How to improve your Mental Health in Two Weeks

Motherhood

If being thrown one curve ball after another for the past six months has taught me anything, it’s that you never know what’s going to happen next. You may think that you have everything figured out, that your job is secure, that it won’t happen to you, etc. but it can.

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Before the global pandemic, I planned to travel more, make an effort to attend more birthday parties, bridal showers, and just have game nights with friends. Working in healthcare is weird right now. Nothing feels the same. Distance makes me even more paranoid than I already am. I miss the days where I was running around crazy, being swamped and overwhelmed. I never thought I’d say that, but it occupied my mind.

There are a few things that remain constant and despite everything, I still want desperately to improve my mental health this year. I’ve always had big dreams and to be honest, I’ve accomplished most of my goals. When I’m passionate about something, I don’t stop until the task is finished.

I don’t have anything against medication; however, looking in my purse to find the correct bottle out of the 8 different medications I was prescribed to cope with our family’s trauma is my least favorite thing to do. I want to feel like myself again. I want to feel better, and I know that helping other people feel better in the process would keep me motivated.

I feel mentally drained. Working night shift and then coming home to homeschool 4 children is a lot, but that’s not why I’m drained. I’m drained because I have, for entirely too long, tried to pour from an empty cup. I set everyone’s glasses out on the counter…my husband’s, my kid’s, my coworkers, the organization I work for, photography clients, social media followers, friends, housework, siblings, parents, etc. The list goes on and on but not only did I not fill my glass, I didn’t even set it out on the counter.

Positivity can only go so far when you never take time to reset. I remember last week I sat on the couch staring out the window and I just couldn’t even process anything else. My kids deserve the absolute best version of me, my husband deserves the best version of me, and I deserve to feel better. It’s more than okay to take time for yourself. I just didn’t believe that for a long time or try to find the importance. But I’m getting there. And I want to help you get there too.

I have started a Mental Health Challenge where each day I will do a quick video on different aspects of improving your mental health. For Day One I have encouraged everyone to write down their biggest reason WHY. Why do you want to feel better? This will make more sense as we go along. I am going to go more in depth in my blog each day about each topic and provide additional resources. I can’t wait to get to feeling better together!

My biggest reason why is my children. I want to let go of so many things so that I can be the best version of myself for my children.

 

Lessons Learned from the Worst Day of my Life

Motherhood

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I read something in a book that I really enjoyed about trauma. It’s common for victims of trauma to go days, even weeks without noticing the time passing or the seasons changing. Before reading this, I didn’t realize how true that was for my situation. Hours pass during the day and I have no idea where they went. Typically, I’m a workaholic and I’m obsessed with making sure that every minute of my day is valuable. I don’t want my kids to watch too much TV, or spend too much time away from them. I want to know that I’ve been productive. It’s why I chose to work nights as a scientist, and spend all day with my children.

Trauma sneaks up on you like that. You want the days to pass. I find myself checking my phone more often, refreshing my emails. I don’t even know what exactly I want or what I’m waiting for, but other days I just want the day to pass me by. Sometimes my anxiety comes across as anger because I am angry. I’m angry that this anxiety is an issue in my life now and I don’t even know the answer to the question of, “What are you most afraid of?”. I feel like if maybe I could answer that, maybe I could start to heal.

In the same book, Edward talks about how he doesn’t want to know more details about the worst day of his life, and I can relate to that so much. At the same time, I wonder if the answers would bring me peace. I’ve read that storing trauma can do harm to the body. That in reality, your memory of the event is much stronger when it does sneak up on you when you try to forget that it ever happened.

A part of me died on the worst day of my life. And I can’t just get over it. Sometimes it makes me angry still when someone asks me to do something because I’m not the same person. I know that this happened to me, specifically, for a reason and I’m trying to find the strength to keep fighting it. Sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard that I’m not supposed to talk about it with anyone. As much as I want it to fade away and return to normal, I want to scream out that THIS STILL MATTERS!

I used to feel like the best mom in the world, but on the worst day of my life I couldn’t protect my child. I feel like every day that I continue to be a lesser version of myself, that I’m failing her even more. I go to work, and I don’t feel like a rock star anymore. I just feel like a working mom trying to get through the night that finally realized she can’t have the best of both worlds. Because if I wouldn’t have wanted to be in two places at once, this would have never happened.

Be kind. To everyone. If someone shares the worst day of their life with you, realize that it doesn’t define them as a person. All the days before, and how they deal with that day from here on out still count. Think about your comments. Think about your words. They matter. And as much as I’d like to say they don’t, they do. And I know that one thing I’ll take away from the worst day of my life is that I can be a little more understanding, listen a little more, and alot more open minded.

The Real Reason Why Your Mom Friend is NEVER on Time or just doesn’t Show Up at All

Motherhood

I made this little clip to show what life if like trying to leave the house being a mom of four.

I’m really not trying to be a bad friend, sister, daughter, whatever…but I’m just exhausted. By the time I actually even make it to the car I forget where I’m going and it takes half a day to even make it there. Maybe it’s my ADHD, but I swear it’s the kids. I love these little monsters, but goodness, gracious…we’re just going to stay home…

We can’t find shoes, the TV remote, the dog escapes, the toddler hid the baby in the pantry…I mean I’m drained just chasing them around. And if we actually do make it there…This better be the best dang chicken you’ve ever had in your life!

Do you ever actually make it somewhere and then your kids just complain the whole time? I make some big plans at 2am while I’m at work thinking that I’m so blessed to get to spend all day with my babies. They are the sweetest little blessings, but if we make it to the playground and they don’t swing their little legs off, I might lose my mind (even more so than I already have).

I usually have advice for most mom situations considering I have four kids, but all I can tell you is that you have to pick your battles. If you make it out of the house with your four year old in 12 month pants and mismatched shoes, that’s still a win. If your baby is covered in cheese puffs, I can guarantee it won’t be the first or the last time. And if you’re one of those moms that has it all together and your children walk out of the house with Prada bags, and your baby’s diaper is made of the finest silver you can find…I salute you. But I still got my chicken either way so there’s that.

 

 

When Life gives you Lemons, Play with Sprinkles Instead

Motherhood

Sometimes I forget the beauty right in front of me. I’m too busy picking up the pieces of my life to realize that this mess is my mess…and it’s a beautiful one.

Today we threw glitter, made cookies, and stomped on sprinkles…well, the ones that didn’t make it into the baby’s mouth. We got flour EVERYWHERE. Glitter will probably be found scattered randomly for the next couple of weeks at the least. But we had a fun day.

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There’s still dishes in my sink. But I squeezed my baby’s chubby little legs just to hear her giggle a few more times. We didn’t eat dinner until 8:30 because we were busy rolling out the worst shaped cookies ever.

The perfectionist in me wanted to go back and make perfectly shaped cookies, but the mom in me let my four year old and her very best friend make it the perfect day. In between cookie bakes, they took turns riding on the roomba in the living room.

Sometimes life throws you a new normal. Sometimes things aren’t what we expect, people aren’t what we expect, but we have to keep going anyway.

At 8:30 my two year old told me this was THE BEST dinner EBER. And considering this is the same child that told me my socks don’t match, my hair be crazy, and I can’t dance…I’ll take that as a win.

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Trauma doesn’t have to control you. You don’t have to constantly apologize or explain yourself. Sometimes through our trauma we see some things a little more clearly. Sometimes once you see the evil in the world, smashed sprinkles on the floor feels like a win.

And just to be honest…I like my glittery floors.

So give yourself some grace. And get some sleep.

-The Zombie Mom

 

Sparkle Mini Sign Ups

Photography

Hey guys,

I’m posting this in my personal blog to keep track of everything in one place. If you need to send me an email with any questions instead of filling out the contact form it’s ashleelemay@gmail.com. The link to sign up is right below!

https://book.usesession.com/s/duRT6if6Q

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For tonight only I am extending the offer of booking ONE mini session and getting TWO free. I have some super cute stuff planned for Valentine’s Day and Easter as well as occasionally minis for every day photos. I have some fun ideas I’m excited to share with you guys and I can’t wait to get started.

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In addition, you will receive a short video clip of your sparkle session this year. ❤

I will have some dresses provided, but please check with me as far as sizes so I can make sure I have everything in order. Thanks guys!

 

I don’t give a Sh—Sparkle.

Motherhood

I’m going to keep shining. Here’s why you should too.

 

A couple months ago I took my girls to a concert. We decked out in rainbows and sparkles. My daughter asked me why we couldn’t dress like that every day. When I got home I saw all these comments on facebook about how people “dodged that bullet” or how there’s “no way they’d be caught dead there”. It was one of the many times in the part year or so where I didn’t want to conform to what anyone else’s opinion was because it didn’t matter. Be whoever God designed you to be. 

Their opinion didn’t change that I had the time of my life, and my girls were on cloud nine for days to come. And everything was okay. It didn’t matter. I could offer my opinion, and they could continue being wrong (kidding). I guess I didn’t have a real answer for her. Other than situations where a specific uniform is called for, if you want to stand out…why don’t you? If you’d rather sit at home in your pajamas, do that. As long as you’re intentional and real. 

I like wearing my uniform. It’s human nature to want to blend into a group…find your tribe, be a part of something bigger than yourself. But more and more I’m realizing that maybe I shouldn’t force that on my kids. 

In every aspect of my life that I’ve actually succeeded in, it’s taken me just pushing forward through all the yuck to find balance. I look back on some of the photos I posted when I first started photography and want to delete them, but that was part of the learning process. I learned what did and did not work. I learned so much more than photography from all the times I failed…and the joy that came from being excited to try something new. 

My daughter believes that the sun follows her ever since her dog Sunshine died. My four year old says the sun hurts her eyes and she wished the sun didn’t follow “Sissa”. My two year old just wants me to hold her, and my baby just wants to eat. So rather than take the time to crush my oldest daughter’s spirit when there’s other things I have to worry about, I just choose my battles. 

Studies show that hearing the word “no” too many times can be harmful during childhood. I try to think about my words carefully, and while there are times that I have to say no, I want my children to have every possibility to figure who they are in a positive, healthy environment. One of the biggest things I learned while doing photography full time is that there’s beauty in the bloopers. With the right edit, anything can be beautiful. 

You just have to take the time to see it and capture it while you can

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We were reading the other day and I knew the ending to the book. When the riddle was introduced, my daughter yelled in excitement thinking she had the answer. Instead of just saying “no”, I said “Well, let’s find out!”. Her eyes got bigger and she actually wanted to finish the story. But that’s part of it. She wasn’t wrong, she just didn’t have all the pieces yet. Do any of us?

I could be completely wrong, but I felt more myself with glitter all over my face, singing every word to every song at that Jojo concert than I’ve felt in a long time. I cry when things are magical and I had to fight back the tears the entire concert. 

I don’t have all the answers. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to do the best I can relying on alot of Jesus and a little coffee. But I do know that if these children are only mine for a little while, it’s my job to make it stick. But I’m done fighting back the tears when things are important to me. God is leading me to something bigger, and I want my kids to look back and know that I enjoyed that day and all my days with them. I want them to know that it’s okay to dream, it’s okay to be passionate, and it’s more than okay to not give a sparkle what anyone thinks about it. 

Keep it real and get some sleep, 

Zombie Mom 

 

 

 

How One Year can Simultaneously be the Best and Worst Year of your Life

Mom Life

 

 

Just a few more hours to reflect on the last decade, so here goes. I guess I’ve reached all my “milestones”, so what now? Here’s a few things I’ve learned.

During this decade I’ve been a teen mom, a college student, a photographer, a business owner, I’ve experienced trauma, I’ve lost a baby, I’ve had four healthy babies. I graduated college and started my career. I accepted a promotion. I was room mom and I was homeschool mom. I drove kids to violin and dance and I’ve spent a week in the hospital with my baby who’d turned blue. I traveled to new places. I’ve had very little, and I’ve had what a lot of people would consider to be everything. I’ve experienced post partum depression, and I’ve been told that my endurance has inspired others. I’ve photographed and shared some of the most important moments of people’s lives. I’ve been awake for days at a time in an effort to be fully present with my children, and also work full time at night.

I’ve been evicted due to no fault of my own, I’ve moved more times than I can count. I’ve lived in an apartment, moved back into my childhood home, and I finally purchased my home with a big kitchen and fenced in backyard. I witnessed first steps and lots of baby snuggles. I’ve picked myself up more times than I can count, but I won’t leave this decade crying tears of pain. I’ve jumped off cliffs and I’ve kept up with The Bachelor. I saw a shooting star. I almost died during childbirth, when a concrete stair knocked me out, and in Mexico when I “lived a little” and had to be wheeled back onto the ship via wheelchair.

 

It’s hard to find your village. It’s hard to find people that “get you”. For most of my life I didn’t really have that. I had people I talked to occasionally, and even people I was quite fond of. But I didn’t have a person. In my twenties I found my “people” and I was perfectly content with that. I knew who to run to with questions and I knew who would show up at my kids’ birthday parties no questions asked. I knew who I could text to ask the gross mom questions and who would pray for my baby in the middle of the night.

This year was one of the most challenging years of my life. At the end of this year, I can see that God was staging my life to where I would lean only on him when it came to making life changing decisions. There’s something people just don’t tell you about losing someone that was extremely important to you, especially when they are still in your life. If someone you love is hurt, they can’t “clap for you when you win” because sometimes, there are no true winners.

But what do you do when someone chooses to walk away despite the memories or there not being a real “fall out”? The biggest take away I have from this is that everyone is different. Our differences can lead to misunderstanding, which can lead to pain. But that doesn’t mean that our differences don’t make us stronger...because they most certainly do. My advice is to never stop being open to the idea that people are good, but life is hardWe are all going through it, but not always at the same time. Be understanding and be intentional in everything that you do. Staying bitter will hurt you far more than it will hurt anyone else.

Sometimes we have to create a new normalSometimes we have to stop linking ourselves so closely with others so that we can have time to figure out who we are, how we feel, and what we truly want. I found my voice this year, but I know that without the space to make my own observations without the opinion of anyone else, I would have responded much differently. We naturally cling to relationships that make us feel comfortable, but sometimes the best things in life push you far out of your comfort zone.

It wasn’t a toxic person holding me back, it was my opinion of myself and the power I allowed a person to have over me. I don’t let a mean comment shake me to my core anymore and I don’t stay silent because I’m afraid of what someone else’s opinion of me may be. And I’ve realized that it’s okay to look back on the memories with tears in your eyes and simultaneously be proud of the person you’ve become. Instead of labeling people jealous or narcissistic, maybe we should just take a step back. We are all different.  The moment you feel free, the moment that you felt on top of the world…is the moment you realized that you don’t need validation from anyone else as long as you know you’re doing the right thing.

 

During the worst time of my life, I learned the best lessons. One of them being that true strength is discovered in the moments of life that make you question everything. There’s so much power in having confidence in yourself even in your worst moments, that finding yourself will never be easy. I would have never had the strength to speak out about an issue I was extremely passionate about without first backing away from someone who never truly had my best interest at heart. I didn’t see it at the time, but to become who I am, to find peace, and my new normal I had to redirect my focus.

I’ve been called a great mom, and I’ve had the nation question my parenting because of a choice I made to provide more security for my family. Intentions might not always be seen, but they mean a lot. You should give yourself grace when it comes to that. If you do anything different this year, do just that. Give yourself grace.

And also sleep…sleep is good

-The Zombie Mom

 

 

All Your Obnoxious JoJo Party Tips

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I shared a few photos in July of my daughters’ JoJo birthday party and ever since I’ve had tons of questions (finally getting around to doing this). They are huge siwanators and there was no talking them out of this one. I’ve been forced into themed birthday parties for awhile now and I always stress out about how to make them cute. Anyone who knows me, know that when I say I’m just going to throw a “small get together” I will never be able to stick to it. I found a couple of ideas on Pinterest, but for the most part we had to make and find everything ourselves. Here’s a few tips.

    1. Balloon Arch Kit on Amazon

You can totally just buy balloons and do this yourself, but it’s about the same price and the strip that comes in the kit makes it SO much easier. I got a balloon pumper at 5 below for around $2 and started pumping up balloons a day or two before. Without helium, they will stay blown up for awhile so you’d be okay blowing them up before. There are multiple colors available and the kit was around $15 when I purchased it.

Make sure to alternate sizes. You don’t want all the balloons to be the same size. This will also save you a lot of time since the balloons do not have to be fully inflated.

2. Balloon Clouds and Rainbow Streamers

I purchased most of my streamers at the dollar store. I didn’t spend too much time making sure that each streamer was cut the same length. I just cut strips of each color and taped them over a picture in my kitchen. I would suggest not taping directly to the wall. You could hang a pasteboard on the wall if you don’t already have something in place.

I also purchased white balloons at the dollar store and alternated sizes. Just keep placing balloons until the shape forms like a cloud.

3. Gift Table

I stress myself out a lot thinking that I have to decorate every inch of my house for a party. You don’t. But it’s nice to have a little something when someone first enters the room. I moved the bench from my kitchen table into the living room and propped up floats from five below. If you have a summer birthday party, five below should have floats that go with your theme. For this party, we did a donut and pineapple since they were both featured in a music video. We used them to slide down the water slide too for added fun.

4. Party Favors

I went a little overboard on party favors. I ordered “unicorn poop” which are actually pretty tasty and super cute marshmallows. My cousin found little dogs in purses at Tuesday Morning and she made a sign to place in front of them for “bow bow”.

 

We got twizlers and mini marshmallows to make “rainbow on the go”. CUT THE TWIZLERS IN HALF and do not use every color or they won’t bend properly. This was super frustrating until I figured that out, but after that they didn’t take long to make.

5. Slime

We had a water slide, but I was super nervous about rain. I like to have a back up plan and a back up plan to my back up plan. We got plastic bowls and containers for the guests to make slime and all the colors and sparkles that they might need to add.

You can find many different recipes for slime, and it’s an inexpensive way to keep kids super entertained.

We did this inside because it was sprinkling, but I would suggest doing this outside or putting a tarp down.

6. Food 

We served nachos (one of Jojo’s favs) and they were a huge hit. We just got huge containers of cheese and put it in the crockpot along with nacho trays and tortilla chips.

I am a sucker for homemade ice cream and I have to serve it at every party. Your guests will love it and it’s super easy to make.

I got unicorn cupcakes from Sam’s and arranged them on different cake stands and party platters to make them stand out a little more.

 

Hope this helps! Comment with any questions or anything else I should add! Thanks guys!

 

What You Stole From Me

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My eight year old believed in unicorns, rainbows, The Tooth Fairy, Santa, and ice cream in any kind of weather. She believed that all people were good and she believed that mommy could fix anything. Alyssa has the best heart of anyone I’ve ever met. The only evil she had ever experienced was someone not wanting to play with her, and that could be resolved by playing with someone else. Alyssa is a nurturer. She naturally takes care of everyone, and she knows what people need most of the time. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Because you were watching her.

I knew there would come a time where a boy would break her heart or she would get in an argument with a friend. I knew that I would one day have to explain to her that life isn’t a fairytale. But I never, ever, imagined that something I purchased to add security to our home would be the way someone got to my child, uninvited. I never imagined that my happy, funny, crazy, little girl would spend Christmas break hiding under the covers and questioning life.

Mom Guilt. It’s crippling sometimes. Earlier this year I accepted a promotion that I was super excited about. It was a big step for me. I’m a working mom with four kids and that’s rough sometimes. I work nights at a local hospital and I stay up with my children during the day. It’s such a blessing and most of the time I am so grateful for the opportunity to be home with them that I can make it through the week with very little sleep. It’s a sacrifice I made to make sure that my kids are safe.

I started to become worried when I became even more involved at work that I wouldn’t wake up right away when my youngest woke. I installed a camera in the upstairs and downstairs bedrooms. I had many reasons for doing so. I list these not to defend myself but to say that you just never know someone’s reasoning. My four year old has a history of seizures. My eight year old wanted a way to speak to me while I was at work and I felt like the camera allowed me to be in two places at once.

That last statement is a scary one considering what was to come because I genuinely did feel like I was in the room with them when I would speak and say “Love you, Goodnight” before walking into work. It’s important to note that my daughters were well aware of the camera’s presence and they actually enjoyed having it. They would wave at me, go upstairs and do silly dances hoping I would see. I actually really enjoyed having the camera. But you already know all of that, don’t you? Because you were watching us.

Four days after installation, you hacked into the camera and began taunting my daughter. You claimed to be Santa Claus and asked my daughter if she wanted to be your best friend. My daughter screamed for me and I wasn’t home. We were going on a cruise the next day and I wanted to get a spray tan. I hardly ever leave the house to do anything for myself, and I wanted to look nice on our much anticipated cruise. But you knew what time I wouldn’t be around, didn’t you? Because you were watching us.

Let me pause right here and just say that we’ve had a shit year. Excuse my language, but there’s no other word for it. We needed this cruise.

My husband’s mom is a complete nut job and wouldn’t give us a copy of his birth certificate. So, here we are, the night before the cruise that I’d had booked since June and we are having to leave ridiculously early to go to vital records and hope that we can get a copy of his birth certificate to go on the cruise. I leave to get a spray tan while he’s looking for his birth certificate and I get a text message asking if I’m messing with the kids.

….I’m like uh, no…what are you talking about?

He tells me that someone is playing “the tiptoe song” (Tiptoe Through the Tulips) through the camera and interacting with my daughter. I was gone for literally five minutes and this happens. But you know that too, right? Because you were watching us.

Side Note: And people wonder why we have mom guilt?

I pull in the driveway and watch the video and I literally can’t believe what I’m watching.  My immediate thought is that someone was trying to gain her trust to either ask her to harm herself or lure her out of the house. Luckily my daughter responded the way that she did, but it wasn’t over at that point. Our story received international attention and we received backlash from the company, and on social media. The only thing that made me feel somewhat in control of my life was being able to speak out on the issue of security and human trafficking.

We found out that the hacks that were happening all across the country were linked to a podcast that was taken down by Discord due to, among other reasons, being related to human trafficking. I felt a duty to protect my daughter, but also make sure that this couldn’t keep happening to other people.

I learned a lot about security and privacy and I’ll discuss that in another post but for now I just want to address the fact that we should trust our maternal instincts. And I shouldn’t have had to explain evil to my daughter because of a sick man who gets a thrill out of terrorizing a little girl. I lay awake hoping that there aren’t videos of my children naked circulating on the internet. I have to calm my daughter down because at 8 years old she’s having nightmares of someone breaking into our house with a gun. Those unicorns she believed in? Now she dreams of evil unicorns. I mean…even her nightmares are the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. She’s so innocent. How dare you?!

I hope you’re reading this. I hope you know that because of you we can’t enjoy our first Christmas in our new home that we worked so hard to achieve. I hope that you know because of you I had to explain racism to my eight year old daughter who didn’t see gender or color. I hope that you know you’ve turned my entire life upside down and I’m forced to answer questions that no one knows the answers to. Because of you I know that my children aren’t safe anywhere and I feel guilty every time I leave them. Because of you, I’ve received comments about why I had a camera instead of why you are just a sick, twisted individual.

I’m so angry. I don’t even know where to place my blame so I have no choice but to pray for you. And I do. I pray that you get help. I pray that you don’t do this to anyone else’s child. I pray for closure. And I pray you find Jesus.

I have four girls and you stole the moment that I got to ease their fears and tell them that everything would be okay. I’m not perfect and I don’t get everything right but I had faith in the fact that I was a good mom. I knew my kids and I made informed decisions. But now they don’t fully trust my decisions. Because you thought it would be funny. Or maybe you didn’t think at all. I don’t even know who you are and you’ve taken so much from me.

I want you to know that I forgive you, and Alyssa forgives you. There’s power in forgiveness. I want you to know that this isn’t funny or okay. You saw a little girl at an impressionable age and you KNEW that she was innocent. It’s like that made it better for you. And I’m angry at myself for even saying this, but I feel bad for you. I don’t even know who you are and I still want you to find peace.

I’m getting my daughter back and I’m telling you now that you don’t have power over me anymore.

Signing out.

 

5 Things You Should Know Before You Speak Out

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Recently I went through something that no one had much advice on. Everyone asked for my story and was in tune with the information that I could offer them. With what started as a warning, quickly came the stress of being in the spotlight for something I wished never happened. To be honest, I don’t think that my life will ever go back to “normal” because how do you find “normal” again when you are put through something that makes you face the true evil of this world. Attempting to explain to your eight year old daughter that some people just enjoy tormenting other people is a conversation that wasn’t included in my parenting handbook (if anyone has it in their manual, please feel free to send a copy my way). DSC_0604We are all so very different, yet very much the same in so many ways. I connected with so many people who reassured me that I was doing the right thing, and others who couldn’t see past a minor untrue detail to even read my story. I realized something about myself during this time that has kept me holding on to the faith that one day I will find a new normal. I’m a talker. I don’t see black and white at all. Everything is a bright, sparkly, spinning rainbow. When I believe that something is wrong, I can’t just “let it go”. I don’t have a filter, and I don’t sugar coat things. I’ve been held back for a long time because of my choice to let other people’s opinions silence mine. At the end of the day, I am who I am. Take it or leave it, I’m exactly who God designed me to be and I won’t feel sorry for that.

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 1. Not everyone will agree with you. Let’s be real. Most people won’t even take the time to know all the facts before they judge you. But that’s okay. It takes all kinds of kinds. Remain open minded and take the hateful comments as reassurance that there needs to be more awareness. To elaborate on this just a little, you may be surprised to find out that people who you thought were in your corner never really were. It’s sad, but it’s also liberating. When you stop caring about the opinion of those who never really cared about your well being, you can literally change the world.

2. People don’t always know how to respond. Finding your voice can be empowering, but it can also be terrifying. I’ve found that it’s alot easier to respond to someone’s weaknesses than their strengths. We naturally respond best to people we relate to. Sometimes taking a different path inspires others, but before you can inspire anyone you have to realize that being different isn’t always a bad thing. Someone’s negative response doesn’t change the facts, and it shouldn’t change your mind or your heart either. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t tune in to those that are listening to you and make sure that you are wording your message correctly. But don’t let a response stop you from doing something important. Throw glitter all over that negativity, and keep on sparkling.

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3. You can’t only be passionate when you’re winning. If you’re going to express who you are, do just that. If you believe in something, believe in it wholeheartedly. No one said that it would be easy all the time. If something is important to you, any time you hit a road block can be disheartening, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Quite the opposite actually. *Insert cheesy quote about how everything in life is worth fighting for here*

4. Sometimes what you don’t say says a lot. Know when to engage and when to ride it out. The moment I realized that not everything deserved commentary, I became a whole lot stronger. I like to talk. A lot. But there’s a time and a place for that and you can learn so much by listening.

5. It’s worth it. Finding my voice was the scariest thing that I’ve ever done, and that says a lot considering I’ve given birth to four girls (ha!). Sometimes I still want to just throw in the towel, go off the grid, and not comment anymore. But at the end of the day I have to remember why I spoke out in the first place and you should too.