Mental Health Awareness Day, 2017

Depression means sinking.

It means sinking, in slow motion.

It’s heavy.

It sits in your chest.  It hurts.

It’s seeing the top of the water but no matter how hard you claw, you can’t reach the surface.

It’s selfish and it’s unforgiving.

Depression is numbness.  The inability to feel.

But to feel everything.

It is an all consuming fire in your bones, desperately fighting for the power to destroy you.

 

Anxiety.

Anxiety is fear.

It’s lack of control.

It’s white knuckling life.

It’s the rattling in your chest.

The beating of your heart mimicking a thunderous drum.

It’s shaking. Rocking. Crying. Yelling. Breathing. Gasping.

It is the manifestation of all you wish you were, and all you will never be.

 

 

They steal your joy

Your self worth.

Your relationships.

Your pride.

Your  l i f e.

 

Today is World Mental Health Awareness Day.

It’s a day set aside to recognize that anxiety and depression are REAL.  They are present.  And they have been given the opportunity to destroy too many lives.

 

Today, say a prayer for those who struggle with a mental health disorder.  Know that they need you.  They need your prayers.  Or a smile.  They need to feel loved, to feel like they matter.  Because they do, don’t they?

You matter.

Do you know that?

You were fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who makes NO mistakes.  His canvas is a beautiful tapestry in which He created you in His image.

You are enough.

You are enough.

You.

Are.

Enough.

 

xoxo, A

FREE Virtual Book Club!

A FREE virtual  book club — ALL ABOUT PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT!

I have been toying with the idea of doing a virtual book club for quite some time now.  I know so many women who LOVE reading, and genuinely benefit from the time it gives them to decompress and relax — but they just don’t make time for it.  I was the same exact way until I started coaching.  Now — gosh, I can’t imagine who I’d be without my daily personal development.

This book club will be as hands on or hands off as you would like.  You are welcome to engage multiple times a day, or simply pop in and check out the newsfeed as you desire.  This is for YOU — to help you become the very best version of YOU there is.

While I want you to be flexible and allow yourself grace in missing some reading/check ins, I also know that you are joining this book club for a reason.

You need something like this — a community like this — something positive in your day that will prepare your mind and heart for the responsibilities before you.  So do your best to invest the time in reading and checking in.  Set aside that time for YOU.  Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day.  Set that alarm for 10 minutes earlier and start your day with a cup of coffee and your book prior to those kiddos waking up.  Make it a priority as best you can!

We are the best women we can be when we serve ourselves FIRST, but as women…we often put ourselves LAST.

This month, let’s set aside some “me” time and dedicate some time to curling up with a book that is just sweet honey for the soul!

And now — for the release of the book title that we will start with (oh man, I’m so excited)!!!

Grace, Not Perfection is a must-read for all women.  Whether you are a mom, student, sister, or wife, Emily has written a book for all of us who struggle with letting go of perfection.  Practical and beautifully written, Grace, Not Perfection gives us the freedom to make what matters happen and to step into a life of purpose.  Get ready for a joy-filled journey as you turn each page!” -Lara Casey (author of Make It Happen and Cultivate)

There you have it, ladies, a book designed for us to simplify our lives and embrace what TRULY matters.

In this book, Emily lays out for us practical steps to bring fulfillment and meaning to our lives — even on the craziest OR most mundane of days.  You will see tips, insight, and even some pages designed for reflection and note taking should you wish!

To learn a bit more about Emily Ley, check out her blog!

To purchase your copy of the book, click here.

Okay, so what can I expect from this group?

The book is broken up into 3 parts — each week we will read one part of the book.  Everyone is encouraged to use the Facebook group as a means of communication and conversation — providing daily inspiration and/or discussing topics that are related to the book.  Each Monday, a list of questions/conversation starters will be posted that pertain to the readings completed during the previous week!

To reserve your spot in the free virtual book club starting on August 7th, please email me at savedandstrong@gmail.com!

Eating Disorder Recovery

The definition of recovery is “the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.”

Wow.

That forces me to think about what I lost control of.  What was stolen from me.  All that I lost.

I lost control of my life.  I lost control of my feelings.  My emotions.  My clarity.  My self worth.  My purpose.  My identity.

My adolescence was stolen from me.  My dignity was stolen from me. My confidence was stolen from me.  My reason for living was stolen from me.

I lost everything.  Friends.  Trust.  Happiness.  Myself.

7 years today, I declared that I would “get better.”

After years of anorexia, bulimia, cutting, promiscuity, and zero self worth — I decided I needed to make one last true effort to “get better.”

This was prompted by my mom.  As most addicts do (yes, I consider all forms of eating disorders and self harm an addiction — to weight loss, to “control”, to the feeling of euphoria when one self harms) my decision to “get better” was for someone else.

I asked my mom what she wanted for Mother’s Day.  “For you to get better, Alyssa.”

From that day forward I put every ounce of energy I had into pulling myself out of the deepest darkest pit I ever dug for myself.  I didn’t do it for me, I did it for my family.  The family that I had torn apart and broken into pieces.

The road to recovery is so long.  I suppose it’s never ending.  There are days when you triumph over conquering your demons and there are days when you come painstakingly close to allowing those demons permission to destroy you once again.  There are days you look in the mirror and you actually like what you see.  And there are days when looking in the mirror sends you into a fit of tears.  There are days when eating that chocolate cake at your friends wedding brings a huge smile to your face.  And there are days when eating that chocolate cake destroys you.

The thing about recovery is that you HAVE to celebrate the smallest of victories.  Eating that first piece of pizza in public without running to the bathroom to get rid of it.  Or eating that roll out to dinner…and even putting a small pad of butter on it.  It’s sitting in your sadness and choosing to write instead of cut.  It’s all these small things that make up recovery.  It’s not a one time decision — it is a decision that is made every single day for the rest of your life.

Addiction is bondage.  And no matter what you are addicted to — food, alcohol, drugs, porn — the key is finding freedom.  And freedom is Jesus.  Freedom is knowing that regardless of all the wrongs I have done and all the sins I have committed I am still worthy in the eyes of my creator.  For no reason.  So undeservingly.  “There is freedom in the name of Jesus” — that line still brings tears to my eyes to this day.  No words hit my soul like those.  I wish I could adequately portray the change I encountered when I gave my life to Jesus, but no explanation would do it justice.

Recovery isn’t easy.  Even with Jesus, it is a rocky road.  But I am free.  My demons tempt me each and every day.  They cause me to pinch my belly fat.  To suck in while having my photo taken.  To doubt myself.  But they no longer run my life.  Because Jesus has won me over and because of HIM I am free.

7 years ago today I made the best decision of my life.

And here I am. Age 28.  Married to the love of my life and a mommy to the most sweetest blessing.

I am eternally grateful for Christ’s sacrifice for us and for his constant reminder that we ARE enough for Him.  I am thankful that I have the opportunity to raise a little girl who loves and fears the Lord with her entire heart.  And I pledge to forever instill in my sweet girl that she IS enough, always.  That she is loved unequivocally by the King of Kings and that she can do great things.

Tonight calls for wine and ice cream.  And not a single ounce of self doubt!

If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, please don’t hesitate to email me at savedandstrong@gmail.com.

 

xoxo – A

Hot Mess Mamas

It’s amazing the pressure we put on ourselves as mamas.  You with me?

We expect ourselves to be flawless.  We teach our kiddos that perfection is not attainable — yet expect ourselves to fit the mold of that oh so unattainable perfection.

So, after leaving a play date full of mamas the other day in tears because of my own wildly debilitating insecurities — I did some thinking.

You know that saying “when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME.” — yeah, that’s so true.

I ASSUMED these mamas started their day with a cup of hot coffee, a devotional, and some lovely conversation with their husbands over a nice breakfast of bacon and eggs.

When in reality, chances are these mamas started their day with a half warm cup o’ joe, read a devotional while on the toilet for the only time that they will do so alone that day, and said hi/bye to their husbands as they ran out the door for work. Just. Like. Me.

I ASSUMED these mamas, clothed in LuLu Lemon, spent their morning at The Little Gym with their tutu wearing bright eyed and bushy tailed little love bugs, followed by a play date with a dear friend that consisted of belly laughs and the rehashing of beautiful memories.

When in reality, chances are these mamas spent their morning picking egg out of their kid’s hair, unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, saying “no” more times than they could count, and maybe…MAYBE…finishing that cup of coffee from early in the morning.  Just. Like. Me.

I ASSUMED these mamas spent their afternoons, as their precious ones took 3 hour naps, perfecting their yoga practice and engaging in a bible study that challenged them spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.

When in reality, chances are these mamas had cranky no-nap kiddos who decided to bring their lovely cranky selves into mommy’s workout routine, leaving mommy with a halfass workout and no time for that bible study that seems to be collecting dust.  Just. Like. Me.

I ASSUMED these mamas made a home cooked meal of chicken parm and organic greens from the garden in their backyard, wearing a plaid apron and a nauseating smile on their faces as their husband walked in from work.

When in reality, chances are these mamas reheated turkey chili they made in February and tried their best to give a fake smile for their husband.  Just. Like. Me.

I ASSUMED these mamas had riveting dinner conversation with their husband, their children ate every morsel of delicious organic food they fed them, and then proceeded to have glorious hot and heavy sex with their husbands after the kids went to bed without a peep.

When in reality, chances are these mamas could barely speak a word to their husbands over the whining of an over tired kiddo who relentlessly threw her microwavable mini pancakes on the floor for the dog, followed by that lovely kiddo fighting bed time because CLEARLY they aren’t tired.  Followed by collapsing in bed saying “tomorrow night, promise” to their husbands.  Just. Like. Me.

Moral of the story is — mamas — ain’t NONE of us have our ish together.

We need to stop conjuring up what motherhood looks like in everyone else’s homes and realize that we are in this TOGETHER. I am so thankful for mamas who have opened my eyes to being REAL, RAW, and VULNERABLE.

Stop comparing yourself to anyone else and focus on YOU and YOUR kiddos. That is my plan, I can promise you that!  And if any other hot mess mamas want to have a play date amongst some dust, doggie paw prints, scattered toys, a mysterious stain on the couch cushion, and an unshowered mama — girl — come onnnn over!

 

Surviving vs. Thriving

I think most of us simply survive.  And I whole heartedly believe this is NOT the way we were intended to live.  It doesn’t mean that life should always be rainbows and butterflies, but it does mean that our purpose in life is not to solely survive.

We dread Sunday nights because we know the week to come will be a long one.  We all get caught in the, “I can’t wait until Friday” mentality.  We check the calendar repetitively for our next day off.

How much of our time and energy do we waste being…miserable?  How much of our time and energy to we use simply stating how much we despise our circumstances? How much time and energy do we waste wishing the day away?  Too much time.  Too much energy.

I fully believe that I was not created to simply survive, I was created to THRIVE.

And so were you.

If we want to thrive, then we need to make changes in our lives NOW.  We need to make sacrifices TODAY so we can get where we want and where we need to be.

It’s easy to say, hard to do, right?  You’re thinking – okay, great but I HATE my job.  Or – okay great, but I’m just so depressed, I can’t get out of this funk.  Maybe it’s – how can I thrive when my sister has cancer?

Start by making small lifestyle changes.  I recently began waking up early before the baby wakes up to get in some professional development with a cup of coffee.  In silence.  Or mostly silence.  She’s crying now.  Go figure.  Anyway… make small changes.  Do something that fills your cup.  Find something that centers you and makes your heart happy.

Professional development books (You Are A Badass is AMAZING), exercise, massages, hair appointment, yoga, meditation, reading, coloring, baking, WHATEVER.  Do it.  Make time for it.  Even if it means waking up at 5am.  Trust me, 5am doesn’t look good on me either, girl, but it is SO worth it!

You’ll find that by doing small things daily that fulfill you will permeate into the rest of your day, changing your demeanor, changing your mindset, and creating an opportunity to THRIVE, not just SURVIVE.

“My mission in life is not to merely survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion and some style.” -Maya Angelou

Don’t Blink

When you have a baby, everyone says time will fly.  They will say, “don’t blink.”  You really do believe them, but you just can’t quite understand it in full until you live it.

Those first few weeks with that little baby are T O U G H.  They are brutal.  Can we be real?  They kind of suck a lot of the time.  There is no sleep, there is so much to learn, there is endless self-doubt, not to mention bleeding nipples and a pretty sore lady part.  There is A LOT of crying, and a lot of wondering why the hell the baby is STILL crying.  Then you cry.  It’s a mess.

If your transition into motherhood was a smooth process, mama I commend you but honey…I do not believe you. 😉

Anyway, I digress.

Don’t blink, right?

Those days go by S L O W.  So slow.  They feel painfully long, especially after daddy goes back to work.  You are caught between overwhelming love for that sweet baby and about a millisecond away from entering yourself into a psych ward. Don’t blink?? I wished I could blink and all of a sudden this scary new human that came out of me could hold her head up, smile at me so I know I’m not totally failing at this whole mama thing, and maybe even stop exploding from every hole she’s got.

And then, you do blink, and holy crap she is 8 months old.  She is 8 months old and she is crawling, she is smiling, she is laughing, she is playing, she is exploring, she is learning, she is no longer that little scary potato you once wished away.  And all of a sudden, you wish you didn’t blink.  You wish you didn’t wish those early tough weeks away.  And your fairly certain that if you blink again, she will be standing in front of you in her wedding dress.  (Now I’m crying.)

So, if you’re reading this and you have a new baby at home or perhaps a baby on the way…it will be hard.  Undoubtedly, it will be the most difficult thing you will ever do in your entire life.  Ever.  Times a million.  But truly, don’t blink.  You’ll want those days back.

 

xoxo

Permission

Who (or what) do you give permission to?

Today I have been struggling with a heavy dose of anxiety.  The kind that kind of freaks you out, ya know?  Where you can’t quite get your breath in all the way and every single thing makes you want to either scream at the top of your lungs or break down in a puddle of tears.

I did both.

After I calmed down a bit, I thought about how I was willingly giving permission for my anxiety to ruin my mood.  Not just ruin my mood, but potentially my day.  Heck, potentially my LIFE.

It made me think about how often I give others the permission to define who I am and who I want to be.  I allow their judgement to dictate my every move.  Just like I was giving anxiety permission to ruin my day, I often give others the permission to ruin my self confidence or dictate decisions that I am making.

There is one person that should have permission to make any calls about me or my life and that is God.  Otherwise, no one and no thing should ever have that power.

So today, and moving forward, when I am feeling anxious or I am feeling judged, I will ask myself if I am giving that person or that feeling permission to define me.  If the answer is yes, prayer mode gets put into action.

Don’t give anyone or anything that permission, my friend.