Because I loved him too much.

I fancied myself in love a few times over the years. I read the signs. There was the quickened heartbeat. The flushed cheeks. The constant smile and inability to sleep. The sense of admiration. The desire to be near him … Continue reading

How to keep yourself smiling.

Life gets tough. I think we can all admit that some days leave us feeling used and bruised, and all we want to do is curl up into a ball and forget that day even happened. Maybe we cry a few tears or scream into a pillow or light something on fire… (Just me, huh?) Or maybe we internalize it and keep it to ourselves, because it’s easier to hide the problems than allowing ourselves to be vulnerable as we share them. If we pretend everything is going exactly as it should, we can ignore the bad.

But rarely does that help. Usually it just ends up piling up around us until we can’t see past the stress and frustration and problems. We begin to drown from our attempts to push everything into compartments, forgetting that the longer we ignore the bad, the more overwhelming and stressful it becomes.

Now, I’m not an expert at this by any means. I’m the queen of powering through, hoping that if I don’t acknowledge a burgeoning problem in my life then perhaps it will resolve itself. It’s naïve and immature and it never works, but sometimes there are things we just aren’t ready to deal with. Maybe we don’t know how to deal with them.

We’ve become stressed out, high-strung, caffeinated messes (but still beautiful messes, of course) who don’t know how to take time to care for ourselves.

We forget to have fun in the midst of the stress. We forget how to smile and love life. We are worth more than trudging through this world day after day with nothing more than work or school or bills or relationship drama or family emergencies to occupy our minds. We deserve to have some time to enjoy the life we’ve been given. We only have one life, and we should live it to the fullest.

So based on my experiences, here are a few ideas on how to keep yourself smiling as you deal with the hard times. Nothing major or fancy or requiring an excess of funds. Just little things to take your mind off life’s frustrations.

Movie night!
I’m all about movies. I’ve been watching them since I can remember, a gift and love my dad shared with me. And I will watch anything. Whether it’s treating yourself to the movie theater for a solo date (my favorite thing ever) or curling up in bed with some eighties classics or inviting friends over to see what’s on Netflix, it’s hard to be worried when you’re immersed in a good film.

Girl’s Night (of Guy’s Night) Out!
It’s easy to dwell on the all the things you have on your never ending to-do list when you’re stuck at home alone. So I would encourage you to get out with some friends for a couple of hours, eat some good food and have some good conversation and just enjoy being with people who make you laugh and care about you. Take a break and surround yourself with the best company while you recharge.

Take a walk!
Few things are more refreshing and invigorating than going out into nature and breathing in the fresh air. With each step, you can let go of all the extra things bouncing around in your mind and focus on just being present in the moment. You are alive and free and surrounded by gorgeous trees and the lovely flowers, and that is a reason to smile. It’s a moment to appreciate the world around you, to stop and enjoy the beauty. To simply be.

Chocolate!
One of my favorite quotes by Jack Kerouac reads “For some reason or other a Hershey bar would save my soul right now.” I love that. Because sometimes it takes something as simple as a bar of chocolate to bring us back from the darkness, to bring a smile to our face. Or maybe it’s a glass of wine. Or a pizza. Or a bubble bath with candles. Or giving yourself a manicure/pedicure. Sometimes you need to enjoy the finer things, because you are worth the good things in life.

Read a book!
This is my go-to when I’m in a state of disarray. Something about reading a story that an author has crafted from nothing, from the corners of their imagination brings me peace. Allow yourself to curl up in your bed or find a seat by the window in a coffee shop and lose yourself in the story. Let the words of an old favorite or new discovery wrap around you and thaw the stress in your life. Perhaps the words will inspire you in a way that nothing else has, giving you the strength you need to press on.

MUSIC!
Stress seems to melt away if you have the right playlist at the right time. Maybe you need something with a rock edge to give you the energy to tackle the day, or something light and lyrical to leave your heart and soul at peace. Or maybe you want to have a dance party in your room to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack on repeat. Whatever your preferred artist/band/genre, plug in your headphones and lose yourself in the music.

Create something!
My mind is kind of a weird, crazy, hot mess. Lots of thoughts and ideas swirling around, rarely quieting itself long enough to let me breathe. When it becomes too much to handle, I try to make something out of it; I try to create something beautiful out of the ashes. So pick up a pen and write, or a pencil and sketch, or a paintbrush and paint something gorgeous. Lose yourself in art, in your creativity, in your brilliance.

In the end, you are human. You are strong and amazing, but everyone gets tired, overwhelmed, and stressed out. You aren’t a superhero with magic powers (sadly…that would be awesome). So while I don’t recommend running away from your problems (they WILL catch up with you, the jerks), every so often we need a break. We need to step back, give it over to God, and take care of ourselves; not because you’re weak, but because you know you are worth happiness.

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Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter >> @cassiclerget.
I’m pretty entertaining.

Why I can’t do it myself.

On Wednesday evening I read the verse, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9). I wish I had read it last week, or even a few days earlier. I wish I had remembered it.

These last few days have been difficult. It began with frustration concerning my scheduled student loan payments on Sunday and culminated with me lying on my bed most of Tuesday questioning my purpose in this life. If I hadn’t had work to do, I might still be there, staring at the ceiling with tears falling every so often. I was filled with an unexplainable emptiness. My heart was lonely and my soul hollow. I remember looking in the mirror as I washed my face and wondering if my eyes looked dead. I felt dead, parts of me at least.

Everything was effort. Finding something to eat. Choosing something to wear. Opening up my computer and writing with any purpose. Just opening my eyes and ensuring they blinked every so often. Nothing came easily. I was embroiled in a war with myself to see how depressed, how apathetic, how discontent I could make myself feel. It was some sort of sick challenge.

And I’m sure watching an entire season of Breaking Bad in one day did not help.

I avoided everyone. Partly because I simply wanted and needed to be alone, but also because I didn’t want to burden them with my poor attitude or problems. I knew I was bad company. I knew I was a struggling mess of cynicism and pessimism. Part of me enjoyed being that way, and I didn’t want anyone to have to see it or feel obligated to help me through it.

I would make it through on my own. I always do. I have to.

We like to take care of ourselves. It’s a point of pride with us. All of our problems, struggles, issues, frustrations, they are for us to sort out on our own. Asking for help is like waving a red flag at our weaknesses. Asking for help means that people know we are struggling. It means that people will see that we don’t have everything together. It means turning ourselves inside out and making everyone aware of just how not in control we are. It means being vulnerable and weak. It means putting ourselves in a place where we don’t have the answer. It means failure.

Our society has become a culture of do-it-yourself. We live it and breathe it. It is our mantra, our slogan. It has defined who we are. Anything you need, any problem you have, any question that plagues you, you can sort out for yourself. We are a people with Google, WebMD, and Wikipedia at our fingertips. We can discover the answer for anything with a few well-placed clicks. We don’t need the experts, because we can figure it out for ourselves.

And if we can’t figure it out, well, it must not have been that important to begin with.

In my three days of frustration, never once did I ask for help. Never once did I acknowledge to someone that I was struggling, sincerely and truly struggling. I never let on that I was in the midst of an emotional breakdown and perhaps an existential crisis. Nor was I willing to admit that I wasn’t strong enough to keep from crumbling under the pressure.

And never once did I pray. Never once did I fall on my knees and beg for peace. Never once did I reach for my Bible, seek out words of encouragement from my loving Father. Never once did I ask Him to take on my burdens, my worries, my fears, and my sadness. Never once did I give it up or let it go.

Never once did I trust Him with my well-being.

We think it makes us strong to pull through on our own. We think we’re better because of it, when we prove we aren’t dependent on something outside of ourselves to help us along. We prove we are able, capable, and in control. We can muddle through and come out the other side.

I hate muddling through. I hate that I’m barely treading water to keep from sinking. And I hate that there is a lifeline floating right beside me, but I would rather attempt to swim to shore on my own than accept someone’s help.

We cripple ourselves with our independence. We limit ourselves. We lie to ourselves when we believe that asking and accepting help means being weak and being a failure. We’ve done ourselves a disservice by buying into a culture that says your problems are your own, your failures are your burden, and only you can fix them.

Can you imagine how much better, how much more, how much greater we could be if we didn’t see asking for help as a last resort?

God never tells us we must suffer or struggle or muddle through by ourselves. Jesus tells us not to worry, for if we seek His kingdom first, our needs will be met. Peter writes that we are to cast our anxiety and fears onto God for He will care for us. Paul writes that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

Our relationship with Christ; our personal, spiritual relationship with a loving, merciful, forgiving God is a partnership, a marriage. We give our lives and hearts to Him. We promise to love Him with our hearts, minds, and souls. We go into the world and serve Him and glorify Him with all that we have and all that we are, and He provides for us and loves us. He takes care of us. He is there is our darkest hour and in our moment of triumph.

He will never leave us or forsake us. His Spirit dwells within.

And He’s given us each other, our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. He’s given us the Church, a means of fellowship and a place for encouragement. He puts people in our lives who love us, care about us, and want to be there for us. He blesses us with relationships that go beyond the trivial, and we are meant to take part in them.

We are allowed to break down, freak out, and mess up. We are allowed to ask for help. We are allowed to call upon our best friend, our sister or brother, our parents or spouse, our pastor or mentor and ask them to pray for us and with us. We have permission to be vulnerable. We can show weakness. And there is nothing wrong with not knowing the answer.

Because the truth is, more often than not, we aren’t going to know the answer. We aren’t going to be able to find a simple solution courtesy of Google. There are going to be days when we have to recognize that we quite frankly can’t do it ourselves. But we can also recognize that turning to God in the midst of our struggles doesn’t make us failures. Asking for prayer and encouragement doesn’t mean you’re deficient or inadequate.

It just means you’re human. It means you’re exactly who God created you to be. You don’t always have to be strong. Only strong enough to ask for help.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts. And maybe follow me on Twitter?