Popcorn, Panic, and Peace

I’m a socially anxious introvert, while not my identity in and of itself, that is part of who I am. Not only a I drained by social interactions, but social interactions also almost paralyze me with anxiety sometimes. I’m also someone who feels incredibly anxious if I perceive something may be unsafe or uncomfortable. In my head, I usually know most of these anxious moments are overly dramatic and that I need to calm down and just do the thing. Sometimes, I just can’t. Sometimes no matter how illogical I know I’m being, I find myself locked up in fear unable to do anything until something changes. Most people seem to be annoyed by this. Most people react with short replies and irritable answers. Then, there are people who get it and if they don’t get it, they at least realize I can’t seem to help it, so they help me. They’re patient with me. They encourage me. Sometimes they do the thing so I don’t have to.

I’ve been planning to write this post for quite a while now because about six months ago, I walked around Boerne with two of my favorite people and had a moment like this. It was absolutely ridiculous. We were in a popcorn or treat store and I was looking at all the popcorn flavors. Popcorn is one of my favorite snacks and I adore green apple flavoring. They happened to have a green apple flavored popcorn. I was both disgusted and intrigued. Could green apple popcorn be good? I wanted to know how much it cost, but felt paralyzed by the thought of asking, so I asked my friend to ask for me. She laughed a little and graciously asked for me. The popcorn was more expensive than I would have liked for something I just wanted to try, so I was bummed. Then, my other friend noticed a tray of little cups of popcorn and took it upon herself to ask if they were samples. She didn’t even ask for herself. She asked for me before I could even think about it. When the cashier said they were samples, my friend gestured for me to take one so I did. (And, FYI, I personally thought the green apple popcorn was amazing! Haha. Still didn’t buy it because I didn’t have extra money to spend, but it was really yummy! Ooh! Maybe I’ll go buy some soon! Now, I really want some! 🙈)

I don’t only have social anxiety. As I said, I also have safety anxiety. If something doesn’t feel safe, even if it logically is, I start to panic. Last Wednesday before Thanksgiving break, I busted a window in the bus I was driving because I turned too closely to a tree branch. Our mechanics fixed it very quickly, so I was able to drive it again that afternoon. Before I went out to drive it, I worried about the broken shards of glass that fell into the floor. Our head mechanic, Jason, personally went out to inspect the bus for me. He didn’t have to. I could have and would have done it, but he’s gotten to know me well enough that he knows I’ve got a bit of an anxiety problem. Instead of sighing or saying something along the lines of, “calm down,” he personally helped me know I was safe. And that’s not the only time he or the rest of the mechanics have gone out of their well to assure me I was safe and secure and ready to go. They, especially Jason, regularly go the extra mile to help me and I know it’s because they know I feel better with their expert opinion versus my own.

The reason this is important to me is because some of the other people I work with, especially two of my managers, seem to act like my questions and concerns are a problem. Sure, maybe they are. Maybe my worries are ridiculous sometimes. Actually, there’s no maybe, sometimes my anxiety is ridiculous. Like I said though, I can’t seem to always control it. Sometimes I have to be shown that my worry is silly and not just told. More importantly, I need to know I’m not seen as foolish for my worries. In fact, that’s the best way for me to quickly overcome the anxiety and face it less often. All I need a lot of the time is to know or at least feel like my worries are understood.

That’s why I wanted to write this post. I wanted to give advice to anyone reading this who has anxiety or who knows someone with anxiety. In 2019, I’ve been learning countless ways to handle my anxiety. One way is to accept it. If I accept my anxiety, then it becomes less of a problem and more of a question. If it’s a question, then there’s an answer to find and I can find that answer. If others accept my anxiety, then they can help me either my doing something or by showing me that I’m not alone. Even if they don’t understand, then at least they sympathize. They acknowledge that I’m not intentionally being difficult. And when I know that, my anxiety feels easier to overcome. I think thats probably true for others too. When they accept their mental blocks and when their people accept their mental blocks, then those blocks become easier to move. And then there is peace on earth or at least in our own little worlds.

DCOM #4 – Halloweentown – (100 DCOMs Binge and Blog Challenge)

I grew up in a Christian home. As is common for Christian homes, or at least for the ones my friends and I grew up in, my parents started off with super conservation guidelines on what I was and was not allowed to watch and listen to as kid. One of the longest lasting rules in my home was that we were not allowed to watch or read anything that had to do with magic or Halloween. Therefore, “Halloweentown” was obvious not allowed to be watched in my house. By the time my parents decided it would be a case by case rule, I wasn’t interested in watching most Halloween themed things, so this moment right now is the last moment in which I will have never seen “Halloweentown.” In a matter of seconds, I will press play on my Roku remote so that I can watch the fourth DCOM for the first time. I’m kind of excited! I hope it’s worth the wait!

Ooh! Creepy music with a touch of magical charm! They just blew out the lights! It’s dark! I feel you Marney! It’s a struggle sometimes not to be able to participate with the other kids for Halloween! To be honest, I never really cared about Halloween, but I did care that I didn’t get to participate with other kids for Halloween events! Okay. I see where this is going. This old magic lady must be related to Marney and her family someway. Yup! Definitely! The little girl just used magic to bring herself a cookie! She didn’t know it, but she did! Mom is worried about them finding out about their powers, am I right? Of course! The old lady is her mother. Now there’s something special about Marney’s thirteenth birthday?

“Normal is vastly over rated,” says the grandmother. Yes! I totally agree! Time to learn about Halloweentown! She’s telling the kids about it! All creatures live in peace in Halloweentown. She made a book about Halloweentown appear out of nowhere so she could keep her word to her daughter, but at the same time, she showed Marney on a broomstick. Grandma starts to tell Marney about who she really is after all. The mother tells the grandmother to wait for her in the kitchen while she puts the kids to bed. Marney is a witch. She overhears her mother and grandmother discussing their powers. Then she sees Grandma turn fried chicken into a live chicken. She continues to hear Grandma discuss that something seems to be wrong in Halloweentown and that she needs her daughter’s help to stop whatever is wrong. Apparently, there’s something very special about the Cromwell bloodline especially for girls.

Marney and her brother, Dylan, sneak out of the house and climb onto the bus they see their grandma board. Inside the bus, they see many creatures of different sorts. Dylan tries to logic it all away, but Marney won’t have it. Marney and Dylan’s little sister, Sophie, follows them onto the bus as well. They meet the town mayor once they step off the bus in Halloweentown. Grandma is at least 200 years old. The mayor gets a skeleton cab driver to drive the kids to their grandma’s house. Grandma tells the kids time passes much differently in Halloweentown than it does in the mortal world. Two hours in the mortal world could be two days or even two weeks in Halloweentown. The mayor’s name is Kalabar. He seems to think Aggie Cromwell, the grandmother, is crazy. I wish I didn’t know his name, because obviously I know the second movie is called, “Kalabar’s Revenge.” I would assume that means Mayor Kalabar is evil, and I would think so anyway since he seems to think Aggie is crazy, but who knows? Not I.

The kids’ mom shows up in Halloweentown. Aggie, Marney, and her mom get in a fight over whether or not Marney will learn how to be a witch or whether she will be human forever. When her mom tells her she’s grounded, Marney gets very upset. First she looks sad and then she walks away without hugging her mother who has her arms outstretched for her. A two-headed dude tells Marney’s mother, Gwen, that the bus won’t show up for several hours. It seems that Kalabar and Gwen knew each other as children. He is clearly in love with her. Maybe they dated before Gwen met the kids’ dad in the mortal world. Before the mayor can help Gwen and the kids, someone comes in with an important message for him, so he can’t help them right away.

A punk kid named, Luke, apparently causes a bunch of trouble in Halloweentown. He informs Aggie that whoever this evil creature trying to destroy Halloweentown is wants to reveal himself to her. Marney makes a valid point to her mother in stating that it’s not right for her to try to make her give up her powers, just because she decided to when marrying their father. The evil dude does reveal himself to Aggie. He freezes all the disappearing townsfolk in time so that he can use them when he’s ready to use them. Aggie has Merlin’s talisman and the evil dude needs it. Luke seems to be genuinely concerned that something bad will happen to the Cromwells. The evil dude freezes Gwen and Aggie, so now it’s up to Marney, Dylan, and Sophie to save the day for them all.

Earlier in the movie, Aggie showed the kids what her plan was to overthrow the villain. She even showed them the list of ingredients. Marney copied the list for herself, so they’re going to use it to create the potion for themselves. They need hair of a werewolf, sweat of a ghost, a fang of a vampire, and maybe something else. That’s hilarious! They go to a dentist to get the fang! I love it!

At the house, once they make the potion, they try to remember the spell, but Marney can’t remember. Sophie thought it sounded pretty, so she made a song for it. She starts singing it when Marney says she can’t remember it.

When Marney realizes she needs to go to City Hall to make the talisman work, Luke intercepts her and explains that it’s a trap. He didn’t know “he” was going to do something to her mom and grandma. He swore to Luke that he wouldn’t harm them. All he wanted was the talisman. Now we know Kalabar is in fact the villain. He reveals himself while Marney and Luke try to come up with a way to beat him. Apparently, the half-human, half-witch, aka Marney, is Kalabar’s biggest enemy. Luke and Marney make a plan for Luke to run away with Marney’s cloak so that she can beat Kalabar. He captures Luke just before Marney is able to get the talisman where it belongs and freezes her just before she places it where it in the jack-o-lantern. She’s able to drop it in its position though and saves the day for them all.

Kalabar apparently did it all because of his anger for losing Gwen to a human. Suddenly, Dylan is angered enough by Kalabar’s evil that he finds out that he has powers too. From the discussions the Cromwell girls have had throughout the movie, it seems that Dylan may be the first Cromwell warlock in a very long time, if not ever. Together, the five of them are able to get the talisman back from Kalabar after he initially takes it from the jack-o-lantern where Marney left it.

After they win, Marney remembers Luke and finds him under her cloak. He hides himself because he’s ugly without being under Kalabar’s spell. He helped her because he likes her. He’d love a chance to go on a date with her. She kisses him on the check and he mourns that he isn’t turned into a handsome prince. She tells him that he did that already by helping her save the day.

By the end of the movie, all is right between Marney and Gwen and Gwen and Aggie. Gwen even askes Aggie to live with them in the mortal world and announces that she will be the one to continue Marney’s training now that she’s officially a witch. All in all, it was a very cute movie. I honestly think way too much happened in too short of a time frame, but it was still a good movie. I hope the next three movies don’t feel as rushed as this one did.

DCOM #3 – Brink! – (100 DCOMs Binge and Blog Challenge)

If you never had a crush on Erik von Detten, then you’re lying or you’re too young to be reading this post! Kidding, of course! Still though, Erik von Detten! Who didn’t crush on him for a while? I know I did! I still do! Any time I watch “Princess Diaries” and right now as I watch “Brink!” I crush on Erik von Detten! How could I not? Anyway, “Brink!” was the third DCOM to premiere and it’s also one of my personal favorites! One of the perks of being an obsessive girl is that it also means I’m a dreamer! I had a LOT of dreams growing up, but one of my most prominent dreams was to be a pro skater! This dream was due largely in part to my love for “Brink!” and of course for Erik von Detten! To this day, I still hope to become a decent skater one day. In fact, I think I’m going to go practice skating right now! Well, not now, now, because it’s 1am, but tomorrow when the sun is out!

Andy “Brink” Brinker and his friends, Gabriella, Jordan, and Peter are free spirited “Soul-Skaters.” The term “Soul-Skaters” refers to the fact that they skate for the love of skating and not for the money. Their biggest competitors, Team X-Bladz, on the other hand, skate for the money. Both teams, though competitors, attend school together in southern California. Resident jerk, Val, is the face of Team X-Bladz and he’s, well, a jerk. At the beginning of the movie, Team X-Bladz snakes what is called “The Pit” from Brink and his friends. Brink gets him back by telling a group of skateboarders that Val was talking crap about them. For that reason, the skateboarders go pick a fight with Val and Team X-Bladz.

On the first day of school, Val picks on the Soul-Skaters and throws Peter’s shoes on the telephone line. Gabriella, who is forced by her mother to wear a dress to school, gives up her shoes so Peter will have shoes to wear. To get Val back, the Soul-Skaters put worms in his sandwich. Then he challenges them to a skating competition on school property. They accept the challenge and race relay style. When Boomer, Val’s sidekick, takes a nasty fall, Brink gives up the lead in the race to help him. Helping Boomer meant finding a teacher and getting suspended, but that just goes to show Brink is a good guy!

The night he’s suspended, Brink learns his parents are struggling with finances. Because of the accident, Boomer can’t skate for a few weeks, so he’s out of an upcoming competition. Val knows Brink is an excellent skater, so he plots to get Brink to be on the team. To help his family, Brink joins the team. When Brink gets home after try outs, sister Katie asks what’s in his extra bag. In answer to her question, Brink pins one of my favorite lines from any movie. “None ya. None ya business!”

After being told by his father that he can’t have a job skating, Brink is forced to work two jobs a week and lie to his friends and family about being on Team X-Bladz. Brink tries to tell his friends the truth a few times, but something gets in the way each time. Of course, the lies all start to build up until there are too many to contain. When the truth comes out, trouble brews between Brink and his friends.

In a race against Brink and Team X-Bladz, Gabriella is hurt because Val sabotages her. After this incident, Brink confronts Val and quits the team just before dumping a chocolate milkshake on Val’s face. When Val stands up to beat him up, Boomer steps up and calls Val out on his crap. Then Boomer follows Brink and leaves Team X-Bladz. Peter’s skate busts. Then Brink shows up with a personal sponsorship from the dog grooming shop where he works. This act of kindness pushes the team to forgive their friend and ask him to skate with them again. With the new gear, they change their name to “Team Pup ‘n’ Suds.”

By the end of the movie, all struggles are fixed. Brink’s dad gets his job back, Boomer cheers for Team Pup ‘n’ Suds, and Brink and his dad share a special bonding moment. With a marginal lead, Team Pup ‘n’ Suds wins the race and proves that taking the moral high ground is what makes you a true winner.

There are a lot of things that define you. One of the things that defines you is what Brinks’ dad told him. “You are defined by the company you keep and how well you keep them. Skating is what you do; it’s not who you are.” That quote defines the whole movie.

Side Note: Gabriella was the first true Disney feminist. I’m not talking the obnoxious feminists of today claiming to want equality but really just wanting to be better than men. No. Gabriella just wanted a chance to have the ability to be as good as the guys. At the championship, she proves just that. She is as good as the guys and it’s because she works hard to be good, not because she whines about it.

#100DCOMsBingeAndBlogChallenge Twitter – @brittanyalex_5

Social Butterfly–Beauty and Brokenness

Aren’t butterflies beautiful? They come in all different colors and sizes. They’re friendly and curious little creatures that fly where the wind takes them. Often, we use them as examples of beauty. They are also used as examples of nervousness and excitement. I feel like I can relate to a butterfly fairly well. In high school, my friends literally called me the social butterfly. I knew at least one girl from nearly every volleyball and basketball team we played against. In fact, one of my best friends was from another school. I was always friendly and happy and floating from one beautiful flower–aka friend–to another, making sure they had all the support they needed to grow. Then, I flew into the proverbial windshield of life.

My junior year of high school was a tumultuous one at best. My whole life, I had been the bubbly fluttering happy girl floating from flower to flower wanting to be friends with everyone. For a long time, it was because I really did just want to be friends with everyone. In 5th grade, it started to be because I wanted to be loved by everyone. In high school, it was because I didn’t feel loved by anyone. I guess I thought if I was surrounded by as many other butterflies migrating around me as possible, then I’d never feel alone. Silly me. The more people I reached out to and tried to befriend, the more alone I felt. Add on that “all” of my friends had boyfriends while I was “forever alone” and I was miserable. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Like there was something wrong with me. Why didn’t anyone love me? Did I have a lopsided broken wing that I couldn’t see or something? I don’t know, but I was alone or at least I felt that way.

I was going to a private Christian school and I grew up going to church every week and spent a few years in Awana. I knew what the Bible said. I was never alone. Even if everyone else did, God would never leave me nor forsake me. I knew that, but I guess I didn’t believe it, and I certainly didn’t feel it. I know the heart–aka emotions–is deceptive, but feelings–at least for me–are more real than anything else in the world. I’m a very sensitive person. I feel everything. I feel my emotions and somehow I feel the emotions of others around me–even fictional others which is weird to say, but it’s true. You’ve heard of second-hand embarrassment? I feel secondhand everything. So, when I do–or don’t–feel something, it sort of consumes me. That or I block out all the feelings with facts and that’s not healthy either. I’m working on finding a balance between sense and sensibility, but it’s a long, hard battle. A battle I realized I had to fight in high school when I was the social butterfly who felt like a bug on a windshield.

I grew up singing the song. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” I knew it. In my head, I knew it, but in my heart I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t good enough to be loved by a perfect God and I wasn’t bad enough to be saved by a merciful Saviour. I had been saved. I knew and accepted and believed God’s beloved sacrifice when I was six years old. I remembered the scene almost flawlessly and knew without a doubt I had been saved from the fire of hell. What I wasn’t sure about, what I felt like I shouldn’t/wouldn’t be saved from was the darkness of life. I knew I was flawed and broken. I knew I had done a “good job” of not falling into the pits that many others around me had. I didn’t know that we really are all equal in the sight of the Lord. I never consciously believed I was better than anyone else, just better than what my evil nature could have asked me to do. I practically lived at my church. I was there every Sunday for church and was serving weekly. I was there Monday through Friday for Christian school and memorized every verse–about 20 or so every 2 weeks–they asked me to. I was reading my Bible semi-regularly. I was doing all the things a “good little church girl” should be doing. I wasn’t sleeping around, or even kissing anyone. I wasn’t partying, drinking, or smoking. I never snuck out or went anywhere against my parents’ will. I wasn’t doing anything a “good little church girl” shouldn’t be doing. The things I was struggling with were “minor.” I was self-harming, but it wasn’t visible. It wasn’t “as bad as other girls.” I had sort of attempted the behaviors of eating disorders, but hadn’t gone farther than unhealthy thoughts toward food rather than actions. I was depressed and wondering if anyone would miss me if I wasn’t around, but I wasn’t suicidal. All these church girl checkboxes and “minor” issues made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for God’s love, but wasn’t bad enough that I had any right to say I was struggling. And that’s why I felt like I was so unloved.

I refused to tell anyone about what I was dealing with, so when they didn’t see it on their own I felt unseen, unloved, and like I wasn’t struggling as much as I was. When I prayed, I didn’t pray about the root of the problem. I didn’t address the real issues. I just wanted it all to go away. I literally prayed for God to take away my free will in these things and make me “good enough.” I felt like if I was asking for it, then that should still be considered free will and that God should accept it. He didn’t. Surprise surprise. When He didn’t, I think a part of me resented Him for not taking it away. Some part of me definitely felt unloved. If He loved me, then why wouldn’t He take the pain away? Why wouldn’t He take the feeling of inadequacy away? And if the people I loved loved me then why couldn’t they see I wasn’t the bubbly and happy butterfly I pretended to be? Why couldn’t they see my wings had been clipped and I was no longer flying? Why? Why? Why?

To be honest, I still don’t know the answers to any of those questions. I can guess that for my people, it was because I was hiding and most people aren’t good at seeing through facades. Most people don’t know to look for a mask or how to look past it. Most people believe what you tell them. I told people I was happy. I told people I didn’t have a worry in the world. I told people I was fine. And with God. I don’t think it’s that He wouldn’t take the hurting away. I think He was just waiting for me to be honest with Him. He knows everything, but He doesn’t force anything. He wants true love and honesty. He doesn’t want robotic obedience. He gave us free will for His and our own good. Who wants to be loved because the lover is forced to love them? Not us and certainly not God. Who wants to be forced to love someone? Forced love produces things like Lord Voldemort. Forced honesty produces broken hearts, anger, and bitterness like with Caroline Forbes, Elena Gilbert, Rebekah Mikaelson, and Stefan Salvatore. Who wants that? Not I and now I’m grateful God didn’t force anything. Now, I know God was trying to love me and doing what He could to help me out of the pit.

At the end of the day, God can do anything with or without our willingness, but that’s almost never if ever how He works. He wants us to be willing which is probably why the one thing that finally pushed me to really be willing to come out of the dark was a documentary about one of my favorite singers. I have always and probably always will be a fangirl. In large part because I am so sensitive to every form of feeling, I really get into anything and everything I love and God uses that to help me understand lessons He has for me. So, when I saw my favorite singer was struggling with things I was struggling with and ended up in a rehab center for it–and other things–I was shocked into action. It pushed me to be honest with God. And it was when I was honest with God that I really started to feel how much He loved me.

In the following year, God would use this singer and another band to show me how much He really cared for me. When someone really loves you, they take notice of the things that you love and the things that make you you. God took the things I loved and used them to help me find His Light and Love. As He walked me through the dark and into the Light, He led me to believe I could be honest with my friends and family about things I had been dealing with. As I did, I learned that they did love me, even if I hadn’t felt it. The reactions to my confessions were so full of genuine love I couldn’t believe I had ever doubted their love for me. Then, I started meeting new friends who I knew loved me from the beginning. Friends that are still loving me today. Friends who have helped me find my wings again.

Earlier this year, a friend from church gave me a purple butterfly from her wedding decorations. Around the same time, a coworker gave me a green butterfly charm engraved with “You are a blessing.” With the little green butterfly came a little card reading, “A butterfly is so beautiful, graceful and elegant… symbolizing… Faith and embraces the journey along the way…” – A.S. Waldrop

I hadn’t thought about being a butterfly in years. I had forgotten that I used to be the butterfly. That my coach/teacher in high school had gone around the room saying the things she loved about each of us girls and had almost forgotten me because I was a social butterfly fluttering around the room, loving on each girl after we had previously discussed the things we would change about our lives if we could. I took pride in that description, even if at the time I hadn’t always believed it was true. Now, as I look at these butterflies on a regular basis I’m reminded that I am a butterfly. God allows me to feel so deeply about anything and everything because it gives me a unique ability to love everyone in the way that they need to be loved. It gives me the wind I need beneath my wings to be able to fly from flower to flower and spread beauty wherever I go. Not because I’m something special and unique–though I like to believe I am–but because He is. What is the primary job of a butterfly? To spread pollen from plant to plant to help them grow. In this world, God is the pollen, people are the flowers, and I am the butterfly. Beautiful or not, I’m not the most important part of this story. I’m just a carrier. In this transfer of growth, pollen is the most important thing, because it feeds the butterfly and the flower. The pollen is what allows life and  beauty to exist. Then the flowers are the second most important thing. They are the reason butterflies do what they do. Both are beautiful, but beautiful in their own way.

So, yes. I am a butterfly. I am beautiful and strong and I finally have my wings again. I am only one beautiful but small creature in a field of flowers–hundreds or more of differently beautiful creatures. And, like a butterfly, my fluttering wings are either anxious or excited–there’s not much in between.

What are you? What is God showing you in your struggles? Are you a butterfly like me? Are you a flower? An owl? A unicorn? A tree? A book? Everything in this world has significance. Everything matters. Everything can an example of who we are in Christ. While life isn’t about us. It is important to find our identities. To find how God wants to use us and to embrace that. God is using me as a butterfly to spread His beauty to others. How is God using you?