Posted in Christian, Depression, God, longreads, prayer, sad, suicide, Uncategorized

When a stranger’s suicide hurts deeply

I didn’t know you personally, but I knew who you were. I’d seen you walking the high school halls with your beaming smile and dimples in the past. You were so beautiful to me. So cool. The kind of girl I hoped I’d be in my own senior year, still four years away.

I didn’t know you personally but as it turns out, you were very special and important to many people in my life. Its clear that your friendly smile touched more than just an awkward freshman girl who never spoke to you.

I didn’t know you but I feel your story so deep. To my core. I understand. Wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, guide….while walking through a dark fog. One that consumed you. One that overcame you.

I cheered for you (and voted for you!) when you ran for office. I love seeing strong, intelligent women making strides in the world. I love the passion and hope thaty comes weeken people fight for change they believe in whole heartedly. I admire the difference you wanted to make.

I loved seeing you speak out for mental health. You were brave. You made it ok for people like me to get help and speak out. You started hard coversations to end the stigmas and help others come out of the darkness.

Now, as I scroll my Facebook I see your face, still covered with your warm smile and dimples, over and over. Pictures of your beautiful children. Memories being shared by people I love left here hurting.

Walking into chuch, the audible reaction to your passing left tears stinging my eyes. Those who loved you surrounded by love. Enveloped in arms of friendship and family. Every one in disbelief.

I am so sorry the sadness was so deep.

I am so sorry you saw no other way.

I am so sorry that life wasn’t as kind to you as it should have been.

I am so sorry that so many are hurting for you now.

I am so sorry I never said hello in the hallway.

I wish you felt how far your ripples reached. How many hearts you touched, both known and unknown to you. I wish you knew me. The conversations you led, the people you inspired, the struggles you shared that made us feel less alone.

You helped make it ok for people like me to speak up. Sometimes, we all need a little extra help and love. You gave others the courage to ask for it and, more importantly, showed others how to compassionately give it. Even through your loss, many others have been saved by your courage.

The world is a better place because you were in it, just a little bit darker now that you’re gone. Those of us still fighting the battle mourn you, you were like us, but we will fight on through the darkness. For you, for us, and for those we love or don’t even know – we will carry on the mission. You weren’t alone. Neither are we.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

–John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

IF YOU ARE STRUGGLING OR HAVING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS – PLEASE REACH OUT TO A LOVED ONE, FRIEND, OR THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE:

800-273-8255

Posted in Anxiety, books, Christian, coffee, Depression, God, kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, nature, parenting, selfcare

When you look at me, I know what you see.

When you look at me, I know what you see. Your face and words say it all clearly: “you’re so fun! So crazy. So funny/strong/smart/organized/put together!”

Go ahead. Scroll my Facebook page. I’ve got all the “required” pics. Smiley, happy, spouse selfie? Check. Happy, well behaved kids displaying equal parts good behavior and precocious curiosity? Check. Yummy meals? Successful workouts? Got ’em.
Home based business? Got it. Great job? Sharing those company posts often! Pets? Theo the cat almost needs her own page. Don’t forget the amazing cakes, birthday parties, vacations, pretty house, DIY projects, make up looks, and amazing weight loss goals – I’ve got all that too!
What don’t you see? I am currently on the highest dose of Prozac a woman can take. This hair? Shoutout to dry shampoo and Bobby pins for the win! Cereal for dinner is a weekly occurrence here. I loathe the days my daughter DOESN’T want hot lunch. I got two separate emails at work today pointing out the areas I’m failing at. If I had one wish in life, it would be to stay in bed. For at least a month.
I regularly Google and price vacations I could take by myself. Just for a break from my life (which I am actually very happy for – even though I struggle to really share that everyday). Then, I check my bank account and remmember I am not a Kardashian and have a budget that doesn’t allow for such things.
I am a mom living with chronic, clinical, depression. I am a full-time employee, friend, daughter, sister, church-going, school volunteering woman who struggles to get out of bed some days. And honestly? I’m sick of it.
Why is this something we hide? Why are we ashamed of this? Why aren’t there more resources? Why do we spend so much time feeling alone and hiding our truth – when its so much more common than we could ever guess?
According to a 2016 study published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 16 million American adults (roughly 7% of our population for you number junkies) had a depressive episode within the past year.
That’s roughly 7 of every 100 people you know, struggling THIS YEAR ALONE. Look around your office, PTO meeting, church service, your gym, or merely on your Facebook feed.
Can you spot them?
Can you see their calls for help?
Or do they master blending into society while craving help so loudly on the inside that their needs and thoughts are all they hear?
I’ll give you a moment to take inventory. Though, if we know each other in real life or through social media, I bet you pegged me wrong. To quote a favorite show from my youth: “You think you know, but you have no idea.”
My alarm sounds at 5am. Why? Because I know that I feel better if I get up with time to myself, a cup of coffee, time with God, and time for my yoga practice. However, most days I just hit snooze for about an hour and a half.
I would love to tell you that every day starts with a nice warm shower for me, but most days it’s layers of make up and dry shampoo that get me looking presentable for the day.
I wake up my kids and devote every bit of energy that I have for the next hour and a half to making sure they are ready, have everything they need, and know just how much I love them before I drive them to school each morning.
I go to work each morning to a job that I have wanted for nearly a decade and finally managed to get. Then, I think about how badly I wish I were a stay-at-home mom. I propose selling everything and living in a cabin in the woods to my husband at least once a week. No joke.
Outlook reminders, to-do lists, and calendars are my secret weapons to presenting a very put together and organized front that manages to get 90% of my job done well each week. The other 10%? Well, it’s a mix of praying that I get good luck, my coworkers cover, or that the boss understands that I am seriously doing the best I can.
My lunch hours? They rotate between therapy sessions, volunteering at my kids’ schools, and running errands to keep our family aloat. There is no time and there are no resources for a mom to take a mental vacation. That is when things start getting real.
Why is there a stigma? Why are we expected to work like we do not have children and have children like we do not work? It is literally more than anyone should take on and a serious struggle for me, personally, on a regular basis. Why do we act like this is not a problem, not a national crisis, and not something we should be addressing as a society?
I know I have a good life. I know I am fortunate. I have amazing kids, a strong husband, a deep support system, and wonderful friends, but some days are still more than my heart can handle for no obvious reason.
I am tired of living in secrecy and shame. Those things which we cannot, will not, and do not name will continue to be our scariest demons until we stand up to them and say: no more.
I am done hiding from my truth. I am done with the “mom game”. I am done posting things portraying me as having everything figured out, when in reality I am one unscheduled softball practice away from everything falling apart.
We are absolutely all doing our best. I don’t care what your pinterest board says, you are just as messy as me. I am through hiding this any longer. I am coming clean to my kids, friends, and life that mom cannot do everything. And that’s OK. Life is a team sport. And we, as a family especially, are all in this together to make everything work.
I refuse to pass in legacy of burnout, over whelmed feelings, and inadequacies to my daughter. I also refuse to raise a son who thinks that women are invincible. That we can do all of the professional work, all of the children work, and all of the household work on our own.
There is no shame in needing a break. There is no shame in needing help. There is no shame in not being able or wanting to do it all.
My kids come first. Always. Whether or not the baseboards have been cleaned? Not even on my radar. Did I forget to work out this week? Well, my pants still fit so I don’t care. If our profit margins go down a percent or two over a month’s time? Nothing I’m going to lose sleep over. And yes, the Domino’s pizza app has saved our favorite order. That’s how I know everyone gets their favorite from time to time.
The ages of 25 to 44? Those are the most likely ages for any woman to experience depression. Smack dab in the middle of raisinsg kids. If that is you, like it is me, please know that you are not alone in this battle. We are in the trenches, mamas. Torn between raising babies, building amazing marriages, and forging successful long-lasting careers. No wonder we feel that we are falling short and find ourselves battling depressing thoughts.
But until we start being honest with each other and sharing our truths, this cycle will continue. Our daughters will be in the same spot that we are, which is exactly where our mothers were. But we have the opportunity today to be brave and stand up for what we need.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is the ultimate sign of strength. As Elizabeth Dehn said best ” You don’t have to do it all by yourself.”
So don’t. Don’t rob yourself or your family of the strongest version of you. Don’t hide the truest version of yourself to make sure everyone’s needs are met. You are more than accessory to everyone else’s life. You are a powerful being that deserves to be seen in all your mess and beauty.
Instead, remember that it takes an entire village to raise babies, grow families, and achieve a full life. Asking for help is nothing weak; if anything it is the ultimate sign of strength because you have looked deep within your self and seen what you can or cannot do on your own. That is where the real power of life lies.
I am a mom, wife, sister, friend, volunteer, and employee. I live with depression but it does not define me. I am calling it out, removing its power, and fighting to make sure future generations know that everyone has a struggle and that doesn’t make you weaker.
Please, love each other fiercely and completely. You never know what someone else is battling and how your kindness can help their fight.
If you need help, PLEASE contact one of these amazing groups:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression
http://www.ifred.org/

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
1-800-826-3632
http://www.dbsalliance.org/

National Institute of Mental Health
866-615-6464
www.nimh.nih.gov

American Psychiatric Association
703-907-7300
www.psychiatry.org/

Anxiety and Depression Association of America
240-485-1001
www.adaa.org

Posted in Anxiety, books, Depression, kids, longreads, motherhood, selfcare

The top six books to read when you’re depressed

When life is hard, I like to disappear into a book. Sometimes fiction, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes self-help, religious, or motivational. The point is, I need an escape and books provide that to me. I meant to only write about 5, but I couldn’t narrow it down that much. So here’s my top 6 books for when you’re feeling down or overwhelmed.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I know, not exactly the most thought provoking writing of all time – but that’s exactly why its easily one of my top books to just disappear into when I’m really feeling low and can’t tolerate anything heavy.
Did you wake up today an orphan? Only to hear how sad everyone was you weren’t a boy when you arrived because that’s what they ordered? That your hair is ugly? Your manners are terrible? Then you’re doing better than her and she makes it out alright. Even ends up marrying a doctor.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I only bought this book because I think Beyonce the metal chicken is hilarious and I re-read it every few months on her blog (Google it, you’re welcome) then I saw she wrote a book. And the raccoon on the cover looked exactly what I’d look like if I were a raccoon. Then I started reading, checked with my parents to make sure I have no other siblings I was not aware of out there, and realized I am not alone. I may be depressed and totally nuts sometimes, but I’m still not completely crazy because I’m not the only one and there are books and support groups dedicated to people like me. You are NEVER completely crazy if there’s books and support groups. You’re good enough.
That is NOT a Good Idea by Mo Willems. Kids books are great when you’re down. They’re short, they’re pretty direct, and you can read it to your kid while also letting the words help you. Bonus points if, like me, your kid is big enough to read it to you! This one is a good reminder that no matter how evil a plan is someone is plotting against you, you can always get through it and out smart it. And have a full belly. I like eating.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. Any book about the holocaust kind of puts things into perspective for me, personally. I have problems, but no where NEAR these problems. This book had me re-evaluating my situations with every page. Then *spoiler alert* you find out its a true freaking story? Nope. I’m good. Maybe not perfect or where I want to be, but good. I’ll get through this.
You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I think its just healthy for you to have something around you that is screaming how great you are, so this is pretty much the best book title ever. I also love this book because its the complete pep talk you would want someone to give you, if they knew you, to help you start to see yourself in a better life. If you’re an introvert like me, you know we don’t have those people in our lives but we can still use the boost. Even if you don’t read it, just get it and stand it up on your counter and look at it daily as a reminder.
Its Not Supposed to be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst. Sometimes I swear and I don’t always do things the most proper way, but this book (and really all her books) are staples in my house. Filled with bookmarks, sticky notes, my handwriting, and highlighted parts (I need to own books because I just have to write all over them and make the good parts look pretty for next time). My guess is, if you’re struggling like me, this is NOT what you had planned for life. But here you are. Now what? Another good girlfriend book.
I am an AVID reader, my interests span the library – no topic is really too weird, too boring, too old, too new, or too anything for me. If you need more recommendations, comment below! And if you’ve got a good book to share (whether is makes you feel good or just makes you feel good enough for now) PLEASE share! I’m always adding to my reading list!
Posted in birthday, longreads, motherhood, nature, wtf

Birthdays are weird.

This week was my birthday. For those who dont know, I don’t get older. I just go up a level each year, because being level 39 sounds way cooler than being 39 years old. So, the other day I went up another level and I’m stronger, wiser, and tougher that before. Badass.
What is it about my birthday though that makes my children lose their minds and insane things happen? Its like the universe finds it comical every time I manage to make one more trip around the sun. Every. Freaking. Year.
This year, we needed to celebrate early since my actual birthday day was crammed full of taking kids to school and events. So a few days before the big day my kids whined that they didn’t want to go to the store to buy a gift and card (they may be totally addicted to Amazon which may be my fault but we talk about that another time). I tried to help Matt out by reminding the kids about all the hard work I do for their birthdays each year in the form of parties and cakes, not to mention the fact that I sacrificed my bikini modeling career to give birth to both of them, and the fact that if they celebrate my birthday they get ice cream too. I’m not sure which guilt trip or bribe did it, but they finally got it done before we went out for my birthday dinner.
Let’s talk about birthday dinner as a mom for a minute: if I have learned one thing in all the previous levels, its that I want to go some place where I know my children will definitely find something to eat that they love. Or like. Or at least will nibble on before we bring it home to enjoy as lunch the next day. So I chose my favorite restaurant to go to with my kids so they will not drive me crazy during the meal. Level 39 me was crushing it.
We made it through the meal with only one little ruffle about straws (what kind of waitress brings one kid a bendy straw and one kid a normal one?!). Also, don’t start on me about straws and the turtles. I live with an 8 year old girl, I know all about it, I just wanted a nice level 39 meal so straws were a must. The rest was great. All in all, a win.
My actual birthday consisted of running all over, going to softball game, then going out for ice cream before coming home. All I wanted to do was lie in bed and binge Madmen. (Yes, I am aware that the show has been off the air for ages and I am insanely behind on the times, however I have no patience and zero chill so I prefer to wait for shows to run their entire course and ignore them until they are placed on a streaming service where I do not have to wait for annoying things like cliffhangers.)
Just as I was about to finish my second episode and roll over to go to sleep I heard our teenager yell from downstairs. I am totally a dedicated mom, but in that moment I was also an exhausted mom so instead of getting up and walking downstairs – I texted him:
Me: “Don’t yell, your sister is asleep. What’s up?”
Teen: “There is a bird in the fireplace.”
Me, now yelling and running full speed from the bedroom: “NOBODY MOVE!!!”
This is where Matt clearly gets me and why our marriage works. He didn’t ask for an explanation or really flinch at my outburst and sudden flight. He calmly paused the show (I seriously love him) and followed me downstairs where we were in fact greeted by a bird flapping around inside of our fireplace among the ashes.

Me: “Oh my gosh. What do we do? Someone has to grab it. But not me. Do we even OWN thick leather gloves for this stuff?!”
Matt: “Will open a window and to get a way to get it out.”
Me: “Let’s catch him in a pillow case!”
Matt: “You think you’re that accurate?”
Me: “In a sheet!”
Matt: “You will throw ash all over the house.”
Teen: “Is it hurt? Can we keep it?!”
Me: “NO. Get the sheet.”

My plan was nothing short of a play right out of Wile E. Coyote’s playbook. We would hold the sheet up over the open fire place, the bird would fly into it, and we would quickly wrap it around him then throw it out the window. This is completely doable for two regular grown ups (one of which may have been afraid of rabies at that moment). Right? It sounded good in my head.
As it turns out, this bird was a super genius. Now, I realize that at first glance the fact that the bird fell down the chimney and was trapped with people staring at him would lead you to believe otherwise, but as soon as we held up a sheet in front of the fireplace and opened the sliding doors he froze. He may not have known what a chimney was but he definitely knew a hunter green sheet with paint stains was not the sky and he should not go that way.
We finally agreed to try Matt’s plan (and by we, I mean me). We closed the room door, opened the windows, removed the screens, slid the the fireplace screen open, then moved the sheet so he could see the window.
That’s all it took for our visitor, he was probaly traumatized by the giants waving paint sheets at him, so he soared out of the fireplace, through the room, and followed the fading sunlight to his freedom!
We then seized this teachable moment to show our son how fireplaces work and why you need to close the flue when done. You’re welcome, future daughter-in-law, for teaching your future husband how to care for your home.
You owe me a birthday cake.
Posted in kids, longreads, moms, motherhood, parenting, selfcare

I’m over “Mom guilt”

I’m over “mom guilt”. I don’t know why its a thing or when it became a thing, but we need to stop it. Our mothers and our grandmothers didn’t heap this crap on themselves – so why are we?
Somehow, it almost seems to be a weird badge of honor among moms. Like, mom A loves her kid so much that she hand makes birthday treats for class straight off her Pinterest board because she could never live with the “mom guilt” that a bulk box of prepackaged rice krispie treats would bring upon her. Failure to bring the Pinterest treat is clearly failure as a mom, in loving your kid, and makes you less of a mom.
Huh? I don’t follow this at all. And I’m not playing. And I’m calling b.s. on all the moms that do. We have a hard enough gig just keeping these little humans alive some days. Why would we PURPOSELY add more struggles and guilt to ourselves?! For absolutely no reason!?
I will not feel guilty that I am not helping at field day. I would rather get a root canal than try to herd 23 kindergarteners through a three-legged race. If that’s your thing, more power to you. Thank you! If you didn’t enjoy this, it wouldn’t be happening. And if you don’t enjoy it, you shouldn’t be doing it. But I will not feel guilty for not doing it.
I will not feel guilty that I didn’t go to the zoo with my kid’s class. I’ve been to the zoo. Like, 100 times. And at least 80 of those times, I had that kid in tow. We’ve got pictures, souvenir mugs, and a three foot long pink cobra stuffed animal to prove it. WHY would I feel guilty for not hopping on a bus and riding an hour to look at this stuff with her for the 81st time? I’m not. Go have fun. With your friends. With your teachers. With kind adults you have never gone to the zoo before who are super pumped to go. And I will listen eagerly when she gets home and love all the stories!
I won’t feel guilty because I work. We wouldn’t be going to the zoo without money. Which my job gets for us.
I won’t feel guilty because I don’t work some days. Cleaning, laundry, and driving people are important too.
I won’t feel guilty when I hide in the bedroom for a bit on a Saturday or take an extra long shower. Mom needs a break sometimes and everyone will be FINE for half an hour.
I won’t feel guilty for buying prepacked food, some days that’s all that gets us by.
I won’t feel guilty for the $11 late fees at the library. I remembered everyone’s doctor appointments, school needs, extra curriculars, and kept everyone alive. Library books are a minor casualty. Not feeling bad at all.
I won’t feel guilty for waking up each day, loving my kids, doing my best, and keeping myself happy, healthy, and well. Maybe I do more than others in some areas, but I promise you I am not keeping up in others. And that is ok. Completely. Nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about.
The kids are fed. They are kind. They are loved. They are happy.
Mission accomplished. Well done making it to the end of the year with me ladies. That is something to be proud of!
Posted in diet, exercise, healthy, selfcare, Uncategorized, weightwatchers

I Broke Weight Watchers

So I started Weight Watchers on April 1st (no joke) because I hate diets and exercise but want to lose weight. Anyone else? I picked this because it wasn’t going to make me give up all happiness or force me into some insane workout program with a lady named Autumn that I usually just yell swear words at (sorry God).


Signed up, put in my info. And SOMEHOW I managed to tell the good people at Weight Watchers that I weighed 437.8 pounds. That is absolutely not the truth. Two of me don’t weight that! So, I went in and updated the starting weight so the points would be right and so I would actually be on the right track.

Only, somehow (are you noticing how tech savvy I can be?) I told the app that I LOST a ton of weight when I updated my weight, so now I have earned every “milestone award” in the Weight Watchers app in the span of one week. This morning, they congratulated me again for losing more than 200 pounds and asked me to share my success story with the community.

Ugh. No. I didn’t. I have lost 6 pounds and I’m ACTUALLY annoyed that I didn’t get my LEGIT 5 pounds lost milestone award. Turns out that badges in apps are more of an incentive than watching a perky, toned tummy teacher tell me I was getting closer to looking like her. 


Easy enough fix though, right? Just reset something in the app. Nope. Doesn’t work. That’s how I got all these illegal badges. Go to the site online and fix it there? Nope. I have clicked every single clickable thing on that site. There’s nothing there. FAQ? Apparently, I’m the first person to ever do this. And I can’t find a way to get a human. At all.


So for now, this is my badge. I lost 5 pounds! Actually just over 7….but badges go by 5’s. And I don’t hate life, I’m not hungry, and I worked out like twice. WAY less than any other plan would have me doing, which is just fine for me.
But FOR REAL, anyone ever do this? Or am I really the first in WW history? And if so….where’s my badge for that!? Or have you successfully found an email address to contact them for help…I’m striking out over here. 

Posted in Christian, God, longreads, prayer

Are you there, God? Because I’m mad…

I have to admit, God and I spent a good part of this last year fighting. Well, I was fighting and He was sitting back patiently waiting for me to calm the heck down and let Him carry on with His plan. Thankfully, He let me go on and humored me while I freaked out, yelled, questioned, demanded, and finally trusted His plan.

Some people will say that I had no right to question or yell at God, but I don’t think that’s true. I think He’s ok with it. I think He would rather have an angry and honest me than a me who doesn’t totally believe. Even if it means I need to question things from time to time. At least I’m giving Him my all.

This year I was tested pretty seriously in both my personal and professional life. People I had trusted fully let me down. Plans I had been working on for years crumbled. Every scrap of self-consciousness was placed center stage for me to stare at. I was low. And it didn’t make any sense why He let it happen.

I pray. I go to church. I volunteer. I’m a Sunday school teacher, Deacon, greeter, communion server, coffee maker, meal maker, and all around super friendly, involved church person. I read my Bible close to daily, share God’s love with our kids, and do my best to be generous in our community.

So, when God let all these awful things fall down on top of me? My God, who I bust my chops for 24/7 let this go down? Well, I was livid.

One particularly hard day, last fall, I found myself sitting alone in my minivan at sunrise, at the beach, sobbing hysterically in my quiet space.

Things weren’t getting better. I was getting madder. Things felt like they were getting worse. Once again, I was doing things “right”, trying to fix my life, and God was letting it all happen. I was infuriated.

As Anne Lamott said, “God can handle honesty, and prayer begins in honest conversation.” I was ready to be completely raw with my honest feelings in my prayer that morning. Excuse the language (He and I have discussed that also), but the prayer went something like this – at the top of my lungs, through tears, beating on my steering wheel:

Alright God, what do you want from me? What more do you want me to do? I come to you, do your work, and do all the “right” things and you still let life shit all over me? I can’t keep doing this. You dump on me and leave me to sort it out without any help! You don’t even bother to tell me if I’m on the right path or not. I don’t even know if you’re here! Or if you care! If any of this matters! But if you’re there – we need to work something out. You need to give me a damn clue or a sign that I going in the right direction. My way isn’t working but I appear to be the only one showing up with a plan! You want to call the shots? Fine. We’ll do it your way. But you better check in. I want signs. Owls. I want owls and birds along the way. Big, cool, special birds – everyday ones like sparrows won’t cut it. Amen.

It was far from the most eloquent prayer I’ve ever said, but I promise you it’s one of the top most sincere and from the heart prayers I’ve ever said. Swear words and irrational bird demands included. He knew I was finally being real and seeking HIS way, not the way I thought people should see me doing His way.

That’s the wonderful thing about God. He doesn’t want us coming to Him with our fake selves. He knows who we are and what we need even better than we do. He wants our honest, authentic, raw, fully open hearts coming to Him.

I’m sure He looked at me raging in my minivan with a smile while I was making demands and shouting a to-do list prayer as if He needed my help to get my life “right”. And I’m so grateful he was patient enough to wait for the real me to show up and ask Him to take over.

God knows our weaknesses and loves us despite them. He created them in us, they are perfect. He wants us to come to him, with fire in our bellies, spirits of fire, and throw it at his feet. That’s when we get the good stuff. The love, forgiveness, and the help we need to get through our hardest times.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

I left the beach without a booming voice telling me what to do next or a flock of owls tap dancing the way I needed to go next. I wish the exchange had a huge earth shattering moment right then, but it didn’t.

I drove home with puffy eyes. I did my daily yoga practice. I read. Cleaned the house, watched some Netflix, then slid into loving mom and wife mode when my family arrived home. I stopped telling God what I needed or how He should do it. I merely stayed present and looked for Him through the evening.

I climbed into bed that night feeling foolish for my outburst that morning and more lost than ever. I was more exhausted than ever too. The weight of using to do it all on my own was too much and I was ready to calmly admit it. I didn’t want to thru to be the boss anymore. I kat can’t too do things His way. My way keeps ending up in a painful place, it’s clearly the wrong direction for me.

I drifted to sleep that night asking Him to run the show and call the shots. I apologized for the language, but I admitted that I really could use some little reassurance some time. Just the occasional check-in that I’m doing ok.

When I woke from a dream around midnight a few nights later, one I do not recall but left me feeling in absolute peace, I smiled to myself with a feeling of relief that He was hearing me. Then, I heard him. A loud owl hooting in the night. The first I’ve ever heard in the 5 years we’ve lived in this house.

God is with you. Give him your honest self. He can take it and He’ll still love you for it.

Posted in Christian, coffee, selfcare, Uncategorized

Morning Coffee

“Everything in my life has something to do with coffee.” – Lorelai Gilmore

There is no denying or hiding the truth that I am a major fan of coffee. I think that most of my successes in life since the ripe old age of 15 can be traced back to a single cup of coffee at the start of each day. And my greatest failures? They were survived in part by a warm, rich, cup of coffee bringing me a few moments of peace to gather my thoughts before trying again.

I cannot stress to you enough how important a quiet start to your day with a warm cup of coffee is for your soul. If tea is more your style, its an acceptable choice also, the point being that everyone should start their day with just a few moments of peace while filling their bodies with something rich that makes them smile.

Pick your drink, but for me, its coffee. Always has been and always will be.

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve fallen to the wayside of my morning ritual. There are kids to get ready, lunches to make, and I need some time to tame my hair before attacking the workday. Like so many other others, I am often tired and getting up earlier than I “had” to just didn’t interest me like before. Instead of starting my day in a calm place of peace, I sprung to action the minute my feet hit the ground scurrying around the house and dragging two children along with me as we rushed out the door.

It was not uncommon for me to be in a full on sweat by the time I sat down in the driver’s seat to head out and drop everyone off at their schools for the day. A full sweat guys. For real. All before 8am. That’s just not right.

My evenings were pretty much the same thing, but in reverse. I was trying to get everyone undressed and unwound from their day so they could get off to bed. This left a little time for some basic chores and time with my husband before I collapsed into bed each night, fully exhausted. It’s no wonder I felt burned out all the time and my crazy expectations for my life were hanging over me so severely.

I wasn’t giving myself a moment to breathe, let alone to enjoy my life or sort out any thoughts or feelings I was wrestling with that day.

It came to a head last Spring, when I was faced with some very real personal struggles both at home and in my professional life. I had been running around for so long trying to do everything for everyone that I lost myself and forgot to even enjoy this life I was so frantically trying to build. I was lost, scared, overwhelmed, tired, and felt very alone in this place.

I confided first to my husband, then my pastor, then my best friend that I was not happy where I was. I could see all of the good, all of the love, and all of the things to be grateful for – and I was grateful, just not satisfied. Which felt so terribly greedy and wrong.

At their suggestion, I decided to carve out just 30 minutes each day for me. I could watch a show, read, pray, think, or just stare out of the window; whatever I wanted to do was fine in my personal time. It was a kind of daunting thing so I started off with something I knew I could do well, consistently, and happily. I would drink a cup of coffee every morning before starting my day.

The first few weeks were spent sipping and scrolling my Facebook to send happy birthday messages I always forgot before and to see what people were up to. I found myself more awake and ready when the day started and the mornings started to be a pleasant experience. Well, as pleasant as any early morning wake up call can be.

As I started in deeper, books joined my morning routine as a way to feed my mind and soul in my morning stillness. Over time prayer, reflection, and devotional time trickled in also. This quiet 30 minute cup of coffee was quickly becoming my favorite part of the day and making the rest of the day feel less overwhelming.

“ So then let us pursue what makes for peace and mutual upbuilding.”

Romans 14:19

Over the course of my mornings, this verse came up in my readings on more than one occasion and I can’t help feel it was not just a coincidence.

I wish we were sitting here in my quiet den together right now so you could see and feel what I am talking about. If you were here, I’d offer you one of my favorite quilts to curl up under on the cozy pillow-back sectional near the large windows facing my neighborhood. We would both have oversized mugs of warm aromatic coffee hugged in our hands and sigh happily when the first sips warm our bodies from the inside. We would be in a place of peace that we created together.

I would share with you that I believe starting our days from a place of peace is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and to others. By sorting our day out, taking time to process events fully, and making time for prayer and reflection we are bringing our best selves to each day. There are definitely days when I still feel overwhelmed or not enough in the world but my coffee time gives me time to process and remind myself that these moments will pass.

The coffee in our hands wakes us up to the day, but our time of reflection and peace wakes us up to life. This awake feeling reminds us that there is some good in every day, even if coffee time is all there is some days. That’s ok. We don’t need to be perfect, we just need to show up. Much life coffee becomes a habit in our lives, so does this personal time. Your body and soul will crave it as you fall asleep at night. You will find this peace becomes an important part of your day, just as much as eating, drinking, and brushing your teeth. You won’t feel right without your morning coffee peace break. Once you start coffee or seeking peace in God you won’t want to stop.

What started as a selfish quiet time develops quickly to a practice of building up others around you. Praying for those who are hurting, learning to be more compassionate, replying to emails to friends in need, and cheering on those around you from a place of love. And sometimes, sharing your coffee space with someone else to enjoy life and peace together.

Find your spot, set your alarm, select your favorite mug, and pursue your peace.

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Expectations

In my mind, I should be a size two. I should have my hair done with no gray or roots showing at all times. My wardrobe should be up to date with the seasons. I should make a six-figure salary while only working part time, since I should also be home for my children and volunteer in their schools daily. My makeup should be applied perfectly every day, no blemishes showing, and certainly no stray hairs should be on my body anywhere.

My house should be clean at all times. It should be open and bright, warm and inviting, with lots of great color combinations and textures to please the eye and the body equally. Keeping it this way should be no issue because I should have a slew of cleaning hacks, tricks, and schedules that make maintaining this an absolute breeze.

I should greet my husband at the door when he gets home along with our clean, calm, charming children. They should, obviously, be dressed like tiny fashion models with no holes or stains on their clothing ever. This should also not be a stress for me since my children should be polite, intelligent, responsible people who would never treat anything or anyone in their lives with disrespect.

While they recount to him the stories of their days of perfection in academia in their gifted programs at their schools, I will head to the kitchen to cook a mouth-watering meal. It will be full of rich flavors, spices, and delicate meats while being locally sourced, organic, and completely healthy – right down to the macro-nutrients

Once the family is fed, the children will bathe and head to bed without any fuss. I will then read one classic novel from cover to cover before heading upstairs to be the most perfect picture of beauty and talent in the bedroom. I will be the kind of wife that everyone wishes they had. Then I’ll read for awhile, say my prayers, and drift off into a restful sleep with a grateful heart so I can start living this life over again.

I hope you’re rolling your eyes by now. Heck, I hope you’re laughing by now because I am. I wish it was a joke but these are literally the expectations I carry in my head and try to hold myself to. No one can meet these expectations, myself included, so I don’t think it comes as a surprise why my reality feels like failure so often.

I am not a size two. Nowhere near it. In fact, add a 10 to that and then a couple more and you’ll get into the ballpark of where I am. I realize that’s average but I’d be lying if I didn’t also tell you I also feel like I’m the size of Gilbert Grape’s mom. I usually let my gray hair get out of control before dragging myself into the salon to get them covered up because I just cannot stand the sight of them right now. My hair does look perfectly done most days since my go to style is “messy bun”. Pro tip: you can’t really go wrong when the goal is to look like a hot mess.

I don’t make six-figures, I work 50 hours a week, and scramble to help at my kids’ schools on lunch hours or evenings which is stressful in its own right. I manage mascara roughly two days a week and full make up only for weddings or funerals. I have more blemishes now than I did at sixteen and I’m really kind of bummed that winter is ending so I’ll need to start busting out shorts again soon. I’m not ready for that level of personal maintenance.

The house looks anywhere from “decent but people obviously live here” to “these people are about to lose this round of Jumanji to the crazy monkeys”. I won’t even comment on which option the house looks like more often. I have no cleaning hacks. Does “moving” count as a hack? Not a real practical one. I ruin dry clean only clothes by washing them since I never read tags.

My kids take showers regularly, brush their teeth and hair, and are good at basic grooming. Their clothes fit and are clean. Do they always match? Nope. They dress themselves. Some days they look homeless or like real artists. I’ve been commended for allowing them to “express their individuality” when in reality, I’m just glad they put on pants and didn’t fight with me about it. They both do great in their regular classes with their regular friends and I am completely ok with that.

My husband cooks dinner, not me. I don’t have time. Our food is all locally sourced. We drive to the Aldi and local grocery store that is roughly 4 miles from the house to get it all. Local enough for me. Nothing is organic. Most of it is on sale, plenty is preprocessed, and if we can cook it in under 20 minutes using only one pot that makes it even better.

I listen to Audiobooks, don’t think I’ve read a classic since high school, and consider an evening to be successful if I get to watch both The Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy uninterrupted. The bedroom is where oversized shirts and my fleece pants are waiting for me. I love my husband, I do my best, but I don’t think I’m the stuff dreams are made of. Unless you’re into snoring and drooling. I’m an amazing sleeper…once I toss and turn for an hour then use the bathroom three times and finally pass out. I wake up the next morning tired, with a rough idea of what I need to get done, and then do my best to adjust as countless unexpected things are thrown at me.

See? I’m not living up to any expectations that I have in my head. So, I’m giving up on them. I realize that the things I feel I should be doing are all just put there by me. No one has ever asked me to be or do everything for everyone all the time. I just seem to think that’s my job. I also think that I am not the only woman in this boat. While everyone may not be going to my extremes (I really hope no one else is) we all have these ideas of what we should or could be doing that are seriously not fair. Of course I can’t live up to them and it’s no wonder I feel like a failure since I’m using that as my measuring stick.

I’m over it though. Totally. I see these ideas for what they are – b.s. competitive crap. I’m not doing it. Life isn’t a competition, I’m not trying to out-do anyone else, and I am certainly not better than anyone else. I just want to be the best me I can, the happiest me I can, and live a life I enjoy. So, that’s what I’m starting to do. Finding a way to get back to the real me, the things I like, and how to be happy without burning out!

I’m no expert. I have no secret plans or insider info on how to magically make everyone’s life better (heck, I’m not even there yet in my own life!) but I am a real mom who thinks she’s not alone in these feelings. I am not perfect but I am honest, real, raw, and learning to love my flaws. I want to share this journey with you here. The ups and the downs for me, so maybe you can find something that help you too. Or suggest something I can try! I certainly can’t do this on my own.

If you’re messy, imperfect, tired, and flawed – this is the place for you.

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The Journey Begins

The journey begins here. Kind of an appropriate title since this is the first post but make no mistake about it, this journey started quite awhile ago and I am still no where near the end. I am not even sure if the end really exists in life. However, after talking with a lot of ladies and really connecting with some hurting souls I have realized that far more people are struggling that they’re willing to share which often leaves us feeling alone in life.
I am not claiming to have all of the answers; one look at my life would definitely support that statement. I am not afraid to address my short coming, worries, and fears with people though. Perhaps somewhere here in my ramblings someone else will find a little comfort, hope, or just a friend they can lean on. Maybe this will help others, maybe it will help me, maybe it won’t do anything but I don’t think it can hurt.
A lot of my feelings and struggles in life stem from multiple sources. There isn’t one villain in my life. There’s a lot of good people who made a few decisions that impacted me poorly, but not a real villain. There may be times I refer to an incident and how it contributed to my mess, but please remember that while I have my memories and my feelings on topics – the other parties do too. Things that that hurt me deeply may not have hurt them the same way. It may not have hurt you the same way if you were in my shoes. I simply want to be honest in my feelings and journey. That’s it.
So, if you’re so inclined, please book mark my site and check back for updates. I would love to commit to a set schedule but I’m going to be very honest when I tell you, I am not to that place yet. I hope to be! Schedules and consistency make me very happy but the realistic side of me knows that for now, I’m sharing things when they come to my mind and when they happen. There is no schedule for finding peace or happiness.

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