The Fire (literally & figuratively)

A couple of weeks ago, we were driving on the highway and came up to a vehicle that was on fire.

We were one of the first to pass by, emergency crews weren’t there yet but there were civilians up on a rock cut on their phones-assumingely with a 9-1-1 dispatcher.

Traffic slowed just before the flames so we could all merge into the other lane.

My two Little Bears were in the backseat, talking a mile-a-minute about the smoke and how high the fire was-“Mommy it’s as big as the CN tower” (not even close). As we passed the vehicle, the entire front end was engulfed. I looked in my rear-view mirror to my biggest Little Bear, his eyes as wide as saucers, his mouth open in shock, the other one had taken a quick glance and went back to looking at her My Little Pony book. We were all silent….for a short period of time.

About a minute down the road, my son began to talk, his words shot from his mouth so fast and furious about what he just saw. Trying to process every detail and ask every question in his mind that was now super anxious and racing (I Know that feeling all too well). His questions started with fire in general, then about vehicle fires, then about house fires and safety and our safety and all the “what if’s” that his brain could possibly muster.

I *think* I did my best to answer his questions, my husband jumped in to help once we were home and he had discussed it again. I thought we had put it to bed with reassurance that we are prepared in the event of an emergency and that we’d be ok.

Fast forward a week and he began having a hard time sleeping-he was still processing. I spoke with his counselor and together we agreed that a visit to our local fire station may be a good idea. I connected with our local Fire Safety/fire prevention officer and away we went.

We’ve been to the fire station many times before, but this time-for our biggest Little Bear, was different. At his age and stage of development he’s beginning to realize that we are all mortal beings, that life is precious and that accidents and emergencies can happen and sometimes the outcomes are sad and death can occur to people he loves.

This was the perfect opportunity for him to speak with a professional, one who empowers people to be brave and have courage, to be vigilant and practice safety and most of all-answer the 102 questions that our son had. The whole time we were there, he didn’t stop talking. He played out all of (I think?) the “what if” scenarios in his brain and got the answers he needed to put his heart at ease.

When we left, I looked back in my rear-view mirror again and this time I saw his smiling face and the sparkle in his eyes. He caught my glance and said “I love you Mom, thanks for taking me, I feel so much better!”….in that moment, I felt like I had won parenting (at least for that moment.)

That night over dinner, our family agreed to do up a fire escape safety plan and buy a couple more fire extinguishers and practice fire safety prevention in our home and vehicle. We gave our son the important job of helping us test the smoke detectors, empty the dryer lint traps and help to draw a blue print for the evacuation plan.

I’ve learned that with our anxious Bear, if he has a leadership type role when his mind is anxious, it helps him to focus on the goal instead of all the scenarios.

Overall, this experience has reminded me, that the world can be incredibly overwhelming for children. They’re often exposed to so much information and have difficulty processing it all that it becomes overwhelming; even as an adult this still happens to me.

Be patient, do your best to help your Little Bears work through these overwhelming times. If you need additional help or resources, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional. Knowledge is empowering and takes the guessing game away from anxious brains. 💗

Bearing my soul-My story of being an anxious Mama Bear

One year ago, I shared this. So much has changed in this past year and so much has stayed the same. I remember writing this post, tears streaming down my cheeks, nervous as hell to “publish” it and let my world know my struggles. I took a breath and put my heart and soul into the world wide web for the first time and haven’t looked back since…

June 3, 2018: I have anxiety. Although it wasn’t officially diagnosed until my adult years, I’ve had it my whole life.
Now, I can say that I wear it like a badge of honor, but refuse to let it define me.
Some know, but many don’t and I feel it’s important to share a little of my private journey this last little while, in hopes that it brings awareness & more support to mental health even if it just reaches one person.
About 7 weeks ago, just after returning from our so needed family vacation, my anxiety was slowly growing.
I could feel it from the inside, slowly choking me. The weight of it was heavy and I was tired. Each day that passed was harder than the last and I knew that I needed help but couldn’t articulate where or what I needed help with. Most importantly, I needed to breathe.
There were so many contributing factors that attributed to my (what felt like) 2 day anxiety attack that my body needed to be still. After the advice of my wonderful doctor, incredibly supportive husband and family I took a break. I took a leave of absence from work to regroup, rebalance and find my breath and my self love.
During these past 5 weeks, I took up running, dancing, reading, writing and cooking. I dove head first into the depths of my soul where I worked through the nitty gritty and the haunting words that self doubt (both professionally and personally) had imprinted on my heart and I found my spark again. I found me.
This journey has been full of tears, defeat, self doubt and surrender but It’s also been filled with so much love, support, encouragement and help.
Point being- If someone you know is silently battling mental health issues they probably won’t reach out. They may go inward. I did. Please don’t give up on them. They need you more than ever, even if it’s to offer a hello with a smile in the mornings and love on them unconditionally-even from a distance. Remember, it’s not about you. It’s about them and the full on war that’s raging inside an often tired body and mind. Let that not be mistaken for weakness, because that I assure you isn’t true.
With tears in my eyes on the eve of my return to work, I am thankful, for my village (especially my hot husband Mark) that never gave up on me.
Mental health is real. Fatigue is real. Trying to be the best you can for absolutely everyone isn’t real-istic and at the end of the day, be happy with yourself, your character and your integrity and don’t let anyone (including yourself) dim your light. It’s ok to take a break. It’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to breathe it’s ok not to be ok and it’s ok to be still. It’s OK.
We’re all in this together.
Breathe. “Because every little thing is gonna be alright…” ✌🏼

Stop complaining, comparing and competing-it can cause anxiety!

I found this article below to be particularly interesting.
It also helped me understand and form a conversation with my Little Bear on the importance of positivity and optimism when working through anxiety.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the reel of “what-ifs”. If we get stuck there, take a breathe and try naming 3-5 things you’re thankful for or that bring joy to your life. Does it work for you?

A friend also told me that his Philosophy teacher in India said that the three Cancer’s of the mind are: complaining, comparing, competing. Interesting perspective I thought!

How Complaining Physically Rewires Your Brain To Be Anxious And Depressed

Real Life, Real Anxiety-taming the beast

For me, anxiety is tricky. For me, it’s a slippery slope of honoring my feelings and not burying them.
Appreciating the tears that flow and the gratitude I have in my heart.
It’s a balance between being present, pondering the “what if’s” and keeping my eyes on the horizon of tomorrow.
After a health scare a couple of months ago and finally having decent weather, my mind and body needed this tonight. 
Sometimes as a Mama Bear, I forget how important it is to take care of myself so I can be a good example for my Little Bears.
Be gentle, be kind, be fierce and be strong-however it looks for you. 

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