Misc, On Motherhood, Travel

On Personal Struggles and Finding Clarity + Peace in the Big Apple.

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I can’t think of any super witty or deep way to start this post, so instead…I’ll just start.  😉  Sometimes I feel led to share bits and pieces of my private life in hopes that maybe someone else can relate and know they aren’t the only one, and, while this isn’t nearly the tragedy of something like the heartbreaking California fires going on right now, it is real in my little life. And maybe someone else needs to read this tonight. ❤️

Lately I find myself struggling with a surprising bit of anxiety, something that has never before plagued me for any extended amount of time.  Like, at all.  I’m usually a pretty steady, centered person…usually.  However, the past few months, and really the past year, have given me a run for my money.  At the risk of opening myself and my life choices up to (possibly) unkind judgement from some who would rather throw stones than extend open arms (the Internets can be brutal sometimes….but my buddies are the kindest❤️), I’m sharing my small experience in hopes that maybe hearing, “I’m there, too” might help someone.

(Headed to the airport!)

(A little light reading on the plane…so nice.)

Nothing hugely horrible has happened over the past year.  In fact, it’s been quite the OPPOSITE sort of experience; a year of excitement, a year of creativity and challenge, a year of rediscovering pieces of myself that were put on the shelf for awhile in order to spend the last seven years growing our family.  Yes, this year has been one of the greatest years of my life, and, actually, that very life looks nothing like what I thought it would after garnering the courage to put myself and my business out there a little over a year ago.  What a ride of rediscovery it’s been, and this year has NOURISHED my creative spirit so very much!

(A few shots from the NYC Public Library…the obvious first stop for two book nerds on vacation together. 😉)

(Beautiful tree in the NYC library!)

(In the Reading Room…give me all the books!!)

And yet….lately….I’ve found myself overcome.  Overwhelmed.  Overbooked.  Overextended.  All by my own doing, and I did so with excitement! 😩 😂 Want to know why?  Because I love the challenge, the creativity, the courage it takes to reinvent part of my life and physically chase down the dreams that seemed oh so lofty mere months ago.  Because I’ve enjoyed this creative outlet of Cotton Stem with my whole heart, I didn’t realize just how stretched I had stretched myself…because I’ve loved every second so!

(My sweet friend, Lindsay!)

Boundaries.  That one word carries so much weight, and I know that my fellow creatives who have strange work hours, who also possibly work from home (sitting in bed writing and working writing this, actually!), and those who create what they LOVE and are blessed to get to call that a job….you’ll get this.  I didn’t see my stress and anxiety that I was churning up all around myself, because…I love it.  My creative soul has been fed like NO OTHER this past year, and I sort of thought that part of me had perhaps been shelved forever.  I’ve been able to connect with so many likeminded people who have passions and pursuits that align with mine, a rare find, indeed.

(#CottonStemHeartsNYC ❤️)

And, at the risk of sounding braggadocios, I’m not going to lie; it has been a surreal feeling to dip a toe into these new waters, risking much, and coming out on the other side successful, accepted, encouraged.  Do you know how long it has been since it felt like anything I was doing was seen?  Seven years of changing diaper after diaper, wiping noses, picking up all the same toys that would then liter the landscape of our home mere moments later….  Did anyone (besides my very supportive and heart-wrenchingly encouraging husband) see me?  Did anyone notice?  I know my people did, but you know what I’m saying.  The work of raising littles can feel invisible sometimes.

🖐🏼PAUSE: I love being a mother.  I love it so much, in fact, that I, Erin, a self-proclaimed “non-kid-person” in my young adult life had my heart utterly melted by my first little daughter and proceeded to pray for and be blessed with three more little ones.  I love it so much that I shelved my career for a time, put aside my plans, my passions and pursuits that didn’t involve my children just so I could soak and soak and soak up my minutes with them that are fleeting, fleeting oh so quickly.
That didn’t mean Pre-Children-Erin shriveled up and ceased to exist, to dream, to crave to create.  She was still there.  Quieter, smaller, waiting.  But still there.


(This show never gets old…and this was the ninth-ish time I’ve seen it!)

And so, when the season was right and I felt that nudge from Him that my time had arrived to dip a toe, I dipped.  And it was so satisfyingly sweet and challenging and made me feel like that part of me that had gathered dust there for a bit had been reignited.  But…I swung too far.  I mean, I’d never done THIS before, so I leaned into that rediscovery too heavily.  Who wouldn’t?  To go from a seemingly invisible laundress, nanny/chef/butler to a creative entrepreneur meeting with success and soul satisfaction, all while still being able to stay home and raise the littles I created and gave everything to create…it was a trip, to say the least.

(I had a visceral reaction to seeing this show.  By far one of the greatest pieces of art I’ve ever witnessed.)

And thus, in this swirl of feelings, I set off for a different kind of trip, a trip to New York City, packing in my luggage a bundle of emotions with no name to give them.  Something wasn’t right, but what was it?  How could I feel so utterly happy and satisfied and all the things, and yet…a mere few weeks before be found crying on the bathroom floor, feeling like I was drowning, heart racing, tears flowing, sure I was about to die right there next to the endlessly dripping shower?  My second full-blown panic attack of my entire life, and I could NOT name the source of my anxiety.

It took running away on a last-minute trip to the busiest city to find my clarity, my peace…to name my struggle.

What I realized when I created the margin to actually REALIZE was that I’d given up any real form of self-care over the past year, all the while assuming that because I loved my new pursuits with all my heart that I was self-caring with the best of them.  Creatively fed and yet part of my soul was hungry.  Reclaiming a shelved sense of Self, and yet not self-aware enough to see the anxiety of being overextended creep in.  Happy and hopeful and helplessly excited, and yet hyperventilating on the bathroom floor with my husband rubbing my back and whispering quiet prayers.

(An afternoon in Bryant Park…needed this moment.)

I live a charmed life that THESE are my struggles right now.  I get it.  The fact that I’ve found something so soul-satisfying that I’ve been drinking from it like water hose on full blast and wound up almost drowning in happy feels is a “problem.”  But it’s not healthy to minimize one’s struggles, big or small.  Other seasons of my life have been so very much darker, with tangible loss and grief, and that reminds me that each season brings its own challenges and mountains.  I just needed the mental space to name this mountain.  Not the highest peak nor the most frightening crag I’ve crossed in my life, not by a long shot.  But I am thankful for that quiet afternoon amidst the absolute chaos of the city in which I found solitude, peace…and was able to name my struggle so that I can stamp it out.  Naming it is the greater part of the battle, this I know.

And living life is always about reevaluating, taking stock, sizing it all up.  What better time to do just that than as we approach a fresh new year, full of promise, possibility and empty calendar spaces.
My plan is to leave more of them empty.
And to, thus, fill up the spaces of my soul.

Not really asking for advice…just camaraderie.  And perhaps sharing the struggles I face, no matter the size or circumstance, can provide camaraderie for someone reading tonight.  I love that about the Internet; connection across the distance.  And, from all the way over in Oklahoma, I’m squeezing your faces tonight, buddies.  Thanks for reading and being so outstanding.  Don’t deserve ya….but I’m keeping ya! 😘

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  1. Candi says:

    I feel you, thanks for putting into words what I have felt…the anxiety, the invisibility. I don’t yet have big successes I’m just starting my journey on that but I am hoping/praying helps me find me again. Thank you for always sharing with us, for your honesty and sincerity. 💓

  2. Denice says:

    God bless you for your transparency, Erin. I pray you find tangible ways to keep that balance. I learned in a Bible study (Les Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free) that there is enough time to do all GOD calls us to do. Our job is to discern what He is calling us to do and let the rest go. Sounds too easy 😏, but it was meaningful to me. Sometimes I just have to ask myself if I’m feeling stressed because I’ve taken on more than He has asked me to. Just sharing a thought in case you or someone else can use it. Many blessings to you and your sweet family. Merry Christmas!

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      That’s so true! That’s why it’s been hard to realize the source of my anxiety….because ALL the things have been so good and fun and exciting! But….I need to carve out margin, for sure.

  3. Andi says:

    Beautifully said Erin. And thank you for sharing! As a person who has always struggled with high anxiety, it is nice to hear from others about it, especially when it is someone you admire.

  4. Monica says:

    I understand this. And I don’t even know what else to say except-hugs-and…..thank you💕

    I want to be brave enough to say something similar and to DO something about it.

    Yay for you!

  5. Katie Jones says:

    My eyes are welling reading, understanding , and feeling every. single. word of this. Thank you for putting it out there, know that you soothed the soul of at least one person out in Internet land. (Me!) Balance indeed. Your wisdom and insight is much appreciated. All the love!

  6. Norah says:

    Hey Erin, just wanted to comment “me, too” and let you know you’re not alone in any of this. Your feelings are valid and real and shared. My platform is MUCH smaller, but I notice I’ve been pulling back and reclaiming my personal space more and more. I think, for me at least, InstaStories was a game changer for me. I loved doing them, and still do, but it’s very much making me feel like I’m “on” a lot more than “off,” and I’m an introverted “off” kinda gal. Anyway, just sharing to let you know that I nodded my head as I read your thoughts and gave you a virtual hug. It’s also worth nothing that working from home while raising kids is incredibly hard. Women, I feel, are pulled much more forcefully back and forth between our desires of being home and present and also pursuing our creative dreams . Also, you probably know this already, but there’s no such thing as balance! It’s a myth. 🙂

  7. Ramona Owen says:

    Xoxo…blessings to a brave woman! Thank you!

  8. DAndrea Cooke says:

    Loved your blog post tonight. Thank you for sharing! You are not alone….🙏

  9. Nancy says:

    Erin, I just love you and your heart ❤️! I have struggled with anxiety over the years and at times it’s really bad at times it’s almost nonexistent so I appreciate your vulnerability and transparency. I think if more of a share that this happens it’s real and tips that I’ve help them get through we would all be better off. I just adore you and I love that you’re starting to put yourself in your peace of mind first and clearing that calendar a little. Sending you a big hug from Boston .

  10. Susie says:

    Thanks for sharing…I know so many moms will be nodding heads in agreement while reading. For me, sometimes saying no to others is saying yes to myself. Take care! 💜

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      I love that: “saying no to others is saying yes to myself”….i need this tattooed on my forehead so Ill remember. 😉

  11. Tisha says:

    I started struggling with anxiety during the adoptions of our last two kids whom we had met several times and fallen in love with, that were stuck in another country and we didn’t know if we’d see them again. Ten years later, I have worse anxiety. I have a bucket list of struggles that I won’t bore you with and yet, like you, I know how blessed I am. Life is so difficult and has such beautiful moment. I got my first grandchild this year! My goal in January (and hopefully direct) is to cut back
    and slow down. I want to breathe normally. I’m happy but I know things can be better. I’m so proud of you! You’ve accomplished so much, so fast. Before you know it, you’ll have four partners to help you! Y’all have a peaceful and happy Christmas. Love ❤️ Tisha

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Yes, I can’t wait for my four littles to become my helpers! 😉 Thank you for sharing this with us, Tisha. Big love.

  12. Abbie says:

    Wow Erin such a passionate and thought provoking piece!!!! I can relate to this in so many ways I’d need a year to write them all down. I could not thank you enough for all that you (and other accounts) do for me personally on a daily basis when I get to escape for a bit of me time (not Mumma time) ( not wife or carer) (or small business owner) but ME the lost woman who is so weighed down with my daily responsibilities and just sometimes needs that 5 minutes.. I am just now relaunching my little piece of creativity due to your feed and others in a different direction and loving it.. and like you I didn’t realise that that little knot of feeling that I couldn’t let go of was because I had inundated myself with too much of what I love my five little blessings, my home and my work and finding that I had to breathe as just ME!!!
    You are an amazing inspiration and THANKYOU for putting this out there for the world to see because it does matter and it does make a difference and I wish you all the world to get centred and be at peace with what you need for you
    From your cottonstemmie 😘😘

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Oh wow, this made me teary eyed, Abbie–Thank YOU for sharing back with me. Helps so much just to hear we aren’t all alone.

  13. Nancy says:

    And now my anxiety is flaring because of all the crazy typos…darn Siri 😉 I’m sure you get the message.

  14. Amber says:

    I find myself in the same situation with my career (first grade teachers). I work with students from poverty and trauma and I love those sweet babies with all of my heart and soul. I’d do anything for them and enjoy going above and beyond to make school a fun and safe place for them. HOWEVER, this is SUCH a good reminder for me that although I might really enjoy what I do, doing it endlessly doesn’t count as a form of self-care. Thank you so much for sharing! I’ll carry this in the back of my mind ❤️

  15. Tracy D. says:

    It is often difficult to look at someone’s life (ESPECIALLY on social media) and feel like they have the same struggles as you do. Bless you for being real & showing the ugly right alongside the beautiful! ❤️🤗 (love & face squeezes right back!!)

  16. Heather Congden says:

    I’ve been there too.. a lot more lately with a 4 year old.. wine helps 😂
    self care is so important. Sending hugs and praying that we all get through this time with gods grace and love. No advice, just saying me too and it’s nice to know we’re not alone. Ever. ❤️

  17. AmyC says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’m a believer in seasons. We need to feel the freedom to adjust our lives according to the “season” we find ourselves in. No shame in that.

  18. Sharon says:

    The book Breathing Room, by Andy Stanley’s wife Sandra just came out! Sounds perfect for you. We’ve all been there sister. Love and blessings!

  19. Amanda says:

    Thank you for sharing and being veunerable with your heart. From a neighboring Texan I will be praying for you😘

  20. Jamie Marvel says:

    I can so relate to this. I have just experienced anxiety for the first time in the last couple of years. I couldn’t relate to my friends and family who had gone through it until I felt the chest tightening scary feeling it brings. I honestly didn’t know what was happening until I googled my symptoms(I know, bad idea😂) I was shocked when the results showed “anxiety attack”. It has opened my eyes and given me so much more compassion for others who struggle with it.
    Thank you for sharing this. Sending prayers your way.

    Sending prayers to you! Thank you for sharing❤️

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      You know, I did the same thing. I thought I was having heart problems, had an EKG and everything. It took me so long to realize it was anxiety, bc I was so happy and fulfilled…..surely I couldn’t be dealing w anxiety while happy?!? Sigh. I still have so much to learn, it seems. 😉

  21. Jamie Marvel says:

    I can so relate to this. I have just experienced anxiety for the first time in the last couple of years. I couldn’t relate to my friends and family who had gone through it until I felt the chest tightening scary feeling it brings. I honestly didn’t know what was happening until I googled my symptoms(I know, bad idea) I was shocked when the results showed “anxiety attack”. It has opened my eyes and given me so much more compassion for others who struggle with it.
    Thank you for sharing this. Sending prayers your way.

  22. Sherrie Grimm Logan says:

    Your blog has reduced me to tears. Thank you for once again, for being so real!On one hand, I applaud you for being the strong, brilliant and creative person that you are. On the other, I pray for the sweet, vulnerable and gentle side of you. You’re amazing, blessed and we are all here for you!!🙏💖

  23. Allyson Boop says:

    Erin, first off thank you so much for sharing and being vulnerable! I understand these feelings 100%… I too get these overwhelming feelings of emotion that are hard to put words to. I’m a mom of 3 young kids, started homeschooling this year and stopped a career of photography to stay at home full time. I too put myself and self care on the back burner. You have been such a light and inspiration for me… your Instagram stories brighten my day! Keep doin’ you 😘

  24. Leslie says:

    I truly enjoyed your post. Thank you so much for sharing. I have boundless journals documenting my feelings, and it is a valuable and therapeutic way to breathe new life into our soul. Be Well My Soul is such a valuable statement. Thank you for all your wonderful posts and insight♥️♥️

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      You know, I used to journal all the time and loved the release. Maybe I should start that up again…..

  25. Mara says:

    Thank you for sharing, I struggle with anxiety and it flares up at random weird times for no reason. I have recently jumped into my sign business (with actually your help, your encouragement and your “you do you”) and I have noticed I feel guilty, I’m in the garage away from my kids and that feels wrong but I’m doing something I love and at the same time helping my family. However it feels so wrong to be away from my kids for so long and then I turn around and feel like I’m “just a mom” and want to do signs and you get the point. It’s a vicious cycle that I truly believe is unsolvable. Keep your head high, realize you aren’t alone, you make so many peoples days with your kindness, humor and authenticity ❤️

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      It is totally a cycle, and I think we have to constantly readjust and realign to not veer too far one way or the other, you know? At least I’m trying! Hugs mama!!

  26. Serita cox says:

    Erin big hugs for you. I have not experienced anxiety myself but my daughter who is 22 now but she has extreme anxiety hers started in high school. And yes we have done a lot of praying over this. You have such a big ❤. I really enjoy watching your story’s. It really helps get my day started and watching you and some of the others make me want to be a better person cause you all are so sweet and so kind. I will keep you in my prayers keep up the wonderful job.

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Wow, that is so humbling and so kind of you, Serita. Thank you very much–and hugs to you and your daughter!

  27. Michelle says:

    Erin, I’m a bit older than you, and my kids are nearly adults (they’re boys, so I’m not sure when adulthood actually begins 😄) I watch your stories and always want to respond (I think you’ve disabled that option… and I can understand why.) Anywho… I love your realness and self-deprecating humor. You are doing good work. I so wish social media was a thing when I was a young mother. It can be so hard and
    alienating. Keep opening up and showing the unpretty side of motherhood. There are a lot of women who need the support. 😙

    • Erin | Cotton Stem says:

      Thank you, Michelle! I appreciate your kind comment here very much. And yes, I have it disabled after my daughter was attacked/belittled via IG stories….very sad. Not how I want it to be, but it’s a boundary I will maintain to keep IG a safe and healthy place for me, you know?

  28. Megan King says:

    I so appreciate how open you are with this- it’s so easy to be on one side thinking “oh that girl has ALL her ish together” than to be on the other wondering why all your ish isn’t together. We’re all struggling in one way or another- thank you for being a very real reminder that it’s ok to not be ok, even when things seem like you should be 100. Love you!!!

  29. Joy says:

    All the feels… the invisible feeling of raising littles really hit me. I always get anxiety when I finally get to getaway. I also miss the chaos I’ve left behind. Just tell myself, it’s the season I’m currently living. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Brooklyn says:

    I think we all feel like part of your family bc you let us in so willingly and we all want the best for you! So glad you had a revelation in NYC, God works in mysterious ways!!

  31. Jackie says:

    I’ve had a similar experience this past year. In all reality, this is probably not my season to pursue my passions with a 3yo and 1yo and no dedicated work time. Every spare moment has been used up with woodworking, Etsy, and Instagram. I feel stretched so thin that I’m not doing anything well. I don’t have the anxiety, but I have been struggling with some pretty serious depression. I wonder if I’ll ever figure out how to balance it all.

  32. Sandee says:

    Blessings to you Erin. It’s a brave person who can so skillfully put her soul out to bare.
    Your in that season of life where things go by so fast. You have so, so much to give.
    It’s an honor to follow this path with you.
    Thanks for sharing this. I know how well it will help someone in your shoes. 😍😍😍

  33. Sonya says:

    Erin I really just wanted to thank you for your continued honesty in all the things. I feel you are totally transparent on your blog as well as Instagram and I have really enjoyed getting to know you through your social media. I am fairly new to the Instagram world and am not any way known I that realm but have struggled with am I doing the right thing spending so much time building my account. It’s a daily battle with me. Also, I myself do not struggle with anxiety but have recently became aware of my 16 year old daughters anxiety and realize how scary that is. I will keep you in my prayers that you will be able to find and maintain some sort of balance in the new year. Thank you for you😘

  34. Kristen says:

    Anxiety can be crippling. I struggled with it for a solid year! My anxiety lump( the lump you get in your throat when you need to cry) popped up out of no where and stayed until I figured out what was causing it. Once I figured out the source I was able to move forward. Every time my anxiety pops up I breathe and hand it back to The Lord. Sometimes it takes some friends to pray with me. Thank you for sharing! You are an encouragement to me, that I can chase my dreams as well! ❤️

  35. Kerri says:

    I can so relate to all that you’ve said, having experienced it myself over the past year and half –well, maybe longer. I think that was just when it all finally hit. I run my own creative company in the scrapbooking industry (7 1/2 years), one that I’ve been a part of for 20 years. I was always eager to help and say yes to new adventures and therefore, stretched myself way too thin. In addition, someone thought it would be cool to hack my site. So not cool. Totally ruins your livelihood and they don’t even care. Anyway, short version, I decided ‘money’ wasn’t worth ‘life.’ I chose to first say ‘no’ and that it’s okay, be more spontaneous, go on hikes in the mountains and really just live. Work is still there and has its priority time, but I can let it go. I can’t tell you how liberating it’s been.

    Now I’m all about ‘live write repeat’. Live your life. Document it. Do it all over again. Keeping it simple and getting it done.

    We do go through seasons. Mine have definitely changed over the 20 years. Starting work when I had littles, like you, looking for that creative outlet. And now they are adults and I’m still working with my creative outlet in different ways. Simplifying along the way.

    On another note, I can’t tell you how refreshing it has been to find your feed recently. I’m not one to get on and post to other sites, but you have been liberating a different part of me. Or maybe I should say, ‘enabling’ (haha). You’ve expanded my wardrobe horizons in places that I didn’t think this 51-year old, size 16 body could even go (hello American Eagle! Loving their jeans!). It’s helped me feel happy about myself. Your feed and personality have just been a refreshing bit of happiness in this little neck of the woods. 🙂

    You’re doing amazing work, my dear! Just remember that saying ‘no’ is okay. Life is more important. Your health, your family…it all comes together when you focus on them and your beliefs. You become more of who you need to be when you have the balance. Although I’m not an expert on balance either, but I’m doing my best to make a go of it. I think it will always be a work in progress for us all. 🙂

  36. Fabi says:

    Totally feel you and I’ve been there! No judgement zone here!

  37. Cassandra says:

    I LOVED reading this Erin. After my daughter was born, I left my job of nearly 10 years because I was unhappy and unfulfilled. I searched for a part time job *just to pay the bills* and to spend as much time as I could with our daughter. I quickly realized that I was just as unhappy. I desperately wanted to be a Stay at home mom and begin to try and grow my little business. My husband supported this decision wholeheartedly because he could see what it was doing to my mental health to drag myself to this job 4 days a week.
    I am incredibly happy doing what I do now, staying home, watching my daughter and business grow…
    But something feels like it’s missing still. And I am realizing more and more every day that it’s the pre-baby me…I have rare adult interaction or even me-time to shop alone, get a pedi, meet a friend without lugging a toddler and diaper bag, etc.
    Why is it so hard for us to admit we need to demand that time for ourselves just because we enjoy what we’re doing?!
    Sorry if I rambled, just wanted to say I see you, I hear you, and I appreciate you saying it all out loud.

  38. Wanda Outten says:

    Oh Erin, Thank you for sharing. Just Breathe. I am older now ( in my 60s 🙌🏼) I was there one day many years ago with 4 kids myself. Overwhelmed, busy, home life and work. I look back and think how blessed I was and thankful for those days. Kids all grown up, married and children of their own. Now I sit back and just be a nana and my life is good. You are beautiful and so inspiring. I love following you! From the mouths of CottonStem “You do you”. Whatever makes you happy. Embrace the day sweetheart. You got this! 🙌🏼💞😘 Wanda @lovinglowcarb.texas (IG)

  39. Ashley Pate says:

    Erin, this is so real, authentic, raw, genuine, and needed.
    I know what it feels like to be hidden, patiently waiting for the dreams to come to life & I know what it feels like to be overextended. You wrote about both so beautifully.
    Keep encouraging the world with these words. You’re authenticity is so needed! ♥️

  40. Natasha says:

    Thank you for being so transparent!! I am someone who battles with major anxiety, and, it’s comforting to know that a person I admire,
    can relate with emotion. I’m so thankful that God has put you in my life, and you have no idea how much you mean to me. I really look up to you, and, my favorite thing about you is your heart!!— and, your kind, caring, funny, creative, beautiful, and flat out relatable!!!!
    Pretty sure most your followers would say the
    same too. In the famous words of Erin, “you do you.”—God bless girl!

    ❤️-Tash from Texas

  41. Donna says:

    Wow. So articulate. I too have been in that place ,many years ago. I’m older now and have found peace and balance. I wish this forum had been there “back in the day” when I struggled. But so glad it’s here now. FYI. I love that you have four little girls. I came from a family of four girls as well. May you find the balance we all need.

  42. Brittany says:

    Hey girlie!! I recently came across your IG page and was immediately sucked in! Your sense of style band creativity is so warm and inviting, but you are also so relatable andnim so thankful I stumbled upon your page! After many set backs in my life, I am now 31 years old (dating but still unmarried) living back home with my parents. I am living vicariously through you, watching you decorate your beautiful home the way I’ve always dreamed of decorating mine. I can’t wait until I have a home of my own so that I can finally make it the taste and environment I’ve always wanted with all of your inspirations 💜.
    That being said, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all your hard work, dedication, and time you put into your blog and you IG page and I understand your anxiety all too well.
    It’s so hard to have to suppress your feelings, wants, and needs and put others first. And then when the world is yours, you take it…. but sometimes you take on too much because you have been holding back for so long. It’s so hard to find that balance but I know you will get there 🙂
    I’m the mean time, thank you again for everything you do. 💜

  43. Alex says:

    I feel this way everyday…. I am fortunate to spend my days at home with three little ages 7, 4 and 15 months. And there are definitely days where I feel invisible believe me…. and there are days where I look at my craft nook and wonder how many weeks have passed since I’ve had the time or energy to create what I desire, but I am so wipes by days end, that I tend to curl up watch a hallmark Christmas movie and crash.
    I too am often plagued with anxiety and it often makes me feel guilty because I’m afraid of how I respond to my kiddos when I am stressed and anxious…. and man is it exhausting. So I totally understand how you feel and can only imagine how you felt have some much deserved “mom time” in NYC 😉 I love how genuine you are and love that you do you. I may not know you in “real life” but I know you have a big heart and a beautiful soul.
    With much love.

  44. Kim says:

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! For putting a huge part of my struggles into WORDS! Being able to actually read those struggles and know that I am NOT alone. As cliche as that sounds….it’s very easy to get caught up in life and your thoughts and it tends to isolate me in a way of feeling alone in those types of struggles. And I knowwwww that I am not, but the way you described it was so HUMAN and not clinical. So thank you, Erin! You’re a gem ✨💫

  45. Cindy says:

    Erin, I wish I knew more women “in real life” like you that were brave enough to be vulnerable and let others know that everything is not as perfect as it seems. I think women are so unkind to each other sometimes in their pursuit of making everyone think they have it all together. I CERTAINLY don’t have it together. In fact, most days I’m just barely keeping everyone alive and I’m ok with letting people know that and I’ve been met with some of the most shocking reactions to my openness about what a hot mess I am. I thought that the response would be “me too”when it was quite the opposite. I wish more people (women in particular) believed in “you do
    you”. Thanks for being willing to be vulnerable.
    By the way, the first story of yours that I remember seeing was you running across the yard in the dark screaming because there was a opossum outside. I died laughing and thought “this girl is my people” ❤️❤️❤️

  46. Verla says:

    I’ve had a few “bathroom floor” moments of my own lately except they were in my car. It seems to be the only place I can get alone. Makes me wish my work commute was more than theee minutes!! Thank you for trusting us enough to tell us the truth. I’m teetering, off balance and it’s because of things and circumstances so different than yours. It’s still comforting to hear someone else say “Hey, I get it. Same. “

  47. Amy McGilvary says:

    Anxiety is something I am very familiar with, unfortunately. I have struggled with it for years and at times it will rear it’s ugly head and try to consume me. I myself have 4 children and they are my career along with a busy church volunteer life. And those spaces on the calendar fill up fast and some days I am left wondering when I am going to feel “caught up”, or even like I am surviving. I have had to cancel engagements because the stress of missed housework becomes unbearable. I plan too much and I have the tendency to give too much while neglecting myself completely. This week I had a lunch with other moms in another town and my body was just exhausted and I hadn’t done the laundry or the dishes and my knee was giving me so much trouble, I had to cancel and just stay home. I wore softies all day and did a couple loads of laundry and washed up the dishes and snuggled with my kids all day. And I felt good about it. I felt good for staying home and being who I feel I need to be, I missed seeing my friends, but I couldn’t put another thing on my plate at that moment and survive. I feel ya Erin, I truly do. It is in those moments of unrest and anxiety the lyrics “So let go my soul, and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name” play through my head and I know I have to be still. Today was one of those days, I needed His stillness in my soul. We all go through it, anxiety isn’t a very picky problem I’ve noticed. You aren’t alone ☺️, especially when you have Jesus by your side. Hugs from Florida!

  48. Jenn Allen says:

    Transparency is the scariest and most beautiful thing to be. It brings real truths to real people, especially us mommas who try so hard to “keep it together”. I wish you could have heard my own thoughts through this last week and sitting with my best friend tonight. Thank you for putting a “name” to my own source of angst….I realize it’s balance I’m lacking in my own crazy life as well. It’s never an easy task to accomplish for the ones who want to try and do it all and still be our best selves.
    Thank you for your words and honesty💛

  49. Christy says:

    Thank you for putting it out there. Just starting to get back in to it after 16 years and 8 kids. It is freaking me out just a little. Now I know to make sure to set some time aside to decompress. Your doing great!

  50. Stephanie says:

    I just love your writing so much! ❤️ It’s beautiful, captivating, honest and insightful. This post is a fabulous reminder of the power of self-reflection. It’s refreshing to follow someone authentic, positive and mindful…you bring sunshine to my Instagram feed!
    Hugs from Northern Canada

  51. Susi says:

    While I haven’t had anxiety, I’ve certainly been out of balance the last 2 years since I started my own company. What time hasn’t been take. Up there, I maybe over “self cared” in one area of my life and haven’t been the best friend, which is one of my most nourishing self care practices.. another challenge is “I’ve got this” armor when I really don’t. Thanks for your words and being a reminder of being conscious of balance. You are such a sweet person. I adore you!

  52. Gina Dean says:

    Erin, I don’t have the stresses of your life, mine might be quite different but my heart feels for you as you embrace the challenge of finding balance and boundaries. I applaud you! I will add you to my prayer time. #oklahomaborntransplantedtolouisiana

  53. Sadie says:

    Erin, I sense that God has given you great insight and the ability to communicate well so that you can articulate the feelings and struggles so many of us have but don’t know how to verbalize. It’s such a relief to read your words and feel that “aha” moment because you “nailed it” in explaining what I’ve been struggling with. Thank you. And thank you for your sensitivity to God’s gentle nudges! You’re such a blessing to all of us “Stemmies”! Love, Sadie @txprairieblooms

  54. Lynn Kaufhold says:

    I have a feeling all women especially mommas have some level of anxiety. I have a personality similar to yours very level most days but I too have had those times in my life. I think it’s wonderful that you took the time to care for yourself and find a name for what you’re feeling. Hugs headed your way 😊. And on another note I am so glad you loved Hamilton! I feel the same way which is why my daughter and I had seen it three times. It’s so hard to explain to anybody until they’ve seen it how unbelievably wonderful it is!

  55. Jill Burkhardt says:

    As a quote from you “you do you”. You have to have balance in life ( it doesn’t exists) but at least try too. You are much braver than I could ever be . Even at my age of 52 I often feel lost and alone & not know what direction I’m supposed to take at this point in my life . My 3 kids are all grown up daughter 24 & twin boys 20. They don’t need me like they used to I’ve been a stay at home mom for about 25 years now . Have not worked outside the home since before kids . I feel panicked and lost on what I’m supposed to do now with my life . . You are such an inspiration to so many young and old like me . Lol . You have a husband who seems to support you in all your endeavors Your 4 beautiful girls have a great role model , mother and one day best friend who will be there to cheer them on when they go after their dreams one day . Remember you are not alone in this big crazy world we live in . We can all understand and identify in what you are going through but each of our stories are our own whether they are good, bad or ugly. Continue to inspire us all and and also do t forget who you are . Your not just a mom , wife business woman. You are Erin .👐

  56. Lynn says:

    Wow…. this last week I hit a point that I’ve had enough. I’m a stay at home mom and my husband works two jobs. So that means I have the kids all the time. The last 2 years have been rough. Pregnant with my 5th baby and broke my ankle. Meaning I was bed rested for the rest of my pregnancy. Well that was extremely hard for me to swallow. Me being this outgoing person to can’t do much and on a knee scooter. Gained lots of weight from emotionally eating. That was the start of the domino affect. I’ve bootle up so much emotions I feel so alone. I also feel I’m wrong to feel that way. Here I am doing what I love staying home with the kids while my husband works so hard so I can be there for them. Well I haven’t talk to anyone not even family about it. But writing this down has made me feel some some relief. Thank you for sharing. Xoxo

  57. Natasha says:

    All of this 🙌🏻 And all of these comments🙌🏻🙌🏻 But oh what I would give for all of us as women, mamas and creatives to not have to justify our struggles before we admit them.

    I see a commonality amongst all of these beautiful messages, all of these beautiful women who must first say “I am so blessed” “I adore my babies/husband/career” BUT… why is it ingrained in us to almost apologize before we can say, this is HARD?! I long for the day when we can simply say how we feel without the guilt💛

    Thank you Erin for using your space to say out loud what we all feel so very often. ME TOO friend. ME TOO.

  58. Angel says:

    I m sitting in tears in the Christmas Tree lit living room with MY baby (16yo) sleeping on the couch. I remember screening at my husband that before I was a wife and mother I had a name…. MY NAME IS ANGEL and I have hobbies and friends and things that I want to do. Why do husbands babysit and moms have to lay out everything in advance before going. Fortunately my husband was different, but then I realized so was I… I am bipolar, major depressive disorder, anxiety with debilitating panic attacks. Diagnosed after having my babies. That was a truly hard time, so when you share you story I HEAR YOU and I pray for you. Panic attacks are no joke and you DO feel like you are going to die. I’ve been down the rabbit hole and it’s scary and honestly I struggled coming out of it. I had a not so cushy stay at the nuthut (it was not a great facility). With the amazing support of my husband and seriously the one friend I have left I wouldn’t be here today. I have finally opened up to to people and they do judge…HARD. It’s awful and hurtful. Anywho…. I HEAR YOU and I strive for a #stigmafree world and fully support the #semicolonproject. Blessings always ~Angel now out of the rabbit hole but always living on its edge….sigh

  59. Ashley says:

    Beautifully written. You aren’t alone. Being a mom is tough. A lot goes unnoticed. Often times I feel like a giant is sitting on my chest all while my heart is racing uncontrollably. I feel the need to calm myself. To take a minute and breathe. It’s so much easier said than done. I’m so happy you found your peace. Hugs from Utah, friend.

  60. Aly Mcdaniel says:

    Oh Erin! I have cried at least twice this week and I’ve never had anxiety my entire life! We take on too much! My dad wrote a book called 2 chairs and it has helped me a lot! I’m gonna send one to you. Here’s the synopsis:
    In this world you will have trouble. Count on it!

    It might be something small or something big, but you know you don’t have an answer. You’ve come to a realization there is a limit to what you can do alone. For such times as these, 2 Chairs asks three vital questions:
    -Does God know your situation?
    -Is it too hard for Him to handle?
    -Does He have a good plan for you?
    Following these questions, Bob Beaudine offers sever practical steps to walk courageously, faithfully, and cheerfully through your trouble whether it is a minor
    issue or a major crisis.
    If you ever wanna let all your stress and anxiety out I’m here! You can load it all on me! 😘😘

  61. Jen says:

    Thanks for sharing. I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. So bad that when they happen I can’t feel my arms and I get light headed and uncontrollably cry. My husband has to tell me word for word what to pray. Husbands…aren’t they the best?! I also have 4 little kids and my anxiety started after my first baby (5 years ago). It helps so much figuring out your trigger. For me, it’s health related things. For instance, right now I have high levels of anxiety about radon in our previous house and the possibility of it in our new house. I’m working towards overcoming my anxiety and living in freedom!

  62. Jesseca says:

    Thank you for sharing.

  63. Sarah says:

    I totally get it! These last few years have been a bit different for me. I kinda lost my stride and am really struggling to find it. With an unexpected (very loved and wanted) addition to our family two years ago, a daughter leaving the protection of home to start her adventures (college) and the loss of my baby sister (she was only 29) it’s been a challenge. We have been so blessed, even in our times of sorrow. I guess what I am trying to say is I’m working on balance too. Keep up your good work on positive vibes.

  64. Ann McFarland says:

    Sweet Erin, no bossing, finger wagging or advice here, just a similar (older) heart struggling to steady myself, my wifING, my grammaING, my momING etc;,. My upbringing was incredibly abusive and dark, & I somehow continued that “circle” by marrying a man who tried to take my life away on several occasions. I’m telling you this because I’ve worked since I was 15 and I didn’t have a choice, finding myself alone and nowhere to live while trying to finish high school. After all that crud was done, & my mother started to love me when I was 21 with my 1st daughter, and I finally left my abuser, met a Christian, had a mama and a great job, and then she died at 47. I kept my head down, feverishly building my career, now married to my (now sweet centered hubbs of 25 years), a second daughter and a horrific case of OCD. No one was allowed to talk to me about it, it’s just what I did, all my life, and kept doing more, harder, to bigger extremes, taking on me re titles at work, which meant more excessive cleaning and keeping up. Well finally, (as tears now, this minute, pore down my face), not quite 4 years ago, my now oldest 27 yr old daughter said , “Mom, I’m getting married!” She already had one daughter, and wanted to make herself a wife., however, she confided in me that she had gone to her father and asked him to also attend, which led promptly to a threat on my life, and 2 days later I found myself briefing all of upper management at the corporation I worked for, but at that very moment feeling I couldn’t breathe, and I began to flush, shake, sweat, the nausea was completely overwhelming me, and I swore to EVERY, my ex husband was there with his gun to my head. I ran, sank to the bathroom floor , and in a heap for five hours, I cried the biggest, ugliest cry I ever knew existed. My life as I knew it at 45 was over. I was forced to quit my job and now as I learn what PTSD and abuse are, I have so much love and compassion for you Erin. You are so absolutely giving and loving and hard working and you have a lovely family. I know how you feel, and I apologize for all that above… I’m not saying I’m worse, or any of that junk, I’m just telling you as a woman that I love you gurl! I respect you so much, and I want you to know that it’s you and a handful of other women, who have saved me…. I’m praying for you love. I wish I could wrap a big ole fluffy blanket around you, give you a peck on the cheek and put your tiny lil bum to bed♥️ Just know your loved!!!

  65. Shannon says:

    So glad you decided to share this. I’ve been feeling completely invisible lately (thank you PPD/PPA) and I’m in the beginning stages of putting my unofficial business out to the world and my friends. I’m 100% terrified, excited, and anxious because I want people to “see” me and care about what I create. At everyone’s core we want acceptance and to be good enough. Doing what you do is scary because of that, but seeing you succeed at it gives me courage that a little stay at home mom-nobody, like me, can become somebody like you. I love seeing your posts/stories. In fact, I look forward to them every day and often find myself saying, “I only have time for Erin’s stories right now.” Keep doing you because people like me need your example!

  66. Linda says:

    “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ~CS Lewis

    I’m there. And in the midst of every day life, I forget to take care of me. There are so many others. Caregiver to my elderly Dad who lives with us, a husband, 4 grown kids {that always need something}, helping with grandbabies, working full-time AND trying to run a small sewing business.

    No wonder I’m there. No wonder I’m exhausted. No wonder that I, too, cry in the bathroom. I don’t know how to find even ONE day to take care of me.

    Thank you, Erin, for the reminder. I know in my head that I must take care of me first in order to take care of everyone else. It’s just so hard when you’re pulled in a million directions. Thank you for sharing.

  67. Carolyn says:

    You are not alone. I am not alone. We are not alone. In these crazy struggles that entwine our lives, we are connected and realize how we, during certain season, need to lean on each other. Life/God/reality hit me exactly a year ago when I was spread super duper thin and balancing more than my body could handle (toddler, newborn, long commute, new home purchase (?), MIL moving in(?), career change, planning a 40th anniversary, working as an Exec Asst, and full-time LEO wife). I had six panic attacks in a week and realized I never ever could ask for help and I was a tad OCD about home/kids/etc. But my body knew I was overwhelmed and it was time to start re-balancing and hitting that pause button. Thankfully, we made it through the uphill climb and I am happier than ever as a SAHM and planning the path back to my forgotten career path. Balance. Balance. Balance. We can do this!
    Fellow cotton stemmer

  68. Grace says:

    This one hit home for me tonight!! So many “buzzwords” you said have been recently prevalent in my life. Boundaries, self-care, reclaiming – THANK YOU for your transparency! We are not alone in this world!

  69. Sharon says:

    Erin, Thanks so much! It’s a real ministry to others when we are really real, like this! And I definitely think that some of our greatest victories & pleasures and “dreams fulfilled” all bring these types of feelings that you described. Maybe you feel the weight & responsibility of what you are doing–you influence so many! I very very much love your
    honesty & hope & pray that you continue to share feelings like this! You are among kindred spirits my friend! Love your blog & IG feed, praying for you & all the light you shine!!!

  70. Tricia says:

    I loved what you had to say Erin. Hang in there. You’ve got this and you figured out all by yourself how to handle the anxiety. I am in the season of retirement but I look back at my 40 years of teaching and raising my three girls. It could get very overwhelming at times but with God’s help and the help from my wonderful husband we all came through with flying colors. Now I can sit back and give my girls the wisdom of experience when they ask for it with their children and their workloads. You have a good head on your shoulders and faith in God. Keep up your wonderful inspirations because even this old lady is learning things from you.

  71. Christine Wilson says:

    This was lovely. A thoughtful and tender essay that I am sure so many of us can relate to. I am divorced, no children or hectic family responsibilities to juggle….but I work in emergency services as a 911 dispatcher and with all the hours I devote to taking care of everyone else’s needs (our motto is—your worst day is our work day)…at the end of the week I don’t have the energy or ambition to take care of myself. Lately I have been searching for ways to feed all my empty spots so that I can live my best life and actually enjoy it. So thanks for opening up. You are right, we are all in this together…just in our own little corners of the world.

  72. Leonie says:

    Dear Erin,

    I‘ve been following you for quite a while on Instagram. You are my favorite person there and I adore you as a person, you being a wonderful mom of 4 sweet little girls and you as the creative, inspiring business woman you are! You incorporate so many of my dreams and I deeply respect how you do you…😉 It gives me the hope and the drive, so that one day I might get there to!

    This post you wrote has really touched me for it‘s rawness and it‘s beauty… Thank you for sharing your journey and your feelings with us, I deeply appreciate it!

    Listen to your heart and keep going YOUR road, you‘re doing it just right. Thank you so much for every aspect you show and share💕

  73. Angela says:

    You are wise beyond your years. Thank you for sharing. Your post will be felt by those who most need it….and that’s what Jesus wants of us. This is the beginning of healing for you. I will commit to praying for you every day. With love from North Carolina.

  74. Gina says:

    We women expect to have time for everything, but for everything there is A time, a season. Thank you for sharing and inspiring others by being so real.

  75. Bea says:

    Thank you. And that goes out to all the Cottonstemmies who shared, too. 💕 This one hit home so hard I’m actually speechless, but overwhelmed with gratitude that this post was written. Naming the mountain makes a massive difference. I think this is another one of your posts that will cause ripples!

  76. Pat says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart with all of us! I’m much older than you and retired. As a younger wife, mom, employee and “fixer” of all things, I reached a point of almost taking my life. 😢 God put some special people in my life and on my path to help. I went to therapy and learned to start caring for myself. It was awkward, uncomfortable and scary to learn that it’s really ok to care for myself, to say no and not feel guilty and to put myself on the calendar! It was like baby steps in the beginning but after a few painting classes, nights out with the girls and saying “no” more often, it brought such a sense of relief ~ fewer tears, shortness of breath and hiding in the bathroom!

    I think you are such an amazing young lady and I love following your blog and IG stories! You are so real and down to earth. I love your creative talent, the capsule wardrobe, softies and the example you are setting for so many! I can’t imagine having 4 little ones and doing all you do! I hope you find a solution to balance your life and continue your wonderful example to so many! I feel so blessed to have found you in this mass of humanity on the internet.

    Keep “doing you” and bringing joy, laughter and love to all of us!!! 😊❤

    A Texan that still believes!

  77. Kristy says:

    I so so get it. I suffered for 10 years because I was always told self care was selfish. Now I know better. Take time for you because we can’t care take from an empty vessel!

  78. Jess says:

    I too had anxiety attacks as a young mother of two. My husband traveled a lot and I had just lost my very young mother to cancer and felt very alone. I learned to handle these attacks by realizing it was FEAR that was causing them. FEAR of being alone, being overwhelmed and feeling inadequate. When I had an attack I would just tell myself that I never died from one of these and just asked God to help me to dial back the FEAR. It always worked! Calling it what it is seems to chase it away! I recently had a call from my 24 yr old son in the middle of the night( that scares the crap out of you) He was having his first panic attack. I was so grateful that I knew exactly what to tell him to do until I could drive 40 mins to get to him. By the time I got to him he was through it and said that my advise had worked. I hope this helps you sweet girl. We all love what you do and wish you health and happiness!

  79. Erica says:

    Hugs to you and prayers you find peace. I am insecure, I try, sometimes to hard, to be accepted. I’m blessed with a very loving family, but feeling invisible, I know that too. I sometimes suffer from anxiety, I’ll be making dinner or cleaning up and just, tears, no real reason, sometimes a kind word or hug is all I need. We’re all so busy in our own way, sometimes we just need to breathe. You are not alone, thank you so much for sharing, maybe together we can all help each other through struggles without being judgmental. Hugs today to everyone who may need one. God bless friends.💕

  80. Gwen says:

    Erin, if you haven’t already…PLEASE read Emily Ley’s two books “Grace not Perfection” and “A Simplified Life.” She was in your same situation and her advice is spot on for mamas like you. ✌🏻 & ❤️

  81. Sarah Dodson says:

    I have been struggling as well, but struggling to find myself again (after 16 years of momin) & step out from only being a mother and a wife. Over the last 6 months I’ve noticed myself being called so and’s so mother (mom of 4 girls) or wife so often I thought gosh these people do not even know me… then to the realization gosh I don’t even know myself anymore… I’ve been lost in the world of meeting everyone else’s needs and wants! Balance is the key, your right! Thank you for being real and sharing!

  82. Marms says:

    Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life.

  83. Deirdre says:

    You are such a light in the world. I have struggled with anxiety most of my life but have learned how to help myself to be at peace (yoga helps). I have triplet girls, and just started my own little business so i relate SO much to what you are saying. Just be true to you, enjoy life’s beautiful moments, because we know how fleeting they are and spread your joy like you do!

  84. Lauren S says:

    Thank you for sharing. This was beautifully written and I know some of what you’re feeling. I live a beautiful almost charmed life, but I have suffered from anxiety for a long time. I was also diagnosed with a heart condition so I have always thought my anxiety was actually an ‘episode’ with my heart. Which scared me to death and only made my anxiety worse. After I had kids it came to a head. My anxiety got much worse and I was so afraid it was my heart. In the last few months I have finally recognized that what is happening to me is almost all anxiety. It has helped me so much just to recognize this and to employ some better time management. Hearing from others who have experienced the same thing helps a lot too. Just to know that my symptoms mimick others who have anxiety reinforces the knowledge that I’m not having a heart attack. I hope that you’ve started the journey to controlling that anxiety. You’re not alone in your struggles! ❤ Hugs from Texas!

  85. Erin,
    I just want to thank you for putting yourself out there for all to relate in a way that is kinda like a mirror image, looks kinda like us…we can see ourselves in it, but it may not be our own reality. But, I believe that more than ever, IG and any social media creates a pressure that is hard to quite put a finger on and describe. You used your platform to create a safe space to share and I for one, really appreciate that you are being vulnerable and so relatable.

    I follow you on IG and love your style, see how busy you are and wonder how you do it all. I am certain that the Lord is going to use your Honesty to create empathy for anxiety that plagued many of us. I find myself in sometimes a “perfectionist Paralysis” and am hard on myself, not to compare myself to others, but to this idea of what I think I should be doing with my time. Like I just be productive or else I am failing so I push myself and find myself on my own “bathroom floor” from time to time.

    I am saying this again, me, too! Me, too!

    Much love to you as continue to inspire and love on so many of us.


  86. Rachel says:

    Thank you for sharing. I look forward to your Instagram stories everyday. You are beautiful, talented and a great example of putting yourself out there. I love your witty words about “Mom parts” and “extras.” Finding the balance between being a stay at home mom, kids activities, work and life and then trying to squeeze in some time for your own self love is a daily struggle. I am happy that you have recognized what you need and that you will be able to make it happen. Thank you so much, from Idaho, for the “friendship” seems a little silly saying that having never met you but I think if we were to meet in person we would become quick friends. Thanks again for sharing your struggles with us.

  87. Amanda says:

    You’re inspiring me to chase dreams that I think are hard and don’t even have children yet.
    Also, just finished “Breathe” short study by Priscilla Shirer and it’s all about margin. Incredible.

  88. Bridget says:

    Erin, I totally understand. I am at the opposite end, I was a stay at home mom to 3 awesome kids for 25+ years and now am struggling to figure out what to do now. Life is scary and we can only pray we have someone there to support us, help us through and encourage us to take that next step. I’m now trying to use all my remaining brain cells to launch my own next creative chapter. God bless you and your sweet family, Bridget @oldgloryhomesteadtexas.

  89. Diane says:

    Wow! Just wow! You nailed it girl!! I’m a 65 year old retired teacher who has been challenged with these anxiety issues. Earlier it was nudged into overtime due to an abusive marriage. I left that marriage after 20 years with my kids. I was a mess! after too many anti/depression meds and anxiety meds and not so helpful psychologists and psychiatrists. This was how I lived for the next ten years. Going through life, remarried to a wonderful and kiving man, teaching second grade and SAFE. then one day – I found myself at a dance recital watching my beautiful daughter dancing and realized that the meds had deadened me!!! I should be happy and proud
    and really I felt like
    an empty shell. At that moment I took back my life. One by one I weaned myself off all meds, started moving more, went back to church and began to feel
    More alive.
    I still struggle and I have to keep it real!!

    Recently, after telling my doctors about some symptoms I was having I heard myself say, “It feels like anxiety but I don’t “feel anxious.” He said, “its anxiety!”
    That pissed me off, but I then realized that that was the truth. I was in denial!!! Good things can also trigger anxiety. We are in a middle of a huge remodeling project and within the last four months I’ve had two surgeries and my husband had a stroke. We are both doing ok now. So now, I just name it and work on not letting it to consume me. I’ve a few little tricks. One is to just guzzle a bottle of water- most of the time it’s enough and if nothing else I hydrated!!
    I didn’t mean to write so much! I love watching your stories on instagram and appreciate your honesty! Love, hugs and face squeezes, and a pinch on the cheek. Be well!

    I’ve learned so breathing techniques that help and sometimes it’s just

  90. Angie says:

    You have courage dear Erin! I struggle with a different sort of anxiety/life experience but I hear you. It’s so hard understatement! You make me feel “not alone”. Thx for having the courage and strength to share. We are all in this together. Hugs to you.

  91. Jackie says:

    Love this and thank you for reaching out! I, too struggle with anxiety. I never did when I was younger. When I started having children it appeared, like a lion. What I’ve learned is that happiness, contentment and even calm is a choice. It doesn’t come from circumstances because then who would ever be content and calm?? We go out our way to be ‘busy’ and then feel guilt when we step away or take time for ourselves. It’s taken many years, but I can finally make the choice to be happy, content and calms.

  92. Dia says:

    Thank you for being so authentic. I’m sure it took courage to post this. You are a blessing too many! With that said, don’t let the priority of YOU slip down on the list.
    I always think of when flight attendants go over the emergency procedures; put the oxygen mask on yourself, then help others. You can’t help if you can’t breathe.
    I have found myself needing this reminder recently and needing more time in His presence to guide me.
    Thank you for making our days a little brighter!

  93. Bridget says:

    I totally get it. You are the only IG’er/blogger that I follow that I feel so completely in agreement with/emotionally in solidarity with when you share. I am so excited for you and your season of getting your creativity fed…but I’m also happy that you figured out that you were possibly doing too much and now can see that you must take time to rest and recharge! Love your sweet heart and your adorable family. Will pray that you can have an even better year in 2018 with a newfound awareness/balance! ❤️😘

  94. Debbie Barry says:

    I completely admire your courage to write this blog post. I can understand somewhat how you are feeling. Praying for you and myself to find that peace and balance that only God can bring! You are such a sweet, honest and beautiful human being and that is why you have so many ” stemmies”.!! I will keep you in my prayers! All the ❤ love to you. Merry Christmas! 🎄

  95. Jen Grosman says:

    I also have struggled with anxiety especially as an adult! I really think being a busy mom makes it only intensify we want to protect our kids and make everything perfect. I worry about my family and getting all the laundry, shopping, cleaning, driving kids to activities, the list goes on and on! As a mom our jobs are never ending! Thanks for sharing Erin.😊

  96. Dawn says:

    Oh Erin! I think some very bad advice has told us we need balance in life. There’s no such thing. Work is life and life is work. Work and home don’t need to be balanced…we do! If something is making you feel anxious or unhappy, it’s a choice that you are making – and one that you have to figure out and identify. I’m guessing you deep down might know what that is already. Feeling anxiety is not required to be successful , it doesn’t come with the territory so to speak. Examine your behavior and be honest with yourself. Be present in “life’s moments” and let your mind and your heart direct you…that’s where your calmness will take over. Then the changes have to begin. Slowly. One thing at a time….and then when that area is mastered, move onto the next. We tend to almost knee jerk react when we are trying to problem solve or eliminate things in life that are causing us distress. I feel like it leaves people even more unhappy if we try to change too many things at once or set ourselves up for impossible goals/pathways. Kind of life a diet….cutting carbs, sugars, red meat, and dairy all at once is never gonna work. Slow and steady.
    and never feel like you can’t express your stressings just because you have blessings ❤️
    You’ve got this momma!
    Take care of yourself, this too shall pass

  97. Ashley says:

    I. Could. Have. Written. This. Not as eloquently, but the same none the less. I have always been a helper. I have a heart for mommas and their littles. I’ve raised and homeschooled my 3 kids for the last 17 years and I’m nearing the completion of that story of my life, as my youngest is nearing high school. When I was finished, I thought I’ve have time for me, to pursue the things I’ve waited for for so long. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved homeschooling and the fruit of it is evident in my kids. Then BOOM! My sister is going through a messy divorce and moves ( on my encouragement) 5 minutes from me so I can help her with her kids ( again on my encouragement) Here I am, helping with a 3,5,&10 year old every single day. Plus emotionally, spiritually and physically supporting my baby sister. Fast forward 6 months, and I’m on the floor of the bathroom in tears. The anxiety is real. Of course, I want to help, and do, and be there, but I realized I can’t ignore ME in the process. An empty vessel yields no fruit, and I’ve been running on empty for awhile. So, this is long, and I’m sorry. But your post spoke to my heart. We are all in this together. Thanks for sharing your struggles. It makes me feel not so alone. We all love you, Erin. 😊

  98. Rosette says:

    I just love this post, Erin!

    I truly enjoy following you on IG and I must say that I have always said “this girl has got it going on. She’s gorgeous, has a beautiful family, is so creative, funny and super sweet!” Although all of that is true, it’s just so nice of you to show that regardless, there are still struggles. Big or small, we all have them.

    Thanks for sharing. Always look forward to your posts!


  99. Renee says:

    Hi Erin. I love your honesty in sharing your struggles and opening up conversations for those who struggle with the same. My four littles have long since grown up to become biggies, but I remember the struggle to find balance between work and home, and I still find myself trying to just cram too many things in one day, bringing on those anxious feelings. I have chosen the word “enough” as my focus word for 2018. I chose it mainly to remind myself that I am doing enough, being enough, good enough, have enough and when things become too difficult to maintain, I can say “enough” and feel okay with letting some things go. 2 Corinthians 12:9 reminds me that His grace is sufficient for me and that I am enough because His strength is made perfect in weakness. Praying you find balance in the upcoming year!🙏🏻❤️

  100. Wendy says:

    Thank you for sharing. Sincerely. It seems a lot of us have experienced similar feelings under different life circumstances. It sure is nice to feel like you’re not alone. Perhaps as a new year emerges it’s time to consider dusting off my 16 years (3 kiddos 16, 13 and 8) of “shelved” self to embark on something just for me. I look forward to watching your balanced journey.

  101. Gina says:

    I’m so with ya girl! I’ve been battling anxiety for years & I appreciate you for opening up & being vulnerable about it. It’s not easy to open up about because most people who don’t experience it don’t understand. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to “just shake it off” or “exercise & sweat it out” I’d be rich! It’s much deeper than that & ive learned it requires maintainence. If we don’t keep ourselves grounded with some balance than then we will over extend ourselves like you say & meanwhile the anxiety is building & will come out all at once causing a panic attack. I’ve learned change is what triggers my anxiety. As much as I know it’s good sometimes it will affect me & stress me out. 2 years ago I became a stay at home mom & boy was that THE biggest change for me. I went from working for a great company that sent me all over the world & providing me with the means to buy myself nice things & taking care of myself to watching Mickey Mouse clubhouse everyday in my softies! 😂 It’s not easy caring for littles. The hardest thing I’ve had to do thus far & my anxiety has made me very aware of that. It’s a process, a struggle, but I try to sometimes look at anxiety as a positive not a negative. What is my anxiety telling me I need to work on to make myself happy & balanced again. That approach helps.
    I love love love your IG & blog. I am in the creative industry as well & you inspire me everyday. Take care ☺️

  102. Dawn says:

    Oh my goodness… you precious PRECIOUS human! You write and express yourself so beautifully, I wish I could do the same. I have suffered from anxiety my whole life… and master it at times, and it owns me at others. But it is true that sometimes my anxiety is at its most powerful when I am experiencing my greatest successes. I own a little shop and it blesses my socks off, and I have adorable customers, and never regret a minute spent there… yet I have some of my worst attacks there. I just try and work through them, analyze my health (I am burdened with 2 pain diseases), and make adjustments as needed and I’m inspired to. Many people in my life tell me the shop is too much and I should just let it go. BUT I know that my shop provides me with so much more than my anxiety wants to take from me… so I just stay focused and adjust as needed. Always adjusting! You realized that very quickly! Bravo Erin! Love, Dawn

  103. Mary Wall says:

    Oh Erin how I can relate on so many levels. Although I am a few years ahead of you, I have been there, am there, and continue the battle of overextending myself. Unfortunately this year I have learned the hard way, and my health was affected. Since March I have been unable to work and or drive, which has literally forced me to ‘Be still.’ I have learned so much during this time of suffering, so although I have suffered, I have also learned my greatest life’s lessons. Erin take it from me…it is amazing that you realized so quickly that you need balance in your life, and time of refreshing for your own soul. Amen to that!!!! Thank you for always sharing your heart with your instagram community. This will be a year of renewal for me and I hope you will follow me as I venture into new beginnings. It will take a little time for me to get back to what I had started but I will get there. (canalsidewithmary) Although it’s somewhat forced, I am very excited about it. God bless you and your beautiful family <3

  104. Leila says:

    I had to choke back tears this entire post. Not even the same circumstances but my daughter was born with half a heart and has undergone two open heart surgeries thus far and she’s only 17 months. However, she is absolutely thriving in every sense. The poster child of HLHS her cardiologist claimed. And while that brings me so much joy and gratefulness to God, it also brings me deep sadness. Isn’t it such a ironic thing that one of your biggest blessings can also be a “curse”. So many heart babies and other babies are worse than my daughter so I feel guilt in my sorrow but your post reminds me that one can be happy and sad all at once. Neither is bad. And neither should warrant guilt. Love you girl, and your stories bring me little bits of friendship and love everyday. Wish we could be neighbors and best buddies in real life, xoxo.

  105. Babe Free says:

    I’d bet just writing all of that down in and of itself was cathartic! Thanks for reminding us that even tho you’re gorgeous AND talented you are also a little thing I like to call normal!

  106. Linda says:

    Oh Erin. I’ve never had a panic attack but my niece does and they are no fun. I’m sorry you are having them but it seems a lot of my favorite IGers have a hard time with balance. I’m glad you have a supportive hubs. That must help. I hope you can work it out. Back off a tad. Take care of yourself we cottonstemers will be here for you. I have dealt with stress and depression my hubs and I took care of my 104 year old Mom at home till she passed. My hubs and I found a new house now he has had a bladder tumor😩 one more check this month and we are home free! Then I can relax and enjoy our new home and continue decorating!! Love you your home and family 💗😍

  107. Sarah says:

    What a beautiful way with words you have! Couldn’t help but tear up as I found myself agreeing with most everything you were so bravely laying out there…although our circumstances are different, as all of us have our own unique battles, I feel your struggle and appreciate your honesty. I also find myself in the season of raising my kiddos while slowly putting my own dreams and goals back in my path. With every new achievement comes that touch of “mom guilt” that I can’t shake whenever I do something only for myself that doesn’t directly benefit my husband or my 3 children. Battling that feeling of selfishness that comes with each bit of independence that I get back is a constant struggle. We can only continue doing the best we can, knowing mistakes will be made along the way. I truly connected with your post, thank you for sharing!

  108. Stephanie Scurlock says:

    What a very beautifully written and eloquent post Erin. You seem to “do it all” so effortlessly but I’m sure the stresses of life, even the good kind, start to take their toll. You have lots of people who love what you do ✋🏻 But we will still love it just as much even if there’s a little less of it to love coming in daily. Hang in there!!!

  109. Cathy Frith says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing your inner most personal struggles.. I REALLY needed to read this today.. THANK YOU!!!

  110. Sherry says:

    I must admit, reading your post, I was like “yes, exactly”. I feel like in my younger years I had anxiety, more like anxiousness, but once I hit my 40’s it was like something took over. I felt like you, anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated at times, etc. How does everyone do this? Work, keep up with the house, chores, kids, life, etc? I started to schedule time on my calendar for me like I scheduled appointments. I needed time too. I love that you take time for your family, movie nights and Sundays, etc. But someone once said to me, why is it that we always make sure everyone around has what they need, but we worry so very little about ourselves. Yet, we are the caretakers for our families. It’s so true. So now I make sure to take care of myself too. I go to the doctors as needed or for regular check ups. I take time to hibernate and take a “people break” when needed. I’m thankful for your posts and your honesty. I look forward to your insta stories and updates on your blog. As you always say “you do you”. Have a wonderful Christmas

  111. Wendy Jones says:

    Balcony People. It’s a book, and a darned good one. It’s like a read in an hour kind of a book. Little, impactful, and will have you crying a good cry. Trust me on this one. Read it.
    I for one stand on the balcony so you can see me waving and cheering you on. For as I do so, I feel you silently encouraging me to “get to it” and follow the promptings of putting myself further out there. Best wishes and Merry Christmas!

  112. Amanda says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this Erin. You said it so beautifuly. Your exactly right , whether it’s motherhood or our jobs no matter how much we love What we do, if we don’t find time for self care we will still feel empty. I hope that you find your balance and comfort in the fact that so many of us are struggling right there with you. Thank you a thousand times for sharing this.

  113. Mia says:

    Dear Erin,
    I am a much older single Mom of two sons. I have been there in a not so distance memory. However I must say that I enjoy you for you. You have sparked a creativity and self care in myself since it was dormant when my boys moved out and went to college. I enjoy when you hop on and share but it means more to me for you to take care of you. You have helped me take care of me. My home has become reimagined, I have even spent some dollars on myself and I feel great. Compare yourself to no one, nurture yourself and your husband, share your gifts and talents when you can. We will all still be here cheering you on. We are all in the same image. Many blessings for a peaceful, joy filled Christmas. I cant wait for my boys to come home and see ‘our’ new home. <3

  114. Milisa parlor says:

    Thank you for your honesty. Your posts are always encouraging. I think so many moms struggle between the balance of chasing their dreams and nurturing their homes and families. It can be a difficult, confusing struggle. God bless you and your beautiful family! You definitely let your light shine!

  115. Claire says:

    Oh sweet friend!! I’m so sorry! I’m just now getting caught up on all things Erin “Cotton Stem” and saw this post on IG as I was scrolling though all the wonderful things you posted in December. Every single one of my panic attacks have been when I was overstressed. Sounds like you know exactly what you need to do. Praying for you friend! Love ya!! Claire

  116. Susanna says:

    Thank you so much for sharing – I’ve been following your IG for a while, but for whatever reason, this is my first time on your blog! I SO appreciated what you said, and i totally think you nailed it. Just because you’re following your passions, and being fulfilled in those areas, that doesn’t take full care of your soul! I’ve struggled with anxiety off & on for years, and when red flags start popping up, no matter how “happy” my life is, I know I need to take a big step back and reevaluate exactly how I’m living.

  117. Dee Walker says:

    I think almost all of us can relate, I’ve just come across your blog/instagram and thought “wow” I want to be just like Erin, how does she do it All so perfectly? I’ve just started my blog and it’s really hard work! It’s been many a tear in frustration with this new dream of mine. And just like you I forget to eat and will work myself sick because I just cant stop! My husband is my “manager “ He makes sure I come out of the clouds everyday. Thank you for sharing 🙏 It lets me know I’m not alone😘 And let’s me know to take breaks but never give up👍🏻

  118. Christine Pata says:

    Again a beautiful post. Here is my thought and time has passed since you wrote this so hopefully you’ve moved through this. Almost 8 years ago I was told by my doctor that I have anxiety and needed medication. For personal reason I didn’t want to take the medication and it was a fight. Now looking back on the time in my life of course I was anxious. In the span of 2 1/2 years I had three babies all 13 months apart and then 6 months after my third I lost my mother. It was a stressful time in my life and like I said of course I was anxious. Some things that help with my anxiety is lots of water, proper sleep and Quiet. As a mom this is rare but helpful to know.
    I truly believe in energy, you are putting yourself out there through Instagram and the blog but you are also receiving a lot. I stopped watching and listening to the news I knew that important stories will come to me when I need but all of the anger and negativity surrounding the news no longer gets me.

    Hope this helps I truly enjoy your Instagram and now find your blog lovely.

    Be Well

  119. Kasha says:

    Oh golly…did you hit the nail on the head or what?! It is so hard to explain to people how you are “drowning (bad) in happiness (good. Or is it?)”, especially while on the bathroom floor incapable of speaking – I have literally been there too!!
    I have been a dancer all my life, so when the opportunity to have my very own dance school came along out of nowhere you bet I was overjoyed! And then I had a daughter….oh the possibilities! All the things I could give her and that we could do together!! And then those epic “yes’s” became super dooper epic, and boundaries became a word completely removed from the dictionary….and no one would know that Miss Kasha, who walked into class with trademark dancers smile and chipper demeanour, had reapplied her makeup twice that day because she had cried it off…..wash, rinse & repeat.
    Cut to 2018 – bring on the hashtags! #newbeginnings #boundaries #balance #familyfirst (oh the #familyfirst!!) and a healthy dose of #whatwouldkashaliketodo. So many of the things you said jumped off the screen in bold!!
    I will happily hold “spirit hands” with anyone out there and give support where needed to keep our soul’s smiling…..no shame here, not anymore, only love.
    Thanks Erin!

  120. Ann McFarland says:

    A hundred times over;, God Bless You, beautiful Erin. You are so wise and I garner the honesty and appreciate you being that gorgeous face and loving smile I get to have in my small world. Your such an inspirational woman from God, and I love you BIG🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  121. Jessy says:

    This hit it right on the nail for me… just a few weeks ago I was so excited about life. I finally decided to go back to school, finish my degree and pursue my new found passion. Accounting. At the same time, I was offered a volunteer position as a treasurer for a non profit animal rescue organization. I was beaming!

    Full time active duty military on shift schedule, plus single mommy, 5 pets, running a home, and trying to squeeze some Zzzz in the process… plus all this extra stuff was doing to please other people. At one point during a late night college homework, exhausted, trying to stay awake and knowing I had to get ready for another shift work…..I just started crying. Full blown tears. Hard crying. The obsessive well organized, perfect time management, planner addict Jessy that I was…crumbled.

    Right there and then, I knew I had over filled my plate. Stretched myself thin. Too thin. Lost control of my perfectly perfect life…and then I decided to start saying NO. No more. I just couldn’t make everyone happy and forget about myself.

    So, in summary, I can absolutely relate to this. Thanks for sharing.

    Internet Hug,

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