Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Power of Letting Go

Remember that overused song, "Let It Go"?
Oh, you do?
 
Yeah, me too.
 
I kind of wish that song wasn't overdone on every Youtube channel and Facebook page and meme on Pinterest because I actually really love it.
 
When I sing it around the house, I belt it as loud as I can.
Because I know.
I know what the power of letting go can do for a person.
I have been the recipient of some pretty painful experiences brought on by the choices of others and although it hasn't been easy, I have seen the power of letting go of anger and turning that into empathy.
And I don't use the word power lightly.
 
When you are able to let go of the anger you have toward another person, you start to see them as a person who has faults, just like you and I. You start to recognize that the hurt they have caused is probably due to a more deep rooted problem and wasn't specifically directed at you.
 
I know for me, the person who has hurt me the most is a person I can relate to now. I understand him. I see the choices he has made and I could've been the one to make those same choices if I had been in his situation. I understand the fear of losing everyone you love. I understand the fear of shame and judgement. I get it.
 
I hate that I get it.
 
I hate that he felt that way.
 
I hate that so many people endure these same fears on a daily basis.
 
The second I let go of my anger, it became clear why this past year played out the way that it did.
I still don't love it. And I still wish I could've done something to change it.
But it wasn't mine to change.
 
The only thing I can do now is try to understand the situation and have empathy for everyone who was involved---and for me, that includes my ex-husband.
It includes the heartache my children have faced.
And it includes having empathy for myself.
 
When I make a wrong choice or I say something really stupid, I am going to try and have empathy for this imperfect person that I am.
She needs my love.
She needs my empathy more than anyone else in the world.
 
The hardest person for me to love is the person typing up this post. It is hard to look past every imperfection and see what other people can see. It is hard to process the thoughts in my head and realize they don't make me a bad person.
 
The power of letting go has allowed me to show empathy to the people around me who have hurt me.
 
When I let go, I am unstoppable---which is ironic since I have an eating disorder and OCD, two places where letting go is ESPECIALLY hard and where I feel like I'm in control. But the reality is that letting go means letting go of the reins and saying, "God, I may not understand all of this but I'm going to trust you anyway."
 
"Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway."
 
I have seen the middle of some pretty dark storms but with the help of my Heavenly Father, I have been able to endure them and find empathy for the creators of those storms.
 
{Warriors don't give up.}

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fearfully Brave

I shared this picture on my Facebook last Sunday because I was struggling to figure out how I was going to make it another day.
Last Sunday, I was so defeated. I had been parenting alone for over a week with only one 4 hour break. I hadn't had an overnight break from my kids in a month. My house had been hit by a tornado of messy, sticky children and I just didn't feel like I could keep up. And that Sunday night, I had found out that I was most likely going to be parenting alone for another 7 days.
It doesn't seem like a lot. It's just 7 days, right? But between work and school and meetings and homework and cleaning and parenting...I could barely stand the anxiety I was feeling.
I layed down on my bed and cried.

But after some sleep and snuggles from the children who make my life full of ups and downs, I took life one day at a time.
{And I do have to say that the kids' dad ended up taking off two days of work to help out}

The thing is, I will always be a work in progress. Divorce didn't come with some handbook on how to do everything correctly. I've gotten so darn angry sometimes, I've felt so defeated sometimes, and other times, I've felt immense amounts of relief and happiness. This isn't something I worked into my life and thought, "Well, that looks like it might be fun to try out!" I didn't birth two children with the intentions of raising them 75% of the time on my own.

So there are days I fall so far down that I'm not sure I can crawl my way to the top. There are days I get anxiety about really simple things because I'm afraid that my life could be ripped out from under me once again.

This life I live wasn't some dare. It wasn't about two stubborn people who weren't willing to work on their marriage so they just decided divorce would be easier. On August 23rd, 2013, divorce wasn't something I would've thought we would be facing and yet, a day later I was staring the possibility of divorce right in the face.

I deal with the backlash of divorce every day. My daughter still cries a lot that her dad isn't there to tuck her into bed most nights. Yesterday she told me that she will never be ok from all of this.

I got through this week because my friends and family carried me. I got through this week because I prayed and my Heavenly Father sent me miracles. I don't need these things every week but this week, I did. I needed extra help and it was there for me.

Life is just one challenge after another, mixed with a lot of beauty to make each challenge worth it. This week didn't disappoint. Along with the anger and the anxiety, I was filled with joy throughout each busy day. I was able to smile and laugh and be a mom and work and go to school and be successful. I was able to buy a new pair of shoes and take my kids out for a birthday dinner at Red Robin (Did I mention my little guy turns FIVE this week?!!). I was able to read scriptures with my kids before bed two nights and listen to General Conference with them this weekend.

It isn't all bad even though sometimes the bad tries to consume me and convince me that my life sucks.

Although I'm exhausted and I often feel unable to take another step, I've kept going so far and I plan to keep going from here on out.

I'm going to make it. You're going to make it.

The future I had hoped for has burned to the ground but in it's place, I can choose to rebuild a new future.

I'm going to make it.

It doesn't matter what I face. I have faith that with the help of my family and friends and my God, I will be able to wake up to a new tomorrow each and every day.

When I am consumed with fear, someone always seems to be there to remind me that I am worth it. I am worth every ounce of love another person is capable of giving. Although I was abandoned and heartbroken last year, I am still worthy of love. I am worthy of someone's eternity.

I am worthy because I am a daughter of God and I believe He has a plan for me.

I am brave because I chose to wake up and live today.

I am breathing through my fears and that is brave.

Being brave does not mean never being afraid.

Monday, September 22, 2014

ANASAZI Lessons

 Raising children is hard.
Going to school is hard.
Working is hard.
Keeping my house clean is hard.

Trying to do all four of them as a single mom is hard.

And lately, I feel like I've been failing in at least 3 of these categories at a time. I've been so overwhelmed. My eyes start to droop around 7pm because I'm just so exhausted. I don't know if I've ever felt this exhausted, not even as a mom of a newborn. But maybe I just forgot what that felt like.

I've had so many nights where I lay in bed and wonder how I'm going to get everything done the next day. How am I going to have time to sweep the floor and fold some laundry and do two homework assignments and give my kids quality time with their mom?

And the thing is, I don't have time for it all. That would explain the sticky floors, the sink full of dishes, and the laundry that's been sitting in the washer for a few days. It would also explain the amount of tv my kids have watched in the past week.

I've felt like a failure so many times in the past week and most nights, I'm so close to tears when I think about the times I told Petey she had to pack her own school lunch or get her and her brother breakfast because I just couldn't do it.
But we've pushed through. When I feel like I can't keep doing this, I keep doing it anyway. I just focus on one small step at a time.

Today as I was thinking about one of my favorite motto's, "I can do hard things", my mind went back to 17 year old me.
 This is her. Her name is Kissing Sun Firefly and she spent six weeks of her summer learning how to make fire out of wood and a piece of rope, cooking with a tin can and dried foods, hiking 20+ miles a week with everything she had on her back, and sleeping under the stars every night.

Out there, I learned what it means to do hard things. There were so many nights I would cry myself to sleep because I was so lonely out there. I often felt misunderstood by my parents and even by my group of youngwalkers and trailwalkers. That first week was physically exhausting and I got so dehydrated that I was vomiting uncontrollably during one of my first big hikes.

I remember feeling like I would die out there. I remember being so embarrassed that I had gotten dehydrated and I wondered how I would ever make it. But I kept focusing on one more step and then one more and one more until finally, I had made it to our week's destination. I remember the tall grass, the ants all over the dirt, and the girl with the curliest blonde hair I'd ever seen reading her Book of Mormon to me to calm me down. I layed there under the sun, wondering how I had gotten from point A to point B without dying.

I felt like I had accomplished something so incredible that day.

A few weeks later, we were hiking through a dried up river bed and I had my hands through my sleeping bag/backpack and all of a sudden, I tripped and my hands weren't able to catch my fall. But my face did. I could feel my lip swelling as the blood ran down my chin. I couldn't do this anymore! Hiking was too hard. I couldn't handle being out in the middle of nowhere and getting hurt. But I kept going that day. I cried a lot because my battle wound really hurt but I kept hiking and we made it to our destination. That afternoon, I walked down to the dried creek bed and sang, "For Good" from Wicked over and over again. I cried. I sang. I listened to the wind. I felt peace. I knew I could finish this hard thing. I knew I could work things out with my parents and believe in myself.

I knew I could do hard things.
ANASAZI taught me lessons I still apply in my life. It was a turning point in my life. I was strong before ANASAZI but when I came back from those six weeks, smelling worse than death but feeling happier than I had in a long time, I was a warrior.

And I'm still a warrior.

I have felt so much failure recently that I have to take a step back and look at the big picture. Sometimes the small picture doesn't show me what I've accomplished because it emphasizes all of the things I'm doing wrong.

But the big picture---the big picture shows me how far I've come and how much I am capable of enduring.

So tonight, I'm not going to focus on my messy house or my children that went to bed in their school clothes. I'm going to focus on the fact that I worked five hours and came home and did homework with my daughter while babysitting two extras, and then I took 3 online quizzes and got all A's and wrote an essay.

And now I'm here and it's ok that I'm still not choosing to clean. I've done enough for today.

I can't do it all but I can do enough.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Breathing, Living, Learning, Growing

I am a huge fan of music. Music helps me cope with a lot of things in my life, especially this past year.
Lately, I've been going back to the same two songs most days.

Colbie Callait's 'Try': I have been listening to this on repeat as I sit in the carpool pick up lane at my daughter's school and start to feel anxious because that 20 minutes in the carpool lane is often my only quiet time to think about life. I turn it on when I look in the mirror and realize I was brave enough to fight my eating disorder and get myself in recovery months ago and now I'm here---and it seems like just yesterday I was there. And then I start to worry because am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I smart enough? Am I a good mother? Am I worthy of someone marrying me and taking on the responsibility of my children? Will I be wonderful enough that a man would choose to do that when he could marry someone who doesn't have kids and an ex husband?

These are real thoughts and they run through my head a lot. A lot.

"You don't have to try so hard. You don't have to give it all away. You just have to get up. You don't have to change a single thing."

I feel so unworthy of dating. I feel so unworthy of love. But Colbie helps me remember how hard I'm trying and how I don't have to do that. The right guy and the right friends will love me not for how hard I try but for who I am---for who I am right this very moment.

Christina Perri's I Believe is also at the top of the list. Everytime I hear the last line of the chorus, I can feel in my heart the exact words being sung.

"I have died so many times but I am still alive."

Because I have died. I have felt loss and abandonment and insecurity times a thousand this year.

But I am still alive. I am still fighting. I am still moving on with my life.

I'm trying to be the mom my kids need and the provider they need and still be me and do things for myself.

If you're wondering how well that's working for me, refer to my mention of anxiety above...

But this is life and I'm fighting through it. I'm still breathing. I'm still waking up every morning.

These past few weeks have had a lot of hard moments intertwined with the normal busy chaos. I was planning a trip to Las Vegas with some friends and in that same week, Spidey started having meltdowns that I was leaving him so much.
I tried to spend quality time with both kids before leaving but as I drove away that night, I felt so much guilt. Because although I knew I needed some time to myself, I felt like the worst mother for walking away at the worst possible time.
I was having an incredible time. The days were some of the best I've had in a long time. But each time Spidey would call and cry, I would feel so torn between relaxing and just getting back to him and holding him.
Each day, I was laughing and relaxing and having some of the best conversations with some of my favorite people and each night, I prayed so hard that Spidey would feel comfort and that he could just enjoy his time with his dad.
Just leaving on this trip was brave for me. I have never been on a girls trip that didn't involve family members. I knew that when we started planning this, it would be tricky. Because although I have a few friends I tell everything to, I have so very many friends who mean so much to me and I've never been a fan of "clicks".

But it ended up being totally fine and I'm grateful for that because I worried about it. And I'm not the only one who worried about it.
These girls have been through a lot with me. Three of them spent the evening at the temple with me the night my husband left me. The other two have been equally incredible this year. I know this trip wasn't just planned by me and it definitely wasn't for me alone but it certainly was a perfect way to remember where I was a year ago and look at where I am today.
These friends were some of the first to know what was happening as my separation turned into divorce and they have checked in on me, even when I just wanted to stay in bed all day and cry.
Visiting the Las Vegas temple was high on my list and I'm so glad we fit it into our weekend because it was one of the highlights. I had the opportunity to really feel peace and relax and I stopped worrying about the kids for a while and think about what I needed in those moments.
Did I mention I was brave enough to wear my Porn Kills Love tshirt as we walked down the strip of Las Vegas?

The second we decided to go to Vegas, I knew I wanted to wear this shirt because this subject is something I believe so strongly in.

This is something I will never back down from. Ever.

As fearful and intimidated as I get around people, I just cannot take a back seat when the subject of pornography is brought up.

This week, in my Philosophy of Sexuality class, we watched an amazing video by the XXX Church about how porn kills. It was powerful and yet, I already knew what most of my class would think about it. As the video started, so did the snickers. The girl in front of me kept whispering to her neighbor, "That's so dumb. Porn kills what?!" and I wanted to shout, "PORN KILLS LOVE! IT KILLS MARRIAGES AND FAMILIES AND CAREERS!"

I could feel my heart beating all the way from my forehead to the tips of my toes. I felt like the video was going on forever and I wanted it to end because I knew what would happen next.

When it finally ended three hours eight minutes later, my teacher asked what our thoughts were and without another second, my hand shot up in the air. I took a deep breath and said something very similiar to this:

I know that my opinion won't be very popular among this class. I could hear the snickering and the confusion of what porn kills. I could see the eye rolls and the shaking heads. And I get it. Before last year, I didn't quite understand what pornography was capable of either. But my marriage was ruined because of pornography. My husband left me last year and my kids have had to endure our divorce and all of the pain that comes with their feelings of abandonment. Porn kills love and even if you think that statement is dramatic, I am living proof that it can be a true statement.

Pornography addiction has caused enough trauma in my life that I no longer am willing to sit in a room and not share my opinion if the subject is brought up. I knew I would not have an audience of people who understood what I have lived through but I will never regret that opportunity I had to share a part of my story with a room full of young college students.

I used to view pornography as bad mainly because of my religious beliefs but I never really knew what an addiction to pornography is capable of doing to an individual, to a marriage, and to a family.

There were some hard moments, walking around Vegas and seeing pornography and a lot of other things that made my heart so sad. This really is the world we live in.

I guess if I could just have one wish come true from all of the things I've learned it would be that each and every one of you who decides to click on my posts and read my words will do whatever you can to protect your families from pornography. And also that you'll love the people around you and have compassion. We can't understand everyone's situation but we can make a goal to try and remember that everyone has a story and everyone has trials. Try not to be hard on the people around you.


I am still alive tonight, friends. Although I've been so broken for so long, I see healing and the possibilities that come with moving on. When I look back on everything I've done this past year, I am hopeful that this next year will be full of even more growth.

God stretches me and teaches me and I am trying my hardest to learn what He wants me to learn.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

And God Said, "Slow down!"

 Once upon a time, I was in the school counselor's office trying to figure out how to graduate from community college by May 2015. It was decided that I would take 17 credits Fall '14 and 15 credits Spring '15 so that I'd be ready to graduate and transfer to ASU.

I chanted the, "I can do hard things" quote in my head over and over again as I signed up for 6 classes and tried to figure out a schedule that worked for my life.

Sigh...

It took most of the summer. I kept leaving the task for another day because it was stressing me out.

Sometimes being a single mom sucks. It was so dang hard to find a schedule that would fit the classes I need and keep us in a mostly normal routine.

I finally did it and signed up for all Tuesday/Thursday classes, all during the day---except for one stupid class that I could only find on Thursday nights.

I figured the sacrifice would be something I could handle for four months. And the thing is, it was possible.
But right when school started, I decided to go back to work. And right when I decided to go back to work, Spidey started preschool.

And right when all of this happened, Spidey started crying a lot when he would get dropped off to babysitters.

And my mom guilt became a huge burden because all I wanted to do was quit everything and stay home with him all day, every day.

So let's recap:
A week into my new job and school starting, I was ready to throw it all away.
A week.
 Well, God knows me. He knows I won't just quit, even when things are really frickin hard. He knows I'll kill myself until I get everything fit into our crazy schedule.

I'm the least perfect perfectionist in the entire world. Our house is crazy, our schedule is crazy, and my kids are sticky-faced and wearing mismatched shoes.

But I'm really hard on myself and I try to fit it all in and get it all done.
 Well, due to some unforseen circumstances, I was dropped from my Thursday night class. When I found this news out, I had a moment of panic and I just wanted to crawl in a hole. But following my panic, I felt an incredible amount of peace come over me and I felt like God was saying, "Slow down!"

He knows how busy we are. He knows that it's hard for Spidey to get used to having a working mom. And I feel like he found a way to teach me that it's ok to slow down a little bit.

I can't be a super mom. I can be the mom that my kids need but I really can't be much more.

Most days, I'm just hanging on by a thread. I've been struggling a lot lately and I just can't seem to find my bravery that everyone else seems to believe I have within me. I'm not giving myself breaks. In fact, I've been pushing myself harder than ever before.

So God said, "Slow down." and all I could do was nod my head and realize that He is right.
I have my whole life ahead of me. I'm only 26 years old and my kids are still young. We can slow things down a tiny bit sometimes. As much as I want to rush through school and be able to provide a better life for my kids RIGHT NOW, I feel a whole lot of peace tonight as I think about how rushed we already are.

I can do hard things...but I don't have to push myself farther than I need to right now.

It's ok that I need to slow down. It doesn't make me weak. It just makes me human.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back To Work!

 Four years ago, I was faced with a really hard decision.

Keep working or quit my job.

At the time, Petey was 2.5 and Spidey was 9 months old. It had been really difficult for me to continue working since Spidey had been born but I knew that is what our family needed me to do at that time.

But 9 months into his life, the possibility of staying home became more of a reality. I prayed about it and decided to put in my two weeks at Gilbert Pediatrics.

And for the past four years, I have been a stay at home mom.

I have loved so many things about these past four years. I have loved being with my children and taking them places and having more freedom to make our own decisions of what our day would look like. I have loved watching them grow up from babies into school-age children and being their main influence during these times. I realize just how lucky I am to have had these past four years.

Then a year ago happened. And when a year ago happened, I was faced with another heavy decision---keep staying home or go back to work. And again, I found myself on my knees, pleading with my Heavenly Father to find a way for me to continue to be with my children. With all of the issues they have had, they needed me this year. I don't doubt the decisions I made.

But now I am in a different situation. A year has gone by and I have a child in school full time.

Then my baby decided to go and start preschool...
Really? Is he really old enough for this?

And last week, my sister asked if I would be willing to help her catch up on some billing things down at Gilbert Ped's and I told her that would definitely be a possibility for a few weeks.

And I can't even describe to you how everything has fallen into place. From the preschool schedule to the babysitting to the timing of this job, it has all kind of worked out.

I could do it for two weeks. I knew I could. Even though I wouldn't be there to pick up Spidey from his first day of preschool, we would get through this and he probably wouldn't even care.

But after working most of the day on Friday, I started thinking about how much I love working for my dad's office and being in that environment and I started budgeting and looking at the financial difference it would make.

And so I made a proposal to my sister and my boss and asked for a part time job.

So now I work.

I am a working, single mother of two and a FULL TIME STUDENT with 17 credits.

I might lose all of my hair by the end of the semester but I know that this is what needs to happen right now.

My mom guilt has set in and I made a phone call to Spidey when he got to the babysitter's house after school today to see how preschool went. Of course, he talked for about 5 seconds before handing the phone back.
 It is REALLY hard for me to think about the fact that I am leaving him 5 days a week between work and school and then I have to give him up every other weekend. I am going to miss our leisure mornings together, snuggling up on the couch and talking about life. This kid has been my life for the past four years. My identity has been mother and I have loved it. I still love it. But now I have other identities.
 Just as it was hard to let my big girl go to school ALL DAY, it is going to be an adjustment to get used to being away from my boy.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have the opportunities that I do and there may be a day where I am a stay at home mom again.
But for now, I will make the most of the afternoons I have with my kids and the weekends we get to spend together.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bright Effects

 In the past year, I have been through a hell I didn't think I'd ever have to go through. I just didn't. But really, who plans their divorce before it happens?

Anyway, I realize how much I've been focusing on the hard lately---mostly because lately it has been hard---but there have been some pretty incredible things that have happened in the past year.

In January, the word I picked for 2014 was brave. I knew I would need to be brave as I pushed forward through a divorce and school and motherhood. I knew I would need to find myself this year and battle my eating disorder more than I've ever had to before. I knew I woud need to face my fears and make grown up decisions by myself.

It has been a year of hard and it has been a year of brave.

A month or so ago, my friend, Jacy, posted something on her blog that caught my eye. It was a special day her and her friend, Shay, had been planning for a while that they were giving away to two lucky women. All I had to do was send in an email stating why I could benefit from this day.

I clicked off of Jacy's blog and was so excited to see who would be announced the winner. I never intended to email her. I just couldn't see myself spending a whole day with two people who intimidate me because of their awesomeness and then have a photoshoot of MYSELF at the end of the day.

Nope. It wasn't happening. Not even a little bit.

I would think about that giveaway a few times a day and would see Jacy and Shay post about it to get entries but I just kept pushing it to the back of my mind. I probably wouldn't be picked anyway so there really was no point in writing an email.

But on the very last day of the giveaway, I saw Jacy post a link to it and I decided I should just send a quick email. What could it hurt, right? I realized the day of Bright Effects was just days after my one year anniversary of being on my own so I chose to write about that.

Here is the email I sent:
"On August 24th, it will be exactly one year since the day my husband left me. This year has been full of pain and heartache and feelings I DID NOT want to feel. There have been beautiful days and some of the ugliest days I've ever experienced. I have struggled to find my own self-worth and figure out who I am as a person, and not as the other half of a marriage. I am struggling to believe I am good enough and that the people around me truly do like me as a person. It's hard when the one person who should've loved you decided you weren't worth their eternity.
But because I am hopeful and trying and brave, I am going to write down what I have learned about myself this year.
My name is Suzanne and I have learned that I can do hard things. I can sleep in a bed by myself, in a house where I am the only adult and still feel safe. I can pay my bills and budget and work as hard as possible to still be able to stay home with my kids most of the time. I can be in school full time and juggle a half day kindergarten schedule, a preschool schedule, and a crazy dance schedule. I can hold church callings and maintain friendships with women who don't exactly understand what I'm going through but love me anyway. I can help other women who are struggling and in need of a friend. I can love people that I don't quite understand.

I can be a brave warrior.

I am a brave warrior.

In the past year, I have learned more about doing hard things than ever before and although I wish my painful journey was over and that the light was shining brightly ahead, I have hope that someday I'll find that light and that I can share that light with those around me who need it as much as I do."
 
Days later, I received an email telling me I had been picked as one of the lucky recipients.
 
Panic. Happiness. More panic. A lot of smiling. A little more anxiety. A photoshoot? No way. I couldn't do it. Someone else should do it. Someone skinnier. Someone more beautiful. Someone who has been through harder things and deserves it more.
 
But Shay talked me through a little bit of my panic and I was set.

As the day approached, I was stressed out about finding a babysitter since my ex-husband AND my parents were out of town that day. I kept thinking maybe that was a sign that I should forego the day and stay with my kids but because I have some pretty amazing friends, a few of them took my kids that day so I could enjoy myself.

It was finally noon and as I pulled up to Jacy's house, the front door opened and Jacy and Shay were both hugging me and voicing their excitement for the day they had planned out.

We started the day with a group therapy session with Angie Whitman. I wasn't sure what to expect because it's taken me TWO YEARS to really open up to my current counselor {true story} but it went really well. Angie is very relatable and friendly and I loved the things we were able to talk about.

After group therapy, we headed over to a pilates studio...what?!! The funny thing is I wasn't as nervous about this part since I go to the gym a lot and feel like I'm in better shape than I have been in years. But oh my goodness gracious, when we walked in the machines were super INTIMIDATING. I have never seen contraptions like those before! But wow. Wow. WOW! Melissa Olsen of Core Body Pilates is seriously incredible. I am still sore.

We finished our afternoon at Kneaders for a delicious lunch before heading back to Jacy's house for the next part of our day.

I hopped in the shower and when I got out, the hair stylist, Thom, and make up artist, Nella Brenner, were ready for me.

Breathe...you can do this, Suzanne.

I was so nervous!


But as you can see from the bottom left picture, I did it. The hair stylists took off an inch or so of damaged hair and then styled it and the make up artist gave me a new look.

I think the funniest part is when she said, "Suzanne, you're probably going to freak out when you look in the mirror because you aren't used to filling in your eyebrows." Umm, yeah, she was dead on. It was something I had to get used to. But she did an AMAZING job and I felt incredible when it was over.

And then it was time for the photoshoot.

EEEEEK!

I want to sit here and tell you that I was excited for this part or that I was overjoyed when I got the pictures back. I wasn't. I'm pretty hard on myself and I wasn't a fan of the pictures when I first looked at them.

The talent I was a HUGE fan of...Shannon was absolutely incredible and her work is amazing. But me IN the pictures? Not. So. Much.

But I have since embraced my pictures and I posted my favorite one on Facebook.

I know my Heavenly Father loves me. I also don't doubt that my friends and family love me. The tricky part is loving myself. I'm not there today. But I hope I get there soon.

I picked a few pictures to share with you today.



^^^favorite^^^

Sylvia was the other winner of this special day and I am so glad I met her. It was nice to be doing this with someone else.
The photographer snapped a few pictures of us together at the end and we had a bit of fun with that.

Sylvia is TALL...and when I leaned in to her, my head was on her boob. So we reenacted that moment but switched it around below...
...because I just can't be serious all of the time! :D
Sylvia is gorgeous inside and out. I loved being with her most of the day and getting to know about her life and all of the bravery she has faced.
We ended the evening with a gift from Jacy and Shay which was a picture frame with an amazing quote in it.

I am blessed.

Today I know I am blessed.

I was so lucky to be picked for such an incredible gift from Jacy and Shay. They are some really incredible women and I am so glad I know them.

With this new beginning and this new year of being on my own, I know I can do hard things. I know I can be brave, even when it feels so dark and lonely around me. I know I can fight for myself and give my kids a good life.

I can do this.