A Screw Loose

Thinking about it today, it really saddens me how social media inspires so much targeted hate and stigmatizes mental health even further than it is already. Words are a powerful thing. There is a bonafide difference between your “crazy” ex girlfriend that Facebook stalks you and real, honest, people with mental illness and disabilities. 

9 times out of town a mentally ill person, especially if they are a parent, is not going to purposely call attention to their problems or publicize their fears for the sake of attention (like I said, USUALLY, it depends on the condition of course). They hear all the talk about such and such being nuts, how such and such should of never been allowed custody or have children at all, or how.

I completely understand and agree with ridding your life of toxic people, whether they are to blame with choices or whether it’s a genetic chemical problem. But you’re NOT riding your life of it if you continue to air your dirty laundry by speaking harsh judgements and uneducational and incorrect assumptions whether these are about your “crazy” ex or about a real mentally ill person because though it may feel harmless. The person you speak of may completely deserve your words. 

But what you don’t see is that it’s not just this one person that words hurt or humiliate. By labeling someone crazy, it isolates and ostracizes those that really have a chemical problem and their, innocent, already struggling loved ones. Children. Generations even.  

They hide it. Let predujudices hinder steps to healing, out of fear. They silence the voices of children who love their parents deeply but want and need help. The lies that silence and spread ‘crazy’ propaganda say this is okay. They harmfully raise yet another generation of mentally ill persons unsuccessfully trying to find balance in their soul between their personal reality and the only world they’ve ever known. The one that has forever said who they genetically are, is all they will ever deserve to have and be. 
That’s just not okay at all. But you know, let’s just throw them all in jail and demolish families 

An Open Letter To My “Favorite MiddleChild” On His Birthday

Unlike your brothers, giving birth and raising you never scared me. You were a fussy baby for a few months yes, but you settled in and scheduled yourself without any effort from me. That’s just who you were, and who you remain. You fit so right, so perfectly into my heart, like you were some extension of me. Your personality bubbled and overflowed with silly boyness, and now has become such immeasurable kindness, comfort, and love I don’t understand how in the world you’re my child. I’m selfish. You think of everyone else first. I’m not patient, you wait for appropriate times. 

I’m timid and anxious. You tell me there’s nothing to fear. 
I’m afraid my dear, ive failed you. 
You see, I’ve always heard we need to raise our children _______ way or do ___________ for them and teach them ___________. But here I am eight years later, your Mom, and you have taught me so much and raised me up to be what you needed me to be. For you. You never forget to leave room for daily grace as I stumble through our lives, hoping to get it all right, one day. 
You live, and I’m alive. You smile, and I’m happy. You help others, I stand in amazement. You’re this incredible miracle, a maker of magic, you have so much to give and you never give up, not for anything. 
Not even on me. 
I love you so dearly and pray time will stop, just for a little bit, so I can take it all in. Put difficulty aside, and see what is so right. What is wonderful but temporary. What I know must be recognized, before it’s gone and I wake up to see I have missed it. 
I focused on confound worries instead of the reality of priceless wonders; these flash before me like old projector films. I don’t want to have to cope with knowing I lived around it, this life with you, instead of engaged, soaking it all in to the depths of my heart. 
My love, I know you will grow up (and maybe one day I will as well) leaving this season behind us (though not quite doing so as well) in a mad dash to adult identity and the discovery of your passions. As you rightfully should. 
I would never dream of holding you back; I will most assuredly stand and support you, in whatever calls you. Whatever lights everything inside you up. With joy. With fulfillment. 

Even if it hurts to let go. 
I think letting go is a complex concept. It doesn’t mean forgetting. It doesn’t mean dwelling or not dwelling. It is keeping all that you once were as a memory (and triumph!), all that you are now as wisdom, and all that you will become as an expectant, steadfast promise. 
Life was lived in each and every season, and the next one will surely be just as full, moving, raw, powerful, and miraculous, as the others have been. 
On your birthday, especially, I pray you know what you hold in you. You are not just “the middle child”, best or otherwise. You are not invisible, I see you and fiercely love you as a whole- flaws and all. You are not who you are because of what you do, not even because you’re great at doing your school work or listening to instruction or scoring goals in soccer (though I’m proud!) or helping with chores without complaint. Not even because you take great care of your brothers, looking after them with a watchful eye, when necessary. 
If nothing else, please know that. 

We are going to fail. All of us. If you believe who you are is made worthy by what you do, trust me when I say you will wander aimlessly. Wandering can be wonderful, but not in the vain of hopelessly doing so. Allowing soul depletion. Unhappy. Un-purposefully. Without expectation or the enlightenment to see all you need to utterly thrive, you already have. 
I love the compassionate and helpful things you do; but even if they didn’t exist, you could never ever, ever, even for a minute disappoint or fail me. Never is there a way, a decision, or a developed personality trait that can remove your soul and all its love, from mine.
You are who you are because you exist. You live with all you have inside of you. 8 or 98, you are my son, and all I am is because of you.
Although she referred to her romantic partner in this quote, I find its truth to be remarkably accurate still: 

  .g so. Allowing soul depletion.  could never ever, ever, even for a minute disappoint or fail me. Never is there a way, a decision, or a developed personality trait that can remove your soul and all its love, from mine.
You are who you are because you exist. You live with all you have inside of you. 8 or 98, you are my son, and all I am is because of you.
Although she referred to her romantic partner in this quote, I find its truth to be remarkably accurate still: 

Mothers and Mental Health

 I don’t remember the day or even the year that I learned of my biology. Adopted at three months old, it feels as if that moment never really happened, but that I’ve known since birth.

As much as I am grateful for the life I’ve been able to lead with my mother, father, stepmom, stepbrothers and sisters etc. there is something that always pulls at my heart strings. Moreso now that I am a mother, myself.

My four sisters and I were all separated and adopted by different nuclear families. But thankfully, each of them were very dedicated to giving us as much of a normal childhood as possible. 

They were not threatened, and allowed us days and weeks and phone calls, summer vacations and reunions so we would have the chance to know and love each other. 

Sisters, though different residing states. Now as adults, best friends as well.

However, in the last few years it’s become clear, this tangled web we weave.

Whether by deception or not, we were told our biological parents were very troubled people. They were drug addicts that slowly descended from fairly normal to severely mentally ill. 

They said our mother was schizophrenic and bi-polar and our father was a dangerous paranoid schizophrenic as well. For me, this knowledge was debilitating. I feared nothing more than losing my mind. 

Being crazy. 

Crazy itself did not scare me, it was the notion of slipping into madness unconsciously. Unknowingly. The possiblity of becoming and living in uneducated delusion. These were my dwelling place; these constant dark and looming thoughts.
However, this year has been enlightening. With the passing of the family purse strings, the truth has slowly begun to unravel. Peaking out, finally unearthed.

Our father was certainly mentally ill. Drugs may of been involved, but no one can say for sure. He was in and out of psych units and constantly drifting into and out of our mother’s life. 

Our mother, however, she was and is the kindest, most loving person you’ll ever meet.

The destruction of her mind came from a life, saturated with the many misunderstandings of mental health and those ill and impaired because of it. Tireless, crushing years of feeling the weight of burden, before mental health became more “mainstream”. She alone, carried such burden and guilt. Chained to her own learned inner critic. Vulnerable. 

But the destruction of her world, started with our father. She loved him. She loved him more than most people ever desire to be cared about. 

 In turn, great love inspired deep hurt. Immeasurable destruction is the powerful wrath of misguided anger and brokenness. 

She loved him far more than what would be healthy for her mental state and stability. 

But she knew no other way.

She had issues with anxiety and depression but crazy? No. Drugs? She won’t even take Tylenol for a headache. 

Our mother’s name is Charly and the sacrifices she made for “her girls” remain undoubtedly, selflessly convicting. 

Our mother has a learning disability and a few other non-violent mood imbalances. She processes emotions and stimuli much differently than the general population. She sees the world with such beautiful, simplicity. A way most of us will never get experience. 
She lives and loves in the supernatural peace of a woman who knows her world will ultimately be whatever she chooses it to be. A woman that knows she is the world itself and that she moves and cycles. 

Life circles itself, it is constantly  breaking and building. It’s ever moving, ever revealing, ever loving. Ever after.

Our mother doesnt know, she feels. She doesnt see what is before her, she simply trusts. She does not reason and strategically plan for some ideal, self serving, happy ending and tropical retirement for herself.
She pours out all she has and all she can possibly give. A humble, pure, deep love, though life has never quite dealt her a fair hand. She was a mother. She is a mother. 

Our mother.

For over 30 years our mother thought one day her love would matter more than her IQ. That with time and valiant effort, she would be deemed smart or better or almost responsible enough. 

There was a still small hope she clung to though reality seemed to paint a picture of hopelessness and impossibility. She waited, for years, for her girls to be nutured in healthy environments. 

Not only wanting what was best, but consciously choosing to sacrifice what she could of had, for what was needed. 

Over 30 years have passed and she still believes in time, God’s provision, justice, and humble, obedient prayers. She believes in the soul, connections that breach the borders of legality, disability, and distance. 

She passionately believes in the God of wayward sons and the God who brought his people out of bondage, out of Egypt and rescued from the lions mouth. 

She believes in some way, at some time, God will graciously afford her a way to find us again. And despite the very evident odds that, that would never happen, she never gave up. Never. Not for a single minute.
She prayed and still prays for her girls; got involved in church and community activities. She endured abuse, homelessness, and the vicious judgements of unkind hearts. She used her pain to better herself and bring joy to the lives of others. She worked hard and loved whatever season life brought her to. She dreamt not for herself, but for her girls. 
My name is Mary Lee and on September 25, 1985 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I was born. But not with that name. I was born Crystal Diane and I’m proud to say my Mom is Maggie, my Dad is David, and my stepmom is Sue. 

They love me dearly, fiercely, incredibly, and completely, of which I’m undoubtedly ever-grateful for. 

But then, there is Charly. 

Charly, is my birth mother and the most unselfish person I’ve ever known. 
Charly, is my hero. 

Domestic Violence Stats That Will Blow Your Mind

Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. 

Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.

Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.

Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.

Based on reports from 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted non-governmental organizations, shelters, or the police for help.

The costs of intimate partner violence in the US alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.

Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.

So…is it really “none of our business” when really, this is no longer what happens “behind closed doors”. Domestic violence, child abuse, rape, psychological and emotional control and abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse and perversion, stalking, etc. are right in your living room. They are not in the bed room they are knocking on your front door, at your child’s school, in the front yard of your neighbors house, in your favorite grocery story, in the pew next to you at church, on your Facebook wall, and possibly, sleeping next to you in bed every single night. 

Can we really afford to keep being quiet? Can we really keep excusing this behavior? Can we really look at our daughters and sons and say “if you go to school today and are raped, that means you probably need to wear a different outfit tomorrow ok? Tough it out.” 

Break the silence, or you are just as guilty as a batterer. 

Staycation- Check! 

Okay, how long has it been since you last took a vacation?Getting out of town can be really hard at times…especially with a young family! Travel costs are always on the rise, and a car full of kids (and all of their stuff!) is exhausting to think about. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good vacation – but I’ve always felt like you don’t have to “get away from it all” to have awesome quality time together.

I recently came across this from The Dating Divas, and was super impressed! It was designed by Alexa Z Design, and it is perfection!


There is so much in this awesome pack! I love the idea of a quality “Staycation” – there is so much to do and see in our own hometown, and we never get a chance to go and do it. Not only does it save a ton of money, but I feel like we can have just as much fun staying local.

The Divas offer up a ton of tips to do it right, too, which is key! I feel like not enough people know how to do an awesome Staycation, and I think too many people would treat it like more work than it actually should be. More work = no fun! The Dating Divas really outlined in this pack how to make it just as much fun as an out-of-town holiday.

The Staycation Kit includes:

Staycation Invitation

Summer Vacation Bucket List

Family Activities Itinerary

Kids & Spouse Love Coupons

Summer Staycation Postcards

Romantic Vacation Playlist

Steamy Couples Games (for after the kids are in bed)


I really love the bucket list! There are a ton of awesome ideas on here that make a cheap Staycation possible. There was so much stuff on there that I would have never thought of…I was impressed! The itinerary is fantastic too – it makes planning really easy!


I really love this idea. Who says you can’t send postcards from home? I bet a faraway relative (like a grandparent) would get a kick out of getting this in the mail!

Of course, it’s the Divas – and no Diva vacation would be complete without some fun couples activities for the bedroom after the kiddos are asleep! They have included a ton of awesome “love mix” songs, perfect for a night in with your spouse.
Plus, tons of creative and exciting couples games!

I think I’m a believer in the Staycation! How fun does this look?


You can grab yours here for only $8.99!!

Action Steps

List one thing you’d like to accomplish this year, then list 10 things you must do to accomplish this. 
Think small, make a phone call, look up a phone number or web site, etc.
 
Along any life journey there is a point where a creative wall block is built. Unexpectedly, it’s violently crashed into and melodramatically all hope in life is gone never to return. This is not true, but the wall itself has safely kept any sign of “future” tucked out of sight.
 
Create an action plan for these “valley days”, what will you do to climb this grey wall and live your life with creative zest? Where will you go for inspiration? What words/quotes/etc. inspire and bring you hope of purpose?
 
For me, a while back I put together a folder on my task bar of saved websites I collectively call “my inspirations”, however, before I even open any of these links and begin to read I have to actively (and often) remind myself not to compare my own blog and/or business to whatever site I am about to visit. If I compare myself to it and the success it has found I will NOT feel inspired but instead overwhelmed, unaccomplished, and really rather pathetic. If you can’t tell your inner comparison critic to be quiet then I suggest you not visit any inspirational websites. But try some of the other suggestions below.
 

Get back to simplicity
Read through your own old journals or blogs (I personally have a million…handwritten, and personal ones on Xanga, Live Journal, and Blurty…yeah…taking it WAY back!) Sometimes all you need is getting back to the heart of who you are, and what used to light a fire in you. Before you worried about a mortgage, a real job, kids, making money, being a creative genius every second of every day, meeting deadlines, etc. etc.
 
Make a list
What things consume your thoughts every day? What worries are actually important and which can be given attention at another time. Make a list of all your worries and all the things you need to accomplish this week, a brain dump if you will. Prioritize your tasks and worries and start knocking them out TOMORROW. Not today, today “give yourself permission” to be still. Don’t start a new project, don’t finish an old one, don’t make a deadline, don’t do any of the things that are the most urgent on your dump list. They are important, but you are more important. Giving yourself time to relax, meditate, pamper yourself, simply sit still, alone, and quiet and you’ll see what a violent creative rush will come from self reflection and refreshment.
 
Connect With A New Muse (heck more than One New Muse is even better)
Just because you’re a creative genius, it doesnt mean you are always inspired, nor can you “do life” on your own. Everyone has a muse, someone that speaks life into the heart or who’s writing consistently stirs up the fire in you even when you feel blank and cold. For me, there are MANY inspirational people/bloggers that I refer to when I’m in a funk. But, I’m not going to list alll of them (itd take days…and Im lazy) 
but a few include
White Hot Truth, Danielle Laporte is truely a rare breed. Creative, unique, effective, inspiration, AND is not out to toot her own horn (unless the situation calls for such, haha) but so passionately wants to help others release their creative voice, while giving the tools to do so. I especially enjoyed her Manifesto of Encouragement, What to do inbetween projects She also has a wonderful creative kick e-book study called The Spark Kit.
 
I Grow Up Coach is another awesome resource that also does career counseling, but has some very unique information onsite, including something that honestly was the sole biggest inspiration for me creating this “Spark Your Saavy” blog, and journey of my own, called Tough Tuesdays. Michelle presents probing questions, musings, challenges, and inspirational artwork all in one weekly post. These are similarly, to Spark Your Saavy, designed to revv up the creative, vixen(or the male equivilent) in you. 
 
 
 

Late Musings

 
Can I just come out and bluntly say I’m not your typical girl? But then again I will backtrack and say I don’t really believe in that word at all. “Typical”.
What is typical anyway? 
Is it what is the norm?
Is it just what is the norm for your specific locale- your specific race or age bracket or “profile” (think 5’10 beach blonde Caucasian raised an only child in a decently strict Methodist household in a medium sized suburb of the epicenter of the tourist industry….lol….just in general….ha).
 
What am I supposed to be?
When you see me shopping in Walmart with my cartful of kids, junkfood and no ring on my finger, what is your first impression, honestly? 
 
I muse these questions a lot of the time but in reality, I don’t want to hear your answer. Nope, not really.
This is all about me dahhhling. Bahahahaha. okay. So, truthfully, cross my heart and hope to die, I’m joking.
 
I do want to know. You don’t shape me, define me, make me but you do influence me. Your thoughts, your actions, words, and accusations do have an affect on how I live my life. Who I want and need to be. Who I let myself become. What about you?
 
Do you take the opinions around you, about you, personally? Do you let the negative slide off your back and keep going or do you genuinely look and examine, think that maybe the negative may have a little truth to it and try to improve yourself? I don’t mean taking all things said and done to heart, letting them beat you down and tear you apart, but simply using them to build your character and grow your strength, endurance for healthy self evaluation. 
 

Honestly, my own self esteem has been one of the weakest areas of my life(soul…whatever).
Outwardly, I am this 5’10 blonde with initial shy tendencies but confident, cool, sarcastic, and collected. A (slightly less than) perfect picture of self confidence.
Inside, I’ve fought with my own personal self confidence ‘demons’ for as long as I remember. Whispering the things wrong with me, the things I would never measure up to be, the flawed areas of my life, the ways that made me unlovable and not worth time and effort for anyone. Blame it on nature, nuture, ‘ugly duckling’ phases, alcoholism, unreliable friends, shitty boyfriends, abusive relationships…whatever blame you choose to defer the end result to. 
While alll of these circumstances are true and valid I believe they defeat the purpose of reflection.
I see blame as the procrastination of self reflection, being too stubborn and lazy to take responsibility and accept change and growth. Maybe these situations set me up for confidence failure, but it was simply me who did not want to put in the effort to better myself and the situation. 
I am trailing off a bit, but I wanted to lead ito my real topic of conversation which is rather personal but needs to be said. And I’m the gal who swore her blog would be so open and honest it would make your head spin, so here I am keeping my promise to you, dear reader (you owe me!) 
Boys are my weakness. Always have been, possibly always will be. This is true of nearly any girl but I mean this in a way that for a long time, if he didn’t like me, if he didn’t call back or kiss me goodnight the world was crashing down and I was worth nothing. I let silly two week relationships that failed consume my thoughts, mourning what could of been longer than the relationship itself ever reached. Convincing myself “he” (various ‘he’s) was the one and I was dumb enough to scare him away and why can’t he see I love him.
I didn’t love him. I simply wanted to. It’s ironic how loneliness can play tricks on even the most confident soul.
I have since heard it said that far too often we meet someone and set these expectations for them, look at them in this light of their potential and become blinded by that. We are enthralled by this vision of the person we want them to be, the person we “know they can be”, but aren’t yet. And sometimes that’s all we see.
We assign these fantasy traits and convince ourselves that the fantasy is how they actually are. But, they’re not. We “get our heart broken” and truthfully, it is not that persons fault. It is our own fault by saddling them with this role they would most likely never be able to fill. But of course, when the relationship fails we are quick to say, “well he used to be so different but he’s just changed. What an ass”. We ponder why they have changed and what we did to cause it. Endlessly torturing ourselves with the reason for this ‘drastic’ morphing into this jerk who doesn’t care.
But, being a former, romantically blinded silly girl, I have the right (in your own best interest) to tell you to wake up.
He is not an asshole. This person is not drastically changing. You are not to blame, beyond the simple fact that they aren’t who you wanted them to be. Get out of bed, stop withering away. Stop pining over someone you would eventually see through; someone you would eventually see that they were not your ‘perfect match’.
One man lost is not the whole world. You are going to find someone else. You are not going to be alone forever unless you choose to be. Your life is not over, get out of bed and live it! 
As for me, I am alone now. First time since 9th grade. I will (again) admit that the situation has not been easy for me. I’ve been used to getting what I want, when I want it. Used to only putting in minamal effort (sadly). In short, used to not being alone; and its weird. The kids of course are always physically with me but I often get lost in my thoughts, pondering the next years and for once in a long time thinking about my own self, my own goals, my own dreams that again have promise but were once sacrificed for the sake of living my life in communion with some one else.
Kids come first, but in essence my life now is just about me. What I want. I have concluded over the past two weeks how I want to handle ‘boy’ and ‘relationship’ issues in the next few years. I want to be single at least a year.
Even if Mr. Right comes knocking at my door, if he really is right he will know I need this and will be patient.
He will know that while I’m doing this for myself, in the end it is for him as well. I want whoever he may be to have me at my very best. The confident, balanced, organized, emotionally even keel me that I’m dedicated to becoming in the next year. Growth, change, and daily lessons will of course continue to span a lifetime but, I want a strong starter lap.
After all, they deserve the best as much as I do.
I’m all for having fun, going on dates, getting to know someone, meeting new people. No problem with those situations in the least. I’m not a freakin celibate nun or anything close to that. But I have worn my heart on my sleeve for the last 25 years. On purpose. I actually enjoy vulnerability as allowing yourself to possibly getting hurt is also allowing yourself the chance to jump in and find beauty, love beyond imagination, bliss. I would deal myself a little brokenness if it meant I was closer to an amazing, happy life.
But, for now, I am tucking in my heart. Not to be cold or unattainable, but simply putting it in my pocket, saving it for a rainy day, challenging the one out there to get to know me, keep me in mind, impress me, chase me, sweep me off my feet, invest time, be there, cheer me on, accept all of my flawed self, push me, fight for me, carry me, don’t let go, don’t let me let go, dance with me, dream with me. 

I’m not ready yet, but wait for me, my love. Then, my heart shall surely be yours.  

Play It Safe? No Way!

Is it better to be safe than sorry? I don’t think so. Don’t play it safe, be BOLD!

Do you want to play it safe?

“Research on the attributes that we associate with “being feminine” tells us that the most important qualities for women are: thin, nice, pretty. If you want to play it totally safe, you have to be willing to stay as small, quiet, and attractive as possible.”-Brene Brown

I do not want to live my life playing it safe. I don’t want to rest in conventional, content to rush about in a daze, checking errands off my to do list, putting in facetime where required, doing all the things expected of me. Getting by, by giving up on life, is not my style.

Ladies, safe is not the new black. I don’t want you to play it safe. When we get too used to playing it safe–being small, quiet and attractive–we forget what it’s like to be out in the world, unencumbered and earnest. 

We forget what it’s like to beat on our chest with a Tarzan yell and declare, “Today’s the day to break the rules! To climb trees, write a poem, eat cherries, to live today as if it’s all I’ve got!”

To play is safe requires us to forget that we are overflowing with a unique life force. Overflowing with dreams, and hopes, and an incredible capacity to love. It requires us to make our adventures and goals fit within society’s ruler of acceptable.
Playing safe takes away our opportunity to carve our place in the world. There’s a cosmic space that belongs only to us– it’s our unique contribution to the world– and safe doesn’t allow us to paint it with rainbows, to sing at the top of our lungs, to make millions in the service of others, to dance naked, or to take pride in our quirks.
Safe keeps those differences, those shimmering contributions, from ever emerging. Safe makes us afraid to be big, bold, and unique. Safe makes us forget what that would even look like. Which leads me to this…
How Not to Play it Safe

We are a generation of educated, gutsy women who are capable of so many incredible contributions (from raising amazing children to creating art, from making a difference in our communities to starting businesses, from exploring the world to inspiring others) yet we spend so much of our energy on our outer appearance. We don’t feel good enough unless we “look good enough.” And “looking good” requires being thin, stylish, pretty, and pulled together. All of the time. And seemingly without effort.
Reality check? This is impossible.

Stop letting your outer appearance dictate how your feel about yourself, your life. Stop striving for thin as if it’s the answer to everything. Stop trying to fit in with whatever pretty happens to equal this year.

Be Big. Be Unique. Be YOU.
Strive for healthy, for strong, for capable. Love your body by fueling it properly and moving it and adorning it with fashion you love. Celebrate your unique beauty, the bloodlines that connect you to each and every gorgeous woman in your family.

Deck yourself in sequins, in pinstriped suits, in cowboy boots, in sundresses, in rock tee-shirts—whatever it is that tickles your fancy. Dress for the woman you are, not the one you’re pretending to be. Honor your reality. Practice loving you, as is.

As far as being nice goes… I’m all for kind, for loving, for rose-colored glasses and solving problems with honey. But when nice starts equaling quiet, safe, small—it’s time to break out the bold.

You’re a woman. You’ve got an opinion, a unique take on the world. Make sure it’s heard. Don’t play it safe.

You’re hurting yourself and those around you by agreeing with something that makes you want to pull your hair out. You’re disrespecting yourself by constantly grinning and bearing it. You’re giving up your power by biting your tongue.
There’s a time to be nice. 

There’s a time to get your sass on. There’s time to stand up for yourself no matter what the cost. There’s even a time to pull the bitch card. Don’t be afraid. Be Bold.

Parting Words?

You are a woman, thin or thick, small or big. You are a woman, pretty or unusual, attractive or unique. You are a woman, nice or sassy, quiet or bold.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, ladies, don’t play it safe.

This is your life. Live it with all the guts, glory, and bravado you can muster.

Dive in. Make it Count.

And don’t worry–you’re not alone. I promise you, I’m doing the same.

Your One Wild Life

 
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean- the one who has flung herself out of the grass, the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,  which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

What in your life is calling you? When all the noise is silenced, the meetings adjourned, the lists laid aside, and the wild iris blooms by itself in the dark forest, what still pulls on your soul? In the silence between your heartbeats hides a summons, do you hear it? Name it, if you must, or leave it forever nameless, but why pretend it is not there?” 

Nearly all little boys and girls grow up being asked what they want to be when they grow up, and thus met with typically gender assigned ocupations. Girls must want to be ballerinas and models, boys firefighters and ball players; though most never actually become these things. It is not to say that childhood dreams are a bad thing; they certainly have their place as a means to expand and mature a child’s imagination.
Reflecting back on the dreams of your childhood, we often find that innocence and bold spirit that’s been long forgotten; hidden beneath the years of bills, babies, and making a buck or two. These goals from childhood are fueled by the fervent, confident, stubborn spirit that has yet to experience being let down, dissappointed, rejection and hurt. This innocence is wildly free, the place we crave to go back to as adulthood experiences leave us bitter and confused. Throughout the years we try to shift through the advice of others, current interests, and other factrs to embark on a quest to find what inspires the passionate soul, regains firey determination. You may find a job you initially enjoy, but with time, your growth, maturing interests, and change can leave one a bit disillusioned.
What do you love now? Ask yourself, what hobbies and simple pleasures do you enjoy? Where do you see yourself in five years? What dream or goal keeps nagging you deep inside? What would it take for you to reach the end of your life with no regrets or stones left unturned? What dreams have you labeled ‘impossible’? What things are listed on your bucket list?
Personally, as a child and young adult I determined my destiny to be that of singer, then a writer, a missionary, a nurse, a youth counselor, and a therapist. In college my major changed at least four times, and with the birth of my eldest son, my dreams were put on the shelf for a while. Soon after Aidan, his brother Avery was born 13 months following and brought with him the insane hormones that wrecked me, plagued me with PPD, shut the door and seemed to leave me in the dark no matter what.  
Nothing made me happy, I could not shake the blue and it unfortunately took a toll on my family, frustrating and angering my husband. He tried his best to understand how I was feeling, forgive me, and pick up the slack, but months of this drove him to anger, frustration, and abuse. Though not always physical, I was sentenced to a solitary existance with the only voice I heard telling me I couldn’t, I wasn’t enough, I ruined lives, I would never be strong or smart enough. Dreaming was silly, did I really think I would ever make something of myself? I was foolish girl that can’t even cook without burning it but I think I can change the world? No way, get back to the kitchen, where you belong.      
Three children, one miscarriage, and one divorce later, I am beginning to understand myself and pinpoint what truly ignites my soul. Initially I pursued a journey of self discovery, but have found , ironically, passion and purpose actually pursued me. Destiny followed me, like a shadow waiting for me to turn around, get the picture and run with it. Though I tried to ignore it, these unfulfilled, unaccomplished, unanswered questions kept me up at night, wrestling to keep the notion that I had found my purpose already in being a mother. I lied to myself. While this role of mother is so wonderful and fulfilling, it is not all that I want to be, nor all I am; and that is not a bad thing though I told myself it was.
Dozens of failed attempts to find “myself” later, here I am, a thirty year old mother, person, woman. Here I am, also, a freshly discovered graphic designer, marketing guru, and event planner.
I cannot leave my heart’s unrested battle-cry lay dormant at my feet anything longer. This is the new-age renaissance of creativity, what better time to pursue that which consumes my thoughts, nags my heart, has pulled me from some of the darkest places I have ever been before. I am not afraid of aging, I don’t fear failure, I don’t believe in perfection or am crushed at how I’ll never measure up.

I only fear settling, choosing to do something or work at a job that only lets me live a half life.

Never diving in deep, to the depths of my soul, discovering where my passions truly lie and being aware of their evolution. I just want to take a chance on myself; I just want to live; not survive, but thrive. 

I dare you to do the same.

Unplug Challenge

It’s interesting to me that we so often discuss that social media can be detrimental to our relationships and yet, we never seem to adjust our routines. 

Yes, we are a full blown technological world now. Today I wrote a WordPress blog, stalked my best friends (okay, all of my friends + probably acquaintances too *insert sheepish look*) on Facebook, approved 5 Insta followers, tweeted my new inventory I added to shopify, sent out my gmail newsletter, skype’d a business meeting, and logged onto an online class I’m taking. WHEWWWWW!! 

We spend so much time “being social” and yet, in this world of instant satisfaction and remote connection across the globe, we have isolated ourselves. We connect without any real connection. Coversate but dont fall  off the couch giggling so much we’re crying, with our best friends. 

We socialize but remove the whole relationship part of it, at least not beyond pleasantries and small talk. Where you can look in your friend or child or business partners eyes and engage. Feel their energy. Hold them during a tough time when often, being there has nothing to do with saying the right words. It is no wonder we are in chaos. 

Of course, for many technology is unavoidable and their livelihood. Understandable. But what if real profit, happiness, and success will never be fully realized because we don’t even see the definition of it, and the ways we’re off course, until it’s too late?

We see “social” and ultimately, we see profit and our financial dreams and purpose finally realized. Our reach, span of influence globally accessible. But what if in all of this we are not truly on the path to success? It certainly is different for everyone, but what makes it such, at the end of the day? 

It’s ultimately about people. Relationships. Hugs. Helping others. Connecting both body, and mind, and soul. Finding meaning. Love. Gratefulness. Peace. 

As much as I do enjoy and profit from social media and the like, I would choose really listening to a friend, than a full bank account. 

I’d choose date nights and indoor forts with my boys, then a name for myself. 

I’d choose crafting and crying over wine with my best friend, than knowing all their is about SEO. I’d choose love, successful and fulfilling relationships 
I’d choose just being me. My body. My quirks. My habits. My fitness. My favorite yoga pants. My peace. Over everything social media constantly tells me I should be, act, do, wear, share, and love. 

Maybe real success cannot come until we mindfully unplug and reconnect with the souls we were put on this earth to know, create with, and genuinely, actively love. Including, ourselves.