Top Five Lessons Learned in Yoga

I am a yoga novice. I’ve been practicing for a year, and while there are many poses that are still highly difficult for me, I keep going back. Why, you may ask? Because not only has it improved my balance, strength, and flexibility, but it has also improved my outlook on life. Here are my top five life lessons I’ve learned from yoga.

1) Stay on your mat. Stop looking over at that person in class doing a headstand, while you are just trying to get used to balancing on one leg–much less your freaking head. The headstand is in her practice–not yours. Let her be her and you be you. Just do you. The more you are focused on what others are doing, the more you lose focus and the capacity to grow in your own development. Stay on your mat and take care of you.

2) Be present. All you have is this moment-this breath in your body right now. Your life is happening right now. In yoga, I am forced to pay attention to how my body feels when I’m holding different poses. My attention will wander, but it inevitably comes back to my body and breath. In the moments of stillness, I have to come back to my body and breath, no matter how hard that may be. In a culture such as ours where we are constantly future-tripping or past-tripping, we naturally do not live in the present.  It is a skill that must be learned.  And once you begin to practice that skill, I promise you, it can change your life.

3) When you fall or topple over, that just means you’ve found your edge.  Life is so hard. Sometimes when we fall, we feel like a failure, but in reality it just means we fell at a difficult moment. In yoga, you stand back up and try again because that is just what you do. In life, it’s pretty much the same-we fall down, but that is not a signal to stop. It’s not a signal to make up some story in our heads and analyze why we fell. We just need to accept the reality of the fall, live in the present, and get back up and try again.

4) The pose doesn’t really even begin until you want to leave it. That’s the exact moment to stay present and hold that damn pose you hate and feel the uncomfortableness. Can you imagine how our lives would be if we did that every time we felt uncomfortable? I have learned the hard way that if I can sit in the pain or uncomfortable feelings without trying to numb them or react immediately, then THAT is where the true journey begins.

“So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn’t sit for even one, that’s the journey of the warrior.”- Pema Chodron

Feel the uncomfortableness. Feel the feelings, but don’t start making up some story in your head about how you got there.  The feelings we feel are important–but the thoughts and stories we tell ourselves may need to be quieted.

5) You must learn to let go. This is the one I hate the most. I lived so much of my life believing in the importance of holding on tightly to things and people I loved. What happened when I did this was that I never allowed them to grow. In the same way, when I come to my mat in yoga, I must let go of my ideas and feelings about the past and future, and set a specific intention for the practice.  I have to let go of my “smaller self,” so to speak, so that I can surrender to what is happening in that moment. It took me years to learn that letting go of something you are fighting for isn’t necessarily “settling” or giving up.  Rather, its about the courage to move forward, free of a specific attachment.  It is an act of surrendering in faith, so that you may experience the present moment.

My yoga teacher read the following poem the other night, at the beginning of class.  I asked her if could share it with you, so here it is:


 “Not everything you ever lose, is bound to be a loss.” ❤

And here’s my little yogi and I in her favorite pose: Malasana.  

Grounded in Truth

I know this question isn’t anything new, but what would happen if we all got REALLY truthful about how we are REALLY doing?

This morning, a guy who I think may be interested in me, texted me, “Good morning.  How are you doing?”

My response was “Not well.  I miss my daughter.  I feel like shit.”

When I pressed send on that text, I suddenly felt this surge of power that I sometimes feel when I’ve been uncomfortably honest with someone. “YEAH!” I think. “I FEEL LIKE SHIT and I just told a potential love interest that!  GO ME. I CAN DO ANYTHING.”

(Images from Allie Bosch, hyperboleandahalf@blogspot.com)

I feel like shit.  Let me shout it from the god damn rooftops.  Let me tell the barista at the coffee shop when she asks me how I am. Let me tell the clerk at the gas station. Let it be known to one and all that I feel shitty today. 

Sundays when I don’t have my daughter can be hard. Sometimes I want to curl into fetal position and not leave my bed. My thoughts and emotions tend to become negative and it’s easy to feel stuck. And I’ve found that the only way to get unstuck is to fight back by doing the next thing. 

So that’s just what I did. I wrote a list: coffee, write, laundry, exercise. And then I pretended I was a normal person and went to get coffee at a nearby coffee shop. While there, I ended up having a pleasant interaction with a dad in the coffee shop and his son who was building with Legos. And I talked to the employees about how I feel shitty and need espresso today instead of plain coffee. And those employees were so nice to me, and said, “No problem, we get you.” And while I was drinking my Americano, I decided to like, make this blog into an actual website. And then I decided to send invitations to everyone on FB to “like” this blog even though I really dislike self promotion and it makes me want to poke my eyeballs out. And I stayed in that coffee shop and started writing this blog entry until the coffee shop closed. 

Then I stood up and realized I felt pretty good… and it was all because I fought back by doing the next thing.  

So now, I’m doing laundry. And then I will exercise. And then it will be 8:00 and Aliana will come home and we’ll snuggle and watch a little tv before bedtime. And then I will know that today I was truthful and honest with myself and others about what I needed and how I felt. And that makes this day actually not so bad. 

P.S. During NYE I went on a yoga retreat led my Laura McKowen and Becky Vollmer. I had the privilege of sharing a sacred space with 26 amazing individuals. We did yoga. We spoke truth to each other. We worked on letting go of what we needed to for 2016, and looked forward to 2017. I chose a new phrase for 2017-Grounded in Truth. Because I realized that is what being brave looks like for me. Maybe that’s what it looks like for you, too. If it does, then let’s hold up each other in truth. ❤

P.P.S. As for the potential love interest, I realized today that I don’t think we are compatible enough to date. And that’s the truth. 

I love you guys. That’s all. And guess what? I don’t even feel shitty anymore. 

Weak is the New Strong

This is what it’s like to save your own life.


My husband of almost ten years tells me he is going to go out of town. I feel a pit in the bottom of my stomach. Pain wells up. Fear brims over me. Adrenaline rushes through my body in the way it does when someone attacks you, leaves you for dead, and you survive and escape.

I pretend I am dead. Not literally dead, of course, but dead in the same way I have  been dead for ten years. I do not show him I am still breathing and that a flame is flickering under the surface.

He believes me. When he walks out the door, I get to work. Time is ticking. I put my toddler to bed and start packing. I try to remember what is important-photos, toys, clothes, passports, birth certificates. As I stuff them into random boxes and suitcases, I suddenly feel like I just can’t move anymore.

I lie down on the floor of my bedroom. I want to cry, but my heart is pounding and my body is hollow from not eating. I realize I do not feel sad. I feel paralyzed. Paralyzed by the fear of doing something that other people will think is crazy. I realize they will think I’m crazy, only because they do not know I have lived a lie for years. The lie is crazy-not me.

I call my only friend.

“I can’t do this. I can’t pack another thing.”

My friend reminds me that voice is a liar and that I need to keep moving.

I do the next thing and the next thing, followed by the next.

Soon, it is morning. Even though I did not sleep, I keep going. My uncle and aunt arrive to help. Then my mom and dad show up. We pack the moving van quickly. I am afraid a neighbor will see me and ask me what the hell I’m doing. But no one does.

Next, I go to the courthouse. I empty out all the contents in my purse and put my belongings on the conveyor belt as I walk through the metal detector, clutching my paperwork for the protective order. I make eye contact with the security guards  and I wonder if they can observe that there is strength in my frail body.

I go down to the basement to file the order. I speak to a victim’s advocate. She tells me I am beautiful and that my life will be better after I file the protective order. She tells me her story and how she once ran away too. I look at her perfectly done nails and long blond hair. We are nothing alike. Can our stories really be the same, I wonder? I do not feel beautiful and I’m only pretending to be strong.

I rush home, drive the van to a storage unit, and unpack everything there except for a small suitcase. A stranger catches my eye and asks me if I’m moving.

“Yes,” I tell her, hoping she does not ask anything else because my mind may crack.

I get home and I take one last look at my kitchen where I used to bake cookies. I do not feel sad. I know the same kitchen where I baked is the same kitchen where I was once beaten with a broomstick.

Everyone leaves the house and goes to their vehicles. It is pouring torrential rain, and we need to get out. But I feel the familiar wave of paralysis again, underneath the adrenaline and I cannot move. I ask my uncle for help.

My uncle is my second father. Over the last ten years, I have burdened him and my aunt with the story of my shameful  marriage, so that my parents’ hearts wouldn’t break. He knows everything, and he and my aunt have walked beside me through the pain and recognized the flicker of light, streaming through my brokenness.

“Do I leave a note?” I ask him.

He pauses and thinks. I can tell he doesn’t think I need to, but he gives me a piece of paper anyways.

“This is what you write,” he tells me. “Aliana and I are okay. I hope you can find a way to be okay, too.”

This note feels truthful and perfect and heartbreaking, all at the same time. I am proud of this note. I put it on the door and we walk out and never turn back. The note feels like a bomb that is about to detonate on the path of fear I have walked for so long.

I tell you this story today, because I remember what it feels like to die and start again. I tell you this story because I do not want to forget it. I do not want to disassociate from my darkness completely, because every time I do that, I forget the lesson that lives there. That woman is me. She is a survivor. I AM A SURVIVOR.

I need that lesson. Like, that lesson is the antithesis of my kryptonite. All my power lives right there.

And the lesson is this:   WEAK IS THE NEW STRONG. Each time I get to the end of myself, there is power in the new beginning. At the end of everything hard and messy, there is a reclamation of self that must occur. There is that moment that you do not want to cross the next line and do the hard thing, but you pick up a piece of paper, and start writing out the truth. You create your reality and are simultaneously shocked that you could do it.

I will keep trying to remember my lesson, and I hope you remember your lesson, too. When life is hard, remember that really hard thing you did. And know that you can do it again. And again. And again.

Smarty-pants Mrs. Pantley

Oh crap, it's tomorrow

When my daughter was six months old, she stopped sleeping through the night. The word, stopped, is not a typo. She was one of those freakishly strange children who started sleeping through the night at the very young age of eight weeks. I am not a sleep whisperer; she just did it.

Until she just didn’t. It all started when my then-husband and I took a trip with her during winter break to New York City. We stayed at my ex-brother in law’s (is that a word?) apartment.

(Based on his inability to operate social media and technology, I’m going to assume that my ex-brother-in-law is not reading this), and just bluntly state that he’s the opposite of someone who exhibits caring behaviors. He is somewhat “machista” in his outlook on life.

So, as you can imagine, when we stayed at his home I was expected to follow his rules…

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Child of God

On Tuesday, I drove up to Kokomo to be with my dad at his doctor’s appointment. On the way there, I stopped to grab some coffee. 

I went inside the coffee shop and ordered. As I was waiting for my organic, almond milk, local pumpkin “spiced” latte, (I know, I’m annoying), I sat down on a couch and peered out the window. 

Outside there was a child with a beautiful round face playing with legos at a table while a woman (presumably the child’s  mother) chatted with a few of her friends. 

The child came up to the window and waved at me through the glass. I waved back, smiling, and wondered what gender the child was. It was hard for me to discern, and I found myself wanting to know. 

And then I sighed. And just sat there, mesmerized by this child’s smile, until I heard the barista say, “Order for Emily!”

And as I walked away, I suddenly snapped out of my wondering. I am not sure why. Maybe it was just the emotional state I was in. I was trying to go into the doctor’s appointment with an open heart, trusting what was about to happen, despite my fear.  And so I heard a voice inside me say, “You don’t really need to know everything, Emily. Don’t put that beautiful child in a box. Separate yourself from this world of boxes and labels.”

And I began to think about my own baby, who is really not a baby anymore, but a vibrant 8 year old. As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, when people ask her, “What are you mixed with?” I feel weird and awkward and like some boundary has been crossed. I am still stunned when strangers and acquaintances ask that question so effortlessly. It slides of their tongues like smooth butter. 

“What is she mixed with?”

“What is she?” 

“Are you her mom? What is her dad?”

It’s a label–a category–that people want. And it bugs me. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive. Or perhaps I’m not. 

But here I was with this beautiful child, in the coffee shop, wanting the same. I wanted a label. A box. A category. Male or female? I’m embarrassed to admit that my psyche may have wanted to know, so that it could structure my interactions with this child based upon knowledge of his or her gender. 

And that is NOT someone I want to be. 

I suppose my brain knows that deep down–which is why it started talking to me about boxes and labels. The child is a child is a child. The child has his or her own identity which is being shaped and formed and I have no business being involved in that process. 

One of my favorite authors, Glennon Doyle Melton, (who recently divorced her husband) announced that she’s in love with another female, who happens to be badass soccer player, Abby Wambach. Everyone is suddenly like, “Is Glennon gay? Is she bisexual? What IS she?”

And there’s something about those questions that I find unnverving. It’s like, we humans are so obsessed with checking boxes. These are some of the common boxes we like to check: 

  • Gender 
  • Race
  • Sexuality

And there’s a lot more. But those above are the three biggies. And there’s a reason for that–people treat you differently based upon their associations and/or unsettling beliefs they associate with those labels. 

There are people in this world who are very uncomfortable without labels; these are the people who can’t stand not knowing what “categories” others fall into. They find comfort in categories and do not like ambiguity. 

And yet, if there’s one thing to be certain of in life, it is that our lives WILL be filled with ambiguity. We are not omniscient nor were we designed to be.

And so I was thinking about ALL the things I just said (I’ve a busy brain) as I entered my dad’s doctor appointment with his neurologist. And as the neurologist gave me his diagnosis, “Your dad is in the beginning to moderate stages of Alzheimer’s disease,” I made a conscious decision right then and there to not let this diagnositic label DEFINE him. 

I saw my dad’s face, as the neurologist told him that the disease is not curable. He was unable to make eye contact with the doctor. He was somber. He did not ask questions. So I did. 

“What does this mean?” I asked. 

“It means he needs to start this medication I’m prescribing as soon as possible to prolong the quality of his life,” the doctor said. 

He went on to explain that with this medication, we are buying at least 8-11 more years of a life that is true to him. 

When I looked over at my dad, I thought I would cry, but instead I just felt overwhelming love and compassion for him. I looked him square in the eyes when we left and told him that this is a condition… but it’s not WHO he is. 

We cannot let these labels–these boxes, these words–DEFINE each other. They are cages. You know what my most important identity is? Child of God. That’s it. Because I’ve had important labels taken away from me–wife, niece, granddaughter, and friend. And yet, I’ve gone on living. 

People build walls in the name of labels; when what we REALLY need is proximity. 

As for me, I am going to do my best to fall in love with the ambiguity, while  decreasing the distance between myself and those different from me. 

And I’m going to keep reminding my dad of his most important identity: child of God. I love you, dad. 

I Didn’t Celebrate the Life of Hello Kitty

This was written two years ago today. I still am amazed at how fear likes to mimic anger. Not all the time. But sometimes. And fear is a feeling. A LEGIT feeling. We just can’t let fear be the boss of us. AND we must get to the bottom of WHY it’s there in the first place. This is at the crux of understanding ourselves and understanding others. 

Oh crap, it's tomorrow

A week ago, I woke my daughter up at her usual 6:00 am time, and asked her to start getting ready. She was in an unusually good mood.

After getting dressed, she noticed that she had forgotten to turn the page over in the calendar in her bedroom to November during the Halloween weekend. My daughter is slightly obsessed with calendars and dates, and immediately ran over to change it.

She let out a gasp as loud as a freight train.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I missed Hello Kitty’s birthday!!! I missed it!” she cried.

IMG_0561.JPG

“Okay,” I said, trying to understand why this was a big deal to her.

She read the look on my face. “Don’t you understand?!! You DON’T understand because YOU don’t care about Hello Kitty!”

“It’s not that I don’t care about Hello Kitty,” I lied. “I just don’t understand why you’re so upset.”

You see…

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Let’s Talk about Sex

At 6:45 am during my morning commute, I am awake, but not like, REALLY awake. You see, I’m a crockpot, not a microwave. I heat up sloooowly, getting warmer by the hour. Therefore, I was not prepared for the bomb of a conversation my child wanted to have with me this very morning at 6:45 am in the car.

“Do you know what the word ‘climax’ means–like, the climax in a story?” she suddenly asked me.

 “Yes,” I said, (insert thoughtful pause) “Are you studying that in school?”

“Yeah, and I was, like, looking it up on Merriam Webster’s Dictionary online for the definition. Well, the first two definitions were normal. Like they were talking about stories…”

I was starting to get anxious at that moment. I’m not even Catholic, but I wanted to say Hail Marys.  I prayed in my mind, “Please, please, do not let my child go there. I’m so not ready to talk about this topic before 7:00 am. Please make her stop!”

But my child did not stop talking. Her eight year old brain was, in fact, churning.

“But the third definition,” she said, “was like, talking about sex.”

“Oh my. Oh my goodness. Oh dear…Did you show your teacher?”

“No! I just wrote down the first definition and got out of there fast.”

“Okay, well… I can see why that would have been shocking. You just, um….” (holy crap, I’m totally struggling for words here), “you just sometimes have to be careful with the internet.”

That response did not appease her. 

“So, like…what IS sex? I mean I know it’s a private word, but what it is it?” she inquired. 

“I am not exactly prepared to have this conversation at 6:45 in the morning on the way to school. Can we talk about it later?” I asked, feeling like I needed time to plan out what I was going to say. 

“Okay,” she said. 

But then, some weird voice intruded in my head. It was the voice that told my fears to shut up. It’s like, my authentic voice–the one that actually doesn’t respond in fear, but approaches situations from a place of love. And I was like, “Seriously, voice? After you just avoided that conversation, now you want me to be courageous? You are SO stupid, voice!”

And that internal voice said this:  “Emily, there is no perfect time to have this conversation. It is a gift that she’s asking YOU, her mom, instead of someone else. GO there. Be grateful for this moment.  Answer the hard questions the best you can.”

Stupid voice. 

“Actually, Aliana, that’s a good question you asked, and we should talk about it now,” I suddenly said. 

“Okay?” she said, now starting to get confused by my change of heart. 

“So sex is something that a woman and man do that creates babies… or I mean, that can create babies,” I stuttered.

“So, I am sex?” she asked.

“NO! I didn’t explain that right… um, sex is like something a man and a woman who love each other can do together to make a baby,” I said, through my not fully awake brain. 

“Okay,” she said. “Oh, did I tell you about the trip my friend went on?”

And just like that, she changed the subject. And I kind of, like, thought about going back to the sex thing, but then I remembered that when we went to the child psychologist, she told me to follow my child’s lead in discussions of this nature, and just answer the questions they ask.

And that was it. Apparently I CAN have awkward and hard conversations at 6:45 am. And if I can, we all can. AND, I know I’m going to have to talk about this again with her, which literally makes me want to crawl out of my skin, but I think what this means is that I SIMPLY HAVEN’T FIGURED OUT YET what it is that I want her to know and understand about sex–what it means and what it doesn’t mean. What intimacy is, and what it isn’t. 

And maybe that’s because I’m still figuring this all out FOR MYSELF. Sex is a topic that people have VERY strong opinions about, and I’m even nervous as I’m sitting here typing this out to you. 😳🙄😳 When I was growing up, I found out through the grapevine that sex was when a penis went in a vagina, and OMG that was just so BIZARRE to wrap my brain around,  and THEN I was told just to “never do it until my wedding,” and wasn’t really told why. 

I am starting to see that I sort of learned things in reverse. Like, I got married and had a child, and THEN I learned about sex. And that’s all I’m going to perhaps say about it now, as the rest of my thoughts on that will be in my future memoir (hehehe), but WOW, you guys. Just wow. I actually got through that conversation!!  Like I tell my students, “We can do hard things.” ❤️ I can. You can. We can. 

Lordy, lordy, look who’s…

I got a lot of crap done today, but none of it was stuff that I actually wanted to do or felt like doing. From the moment I woke up until now, I have been in “crazy mode.”  What crazy mode looks like for me is that I look like I’ve had Vyvanse and Red Bull, only I haven’t, so I’m actually getting tons of crap done, but getting easily distracted at the same time. 

To top all that off, I have an insane sinus infection that appears to only be getting worse. It has now moved to my throat and I sound like some one who has been smoking since the age of five. 

And speaking of age, I’m about to turn 40 in two days. And that’s all I’m saying about that for a moment, because it freaking makes me want to just stick a fork in my eyeball or something. 

So, back to my day. Around 4:45, I was about to leave school to attend a school related function at a different location. And I was feeling really productive but also really crappy, both physically and mentally. I was trying to keep it together, but I just couldn’t stop crying. 

I texted two of my close friends. 

“I’m crying and I’m jacked up and I have laryngitis and I’m about to turn 40, and…” blah blah blah, I started thinking and talking about so many other bizarre things, like the time I was in second grade and wanted to start a sticker club at recess but no one liked my stickers. 

My friends listened. My friends encouraged. I cried more. My laryngitis got worse from the crying. And then they sent me love and light and I was mostly fine. 

I bought a Starbucks drink, went into Walgreens and bought tissues and some random kissy emoji that was on a keychain and, for some reason, was calling my name. 

I looked down at that emoji key chain and was like, “hmmmm. Maybe I can picture that emoji sending me love. Self love. Self compassion.”

I think I may have even said that outloud in my raspy laryngitical (is that a word ? OMG) voice, because other people were looking at me like I was borderline disturbed. 

But I drove away, feeling satisfied with my purchases, and entered the event.  I hugged children, drank Starbucks, saw kind colleagues and happy people, and then felt normal again. 

You guys, FEELINGS ARE JUST FEELINGS. Sometimes you just have to wait them out a little bit. Pay attention to your heart. Pay attention to your center. It’s a struggle every single day to be the person I’m intended to be. 

I’m sensitive. What that means is that while I can be very empathetic, I also feel the feels pretty deeply sometimes. Sometimes I will just feel sad. No real trigger. No real reason. Just disappointed or empty. 

And sometimes there is a VERY real reason-a very disconcerting one, and that’s another kind of sadness. I’m all too familiar with both genres of sadness. 

In the next couple of days, I’ll be looking at my key chain for encouragement on how to get through this turning 40 gibberish. It’s either that or I’m grabbing some forks. 

(Oh and there’s always this person to keep me on my toes.)

What it feels like to go to therapy the FIRST time

I’ll never forget the first time I saw a therapist. 

I was 18 years old, and I went to see the campus counselor at my small, liberal arts college. She was kind of a legend on our small campus.

I remember whispering among friends:

“Hey…have you ever been to see Linda?” “Yeah, she’s cool,” or, “No, but I heard she’s cool,” is what most kids I knew said. 

You could overhear sobbing friends retelling stories of their heartbreaks. And at some point during their stories, many of them mentioned visiting Linda. People liked Linda. Kids went to her when they were suffering.  (In college, many students hadn’t learned to pretend yet that everything is okay, like we adults do.)  And I think it’s probably because she was good at what she did. 

I, too, experienced Linda. And thank GOD she made my first therapy experience a positive one, because if it hadn’t been, I may have never gone back, and would have never known the value and importance of therapy today. 

I went to see Linda because of a break up. My freshman year of college, my boyfriend studied abroad for a semester. While away, he wrote me a letter. In that letter, I remember him apologizing and saying he was breaking up with me. He stated, “I’m sure you want a reason, but I really don’t have one.” And then he signed it, “Carpe diem.”

Despite my nerdiness, My nineteen year old self hadn’t actually heard of the phrase, “Carpe diem.” Google didn’t exist then, so I asked my roommate. 

“Carpe diem is like… ‘Sieze the day,’ or something like that, she said.”

“SIEZE THE DAY!!??” I sobbed through screams. 

I had no interest in seizing the day. What I had interest in was curling up in a ball and crying. 

I became so anxious that I sometimes vomited. Back in those days, my body had not learned how to hide the suffering and internal agony. So it just took on my emotions. It would not let me stuff them down. 

I got better. And then I got worse again. People were frustrated with me. He was a just a boy. There were so many other boys in this world. Why couldn’t my teenage self just get over him?

And the answer to this was partially because I COULDN’T GET AWAY FROM HIM. I would be in the process of getting over him, and then his unsure, young, teenage mind would tell him to bait me again. 

(As a sidenote, this boy was NOT a douchebag. He was just nineteen years old and trying to figure out life. There is a difference between that a thirty five year old man with the same behavior.)

So, what my boyfriend did, was that he gave me mixed messages. Like, he broke up with me in that letter and kind of said that he was done with me and that there would be no friendship, but then the very night he arrived back on campus from his semester abroad, HE CAME TO MY DORM ROOM TO SAY HI. I had been getting over him, but after I saw him that night, I went to the bathroom and vomited. 

Things like this kept happening for the next couple of months. I was having a hard time eating because my stomach was in constant knots. 

I finally went to see Linda. 

As I sat down and sobbed in her office, her eyes were empathetic. 

She handed me a paper with the stages of grieving and explained to me that I was bouncing back and forth between stages. 

“And every time he gives you a mixed message–like shows up to your dorm room to say ‘hi,’ after telling you he wants complete space from you, or says he ‘misses you but doesn’t want to actually date you,’ think of those as triggers,” she explained. 

I asked for more of an explanation. 

“Think about yourself as a pinball in a pinball machine. You’re shot out, you’re spinning around, moving forward in the maze, even though it’s hard, and then he shows up and says or does something confusing, and you feel awful, and it’s like you’ve been shot out again, just as you were finding your way back home.”

I told her I was fearful because I couldn’t eat and would even vomit after seeing him sometimes. 

“You’re vomiting because your body can’t handle seeing him. It seems you’ve been stuffing those negative emotions down and trying to be nice when you see him. But your body can’t handle the stuffing of the emotions or lie to the mind. So you vomit, and then you may feel better, for just a moment, because you feel like you’ve purged those emotions.”

A lightbulb went on. I FINALLY CONNECTED THE DOTS BETWEEN VOMITING AND STUFFING MY EMOTIONS. Stuffing my emotions had caused me to literally waste away. Just making that simple connection helped me to understand how my body and emotions worked. 

I never vomited over that boy again after stepping out of the office. When I felt overwhelmed and my body felt like it couldn’t handle the emotions, I went to the chapel and prayed and cried. And I AM NOT A RELIGIOUS PERSON, FOLKS. There was just something about being in this quiet prayer room-a room where many people before have sought answers and healing while kneeling before God–and where I, now also stood in solitude, looking for healing. It was like I was learning to stand alone and deal with the bullshit truth and cry. 

The biggest struggle in life I’ve ever faced  is the struggle to be myself. That struggle is real, and it’s something I face every single morning, and every new day. 

And when I say, “be myself,” I mean be the person who God has intended me to be. 

Maybe you, too, struggle with that. Maybe, you, too, look in the mirror and desire to have everything in your life reflect who you are. Without shame and without stuffing. 

I have learned, over the years, that this is never easy but it is always worth it. I struggle, y’all. There are things I have yet to share with all of your beautiful souls because I’m not even ready to talk about them yet. But I am processing and not stuffing those things anymore. I cry. I pray. And I tell myself, “Emily, you were born to do this. You were born to be courageous,” and then I try to just do the next thing-even when it’s laundry. 

Carpe diem! Now go forth and be WHO you are. ❤️

I promise you it will suck and then it will be beautiful 

Ending relationships is HARD. I need everyone to just process through that challenging truth for a moment–including me. 😳

Some relationships have ups and downs and are meant to survive and keep blooming. 

Others have a short season, and stop blooming. Sometimes people in those relationships keep watering them, hoping that the plant WILL JUST FREAKING BLOOM FOR PETE’S SAKE. And so they water and water, until it is seeped in water and drowning and can’t breathe anymore. 

What I want my daughter to understand, and what I want myself to understand, and what I want others to understand is that once you make the commitment to being you–it is a courageous act. And you cannot just back down, even though you’re scared. You’ve got to shine that damn courageous light of yours–that flicker–so that the other courageous people on your path can find you. 

Once you make the choice to commit to yourself-which means to love yourself enough to live a meaningful life, grounded in integrity–there is no turning back. And if you try to turn back, it will haunt you. You will hear that voice that tells you, “this relationship isn’t right, or this job isn’t right, or something JUST ISN’T RIGHT, DAMN IT!” 

And it will keep you up at night until you make the change. 

Change requires ending something so that you can begin something else. When something isn’t right, yet it’s comfortable, it’s SO easy to just stay there. You can ignore that voice, right? You can, that is true. But you will never be who you were meant to be, if you continue to live in the comfortable state that doesn’t honor you. 

When my marriage was falling apart several years ago, I started to look for answers. I was like a freaking Sherlock Holmes, going through phone records, looking at receipts in the trash. I wanted proof. I wanted that hard core evidence that I had a reason to walk away. 

My uncle, who happens to be a therapist, (which is very convenient for me as you might imagine), listened to me dissect all the pieces of evidence over the phone, until he finally said, “Emily. You don’t need evidence. Your feelings. Your truth. THAT IS ENOUGH TO MOVE FORWARD.”

Your feelings. Your truth. THAT IS ENOUGH evidence to move forward with change. When you commit to a life of integrity and faithfulness to LIVING OUT YOUR PURPOSE (sorry for my overuse of capital letters, but this is important here), you commit to your truth. And gosh, that truth can SUCK. It can be dark. It can be painful. But it is the only way to the other side. 

You must live your truth so that you light the way for others on your path to find you.

Do you know how hard it is for me to blog sometimes about divorce and being alone and having PTSD and being depressed and then being joyful and feeling courageous ALL AT THE SAME TIME?? It is SO hard, my friends. So hard. That’s why it’s easier to sometimes curl up in bed and drink tea and forget that I have stories to tell. 

But tonight I am showing up and telling you that although I am VERY afraid to end those things in my life that do not fit my truth, that I will put one foot in front of the other and, with much trepidation, actually end them so that I can grow. And guess what? IT WILL SUCK. But I will keep writing and keep doing the hard truth telling as best as I can while I go through the endings. 

I dislike the discomfort of change. I really do. But I’m doing it anyways, damn it. 

And I love you for reading this. That is all.