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How Do I Know What Defines Me?

How Do I Know What Defines Me?

I am single. I am widowed. I am married. I am divorced. I am a mom. I have no children. I am a career woman. I stay at home. I am an artist. I am a cancer survivor. I have a doctorate. I finished high school. Are these really who we are? Or are they merely part of our journey, a title, or life experience that will demonstrate what we are made of? I, my friend, will passionately argue for the latter. In my 20s, I was a booking agent for musicians when I married my boss. No, it was not one of those torrid affairs in the workplace that you would read or hear about over your lunch break. He was […]

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High School Graduation: Things Are Changing, but for the Good

My eldest daughter’s high school graduation had befallen. I’m not sure how we got here. Yes, seems like only yesterday… On the other hand, I had the wrinkles to prove it wasn’t! Created not only by the passage of time but also probably gained by potty training failures, elementary school multiplication tables, middle school emotional swings, high school auto accidents, and a revolving door of boyfriends. We had to shop for a little white dress to go under the white graduation robe. We couldn’t have a bright red dress showing through, now could we? This was just one of the activities, plans, and expenses as we prepared for the day we had all worked so very hard for. We had an entire list.

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How My Husband and I Survived My Affair

How My Husband and I Survived My Affair

“How did I get here? This can’t be happening,” these words raced across my mind as I sat in a room with our pastor and the seeming stranger I was married to. But there I was, a church-raised, young woman in the throes of a nasty adulterous mess… but my affair was what got us there. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I could slip so far or that divorce would seem like an obvious lifeline amidst the chaos. I so badly wanted to flee this moment of accountability, wanted to flee this marriage, and by doing so, escape the mess I had made. That summer, almost 11 years ago now, things had come to a head. But the

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5 Ways I Learned to Love My Middle-Aged Body

5 Ways I Learned to Love My Middle-Aged Body

The other day, as I was participating in my daily scroll on social media, a Facebook memory popped up on my feed. It was a heartwarming throwback of me and my youngest when she was just a baby. I looked tired, yes, but also had that new-mom glow as I held my daughter in her “Baby’s First Christmas” outfit. She was three months old and this was, sadly, quite a few years ago. I remember that picture well. We were at my in-laws’ house after church, and it was the first time I had gotten “dressed up” since giving birth. And I remember being wildly insecure about my new, mom-of-three body. I felt frumpy, overweight, and gross. I didn’t want to go,

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Mind Your Trace: Is the World Better Because of You?

Mind Your Trace: Is the World Better Because of You?

My inner critic, never at a loss for words, says “leave the place better than you found it.” Where she gets her information, and when she chooses to spring it on me is a mystery, but I listen up because sometimes she is simply right. The impetus to leave a place better than I found it would relate to cabin rentals, campsites and other places of temporary refuge. As it relates to backpacking in the wilderness or camping Anywhere, USA, it is always the goal to leave no trace. Not everyone operates by this standard, sadly, but I do my part to pick up after myself (and often those that came before me) so the deer, bunnies, and timber tigers don’t have

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Easter, the greatest love story ever

Easter, the Best Love Story Ever Told

I sit this morning, alone, watching as the sun crests the peak of my home. It is quiet, with a waterfall in the background and nature sounds playing their melody. I ponder the gravity of this season. It is once again Easter, the celebration of the best love story ever told. I am reminded of the week’s beginning. The triumphant entry of Jesus, in humility seated upon a donkey, as he arrives at the city of Jerusalem. Greeted as the conqueror, the expectations of those who lined the streets were high as they placed palm fronds before him, expressing their delight at his arrival. The same people who were there to laud his entry, within a few days, were absent from his

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What this California Girl Learned from Her First Hibernation

What this California Girl Learned from Her First Hibernation

Winters chill keeps us inside. Inside our homes and inside our heads. I had never noticed before the beauty in winter. The beauty that comes from just stopping and resting and letting go of the chase and hustle, even just for a season. Maybe I had never noticed it before because I have spent all my winters in California and this winter, I was in Tennessee. It was cold and wet. Now, I must wait a few more days for the start of spring to do the things I need to do. Waiting in Winter Waiting is hard for me. I am a person who is always busy, and although in recent years I have learned to slow down and take care

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Annoyed by Interruptions? My Trick to Welcoming Them

Annoyed by Interruptions? My Trick to Welcoming Them

I live in a constant state of interruption. Two minutes ago, my 18-month-old son ripped my half-written grocery list out of my hand while my daughter screamed because she couldn’t find her shoes. One minute ago, my son pulled my daughter’s full-length mirror off the wall. Good grief, I just needed ten minutes. As a teacher, I face expected and important interruptions all day long and then I finally sit down at my desk to plan out lessons and grade papers and then I get a phone call from my husband about home management and doctor’s appointments. Good grief, I just needed ten minutes. Do you ever feel like your life is interrupting your life?  What If Interruptions Are Actually Purposeful? When

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Anxious? Looking for a Refuge?

Anxious? Looking for a Refuge?

I woke at 1:30 AM. Fully alert and rehashing the events from the previous day. I was angry, anxious, and agitated by people’s lack of integrity. Their unwillingness to be accountable for their actions and words. I choreographed responses, planned for the potential encounter, and waited for sleep to return. The bedside alarm clock measured the minutes: 2:30… 3:30… 3:45. When finally, my mind calmed enough to allow me to fall back to sleep. Waking again to the sound of our dog jumping off the bed, his ID tags acting as an alarm as they jingled against his collar. It was 5:20 AM and I gave up the notion of sleep. Once on my feet, I made my way to my office.

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God Met Me at the Doctor's Office

God Met Me at the Doctor’s Office

I was so overwhelmed last week. And then God met me. But if I hadn’t been paying attention, I don’t think I would have noticed. I took a day off work because I had four doctor’s appointments in one day. The week had been a busy one. My personal children had a lot on their plate. The academic quarter was ending, so they were overwhelmed with homework. We had many sports commitments on the calendar and places to be. My teaching life was filled with papers to grade, students I was concerned about, and meetings to be had. I felt stretched. Too far. Guilt of a Working Mom Many times, I wondered and questioned why I chose to be a working mom

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Recognize Your Emotional Triggers So They Don’t Interrupt Your Life

Recognize Your Emotional Triggers So They Don’t Interrupt Your Life

I never would’ve believed it if I hadn’t experienced it. Our bodies store trauma through associations with dates, places and seasons. For some, the holiday season is their trigger season. Personally, as the weather transitions from summer to fall, even if it’s the furthest thing from my mind, I sense my trauma sneaking up on me in unexpected ways like headaches, negative self-talk, bad moods, lethargy—you name it. But even as these seasons approach, we can find ways not only to survive, but thrive during them. Identify Your Emotional Triggers One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves in a triggering season is self-awareness. My trauma occurred when my boyfriend took his own life, deeply engraining painful dates into my subconscious,

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How to Find R.E.S.T. In the Midst of Your Struggles

How to Find R.E.S.T. In the Midst of Your Struggles

We found ourselves standing on opposite sides of the front door. I stood on the inside, tentative and shaking. He was positioned on the outside, his hands clenched, forming fists, and his jaw locked firmly in place. We had found ourselves in this position before but this time his anger ignited and his fists raised, slowly and deliberately. I’m not certain where I found the courage, but I looked into his eyes, took one step towards him, and whispered a single sentence: “Be very careful—if you do this, it will be the last time you see me.” In the coming days, I collected his clothes, gathered a few household items, placed them all in a large box, and sat the box outside

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How to Practice Peace When the World Feels Chaotic

How to Practice Peace When the World Feels Chaotic

“Deal in reality yet keep the faith,” was the mantra of my pastor in downtown San Francisco during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone suffered through it differently, some more than others. For me, the world seemingly descended into madness. The temptation was fight, flight, or freeze. As a flight attendant deemed “essential worker” amid the throes of 2020, I was forced between faith and fear every time I pinned on my wings. It was a choice between shutting my eyes or keeping them wide open. Finding Footing Amid Chaos As a flight attendant, being on the pandemic “front lines” taught me ways to practice peace. While Jesus was spirit-led in His pursuit of peace, He was also very intentional. In

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This Mama Is Getting Her Pink Back

This Mama Is Getting Her Pink Back

Tomorrow, I return to the working world for the first time since I left J.P. Morgan Chase in 2014 to be a stay-at home mom to my twins. I have never regretted that decision, even in the moments where I could not afford a purchase or in the tantrum-riddled days where I could not seem to catch my breath until they were fast asleep. Looking back on these last 8 years, it all went so fast. A Helpful Flamingo Analogy My niece recently shared with me a little trivia about flamingos and how they lose their pink color while taking care of their young. As the flamingos start to get more independent, the mama starts to get her pink back. I am

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My Unstable Upbringing Delivered a Precious Gift

My Unstable Upbringing Delivered a Precious Gift

I grew up in a toxic family. My childhood is riddled with unimaginable abuse, trauma, a lack of stability and yet, in some ways, I consider myself privileged. Did we have money? No. A majority of the time six of us lived in a 24-foot travel trailer, in RV parks, in whatever town my dad was currently working. Our family was made up of my dad, mom, two sisters and one brother. I am the oldest and my brother is the youngest. We are 10 years apart. Our family was somewhere between dirt poor and middle class. My dad was a boilermaker so we moved wherever the next job was. I went to kindergarten in two different states and didn’t actually finish

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Ask Dr. Zoe - How Do I Set Boundaries with My Invasive Mother-in-Law? feature image

Ask Dr. Zoe – How Do We Teach Our Kids Compassion in a Culture So Divided?

‘Concerned but Hopeful’ Asked: Dr. Zoe, As a mother and grandmother, I feel we are in uncharted territory in our culture. The innocence of children seems to be robbed from them in the world they live in, through every medium and outside influence they encounter. I believe that we can not nor should escape the culture in which we live, isolating ourselves from everyone that we disagree. But how do we as parents and grandparents protect while we prepare this young generation? How do we help them develop standards and integrity while instilling compassion and understanding within them? I think most mothers and grandmothers could sure use some guidance. Dr. Zoe Answered: I’m glad to hear that you are hopeful. Our children

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Here's Why You Should Question the Stories You Tell Yourself

Here’s Why You Should Question the Stories You Tell Yourself

“The most powerful stories may be the ones we tell ourselves.” —Brené Brown¹ It wasn’t the loaves of homemade bread she’d bake for our family, the way she’d serve me Ovaltine in bed before school, nor the daily schlepping to swim practices and other after-school activities. These acts of devotion certainly made her a fantastic mother, but what earned her the title of “The World’s Greatest Mom” was largely due to the stories she told. With creativity and ease, her words flowed into dashing tales around similar themes. There was always a high-stakes rescue coupled with unassuming heroes who overcame weaknesses, flaws, and fears. Even though the settings, outlying characters, and storylines varied each time, the hero protagonists did not — they

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