Monday, February 2, 2015


Almost three years ago, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. For so long, I've hid behind shame and frustration and anger and heartache and embarrassment at the diagnosis and what I've felt it means for me. I've been overwhelmed and worn down and exhausted at fighting through the ups and downs that are my life. I have fought the diagnosis, fought the reality of it, fought the meds, fought the restrictions it seems to have on me, fought the results.... and ultimate fought against who I am.

I am not Bipolar. I am Rachel. 
I live with Bipolar. 
It has taken me a long time to understand that, differentiate between the two, and accept it. 

Most of the time, you wouldn't really know. Not unless you are familiar with it yourself in one way or another to see beyond the facade I put up, see past the outside to see me bouncing within, or unless you have spent enough lengths of time around me enough to see the highs and lows manifest, and see the ups and downs take their turns. Most of the time I hide it, or try to, and when I can't .... I hide me. 

The lows I am not even going to talk about. Not today. They are deep, wide, and sometimes frightening. Too frequent a visitor. Too much to open up about today.

The highs are euphoric.  When I become truly manic,  there isn't anything I can't do. I have more energy than three people combined and have more thoughts going through my brain all at once than anyone could really comprehend. My brain and mind are working faster than I can talk.  The ideas are amazing, the options unlimited, the possibilities endless and the energy to do it all is there. I have never done more gymnastics than a clumsy somersault in my life, but suddenly I believe I can do back flips one after another across the yard.  I have never run more than a mile at one time, and suddenly I think there is not reason why I can't run a marathon... today. It doesn't really matter what it is -- I think I can do it, and more, right now.  No idea is too big, no goal is too large, no plan seems unrealistic, no challenge too big to overcome.   It sounds like a lot of good lines from a positive, inspirational talk. It sounds healthy.  Reach for the stars, be the best you can be, go farther than you think you can, be limitless...... and it is all good advice.  It's all great.... and for me -- it's Superwoman Mode. 

You see, for me, there has to be a healthy balance. For someone without bipolar, you picture what you are working for, make a plan, set a goal, reach for the stars, and you do it one step, one day, one minute at at time. It's true -- there isn't anything you can't do!  For me -- Superwoman Mode is when the bipolar mania makes me think I can do it all without taking those steps in between, without the daily dedication to the goal, without the recognition of what else is there. Superwoman Mode is just fine -- until Superwoman is mid flight and hits a low and has no way to stop herself from crashing. 

Superwoman Mode doesn't work so well then.   And it hurts when she falls. I've come to fear it.... because the lows are to low. However high I go, I know the low is twice as low, and 

The struggle for me has come partially in knowing how to balance something that is the essence of unbalanced. How to live with all of it. How to work with all of it. And how to do all of that without limiting myself because of all of it.  

I am Superwoman. If even for a brief few moments. 
I even wear sparkly shoes and kick ass... sometimes.
I am me, too, and I am learning to embrace me, without being limited to what I think I am when I am on a low. 

One of the things I have worked on is really being aware of what expectations I have on myself and on others. In my relationships, in my friendships, in my work environment... everywhere I interact, what am I expecting?  Sometimes my expectations are so high. And sometimes so low. My best relationships are the ones that there are no expectations, just appreciation, acceptance, and communication.  

I"m still learning. I'm still growing. And I'm still learning how to fly when I am high, and find a way to land safely before I crash.  Meanwhile, there are a couple things I've realized along the way. 

By accepting my limits, I can learn to work with them. 
By working with instead of against them, I become free.

And it all begins with embracing me. 

Amy Purdy (Double Amputee, Snow Boarding Olympian, #DWTS, #2015 Superbowl Commercials) said in her #TEDTalk that "... in our minds, we can do anything and we can be anything.  It's believing in those dreams and facing our fears head-on that allows us to live our lives beyond our limits. ... innovation has only been possible because of my borders. I've learned that borders are where the actual ends, but alo where the imagination and the story begins. ... It's  not about breaking down borders, it's about pushing off of them and seeing what amazing places they might bring us." 

I've learned that I live with bipolar. With it, I have limitations. I have borders. I have challenges. And partially because of it I live a life that is static, always moving, never the same.  I choose to dance with it, and the more I do -- the less it has control. 

I live with bipolar ... I love me. 



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Reach Beyond

Reach beyond yourself
To find the cure
To all that ails, behind and before
Midst chaos and anguishh
Heartache and joy
Stretching beyond you
Opens the more
Connections in action
Touch lives in the game
Of growth, of survival, of living, of shame
Moments we touch lives
Beyond our own here
Are ones that define
And break through fear
Creation in motion
Formed in a breath
Is all that we have
Is all that is left


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Creating Excellence

It is striking me today how much we perceive.... and how much we don't.   How much is going on in someone else's world, and how much the only part we usually see is the part of our life that touches theirs. 

There could literally be a waging battle going on in someone's heart or life, and we may not even know... someone battling cancer, someone grieving their best friend, someone worried about their daughter or son.... and because our lives only brush each other at church, at work, passing in and out of view each day.... we really would hardly know.

Someone said to me today "You have been really nice. I mean really, really nice. What's going on? Did something happen? Do you have some cute guy paying you attention?  You're usually so direct, and lately you've just been really, really nice."

I looked up, with a half smile, and said thank you... with a mixture of sorrow and gladness at her words. I'm glad I've been nice, and yet it saddens me to think this is an anomoly for her.

I wonder how I am perceived. I know the perception of a few, of the ones who finally find their voice of frustration and hurt after harboring hurt feelings for a too long, with lack of understanding... and I usually think that while their may be some validity, their perception is skewed by feelings of inadequacy that I aggravate somehow. 

I know the perception of a few who have expressed their love, their admiration of strength, courage, and capability... and I am appreciative and always moved by their expression... and I usually think that while their may be some validity, their perception is skewed by seeing only the strong exterior I put up around the beating heart.

The easy thing to do would be to fall prey to feeling what I felt for so long... that I wasn't enough. That I wasn't good enough. That the pain I felt was bigger than me, and the hurt I carried would never heal.

The truth is, I am me. Perfectly flawed, perfectly whole, perfectly me. I wish that meant perfect, and we all know it doesn't, it means simply that I am me. Whole, authentically, me.

For the longest time I have struggled finding the good in me to see.... and for the longest time I have not been able to genuinely see it at all.  In recent months I have found more strength, more belief, more being.... and I am so very glad. It really has been life changing for me to really see myself as possibly being perfect, whole, and complete.  Going to the Landmark Forum in November really helped, as did Cody Gibson in the BOLD classes in Vegas. He helped me see for the first time that all the good things I wanted to do and be, were already within me.  That truly was life changing.

And even after all of that, I could not get myself to look myself in the mirror and say these things out loud. While I had begun to feel it in my heart, it was too difficult to say. Until now. Until this past month, well, really, these past two weeks.

This is the note I wrote to myself in December as I attended the Landmark seminar, and when I came home from Christmas Break, I pulled it out of the mail and put it on the dashboard of my van where it has sat ever since.   Slowly, (and only after much prompting), I have worked up the courage to say the words out loud, to myself, every day.  Here is what it says...

Dear Rachel,

You are perfect, whole, & complete, just as you are.  That is your way of being. That is you. Every good thing you want do and be is already within you. It is already you.

You are a leader, you do serve, you come from contribution every day.  You are committed to others success and well being and always have been.  You touch, move, and inpsire others every day.  You are cause in the matter, and the possibilities are endless.  Be. Believe.  Be. Do. HAVE!

I love you!

It is amazing to me how much easier this really has become for me to say, and the more I say it, the more I really feel it.

And so tonight... I'm adding something. Creating something.

I am creating excellence, for me.

The possibility I am creating for myself and my life, and the reality I will bring into existence through my language each day... is this...

I am me. And my way of being is one of joy. Peace. Love, and Joy. My interaction with others brings warmth and light to their life, and lightens their burdens with a smile.

That is me. I am me. And that is my way of being.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013


How do you spend half your life with someone, and give your heart to them, over, and over again.... and then walk away from it.  You can't. At least I can't. I'm not one to give disingenuously.... and so for those whom I actually open my heart up to... it's all there, open, vulnerable, and completely honestly there.

And consequently, it hurts, beyond compare, when you take the heart I offer, and shred it into pieces, not knowing the gift you hold.

Or worse... knowing.

And yet, here we are....

It hurts.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Be Cause

be cause I am hurting
be cause I'm in pain
be cause I can't change
the things that I've seen

be cause I am thriving
survive and beyond
be cause I am open
to change and become

be cause I am worth it
be cause I am me
be cause I can only
be all i can be

be cause I can stand
in the place of I am
be cause I am nothing
in all that I am

be cause
be cause

I am me

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Am Me

Its been a rough couple days/weeks.  I have really struggled with feeling like I am once again just hurting people by being alive, by being me, causing pain in their lives by because I am independent, strong, and direct. Because I have ideas, opinions, and will usually say them. And if I see something that can be helpful, improved, or a better way of doing something.... I will usually do something about it, say something about it, and involve myself enough to make a difference.

It hurts me. I hate feeling like I'm hurting someone else.... especially just for being me.   The last thing I want to do is cause someone else pain. The last thing I want to do is hurt someone.

I start to withdraw, to put up more defensive and protective walls around me, fortify my position, and pull away from the people around me, particularly from the people I feel like I'm hurting.

What I see right now is that I because I have withdrawn, and stopped sharing me... I have only made things worse. My silence speaks words of its own.

And what I have really done, is pull away 'because'.... rather than 'be cause'. It is a distinction I am still learning. A difference I am learning to be.

I have stopped sharing my commitment. Stopped living in action on that commitment. Pulled back from what is possible, what I know is there, and what I can do.  For a couple days... I've stopped being me.

Because it hurt. And I withdrew.

Today is a new day, and today I have renewed commitment. I am me. And I am okay being me. I will not live being a ghost of who I am... I will only live being me.

Not perfect in my actions, not perfect in what I do. Not above anyone else...

Just perfectly, authentically me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Blogging again

I've decided to blog again, and I'll tell you the reason why.

It is because I have spent the past year keeping myself from being vulnerable, and the one who has missed out most -- is me. In keeping myself safe, I kept myself alone too. And the truth is, I'm humbled at the hands that have reached out to me, the lives and hearts that have touched my life, the friends and strangers that have been there for me, even as I've kept myself reserved. I want to be that for other people. I

In no particular order... I want to give a huge thanks to the following people.... and to hundreds of others who have been in my life this year.

Joe, Alina, Vicki, and Valerie Darger, your love, friendship, guidance, honesty, and help has had no bounds. Thank you for always making me and my feel right at home in your home. I will forever be thankful for you in my life and there are not enough words to express my love.

Cody Gibson, for spending time away from your family and helping me to see that there is more in me than I often think there is, and helping me find the courage to be me.

Dirk Shumway, for reaching out when you didn't need to, spending more time then was called for, and truly supporting me.  You've given me sincere compassion while helping me find strength.

Udi Upalawatte and the Landmark Forum. I am sure I am only barely seeing the impact and I know the ripple effects will be felt for years and years in thousands of lives.

My Bumblebee, Joseph Darger, for having the courage yourself to stand, transform, and share.

Karey Farwell, you kept me going more than you'll ever know. Thanks for being there. Love you!

AJ Hunt, your wisdom and strength and warm heart helped me so much. Thank you!

Zach Ewing, and Steve Mangelson... you both gave me encouragement with real estate. I wouldn't be where I am without each of you. Thank you!!

And also to Ryan, for being in action in your life. Your greatness knows no bounds.

Being Mean

Jonnie and Braelin were sitting on my lap as I rocked them back and forth.  Apparently bored, Jonnie reaches over and starts tickling Braelins nose and putting his hand all over Braelins face.

Braelin:  Jonnie don't!  Stop it!  Jonnie!  Don't do that!!

Jonnie with a smile on his face, keeps on doing it.

Braelin:  JONNIE!

Jonnie keeps on doing it.

Me:  Are you teasing your brother Jonnie?

Jonnie:  Nope.  I'm being mean.

Me;  Why?

Jonnie, still smiling:  Cuz  :)


September 2012

A friend requested once again tonight that I blog again. She said she missed my blog and always enjoyed reading it. I appreciated her asking, reminding me that sometimes what I wrote was good. I don't know what all happened, I started slowly shutting down, feeling more and more vulnerable, and quit posting. Then a little bit of hell broke loose, and I completely shut down.

 It's difficult for me to open up. It's brutally painful to be vulnerable. And yet, I know when I am, it is really me that shows, my true self, and perhaps that is why some people enjoy my blog. I am me. Not always pretty inside, not always right or good. Viciously flawed in many ways, but still, me. I can't hide me on this blog. Otherwise, what's the point of writing. For me, writing clarifies, expresses, and unravels. Sometimes the rawest emotion, the biggest obstacles, and the most difficult challenges seem to be less expansive, more surmountable, and easier to swallow.... after I write.

And yet, there are times when the words simply can't be expressed. They choke in my heart, in my throat, and at the tip of my pen. To write and give them voice compounds the pain, tightens my chest, and catches my breath.  But only when I'm in trauma, and trauma's where I've been.

In February a blow struck my heart and my life that I couldn't get past. I couldn't believe. I couldn't make sense. I still can't, in many ways, but I am at least past the trauma. Mostly.

Trauma is such a simple word, and yet I think it is really not fully understood by someone who hasn't been in it or worked with someone in it for an extended period of time.   But that's okay. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. This is at least one area that I'm really okay not being understood. I am changed in ways I never dreamed. Changed by experiences I never thought would be mine. And, if I'm truthful, still slightly reeling from the shock.

It's okay. We're alive. We're moving through this. And slowly... moving to a place where I'm more okay with me.

Move past the past. Let new truths, and new possibilities begin.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'm my best me when I'm with you
And when you're gone, a part of me is gone too

I miss the song on your lips
The smile on your face
The touch of your embrace
You pick me up when I am crying
Give me hope when I am dying
You hold me, hold me, when I can't keep trying

You can't keep leaving me
I can't keep not knowing when
Your heart will return My heart will return
You can't keep taking me away
Yet leaving me here to stay
Without you
Without you
Don't leave me again

Friday, January 6, 2012

Random Thoughts

Upward, onward from our depths
It's easier to take those steps
When where you're going is something you know.
When how to get there isn't painfully learned slow.

It hurts to breathe,
It hurts to not.
It hurts to stand in pain.
And yet to sit is not ok
I'm drowning in the rain.

The price we pay for stubbornness of heart
Is sure to show
The pain involved it torches us
From head, to burning sole.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The me I don't want to be

Where once I felt shattered, I don't anymore. Where once I felt broken, I'm not.
And yet, I don't feel whole either.

How is that possible? How does that even make sense?
How is it that I can feel so much healing has taken place, so much recovery, and still feel the way I do?

For a week or two I sailed on golden seas. Everything was possible, anything could be done. I felt great, and it felt so good to feel good.

And then, I stepped into a deep hole. I climbed out, and kept walking forward, but every few steps, I drop back down a deep, deep hole. And just by admitting it, I feel guilty and fall down again. Because I who have been given so much, so much love, so many friends, so much healing, I should not feel this way. I should not be as low as I have ever been.

But I do. And it hurts.

I know part of what I'm struggling with are the food allergies I have and the way that is affecting my life. Each time I eat, I get sick. Painfully sick. Or, I can't breathe, which as you can imagine, isn't any fun either.

That is only part of the picture though, and I know that I can't blame everything on that. Through a lot of work and effort on my part, and some kind and helpful friends, I have learned to dig deeper and find the root of my lows. There is always an emotion triggering a relapse, and usually if I can identify and name the emotion and the cause of it, I can work through it and pull myself back together.

That was so much easier to write than it is to actually do, especially when there is more than one emotion and more than one source involved.

Still, I have to boil it down. .I have to unravel it. If I don't, it chokes me. And I'm tired of choking.

The past week or so has been exceptionally difficult. Yes, dealing with the food allergies has definitely been part of it. After several severe reactions lately, and getting sick after every time I eat, Ryan made me an appointment to go in and see an allergist.  Turns out I am allergic to more than I thought I was and everything that didn't show up on the skin prick test is still making me painfully sick every time I eat.

I'm angry. I'm tired of being sick. I just want to feel good. What is so wrong with that?

I just want butter and sour cream on my potatoes. I want to eat a bite or two of sinfully delicious ice cream. I want to enjoy a mouthful of chewy sourdough bread. I want to take the buttermilk in the fridge and make some fluffy pancakes or tender, flaky biscuits shaped into hearts for my kids. I want to make some tangy Orange Chicken for Amanda and then sit and enjoy eating it with her. I want to dip strawberries in Val's homemade chocolate ganache and in every bite, find more love.

I want to make gingerbread cookies with my kids, and sour cream cookies for the neighbors. I want to make omelets and crepes and have friends over for breakfast. I want to help Mercy make Monkey Bread like we do every year for Thanksgiving, and sit and share the first loaf with her and Ryan when it comes out of the oven.  I want the Reeses Peanut Butter cookies Mom Mel made growing up. I want to be able to bake a birthday cake for my kids without dying.

I'm angry. And I'm grieving. And I'm empty and hollow.  And I feel like I've lost a part of me.

Food isn't just about eating. Not for me. It's the joy of making something good and sharing it with someone I love. It's the memories for my kids as I make a dinner they love and then draw pictures on their plate with sour cream. It's the time I spend in the kitchen unravelling my thoughts as I do something so comforting and assuring as melting butter, whipping cream, folding egg whites, or measuring flour.

Like it or not, my memories are often tied to food. The rye sandwich my brother and I shared in Disneyland, and the hamburger he bought me after they got back from the theatre. It was my first time on a plane, first trip to the ocean, times I'll always remember, food I'll never forget.  The french fries and frosty shakes I shared with Ryan after the dance. The barbecue sauce on the ribs - our first date. The spaghetti that was for dinner the night we first kissed. The steak at Carver's, the lobster dipped in butter while we were in Boston, trying to make things work in our failing marriage.  The loaded potato skins, baked potato soup, caramel apple crisp and heavenly cheesecake we'd share as we repaired our relationship.

Candy sticks from Harmon's with Dad, and sometimes ice cream cones while we shopped for Sunday morning cereal. The dinner he complained about after I made it especially for him. The chicken fried steak I refused to eat after he bought it for me (because I thought it looked like worms). The pineapple shake I hated that he bought in anger because he couldn't hear me as I requested another flavor.

Basil and swedish meatballs are joined at the hip with memories of Danielle. Without her, I wouldn't know what a tomato concasse is, or how to properly blanch broccoli. Paring knives, pomegranates, and orange rolls immediately make me think of Mom Mel, not to mention Pot Pie, warm white bread, and slumgolium. Brenda is tied to peaches, and Debbie - twice baked potatoes and cabbage salad. Jason is forever tied to Banana Bread, and yellow Zingers to Barb, Jared, and Hossie. I know in a pinch, Eliza will always love a well made Homemade Hostess Cupcake. And because I make them, Mercy is proud.

Cooking is love to me. If I bake, you know I love you. If I make something you like, It's almost a hug.

It's not just what I can give to others, or what I remember others for, it's for me too. It's something with constants in a constantly changing world. It's something I can count on when I can't even count on myself.  It's something I know I do well when I feel like I fail at most everything else.

Why can't I just keep this one good part of me?

But, that's not all. I know it's not. Food and all it represents both in eating and being taken away from me is not all I'm struggling with. It's not the real reason I'm falling into holes with each step I take. It's an extension of the root of what I feel.

It's rejection. Rejection by those I love most. Rejection of what I have to offer. Rejection because I'm not good enough. Rejection because I mess up.

Loss. Of friendship. Of trust. Of hope.

And fear. Fear that I won't be accepted. Fear that I'll be rejected again. Fear I can't even verbalize.

Somehow my heart or brain is saying that since I'm not shattered, I should be whole. Since I'm not drowning, I should be good. I should be able. I should be likeable, at least to myself. But what I see is someone who although not shattered still holds the same hurtful heart within her chest. The one that never sees her mistakes until it's too late because she's messed up again. Hurt someone again. Or ruined something again.

How can I fix it all? How can I get past the me I see? How can I believe that it will ever feel right? That I'll ever get it right? That I'll ever be good enough?

I guess you could say, I'm rejecting me. And everyone I see.
Because I see in them a reflection of myself.

The me I don't want to be.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

True Friends...

I can't begin to tell you how healing the past month has been for me, or how good it feels to feel good.  Somehow, some way, I know that I have turned a corner. My soul has been touched, and some of the gaping wounds in my heart have been closed up. Sometimes I just sit and reflect in wonder and amazement at the difference, at why there has been such a difference, and at the difference one person can make.

True, some things still hurt. Some parts of my heart still feel new and tender... but I think that there is nothing wrong with remembering the pain, for it makes us appreciate the love and healing more fully.

I have truly been blessed, not once, but many times, with the "cream of the crop" as friends in my life. You have each taught me something... but some of you have been there for me and helped me in more ways than you could ever know, and more ways than I ever could have dreamed or asked for.

To my particular friend from years ago, you know who you are... thank you for believing in me more than I believed in myself. Thank you for pointing me in the right direction. Thank you for loving me, and through that, helping me see the things I needed to see. I miss you.

To my brother Joe, his wives and children. You are the ones who have never left my side. Thank you for loving me fully and truly. Thank you for your encouragement, your love, and your help. I am so proud of you, and also still a bit incredulous that you count me as a close friend in your life.

To the friend I never expected to have. You deserve more love than you could ever imagine, and more than you could ever hope for. The people in your life that don't know that, just don't know you - and they have missed out on so much.  Thank you for helping me to forgive.  Thank you for helping me feel, for the first time in what seems like forever, that I wasn't broken anymore. You are truly a gift and one I treasure.
And last but not least, to Ryan, my best friend, the one who knows me inside and out ... and yet loves me still. Thank you for choosing me again. Thank you for making sure I know I matter, for making sure I know you care.  You've held me together when I've been shattered to pieces. Your heart has wrapped around mine and kept it beating more times than one. You've never given up on me and I don't understand why - but I'm grateful. Father in Heaven knew what he was doing when he blessed me with you, you are exactly what I need. I only hope I can be as much to you and more, because you deserve it.   I love you without end, and just when I think I love you as much as I could ever love anyone, I fall in love with you all over again.  Thank you Ryan. LYM.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Random Bits

When once I open up my heart and thrice it's ripped and torn
No wonder that I hide myself to keep it from the thorns.
And though I cannot say just how or why I try again
I seem to ask for punishment as blessings in the end.

The bitter barbs I throw about
Eventually find their way
Although, I think I'm off the mark,
...they're landing on my face.

Anthems of the Heart
And though the notes swoon to and fro
And pierce my laden breast
How is it that you cannot hear
The anthems as they crest?

The Fool
The jesters hat I shun to wear
The crown of grace I plea...
And still when all is said and done
The fool I seem to be.




Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Missing you...

What hope once bound with love anew 
Is crushed and bleeding, love withdrew.
Yet a glimmer of hope still beckons true, 
Indeed, this story is not yet through.
For when we walk with courageous steps, forward, upward, from our depths, 
We'll find an energy renewed from conscious effort aft review.
And when friendship's fragile hand no longer reaches to our land, the memory of its tender touch 
Will either hurt, or lift us up, to greater heights than previous knew.
Will we walk with steadfast faith, 
That love's great labor, once engaged, will find our heart again, and true.
For still, my heart is missing you.
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