An open letter to my Spouse: You are more than just the husband to a chronically ill wife

I’m not entirely sure that my situation can truly be deemed “chronic illness” or if it’s just a series of unlucky and unfortunate events that have left a lasting toll on my body, physically and mentally. I’m not sure what really defines chronic illness, but if it means years of painful surgeries, major life changes, or everything normal coming to a screeching halt while everything centers completely around me, then I suppose, maybe, I fit the definition.

For years it’s been all about me. Sudden medical scares, hundreds of doctors appointments, recovery and more surgeries and more recovery. Depression, pain, truly scary and ugly days.

Constant “spot light” on me.

What no one really notices or sees is what happens behind the scenes. The man that has been here with me every step of the way. This all began on the very day we exchanged vows and said “I Do”, and hasn’t slowed down since. He has been the truest example of what “through sickness and health” absolutely means.

My Husband.

Today, I hope to shine a light on not only him, but to all of the spouses and significant others to those that are sick or have had a major life change that has affected their health and way of life.

Dear Brent,

I’ve never known you to fear much of anything. Most things that strike fear in the hearts of others are the very things I have seen you take head on without flinching or second guessing. This is one of the very reasons I have always felt safe and protected by you.

I’ll never forget the day I saw fear in your eyes for the first time and it was the day this all began. The first of several times we were both so unsure of what was going to happen to me. I felt and still feel unimaginable guilt, because I wanted to reassure you and protect you and make you feel the same safety that you have always comforted me with, but I couldn’t because I was scared too. So many fears that we didn’t have to say out loud, we both knew what the other was thinking. Our first thoughts: the kids, our new life together, our future. All of these things flashed through our minds as we tried to put a brave face on for one another.

We’ve had many scares but we’ve faced them together. Thank you, for never leaving my side despite how awful things got. Thank you for showing me that being afraid is okay.

You’ve held my hands tightly and whispered prayers in my ear while I’ve screamed in pain and begged God to let me die. That couldn’t have been easy for you. I’m sure it must have been hell on earth because I can’t imagine our roles being reversed during a time like that. I don’t think I have that kind of strength or endurance in me. Im told on a regular basis how strong I am by friends and loved ones, but nobody truly realizes that it’s you. You’re the strong one.

You’ve had to be mom and dad while I’ve been down. You have gone days without sleep so you could work and then get our kids fed and ready for school as well as all household duties. I’ve never heard you complain. Not one single time. This has gone on for years and I’ve never seen you in a sour mood over it. Always smiling, always cheerful. Always loving. If the weight of the responsibilities are ever hard for you to carry, you hide it well. If there is ever any resentment over it, I never know about it.

You have made more sacrifices for our family and for me than I can count. You have cancelled plans you have looked forward to for months because of my many last minute and unexpected health complications. You have turned down handfuls of opportunities so you could be here. You’ve even given up your bed to sleep on the floor or in a chair so that I would have comfort after surgeries, but always next to me so you could hold my hand so I would never feel alone.

Your face beams with pride and happiness anytime you tell me you have had a conversation with someone asking about how I’m doing or the ones that have gone out of their way to tell you that they’ve been praying for me. You get truly excited about that and as much as it means to me, I can’t help but feel guilt over no one ever asking how you’re doing or offering prayer over you. It can’t be easy being the spouse to someone who is always sick. Despite how effortless you make it look. I know it’s hard. I know it gets to you so much more than you let on. Nobody really sees how much you and the kids have had to go through with me. These are the things we never talk about but maybe we should. You’ve all had to show so much bravery and the kids have had to really grow up fast because of all of this. I hope that at the end of it all we have taught them strength and empathy and what it means to really love each other.

Despite what everyone may think, I would not have made it this far without you. You tell me that’s untrue but I know different. I would have given up years ago but you wouldn’t let me. You deserve so much more recognition than you have ever received but being who you are you proudly stand in the shadows and put me on the pedestal. You ask for nothing but you are owed so much more.

My prayer is that one day, you will have the prayers and encouragement that I have had. I want others to ask YOU what YOU need instead of me. I pray the day comes that you are put on the pedestal instead of me and that you are able to chase down all of the opportunities and dreams you have without the worry of the “what if’s” that my journey has caused.

My sickness doesn’t define me, and it doesn’t define you either. This isn’t all that our relationship is about and it won’t always be this way. We’ve had such a long, hard road but we are mercifully starting to see the finish line in site. Where I try not to get my hopes up, you always do and I see the bitter disappointment you deal with after each unexpected wall we hit. You always handle it so much better than I do, but I hope one day you’ll allow yourself to show it the way you need to. You don’t always have to protect me.

This has not just been my journey, but OURS. It has been painful and scary and beyond difficult . It may have broken me more than once and maybe it even broke you but it never broke US. We’ve made one hell of a team that I realize now no force on earth could break.

Your love and loyalty in itself is worth so much more than a letter or honorable mention. It is what many can only dream of but rarely find. I have told my story so many times in hopes to inspire and help others, but your story is the one that truly deserves to be told.

You are loved more than words can express.

Love Always,


Save the Booties

You probably think this is an article about pirates or a fitness post about how to do proper squats for a better booty. (HA!If you knew me at all, you’d know that’s a big joke in itself) You may even think that it’s a post strictly dedicated to famous celebrity backsides or you could just believe the writer of this article is just a weirdo with some form of compulsive butt obsession.

You are wrong on all accounts, well almost wrong on all accounts. I do have a bit of a butt obsession, just not in the way you may think. I’m determined to bring awareness to a very serious health risk that I can almost guarantee you’ve never heard about. I want to help change that.

This is actually my attempt at an informative post about the potentially dangerous illnesses that the booty can cause.

I bet you didn’t know your butt could kill you.

Ask me how I know. Honest! I speak from personal experience.

I’m sure you think I’m joking. I wish I were, but I couldn’t be more serious. I may joke about many things, but never the severity of this.

I have written in the past about my experiences in the ER, my many surgeries, and my journey for the last three years, but I have never been able to truly explain much about it because I never fully understood it myself. After doing research for the last several years and talking to many doctors, surgeons, and nurses, I feel as though I’m informed enough to explain it better and try to bring awareness to a very rare illness that may help save a life.

If you could guess what the number 1 rectal killing disease would be, what would you choose?

Colon or rectal cancer? Crohn’s disease? Ulcerative colitis?

That’s what I would think too, however none of these are the number 1 most fatal.

Have you ever heard of a perirectal or perianal abscess?

What about an anal fistula?

If you haven’t, don’t feel too badly. Not many people have. Myself included.

As it turns out, this lesser known problem is considered the most dangerous and the most fatal form of rectal disease. It is considerably rare. Only 200,000 people in the U.S. are recorded ever to have one. However, should you have a perirectal abscess, chances are high that you will also have at least one anal fistula accompany it.

What is a perirectal/perianal abscess?

Everyone has anal sinuses inside of their rectum. Inside each anal sinus are glands that create a mucous like substance to naturally lubricate and assist in the passing of fecal stools (your poop). Sometimes (very rarely) these glands can clog and become infected. They will then begin getting progressively worse, continuously filling with pus and bacteria. Therefore causing an abscess or multiple abscesses in the perineal or rectal area. There have been theories as to what could possibly cause the irritation/infection in the glands. In over 54% of these cases Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis have been the root cause. Other cases could be caused by STDs, difficulty passing stool (caused by constipation which may cause tears in the skin from straining or passing a hard stool) or it could be caused by persistent and reoccurring diarrhea (brought on by IBS or other stress related bowel problems). However, in the case of myself and many others they have no answers as to why or how it could have happened. Many tests were run and nothing helpful was ever really discovered.

(I will touch on my experience a little later in this post)

In fact, if you were to try and find information on the internet about this particular disease, you would probably be shocked at how little you can find on the subject. In the three years I have been researching this I have found minimal information and even less personal testimonies or stories from others that have experienced it. Which is why I am writing this.

I feel that for a condition that is considered to be this detrimental to ones health, it should be talked about. It should be researched and people should be educated. There should be more information.

In all of the research I have found it has generally been in medical papers written by surgeons for other surgeons or medical students to read. They are difficult to understand and full of so many medical terms that an average everyday person like myself had a pretty difficult time deciphering it all. In other articles I found many downplayed the symptoms and the way it was worded made it sound no different than normal discomfort not unlike that of a hemorrhoid. To me, this is the largest problem.

No One knows what this is. No one knows what to look for. Due to this it is usually misdiagnosed, causing severe problems.

I found two testimonials from patients that had been through the ordeal of perirectal abscesses as well as the fistulas (I haven’t touched on the fistulas yet but I will, bear with me)

The one common thing in their stories aside from the procedures needed and the illness itself, were the multiple misdiagnosis given to both which made their healing process much more difficult in the long run. I can completely sympathize with their stories because mine is very much like theirs.

In most cases if perirectal abscesses do occur and are caught in time, no surgery is needed. They can be treated through antibiotics and special sitz baths.

So why is it considered so deadly?

Several reasons.

Many times people try to self treat or self diagnose. Whether this is due to lack of medical coverage because the patient has no medical insurance or due to fear of going to the doctor usually googling symptoms and trying alternative routes have become a popular choice when they feel they have no other options. In a case like this, it can have terrible consequences.

Other times, they do go in to see a physician and are misdiagnosed, usually for a pilondial cyst or bartholins vaginal cyst in women. Anal fissures are also another common misdiagnosis given.

Lastly, embarrassment. Embarrassment is statistically the largest reasoning in not seeking treatment or help. I can attest to this because it was the very reason I waited so long. Nearly too long.

Leaving a perirectal abscess untreated for a long period of time CAN and WILL cause many medical problems. Sepsis being the most deadly and unfortunately, the reason for such a high number of deaths caused by this particular ailment.

Fistulas are another major problem that happen due to the abscesses. They can be caused by leaving the abscess untreated and the abscess drainage will ultimately cause an internal tunnel through the flesh leading from the external part of your rectum, to the internal part ,sometimes as far as your colon, depending on the cause of it. There are many different kinds of fistulas as well as stages given for the severity of them. If you manage to avoid a fistula from the abscess drainage, then you will likely end up with one from the surgical procedure used to drain the abscess, especially if the procedure turns out to be an extensive one. Which will occur if you wait too long to see a doctor for it.

Fistulas can be considered a huge health risk by themselves. They can occur in other parts of the body as well, not just the rectum. Anywhere that you have had any form of trauma, surgery or infection you are at risk.

Depending on the severity of the fistula and where it is located will determine the type of treatment you will need to repair it. Sometimes a fistula can be repaired and will fully heal after a minor surgery on the very first attempt. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In many cases it takes countless surgeries, multiple techniques, and can even take years to fully heal. If a fistula is left untreated it can cause pain, inflammation, serious infection, persistent and uncomfortable drainage, even cancer. If your fistula heals incorrectly or heals with “pockets” in the tract, you are at risk of the return of abscesses and cysts, which would cause the entire process to start over from the beginning. So it is likely that the fistula repair surgery will have to be redone.

What makes a rectal fistula even more difficult to repair is the area in which it is located. It is not in an area that promotes healing as well as it could in other areas of the body. It is in a spot that is constantly exposed to bacteria and moisture. Not only that, if you don’t have an experienced surgeon or specialist you run an even larger risk of your sphincter being susceptible to permanent, irreparable damage, causing lifelong fecal incontinence. Meaning you no longer have control of your bowels.

These are a few of the fistula repair surgeries that I am familiar with and are the most commonly used:

Another option you may be asked to consider to promote in the healing of your fistula, especially if all of these procedures continue to fail would be an ileostomy.

An ileostomy is helpful with the healing of the rectal fistulas because you will no longer be exposing your wounds to fecal matter or bacteria. Your ileostomy will reroute your waste through the external opening of the abdomen into a bag that is attached to the outside of the stoma.

Remember in the beginning of this, I mentioned having a story and knowing first hand how deadly a situation like this is?

I have been through every single one of these procedures, and then some because I ignored my symptoms and refused to seek help because I was too embarrassed to allow any physician to exam my butt.

What began as what I though was hemorrhoids (a very common mistake made by most with these symptoms) I quietly began attempting to self medicate. After months of ignoring my symptoms (that were progressively getting much worse) I finally found myself in the Emergency room in excruciating pain. I was diagnosed with anal fissures and sent to buy a prescription salve that my insurance provider did not cover. I had to pay 600 dollars out of pocket for a medicine to treat something that did not even exist. A week later I was back in the hospital with still no answers, I was only given pain medicine to temporarily help with the pain. The medicine did not even begin to touch the pain. Not even a little.

I was finally able to get in to see a physician that immediately referred me to another hospital for a CT scan and testing. He believed I had a pilonidal cyst. Another misdiagnosis. Despite the wrong answers given, he did take my pain seriously and knew I was very sick. I am thankful to him for the referral.

My CT scan showed a perirectal abscess, but not a small one. In fact it was so large that it had grown into what they called a horseshoe abscess. Although you could feel the heat radiating from the outside of my body from the infection, there were no visible signs externally. Everything was internal. The scan showed over 100 cysts and abscesses covering not only my rectum but also my ovaries. The doctors were speechless and could not believe I was able to walk into the hospital, let alone had been in this kind of pain for months. I was very sick and was septic from the infection. They had to do emergency surgery and then a second surgery a day later to finish cleaning and cauterizing the wounds. My wounds had to be packed with gauze daily for about a month. I won’t even begin to discuss the pain. It was unimaginable.

After the surgeries I ended up with two fistulas. I was given antibiotics but after awhile they just wouldn’t get any better. I found myself back in the hospital a few more times due to infection before I was referred to a gastro intestinal specialist.

I was given a colonoscopy to determine whether or not Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis were the culprit behind my abscesses. Everything came back negative. All other testing proved that I had no serious medical issues that would cause this to happen. I was just one of the few “lucky” ones to just end up with this kind of thing. Yay me, right?

In total since 2016 I’ve had roughly 23 surgeries . The majority of those have been to repair my fistulas. I’ve had every procedure done on the list I shared. I eventually agreed to have an ileostomy to better my chances of healing and fight reoccurring infections. It was meant to only be temporary lasting around 8 weeks, but after a year and a half I still have it and have proudly rocked the ostomy life.

It has been the longest three years of my life but I made it! My fistulas have finally fully healed properly and in just a few short weeks I will have my ileostomy reversal. No more hospitals, no more surgeries, and no more bag life for me. I do plan to write a little more in depth about my ostomy experience in a future article. My hopes for these experiences are to help break the stigma of “butt stuff” and help normalize a condition that many people, especially women, usually shy away from. I want to turn my butt story (also lightheartedly deemed the great buttocolypse by my husband and myself) into a save the booty movement. I want to spread awareness and help others. No one should have to go through this kind of pain due to something that could be so preventable.

Everything that is common now was considered taboo at one time or another. It all has to start somewhere. I will tell my story and share this until I can’t anymore. That’s how important I believe it is. I want to drive everyone crazy with the amount of times I share it or stories like mine so that it will become as commonly known as colon cancer awareness is. I hope that one day we will see more information available on this and more people coming forward with their experiences.

If you have symptoms that you are unsure of SEEK HELP!! Don’t wait and never be ashamed or embarrassed to put your health first.

It’s just a butt.

Even Nemo touched one.

If you have some lumps, bumps or any other discomfort in or around your butt, likely it’s a simple fix. Always double check to be sure. Sometimes, you won’t see anything. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing there. You can have them internally.

If you have these symptoms along with pain that doesn’t subside but only intensifies, along with fever, trouble going to the bathroom, or you begin blacking out, fainting, or feeling lightheaded, get yourself into an emergency room as soon as possible and mention the possibility of an abscess. Use your voice and never be afraid of getting a second opinion.


Why I stopped writing

I haven’t written in quite awhile.

I just gave up completely.

If you have followed any of my previous articles, you may remember that most of my topics were health related. I began writing to tell a story. My story. It gave me a new found freedom that I felt gave me some form of control over things. Everything else has been completely out of my hands, but writing was the one thing I could still do for myself. I had control over what I chose to write about.

Unfortunately, I allowed myself to lose that passion after allowing my own personal feelings of discouragement get the better of me.

I am only human after all.

Due to the disappointment of my health battles any form of negativity outside of that was especially hard to deal with. So, rather than ignore it and move on, I held on to it and let it dictate my joy and completely stopped writing or talking about anything.

That was my own fault and after much soul searching I have regained my internal spark and I am ready to start again.

My main goal is to help others through this journey. That has always been my soul reason for sharing my stories. I have never been one to allow the outside opinions from others affect me but I found myself much more vulnerable and saddened by many things due to the depression and anxiety that came along with my road to recovery. I will never allow myself to feel so low that I give up on my dreams again.

This is my own personal fresh start, I hope that by starting over I can bring support, compassion, and maybe even a little laughter to others going through their own hardships.

Self Love

I love me.

There. I said it.

I can’t remember anything that has ever been more difficult than self love. Saying I love myself is uncomfortable for me. It’s an extremely difficult task. I’ve had low self esteem for as long as I can remember. I blame no one for it. I’m not sure where it stems from. I didn’t have an abusive up bringing. My parents were never cruel and they’ve never made me feel unloved or unworthy of anything. I’m unsure of when it began or why. I just know that one day I woke up and I hated everything about myself. I never believed anything good anyone has ever said about me. I make jokes at my own expense and I’ve always shied away from compliments. As far as outward appearances go, I’ve never felt beautiful. As far as inner beauty goes, well, I didn’t have much of that for a really long time and it showed. My past choices and decisions proved my lack of self confidence and love for myself.

I had a habit of making relationships with people that made bad decisions and poor life choices. To me these were just people that needed to be loved. I could “fix” them. Maybe by “fixing” them, I could find my own self worth.


I always ended up more wounded and hurt and I allowed those situations to validate who I was. In every failed relationship my self esteem would plummet further and I would blame myself for every single thing that had gone wrong. It was a vicious cycle that went on longer than I care to admit. These weren’t just relationships with a significant other, it was the same with friendships I had acquired as well.

I didn’t understand why I wasn’t loveable or why things just couldn’t work out. Obviously there was something wrong with me.

It turns out that there was something wrong with me. There was a lot wrong with me. I knew nothing about myself. I didn’t know how to make my own decisions or how to be my own person. I waited until others made a decision for me but I claimed to be this strong independent woman because I worked hard and tried to be a good mom. I’ve been a mom since I was seventeen years old and I wanted to believe that I was doing the best that I could, but if I’m being honest I most definitely was not. I could have done better. I could have been better. Had I realized my true strength and seen how much more I deserved, we could have gone so much further. I drug my poor daughter through the ringer right along with me due to my lack of self love and self appreciation through the years. I was too blind to see that my own daughters would need to see self love come from their own mother in order to practice it for themselves. That is one of my biggest regrets and I’m doing everything I can to make up for it now.

After many years of poor judgment and self hate, something in me woke up. I can’t fix anyone. It’s not my job, it’s theirs. What business do I have trying to make someone else a better person when deep down I know I’m my own biggest disaster. It’s my job to fix me and that’s it. Until I got to the root of my self hatred I could never grow or find any happiness. When I realized that I held the key to my own heart that’s when I could really see the big picture. I validate myself. I was made with a purpose and I was not a mistake. I am beautiful and I am strong and every flaw I thought I had are really the very things that set me apart from everyone else. It sounds so cliche’ doesn’t it? Just like a motivational poster but it’s the truth.

When I let go of all the mud I had allowed myself to trudge through I became weightless and free from the senseless burdens I had no need to carry. Everything changed in that moment. The drive to be better for myself and for my children was all I cared about. I learned how to say no to others and not feel guilty or second guess myself. I made my own decisions and my own choices. I worked desperately hard to become a leader and not a follower. When I finally learned to let go I found my freedom.

Big things began happening in my life after that. I found true happiness and love. Love for myself and love for another. Real love. Not the kind that I had convinced myself was real in years past. I found self respect and in that I found others that could actually respect me too. My children see a mother that is happy. A woman that sees her worth and demands that they see their own as well. Not just my daughters but my sons too. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made and we all deserve to know about it and actually feel that kind of love for one another and for ourselves.

I still have days of doubt and I still have battles with self esteem and bouts of depression. I am still human after all. The only difference now is in how I handle it. This time around I don’t believe the lies that my mind tries to tell me. I find my support system and they help me through it as well, but ultimately it’s up to me to really see the truth. I am broken but I am beautiful. I am working hard to become the best of me.

I find things to do everyday that help me build on my self preservation and self love and one of the main things is self care. That means physical and mental self care. I have basically unplugged from social media. I check things out from time to time but for the most part I’ve let it go. I try to wake up earlier than everyone else before the daily routines begin and enjoy the quiet before the day begins. It may only be for ten minutes but that ten minutes of uninterrupted silence has been my saving grace on many mornings. It’s my time to “get right” before I do anything else. My morning devotionals have become a normal staple for me and if I miss one I can definitely tell.

I try to take “me time” everyday. Nothing serious. Maybe it’s painting my toes or using a facial mask. Maybe it’s just taking a walk around my back yard. Maybe it’s going through my cabinets and finding a bunch of random ingredients and throwing together a new recipe. The point is it’s something I want to do. It’s something that makes me smile. It’s something that makes me happy. I find my peace in opening my heart to any form of joy that I can find in even the smallest moment. Some days when I’m feeling especially low or down on myself I make myself write out every single thing I like or love about myself. As ridiculous as it seems it’s helped.

If you’re reading this today and you’re feeling unloveable or ugly or if you’re convinced you’re unworthy of anything good.

Please don’t believe the lies.

You are spectacular.

Be a Blessing

Roughly 8 years ago I encountered a woman that left a lasting impression on me. A simple act of kindness that she shared with me changed my outlook on everything.

I’ll never forget the day. It was an early Monday morning and like a typical Monday for most it was stressful. I had gotten my oldest child off to school. My second child was still a toddler and she was a very strong willed toddler. My third was an infant. I had my hands full and I had a ton of errands to run. Per usual, nothing went as planned. After several stops I had forgotten to go to the post office, I needed stamps. After driving back across town after nearly being back home I made it to my destination. To my frustration. The office where you could purchase stamps was closed and the stamp machine outside of the office had run out of stamps. I was on the verge of tears due to the constant run ins with bad luck and screaming kids among other things going on that day.

Life was rough during that time, any kind of minor setback would send me nearly into hysterics. I really needed the stamps, though I can’t remember why now. (Funny thing about bad days, it seems like the end of the world and then years later you look back and laugh at how mild it really was)

A split second later a woman with a wide smile stopped me outside and said “I don’t know why but I just feel like you needed these” and she handed me a book of stamps. I stood there dumb founded. I offered to pay her for them and she refused. Still smiling, she simply stated “Its a blessing to be a blessing”. She gave me a hug, got in her car and drove away. I stood there speechless and in tears. My entire mood shifted and my day was immediately better. I had never laid eyes on the precious woman before and I have never seen her again since. To this day her words resonate in my mind every morning when I wake up, even on my worst days. You can’t convince me that this kind lady was not a strong message from God and I believe she may have been a guardian angel. Call me crazy, Call me a religious nut, whatever. Either way her blessing blessed me much further than just that one day. It was so much more than just a book of stamps. That one moment impacted my life in a huge way.

I made a decision then and there that one day I would do the same for someone else. I wanted to be a blessing. The only problem was I had the wrong ideas about what I was supposed to be doing versus what I could actually do and in that personal misconception, I missed many great opportunities because they weren’t obvious enough to me. I was looking for the wrong things and for the wrong reasons.

For instance, if someone was having financial difficulties, I didn’t help because I was having my own financial difficulties. In what way could I possibly help? That’s where I was wrong. Many times those that reach out for help in this way are truly humbled and embarrassed. I know this because I have been there, many times, and could easily be there again at any given moment. What can you give if you can’t help financially?

For starters- Compassion, friendship, a hot meal, a hug, secrecy, respect, prayer, and kindness. I could go on.

I kick myself now for the many missed opportunities to help in other ways because I didn’t realize those things mattered and could help too.

Notice I brought prayer into it. Let me clarify. I’m not talking about the #thoughtsandprayers mantra that so loosely gets thrown around on social media in times of trouble and heartbreak.

First, not everyone has the same beliefs and that’s okay. I’m not speaking for everyone, only myself. From a Christian stand point (for me) when I feel like I can do nothing else or if I feel helpless about a situation, I pray.

For me, Praying for another person or a situation is the purest, most selfless form of love that I can give to another human being. Whether it is praying to help ease the persons burdens or to give me insight on other ways I can use these two good hands of mine to be of better service to another.

Secondly, telling someone that they’re in your thoughts and prayers doesn’t mean a thing if you’re just saying it and you’re not following through. I am guilty of this and I will be the first to admit that in those times that I didn’t follow through. Not only did it make me a big fat liar, it also made me even less helpful of the situation.

(Through the years I have had to really work hard on myself with this to truly follow through on the promise, because sometimes even when I mean well, I’m still an imperfect human that gets caught up in my own personal life and my own problems and I push everything else to the side. Including prayer. Human nature is a fickle thing and I am admittedly guilty of allowing myself to get pretty self absorbed at times).

Better yet, pray without announcing it. You don’t have to say a word. It is possible to drop everything you’re doing and pray without anyone ever knowing it or without posting about it and bringing hashtags into it. If you’re a believer let God do his thing. He knows what he’s doing.

Respect is another huge way to help. If someone is struggling. No matter what the burden may be. Respect their privacy. Whether you’ve been told in confidence by the person in need or if you’ve heard it in other ways, don’t allow a word of it to leave your lips. Don’t boast about how you’ve helped them, because at that point it’s no longer about them, it is now about you and the giant invisible flashing sign above your head that says “look at me and everything I have done”. Show them that no matter what is going on in their lives that they will always deserve dignity and respect. Sometimes when a person is at the end of their rope, their dignity is all they have left to hold on to. I speak from experience. Unless they have personally given you the go ahead to tell others, don’t do it. Period.

Which brings me to my next point.

If you give with the expectation that you will have the same done for you, you will be greatly disappointed and You are doing it for the wrong reasons.

Stings a bit doesn’t it?

Guess who’s guilty of doing all of the things listed above at one time or another? Yep. This girl.

It’s hard to give when your own life is so topsy turvey. “When’s it my turn”? Is a classic black cloud that has followed me through the years. Especially when I was a single mom, fixing burst water pipes on my own and trying to figure out a way to feed my kids. I found myself bitter and resentful about my circumstances many times and would do a mental countdown of all the dollars and cents I’d given to others and how I could have used it just as much as they had. After much soul searching through the years I realized how wrong I had always been. My resentment was about me. No one else. My mindset was all wrong and I was soulfully immature. My entire outlook and perspective was completely wrong.

I realized that during those particular times in my life, I had no business giving anyone anything because my heart was far from being in the right place. How could I give with a kind and loving heart when I didnt have those qualities to give in any aspect of life?

The Blessing is BEING the Blessing.

It took me way too long to really, truly, understand that. Entirely too long. When I finally found myself after all those years the realization of what that kind woman at the post office was actually saying to me slapped me across the face and I felt so foolish for misinterpreting the true meaning.

I finally realized how selfish I had been.

What have I learned? Tons, and I’m still learning every day.

If you are getting ready to help others make sure your head and your heart are in the right place. Do some soul searching first. Are you really willing to give someone your help knowing they may never be able to do the same for you? Are you willing to help even if you don’t get the kind of response or thanks you think you deserve? Can you truly and genuinely give without judgement or strings attached? If not, wait until you can. It will be worth it in the long run. I can honestly promise that. If your answer is yes then here are some other ways you can be a blessing to others.

-Give in secret.

Being an anonymous donor is one of the easiest and kindest ways to help someone. Not only does it protect their privacy, it’s a beautiful thing to sit back and watch. Another way to give in secret is to keep it between you and that person. Even if it’s a complete stranger, no need to tell others about it. No need to make a post on Social media about the good deed you’ve done. It’s a lot more satisfying when you don’t. Trust me.

-pay it forward

This has become a really popular way to help others through the years. Whether it’s paying for someone’s coffee in the line behind you or buying someone’s groceries in the grocery line, but it doesn’t have to be about paying for anything. You can still pay it forward by doing nice things in other ways. Opening a door for someone, giving a compliment, even smiling. Smiles can be contagious.

-Don’t discriminate with your help

It’s okay to help strangers. Obviously this world is crazy and you do have to be safe and take precautions. I’m in no way saying you have to run up to a complete stranger on the street that you know nothing about and put yourself in harms way. What I mean is, if there’s a person that you don’t know personally in need of help and you choose not to because you have different beliefs or you think you have nothing in common, then you’re really selling yourself short and could really be missing out on a wonderful friendship. Don’t save your help just for the ones you know or are in your immediate circle. Don’t be afraid to branch out. Everyone needs a friend or a listening ear in times of trouble. Again, you don’t necessarily have to aid with their finances, but sometimes just reaching out and letting them know they have one more person to talk to can make all the difference. Even if you never talk to them again, you showed them they weren’t alone. A complete stranger took a chance on me and changed my life. It really does happen.

-know when to say no

You don’t have to give every last ounce of yourself every single day. Know when to say no and know what you can and can’t handle. Being helpful is an amazing gift in itself but not at the expense of yourself. Only do what you can when you can and don’t feel guilty over what you can’t do or when you can’t do it.

Got it?

It’s okay to have a life of your own and it’s okay to know what your priorities are. You can’t save the world and you can’t help everyone. No matter how much you want to. All you can do is your best and even if you only help one person your entire life, no matter how that may be, that’s still one person and that’s still a big blessing.

You never know.

They may call you their guardian angel one day.

I know this is a bit lengthy. I haven’t written in a while and this is something that has been on my heart and in my mind for some time now. My joy and my peace are precious things to me. It took me years to acquire them. My faith has been tested many times and I have done my fair share of unkind and not so helpful things. This particular posting is in no way claiming sainthood or artificial perfection. I’m a big hypocrite just like everyone else. I’ll never claim to be anything else. My life and my journey are my testament. A big part of my joy comes from helping others. Every moment of my life has been for a purpose, even the ugliest parts. If I went through those ugly, horrible moments for no other reason than to help someone else by hearing about it, then I am thankful for all that I have endured.

“It’s a blessing to be a blessing”.

Never a victim, forever a fighter

I try to keep my writing light and upbeat for the most part, but I also want my writing to be honest and real. I can’t very well do that if I’m constantly sugar coating with “I’m fines” and “I’m stronger than this storm” and rainbows and butterflies and yada, yadas and blah blahs.

I’m going to address a topic that I don’t like to talk about for all the classic reasons, but it’s important and whether it’s just helping me get it out or even if it helps someone else by reading it, I can be satisfied with that either way.

Depression is real. It’s ugly and awful and excruciatingly painful and I hate it. It affects so many people, for so many reasons, and it can even hit a person without any reason at all.

Mine stems from change. A change that I never asked for or wanted but is nevertheless part of my daily life. A huge overwhelming part of my life that I am learning and failing miserably most days in coping with.

Please don’t misunderstand this. I am in no way stating I don’t want to live anymore. That is not the case at all. If anything I have fought harder to live this life in the last couple of years than I have my entire known existence. But that’s just it, some days I don’t want to exist. Not die, but just not exist. Disappear for a time. Just until the thoughts are gone and until my head is clear and I don’t have to face anyone or anything or answer any more questions or have lack of privacy. I want to hide until I can breathe again and not feel so angry or afraid or bitter about my circumstances.

I go from not wanting to face anything else to growing so angry I want to scream and cry at the top of my lungs until I get all the bitter poison out and I can feel like myself again.

There are times I go days without brushing my hair until it’s a matted mess of knots and tangles because I just don’t care or get out of bed just to go to the bathroom and come back to sleep another eight hours. That’s all I can manage. Between my chronic pain and the pain of heartache during all of this, I feel like a broken mess.

I have a deep faith in God, but I still battle depression. I pray without ceasing, but I still battle depression. I cast all my burdens at his feet and I still battle depression. I practice gratefulness and praise and positivity…I still battle depression.

And that’s okay.

I know that he understands my depression and my anger and my resentment. He also knows I’m working on it.

I am imperfect. I am scarred. I am terrified.

And I’m mad as hell about it.

I’ve started feeling a lot less guilty admitting all of these things to myself and others once I accepted it and put it all out there.

After all, what on earth do I have to be depressed about? I am so blessed!

And this couldn’t be more true. I am blessed, blessed beyond measure, grateful to wake up and live another day . But it’s still there and it’s still real. I get told “don’t be so negative”, “you’re still alive”, “youre back home you’re better now right”? “You’re not in the hospital, so you’re not that sick anymore are you”? Hahahahaha…’s not their fault really. At one time that was me. I was that person. You never really “get it” until it happens to you. Well I most definitely “get it” now. You learn to laugh it off and move on and ignore the blissful ignorance of the unscathed and healthy.

Im learning though, there are days when my anger is needed to push me further than I want to go. Because some days walking is too painful and I want to give up and go back to bed. The anger fuels me through the hurt and gets me through the daily tasks that I have to get done.

My depression is needed to grieve the loss of who I once was and all that I have endured. I’ve earned the right to be sad and cry my guts out on those days. No matter how ugly it gets, I just have to.

I need my resentment to show me where I want to be in the future and why I absolutely can’t stop trying.

I need my fear to keep me alive.

I am in no way playing the part of a victim. I’ve never been one of those. I will never be held hostage by my circumstances. I will always prove my own humanity to myself by facing down the darkest inner parts of my story.

I have always been a fighter, that will never change.

But, just know that I’m still human and there will be dark days that I just can’t answer questions anymore, and I can’t give the “I’m fines” anymore, or any of the other polite responses that are considered good manners or what is expected. There will be days that sneaky depression will be there, rearing its ugly head and I might give a quick tempered, impatient, answer. Please understand that’s a day I’m fighting my hardest. Say a prayer for me, forgive me, and we can readdress it on another day. Chances are I’ll feel terrible and apologize soon after anyway.

I have people that reach out to me and that I can reach out to on these days. But to those of you that feel as though you’re all alone. You’re not. You never have to be polite and say “I’m fine” if you’re not.

Check on your friends and loved ones. They won’t always reach out to you. Expect the possibility of them biting your head off when you do, or some days you may not get a response at all. I’m guilty of both.

Check on them anyway.

It will never go unnoticed or unappreciated.

“You don’t have to stay strong. You are allowed to break. But you’re never ever allowed to stop fighting”

Just winging it

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you’ll know that I’ve been dealing with some health issues for roughly two years. I’m constantly in the doctors office or having surgeries or recovering. It takes up a lot of my time and energy. Which being a wife and mother first makes these issues even less than ideal.

Before my last surgery (a few weeks ago) I had an eventful summer planned. The excitement of the kids being out on summer break was almost too much anticipation for me to withstand. I think I was worse than the kids about it. I think a lot of parents thought I was crazy for being thrilled about the idea of summer break, but considering everything going on in my life, piling school on top of it made it even more difficult. There was no real bonding time with them. It’s always survival mode around here. Prepping and preparing and planning around getting them fed, bathed, homework done, extra curricular activities, among other things. There was just never enough time. I blink and time has flown by.

I feel as though I’m missing everything. I can’t make it to many of their school functions or ball games and it kills my soul. So I was determined that the Summer would be different.

That was before I got the news of another surgery, followed by multiple procedures bi-weekly after. You can’t even begin to imagine my disappointment. However, my tenacity wouldn’t allow me to give up completely. I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve and I’m not throwing in the towel just yet.

We may not be able to go all the places we had planned but there’s no reason why we can’t wing it. “Winging it” has always worked best for me anyway, long before my illness and surgeries. Usually I surprise myself in how much better it works out than having an actual plan. As an adult I have no problems admitting I have no idea what I’m doing. In fact I’m truly flattered when others think that I do. I guess I’m a fairly good actress.

My surgery was a pretty rough one. It was much more painful than anticipated and the recovery has been much more difficult for me than I had planned. You would think by now with my “just wing it” mentality that I would be used to the unexpected. I felt the need to spend time with my kids even more at this point and wanted to do whatever I could to have them near me without them being bored to tears or just stuck watching me sleep.

The weekend after my surgery had arrived and my husband was working and had army stuff that took up a lot of the following Saturday. It would be just me and the kids (and my mom who was still sitting with me so I wouldn’t overdo it) until he made it back and could spend that evening and Sunday with us. The day before I designed and made invitations for all the kids. They all received “movie tickets” for movie night in mamas room. They had to play together sweet all day to keep their tickets to be able to attend the movie. They received a family invitation for that Saturday for a day crammed full of events. Painting, water play, picnic, and game night. The girls received their own “super secret, extra girly, no boys allowed” invitation from me and the boys received a “boys rule, girls drool, super secret, no girls allowed” invitation from my husband. These invitations were booking that Sunday for a mother/daughter spa day and a father/son manly man day.

The kids seemed truly overjoyed and excited about the weekend plans and by Friday night they were just bursting for movie night. The day before I went on my first outing after surgery for a quick trip to our local dollar store to pick up a few things for our weekend ahead. We planned an entire weekend of fun for super cheap. I’m all about being thrifty with such a large family.

Friday night was Movie Night. The movie was a double feature we picked up for 5 bucks and we had a night at the movies concession style dinner. Nachos, popcorn, and of course candy.

They loved keeping up with their tickets all day and thought it was hilarious that their grandma even had to have one to get in. They made their pallets on the floor while mom and I were piled up in the bed with full view of the movie and the kids. This was pretty exciting for them as my room is off limits usually. Just being near them hearing them giggle brought my morale up tremendously.

Saturday Morning started off with Art

They each painted pictures on cheap canvases I picked up. I keep paint stocked because it’s still one of my favorite things to do when Im feeling up to it. They haven’t had a chance to really explore their artistic side here lately so this was an unexpected treat for them. They couldn’t believe I was just handing it all over and letting them go with it.

After art it was outside time. They were each surprised with a new beach towel for their day in the water.

They loved their towels. Their big sister did too as you can tell from the photo, she took them over. Classic older sibling behavior.

We brought a quilt out for me to lay on and if that got too uncomfortable I would head to my room and lay down and open the window to look through and watch them from my bed. Hearing them play and laugh always brings me so much joy. I took as many pictures as I could and just lived in the moment, taking it all in. They thought they were just having summer fun, they didn’t realize they were actually helping their mother heal.

After water games we had a picnic and they experimented with a solar oven.

They finished out the afternoon exhausted and ready to rest in the A/C and wait on Brent (dad) to get home for family game night.

He was a good sport about it when he came in, even after having army dental work done. He played with us without complaint. We even roasted what was left of the marshmallows over the gas stove burner for a snack before bed.

Sunday was the day they had been most excited about. Something about sharing secrets with parents and keeping it from your siblings is obviously the greatest thing to ever happen. Despite being exhausted the day before their feet hit the floor around 6am rip roaring and ready to go. The suspense was killing them. You could hear the girls arguing with the boys about who’s super secret Day would be better. After a huge breakfast, we got started.

The boys were ecstatic when they found out their boys day was to be held in Brent’s man cave. A place no children were ever allowed to go. He cleaned it up especially for them and set everything up for them to watch as much Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, and every classic 80s action movie he could think of. Among other things they refused to let their mom know about, because after all, I am a girl.

Complete with root beer for them and “man snacks”….whatever that is. I don’t ask questions anymore.

The girls opted for the living room and wanted to binge on Sabrina the teenage witch episodes. We started our girls only spa day by making the girls their own kid friendly facial masks out of yogurt, oatmeal, and honey. They had no idea what they were making and then got hysterical when it started getting spread all over their little faces.

We had facials, manicures, pedicures, hot tea, snacks and makeovers. They even gave me my own mommy makeover since I’d had such a hard week. They couldn’t believe they were getting to play in the “good makeup”

They didn’t do too shabby…

We finished out the day together and eventually they couldn’t stand being apart from the boys any longer. They all had to get together and tell each other all about their fun day. They ended up getting another treat when their cousins came to play that evening.

I’m sharing this not because I feel I deserve a mom of the year award or any kind of special recognition for the things we planned. I wanted to share this because life gets hard sometimes. Parents beat themselves up a lot. Especially when things outside of our control happen and change everything. Whether it’s health or finances or even exhaustion. If you’re an adult, especially an adult with kids, chances are you get it or you’ve been there. I wanted to show you that you can still enjoy your time and have fun even when things may fall through. Chances are you have more fun and make the most memories that way. I didn’t have to take the kids on vacation or even spend a lot of money. We were together, they had our undivided attention, and we showed them that staying home can be an adventure too.

If you blink, you miss it.

Cherish every second.


Looking back on life, I realize every day has been important. There hasn’t been a single experience wasted.

Every moment has taught me something. Even the moments that are cringeworthy. I regret nothing now, even though it took me years to feel that way.

I needed those moments to learn. I needed them to grow. I’m 32 years old and I still learn new things about myself and about life everyday.

I have so many stories to tell. Some funny, some not so funny, but all very real.  Writing a blog is a new step in my journey. I hope to help others through it and maybe even help myself along the way.

So, here’s to stepping out of comfort zones, facing fears, and taking risks. Thank you for taking the time to join me on my newest endeavor.

Bribing the bus driver

To anyone that has children, I think we can all agree that kids really do say the darndest things.

They will most likely blurt out anything that comes into their precious little minds. No matter how uncomfortable or mortifying it may make the parents. These kinds of genuine, non filtered, brutally honest statements are usually brought up at the most inopportune times. Most likely in front of a crowd, or in church, or in the grocery store.

With five kids I try to stay prepared at all times but I’m outnumbered in the children vs adult ratio. They tend to “get me” quite regularly. My six year old son Travis usually “gets me” the most.

Last year, around this time, school was coming to an end and everyone was excited about Summer vacation. He showed his enthusiasm by acting out on the school bus. I received a call from his bus driver. I knew it must have been pretty bad because she never called me and she hates getting any of the kids in trouble.

He had been up and trying to run around the bus, just generally wild and not listening to her. I offered my apologies and assured her I would take care of it and he would behave better or I would start driving him myself. This would have been the ultimate punishment for him because he LOVED riding on the school bus.

After the call I tracked him down to have the talk. As soon as the words “your bus driver called” escaped my lips, his eyes grew wide with shock. He didn’t give me a chance to say anything else before he started pleading his case.”You mean she really called you”? “You’ve gotta be kidding me”! “Mama, I gave her 12 cents not to call you, A WHOLE Dime and TWO WHOLE pennies”! “I can’t believe she really called you when I gave her all my money and asked her not to”! You could hear his heartbreak and You could see the betrayal he felt all over his face. What a life lesson at such a young age.

It was probably wrong for me to laugh. It was probably even more wrong to laugh until I cried but in my defense I was able to hold it together long enough to walk into another room to regain my composure and find my serious mom face again before continuing his lecture.

Before having kids you would have never convinced me that I would have to explain the legalities of bribery to a five year old. Now, nothing surprises me. It’s keeping a straight face through it all that is most challenging.

*side note

Travis did apologize to his bus driver about his behavior and hasn’t had a minutes trouble since then.

Well, no trouble being a bus rider that is.

I would like to give a shout out to his bus drivers loyalty because she never once ratted him out about the bribe. Even after his apology she just grinned and winked and never said a word.

None of us ever figured out where the 12 cents actually came from…this is still our longest running mystery…

Tough as a Mother…

I’ve lived in the South my entire life and there’s definitely something to be said about the women here. Southern mamas are in a category all their own. Don’t get me wrong, I believe ALL women were made strong, especially mothers, but there’s no mother quite like a Southern Mama.

Call me biased but it’s all I know.

My grandmothers both passed away when I was really too young to remember much about either of them. So, I thrive on the stories I’ve been told about them and the few memories I do have. I am fascinated by my family heritage and learning about my genetics. So anytime there are family gatherings I’m right in the middle of it all, listening and soaking it all in.

My Grandma Vaughan was my dads mother. I have no memory of her at all but I know I’ve met her because there are pictures of me with her. I think the last time I was ever around her I must have only been around three or four.

I wish I could have known her. I hear she was a firecracker. A tiny, petite woman that raised not only her nine children, but many others as well. I’ve been told none of the children were as worried about crossing their dad as they were their mother. As tiny as she was she was feared and respected greatly by them all. It’s funny to hear the stories especially the ones told by my dad and uncles. These big burly men that still to this day admit how much tougher she was than all of them. She didn’t take any nonsense and she was never afraid to stand up for what she believed in. She was fearless.

My Grandma Bethea was my mother’s mother. I was able to spend a little more time with her and I do recollect a few things about her.

I know that her favorite color was green (mine is too) she had a big beautiful smile and eyes that seemed to have a little sparkle to them when she was laughing. She always let me sneak chocolate chips out of her refrigerator and she kept velveeta cheese and green grapes stocked every time I was over. She let me watch the Disney channel (when it was actually good) and she collected books for me, many I still have and passed down to my own children.

She went through her own share of tragedies, many I can’t begin to imagine how she made it through, but she did. She was strong.

Tammie Bethea Vaughan is my mother

I have watched her my entire life. She is a unique soul that many don’t understand and I love her for it. She wasn’t the Southern mama that put giant bows in my hair or pushed me into pageants. She didn’t teach me the southern belle mentality about how to sit pretty and keep my mouth shut. On the contrary. She taught me how to explore and use my imagination. She let me run and play and get as dirty as I wanted. She took me hunting and fishing and showed me how to field dress a deer and clean fish. My dad did this as well, but it was my mom that showed me that women could do it too. She taught me manners but also taught me that it was ok to stand up for myself and use my voice. “You have to be respectful, but you never have to be a doormat”. I think of these words everyday. She showed me that individuality in a cookie cutter world is beautiful. She is creative and selfless.

As a mother myself now I find myself appreciating them more each day. I am proud to come from such a long line of incredible women. I aspire to be like them while finding my own way through parenthood.

I wonder sometimes if I have any of their traits and then I hear my kids fighting in another room say “shhhh, don’t tell mama, PLEASE, don’t tell mama”!

I laugh and think to myself “yep, there she is”…

Wherever you come from, may you all know your strengths, admit your weaknesses, Embrace the imperfections, and love the chaos that comes with Motherhood. It is a beautiful journey.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all!