Without Me.

“Tell me how’s it feel sittin’ up there, feeling so high but too far away to hold me. You know I’m the one who put you up there, name in the sky does it ever get lonely? Thinking you could live without me…” – Halsey

 

This is a letter to those who’ve hurt me, discouraged me, threw me away like a piece of trash. This is a message to those who’ve trampled on me repeatedly and made me feel like I was worthless.

This is a note to those who’ve taken advantage of my genuine soul, those who’ve ripped my heart to shreds and those who’ve kicked me while I was down. This is to you who’ve made me forget my greatness, who’ve watched me drown all while holding a life raft.

This goes out to those who’ve caused me pain and misery, who’ve brought me to my knees in tears. This is to those who’ve made me question who I am and all I have to offer.

This is for those who were disloyal, unfaithful and straight up assholes. The ones who couldn’t truly love if their lives depended on it. This is for those who’ve led me on and repeatedly gotten my hopes up.

All I have to say is … get used to life without me.

My kindness will no longer be taken for weakness. No longer will I ignore the red flags that I so often turn a blind eye to. There’s no more free passes or repeated chances to be given. You’ll have to learn to live without me.

From now on I will be strong. I’ll spread my wings and fly like the goddess that I am, and I’ll rise like a Phoenix from the ashes. I’ll doubt myself and my abilities no more. I’m never letting anyone make me feel bad about who and how I am ever again.

This I promise to you … you will miss me. You’ll miss my friendship, my love, my never ending supply of compassion. You’ll miss my forgiving heart and my ability to see past all the pain you caused me.

You’ll miss me bending over backwards to make you happy and the constant effort I put in to you. You’ll miss having someone you never had to worry about, someone who was loyal to a fault.

You’ll miss the comfort of having someone so dedicated to you by your side, someone who would’ve taken a bullet for you. You’ll begin to realize the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and that losing me didn’t fix the problems in your mind.

One day, you’ll realize that you destroyed and threw away the best thing you ever had, and you’ll finally see that you made the biggest mistake of your life. You’ll search and search, but you’ll never find the things I could offer you in someone else.

You’ll never find another me.

But when that day of realization comes, I won’t be there to wipe away your tears or even see your pain. I’ll be long gone, on to the next, living life to the fullest. I’ll be so wrapped up in my new life that I won’t have time to see (or care) how you’re doing without me.

I feel sorry for you. I feel so bad that you couldn’t appreciate what you had when you had it. I pity you because I know you’ll never be truly happy with yourself. You’ll forever be fighting the demons in your mind because instead of fixing them you run away.

Maybe one day you’ll realize that no one is perfect, that everyone struggles with something. Maybe you’ll see that life is better with someone in it and that you never had to face your problems all alone.

Maybe one day you’ll understand that life is a journey with twists and turns, ups and downs, but true love is worth fighting for. Maybe one day you’ll look in the mirror and see how you aren’t perfect either.

I hope one day you can understand that you placed unrealistic expectations on everyone else without holding yourself to that same standard. Maybe one day you’ll realize that you were selfish, conceited and narcissistic.

Maybe one day you’ll comprehend all of these things, but again I won’t be there. I’ll be long gone, on to bigger and better. I’ll be in the arms of someone who understands my worth and values me as a person.

I’ll be with someone who never makes me question their love or loyalty. I’ll be with someone who thinks I’m beautiful just the way I am, someone who treats me like a Queen. I’ll be with someone who never wants to live without me.

Deep down, I really wish you well. I’d be lying if I said I never cared or wanted anything but the best for you. I just hope that you find the life you always wanted … without me.

 

 

XOXO,

Someone You Could Live Without

 

 

It’s Not Me, It’s You.

“If your heart hurts a little after letting go of someone, that’s okay. It just means that your feelings were genuine. No one likes ends. And no one likes pain. But sometimes, we have to put things that were once good to an end after they turn toxic to our wellbeing. Not every new beginning is meant to last forever. And not every person who walks into your life is meant to stay.” – Najwa Zebian

 

Everything was going so perfect, so right, and then one day everything changed as fast as a flash of lightening. What in the hell happened? What did I do wrong?

All I ever did was try to be the best person I could be, to love without fear, to let go of every lie that my anxiety constantly told me. I tried to be better, I tried to finally let down my walls.

Yet, nothing was good enough, and the end result was once again the same.

Many of us have experienced this all too real feeling of heartbreak and disappointment. Unfortunately, it seems like most of us are forced to go through it more than once in life.

Anxiety will always try to tell us that the heartbreaks and struggles in our lives were our own fault. If only we’d been better, prettier, stronger, more … anything, then this wouldn’t have happened.

It sends us down into a rabbit hole of darkness and self-doubt (a very scary place to be). Once we’ve fallen, it’s nearly impossible to find our way back out.

We spend hours, days and weeks trying to figure out how things could’ve been different. We search for every possible clue that could point us to some sort of resolution and closure for the pain we’re enduring, though we never seem to find it.

Anxiety will always make us feel like the failure in the situation no matter what, even when we had absolutely nothing to do with the decisions that others made.

All of this, in turn, results in weeks and even months of questioning our worth, criticizing ourselves and hitting rock bottom. We can’t understand what happened, and we get angry when we realize we can’t fix it.

You can’t change someone’s mind when the decision had nothing to do with you.

So instead of simply letting go, moving on and doing the whole “I know my worth” thing, we harp on every single detail of the past. We over-analyze every memory until we’ve gotten ourselves back into that dark place.

I totally understand this relentless cycle because I’ve been there many times before. Yet, today I generated a new perspective of heartbreak and negative situations.

IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU.

This is my new mantra. Screw the stupid anxious thoughts in our heads that make us put the blame on ourselves. We did absolutely nothing wrong. The way others treat us is only a reflection of themselves, not us.

If something was meant to be, it would work out without question or doubt. I don’t know about you, but I have no more time for bullshit.

Words are now merely words, it’s all about actions.

I don’t want to hear, “You’re seriously amazing, I just need to figure things out” or “you are the best thing that’s happened to me it’s just not going to work” or whatever other cheesy movie lines can be thrown at me. Forget that BS.

If someone really means the world to you, you do everything and anything to keep them.

Anyone who tries to tell you that it’s just not the right time or maybe things will work out in the future, leave them behind because they are making excuses. They’re trying to let you down easy so that they won’t have to feel so bad about breaking your heart.

I’m here to tell you that each of you are warriors. We all face invisible battles every single day, and somehow we still show up. Each day we put one foot in front of the other and make it through.

We rarely receive sympathy or understanding from others because if the world can’t physically see it, it’s as if it doesn’t exist (aka Mental Health Disorders). If only people knew the inner struggle we battle every day.

But back to my point.

Ladies and gentleman, never let someone’s decision to turn their back on you or leave you behind define you. Don’t let it send you down that dark rabbit hole like it has in the past.

The older we get and the longer we deal with a mental health disorder, the stronger we become. Have faith in yourself. Love yourself as deeply as you love others. Look in the mirror and realize that you are a diamond.

You’ve been through tough things, and yet here you are still standing. If someone can’t see your worth and all that you bring to the table then let them go. If they’re willing to release you and risk losing you forever then tell them “goodbye.”

With anxiety, when we love we love hard. When we drop down our guards, it’s a huge deal to us. When we fall, we fall completely. This is both our greatest strength and our biggest weakness.

One day that person who left you behind will realize their mistake. They’ll see that they let go of someone who understands the struggle, someone who would’ve supported them no matter what.

They’ll look back with regret of losing someone with unwavering strength, loyalty and undying love. But by that time, it’ll be too late.

Once you’ve shown an Anxious Mind your true colors their trust is forever broken. Not saying it can’t be earned back, but boy is that a tall mountain to climb.

My dear Anxious Minds, please always remember your worth. When people let you down (and unfortunately they will) never forget that the darkness is only temporary.

The sun will shine again.

You will heal, you’ll become stronger and eventually you’ll find that one person who will never turn away. You’ll find the one who will love you unconditionally and never make you doubt yourself again.

This person will hold sacred every milestone that you reach together. They’ll do everything in their power to keep you, to be your safe place from the monsters in your head and to show you a life of love that you truly deserve.

Hang in there my friends, and remember it’s not you it’s them.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell đź’‹

An Anchor In The Storm.

“Life has a way of testing our anchors and tempting us to drift. Nevertheless, if our anchors are correctly placed in the right hands they will hold. No matter the force of the wind, the strength of the tide or the height of the waves.” – Anonymous

 

If there’s one thing I’m sure of as a person who struggles with an Anxiety Disorder, it’s that life is full of storms. A lot of times, out of the blue, life decides to throw a kink in our plans and completely throw us off course.

Now, change is difficult for everyone in some way. Yet, dealing with change and a Mental Health Disorder can seem unbelievably scary and damn near impossible most of the time.

You see, as anxious individuals we love to plan. We thrive on the idea that we constantly have some control over our lives (totally not true, but it’s how our minds work). Therefor, when something destroys our carefully thought out plans, we panic.

We simply don’t know how to process it.

I recently experienced this exact situation where everything was going so perfect and then…BOOM, out of nowhere things took a completely different, unforeseen path.

And you can bet your ass I did nothing but panic for 4 days straight.

One of the most frustrating things about Generalized Anxiety Disorder is you have rational and irrational thoughts simultaneously. You know what you should be thinking or feeling, but your emotions are the complete opposite.

No matter how many times I say my mantras or meditate or journal or deep breath, this situation of change and uncertainty scares the shit out of me. It’s an uncontrollable, irrational fear that becomes consuming if you don’t get a grip.

I often get asked, “how do you make it through those times of mass chaos and uncontrollable change?” Honestly, it’s my anchors.

Now, anchors can be seen as a positive or negative. Sometimes your past can become like an anchor, dragging you down to the bottom. However, in Mental Health Disorders they  also represent those who make you feel steady in times of chaos and confusion.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned on my 12 year journey with anxiety is that surrounding yourself with people who truly love, support and care for you is the most important thing you can do.

While your friends or family may not understand exactly what you’re going through, just their mere support, listening ears and comforting arms can make all the difference in the world, especially when dealing with the waves of change.

I’ve been beyond blessed to have 3 solid anchors my entire life: My Mother, Father and Sister. They’ve been right there with me as I’ve struggled with the highs and lows, ups and downs of my Anxiety Disorder for the past 12 years.

I’ve called them at 3am during an anxiety attack, and I never had to wonder if they would answer. They’ve held my hand as I cried, laid beside me doing absolutely nothing and have celebrated every single thing I’ve achieved in life.

They are my anchors on which I am able to steady myself in the raging storms of life.

These 3 are my people.

They’re my safe place when things get too tough or life becomes too overwhelming. They are the rock on which I have built a foundation of never ending trust and respect. They protect me from the cruel and invalid lies that my anxiety places in my head.

These 3 saints have never judged me or made me feel less than extraordinary. I’ve received constant reassurance and guidance without biased opinions, mockery or pity.

When the seas get rough, they never waiver or drift. When I think I’m going crazy, they’re right beside me to tell me that everything will be okay.

It’s also been extremely nice to add a couple of friends to my list of anchors as well. We are continually building that trusting relationship that is free of any doubt or insecurity. It feels good to add more people to the tribe.

I honestly hope to continue expanding my circle to include my future partner and may another friend or two someday, but all things come to fruition at the perfect time.

If you struggle with a Mental Health Disorder, I seriously encourage you to find these people in your life (if you haven’t already). Surround yourself with a handful of individuals that you can undeniably count on.

Anxiety will always be a wolf in sheeps clothing. It will always try to make you think that it’s doing you a favor by preparing you for the worst case scenarios when really all it’s doing is taking us out of the present moment and stealing our joy.

Learn to build a bridge of trust with your anchors so that you can open up to them without fear or regret. Holding everything inside will do nothing but allow anxiety to consume you and take you away from the beautiful life you deserve.

With each passing day and each trial you make it through, you’ll begin to have more confidence in your ability/yourself and give less power to that anxious monster inside your head.

And when the waves start getting rocky and the storms of life appear out of nowhere, remember you are not alone. Find your anchors, hold on tight and watch the storms of this life pass you by.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Cut The Cord.

“Let today be the day you finally release yourself from the imprisonment of past grudges and anger. Simplify your life. Let go of the poisonous past and live the abundantly beautiful present … today.” – Steve Maraboli

 

Over the past four years, I’ve built up some pretty steep walls around my heart. The last relationship I was in showed me that letting my guard down is dangerous. My heart and mind had to find a way to protect themselves, hence the insane amount of mistrust and second guessing I constantly feel.

You see, when someone with a Mental Health Disorder goes through heartbreak, it’s a totally different process. Now, I understand that heartache definitely hurts no matter who you are, but these heartbreaks are catastrophic to us Anxious Minds.

The moment you break the trust of someone with Anxiety you’ve doomed them from trusting anyone else for a really long time. It takes so much damn courage for us to place our hearts in your hands that when you break it, we hit rock bottom.

Honestly, I don’t even think I realized how much past heartbreaks affected me until I began a new relationship that brought up feelings I didn’t even know were there. All of the sudden self-doubt, distrust and feelings of impending disappointment began to flood my mind.

I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop because it seemed too damn good to be true (which in my mind meant that it was).

I started feeling these emotions that I thought were long dead and gone. After four years my hope for true happiness had began to seem more like an impossible fairytale, the kind we dream of as children.

Until one day, the day that everything changed.

I think the most terrifying emotion that emerged from this new found happiness was the thought that it could end just as gut-wrenching and traumatizing as the last one. My heart wanted to let him in, but my mind kept constantly reminding me of what happened the last time I let my guard down.

I knew that he deserved 100% of me because that’s only fair in a relationship, but I was so extremely hesitant to even consider giving him a glimpse inside the real me. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if he didn’t like what he saw?

Anxious thoughts consumed my mind for weeks, and I just put on the show of the perfect girlfriend. I was constantly being who I thought I should be instead of who I truly am. That was a really tough act to keep up, but I honestly didn’t know what else to do.

I always felt like I had this one last string that was tying me to my traumatic experiences of the past. I had done the work, gone to therapy, journaled and worked through my feelings, but I never knew there was one last cord hiding somewhere that I couldn’t see.

This string was the final connection between what could be the happiest times of my life and the memories and feelings of the most crushing times I’d ever experienced. I knew what I had to do, but I was afraid to cut the cord.

Don’t ask me why because I honestly don’t know.

I knew the amazing and wonderful things that were sitting in front of me just waiting for me to let go of the past, but deciding to take that leap of faith again is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in a long time.

I knew that cutting that cord meant jumping in with both feet, no holds bar, no looking back. I knew that it meant giving 100% of myself and letting down all those walls I’d worked so hard to build.

It meant giving love another chance.

So for the next few weeks I pondered the idea and fought a battle inside my head. I listed the pros and cons, I tried to reason with myself, I explained the benefits of this new opportunity again and again.

And finally, after weeks and weeks of anxious thoughts and sleepless nights, I decided to cut the cord. I decided that no way, no how were my fears and past experiences going to deter me from what I feel like is the best thing to ever happen to me.

He is worth every risk. He’s worth opening my heart up at the chance of it being torn apart. He’s worth putting myself out there for rejection. He’s worth every possible thing that could go wrong because he’s everything I’ve ever wanted and more.

I’m not willing to let my fear and anxiety keep me from someone so wonderful.

So as terrified as I am to start this new journey with an open heart and an open mind, I’m also so ridiculously excited to see where it goes. Not only is this a new chapter as a significant other, but it’s also a new chapter for me personally.

In life, we can either continue to be afraid of the things that broke us, or we can rise from the flames like a phoenix from the ashes. We can take those lessons we’ve learned from past relationships and use them to improve ourselves and our future romances.

If we never open our hearts back up to love, we will forever be alone. If we’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, we’re going to push others away. If we can’t eventually let down our guards, we’ll never know what might have been.

As crazy as it seems, the moment we finally release all the fear, resentment and hesitation that’s been holding us back is the moment the enormously heavy weight is lifted from our hearts.

And let me tell you, it’s a remarkably wonderful feeling.

My amazingly wise Mother told me, “don’t make someone in your present pay for the mistakes of someone in your past.” That really hit me. This new person deserves our everything. They deserve to receive every part of us, the good, bad and the ugly.

Every person’s journey is different. For some is only takes a few months to feel ready and willing to open up to another, and for others (like me) it takes years. No matter what your journey looks like the main thing is this … always be willing to give love another chance.

Be willing to cut the cord that is tying you to your past and holding you back from what could be the best parts of your life. We have one life to live and not much time to live it. Don’t let someone who didn’t know how to love you keep you from the one who was meant to love you all along.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

Hard To Love.

“I know I’m not easy to love. I’m a chronic over-thinker, I overreact more than I should…And every once in a while, I might be a little insecure. But if I’m in love with you, I can promise you wholeheartedly that you will be loved with so much passion and intensity. That you’ll forget what life felt like before I came along. You will always be cared for, and you will always have someone in your corner. Maybe I’m not the best at being loved – But I like to think I’m pretty good at loving.”  — Chelsea Carroll

 

I’m hard to love. At the first sign of a red flag or the first glance of your fear of commitment, I’ll bolt. I don’t have time for games, not anymore.

There was a time when I was patient with love, willing to bend and mold myself to be who I was told I needed to be. I was full of insecurities because of all the late night rendezvous, lame excuses and shady behavior.

I’m hard to love, not because I want to be but because that’s the way life has made me. My DNA is woven with never-ending thoughts of worst case scenarios. What may seem like a simple conversation to you is dissected by my brain until I’ve picked apart and over-analyzed every single detail.

This is the curse of an anxious mind.

I’m hard to love. I’ve been bruised and scarred by infidelities, lies, secrets and words that cut me to the core. I’ve been the one who was blamed for their transgressions and the sad thing is I thought it was my fault.

I tried to ignore all the warning signs, just chalking it up to my over-active imagination, but come to find out my gut was completely right. Ultimately, it was me who paid the price for not listening.

Stupid girl.

If only I would’ve been better, smarter, prettier, funnier, more charming … then they wouldn’t have thrown away everything like a piece of trash (or so I thought).

I’ve laid on the floor for hours, sobbing and feeling numb to everyone and everything, unable to eat or move or breathe. My brain couldn’t comprehend the destruction that had just ripped through my life like a tornado.

I’m supposed to be smarter and stronger than that. I’m not supposed to let anyone bring me down, but I did…repeatedly. I took the pain over and over again because that’s the only kind of love I could seem to find.

I take things personally, even when they aren’t meant to be. I find fault in myself and sometimes when the going gets tough, I break down. My mind shifts to overdrive and can’t make sense of the chaos, and at that point I pull away.

I’m hard to love because the moment I feel like you’ve got one foot out the door, I’m done. One time cheating, I’m done. Unwillingness to admit fault and work on things, I’m done. Shady lies and excuses, I’m done. I think you get the point…

I now have zero tolerance for bullshit.

I know I’m not easy to love, and that’s not a challenge that everyone can or is willing to take on. It takes a lot of time and patience to love someone with a Mental Health Disorder, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t worth it.

They say to “trust the overthinker who tells you they love you because they have most assuredly thought of every reason not to.” This quote couldn’t be more true.

I may be hard to love, but when I love someone I love deep. If I truly love someone, I go full force and do everything in my power to make them happy. I’m a people pleaser, and making others happy brings me joy.

However there’s still this other side of me, the wounded side, that won’t completely let down my guard until I’m sure of someone. Unfortunately, I haven’t been sure of anyone in a long time, and during those years my wall has grown taller and nearly impenetrable.

Now, I’m not sure if anyone can tear it down.

I know it may not seem fair to be so unforgiving when it comes to finding love, but you can thank the world for that. You can thank all the losers who have done nothing but prove my point time and time again.

I’m hard to love. I make no excuses for this fact, and I know I’m far from perfect. I’ve made mistakes and let people down. I’ve had one foot out the door and been unable to let my guard down before.

But what do you expect when all you’ve found in your attempts at love is heartache and misery?

I’m hard to love, but there are reasons. I’ve learned to be my own knight in shining armor, to never depend on anyone else and to not be trusting of others. I’ve removed all the gullibility I once possessed and replaced it with unrelenting strength.

There’s nothing wrong with being hard to love because ultimately we have to be our own savior, our own warrior. We have to love ourselves before we can ever truly love someone else.

We have to work past our demons and decide that we’re ready to truly give someone a chance. We have to be open to change and willing to slowly surrender ourselves to that person, all while bringing down that wall.

So be hard to love and wait for the right one who will tear down your walls, erase all your fears and prove your past experiences wrong. Be strong, be you and be patient. The right one will be worth the wait.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

 

Life Through The Eyes Of A Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

“They ride tricycles in the hallway, not in the park. They know the names of treatments instead of their classmates. Their central lines have names. Nurses and doctors are their new family. They think hair is overrated. Their laughter can make a heart melt. Their strength will make a grown person cry. If you have ever seen a child fight cancer, it will change your life forever!”

 

My alarm goes off at 5:10am, and I slowly drag myself out of bed. It’s time for another day of work at the hardest job I’ll ever love because I’m a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

As soon as I’m up and around, my mind is filled with anxiety. I’ve had a few days off of work so I’m not sure how the unit has been lately. I start to worry that I’ll have a terribly hard assignment or that I’ll end up losing one of my favorite patients.

Still, I push through the worry and get ready to go.

On the drive to the Children’s Hospital I listen to my favorite Christian radio station, trying to get some motivation and encouragement for what is undoubtedly going to be a tough day.

There’s never an easy day as a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

I pull up to the hospital, and my anxiety starts to quickly climb. I park my car in my favorite parking spot, grab my bag and head inside. I walk to the other side of the hospital, and as I start to near my unit my fear reaches an uncomfortable level as I wonder what assignment I’ve been given today.

I’m scared that I’ll be taking care of the dying child or maybe even the difficult family. Will I get the kid who needs 5 chemo’s or the 3 year old patient who hates me and everyone around?

I start to wonder if I’ll be taking caring for one of my favorite patients or get a newly diagnosed patient. Will I have the uncooperative teenager who wants nothing to do with me or the family who frequently reassures me that I’m a great Nurse?

I think all of these things before it’s even 7am.

My heart races as I get report from the night nurse who’s obviously had a rough night. I find out there’s 2 end of life patients on the floor that could pass at any minute and 2 newly diagnosed patients whose families have a million questions (rightfully so).

You see, most people have this preconceived notion that, as nurses, we simply give meds and take vital signs. They have no clue what life looks like through our eyes, the eyes of a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

I say “Pediatric CANCER Nurse” instead of Oncology because it makes it more real. Oncology is an elaborate way of saying the dreaded “C” word, the word that no one wants to hear.

I can only image that hearing “your child has cancer” is like stabbing someone with a knife and twisting it.

You see, the families and patients are the ones directly affected. Their lives are forever changed by those few short words. Parents bring their child to the hospital for a nosebleed only to find out that they have Leukemia.

Everything around them quickly changes, and they’re brought to the Hematology/Oncology unit where they’re given an enormous amount of information all while trying to process this life-altering news.

It has to be scary, overwhelming and painful to say the least.

And while the families and patients are the ones most affected, no one ever hears the experience from the Nurse’s point of view … until now.

You see, when a patient and family come in for the first time I’m terrified. I wonder if the family will like me, if we will get along or if the child will approve of me. I question if I’ll be able to help them process this terrifying news or if they’ll even let me in.

I become so attached to my patients that I can’t even explain the love I have for each of them. I would do anything to make them smile or to make them happy for even a mere second.

I’ve been a part of brutal nerf gun wars between patients and the nurses. I’ve pretended to be a princess, power ranger, dinosaur and race car driver. I’ve gotten down on all fours to play with my patients and let them squirt me with saline syringes just to get them to take their medications.

I’ve held patients as I rocked them to sleep, rubbed their backs when they were hurting and talked for hours on end about absolutely nothing at all. I’ve cried so many tears and shared so many laughs with them that I’ve lost count.

I’ve watched patients break out of the Bone Marrow Transplant unit and attended parties to celebrate the smallest of accomplishments. There’s no small wins in Pediatric Cancer.

I’ve seen the strongest children imaginable fighting a terrifying disease without any fear or worry. I’ve watched their hair fall out and their little bald heads emerge, and I’ve reassured them that bald is beautiful.

I’ve seen kids who were never supposed to make it beat the odds like it was nothing. Their courage constantly motivates and inspires me. If I’m having a bad day, all I have to do is see their face and instantly I am okay.

I’ve also watched patients dwindle away to nothing and held their hands as they slowly drifted off to a final sleep. I’ve sang songs to patients with tears streaming down my face as I watched them take their last breath.

I’ve held it together as I completed postmortem care and completely broke down when I got to my car. Somehow I learned to keep it all inside until I was alone, and then the floodgates break.

I’ve cried with families and hugged them for hours on end, just letting them know I was there. I’ve attended too many funerals and spoke of my favorite memories of past patients with my co-workers and families.

You see, being a Pediatric Cancer Nurse has changed me forever. It has shown me that life truly is short and that time is precious. It has reminded me that things can always be worse and that life is beautiful.

I started to see life through a totally different perspective, and I still carry each patient that I lost with me in my heart. I can tell you every name of every patient I’ve been close to. I can remember how they took their meds, their favorite TV show and what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Being a Pediatric Cancer Nurse opened my eyes to the big picture in life. As I watch my patients battle a tough opponent without fear, I am constantly reminded to be strong, resilient and unwavering in my faith.

As Pediatric Cancer Nurses we love hard, we celebrate big and we try our best to bring a glimmer of light in some of the darkest times. It’s a privilege to be able to do what we do, to hold the hand of a dying child and to celebrate the victory of another.

We comfort the grieving and celebrate the ones who beat the odds. We remember those whom we’ve lost, and we look forward to visits from those who are now cancer free.

I’m forever grateful for the perspective I was given by choosing Pediatric Cancer Nurse as a career. No one will ever understand how or why we do what we do, and that’s okay. It’s not meant for anyone else to comprehend.

This job is a calling, these patients are unforgettable, these families are remarkable and these memories are ones that I will cherish forever.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋 

 

 

** September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Childhood Cancer only receives 4% of the national budget from the National Cancer Institute. Our kids deserve MORE. This month be sure to #GoGold for Childhood Cancer Awareness and spread the word. Check out http://www.EraseKidCancer.org for more ways you can help! **

 

 

SomeOne. SomeDay. SomeHow.

“One day someone will walk into your life and get it right where everyone else got it wrong. One day you won’t have to wait for a call or a text back. One day you won’t be the only one giving your all …” – Anonymous

 

They say that someone, someday, somehow will come into our lives and change us forever. We’re told that everyone has a special someone, a soulmate with whom they spend their lives. Supposedly this person is predestined.

We’re told that someday things will all start to make sense. That all of our pain and heartache, laughter and tears will finally reveal their purpose.

While I can’t wait for this day, I also have doubts about the accuracy of these stories, unfortunate doubts that this evil world has put in my head.

Can someone really change your life to that capacity?

You see part of living with anxiety is being impatient, doubtful and unable to totally deal with the ebb and flow of life. We’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

We find it hard to get excited about people or things because most of the time people only let us down. We battle with our constant highs and lows so often that most times we feel like we’re riding a damn roller coaster.

This is a mere glimpse into the surface an anxious mind and heart.

They say one day we’ll discover the meaning of our journey and that all of God’s plans will be revealed to us. We’ll finally understand why we had to go through all our trials and tribulations.

In a way that terrifies me. What if I don’t like the answer? What if God’s plan isn’t what I envision for my life? Despite the anxiety that comes along with discovering such an enormous truth, I wish that day could be today and that time could be now.

Honestly, I’m starting to run low on faith.

I’ve heard it said that someday you’ll find the love of your life, that special someone that makes you feel complete. In movies we see it portrayed as fireworks and ooey gooey romance.

I know that’s not reality, but just finding that someone has to bring a level of comfort and bliss.

I have a really back and forth mindset about love. Somedays I want it more than anything else. I truly want to find that one person that’ll be in my corner and have my back no matter what.

I long to find that someone who will love me for exactly who I am without judgement or expectation. I want to explore the world with them, plan my dream wedding and eventually have a family.

I often find myself fantasizing about these magical moments, but then reality hits and I can’t even imagine ever finding my person.

It also doesn’t help that I’ve never had a stable, healthy relationship so I’m not sure I’m going to know what to do when I find the one. I’m hoping there’s truth to the “you’ll know when you know” saying.

I guess you could say fear of the unknown goes hand in hand with anxiety. We’re doers, planners, list makers … we don’t like things being out of our control. However, this is one aspect of my life that I’m powerless, and I hate that feeling.

I feel like I’ve been let down so many times in love that each time a fragment of my heart (and hope) is chipped away. I fight hard not to let myself fall for someone, but in the end I always fail.

My heart only has two settings: love completely or not at all. Because of this, I find myself picking up the pieces of my heart over and over again.

I want nothing more than to find that someone that will someday and somehow come into my life and unexpectedly sweep me off my feet. I yearn for the day when I can love full force without risk of tragic heartache.

I just wish someone could prove to me that this fairytale love truly exists.

To top it all off, society makes us feel like we should be married and having children in our early 20’s. If you aren’t in a relationship people start to wonder what’s wrong with you. They question why you’re single.

This is so frustrating to me. I’m a human with feelings, hopes and dreams. Do you think I want to be single? Do you think I like being alone? Yet the questions never seem to end, and after a while you also begin to think something’s wrong with you.

I’ve had to dig myself out of this self-doubt hole a time or two. It took me years of therapy and inner work to realize that I’m worthy of true love and that I have a right to wait for the man of my dreams.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being picky.

If anything waiting for that someone protects my heart from being shattered yet again. It shields my emotions and strengthens my independence. I’ll never need a man, and that my friends is power.

I feel as if love is just another roller coaster in my life, full of ups, downs, twists and turns. However, this is one instance where my anxiety has been an asset to me. You see, roller coasters no longer scare me for they’ve been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

With the highs, lows, loops and adrenaline comes adventure and thrill. While my anxiety doesn’t exactly love the excitement and stimulation, the rush reminds me that I’m alive. It reminds me that I have so much to life left to live.

So I’ll continue on the unpredictable ride of life until my someone makes it to me someday, somehow.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

A Single Pringle Valentine’s (Self Love 101).

“Self love is an ocean and your heart is a vessel. Make it full, and any excess will spill over into the lives of the people you hold dear. But you must come first.” – Beau Taplin

 

Valentine’s Day is my absolute favorite holiday and has been for as long as I can remember. Some people have asked me “why,” and the answer is simple…it’s a day dedicated of love.

Every year I get to see happy couples sharing their love for one another and celebrating love. The stores are filled with pinks and reds of every kind, and honestly just seeing all the mushy gushy stuff puts a smile on my face. What can I say, I’m a hopeless romantic.

While I am well aware that I’m single, I don’t let that dull even one moment of this heart-warming day. Why sulk instead of using this holiday to celebrate self-love? Who says you can’t buy yourself a gift and acknowledge how amazing you are?

There’s a few different stories about the origin of Valentine’s Day, but they all have one common denominator … love. Each story ends in tragic death over love (how romantic, right?) led by none other than St. Valentine.

While Valentine’s Day is a wonderful day to express your love and gratitude for the important people in your life, it’s also a great day for single people too. This year I’ve decided to buy myself a present and take myself out on a date, and I can’t wait!

This idea may seem silly to some, but taking care of yourself (mind, body and spirit) is more important than we even realize. We’re so quick to project our love to others and place them first in our lives, never truly understanding that this is wrong.

Love of self is not just a concept, it’s a necessity. When we don’t fill our souls with positivity and validation we end up feeling empty with nothing left to give. It doesn’t matter how much you love someone, you can’t pour out love from an empty cup.

With this being said, I believe getting to truly know ourselves is crucial, but it’s also uncomfortable. We go through our lives with our day-to-day routines often forgetting to stop and evaluate where we are inside.

I always thought I was super confident until I took a minute to look in the mirror. I had been dealing with a few self-esteem issues so my therapist told me to look in a mirror and say “I love you. I never imaged that saying those three words to myself would be so tough.

In 25 years of life I’d never taken just one single minute to really look in the mirror at myself. I’d always been in a hurry to put on my makeup or do my hair before starting my day. I never knew that all that time I’d been staring at a stranger.

Once I realized how disconnected I was with myself I decided to start the journey of self-love. I started researching exercises, books, anything I could do to learn who I was and how I could love that person in the mirror.

A few years and countless hours of staring in the mirror, reading inspirational books and seriously focusing on positive self talk I was able to say those three words. Not only did I say them, I believed them, and man it was the best feeling ever.

It was like something inside of me awakened from a 27 year sleep. I felt more alive than ever and suddenly realized that all of the things I’d been searching for in others I’d had inside all along. This moment catapulted my evolution into the strong, independent woman that I am today.

It’s crazy what happens when we really start to love ourselves. We become more confident, more aware, stronger, braver and more alive than ever before. We start to see things from a whole new perspective and finally learn our self-worth.

This new sense of self becomes a building block for not only our relationship with ourselves but with others as well. We learn what we will and will not tolerate in a romantic relationship or friendship, and in turn we build healthy connections that positively impact our lives.

So as silly as it sounds, self-love is the foundation of our lives. While being single is tough in our generation, we can actually use it as a positive to get to know ourselves. The world tries to tell us that we need to be married with kids by 23 years old. I’m here to tell you that is a lie.

If we take the time to learn who we are and work on becoming the best possible versions of ourselves, we open the door to healthy relationships that are usually more beneficial in the long run.

If someone tries to tell you that self-love is selfish, they are sadly mistaken because those who have gone down this path know it’s not selfish but imperative to our well-being. Keep strong in your path and don’t let anything others say affect your journey.

This Valentine’s Day if you’re alone and a single pringle like myself, take it as a blessing. Recognize it as the amazing opportunity that it is and learn to honestly love yourself. Nothing good comes from self-pity but something wonderful can come from inner work.

I encourage you to get dolled up, buy yourself a gift and treat yourself how you’d want a future partner to treat you. It may feel silly at first but when we learn to date ourselves we learn exactly what we want in a future spouse.

On February 14th you’ll find me wearing my best dress and drinking a glass of wine at my favorite restaurant at a table for one. I may get questionable looks from the couples next to me, but I don’t care because I’m confident and love myself. Can you say the same?

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

I Didn’t Think It Would Be This Way.

“One day she finally grasped that unexpected things were always going to happen in life. And with that, she realized the only control she had was how she chose to handle them. So, she made the decision to survive using courage, humor and grace. She was the Queen of her own life and the choice was hers.” – Kathy Kinney

 

I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought life could get so messy, so confusing, so out of control. I’d done everything in my power to live the “perfect” life. I’d gone to school, gotten straight A’s, participated in activities, went to church and tried to be a good human.

Yet it never felt like enough.

I thought all of my good deeds and careful choices would spare me of the heartache and pain that seemed to fill this ugly world. I thought my kind heart and gentle soul could keep me from sorrow, but I was wrong.

I didn’t think it’d be this way. I never thought I’d lose my best friend at such a tender age or experience a gut wrenching break up with an ex that would leave me feeling paralyzed. However, I intimately learned the saying “love hurts.”

I never thought I’d hang out with the wrong crowd or do things behind my parents’ backs like some typical rebellious teen. I thought I was better than that. Yet I partied and made bad decisions sometimes for no good reason at all.

I never thought I’d struggle so heavily with anxiety and depression as a teenager. I didn’t think I’d battle with self confidence or self love either. On the outside I appeared so confident, so in control, but on the inside I was drowning.

I could’ve never imagined the struggles I’d face in college. The sleepless nights, the drunken disagreements and feeling like I might not make it through nursing school. I remember asking myself what the hell I was doing putting myself in these risky predicaments…

Yet I could never bear to hear the truthful answer to those questions.

I never thought I’d be so cruel to myself. I truly was my own worst enemy. I never thought I’d look in the mirror and be hateful to the reflection staring back at me. Despite all the good things I’d done in the world, I was never good enough in my own mind.

I never knew I’d be single into my latter 20’s. I figured I’d follow the pattern of my hometown and be married with children by 24 years old. I thought I’d grow old in my tiny Texas town and never leave. I thought that was the only life I could live.

I never knew I’d be given such opportunities by simply moving away from home. I didn’t know I would find so much happiness in recreating myself…new town, new me. I had never realized just how claustrophobic I felt in that place.

I never realized realize how much I missed out on by giving in to my fears. I was terrified to start over away from my family, and with this fear came tons of missed opportunities. I’d never comprehended how much my wings were bound until I broke away and flew.

I didn’t think life would be this way. I never thought I’d have moments of complete emptiness, moments when breathing seemed like an unimaginable task. I didn’t know that anxiety would be something I’d deal with my entire life, a problem that I could never permanently fix.

I didn’t think it would be this way. I thought I could get through life without ever losing a family member. I thought they’d all meet my future spouse, attend my wedding, and hold my future children while we shared stories around the table…and then my Grandpa passed away.

Yet another dream crushed.

I never thought I’d experience the rollercoaster effect of feeling so lonely while also feeling happiness. I never thought it was possible to find joy in the pain and light in the sorrow. I never thought I’d be one to feel weak and alone.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m extremely pleased and grateful at how my life has played out. While I didn’t understand the struggles and grief in the past, I’m beginning to understand them now.

I now see that through pain and heartache comes growth. I realize that losing someone makes you hold onto others a little tighter. It forces you to realize the amazing people you have in your life and reminds you to never take them for granted.

Through heartache we learn to love again. We find that our heart can repair itself and become even stronger than before. We may put up a wall, but it allows us to see who is willing to break it down to be in our lives. It teaches us that our hearts are indestructible.

While I didn’t think life would be this way, each and every experience has made me who I am today. Each trail and tribulation has shaped me into the kind yet wise soul that I am now. While I still try to find the best in others, I’m no longer naive to those who try to hurt me.

I’m stronger than ever before, full of scars but also full of wisdom.

Life really does have a funny way of working out. While things that try to break us may hurt like hell in the moment, their meaning ultimately comes full circle in God’s timing. We don’t understand the pain we initially feel, but later on we often see its purpose.

And while I didn’t think life would be this way, I’m forever grateful for this crazy life I’ve been given. I’m truly thankful for every high and every low, every victory and every defeat. Now I know that although life’s struggles might knock me down, they will not keep me there.

Our lives are our own, and the choice is always ours. Will you choose to dwell on your shortcomings and grieve what you thought life would be, or will you choose to rise each morning with a grateful heart and a fierce perseverance? The choice is ultimately yours…

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

Your Death Gave Me Life.

“There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this…” – Unknown

 

It amazes me that 12 years have passed since that tragic day. I still remember every single detail in my mind. I remember spending that hot Summer day with my (then) boyfriend, simply enjoying the beautiful weather.

I remember my Mother answering the phone and the look of sheer terror in her eyes as she approached me. I remember feeling like something was horribly wrong but not being able to figure out what it was.

I remember hearing those words, “Jacob has passed away in an accident” and immediately falling to the floor. I remember feeling completely numb and overcome with grief. How was a 14 year old teenager suppose to understand the magnitude of what had happened?

I kept telling myself “get it together,” but all I could manage to do was crawl to the bathroom on my hands and knees. I couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, couldn’t function. I was in such shock at what I’d been told. We were kids. We were suppose to live forever not die a few weeks before our Freshman year of High School.

I remember laying on the bathroom floor for what seemed like eternity. My family continuously tried to comfort me, but nothing could take away the immense pain I felt. My best friend was gone, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

I remember picking up the phone and calling all of my friends. Each phone call ended the same, in heartache and grief. None of us could understand why God chose you, why you had to be the one to leave us.

I remember bits and pieces of the following days. Our school was encouraging everyone to see the counselors they provided to help us “process our grief,” but I refused. Instead, I decided to work through things on my own, a process that I’m still working on to this day.

I remember going to the funeral home to visit you one last time. Walking through that door is an image forever burned in my mind. I remember seeing your hat, the one you always wore, sticking up a little bit as I walked down the isle to you. It was a strange relief to know you’d be buried wearing something you loved so much.

I remember seeing your face, so peaceful, as if you were merely sleeping. I kept praying I’d wake up from this terrible nightmare, but I never did. I took a moment and placed your “friends” necklace in your hand. To this day I still have the matching “best” necklace that I wear to remember you.

I remember writing a poem for your funeral, determined to write the best poem ever. I remember walking in to the auditorium, my final chance to say goodbye to you. There were so many people there because you were so incredibly loved.

Each of us took an orange rose (our school color), and one by one we placed the roses in your casket. I stayed strong the entire time until I got up to read your poem. Suddenly, the fact that I’d never see you again hit me like a ton of bricks. Somehow I managed to get through it.

We placed you gently in the ground at your burial and took a moment to grieve together. I never knew that walking away from that cemetery would change everything. I never knew that your death would ultimately give me life.

I’m sure many of you are confused by that statement, but hear me out. Losing Jacob truly showed me how precious life is. It taught me that our teenage thoughts were completely wrong, we weren’t invincible after all.

Experiencing the death of a best friend at such a vulnerable, tender age made me appreciate the small things. I took my time and friendship with you for granted in so many ways. To this day, I try my hardest to be a good friend and value those around me.

Your death encouraged me to fiercely pursue music. The last time we were together you were teaching me the guitar so I vowed to continue on that path. I went on to write many songs about you and how you changed my life.

Your death increased my desire to take care of others and lead me to care for the sick and dying as a nurse. It gave me the courage to hold the hand of someone passing into the afterlife. It gave me the strength to support their family in such a trying time because I knew what it felt like to lose a loved one.

Your death put my faith to the test, but it ultimately strengthened my relationship with God. In the months following, I was so angry that He took you from me too soon. Yet, over the years I began to realize that we each have a purpose, and I guess you had already completed yours in a short time.

Your death made me create closer bonds to the people in my life. I learned that no one lives forever and tomorrow may never come. I learned to love hard in all relationships. I learned to move forward in life with an open heart and to accept people for who they are.

I learned that although being a good person doesn’t make you invincible, it does make you memorable. Not only were you incredibly good at everything you did, but you always had a smile on your face…a smile that was contagious and unforgettable.

Your death taught me to be the light that this world so desperately needs. It taught me to count my blessings instead of my shortcomings. It taught me to give back to others and expect nothing in return. It encouraged me to carry on your legacy of making the world a better place.

So while you were taken from this world 12 years ago, your legacy remains alive and well. On this day each year, I hear stories and see posts about you. Even after all this time we still miss you, we still think about you, and we still remember the beautiful person you were.

While this day never gets easier, it does continue to enlighten me. Each year I’m amazed at the discovery of another emotion, another layer of my feelings towards your death. I’m amazed by the fact that time continues to pass so quickly. I guess the process of healing is truly never ending.

I’ll never fully understand why you had to leave us, and although I can’t comprehend your passing, I’ll forever cherish your life. I’ll cherish all of the many wonderful memories we made and the best friend I was fortunate to have, if only for 14 years.

I know there will still be days ahead full of sadness, tears and pain because true heartache never fully goes away. However, I want to say “thank you” for inspiring me to be the person I am today. Your death gave me life. Keep watching over me my guardian angel…until we meet again.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋

 

 

*RIP – Jacob Aaron Skinner
(September 21, 1990 – July 25, 2005)

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