where I was.

I don’t know what your story is-who has hurt you, what trauma has happened to you-but I do know that there is an ‘abba’ who loves you more than you could ever know. Here’s to believing that God has got this.

Things The Past 3 Years Have Taught Me

In 23 days, it will be 3 years since I almost died. December 17th will always be a bittersweet day. On one hand, it’s a day that I survived, but on the other, it’s a day that my life changed. Here are a few things that life and my brain injury have taught me in the past 3 years.

  • You only live-and die-once. 

This moment, right here, right now, is the only moment you are guaranteed. You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow so kiss your spouse, spend time with your siblings and friends, put down your phone and show your family you care.

  • You can do anything-within reason-that you put your mind to.

God was gracious in letting me recover so well, but it wasn’t without tears and attitude (Sorry to my family for all the tears. Thanks for putting up with my pity parties but not letting me stay in my funk). 3 years ago, I honestly couldn’t (didn’t) imagine the way my life has turned out. And I don’t say that to receive applause or for anyone to think I am awesome. I simply say it to 1) show how awesome God is in allowing me the privilege of carrying this testimony of His grace and love and 2) show what determination and hard work culminate in. I could have and almost did give up on my life being any semblance of what I had pictured it being. My brother has a list a mile long of things I said I would never be able to do again. The top of the list is working as an acute care nurse in a hospital. With my hard work, and it was hard, I was able to return to the hospital. Honestly, it was harder than nursing school, because I was constantly frustrated as I had to relearn things I had already learned a couple of years ago while dealing with migraines, needing TONS more rest, and hands not doing what my brain is telling them. All in all, I didn’t know what my outcome would be or what I could do until I tried. Never give up.

  • There are many paths to take. Don’t compare your path to anyone else.

I learn this lesson time and time again. Maybe you are 20 with your dream job or maybe life happened and you are still working toward it. Maybe you married the love of your life at 19, or maybe you are still waiting for the knight to come rescue you. There is no right path in regards to destiny. It’s not like you took a wrong turn somewhere and your life is ruined now as a result. Your story is your story, It honestly does not matter what anyone else’s story is, but someone needs you and your story.

  • Rest is necessary and good.

Im very bad at resting well. I’ve gotten better at it simply because I cannot function without rest in my life. I go go go,  then I hit a wall and am dead to the world for 24 hours. I’ve learned the benefit of a well placed “no” as hard as it is. I’ve learned that there are different kinds of rest that are beneficial for different moments. Rest could look like watching a movie with Sean, or it could look like taking a hike in nature. Rest doesn’t always mean sleep but I’ll be honest and say that I hate that I need more of it now.

  • Sometimes it’s crucial and needed to simply take life one day at a time.

If you look at the big picture, you can get paralyzed in fear and end up doing nothing, I know this happens to me more than I would like. I’ve learned through the last couple of years that oftentimes I can just focus on the next 5 minutes and then the next 5 minutes etc. That way I get through the day and accomplish something small instead of simple standing frozen.

  • Some times the best man is the one that is right there-offering friendship-as you pick yourself up and dust yourself off. 

I am a romantic but I am not one to believe in love at first sight or the right one. I just know that from my experience it doesn’t happen that way. Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that as a rule it doesn’t/couldn’t happen, I’m just saying that in my case there is something to be said about someone who values my friendship which was all I could offer at the time. I was picking myself up and rediscovering who Sara was and if I even loved who I was. There was this guy that I shot down simply because I could not imagine someone else understanding my brain. Honestly, at that time, I didn’t even understand my brain. To this day, I do not know how he understands/loves my broken and repaired brain, but somehow, I guess, through being friends, I let him into my brain a little and he was willing to learn the kookiness that comes with a brain injury-knowing who you are, but not really recognizing the person that woke up from the injury. He gets me, I get him and I love him for it.

Here are just a few things among the many things that the last couple of years have taught me.

Loving your Neighbors and Other Expressions of God’s Goodness.

“It is a gift to have a body that holds our soul here on earth, with a heart that beats and air that

moves through our lungs. It’s a gift to be able to come to God with our prayers. It’s a gift to do the

things that give us joy. It’s a gift to have opportunities to love our neighbors. We live an incarnational

life on purpose. God designed it that way. By our very design we have limitations. We can fight them

or accept them.”

Alexandra Kuykendall

I was just thinking the other day about God’s goodness.

Tonight, I was blown away by God’s goodness. Honestly, if you asked me a year ago, if I would be living Mansfield by my choice, dating the love of my life and working at a hospital

in direct patient care, I would have laughed in your face.

I did laugh in my brothers face when he mentioned something about me returning to the hospital setting.

I honestly figured that was long gone as well as the hopes that anyone would be able to love me and my

broken (albeit slowly put back together brain and “Sara”). But God in his goodness put me back together

piece by piece and placed someone in my life that could handle my put together self with grace.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, but right now, I can honestly say that God is good. A year and a

half ago, I struggled with believing-truly believing-that statement.

God is good.

God has a good plan for me.

I couldn’t see it. Sometimes, I honestly wondered why He saved me.

BUT GOD!

He has burst out of every box that I tried to put Him in. 

I have been so blessed by the unit and people in the hospital God has placed me with.

The man in my life who graciously deals with my schedule and loves my healing brain.

My small group girls and leaders God has put in my life to mold me more like himself.

The sunsets and sunrises where God shows His glory after a long day or long night.

So here I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God and realizing that God is not asking me to change

the world. He is simply asking me to love my neighbor-the people He has chosen to put in my sphere of

influence. Here I’ll be, simply loving my corner of the world. 

Behold Our God

Behold Our God.

 

To be honest, we sang this song this morning.

I was undone. 

I pictured God-the Creator of the Universe-seated on His throne in all its grandeur, but still caring about my small, minuscule dream to return to hospital nursing.

I pictured how blown away and astonished the disciples were to see Jesus standing in front of them after 3 days before they had seen him broken and beaten, hanging on the cross.

Overwhelmed, I sang “You will reign forever (Let Your glory fill the earth)” 

I was overwhelmed by God in that oftentimes, I show up to the throne room with a list of requests and petitions.

 

“God, can you……”

“If you love me, you’ll….”

“God, please,….”

 

I forget to simply just let Him be God. I was overwhelmed this morning-to the point of tears-realizing that even though the past couple weeks were hard, God had in grand ways answered all the prayers of my soul-even the ones I dared not utter out loud.

He opened (and continues to open) doors for me to go back to hospital nursing.

He brought someone into my life to calm my anxious soul and who pursues me with such grace and patience. This special person encourages my seemingly crazy thoughts and pursuits as I strive to figure out this new Sara that he loves.

He showed me my corner of the world and made me realize that Mansfield needs Him just as much as the places I’d dreamed of. He didn’t take them off the table, but rather He changed my heart and eyes to see Him in the seemingly mundane.

This is the God that I worship. 

This God who is seated grandly on His throne in heaven, but still cares about the seemingly minuscule desires of my heart.

This God-who is Creator of the Universe-deserves to simply be beheld in all His glory.

Behold our God seated on His throne

Come, let us adore Him

Behold our King! Nothing can compare

Come, let us adore Him!

 

This is something I was reminded to make time for. Time to just bask in the awesomeness of God. Time to sit at His feet and worship Him for all the things He has done and will do.

If you need me, I’ll be over here overwhelmed by the goodness of God. I’ll be over here beholding my God who as done over and beyond what I prayed and wished for.

You, love, are Enough.

Hey! You matter!

Right here and right now. 

You are enough.

You are a child of God and that makes you enough.

Not your GPA. Not your size. Not your abilities. Not that guy or that girl.

You are enough.

Social media has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. It feeds into this comparison trap we as humans fall into.

 I’m not as tiny as her. I’m not as muscular as him. My relationship isn’t as perfect as theirs. I can’t sing as well as her. She has my dream job. Her house is clean. She has perfect well-behaved kids. 

The thing about comparison is that you are comparing tomatoes and potatoes. Your story is yours and yours alone. No one else has the exact same experiences as you.

Think about science experiments. There are variables that affect the outcome of these experiments. If you change the variable, you change the course of the experiment. It’s the same way with life. There are so many variables that change the story-siblings, family, childhood home/country, DNA. Add to that the simple fact that people only post the good moments-the sweet moments, the well-behaved moments-not the messy, disgruntled, I-still-choose-you-even-through-we-don’t-agree-on-this moments. 

You, my dear, are enough just the way you are-simply because Christ says so.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” –Psalm 139:13-16

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

God has something for you that only you can do-not that girl you follow on Instagram who seems to have her life together-only you. I say “seems” because 9 times out 10 that is simply just the good moments she is posting. You aren’t seeing the whole picture but she is probably just as lost in life as you are. People probably think by looking at my social media that I have my life together (even though I try to be as honest and vulnerable as I can), but I definitely don’t. I may have a smidgen of my life together at any one point but it changes daily. The moral of the story is that God has a purpose for the experience you have and the place you are placed, even the people that He puts into your life.  

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I’ll get off my soapbox, but before I leave, imagine us having coffee together. I’m sitting across the table for you, a steaming cup of liquid goodness in my hands. I look you straight in the eyes and utter these words:

“You, love, are enough. Regardless of where you have been, what you’ve done, or even who you are. You are enough and loved. You are loved more than you could ever know by the Creator of the universe. He died for you.”

Remember that as you approach this week.

You are enough. You are loved.

Prayers, Praises, and Pleas

Prayer. What does that mean?

The dictionary defines prayer as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship”.

Often times, prayer is just a conversation with the Creator of the universe who humbles Himself to talk to you.

Have you ever thought about that? 

It’s really and truly remarkable that this powerful and wonderful Creator wants to have a relationship with you and with me.

Often times when I am in the pits of despair I don’t have the words to pray. Right after the accident, I couldn’t pray out loud because I was so grateful to God for saving me. I would start crying before I uttered the first words. I wasn’t ever able to collect my thoughts together, but I knew that Jesus knew.

HE KNEW.

He knew how hard it was to relearn everything. He knew how grateful I was for life, but how disappointed I felt about life not turning out my way.

He knew the depression, the joy, the relief, the anger and the vast array of emotions that floated through my head.

Even when things are going well, sometimes I can’t collect my thoughts. When things started moving fast towards this job at OhioHealth, my brain was spinning with all God was doing. While I didn’t have the words to put to my thoughts, Jesus knew.

He knew how overwhelmed I was about this chance. He knew the disbelief I felt because I had taken acute care off the table in my mind. He knew the paralyzing fear I felt about possibly failing.

HE KNEW.

How often do we not pray because the request seems too vast, too impossible, or too mundane? I’ve learned in the past 3 years to make room for prayer even if I don’t have words. The simple act of praising and spending time in the presence of the One who comforts me is enough. Albeit, if I have words, then I present them to God. If I don’t, I simply know that He knows and that comforts me.

Here I am, challenging you to join me in making room for the Creator of the universe in my mundane life. Let me encourage you that He knows your hurt, your heartbreak, your fears, your joys, and your excitements.