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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

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

Feb 4, 2014 - One of my dear friends from college sent me a link to The Moth podcast on which Mark Lukach told his story about supporting his wife through her struggle with mental illness. On May 2, 2017 Mark published his first book, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward

Two weeks after my friend Jen sent me the link to Mark's story, we were on vacation in Florida for my grandmother's 90th birthday. I sat my family down - Ben, my mom and my dad - around the kitchen table to listen together. Tears flowed. Giulia's story had so many parallels to my own. I was so moved and impressed by how her husband could articulate what he had went through as he watched her struggle with her illness, helpless at times but he never gave up on getting her well.

In reading Mark's book, I had a glimpse of what my family and husband must have gone through during the early stages of my illness. The research, navigating the system, figuring out how to best support me as I called my parents sobbing every day for a year. Actually, their response to my depression seemed intuitive. Both my parents were so supportive and patient with me as I struggled to understand what was happening to me. My mom and I are similar in our typical impatience with nearly everything, but this was different. It must have hurt them to see me in such pain. 

This was brought to light in Mark's storytelling. He was able to so eloquently take the reader into the thoughts and emotions running through his mind as he watched his wife lose hers. I often think about how terrifying it must have been for Ben and my family to see me lose control of my thinking. To this day Ben has a hard time talking about it.

My guess is this book was as therapeutic and healing for Mark to write as participating in This Is My Brave has been to me and my storytellers. Each time we are able to unpack those complicated memories from our experiences with mental illness, we relieve the burden of holding onto those heavy secrets. 

Loving someone who lives with a mental health issue is definitely not easy. But I don't think a person has ultimate control over who they fall in love with. And with the statistics on the number of people living with mental health issues, chances are high most relationships face these challenges. In our case, and in Mark and Giulia's, the journey only made us stronger. It changed my relationship with Ben for the better and I wouldn't change a thing. My guess is Mark and Giulia wouldn't either.

To order My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward, use our This Is My Brave Amazon Smile link and we'll earn a tiny donation. {I had pre-ordered the book and was lucky to receive this beautiful coloring page from Mark and Giulia's son Jonas when it shipped in February. Been meaning to write this review ever since.}

Fun side note: Since connecting with Mark and Giulia on Twitter a few years ago, we're hoping to meet in person this summer since Mark's family still owns a beach house at Bethany Beach and my parents just bought one. It's neat when internet friends meet up in person. Today is also Mark's Birthday! Happy Birthday, Mark!

Making the Invisible Visible

making-invisible-visiblePhoto Credit: Mylla More via Compfight cc

I’ve always been the type of person who wanted to make the invisible visible. It’s just in my nature. Engrained in my being. A part of who I am. I am someone who wants to share where I’ve been so that others can learn and grow, the same way I desperately want to hear what others have gleaned from their life experiences. I crave this deep, intimate knowledge of people. When I open up to someone and they lean in and open up in response, I know I’ve found my people. Small talk makes my skin crawl.

When I meet someone for the first time though, small talk is inevitable. At first glance, no one would ever guess that I’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, I’d never know if the person in front of me had ever been so depressed they couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. So many of us live with these potentially, and often times, debilitating illnesses in our brains, and yet we present as perfectly capable, fully-functioning, regular old citizens going about our daily activities. Waking up, with or without incredible effort, making breakfast for ourselves and perhaps our family, getting everyone dressed and out the door to work and school, dinner, bedtime. Rinse, repeat.

We need to stop the facades and be honest and real with each other.

If we never make it past the small talk to really open up to a friend or neighbor about our depression, or our anxiety or our eating disorder or whatever it is that we’ve hid for so long because we were scared of being judged, then how would our friend ever be able to love us as who we are? It's hard to accept what we don’t know. What we don’t understand. What we don’t see.

I’ll give you an example.

One night, in early 2006, in the midst of the severe depression and anxiety I had been wrestling with since being diagnosed, I went out to dinner with my two best friends to celebrate a birthday. I don’t know how I managed to get myself up and out of bed, but it probably had something to do with the fact that we were going to my favorite restaurant {Sweetwater Tavern} and I must have been craving the salmon salad. Plus, my friend’s birthday.

K picked me up and we met M there. We had a nice meal, and the check arrived at the table to be paid at our convenience because they’re very efficient at Sweetwater. I can’t remember who paid the tab, but someone did or we split it, but it was settled, and we were just lingering there at the table, M and K finishing their drinks before leaving when it happened.

I had an anxiety attack. The normal buzz of the crowded restaurant which never used to bother me before suddenly made me want to run for the door. A wave of panic rushed up my legs and settled in my gut. I needed to get out of there.

“Are we done? Can we just go already?” I blurted out, not knowing what else to say, and not realizing how it would affect my friends.

They both stared at me for a second.

“What’s wrong with you?” M asked, frustration and confusion apparent in her tone. K shot me a look that seemed to ask, “Are you okay?” They had no idea.

I managed to squeak out something about being ready to go, apologizing for being so pushy, and they bought it. But I never did have the hard conversation. I don't blame them one bit for their reactions. They didn't know. It took me another year before I really tried to explain to them what was happening to me. What it felt like on the inside. I tried to explain the invisible.

I had plenty of reservations about revealing to the world that I’ve been living with bipolar disorder since my first manic break in December of 2005. You could say I was terrified. But it was also clear as day to me that the benefits of sharing my story were what made me feel good about my decision. Sure, there were the negatives. I may face discrimination in the future from people who don’t understand my condition or from those who may be afraid because of what they’ve seen in the media. But by standing up and speaking out in a positive, unique way, I hope to minimize any form of intolerance I may encounter in the future.

[Tweet "By combining our voices, we're more likely to be heard & understood. #ThisIsMyBrave"]

Which is why I am so proud of what is happening with This Is My Brave. We’ve come so far in seven short months. This week we announced our cast, and next week we’ll begin introducing them to the world so that you can see just how wonderful they are and why you need to come to the show in May. They’ll be up on stage, sharing a piece of their heart with you so that you can better understand their journey. Because at first glance, you’d never say to yourself, “Oh, she definitely spent a year battling agoraphobia, it’s obvious” or “You can tell he was arrested during a manic episode.”

These are invisible illnesses which we’re making visible because it’s time we shine a spotlight on mental illness. By bringing it into the light we illuminate the hope that lies in recovery so that no one who has been touched by a mental health issue has to feel alone.

The Year I Learned to Jump

Year-Learned-JumpPhoto Credit: Jimbo N via Compfight cc

“ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU ARE AFRAID TO DO.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even in the midst of my intense wrestling match with bipolar disorder, right smack in the middle of the chaos of a frazzled mind and rattled sense of self-worth, I somehow knew one day I’d take the type of jump where there's no looking back once you launch yourself into the air.

I knew I’d face my fear.

Today, in these moments when I type here in my makeshift office and upload my words to this space which has become my launching pad for jumping off my cliff of fear, I’m opening up. Putting it all out there, no longer the only one bearing the weight the vivid flashbacks from the brunt of my struggle. I say not the only one because inevitably after I hit publish someone will respond with a “me too."

As 2013 comes to a close, I’m in the thrilling moments, body tingling from the pull of gravity after the big leap. The seconds are precious and they’re swiftly racing by like seconds on the New Year’s count-down clock, but I’m not bracing for the impact. Instead, I’m preparing to feel my toes slice through the surface of the water. {I prefer to jump in feet-first.}

Because in my dream about facing my fear, I’m on a huge cliff in Maui overlooking the deep blue ocean. Why not, right? It’s a dream.

I crave the feeling of weightlessness that comes from the adrenaline rush coursing through my body in mid-air. And I’m grabbing onto each and every one of those seconds as they fly by.

 

Resisting the urge to open up about my journey is almost impossible. At various times in my day-to-day activities, scenes from my first hospitalization in 2005 bubble to the surface of my memory. Or my second stint in the mental hospital. Or the third and fourth which sometimes confuse me with their shorter, more intense flashbacks. They were the times I was protecting my babies. Plus, they say the more you experience mania the less you remember. Makes sense to me now.

When mania took hold of my mind for the first time and spiraled out of control into psychosis, I spent three nights in a psych ward. Returning to the office the following Monday, I was able to gloss over my absence and say the doctor’s attributed my strange behavior to the lack of sleep and stress I was under at work. No one knew the real truth, although I’m sure there were plenty of rumors and assumptions flying while folks gathered around the water cooler on Monday morning.

I’m certain scenarios like the one I experienced happen every single day. Someone is absent from school or work for a few days or a few months and people start talking. And everything is hush, hush. Because societal norms tell us talking about mental illness isn’t the same as talking about someone who is battling cancer or severe asthma or a broken arm.

Well I have news for you: It's time we shatter those "norms."

And those of us who have fought these fights and who are still trudging through the pain and desperation and isolation that is mental illness could use the same support systems that other sick people receive.

More important to us than the flowers, cards, and meals you might send is simply your willingness to listen. To look us in the eyes and accept us for what we’ve been through, where we are right now, and what we will face each and every day and night for the rest of our lives.

Don’t be afraid to know our stories. We’re facing our fears, and we want you to, too.

Be open to us opening up. Give us hugs when we cry. Send us a laugh when you notice we’re down. If we’re too hyper, gently check in and ask if everything is on track with our treatment plan. It feels good to be acknowledged and cared for by those we love.

I have several close friends who do all these things and more and they make all the difference in the world. And of course my husband who is my better half, my voice of reason and the peace to the storm of what is inside me always knows when to step in with the right words to soothe me and keep me centered.

 

I will remember 2013 as the year I took the greatest leap I’ve ever taken. The year I jumped forward with sharing my words. The year I chose to only look back on the past in order to shift the future into better focus.

The year I did what I was afraid to do. And I haven’t even pierced the surface yet.

Ever been snorkeling, or better yet, scuba diving? {My husband is obsessed with snorkeling. He’s spent hours bobbing on the surface of the various tropical waters we’ve traveled to. I think it's cute.} He knows there are treasures down there. Which is why I’m so excited for my plunge into 2014 with This Is My Brave.

But first I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We're ringing in the New Year with my oldest girlfriends and their adorable kids and fun-loving husbands. It’s the 2nd annual #RomperRoomNYE2013 bash (follow along on Instagram!) and with 8 kiddos plus a 2-month old, the adults will be lucky to make it to the ball drop when we'll clink our champagne glasses with a toast to 2013 and what lies ahead in 2014.

My salute to this past year is composed of heartfelt gratitude for the support of This Is My Brave and our mission to encourage people to talk openly and often about mental health issues in their communities. The year ahead will no doubt be filled with learning experiences as I navigate unknown territories, but I am eager to grow and evolve, to bring these crucial conversations about mental illness into the spotlight.

Twenty-thirteen was the year I learned that facing my fears means enjoying the jump.

 

Planting seeds

planting-seeds
planting-seeds

After Friday’s meeting about This Is My Brave, I felt like a kid during the December count-down to Christmas. Only I don’t want to count down, I just want to get to the big celebration already.

I haven’t stopped thinking about the outcome of the meeting all weekend. I’m giddy with the anticipation of what could happen and at the same time I find myself asking how I got so damn lucky for this all to be happening and how long is it actually going to take?

The truth is, I’m terrible at anticipation. When something exciting is going to happen, I wish it would just happen already. Why the wait? At age eight I have a distinct memory of convincing my brother to wait up with me for Santa on Christmas Eve and we both fell asleep at the top of the stairs. Sadly for us, no glimpse of the fat man in the red suit was had that night.

Impatience runs heavy throughout my blood and I have yet to find a way to dilute it. When I start a project, I tend to envision it completely finished in my head and then wonder why it takes so long to get to the end result as I trudge along on the path to the finish line.

In the summertime, I scoff at my husband’s green thumb and patient hand as he tends to our deck garden. “It’s so much easier to buy the produce at our local CSA farm than to grow it from seeds!” I complain. And yet, he takes care of those plants every day and by the end of July and beginning of August we can hardly keep up with the harvest. I sometimes wish his patience would rub off on me, but then, at the same time I fear the loss of my intense drive if I were to acquire a more restrained, laid-back approach to life.

I’m coming around though. Things have been changing for me lately. I’m learning and growing. I’m realizing that the journey to these milestones in our lives which we build up in our heads - the time it takes us to actually get there - is the real treasure. {Thank you to Jeff Goins for his book, The In-between, which helped shed light on this concept for me.}

“Learning to live in this tension, to be content in these moments of waiting, may be our greatest struggle — and our greatest opportunity to grow.” - Jeff Goins, Author

And so I’m learning to slow down the video reel of my life and steal virtual snapshots in my head of the highlights I want to remember. And when my memory fails me, there’s always my Instagram feed to scroll through.

Little by little, I’m becoming more aware of the important things in my life. The people I meet who share my passion for making a difference, the precious time I spend with family and friends, and the self-care I need to re-charge my batteries. And every day I’m taking time to savor the changes I’m going through to accomplish my dreams. Dreams that if you asked me six months ago, I didn’t know I had.

With the help of my therapist, I’ve recently realized the answer to my own question of how I became so lucky with the success so far of This Is My Brave: planting seeds.

We all know plants and flowers start out as seeds that need water and sunlight and tender loving care to grow.

Along the journey to build This Is My Brave into the theater experience we’re expecting it to be, I’ve been planting seeds. And friends have helped plant them too. We’ve watered them. These itty bitty seeds, these tiny slivers of ideas, have started to poke through the surface of the soil, reaching out for the warm sunlight to help them grow of the cold ground.

And they’re growing. Man, are these seeds growing.

So long, self-doubt

so-long-self-doubt

Why does self-doubt seem to know exactly when to punch you in the gut and knock the breath out of your chest so fiercely that you wonder if what you’re doing with your life is even making an impact?

A month ago I took the greatest risk of my life thus far by launching our Kickstarter for This Is My Brave, and it went above and beyond my wildest expectations. I thought to myself, “Yeah. $6,500 in 31 days is a lofty goal, but I’m fairly confident we’ll get there.”

The love and support that poured out from our friends and family and people who we hadn’t even met in the form of donations and words of encouragement was both overwhelming and exhilarating.

There are so many people who are just as passionate as we are about spreading messages of hope and inspiration while at the same time silencing the stigma surrounding mental illness. We raised over $10,000 for our show’s mission and I felt like we were on top of the world.

But the emotional high I was surfing on came crashing down like a monster wave when the news of the Deeds' family tragedy broke on Tuesday morning. The weight of the story was like a 50-pound brick on my heart. It was all I could think about. I wanted to scream “THIS COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED!” to every person I ran into in my daily comings and goings all week.

And then I met someone who understood.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you meet someone new and you can tell after talking with her for five minutes that she just "gets" you and although you were strangers six minutes earlier, it feels as if you've known her for ten years?

It happened to me on Thursday and was the highlight of my day. Once I got my baby girl down for a late nap, I immediately took pen to paper. A piece of me still wants to prove to my mom that she was wrong. That I've received nothing but overwhelmingly positive support for opening up about living with mental illness, especially from the moms at my son's preschool. The very group she thought might shun me. Back then my mom didn't realize that by keeping quiet about what I was going through she was actually adding to the stigma surrounding mental illness. We were all so new to it eight years ago. And I don't blame her for wanting to protect me. She's my mom, and moms don’t ever want anyone to hurt their babies.

We've come a long way since then and both of my parents {and my in-laws} are very supportive of the advocacy work I'm doing now.

This sweet mom whose daughter has been in my son's class all fall, yet I only met this week. She said something to me as we were chasing our toddlers out the door after dropping off our two older kids in front of their classroom. And I know will stick with me forever.

"You must feel such a sense of accomplishment and pride in what you're doing and how many people you're impacting with This Is My Brave."

And do you know what my response was? Of course I later thanked her for her kind words, but my immediate response was, "I feel like I'm not doing enough."

Part of me felt compelled to blog about the self-doubt that crept into my bones this week to remind myself that what I'm doing with This Is My Brave is pretty spectacular. Even though in the wake of the news out of Virginia this week I feel like it's only a teeny sliver of hope. A faint glimmer of the desire to improve the way society and our government deals with mental illness.

 At least it's a start.

We talked for an hour while our 3-yr-olds ran around and explored every corner of the playground. I could have talked with her for the entire rest of the afternoon. But alas, the temperature won out and after running around with no coat on, baby girl was adequately frozen and ready to call it quits. I gave my new friend a hug as we said goodbye and I'm already looking forward to our next impromptu playdate with our littles.

While driving home my thoughts drifted to how the sky looked similar to the way it did in late October of 2008 when I was released from my week-long stay in the hospital after having experienced postpartum psychosis. My heart aches for the Deeds family because they weren't able to get the medical attention and treatment that their son so desperately needed. They should have been visiting him in the psychiatric unit of the hospital today, but instead they are planning his funeral.

This isn't right.

We need the laws changed so that we can protect these individuals from themselves and others when they are so ill. And we need nets, as my friend Glennon so vividly described in this post. We need so many nets.

This Is My Brave is my effort to create a net.

And although I know that I want my next step to be petitioning our government for changes to our mental health system, my focus right now is on this show, my heartfelt contribution to changing the way people feel about mental illness.

And hopefully, in turn, it will inspire people to come together and create actions which will facilitate the change we so desperately need.

so-long-self-doubt1

Why I Declare My Goals

 1493334632_45256382eePhoto Credit: shirishbendre via Compfight cc

Back in June, my husband and I went on vacation with our friends to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversaries. One night at dinner, Tim asked us go around the table and share our goals out loud. Studies have proven that when you declare your goals, the act of simply vocalizing them to people, you have a much higher probability of actually reaching them.

I used to love goal-setting, but had fallen out of the habit since leaving the corporate world to become a stay-at-home-work-from-home-mom.

Ten years ago, in my career as an agency recruiter, I witnessed the power of setting goals. I’d talk about them to my boss and colleagues, and would work my tail off to attain them, seeing the direct results of my tireless dedication displayed on reports each week, month, and year of sales numbers.

These days, I am my own boss. There is no promise of a paycheck for the advocacy work I’m doing. Only the pure sense of accomplishing something that will hopefully help other people on their journey to recovery.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” - William James

Which is why I am so thankful to Tim for putting us up to the challenge of declaring our goals. I had said I wanted to write an e-book before the end of the year and self-publish it to be able to offer it for free on my website, but also to sell it on Amazon to reach people who might not have heard of my blog yet but found me via searching for books on mental health.

I’ve accomplished two of the three parts of that complex goal. The book is written and is available by signing up for my blog newsletter (which I haven’t yet officially launched - another goal in the works!), and it’s also available via the This Is My Brave website by signing up for the newsletter which will keep people informed of the progress of the show.

I hope to finish the process of self-publishing it to an online distribution channel (most likely Amazon, but I’m researching other avenues as well) by the end of November.

Right now I’m focusing on another recent goal that came to life: creating a Kickstarter campaign to fund our show, This Is My Brave. We have until November 15th to raise $6,500 which will be used to create the most inspiring, thought-provoking, entertaining show about mental illness the public has ever been invited to. If the show gets funded, we’ll have the capability of not only putting it on live in the Washington, DC area, but also reaching countless others by sharing the video of the performances after the initial debut.

Because of goals my life has meaning. No goal is too big. Take small steps and you’ll reach your dreams.

Why-I-Declare-My-Goals

 

What goals are you working on? Shout them out in the comments and create some accountability. I'll support you and cheer you on!

Five Minute Friday {11}: Listen

When I listen to my heart, it tells me to keep being brave. To stay open and to keep giving and sharing my story, especially when I feel like giving up. This week I've listened to the waves methodically sweeping in, crashing into the sand in gentle whispers while laying on the beach reading. I've listened to tropical birds coo and sing, their vibrant chirps awakening me from naps taken under the shade of palm trees.

But my favorite sound, by far, has been the joyful laughter of us, four friends reunited.

Our voices reminiscing over meals shared together. We listened to each other declare short term goals, we remembered all that we have experienced in our many years of friendship and marriage, and we discussed how hard it is to raise a family.

anniversaryCancun

I'm so grateful for this week.

It's our last day here in paradise. By this evening we will have returned to the reality of normal life. And I'm quite sure that we've all been refreshed and energized by this vacation. I'm excited to arrive home and listen to the sounds of my family settling back into our routines, our summer together.

Time to return to living my story. One glorious day at a time.

Five Minute Friday

Brave: Five Minute Friday {5}

Natalie_Brave_BML

BRAVE

The choice to end life. To stop living. To not go on any longer because fighting is too hard, it's exhausting, and giving up would be so much easier.

 

The plan was made. Actions carried out.

 

The sand was slipping swiftly through the hourglass of life. Time was literally running out.

 

Then, suddenly, something awoke within her. She called out for help. And her cry for help was answered.

 

Natalie made the choice to be brave.

 

Now, she is telling her truth. I am watching her exude brave.

 

And I am so very proud of my friend.

Five Minute Friday

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Sunday, May 5th is her Live Day anniversary. I am running a 5k to recognize and celebrate her decision to choose life. In honor of Natalie's battle to overcome suicide, I am walking The American Federation for Suicide Prevention's Overnight Walk, June 1st-2nd.

Please visit Natalie's blog, ItWillNeverHappen2Me.com, to read her story of what took place a year ago this weekend.

Friend: Five Minute Friday {4}

FriendQuote_BML

What I love about my life is that I have many different types of friends surrounding me with love. Whenever life throws me a curve ball, or things are perfectly boring, or I just need to try something outside of my comfort zone to mix things up a bit because I've been feeling a little dull, I just reach out to a friend to reconnect and nourish my soul.

 

She makes me smile over coffee.

She lets me cry if I need a release.

She hugs me when we say goodbye.

 

I would be lost without my friends. They each hold a piece of my fragile heart in their hands and I hope they feel the same about me.

 

Because life is so much better with a friend to walk with.

Five Minute Friday