Introducing Tales of Brilliant Chaos A New, Regular Guest Blogger

We have wrote a guest post and it appeared here, today. Our love and thanks to our favorite nurse!

Holistic Nurse Mama

43610046_1584900024943745_1134506918224592896_nToday is World Mental Health Day and I want to shine the spotlight on a beautiful person in my life who can really help to derive some awareness in regards to mental health.

Emma Hendrix is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We’ve known each other since she and I were ten years old. We met when we were in the fifth grade and have been friends ever since. She even stood by me when a boy I teased in high school paid me back by pouring an entire can of root beer over my head in the middle of class. (We all get what we deserve, don’t we?)

Over the years, our lives took two very distinctly different paths. I never knew during the years that we grew up together that Emma’s home life was filled with events of abuse and neglect that no child should ever have…

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Tackling Learned Helplessness – With Bananas


Yes, you read that right. With bananas.

Bananas are okay. I wouldn’t call them my favorite fruit or anything, but I like them alright. I will eat them if they are available without a problem. We usually have bananas in the house. For some reason, we didn’t get them all eaten this week and several were over-ripe to the point that no one would even try to eat them.

This was a problem. No one here knew how to, or cared to, make banana bread and Mama is out of state. So what now? Just throw them away? I thought about it. It would have been the easiest step to take but I decided to try something. I’m here alone with a kid who’s recovering from being sick and 3 dogs so why not? If it came out awful I could still throw it away.

I googled and found a recipe that looked simple enough and off I went. I had no one to ask questions of, no one to tell me I was doing it wrong, no one to assure me I was doing it right. I just did it. I realized that the risk of failure wasn’t the end of the world. That I would learn what not to do next time. I remembered what Rachel says a lot, there’s no learning without being uncomfortable. We can’t learn or grow confidence without risking a failure.

Is my banana bread perfect? Nope. It’s a bit mushy from too many bananas I think, but it’s good because it’s mine and I did it and no one had to hold my hand. It’s perfect because we are growing. It’s perfect because it’s still edible. Next time will be better, maybe.

A Side of Learned Helplessness?

For so much of our “adult” life, we were constantly told we couldn’t do these things. We had to ask for step by step instructions for everything and weren’t allowed to deviate from those instructions. Any failures we had were proof to our husband that we needed to follow his rules all the time. We lost any sense of independence. We had started to cook and bake before we met him, but forgot all of it during that marriage. One of Mama’s biggest frustrations with us is our learned helplessness.

Learned helpless is a serious pain in the butt. It slows down your progress in a way no one sees coming. Most of us battling this don’t see it in ourselves. We think we are behaving in a way that ensures no one gets mad. It’s true that when we are asking a thousand questions about how to do something we are usually looking for the way the other person wants it done so we don’t make them mad. Not following instructions exactly leads to trouble. Avoiding trouble is what we’ve tried to do most of our life. I would think to some extent that’s true of everyone.

For those of us with learned helplessness, we are taking it too far. We aren’t giving ourselves a chance to figure it out. Questions are okay. Clarifying is fine. Trying it ourselves without someone else close by is priceless. Terrifying but priceless. The more we do and succeed at, the more confidence we will build.


Banana bread was a success for us. Next time we decide to try something new we will remember the banana bread and remember that success. There will be a next time and it will be sooner rather than later because building successes feels good.

Reclaiming life is fun.

How are you reclaiming your life?




How Our Faith is Changing Our Life


Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash


I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 NIV


Faith is a tricky thing. We have always had faith in certain things. Faith that we could keep our children alive, faith that the sun would rise, faith that night would come and go, to list a few. Faith is what kept us pushing forward, even when we didn’t know what we were pushing for. From the very beginning of our collective existence, whenever that was, there was faith in something, always. The vast majority of us did not have faith in God or faith in ourselves.

We knew about God. We were raised in a Congregational church. We knew (and still know) the bible stories and we knew that we had to be good and kind in order to be in God’s good graces. We were in church plays, children’s choir, and eventually confirmation classes. We did all of that.

What we didn’t do was develop a personal relationship with God. None of us did. Many of us enjoyed and found comfort in the rituals of the church, but we never really prayed or talked to God. We didn’t feel worthy. We felt rejected and abandoned by God.

Fast-forward a lot of years and skipping a lot of things, we have finally found faith in God. We finally understand that we were never rejected or abandoned. We have been working hard for the last 5 months to develop a relationship with our Heavenly Father. The effort is there and there is absolutely a peace that comes with it.

For so many trauma survivors faith in God is a hard one. Whenever the trama was, it’s easy to feel that God has left us, that we are handling the hard and nasty on our own. I don’t want to make this simplistic at all. It’s a hard process. It’s one that requires moving forward and stepping out of the chaos, the hurt, and the pain. Especially if that is where our comfort is found. God is there in the mix of it but all of our heavy emotions are blocking us from seeing Him. We are so wrapped up in the hurt that we can’t feel His love. For some of us, feeling love is raw and uncomfortable.

It’s not until we can risk taking that baby step out of the pain that we can shake off the darkness enough to see Him. He wants to love us. We have to let Him, invite Him in so that we aren’t alone. He won’t come barging in to save us when we don’t feel safe enough to invite Him in. Why would He add more stress for us? It’s up to us to seek Him out, then He knows we truly are ready for Him and His presence won’t cause more darkness for us.

We took that step months ago and we have not only sought Him out but we allowed Him in. Life still isn’t perfect. Bad things happen. We get scared sometimes and stressed out other times. We still battle getting caught up in the chaos and darkness. We still battle the feeling of needing something to be wrong all the time. We still sometimes find comfort in chaos instead of the light, but this time He is with us and we make it through so much more quickly and with far less self-defeating attitudes.

All things are possible with Him who gives me strength.




10 Things We Learned This Week


1.) Red Robin will soon be going strawless, as was proclaimed by a large button pin on our server’s chest yesterday. We will have to bring our own straws if we intend to use a straw at Red Robin. Our server said he has friends who carry around metal straws when they go out to eat so they always have a straw. I’m not quite sure what I think of this yet, but I do know it’s something we learned.

2.) Our fitness classes make us very sore. Hey, its proof they are working, right? It’s not a complaint but if we stay in one spot too long we can’t move easily. Encouragement to get up and move more often? Fitness is becoming a lifestyle. If only we could move our food choices to the better range more often haha.

3.) Brisk Green Tea is really good. Especially with citrus or peach. It’s a bit carb heavy, but it’s still really good and isn’t green tea supposed to be good for metabolism? It’s good, and I’m going to say it’s healthy. Maybe we will keep it as an every-so-often thing. Walmart makes a carb and sugar-free water green tea and mango peach water flavor. It’s so yummy.

4.) Sometimes what looks like rain is really not raining. It’s like a mist, a heavy fogy weirdness that comes and goes and looks like something out of a horror movie.

5.) Dentists are weird here in Washington. We had to wait 5 weeks to see a dentist that could handle a crown issue and when we got there all he could do was extract the tooth. So why couldn’t another dentist do that sooner?

6.) Sometimes people need time to process and think about things. Other people’s actions and reactions are their concern. It’s up to us to regulate our own actions and reactions and to love ourselves and others through their own struggle. It is not up to us to fix someone else or to move our boundaries to accommodate someone else.

7.)  Our emotional support dog is a complete moron at times, and we love that about him. He’s goofy, funny, sweet, and a cuddler. He’s neurotic and afraid of the strangest things, but we are pretty sure that if we were in trouble he’d protect us. We spend most of our time emotionally supporting him haha.

8.) Having a tooth extracted sucks a lot. The pain is stupid. The hole where the tooth was is stupid. The fact that it was necessary is stupid. And having it hurt 3 days later is stupid. It’s all just plain stupid.

9.) Writing here has a profound effect on our mood and how we process our life. Not writing is harmful to our emotional state and our processing ability. Not sharing on our blog takes away our ability to help people.

10.) Boundaries must reasonably set and respected all the time. Boundaries keep you safe and healthy. There will never be another time in our life where a person gets to railroad us and run all over our boundaries. This is our time to shine.




Feeling Feelings: Allowing the Emotions


Feeling feelings is not always fun or easy. Trust me, this much I know well. It’s so much easier in the short run to stuff them, ignore them, dissociate away from them. It’s easier to deny the feelings and pretend we’ve processed them. It’s something we do very well. And something that Mama never fails to catch on to.

Yesterday was the anniversary of our marriage. It would have been 15 years had he still been alive and we had still been with him. For the bulk of the day, we felt unsettled and out of sorts. Focusing was hard and admitting we were struggling was nearly impossible. We did manage to admit it and reach out to two people outside of our home. Thank God, literally, for our accountability partner and our sponsor. Cadie talked about it a little with Mom, and we were able to admit later to Dad that it was an emotional day.

But in almost all of those cases, we brushed off just how hard. Not because we didn’t trust them, but because we weren’t allowing ourselves to actually feel it. We just let the sadness touch us a small bit and siphoned off the rest.  We woke up this morning feeling better, but also realizing what we did yesterday. We opted to not feel it. We opted to not be a bother, or a distraction, from other people’s day and tasks. We opted to shut it off.

The healing isn’t going to happen until we start dealing with the pain. More than that, however, we need to start feeling all of our emotions. Feeling them, identifying them, and accepting them. We’ve been through enough therapy, and we have a degree in psychology, so we know that we have to do these things in order to heal. We also know that we have decades of pushing the emotions to the side.

In order to do these things, you have to be able to identify your emotions and learn to let them out. That’s a bit hard to do when you aren’t fully aware of blocking them. I think, in our case, we need Jenna to help point out when we are blocking them. We also have to put the effort into being mindful. Each of us has a responsibility to do that. We have to be aware of ourselves and each other, and we need to focus less on being in the way of other people.

We’re going to have to work on being as kind to ourselves and each other, as we are to others outside of the system. I’m fairly certain that most people need to work on being as kind to themselves as they are to others. Maybe that is the starting point for feeling emotions.

What can you do to be more aware of your emotions?


5 Ideas for Good Self-Care


When thinking about self-care it seems like the options are endless. There are so many sites talking about self-care and listing things in a very rushed way. I think we’ve all seen lists of 50+ things you can do for self-care. That’s not entirely what I want to discuss here. We, all of Brilliant Chaos, write this page for ourselves as much as, if not more than, for others. This list of 5 ideas for self-care is going to serve as a reminder to us and hopefully, help out others. Please be in touch with yourself so you know what will help and what can harm you.

Get Out of Bed and Shower

So for some, this may seem like two items. For others, this doesn’t look like self-care at all. I can assure you that almost nothing feels as good as being clean and washing away the grime. Showers are also a symbolic thing for us because they wash away the negative feelings we have about ourselves and our body. We always leave a shower feeling safer, more centered, and happier. When we are feeling really bad, we often forget to take a shower. Stinky and smelly do not make us happy.

Easy Resistance Exercises

We all enjoy exercise. For the last 4 months, we have been doing Zumba and/or Pilates (but mostly Zumba until this week) regularly. We always feel better after working out. At home, we have light hand weights and we can even use canned food if we need some weights. Just a few minutes of working our muscles helps a lot and it helps regulate our blood sugar too!


This one can be tough to do when we feel awful. It’s hard to bring yourself to get the stuff out and actually come up with something creative. It’s a struggle but it’s a struggle that helps in the end. When we accomplish something, it feels good. Yarn is our therapy a lot of times and lately cross-stitching. We haven’t done much scrapbooking or card making in a while but that always helps too. We need more stamps.

Go Outside

Being outside helps raise the mood. The sun, even the rain for us, the breeze, it all helps. With or without the dogs, being outside makes a huge difference in how we feel after a while. A walk gets the body moving and being outside just feels good sometimes. Get in the dirt, weed something, plant something, help make something grow. Being dirty is tough but you can follow it up with a shower.

Read a Book

I’m not kidding when I say we have a library in our house, not including the Nook. Grab a book, any book. Read a kid’s book. Read anything. It will help separate yourself from them the emotions. Good books take you away from yourself and immerse you in a new world. Pick up the bible and read stories in there. I thought the story of Jacob and Esau was really captivating. I didn’t expect the bible to have so many interesting stories and thought-provoking situations in it.  Not really sure what I expected there, to be honest.

There you go. A few realistic and important self-care steps.