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To The Friends I’ve Grown Apart From…

friends

I wish someone had told me that getting older and growing up meant that I’d grow apart from the friends I thought I’d have forever. I came across a post recently on Facebook about this very subject. It was a letter written to friends someone had grown apart from but it rang true for me too. So, I wanted to write a letter of my own.

To The Friends I’ve Grown Apart From,

While we may not talk anymore, I’m so thankful for the chapter of my life that you were in. We don’t talk everyday anymore and while that can be really sad, I know that it’s okay. It seems our lives would only intertwine for a short time but I’m still so thankful for it. You taught me so much about life and myself, I don’t think I could ever repay you. You have no idea how much love I still have for you.

We’ve made so many wonderful memories and I will never forget them. I will cherish them for the rest of my life. I see you making new memories with new people and honestly, I couldn’t be happier for you. Some of you have new homes, babies, jobs or even marriages and that’s so amazing. I’m sad but all I want for you is to be who you are supposed to be, to live the life you want.

We don’t pour our hearts out to each other anymore but I am still cheering you on always. Whether we parted on good or bad terms, I am still supporting you from a distance. Thank you for being a part of my journey and loving me through all my difficult times. I am truly grateful.

Sincerely,

An Old Friend

Read Kaitlyn Dinner’s article How Losing Friendships Can Be a Sign of Growth right on Medium’s website!

Check out The TurningPointCT Podcast Friendships to hear about Kailey, Michael and Therell’s friendships over time here on our website!

Crazy Plant Lady: A Day In The Leaf

Self-care Sunday is all about plants and what it’s like to be a crazy plant lady! I know that most people hear the phrase “self-care” and think that it means spa stuff but that’s not true! Self-care is all about taking care of yourself, no matter how you choose to do that. There are so many forms of self-care to utilize and it doesn’t stop at the pampering. I’ve previously shared that I like to bake as a form of self-care but one of my top favorite things is taking care of my plants.

For those of you who don’t know I love plants. Honestly, I’m kind of obsessed with them and I am definitely a crazy plant lady. It all began with one plant and because of that plant, my life changed. This plant was a little cactus that a friend had given to me as a gift. It was a cute little prickly thing and I fell in love with it immediately. Having something to take care of made me feel good. Unfortunately, my poor little cactus met its demise after my dog knocked it out of the window.

plants
Agent Hotchner & Dr. Reid

Plants are a really good form of self-care. Taking care of them creates a routine and gives you a little bit of purpose when you’re feeling down. A plant, much like a person, requires attention, love and care. Taking care of one can teach you a lot about those things. Especially when it comes to yourself. If speaking kindly to plants helps them grow, imagine what speaking kindly to yourself can do.

succulents
Top Row: Agents Alvez, Lewis, Garcia, Callahan & Gideon / Bottom Row: Agents Blake, Simmons & Morgan

Now that I’m older and have my own space, I’ve grown my plant collection bigger than I ever thought it could be. I love my little plants. They give me purpose and have taught me so much about taking care of myself. Nurturing them and being able to watch them all grow is a wonder because I helped them get there. It’s just such an amazing process and I got to be a part of it. Because of these plants, I’ve learned to take better care of myself. They are a reminder that a little love and care can really go a long way because that’s really all it takes.

Agents Prentiss, Rossi & Jareau

Be kind to yourself the way that you are kind to plants and others because you deserve that kind of care too. I want you to water yourself with kind words, love and care because like plants, you need that too. I promise that will help you grow into the wonderful, beautiful person you want to be. You have to remember that it all starts with you.

Want to have your own plants for self-care? Here are 5 Easy Houseplants That Double As Self-care Reminders! 🙂

Check out Psychology Today’s article 11 Ways Plants Enhance Your Mental and Emotional Health.

Read my post How Life Feels Is More Important Than How It Looks right here on TurningPointCT.org! 🙂

Have a great week!

Don’t Be Someone’s Sometimes

Welcome back to 2022’s first Self-Care Sunday! Let’s start the new year off with a reminder. I wanted to remind you don’t be someone’s “sometimes”. This was originally presented as a quote but has become a life lesson for many of us. A lot of us have that one person we always run back to, regardless of how long it’s been. Whether they’ve treated us well or not, we always find ourselves right back with this person. I know that I have definitely been guilty of this. In fact, I spent most of my teenage years being someone’s ‘sometimes’. For me, that doesn’t stop at romantic partners. I was a lot of my friends’ ‘sometimes’.

I’ve had friends who only wanted me around when it was convenient for them and honestly, that hurt more than having a romantic partner who felt that way. I used to drop everything I was doing to help these friends with whatever they needed but they would never have done the same thing for me. How do I know that? Because it’s the absolute truth. I’ve even been with people romantically who only treated me well when it was for their benefit.

I am not someone’s “sometimes”. I am worth so much more than that. I deserve to be someone’s always. Do not bend over backwards for people who would never do the same for you. Please remember your worth and know that you deserve to be more than someone’s “sometimes”, you deserve to be their ALWAYS.

A great read for this week is Kate Burness’ article I Refuse To Be Your ‘Sometimes’ Girl on the Thought Catalog!

Also read our Project Coordinator, Kailey’s post Release Yourself right here on TurningPointCT!

Who Makes You Happy?

We always talk about the things or even places that make us happy but we never talk about the people that make us happy. What’s up with that? Those wonderful people in your lives deserve to know that they’re having a positive impact on you. They’re important too!

The things we say about and do for ourselves are an important part of managing our mental health. But you know what’s just as important? The people we surround ourselves with. The people that make us happy and feel good about ourselves are a critical part of how we manage our mental health. I say critical because these are the people that remind us that we are loved, worthy, and full of untapped potential. They keep us afloat when we feel like we’re drowning. Often, they’re our light at the end of the tunnel.

While we’re on the topic of who makes us happy, I want to take this time to talk about all of the people that make me happy. I have a lot of wonderful people in my life but there are a few who definitely deserve some recognition. These people are my siblings, my co-workers, my honey, and of course, one of my closest (and oldest) friends.

My brothers Donovan and Dante have always made me happy. Although it might not always seem that way, I promise it’s the truth. My brothers are the ones I hold close to my heart. Honestly, I’d say they actually are a piece of my heart, or at least it feels that way. Loving them and knowing that they love me back makes me happy. They are the ones that I know will be there for me when nobody else is. Donovan and Dante are the best brothers that anyone could ask for. They’re honest, kind and so full of love to give.

I am SO proud of the young men that they’re becoming, even if they don’t see it themselves yet. Their accomplishments (even the little ones) make me happy too. I will continue to cheer them on from the sidelines, I’m their biggest fan and I always will be. I know that they’re certainly mine. They’re the first people I want to tell good news to because I know they’ll be the most excited about it. I hope that I’m part of their happiness too!

My younger brothers, Dante & Donovan 🥰

My coworkers at the school are absolutely a cause for my happiness. These are the people I spend most of my week with. This is the first job I’ve been at where my coworkers have actually turned into what feels like family. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some pretty great coworkers but nothing like this. I spend my whole workday with these people, so we obviously need to make sure that we work well together. And guess what? We absolutely do. I know that I can rely on these people to pick me up when I’m feeling down. I just want them to know I appreciate every single one of them, even on the hard days. My teacher is wonderful. She’s loud, crazy, fun and so full of energy, she really keeps us going sometimes.

While I love my teacher, it’s my coworkers who have stolen my heart. Cassie, who I’ve found a fantastic best friend in, was a blessing. All year long we were full of laughs, hugs, tears and so much more. I miss you more than you know but I am so proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone! But now, Jen keeps me going on long days with laughs and conversations about the most random things. Even Mr. G, who indulges me with Swedish meatball pizza and what I consider some of the best dad jokes! Of everyone, I am especially thankful for Ciara and Dwayne who continue to encourage me to be the very best version of myself. I appreciate everything that you’ve both done and continue to do for me.

Some of the best coworkers I’ve ever had ❤️

Last but certainly not least, Kailey. I can’t even tell you how happy I am to still have her in my life. Kailey was one of the first friends I made in middle school when I moved back to Salem (Connecticut) and we just never looked back. She is absolutely one of the people who makes me happy because she ALWAYS reminds me that it’s okay to feel the way that I’m feeling and that there’s nothing wrong with having a bad day.

Kailey is the one who encouraged me to apply for this job and I’m so glad that I did. This job has been a blessing. At first, I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to do it but here I am doing it! Plus, she continues to assure me every day that I’m doing a great job. She’s always believed in me, no matter what it was that we were doing. Almost 10 years later, it feels like nothing’s changed for us. We talk almost every day about everything and anything. She’s honestly a rock for me. I’d fall apart without her for sure. I know in my heart that anyone would be lucky to have her in their lives.

Kailey & I at our 8th grade graduation, June 2011 (left) and us on my birthday, May 2021 (right). Almost 10 years later!

These people are so important to me and I will always make sure that they know it. They’re such an important part of my life and who I am, they’ve helped shape me into a better person. They continue to inspire me in different ways every day. Please remember to appreciate all the wonderful people in your life. ❤️

Who makes you happy? I’d love to hear all about them and what they’ve done for you!

If you have some time, read The Conversation’s article on happiness here! 🙂

Are you struggling or just need someone to talk to? You can check out all of TurningPointCT’s Resources to see what’s right for you!

In Love (V2).

I feel like I have known something of l o v e. I feel as though the way my heart flutters and sings discordant and wild in the ivory of my ribs must be s o m e t h i n g to go by. That this bird in my chest, struggling to disentangle itself, to set itself free and away once more, making a mess of the way my pulse runs normally so cold and scorned —

It must mean something after all.

Why I wonder…

… I wonder if I can – if I should – clip its wings… Tie its beak… Weigh down its talons and pray that the cage it confines itself to holds it steady.
But I know, I can tell, there is something strange and anew and unbidden about this blinding, evanescent twitterpated feeling which harkens to me, lures me forward and asks, “Is that really what you want?” And I know, it is not in my nature of natures to be cruel, not within me to sink my teeth in and tear apart such an emotion but for all the lives and worlds in my desecrated soul, I am AFRAID. I know very little of what to do with this —

This f e e l i n g which swells in me a harmony most benevolent and sweet, pumping me full of promises I have longed to hear over the course of two decades long and grievous. And still I set myself rigid and tense; I fear that I am UNWORTHY. That I am once more caught adrift in some ephemeral dream I will soon wake from.

Yet so, I fill the hours in your name, I fill the gaps of my fingers with the ghosts of your own, I number the stars in the ways I have come to cherish you…
And how full it makes me feel, boiling me to the brim in things I’d not known, in things I’d let rot and decompose. And somewhere, I know, you remind me of such sweeter things! You tether my feet to the earth and walk me along so I can still see the sky, you set a storm and fit in my breast the likes of which I know little of how to temper.

I wonder, sometimes, silly as it is, if perhaps you think of me as fondly… If perhaps… You too, had O’Venus come and whisper nothings to your ear about another who would love, and cherish and GIVE—

Who would bend to their knee and sing your worships and hymns. Who would seek no other, none but YOU in this temple of lies and blood built on the foundation of tears and transgression. And I would lay across your altar, and pray I know you just a little longer.

"Prognosis: Love" Haiku

Love is relentless
Love sends when I’m defenseless
Yet, I still regress

What are you proud of from 2018?

Hey guys! It’s 2019!
Pretty cool, kinda.

Some people seem to really care about New Years, it signifies a time to reflect and commit to change. Other people think it’s BS. And some don’t really care too much!

However you feel about New Years, it’s always good to reflect on time that’s passed and recognize strides that you have made.
My favorite quote when I was in the midst of a lot of struggles was,

“I may not be where I want to be but thank God I’m not where I used to be”

We don’t have to leap from ditches to mountain tops to recognize our power and strength. And sometimes it’s not even steps that deserve recognition, sometimes it’s staying right where you are, because it can be really hard to not fall backward, and good enough is good enough.

This New Years Eve, I laid in bed next to Willow while she slept and realized the changes that occurred over the past year. I thought about the pain, fear, and excitement I felt, and how hopeless I was at times. I realized how far I have come by looking back for a few moments. And it felt good, and it made me feel proud of myself. And I didn’t feel bad saying that.

So, what are you guys proud of from 2018?

I’m proud of myself for starting school, taking the leap to “real” employment and beginning the process of getting off of disability and SSI, moving, admitting to myself and a few friends that I was depressed, sticking with my path even when it was scary and painful and uncertain, trying every day to be a good mom, working hard, getting certified as a SMART recovery facilitator, Recovery Coach, and a Recovery Support Specialist, starting the path to getting my licence, and beginning to throw away things that I don’t need.

Let’s congratulate each other on our success in being here, even when it’s really hard work.

Cursed.

“You are c u r s e d,”
They told me.

You do not know how to SEE,
You only see through a veil your mind creates, those eyes no one else knows about
You only see the good in those around you
Even if they tread you underfoot
You only gaze at others through the eyes of an old soul,
Expecting them to look back at you the same way

“You are c u r s e d,”
They told me.

You do not know how to love
You choose only to love your hate, your rage, your terror
And worst of all, have found comfort in it all
You have found love not in yourself,
But in your abusers
Yet your heart is greedy and so full of the ability to GIVE

“You are c u r s e d,”
They told me.

You know so much and explain so little,
Tell me do you know how your intuition works?
Can you explain your own emotions if asked?
Can you give yourself the time of day without thinking of someone else first?
You have grown complaisant to your pain,
You have come to anticipate it and thank those who give it

“But you are B L E S S E D,”
They told me.

As you fill your wounds with lacquered gold,
A scarred statue who feels so profoundly it connects to the souls around them
You cover yourself in the finest of cloth to hide from the snares in your mind
You have turned your demons, your monsters, into your familiars – who now service your needs
Your veins beat to a drum singing of L O V E,
And W O R T H

“My dear, you are blessed.”

Music & Emotions//Opening My Library

If you’ve read any of my previous posts you know i looove music. I love to listen to it, write it, record it, watch it, hear about it, and i absolutely love everything guitars. So with this post I want to open it up to all of you as a library, allow me to explain.

1.) Tell me how you’re feeling/times you’re feeling a certain way

2.) Tell me how you WANT to feel, OR if you’d like music to help feel said feelings all the way through

3.) Tell me what kind of music you currently enjoy/listen to OR a genre of music you’d like to explore farther

Now these three steps (in a responding post below) would be applicable if you’re looking for my recommendations on music and how it affects our emotions, HOWEVER I have a very broad taste and relatively extensive knowledge on a lot of music genres and sub-genres so if you’re looking to explore one farther or ask music related questions I have no opposition to that either!

Now, allow me to speak more on Music and their relationship with our emotions. Music is an international language. It is spoken through all races, sexes, communities, ages, etc. In many cultures it is described as the “language of emotions”, that’s also why when we watch films, for example, music typically accompanies specific moments or scenes to give the viewer a better sense of the emotional atmosphere and let us know how we should be viewing what’s going on. The experience of “Music” has the power to evoke emotions that is absolutely incomparable to any other sense. When our brain processes music, it can be related to a “collage” of sorts. There are different sounds in a specific structure, in which when combined in said sequence, create a piece of art that seems to make sense to us compared to it’s singular sounds alone. Music is primarily rooted in the primitive part of the brain’s structures that are tied to emotion, motivation, and reward. The response that our brain’s have our almost unconscious in a way, and musical artists themselves have the ability to manipulate our emotions and expectations whether they realize what they’re doing or not. According to psychcentral.com, “More than any other stimulus, music has the ability to conjure up images and feelings that need not necessarily be directly reflected in memory.”. If you sit back and just read that sentence over a time or two again, it really truly is amazing how Music can draw pictures in our heads and evoke such strong emotion, and yet, those things MAY not even be related to any past memories or experiences, providing you with a whole new experience through nothing more than sound. Our own preference even on the kind of music we’d like to listen to at some time has an effect on its perceived experience to the listener.

“It could be this heightened level of experience in certain people and musicians that allows them to imagine and create music that others simply cannot, painting their very own sonic image.”. – Malini Mohana on “Music & How It Impacts Your Brain, Emotions”

SO, with all of this being said, I open this up to you, as I encourage you to ask for any of those beautiful experiences through music that I may be able to share with you.

Poem: "In Love".

To the person I wish I could love,

Sometimes, I look up to the same stars,
Comparing them to the ones in your gaze
Yes, the gaze I’d never known
The gaze I long for,
The very looks I wish we could share across a crowded room
The eyes I’ve seen so many times when I go to sleep
Assuring me with glances that all is well with the world

Sometimes, when I am alone,
I twist and untwist my fingers,
Wondering if you do the same?
Do you pretend to hold my hand too?

Or is that awful?
Is that weird?
Is that abnormal for a person to be imagining?

Sometimes, when the nights are the coldest
I like to imagine you’re here at my side
That we share pleasant memories
That maybe, just maybe, I am not as alone as I picture myself to be

Dearest muse that eludes my quill,

Do you like the words I pour out of my veins?
The ink that smears across the paper,
Carved out of my very soul with all the tenderness of a martyr

Do you?
Can you?
Will you?

Will there never be satisfaction in the sentiments you spin,
The critiques you spit
The woes you slur
How – when – tell me,
What will please you?
These words are all I can regard you with
In inspiration,
In adoration,
In all of it

To the one staring back in the mirror,
You needn’t look so far for love after all

National Happiness Happens Day

National Happiness Happens Day

#HappinessHappensDay

Today is National Happiness Happens Day. It’s all about letting happiness happen, a warm breeze, a good song, a funny joke. Whatever it is that makes you happy- even if just for a moment, let it wash over you, and take a moment to appreciate all the little things that make us happy! What makes you happy? For me, warm coffee, Willow saying hi and reaching for a hug, talking to my brother, Harry, seeing an animal, riding my bike, and watching and listening to the rain make me really happy, and so grateful to be here.

This is who makes me SO happy! Willow

World Breastfeeding Week

This Week is World Breastfeeding Week.

Breastfeeding has been a major part of my life for the last 17 months. Since the day Willow was born, and to this day, I have breastfed her.

Whenever, wherever, and for whatever reason, I have responded to my beautiful child’s wants and needs in the most natural and intuitive way physically possible; by breastfeeding.

This journey has taught me many invaluable lessons about both myself and my relationship with my daughter.
Becoming a mother is a transformation. It’s a journey, and my own transformation is something I have talked about many times on my blog.

Before Willow was born, when asked how I was going to feed her (formula or breastfeeding) I said I would breastfeed, and thinking back I don’t remember why exactly, other than it seemed the only option- at that time primarily for financial reasons.
As I learned more and more about what my journey would entail and about why people breastfeed I began to realize that I was truly making the best decision for both myself and my daughter.

The beginning was hard. It was more than hard.

Willow had a really bad latch. I was tired, depressed, lonely, in an un-supportive and abusive relationship, and essentially alone. Willow wanted to eat over and over again. And for long stretches of time. It seemed as soon as she finished she was hungry all over again.
I was not myself, my body did not belong to me, and I was so so unbelievably exhausted.
I cried a lot.
I fell asleep sitting up at night, holding willow and would wake up terrified but thankful she was still in my arms, nursing.
I left Willow latched even when it hurt (mistake) because I just wanted her to eat and fall asleep.
I made many mistakes, and was confused about so much.

I had so much room to grow and learn but often felt so hopeless and alone, I would just blindly go forward, unknowing of what laid ahead.
But I wasn’t alone.
I joined Facebook groups. I talked to friends of mine who breastfed, or wish they did. People commended me, they validated me, and one person in particular (who was with me from early in my pregnancy, there when my daughter was born, and after) who educated me and supported me consistently and oftentimes when I needed it more than anything else.
And I kept going, even though there were times I felt desperate to stop, perhaps for just a day, or a moment, or a night- to share the vast responsibility of growing, birthing, and feeding this small amazing person who brought me to my knees and changed my life.

Then, incredibly, and like many other aspects of motherhood, it got easier. Not immediately, and not overnight, but slowly and surely and then suddenly. Suddenly, breastfeeding was the easiest part of motherhood.

Suddenly, my confidence in myself and my ability as a woman and a mother was incredibly affirmed and increased. I am amazing, I made it through long enough to reach a place of ease in something I once considered giving up.
I set goals, and wandered through, eyes closed and arms outstretched. Even when I fell into pits, and found my way out. And when giving up was an option I kept going.

I remember, hoping, wishing, to make it, to not give up. Reasoning that I would make it to at least 6 weeks, then at least 3 months.
And then, it was just a part of our life. An amazing, incredible, and valuable part of our life.
Now, at seventeen months strong, I can say with confidence that we are going as long as my daughter finds comfort and need in breastfeeding – even if its years and years from now.
And I will never feel shame for lifting my shirt in public to feed and comfort my child.

And one day, she wont need or want to nurse. But that day is not today, and I hope that it is not tomorrow. But if it is, and when it is, I will be there, holding her hand, and we will forever have the bond that began in my womb and continues to grow every single day.

We stand with you, Demi

I think a lot of you know, early this week Demi was treated for a suspected overdose and brought to a hospital.
Her family has denied that the overdose was caused by heroin.
I have loved Demi Lovato since I was fifteen.
At a time when I stayed up until 5 am on a daily basis, alone, isolated, and battling thoughts and urges that brought me to a place of desperation and fear I found comfort. I realized that Demi Lovato had been struggling with a lot of similar things.
I began to listen to her music, watch videos and felt a sense of companionship by this seemingly happy, funny, and cheerful girl who loved her sister and friends but still continued to fight inner demons, despite how happy she looked.
This was the first time I truly felt like I was not alone.
I wrote her a letter describing what I had been going through, and thanking her for helping me. I drew a picture of her.
I re-read it again and again but never sent it. My shame and fear convinced me it was stupid.
But I never stopped feeling connected by the experience of mental illness and addiction to Demi Lovato. I never stopped listening to her music, watching her videos, and thinking of her and the ways she managed to empathize with me from the other side of the country.

And now, in a time when she is struggling more than she has in recent years, I am here with her.
Perhaps it matters very little, but regardless, I stand with Demi.
I send her love and healing thoughts and hope she knows that she matters so much to so many.

Get, well soon Demi.

How has this affected you guys?

I think, despite the way it may feel, stigma is beginning to slowly melt away. We are speaking more and more openly about mental illness and addiction, thanks to people like Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, and Logic.
Recent publicized suicides and overdoses make it nearly impossible to turn the other cheek to mental illness and addiction.

Despite how much our demons try to convince us of our isolation- we can never forget, we are not alone

Stress

Stress.

I have been stressed.
Not every day, and not all the time.
If my stress were a rock, I would be small but very dense and very heavy.
Small, rigid, bumpy, sharp, molten lava.
Bouncing around in my pocket all the time.
Some days it feels so heavy that my hips hurt and my gait is off.
Some days I forget it’s there until I bump my leg against something and the rock digs it’s raged corner into my thigh.
And then I feel like falling over.
But I can’t- and so then I become sad- no, angry.
Hot and heavy, scared and tired. My chest gets tight and my breath becomes hot and thick. So that it weighs down my chest, and constricts my lungs.
I feel suddenly as though I am drowning.

And then I lose it.

Maybe for a moment, because someone needs something from me.
But how dare they need me, don’t they know there is molten lava in my pocket?
Of course, they don’t know, it’s too small to see.
Although, maybe they notice it ripping a hole in my pants, and they ask me if I’m ok, with a certain sincerity that rips my heart from my chest and makes my knees heavy. And then I just want to cry.
And then it becomes an ocean.
An ocean with huge waves and I’m stuck in quicksand being pummeled by huge gusts of cold, salty water.
And my eyes are red and burning, and I cannot see.
My lungs are full of salt and water, so I cannot breathe.
My mouth is full of sand and seaweed, so I have no words to say.
And I’m too scared to figure out how to move.
So like a deer in headlights, I let myself get hit by a car.
And I see it coming but cannot move or speak.

I am alone in a crowd.

A crowd of people who feel the same way as me.
But its all a big secret, and so together we all feel alone.
Then one day I find a word- or all the words. And I find someone to tell.
Maybe they are the right person; they give me goggles, so I can see through the waves. And give me a snorkel, so I can breathe. They show me my feet and tell me how to pull myself from the thick, sticky sand.
And they cannot stay with me the whole time, but maybe they can sit with me on the shore while I catch my breath.
And then the sun can begin to rise, and the mist may clear and life begins to feel ok again.

But it always seems to cycle.

And soon again, I’m drowning.
Or maybe not always, but often enough that my knees are bruised and my elbows are scraped from falling again and again.
But I feel ok for just long enough to catch my breath.
And one day, I hope, I will have my goggles and snorkel with me always- and I won’t need someone to bring it to me. My legs will be strong enough to carry my small, heavy rock. My thigh will be calloused enough so that when my molten lava hits it, I do not fall over.
Until then, I feel happy to know there are lifeguards on the shore, and that some days my rock sits quietly in my pocket and I’m able to forget that it’s there.

And there are other things that make me feel strong and steady and very happy.

Like Willow.
And I’m not always perfect, and sometimes she throws my rock in my face and I melt into the ground and grow into a monster. And when the rock shrinks back into my pocket I feel so sad and guilty.
But I can hug her and say sorry.
She always seems to forgive me for being imperfect. And I’m learning how to forgive myself.
She seems to feed me a steady stream of light and love, which gives me strength and makes me feel safe and happy.

And I tell myself again and again,
“I will be ok, I will be ok”.

Willow Moon, my sun my moon  and my stars.

What are you proud of yourself for today?

What are you proud of yourself for today?

Its so easy to go to bed every night thinking of what you did wrong, or what you wish you did better or different. Things you wished never happened. I think we’ve all been there. Up for hours thinking and thinking. Guilty, angry, depressed, anxious. Sometimes these feelings help us make change. But a lot of the time they just hurt us.

So, what are you proud of yourself for today?

Today I’m proud of myself for being a mom. I might feel guilty a lot about being a mom… working, losing my temper, not taking advantage of every moment the way I feel like I should. But I know that I’m a good mom. I know my daughter loves me, and that I love her. Being a mom is scary and hard and exhausting and it never ends. And every day I wake up and do the best I can. I don’t act selfishly just because it’s easier. I don’t run away from my responsibilities. I try to do better all the time and I will never leave her side. So I’m proud of myself for that. I proud of myself for stepping up, being selfless, and pushing aside my wants for her sake.

Pride Month!

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH EVERYONE!!!!!! this month is all about accepting people for who they are and spreading the love. Demonstrate your love for humanity this month. Reach out and represent your pride for yourself and your community!!!! Is anyone attending the pride parade or any pride celebration? Share your pride month stories below!!!! Be kind and spread the love!!! Love is love!

Fighting with time

Willows’ Birthday Week

February 21, 2018

Every night, since the day Willow was born, I have nursed her to sleep. For almost 1 year, no matter where we were, what we did, or what was going on, chest to chest, we would lay down together and willow would nurse until she fell asleep.
Tonight, Willow fell asleep without nursing. We laid in bed together, calm, tired and peaceful. Willows cheek on my chest. We looked at each other and spoke softly and touched each other’s faces and smiled for almost 30 minutes until Willow fell asleep.
These small moments of independence are incredible. In that, they are painfully difficult to experience and simultaneously exciting and wonderful and amazing to witness.
This beautiful small person is doing what all small people do; which is to grow up and change at an alarming rate.
And I am left only one option, which is to hold on to a rope which is constantly running through my hands, knowing one day I will have no choice but to let go of it.

February 22, 2018

Willow will be one on Monday. I am filled with this gut-wrenching feeling.
Although I am incredibly happy and excited, I am filled with sadness and guilt.
I look at her, and she looks exactly the same as the day I lay in a hospital bed in New Haven, and a wet naked newborn was placed on my chest. But then, I blink. And suddenly, she’s not an infant, not a baby, she’s a young girl. I see her face and the world behind her bright eyes. Her fierce spirit shines through and pierces my heart.
I feel like throwing up. I look back at pictures of her months ago and suddenly realize that she has changed so much, and so quickly.
It feels as though all these changes have happened slowly yet suddenly; somehow each time I turn my head she changes, yet most days it’s so subtle that I don’t realize it’s happening. Then one day I’m looking at my newborn baby, but she’s not really a newborn; she’s almost a toddler, and I fall to pieces wondering how time has flown past me without even realizing it.
And I cannot get time back- when it leaves me it’s gone forever. My baby is both the youngest she’ll ever be again and the oldest she’s ever been. Each moment I’m suspended in this incredible fight with time. Watching my child grow, joyfully as I am in awe of what a beautiful little person she is. And fearfully, as it is constant and fast and terrifying.

Guilt sets in as I ask myself,
Am I taking it all in? Am I really appreciating this relatively small amount of time I have with Willow? Or am I constantly rushing? Ignoring life and constantly finishing ‘tasks’. While my focus on what matters blurs and I hone in on things that sneak into my vision; drudging forward, while pushing aside small moments that may slip through my hands like water flows surely through a stream?

Thankfully, I have one thing that returns power to my shaking hands.
That is, that I know of time. I know of time, and it’s constant flow, I know of the pain it will cause if I handle it incorrectly.
And I have power. Power to change the way I look at life, change the way I prioritize everything that “matters”. I will hold my mistakes tightly- I won’t let them slip pass me, with the intention of self-love. No, I will carry them in my pockets, and pull them out when I need a reminder of who I want to be and what is truly important. And someday when they become dead weight, I may let them go.

And to my beautiful girl, for whom my heart beats,
You are the most important thing in my life. The love I feel for you is strong enough to cause my heart pain. I know that may sound silly and odd, but one day you may understand. Happy Birthday, Willow Moon.

The week before your birthday

Willows Birthday Week

February 21, 2018
Every night, since the day Willow was born, I have nursed her to sleep. For almost 1 year, no matter where we were, what we did, or what was going on, chest to chest, we would lay down together and willow would nurse until she fell asleep.
Tonight, Willow fell asleep without nursing. We laid in bed together, calm, tired and peaceful. Willows cheek on my chest. We looked at each other and spoke softly and touched each other’s faces and smiled for almost 30 minutes until Willow fell asleep.
These small moments of independence are incredible. In that, they are painfully difficult to experience and simultaneously exciting and wonderful and amazing to witness.
This beautiful small person is doing what all small people do; which is to grow up and change at an alarming rate.
And I am left only one option, which is to hold on to a rope which is constantly running through my hands, knowing one day I will have no choice but to let go of it.

February 22, 2018
Willow will be one on Monday. I am filled with this gut-wrenching feeling.
I am so happy and excited, but so incredibly sad and guilty.
I look at her, and she looks exactly the same as the day I lay in a hospital bed in New Haven, and a wet naked newborn was placed on my chest. But then, I blink. And suddenly, she’s not an infant, not a baby, she’s a young girl. I see her face and the world behind her bright eyes. Her fierce spirit shines through and pierces my heart.
I feel like throwing up. I look back at pictures of her months ago and suddenly realize that she has changed so much, and so quickly.
It feels as though all these changes have happened slowly yet suddenly; somehow each time I turn my head she changes, yet most days it’s so subtle that I don’t realize it’s happening. Then one day I’m looking at my newborn baby, but she’s not really a newborn; she’s almost a toddler, and I fall to pieces wondering how time has flown past me without even realizing it.
And I cannot get time back- when it leaves me it’s gone forever. My baby is both the youngest she’ll ever be again and the oldest she’s ever been. Each moment I’m suspended in this incredible fight with time. Watching my child grow, joyfully as I am in awe of what a beautiful little person she is. And fearfully, as it is constant and fast and terrifying.
Guilt sets in as I ask myself,
Am I taking it all in? Am I really appreciating this relatively small amount of time I have with Willow? Or am I constantly rushing? Ignoring life and constantly finishing ‘tasks’. While my focus on what matters blurs and I hone in on things that sneak into my vision; drudging forward, while pushing aside small moments that may slip through my hands like water flows surely through a stream?

Thankfully, I have one thing that returns power to my shaking hands.
That is, that I know of time. I know of time, and it’s constant flow, I know of the pain it will cause if I handle it incorrectly.
And I have power. Power to change the way I look at life, change the way I prioritize everything that “matters”. I will hold my mistakes tightly- I won’t let them slip pass me, with the intention of self-love. No, I will carry them in my pockets, and pull them out when I need a reminder of who I want to be and what is truly important. And someday when they become dead weight, I may let them go.

And to my beautiful girl, for whom my heart beats,
You are the most important thing in my life. The love I feel for you is strong enough to cause my heart pain. I know that may sound silly and odd, but one day you may understand. Happy Birthday, Willow Moon.

What boosts your self-esteem?

Hi everybody! February is ‘Boost Your Self-Esteem’ Month! But if you have our calendar, then you already know that! With this month beginning to come to a close, I want to know, what do you guys do that makes you love yourself?

I think we can all list many things about ourselves we wish were different, but how many times a day do we stop and recognize how wonderful we are? Do you ever speak kindly to yourself, simply because you are an amazing person and deserve it? How often do you do something special for yourself, ‘just because’?

So, with that being said, I want to know:
1. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your self-esteem? How high do you wish it were?
2. What are your three favorite things about yourself?
3. What are two things you do for yourself everyday?
4. What is one thing you need to do for yourself (either daily, occasionally, or just once!)?

I’ll go first:
1. I’d say my self esteem is a 6.5. I would like to get to a solid 7, then we’ll go from there!
2. I like that I’m different- I dress differently, like a lot of different music, and I draw unique things! (This used to be something I was very self-conscious about); I like that I have a lot of empathy for others; I think I’m funny! Definitely not all the time- and not always out loud haha, but I like my sense of humor and I say some pretty hilarious things in my head… so that counts!
3.I feed myself and don’t feel guilty about it! Anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder before will understand this is a big one! And I try to forgive myself for things and speak kindly to myself throughout the day.
4. I need to do more nice “self-care” things. Its hard to prioritize a hair cut or manicure with a young child (and I’ve never been the ‘nails done all the time’ type of girl), but it’s so important to treat yourself to things that feel good!!

Once Upon A Time

Once Upon A Time, there was a girl.
When she was born she was small and soft and surrounded by love and warmth. She had a brother, a mom, and a dad.
Very quickly the world began to creep through the stone walls surrounding her. The world was dark, and black, and thick. It oozed through the walls and lay heavily on and around her. It weighed her down and made her sad. Sometimes the world was nice and bright, it shone through the windows of the house and melted some of the black goo away. But the black goo was always there, it would never all melt away. Even still, sometimes when the goo was gone it left thick, dark, painful scars. It hurt her a lot, but made her happy, too.
The girls father went away. She was too young to know what it meant to miss someone, so she didn’t. Then another man came to be her dad. He went away too, though. Her mom got sick and sad. Her and her brother built and armor for each other. It was thick and strong, but very dark and heavy. Nobody could get through the armor. That was good sometimes, they thought they were keeping out all the goo of the world. But one day they realized they couldn’t get out, and when they tried to let someone in they had forgotten how to take it off. So their skin grew hard and clung on tightly to the metal around it- soon the armor wasn’t really armor, it was just them.
Inside the armor they were very sad, and angry. And underneath that they were scared. And under that, they were small soft babies who needed love and warmth. But the world was mean. It pushed them over and looked away when they reached out and cried. So they learned not to.
One day they left the stone walls. They fell into the goo. The girls brother swam out, but she was stuck. Her brother tried to tell her how to swim, but she couldn’t hear him; he tried to throw her a rope, but she couldn’t see him. When she looked around, she couldn’t see how he had swam to safety just to help her. The world grew into a monster and whispered in her ear. It told her he left her, he abandoned her. She was alone. He told her that he wasn’t ugly, but all of them were. All the ugly people, and deep down she was hideous too.
So she pushed out the sadness and fear. She nursed her anger and helped it grow big and strong. She climbed on his shoulders and she felt big and strong too. But he sucked the life out of her. He made her smaller and sadder, but from her perch on his shoulder she could not tell.
One day she fell. From the hole in the bottom of the goo, she could finally see where she was. And she knew she didn’t want to be there anymore.
She started to try to climb out, to reach for people to help pull her out. She kept coming close. But she fell many times. She fell hard, and sometimes it was a very long way until she stopped falling. Sometimes she felt so sad in her hole that she took a very long time to pick herself back up.
One day she found out she would have a baby. She was so happy and scared, and very sad because she didn’t want her baby to be born in the goo. She started trying harder and harder to climb out. One day when she was halfway up, the baby was born. She was still in the goo, but she wasn’t stuck. She realized it would take her a very long time to get all the way out, and when she made it, it would still take time to clean the goo off of herself and her baby.
But the baby was small and soft and surrounded by love and warmth. And the girl wasn’t a girl anymore, she was a young woman. And the armor didn’t stick to her skin so much, in fact some of it fell of on its own. And one day she realized the goo was lighter some days, and that even from the pit the light could come through.
Once Upon A Time There was a warrior. She had a baby who was small and soft and surrounded by love and warmth. And each day together they fought off the goo of the world, and searched for the light. She knew one day they would find their way out together.
The End

Me and My mom

Me and my brother, Harry

My mom and me

Harry and me in Montana 

Harry, my mom, me

Me and Harry after he graduated Naval Boot Camp (Chicago, IL) 

Me, 8 months pregnant- the night of my baby shower

Willow, 1 day old

Me and Willow, first day home

Willow, 1 week old

How to cope with your significant other’s depression

Check out this video where Joshua explains what it’s like for him to support his girlfriend through depression and how to cope.

https://www.facebook.com/JasmineAndJoshua/videos/2014510818819934/

For all of those who are in relationships with someone who has depression and may be struggling to understand and/or know how to help someone out, I hope you find this video helpful. Also, please remember, the best thing you can do is never give up on the person you love because we are trying the best we can.

Sad girl; strong mom

When I was a kid, there was a lot of uncertainty in my life.
One day things would be amazing; hopeful, happy, and calm. Suddenly, without warning or clear cause, things would dramatically change. Whether it was my family’s financial situation, my moms mood or pain, or my own mental wellness- there was no stable branch for me or my brother to lean on; if there was, the continuance of that stability was always unknown.
I think we both learned at an early age, that it was our expectations which caused the greatest disappointment, and our disappointment that caused the greatest pain.
I remember when I was about 7, my mom got sick. I remember it like a dream; I know there is a vivid memory somewhere deep within my subconscious, but I cannot assess it, so when I try to retrieve it, it’s choppy and blurred. Regardless, I remember feeling as though nothing was wrong, and then suddenly everything was. I remember a lot of confusion. I was scared, and I missed my mom; I remember confusion and fear mostly. She was taken to a hospital. We had no family, and my mom had very few friends, most of whom she barley talked to. So for a week or so, I went to our closest family friends house. They lived in the city, we used to go to school together. It was fun to be there, it felt like a long sleepover. Then after a short time, they had to go on vacation. From there, we had various babysitters who stayed with us and watched my brother and I. Most of them we didn’t know as well as we should have, some of them we barely knew. That is one of my first “black-hole” memories. When I think of that time I feel a deep pit, that extends from my heart to my stomach and makes me close my eyes for a moment. Its hard to think about.
When she came home a long time later, I had turned 8, and she had turned very, very sad. She had more than one back surgery while she was gone, gotten a severe staph infection, and began to suffer from chronic, debilitating pain. She was so different.
I had barley seen her that entire time. I was so happy she was with us again, but she was so different.
We had babysitters stay with us because she was too sad and in too much pain to fulfill her duties as our mother. She had her own black hole.
She wore a brace, and took a lot of medication that made her sleepy. When it wore off, it made her very sick and uncomfortable. She yelled a lot, and was hardly happy, it felt. I took on a new role. I don’t remember if I decided to take on the role, or whether it was shoved into my arms and was simply too burdensome to place down. Regardless, my job suddenly became to make her better. I don’t think I knew exactly what that role entailed or how I would fulfill it. I began desperately trying to pull happiness from her, take away her pain, make our world happy and light.
I, of course, failed over and over again. I became a failure. Yet, I could not stop myself from delving into this role each day. Although each failure brought new and more intense sadness upon me, this was a disappointment I could not seem to walk away from.
Even as a teenager, angry and solemn and horrendously resentful against my mother and life, I continued to step into my heavy shoes each day and walk into fire. I laid down each night, still burning, and woke up to once again be the fixer.
Although I no longer live with my mom, and I’m no longer a confused child or angry teenager, I find myself fighting the pain it created each day.

I don’t know how to be a good mom. Most days I wake up and try to wing it, or go with what feels natural and right. I feel sure that I’m failing once more each day. And yet, like I did as a child, I continue to throw myself into a role I’m quite uncertain of how to fulfill.
I pray to the universe, or whatever I believe in, that I don’t fail Willow. My heart is so heavy at times and my head full of thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams.
I know for certain there are many ways to be a good mother; to raise Willow to be a strong person and healthy adult. I’m quite sure as well, there are even more ways to fail her.
I wish I could read a book, take a class, or swallow a pill that would turn me into the mother and person I wish I were.
I guess the only way to become that person is to continue to do what I’m doing; wake up each day and dive into the flames. Although I know there are things I ought to leave behind as I move forward, perhaps I will shed them naturally, and evolve organically into the person I’d like to be.
I hope that as each day ends I become a stronger, happier, and better mother and woman; and that one day Willow remembers her childhood will happiness and love.
Until then, I will continue to walk through flames for her.

Willow and I on Thanksgiving, Willow on Thanksgiving, and me when I was six

Gratitude

Since this time of year makes you think a lot… about what you have, what you don’t, and what you wish you had lets talk about gratitude!
What are…
3 things your grateful for?
2 things you want to change?
1 thing you want to accomplish?
I’ll start!
I’m grateful for…
1. My daughter
2. Having a open mind and heart
3. Being loved and liked by my friends and family (even if I forget it sometimes)
I want to change…
1. My anxiety and have a positive state of mind and let things go that I cannot change
2. Living in a shelter
I want to accomplish…
1. Going back to school!

The Release of My Anger

Because it’s Halloween, I thought I would share something completely terrifying with you: the story of an emotionally abusive relationship. But have no fear- this terrifying story has a happy ending, because I am all about the happily ever afters.

I was 20 when I met you. I’d lived 20 years thinking I wasn’t good enough for myself, let alone another person. The toxic relationship I had been in for a year had just ended and you pushed your way into my life. I didn’t ask you to do that. You did that on your own. You captured me with your sad stories and your “understanding” of my sickness.

It was nice for a while. You were nice for a while.

And then I started feeling sick every time you got mad at me. Which seemed to be every day. Everything I did was wrong. You didn’t like the music I listened to, the shows I watched, the things that brought me joy.

You had roped me into a situation I felt like I was stuck in- because I didn’t want to add to your abandonment issues. How unfair. You couldn’t lift yourself up, so you had to bring everyone around you down, too. And unfortunately, I was the collateral damage in your situation. I think you would have done it to anyone, but I was the sucker that you emotionally abused for two years.

I’m sad for you.

You didn’t have it in your heart to love me the way you should have. You were more focused on discounting my struggles and my mental illness because no one’s mental illness could possibly have been as bad as yours. No one had it any worse than you. At least that’s how you acted.

But I’m writing to you now because I want you to know that I forgive you. I forgive you for making me feel useless, worthless, and unloved. I didn’t have enough love for myself at that point- how did I expect someone else’s love to fill that void? I forgive you, and I hope you find peace. I hope you are happy. 

I shouldn’t have set my expectations so high. But I am finally past that part in my life. I am finally at a point where I can forgive you for how you made me feel. I can forgive you for the words you said to me that echo in my soul every time I feel badly about myself.

I am where I am because I spent the last three years proving you wrong. I spent the last three years loving myself as much as I could because you couldn’t love me in the time that we were together. I needed love to recover from that- and I was the only one who could have provided that kind of love.

So from the bottom of my heart:

thank you for not loving me like I should have been loved. I had to do that on my own. And finally, I did it.

What I want you, my reader and friend, to take away from this is that YOU are worth it. You are worth being happy. You are strong- strong enough to forgive and move on. Love all of the bits of yourself because you are truly beautiful. Love the puzzle pieces that you are made up of. I hope you find that strength that is buried so deep within you. And if you need help finding it, just call me.

Forgetting our Differences

Check out this video:

https://www.facebook.com/NTDLifeOfficial/videos/420004091844391/

What a wonderful act of kindness demonstrated by the people in this video. At this moment in time nothing mattered, not religion, gender, ethnicity, nothing. When we are able to unite and come together as one, amazing things like saving a life can happen.

Support Through Treatment

 

In awareness of Family Support Month, I share this poem.

Sometimes, that person may not be blood-related to you but he/she has been there for you through thick and thin. Take some time to appreciate their patience, genuine kindness or just their presence.

–Kevin

Fear or Love?

“In life, you are driven by either fear or love.” I heard someone say. It was such a powerful statement for me. I started reflecting on how easily I can get caught up in fear, rather than love.

I started the process of going back to college. As I began the application process, I became discouraged about the whole idea of school very quickly. This discouragement turned into doubt, then the doubt turned into despair. My addiction was feeding me lies, or even half-truths that turned into lies. I started believing the lies for a bit. My mother then noticed how I went from being really excited to go back to school, to suddenly completely losing my drive. She called me out on it. She asked me why I was doubting myself and becoming so discouraged. I recognized it and then decided to dig deep to find out what exactly was going on with me.

I was afraid.

I was afraid to go to back to school. I had fear of doing it sober, fear of the new school scene, fear of failure, etc. I was being DRIVEN AWAY from school by FEAR! Five minutes before starting the application process, I was DRIVEN TO school by LOVE! So, I had to focus on that part; love. I love recovery. I love helping people with their addiction. I love watching the transformations and testimonies addicts have.

Now, I’m starting to recognize that when I’m feeling a certain way about a person, place, or thing, I need to figure out which feeling it really is; fear or love. A lot of times other emotions stem from that, like anger. I’ve also noticed that with me, sometimes pain turns into fear, or even the other way around.

So, I ask you this… are you driven by love or fear?

Love has always gotten me in the better place I want to be. I also constantly remind myself that the Bible mentions to NOT BE AFRAID 365 times. So, for each day of the year, I can read a verse that reminds me to not be afraid and instead; love.

One verse that I recite often when I’m feeling anxious and afraid is found in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

LOVE. A SOUND MIND. Exactly what I need to focus on!

Why I "Love" Valentines day

I am more excited about Valentine’s day coming up then I was excited for any other holiday. People always say they think Valentine’s day is the worse holiday or that love should be shared everyday… Although I do agree that love should be everyday, I think it’s beautiful that there is holiday that is solely based on the concept of love.

When I was younger my mom always left a box of chocolates for my siblings and I. What was even more cool was the local flower shop in my hometown would give each person a bouquet of roses and carnations, but the point was to give each flower out to friends and family. I use to think this was just the most amazing thing. I loved giving them out to each of my friends, and maybe even my crush 😉

After a few years of heartbreak from an ex, (who would not let me celebrate this day) I realized that something important to me was well worth it. I now celebrate with my boyfriend, and it really isn’t about the gifts we give, or the dinner we have, it’s about being together and celebrating the love we have.

I think right now everyone could use some love, there is so much hate in our world. I wish it could be everyday, but I think Valentine’s day is special to have one day full of love. <3 <3

Spring!

Despite the cold, spring is here! This is my impression of the season of spring.

It portrays the typical symbols of this wonderful season:
The bright yellow sunshine
The chirping birds near and far… chittering and chatting
The smell of the first cut green grass
And Spring, as we know it, the season of love and warmth.

-Kevin

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke