Thursday, October 23, 2014

FACE YOUR FEARS

I did possibly the most terrifying thing of all time today:

I made a morning announcement over the PA system at school.

Yes. It was really, truly scary. I thought getting married in front of 200 people was the scariest thing ever, but no, it was not. I had my best friend up there with me, who also had to walk and talk and pose in front of all those people. Also, those 200 people happened to be people who love us and care about us and don't judge us for being awkward weirdos.

A morning announcement, on the other hand, is all me. Alone. Talking to hundreds of people who are not my friends. A majority of them are kids who look for any reason to make fun of you, even if you are a nice, smiley "bubbly cheerleader" (it kills me inside when they call me that...). My voice booming all over the entire school, so literally everyone can hear me, whether they are in class or in the office or sitting on the toilet.

I forgot all about it, until I walked in this morning and saw the date on my computer. Today is the start of Red Ribbon Week, just so you know. It's a week to spread drug prevention and awareness, which is obviously my job. So, big week for me. I had planned to make an announcement today about it. I wrote it out and everything so I wouldn't freeze up and not know what to say.

My hands were shaking so bad, and I thought I was going to throw up while I was waiting for the Pledge of Allegiance to be done. But then I got the mic, and I read the paper, and I survived. People in the office started clapping when I was done. I swore they were being sarcastic because I did a horrible job. I couldn't even remember reading the paper afterwards. I completely blacked out. I couldn't remember if I had even read the whole thing or stopped in the middle. I walked so fast back to my office and shut the door for 10 minutes to calm myself down and convince myself it was okay to show my face around school.

Guess what? No one even looked at me funny the rest of the day. One of my teacher friends said she heard my announcement, and I told her I had been insanely nervous to talk this morning. She was shocked. She said I spoke clearly, at an even pace, and didn't sound shaky at all. That's why people were clapping. Because everyone messes up when they make announcements, and I actually didn't mess up at all.

No one can ever tell when I'm freaking out on the inside. I have had lots of practice with looking calm and composed.

Today made me realize that I have faced a lot of fears lately, and I have A LOT of fears. Like way more than the average person. Let's see, what else have I done recently...

1. I posted a picture of myself without makeup on Facebook to participate in the No Makeup Challenge. I'll post it again for all the interwebz to see:

There. I've spent way too much of my life analyzing my appearance and worrying about what other people think of how I look. Time to be done with that.

2. I called to make a hair salon appointment. My mom did this for me up until... well, now.

3. I got a manicure for my wedding. People touching my hands? All those horror stories you hear about infections? Scary.

4. I actually had a wedding. We already talked about how anxiety-provoking that was.

5. I flew on a plane about 203584240582 times in the past year.

6. I traveled internationally without my family. And got sick in a foreign country. I didn't mean to conquer that fear, but I kinda had no choice, so oh well.

7. I DROVE to the airport to pick up and drop off visitors. Okay, it was the little Palm Beach airport, not the crazy Philly airport, but still.

8. I gave a presentation at my work staff meeting.

9. I taught a classroom full of kids... with an assistant principal observing.

10. I went to the dentist alone without chill pills.

11. I sang karaoke at a bar while I was still somewhat sober. Hah.

12. I went snorkeling.

13. I went to the movies a couple times, and once, I didn't even sit in the aisle seat.

14. I ate at a restaurant and didn't sit facing the wall.

15. I started sleeping in the dark. With a mirror in my room. AHHHHHH

16. I ate junk food and drank alcohol without running that morning, or that night, or the next day, or even the next whole week. I let myself enjoy food and drinks ON A REGULAR BASIS without feeling guilty. That's a big deal for me.

17. I wrote this post. It is really scary to be honest about this kind of struggle with pretty much everyone I know, but I do it in the hopes that it will help someone else. And also, I like getting things off my chest. It helps not to have to bear the burden alone.

You should try conquering your fears. If you struggle with anxiety,  try gradually exposing yourself to the things that make you anxious. Make a hierarchy list, ordering experiences from least to most anxiety provoking. Start off small, doing things at the bottom of the list. Baby steps. Eventually, you will work your way to the top. I still haven't done the number one thing on my list, but one day, when I get back to the Jerz, I will.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Autumn Awesomeness: My Top Ten

As I sit here on a cloudy, hot, and humid South Florida morning, I am thinking of all the best things about the fall season.

Here are my Top Ten Things of Autumn Awesomeness (I'm so eloquent):

10. Leather Jacket Weather

Leather Jacket weather (or LJ weather, as I affectionately call it) is one of the best things about fall, but it is the last thing on the best things list. This is because, while cooler weather is a relief after the heat and humidity of summer, I can only stand it for so long before I want summer to come back. I don't like when my face starts to get too cold and red. However, the pro of LJ weather is, of course, looking badass in an LJ.

9. Candy Corn

You'd think this would be numero uno on my list, what with how I go on and on about it. Candy corn is possibly the most delicious thing about autumn. I ate three handfuls of it last night, and it was glorious. Then, my teeth felt like they were going to fall out, and I got a tummy ache. So worth it though. And they look so cute sitting in a clear glass jar, so they double as decorations! EDIBLE DECORATIONS.

8. Changing Leaves

Yeah, it sucks to have to rake them up every other day, and you run a high risk of getting poison ivy from jumping in the piles (is this just me?). But it really doesn't feel like fall until the leaves start changing. In my opinion, there is nothing in nature more beautiful than seeing bright reds, oranges, and yellows as you drive down the road or walk in the woods.

7. Apple Cider

It's good hot. It's good cold. It's good with a shit ton of alcohol in it. If you tell me this isn't the best drink of the fall season, you are a liar, kind sir.

6. Fall Makeup

Summer's bright colors are fun, but black, plum, and deep berry reds are the best. They're classic, beautiful, and pretty much universally flattering. And I feel much more comfortable in dark colors (hi, this is Lauren's inner goth speaking). Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics makes this crazy amazing product called Lip Tars. That sounds gross, but it's just highly pigmented liquid lipstick that you apply with a lip brush. You barely need any product, so one tube lasts forever, and the original formula dries to an almost-matte finish. I live for the time of year when I can start wearing the Black Dahlia color.  See? OCC Lip Tar

5. Fall Fashion

Leather jackets, flannel, boots, and beanies. This time of year is by far the most comfortable and stylish, at the same time. If I can look pretty by literally picking clothes up off my closet floor and throwing them on haphazardly in 2 minutes, that's a win in my book.

4. Thanksgiving

ALL THE FOOD. Especially pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and cranberry sauce. I really miss having Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt Joyce's house with all the cousins. Aunt Joyce was like Martha Stewart. She'd make everything all fancy. We'd each have a task, whether it was folding the cloth napkins, designing place cards, or making talent show programs (for the after-dinner entertainment, of course). She even taught us how to make designs on top of the soup once.

3. Pumpkin EVERYTHING

Pie. Beer. Cookies. Ravioli. Air freshener. Candles. Decorations. Poptarts. The (in)famous Pumpkin Spice Latte. ACTUAL PUMPKINS! Pumpkins are the best thing that ever happened to the world, because you can use pumpkins for everything. They're cute. They're orange. Their seeds even taste delicious. The only pumpkin thing that sucks is the pumpkin-shaped candy corn. Those things are IMPOSTERS, man. Gross.

2. Bonfires

Is there anything better than an autumn bonfire? Yes, I guess so, because there is still one more thing on this list. But bonfires are the runner-up. Making s'mores, drinking pumpkin beer or spiked cider, sitting around the fire listening to Coheed, Circa Survive, or Bright Eyes (that might just be me), all with your best friends... Put on your LJs and get out there, fools.

1. HALLOWEEN

Did you really think anything else would be number one on my list? Hallowen is The Beatles of the fall season. It combines pumpkin everything, LJ weather, changing leaves, apple cider, and candy corn. It ups the ante for fall fashion and makeup by making it COSTUME fashion and makeup. IT ADDS ALL THE CANDY OF THE WORLD IN TO ONE NIGHT. Plus, it's magical. And spooky. And I used to think I would become a witch on the Halloween of my 16th year, like Sabrina or something. Halloween is the best.

If you read all this, you either really love autumn, or you're really bored. Either way, I hope you feel quite festive after reading my list. I encourage you to make your own list, even if you don't like fall. Thinking about the best things helps you forget about the worst things!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sweet, Sweet October

I pretty much despise celebrating holidays before it is actually time to celebrate them, i.e. Christmas decorations being put in stores in September...

BUT.

This year, Starbucks released their pumpkin spice latte in late August. Yes, that is way too early, but I could not help myself. I had to have one. I don't even like coffee, but I had to have one. And once I have a taste of the fall season, it is impossible to hold myself back.

Luckily, I had the wedding to worry about in early September. As soon as that was over, all autumn-celebrating hell broke loose. I restrained myself for a couple weeks, but after the first day of fall, I let myself overdose on fall things.

Now, it is October 1st, and there are no other holidays between now and Halloween. That means...

IT'S HALLOWMONTH! And the week of Halloween is Halloweek. And actual Halloween lasts all weekend this year, because it falls on a Friday.

Halloween is by far the best holiday. Christmas Eve is the best day of the year, period, but that's only because my family is insane. As far as the actual holidays themselves go, it doesn't really get better than Halloween. Halloween is the only day of the year where you can be whoever or whatever you want and not be judged. You get to be someone completely different, or be your true self. Face your worst fears, or live your best dreams. It doesn't matter if you are a kid or an adult, or an adult with kids. Everyone can find joy in Halloween. The air feels electric. For one day, it's easy to believe that magic could be real.

Everyone thinks I'm nuts when I explain this to people, but I don't care.

Anyway, that is why October is the best month. We are in the thick of the autumn season. It doesn't feel like it yet in Florida, so I am purposely going crazy with fall-themed things and Halloween celebrating to make it feel right.

What's everyone being for Halloween?! You have to know already. YOU HAVE TO KNOW. It's important. If you don't know yet, you have 5 days to think about it and get back to me.

Besides being Hallowmonth, October is also Breast Cancer Awareness month. For those that don't know me well, this is a cause that is near and dear to my heart. My Aunt Joyce passed away in 2006 after a long struggle with breast cancer. I would definitely not call her a victim of breast cancer, because she was totally not a victim. She went in to remission twice before it came back for good, and even then, she continued to work, travel, and be the same, awesome Aunt Joyce that we all knew and loved. I have no bad memories of her, even toward the end of her life. Just memories of how strong, positive, loving, and "cool" she really was. Cool Aunt Joyce. Bringing us stickybuns from Cassel's and taking us to Broadway shows and hosting fancy dinners and hot fudge tasting contests and talent shows and making us Shirley Temple "fancy" drinks.

When Aunt Joyce passed away, I kept a wall hanging that belonged to her. It was given to her by a friend a bit before she died. It said "celebrate life." That is exactly what she did, and it inspired me to hang on, especially at that time in my life. A very hard time in my life. Seeing that sign every day completely changed who I am as a person and my perspective on life.

South Florida's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is coming up in January. I think I can get myself to run a 5k again for a good cause, and I hope other people will join me as well! Anyone interested? It would be cool to sign up as a team and do some fundraising to help combat this illness that has affected so many of us. If you are interested in this idea, please let me know. You could even walk! It's not about the time; it's about the effort! I'll even wear pink... it's like the Lauren clothing equivalent of a unicorn sighting. And if you don't want to participate, I hope you will cheer me on, in person or in your heart, and help me celebrate my Cool Aunt Joyce and all the other fighters out there :)