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4/30: I want to break free!

This seems to be a reoccurring topic of conversation for my fiancée and I. She’s mostly fearless and I’m fearful of a lot. We’re an odd pairing when it comes to how we live out our lives but we somehow make it work. While she genuinely means well, her blunt opinions of me always stir up a ton of feelings for me. “You never leave your comfort zone.” My instant reaction was to be defensive. How could she say that? I do a lot of things outside of my comfort zone, especially with her. But, after collecting myself out of “my feelings” I decided to really take a look my inner scope and workings. This happens a lot when she talks. I like to think, it’s a mix of her opinions mattering to me more than anyone and she’s someone I admire and trust. When she’s on, the girl lives and dies by logical thinking; a trait I wish I could capture.

Today’s prompt questions my preference on safety net or taking risks. See below for the full question asked in the 300 Writing Prompts book by Piccadilly.

“Do you prefer taking risks or having a safety net?”

My heart pounds when I’m about to do anything that I have a fear of. My body tightens up, my face drops and I’m ready to curl into a ball and shut down. My knee-jerk reaction is to always go to what’s safe or what feels safe in my eyes. However, a safety net hasn’t always been kind to me. While it protects me from these fears, it’s also robbed me of experiences. I skipped out on amusement park rides, going places with friends, going away to school and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve been afraid of so many things. I don’t like the dark, I don’t like going out of control fast, or being at a height any bigger than myself. I don’t like to shy away from routine or what I know to be normal and safe. As a child and teenager, the world is your oyster for adventures of all kinds. However, I spent a lot of time terrified of what could happen; would I get hurt? Would I fall? Faint? Be alone? You name it and I’ve probably ran the scenario. This is paralyzing to feel and the more I age, the more I want to turn away from fear and into adventure and love. We’re given one life and I want to make it count.

I’m not totally denouncing my comfort zone. It’s a great place that isn’t just built on fear but my moral compass of right and wrong. It has kept me out of trouble and for the most part on a clean and safe path away from harm. It’s not all bad but for the most part, I want to break free like Freddie Mercury in front of a packed crowd. Life waits for no one and I’m ready to at least /try/ and step away from the same old thing and find some new places, new ways, and live with an open mind.

What do you prefer? Are you a risk taker or do you like to play it safe in your safety net? How do you carry out these lifestyles? Let me know!  

3/30: Always be grateful!

It has been a WEEK and it’s only Tuesday. Life is very busy, so my anxiety is a little bit peaked by that. I feel like I’m getting pulled all over the place and the balancing act isn’t my thing. However, I am still very lucky to have what have and be where I’m at. A couple of months ago, I was in a big fat limbo after losing my job of four years and now a few months before my wedding I finally got that on track. I have a fiancée and a family who loves me, my health is good. I couldn’t ask for more. One of the practices I do to keep me centered when in an anxious state is practicing gratitude. In my experience when my anxiety is at its peak, this practice can sometimes feel pointless or cheesy but when I actually put focus on the positive, the negative tends to fade away.

I did a search for prompts online for today. I wanted to give the book a break and also plug some sites that could potentially help out other bloggers like myself. Check out the Link for this prompt and others.  I’ve always done this exercise in a list, so check out the 10 reasons below:

  1. I am grateful for a family who loves me regardless of the distance or time we spend away from each other.
  2. I am grateful for technology. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to maintain relationships with the people most important to me. I always try and visit people and spend real-life time with them but when schedules don’t permit that, it’s nice to have the technology at your fingertips to see friends and family far and wide.
  3. I am grateful for the ability to learn on a constant basis. Age and maturity has given me a thirst for knowledge on a daily basis. There is always room for growth and betterment.
  4. I am grateful for a job that doesn’t make me feel like the other shoe is going to drop out from under me. I have always been fearful of the “firing boogeyman” on a constant basis but this new firm has not given me anything to fear.
  5. I am grateful for a steady paycheck and being able to afford to live in a big city. Not a lot of people have that luxury.
  6. As much as I complain, I am grateful for the gift of aging. It’s a privilege denied to many and I hope to God, I get to see even more years ahead.
  7. I am grateful for my fiancée for a multitude of reasons. The one that sticks out the most right now is her ability to soothe my overactive mind. I drown sometimes in a sea of scenarios and what ifs and oh my gods, and when she’s feeling 100% she’s an anchor of logic. I need that and I love that I have it in her.
  8. I am grateful for Twitter. I recently started one for this blog. Follow me @JMWeberWrites on there. Twitter has given me access to the #WritingCommunity where I can get to wander around so many talented people and dwell in the same space as them; learning, networking, and chatting away. It’s been such a help!
  9. I am grateful for my anxiety. It sounds weird but it is a measuring point for my stress levels and having it peak allows me to know when to slow down and re-evaluate.
  10. I am grateful for all of my streaming services because without it I’d be watching the same 10 seasons of Friends permanently on loop! I do that anyway, but at least not 24/7 much to the delight of my fiancée :p

What are some of the things you’re grateful for? I’d love to hear them!

2/30 – I am woman, hear me ROAR!

Over the course of my relationship with my fiance, she has gotten me countless tools for the betterment of my writing. She’s given me journals, fancy pens, not so fancy pens, and most recently a book of 300 writing prompts.  Today’s selection comes from that book. Thank you, babe! The book comes with lines below each prompt to write on but I know that I would likely go beyond the lines so I’m using some of these wonderful prompts here for this series.

“In what way are you are strong?”

Most of the time I have trouble identifying my positive qualities. I am self-deprecating by nature and it’s a habit that I’m working hard on breaking. To be humble is one thing, to self-loathing is another. I have found that my thoughts of myself have been shaped by the people around me cementing sometimes incorrect things into my brain that just are not true! As I age, I’m starting to realize my strengths while accepting my weaknesses. Not everyone will excel in everything and people can only hurt my feelings if I let them; best advice my Father has ever given me. Strength comes in many forms. For me, I see strength in my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self. Each of these differs in journey for the winding road that’s my life.

Physical strength, I excel at in brute force and ability to shift weight in many ways that most women couldn’t. I really don’t know how that worked out. I am bigger in stature so I could only assume that it’s a result of being that body type. I am able to lift heavy boxes in my office, I am able to break a part the cardboard when its called for. It’s a minimal example but it’s a valid one. My family jokes that I have “Monica strength” like Monica Gellar from the TV show friends.

Mental strength has been a journey for me. I like to consider myself a work in progress because it has taken me quite some time to reach the mental space that I’m currently in. I have been seeking validation from all the wrong places. Whether it’s in education or dealing with life, I have always downplayed my abilities because I found my self-esteem in what others thought of me. It became a downward spiral to live through because anytime someone spoke ill of me, I found myself in a tail spin. The acceptance that not everyone will always approve of everything I do was hard to come by. I’ve always had a need to be liked so it was a mountain to climb inside of my brain. Knocking on the door of 30 years old, I find myself less enthused by the opinions and approval of others. I’ve learned that it’s my job to decide what I need and what I don’t.

Emotional strength is one of my strongest points. As a self-proclaimed empath, I feel for me, I feel for the room I’m in, the world around me. I am forever feeling in the biggest of ways and sometimes it’s absolutely exhausting. I’ve done a lot of trying to push away my feelings to fit the needs of others. Being the sap in the room isn’t the easy of tasks but it’s not an impossible task. I am forever going to be the one with the most emotions in any room and you know what? That’s okay. The acceptance of myself has been the final hurdle that has solidified my pride in my emotional strength.

Last but not least touches on my spiritual strength. This has been an arduous journey for me. I was born into a home that casually taught the teachings of Christianity. We went to Sunday school at the local Lutheran church and for some reason I took to the teachings. Religion has always been a foundation for me. It has been the space where I have my found my moral compass and values. I eventually became Catholic in the fifth grade and completed my sacraments making me an adult in the eyes of my church. However, all of that was tested when I came out at 17 years old as a bi-sexual female. Catholicism doesn’t recognize my relationship as natural. “It goes against God’s wishes and teachings”. With my pending marriage coming up, I find myself gutted. I would love to be able to complete the sacrament of marriage with my own, I would love to find a way to make my union “valid” in the eyes of my church but the closed minds of others doesn’t allow this. But, I can’t be stopped. My faith in God is unshakable, I live by my mother’s example and pray without a church, and believe with a whole heart that God’s got me and despite how much it hurts he’s there with me and will be the day I marry my fiancee.

I’m stronger than I give myself credit for most days. While I may not always feel it one hundred percent, I know that it’s there. What are your strengths? Are they inner or physical? Are they hard to attain or does it come naturally? I’d love to know more.


Prompt Series: 30 prompts for 30 years

We are knocking on the door of the 5th month of 2019 and it happens to be my birthday month. I am a May baby; a proud Gemini, a spring lover (even if I think allergies are slowly creeping in), and so very into having a birthday. I know a lot of people don’t like to celebrate theirs but I have never been shy about the celebration of mine, but this year feels a little mixed. On May 23rd, I will have three decades of life under my belt. Three whole trips around the sun! The Big 3-0! It feels so daunting to me because it feels like the official beginning of my adulthood. My 20s were a cluster fuck of still being a teenager through the early parts and a second puberty/finding myself in the later parts. Turning 30 is terrifying because it feels like I’m forced to put my “money where my mouth is” and apply all of the things I’ve learned in the last 10 years.

Despite, the weight of the number I still find myself looking for ways to celebrate. Every day above ground is a gift, but every birthday is an even better one. Age is a privilege even if it feels scary and I will be so thankful to make it to my 30th year. While the little mid-life crisis is on the top of the radar of my mind, I will be experiencing so many positive things in turning 30 too. Getting married being the biggest accomplishment. A happy and healthy relationship to celebrate that I hope sustains me for the rest of my days. When I think about it like that, 30 doesn’t so scary.

My wish is to grow further as a wife (almost there!), daughter, friend, and writer. My passion for learning and growing will never end. With that being said, I am going to challenge myself to a series of 30 prompts to celebrate 30 years. Writing has been taking a front seat on my mind’s list of things to do so I am hoping that by putting myself to the test, it’ll give me a chance to learn and you all a chance to see my writing and see me a little better. Ideally, I would love to self-publish before 31 (speaking that into the universe) so every chance to explore myself I’m going to take head on.

I will be pulling prompts from the collection of books I’ve accumulated over the years and a few websites I’ve found. However, all prompts are welcomed and appreciated. Please feel free to reach out to via Twitter @JMWeberWrites or in the comments below.

DARE: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks (Review)

“The only way out is through.” That’s one of the many positive affirmations given to the reader in this book and it’s the one that stuck with me the most. Last year was probably one of the worst of my life professionally. I was in constant conflict with my managers, always having to look over my shoulder in professional settings and my anxiety was at all-time high. I saw a therapist for a little over six months but my insurance was no longer accepted at the facility. I was out of options and too anxious to try and get to know another therapist. That’s when I found DARE by Barry McDonagh. Social Media keeps me in touch with people from all parts of my life and a friend from high school was posting excerpts of the chapters of this book and I knew I had to read it. Everything on his Instagram stories felt like it was talking directly to me. After doing more research, I found out that author and founder of the program DARE, Barry McDonagh also suffered from debilitating anxiety. Knowing this made me feel less alone and less suspicious about opening my mind to his new suggestions. He had applied his program to his own anxiety and it had worked so I took a chance and hoped it would work for my own.

The book introduces something called the Dare Response, which is a new way to view your relationship with your anxiety. The key points of the response are defuse, allow, run toward, and engage. Defuse shows the mind that you are not in any real danger when you take on a blasé approach to anxiety, “Who cares”, “So what” are phrases that the author uses to allow anxiety to take on a smaller form rather than feel unstoppable. By using the act of diffusion, it replaces worry with power of the situation when anxiety makes you feel powerless. Allow is the means of letting the anxiety come as it wants to. Resistance can make anxiety seem bigger than it is. By allowing anxiety to just come and flow naturally through you, it takes away the fear of what could happen or what is happening to you. You have the control of the outcome. A funny line from this step’s section for me was when McDonagh says to sit down your anxiety and invite it in for tea. The visual created in my brain was exactly what I needed to see that I was in control of my anxiety and my anxiety didn’t control me. I was the one calling the shots and deciding what, when and where anxiety can appear. Run towards is the next step. McDonagh suggests that by running toward your anxiety you can change the perspective of it. He explains that fear and excitement are often the same and when the mind readjusts the feeling toward anxiety, it can reduce its power and change the way the brain views anxiety. A negative can quickly become a positive and instead of looking for the “boogeyman” over your shoulder, you can embrace the present world around you. The final step is to engage. Engage in something that takes up your full attention so the anxious feelings can no longer reel you back in. This felt like the most important step because it encouraged me to focus on my life and stay in the present versus stay in my head with the fearful anxiety. Furthermore, the book details ways to apply the response to several different aspects of anxiety such as panic attacks, health anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and fear of being abnormal. Each section details how to apply the response to the situation but also provides thoughtful insight on his experience with the situation or the experiences of others that he helped. I found several different scenarios relatable and have returned back to these chapters for guidance and help.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Self-help books aren’t for everyone but this method got me through a time in my life where I feared there would be no way out. Applying the DARE response to my life allowed me the confidence I needed to take back control of my anxious mind. While I still have issues with health anxiety from time to time, I have since gotten a new job and thanks to the DARE response I am able to contribute my experience with an open mind and heart to my position and have had a very successful three months at my firm because of that. I think any kind of positive outlet can help mental health issues and I would suggest this book to anyone who wants to reach with themselves and learn to navigate ways to better themselves.

Setback happen

Last week disappointed me greatly. I have been trying to stick to a weekly schedule for posting but my mind just went blank. My mood has been all over the place and my muse had nothing to give. However, I’m back this week to explain where my head is and hopefully give a little insight to anyone who has experienced a setback. My current mind state isn’t a total setback but I have definitely felt an unpleasant shift from where I was before. I will get better though.

Just like exercise and healthy habits for the body, the same applies to the mind. Since January, I have been over-the-moon happy professionally. I am learning every day, I am in a positive environment and in turn I am flourishing in my new position. My work life was a main point in my anxiety and mood levels so since that’s been good, I have been slacking on the maintenance that I worked so hard in the months before I was settled into this job. Well, that has to change.

The past two weeks have been up and down for me. One day, I feel okay and the next I find myself plummeting. The anxiety isn’t as prominent as it used to be when I’d hit these speed bumps but the negative mindset is roaring up like an engine at NASCAR race. Knowing my mind, if I leave that alone too long it’s going to trigger every other dark emotion that comes with it; anxiety, self-hatred and just overall terrible behavior. I am a very empathic person and I find myself easily affected by the emotions of others. If the environment that I’m in is blah, it’s very contagious for someone like me. Admittedly, it makes me feel highly vulnerable being such an emotional being because no matter how much logic I’ve tried to apply to situations, it doesn’t always prevent this embarrassing snowball effect.

In situations prior to my therapy sessions and DARE Response application, my symptoms would manifest physically with a vengeance. I would get dizzy, tired faster, and feel lethargic. When I feel any physical symptoms I turn to breathing exercises, lots of water consumption, ice on each of my cheeks, and DARE audio if it’s truly inconsolable. Each of these combined with the DARE Response of taking anxiety head on has allowed me to be in power of my reaction versus my reaction having power over me. I am no longer a prisoner to anxiety but rather have accepted that anxiety is like an old friend that needs a piggy back ride along the way. I am bigger, faster and stronger and am merely allowing it to tag along. “The only way out is through,” A positive affirmation that I picked up from Dare and have turned to a lot for hard times. I’ve learned when you run from something it gets bigger than you but when you face it head on it minimizes like a bully on the playground. For anyone further interested in the DARE response books, I’ll link the amazon page here but I am also going to be reviewing the book and my experience with it further tomorrow.

All in all, it has been a shitty few weeks in my brain but I am doubling down on all the things that keep me focused. I am attempting to sleep earlier, eat a little better, drink as much water as my body will allow and be more consistent on my 5 minute daily journal. Nothing is going to stop me from maintaining a healthy brain, not even myself.


Annual Nostalgia.

St. Patrick’s Day was one of the many holidays that took the face of what tradition means to me. Every year, my mother’s family and ours would share the Americanized meal of corn beef and cabbage with soda bread, and our green “beer”. As a child, all of this felt so regular. It was just something that was supposed to happen. It wasn’t until the tradition was gone that I realized just how special the time was. Since the loss of my Grandparents in 2009 and 2015, every holiday feels a little emptier without them. The further I age, the more I appreciate each memory because it has shaped me into the woman I am today but it also given me guidance for the future family I’ll have someday.

While I’m sad to not have my Grandparents around, I am so very thankful for the foundation they helped build in me as a person. I miss them every day but this year I find that gratitude is overriding the sadness. Without them I wouldn’t have the personal standard set to reignite the tradition into the next generation. With my pending marriage so close, I am looking ahead towards a lot of things in my life. I hope that I am able to have the same traditions and many new ones with my future wife and our children. I want to create a family based on the same amount of unconditional love I had growing up and leave my children with the same gratitude for the fond memories that we’ve made together.

Thank you Gram and Pop, I miss you every day but it’s your example that has given me the hope I need for my future. I hope to make both of you proud in the next chapter of my life. Both my wife-to-be and I have felt your impact and are much better people for it. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all who celebrate. May all family traditions carry on for you and yours through every holiday that passes each year and may your family get to relish in all of their special times together.