Shaking muscles mean change is happening.

InstagramQuotes-01-01You know, it’s funny – all of us women who deeply desire to be it all – we all share a little bit of anxiety that we never really talk about. And since I’m pretty good at oversharing, I think we should talk about it. :) I wrote a post about how hard 2013 was. When all the hard things we went through last year (losing my father in law, losing our sweet pup, dealing with infertility for a second year in a row) compounded, I started to melt a little bit. I let life win for a few months. I endured instead of enjoyed all the blessings that were circling me. So many blessings. But I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

I’m sharing just this little part of my story because it was laid on my heart tonight that maybe one of you needs to read this. I had a really good friend reach out to me when I was going through this and she gave me a new perspective and told me I wasn’t alone. You aren’t either.

A sadness over the loss of loved ones and the mourning of the fact that Bryan and I will never be able to be have children easily took root in my heart. And with it came a blistering, bitter fear that something was lurking – another shoe about to drop. God was going to give me one more thing that I couldn’t handle and my back was going to break. And my heart.

I didn’t really share how I was feeling other than a few nondescript Instagram posts because I was ashamed that something was winning over me. I’d hear the fears and worries come out of my mouth to trusted friends and family and I realized how weird they sounded. In an effort to pull myself out of this strange hole that felt so unfamiliar and so permanent, I tried to treat myself to things that would lighten my spirits and went one day for a massage. I didn’t realize how much it would change me. Stay with me here, I know this sounds odd.

I learned that sometimes we have to get out of our own heads. I’d spent too much time convincing myself what was wrong and mulling over the sad details and writing my own what-if-this-happens “choose your own adventure” book. Something about the physical nature of feeling my blood moving brought me back to normal. It was an expensive month, but I started getting massages every week for about four weeks. I went home to Pensacola during this time and all I wanted to do was lay in the grass in my parents big backyard and close my eyes and feel the sun on my face. I felt connected and centered there.

Most, if not all, of that anxiety from last year is gone. I threw myself into books and made myself MOVE and go for walks outside when I had mountains of work to do. I started to learn that my body is as important as my mind and each feeds off the other. I put one foot in front of the other and made it through one of the most difficult periods of my life.

I write all this now because I have to. I think God put this on my heart because at points in our lives, we all feel this way. Sometimes the perfect storm of circumstances, no matter how WONDERFUL the rest of life is, will pull us into a place we feel like we can’t climb out of.

Before Christmas, I started taking Pure Barre classes. A dancer for many, many years, I assumed I’d have this in the bag. I was feeling better and making much more time for myself. I started back on Monday and spent sixty minutes carefully planning the words I’d use when I cancelled my membership on my way out because it was WAY too hard for me. My muscles shook and quivered and WHAT. ON. EARTH. is that!? How embarrassing!

The instructor said to all six of us during the last few minutes of the class (as now all of our muscles were shaking), “Keep going. Shaking muscles mean change is happening.” Isn’t it true, friends? When we feel our weakest… that’s when God is doing the most work on us. And sometimes, He’s giving us our weaknesses so that we can lean on Him instead of our own muscles.

I was writing out my entire life story (all thirty years of it! :)) for Lara the other day, for the book she’s writing, and I started to piece together how many times in my life God has done just this with me. He’s made me so weak so that He can make me so strong in Him. He’s knocked my feet out from under me, quite literally, forcing me to ask Him to help me up.

I’ll go back to Pure Barre on Thursday. And this time, when my leg muscles start to shake because I just cannot do one more tuck and bend, I’ll smile and remember all the change that’s happening inside.

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And hey… you. You are worthy. You deserve a ten minute walk outside. Heck, you deserve a massage. It’s ok to feel the way you do right now. Cry it out and rejoice because you might be sad and afraid but you are never, ever, ever alone. This too shall pass. Put one foot in front of the other. Move your body and get your blood flowing. Get up and get moving. Run. Lay in the grass. Sing. Seek God. SLEEP. Do something about it. I love you, I mean it.

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  1. Megan commented:

    I just may be the one person who needed to read this indeed. I have been consumed with anxiety from years of incredible ups and downs. I haven’t figured out how to fight it off, and fear so much each day of my life. It helps to know others do feel or, have felt the same. I am so happy to read that you’ve powered through it and continue to improve yourself. I hope I am able to do the same, you’ve inspired me.

  2. Mary commented:

    Yes. So much yes to this! 2012 and 2013 compounded were the best and worst years of my life. The highs were the highest and the lows were the lowest. I was actually dreading 2014 starting because I was mentally preparing myself for “something else” to happen, but your new years eve post actually completely changed my perspective. Whatever comes my way, it is well with my soul. Praying for you and can’t wait to hug your neck in March!

  3. Jennifer Bell commented:

    Beautiful words. Perfect timing. Just yes!

  4. Kristy commented:

    Absolutely beautiful!

  5. Laura commented:

    This is such a lovely post. It made me tear up a bit :) But such true words. Thank you!

  6. Mackenzie commented:

    I loved every bit of this Emily and so desperately needed to hear it. I’ve attended Pure Barre classes at home in Seattle for two years now and love it so fiercely. Having recently gone away to college (with cars not being allowed for freshman) I have so desperately missed the opportunity to lift, tone, burn. Thank you for showing me that I’m living just a little bit of the shake of Pure Barre in my everyday life when I am at my weakest, He is doing the most work in me. I needed that fresh perspective and I’m so grateful for it. Thank you.

  7. Dana Laymon commented:

    amen, amen, and amen! it’s all definitely a lesson i’ve been learning the past 6 months! you couldn’t have said it better. we forget to take care of ourselves and sometimes that’s just the things that’s needed! thanks for sharing :)

  8. Ashley A. commented:

    Needed this! I just started following your blog about a week ago, and this is just what I needed. Thank You!

  9. Jill commented:

    Girl….you so get me. Can’t thank you enough for writing this.

  10. Kendra commented:

    Thank you for sharing your heart and life. Your blog posts have been such an encouragement to me and I am always eager to read a new one. The Lord is doing a mighty work in your life and truly transforming others by your testimony. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV) I pray this verse encourages you through the tough times as it has encouraged me.

  11. Leslee commented:

    This is gold, Emily. And what I needed to hear! Love to you!

  12. Rhea commented:

    Emily, what a gift you have…
    I’m sorry you struggled this past year, but all I see is the amazing woman that you have become…your blog leaves me choked up, always.
    I will try to remember this marvelous post of yours the next time I am feeling down and out and struggling. In the meantime, let’s be in the moment, enjoy the children we have, and keep an attitude of gratitude…thank you for sharing your sweet soulful words with us all. Best of everything to you this year…

  13. Nancy H commented:

    Oh Emily… Favorite post ever!!!!! I too let anxiety riddle me and the other day after a huge snowstorm and it 20 degrees out I went for a walk. It felt so good to breath deep. Big deep breathes I could feel in my lungs. And they sun, the sun was shining on me. I just knew He was telling to get moving and feel my body again . I try to numb my emotions with junk food and tv. I’ve done better since MTH but I’ve started to slip. Saturday reminded me that I’m worth it. And now this post. He is so good. I know this is for me. And so many sweet friends. But for tonight, it feels like you started this post, Dear Nancy, my sweet friend, this is for you.
    I love your amazing heart Emily!

  14. Carmen commented:

    The analog of our mental and physical growth has always resonated with me. It’s crazy how one can quickly affect the other, especially knowing that we tend to do the most detrimental things to our bodies when we are under stress. Cheers to a more body conscious 2014!

  15. Danielle commented:

    Wow. What a beautiful post! It really hit home with me. Thank you for being so open and real.

  16. Cortney commented:

    The last sentence of your first paragraph reminded me of this song to share:

    “Gold in Them Hills”–Ron Sexsmith (look up the lyrics also because its not always clear what he is saying)

    It’s from the new movie “About Time” staring Rachel McAdams. Honestly, one of the most beautiful movies I have seen. It really made me appreciate the ordinary. My favorite line from the trailer that sums up the movie: “This is the story about my extraordinary ordinary life.” It will be on DVD at the beginning of February.

    Thank you for sharing.

  17. Jessica R. commented:

    So glad God put it on your heart to write about this. About a year and a half ago, I started having crippling anxiety, nothing like my usually-optimistic self had experienced. Your description of having thoughts that didn’t feel like your own is all too familiar! I discovered it had been caused by my birth control, which I promptly stopped taking, but I still have lingering anxiety during PMS. It was triggered again this fall after a hard break-up and I had to learn the same things you’ve stated here. Again – thank you SO much for sharing. Never stop sharing; there may be someone out there like me, so confused and lost and feeling like no one else has ever felt that way.

  18. Kristy commented:

    I have a horrible time with anxiety. I could write a book listing all the reasons I tell myself I can’t or shouldn’t do something. Finally got to a point this year where I had enough and broke down and went to one (yes one) counseling appointment. I didn’t get much out of it, because honestly I am not a big fan. But one thing she said really stuck with me: “Get out of your head and go live your life.” It hit me like a train. Smell flowers, walk around the block, play in the rain. Live. I have repeated it thousands of times since then. Sometimes a simple action can really change the whole direction of a day. ((Hugs)) to you Emily!!

  19. Natasha Sluder commented:

    Emily, I love all your posts but this by far is my favorite! I think you nailed it in the post…felt like you took my thoughts right out of my head! I too struggle with this same thought process…only thinking of the negative and always trying to fine ways to change what I knew was coming….but your right we can’t change what God has planned for us…we must continue to enjoy life and love not only ourselves. But each other..really take life in and remind ourselves of our blessing big and small..I believe aniexty which I have daily is the devil trying to take control because he knows how much I want to be everything to everyone…but we can’t we must like you said try new things, really take in life and enjoy our blessings! Can’t change anything else but this beauitful life that surrounds us all! The part like you said is we aren’t alone! We all experience the same thing but knowing we have people in our life to remind us to stop and enjoy…that is truly a blessing! Love you

  20. Taylor Schumann commented:

    This so spoke to my heart. Anxiety has been the biggest issue for me, and if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that you have to cut yourself some slack and give yourself a break. Love your words here, Emily. Awesome to see God has given you the victory!

  21. Katie commented:

    Thank you, Emily! I’ve spent the last couple of years dealing with health issues and crazy hormones. I totally understand what you mean by enduring life and not enjoying it. That was so me for a long time. Towards the end of 2013 and now the beginning of a new year, the Lord has really been working in me and showing me that His strength is enough. I’m starting the new year resting in His plan and awesome power and how much He loves me. I almost forgot how much fun it is to really enjoy life and live! Thank you for all your inspiring work and for being honest about life. I appreciate your courage!

  22. Emily B. commented:

    Oh Emily! Thank you! Thank you for putting this out there. For being vulnerable. For making me feel something I needed to feel! We are on our first round of infertility treatment after a year of waiting and oh so much anxiety. I know that I am not alone in this journey but sometimes I feel very lonely. Thank you for sharing this amazing little piece of your heart this morning!!!

  23. Diane Taylor commented:

    Thank you Emily….lately the soundtrack from the movie “Frozen” has been playing on repeat. I haven’t seen the movie yet but the music spoke to me in ways I never imagined. The song I love the most is “Let It Go”…..I have listened to it countless times, telling myself that it’s ok to let things go, stop hiding my feelings so much, be one with God. I am a grieving mother who lost the most precious thing in my world: my son. I have wrapped my grief around me like a winter coat. It’s time to really let it go……if you haven’t heard the song, go download it right now and play it. When I feel like my grief has a tight grip on me, I play this song and it helps me so much. Music is definitely my love language!

  24. Shefali commented:

    Every single word resonated with me while reading this! Thank you for the wonderful reminder, dear friend. xoxo

  25. Angie Schlosser commented:

    “When we feel our weakest… that’s when God is doing the most work on us. And sometimes, He’s giving us our weaknesses so that we can lean on Him instead of our own muscles.”

    Yes, so true and hard to remember in the moment(s) of weakness. I love your story and your perspective. Thank you. I will try to focus on the blessings that come from “shaking.”

    Here’s to a STRONG 2014! Cheers, Angie

  26. Jaime commented:

    Thank you for sharing your heart!

  27. Monika commented:


    Thank you, dear one. These words are GOOD.

  28. Sara commented:

    I love this, Em – I too struggle with anxiety, and it is so important to hear that I am not alone – that others (and God!) are along for the ride.

  29. Anna Alexander commented:

    I think all the above comments are proof of how much you are also loved! For the last month I have looked forward to your posts and Lara’s post’s especially on Making Things Happen. I’m all but stalking your blog’s waiting for new posts. ;) Using your Simplified Planner for the second year now, but Really using it this year, and using Lara’s Power Sheets have really changed my life. I’ve really been able to release all the negative things that had me so depressed at the end of 2013, and use 2014 as a launching point of Peace and Balance. I love how spiritual both you and Lara are, that is something I’ve been missing in my life the last few years, so thank you for bringing God back into my life. Your wonderful open posts touch so many, and I know its a way for you to heal also. Praying for you through difficult times, so you can see the blessings coming your way. Thank you so much!

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  31. Lisa commented:

    Spot on. Ironically, I’m awaiting my simplified planner as part of my own recovery- I’m in a season of sadness, lack of motivation and ultimately disorganization. I’m fighting a war on the debt I’ve accumulated for a career I thought I wanted- only to have a child a feel my place is raising her. So I’m trudging in, and we’re tackling those student loans, and there is an end in sight. But for now, I need to be the best mommy, wife and PA I can. That’s how I found the simplified planner, and you! Thank you, you are really changing me :)

  32. Andrea Worley commented:

    I’m so glad I was scrolling through my reader catching up on old posts and took time to read this. Those words, shaking muscles…. so very true!

  33. Stephanie commented:

    This post is just wonderful, and thank you so much for opening up & sharing! I love this line you wrote: “And sometimes, He’s giving us our weaknesses so that we can lean on Him instead of our own muscles.” Amen!

  34. Charity commented:

    Very inspiring. Shaking muscles- New outlook :)

  35. amy commented:

    I LOVE this post and I wish more of these were out there…true honesty on how life is not pinterest perfect each day. I have walked your infertility and in the end we adopted a beautiful newborn girl. It is a hard, emotional road, but God is in it. I too have found the outdoors and movement to be a wonderful escape out of my own head. We have been visiting the beach often so I can breathe in the fresh air and get out of my head far more often. I think as women we sometimes feel guilty putting our needs first, but it is soooo necessary. Thank you for your wonderful words.

  36. Sarah commented:

    I read this when you posted it a few weeks ago and I cannot get the phrase “shaking muscles mean change is happening” out of my head. I’ve been walking through my own difficult period and for maybe the first time in my life, am refusing to use anything besides crying out to Jesus, reading and memorizing the Word, and healthy coping mechanisms to deal with my feelings. It feels strange and unfamiliar not to do something self destructive or just something “less than positive” to cope and sometimes I just want to react my old ways because the unfamiliarity of simply acknowledging & sitting with my feelings feels so uncomfortable. I wish I could convey with words how strongly and profoundly this hits me, but I can’t. As someone who loves fitness, though, the analogy resonates and is something I truly have been thinking about almost every day since reading it (often when my own muscles are physically shaking!) I finally realized I should tell you, because honesty and vulnerability deserve love and gratitude back. Thank you for sharing this post and your heart. XO

  37. Theresa commented:

    Thank you, I so needed this right now. It is amazing how I found your website – through the post you wrote for Becky Higgins – and was so intrigued, I just kept reading your different posts.

    We have had big ups and downs since the end of 2009. When 2014 started, I really thought all that was behind us. This past weekend proved another tough one, but after reading this I will go on my walk (that I had been wavering on) and I know 2014 will be great!

    Thanks again, Theresa

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  40. Chrissy commented:

    Reading your words today was just what I needed to know that I am not alone. I am going through a period of anxiety right now and have been experiencing panic attacks. I had a miscarriage in September and at that same time, my doctor diagnosed me as hypothyroid. I am going through a rough time dealing with my emotions from the loss of my baby and trying to get my thyroid medication right. Thank you for being courageous and sharing your story with anxiety. It gives me comfort and hope to know that I am not alone.

  41. Leanne Caroline commented:

    Hi Emily, I just did my first barre class today! I got to that point via a range of reasons – my current personal trainer becoming unreliable, thus wanting to seek out new options, a friend’s recommendation…… and, remembering this mantra of yours from way back (a full 12 months ago) – “shaking muscles mean change is happening”. I went into the class knowing this would happen, and thus, not fighting it. It is fast becoming my motto – in barre and in life. I feel as though I’m still worrying over life stagnation, while resisting change, while struggling with anxiety too. I know I need to accept where I am now, be grateful and indeed enjoy. It’s hard though! My word for 2015 is surrender. So, here’s to shaking muscles……
    PS. Also want to take this opportunity to wish you all the best with your twins. I used to work in a multiples antenatal clinic (I’m a dietitian who helps women with diabetes in pregnancy…… more common in twin+ pregnancies, hope you avoided it), and thus with my knowledge, remember thinking the minute you announced your pregnancy, ‘best wishes and thoughts she makes it to 2015’…… and you have. Congratulations! As a regular follower (though infrequent commenter), can’t wait to hear the good news, in due course, of Caroline and Tyler’s safe arrival.
    Thinking of you and wishing you all the best xo