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December 21, 2015

Real Talk: Where I've Been the Last 6 Months

I have written this blog post a thousand times in my head.
I've had so much to say, but it seemed so daunting to actually start. And more so? So scary and draining to actually be vulnerable.

Many of you have so kindly emailed me to check and see if I'm okay, noticing my number of blog posts dwindling down to once a week. Nothing original or inspired to grace the wall of this humble little blog, and for a very good reason.

This past year has been one of the hardest years in my life.
My heart has been heavy and my mind distant, full of some many other things.

Important things.
Heavy things.

In this past year, I was given my dream job at Ronald McDonald House Charities, which both incredibly inspires and excites me, as well as sometimes making my heart hurt at times. Broken kiddos going through cancer and awful diseases, and their burdened families who all simply need so much love and kindness, but as you can imagine... sometimes it's hard not to take work home with me, but I'm working on it.

I've also had lots of health issues beginning in the late spring - bone spur and feet problems (read: walking boot of death - ha!), herniated disk in my back, and skin cancer removal surgery. As a result, I haven't been able to workout and de-stress after work like I so badly need. I never knew how much I would miss those sweaty grueling [read: awful!] workout sessions until I gained 20+ pounds, and my self-esteem flew out the window.

On top of that, I have felt extra tired and achey, as exercise is the main way I manage the side effects of my fibromyalgia pain - a chronic auto-immune disease where the nerves tell your body you're in pain constantly - and it leaves many feeling like they have the achey flu most days. Exercising was my life line to stay healthy, feel good about myself, and mentally decompress. I so badly wanted to feel like me again.

Aside from my personal struggle, many of my closest family members and friends have been suffering with so much this year: depression, job loss, health issues, infertility, death of a loved one, overwhelming anxiety, miscarriage, eating disorders, heartbreak, work worries, waiting to receive a transplant, divorce... and the list goes on.

Now that's heavy. And real.
Just heartbreaking.

From the end of the earth will I cry to you. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. - Psalm 61:2:

Finally, without knowing how to cope with my own stress (disordered eating, self-acceptance, personal development), as well as being a caregiver for my hurting family and friends, I finally began counseling this summer. It took me forever to get past the stigma of counseling and be able to go, but once I did I've never known such freedom. Finally a healthy outlet where I could vent, cry, share victories, get help, and simply breathe. And breathing is so very important, especially when you feel like you are drowning. So thankful I had such a kind and loving counselor confidant full of wisdom and help (thanks for being you, Lindsey!).

During that time I really struggled with posting on my blog, especially light and fluffy things - like fashion, recipes, and cool gift ideas for the holiday. I've also missed reading other friends' blogs too. In my world, all time and space slowed down with every moment feeling fragile and occupied... no room for extras. Being a prisoner of worry and sometimes hurt while feeling overwhelmed quite simply left me empty and uninspired.

I was angry, sad, mad at God, felt alone, confused, overwhelmed, and lost all at once.
That's when I realized it's okay to pull back. It's okay to not post on my blog, or question what was happening, or not cook a gourmet meal each night, or have a perfectly clean house, or say no to meeting up with friends. And the truth is, it's okay to simply be present and take care of yourself (and not feel obligated to apologize for it)... and that took a long time for me to realize.  It also taught me to identify who my "safe" friends/family are - those who have unwavering trust and will walk with me every step of the way, navigating uncharted waters.

So thankful for the unconditional love and perseverance of my incredible husband, the care and gentleness of my best friends, the support of my family, a great counselor and nutritionist, and for each and every one of you who sent what may have felt like a very little note my way. On countless occasions, just the simple "checking in!" brought tears to my eyes and meant more than I can truly express. Thank you for caring.

After months of repair and healing, I feel brand new! Back feeling like myself again and I cannot wait to jump back into what I've missed so much. I've so missed connecting with each of you, reading your wonderful blogs, and feeling inspired to share as well. Although I may have lost some readers over the past 6 months or so, I am so thankful that you are here reading this post and letting me share this journey with you.

I know in some weird way God will use my story and struggles in a special way to someone who maybe needs to hear they are not alone. That someone else has been there too and I can possibly understand a small piece of what you may be struggling with.

And maybe that someone is you?
If so, you should know...

You are stronger than you know, and so deeply loved.
It's okay to not be okay.
You will get through this... so take heart, my friend!
It is not the end of your story.
This is your new beginning.
Everyday, God is still good, in heartache and triumph.

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