1/24/18 - Had therapy today. Talked about wanting to write about my grief but not being sure about posting to the blog. Not sure about blogging anymore at all. 

2/3/18 - I've been wanting to come to this space and write for awhile now. Months, really. Instead of treating this blog as a place I could come and use as a sort of therapy like I used to, I now think of it as a place where I show my professional work. My writing has taken a backseat to running This Is My Brave, but at this point in my life I'm feeling a need to return to how things were when it all started.

I admit I'm guilty of using social media as my highlight reel. But the ironic thing is that the posts on social media which I'm most moved by are the ones where an individual gets completely vulnerable and real, sharing a piece of themselves that you never would have guessed to be part of their story.

I went through this chapter of my life between 2005 and 2010 where I lived a partially secretive life. It was the period of time when my illness first emerged and I was embarrassed, ashamed and scared about my future. I just wanted to be normal, and now all of a sudden I was being labeled mentally ill. I don't think I've shared often that during 2006, the lowest point in my struggle with bipolar, we weren't sure I'd even work again. My condition was that bad. 

Once I made it out of the acceptance phase, I began on the path of sharing this formerly secretive piece of myself through a blog. Anonymous at first, it was where I cut my teeth, where I practiced the craft of writing. I got better, and gained the attention of an editor. Somewhere in between the years of being recognized for my writing and starting a nonprofit, I lost my discipline to come back to the page. 

Weeks and months would go by without writing anything other than emails and proposals. The desire has been there, for sure. But at the end of the day, once the kids are in bed, the exhaustion from being up and running since 6:30am sits in and I end up reading or only writing a few short thoughts down in a journal. 

On the outside, things are running smoothly with the nonprofit, thanks to the incredible team I have around me. The truth is, personally, I'm really struggling over my grief over losing my dear friend and Co-Founder, Anne Marie. It's tough for me to put into words, but I want to try.

I firmly believe that people come into our lives at the times they do so that we can learn and love and grow. And getting hurt is part of that process, too. I know Anne Marie and I were always meant to meet and launch This Is My Brave together. I just wish with all my heart that she could be here today to see how it has become more than we ever dreamt it would. 

Grief is a universal emotion that isn't talked about enough. We all love people in our lives and therefore, we will all experience profound loss during our lives. I think the reason we find it so difficult to talk about grief is because of how it is so unique to each person experiencing it.

Losing Anne Marie was the first time I'd ever lost someone I was really close with. I'm a rookie at loss, so I turned to friends who had also experienced a somewhat recent loss for guidance. What I've found through this process is that talking about it, sharing my story of loss, is the most powerful and healing thing I can do. Also, learning the things that helped my friends who have lost loved ones. 

Just being still is something that I don't do often enough, but when I do I realize the power it holds. To me being still is allowing myself to take more time for myself to give my body and mind time to process what has happened. 

The world lost a bright light and a warm soul on August 23rd, 2017. Anne Marie was so humble and loving. She gave more of herself than she ever asked in return. She was the first person there when I needed help. She rarely complained.

Anne Marie was a very private person with a passionate drive to make a tremendous difference in this world. She and I connected and bonded over our shared experiences with mental health issues, and our friendship naturally developed, but at a rapid pace. It was as if we had known each other for years after our second time meeting up.

I loved her and will always be grateful for the four short years I was gifted with her friendship. We always said that the universe gave us what we needed when we needed it, as we were building This Is My Brave. I know in my heart that the universe gave me Anne Marie because she was the person I needed when I needed her, and I hope I was the same to her. 

A Poem for Anne Marie (1-1-18)

When I first

heard the news

that you were gone

I went cold

as if I needed

to numb myself

because I was afraid

the pain would be

too heavy, the hurt too big

It was as if 

there was no longer

any warmth

in my world

because your spark

had stopped glowing

The fire within you

had been dim

for awhile

but never 

did your warm radiance

ever completely stop shining

You smiled

with your eyes

I'm so grateful

there was a pull

from the universe 

and we were put in

each others' paths