Dr. Zoe Shaw, A Year of Self-Care

Amanda-Lee Pitzer

Amanda-Lee is a self-proclaimed "master of starting over" and always believes that restoration will come—even when it arrives in a package that was unexpected. After becoming widowed at 36, she found herself at a crossroads of what life did look like and what life should look like. She began to rebuild her life as she faced raising her two boys alone, only to discover that God had been answering the prayers she had been praying for years when he brought her the love of her life and his daughter, creating a beautiful picture of restoration. She found a new purpose in this season and obtained her Doctor of Educational Psychology with a focus on trauma studies so she could support others as they worked through unexpected situations and rediscovered their own self-worth and purpose. She is currently writing her first book, "The Relieved Widow," in order to help others grapple with the stigma of suicide loss. You can follow her on IG and Facebook @therelievedwidow.

woman at the gym doing bicep curls and learning to lift heavy

Lift Heavy—Your Body Will Thank You (And Still Look Feminine)

I just read this post by a friend of mine, Heidi Smith: “Today is clean out my closet day—I am finally ready to let go of my ‘skinny clothes.’ Three years ago, I was doing an insane preparation and was the thinnest I’ve ever been. I was weighing my food and tracking everything. To some, that may look like discipline; now I realize that I had put myself in a prison. I was going to bed starving and having horrible blood sugar crashes. For what? Because I thought to be beautiful was low body fat? I am not naturally thin. I lift. I am active. I never stop moving. I eat healthy. But I have learned that it is okay to enjoy […]

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sad woman in a dark room looking out the window exemplifying a widow's grief

A Widow’s Grief Doesn’t Need an End Date

I noticed an increase in my son’s acting out. He had become more defiant than normal and was driving me crazy. It didn’t matter what it was, but any minor correction blew up into full blown fights, tears, and frustration. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. He proceeded to get into trouble at school twice in the next week. One day, he came home from school and saw that there was a card on the kitchen counter, letting us know we were in someone’s thoughts. He brought it to me, wanting to understand what it meant since his name was listed as well. I ever so gently reminded him that the anniversary of his dad’s death was approaching. “Oh” he said, “I forgot.”

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Dear Gold Star Wife, I Promise It Will Get Better

Dear Gold Star Wife, I Promise It Will Get Better

We went to dinner at our local small-town golf club. As I walk in I realize what is going on around us, and a lump forms in my throat. I wonder if we should turn around and walk away before my kids understand the gravity of the fundraiser we have walked into. I saw his widow, another gold star wife, outside taking hug after hug as fellow Navy sailors, I would imagine, were sharing little stories and tidbits of information about the chief whose life they were celebrating. I know how she feels. She is so grateful for the love and the distraction of the pit she wants to crawl into. The one she only escapes for the sake of her children.

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girl sitting next to luggage outside of the airport looking thoughtful and wondering what happens when your life change affects those you love

When Your Life Change Affects Those You Love

When I first started dating my husband, it was a cold, blustery February and there was a fresh dusting of snow on the ground. I remember we got on the topic of moving to warmer weather. After all, I was not made for cold days! Every winter since, he has listened to me complain about the cold, coats, cold rain, and generally anything about my absolute hatred for the winter season. (Except for skiing—I have no problem visiting winter weather in small vacation settings!) I told him about those few years I lived in Florida and how I missed the one-month winters. As time moved on, we began dreaming of drinking our morning coffee along the water with a tropical breeze and

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Is Compromise in Marriage the Only Way? Try This Instead

I remember sitting in pre-marital counseling 20 years ago listening to the pastor go through all sorts of items before I got married the first time. I don’t remember too much, to be honest, but I do remember when he told us not to compromise in marriage. He specifically said, “There is going to come a time where you cannot agree on what to do. Perhaps it is where to spend Christmas—you both want to spend it with your families, and can’t seem to come to a decision without erupting into argument. You know that if you pick one side over the other, one of you is not going to be happy. Maybe another time you both want to vacation in two

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Teen girl wearing jean vest and flower skirt sitting on the pavement outside a building at daybreak smiling at the camera

Kids Setting Boundaries—If We Can Do It, Why Can’t They?

My boys have been on a long journey to healing since their dad’s passing. Some days have been harder than others, but overall they have found a new normal, a new happiness, and have found so much good in their lives since it was turned upside-down nearly four years ago. In that time, I have faced a lot of criticism from perhaps well-meaning people, but harmful just the same. I have had to learn how to work through the trauma, overcome its effects, ensure my kids are healing, and move on with my life. It has not been easy. It took me a long time to realize that much of my healing was in my own hands—by way of boundary setting. It’s

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little boy wearing homemade airplane wings made of cardboard as a halloween costume

Money Was Lean, But My Dad Pulled Off the Best Halloween Costume

When I was 6, the country was going through a recession that put my dad out of work.  My mom, an oncology nurse, went back to work—and on night shift—for the shift differential that kept my brother and I happily going about our little lives. My dad found odd jobs that included selling vacuum cleaners at the local Price Club (think vintage Costco) and truck driving while he looked for “real” work. For my mom, this meant meeting up with her in the evenings in the nurse’s lounge for a quick dinner and recap of my day while she ran in and out between patients.  I remember going into her room during the day to find her sleeping, with dark towels my

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family of four at the airport looking out a window at a plane. Feature image for 9 Tips to Travel More and Spend Less

9 Tips to Travel More and Spend Less

In the first few weeks of meeting my husband, he asked me about my screensaver on my phone. I explained that I had taken the picture of that beach nearly 15 years prior, and it had been my screensaver ever since. I told him how much I loved living on the Florida panhandle, and how I wish I could go back and visit. His response? “Sounds like 15 years is long enough; let’s go.”  But, travel isn’t cheap. How do people afford to travel? Between the cost of getting there, the hotel, the food, and the things to do… you have to be borderline wealthy to travel. Right? Wrong. My husband and I take about 4-6 trips a year. Some with our

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He Cheated—Now What? feature image

He Cheated—Now What?

My best friend finally got confirmation of what she had feared for years: Her husband had been cheating. While she suspected it, she never had concrete proof until now. Instead, what she had was a withdrawn husband unless sex was involved. She was always in the wrong whenever there was a disagreement. Whenever she would question something, the gas-lighting began. Verbal and emotional abuse had taken its toll, but when this realization finally came to light, she was at a loss of what to do. While she knew she deserved better, she felt stuck. Stuck in fear of what leaving would look like. Fear of what it would look like to be divorced—again. Fear of what the future may or may not

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Why Wait? Do Big Things Today!

Why Wait? Do Big Things Today!

WOW. That girl is going to do big things one day. But. What if she doesn’t do big things? My girl’s best friend is incredibly mature and smart for her age. Although she’s two years younger, you would never know it. She can’t stand the drama of girls her age and instead hangs with an older crowd. Believes in early-to-bed and early-to-rise and has her sights set on things bigger than herself. Everyone that really knows her is impressed by her. She’s going to do big things one day. We all see it. BUUUT. What. If. She. Doesn’t? For Young Adults, the Pressure Is On As we near graduation season and I watch my step-daughter being forced to make life-altering decisions such

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Body Shaming Comes In Every Size

Body Shaming Comes In Every Size

The other day, my step-daughter came into the room in the evening for a few minutes of hang-out time like she does every night. (She will disagree with this statement, but it is literally our favorite part of the day). Next thing I know, she’s saying, “Amanda-Lee, I just really wanted to thank you for what you said today.” At first I was totally confused; I barely saw her due to an all-day cheer competition where I watched her do her thing from a distance. She went on to clarify, “Someone told me that they talked to you about my weight, and I really appreciate you sticking up for me.” NOW I knew. It wasn’t the first time that someone came up

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What's the Big Deal with the Enneagram?

What’s the Big Deal with the Enneagram?

“Look at this show-off. If she isn’t an E3, I don’t know who is.” “I said what I said. #Enneagram8.” And on and on and on…. or at least that’s how it has seemed in my Instagram feed lately. Finally I thought, “Okay, what gives?” What Is the Big Deal with the Enneagram, Anyway? I went and decided to give into this Enneagram thing and find out what the heck this was about. I knew it had to do something with personality types, but I kept seeing so much of it I wondered, Was it really that new? Clearly, I was missing something. Before I tell you what I discovered I want to first ask you something. Is your Enneagram score what

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Is 'No Pain No Gain' Really the Way It Has to Be?

Is ‘No Pain No Gain’ Really the Way It Has to Be?

As I sat in the chair at physical therapy with heat on my shoulder to get me ready for my session, I listened to the therapist tell this to another patient: “If there is pain, stop” and then “this isn’t supposed to be painful.” Um. Yeah. Okay…that’s only what I’ve been told my whole life. So her words kinda hit me. Hard.  You know how it is: Every time we go through something difficult there is some cute little saying to remind us that good things only come through pain, or hard work, or after suffering.  Sometimes it is right…but many times it’s just not true. Must We Really Go Through Tough Things First? To be honest, most of my adult life has

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Childhood Trauma—How to Spot it, How to Heal it

Childhood Trauma—How to Spot it, How to Heal it

I sat down at my desk after running off school campus to grab a coffee. A message “sent with high importance” sat blinking on my computer. My heart sank. Another message letting me know that my son was having a hard time in class and to come see him when I could. Right away, I thought, “WHEN will this end? What am I doing wrong?” and off I ran to his classroom. I peeked around the corner to his class, trying hard not to let any of his classmates see me. The last thing I needed for him to get embarrassed because mommy had to show up again. I motioned for him to come into the hallway and saw the look on

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This Is How I Found Out Who I Am

This Is How I Found Out Who I Am

I love Sundays. After church I take my son down the street to our favorite farm. He throws on his boots, grabs his horse, and tacks her up. He knows exactly what he is doing and how to do it. He talks to her as he works, adoration in his eyes. Once she is all set, he takes her into the ring, hops on, and begins warming her up with a few laps. The barrels are set up, and he begins walking her through as he reminds her of the task at hand. He comes to a halt, and his instructor steps away and lets him have at it. Sometimes there is frustration as he drops the wrong hand from the reins

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Ditch the Scale - Your Mind and Body Will Thank You

Ditch the Scale—Your Mind and Body Will Thank You

As I walked into my bathroom, I saw a new scale on the floor. After months of staring at a broken scale, I was now confronted with a new one—daring me to step on and see where I was after I stopped using it six months ago. I dropped my slippers, robe, watch … anything that weighed anything. I stepped on and looked at the number on the scale. The number said I wasn’t good enough. I Was Obsessed With The Scale Rewind a little more than a year and you would have seen me stepping on my scale twice a day, monitoring my weight, body fat, muscle mass, water content … you name it. I did not nor have I ever

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To Moms of Boys in Middle School

To Moms of Boys in Middle School

Sometimes I really hate being a parent. As I got off the phone with my son’s school, I was furious. Before now, he’s never really been one to get in trouble at school. He was well-behaved, had good grades, and a good group of friends. But this year he was thrust into middle school and into all the challenges that middle school brings. He has been through a lot, but he has come out the other side with a heart bigger than most his age. He feels deeply and strives to be a good friend and do his best. Challenges of Having Boys In Middle School So yes, this little boy turning adolescent threw me for a loop today when I got

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