Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Stepping Stones Made of Encouraging Quotes


I have a file folder full of photos on my phone; I have one on my laptop too. And just in case anything should ever happen to either folder, I have one stored on the cloud. They're full of quotes, full of inspiration and encouragement - not only to help me offset the natural negativity inherent to my history with depression and PTSD, but also to balance out the abundance of discouragement I encounter in my day-to-day life.

Some are bits of poems, others are simply lines of wisdom from men and women I've admired for various reasons over the years. There are quotes I've pulled from podcasts I was listening to, books I was reading, shows I was watching. There are quotes from online, from blogs, from music.

They speak on spirituality, romance, relationships, personal development. They speak on living well, on loving deeply, on making a difference. They inspire, they motivate. They are a balm when I'm feeling wounded, a push when I'm feeling frozen ...

... a stepping stone when I'm stuck and don't know how to keep moving forward. Lately, I've been loving this one:


There's something special about the sentiment of encouragement behind this quote, isn't there? "Don't let life discourage you." It's a strong start regardless of the rest of the quote, and something we all need to hear sometimes. "Don't let life discourage you." It translates into other things too; the situations we face at work, the people we encounter, the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Life can be discouraging all on its own sometimes. We spend too much time struggling, we're forced to cope with disabilities, we suffer through challenges we didn't ask for or don't understand. But as I've said before, if what goes up must come down, then the opposite must be true - what goes down must come up. All things are temporary, both good and bad, and while this in itself can be discouraging (because all good things pass away), it is also a reassurance (because all bad things pass away with just as much certainty). "Don't let life discourage you."

But then there's that bit of inspiration at the end, the reminder to give yourself credit for where you are in your journey - the reminder that while comparison is never a healthy entertainment, if you find yourself comparing, you should at least endeavor to do it with compassion for yourself. "Everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was." You can't read someone else's chapter 13 and kick yourself because you're on chapter 5. And even if you're the same age, race, sex, gender, religion, disability, and economic background as someone else, it's still possible to be in completely different emotional stages - which greatly impacts our development, our coping mechanisms, and the speed with which we recover from challenge in order to move forward. But even in that, there's a leveling ground: "Everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was."

All of life is a journey, a process - and regardless of where we're going, how we're getting there, and the speed at which we are able to travel, we can't go anywhere unless we're willing to start where we are and take the baby steps that keep us moving forward on our journey.

So don't let life discourage you. Because everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was. He had to take one step at a time just like you, had to find a new way when the old one stopped working - just like you. Because we're all only human, after all.

We can, however, endeavor to become - and remain - undaunted.


If you liked this post, related to it in some way, or know someone who needs to see it, make sure you drop a comment below - I would love your feedback as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

And speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among the ranks of those who have fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too, and those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. But there is strength in numbers, as as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month.

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army itself are solely built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Moment By Moment: 5 Steps To Coping With Overwhelm

So far, 2018 has been wild and crazy, but also incredibly exciting. When I made my vision board for this year, I did it with a dreamer's heart, with the hope that this new year would be a great year for building on the momentum last year started. I did it with very little plans made, but with great faith and the solid belief that God wouldn't give me a dream without giving me a way.

In the months since, I've seen people I never would have expected step up and go out of their way for me. I've seen people I thought I would always be able to count on fade into the nothingness of the past. I've been betrayed. I've felt abandoned.

But I've kept going.

I haven't always succeeded, and as I write this post, I'm so behind on things in my life that there are actually several of this quarter's goals that I haven't even started on.

I'm overwhelmed. I have so much going on in my life that when I attend my weekly therapy sessions ... sometimes I see her shaking her head, and I can't decide whether I'm proud or horrified.
  • Horrified because she's a trauma specialist. She deals with kids who are being abused, kids who have been molested, women who have been raped, beaten. Men who have suffered the same. Families struggling not to be broken. Parents battling exes, battling illnesses. People who feel more valid to me somehow, who feel more deserving of her help, not only because "they" are suffering (and I am not?) but because "their" suffering is somehow more important and more deserving than my own. Because I have internalized a sense of ableism against myself. Still, I'm also a little bit ...
  • Proud because I'm going through so much it overwhelms a trauma specialist, and yet I'm still standing. Still ready for the next blow. Still giving this life everything I have, no matter how many times I fall on my face or how many people are waiting to tell me that I can never be enough. I am strong. I am amazing. I am a warrior.


But you guys, I'm tired. I'm struggling to cope with so many things, and I'm behind on everything in my life because so much of it right now is a shit show.

Which actually makes me the perfect person to show YOU how to deal with your own overwhelming circumstances - if the strategies I'm about to share with you work for me, then maybe they'll work for you, too.


01. Prioritize.
Sit down with real paper and a real pencil and perform a brain dump. Go through your life in your mind and write literally everything down. Work, school, health, kids, parenting, shopping, business, ideas, books to read, pick up the dry-cleaning, car maintenance, whatever. Go through each area of your life and think about it, making a full list of everything that pops up in your head. Then, look through the list and organize it to find the things that are truly most important. (And stop rolling your eyes and thinking about how you don't have time to make a list. You've been doing it in your mind all day long already, which is why you haven't gotten much done. So at least if you make the list on paper, you don't have to repeat it in your head over and over again in fear of forgetting something. Just try it. If it doesn't work for you, you'll have lost 30-60 minutes, and you know you've wasted way more than that much time on other stuff. Just try it.)

Look through the list and choose the top five things that must be done, the things that are most urgent, the things that you could act on right now if only you had 74 hands and 83 hours in the day and less stuff on your mind. Then - and here's the important part where you begin to stop being so overwhelmed - make a second list including ONLY those top five things, and put the other list away.


02. Ignore The Pile.
When my kids were little, I didn't waste any time teaching them to begin cleaning up after themselves. I am an anxious person and disorder makes things worse for me. I need everything to have a place, and I need everything to spend as much time as possible actually in the appropriate place. By the time my kids were three years old, they were able to hear the words "clean your room" or "pick up your toys" and make the wish a reality no matter how big the mess was or how much fun they'd had making it.

Not that they always like to or that they always obeyed, because they are still just normal kids.

But they can. Because I took the overwhelm out of the mess. I would see them look around their rooms with big, helpless blue eyes, shocked at the state of the room and the size of the mess. How did all these toys get everywhere?? What do I do?? And I would sigh, sit down on the floor with a book, and tell them to ignore the whole wreck.

You can do that, too. Now that you've written it all down, you can feel free to drop it out of your mind and stop looking around at the mess. You can't clean it all up at once anyway - you know it and I know it. You're only just a human. Isn't that what your overwhelmed heart has been screaming all this time anyway? So listen. Stop kicking yourself, grab your top five, ignore the rest of the list, and lets make this clean-up less scary.


03. Simplify Tasks.
When my babes would get overwhelmed at the sheer volume of mess a joyful child can create, I always loved seeing the shock on their faces when I told them to "clean their rooms" and then followed that with the simple command to "leave the mess." At first, they always had a hard time understanding the way those two commands fit together - but they do.

In time, I taught them to solve the problem of the mess without drowning in the size of it - by picking up up on toy at a time. Sometimes we literally went one toy at a time. A barbie, a block, a book, a teddy bear, a book, a polly pocket, a lego. One at a time, with the child gleefully choosing each toy, perhaps playing with it for a moment, turning it over in their hands. I would say, "Now, where does that go? Can you put it away?" If they could get to the drawer or basket where the toy went, they put it away. If not, we set it aside and chose another toy.

Other times, we went in categories - we'd actually pick through the mess to find all the barbies first. We'd leave all the books, all the blocks, all the play dishes and pretend foods ... everything. Then, we'd pick something else and find all of that.

It made cleaning up a sort of game, where the overwhelm of such a huge mess just stopped being a factor. We chose one task, we did it, then we chose another. In the same way, tackle that top five list you just made from your brain dump. Pick one thing from your top five, and do it. Don't focus on how long it takes or how hard it is or how many other things you could/should/would rather be doing. Just pick that one thing and do it. Throw yourself into it. Do a good job. Get it done.

Then pick another thing. And another. And another.


04. Give Yourself Permission To Fail.
No one succeeds every single time, at every single thing. It's not uncommon for toddlers to fall down, for new recipes to taste gross the first time, for fighters to sometimes get their asses handed to them. The old saying is true: You can't win 'em all.

So what you need to do is give yourself the same permission you would give to your best friend, the permission to try even when success is not guaranteed, the permission to not be perfect because no one is, the permission to fail sometimes (and sometimes multiple times) because failure is part of the journey to success.

And after that?


05. Get Back Up And Try Again.
So what, you failed. So what, you got overwhelmed. So what, you've got a lot on your plate.

You can do this. You can clean the mess up one toy at a time, clean the house washing one dish at a time, do the laundry folding one shirt at a time. Pay the bills one gig at a time, or one hour at a time.

And if you've got a lot on your plate? Know these two things deep in your heart, which are both borne of irrevocable and inarguable truth.
  1. You are not alone. As unique as you are, as unique as your situation may be, you are not alone. Someone else in the world is dealing with a similar situation. Someone else is suffocating with a similar pain, a similar fear. You are not alone.
  2. You can do this. You were made to succeed, to be spectacular, to be undaunted.
Besides, even if there's an elephant on your overloaded, giant-sized plate ... you can only eat that elephant in one way.

One Bite At A Time.


If you liked this post, related to it in some way, or know someone who needs to see it, make sure you drop a comment below - I would love your feedback as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

And speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among the ranks of those who have fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too, and those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. But there is strength in numbers, as as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month.

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army itself are solely built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Undaunted Despite Internalized Stigma: My Therapist Story

I speak on mental health all the time now, but when I was younger, I had a very different view of mental health, mental illness in general, trauma healing, and victims of abuse. I recently saw one of Andrea Lausell's #SpinaBifida videos where she talked about internalized ableism and the way disabled or ill people aren't always very compassionate with themselves.

I listened to that video showered in shame, not because of the content of the video specifically, but because of the soul-deep way I related to the message. Andrea talked about "ableism" in a way that made the concept very real to me, especially in light of another video I'd recently watched where one of my favorite YouTubers was talking about the way she had internalized homo/bi-phobia before she came out to the world as bisexual.

It made me think back on recent appointments with my therapist and shake my head at myself, smiling a little. My therapist is right - I need to practice self-compassion. Because when it comes to someone else I care about going through something hard, I'm the person to hold their hand, walk them through, and cry beside them. I'm the person who will love them and coach them and offer endless encouragement.

But when it's me? Well, that's a whole different story.


I've mentioned before that my first memory is dissociated - an out-of-body memory in which I see myself as if I were watching me instead of being me. It's like a flash in my mind, a snapshot; there's no sound, no fear, no feelings really. I've examined this memory a thousand times in my mind, and I can't find a feeling other than sad curiosity. I can't find a feeling that someone was or wasn't there with me I can't remember what happened before, or what happened after. That was before my parents divorced. I was probably somewhere around four years old.

Over the years I learned, as my physical health problems began to intensify and no one offered answers that made me feel better about what was happening, to internalize an incredibly deep sense of shame and embarrassment. I was broken. Wrong. Bad. I misbehaved - I talked back. Sometimes I would hide things that weren't mine. I struggled to cope. My parents would fight over who got to keep me, then they would fight again. In and out of court, I began to feel as if they weren't fighting over who got to keep me, but over who had to keep me. I felt unwanted and unloved, and I internalized that as the image that was inherently ME.

My parents healed from their divorce, dated, and eventually found new partners. They married people that they loved, people that they believed loved them. People they believed could and would love my brother and I, too. But through those marriages, I internalized coldness - not only toward myself but toward others.

My stepfather was a violent and horrible person, a convicted felon who was anything but rehabilitated. He beat my mother, my brother, me. He threatened my father. My grandparents. As a child, I hated my mother for opening our family to him, for choosing him, for not noticing he was a bad man. I hated her when I was afraid, when I was sad, when I was hurt. And I hated her for being weak, for staying with him. I was somewhere between 7 and 9 years old, still very young ... I didn't realize back then that she was probably terrified. I know he had threatened to kill her if she left him, that he threatened my brother and I. I know that she believed him, that believed herself trapped. It was only after he was arrested and taken into custody under several conviction that would imprison him for decades that she was able to find the courage to divorce him. She's never been the same. And forgiving all of it now that I understand ... well, it doesn't give me back the time.

My stepmother suffered from mental illness. She would be okay for a while - strange but okay - and then she would just ... lose it. I didn't see behind the scenes, the cycle of times when she took her meds against the times when she wouldn't. I didn't see my father loving her anyway, protecting her even from herself, nurturing her. What I saw was a foolish crazy woman in control of a man who didn't protect his child (or himself) from her insanity. I have so many memories of her, all of them from the perspective of a child abused by a "crazy" person. She shamed me for my health problems, shamed me for everything from the way I looked to the way I always wrote too small. When I got older, she apologized patronizingly for "whatever I thought had happened." She wanted to be like a step-grandmother to my children - even after she and my father were divorced. I didn't allow it. I forgave her because I can understand, because now I have my own mental illness to cope with and it isn't always easy ... but I refuse to allow my children to ever feel unprotected.

My step parents are both dead now, and I've made my own share of mistakes. I've chosen abusive partners. I've been a less than perfect mom. And I lived a good 30 years of my life ashamed of everything from the way I looked to the way I was raised to my grades in school to my poor upbringing.

Then I realized I had PTSD. Complex PTSD. I was suicidal, trapped in a situation I didn't want to be in but couldn't see a way out of, and I had surrounded myself with toxic people and toxic relationships without even realizing it. Relationships and people who confirmed my worthlessness, my powerlessness. Those who sought to encourage me often lost patience with me.
  • "Why don't you leave?"
  • "Why do you put up with that?"
  • "You can do better, you know."
  • "I wish you'd just try/change/getoverit ..."
  • "Don't let it get to you."
  • "Stop taking it personal."
  • "Shrug it off."
  • "Pull yourself up by the bootstraps."
  • "Well I've been through (insert problem here) and I'm fine. Why aren't you?"

The shame grew. The depression grew. And I needed help.

But I had one other battle to conquer. I couldn't go to a doctor because they would give me medications. Medications that might numb me, the way they numbed my mother so many times over the years. They might make me crazy, the way they did when they couldn't save my step-mother from the demons in her mind. Or they might give me the out a part of me so desperately wanted. A bottle of something that would solve all my problems by making sure I didn't have to wake up to them anymore.

And I couldn't go.

I couldn't go to someone who could give me pills. My oldest daughter is currently 14 - I was 15 when my mother attempted suicide in front of me. I needed to protect my children by making sure I couldn't go there, so I avoided doctors, mental health professionals.

But I was thinking, researching, learning. Through sites like BetterHelp, I learned the differences between certain mental health professionals. learned who could "throw pills at me" and who could help me work through what was in my mind. I learned the differences between the subsets, learned who would offer me what, and thought about how best to match my needs with the right professionals who could meet them.

In therapy, I did learn about working through what's in my mind. But I also overcame the last internalized stigma destroying my mental health - the need for medication. It was in therapy that I learned to give myself grace and understanding, where I learned not only how to ask for help, but how to accept it. And while I'm a long way from healed and still have loads of progress to make ... it is because of that first step that I am so proud to be Undaunted.


If you liked this post, related to it in some way, or know someone who needs to see it, make sure you drop a comment below - I would love your feedback as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

And speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among the ranks of those who have fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too, and those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. But there is strength in numbers, as as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month.

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army itself are solely built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.


Note: This post is a partnership with BetterHelp.com, in conjunction with my love of their site and content combined with their love of giving people a better, more personalized way of accessing quality mental healthcare. All thoughts, opinions, and ideas expressed in this post are my own - and as you know, I would never recommend any site, service or product I didn't authentically love.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

In The Moment: Confession Collection #3

Okay, it's not that I'm making excuses but ... I've kinda had a ton going on lately. Some of it I've shared, some I haven't.

I used to always write my blog posts on the day before they were scheduled according to my calendar. I'd have them ready by the night before, neatly finished and tidily scheduled to post early in the morning. I loved the idea that if people subscribed to my blog by email, then I'd be right there in their email box first thing in the morning when they woke up. Readers could hang with me while they sipped their morning coffee.

But this year has been a wild ride already. The first quarter went alright, and I came into the second quarter feeling pretty confident about the progress I've been making toward certain goals.

Since then, things have gotten a little crazy. And since I'm exhausted and overwhelmed by so much lately, I thought tonight would be a great time for opening the door to vulnerability. So I'm gonna share some of my truth with you.  


The Truth Is ...

... I've been totally shocked by certain changes in my personal life, starting with increased pressure in my living situation. I'm feeling the whole range of feelings on this topic alone, from hurt and betrayal to acceptance and understanding. I feel like there's a serious deficiency of compassion and empathy in certain parts of my personal life, and it saddens me. All the same, the changes initiated by this lack are thrilling. I've been thinking a lot about the Bible story of the Israelites leaving the oppression of Egypt, and I'm relating to that story more than every before. My personal life still has a lot of desert in it - but I'm so looking forward to the promised land.

... On top of housing environment stuff, we still have no answers on some strange and somewhat frightening symptoms Josephine is dealing with. The constant worry has taken a toll on my mental well-being as her mother, and I can clearly see the stress impacting her as well. At this point, we're just about ready for any answer, just to have one we can take some action on.

... And to keep things firmly in the realm of health issues, Eden seems to be back to getting ear infections, which could mean bad things for future improvements in her ear health (as well as continued hearing loss). This is a terrible concern to me, and the mom guilt is strong here. She already has so many problems, and nothing has ever been easy for her health-wise. It saddens me to see that she's been through so much already, that she's been such a brave little soldier, and yet the issues seems to be growing in number instead of shrinking.


SIDE NOTE: As negative as these first points have been, they do end on a positive note. While there is truly a lot of turmoil and I'm stressed to the point of breaking (I've even been in the ER with my worst panic attack to date), I'm actually super proud of how tough and determined my kids are. They're handling school stuff, home stuff, health stuff, and so many other private issues, but they're still relatively respectful, they look out for each other, they love their mama, and ... well, they're just amazing. I'm so proud of who they're turning out to be. Even on days like today, when my dear little Eden literally talked for about 8 hours straight. I wish I had her energy.


... I recently started seeing a new urologist, and as part of the initial consult, he sent me for a CT covering my entire urinary tract. On the way to that appointment, I was going over my medical history in my mind in an attempt to make sure I remembered everything relevant that might be asked about - namely, my surgical history. And as I was driving, thinking over everything, I had sort of an "AHA!" moment, where something in my medical history suddenly popped out in my mind, screaming to be attended. It wasn't something I'd spent much thought on before, but from that moment I couldn't let it go, so I made some calls, did a little research, watched some videos, read loads and loads of information. And as I took everything in, I became more and more sure that I've tripped over an answer to a great many of my health concerns ... which is, of course, both a relief and a new source of anxiety.

So I mentioned my concerns to my primary physician, who said she thought it would be good to bring up with the urologist when I went in for my CT results (which were surprisingly healthy, considering). And as recommended, I mentioned my concerns to my urologist the following day at my appointment. I was both horrified and relieved to when he didn't brush off my concerns. Relieved because if I'm right about my health, this opens new doors to treatment for issues I've been living with for a long time, and I'm thankful to finally have a medical team in place that takes the time to hear me out. But horrified too, because if I'm right about my health, this likely means I have a couple of complicated and frightening surgical procedures in my future. I won't know more until I've seen the neurosurgeon I'm being referred to.

... I am thrilled to have started attracting some really cool blogging partnerships, not only because they bring in a little revenue, but because the fact that they exist at all means this site is growing and my content is being seen by people who are impacted by it. I'm so proud of this site and the way it documents so much of my journey - not only as an author, but as a mother and a woman. I love that this has become a platform I'm so proud to stand on, one that I hope will continue to grow into something I can use to help empower others.

... I am SO behind. The plus side of being busier and under more pressure is that I'm flattered by the growth and encouraged to keep trying. But the down side is that I am SO much busier and under SO much more pressure. In some ways, I love it, but with the move coming up, I've been trying really hard to overcome certain financial obstacles while minimizing the impact on my mental health and my family - which has led to the discovery of an entirely new passion. I've been taking on freelance proofreading gigs, which are often slow and tedious, but also kind of fun. I can't do many of them because they're quite time-consuming, squeezed into the middle of my crazy life, but they're good fun all the same. Still, fitting those gigs in between blogging gigs and Patreon stuff and medical stuff and other responsibilities means ... well. It means I'm never bored, that's for sure.


What I am, though, is tired. It's currently 11:59pm, I have to wake up in just a few hours to get the babes ready for school, and then it's another busy day in my life. Which means I should probably wrap this up. Thanks for being here with me tonight.


If you liked this post, related to it in some way, or know someone who needs to see it, make sure you drop a comment below - I would love your feedback as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

And speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among the ranks of those who have fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too, and those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. But there is strength in numbers, as as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month.

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army itself are solely built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Book Characters: "Most Likely To ..."

The end of another school year is upon us, and this morning I sat in at Eden's school for the third grade awards ceremony - where she was given award for various subjects and honors, because school is the one place in her life that isn't a challenge for her. While she's hyper, impulsive, and totally quirky, she's also wildly smart, a devourer of books, and a kid with an enormous loving heart.

As this goes on, Josephine is rounding out her final year of middle school with a planner's eye to the future. She's got a solid idea of where she wants her life to go, and she's got a great career plan already in place that make her mother's heart so, so happy. She's chosen a hard career field work-wise, but it's lucrative and secure, and I think that's all any mother really wants for their child - to know that they'll be self-sufficient and able to succeed in the goals. She and I have our issues too, but this kid is rock solid with a steady head and the kind of solemn, serious outlook that gives me great faith in her future success. In the meantime, we're looking toward high school with excited anticipation.

But until we get there ...


In light of the closing school year and the general feel of local graduation ceremonies and sentiments, I found this blog post while I was making my way around the internet, and thought creating my own adaptation of it (in regard to the characters in my novels) would be super fun! The post linked here is a tag-styled post, with various things a book character might be voted "most likely to" do or be, which got me in mind of yearbooks and the sort of end-of-year sentiments the kids are all sending each other into summer with.

I thought this would be a great way to focus on something a little more lighthearted, as I've had a super busy week (complete with a panic-attack-induced emergency-room trip) and desperately need something light to have a little fun with - plus, it's a great way to bring my books and their amazing stories back to the forefront of the blog for a change. So without further ado, here are my book characters most likely to ...


Be Overprotective:
This would be Will, for sure. He's the son of one of my favorite characters from Fighting For Freedom, and he's the best, most protective big brother a little girl could wish for. Will is still pretty young, but he's the man of his family now, and he takes that responsibility seriously, especially when it comes to the safety and welfare of his mom and little sister. I imagine a grown up Will to be quite protective - the sort of boy who distrusts all of his mom's future potential boyfriends, and has no qualms about threatening everyone who dates his sister.


Be Good With Kids:
Cameron Kingsley is the oldest sister in the Kingsley family, and her story is told in Prescription For Love, the second book in the Kingsley Series. She's a trauma survivor ten years out from the event that changed her life - but while she's managed to build a lucrative career and a fairly robust personal life, she still has a long way to go in her journey to reclaiming her sense of self. Fortunately, she meets just the right guy ... and his dad's pretty great too.


Pick Flowers For You:
Brenna O'Connor is a sweetheart through and through - fiercely loyal, undeniably strong, and completely open-hearted. She's a warrior woman who has survived more than her share of loss and sadness, and as such, she's the perfect new friend for Annie Jacobs in the Selkie Trilogy. Even if she is harboring certain secrets ...


Lend You Their Clothes:
The character from my books most fitting for this category is Michael Kingsley, hands-down. In More Than Friends, (fourth book in the Kingsley Series) he's been through a lot and he's just learning to deal with his insecurities; he doesn't always choose the best methods, but he's doing the best he can to be a good son, a good brother, a good friend. And in the midst of all that, he's still just a guy with a heart of gold - one who would literally give the shirt off his back.


Talk With You For Hours:
You first fall in love with Mackenzie Caswell in Fat Chance, the first book in the Kingsley Series; he's a therapist with a dry sense of humor who likes to use unconventional methods to spur progress in his clients. But in Prescription For Love (the second book), it's someone else using unexpected methods to inspire progress in his life ... and this means great things not only for Mac, but for the person he loves most in the world.


Take Time Looking At Your Eyes:
Drew Kingsley is an incredible sweetheart. His work as a police officer is stressful, and a crisis situation at work has him finding romance in the most unexpected of places. In Fat Chance, the first book in the Kingsley Series, Drew has a chance to look beyond the conventional outside to see the beauty within a troubled young woman - and the beauty of Drew is that he loved every second of it.


Say You're Beautiful:
This is the first and only somewhat unpublished character I'm sharing on this list. I say somewhat unpublished because you can actually read what's been written so far in Colin's story, which is tentatively titled "Tested" at this time - and Colin is one of my all-time most favorites of my characters. Not only is he smart and funny and easy-going, but he knows exactly what he wants and isn't too scared or too proud to go for it, even if that means thinking way outside the proverbial box. I've only written about 20k words in his story ... and yet I'm wildly in love with him already, particularly because he's honest and he says what he's thinking, but also because he's quite the impressive flirt, and what woman doesn't love that?


Go To War To Save You:
There were multiple perfect choices for this one, but Aiden Williams (Fighting For Freedom) is too obvious a choice to be ignored. He's a veteran, so he's literally been to war ... but he also knows when to step back and empower others to fight their own battles, too.


Travel The World:
An easy choice - this is Malik Anderson without a doubt. Malik is an amazing guy with a heart of gold, an adventurous spirit, and more than the usual amount of time on his hands. Protecting his secret means nothing to him in the face of protecting the one he loves though, and he's willing to give up his entire way of life if that's what it takes to commit to Annie Jacobs in the Selkie Trilogy. Which is handy, because once his enemies start hunting Annie ... well, let's just say Malik's got more than just a little light travel in his future.


Get Arrested:
This one is definitely Malachi Matthews, who actually did end up arrested in Fighting For Freedom. He had been beating his wife for years, but thankfully, watching her dying of a punctured lung scared him into calling the police - on himself. From there, the story is focused on Christine and her recovery as she rebuilds her life ... which is fitting, because Malachi is a piece of shit excuse for a human.


What other things would you like to see here like this? It was really fun taking this time to look at my characters from this sort of perspective, but since I didn't have enough space or time to talk about all of my much-loved characters (I didn't even get to mention some of my books at all!), I'd love the opportunity to do this kind of post again sometime! Maybe it would be fun to do a summer-themed character tag ... but what prompts should I use? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

If you liked this post, related to it in some way, or know someone who needs to see it, make sure you drop a comment below - I would love your feedback as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

And speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among the ranks of those who have fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too, and those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. But there is strength in numbers, as as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month.

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army itself are solely built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday Feels: May

I love Friday blogs! Friday Feels is my most favorite of all the post series I've started, and no matter how many times I write them, they never get old. I hope you guys like them as much as I do; they're always so much fun to write, especially because the feelings I use in the posts are so random.

I love the way using randomly chosen emotions (selected by this fun generator) enriches the process for me too, because it encourages me to look outside of the feelings I've already recognized, beyond easy things like "anger" or "sadness" or "amusement."

Sometimes it even means taking a few minutes to look below the surface, to find feelings I hadn't even realized I was dealing with yet - and the entire process is always incredibly therapeutic for me.

So without further ado, here's what I've been feeling in the last month:


1. Comfortable:
There's been a lot going on in my life lately, a lot of change that's in process - things I've been working on for a while, things which are moving forward with such impossible slowness that I almost can't feel the forward motion at all. And yet, there is momentum. My life is changing, morphing. And as the days pass, I'm constantly seeing places where God is working toward whatever He's sending me into, places where He catches me worrying and taps me on the shoulder to say, "Hey, chill out. It's gonna be fine." These moments remind me to be comfortable even in chaos, to be content even in crisis.

Which is nice because otherwise I'd likely be paralyzed by my anxiety over everything feeling like it's happening at once. I'd be too overwhelmed to move forward, too stuck to take steps. But finding even the smallest sense of comfort makes progress so much more possible. I'm thankful for it.


2. Distrustful:
As my life changes, I'm looking around with a more honest sense of openness, not only about myself and how I see things, but also about the people I've chosen to surround myself (and my daughters) with. Some of the people in my life are blessings - people who have gone out of their way to encourage and uplift me, who have made special effort to be there when I needed someone. People I trust.

I still have too many people in my daily life who are not encouragers, who are always looking for a fault or a failure - and those people never miss a chance to point out what they see wrong. These people are often completely two-faced; and the face they wear behind the safety of closed doors is often completely different from the one they show the rest of the world. These people make me less trusting in general - not only less trust in myself and my own value, but in the heart and honesty of others. They leave me with less faith in humanity. They steal my hope, weaken my resolve, and toxify my belief in the world's beauty.

Which is why I'm so incredibly grateful for that first group - the ones who love and appreciate others just as they are, who accept and encourage others to offer what they have rather than kicking them when they're down, who are patient enough to nurture others, allowing them to bloom in their own time.


3. Envious:
Envy is an ugly emotion, I think - it stems from comparison, which not only steals the joy out of what we have, but also stifles our ability to be happy for others.

That being said, I'm nowhere near perfect or peaceful enough to be immune from this emotion, and I feel it often. I envy people who go outside and get in their cars without praying that it'll still start. I envy mothers with healthy children. I envy healthy people in general, especially those with strong mental health - because they don't have the same challenges I have. Envy is something none of us are immune to, regardless of how strong our efforts toward contentment may be.

I envy the safe, because I have so rarely felt safe in my life. I envy the peaceful, because I have seen so much turmoil. And I envy the naive, because they maintain an innocence I lost before I even had a chance to recognize it.


4. Irate:
I pride myself on being an honest person, and I will go out of my way to offer compassion and understanding to others, even if I don't like them, even if they've wronged me. I don't need someone else to deserve kindness or honesty in order for me to offer it to them. One thing I've encountered all too often lately is people who should know me well enough to see that, and yet are unwilling to offer the same compassion to me. It's insulting and it's rude on its own - but when the people who behave that way go out in the world and call themselves Christians, it enrages the side of me that knows Jesus would be saddened by the association.

This is why it's so important to be careful with other people ... you can never really know the truth of what happens behind closed doors, and even with people as open as I am with their story, there's often so much more that isn't shared. My own life angers me, not so much for my own sake, but for those in similar circumstances.


5. Motivated:
My writing began when I was young - as a way to cope with circumstances I couldn't escape. I couldn't defend myself as a child. I couldn't protect the people I cared for, couldn't change anything. I was powerless, and I knew it.

In the years since, I've felt powerless more times than anyone should have to. I've struggled with the consequences of choices I shouldn't have made, but I've also struggled quite a lot with choices that I felt were taken from me or made without my consent. I've been trapped. I've felt imprisoned. Even as an adult, I've lived with the powerless feeling of being stuck in something I couldn't escape. Often, I actually still feel that way.

Which is why my writing has morphed into a motivation. Not only to change my own life, but to become something that can help change the lives of others. I want to be a voice for abuse sufferers, an encouragement to those still finding their way from victim to survivor. I want to be a shelter for the displaced, and provide hope for the many who are unable to find help.


6. Nourished:
So many parts of my life are broken right now. Both of my daughters are dealing with potentially serious medical issues and so am I. All of us have various mental health issues too, and between the three of us, we're in and out of doctor's offices at least twice a week. We juggle almost 20 daily prescriptions.

And as I struggle to put all the pieces back together, sometimes I feel almost literally starved for compassionate understanding. And that's when certain people in my life always just seem to know they're needed. It's when:
  • my amazing assistant will check on me during the day, unexpectedly offering some nugget of encouragement. She reminds me that I am cared for.
  • my friend (and now sort of business partner) will get in touch with me for an unexpected chat, always full of positivity, opportunity, and great ideas. She reminds me of my potential. 
  • my cousin will call - and no matter how hard I'm trying to hold everything together, she just knows what's up. I can't even say how many times I've answered a call from her with, "Hello?" and had her respond immediately with, "Why are you crying?" She never fails to remind me that I am understood, and I am not alone.


7. Passionate:
The things going on in my life have continued to foster and strengthen the passions driving my dreams. I want to write - and I want my writing to impact the lives of others. I want to speak - and I want my voice to inspire others to find their own. I want to heal - and I want to guide others by sharing what works for me.

This sense of purpose is driven even harder by the desire to give a better life to my daughters than the one I have lived, the desperate need to see a better world for them, with more opportunities than I had, more open doors. It's why I get out of bed every day ... because if I let go of my dreams, how can I honestly encourage my children to follow theirs?


8. Playful:
The impending move has given my girls and I a little excitement we didn't really have before - it's put a little more pep in our step, I guess. We've been having really fun conversations about what we want our new place to look like, what we want it to feel like, and how we plan to create what we want. There have obviously been lots of serious talks, because this move is a big deal for us - but there has also been a lot of joking and play. Nervous as we are, we're really looking forward to the coming changes.


9. Serene:
I can't say I've felt very much of this particular emotion in the last month. Joey's health is getting a little more challenging, Eden's had a few minor complications, and my own health is ... well, it's doing what it's doing. My mother spent almost a week in the hospital, spent another full week having some kind of nervous breakdown. And there's moving stuff added in there too - and while the move is exciting for the girls and I as a family, it's also pretty nerve-wracking for me, considering everything I'm juggling.

Still ... I have had moments of serenity, moments when I can just rest in the faith that it's all going to work out just in time - because while God is frustratingly never early, He is also reassuringly never late. This, in spite of everything else, gives me comfort.


10. Vulnerable:
What makes me feel most vulnerable? This. Mustering up the courage to come and be authentic here with you. Blogging - sharing my life and my experiences, in spite of people who come against me, people who don't believe in me, and people who are watching, waiting for me to fail.

But in that vulnerability, I find the knowledge that in sharing, I give someone else companionship I have so longed for. And in my own willingness to be openly weak and broken, I can show others that even a mess can be beautiful. In sharing my own hope, I hope to help others remember theirs too.


What have you been feeling lately - and why? I'd love for you to share with me!


If you liked this post, related to it in some way, or know someone who needs to see it, make sure you drop a comment below - I would love your feedback as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

And speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among the ranks of those who have fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too, and those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. But there is strength in numbers, as as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month.

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army itself are solely built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

What Moms Really Want For Mother's Day

It's May, which means Mother's Day is upon us. And while I've written poetry about motherhood not just once, but at least twice, I've also written about mothering with mental illness, my life as a single mom, and even how I keep my focus on raising my daughters to become Undaunted despite their challenges.

I've even shared inspiring songs for moms - but the closest I've come to really getting down to the nitty-gritty of what moms really want was when I wrote a post sharing some of my dream vacation ideas.

So I thought this year's Mother's Day would be a great chance to talk about what I really want as a mom ... and what your mom might just want, too.


In keeping with the way I choose and write my quarterly goals based on a list of categories that help me guide my planning without overwhelming myself with too many goals, I'm going to write this Mother's Day wishlist based on a few categories as well. So, without further ado ...


IN MY PERSONAL LIFE AND MENTAL HEALTH, I CRAVE
  • A Sense of Safety: As a survivor of every kind of domestic abuse throughout the years of my life, one of the things I most deeply crave, but cannot seem to find and maintain, is a sense of safety. I want to live a life that allows me to let go of the need for hyper-vigilance.
  • Better Mindfulness: One of my favorite ways to deal with crisis in the moment is to remind myself that "in this moment, I am okay." I first heard that from Alayna Fender, who is one of my all-time favorite YouTubers because she's funny, sweet, and totally inspiring - and I have since shared it with Eden, who also suffers from anxiety. It works for her, too.
  • Financial Security: I grew up totally poor, with a disabled single mom who had heartbreaking physical health problems often compounded by various mental health issues. I felt the stigma of poverty nearly as strongly as I felt the pain of childhood abuse trauma, and I still deal with chronic, intrusive feelings of shame over it. I want very much to have the kind of financial security that would protect my daughters from carrying the same burden ... and I am crushed by the fear that I'll get there too late.
  • Better Confidence in My Worth and Abilities: Partly because of my experiences and partly because of my tendency to have porous boundaries and a not-entirely-healthy need to be approved of, I haven't really ended up with the best confidence. Not that that's a surprise to anyone, since women in general are encouraged to lack confidence - and are often berated for having it - but I'd like to improve my confidence in myself, my worth, and my abilities, not only because it'll benefit me, but because then I can share it with others.
  • A Higher Ranking on My Own To-Do List: One of the best ways to increase confidence in yourself (and increase the quality of treatment you receive from those around you) is simply to take better care of you. The fact is, everyone has a to-do list that's a mile long. We're all working on learning something, improving something, growing ourselves. What we need to internalize is that we can't accomplish any of that with long-lasting success if we continue to place ourselves at the bottom of our own priorities. I want very much to get better at this, while still maintaining a balance that keeps me humble and compassionate for others.

Which brings us along to ...


IN FITNESS AND BEAUTY, I DESIRE
  • A Prettier Smile: One of the best surefire ways to jump-start your confidence in yourself (especially if you're a single mom living on coffee to make it through the days - and sometimes wine to make it through the evenings) is to have a smile you're proud of. For me, this means keeping up with brushing and all the usual stuff, occasional coconut oil pulling, and even using whitening products like Smile Brilliant when my tooth-staining diet is too much for my oral hygiene to keep up with. I've used this product for a while now, and what I love even more than the perfect fit of the custom treatment trays is that the product is vegan and cruelty-free, they go out of their way to help consumers avoid bleaching sensitivity, and they totally inform you of what you're getting into before you start. (To see the results from my very first whitening with Smile Brilliant, click here - and to win a FREE $149 kit for yourself or your mom this Mother's Day, click here. Or if you want to get straight to whitening without waiting, you can save $20 by using brandi20off when you check out - and if you're buying a better smile for your mom this year, use brandi50off instead and you'll save $50. Seriously, guys, that's like 30% off!)
  • Better Posture: I've been making more effort this year to keep up with my yoga practice, which is good for much more than my posture. But I am loving the way it makes me feel taller, stronger, more peaceful, more flexible ... and yes, the improved posture helps with my back pain too. Doesn't take it away - but it helps.
  • Stable Medication Management: This year I've started taking medication for my blood pressure, as well as Zoloft for the depression and anxiety issues inherent to PTSD and PMDD diagnoses. The Zoloft is still being adjusted to find the proper dosage, I've also started a separate anxiety medication to supplement it, and my primary care physician has recommended a more qualified psychiatrist to help manage my complicated list of symptoms. So I'm working on that, too.
  • More Manicures: Life has been crazy lately, and I've fallen away from using my Jamberry collection. And I miss them. I miss having pretty fingernails. I miss having the time to put pretty fingernails together. And since I don't have the time or the patience to deal with the mess and the waiting of traditional polish, I really need to give myself permission to engage in better self-care. For example: manicures.
  • Better Makeup Skills: I'm pretty decent with general makeup - I can blend foundation, make blemishes mostly disappear, and create fairly decent, light-handed, natural-looking contour. However, I'm absolute crap with eyeliner, I can never find exactly the right mascara, and while I adore lipstick, I hate that the only ones I've found that stick around perfectly tend to turn  a little fluorescent after a while. As soon as I achieve the financial stability I'm trying to attain and can justify spending more on things like that, I'm thinking I'll look into something like the Walmart Beauty Box - that way I can try playing with different types and styles of makeup each quarter without having to go broke to do it.


IN FAMILY WELLNESS, I WISH FOR forward progress on the upcoming move, continued healing for my daughters, solutions to my mother's healthcare issues, and of course, just like everyone else, in my heart I pray most fervently for success in business, parenting, and life in general. I have a soul-deep dream to one day be successful enough to dig myself deep into various philanthropic pursuits - to be the person able to repay (and pay forward) the various ways others have gone out of their way to help me over the years. I want to advocate for abused women, and help create a path to freedom from the economic abuse that often co-exists with other types of domestic abuse.

I want to be a voice of empowerment and encouragement, a source of strength that can be poured over those who haven't found their own yet.

But mostly, just like any other mom, I want to make a difference in this life - one that makes life a little better for my daughters than it has been for me.

Are you a Mom? If so, what do you want for Mother's Day? And if you're not a Mom, what are you planning to give the Mom in your life this year?


If you liked this post, related to it in some way, or know someone who needs to see it, make sure you drop a comment below - I would love your feedback as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

And speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among the ranks of those who have fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too, and those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. But there is strength in numbers, as as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month.

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army itself are solely built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.


NOTE: I often use affiliate links in my product mentions on this site, so remember that if you choose to click my product links and end up purchasing through them, I will probably receive a (very) small commission for referring you to the merchants and products I love best. Rest assured that this is at no extra cost to you - but also know that my family and I appreciate your support! (To see a list of other companies I'm currently working with, click here.)

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Making Mourning Into Motivation

I've been attending regular weekly therapy most weeks since back in December 2016. I knew I needed help, had known for a long time, and had been coping with crippling symptoms that were destroying my ability to enjoy much about my life - including parenting.

I wasn't in love with my partner anymore, and while the relationship was incredibly unhealthy all along, the loss of it shattered my heart because I knew it would hurt my daughters to lose their dad. I felt sure that dissolving my relationship with him would end with him walking away - or at least significantly backing away from - his relationships with our daughters.

I hate that I was right.

I hate that when we really officially split for the last time, I had just watched a series of YouTube videos in which a former couple were co-parenting their children with such peace and partnership that they still had joint birthday parties for their kids, still hung out together as almost-friends. I hate that when I shared those videos with my ex and told him how much I hoped we could find our way to doing that too, for the sake of the kids ... he pretty much quit everything.

I hate that, for so many years, I felt like if I wanted something or something was important to me, and I shared it with him, then it automatically became something that was off-limits. I hate that feelings of peace, security, and parental partnership for my daughters have now been added to that list.

For a long time, as things got worse, I hated myself for sharing that desire with him at all. I should have known better.

But what made it worse was knowing how much it was all compounded for me by my own mental health issues with anxiety and depression. I was feeling trapped, and on top of all my own issues, I was carrying the weight of two chronically ill children all by myself.

And I got resentful.

Don't get me wrong though, I love my kids all day every day ... but I found myself having moments where I envied him his ability to walk away, to reclaim his life for himself. I envied the freedom I was sure he had - unencumbered, no responsibilities beyond his own well-being, his own needs and desires.

I knew I was messed up. I knew I needed help. I had even made several halfhearted - and therefore unsuccessful - attempts to seek help.

And then, as all that went on and my PTSD symptoms got worse and worse, my PMDD symptoms continued to increase, and my depression symptoms deepened ... I found the right way to kill myself.


My mother attempted suicide right in front of me when I was 15 years old. We had had an argument. I was in my room. She came to the door, still fuming. She yelled things. And then she tipped a pill bottle to her mouth, pouring them in. I jumped up from my bed, rushed after her and she turned and fled to the kitchen. I met her at the sink, threw my arms around her as she bent down to drink from the faucet. I ripped her away, shoved my hand in her mouth, digging pills from her throat. She bit me. I kept on. Of course I couldn't get them all; when she collapsed in the kitchen floor, I dialed 911.

That was almost 20 years ago, and I've been suicidal for probably 80 percent of that time. And yet, because of that one incident - because of how much it hurt me to know that at 15 years old, when I already felt abandoned by father, my mother tried to abandon me too, in the very worst, most damaging way possible - I feel quite certain that my risk of ever actually attempting suicide is a firm zero percent.

I will never hurt my children that way.

They're my Why for so many reasons - they're why I wake up every day and drag myself out of bed. They're why I try when I'd rather quit, why I keep pouring no matter how empty I might be feeling - to keep giving to them, to raise them with security and confidence that they are loved and valued.

More importantly, both for me and for them, they're a reminder of how important it is, not only to take my experiences and learn from them, but also to share the incredible value of those lessons with others.

That's part of what I love so much about this blog, too. It isn't just marketing (even though I'm not shy about talking about my books and other writings here), and it isn't just because the writing is helpful for me in my efforts to improve and stabilize my mental health (and my life in general). It isn't just because I like to hear myself talk ... it's because I have learned so much from reading other blogs, and my life has been changed by the sharing of experiences. I've picked up on nuances, soaked in life lessons, and grown and developed both as a woman in general and as a mother specifically.

I hope to build that myself, right here - a place where people can come to feel like they're understood, like they're part of something. A place people can walk away from feeling enriched and excited - or at the very least, supported. A place that will, in time (I hope), make a difference in the lives of others.

But it all starts with taking my experiences and letting them teach me, letting them make me better instead of bitter, letting the mourning become motivation, and using the momentum of that forward motion to help teach and coach and inspire others.

I'm not sure where that's all going to go, or how it's going to end up. But I'm excited, and I hope you'll be coming along for the ride.


If you liked this post, related to it in some way, or know someone who needs to see it, make sure you drop a comment below - I would love your feedback as well as the chance to interact with you! It would also be great if you could share the link to this post with your friends - it helps me get my blog out there, and I love that it brings new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish! Be sure you check out my quarterly giveaway page, too - there are several free and easy ways to enter - and members of the Undaunted Army are always eligible for extra entries!

And speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among the ranks of those who have fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too, and those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. But there is strength in numbers, as as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Enlist as an Undaunted Army Private for free, or invest in the growing impact of the Army with an Undaunted Army Officer Commission for as little as $1 a month.

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army itself are solely built on what I write and who I'm writing it for. "Love Stories and Lifestyle for the Undaunted Woman" isn't just a slogan or a tagline - it's a purpose and a goal, which is why, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being here.