Fifty Strands of Gray

My mother went gray early-ish in life. She was in her early 30’s. All throughout my childhood, except for when I was really young, my mother had gray hair. In fact, I remember once when my mom and I were in the library and we got separated. Trying to find her I did the one thing everyone tells you when you get lost; I found another adult and told them I was lost and trying to find my mom. The concerned grown up asked me, “Well, what does she look like?” Now I could have gone several directions with this question. I could have told the lady she was wearing jeans and a red t-shirt. I could have said she had sunglasses and a black purse. Instead, I told the lady, emphatically, that she had gray hair.

Growing older is a fear of many people, probably due to the fact that we can never predict how it’s really gonna go. Sure, you can be preventative; eat right and exercise, take your vitamins. But there are some things that you can’t control. One of which is how old you are when you begin to go gray. Of course you can buy the solution in a box, but hair graying is completely hereditary. Now, my mom’s approach to going gray was to just let it happen. She seemed completely cool with the idea of having a full head of gray hair. I really admired her for it in my later teens years. By not coloring her hair, she was telling her children to not be afraid of going gray. To embrace it. I resolved to have the same attitude. Then I got my first gray hair.

Anticipating an event and your accompanying emotions is WAY different than reality. The night I found my first gray hair I panicked, called my boyfriend at the time and cried. Now, to be fair, he had started to go gray way before I did, so he may have been a bit more used to the concept. He’s such a compassionate, loving man and I knew he’d know how to comfort me……

He stifled a laugh. Although in his defense, he did tell me, “I’m sorry”, whilst doing it so that definitely took the sting out of it. Totally. 😀 We are married to each other now and I frequently tease him about his reaction.

In the years since, I have stood at the bathroom mirror many a time with a pair of tweezers, isolating those pesky gray hairs and extracting them from my life. In related news, have you ever tried to tweeze a gray hair, only to go in and extract a perfectly naturally colored strand? That’ll boost your self-esteem!

Now I write all this and still think….WHY does this bother me so much?? Surely my mother was more confident than I. Is this a failure on my part? Not at all. I’m human. Recently I found a Facebook meme that said the following-or close to it-along with gray hair, my memory is starting to suck-:

“That is not gray hair, I’m just slowly turning into a unicorn!”

That’s a good way to think about it. Aging is inevitable. What we have to learn to do is to not take things so seriously, embrace our inner unicorn, and start believing we are just as beautiful as we were when all our hair was one color.

I’ll see you tomorrow. Cheers!



A Love Note From Jesus

So far in this blog we’ve established I have anxiety with loud noises and large open spaces and, in a way, raising children. Let’s add a new one to the mix-just for fun–crowds. I never realized I had an aversion to crowds, but standing outside in line for a Christian Music festival (featuring such bands as Skillet, Building 429, For King and Country as well as many others), the other weekend in Nashville Tennessee made me seriously consider adding crowds to the list. 😀 Standing still for two hours with more people slowly gathered around will do that to a person. Thankfully we were not trampled.

Anyway, we were finally moving and made our way down to our seats. There was a brief Q and A with some of the artists featured before the big concert began, which gave me time to get used to my surroundings-a welcome turn of events. The concert began and let me tell you, it was awesome. And LOUD! Thank goodness we all had good ear protection.

Before I forget, I probably should have mentioned one little detail: the whole concert was 5 hours, excluding the time spent in line. One lesson I’ve learned about myself over the years is what my limits are on certain things. That night I learned something new-a 5 hour concert of loud music without making sure I get enough breaks makes for a grumpy and anxiety fueled Lulabelle. It also didn’t help that I hadn’t eaten much since breakfast that morning. To add insult to injury was the chosen speaker. As you recall in my entry yesterday, my husband and I had thought of adoption, but decided to remain childless. The chosen speaker was an adoption agency representative. Even a bit over a month later the wound was still pretty fresh. Yep. It was the perfect storm of anxiety with a pinch of rage thrown in for good measure. I was really raging at God at this point and needed a break.

Fortunately I was with one of my best friends and she suggested we get out of there, get something to eat, and chill out for a bit. Now this concert was in a large indoor stadium, so if you needed to get food you had to take an elevator one level up from the floor. So we get in the elevator, get pizza and are returning to the elevator when we got lost. Thankfully there were lots of security roaming around and we asked for directions. We were escorted to the nearest elevator and it opened. As the elevator opened, I glanced into the corner and all my anger at God and anxiety melted away. My eyeballs instantly recognized who it was, but it took my brain a few seconds to realize that staring back at me was the lead singer of For King and Country, Luke Smallbone!! Now, I don’t have much experience meeting famous people, especially in confined spaces like elevators. So, in my head I’m thinking, “holy crap this is awesome! Should I ask for a photograph? Well, we are in an elevator, it’s gonna be a short ride. Do I even have a pen for an autograph??” Yes, I am still kicking myself that I didn’t ask for an autograph or picture. He was quite gracious though when I extended my hand and managed to congratulate him on his Grammy wins. All too quickly he exited the elevator, leaving my friend and I in shock. For the first time in my life I thanked the Lord for giving me anxiety!

When we arrived back to the main floor we realized the loudest band was about to perform to close out the event, so I stayed behind, ate pizza, and couldn’t stop smiling at how the Lord met me exactly where I was.

With This Ring….Redefining Family

I’m finally uploading today’s entry. I should clarify from my last post that I’ll now be posting every evening (M-F). I wanted to get this entry posted earlier today, but as often happens, life comes in and changes your plans.  The following piece was also the most difficult I’ve ever done on an experience that is still fresh. 

Last night I had an idea spring to mind and have since been trying to decide whether or not this is the right time to write on this. Living with anxiety sometimes brings with it certain life choices that are very personal, yet I feel this specific choice is important enough to open up dialogue with a broader audience.

Throughout history of our society, we are taught that we are to grow up, get married and have children. This has been the definition of family. But what if this cookie cutter definition doesn’t fit everybody? Before we married, my now husband and I talked extensively about children. If we’d have any, how many, ect… We came to the conclusion that we’d adopt, but never had a definite timeline or deadline. 

When we became engaged, my engagement ring was too big for my hand, so a spacer was put on it.  Life happened and we were never able to get it properly sized. We had plans to pass it down to our oldest child if they so chose to marry one day.  Every time I looked at it I pictured our future child, down on one knee, with this ring, shining from a velvety box.

After several years of marriage, the topic of children kept creeping into our lives. Older siblings and close friends began having children, and we started discussions about expanding our family. We both love children, –I actually work in childcare–and loved the idea of providing a stable home for a child that needed one. One issue we talked about at length was how my anxiety and our collective low energy levels would affect us as parents.

Throughout those years, a funny thing happened. Those close to us with children began telling us how difficult it was, physically and mentally, and we began to see that first hand. Christmas with kids is a fun, albeit tiresome experience, even if you aren’t a parent. We also began praying about what the Lord wanted us to do in terms of expanding our family. Which leads us to Christmas 2014.

With 3 kids in the house, all under 6, Christmas at my parent’s house was filled with lots of noise and movements only equal to that of the Energizer Bunny. On steroids. After 3 days of dizzying activity, my husband and I had a long discussion, a time of prayer, and reached a conclusion. We would remain childless.

We drove back from my parents in a daze. It’s a bit disorienting when you think your life is moving in one direction, then the Lord comes in and says, “Nope. I want you to go here”. Even though we knew we were making the right decision, in a way it sucked. Big time. But you move forward, taking one day at a time. You mourn the life you thought you’d have. And you think of what your life will become.

A few months have passed since our lives path changed. On Sunday we went to the jewelry store and picked up my engagement ring. Freshly sized to fit perfectly. I wear it now with my wedding band. Now when I look at my sparkly ring, I am reminded of our commitment to those children already in our lives. To influence them to grow into awesome adults and responsible citizens. And pump them full of sugar when they visit, and give them back to their parents. 😉

Here is what I’ve learned in this experience that I want others to know: NEVER feel like you are less of a person because you choose a path that includes marriage but not children. This does NOT make you less of a person if parenting is not in the cards. If you feel overwhelmed and feel parenting might not be for you, that’s OK!

As always know that you are not alone! I’ll see you tomorrow.



Riding in Cars with Boys (LAFF #1)

So we meet again! Thanks for coming back. Today in honor of Friday, I thought I’d shake things up a bit. From today forward, every Friday I’ll post a humorous anecdote from my life, or a video I found or the like. It’ll be called, Lulabelle’s Anxiety Free Friday or LAFF (get it?? heehee!! 😉 ) . Oh and before I forget, PLEASE feel free to share any of my blog posts with anyone you think would benefit. So without further ado, let’s get this first LAFF started.

**Disclaimer: The following story contains broad generalizations that may or may not be based on real life. (cue Law and Order SVU sound effect)**

By the time you get to be my age you are very well aware there is a vast difference between how men and women approach certain tasks. This is particularly true in how they go about finding a parking spot. Case in point:

Two couples drive out-of-state together to attend a music festival. They arrive in said state and attempt to park somewhere in a multi-story parking garage.  Here is where the difference comes in. Scenario 1: Woman in the driver’s seat. She drives into parking garage, circles around, finds the first parking spot she sees that’ll fit her car, drives in and parks. Pretty simple maneuver. Scenario 2: Man in the driver’s seat. He drives into the parking garage and circles around to the first available spot that’ll fit his car. The big difference is he keeps going.  He’ll drive around in circles as the women in the back seat keep saying, “Hey, there’s a spot….ok never mind….Hey, there’s a spot…..ok never mind….” Finally, after vertigo begins to set in, and she’s regretting the huge breakfast she ate because she fear’s she’s about to see it in reverse–and why DO they call it a Grand Slam??–, the driver finally parks the car and stops… the first parking spot he originally came to. 😀

I hope this made you smile. Always remember you are not alone. I’ll see you again here first thing Monday.


Bringin’ in Da Noise, and Turnin’ Down Da Volume

Let’s talk about noise. I’m not talking about noises that are so ubiquitous we don’t think about them, like birds chirping or the sound of the coffee maker. No, I’m talking about those noises that can drive you NUTS!

For example, today I walked into our bathroom and turned on the light and exhaust fan. Now our exhaust fan occaisonally will sound like a speeding freight train running over a group of shreeking violins. It also sounds as though it could break off and fall to the floor at any moment. Today was no exception. Fortunately I can handle that noise and eventually I know that it goes away on it’s own (Sidenote: If anyone reading this is an expert in exhaust fans and knows why this is happening, please comment below. Thanks!). 

Now, there are some noises that I absolutely can’t stand and actually have anxiety over. One of these is balloons popping. Seriously, I. CAN’T. STAND. BALLOONS. Nowadays if someone wants me to work with balloons, I can truthfully tell them, “I can’t, I’m allergic”. Thank you latex allergy! 🙂 I can still be around balloons, but I can’t touch them or my skin will begin to itch. It should be noted that I used to not be allergic, but with many allergies, it showed up later in life.

Balloons have freaked me out for as long as I can remember. I’m always on edge around them and anxious they’ll prematurely burst. This was such a problem when I was a kid that I remember one time my mom took me outside with my siblings–who each had a couple blown up balloons. They stood at the edge of our yard, while I was at the other. They popped one balloon each. Then they moved forward a bit and popped two more. This continued until they were right in front of me. I was able to handle it with little anxiety–as far as I remember. When I grew older I learned it didn’t bother me probably because we were outside, so there wasn’t a place for the sound to bounce off from (ah, science….).

Nowadays I am still anxious around balloons and other loud noises, but my anxiety level has gone down over time. This is one thing that I’ve learned about my anxiety over the years, in some instances, I seem to sort of grow out of it, in terms of being able to tolerate some things better than I had as a kid. Hopefully that gives you a bit of encouragement if you are struggling with the same things.

Remember, you are not alone.


Irony and Agoraphob….What??!!

Do you wanna know the irony about starting a blog about living with anxiety?? Constantly second guessing myself and being worried about what I’ll write about first, thinking, “Well, I need to begin like this so people understand…..the flow won’t be right unless I say this first…” So in honor of this being my inaugural in-depth post, I’m throwing caution to the wind–in an orderly fashion, I can be a bit OCD–and letting the following serve as an introductory post:

My first inkling of anxiety happened pretty early in my life. I remember being in an auditorium at my sister’s spelling bee when I was about 5. I was pretty tired so I fell asleep and when I woke up, the bee was over. For some reason the next time I went into an auditorium, I felt a sense of doom and was panicky the whole time. It wasn’t until years later when I was able to put a word to my panic: Agoraphobia.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, agoraphobia is defined as, “a fear of being in open or public places”. I’ve also heard it described as being afraid of large open spaces. So it does stand to reason that I would panic in larger places like auditoriums or theatres. Going to a sport’s arena was out of the question. For me having agoraphobia is a double whammy because I also have a fear of heights. Yep. I’m that awesome! 😀 So if I go somewhere where the only available seats are in the balcony, it’s a total no go.

Through the years things have gotten marginally better. I am now able to go to concerts in larger places as long as we have floor seats, and in some instances, seats that are on the floor in a covered portion of the theatre. Even then I more often than not have a few minutes of panic, but return to normal fairly quickly. An understanding spouse and ushers have been a God-send through the years.   The one bright spot about having agoraphobia, is that once I’m in a place and am comfortable, I’m able to go back to that same place and enjoy myself with no panic at all.

Living with agoraphobia has taken a whole lifetime to figure out that, 1. It’s a very real fear even if most people don’t understand and, 2. It can be managed as long as you are open to exploring what works for you.

I think I’ll end our first conversation here. I hope this has been helpful to you if you struggle with similar feelings. Remember, you are not alone.



The Birth of a Blog


This is officially my first post. Not sure how often I’ll publish here but I feel God is calling me to blog on my experiences living with anxiety in this season of life. My blog will be a mix of personal stories of my experiences with anxiety, as well as humorous anecdotes about life; as humor has been an important element of my journey so far. I hope this blog serves as an encouragement and a source of light for all that visit. Enjoy! 🙂