Saturday, May 28, 2016

mental health link up

This month the #NWArkCares bloggers have been tackling MENTAL HEALTH. 

This topic is raw and real. It means different things to different people. It's brought inward reflection, verbal processing over coffee and some real feelings and realizations expressed for the first time.

Link your posts, resources and reflections below so we can have all our posts in one place!

What stood out to you most this month?  What do these posts have you thinking about?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

what can you do: Mental Health

So this month, I've spent some time sharing my story with anxiety and how I've learned to cope with the issues I deal with, but what about the rest?

I'll tell you in researching and beginning conversation with some Northwest Arkansas Bloggers, I've realized that we like to think about this issue in terms of the big 3 or those people going to counseling or who don't have it bad enough to need it, but there are a lot of "diseases" and "disorders" that fall in to this arena.

I remember when I was at my first cancer appointment with my doctor and he asked me, "have you had any mood swings or changes in your mental health?" Evidently mood swings and changes in mental feelings are a Stage 4 sign of Hodgkins.  But, my response that day was, "well, nothing worse than the way I normally feel in winter."  While undiagnosed, I know I deal with some layer/form/version of SAD, seasonal affect disorder.

That's the kind of thing I'm talking about...there are all kids of feelings, moods, behaviors that we lump in this cause and focus on this month, May, Mental Health Awareness month.

What is Mental Illness and what falls in that category?
  • So as to not insult or underinform, let me challenge you to check out this list of mental health conditions.  These are not crazy, tyrannical, movie-esque type people that we are talking about.  These are disorders that our neighbors, sisters, bosses, community group leader and the face in the mirror all deal with! 
  • There are categories and subcategories of the conditions we think of off the top of our head.  Research, educate, and inform yourself.
  • Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders.  They cannot be overcome through "will power" and are not related to a person's "character" or intelligence.
  • Between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
  • Early identification and treatment is of vital importance; By getting people the treatment they need early, recovery is accelerated and the brain is protected from further harm related to the course of illness. (these facts from NAMI website
ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN KNOW AND WALK AWAY FROM THIS POST WITH IS: The National HopeLine Network has trained counselors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).  If you are in an influencing position personally or professionally, I implore you to keep this handy and use it when necessary. Don't ever assume someone doesn't need your help...these are often "follow your gut" moments.

In Northwest Arkansas, there are a few non-profit organizations doing something about mental health:
A couple other organizations to mention:
We all have a place in the conversation.  Defending and understanding the ones we love.  Protecting and providing for the ones we may not.  Participate and get involved!

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

cope with hope

Last week, I tried to be pretty candid and share about my own struggle with anxiety and previously,

I must have been pretty spot on because my husband had shared this Tony Evans sermon on anxiety with me over the weekend.  No, I didn't take offense to it because I'm learning part of us growing together as a couple is learning how to be real and raw with myself and recognize my flaws. (getting married will do that to you!) I guess I still need to go back and dig through part 1. And because I think you can't have enough Tony Evans in your life, here's another message on Slaying the Giants in your Life.

So, If the challenge last week was to know ourselves, I ask you the question: when the giants come, how do you cope?

Some of the things I do to keep myself from falling off the wagon include:
  • writing - yep that's how @bigpittstop got started!
  • shut everything down - sometimes I just have to stop and walk away.  Its how I can take the deep breath, think about something else and just get my mind around all that is in front of me.
  • get away - like physically move to a new location.  But, you know a vacation, windshield time or new scenery really do my heart good.  I can process, get real with myself and develop a better plan of attack.
  • find a rock of a husband who just doesn't get mixed up or messed up by the things that overwhelm me. Follow his lead, learn from his example and observe what makes him let things roll off his {proverbial} back.
  • sometimes, I eat an oatmeal creme pie.  I'm sure it has something to do with that hidden magic ingredient in the creme and the cookie, but nothing can make me feel better like a fresh...gas station oatmeal creme pie.  I say gas station because I cannnot be trusted alone with a whole box! (being real with myself)
  • clean - sometimes scrubbing away dirt does something.  Maybe its the cleaning products but it can be as simple as putting on a load of clothes or loading the dishwasher.  Some days are bad enough that its a throw on Beyonce and open the windows because nothing is getting left behind kind of scrub!
  • fight for a cause (volunteer) - I LOVE volunteering.  And, I think one of the reasons is that I can redirect my energy and focus to making someone or something better.  When I take the things that are making me anxious and pour them in to a cause, I find that I'm channeling change in just a different way.
  • windshield time - I do my best thinking in the car.  Open road. Sometimes silence. Sometimes podcast.  But, just the open road.  I do recommend if you are a dreamer and thinker like me that you find a way to write things down or better yet a dictation method so you keep yourself safe while driving.
  • take a bath - I think its the same thing as cleaning.  Sometime you just need water to wash away the worries and sorrows.  You need to shut the door and hide in the bubbles. (in not under!) Close your eyes. Take in the quiet and just for a moment forget that anything else exists.  Then go to bed.  Don't ruin the moment and get busy again.
  • pray and read the Bible - its terrible but this often does get this spot, the last one on my list.  But its where my mind should go first.  The root of my anxiety, fear, worry or depression usually stems to a lack of feeling loved, respected or control. God's Word, His love letter to me, reminds me that I'm loved more than I know, respected because I bear His image and don't need to be in control because he is.  
That my friends is all I need. Sometimes is takes a combination or just one of the things above.  Its never the same prescription for me.  Different times of year make one or more of these more feasible or not at all.

What do you do to cope?  Do you have something you always do?  Is it a built strategy or just a default mode?  I've heard from several of you that you scoot back to this place too.  What can we do to redeem our feelings and work through this together?

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

know thyself

"you know yourself"

It's what I say every time the anxiety kicks in. 

"You know why you do this. Its all in your head."

I often find myself, much like I did last week, overwhelmed, oober anxious and sick. I don't even know its coming and it smacks me right in the middle of the face. And, I'm pretty convinced I do it to myself. 

Using my current situation as an example (because its the perfect one).  I have a deadline, that I've given myself.  Its the one the makes the most sense to me. If a project is launching and you are working on the website for it, then the website probably needs to launch before the project...or at least simultaneously. Hence the deadline placement.

I'm anxious about it.  I can't find enough hours in the day (and yes I've resorted to getting up when
my husband leaves for work at 5:30am).  The anxiety clouds my mind.  It keeps me from thinking properly, lineral-ly, and strategically.  All important things when you're designing, building content and launching a new website with many layers and pages.

But, anxiety is not a new thing for me.  I had stomach ulcers in high school that led to lots and lots of tests.  I had a "pass out on the side walk" anxiety attack my first finals week in college that led to and EKG and more tests over Christmas Break that year.  At certain times of the year or tied to certain projects, I find myself drinking "the pink stuff" and I'm not referring to Plexus.

Tests always come back normal and show no signs of any damage, deterioration or problem. Its anxiety and I do it to myself.

I know my triggers, well most of them, and I manage them most of the time.

But, its why my brain works overtime.  I'm trying to keep my boundaries, the mustard and mayonnaise if you will of the highways in my brain. I try to work ahead and keep on top of these deadlines.

And, then there comes moments like last night when I had an open road drive where I got to thinking...and usually that's where I do my best thinking (other than the toilet and shower!).  Where I realized this deadline I was up against was/is self inflicted.  So as to not look foolish or make the organization I'm working on the project for look foolish, I set a deadline to have it completed by.  And because I've not met the deadline, I'm a FAILURE. Hence the stomach pains on Monday night.

I do it to myself, but I know its real.  I'm being raw.  And, in doing so, I'm helping myself cope. I'm hopefully opening a door for others to self discovery.  And, for those who do not experience this to understand the mental process that gets us "there."

Mental illness is serious.  There are all kids of common term "diseases" or "experiences" that people deal with every day.  Its not fair to think that one is more healthy than another.  The best thing is that there are healthier days than others.  

This month, my #NWArkCares group is focusing on mental illness.  Its serious and real.  As I pondered the topic for several days, my feelings were similar to our month that we focused on Domestic Violence.  Mental Illness is a silent killer.  The mind is a dangerous place when it is unhealthy.  Its can be torturous, violent, exposing, entangling, captivating and prison like. 

For me, anxiety is the thing that can get the best of me. Its a snare and snarl of entanglement that can take me down when its not kept at bay. And, most often, its performance based.  Its why I couldn't eat and lost 50 lbs the first year I moved to NWA.  Its why I couldn't stand up and clean my kitchen last Monday night. Its why I have to pause, take a breath, walk away, cook dinner, go for a drive or just "shut 'er down" from time to time. 

Its a beast. And, I have to pay attention to myself enough to watch it come on.  Invite accountability.  And just realize I can't put the pressure of performance and deadlines where they do not really exist.

What about you? What are you learning about yourself these days? Do you struggle with anxiety? Do you know your triggers?  What do you do to cope?

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

what do you really know about farming?

Hosting my friends at the Arkansas Farm Bureau today on the blog.  Social Media and Public Relations Specialist Mollie Dykes shares some thoughts on Arkansas farming and sustainability. It really does matter on every front and in every industry!

What I love most about what she shares is to push us to ask the questions and not assume; be educated and not just gain our knowledge from what other people are saying.  Heck ask the farmer... and in this state, you can!


You might recall the smiling farmers in overalls from books you read as a child, or you may be familiar with commodity reports on the evening news, illustrated with sweeping video of combines crawling across sunlit fields. Perhaps you’ve only heard about farming through confusing and unscientific coverage of issues like GMOs or herbicides on “health” blogs or talk shows.

As you might expect, the story of farming (and farmers) is much richer and more complicated than what is often portrayed through the media. Consequently, a better, more complete telling of the “farming story” could go a long way to clearing up misunderstandings and calming fears related to health and environmental issues in agriculture. Indeed, we could transform hyperbole and heated debate into a reasonable discussion simply by sharing the real-world experiences of farmers and agriculture experts and focusing attention on facts and solid science.

Farming is not only a job; it’s a lifestyle and a mission. It’s an American tradition practiced by a relative few who love what they do and take seriously the responsibility they have to help feed the world. They must deal with economic ups and downs and cope with complications beyond their control, such as weather extremes, insects and disease, government bureaucracies and selling products to constantly changing foreign markets. Contrary to some stereotypes, they must adjust to change quickly and stay on top of the latest technology and science (in many cases far more so than the average consumer or businessperson).

Like most of you, farmers care deeply about their families, their animals, their health, and the health of our planet. It’s for this reason that recent controversies surrounding farming are so troubling. Farmers have a vested interest in producing safe and healthy products for consumption, because their families consume what they grow and raise. They have a deep and passionate love for the earth and animals, because these things are the foundations of their livelihood.

If you hear about farming directly from the farmers and if you learn about the science of agriculture from those who study it and practice it, you will begin to see the bigger farming picture in Arkansas and America. You will understand that there is always more to a story – and more sides to an issue – than is commonly portrayed or discussed in the public sphere. That is why our Arkansas Farm Bureau summer Officers and Leaders conference was developed around the theme “Be Vocal.” We wanted our members and leaders to understand that they must tell their stories and share their thoughts on farming and farming issues with farming friends and neighbors and, frankly, with anyone who will listen. We believe that this type of sharing and an open dialogue about how and why our food is grown is critically important to the future of our industry.

The simple fact of the matter is that there is a lot of misinformation out there and there is very little of the “real story” of agriculture reaching consumers. For example, some people have a tendency to lump farming into a “big business” category because they’ve heard rhetoric about “factory farms” and “corporate agriculture.” While there are certainly a number of large companies active in the agricultural sphere, it is the family farmer and the small farmer who dominate, particularly in Arkansas. Statistics show that more than 95 percent of Arkansas farms are family farms, not corporate farms, according to USDA data.

The findings of two major, national surveys about how our food is grown were released a few years ago through “The Food Dialogues,” a town hall-style discussion presented by U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). Those opinion surveys of both farmers and the general public showed that, overwhelmingly, farmers and ranchers “share the same values as consumers on issues related to environmental stewardship and animal care.” In addition, the surveys revealed that 72 percent of consumers “know nothing or very little about farming or ranching,” but that 70 percent say purchase decisions “are affected by how food is grown and raised.” In short, people care a great deal about where their food comes from, but they know almost nothing about it. We want people to know where their food comes from and we want them to know the farmers and ranchers – the good people and families – who provide the food. We want consumers to be educated and we want everyone to understand all sides of the issues, and the only way for any of this to happen is for farmers to share their stories and say their piece.

This is why we continue to push our Arkansas farmers, agricultural researchers and experts, and anyone who makes their living in a field related to agriculture to stand up and “be vocal.” It is also why I’m asking all of the rest of you to take a moment and listen to what they have to say. Simply put, if you want to know more about your food and the sustainability practices used to produce it, ask an expert: ask a farmer or rancher.

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.


The Voice of Agriculture, informing consumers about the food production provided by Arkansas’ farmers and ranchers. We work to achieve educational improvement, economic opportunity, social advancement and promote national well-being.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

just help a sista

Do we really have to make everything so difficult?

I've had one of those days where I just don't understand why we have to make it so hard to do something that should be so simple every single day.  Maybe its just me getting through a new stage of life where everything that was super easy (like throwing away trash or donating items to a non-profit store or hooking up the phone or the internet not working, bleh).  Maybe its just a frustration, but I just can't figure out why we have to put these barriers in the way of people helping us.

I just made a phone call to a, that takes donations and they told me that they couldn't take my donations.  Now, what they really said was they couldn't come get the stuff I have to give them.  I realize I could drive the items across town, but some of the items I have are big, bigger than space I have to put them in my car.  But, I want to give it to them.

What's even crazier is in the next few weeks, I'm guest posting for the same organization in a different part of the state about how easy it was to donate my items to them and how helpful they were when I called to donate things before I moved.  So, when I moved to my new city guess who was my first place to call?

The actual conversation went like this.  "Well, we could if we had someone here with a pick up to come get it or if we had the time.  But, we are just behind and so short handed we just can't do that."  I proceeded to let her know I was not asking for her to come today, but I wanted to see if there was a regular process they had to pick up items, large household items, people wanted to give them. She took my number and told me the day they had a person with a pickup and some time, she would call me.

Having been someone who worked at a couple non-profit before I'm always struck by the thought of why we make it so difficult for people to do things to help us...

...maybe we even do this in our own lives. Its not just other people or organizations.  Maybe we do it ourselves, too.

I've been thinking through the layers of things that being married begin to reveal and one of those is the "rules" I have for the ways people can help me.  Rules for the ways things go in the dishwasher. Rules for how close we can be. Rules for the way I want clothes folded. And, am I so stuck in those that I can't let someone help me get them done.

I'm really trying hard, as a new little wifey, to not make it so difficult for my sweet hubby to help me.  I came home last night from meeting some new friends and the sink was empty and the dishwasher was running (and I didnt even ask him).  But, I couldn't let panic ensue about how many cups were on the top shelf or if the plates were all facing "the right" way.  He just did it, loaded the dishwasher.  I haven't even opened it, but I'm sure everything in there is fine.  The kitchen was spotless, the sink had those sparkle dots in it and I didn't have to lift a finger.

It all got washed and I'll get it all put away.

I just have to think, "someone helped me."  And, that's ok.  And, I'm grateful.

I can't be so particular or so stuck in where something goes or how it goes that someone can't help me.  This is something new that I"m going to have to learn because as I share life with someone, sometimes the bed is not going to be made like I want it to...or maybe even not at all. Or, the thing I needed my husband to get out of a file for me this morning so I could mail it, he didn't get it for me.  And, as grumpy as I got about it, you know what?  I went in there and I got it for myself and I put it where I needed it to be able to do what I needed to do.

So, I'm learning a lot about this, "you don't have to do it yourself" or "you don't have to always do it your way" or "within my rules and boundaries" mantra single Keisha got to live in.  But, I think that has way less to do with being married and more about being vulnerable and inviting someone in to my world. Yielding your "usuals" to allow them an opportunity to be part of your mundane.

Its ok to let someone else in and help you.  And, whether that's folding clothes and putting laundry away or mowing the yard or a craft project where everything isn't perfectly straight, it only matters that you were vulnerable enough to invite someone in to help you.

Dear non-profit, quit making it hard for people to give you money (or things you can get for free to sell to make money to do the programs you need to do).

Dear self, its ok to let someone else help you and do it their way. It won't be perfect, but it will be done.  And, you are going to survive.  You are going to learn this lesson and then move on!

(PS, I did this whole blog post from dictation while on a back road between AR and OK yesterday.  I'm already afraid of how bad my accent is going to get down....especially when I listen to a playback of myself complaining.  My desires of ever doing a podcast probably just went out the window.  My sarcasm sure has a twang!)

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ting's Mom on Saving our Planet

So excited to share my space today with my pal Karen, aka Ting's Mom.  After I posed my question last week about how to handle my "trashy" dilemma, I remembered seeing her share something on Instagram about a few books she has recently used, to talk to her kids about taking care of the environment. Since we are both South Arkansas gals, I thought it might be the perfect bridge to participate with #NWArkCares and what we can do about it in our small, rural Arkansas towns! 

Go green. Save the planet. Reuse it.

A year ago, those phrases were far from my vocabulary. I lived my happy life in South Arkansas oblivious to the world around me. My hubby, the kids and I did what we wanted and how we wanted. Not a care in the world about the environment around us.

And then it happened. We purchased new couches and took a family trip to the local land field to dispose of our old ones. I think I spent the entire trip with my jaw on the ground. All that trash we drag to the curb each week – it was there, just sitting on the ground. Everyone’s unwanted stuff piled high as far as my eye could see. And we live in a small town.

My brain started spinning with what the land fields must look like in Texarkana. Dallas. New York! Suddenly I was hit with such a huge conviction to take better care of our planet, and teach my kids the importance of being good to the land we live on.

Thankfully our county has a recycling program. One call to the trash department and a blue recycling can was delivered to our home. I sat my kids down and went through a long spiel about not throwing away our trash. We reviewed the instructions the county gave us about what could go in our recycling bin, and I tried to make it fun and entertaining for my kids.

My kids got on board – maybe overboard. Within five minutes our kitchen recycling box (don’t tell the post office I stole one of their bins, yikes!) was full of recyclables. The kids were running all around the house grabbing things and yelling “Hey Mom, can I recycle this?”

Thankfully, they have calmed down a bit, and recycling has just become a part of our everyday life now. Emptying the kitchen bin into the outside blue can has become a daily chore for my kids. Each week we are cramming stuff into the recycling bin trying to make it all fit while the green can full of trash can go two weeks without having to be emptied these days.

However, I do not want to stop at recycling with my kids. There are so much more ways we can help care for our planet. I found these great books from Scholastic that have been a great teaching tool with my kids. We all know we need to conserve energy, turn off the water, protect the soil – but do we know why? I admit, these book may have taught me a thing or two as well.

I’d love to hear what you are doing with your kids to Save The Planet!

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.


Karen is a wife, mom, avid reader and (newly proclaimed) semi-crunchy gal. She blogs about her family life at Ting’s Mom Blog. In addition to her newfound desire to save the planet, she is transitioning her home and family to a toxin-free lifestyle. You can read all about it on her ‘Mission: Safe & Health Home’ page on her blog. When she is not raising her family, she is posting about them on her favorite social media site, Instagram. She can also be found blasting her random thoughts to the world on Twitter. Come say hi, she would love to chat with you!