I’m assuming you’ve probably seen this before. It’s apparently been viewed a bazillion times online. However, it still rocks my world. It’s hanging in my bathroom and it’s my desktop so I HAVE to see it at least a few times a day.
2. Man of Steel
This is what I feel like is happening: Marvel has taken the amazing babeness that is Clark Kent/Superman (and a bearded one at that!), thrown in a little magic of Christopher Nolan and then added a splash of a silver fox in Kevin Costner. This movie comes out four days before my birthday. Coincidence you might say? I think not. It’s gonna be a great summer. Bring on the heat!
I’m a frequent listener to Radiolab podcasts. I probably should contribute financially to them some day. But in the meantime, I’m an avid fan. But this episode rocked my world more than any other. In fact, it might be one of the best-produced pieces of hour-long audio I’ve heard to date.
The story is riveting. I don’t want to give anything away, but let me say that my heart was gripped the entire episode. It chronicles a journalist couple in Florida who struggle to get pregnant, eventually do, but then have to figure out what to do when their daughter is born 23 weeks 6 days premature.
I HIGHLY recommend you plug it in when you have an hour whilst cleaning the house or driving. It is moving and the statement they (inadvertently I believe) make about the sanctity of life and when it begins is powerful.
4. Texas Sheet Cake
One of my favorite things about electing to live at home for the time being is all of the piping hot deliciousness that emanates from our kitchen. Texas Sheet Cake is no exception.
One day, I plan to assemble a cookbook of the Erickson family’s favorite/original recipes, but until then, here is a link to our Texas Sheet Cake. Or you can come over anytime for some…
5. Asian Babies
I have one friend who has found my weak spot: if she knows I’m having a rough day, she will send me photographs of random Asian babies. You may think it’s creepy, but we’ve all got our quirks. Like my affection for Kevin Costner, there is no logical explanation for my love for Asian babies. East Asia, Southeast Asia, India… doesn’t matter, I think all Asian babies are beautiful. One day, maybe I’ll adopt one (provided my Man of Steel is on board). Until then, please friends, feel free to text me Asian babies ALL. DAY. LONG.
I remember it starting one particular Friday morning; junior year of college; an hour and a half before a math test.
Freaking out that my life was over.
Or at least my life with Statistics was over.
I was having a PANIC ATTACK. (I’m shouting it because that’s what your body is doing when you’re having one.)
Typical symptoms of a panic attack can include an assortment of: shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness, hot and/or cold flashes, nausea, dizziness, paresthesias (tingling sensations—like pins and needles in your hands and feet).
This was the beginning of what was about a two-year-long struggle to overcome panic attacks.
It wasn’t every day. It wasn’t even every week. But I found myself experiencing strange sensations that had no explanation for.
In addition to panic attacks, I was experiencing frequent heartburn, acid reflux and regular digestive issues. (And I will leave the descriptions of my complicated digestive functions at that.)
What I know now that I did not realize then was that my panic attacks and my screwed up digestive system were intricately related.
In fact, 75 percent of the nerve receptors having to do with stress are actually found in your gut. So when your tummy is sick, your propensity toward severe stress is heightened.
I’ve met countless people recently who tell me about their anxiety or the panic attack they just had. Whether you are having regular panic attacks, struggle with anxiety or just have a bit of extra stress in your life, I’m going to share with you my secrets on how I’ve been getting better. I still have a mini-freakout every now and again, but it’s irregular and never goes into a full-blown panic attack. Thank God.
1. I worked on my gut. I cut out coffee, went gluten free/dairy free for a little while and gave my body a chance to get regulated. I am not currently gluten/dairy free, but maybe at some point. My inflammation got SO much better just by changing my diet and I found that a lot of my digestive issues got better. I have an excellent naturopathic doctor that I see every six-ish months, Danette Goodyear, here in Dallas. I highly recommend working with a doctor who will help you get to the root issue instead of just giving you medication (I had a previous M.D. prescribe me PepcidAC for digestive stuff. It only masked the symptoms instead of treating the root issues).
2. Essential Oils. Everyday I use various therapeutic grade essential oils. My favorites for combatting stress and using them in the midst of a panic attack are Peace & Calming, Valor, and Lavender. I’ve found that my body will be drawn to one oil or another depending on what I’m needing that day. I rub them on topically, inhale them or put them in a diffuser to disseminate throughout the room (or all three). For helping with all of those weird digestive issues, Di-Gize essential oil is literally my best friend. I rub it on topically or take it in a capsule form and Dear God, I feel better almost instantly.
3. GABA. Words cannot describe how much I love GABA… My eldest sister jokes that I used “coffee, GABA, coffee, GABA, etc.” on rotation throughout school. Seriously, nothing (other than the essential oils) has helped me combat panic more quickly than this. You can find it at any health food store.
GABA is an amino acid and works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter to regulate brain and nerve cell activity by restricting the number of neurons firing at once, calming both your central and peripheral nervous systems. GABA is referred to as the “brain’s natural calming agent.”
Before I moved to London, I was having major freak-outs. One night, I was in the middle of hyperventilating (not dramatic at all), I took one GABA and my breathing slowed within seconds. Literally. You can safely take up to 1500mg of GABA in a 24-hour period (500mg 3x day). (Any more than that and it might actually make you feel a little jittery, but there shouldn’t be any major adverse reactions). I get the 500mg pills and take one. If after 20 minutes, I’m still feeling a little jittery, I’ll take another 500mg pill. Usually just one GABA combined with using essential oils, I’m good to go.
4. Serotonin (Tryptophan). Serotonin is one of the major neurotransmitters in your brain/gut for controlling stress. Whenever your gut is sick and/or you’ve been feeling heightened emotion (anxiety, anger, fear, sadness) your body uses serotonin in order to cope. If your body hasn’t had time to replenish the serotonin, you’re going to be more susceptible to all of those negative, high emotions. Tryptophan (yes, like the turkey) is the precursor for serotonin in your brain. I take homeopathic drops of tryptophan from my naturopathic doctor, but exercise, fresh air, sunshine and a serotonin-rich diet (proteins such as turkey, fish, chicken, cottage cheese, nuts, cheese, eggs and beans all contain good levels of tryptophan; both medium and long-chain healthy fats high in Omega-3s such as avocados, nuts, flaxseed, vegetable oils and seeds, salmon, tuna) can all help to boost your serotonin levels naturally.
5. Prayer. This has become my staple: Philippians 4:4-7. I live by it. Enough said.
If you want to research more on the topic, here are some things I’d recommend…
Listen to Radiolab’s podcast “Guts”. Specifically the story in the middle section of the podcast (about 17 minutes in) illustrates why Serotonin is so key to your life and your gut. I warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart… or those with weak stomachs.
Click through some of the links embedded in this article for specifics on some of what I’ve talked about. Do your own research and find what works for you.
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor… so talk to yours. If yours is lame, find a new one. Do lots of research. Ask questions. Don’t go on any crazy fads/diets. Be smart and do everything in moderation. Ultimately, it’s your body so take care of it and don’t be an idiot. xoxo
Welcome to Wednesday… the part of the week where we all freak out that we only have two more days to accomplish all that seemed so feasible on Monday morning.
So, to quote Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain, I’ve concocted a scheme to “…bring a little joy into your humdrum lives.” As she so aptly puts it… ”it makes us feel as though our hard work ain’t been in vain for nothin’.”
So here begins what will probably be an infrequent (just trying to be realistic and honest here people) “Stuff I Like” post. Please, hop inside the randomness of my head and blame my hippie family for encouraging my eclectic interests. Enjoy!
Stuff I Like # 1
1. “Heart’s a Mess” by Gotye (most recently on The Great Gatsby soundtrack)
First let me say—I loved The Great Gatsby. I loved the soundtrack even more. I’m sure Lana Del Ray’s song “Young and Beautiful” will get all the attention and maybe rightfully so, but I’m totally and utterly digging this new song from the Belgistrailian (yes, I made that up). I foresee so many dance parties in the kitchen of the Erickson household happening to this song. You should have seen us when “Somebody That I Used to Know” came out… the dance party lasted for weeks. No really. It did.
Hear me out on this… Someone brought these bad boys home from Whole Foods about a month ago and now I’m totally addicted. It is the best snack. There are only 25 calories in a half a cup (lest you think I’m a calorie counter… I am totally not, but I just like touting that figure because it sounds really good ). Although they look super weird, they are packed full of fiber and are super nutritious. Best part is that the light salt on them actually brings out the natural sweetness. Don’t take my word for it… OK… Actually do. Go get them. Hurry… You still have time.
Yes, I know that 24 is coming back and I’m SUPER excited to see Jack. However, because I dislike bandwagons, 24 returning to Fox this fall will not be on the “Stuff I Like” post this week. But SYTYCD (freaking longest acronym ever) is. Can we please just take a moment of silence to respect the massive creativity that this show exudes.
Great. OK. Moving on… The show is in it’s tenth season and although that span of seasons made American Idol a grandmother in the reality television world, SYTYCD is still your cool second cousin that you only see every summer for a few weeks at your grandparents farm and this year you expect them to have pink hair or something.
OK, just indulge my inner dancer and let me celebrate this show. They are doing all the things I can do in my head but was never able to actually pull off in real life when I was dancing. Admit it. You know you attempted to do a grand jetédown the grocery store aisle after watching last night’s episode. Roll with me here people.
I stumbled across this kid online… I’m sure you probably have too. But in case you haven’t, please block off an hour of your life and watch every single one of his videos, especially this Pep Talk one. Then consider what you can create that will make the world more awesome.
5. Dallas is Changing
This is last thing that I officially like this week and it’s something I really like. Several years ago I seriously desired to move to L.A.… then a few years later I was making plans to move to New York. I may or may not ever live in those cities, but both cities drew me for one reason in particular (among others): they both embrace creative people wholeheartedly. You know how the Statue of Liberty has imprinted on her “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” ––in my mind, that actually means “Give me your artists, your innovators, Your nameless creative masses yearning to break free.”
Dallas had nothing to offer me three years ago. There were very few outlets for Creatives to express themselves in a corporate, citywide setting and even fewer places where you could find creative community. That has been changing. Within one week, I will have attended three art gallery openings, a pop-up show, a private concert and interacted with incredible artists and creative professionals at Weld, the co-working space I joined about a month ago. Maybe I’ll still live one day in New York, L.A., Nashville, London or other beautiful, creative places filled with beautiful, creative people. But for now, I’m loving where I’m at.
I find that I’m at a loss for words. I never thought this day would come.
This letter is to tell you plainly: I love you, but we need to break up.
I must admit that it pains me deeply to have to tell you such things. Although you give me buttery warm feelings as take you in, I find that you could very well be the death of me.
Your caffeination causes me to have jitters of all sorts. Heart palpitations, yet not from affections for you. Shallow breathing. My tummy in knots.
When I’m without you, my head aches in all sorts of ways. My sight is blurred almost to the point of blindness. I think it is what some may call a ‘withdraw migraine.’
Whatever it may be, I can trace it to you. Although presently, we meet five times a day—sometimes more, sometimes less—it has to stop. I cannot continue loving you the way that I do.
I’m so sorry, dearest Coffee. I wish you all the best.
Such were my sentiments two years ago. Coffee had done a number on me. I was drinking up to five shots of espresso and/or cups of coffee a day. If I accidentally missed a day, it was head pain at monumental intensity. The panic attacks* were horrible. I had to do something.
So I weaned myself off of coffee. Completely. I only drank water and sometimes tea. I hated it… but I loved it.
I came to realize once coffee and I had broken up that I was using coffee not only for it’s caffeine benefits, but as a sort of… emotional booty call. Essentially, a large part of my motivation for drinking coffee was comfort.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter (connector in the brain) responsible for helping us feel pleasure. It’s commonly known as being responsible for “reward-driven” learning.
For instance, if I wanted to train my puppy, I would “reward” her by giving her a treat after she did something positive like coming when I called. Eventually it will get to the point that I don’t even need a treat in hand. Her brain will adapt so that just me calling to her will fire off the dopamine—she doesn’t even have to have the treat in her possession yet.
So it was with me. I was the little puppy drinking coffee as a reward. When I was stressed: coffee; feeling happy: coffee; being social: coffee; sad: coffee.
Coffee was no longer just a desire, it was a necessary part of my life. It used to be that one cup gave me the dopamine hit. But I was at the point where five cups still wasn’t doing it.
My adrenal glands were shot. My digestive system was torn up. I had to do something. So coffee and I broke up. It was heartbreaking. But it was necessary. Coffee and it’s dopamine-inducing-relaxation were not inherently evil or bad, but I began to realize that I was using it as a pacifier instead of dealing with whatever was the actual stressor. Again, not inherently bad, but anything in excess is unhealthy.
So I said goodbye to coffee for a good several months. I detoxed my system and dealt with some other issues and now I can enjoy a cup or maybe even two without any of the painful side effects or emotional drama. I don’t have it every day, sometimes not even every other. I still love coffee… but I realized that we’re better off just as friends.
I think I came to full awareness of what Grace did for me a few months later. It was October 2011 and I was still under a pretty hefty cloud for reasons that will mostly be explained in a string of the other “Since I’ve Been Gone” blogs… Needless to say, I’m assuming you’re starting to get the idea that I was a tangled mess.
Although I could rest somewhat easier after reading Ruthless Trust, I was still not talking to God (I had however dealt with my anger and bitterness for none of my… I mean “His” plans coming to pass). I wasn’t doing any of the good Christian things that usually help you out in crisis. You know: reading your bible, praying 15 hours a day, helping others, yada yada.
Instead I tried a multitude of practical things: exercise, cutting out coffee*, dealing with anxiety*, homeopathic and herbal supplements, talking with a counselor, blah blah blah. Some helped, but I still wasn’t “better.”
During the course of my grossness, Brittany (the one who was in New York with me when we first discovered Ruthless Trust) had gotten engaged. I was genuinely excited for her. Not that the excitement could do anything to push back the depression. But nonetheless, I hopped on a plane to Nashville for five, yes five, engagement portrait sessions with her and her fiancé (now husband) John.
I left on a Friday and returned on a Thursday. Seven days and nothing substantial had happened. Nothing except the cloud had lifted. Somewhere between Dallas and Nashville and sometime between a Friday and a Thursday, something substantial had happened. Grace.
Grace had seen me at my worst.
It looked past the brokenness.
It wasn’t worried about what I had or had not produced.
It lifted off the heaviness.
It took me where I could not take myself: into openness.
Everything changed on that trip to Nashville. I haven’t dealt with depression at all since that trip.
And what is so powerful here is that I did nothing to make that happen.
I want to emphasize here that I DID NOTHING TO HELP MYSELF. All of my feeble efforts failed. I was too battle weary and broken to do anything. Grace did it entirely on it’s own. Whilst I was asleep the seeds were growing.
That is why I know I’ve met Grace. Because Grace did what I couldn’t do. It rescued me out of darkness into glorious light. I’m not just talking about salvation here. I received salvation at age three, consciously and in a very real way.
Grace goes beyond salvation; Grace is about living in the light and loving the freedom within. It’s about resting in the goodness of a God who loves unconditionally. We can’t earn Grace; it’s freely given. We open ourselves to receive it and sometimes, when we’re desperate and broken and unaware of our need, God gives us grace somewhere between Dallas and Nashville, sometime between a Friday and a Thursday.
“…but equally amazing to me is the steadfast grace that allows us to remain relentlessly faithfulthrough the disasters and disappointments, the struggles and the heartaches of the human adventure. Our graced track record instills a modest confidence that, although we often stumble and fall, we will keep getting up; that we will not be numbered among the superficial who burn their Bibles at the first sign of trouble, or the defeated who fight long and struggle honorably for their faith but eventually yield to despair; that the grace for the next step and the courage to receive it will be given.” –Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust
When most people think of the word “grace,” they picture the following:
Until a year and a half ago, as far as I was concerned, Grace indeed had died 40 years ago. At least I didn’t know what “grace” meant for me.
Intellectually, I understood from childhood that Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, died a painful death as the penalty for my wrongdoings and offers me something called “Grace” instead of the judgment that I deserve.
All of that is great and good, but was not especially moving to me. And I’m a moderately emotional person.
But all that has changed. If you’ll allow me, I’ll tell you a short story about when I met Grace…
Back up to two years ago. March 2011, I was in New York with one of my besties Brittany. Whilst we were there, our host handed me a stack his favorite books. Among them was one in particular entitled Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning.
The cover was a deep red with an antiqued image of some sort of a tree. I keenly read a chapter aloud to Brittany and we went about our day in the city.
Fast forward a few months, to late summer. My life was in shambles. Every dream and plan I thought was supposed to be happening was not. I was jobless, husbandless, brokenhearted, depressed and without a plan (which was for sure the hardest part to deal with).
All I could do most days was do my best to avoid having a panic attack (more on that later), try not to be depressed by using every natural and practical method I could muster, and plug along freelancing.
I had bought a copy of that Ruthless Trust book at some point that year and it had been sitting on my bookshelf along with five or six other books all begging for me to crack them open and explore. None of them were appealing. I was at the height of depression-induced-apathy.
I began reading the book at the beginning.
I made it two-thirds of the way through the book and although the content was wonderful, nothing struck me as particularly significant. That was until I got to one passage. The author began by reminding the reader that Jesus likened the Kingdom of God to a farmer who throws seed on the land.
“With that simple act, the farmer’s work is done. He watches television, washes clothes, repairs the hole in the roof, and travels to Delaware, New Mexico, and Oregon to visit his three children. Whether it is night or day, whether the farmer is asleep or awake, at home or on the road, the seed he scattered sprouts and grows. He does not have a clue how it happed. The earth does it all without his help…
That is the way it is with trust. Over the years it ripens into confidence. Based on the solid, irrefutable evidence of God’s relentless faithfulness, a certainty in the trustworthiness of the tremendous Lover evolves without the least sweat and strain on our part…”
But it was this next part that made me weep, for as I began reading it for the first time, it was as if it had been inscribed on the page only for me:
“When the farmer arises in the morning, unreconciled to getting out of bed, he feels no anxiety that he has wasted time through his sleep; au contraire, he is confident that the seed has continued to grow during the night. So, too, the spiritual woman does not fret and flap over opportunities missed, does not hammer herself for not working hard enough, and does not have a panic attack wondering whether she has received grace in vain. She lives in quiet confidence that God is working in her by day and by night. Like the farmer, she is not totally passive or presumptuous. The woman knows that she has her full measure of work to do, but she realizes that the outcome rests with God and that the decisive factor is unearned grace. Thus, she works as if everything depends on God and prays as if everything depends on her. (emphasis mine).
Brennan Manning had just read my mail. Really what happened was that God was gracious enough to use a book to speak to my heart about this thing called “Grace.” And in that moment, I was beginning to understand.
Let me start this post by saying… I’m a big believer in the following (mostly because I have a mouth on me): if you have nothing to say, don’t say anything. That’s where I’ve been for about a year and a half. I’ve found myself distant from social media, quiet with all but a few and mostly mute when it comes to the written word.
I wrote the following back in September. At the time, it was completely where I found myself. Things have shifted in my life and I’m not so listless anymore. But I’m a pretty transparent person. What you see is what you get. With that in mind, I desire to share my life openly. So here it goes…
I’m nowhere different than I was a year ago, but I’m light-years away.
I’m not sure why we all feel the need to measure our lives by how productive we are, how many feats we’ve accomplished in a span of time or the major life changes that have occurred of late.
OK, so maybe it is just people with type-A personalities who are like that. But I don’t think so. I would venture to say that most everyone feels listless and wanderlust at various points.
I was reflecting on the last year of my life out loud to a girlfriend the other day. I’ll paraphrase the conversation for you:
“I just feel like I’m in the exact same place I was a year ago. I’ve got the big picture of my life… sort of. But I don’t really know when I’m going to get a plan for the next month, or year or five years. Plus, I don’t really have anything to show for the last year even…”
She cut me off and responded, “Liz, didn’t you graduate college within the last year?”
“Well, yeah. But that doesn’t really count, because that was more the previous four years worth of work…”
It was after that conversation that I started reflecting on what I have done in the last year. And I compiled a list.
I love lists. I have lists of books I’ve yet to read, films I’ve yet to watch, places I’d love to visit… and the order I’d like to visit them in, and of course qualities I desire in The Unknown Man. These lists are all in addition to daily to-do lists, grocery lists, lists of people I’d like to have coffee with, and sheets filled with general scribbles and notes in my iPhone of curated quotes.
But what I had failed to realize was that I think God had been making a list too. And His list didn’t consist of goals He wanted me to accomplish or places He’d like to send me (although, I’m REALLY down to see what that list would consist of!), the stuff I’ve got to work on or my comical mixing of metaphors that God probably finds hilarious too.
I realized that He had a running list of lessons He so graciously has been teaching me over the last year. Some of them are big and some of them are small. Some are lessons that I’m going through so that others may learn and other lessons are personal to my heart. Not one of these lessons would I take back and not one of them do I think that God brought as a punishment or to incite pain. I truly believe that they are all opportunities for me to partner with God to deal with things that I had allowed as hindrances to growth.
So, I’ve decided to do a series of blog posts over the coming days of “Since I’ve been Gone!” (I’m totally channeling my inner Kelly Clarkson). Not that I have everything sorted, but I’m not where I was. Not that where I was bad. But… well, you know.
I feel like that line in John Mayer’s gorgeously depressing song Split Screen Sadness when he says, “I can’t wait to figure out what’s wrong with me, so I can say this is the way that I used to be…”
I love grace so much because once you look at the person of Jesus and who He is, you become changed and you can truly say “this is the way I used to be.” Jesus makes it so that you and I can scream from the rooftops, “I am what I am, by the grace of God.”
In the last year, I may not have travelled around the world or moved to New York (like I totally thought I was going to… and planned for). I’m not newly married like some of my beautiful friends. I am not popping out babies. I’m still horrible at answering emails and phone calls in a timely manner. My room is not tidy and most nights I sleep in my makeup. But I can say that, by the grace of God, I’m not who I was…
Here’s a sneak peak at some of the things I’ve been dealing with/learning to overcome over the last year that I’m going to be blogging about in the coming weeks: PANIC ATTACKS! (and how to overcome them); Dear Coffee, I love you, but we need to break up; Retracing boundaries; Death of a plan… and all it’s friends; Rediscovering Grace; “Hey God, do you hear me!?!”; The War of Art… and a few more.
Stay tuned for the first Since I’ve Been Gone post coming this week!
Saturdays are often filled with either photoshoots and creative meetups, hustling at anthropologie or shopping. This last Saturday was a double header as I documented a sweet proposal as well as doing an anniversary photoshoot with clients and friends who gave me the privilege of shooting their wedding last March.
As I got dressed Saturday morning, I was listening to/watching this video from the Australian-based band, Tigertown. The video from their single “Go Now” inspired my outfit selection:
For the anniversary shoot, we shot in an abandoned house. So, inspired by the Tigertown amazingness, I channeled my inner hippie (I am, after all, the product of two). Since I was dressed appropriately for our derelict environment, I handed the camera to my friend/client and hopped in front of the camera.