All in Health

Returning to the Desert: When Life Feels Dry and Despairing

I have friends who are in the desert right now. Life feels dry; hope feels impossible. Every day is the same, wandering through an endless stretch of sand and rocks without a clear sense of direction, the sun beating down without reprieve. As the infinitely-wise sociologist and author Brené Brown writes, “Despair is a spiritual condition. It’s the belief that tomorrow will be just like today.” The desert feels so much like a place of despair, a place of death.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: When It's the New Year and Everything Is Different

I couldn’t bind up other people’s problems and make everything okay. I just couldn’t. I learned that I am not superman; I can’t save people. I learned that sometimes people choose to be unhealthy, that they choose to be in dangerous situations, but that I don’t have to support bad choices. I learned that I can walk away. Sometimes walking away means that you lose a friend, but it often means that you gain some clarity and peace. I learned that I can’t please everyone because in the words of Brené Brown I’m not “the jackass whisperer.”

You Knelt Beside My Hope Torn Apart

“It’s called real life, and it’s cracked and fragile.”

Real life seems to be awfully cracked and fragile lately.

I have friends who are hurting—friends mourning the unexpected death of family, friends grieving the loss of friendships, friends fearing potential layoffs, friends aching from loneliness or a feeling of not measuring up to their peers. So many people in my life seem to be carrying with them their own fanny pack of hurts these days.

Why You Should Just Sign Up

"Self-care" is the buzzword but many of us, myself included, do not do it enough. There is a certain pride we take in hustling and working crazy hours to get where we want to go. But at the end of the day, we are not superheroes. We need sleep. We need downtime. We need to do something for ourselves here and there, otherwise, take it from me, you will burn out.

Top 10 Most-Read Posts of 2017

We owe everyone who has contributed their stories at least a year’s worth of lattes as a token of our gratitude, but alas, this simple “thank you” will have to carry the weight of our appreciation instead. Thank you, thank you to everyone who has written for, read, and supported That First Year this past year. We exist because of and for YOU and we can't wait for what 2018 will bring to this community. 

Here are the top 10 most-read posts of 2017. Enjoy these stories from some incredible writers.

Genres: The Toll of Anxiety

This emergence of drama was coupled with my physical pain I felt earlier this year. I had chest pains, trouble eating, and my stomach hurt without any rhyme or reason. As a result, I left my job without having one lined up. As terrifying as this was for my bank account and my dignity, I needed a change. I couldn’t stomach ten hour work days, three hour commutes, and six hours of sleep. Something was not right and I was determined to get to the bottom of it. 

The Winter Wallows: Learning to Appreciate the Dark Seasons

Despite the magic of the moment, I pretty much hate winter. My feet are perpetually cold from December to March, and the sun hibernates for weeks at a time. I’m the Scrooge of winter; everything is grey and my mood is quick to reflect that. I thrive in the temperate seasons of spring and fall, and I can even get behind the long days of summer, even when the sweaty Southern humidity makes me irrationally grumpy.

A Beginner's Guide to Self-Discipline

Once I realized that Discipline is not a bad hang, I started inviting him in to spruce up other areas of my life. Meal prepping, writing when I don’t feel like it, practicing guitar, journaling, keeping my living spaces pretty—all these things require the wisdom and care of Discipline. I have found that my creativity, free-spirit nature, and whimsical planning are only as good as the boundaries of self-discipline they are held within.

Ladders and Light: Finding Peace Within the Busy

If post-graduate life, and starting this internship, is like climbing a ladder, then I’m getting lightheaded. It’s a challenge, there’s some risk involved, but I took my chances: and now I’m tired. The up-and-down snatches my breath away and I need a moment of pause; need a reassuring smile from the one holding the ladder steady.

Digging Up Gratitude

At the beginning of the fall, when I was still in the adjusting-to-a-new-job-turned-teenage-angst phase, I would make lists of things I was grateful for to try and counteract my unease. I am a deep feeler if there ever was one, and it is hard for me to recognize something as truth if I don’t feel it is true. This makes gratitude lists in the midst of change and transition and fear of failing incredibly challenging, because I don’t feel like being grateful, thank you very much.

4 Ways to Find Calm

I notice when I don’t take the time to make space for myself to breathe. I wake up without any energy. I can’t shake the feeling that something feels wrong. When I’m too busy, I have to consciously make the effort to find calm.

Adjusting to Life As A Former College Athlete

I had never really made a “Plan B” for my athletic life and activities. I didn’t look for places to live because of the nearby sports clubs or the number of parks within walking distance, nor was that the consideration I had in mind now. While recreational sports are fun, I myself wasn’t ready to make a real commitment like that, even on an infrequent basis. Not only did I have to consider the time I would need to devote to the workouts, practices, and team-building activities, there was also my own physical health to consider. After years of traveling in cramped seats, repeated tackles, injuries, and strains, my body just wasn’t up to the demands I know I would want to impose, not to mention the fact that my getting injured and possibly needing time away from work to recover would be a real work obstacle for myself and my team, posing a real threat to my career success.

Truth Grounding: A Piece About Anxiety

I’m a naturally anxious person, particularly skilled at the sport of Imagining All Worst Case Scenarios—gold medal level skills, I’d argue.“My mind is my main problem almost all of the time. I wish I could leave it in the fridge when I go out, but it likes to come with me,” the writing goddess Ann Lamott wrote. I only just recently figured out that this worry pulsating through my body since I was but a sweet child (disclaimer: this is a lie, I was not a sweet child) is what one might call Anxiety. This means I’ve had my share of panic attacks over the years—those breathless moments of feeling claustrophobic inside your own body—though I had no idea that those were actually called panic attacks until maybe a couple years ago.