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10 seemingly normal situations that give me intense social anxiety

I made this list on a Post-it a few months ago and recently rediscovered it in my purse.

I started it on a day where I’d nearly hyperventilated when I couldn’t find my work badge in my car as I pulled up to the parking garage. It only took me about seven seconds to locate it, but it might as well have been an eternity. The very idea of cars piling up behind me – or even worse, honking at me – was enough to send me into a sweaty, heart-racing tailspin.

Because of a badge. And seven seconds. Don’t sweat the small stuff is a lovely saying that bears no relevance to my life.

I love quotes about not worrying, I gravitate toward people who are naturally carefree and I’m fully aware that anxiety is pointless. But this is just how I’m wired. Who cares if the glass is half full or half empty, it’s probably too close to the edge of the table and there might be a bug in it and is the lemon wedge contaminated?

Here’s a list of not-so-unusual situations that might just send me onto the floor of my closet. Blame it on being an introvert or just a special breed of weird, these are things that make my physically uncomfortable:

  1. Having people sing Happy Birthday to me. Or, singing Happy Birthday to anyone else because I can’t stop thinking about how awkward I would feel if it was me.
  2. Making eye contact with someone while still a good distance apart, like in a long hallway. And then not knowing if I wave, or make continued eye contact, or divert my gaze. This is particularly treacherous at work and airports.
  3. Opening a gift in front of the person who gave it to me. Doesn’t matter if it’s my best friend or my husband, still terrifying.
  4. Walking into a location like a restaurant to meet someone, when I don’t know exactly where she’s sitting. Literally paralyzing. If you’re ever meeting me somewhere, you’ll get a very specific set of directions.
  5. Leaving a theater mid-movie to use the restroom. Having to relocate my seat is the tricky part here. Chances are I’ll just hold it instead of running the risk.
  6. Customer service situations where I think I don’t have all the right paperwork or could get reprimanded, like when I go to emissions testing or through airport security.
  7. Unanticipated affection. When a hug is unexpected I do this awkward shrug and brace move where I look like I’m in a straightjacket.
  8. Going to an event where I don’t know anyone. So often forced into this professionally, so often thankful when there are cocktails.
  9. Watching someone else get embarrassed. When people drop plates in restaurants and everyone cheers, I cry inside.
  10. Restaurants where it’s not clearly marked where I stand to order verses pay verses wait for my food. Signage goes a long way, people.

Not proud of these, but fully aware of how ridiculous they all are, and hopefully this makes you else feel better about your own idiosyncrasies.



From House to Home

We’re moving this weekend. We seem to do this somewhat habitually, just ask the friends who get suckered into helping each time. 

The first place Jim and I lived in together was a rented condo in Tempe. There was pink 80s carpet and our two big dogs and no yard. I don’t think we ever hung a single thing on the walls or met our neighbors, but it was a first home for us to live in together (yes, in sin!).

Next, we bought our first house in North Central Phoenix. The “cool” neighborhood where we could walk and bike to dozens of awesome restaurants and bars. It was a restored 1950s home that was perfect in a lot of ways, but then there were the roof rats. And the tree roots in our pipes. And when we wanted to have a family, we trekked north to the suburbs near Kierland. 

We redid almost all of our second house, from floor to ceiling – literally – and bathrooms and kitchen to boot. Then there was the storm of all storms that knocked over trees and destroyed the yard. We rebuilt, and have loved it here, but it’s never felt like a place to stay for too long. 

This next move though, is just a mile away. I don’t glamorize it by calling it our forever home – because goodness knows we have a nomadic track record – but it’s a home I’m excited to raise a family in. It’s perfectly imperfect and just right for us. It has everything we want and just enough quirkiness (hello, stained glass kachina doll window). It’s less cookie cutter and more tucked away.

I’m an introvert. I love being at home and I crave peaceful, cozy spaces. A friend once gave me a sign that reads, “Home is my Favorite,” and it was the most fitting gift for me. And as much as I love stability and structure, moving is exciting to me. I guess I never outgrew my love of playing ‘House.’

Here’s to the next chapter and a lot of cardboard boxes. 

Today You are 2!

Lila, today you are two years old and that simple fact is so hard to believe.

It’s hard to comprehend that two years ago I went into labor, and that for every day since the entire world has been a different, more remarkable place.

Two years ago you came into the world in a very big hurry and have hardly paused since.

When people ask me what you’re like, I say that you’re my favorite human and that I want to be like you when I grow up.

You live so boldly in the moment – unaware of any sort of negativity or concern, and simply go about your business as you see fit. You shriek and chatter with joy and rarely stop moving. You are very busy and intentional. You love commanding the dogs: “Molly, ahh you? Inside, cool down!” “Boo-boo, Shh! Quiet, baby sleeping.”

You enjoy: puzzles, being silly, playing in water (hose, sprinklers), marching in circles around the house with Dada and the dogs following you, playing night-night in silly places, bringing ice to anyone with an owie, swimming and helping with laundry. You sweetly narrate life and describe your surroundings…”blue car, white truck, big moon, birdie, trash!”

You are very aware of other peoples’ feelings and often point them out, which I pridefully believe is toddler emotional intelligence.

You are mischievous when: you draw all over the floor or yourself, and refuse to let anyone help you brush your teeth.

Your common phrases: One more book, tiny baby (used to describe anything small), Yi-la try it, No mama Yi-la help.

Your favorite books: The Little Engine that Could, Hop on Pop, Good Night Laila Tov, your Elmo Search and Find Book.

Your favorite foods: You eat everything, but love avocado, pancakes, frozen green beans, hummus and fruit.

My favorite times with you are: when you first wake up and have crazy bed hair and are all smushy and snuggly as you reach to be lifted out of your crib, and after your bath when you run around wild and naked, strategically avoiding bedtime.

I know the tipping point will come soon – when unavoidable negative influences start to infiltrate your life, whether it’s from TV commercials or kids at school  or strangers in the grocery store, and I hate the very idea of it. I want your head and heart to be forever free of the darker things in life. But that’s impossible, to every parent’s dismay. So rather than feebly trying to shield you from it – I want to teach you to learn from these experiences. To be aware of your feelings and the world around you, and use this knowledge to help you grow.

I could never put into words how much I love you, but you’re the reason my heart beats. You’re my first thought in the morning and my last thought before bed and everything in between. Happy second birthday, sweet girl, and thank you for the endless joy. You are a gift.




motherhood is the greatest equalizer

momsToday I saw a mom in a moment of complete distress. The kind of situation where everything around you kind of blurs and quiets, and you’re laser-focused only on what’s happening right in front of you. A woman I know who is unfailingly poised and stoic got a phone call with emergency news about her son, and completely fell apart.

My heart sank. I froze. I wanted to throw up just hearing her cry.

And I realized in this moment – in which I was so peripherally involved – that all that mattered was whatever might ease what she was experiencing. That was it.

I didn’t care if she nursed or co-slept or let her kids watch tv or worked full-time or if her kids ever bolted away from her at a zoo. In this moment, I felt an overwhelming awareness that as moms, we’re all in this together on a pretty fundamental level. That the greatest equalizer we’ll ever know is the love we have for our babies.

There are so many ways moms judge and evaluate one another these days – it’s even become popular to jokingly use that term – “Don’t judge me…” or, “I sort of had to judge her…” There’s an endless list of qualifying questions we like to know about each other, to gauge how aligned we are, how comfortable and unguarded we can be. Part of that is fun and natural, to be vulnerable and find affinity with new friends – if nothing else it’s common ground for conversation. But sometimes it goes too far, and instead of working to bridge differences, it forces us to put up blocks.

So much of what we use to filter thoughts and judgments about others is irrelevant. There are so few things we can actually control, yet it’s amazing to see how parents lash out at one another for discrepancies in how things are done.

Amazing things happen when we’re open to new ideas and approaches. If instead of defaulting to the horrified, “I would never do that, and here are all the reasons XX is better,” re-train your response to be more along the lines of, “She feels XX is the best for her family, and I wonder what I can learn from her way of thinking.” It sounds completely cheesy and foreign, I know, but how cool would it be if we all were a little more open to learning about each other instead of compartmentalizing everyone? After all, we’re all doing what we believe is our very best.


If we haven’t spoken in a while…

…and met for breakfast, here’s what would spew out of my head and my mouth:

I’d tell you that I recently started a new job, going back to a prior employer in a leadership role. And it’s strange to feel like your surroundings are simultaneously familiar and unknown. I’ve had lots of job, and many new starts, yet I always underestimate how hard the transition is. To forget the path to the bathroom, to eat solo at your desk because you’re not quite sure how the team dynamics are just yet. How you have to mentally wade through all the newness to find your normal. The benefit of having done this many times before is I know it’s just a phase – one that will segue quietly into a memory.

I’d say that Lila at 22 months is a spitfire chatterbox who loves to command those around her, “No, Mama, Lila try,” “Move Molly, out,” “Mah cah-cah peeease.” It’s astounding to be able to communicate back and forth when for so many months you are literally talking to your child like an enthusiastic maniac without a coherent response. This girl is fearless (except around loud trucks or motorcycles – not a fan) and so full of laughter and joy, often giggling so hard she erupts into snorts and the most glorious uncontrolled belly laughs. I watch her in constant awe of her unabashed approach to life. The innocence and bravery only a child can possess. Not giving an ounce of concern to filtering her emotional responses, running around naked and living completely and fully as herself in every moment.

I would sigh and talk about how hard it is to process the world right now. That sometimes it’s hard to breathe when I think about the grave unfairness and pain that exists. Everything seems amazing and horrible all at once. News stories about insanely awesome medical advances and amazing human feats interspersed with others about horrific violence and misfortune. My Facebook feed is a chaotic juxtaposition of friends with sick kids posting updates from hospitals, and other friends sharing political rants, new recipes or workout selfies. I love it all, and my own content is as miscellaneous as anyone else’s, but it all just seems so strange what lands on our respective plates. Some days I want to dedicate my entire life and all my money to help anyone who needs it. Other days I want to hide from life and ignore it all. Most days I just strive to be kind (even when it requires deep breathing) and see the good where I can. And I count my blessings like a madwoman because hello – no matter what hardships I like to think I’ve experienced, my life is a complete privilege.

I think I’d probably tell you that no matter how busy I get, even with a toddler and new job and all the rest, I still make it a point to work out for a half hour a day. I need the endorphins and it’s time for just me. It might be at 6 a.m. or at 10 p.m. but I get it in and it helps me stay centered and ok. Some people pray in quiet churches or meditate on mountaintops – I find solace in pushing my body to find new strength.

I would declare that I’m hibernating from the summer heat (it was 120 this weekend, come ON) and still enjoy the debate as to whether our summers are worse than frigid midwest winters.

And I’d absolutely tell you to watch the new Season of Chef’s Table, and that Daring Greatly by Brene Brown is worth a read, and the meditation app Calm is pretty awesome if you ever can’t sleep.