Timing Is Everything.

“And then it happens…One day you wake up and you’re in this place where everything feels right. Your heart is calm. Your soul is lit. Your thoughts are positive. Your vision is clear. You’re at peace with where you’ve been, at peace with what you’ve been through and at peace with where you’re headed.” – Anonymous

 

Timing is one of the most beautiful and most frustrating concepts in the world. When the timing of things works out perfectly, it restores our hope and makes everything seem like it’s going to be okay. Yet, when it’s not on our side, it can cause a darkness that we feel we may never escape.

Honestly, I find this to be a very interesting time in my life. Almost all of my friends are in serious, committed relationships, moving in with significant others, getting married and starting families (or even doing all of the above).

I mean, I guess this time in my life was bound to happen, after all, I am about to turn 29 years old. In this generation, I’m considered old for being where I’m at in my life, but hey it’s my life so it’s all good.

As I look at how my friend group has evolved over the last few years I can’t help but smile for them. I’m seeing more and more happiness entering their lives and watching them transform into amazing husbands, wives, parents, professionals and overall great human beings.

This evolution makes my heart so full of joy for the ones I love. Seeing the timing of their lives play out just the way it was meant to after knowing their struggles is simply beautiful.

Now, just because I personally haven’t checked off those boxes yet doesn’t mean I’m behind in life, it just means that my life has a slightly different timeline. We all live at our own pace, but one thing I’ve learned is that as long as we do what’s best for our souls and create a life we truly love, things will always fall into place (definitely easier said than done).

Now don’t get me wrong, anxiety frequently causes us Anxious Minds enormous amounts of grief by making us feel like we have to keep up with everyone around us. It can make us settle for less than we deserve, feel very unworthy and bring out our darkest fears.

The pressure to measure up with society’s norms is often overwhelming. If we haven’t accomplished certain milestones by certain ages, it starts to feel like the timing of our lives may be eternally off.

And let me tell you, society won’t let you forget that you’re falling behind by their standards.

Living in this day and age with anxiety is one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. We’re constantly seeing others’ “happiness” being shoved down our throats on social media, being asked by family members when we’re going to find the one and getting little encouragement that doing our best is good enough.

I wish people would realize that every person is struggling with something, some more than others. A little positivity and reassurance goes a long way, especially when it comes to someone dealing with anxiety.

Of course I want all of those things that I listed earlier. If I had it my way, I’d already have them all checked off, but that’s just not the plan God has for my life. While I frequently get frustrated with not knowing why my path is different, all I can do is patiently wait for His timing.

Again, beautiful and frustrating all in one.

As I was dealing with the irrational, unending doubts in my head last night laying in bed something clicked in my mind. Why do I stress so much about stuff and people that I have absolutely no control over? Why do I allow society to dictate what is right and wrong about my life?

I so often forget that the story of my life has already been predestined, and as annoying as that can be throwing a tantrum about it will get me no where. Things have rarely worked out the way I thought they would and yet I’m still here, alive and breathing.

There were plenty of moments I thought I’d never make it through, yet as I sit here and reflect on them I’m so grateful that they didn’t work out the way I wanted. No’s are often God’s way of telling us that something better is in store for us.

It’s time to stop stealing the pen from the One who is in control of writing our stories. Only God knows what is truly meant for us and will make sure it enters our lives at the exact right moment.

His timing is always perfect.

Yes, I know it’s hard to wait. I struggle with patience every single day. No one can understand that inner battle more than me, but all we can do is continue to put one foot in front of the other and believe that our time is coming.

We have to believe that the timing of our life is playing out just the way it was fated to, and that one day all the trials and tribulations will make sense. One day we will have all we’ve ever wanted and so much more.

Until that day comes my Anxious Minds, we’ve got each other. For now, that will have to do.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell 💋

Chasing After Happiness.

“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”― Henry David Thoreau

 

We’ve all been on the journey of chasing happiness in one way or another. Some of us think we will find it in our careers, our family or by becoming famous. We are constantly searching for that missing piece, the thing that will make us truly happy.

However, the more we search for it the further away it seems. It’s a never-ending game of catch-me-if-you-can. While we’re going after that “happiness” we so desperately seek we often forget to appreciate the present, the very moments we’re given.

We forget to be thankful that we have a job, a family, a home, a warm bed and food on the table. We take so many of life’s blessings for granted because we’re always looking for the next best thing.

I, myself, am guilty of this. It seems that most of my adult life has been overshadowed by this daunting task of finding happiness, of achieving perfection. That’s no way to live.

Even if we achieve our dreams, the joy of that moment is fleeting, and before long we’re looking for the next thing that will fill the void.

What if instead of searching for happiness we focused on our blessings? What if we used all that time and energy to improve ourselves and to live our lives?

The funny thing I’ve learned about happiness is that we could search for a lifetime and not find it because happiness is not out there in the world. True happiness comes from within.

 

Chasing after happiness
Trying to find some peace
Trying to find something
To put my mind at ease
I’ve searched and wandered far and wide
Tracking every lead
But by the time I get there
Joy’s eluded me
I crawl back to the darkness
And make another plan
I really need to find it
For this dark I cannot stand
I try again, I search for light
But all that I can find
Is disappointing misery
That fills my wounded mind
As days go by and time drags on
I continue on my quest
The never-ending, daunting task
Of finding happiness
I’m weak and worn and at my end
I’ve got no more to give
I guess this dark and sadness
Is how I’m meant to live
But as I lay my head to rest
I slip into a dream
I find what I’ve been looking for
The light it starts to beam
And suddenly I see…
It was always inside of me.

 

I wrote this poem thinking about my own journey chasing happiness. I hope you all know that no matter what’s going on in your life, we are all in charge of our own happiness. We just have to find it within ourselves and let it shine.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantellđź’‹

It’s Not The Darkness That Scares Me.

“I don’t know what it’s like to not have deep emotions, even when I feel nothing, I feel it completely.” – A. R. Asher

As a child we’re told scary stories about monsters that lurk in the darkness. We sleep with a nightlight and hide our heads under the covers, afraid of what may be hiding in the shadows.

At such a tender age, monsters seem to be the most frightening things we could ever imagine. It’s not until we become adults that the real terror reveals itself to us.

You see, it’s not the darkness that scares me. Instead it’s my never-ending thoughts of worry and the paralyzing numbness that haunt my body, my mind and my soul.

It seems like every time I’ve almost gotten myself out of that dark place, anxiety pulls me right back in. The darkness doesn’t scare me. If anything it gives me a sense of solitude from my own messed up mind.

What seems to affect me the most is not the freedom that comes from reaching the light at the end of that tunnel nor the dark tunnel that precedes it. It’s the never ending struggle, the tug of war feeling, that I’m forced to live through every day.

You see, having Generalized Anxiety Disorder means fighting a constant, daily battle. Most people can’t fully comprehend this, and I’m happy that they don’t understand. That just means they’ve fortunately evaded a frustrating, lifelong journey of obstacles.

Having a Mental Health Disorder is like wearing a ball and chain. Those who deal with these diseases can seem “normal” and act like everything’s perfect, but in reality we’re being mentally hindered by our own minds.

Sure, I can overcome my disorder from time to time, and I’ve even learned to somewhat manage it. Yet, in the long run it comes back to find me again and again. There is no escape.

While dealing with constant anxiety is tough enough, I also struggle with my faith in love, humanity and sometimes even God. I try to wait patiently for the things that I know God has planned for me, but my anxiety tears me down.

It points out how all of my friends have moved on with their lives to have successful careers, significant others and children, events and playdates. Each time I reach out to someone they’re unavailable because they’re busy with their own lives.

This is all completely normal in the evolution of life, but when I feel like I’m getting left behind it allows my anxiety to take over. It causes me to lose faith, to feel numb to the world around me. It causes me to slowly lose hope.

The worst part of it all is that I try my hardest to shut down my negative thoughts, to listen to the light within my heart, to be the bright, radiant person that I know I am.

Nevertheless, the dark silence is louder than the positive whispers in my ear, and in this moment right now, my disorder is winning.

It’s the most frustrating feeling to fight an invisible, daily battle that no one else can see. I can try to explain it to others, but they’ll never truly understand the struggle and pain that I go through.

While the darkness in my mind can be scary, it’s the numbness that I occasionally feel that truly terrifies me. I’m not talking about “my foot fell asleep” sensation. I’m talking about the “I’m here but I don’t feel like I’m even present in my own body” type of feeling.

It’s hard to describe, but when I get in that mode I’m essentially a zombie. I go through the motions of everyday life, but I’m not actually present. My mind is a million miles away, and my body is a mere vessel.

Those moments terrify me the most because they make it difficult to recover. Each time I fall into a paralytic mental state, I find it harder and harder to make my way back to reality.

It get’s tough because those moments are the only moments where I’m truly free from my mind. I have no thoughts, no worries, just complete serenity. However, I always find that those times are usually followed by depression … another enemy of mine.

I constantly battle with myself, knowing what I should be doing but hardly having the strength to power through my anxious thoughts. Then comes the anger. I get so mad that I can’t just “fix” myself. It’s a never ending roller coaster of emotions.

So you see, the darkness doesn’t scare me anymore. It’s the monsters lurking in my mind that truly terrify me, trying to convince me everyday to give in to the sadness, depression, anxiety and fear.

For now, I’ve once again defeated their attempts, but for the rest of my life I’ll have to fight this never-ending battle.

No matter how long and tough the journey may be, I’ll forever strive to reach the light at the end of that tunnel because I am stronger than my disorder.

The battle will rage on until the monsters give up, the numbness disappears and the light is the only thing I see.

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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How My Pain Brought Me Closer To God.

“Many times when God isn’t changing your circumstances it’s because He’s mostly concerned with changing YOU within the circumstance. Your character, your inner strength, your integrity matter to Him because they are everlasting qualities. The wisdom, the strength and the maturity that grows within you are all things you’re going to need to sustain the calling God has on your life. Know that there is purpose in your pain.” – Brittney Moses

 

I’d like to think that I possess a lot of good qualities, but one of my biggest flaws is patience. I’m probably the least patient person you’ll ever meet thanks to my anxious mind and never ending search for perfection. While I completely love this amazing journey I get to call my life, I’m always looking for the next milestone to occur (a mindset I work to fix every day).

One of the many downfalls of having anxiety is that it always causes you to look to the future instead of enjoying the present. Anxiety tells us that we must plan for things to come and never focus on what’s right in front of us. As annoying as this is, it’s a really hard habit to break.

Something I’ve yearned for in life is to get married and start a family. As I look back on my life, I’m incredibly grateful that God didn’t allow that to happen with my previous relationships because I would’ve been completely miserable (I guess He does know what He’s doing after all). So many times I questioned Him and wanted to know when my turn would come.

After a few heartbreaks (especially the last one) I started to doubt God’s plan. I thought I’d finally found “the one,” but my heart was merely shattered yet again. My doubts started to turn into frustration, and before I knew it I began to resent God. All I could feel was pain and defeat.

After that breakup I began acting like a toddler, thinking that God owed me a happily ever after. I stopped reading my Bible, stopped attending church and quit praying. I felt like if God wasn’t going to give me my happy ending then He didn’t deserve my time or praise. Looking back now I see how ridiculous I was being, but in the moment my heart was shattered.

I tried the whole “I-can-do-it-on-my-own” thing for a few months, thinking that nothing would ever change and that I was doomed in the love department. I started to live life on auto pilot, merely going through the motions to get me to the next day. I figured that maybe I just wasn’t meant to find that immense love I’d always wanted so much.

During this time of rebellion, I was extremely conflicted. I’ve always felt like God has a big plan for my life, a plan that I can’t even fathom. While I wanted to believe that, even during this rough time, I wouldn’t allow myself to. I began to question if I had fabricated that feeling of a big purpose in my childhood, and needless to say I was seriously confused.

A few weeks went by after my Earth shattering breakup, and I decided I wanted to do something I’d never done before. I wanted to go out on a limb and surprise my own damn self but wondered what I could do.

One random night as I was sitting in bed, I opened my computer and started looking for nursing jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I’d always told myself I’d never move away from Wichita Falls because it was home, and I told myself I wouldn’t be able to make it on my own.

However, despite my doubts, I started searching the website. One of the first things I found was a listing for a hospital I’d wanted to work at my entire life. Although I felt completely under qualified, I decided to apply (what’s the worst that could happen, right?). At that point in my life, I was just throwing out a line to see if there was even a sliver of hope at happiness.

Long story short, a few days later I received a phone call to come in for an interview. My mind was blown! I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. A week later I was in Fort Worth, TX interviewing for my dream job, and I got hired on the spot! Two weeks later, I packed my bags and left behind the only home I’d ever known.

Once I got settled in Fort Worth, I began to reevaluate my prior suspicions. I felt like everything that happened in those few weeks were only made possible by God. Although I was still full of pain, I began to realize that I’d been blaming the wrong person. God has always and will always only want the best for me.

I used to tell myself all the time that it’s all part of God’s plan, but I don’t think I ever truly meant it. Words are only words until we give them significance. The icy shell I’d put around my heart started to melt, and I began to realize just how big of a fool I’d been. God had been with me all along, even while my back was turned to him.

Over the next year, the pain I’d been holding on to started to turn into gratitude. I was so thankful God had put me through all of those hard times because it pushed me to take the leap of faith that I would’ve never taken on my own. I was thankful that God hadn’t allowed things to work out with my ex because I never would’ve known true happiness.

As I look back on my journey of the past two years, I’m simply amazed at all of the personal, spiritual and emotional growth I’ve experienced. I thought I was a good person back then, but I never took the time to work on myself or to find my self worth. I’d been naive to the fact that God’s plan was bigger than staying in my hometown.

While I’ve made quite a bit of progress, I still have a lot of work to do. Now, each and every day I’m striving to be the best Nurse, Daughter, Friend, Sister, Human and Christian that I can be. Sometimes that means being uncomfortable and feeling pain. Sometimes it means enduring losses and going through things that I don’t quite understand.

I’ve learned that instead of getting angry about not understanding, it’s my job to trust that God has it under control. Instead of letting pain take over, I simply pray for patience and peace. Instead of being upset about not having a husband or family, I understand that it’s only because I haven’t met the right one yet.

I now have no doubt that God has a big plan for my life, and although I don’t know that plan quite yet I have full faith that it will be magnificent. They say that God’s plan is bigger than our imaginations can even fathom. So instead of trying to figure out what that plan may be, I’m sitting back and enjoying the journey…God’s got this under control.

 

XOXO,
Myka Shantell 💋