Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday Feels: September


My life lately has been a whirlwind of happenings, with another flare-up of one of my daughter's symptoms coinciding perfectly with another hospitalization with my mom. I've been doing my best to keep up, but sometimes things get to me and I end up dropping the ball - and I hate to see that this time, the ball I dropped was the blogging ball.

Still, I'm trying to straighten things out, but this is real life with chronic illness, single parenting, and mental health symptoms. So this me, continuing to live honestly and openly, sharing my story and my struggles, and allowing my writing here to keep being the therapy I so desperately need. In the meantime, I'm trusting you guys to understand, to back me up, and to keep working toward your own Undaunted life.

I'd like to apologize for any errors in this post in advance as well, as I'm writing this month's Friday Feels on the go. Today I've been to see my mother at the hospital, I've gone to pick up picnic supplies at the grocery store, I've chased Eden down when she wandered off in the grocery store, I've worked to steel myself against the onslaught of anxiety and overstimulation brought on by an evening out as my girls and I venture downtown for a movie, I've chased Eden down repeatedly as her excitement made her totally lose control of herself (even though we've had similar outings a thousand times),and I've shared a late night sandwich with my munchkin while Joey got ready for bed. Now I'm in bed, writing this post from my phone while doing ankle circles, hoping to make an endless entire-leg Charlie-horse go away. I'm waiting for some medication to kick in and take the edge off my back pain, and then, hopefully, I'm off to sleep.

With my mom back in the hospital, my own issues ramping up, mental health struggles worsening, increased medical scrutiny for both of my children, and usual life stuff, you can probably imagine I'm dealing with quite a pile of pent-up feels - and I desperately need as much rest as I can get. So with that, let's see what our random emotion generator sets up for us.


1. Contented:
I live in an amazing city - Knoxville is a great community with loads of resources and activities for families like mine, and I'm happy to report that one of my favorite times of year is finally rolling back around! In the fall and through the winter months, Knoxville comes alive with free festivals and events that are always a blast. For my family, they kick off with Movies on Market Square, a free weekly sit-in put on by the local library and their sponsors. My daughters and I have been to multiple movie screenings, and those sit-in movies are some of my favorite family memories. In fact, I set up the formatting for this post from a blanket in the middle of square, surrounded by the mess of my babes as they shared snacks, played around together, and danced to the pre-movie music. This week's movie was Monster's, Inc., and we had a great time watching it surrounded by new friends (and their adorable puppy).

2. Distant:
Even with such a wide range of emotional provocation, I have felt distant from everything lately. My writing, my friends, my family, my interests. Like I'm there but I'm just a little bit disconnected - there, but separated by a film thin enough to be invisible but thick enough to feel like a barrier. This isn't the first time I've felt this way, either, but this might be the longest it's ever lasted.

Another way to describe the sensation is that my life lately sort of feels like I'm living it underwater - I can move and progress, but everything is slow and weightless in a disjointed way that I find horribly disturbing. Like knowing you can swim, but drowning anyway.

3. Envious:
Some people really seem to have it all together, don't they? The right partner, the right connection with their kids, the right career and qualifications. The right health and weight and pedigree. I've never had those things - never been thin, never been super healthy, never had the right upbringing or lived in the right place. Sometimes I envy the people who have it easy, the people who just seem to have whatever they need, who just seem to fall into the right opportunities, the people for whom everything looks so effortlessly put together.

But then I remind myself that they've paid their dues and that's how they got where they are. And if somehow they haven't paid their dues, the bill is coming.

4. Furious:
Why is there so much judgementalism in a world that tries so hard to seem so tolerant and peaceful and all-loving? How can we pretend we're working toward a better society when we live in such a hyper-sensitive world that certain words and styles and haircuts and even compliments can be deemed hurtful and offensive? The absurdity alone infuriates me.

5. Jubilant:
Despite my sense of lingering despair over the slow pace at which my life is remaking itself, I actually do have frequent moments of uncontainable excitement. As I look around, I see so much evidence of God's provision, so many things working themselves out with perfect timing I could never have imagined. I'm excited about what's coming next in my life in a way I haven't been in years - and I can't wait to share it with you.

6. Melancholy:
With my mental health faltering a little under the stress of everything I've had going on in my personal life, depression has opened the door for melancholy, and I've been battling bouts of loneliness even as I lack the ability to reach out to anyone. I've also fallen back into kicking myself for failing to meet my own standards recently; I'm dreading writing my next quarterly goals because it's going to be a big huge fail report. I did move forward on several of my goals, and I even accomplished a few ... but I just haven't done well at all.

7. Shocked:
I got some news recently that, while totally expected, still rocketed through my heart and shocked me right to the core of my soul. I knew it was coming. Thought I was ready.

My reaction was actually more shocking than the news itself, honestly. I'm still processing this news, working through it, seeking ways to cope. Still, I'm walking through it almost as if I'm in a fog.

8. Stubborn:
Stubborn runs in my blood, handed down to me from grandmothers who survived unspeakable abuses, from my mother whose story is a magnificent tale of human resiliency, from my father who taught me the strength to let go, and from the combination of traits that make me at once amazing and impossible. Yes, I am stubborn.

But in some circles, stubborn is just another word for persistent.

9. Timid:
I'm realizing lately that one of the places I'm most timid is in prayer. I've spent good portions of my life being told what I'm not good enough for, what I don't deserve, what I haven't earned, and all the ways I am not worthy of various things. Over the years, various comments from certain people (particularly ones with opinions I highly valued, like the lifelong friend who outright told me they didn't believe I would ever amount to anything) have created an incredibly solid pile of insecurities that I sometimes feel like I'm suffocating under.

And it hurts my prayer life. I'm afraid to pray for big things, afraid to ask for what I really want in life, because God is ... amazing. He's strong and powerful and majestic and incredible and I'm just ... me. Slow and plain and flawed and unremarkable in so many ways, easy to discard and walk away from and forget about.

But I'm learning to fight against this, to talk to God as a friend, a love, and a mentor. I'm learning to recognize more fully that He made me on purpose, for a purpose, and that He doesn't make mistakes. And with that, I'm learning to call Him out, to seek His grace - not because I deserve it or I've earned it or I'm special, but just because He loves me even when I don't deserve it and I can't possibly earn it and I'm never going to be even close to special enough.

10. Torn:
So many things are tearing at me lately. Situations where, on the one hand, THIS - but on the other hand, THAT. Interactions where doing or saying can have irrevocable consequences - but so can NOT doing and NOT saying. Simple things tear at me these days, too: whether I really need to go grocery shopping yet, whether I really need to get dressed, whether I really want to go out.

If I was a quilt, I'd be the most pitiful jumble of shredded fabric ever to be woven.

But then, if I was a pot, I hope I'd be the kind that's cracked just enough to let the light shine through.


What have you been feeling lately?


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd 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 connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are 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.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Love Yourself In Every Language: Physical Touch


It's funny how much writing this series has made me look differently at how I love myself - not just in the way of how much I love myself, but in how I get the job done. Over the course of this series, I have, obviously, talked quite a lot about self love and the importance of finding ways not only to value yourself, but to express that value to yourself in the right way.

Applying self-love to the concept of love languages takes this whole premise to a new level too, because love languages are so individual. Even with just the five basic love languages outlined by Gary Chapman, there's still an almost infinite variation between who gives love in what language, who receives love in what language, and how those language perceptions change when applied to the self rather than others.

For example: I'm a mom, and I love my kids every day through usage of all five love languages. I hug them, I build them up, I serve them, I do my best to provide for them, etc. But turning that on myself isn't always easy, especially when it comes to physical touch. I can't really hold my own hand, hug myself, give myself the reassuring pat on the back that everyone needs from time to time. I can't rub my own feet the way someone else could.

And while yes, I will acknowledge that there are certain methods of physical touch that can be quite effective when applied to self love (ahem), I will also say that for me, it's the little things that really make the difference. Even in relationships with others, it isn't big gestures that impress me; it is and has always been more about the mindless little things that might seem inconsequential to others but have major impact with me.

So how can we use physical touch to express self love - other than the obvious?

Physical touch is a huge deal for me, because I am rarely touched these days unless it's by someone who wants something from me or someone who is being paid to examine me for whatever reason. I don't get a lot of just-because touching - at least, not from others. But since physical touch is one of my strongest love languages, I've learned a lot over the years about how I can use physical touch on myself as an expression of self love. Leaving the obvious aside, here are a few of my favorite physical touch methods for expressions of self-love:
  • Massage: I know, I said I'm not that great at this, but not being great doesn't excuse me from making the effort. With my illnesses, I carry a lot of muscle pain and tension all over my body, particularly in my back, neck, and shoulders, where those muscles have to work harder to compensate for my spinal issues, and they're often overloaded with PTSD-related tension anyway. I also have various issues with blood flow and arthritis, so massaging what I can, when I can, really is a great way for me to treat myself. 
  • Showers: For being a generally low-maintenance girl, I feel like I have a pretty high-maintenance life. My kids are 9 and 14, and while my oldest is doing much better at coping with her issues in a way that allows her to be more independent, my youngest is not. She requires pretty constant supervision, otherwise nothing will get done, things will be broken, lost, or otherwise gotten into, and there will absolutely be some sort of chaos that will probably have us on the way to the local emergency room. So, all that to say this: I don't get a lot of  peaceful, quiet alone time, which means showers have become something of a haven for me. There's nothing special about a shower really, except that in the shower, I am touched in a way that requires very little and comes with no expectations. Exfoliating my skin, washing my hair, shaving my legs, scrubbing my body ... all things that engage and stimulate the sense of touch in ways that make me feel cared for - by me. 
  • Moisturizing: Honestly, I don't take as much time for this as I should, and as I'm getting older and my health is getting more complicated, it's starting to show. I keep telling myself that once the move is finished and the girls and I are settled into our new place, I'll set myself up on some kind of skin care regimen that'll include some sort of oiling/lotioning (is that even a word?) - but then I always come back at myself with some version of, "Oh yeah. Why can't you do that now? What's the holdup?" And the thing is, right now I really don't have time, space, energy, or the privacy to do that sort of thing often - which is probably part of why it became one of my most favorite ways to spoil myself with physical touch. I love coconut oil as a moisturizer because it soaks right into my skin without leaving a greasy residue behind, and my skin always feels so smooth and happy when I've taken the time to oil it. But since I've got such a hectic life, carving out the time to do this for myself really is quite a treat.
  • Sweating: It seems like a weird self-love technique especially for me, because I am the kind of girl who outright loathes the way it feels to be sweaty. But to put it more honestly, it's not the sweating that's the problem - it's the pre-sweat, full-body stickiness that sets in before a good sweat. That moment when your entire body suddenly feels like a four-year-old's unwashed jam-hands. Yuck. But once that passes and there's a full sweat going on? That can be quite a good thing, depending on what started it. For me, I have to be careful with sweat-inducing activities because I have heat intolerance severe enough to put me at increased risk of heat stroke and exhaustion - but I do still love a good sweat from a solid yoga flow, a hot bath soak, or some time spent just basking in the warmth of the sunshine (as long as it's not the kind of insane sunshine that makes me break out in hives).

So tell me, how do you use physical touch in your own self-love practice (again, aside from the obvious)? Is physical touch one of your love languages? Let me know in the comments!


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd 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 connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are 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, September 20, 2018

Love Yourself In Every Language: Quality Time

Life has been really out of control for me lately, and I hate that it's showing here in lack of content. I've been working behind the scenes on getting things together for our move (still waiting on our place to open up, which is so frustrating but also a great lesson in trusting God's timing), getting various health issues dealt with (or at least, attempting to), and juggling the everyday disasters of a disabled single mom living a really complicated life overwhelmed with chronic illness.

I've been pretty proud this year because for the most part, I've kept up with this blog in a great way, and I've grown it amazingly. I've also adapted things, tried new strategies, worked with some great companies, and had the chance to rub elbows with spectacular people. But with my health beginning to change drastically enough for me to finally seek out (and receive) diagnoses that explain my issues, with Eden's health issues still dragging on to an almost impossible-to-imagine resolution, and Josephine closing in on a diagnosis that's likely to be life-altering in the long term, I've been more than a little overwhelmed. I'm still writing as much as I can ...

But these days, it's just not coming along very quickly. Still, I'm here today and happy to be back to writing something for you - which brings me to:


Recently I've been exploring the the concepts of self-love and love languages - particularly when they're intermarried in such a way that we enrich our ability to give and receive love both to and from ourselves. It has been a learning experience for me too, actually, as I've taken the time to explore my own love language in relation to loving myself as opposed to others. I've also taken a good look at how I most openly show love to myself, as well as how I most easily receive love from myself.

Interestingly, the two are not always the same, which complicates things a little sometimes, but as I've learned more about what makes me feel loved - both by others and by myself, I've been able to pinpoint much more closely the way I am impacted by the concept of quality time.

For me, quality time spent means doing something I can see, taking care of myself in a way that I can prove or justify. For me, quality time spent in self-love is an act of service such as taking a bath or giving myself a pedicure. It's giving myself the gift of a shopping trip, a special treat I love, or some small trinket. It's moments spent promising myself that life goes on, that storms will pass, that what goes down must always come back up, because life is about balance.

Quality time I spend with myself is often spent in my bullet journal, exploring my day and the lessons it held, exploring my emotions and what events inspired them. Quality time I spend with myself is time spent encouraging myself actively, indulging in fantasies, feeding myself a belief in success that others may not always see the potential for.

Quality time is a guilt-free reading session, a quiet drive alone, an hour spent in my therapist's office. Quality time is so many little things, but they all always add up to this: it's the time I spend treating me the way I want to be treated by others, raising the bar on my standard of treatment simply by showing myself what it feels like to be accepted, to be known, to be beloved.

What does quality time look like for you, especially when applied to the idea of self-love? Do you know your love language? Do you know your self-love language? Are they the same, are they different - or do they vary? Tell me in the comments!


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd 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 connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are 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.

Monday, September 17, 2018

This Post Will Self-Destruct

Sorry guys, my daughter is having some flare-ups with her health, and I'm trying to focus on her right now - that's why I missed posting on Friday (we were in the ER most of the day) and why I'm missing today. Right now she needs her mom to be a mom. I'll be back on Thursday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Today I Cried

In honor of the fallen ones, the heroes, the fighters, the rescuers, and all of those still aching with loss over loved ones no longer with us. In remembrance of a tragedy that brought a nation together, a pain that will never quite heal, and a pride that will never fade. My country is not always perfect - but I'm so proud to be an American, so thankful for my hard-won freedom ...

And still so incredibly fucking pissed at the animals who perpetrated the 9/11 attack in 2001.



Today I cried, with broken heart
for buildings fallen, ashes flying.
I cried for lifeless bodies, shattered lives.
I cried for ever-mourning husbands and wives,
for sons and daughters left behind,
for the warriors who strive
to keep us safe, protect our land,
eliminate the threat
of pain and death and suffering.
That fiercely loving sacrifice
is why no one has beat us yet.

Today I cried, with pride because
this nation I so love 
was built on blood and sweat and tears,
and blessed by God above.
We fight, we cry, and yes, we die -
but throughout all these years,
we've held our own, we've learned and grown,
we stand forever strong.
Home of the free - because of the brave
who armor up and train to fight
the power of their own fears.

Today I cried, inspired by the
Undaunted American spirit -
determined to thrive and filled with the drive
to stay free despite those who fear it.
We're brash and we're loud
but that's just 'cause we're proud
of all we've fought so hard to gain.
And despite our beliefs, our anger, our grief
we still come together as one.
Because while it's true, we've divided before,
we're standing united right now.


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd 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 connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are 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, September 8, 2018

Love Yourself In Every Language: Receiving Gifts


It's funny how I've been writing this series lately, mostly because of how much I've been needing to learn the lessons I've been sharing here. Loving myself is something that has never come easy for me, because I have never been an easy person for people to love - at least, it seems, not for long.

I'm good at collecting people because I'm open and friendly and outgoing, because I tend toward people-pleasing, because I'm fiercely loyal, and because I'm always willing to give everything I have, even when I may not have very much to offer. I'm witty and funny and I go out of my way to be confident and empowering to others.

But somehow, I'm also pretty good at being the person other people find that they've had enough of. I'm introverted and often withdrawn - I'll think of someone daily or even hourly, but not reach out because I just ... can't. I have a tendency toward depression, I overthink things, and I'm the kind of the loud, brash personality that other people sometimes find grating, overwhelming, or even downright intimidating.

But for me, the balance has been off for a long time - not the balance within myself, but the balance within the people I surrounded myself with over the years. At one point, I looked around my life in dismay, and I couldn't find one person (other than my cousin Dana, who doesn't count because she is the exception to every rule) who seemed to genuinely believe in me.

And don't get me wrong - I got a great deal of halfhearted "good job" accolades, and a lot of endearing pats on the shoulder. But when it came to what I really needed the people closest to me to do or be or say in order to support and encourage me as someone they loved, I often met a lot of avoidance and headshakes. It left me feeling incredibly alone in my own inner circle - I had very little sense of personal community, especially when my closest and most treasured loved ones were literally telling me I would never get anywhere or amount to anything.

So I prayed. I prayed for the strength and the courage to let go of things and situations and people who were no longer healthy for me. I distanced myself from people I no longer felt close to. No awkward goodbyes, no big dramatic breakups in friendships or anything like that ... I just backed up and watched to see if anyone noticed. When they didn't, I backed up some more.

It hurt to realize that I wasn't missed enough to reach out for ... but it was also empowering to let go, and emptying my hands of unhealthy relationships that were hurting me opened room in my life for new people to come in. I prayed some more, and I met and connected to people I feel are my tribe, my people, right on down to the strange quirks and unique eccentricities we share that once made us stand apart from those around us. These people hear me out, even when I have nothing good to say for days or even weeks on end. They encourage me, empower me. They go above and beyond to show me that they believe in me, that they value me and what I contribute to the world. The adjust their own lives, creating space for me. They force me to video chat with them even if I warn them that I'm a sobbing, snotting mess that day and would probably be horrifying to look at. They make long drives even when it's out of their way just to share with me when I'm in need. They make a point to reach out, to be genuine, to see the good, to give gracefully, and appreciate gestures of loving kindness with open gratitude.

Which brings me to this post's love language. Like I said, it has taken me a long time to learn to love myself, and I'm still working on it, using words of affirmation to empower and encourage myself, using acts of service to keep track of my self-care and ability to move as smoothly as possible through my life, and using the act of receiving gifts to remind myself that I am lovable and worthy of goodwill from others.

But receiving gifts is another multi-faceted love language that can be challenging to get straight when applied to ourselves, by ourselves.

And sure, for some of us it's easy to get through with the old, "I deserve this!" mantra. I'll have my hair done, buy this new shirt, take myself to lunch ... because I deserve this. I'll go on this trip, I'll see this movie, I'll eat this second cookie ... because I deserve this.

But do we really mean that? Are we really treating ourselves out of love, or are we treating ourselves because we feel like we should? Here's an experiment you can do: think about the last time you made yourself a cup of coffee (or a mixed drink, or a whatever you prefer instead of coffee), and then think about the last time you made one for your spouse or partner or friend. What was different about your intention? What was different about the mood, the movements, the feel?

Next time, make that coffee with your most favorite loved one in mind. Make it thinking that someone you love dearly is going to really enjoy it. And then give it to yourself as a gift, a gift you allow yourself to receive with grace and gratitude.

And then, love yourself enough to be mindful or intentions as you treat yourself even to the smallest things. Wear your favorite perfume because today is a special occasion. You woke up alive and beautiful and full of purpose. Give yourself the gift of a good breakfast, that treat you've been wanting but saying no to, the supplies for a new project, a bouquet of beautiful flowers.

But don't just give the gift. Receive it. Because if you can't learn to love you, how can you teach anyone else? 


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd 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 connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are 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, September 5, 2018

Love Yourself In Every Language: Acts of Service

If you've been following along lately, you'll know we've been exploring what happens when we combine the idea of self-love with the genius of Gary Chapman's "love languages." (Introductions to this series, part one and part two.) In the last post, we talked about how we can use words of affirmation on ourselves just as powerfully as we can with our other loved ones, and while I didn't give a lot of concrete suggestions (because I wanted you to be able to relate in your own way), I like to think that post was a healthy exploration of how you can treat yourself with a little more love just by being kinder - to you.

In a world that is often harsh, negative, and filled with sources of discouragement, it's incredibly important for us to have influences in our lives that are encouraging and empowering, especially during the times in our lives when we feel weakest, most incapable, and most unworthy of said encouragement.

What we forget is that we're always with ourselves - which sets us up to be our own best advocates, our own best encouragers. Which is where words of affirmation naturally bleed into:


Acts of service are easy to tick off, aren't they? For your husband, you might pick up his favorite beer or specifically make his favorite dinner. For your children, you cook and clean and guide and coach and do so many other things. But what about you? What acts of service could you perform for yourself? (Stop snickering; that's not what I meant!)

Serving ourselves often comes down to the simple things we would already do in some ways - instead of rushing through a shower at the end of the day when you're so exhausted all you're thinking about is how quickly you can move to the next thing, what about running a bath and giving yourself time to soak in the heat, quietly basking in the aromas of scented oils, salts, soaps, or bubbles? Other similar things come to mind too, such as giving yourself a pedicure, painting your nails, etc.

But what about the little things we're already doing for ourselves all the time that we simply forget to appreciate and enjoy? For those of us living with children, messes are a constant familiar problem, and we often become irritated with having to either having to cope with the mess or having to clean in up. But a slight twist in perspective can change everything: I don't run the vacuum because my dog is hairy and my children are messy. I do it because I desire a relatively clean space. Will it be spotless? No - I have a big sloppy dog and two kids who are often hyper and full of life. Messes happen.

But it's not the mess that's the focus here, or where it comes from - it's about recognizing and appreciating the effort you made to clean it up in the first place. We don't often think of it this way, but even those small things are acts of service we perform every day for ourselves.

Our real power lies in taking those acts of self-service and performing them with love, congratulating ourselves on the effort, allowing ourselves to take pride in our work, acknowledging the accomplishment - even if it's a small one.

For me, going to therapy is one of the ways I can best serve myself in love - because it has been through the empowerment of choosing to go to therapy that I was able to seek official diagnosis for the PTSD I've been living with for most of my life. It was through the empowerment of being heard and understood with validation and an absence of judgment or blame that allowed me to move beyond a childhood I didn't ask for or deserve, let go of certain insecurities, and fight back against fears that had been holding me back.

I was able to pursue answers for my physical health issues as well, and I will never forget the tear-filled times I drove home from doctors' appointments, weeping under the weight of basic compassion. My doctor heard me. The next doctor heard me too, and the next one after that - and none of it would have happened if I hadn't come to a strong enough place of self love to serve myself in that way.

I could never have gotten answers if I hadn't been willing and able to finally advocate for myself. I would have continued to put myself at risk every day, just be doing basic life activities, simply because I didn't know what to avoid in order to protect myself.

Now, I serve myself mindfully, just as I make a point to serve my children and my loved ones. I don't always let me be last - because sometimes, I put me first. I take time for me, I adjust and adapt, and I give myself grace when I need it. I take care of me with decent food, with clean teeth, with nightly wound checks on my feet, legs, and back. I take care of me by serving myself with peace of mind when I fill the medication organizers my daughters and I use. I take care of me by serving myself with knowledge and empowerment when I search for answers for my daughters and I, when I create lists of things I need to remember on the fly in my bullet journal - things like our medications and doses, our list of doctors with names, numbers, and specialties, gift ideas, appointments, and to-dos.

I take care of me in the little moments too, allowing myself the pleasure of sniffing fresh, clean laundry, allowing myself the joy of my dog curled up behind my legs at night, allowing myself to take pride in my efforts without minimizing those efforts or kicking myself for what I wasn't doing.

This one is harder for me ... but I'm learning to speak this language because I want to love me better. I want to be a better, happier person. I want to be well-cared for, so that I can care well for others. But it starts with me. It starts with you.

Because you know the old saying right? "You can't pour from an empty bucket."

It's true, guys.

So take time to fill your bucket a little bit today, serving yourself in a way that feels loving, a way that relieves your mind and heart for a little while. You know that thing you wish your husband would do for you? Serve yourself. Clean the dishes - not because no one else will or there is no one else to do it, but because it feels good to have clean dishes and an empty sink. Same thing with the lawn, the laundry, the toilet, the chores, the shopping, the kids, the pets, and the countless other things you're undoubtedly doing as you juggle the responsibilities of your life. Do the things you have to do, but let them be done with a full measure of love - not just because you serve your loved ones, but because you are one of your loved ones.


If you liked this post, drop a comment below! I'd 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 connect with new readers, bringing new exposure to the Undaunted Army and what we hope to accomplish!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and as a member of the Undaunted Army, you have the hope of knowing that you will never have to fight your battles alone again. Let's keep in touch: become a member of the Undaunted Army to stay caught up on all the most important news.

Or, help me continue to make a difference in coaching others to connect with their Undaunted spirit through empowering women's romantic fiction. Invest in the bigger goal of the Undaunted Army for just $1 a month. You can also wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are 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.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Love Yourself In Every Language: Words Of Affirmation

Recently, I've been working my way through exploring the concept of self-love in a deeper way. (See post one here, and post two here.) I mean, we talk about self-love all the time in our society - we remind ourselves to treat ourselves, to spoil ourselves. But sometimes we get caught up in the minutiae, and for some people, a pedicure isn't an "I love you" gift at all. And even among those of us who are familiar with the idea of love languages and the way everyone speaks an inherently individual dialect of the language of love, we still often manage to forget to pay adequate attention to loving ourselves.

In tying love languages to self-love, adequately loving ourselves is a two-fold process, because in self-love, we've got the love flowing in both directions simultaneously - we're putting love out in action for ourselves, but we also have to be willing and able to accept that love from ourselves, in part because this inability to practice accepting love from ourselves often sets us up as unable to accept love from others.

Alright, so where do we start?


Of the five love languages, I believe Words of Affirmation is the easiest to put into practice when it comes to self-love. I mean, how hard is it to pay yourself a little compliment now and then, right? After all, we see the way other people light up when we point out to them that we love their dress or their shoes or their purse - it only makes sense that we would have the same reaction to compliments sent our way, too. And who says a compliment has to be sent externally?

I believe self-love begins with cultivating compassion and understanding for yourself and your experience. It begins with understanding that you've probably done the best you can in the situations you found yourself in, with the tools available to you based on your experiences. Once you've done that, you'll be able to seek the good in those experiences, actively looking for the lessons available to you as a person, accepting that you didn't always make the right choices (because you're a human and humans make mistakes) understanding that you did whatever you may have felt was right at the time (informed by the previous experiences of your life, which may or may not have been under your control), and forgiving yourself for mistakes you wish you hadn't made (again, you're only human).

These are simple things, in theory; in fact, we practice them all the time with other people without even realizing it. In my role as a mother, I take the duty of building my children up seriously (when I'm not failing and going off on them because I'm overwhelmed or tired or exasperated), and as such, I actively practice finding ways to compliment them, to encourage them, to make them laugh. I work to practice compassion when they're struggling with something, even if that struggle seems silly to me - I know it isn't silly to them, and validating their struggle is the best way to empower them to push through it. And when they mess up, I forgive them, telling them some version of, "It's not okay because this was wrong, but I forgive you because our relationship is more important than this disagreement."

I do the same thing in my role as a friend - only, I don't need to coach my friends on how to be people, so that last bit about acknowledging mistakes and disagreements is often ignored instead. I don't need my friends to feel duty-bound to mention mistakes and grovel and beg forgiveness/ I don't need to feel good about having forgiven them verbally. All I need is to forgive the slight, understand where the other person is coming from, and let it be because I value the relationship more than I value my desire to feel "right."

Applying this to ourselves is the first act in learning to value and respect ourselves the same way we do with our loved ones. When my daughters get down on themselves, I often ask them, "Would you let someone talk to your friends that way? Would you allow someone to step up and talk to your sister that way?" Inevitably, the fierceness of their loyalty to their loved ones washes over them; they scowl and tell me, usually in no uncertain terms, that they absolutely would not stand by and allow a friend (or a sister) to be mistreated. Which is when I remind them that they owe themselves the gift of that same friendship - that they shouldn't allow themselves to talk to themselves that way, that when their minds want to play back hurtful things that have been said or done to them, they owe themselves the good friendship of arguing back. "No, you are not worthless. You are not forgettable. You are not stupid."

But standing up to ourselves in order to shut down the inner bully is just one side of it. Yes, we do need to defend ourselves against ourselves sometimes, but what about when the inner bully is quiet and yet the spirit is longing for love? The absence of negativity is not always equal to the presence of positivity - shutting down the inner bully is only part of the process of learning to befriend ourselves, learning to love ourselves with grace and compassion the same way we would love our friends, our siblings, our children.

And what do we do when a friend is down? We encourage them, feed the needs of their emotional selves, hear them out with compassion, validate and acknowledge their trials. Yes, sometimes we dish out tough love ... but tough love is called that for good reason - because it's tough to dish out, and it also tough and often hurtful to receive. This is why when a friend is cheated on in a relationship, we're always on their side. It's why when they've had a bad day at work, we take the time to hate their jobs with them. It's why when they come to us in conflict, we're always quick to lift them up in the way that they need.

So why is this so hard for us to do for ourselves?

In the next post, we'll talk more about self-love and how to love yourself in the best way for you, but until then, let me urge you to practice this language. Love yourself with words of affirmation - compliment yourself on having a good hair day (or figuring out how to disguise a bad one). Tell yourself how great you look in those jeans, or what a great job you did completing a task that was challenging or unappealing in that moment. Even if all you did was the dishes, or mow the lawn, or wash the car. Even if you still have twenty other things to do. Build yourself today - and every day - with words of affirmation that will encourage and empower you, not only to keep going through whatever you're going through, but so that you can fill up with joy and positive energy you can share with others.


If you liked this post, drop a comment below - I'd 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 connect with new readers and bring 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!

Speaking of the Army, I'd like to personally invite you to take your place among those who have bravely fought and survived the battles of life. Addiction, abuse, violence, divorce, parenting, illness, and other traumas are real battles too; those who suit up to fight every day have a right and an obligation to nurture their own health, well-being, and self-empowerment. I know how hard it can be to keep going - but there is strength in numbers, and 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. And now, you can wear your Undaunted Pride right out in the open by sporting Undaunted Army merch!

However we stay connected, always know that my brand and the Undaunted Army are 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.