Becoming More.

So this past weekend I attended the trip of a lifetime.

And mind you, I get around. (Hey now! Shame on you…I was talking about traveling!)

I’ve watched the sun set over the Rocky Mountains and have stood in awe on the edge of the Grand Canyon just trying to take it all in. I have hiked the Great Wall of China and have scaled a waterfall by a hot air balloon in upstate New York. I’ve white water rafted in the Smoky Mountains and have touched the Florida sky from the comfort of a fairly tattered parasail harness.

While these adventures have undeniably engraved their way into my fondest memories of my life so far, there was just something so different about this trip that set it apart from all the others.

It was here — at a simple two day leadership training retreat in small town Oklahoma amidst 45 other powerful women in a perfect stranger’s living room (who were all hyped up on gluten-free oreo truffles and chocolate covered strawberries and maybe a little tipsy on champagne) — that I learned to become more.

I will be completely transparent here. When I first learned I had earned this trip along with some of my dearest friends for our success in our recent small business through an amazing health and wellness company called Arbonne, I was ecstatic of course because I had heard other consultants raving about how life-changing this weekend would be, but I was also a wee bit nervous. To be enclosed in a small space with 45 women who I didn’t know very well all talking about our feelings and struggles we have faced in not only our businesses but also our personal lives??

Holy toledo. That’s A LOTTTTTTT of estrogen. I mean, are there even enough Kleenexes in the world for this?

I knew I was definitely packing a bag and jumping in the car and going, but I really didn’t know what to expect beyond that.

When we first arrived after a long 3 ½ hour commute, I opened the door to National Vice President Miranda Burcham’s house and my jaw immediately hit the floor. Aside from the fact that her home looked worthy enough to be showcased in some HGTV magazine and that I was pretty certain my little house could fit in her dining room alone, all I could really focus on is that there were people EVERYWHERE, which made my anxiety plummet through her vaulted ceiling roof.

How nice. I don’t know anyone here…and I’m definitely underdressed…

Oh look! Someone I recognize! I’ve seen her at trainings before….her name is, wait…is it Karen? Beth? Louise? Crap!…she’s walking over to me and I can’t remember her name…

Okay, so we established two things in the entire five seconds I’ve been here….her name is definitely Pam and I’m an idiot…

Okay, so now I find my name tag and put it on? I don’t see my name…did they forget about me? I did earn this trip, right? What if I’m not supposed to be here? Oh God, did I accidentally crash a high class retreat?

Whew! There’s my name tag. I’m not crazy. Now to find a seat because we’re starting in five minutes…except there are no more seats. It’s fine, I will sit on the floor.

In front of everyone which is sort of awkward…

Wait….icebreakers? Go around the room and introduce yourself and tell something interesting??? These people are talking about being arrested for something hilarious and how they have fed the homeless in Haiti and all I can think about is that I have a one-eared cat named Albert…which is super weird. I can’t do this…

Ooohhh…I spy a platter of chocolate covered strawberries…now, I can definitely do THAT…

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So to summarize here, I’m basically a professional when it comes to anxiety and social awkwardness. But once the first session started, I immediately started to feel a shift I had never felt before.

Now, please note that if I were to write about every little thing I experienced in those two days, you would not be reading a simple little blog in the spare five or ten minutes you have set aside right now. Truthfully, I would have to write a book for you to read — no, more like a series of novels — to get it all out.

And let’s be real. Neither one of us probably have the time for that.

But what I will do is share some of my biggest takeaways that went from being simple tips and tricks to kickstart my Arbonne business to evolving into much deeper life lessons and convictions.

I’m no psychic, but my guess is like me some of you probably struggle with similar battles in your careers, relationships, friendships, spiritual life, or maybe even in your heart and mind and could also use these tidbits of wisdom to help you overcome them.

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1 – There is power in the comeback.

I can’t even begin to explain the impact of all the stories that were shared, right there in Miranda’s living room. Stories about unimaginable loss of loved ones. Stories about promoting to a certain level in the company and then losing it all and having to restart from square one. Stories about people who have been hurt by the people who should have cared for them the most. Stories about spouses leaving spouses to be single parents in the worst possible time when everything else came crashing down.

Stories about comebacks.

Listening to these women pour their hearts out to a complete stranger like me about how they were forced to rise above when life got hard was such a wake up call that reminded me of my own story, and I began to think about it even deeper.

So many people know that I have just recently launched my Arbonne business on the side of teaching and photography. They know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE every second of it and probably even think I’ve gone a little crazy with it, because I literally live and breathe it in my everyday life and it’s become almost all I talk about anymore. But what most people don’t know is why I started this business in the first place.

 

About four months ago I was the lowest of lows I had ever been and was seriously ready to end it all. I felt like crap all the time. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating…and when I did it was the worst possible food that obviously wasn’t serving my body the way I needed it to in order to survive a busy hectic day. I was solely running on strong coffee and gas station energy drinks. I couldn’t even wrap my head around having kids because I was so overstimulated with everything else around me going on. I wasn’t happy in my career. I was a grouch to my students then came home even more unpleasant. I shut people out…especially my husband who was my biggest supporter through it all. I was bitter towards the people who hurt me severely in my past and let it over-consume me. And I felt guilty about all of it. I remember laying in bed at night praying to God for some opportunity to come my way that would help me understand my purpose in this world. “God, what am I supposed to do? I am NOT happy and there has to be more than being a punching bag to my own life. What do YOU want from me?”

Two days later my friend Erika messaged me about Arbonne, explaining how she had a life changing opportunity she wanted to share with me because she knew I would be amazing at it.

And I am thoroughly convinced if she never did, I don’t know that I would be writing these words you’re reading right now.

Erika had NO idea how desperate I was for any opportunity at all to get out of the rut I felt I was sinking in. She had no idea I desperately needed this business — not for the delicious protein shakes or the amazing mascara — but for survival.

I came face to face with the reality that if I wanted something in my life to change, I would have to be the one to move and change it myself. Even if it wasn’t easy. Even if I had always had bad experiences with direct sales and vowed I would never become one of those people. I was definitely scared to try it, but was even more terrified of what would happen if I never even took the chance. So, with every fear and hesitation and millionth excuse anyone could possibly think of for reasons NOT TO DO the business, I chose to TO DO it for one reason.

I had to make a comeback.

So here I am, four months later, re-writing my story through an incredible business that I almost said no to. And boy, am I so glad I put faith over fear! Believe me when I say my life is changing because of the positive people I am constantly surrounded by, the focus I have to set and conquer goals, and the vision I now have to do more and trust God’s calling on my life. I am not 100% out of the darkness and there are days when the devil tries to sneak in and claim victory over my weakness. But I am on the right path to a new, better me inside and out and know where I am going.

And that, my friends, is liberating.

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2 – Are you playing to win, or playing not to lose?

If you ever want someone to call you out on your crap, tell you there are no excuses, and order you put your big girl panties on and basically “suck it up buttercup”, I highly recommend listening to Linda Parker who is an executive national vice president in the company. (Which, by the way, you can access her calls on YouTube or soundcloud!)

Whoa, buddy….talk about a powerhouse leader!

I sat at her feet for two straight hours just taking everything she said in and didn’t even care that my buttcheeks were so numb and I had to pee half an hour ago…because she was just THAT. GOOD.

The biggest statement I remember most from her coaching was “Are you playing to win, or playing not to lose?”

Holy crap, Batman. That’s deep.

How many of us play it safe in our life because it’s easier? How many of us talk ourselves out of overachieving just to do the bare minimum because, well, that’s good enough? How many of us whine and rant to our friends and family and make excuses for when something is too hard instead of taking a step back, figuring out what going wrong, and finding a solution? How many of us get to a certain goal and then decide we’ve gone as far as we can, so we stop setting bigger, more complex goals that really require us to get out of our comfort zone?

Well, I’ll raise my hand if no one else will….

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What a call to action to knock it off, pick ourselves up when we stumble, and press on to greater heights! The truth is this world can’t afford for us to play small. To put this into personal perspective, if Erika had never reached out to me — basically a stranger she knew very little about — who knows where would be?

Or if I would even still be here at all.

Dramatic? Maybe. But true? Absolutely. So how dare I sit on the side lines and play small when there are so many more people out there who need this incredible opportunity that I have at my fingertips, just like I so desperately needed it four months ago without even realizing it.

It’s time to stop making excuses and start making an impact.

3 – Make up a story that serves YOU.

One of the exercises we were coached to do is write down three facts or things that have happened in our lives. We then had to write down the stories that we have told ourselves based on those facts.

It wasn’t pretty.

For example:

Fact – My real dad left me when I was 3 years old.

Story – There must be something wrong with me. I’m wasn’t good enough to make him stay.

 

Fact – I didn’t make the varsity volleyball team in high school.

Story – I suck at sports.I should have never tried out. What a humiliation!

 

Fact – I didn’t reach the goals I had set last month in my business.

Story – I’m bad at being a consultant and don’t know if I have what it takes to do this.

Whoa. Talk about Negative Nancy, right???

Funny how after you write the things you constantly think about and tell yourself down on paper and read them aloud how they make you stop and think about how personal you’ve been taking everything your whole life. I realized how I have been playing the victim instead of the victor all along in every situation where life threw me a curveball. No wonder I am generally not a confident person! How can I be when all I tell myself is how much I’m unworthy?

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So after this epiphany, we then had a major heart to heart about how these stories were obviously not fixing anything and not serving us the way that they should. Bad things happen. Annoying things happen. That’s life. We can’t change that.

But what we can change is the stories we come up with when these things do happen.

Sooo….time for a divine intervention! We then took our old stories and rewrote them into positive stories that actually served us. The results were crazy eye opening!

Fact – My real dad left me when I was 3 years old.

NEW Story – I will be a better parent because of this. I can also be a testimony to my students who have had a parent who walked out in their life. I could even open my heart and home to adoption or fostering someday and be the loving, involved parent that my real dad never was to a child in need.

 

Fact – I didn’t make the varsity volleyball team in high school.

Story – Sports may not be my thing, but at least I can say I tried! Time to find something else I’m good at.

 

Fact – I didn’t reach the goals I had set last month in my business.

Story – Every business builder has struggles, and I’m not the only one! November is a new month. I know what didn’t work last month and how I can fix it to be more successful this month. Time to get to work!

Better, right? What an easy way to change your perspective. ** See ya, Negative Nancy!

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4 – Don’t be a dreamer, be a vision caster.

One of the things my team’s national vice president Lisa Dooley challenged us to do in our businesses and lives is to not just have a dream for what could happen, but cast a vision of exactly what that moment would look like when we reach the goals we have set our hearts on.

Because if you really think about it, a dream is just a wish or fantasy, but a vision is more of a reality.

I got to thinking how this applies to my business. One of my biggest goals is to become a regional vice president by the time I am 25 years old. Before last weekend, this was really only a figment of my imagination. I could only dream of getting a paycheck that would not only replace my income but also my husband’s income and allow us more choice to start blessing others in bigger ways we can’t do with our current paychecks — but I wasn’t actually envisioning it getting deposited into our checking account. I could only dream of driving that white Mercedes Benz that the company rewards you with when you promote to a vice president — but I wasn’t actually “smelling the leather”. I could only dream about having the finances, time freedom, and conviction to travel the world and sponsor missions trips or build homes in third world countries — but I wasn’t actually visualizing myself standing on the beaches of Haiti with a team of soul-on-fire consultants working alongside me because I led them there.

I always thought it would be freaking awesome, but in my heart it didn’t really seem like a possibility because I was only thinking about these things occasionally when I would drift off into La La Land. I wasn’t actually painting the picture of what that moment would look like. Feel like. Smell like. Even taste like. And if I wasn’t painting the picture, I definitely wasn’t painting myself in it. No wonder it seemed so surreal and not possible!

So again, my goal is to become a regional vice president. But it’s no longer just a dream. It’s a vision. My vision.

It is October 1, 2018 and I am a REGIONAL vice president!! Life is good today. It smells and tastes like pancakes and bacon, because I am actually HOME with my family making breakfast before Kurtis goes off to work. We have just finished remodeling our dream home and I just unpacked the LAST box — and there a white Mercedes parked in the garage. Over breakfast, we are talking about our new goals and are even considering sponsoring money to our church for a missions trip to Australia. My birthday is in 18 more days and I will be blowing out my candles in Jamaica with my husband and our 5 month old baby with other families in the business on the Arbonne Incentive Trip. I have also recently promoted 4 new district managers and 2 new area managers. One is in qualification for region! Next comes nation!

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So, yeah. Wasn’t kidding when I said last weekend was the trip of a lifetime!

It’s so crazy to think of how much my perspectives have changed since joining this business and how it’s impacting so many other areas in my life. I mean, I almost have to laugh.

I used to think direct sales people were annoying. Thank goodness not all of them are like that and some actually have a vision to change their lives….and then this world.

I used to think that to be successful in this business you had to know a lot of people and be a good talker. Thank goodness you just have to be is passionate about helping others and willing to build new relationships!

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I used to think you had to win every challenge, incentive trip, and promotion out there to make it to the top. Thank goodness all you have to do is have grit and determination to stick around when it gets hard!

I used to think you had to know everything about everything in order to have credibility. Thank goodness all you have to know is how to ask or where to go for help until you figure it out!

I used to think that stress was just a normal part of being an adult and that would never really change. Thank goodness it doesn’t have to be that way, if you are willing to get up and change it yourself!

And to think all this came from a simple two day conference in Oklahoma with 45 women I didn’t know, which really all stemmed from a decision four months ago to take a chance on something I was completely terrified to do.

I will tell you all a million times over that the reason I do this business is not about being part of some pyramid get-rich-quick scheme and conning others into jumping on my bandwagon. It’s not about having my skin looking flawless and my nutrition on point. It’s not about my stats on my dashboard website or the number of sign-ups I got last month. It’s not about making bookoos of money and having my name and face in the latest Arbonne catalog. It’s honestly not even really about me at all.

It’s about paying it forward and becoming more for this world that is desperately waiting for me to change it.

And I can’t wait to see who all will rise up to the challenge and join me in this life-changing endeavor.

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Fess Up, Get Up.


So it’s time I fess up.


I’ve not been {completely} honest with you all.

You read my blogs. You compliment my latest engagement or wedding session on my photography page. You see my pictures on Instagram and follow my life on Facebook nearly every day from the other side of the computer screen. You shake my hand at church every Sunday morning and sing along as I play the piano for the congregation. You laugh at all my stupid jokes when we go out for dinner and drinks on a girls night out. You hear me reply “I’m good” when I check out at your register at Wal-Mart and you ask me about my day. You see me smile back at you in the McDonald’s drive thru when I stop for my morning coffee. You heard my valedictorian speech when I graduated high school and watched me walk stage when I earned that four-year degree. You pass me the salt and pepper at family dinners from across the table and ask about my future plans – and you think I have it all figured out. You see the smiles, sunshine, accomplishments, and happiness that I choose to show the world. That’s how you see me because that’s all I’ve ever let you know about me.

But what you don’t know is there’s more…so much more.

What you don’t know is that this morning I was late to work because it was such a chore to get out of bed and face another hard day.

What you don’t know is on my days off I am really spending about 13-15 hours a day in bed in my dark room alone while my husband is out making a living for us and being The Responsible One…until finally I scramble to get a load of laundry folded, wash the dishes from last night’s dinner, and grab a quick shower before he comes home so he doesn’t have to see me this way yet again.

What you don’t know is that while to you I often look like a chicken running around with my head cut off doing anything for everyone and trying to keep up with my busy schedule, I like it that way because it distracts me from feeling worthless.

What you don’t know is I love teaching because it gives me purpose.

What you don’t know is I love photography for the sole reason that it lets me capture the very small things in life that are rare and beautiful and often unnoticed and forces me to reflect on these tidbits of joy when I am at my weakest.


What you don’t know is the reason I have to constantly have music blaring no matter what I’m doing is because it helps drown out the silence and loneliness I often feel. And I don’t really care that it annoys you when you’re around me, because sometimes it’s all I have to get me through.

What you don’t know is that every time you stop and ask me how long I’ve been married and inform me that it’s about time to start cranking out kids because my biological clock is ticking I cringe and want to cry…because this darkness I am struggling through is completely diminishing the beautiful and exciting and fun image I once had of motherhood.

What you don’t know is that before I sat down to write these words you’re reading right now I called my doctor to schedule another appointment and renew another prescription. I’m not sure if it’s going to work, but I did it anyways.

What you don’t know is several weeks ago I had to gather any ounce of hope and strength I had left to really talk myself into choosing to live when I was at the end of my rope and suddenly didn’t want to anymore. 

And I did this alone, because you didn’t know. Because I didn’t tell you.

I never told you that I struggle with this battle.

Every. Single. Day.

I’m guessing if you’ve made it this far it’s safe to say this is definitely not what you were expecting to read from the girl who always seems to have something positive to say or a story to laugh about. You came here for inspiration or a good chuckle, not a re-enactment of a Cymbalta commercial, right?

But…as uncomfortable as it may be to read these words…it’s the truth – my truth. And the truth isn’t always pretty or easy to confess, which is why you’ve never heard any of this until now. I just wasn’t ready. And quite honestly I didn’t think you cared, because afterall my problems probably don’t hold a candle to what some of you face daily.

But they say the first step to a better tomorrow is recognizing you have a problem and asking for help today.

So, here I am.

Besides. I figure it’s much better for you all to read this than my obituary, right?

I will say that I do have strong moments, which I try to share with you all any chance I get. There are good days where I manage to find joy in the little things and genuinely feel happy…for example, yesterday, when my parents came over with my sisters and I was babysitting my niece. Dad cooked dinner for us on the grill and we spent the entire evening riding around the farm on four-wheelers, watching the cows graze and swim in the pond, chasing lightning bugs beneath the June sunset, and just, well, being together.


Yesterday was such a good day…then today was hard again for no reason at all. It ebbs and flows, I guess. And I swear if one more person tells me that “happiness is a choice” and that I should “count my blessings”, I am going to smack them in the face with my journal and chuck my pills at them.

Because if they knew anything at all about depression they would understand that nothing about it is a choice. I don’t recall pulling a twenty out of my wallet and saying “Sure! I’ll take it!” when the Devil came knocking on my door soliciting this emptiness and darkness that has been overtaking me for several years now. 

I don’t get it. I can’t really tell you when it all began and how it got to this point so fast. I mean, sure I’ve had my fair share of heartbreaks. I’ve lost ones I loved so soon and so tragically. I’ve experienced family drama and have lived through the destruction of divorce. Twice. I’ve dealt with the aftermath of my biological father abandoning me at four years old. Some of my closest friends have come and gone forever. I’ve been rejected and told no from some amazing opportunities I thought I had in the bag. I’ve came in second place against some people who wrongfully took first. I’ve had to say goodbye to my comfort zone and jump head first into major life changes I wasn’t prepared for. I’ve watched horrible people get away with horrible, unspeakable things and have let all the wrong people push me around in all the wrong ways. Nothing I’ve went through is too traumatic compared to what others have to go through every day, but it still all adds up, ya know?

But on the other hand I have a lot of great people in my life. I am smart, talented, and successful. I have salvation…though I’ve not been the most stellar Christian lately and can’t tell you the last time I knelt in serious prayer. I have a job, even if it isn’t the one I necessarily had in mind. I love my husband and my husband loves me. We have fun together and have a beautiful life. I just can’t seem to fully enjoy it like I want to because the good times seem to only be temporary. I don’t understand this pain and can’t give you a textbook answer for why I have it. All I can tell you is that it’s just here – living in the inner depths of my soul and heart and mind – and I want it to pack its bags and get the heck out so I can enjoy my life again like I used to.


Yeah, I struggle.

But despite how crummy I felt this morning as my familiar friends Stress, Anxiety, Guilt, and Shame came barging in at 7 a.m. to ruin my day, the important lesson I’m taking from today is that eventually I did get up.

I took a shower. Got dressed.  Ate some breakfast – which I never do. I went to work. Texted a good friend to invite her over to see our new house and eat dinner – after she cuts these split-ends off that I’ve been neglecting for a good year and a half now. I made that appointment….and this time I promise I will go and won’t make another excuse or tell myself to suck it up or spend another day like this. I wrote this journal entry and shared it with you just in case you needed to know that you’re not alone and this girl you look at as Little Miss Sunshine has her fair share of cloudy days, too, just like anyone else.

It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone, like I sometimes feel. And if you’ve been where I am or are there now, I hope you realize that, too.

And I know it’s hard. It’s SO. HARD. Getting out of bed and going to work when you’re already physically, emotionally, and mentally drained is hard. Going to therapy is hard. Taking meds is hard. Telling someone you love that you’re struggling is hard. Admitting it to yourself that you have a problem when you know there are so many beautiful blessings surrounding you is hard. And trust me when I say that writing about it and exposing it to the rest of the world full of your friends, family, and complete strangers is even harder – especially when some of them just don’t get it because it’s not a war they’ve ever had to fight.

But, it’s also absolutely necessary if we want to be one of the Lucky Ones. You know, the Survivors. The reality of this horrible illness is not easy to take in. For every person who gets their life back after depression, there are many others on the sidelines who do not. This has to change…starting with me and you.

We’ll get there.

I know I’m nowhere close to where I want to be…but I am making baby steps in the right direction. 

Day by day, right? 


That’s what matters. Not where I came from or even necessarily where I’m at right now, but where I’m going. Just the fact that I am still here today writing this and for once finding beauty in the rain coming down outside is proof that there is still hope out there for me.

The happiness is temporary, but that also means that so is the pain. And today, I’m going to focus my attention on that…and maybe even dance in the rain because right now I feel strong enough to do so…and there’s a damn good John Mellencamp song playing on my iPod.

So if you’re reading this and can relate at all – whether miles apart, down the street,  or in the very next room – please know that although you and I have our separate battles and I don’t have much energy left to get myself through most days, we’re not alone in this. My heart holds your hands through your toughest days and darkest hours.

And I can’t thank you nearly enough for holding mine at such a fragile and vulnerable time in my life as I am striving to get back up from the heavy waves that have held me down long enough.