Category: Personal Posts

He Didn’t Break Me, I Was Already Broken.


I shook my head, “He broke me, he really did”, I said to her.
But fuck him”, I thought.

Except I didn’t say exactly that –out loud.

Instead, I said, “but forget him.”

But what I wanted to say was, “fuck him.”

You guys. I know, I know.
Yes, I still love Jesus. Don’t panic.
I will share with you my more ugly, inner-thoughts because Jesus already knows. He knows. No reason to act like I don’t occasionally say fuck. Also, I am a human and I don’t think that He is going to take away my recess or my salvation or put me in a time-out chair for having very human thoughts.

In my non-theologically trained opinion, it’s okay to be angry.
It’s okay to experience human emotion and to express my feelings sometimes. I am just a messy human and this is a stream of consciousness today.
(But whether or not it is or isn’t considered Biblical to ‘curse’ or express my less than pure thoughts is a controversial (and somewhat annoying) topic for a blog that isn’t this one.)

Today I ran into a darling woman who I used to know when I was a kid. And I say “kid” because we both have children who are around the same age as she and I were when we became aware of each other’s existence. Which is pretty obnoxious to even dream that we have aged this quickly, or that our kids have grown up this fast.

But life happened, and here we are.
Or, as life would have it, there we were.

Just two ladies, standing in the Tankini’s in the middle of Dillard’s, staring at each other in disbelief. It had only been over eleven years since we had seen one another.

Our interaction went from a quick hug to conversation that began with usual pleasantries and sped right into a twenty-first century DVR’d, Reader’s Digest, bullet-pointed, run-down review of our lives and us laughing off how much better both of our lives are now in contrast to how hopelessly shitty and inconsistent and irresponsible they had been in the late nineties. It almost sounded like we had both messed around and grown up.

We talked about how we are trying to raise our teenagers with more boundaries and with a realistic sense of self; a real knowledge of their value as humans and as our children, than what we were (or weren’t) aware of.
And then, we also talked briefly about my ex, (who is her and her boyfriend’s long time friend) the biological father of my oldest boy.

This is the only part of our conversation that felt awkward. I start to feel overwhelmed with nausea when we he is mentioned. Not because I am mean-spirited, or have a tiny voodoo doll that resembles him, or haven’t ‘moved forward’ (although I do have a police file folder with his name on the label) but because I know that my life could have ended or turned out much differently than it did.

It is not lost on me that I could have stayed stuck, or that I could still be stuck.

For the most part, he and I have kept our distance for the last eleven years, and all I have ever asked for from him is peace and distance. I told him to shove his money in his ass, and to give me distance. Have I mentioned distance? When I say distance, what I mean is no contact.
Yes. Peace and no contact.

I told her that things were great. I got exactly what I wished for.
(Peace. And no contact.)
I also mentioned that I do feel terrible for the other kids involved in his situation and I do actually pray they make it through. And somewhere in the conversation I also just shook my head and smiled and quietly said “He broke me, he really did, but forget him.”

And you know what? I haven’t written about him or my experiences with him specifically (and by that I mean I have not talked about the specific abuse) here for two reasons.

Number one, I have felt terrified that it would provoke him.
I am not a fan of stirring the pot, so-to-speak, and in the past, I know he has he has tried to contact me through my email, guest post submission page, and Facebook page. He is sort of like a sleeping toddler. One should never wake a sleeping toddler. Or sort of like a rabid animal. Steer clear and don’t antagonize, and your chances of escape are much higher.
But now I am feeling all like,  fuck him.

Number two, this is MY mf PLACE.
Mine. I have never had any desire to lend any of my space to this matter. Maybe it has been my way of asserting my freedoms as a healthy grown adult. I can do what I please and I do not think it serves God’s purpose for my life, to just give away my piece of the internet to rehash certain things.
The beauty of learning where my responsibility begins and ends is knowing that it’s not my job to make his truth look and smell pretty. I don’t even cater like that to my own truths.  So ya. Fuck him.

In reality, I have to say that I was wrong.
I refuse to even give him all of the credit for ‘breaking me’.

I was broken long before he came into my life to attempt to finish the job. My brokenness wasn’t a result of his verbal and physical abuse. He began smashing paint all over this broken canvas from day one and the number of years that I stayed in that relationship only reflected what I felt about the person I was seeing in the mirror. Unbeknownst to him, I had been looking right through my reflection long before he marked me as his territory. He also had no idea that I had every intention of sticking around and tirelessly fixing everything, and I did until it was almost too late.

It feels foreign to me to look back at that girl who begged for scraps of anything that closely resembled love and accepted it as a substitute for being respected and valued. I don’t know her anymore.

On my drive home from Dillard’s I couldn’t help but thank God for (not striking me down with lightning for saying swear words) walking right beside me as I healed from the psychological and emotional wounds of that relationship.

I had a little bit of a laugh to myself as I realized just how many scenic routes I have winded around and through and under to end up on my path. I made it out alive.

So fuck him and by fuck him, I really mean I am so glad that life is not mine anymore and I am happy to have learned that It is okay to forgive and it is more than okay to move forward and not look back at certain parts of my past.

The end.

If you or someone you know needs help out of a dangerous situation or is showing signs please reach out. 

PSA.

*It is progressive, it has gotten worse and you are utilizing it more and more as time goes by.
*It seems to be gaining strength and power over time.
*Maybe it began as an emotional or psychological (or egotistical) crutch.
*It may have been passed down previous generations and now it’s yours.
*Unless there is an intervention it will probably continue to spread.
*It has tainted the way that you see the world.
*It is starting to feel like everyone seems to thinks that you have a problem, except for you.
*It is consuming your thoughts and how you see people around you.
*It has changed every area of your life.
*You have a tough time getting along with most people.
*You feel defensive and angry if someone brings this issue to your attention.
*It feels like it has been ingrained in your personality, as if it is simply ‘who you are.’
*You continue living this way despite it negatively affecting your interpersonal relationships.
*You need more and more to assert your desired level for a feeling of control or power or security.
*Lastly, you continue despite having heard the facts, other people’s experiences, or other valuable information that could contribute to you making more informed, balanced, accurate, ethical, humane, healthy decisions.

The trail of damage that racism causes within families and throughout communities, has lasting effects on everyone, especially, the marginalized humans who are our brothers and sisters.

If you or someone who you know is suffering from the debilitating, suffocating, grip of racism please reach out. The first step to changing your current situation is admitting that you have a problem within your current one. You can be the one to change the trajectory of your family, for generations.

JFT Encouragement


I am in recovery from the after effects of childhood trauma. My experiences changed who I might have been and how I operated, navigated, and interacted through my life.

For years I grieved for that little girl who had opportunities ripped out from underneath her. Anger and sadness consumed me, and I secretly yearned to bring that person back to life. I chased her, and searched for her for years, to no avail.

It wasn’t until my twenties, when I entered addiction recovery something important. One of my biggest problems was holding onto all possible hypothetical ‘what-ifs’ and something that I might benefit from was an about-face. I needed to cut my losses.

So I lit a match, tossed it behind me, and walked the fuck away.
I even tried not to turn around to watch it all burn.

It was the best decision of my life.

This is where my healing began.
I learned that there really is an art to letting go.
All we’ve got is the here and now, and our investment into our legacy. It doesn’t mean that the past doesn’t matter or didn’t happen, but it sure isn’t going to have the power to hold us back anymore.

Today I am just a human, doing human things. Being more of myself than ever before, confidently. Even if that means that my hot mess is just less messy, and more socially acceptable than it used to be.

And I might still struggle with perfectionism, high levels of anxiety, seasonal depression, a slightly distorted self-image and an urge to isolate myself, but I never doubt my worth, I don’t question my purpose and I have never regretted walking away.  

So to you.
To the person digging out of a deep, dark place, or a tough spot.
If you are clinging to hope by a thread, or you feel like there is just too much to do, too much damage to repair, or too much dirt on your pretty face, please listen to me. I want you to know something.

I am just a person who once believed at her core, that she wasn’t going to get it together.
I am just a person who didn’t think that she would ever have a normal or a calm life or ever be good enough. I thought I would always be too far behind. But I am also just a person, who by the grace of God, dug herself out.

So if you let anything in this post soak into your heart, please let this soak in:
Gradually, things can and do get better.
You matter.
Your life matters.
There are people out here who understand, who are on your side.
You aren’t a throw away person or someone who is just simply too far gone.
You keep going.
Every single day you do your thing.
Learn about yourself.
Surround yourself with people who love you, who really support you and want to see you reach your goals.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t good enough.
Don’t let self-doubt put you back into the corner.
Remind yourself that past mistakes don’t have the power to dictate your future if you don’t allow it.
Stay away from people who aren’t taking your changes seriously.

As you go on remember that healing and cleaning house TAKES TIME.
And that is okay.
There is not a set time frame for healing or making a life change.
It’s not a race, it’s not a competition, it is a transformation.
And transformation takes time.

I Want To Be Supportive Of Others, Without Getting Distracted

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I won’t force you to listen to my personal top 50 song list of 2016, the things that I am most grateful for, or my complete goal list for 2017.

I just want to share one of my personal goals that I am carrying over into 2017.
It is to stop allowing the comparison game to take up space in my mind. I made progress in 2016, and this year, I am going to do a better job of supporting other people without getting distracted from what is important to me.

And I know I am not alone in this….

You read something and immediately begin to wonder if what you have just written sucks. 
You can’t help but wonder if you are blogging often enough.
Is your viewpoint relevant anymore?
Are your topics current?
Are your stats high enough?
Is there enough traffic?
Why aren’t you being interviewed?
Is your site as busy as his or as exciting as hers?
Have you participated in as many podcasts as she has?
Did he attend more yoga conventions than you did this month? 
Do you need to find more summits to network at?
Have you even started writing your second book yet?
Are you self-publishing or do you have an agent or a publisher? 
Are you not interacting enough?
Have you been sharing enough?  
Why does it always feel like kissing ass instead of real connection? 
Do we need to scrap our whole site and hire a professional designer? 
Are our networking connections even real?
Is what I am doing important?

This list could go on and on.
And don’t get me wrong, no one pushes these feelings on me. I do it to myself. But this is real shit that I feel from time to time.

I love and appreciate connections on social media and I am happy to know that I am not alone. There are people out there who understand. They get it. I appreciate all of my friends who do support my blog and I am driven to keep going by the feedback from the people who tell me directly that I have inspired them to keep living. That fuels my heart like nothing else.

But I am ALWAYS reminding myself that God has a specific plan for my life, and I only cheat myself when I allow my mind to trick me into thinking that what I have to offer isn’t important or isn’t enough. 

Blog lists, ranks, re-tweets, shares, likes, or LinkedIn connections can feel nice, but realistically they are not sufficient substitutes that can accurately gauge anyone’s sense of self-worth, relevance, or importance in this world.

For me, my identity is found in my relationship with God.

His will and plan for my life is what really matters, and at the end of the day, I know that I am who God says that I am, and I am capable of doing the uniquely personal things that He has carved out for my journey. For 2017, I am going to prayerfully and more consistently remind myself of these things.

I would urge you to embrace your own goals and not to lose sight of what is important to you.
Periodically unplug.
Remember why you started.

And always support other people doing their thing too.

It is our job to keep ourselves on track, pushing toward our own goals, and to encourag other people along while they are working toward theirs.

Happy New Year. 🙂

Surrounded By Truth

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In group settings (group meetings, Bible studies, etc.) I am usually pretty quiet.
I observe, listen, and take it all in and am usually pretty reluctant to speak for one reason or thousands of introvertish anxiety ridden reasons another.

But when something new clicks my child-like excitement won’t allow me to sit still. If it registers as awe-inspiring on my internal scale I am compelled to speak up when it’s my turn. And then I quickly become an inquisitorial, annoying, probing, question-asking group member. I cross my fingers and hope that people won’t start tripping over each other on their way to the exit. I just enjoy the learning process. Maybe excessive curiosity is a character defect?  😉

Around 6 years ago I was about 4 years sober, and still considered myself a brand new Jesus-follower. I had (and still have) a tough time remembering what I read in the Bible and was still learning the ‘basics’. I had only recently discovered that the books in it were actually divided into different categories. Did everyone already know this?

One of my first Bible studies I attended was a study on the book of Daniel by Beth Moore. (Which was amazeballs, btw).

At that time truth was only beginning to mean something to me. It was definitely a new way of attempting to operate my new life.

During those years I actually spent most of my personal alone time uncovering and trying to sort my own personal truths from my past, facing my present truth-despite it being equally messy and ugly and painful, telling the truth in all of my everyday interactions and dealings with other humans, and sharing bits and pieces of my truth with others with a hope of helping someone.

Truth, truth, truth.
The epicenter of my life-transformation.

I was finally free.

At some point during a bible study discussion I heard someone quote John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except by me.”

I felt like my heart and head could have burst open.

Something new clicked. I had a light-bulb moment in front of a room full of women who I hardly knew, and I didn’t care how ridiculous I looked or sounded.

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“He is the truth?” I asked.

(Why didn’t’ anyone tell me?)

“HE is the TRUTH?”
“Omgosh.”
“HE is the truth!!”

It isn’t that ‘no one is home.’ Maybe all of my lights are on and I am  home, but it takes me forever to answer the door because I am blow-drying my hair, dancing with the kids in the kitchen, chasing a toddler around the house or cowering in a corner peering through my cheap mini-blinds. I get distracted by everything.

“So that means that He is the truth that will set you free, when you say the truth will set you free?”  I asked. 
Shut the front door you guys. That’s what it means to have the truth set you free.

Because I knew who He is, (the absolute truth), I was strong enough and finally able to face my truth, (the factual) side of who I was and where I came from.

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His truth allowed me to accept the gift of being able to redefine who I am, and what I was capable of doing from that point on. All because of my belief that He is the Truth.

The truth is powerful and unchanging in all contexts.
No matter how much you might try, you cannot change the truth.
It knows no bounds.
You either embrace it for who and what it is, or you ignore it and it damages you.
And often, we aren’t even aware of how much havoc it can cause in our hearts and our lives when we try to avoid truth.

Taught to Love?

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I know now that some of the experiences that I encountered during my younger years were definitely purposeful and thought out, but I wasn’t aware of any of it.

All of it had an impact on how I view prejudice and labeling and still affects how I see other human beings.

When I stayed with my grandma, (which was as often as I could pull off) she would pack our time together full of as many things as she could so that I could ‘experience life’ as she put it. Of course I had no idea what she was talking about but it sounded like fun.

Looking back it was obvious.
She wanted me to see that there were good things in the world.
Fun things. Positive things. And mostly, funny things.

Humor was her escape & the arts were her passion.
I really enjoyed gazing into her world and getting away for a while.
He life revolved around reading and writing and creating and living in the world as a force for something unapologetically good.

The plays that she wrote and produced were charismatic, witty and hilarious as were the ones that she was cast in. Sometimes at rehearsals I would peek in and watch everyone getting into costume, perfecting their make-up and going over their lines. I would walk around and take trips to the pop machines and I liked hanging out, observing everyone. There was a lot of commotion, but overall it was just a fun environment to be in.

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My grandma was always busy but never made me feel like I was in the way. I was always close to her in proximity whether she was a cast member, if she was bossing other people around, if she was emcee, or involved in some other capacity.

Some of the most fun I have ever had in my life I had watching and being with her and her friends.

I came to love these people. Over the years her friends became familiar faces to me and eventually, felt like family. I had been acquainted with and close to and around several openly gay men and women for years before I even knew what gay was. I had no clue that some of my grandma’s best and closest (and most treasured, trusted, loving and loyal) friends also happened to be gay.
None.
Probably because it was never mentioned because it never came up because no one cared.

We didn’t have discussions like that.
I wasn’t shielded or protected from anything because I wasn’t in danger. I never felt threatened or weird or unsafe or anything. It was a nonissue so there wasn’t anything to take note of. I had seen so much musical theater and community theater and drag queens tearing sh*t up and I was completely oblivious; I truly had no idea that there were people in the world who might not appreciate single one of these amazing, talented people. I really didn’t understand it.

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There was a lot of traumatic stuff that I experienced as a young person.

I might not have had morals and values instilled into my heart in a pointed and purposeful way and I wasn’t taught about religion and I had no idea who Jesus was and no one who I grew up around really cared about praying before they ate a meal or thanking God for daily blessings.

I also know many people could say that sadly, I just didn’t know any better or that I didn’t have a compass to guide me along as a young person, so I was just floundering around without sound judgment.

I really can’t disagree with any of that, actually.
I was floundering and I didn’t have a leg of moral truth to stand on.

And I am not advocating for that parenting technique for obvious reasons.

But the one aspect of my upbringing that was consistent and that I am truly & deeply thankful for?

No one took the time to teach me to hate anything or anyone for any specific set of reasons.

I suppose that is one major perk of spending the majority of your time as a child with a primary caregiver who had other things to do besides instill things in the small people who mostly got in the way… 🙂

If my grandmother were still here I would tell her that I get it now.
It all finally makes sense.

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I understand why she encouraged me to play on a special needs softball team as a child.
I can see why she fought so hard and patiently jumped through ten-billion hoops strategically set up for people like her to fail, so that she could open up her day care center that would allow her to serve the special needs community AND the typically developing children in ONE facility.  I finally see why she was so adamant fighting for inclusion for people who don’t have a voice that is loud enough.
I see why she fought the city council when they told her that she couldn’t paint flowers on the outside of her home, simply because it was part of the historical district.
I finally get why it was so important to her to put up her annual ‘public’ volleyball net and croquet.
Or why she was combative with people who told her that she was ‘too old’ to line dance or have neon lights underneath her car.

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I am not saying that her life was perfect or that she had it all right or she didn’t make mistakes.

But I cannot disregard or ignore what she got right.

I recognize that she did all that she could do to stand up for the rights of other people, and she refused to waiver.

When people told her what or who or why she should be something or anything other than what or who she wanted to be or why she should fold or bend or back down, she never did.

That’s not an easy thing to do.

From a young age I watched her tell people that she didn’t care about what was ‘normal’ she cared about what was ‘right’ and people didn’t always appreciate that.

She was a notorious boat-rocking lady who was either loved and accepted or passionately hated.

There never really was an in-between.

If I can continue to learn anything from people who pave the way it is that the road is bumpy at first.

It is the more difficult road to walk.

It takes guts to do new things and to stand for things that might not be the kinds of things that people are ready or used to standing for. It is uncomfortable sometimes and it isn’t always pretty.

But we have to stand anyway.
Today more than ever.

Whether it is race or murder or injustice of any kind regarding any issue- love wins.
Love wins it all. It always has. It is the greatest command that we have. Love God and love others.

Matthew 22:36-40

 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

 

Where Are We

....
Our right to bear arms has become more important than baring one another’s burdens.

Picking people apart has trumped picking people up.

Our desire to be right has overridden the importance of doing the right thing.

Our opinions being heard is drowning out the voice of the minorities cries.

Our insistence on speaking to hear ourselves talk has taken precedence over speaking truth.

Justifying hatred for the accused has defeated seeking justice for those who have been wronged.

Our freedom of speech has trampled on the freedoms allotted to others who are our equals.

Romans 12:12~Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.

Hate.

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We talk about everything around here and I mean everything.
I take having an open discussion policy pretty seriously in our home and for us, it just works.
My boys know that if they have questions, they can ask them without feeling threatened or nervous. It is so important to me for them to truly learn how to ask for what they want and to ask questions when they have them. I believe that there is a difference between being told what to do and obeying out of fear and doing what is right because you understand why it is right, if that makes any sense.
I simply like them to know the ‘why’ behind the reasons that they make decisions. .

Of course I have answered questions about the terrible things that are featured every evening on ABC’s, World News with David Muir.

And I have briefly explained and have also lectured and talked extensively about hate, and how it ruins everything it touches and how nothing good (and certainly nothing that will bring glory to God) comes from forcing your views on other people’s lives and killing them, or hating them, or picketing them to death if they don’t comply or change to suit your comfort level.

And mother f*ck (hits hands on table) it has only been a few days since I sat my boys down at our kitchen table and explained in a lengthy, very generic, non-specific & age appropriate way what they should do and how they should handle themselves should they ever happen to walk past a human being laying on the ground in a semi-conscious or unconscious state. (It was sort of just a review, but basically, I wanted to hear their thoughts on what the morally sound decision would be.)
And thank gosh they had thoughtful, brilliant, empathetic, sweet, smart, caring, mature, and ethical responses.

And this morning, I found myself again, trying to explain away hate.
Very real, very close-to- home, hatred.
And in case you didn’t already know, you can’t actually do that.

As I tried to speak to these tiny souls that I have the privilege of caring for my throat started to burn and tears welled up in my eyes.
I did my best to take deep breaths as mind scrambled for the easiest words that could help my kids make some sense of this recent tragedy…but it just wasn’t happening.

It is never easy to explain things that you don’t understand or cannot comprehend, and it is not easy to make a child feel that they are safe when you are faking it, because frankly, you don’t feel safe either.

So I just told the truth.

I told my kids that I don’t have any answers would make it make sense because it was a senseless act, and that I have nothing new to say aside from that I am just so so so sorry.
I made sure to tell them that hate has been and always will be a powerful and destructive entity, and it hurts people and that it is responsible for the death and destruction of so many people.

It also breeds like mold.

All day today I couldn’t shake feeling internally conflicted and angry.
I fumed as I scrolled past hateful, righteous, entitled tweets, posts, and comments that even dared mention gun rights, gun laws, or people who happen to be gay’s personal human rights to socialize in public.

I felt angry that I actually have ‘friends’ who I truly don’t know at all. I felt frustrated that I never recognized these qualities before today.

I felt angry that I didn’t have answers for my children and that I didn’t actually feel like I was making them any safer or more secure.

I was furious that I felt helpless and angry that I couldn’t actually ‘do’ anything or make anything better in any way.

I felt angry and like everything that I did or wanted to do or wanted to say all day long was a waste of time in light of what was happening; all of the tears, the pain and anguish, the people searching and waiting for answers, and those who are mourning.

I have been feeling angry that I don’t feel more guilty for being a free, educated, white woman in a country that has offered me every opportunity imaginable. Guilty because I don’t have any real or immediate threat to my life or my well-being. Guilt because I don’t fear for my life every single day because of who I am, for who I love, or for believing in God and sharing my passion for Jesus with others.

I wondered why I didn’t care that the shooter was Muslim, documented, undocumented or wearing a giant bunny costume. I just didn’t care.

And then I felt angry at myself for feeling like praying wasn’t ‘enough’ when I actually believe that it is one of the most powerful tools available.

And tonight, I have been sitting here looking at this cursor blinking for at least an hour.
In silence.

I have been contemplating what I really am doing here and if I am really making any difference whatsoever, anywhere. And even if I am, I can do the math.
My little amount of ‘good’ isn’t making a big enough dent.

And as I sat, I began to realize that it was exactly what hate wants:
Silent people unwilling to do or to feel or to believe in anything.

-It wants us to stop teaching our kids about love and peace.
-It purposefully mistreats, abuses, and marginalizes.
-It’s goal is to drag us down and take our light with it.
-It wants us to judge and label and tear down and avoid.
-It wants us to stop encouraging each other and mentoring and loving other people.
-It wants us to stop believing in hope and change and unity and equality.
-It divides, it draws lines in the sand and in lines, and on buses and in restaurants.
-It gasses people and burns them alive and skins them and beheads them.
-It blames and accuses and gossips and argues and trolls.
-It invades locker rooms, and bathrooms.
-It provokes us and moves us to boycott companies.
-It tells us we’re standing for what we believe in and that right is more important than kind.
-It convinces us that accepting is synonymous with approving.
-It ensures us that our way is the only way.
-It injects itself into even the most well-meaning hosts, and manifests into something that grows out of control and then, it moves on.
Hearts are then left completely void of the ability to feel and no one seems to feel the impact that hate has anymore and in the end we will have justified hate by using religion as a scapegoat to under gird naivety, fear, ignorance, and the unknown.

The only choice that we really have is to choose to believe that each one of us really can make a difference. We have to keep believing. Alone we might be going against an impossible tide but together we can move mountains.

And for myself personally, I have to seek God for the peace and security that my bones were aching for throughout the day today. I have to pray for patience to deal with the inconsiderate, apathetic people who actually buy the crap that hate is selling and I have to cling to my God who tells me in John 1:5: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

So please.
Let this terrible hate crime not split us apart and push us backward even more than before.
Let it piss us off and give us incentive to rise up together and to stay strong in our beliefs and in our knowledge that hope is real.

Goodnight world.

The One With Glitter is Perfect.

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Maybe I am just the only adult around who doesn’t actually like seeing their first name enough to see it plastered anywhere besides, well….
repeatedly scribbled in my Lisa Frank notebooks or maybe my journal with the cute little pad-lock and mini-key.

I am in the minority because I am interested in buying products geared toward adults that *don’t* hold, contain, store, or open alcohol.

I really am just not understanding the connection between the alcohol obsessed culture that we live in and also mass producing products for adults that have our first names painted, or stenciled, engraved, glittered or lighted directly on the actual product.

I am definitely not cool enough for products such as these.

I missed the boat and am now floating around somewhere in minority-ville, with all of the other people who have multiple hobbies and interests and zero interest in drinking.

And for the record I don’t hate people who drink.
I also don’t love glitter but I don’t hate people who do.
I don’t even hate paint or stencils or my first name.

But maybe I am somewhere out there in the land of the uncool, and I am sick of the marketing that is obviously directed toward the younger crowd.

As a 32-year-old mother of 3 young people I can say with a fair amount of certainty that those cute little shot glasses with names printed on them…aren’t geared toward people like myself or my husband who already know we like tequila and who also *love* our first names but don’t actually need it written directly on our shot glasses.

They are for younger people who think drinking is so cool, almost as cool as like a second job or a fun hobby. People who are still young enough to be okay with having their first name printed on actual things that they own in the cabinets of their apartments. These cheesy alcohol holders also make cheap gifts that are most definitely going to be utilized and gracefully accepted without any worry if the gift will be liked or not.

But maybe it would be so cool to see marketing that didn’t include pushing the tired agenda.

That same tired agenda that perpetuates the allure of drinking, that makes it seem so cute and fun, like the weekend obsession and social crutch that it has become.

Maybe it would be nice to see other things equally obsessed about shoved through the eyes & down the throats of our youth.

Every single person who I personally know who can also handle the occasional margarita with their dinner or a few beers as they grill something or watch something sporty, (or whatever responsible drinking looks like)

does not also own a small cabinet full of shot glasses with their names painted on them in glitter.

We can just go ahead and file this one with the complaints that I have about the ridiculous wine obsession that has now become the norm, all of the “I don’t get drunk I get awesome” slogans printed on things, and the influx of other sad & popular products inspired sleazy branding similar to Urban Outfitter’s tactics.

And the real problem stems from the greed of the morally bankrupt peddlers in charge of this stuff, who are more than okay with capitalizing on young people anyway. The apathetic attitude that has developed regarding issues related to substance use and abuse  is evident by the hate people spew on the internet every day and the very real lives that are being cut short out here in the real world.

I will just continue believing that I am super cool in my sun-glasses that I cannot drink anything out of, that don’t in fact, have my name painted directly on the outside of them, but are equally as “bad-ass.”

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Church on Sundays.

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My personal recovery has many components, and my relationship with God is a big one.
I have only considered myself “spiritual”, and connected with God on some level for around 8 years now.

Somewhere along my journey I decided that going to church each week is what was best for me as an individual and I truly felt it was the best thing for my kids.

We have had a tough time finding a church that fits us.
Some were too big, some way to small, some felt too cold and modern for our taste and others were stuck somewhere back “in the 1900’s”, as my kids would say.

The one’s that didn’t fit were ‘bad’ they simply didn’t fit well enough for us to give it a go.
And just to be clear, I am not bashing any church.

I’m not a huge fan of bashing things that I don’t necessarily agree with or ‘like’-
maybe with the exception Westboro.

Anyway, the church that we ultimately ended up calling ‘the one’ isn’t perfect.
But that’s why I am sharing this.
I love it because it is real.
It is a place where you can be authentic and messy, and —you.

Here are the top 3 reasons that I truly appreciate the church that we go to:

1.) Our pastor regularly talks about, touches on, or mentions, real life issues.
So we fill the nicely lined chairs on Sunday mornings.
We all sit there in anticipation.
We wait to start singing. We are waiting to hear more about Jesus, and we want to know how this can help us in our day-to-day lives.
And you know, I can guarantee that every person sitting there is trying desperately to focus solely on the sermon, shutting everything else off for that hour.
We are pushing all of the other ‘stuff’ away; all of the heavy loads of crap that we carry, all the random problems, the more serious issues, the physical pain, the emotional instability, the financial uncertainties, we do our best to push it all aside, and just be, for that hour.

Every single sermon I have heard preached in our church has a sliver of light fixed on issues that are effecting the real people who are fill the chairs sitting out in front of the stage.

There are words and phrases used that we all get, that we all understand.
Things like addictions, clinical depression, hopelessness, jealousy, perfection-seeking, self-defeat, sadness, worry, stress, brokenness.

While the core of all of the messages center on the hope that we find through God’s word and the life, and works of Jesus- there is also another message being delivered.

*There is no shame in coming to church on Sunday – especially if your life isn’t perfect. You have nothing to be ashamed of, our church isn’t an exclusive club- it’s a hospital for broken people.

To me this sends an even bigger message to the church body.
The pastor doesn’t consider himself any different from us.

And that’s pretty damned refreshing.

2.) The pastor + team are authentic. 
Not sure I need to elaborate further on this one.
I appreciate real people. Other people like real too.
Everyone can feel & appreciate real transparency and authenticity.

It’s nice to see that even people who are gifted and called to ministry are also still imperfect human beings.

No front, no holier than thou-ish stuff.

Just a worship team that loves to rock out.
A women’s ministry that actually, really, get this: loves and encourages other women.
A men’s ministry that actually talks about real life issues men face.
Children’s ministry that is completely focused on loving on the little people.

Just real people, doing real life, with other real life people.

3.) I am still waiting to hear a prosperity focused message.
It isn’t boring snooze fest, but it also isn’t simply just a show put on to entertain and desperately keep us coming back.
There are always legit narratives used that compliment a biblically based sermon, but we don’t have to hear political crap, or watered down prosperity bull that consistently fills my love of self tank.

I am not sure I have ever left without at least laughing once or twice, but I have almost never left feeling like I was probably, maybe about to win the lottery so that I could go and buy that unicorn and the black on black Range Rover that I deserve.
Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with purchasing unicorns or nice cars, because there isn’t.
And there also isn’t anything wrong with instilling hope in people.
But the messages of hope that I prefer to hear are based off of things God did and Jesus actually said. I pretty much dig that.

So if you happen to be looking around for a church to call home, I am sure that you can find one that fits your family too.
Keep trying.

The Places We’ll Go.

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So who bought a cheap map of The United States of America and tacked it up in her living room?
I did! I did!
I am excited about it too.
A few weeks ago I was up way too late scrolling through Pinterest -and boom.
This pin caught my eye. I loved it! What a cool idea…
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First of all I love photos almost (but not quite) as much as I love actual experiences.

I have folders full of files like everyone else, but I need to touch photos and write on the back of them and hoard them in old books.

I try to print as many as I can.
Yes, I have fallen behind on my boy’s individual albums but I do a great job at printing photos off.

When they will actually touch down and arrive in their permanent homes is anyone’s guess, but I plan on spending downtime in my mid-life ironing out my scrap-booking issues more fully.

This project was something that could be done quickly and minimal expense.
I knew it was totally do-able.

So I Amazon primed the map and ordered a few photos to get started.
It has only been a week or so since I hung it up. I have to figure out a cute way to frame it.
Maybe a burlap border with lace overlay or something…not sure about that yet.

All of the boys like it. It has already opened their eyes to how much is out there to see. We have also had some fun conversations rehashing old memories from our trips.
There are so many places that we want to see, so many places that we haven’t been and we have a ton of ideas for future road trips.
Overall it has been a neat thing to have hanging up.

So it gets a thumbs up from them.
(which is funny, because it is *one pinterest project that they think is legit cool).

Of course you cannot leave here until I get all deep
and squeeze a little bit of sobriety into this post.

Much of my personal self-careish moments throughout the day are simple ones that I am easy able to integrate into a hectic or unpredictable mommy schedule.

They are clustery kinds of tiny moments dedicated to reflection.
For me this isn’t anything fancy schmancy.

It really just means I take time to breathe deep.
Often I will just smile to myself.
Other times I silently thank God for seemingly mundane things, even if that means I am grateful for the not so pretty, or quiet, or clean parts of my day.

So of course I have noticed several impromptu moments inspired by this pinteresty travel map.

I glance at it throughout the day, I can see all of our smiling faces.
It makes my heart happy.
I remember those fun times and particular memories stick out.

I can’t wait to see more places & new things with my people.
The goal is to travel to as many states as possible- to make memories that I will remember forever, but most importantly, I am excited to fill the hearts of our boys with good, positive, healthy, things and for them to experience different things. It will all just end up being tiny parts of the ‘who’ that they become and a small slice of who God created them to be.

What a very cool thing.

My Personal Decision to Shed the “Addict” Label

Often, addiction as a disease, is compared to diabetes.
People will say that people with diabetes aren’t being stigmatized for their condition.
And you’re right. I agree with that.

People develop it.
Sometimes it’s random, other times it is a lifestyle combined with genetics.

What would happen if you met a person, let’s call her Jane.
Jane has developed diabetes, but has it under control and is managing her condition well.
She has a diverse plan full of helpful dietary and fitness tools along with a support group as her health regimen.

It has been over 6 years since Jane has had complications with her diabetes!
Congrats, Jane! You totally rock. Well, maybe you, maybe your hp, maybe Jesus. Maybe both, or neither. Which ever you prefer. Congrats in a humble way, Jane.

I know Jane does not look in the mirror every morning and say-
“Oh, hey Jane. You have diabetes. Don’t forget you have diabetes. It can kill you. Be careful Jane.”

Or when Jane meets someone new or introduces herself to a new friend or co-worker, she is not like-
“Oh hey, I am Jane. I have diabetes. Well, I do but I eat healthy and I exercise, go to the doctor regularly and really don’t have any issues with it anymore, but 6 years ago I did, and I could in the future- but only if I chose to start slacking on my personal health and wellness and really just changed most of my lifestyle but it is a possibility. I think it always will be, but it is great meeting you.”

Maybe that’s going too far for you but I don’t think it is.

I think that Jane looks in that mirror every morning and she is so excited to have this full, healthy, awesome life and she is damn proud of herself for pulling it all together and learning to live in a new and different way that was, at one point, completely foreign to her.

Jane has grown and learned so much about herself and she knows, believe me, she knows that things could change in the future if she doesn’t stay committed, but Jane is not diabetes.

Jane has a condition but that is not her identity. It is something that she experienced that she will never forget, something that changed her forever, and it changed how she sees other people forever.

She will always do what she can to help other people who might be in the situation that she was all of those years ago.

Anyway, that is just how I think about it.
My brain might not make sense to you, and that’s okay.

This has been a long process for me to get to this place.
I know that I have always had a problem with the word.

I know that some people out there feel like I am adding to the stigma by refusing to identify as an addict. Many others are feeling empowered and are inspired to finally be hearing someone else voicing a similar (yet unpopular) view point as theirs.

For me, rising beyond what society has always (ignorantly) assumed an ‘addict’ is,
is exactly the opposite of adding to the stigma associated with addiction.

I am not an addict, I am a person who struggled with an addiction, and now I do not.

I might always have a brain that will be susceptible to developing an addiction if I am not mindful and vigilant about maintaining my physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological health, but being an ‘addict’ is just not something that I focus on every single day.

My new lifestyle that I have gotten used to is composed of all of the things that I need to continue on this path in sobriety. I have healthy people in my life, I am content and I  am so grateful to be alive to experience all of this.

I have learned that it is my job to take care of me.

Wearing the label of drug addict to me means that I am what society has concocted it to be.
I am nothing like what is (sadly, and unfortunately) typically regarded as a ‘drug addict’.

It is important, in my opinion, to do our part to chip away at the stigma.
It is our job to live lives that reflect the EXACT OPPOSITE of what society has deemed ‘drug addict’.

We are all so much more than that, and we deserve to live free from being suffocated and categorized.

We are managing our lives.

Here are two old posts where I brushed on this topic a tiny bit:
http://discoveringbeautiful.com/deepthoughts/
http://discoveringbeautiful.com/heres-an-idea/

From Broken to Awesome.

quote

http://www.worshipsong.com/songs/songdetails/at-the-cross1
I am one of those people. I hear a song, and it takes me somewhere.
That link will take you to an old song, from 1996.

When I listen to this song, it takes me back to a meeting that I was sitting in.
This particular worship song played at the beginning of our Celebrate Recovery meetings.
(I can remember the whole playlist from that first year, and each one has a different meaning to me. Crazy, I know.)

I had heard this song played a handful of times before, but for some reason, one particular Thursday night, I cried.

(I should note that I cried a lot that first year. I was in emotional shock. Feelings were everywhere. It was just a part of what was happening to my body at the time. It was like I couldn’t control any emotion that I had, & when I did experience an emotion, it was magnified x 1,000.)

Anyway, not to sound dramatic, but that day this song made a real connection with me somewhere inside of my heart.
Not only should I have been happy that my heart still had the ability to absorb good and feel things,
confirmation that I still had one was a small victory in and of itself.

But the words. Those lyrics.
They were just screaming at me.
They weren’t just appealing to me on a psychological level.
I know that I was subconsciously yearning for a clean slate; pining for forgiveness, and for the possibility of a new chance.  This was something more than my needs or desires being met or empty promises of success being made.
I was drawn to this idea of being made white as snow. The notion that anyone could be made white as snow, no matter how dirty their lives had gotten.
I can remember deciding to try this laying my life down at the foot of the cross thing that I kept hearing about. I had heard testimonies and stories about it. I think at some point or another all addicts have someone who wants to talk to them about Jesus. Anyway, I assumed this cross.. was not a literal thing, but a spiritual thing.

I finally chose the cross, knowing that I had already tried a long list of other things.
I tried to do good, I tried to be good, I tried to think positive. I had tried other ways.
Sometimes I did okay for awhile, but I always ended up right back where I started.
It all left me feeling even more lost, and depleted of any strength to keep trying.
I lived life in circles; and hopeless is a bad place to try and live a life.

So I really didn’t have much to say there, at the foot of this figurative cross.
Since we’re being all figurative, I was a tattered, torn, empty shell of a mess of a young woman.

I had nothing to offer but resentment, bitterness, rage & anger, blame, shame, mistakes, fear of failing, and tears.
That’s it.

but I left it all there.

….and it was like magic.
Like instantaneous.

(just joking, my experience wasn’t anything like that.)

I actually walked away feeling weak and still very empty.
I was still malnourished and I still felt overwhelmed & defeated.
My eyes were swollen on the outside and still very empty on the inside- if you took the time to look close enough.
I was still an angry person.

I was still unsure if sobriety would stick and I was really, really scared.
And I was not even sure that I believed that people like me were welcome there, at the foot of the cross.

Still, somehow, it felt like a weight had been lifted off.
I gave everything that I did have to give, as lame as it all was.

It was like I instinctively knew that it wasn’t a quick fix.
What I felt like I did know, it that I was promised a chance for a new beginning.

I gave Him what I did have, and in return I was suppose to have a new chance at this life thing.

The work that I had to do alongside of Him, was what created the basis of a long-term relationship, and since my life changes weren’t instantaneous but slow and gradual, this took time.

Just like any other relationship, it all hinged on trust.
Each time I had no other choice but to take a leap, or choose an unfamiliar path,
I did so with the belief that God would never fail me or forsake me.

What I have learned since is that God is for people like me.
He has always been a healer for broken people and an advocate for people who felt like they had screwed up too badly to be loved ever again.

His church, is the place for broken people.

His hand guided every single phase of my journey to sobriety and recovery.
Not only has He taken all of the stuff that I had to give and turned it all into something usable,
he made sure that I could see why it all mattered and it why it was an important part of my story that lead to him.

He did ‘t erase the trauma, he used it for something good.
He didn’t cause my trauma, but he healed my heart from its after-effects.
He didn’t fix my past, he opened my eyes to all of the reasons why it is okay and necessary to leave it there.
He didn’t promise me a trouble free life, he promised me new ways to get through life’s inevitable troubles and an endless vessel in which to draw strength to do so.
He put the right people in my path, at the right times to make sure that I had opportunities for wise counsel for every season of my life so far post addiction.

Recovery with God isn’t synonymous with ease or success without failure or any work.
God doesn’t take a magic eraser to help wipe our minds clean of all things bad, past and present.
He is not a get out of jail free card that we use as needed.
He also doesn’t always approach us in conventional ways, maybe sometimes he speaks to and through things and people that he already knows that you will respond to.

But what he is in the business of doing is making broken things awesome, and walking with us through each stage of change.

🙂

Merry Christmas from Discovering Beautiful!

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Discovering Beautiful isn’t about outer beauty. It is a bunch of writing shared from my heart to yours.
My blog emphasizes the beauty that is nonexistent &  unnoticed when living an empty life addicted and hopeless.
Sobriety and Recovery both allow us to embrace life.

Because of God’s Grace, we are alive, and are given a second chance; a chance to start over.
We are transformed from the inside out. We understand that beauty, true beauty, comes from the inside.

When we are free from addiction, we can finally SEE, FEEL, EXPERIENCE, & REMEMBER all of the small things.
We see the beauty in people.
We feel the beauty that life has to offer.
We create new memories to cherish.
We can laugh again.
We are able to enjoy simplicity and finally embrace calm.

But life with God, or with sobriety and recovery certainly don’t offer perfection to you..
I am definitely not a perfect mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, writer, advocate or encourager…

What these things DO offer is permission to live authentically, and in freedom.
I am free to be imperfect. I am totally okay with learning and doing better tomorrow.
We are free to love ourselves and to embrace this new  chance at life.
We can accept our past and are completely free to move forward.

So this holiday season, I am thankful to have another year sober.
I have another year full of memories with my family.
I am another year further away from the old me, and my old life.

I have memories that I  can & will remember, and these things are engraved in my boys hearts too.

We are marking the very first Christmas of our 3rd baby boy,
and are continuing our traditions with the older boys.

Sometimes I can’t even believe that this is my life now.
I am still in awe of how much things can change in a short amount of time, and just how much life there is left to live- even after you feel like there is no way out.

I wish you a Merry Christmas to you and yours,
from our crazy awesome, loud, messy, fun, hilarious, imperfect little clan;  The Shelton’s. 

My (Slow) Fitness Journey:

I have never really worried or cared if I was ‘fit’ or not.
Until now.

As a child growing up I was usually one of the shortest people around, and I was skinny, and thankfully, healthy.

As a teen, my addiction to drugs kept me skinny skinny, not ‘fit’,  and very weak & malnourished.

I also had many hidden insecurities that had a strong hold on my relationship with my body image and with food.

Here I am at 21, 110 lbs:

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At one point I became very sick and I lost even more weight.
(I contracted MRSA from a surgery, and that is what led to my pill addiction)

22 years old, 117 lbs:

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After I got sober I did allow myself to put much needed weight on.
I gained some of my strength back.

I wasn’t eating pills, I actually ate real meals.
I wasn’t abusing myself for each bite that I took.
I didn’t stare in the mirror critiquing myself anymore.

Then, a few years after I got sober, I also quit smoking.
I gained around 15 additional lbs, and kept it.
I felt healthier, and certainly had meat on my bones.
I had FINALLY learned to love myself for who I was, and that’s what was most important at that time in my life. 
I was no longer obsessed with being ‘skinny’…
But I definitely wasn’t ‘fit’.

27, 135 lbs:

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I have been pregnant 4 times, and have gone through 3 full-term pregnancies.
Each time I gained between 50-65 lbs.

I was 18 here:
170 lbs
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Here, I was 26:
175 lbs
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And this last (and final) pregnancy, I was 31:
181 lbs
39 wks

I gave birth in February, 2015..
It wasn’t until July 2015 that I just felt like it was time to take some kind of action.

(and between a long healing process from a tubal ligation/c-section, having a newborn, learning how to breast feed and pumping incessantly- I just felt busy & tired; I was trying to stay focused on eating and staying nutrient rich for my milk supply, not getting back into old jeans.)

So on July 6th, 2015, my husband and I committed to making some changes.

June/July 2015, 32 years old:
160 lbs

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So, why now, what are my goals, what did I want from this?
My goal was to feel good, get fit, and if I lost weight in the process of this life change-
wonderful.
*My goal was not and is NOT to ‘be skinny’!

**I have also developed the utmost respect for ALL of you out there who have lost weight or who have stayed dedicated to any kind of body transformation! This stuff is HARD, and I have not even made significant leaps in the progress department!!!
I am only 6 months in and I have puked, pushed myself to the max repeatedly, wanted to quit numerous times, worked when I didn’t feel like working, and used Pinterest as my late night but kicking motivation when I was feeling defeated.

Here are a few things that I have taken away so far: 

1. The scale doesn’t really matter much.
There have been weeks that I have not lost one pound, despite my efforts.
My clothes have been my biggest indication that my body has changed.
Jeans literally falling off, are always a great sign- even if the scale doesn’t move.

2. We totally get what we work for.
I have talked about how Recovery has taught me the benefits of follow-through and honest hard work. It has felt good to see change in my body, as a result of hard work and dedication.

3. My body will never be whatever society claims is perfect. (and I don’t care)
I am already happy despite how tight my stomach is or isn’t or how big my biceps are or aren’t, and have a husband who thinks I am perfect as-is.
There are parts of me that have the beautiful tarnishes that babies leave and that makes my heart smile. I don’t have stretch marks, but I have stretched skin. I have wide thighs. I have a big butt.
And that’s perfectly okay.

4. Fitness should be a you thing.
For real. This is a battle that can get ugly or unhealthy if you let it.
This has to be about you being a healthy you, not a perfect you.
This is about you reaching your own realistic goals, meant for your body.
Not another woman’s body.

What changed in my daily life since July 6 when we began this journey?

1. I don’t eat beef.
First, I eat chicken everything- grilled or baked.
This started out as an accident, but has sort of become a thing.
The first month I did not eat anything but chicken.
I tried to eat beef and had some serious (serious) digestion/gastro issues.
It happened twice, each time that I attempted to eat beef.

2. I consume limited, very limited, amounts of cheese and dairy.
(I am lactose intolerant, so this wasn’t a crazy change for me)

3. I do track my food now. I keep my calorie count under a certain amount every single day.
I eat pretty much whatever I want, but I track my intake and cut myself off.

4. I do not eat fast food.
(Rarely did before July 6, but have not since.)
Yucky, wasted calories, fake food.

5. I don’t drink soda. At all.

6. Water water water.

7. I work out every day.
For me, it started with a cardio plan. I stuck to this for about two months or so, but have had more noticeable results with weight training. Plus I enjoy weights over cardio. It works for me.

8. I bought a fitness tracker.
It has seriously helped. I use it as motivation. I track steps each day to keep myself moving, and have a daily goal. I push myself to progress, and strive to beat my own records.

9. I schedule my workouts for a time that works best for me.
I am not into shakes, or putting this part of my journey in front of everything else.
For me, having 3 kids and other things going on too, are just as important as getting and staying fit.
I don’t usually work out until after my kids are in bed. (by choice)
I like to relax, take my time, and enjoy the sweat.

Advice to anyone interested in taking a fitness journey:

1. Don’t think that eating healthy is too expensive.
Listen, I am NOT a garden growing, lover of things organic. (Love my friends who are!)
But we have always cooked ‘real’ food for our daily, sit-down, family dinners.
I have just learned to cook a billion things using chicken, and began serving smaller portions.
Sometimes we will only have one side, and a protein. I just pick a healthy side that my kids love, and boom. They can eat a ton of steamed veggies, and a piece of chicken. They are happy and full, and I am not eating cheesy hamburger casserole (anymore) Ha!
So you don’t have to get fancy or crunchy if you don’t want to.
Keep it simple if that works best for you, your budget, your family etc.
But don’t let the ‘it’s too expensive’ stuff be your excuse for not doing it!

2. Keep pushing through even if you don’t see instant change.
Listen. I am a former instant gratification junkie! I like to see things right now, not later. It is hard for me to stay motivated if I don’t see any benefits.
I remember reading through Pinterest motivational quotes about ‘keep going’ blah blah, thinking, I could never do that.
But I did. I have and you can too.
It really is a matter of time.
So don’t give up.
Getting fit or changing your body doesn’t fall into a short-term-goal category.

3. If you’re like me, and you have a husband or significant other who is on this journey with you, don’t get discouraged when they lost 25 lbs in two weeks, and you are throwing yourself a victory party for rounding up to a 5 lb loss. It doesn’t mean that you are doing something wrong, or aren’t doing enough. We lose at different rates than men do! It’s okay!

4.Don’t take my advice too seriously. I am a noob. 🙂 

Right now, 32 years old:
129 lbs.

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That means that since February 2015 I have only lost 51 lbs. (10 months post baby)
That means that since I changed my ‘lifestyle’ I have lost 31 lbs. (6 months and counting)

Right now, I am just trying to enjoy feeling myself get stronger and watching the changes that my body is going through, even if it isn’t reflected on my scale. 

Music.

***Love everything about this song***
I truly think these lyrics are amazing. @2:40- (!!)

“Touch The Sky”

What fortune lies beyond the stars
Those dazzling heights too vast to climb
I got so high to fall so far
But I found heaven as love swept lowMy heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the groundWhat treasure waits within Your scars
This gift of freedom gold can’t buy
I bought the world and sold my heart
You traded heaven to have me againMy heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground

Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out, I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever

Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out, I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever

My heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground

My heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground

Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever

Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

Just Hoping To Help Another Person.

helping-others

The husband blog series.

I am truly blown away by the amount of positive feedback I have received from this these posts. Originally the idea came when after seeing so many couples struggling and hearing about spouses at their wit’s end who were completely ready to give up on their loved one.

I am not an advice giver, but more of an experience share-er.

We always hear about codependency and enabling but we don’t always hear directly from the enabler or the codependent. Their voice is not always heard.

Their voice is important too.

In my case, my husband was a victim who unknowingly stumbled upon a hot mess of a young woman who hid her demons behind masks pretty well for a while. He ended up falling in love with the glimpses of the ‘real’ me in between my using. (Personally, I think he’s crazy for sticking around, but most of all, compassionate for helping me up so many times.)

I thought that by sharing our experiences with others it could help them to feel a little bit less alone in it all. It can feel like it will never get better, and progress is never going to pick up speed. I wanted people to hear a real-life story, from two regular people who aren’t any more special than the next person. Just two humans trying to figure this thing out.

In my opinion, there really aren’t a set of ‘right’ answers to how you are ‘suppose to’ handle the conflict that addiction brings into a relationship. There are healthy, positive things that have been proven helpful to many.

So just remember, if you find yourself in this situation- the best thing that you can do is reach out for support, learn and educate yourself and make sure that you take care of you through this whole process.

The addict has to do their own work while you do yours.

The work that is required that you do together HAS to be between two people who are working and learning as individuals.

No one plans for dealing with addiction. Most are blindsided and are left to navigate the deep, treacherous waters on their own.

I am just trying to help where I might be able to.

And the best part about coming out the other side is knowing that there is nothing that will be strong enough to tear you apart. You have made it through one of the toughest scenarios that a couple will ever face, together.

Keep pushing through, and don’t give up on each other!

(If you haven’t read the husband series and would like to, click this link: http://t.co/mTD7EYiJf4)

 

Closet Bloggers: 3 Reasons to Click ‘Publish’

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In 2011, I began by blogging for therapy. Over time, after I did some growing and healing,
I thought that it might be cool if God could use me in any way possible to help just ONE person.
Just ONE I told myself.
Then.. I would feel like I had done some good.

Somehow, sharing my innermost thoughts and my colossal screw-ups, could help someone else. Right?
Over the past 5 years, I have shared THE most embarrassing, mortifying, shameful, details of my life with complete strangers on the internet.

Surprisingly, I have received a lot of positive feedback.

I have never really felt pressure on what to share, what not to share, if I am wrong, offensive, too safe or not, politically correct, or correct at all.

I simply share my thoughts, my feelings, my heart, sometimes my accomplishments, but mostly random things that I am feeling led to share.
Sometimes it isn’t that deep, sometimes I just need to vent.

Either way, this type of creative freedom feels great.

It’s actually freeing.

Lately, I have read posts written by people who are apprehensive to post their thoughts on their blog.
They have a desire to write, they write, but they never post it.

They want to. They debate about it. But…

for one reason or another, clicking that publish button creates internal conflict and anxiety for some of these nice, talented, passionate people.

I cannot imagine what this must feel like.

Torture, really. Torture.

Think about it.
Not doing something because of the fear that comes over you.
Not doing it because of what other people may think.

Creatively, this is the worst kind of constrictive box that we put ourselves in.

(Apparently, I have spent the last 5 years off in my own little blogging bubble, throwing my intimate thoughts to the wolves without a second thought.)

It really could sort of drive you mad thinking about what the thousands of other people out there who blog are thinking about your posts, especially those who are experts or experienced in your particular niche…

IF you thought about it. (or over-thought about it)

If critics were going to stop me from sharing, I would have deleted this domain years ago.

….I am sure it would be different if I blogged to competitively (does that even exist?) or for money,
or maybe if it was a source of income for my family.

….Maybe if I had an official job title at some huge corporation. Maybe if living in a self-made psychological prison sounded good to me…but it doesn’t.

This is my bubble. My domain. My ‘safe’ place.
I share what I share, and that is the beauty of the internet.

You can click that red X in the right hand corner if you don’t like, enjoy, or gain anything from what you are looking at.

I have found that if you post genuine, original, honest content— people will find their way.
People will come back.

If I can do it, then so can you.

Here are a 3 things to remind yourself of if you are one of the talented, passionate, but apprehensive closet bloggers: 

1. No two blogs are the same. 
We have the freedom to share what we want, how we want- and we can rest assure that no one else will have the same exact opinion, approach, or delivery.
This is the very thing that makes our blog ‘ours’.

2. Not everyone needs to like your blog posts. (and that’s okay!) 
So being nervous or apprehensive is understandable, but certainly shouldn’t hold you back!
If we didn’t have something different or controversial (to some) contribute to this massive online melting pot, then what would be the point at all?
You will have a ton of people who love your writing style, your opinions, and your voice.
You will have the people who don’t necessarily agree with everything that you say, but who respect you as a fellow blogger.
Then of course, there will be others who tend to actually enjoy putting you down. You are probably not the only one.

3. It’s really a you thing, not a them thing. 
Blog for you. Blog to share your heart, your creative flow, share what you think is cool.
Writing can most definitely deflate a stressed filled week, but publishing freely is empowering. It will help you build confidence in yourself. You have a unique voice. You have something to say. You never know if your particular view is going to help someone else!
If you have a passion to share your thoughts, do it. Own it people!

SO if you are reading this….

If you are one of those people who are terrified for one reason or another to post your thoughts publicly, online…

I encourage you to give yourself permission to value your own passion!
If you truly feel the urge and need to share your thoughts, share them!
Jump in.
Take the plunge.

The internet just might surprise you. 🙂 

Thanks, Al-Anon.

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You hold onto hope, because that is what you do when you love someone.
Instead of screaming- “that’s where people like that should be”  …
we are imagining all of the places that they have the potential and talent to be one day.

We don’t see the awkward, tired, malnourished human who has made countless dangerous, selfish choices.
We see who they once were. We see the funny, intelligent, witty, talented person that is buried somewhere deep beneath the surface…

This is the dilemma we find ourselves in when we love an addict.

*Applying the 12 steps to my life as Brittany: the enabler, codependent, someone who happens to love an alcoholic- has been a tough journey for me, but I do understand the value of setting necessary boundaries in this relationship; for me, and for him.

*Applying the 12 steps to my life as Brittany: the addict in long-term Recovery from drugs, alcohol, anger issues, and trauma- has been very tough, but navigating has been ongoing, and growth pretty consistent.

With family, it is difficult to love from behind the safety net of set boundary lines.
It is difficult to watch them struggle. It is hard to keep my feet planted and not rush over to help them up.

Realistically, I understand I am one woman, who by the grace of God has the opportunity to  live and learn, one day at a time.

I am one person who cannot control the actions of others.

I am just a lady who knows that the only actions and behavior that I am responsible for…
is my own.

So for right now, I will allow my heart to play a little bit of catch up in understanding the facts & truth that my brain already knows.

There are consequences for the actions and choices that we make.
If we cannot allow people to experience their own consequences….
they won’t ever have the chance to begin their own journey.

Just. For. Today.

Thanks, Al-Anon.

Stigma Is A Verb.

Stigma-definition2

Merriam Webster would have you believe that stigma is a noun. Yes, it’s a thing...
but it has to be practiced in order to be a thing…

Stereotypes are over-generalizations that lump major groups of people together in one mis-conceptualized melting pot of untruth.
They produce stigmas that are unrealistic.

Stigma does a lot of things when put into practice:

Stigma would have you believe that I was born a loser. A nobody.
That this is who I was at my core.

Stigma says there is nothing that we can do for ‘those’ people.
People like me.

Stigma would have you convinced that I wasn’t worth saving, and that any human who used other humans in the way that I had, wasn’t worth a second look, and definitely not a second chance.

Stigma would prompt you to turn the other way, overlooking any outstretched hand that is grasping into the darkness seeking and yearning for help- if the person on the end of that arm is addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Stigma shames you into being too embarrassed to confide in your own doctor in order to reveal prescription or family history concerns with them.

Stigma keeps you labeled. For some, keeping the secret seems easier than being permanently labeled ‘addict’.

Stigmas keep our heads down, cries silenced, and our voices quiet.

The reality is this.

Addiction is tough enough to overcome as a primary problem itself.

How a person found themselves at that point no longer matters.
It becomes an issue of survival. How can we help a person who is at a point where they have lost all hope?

A large contributing factor in the shame that holds so many down, and that keeps so many silent is the mere thought of imagining what people would think about them if they did reach out.

The stigma that surrounds addiction and alcoholism kills people. 

For those of us in Recovery who choose to speak out and tell our stories, we have to remember we are speaking for so many who are silent, who are afraid to reach out and ask for help.

We can help to be a voice for those who are still suffering in silence, or those who are in Recovery and who (respectively) choose to remain anonymous.

We can help change an old, washed-out perception held by so many.

Together.
That is the only way.

 

Beauty from Ashes.

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I feel an unquenchable urge to tell others about what God can do in the life and heart of any person, regardless of anything that they may consider ‘too shameful’ or ‘not good enough’…

He can take ashes and make them beautiful.
He can take what you thought was permanent damage, and turn it into permanent purpose.

Choosing to accept God’s’ love was huge for me.

By doing so, I chose to believe that God loved me, that I had a purpose that exceeded far beyond the chaos that I had been so wrapped up in, and I also had never felt so vulnerable in my life.

But I have learned that God backs up his promises. He followed through. I felt a love like I had never experienced before in my life. And soon, all of my buried pain, the scary times, the uncertainty, my feelings of inadequacy, and the moments that I thought ‘defined’ me as a person all began to look and feel different.

They didn’t disappear and no, God did not magically wave years of trauma and grief and pain and addiction out of my life.

But he did take all of those things and other experiences and memories that I hated, and he turned them into things that I can now say I wouldn’t ever go back and change or make different or tweak, or skip. 

He offered me contentment and a kind of healing that no one else could have offered.

 

 

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  2 Corinthians 5:17

Careful Thirsting Friends, Careful Thirsting.

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Recently, I read a post on Facebook that linked an article called
‘Lies Christian Women Will Believe to Justify Watching Fifty Shades of Grey.’
(Here is the link to that article, if you are interested:
 http://www.carmendmiller.com/2015/01/lies-christian-women-will-believe-to.html )

I commented on that Facebook post:

“I have not read any of these books, I have still not watched Magic Mike, and don’t plan on watching Fifty Shades of Grey either. Not because I haven’t considered, but because my hubby is more than enough for me and my imagination, and  I know I the same respect for me is reciprocated from him. We do have to be intentional about protecting our marriages. 
Thanks for posting this!”

Whether you are a Jesus follower or not,
if you are married,
this topic should matter to you and you should be doing something intentional to protect your marriage. 

After I posted my comment, my husband and I talked about this for a while,
and I wanted to share our take on it.

You see, the article focused on Biblical marriage only, or Christian women who are married etc.

But I am married to someone who is not a Christian, who does not go to church and who doesn’t personally identify as a follower of Jesus.
He does believe there is something more, but for all purposes of giving you a backdrop as to where he stands on ‘Biblical’ marriage…we will call him Agnostic. An adoring, loving, kind, caring, giving, considerate, hot, hilarious –agnostic. 😉

So in our ‘unequally yoked’ marriage, how do we address these kinds of issues?
For us, this is not a God centered issue, but is a respect and protect issue.
It is a very important one that we make sure to keep at the forefront of our marriage.
So we don’t address it much differently, really.
We believe that our marriage is between the two of us, that our intimacy is important and plays a huge role in keeping our relationship healthy. AKA, having a healthy sex life.

Much like you, I married my man because I want to give my all, everything- all of myself to him until we are done here on this earth. We have both committed to giving our best to one another, separating our relationship from all others.
This means that there are some things that are left alone.
Left for him and I only.
One of these things is ——–sex.
(To be clear sex and intimacy are two different things. I am addressing sex in this post, but in a marriage, they are very closely tied and connected together.)

Everyone has their own self-perceived definition of what they consider ‘cheating’.
For my husband and I, cheating is not a very complex issue.

It is pretty black and white.
Not any real ‘grey’ area that we can see.
This is definitely one area that in our opinion, motive is just as important as taking literal action.

Movies like Magic Mike and Fifty Shades really only have one real purpose for women.
To get you all crazy thirsty for the D. 
That’s it.
These books and movies make bank off of people who like to lust, fantasize, and daydream about crazy sex- and allow themselves to be turned on like crazy in a movie theatre surrounded by all of their closest friends.

Pretty harmless…
Until you go home and have sex with your husband, but you aren’t thinking of him.

(I guess I don’t really see the point in needing or wanting to be turned on by any other man besides the one who has my ring on his sexy as* finger..)

For me,  I would never want my man to go to the club, pay for a few VIP dances and come home and give it to me.

I would never want him to get on his Twitter account and browse the “Hot girls daily”, “Best sex gifs” or “best ass pics” accounts and then hop into our bed.

Look.
As women and men, if we are being real ….we all have a respectful amount of default insecurity. Our safe place is knowing that we are completely, one-hundred percent, unconditionally ‘enough’ in all ways for our significant other.
Especially when we have children, busy schedules, not enough time in a given day, frazzled nerves, good days, rough ones, financial stress, and all of the other realities that come along with being a typical suburban grown-up with a spouse and a family-
our alone time together becomes very important.

We have to cherish exactly what WE have.
The bodies that WE have.
The little romantic things that WE do together the way that WE do them.

These things are unique to us and our marriage.
No one else has them.
No one else can give them to you.
No one aside from your man can provide you with what you need.
Allowing other variables in to fulfill needs meant to be met by our partner and our partner only, is only asking for trouble.

Watching these movies, reading these books, watching porn, going to strip clubs or viewing any of the numerous xxx accounts that are free and so easily accessible to both men and women …………
will leave us chasing, yearning and pining for more and more and more. 

It will leave us feeling like what WE ALREADY HAVE RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, simply is cutting it. It is not exciting enough. Not hot enough. Not skinny enough. Not spontaneous enough…..
Simply……what our spouse has to offer to us, isn’t enough.

By giving into all of the temptation, what we are really saying is that these kinds of things supplement us and satisfy us in ways that may be temporary,
but they are more important to us than filling in those obvious gaps in real ways, in our real lives, to enrich our very real marriages that we have committed to.

On both sides, husbands and wives are very real, very impressionable humans –
who whether we admit it or not,
feel that we have to be lacking in some way if our partner gets that turned on by a book, gif, stripper, or movie.

So I just want to say, try not to give in.
These kinds of temptations are destroyers of true intimacy.
Whether you consider this ‘cheating’ or not, at the very least you risking putting your partner first, making them feel like the most beautiful thing on the planet, planting seeds of doubt in your loved one’s mind and heart, and pushing yourself that much closer to what you might consider ‘cheating’…..

Be mindful and protect your marriage.
There are more than enough obstacles as it is that cause marriages to begin to crumble.
Don’t let this be one of them.

Careful Thirsting friends.

Being strong and courageous.

Dark-Gray

Being a strong person can mean a lot of different things to different people-
but it doesn’t  always have to mean holding it all together despite what may be going on around us or what we might be going through.

I think many of us condition ourselves to hide or shy away from letting the walls come down.
We hide behind the facade of what others perceive as ‘strength.’
We like the idea of showing the world how ‘strong and courageous’ we really are.
We get too wrapped up in looking strong, or maybe too wrapped up in how weak showing vulnerability would look to the outside world.

Other times we might believe that to be strong means to show no emotion, to not allow ourselves to cry, or open up to anyone about what is going on in our lives.
(just in case that too, would make us look weak)

Whatever we have to do, to ‘look strong’.

In Recovery, we are taught the importance of personal growth on a consistent level, and that includes practicing accountability and staying in touch with, balancing and recognizing our emotions. This is important because we have to keep our lives transparent; and if not between us and God…..then who are we going to share our most vulnerable feelings with?

When we allow ourselves to face the truths that come with being imperfectly human…
and we trust God with our innermost dealings…

we open the door for our relationship with God to grow like CRAZY.
He knows some days are more rough than others, and we know how ridiculously brutal and tiring it is to act like things are always perfect.

It takes strength and courage to allow our faults to be made known on any level. 

Now, I am not saying that it’s okay (or healthy) to become hot messes of walking, seething, blubbering whiners, overflowing with negativity.  

I am simply saying this: 

*It’s okay to be afraid of sharing, even if it is just between you and God. The most important part is that you give it a try. You will be surprised at how much of a weight is lifted as you grow closer to him. You begin to see that you can open up and it is okay.

*Sometimes, the strongest people are the ones that allow themselves to show their shortcomings and vulnerabilities. By sharing with God, you will begin to see that it is fine to be comfortable being imperfect and gradually, sharing with others doesn’t seem so insane.

*The strongest people know their own weaknesses, and learn to recognize if & when they need to reach out for help. It isn’t healthy to pretend….in any area of your life. It is simply too much work, and too much stress. So, being strong really isn’t about looking perfect.

*It is okay to let your guard down. There is no shame in knowing who you are, and how much that you can handle at once. We have to stay humble, straight-forward and transparent- or we definitely aren’t moving forward…and if we aren’t moving forward, then…well we are backsliding by default.

We are us, and that’s okay.
Being aware of this is just another freedom truth brings.

So take some time each day to have a conversation with God.
Have a few if you want.
Share openly and honestly about how you are REALLY feeling, what you REALLY want to change, what you REALLY love, what you are REALLY thankful for and what you TRULY need.

It’s okay to be strong, courageous AND vulnerable. 

This new life is more than I imagined….

Breaking-the-cycle

For me, part of my healing along the way has come from being transparent and honest about my ‘story’.
Finally allowing myself to take an honest look at my childhood, to feel that pain instead of being ‘strong’ or sweeping it somewhere deep inside of my psyche really helped me to have the freedom to move forward.
Taking responsibility for my own actions and decisions as an adolescent and young adult, and again, allowing myself to be saturated in real life raw emotion regarding those decisions really helped me to begin to grow and move on in my Recovery.

I share my ‘story’ here, the reader’s digest version—hoping that someone else will read it, and think….hey. I am not alone. Cool. (at the very least)…
It helps and comforts to feel that we really aren’t the ‘only one’s.’

Oftentimes, severe dysfunction can cram you into a small box, making you feel like you are all alone.
In reality, chances are, you are certainly not walking a road never been traveled on.

We have all experienced some level of let down, dysfunction, regret and overall hurt or disappointment in ourselves or happenings with our childhood. It helps to find people who have similar stores. Hope is one valuable gift that definitely keeps on giving.

I always say, like so many others that if my story helps even one person…
and I have heard from at least one beautiful human since this story was published, and so…I am thankful for that! God uses people to help people.

I had the opportunity to share my story here.

http://www.heroesinrecovery.com/stories/new-life-imagined/

Healthy & Happy.

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18 weeks today! We’re almost halfway there. I just have to say that I am so grateful for this journey!!! God is so so good people.

Choosing to go public.

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When I first had the idea to blog, I simply needed to vent. I needed to get things off my chest and needed an outlet that offered my complete freedom to do so. I loved the freedom that the internet world offered to me. A platform to speak my mind and share my truest, most raw feelings in an honest and uncut way.

It did help and I was so surprised at how much healing took place in my heart simply by being truthful and brutally honest about ‘what is’ , ‘what will be’ and what I can and cannot change.

After that first year, I felt like I was in a good & healthy enough place to reach out and extend a hand to others who have had similar struggles.

I had done so in group settings for many years, but I wanted to share my story on the internet.
….And not the sob story of a traumatic childhood sprinkled with a few happy times, lots of neglect, mental illness, alcoholism, drug-use and feeling supremely misguided…
but MY story.

The story I now saw for what it was, accepted, took responsibility for, struggled through and now owned as all mine. 

This story was one that stemmed from me not knowing how to deal with the aftermath of my childhood. I made a long, long list of poor & unhealthy choices as a young adult and I created my own story-totally separate from the one I was given at birth and it was all my own doing. My story isn’t drastically different or more important than anyone else’s, but the more people realize that they aren’t alone, the more Hope people have.

**It felt a little crazy at first, to even consider telling this story to anyone else—out loud.
I had shared my story privately with people who I trusted in group settings…
but CHOOSING to shout it all out to the world in a very public way–was scary, foreign and definitely a leap into the unknown.

**When I decided it was time to start my blog over in a new direction, shining a light in a broad area that specifically focused on healing, growth, Recovery and embracing your individual journey,
I did so knowing that all of my ‘dirty laundry’ per say, would be hung out for ALL to see.
I knew that most of my posts would be derivative of my personal experiences. By any typical standard…pretty risky clicking that ‘publish’ button.
So -why?

I know and understand that publicly sharing personal stories of addiction isn’t for everyone. I know many people who prefer to keep it quiet and move on with their lives, serving in other areas. I am all for people doing what is best for them, using the strong points that they have. Sharing publicly isn’t for everyone, and shouldn’t be.
But I was never really on the fence about it.

For me my mission quickly became ALL about the bigger picture and less about what people might think. 

I come to a place in my life where I was completely comfortable in my own skin.
There was just something about going through hell and back, owning my mistakes and getting through to the other side that helped me to grow stronger, and feel more confident about the woman that God had created me to be from the mess that I was.

(Plus, I had always been that girl with her middle finger up not really caring what people thought anyway, so let’s just say- I took that attitude and decided to use it for something good. Something that I feel matters and something that definitely requires an attitude that says- I don’t really care what you think of me, I am committed and that’s that…but without all of the hostility or false confidence. 😉 )

So in other words, the opinions of others definitely weren’t going to hold me back. 
Societal stigma was nothing compared to the importance of the bigger picture that kept telling me that there are thousands of people out there struggling to be heard. People who were ashamed, embarrassed, and struggling to find their own voice.  

You see, the only way that the public opinion will change, is if the majority is one day able to see that there really are humans out there living in the world, who have been down to the depths of society, and have actually lived the lives of the ‘throw away people’ (as society generally categorizes addicts) and have come back from that place!

So I decided that with God on my side, all of the stigma and hatred (or fear)
was not going to stop me or hinder my persistence in reaching out to people or telling very real stories about the very real statistics. People do recover.

So ya. There are times when I wonder if someone’s opinion of me will change or be tainted if they see my blog url on the bottom of an email. It may not be in my benefit all of the time, but that’s okay.

My story is my story and is my reality. I believe it is the gift that God has gifted to me, uniquely to reach out to a people group – and I don’t intend to stop doing what I can to help others any time soon.

I believe in people helping people and God urging us to use what we have to do-
in various ways.

So – that is why I choose to share my story.

And really, I should THANK YOU GUYS. I receive positive and encouraging feedback from my readers and my facebook community. I hear that sometimes I utter things that encourage you and that friends is what makes it ALL worth it. 

Well hello familiar stranger.

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When my grandmother’s house burned down, the photo albums were MIA for a long while. It took awhile to dig through the remnants of her belongings that were salvageable to gather them all up. Many made it through, but a lot were damaged by smoke or water, and all of them smell like mold and mildew.

I (thankfully) was able to pick them up and look through all of the albums. I am excited that I get to make copies before sending them off to their rightful owners.
I use to sit for hours with my grandma, going through every single photo, every detail and every person and place that each photo was taken.

It was nice and familiar to be able to sit and look through all of the pictures.
So many memories.

I came across a few of me that I didn’t realize existed, and definitely don’t recall taking at all.
One of which is the one I added to this post.
I felt tears well up in my eyes when I first saw this.
When I look at it, of course, I know it is me…and I can remember this time frame in my life –but that person is long gone.

I am sharing this today because the back of the picture tells me it was taken in 2005 when I was 22—
and that was my worst year.
I was the most sick I had ever been, and  the most desperate.
I was the most alone that I had ever felt and had never experienced hopelessness, self-hate or fear like I did that year.

It was the year that I realized that I was no longer in control and my life certainly reflected that fact. Thus began the long battle and my road toward Recovery.

So this #TBT is for anyone still struggling. SO much can change in a short period of time. It has been about eight years or so since this photo was taken, but as they say, it took me many years to get there, and it has taken just as many to put the pieces back together. Lifestyle change and healing takes time!

God pulled me out of a self-created and perpetuated hell that I had no idea how to get out of or away from.
My eyes aren’t empty, my heart feels again and my bones have meat on them. I can rest at night, I eat, I have relationships with humans and I have been given the opportunity to start over.

No matter how many years that go by, I am not sure that the strong emotions will ever subside when I think about where I could have easily been, where I came from, where God has brought me to and who he has helped me believe that I am.

I just want other people who might be struggling hard right now to know that things do get better.
Don’t be afraid to reach out; it promotes the process of the beginning of healing and learning how to live in a new way.
There is always hurt before healing and the fear that stems from the shame that we have been living with for so long desperately tries to keep us right where we are.

The courage that you have to find is that to break away from what you are use to and what you believe about yourself, and to try to trust someone who tells you that you CAN change and that you ARE worth it-
even if YOU don’t believe that yet- there are people out there who do. 

Keep going!

Brittany

Happy Anniversary… x2!

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As much as I loathe getting on my *personal facebook account sometimes, I really do appreciate not having to remember anything whatsoever.
(Birthdays, social events, life-milestones lol)

Having said that, Facebook has reminded me that September 13, marks my
3 year anniversary of quitting smoking cigarettes!

September 13, 2011. 

When my Recovery journey began, quitting smoking just wasn’t in the forefront of my mind. If anything, it was the very least of my problems and definitely not the most dangerous thing that I had been doing. I had no interest in attempting to quit, after all, it was all that “I had left” …….

Keep in mind, in 2006 is when the journey to get sober began. I needed to smoke.
It kept me busy. After the first year of failures, things got much better and I was completely sober. Smoking was still not something that I was ready to give up.

By 2011, I was getting sick a lot.
I would get coughs from colds that just wouldn’t go away, and also- my kids were getting older and would watch me. I hated them seeing me, and I hated them smelling me.

Around this time, my mom was given yet another diagnosis. This time it was emphysema.
It was scary to watch how quickly her ability to function normally (speaking of her lung function) spiraled out of control. I am hard-headed and typically, I am a ‘see it to believe it’ (or at least experience it for myself) type of person….but this was enough for me.
I really wanted to be healthy for my kids when they were older and when I had grandchildren. Granted, I only smoked for 13 years or so, but it was difficult. I make it sound so easy, my motives were pure and it is easy to talk about them….but quitting was not so easy. I failed more than a handful of times, gave up and started over.

Finally, I quit and prayed…prayed….prayed and took a prescription for the first 4 weeks.
After that, I was on my own.

Today- it has only been 3 years and I have times where I will think about it. That is as far as it goes. The benefits of feeling good, being able to work out and know that my body is in repair mode is enough for me to stay away.

I never thought I could do it.
If you have been thinking about trying to quit….you can email me for support if you want! (Ladies)
You can do it!

My next anniversary is our wedding anniversary. September 27.
I am excited every year….because we are still so in love and happily married. God has truly given me a man who is perfect for me. Of course…things aren’t beautiful all of the time, but I know in my heart that he is my ‘home.’ Well. That’s how it feels anyway. He’s a good dude. 🙂 A great father and someone who keeps me on my toes…which is what I need.

Anyway, here’s to many more smoke free and happy marriage years.

Take the Leap

 

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Being one hundred percent positive that we should do something is an elusive luxury that we don’t get to have. We can’t base our decisions on being completely certain of an outcome and aside from knowing a probable outcome based on statistics or patterns, we can only trust God,

and leap.

If we fall short and smack our chins on one of the stairs that we couldn’t see
we tend to hesitate when it comes to taking chances from that point on.

When we make a decision that doesn’t quite work out the way that we envisioned, we get stuck.
We become slaves to our own anxiety, and the unknown scares the crap out of us, forever.

Fear, if left to its own, will smother you to death.

I am not a fan of making big, serious, or life-changing decisions unless I have considered as much as I am capable of foreseeing. As a former reckless decision maker, I have enjoyed getting to know this me who embraces logic and calculated reasoning.

On the other hand, leaping is just what it sounds like. It is more of a sporadic sort of thing and doesn’t require planning or forethought. Typically this is the more scary one of the two. Leaps don’t always go as planned. More than once in my life a leap has gone really, really wrong.

Having to pick yourself up yet again, admitting a small defeat, being a little embarrassed from time to time, or having to muster up courage to stand behind who you are at all costs,  isn’t really as terrifying as it all sounds when you are replaying them out in your head as possibilities.

These times is where life happens.

So, if you have a dream that have been pulling on your heart strings, consider going for it.

Wear bright red lipstick tomorrow if you want to.
Go sing karaoke,
Sign up for that 5k,
Try Zumba,
Take a pottery class,
Learn to line dance…
Go and do that thing that you have not done yet because fear has been holding you back.

And after you do, you will realize that YOU were able to do that something that you thought was impossible.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

My Birthday, Pregnancy, & Morning Sickness.

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I turned 31 yesterday.

I got a beautiful necklace and ring from my husband and children, along with some useful home-made coupons from my boys….that I will definitely be utilizing before they expire.

Or, they will sit in a drawer looking all cute until I move them to a keepsake box so someday I can re-read them in all of their cute and thoughtful glory.

I got a new, soft, much-needed pillow and some chocolates too.

But most important- my boys went above and beyond showing their thoughtfulness and love for their mama.
My husband made sure that I didn’t have to cook or wash any dishes either.
All around it was pretty incredible.
I live with a pretty great group of men. 🙂

Today also marks my 10th official week of pregnancy.

We still haven’t made a formal public announcement (via Facebook)
My blog platform (and I have nice & kind readers…thank you!) is really the only place that I have mentioned it at this point and we have already told our close immediate family, but for the next couple of weeks, we are keeping it as quiet as possible.

My first appointment is August 12 and that will be an exciting day!

I haven’t worried too much about things developmentally but I am ready to SEE that things are cooking well….and I am so ready to HEAR a heartbeat!

My morning sickness is really just waves of nausea on and off all throughout the day.
Some days are great and I feel like I must be in the clear, and then the next day, it’s back again.
Fatigue is the same.
It is definitely not as bad as it was in weeks 5, 6, 7, 8 but it is still creeping up on me here and there.

I haven’t gained any weight yet, but I am bloated!
I have also had vivid dreams, lots of them and mostly odd ones.
I will spare you the details of them but I am normally one of those people who cannot recall a dream the minute that I attempt to recall a dream….it just vaporizes. These- I can smell the smells, feel the feelings, and remember details. So, that’s been interesting 😉
We also have names for both a boy, and a girl already….I’ll do some name droppin’ in about 10 weeks or so when we know if this little beautiful life is a he or a she…

It’s back to school time- and for us that means a lot of squashing of doctor check-ups, dental check-ups, closet cleaning and shopping  into a few short weeks. It is an exciting time at our house.

All and all guys I am blessed. I hate using that word- I really do.
(it is overused and sounds very holyish.)
So forgive me if it sounds cheesy.

🙂 I reflect a lot.
Part of my Recovery (the LIFE that I LIVE now)
requires a ton of reflecting and it doesn’t just happen on days like today- my birthday.

As I sat back on my birthday, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed; with love, and with thankfulness. No more celebrating by getting trashed and making the entire evening about me, me, me. No more chasing happiness.

Yesterday was just a simple & true celebration of a life that God has allowed me to create, with people who I love, who love me back- and who support me.

There aren’t any better gifts than that for me,  aside from having the opportunity to  experience true rest at the end of a day.

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