What Elsa Taught Me About My Anxiety

I used to sit in class, hearing people whisper “what’s wrong with her?” I was unable to tell if these words were actually being said or if my mind was telling me they were. I was unable to stop myself from fidgeting. Unable to stop the adrenaline rush caused by fight or flight.

This doesn’t happen to me much at all anymore. This morning, as I rewatched the Frozen II trailer, I was taken back to the first time I saw Frozen. At the time it hit theaters, I was that sophomore in high school, struggling to overcome this anxiety that I had no idea about. The first time I saw the movie, I just wanted to be able to sit in my classes without having to dart to the bathroom every time I had that all-too-familiar fight or flight. Then, I watched the iconic “Let It Go” number in the movie and I realized I related to Elsa.

Listening to the lyrics of the song, I was able to connect these words to my own story of anxiety.

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation
And it looks like I’m the queen
I always felt alone with my anxiety. I felt isolated from the rest of my class in high school when I would have these episodes of panic.
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I’ve tried
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Panic and anxious feelings and thoughts truly feel like a storm inside your body. Your mind races, your heart beats fast, everything is swirling inside of you and building up. I always tried to cover it up and conceal it from the public eye. I didn’t want people to see that I was struggling. However, the more I tried to conceal it, the more obvious it would appear to people.
Well, now they know
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
Once I left high school, I started this blog (First blog post: Where it all began) and openly told the public that I have anxiety. Once it was out there, concealing it no longer seemed necessary. I was relieved to let it out and from there, the door was shut, I was no longer going back to trying to hide it.
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
Let it go (go, go, go go, go go, go go, go, go, go go)
I didn’t really think too much on the reactions I would get when I opened up about my anxiety. However, I had many people from high school approach me and tell me either they never noticed or that they too suffer from anxiety and that reading my blog gave them hope. Then I realized, as bad as this storm that had torn me down for so long was, it had also strengthened me. I had gotten through it.
It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free
I don’t have many regrets from my high school experience. However, I realized that being in college and distancing myself from the place where all of my problems with anxiety began made my anxiety shrink rather than grow. Life gets more stressful as you get older but it made my former worries and fears of not fitting in feel so much smaller than they felt in high school. Without these fears, I have been able to grow as a person and freely express myself and discover new opportunities.
Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry
Here I stand and here I stay
Let the storm rage on
My anxiety is still with me. However, when panic strikes, rather than flee from it, I fight it. An anxiety expert on Youtube shared a video where he says to become one with the panic and to embrace it. Welcome your anxiety attack and let it rage because then you’re in control and it will pass faster. Easier said than done, but over the years, I’ve been able to work with this method.
My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back, the past is in the past
Learning to embrace my anxiety and accept it as a quality that has strengthened me rather than weakened me has definitely helped me feel more powerful. I used to let my anxiety dictate how far I would go in life. It used to hold me back from trying new things or speaking up. Now, I’ve become stronger and more able to take charge in my work and in my classes. I’m never going back.
Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand in the light of day
Let the storm rage on
Let go of the stigma and you will rise as a person. Don’t conceal your anxiety. Take all of those worries and fears and let them go. You are not perfect. Nobody is. Trying to pretend to be perfect is exhausting. Instead, be flawed but strong. When that storm of panic rages, embrace it head on. You’re still standing.
It never bothered you anyway.
Thanks Elsa,
Hayley

 

My Hair Transformation

When I get bored or want a fresh start, I change my hair. It’s never anything drastic. I’ve never had the courage to dye my hair pink or chop it all off, although I think it’s AWESOME when people do. But my hair has definitely changed through the years and I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and talk a little about my hair transformations.

  • Toddler years: When I was really little, my hair was a dirty blonde color and never went longer than my shoulder. I had bangs (and a horrible cowlick).

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  • Beginning of High School : As I got older, my hair darkened and I let my bangs grow out.
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  • Mid- High School: I chopped my brunette hair into a bob.IMG_2604
  • Senior Year: I got blonde highlights and kept going lighter and shorter.img_1143
  • 1st Years of College: My hair became blonder and never reached past my shoulder.

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  • 2nd Year of College: I let my hair grow out and dyed it an ashier blonde. I even tried out extensions for my role as a Silly Girl in Beauty and the Beast.
  • Now: I went a more warmer/neutral golden blonde and added curtain bangs (never thought the bangs would be back). I’m very happy with how this new hair looks and I don’t plan on changing it up for a while (for now).

Thank you to anyone who joined me on my trip down memory lane. What do you think of evolution/transformation posts like this? Should I post more like this?

Be Everyone’s Valentine

Last year, I dreaded Valentine’s Day. I was single and I felt like I had nothing to celebrate on the day. Now I look back and think “Of course I had something to celebrate. Everyone does.”

Commercials and television present Valentine’s Day as a day for people and their significant others to show their love for each other. Jewelry companies LOVE Valentine’s Day. Chocolate companies LOVE Valentine’s Day. Sometimes I feel as though the true meaning of the holiday is hidden deep beneath the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, giant teddy bears, and Pandora rings. Isn’t Valentine’s Day about love?

I remember when I was younger, my parents would get my sisters and I a little box of chocolate and stuffed animal for Valentine’s Day. I would go to school and pass out those little themed Valentine cards: Hello Kitty one year, Pirates of the Caribbean the next. Then later, my Memere and Pepere would come over or we would go to them and they would give us a card and candy. As I just mentioned, it’s not about the chocolate (although it is delicious), it’s about the thought behind these gifts. I was young. I didn’t have a boyfriend. These gifts were not romantic gestures by any means. This was my family and friends’ way of saying “I love you.”

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Of course you have something to celebrate on Valentine’s Day, even if you’re single. It’s a holiday about love of every form. Celebrate romantic love, this post is not at all trying to bash it. I think couples should use Valentine’s Day to remember and celebrate the love that they share each and every day. Celebrate the friendship, you have so many people you walk through life with that love you. Let them know you love them too! Celebrate family, they love you so much and are always there. And, if you are religious, celebrate God, He always loves you.

If you see someone on Valentine’s Day looking rather sad and maybe even bitter at the thought of the holiday, please treat them kindly. If you know them well, tell them you love them. If they’re a stranger, offer them a smile. It might make their day a little bit better.

Spread love,

Hayley

3 Ways “This is Us” Hits Home

Many of you may be familiar with the NBC series, This Is Us. You may also know it as “the show that makes me cry every episode.” I do cry every episode, but they’re tears of joy with some tears of sadness. Mostly I cry because this show is just too real. I feel as though there is a little something for everyone who watches it. I know for my family, there are 3 ways in particular that this show really hits home.

1. Football Family: With yesterday’s Super Bowl, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much football is an important part of my family. This is Us shows many flashbacks of the Pearson’s watching the games together on Sunday’s, wearing jerseys and eating food. My family loves football. When I was younger, I used to avoid the room to not bother my dad during the game. But as I grew older, I wanted to be able to follow it more because being in the room with all of the chaos of screaming and cheering felt right. It’s not just my immediate family either. Football connects us with our whole family. Whether it’s my aunt sending us videos of her dancing while my uncle sternly stares at the tv, or my dad and his two brothers standing and cheering at the same time during a game, we are all united in that moment.

2. Adoption: This Is Us has many storylines involving the interracial adoption of Randall Pearson. There are episodes that truly show what adoption is like and the special bond that comes with having an adopted member of your family. These moments touch my family as we recall how our lives were changed when we brought my little brother Ty into our home. You can read more about Ty’s story here: Our Family’s Gift: An Adoption Story

3. Vietnam War: This season of This Is Us brought us deeper into the story of Jack Pearson’s time in the Vietnam War. Today, February 4th, marks the anniversary of my Pepere’s death. My Pepere was a Vietnam War veteran and there were many stories he proudly shared about his time in the service. There were also many he did not share. The stories told in the recent episodes of This Is Us connect me with my Pepere. It reminds me of his bravery and courage through the hardships he endured during his service.

I want to thank the writers of this show for creating something real. We need more forms of media where people can look at something and go “I can relate to this. This is us.”

My Favorite Five: January 2019

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away I made a post called My Favorite Five where I posted five of my favorite books, products, hobbies, etc. from the month. I really enjoyed writing this post because it helped me remember some of my favorite things and it inspired some of my readers to try out something new! Because of this, I’ve decided my last post of every month will be part of a series called “My Favorite Five”.

Here’s my favorite five of January:

  1. Book Lovers’ Soy Candle: My sister, Ashley, gifted me this candle for Christmas called “Sherlock’s Study.” I’m a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes’ stories and this candle is inspired by the famous detective’s study. It smells like cherrywood, tobacco, and rain and is the perfect scent for a cozy, winter read. These candles are sold by Frostbeard Studio on Etsy.

  2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote: Speaking of cozy, winter reads, I’d been dying to read the short story that one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn films is based off of and it did NOT disappoint. Turns out the film is very accurate to the story, aside from a few changes here or there. 10/10 recommend for fans of the film.

  3. The Body Shop Makeup Setting Spray: For people who want their makeup to last from morning to evening, a setting spray is what you need. This one by The Body Shop was gifted to me and it might just beat my go-to Milani Make It Last Setting Spray. It’s a refreshing, light, all-over mist and my makeup stays all day. I definitely recommend!!

  4. Room Essential Oil Diffuser: I had heard and seen so many people using these, that I wanted to see what all the rage was about. I was not disappointed. Diffusers make my room smell great and certain oil combinations can aid sleep, digestion, and improve your overall mood. The wonderful work of aromatherapy! (Hint: 2 drops Lavender, 2 drops Lemongrass, and 2 drops Eucalyptus help you breathe when you have a cold 🤧).

  5. Pressed Cafe Matcha Latte: I love green tea, but had a hard time with green tea lattes. I found most of them bitter and Starbuck’s matcha latte was too strong. Then I decided to try Pressed Cafe’s (a little cafe in Nashua and Burlington with a large menu) and my mind changed forever. I don’t know what it is, but their latte is just the right amount of matcha and is blended so smoothly with vanilla almond milk. Warning: Once you have one, there’s no going back. (Oh, and their avocado toast is to DIE for). img_2461

These are just five of my favorite things from January. Stay tuned for next month’s favorites.

February, here we come!

Hayley

Don’t Wear Yourself Too Thin

In my post, 19 Goals and Resolutions for 2019, resolution number sixteen said “Don’t wear yourself too thin. Learn to say “no” to things that overwhelm you. Learn to say “yes” to things that will help you grow.” In today’s post, I wanted to focus on this resolution and discuss ways to achieve it.

When I wrote my resolutions post, my brother looked over my shoulder and read number sixteen. After I finished writing the post, he asked me if he could show me a video that might help me. The Youtube video he showed me is called “The Closest Feeling to Death That Isn’t Death” . 

This video, created by Jaiden Animations, tells an animated tale of someone who overworks themselves. It illustrates the extreme case of someone working until early morning hours, forgetting to eat, drinking only coffee and energy drinks. The video offers advice on taking time for yourself. I saw myself in this video. Although I value my sleep and make time for meals, I do tend to take on tasks until my schedule is completely full. Watching this video helped me see that I do need to make room in my busy schedules for free time.

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“I do tend to take on tasks until my schedule is completely full.”

This video wasn’t the only video Ty has shown me that has made me reflect on this idea of “wearing myself too thin.” Not so long ago, he showed me a Pixar short called “Inner Workings” This short follows a man who’s regular routine includes waking up, going to an office job, and going home. Throughout the short, the man continuously walks by a beach filled with people partying and having fun. Several times, the man is invited to join them, but he continues his normal routine. At the end of the short, the man follows his heart and joins in on the fun, taking a break from his job and inviting his coworkers to do the same.

It’s hard, especially with the new school semester starting up, to find free time. As a college student, I feel as though I try to do whatever possible to build my GPA and my resume, while also working to make money. Both these videos bring up a very relatable point: We spend so much time making a living, we forget to live. 

But we can break this habit. We can make time for family. We can make time for friends. We can schedule date nights, meet for coffee, go see shows. We can take time for self-care, as redundant as this statement is, it is necessary. We need to read books of our choice by candlelight. We need to put on a face mask and watch tv or movies. We need to take a half hour to do yoga or get exercise. We can still work hard and be successful people without sacrificing our mental and physical health.

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“We need to read books of our choice by candlelight.”

How do we do this? We say “no” to taking on a task when our schedules are already too hectic. And we say “yes” only to the tasks and opportunities that will help us grow. Evaluate the opportunities and jobs you are presented with. It can be difficult, but we must choose what’s best for us. Challenge yourself, but don’t wear yourself too thin.

Life is for making a living, but most importantly, it’s for living.

So live!

Hayley

Puppy Profile: Meet Bruschi

One of my resolutions for the New Year (19 Goals and Resolutions for 2019) was to practice photography with my new camera. I felt there was no better way to do this than by doing a puppy photoshoot to introduce you all to a new family member. On December 29th, 2018, my family welcomed a new puppy into the family.

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Name: Bruschi

Breed: Shi-poo (shitzu and toy poodle mix)

Born: October 22, 2018.

Hobbies/Favorite Past times:

bruschi sleeping

Napping to Disney music,

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Cuddling with his family members,

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And playing with his best pal, Buddy.

 

 

19 Goals and Resolutions for 2019

I am a strong believer in starting over at any time of the year, not just the New Year. However, I always make the effort to jot down a list of resolutions and goals for the New Year that I can refer to and reflect on throughout the year. This year, I made a point of writing what to do rather than what not to do. I think using positive wording is one step towards a positive mindset.

So, without further ado, here are 19 goals for 2019 (in no particular order) :

  1. Read as many books as you’d like. I think at the end of every year, I collect and purchase many books, and only read a small portion of them. I have a goal of using down time for a free read of my choice.
  2. Stick to working out 3-4 times a week and include yoga in your workouts. One positive part of my 2018 was the fitness plan I established. I had a few moments of laziness or sickness, but I pushed through and worked out three to four times a week to feel good, both physically and mentally.
  3. Eat balanced. One takeaway from 2018 was eating too much junk took a toll on my health and mood. I also realized that eating very healthy all the time caused issues when I went to treat myself on the occasion. My goal for this year is to eat healthy, balanced meals and treating myself enough to prevent issues.
  4. Practice French. This might seem very random to some, but I am studying French in college. With this spring being my last semester taking the language, I’ve set a goal to continue practicing it, rather than toss all my knowledge away.
  5. Practice photography, videography, and editing. 2018 challenged me a lot in my field of study. As a Digital Media minor, I am learning skills in filming and editing video. For 2019, I invested in a Canon T6 Rebel and am planning to practice these skills.
  6. Create blog post editorial calendar. I am so tired of saying I am going to post more in every post I write. For 2019, I am going to plan and write blog posts ahead of time and schedule them using an editorial calendar. IT IS TIME.
  7. Write more. Maybe start a bullet journal? This goes along with the previous post. I love to write. I used to write daily, but now I barely take the time. This year, I’m changing that. Also, should I start a bullet journal? If you have, please comment below if you recommend it.
  8. Study up on screenwriting and play writing. I am taking a screenwriting class this semester and I am very excited to write for film or television. I plan to read two books I’ve purchased on screenwriting and play writing this year.
  9. Continue acting and singing. Do some shows. Performing is one of my favorite forms of expression and I cannot wait to be a part of more performances this year.
  10. If you’re passionate about it, go for it. This goes for all things. I sometimes let negative thoughts prevent me from trying for a role or a job, or even a new hobby. This year, I’m gonna go for it.
  11. Go out of your comfort zone. I still let anxiety and fear prevent me from doing things that make me uncomfortable. This includes being in rooms of people I don’t know, public speaking, doing activities I am not good at, or even talking on the phone. I no longer want to hold myself back from growing as an adult.
  12. Stay at peace with family and friends. I love being close to my family and friends and I want to express my appreciation for them and all the support they’ve offered me. Sometimes stress causes me to be easily agitated and I take it out on loved ones. My goal is to prevent this and practice having patience.
  13. PRAY MORE. Enough said.
  14. Recall one moment of gratitude from each day. Even the worst of days have at least one moment of happiness. Reflecting on these moments, no matter how small, will help keep a positive outlook.
  15. Take time away from your phone and make time for your loved ones. I spend so much time on my phone and not enough time looking up. I don’t mind doing this when no one’s around, but when I’m in a room full of people, or with a friend, I don’t want to be on my phone.
  16. Don’t wear yourself too thin. Learn to say no to things that overwhelm you. Learn to say yes to things that will help you grow. A strength and weakness I have is that I take on many tasks at once. This has helped me multitask and develop valuable time management skills, but it has caused high amounts of stress. I need to take care of my mental health and say yes to only the tasks that will help me grow.
  17. Explore your surroundings. Do local sight-seeing. As a college student on a budget, I want to travel, but know it’s not easy on the wallet. 2018 showed me that there’s a lot of close-by places I’ve never seen or explored. I want to see more this year.
  18. Plan another 5K and run some more 5K’s. I am excited to plan for another annual Roger A. Cote Run for Courage. Last year, I ran this race for the first time. This year, I will run again and run some more events that raise money for good causes.
  19. Graduate 🙂 In 2018, I found out that I am ahead enough credits to graduate in the fall, if I plan accordingly. So, if all goes well, I will be a college graduate by the end of 2019. Wish me luck!

2018-abstract-art-285173.jpgSo here are all my goals for the New Year. There’s no doubt there will be times I fall short of these goals or have lazy days, but there’s no rule saying that you can’t start over at any time. Let’s make 2019 a great one.

Happy New Year!

Hayley

November Gratitude

Every year, I have a goal of doing a gratitude journal for the month of November. With the weeks leading to Thanksgiving, I have attempted to mark at least three things I am grateful for throughout the day. I typically only last a couple weeks.

This year, I am trying again. Only this time, I hope to make this a daily habit. I think it is important to see the good in every day, even the worst ones.

Today was a long day. It was a day of trial and error. It was one of those days where finding myself in my home after being out all day felt especially comforting and safe. But, despite all of the obstacles I faced today, I found somethings to be grateful for.

  1. For a video project I’m working on, I witnessed my first Special Olympics game. I am touched by the smiles, support, and teamwork I experienced from the teams today.
  2. Today was cold. I am grateful for the comfort of a hot cup of tea on a cold day.
  3. As I write this post, my youngest sister is asking Alexa to play miscellaneous songs for her to interpretive dance to. This is her way of making me laugh. It’s working…even with her Miranda sings voice impersonation.

Just writing these things has allowed my mind to process my day and slow down my thoughts. Today had its hardships, but it had its highlights too. There’s always something to be grateful for.

The Picture

I’ve thought a lot about writing lately. It’s something I used to do so often and it saddens me that I don’t practice this skill more on my free time.

I used to write a lot of poetry, especially as a teenager. However, when I was younger, I used to write stories. Often fictional, these stories were written to humor or to entertain. When I started writing papers in high school, my teacher told me when writing non-fiction, I had to write more seriously. Her exact words were “Hayley, you are a great writer, but you have to write more..well..boring.”

I tried to practice this. But somewhere along the road, I began to take true personal stories and write them as if they were a work of fiction. I told my stories in the same lens I would use if I were writing one of the fictional stories I wrote in my childhood. I didn’t want someone to read my work and yawn. I wanted them to feel as though I was there with them, telling them the story conversationally. It stuck.

The reason I am telling you all about this is because today is the anniversary of my Grammy’s passing and I have a story to tell about the last memory I have with her. It is titled, “The Picture.” It goes like this:

I was greeted by my aunt’s somber face as I walked through the front door of her home-turned-hospice. “She’s not having a good day today, sadly. She’s in a lot of pain.” Nodding, I braced myself for the tough scene I was about to find myself in. I walked through the doorway, said hello to my Grandpa, and saw her. My Grammy lay in bed, her skin tinted purple from the neck down. She lay on her side, unable to speak much, but aware of her surroundings. A slide show of family photos played on the tv. I said hello and gave her a light kiss on the cheek. She tried to smile. As I leaned over her I saw she was eating a lollipop. She barely had an appetite, but it didn’t stop her sweet tooth. As she watched the slideshow, I said “I have one with me.” I reached in my purse and slid out the photo I had been keeping in there for weeks. It was of the two of us: I was about one or two years old and I sat on her lap, pacifier in mouth, pink footed pajamas. Her mouth was slightly agape, probably mid-song. I handed it to her. She grasped it and looked at it with an intense focus. Although her mouth could not form the expression, her eyes smiled. This was how I left her, lollipop in one hand, our picture in the other, her eyes sparkling.

A day or two after that, my Grammy slipped into a coma. A week later, she passed away. That week and the days that followed are hard memories to bring back. The little moments shared with my cousins and family made the pain bearable: The tally of how many life saver mints were eaten between the six of us grandchildren sitting in the funeral home lobby, the awkwardly loud laughs following the stories of my aunt, uncles’, and father’s childhood with my Grammy and Grandpa. But the moment I take with me always is what I walked into at that wake. My aunt stopped me before I walked into the viewing room, “I’m so sorry Hayley. I knew you and her were like this.” She crossed her fingers, an expression of closeness. “Hayley, I have something for you. She was holding this when she passed away.” I looked down at the item in her hands: a little girl in pink pajamas and a pacifier stared at the camera, her role model holding her, mouth slightly open in mid-song. It was slightly sticky with green apple lollipop. I smiled and I took the picture, our picture, from her hands. “Thank you.”

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Five years later, I slipped the same picture into a pocket inside my costume, located right near my heart, and stepped onto the North Shore Music Theatre stage and performed for my Grammy, and for all other people affected by cancer. In a few weeks, I will do this again in another show with Voices of Hope Boston, an organization that has enabled me to perform in memory of my Grammy and to help raise money towards cancer research. I will continue to do this with our picture held against my heart, forever my angel.