Balance would definitely be one of the words I’ve spoken the most this past year. It would rank up there with tampons, perspective, tired, and “no” (the last of which is usually directed at my kids!) Just like with the tree pose in yoga, balance is something that takes practice and work. You may have to start with your foot on your ankle and make tiny, tiny adjustments until you reach your thigh. And even when you feel like your scales are weighted just right, the tiniest thing can knock you down and you will have to start again. It’s so hard to find what is right for you but it’s work that is well worth it. Here are just a few things that I *think* I have learned.

You can love your body right now and still work to improve it. Seriously. You can accept every giggle and wobble and still decide that you want to be stronger, fitter, leaner. I just hope you make that decision for your health and not to look like some picture you saw. You can decide to wear leggings because they are so forgiving and you can also keep a pair of skinny jeans that you hope to fit into again. You can have both! You can appreciate your body just the way it is but still still have personal goals to strive towards. Find your peace in any means necessary. I have told you that I went from purging my meals, to taking on line courses about how to love your body, to almost dying and finding acceptance. I pray you don’t have to have such a kick in the ass to learn this lesson; because I can promise you that it is so freeing to stop caring what that stupid number on the scale is. Find other ways to measure your worth and your health.

You can eat cake and carrots. You can eat clean and order pizza. You can drink 100 ounces of water and finish the day with a glass of wine or a beer. And for Heaven’s sake if you are paleo/gluten free/ non-gmo/organic/won’t eat anything that the Food Babe has not approved- you are not a better person than those of us who really, really enjoy Wendy’s chicken nuggets and chocolate Frostys. Your goodness as a human being does not come from your dietary choices. If you sell advocare/Isagenix/it works/any of the other companies that comprise a multi million dollar industry that strives to make people feel not good enough…that’s okay. I’m not telling you to stop. Rock on, friends, earn that extra money for your families. I’ve tried every one of those products before and enjoyed some of it and felt miserable on most of it and ended up gaining every inch back…but doing a cleanse and losing weight never made me a nutritionist and it never actually made me any happier. So I will eat my broccoli, and drink my Chia Mama; and I will also eat my rice, and enjoy every drop of my Caramel Brûlée lattes. And I won’t feel badly about it because I don’t do too much of either. Crazy, right?

You can be sad and grateful at the same time. You can know how lucky and blessed you are and sometimes allow yourself to wonder, “why?” If anything I think that those days that the darkness has blanketed me make me appreciate the sunshine even more. I have felt lost, hopeless, and guilty for much of the last eight months but, I have also appreciated every smile, kiss, and piece of chocolate much more than I previously did. You might be thinking that I’m miss Pollyana over here making what I just said seem so easy I promise I’m not. I’m just saying it’s worth the work. Pyschologists have studied the practice of gratitude and results have shown that gratitude helps people feel more more positive emotions.  According to research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure). So yes, you can have days where you look around this world and wonder if there is any good left in it. You can also have moments throughout that very same day where you practice gratitude for delicious meal you just ate, and the funny joke you just heard, and the breath in your lungs. It’s science.

You can use essential oils and also take Tylenol and get your damn vaccines. Before I got sick I was really trying to move towards a “chemical free lifestyle.” I wasn’t winning that battle but I was inching my way there. When I started getting symptoms in March the first thing I did was break out my thieves, pain cream, Digize, and diffusers. I was bathing myself in oils. Then I got out of the hospital and I could not look at them. I could not touch them. Modern medicine had saved my life and I was never going to take that for granted again. But as some time passed I started missing them. I stopped blaming them for not curing what modern medicine almost couldn’t. I started realizing that if I get a headache I can try peppermint and if that doesn’t work I can take Motrin. I also remembered that even if they don’t do a damn thing thing for me physically (which I’m not saying is the case,) I can still enjoy the smell of them. I used candles for years, after all. Plus there is also the placebo affect. And even if every benefit is only in my mind, that’s okay. It was so freeing to me when I realized I can have both in my life. You can bet that I have my doctor’s number in my favorites list and I will not hesitate to dial it; however I will also put some Stress Away on my wrists while I am waiting to speak with him.

You can be giving and selfish at the same time. This is for sure the hardest thing that I am working towards every single day. My mind says, “Do better. Be better. You LIVED…you NEED TO PROVE that miracle wasn’t wasted on you. My body, on the other hand, says, “Calm the f*** down. You have time. You need to rest.” I am learning that I can have days where I don’t do one thing more than is absolutely required of me but I can have many more days where I work on the Begin Again Foundation, or try to raise money for Fallon, or collect baby carriers for Carry the Future. It is just taking practice to figure how much I can do without making myself worse for it.

I often feel that what I am doing is not enough, that I’m doing the right thing by my mind, my body, my family. If I am respecting my physical limitations then I am not giving my all to my children. If I am trying to hold it together all day I often collapse into tears by the end of the day. I have been on one anti depressant, then another, then none only to be plagued with insomnia and the kind of fatigue that really makes it feel like it will never get better. I guess what I am trying to say is that I’m better at talking the talk than walking the walk. But I do try every day. Sometimes it’s not my best. Other days I accomplish more than expected. Balance. 





The Koehl Family

Since I started blogging I have often wondered why certain posts go viral. What exactly is the *it* factor that makes a person after person want to share? I am 100% an introvert and fame has never been a thing I have craved; I only started this blog to help me and hopefully help others. I’ve also had the same question about GoFundMe pages. Why does one person’s story of heartache reach hundreds of thousands of dollars when another person with an equally harrowing story never gets traction? I’ll never know the answers to these questions but I would like to share a story with you today about one of the latter.

When I was pregnant with Ollie I wanted to get my older brother’s childhood furniture refurbished for his nursery. I had heard of a store in Virginia Beach that did this for a reasonable price. This is how I met Shelley of Shelley’s Shabby Shack.  She took this furniture and truly gave it new life. I’m so in love with the way it turned out:

IMG_0582 IMG_0583

We did not really keep in touch after she did this work. I would occasionally stop into the shop to see what she was working on and I followed her Instagram account. Fast forward to August of this year and on Instagram I saw that Shelley’s daughter, Fallon, had been in a bad car accident. I remember saying a prayer for them but not looking too much further into it. I think it had been one of those days that my heart could not handle any more sad. God knows what he is doing though, and he did not let me forget about this family. I just kept putting off his request to do something about it. Then this past Friday I had an appointment right near Shelley’s shop and decided to stop in. She was hard at work and I was hesitant to interrupt her but I knew that I had to.

I stopped her and told her I wasn’t sure if she remembered me but that I had been following Fallon’s story and I wanted to say I was sorry that they had been going through so much. I told her about the Begin Again Foundation and what our mission is and for her to keep it in mind…and amazing thing happened. Shelley started crying, the first time she had since the accident. We sat down and we shared our hearts with each other for nearly an hour. I left her shop that day feeling like I had to do more but I didn’t know what. We are still waiting on red tape things before our Foundation will really get going but I cannot sit and wait. So I am going to share this story of an amazing family because I think it’s one that you should know. I do not think they should be a GoFundMe page that sits there untouched when their need is so great.

I know what it’s like to have your life turned upside down because of one seemingly small incident. For me, it was an IUD removal and the use of tampons. For Fallon, it was the pop of a take out container…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Fallon was born in 1995 with a congenital heart defect. Her mortality rate was not an optimistic one and at just 9 months old she underwent open heart surgery at the Childrens Hospital of the King’s Daughters. At 3 years old she underwent a second one. When she was just a teenager in high school she learned that she would likely never be able to carry her own child. These struggles did not harden her. Instead it made her want to help others and so she entered into the Nursing Care Provider program through Sentara. She wanted to save her money so that she could one day attend Old Dominion University and pay her own tuition. She did not want to graduate in debt and so she worked, caring for other people the way she had been cared for as a child.

On August 17, 2015 Fallon was driving on her way to work at Virginia Beach General Hospital when her take out container of sushi popped open. The noise startled her and she glanced down for a second. In that second she lost control of her car and drove into a telephone poll. She was not texting. She was not inebriated. She was simply on her way to the hospital to do her job. She did make it to the hospital but via ambulance. It took them 1.5 hours to cut her out of the car.


They were told that if she was not so small in stature that they may not have been able to get her out at all. When she arrived at a local hospital the anesthesiologists did not know how to properly put her under so that they could perform the necessary surgery on her leg and she was left untreated for 24hours. It was TWENTY-FOUR HOURS before Fallon was transferred to another local hospital where she received the care she needed. She was discharged just two days later. She was in pain but was told it was just normal recovery. They were wrong. She returned to the hospital and had to be operated on again due to compartment syndrome. She spent 23 days in the ICU. In total Fallon has been through nine surgeries and has also suffered a mini stroke. They are still unsure of whether Fallon will be able to keep her leg. In spite of this, they hold no anger towards the doctors that did not treat her immediately. They understand that doctors are also people, and they do not blame them for not knowing how to handle Fallon’s heart condition. They may be just *little* more understanding than many people would be. What I have told you so far is the part of the story that they have shared with the public. I don’t know why, but I am honored that Shelley has trusted me to share the rest of their story.

Shelley, Ted, Pat, and Fallon make up the Koehl family. As I stated before Shelley refurbishes furniture. Pat is in his senior year of college and is a reservist in the National Guard. Fallon worked at Virginia Beach General. Ted was a Fraud Investigator for Avis with 25 years of experience. Shelley and Ted taught their children to work hard. Pat bought his own car, a 1997 Dodge Intrepid, that unfortunately died on him. He and Fallon were sharing the car that she also purchased for herself, a 1998 Mitsubishi. That car is obviously out of commission now. Shelley drives a 2007 Sienna and Ted used to drive a 2002 PT Cruiser. I say that he used to drive it because the engine in his car broke in the parking lot of Virginia Beach General. It sits abandoned because they cannot afford to fix it. Fallon’s accident occurred on August 17th. On August 1st,  AVIS laid off Ted and 199 other employees. Shelley wanted to make sure that I included he was not the only one to lose his job. That is what kind of woman she is. A large reason why their son, Pat, joined the National Guard was because of the tuition assistance. Now as a senior the government has cut off this assistance. He is working. Shelley is working. Ted is applying for jobs daily but is continually being turned down because he has too much experience. They are a four person family with one working car. They are blessed that Fallon does have health insurance through the hospital. However, her specialist copays are $85 and she is seeing several specialists each week. They have to change her dressings three times daily and also give her injections. Shelley states that they are “lucky” because when Shelley has to go home to treat Fallon, Ted can keep her shop open. I want you take that in, she feels they are lucky.

To date they have raised $5,125 on Fallon’s GoFundMe page. They are grateful for every single cent that people have donated. That is not a small amount of money and they are well aware of this. But friends, can I be honest here? That money is long gone. Shelley is a small business owner. Yes, she does well, but that is their main source of income right now. There is no end in sight to their medical bills. They are humble people who have not asked for help before this year. I cannot tell you how many times Shelley has thanked me but I have done nothing, yet. I am praying with all my might that by sharing their story that WE can help them. My favorite blogger, Glennon of Momastery, always says WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER. There is NO SUCH THING as someone else’s child. And We can do hard things. The Koehl Family is doing some really hard things right now. They belong to us. Fallon may not be a child anymore, but she will always be Shelley and Ted’s child. There is no such thing as someone else’s child. Can we band together and help them? Can you give up Starbucks for one day and give them the $5 you would spend on that latte? I promise you they will be grateful. I’m not trying to guilt you if you honestly cannot. Of course you must take care of your family first…but I do know that many of my friends are blessed with enough to spare just a few dollars to help some wonderful people who truly need and deserve it. Please share their story. It is one that deserves to go viral.




It took me by surprise when I went to my therapy session and could not stop crying. I was thinking about the blubbering mess I turned into and I had a realization. The things that have been weighing so heavily on my heart are the things that I am powerless to change. They are the things that you cannot fix with money or medicine. I never considered myself a person who needed control until I had so little of it. I know this is a very normal thing and that most people do not enjoy the feeling of being incapable of “fixing” themselves. Every one has their own way of coping with this but it seems that I have lost my way.

Then I started to think about those early days out of the hospital. Those days were marked with antibiotics, pain, weakness, and a lot of confusion. And yet, dare I say it? I was pretty happy. Despite everything I was in a pretty decent place mentally. My therapist tells me that was my brain protecting me so that I could literally focus on putting one foot in front of the other. While that is probably true, I know there is another truth as well. I was praying all day, everyday. Many were prayers of gratitude. I had to give Him praise and thanks for saving me, for blessing the doctors with their brilliance and then for blessing me with them. Some were pleas to help me regain my health and find peace. Some were requests for forgiveness for asking for any more when I had already been given life. But no matter the content I was praying constantly. I was giving Him my big troubles and it allowed me to handle my daily ones.

Then as days turned to weeks and they turned to months I realized this recovery was not going to be as quick or as easy as I had originally hoped. I began to take on the responsibility for all of it. If I was not getting better than I must be doing too much or not enough. I must be failing at the biggest test life has given me. I still prayed but my prayers changed. I still gave thanks for the good things. I still prayed over my family, friends. Over our society that really needs some huge doses of love, over the refugees who are desperate and broken. I did pray. But I lost faith. I was no longer giving God my troubles because I know there are bigger and more urgent ones. I stopped believing my prayers were important enough to be answered. And life has felt so heavy lately. I have felt like I am carrying more than I am able and on Tuesday of this week my knees finally buckled under the pressure of it all. I would like to say that I prayed right then but I did not. I went to Target and bought my boys some new Paw Patrol shirts because my heart needed their smiles more than anything else in that moment. It wasn’t until today that I realized I have been pouring my heart out to the Internet but I have not shared it to the One that can actually heal me.

I have started praying again. The things that made my heart so heavy are still there. They are truly things that I cannot change but one big thing has shifted. I am remembering that I can have faith. Even if those things never change and never improve; I can continue to pray for peace and the ability to live my life fully despite of them. I can say the serenity prayer not as a rote memorization but rather as a sincere request.

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The Courage to change the things I can,

and the Wisdom to know the difference. 

In an interesting twist in God’s plan for me, he has sent me a new nanny. Her name is Faith. He has sent me Faith, literally.




Women: Friend or Foe?

This morning I saw a link to video that has gone viral of a woman ranting that leggings are not pants. I didn’t watch it because I like my leggings. They’re comfortable, come in fun patterns and I don’t plan to stop wearing them any time soon. I didn’t feel like torturing myself with listening to arguments about why I should not wear them. The first thought that came to mind when I read the title, though, was why do we do this to each other?

Leggings and pumpkin spice sweatshirt make for a happy Audrey.

When I was younger my biggest fear was of people not liking me. That, and sharks, but since they weren’t likely to swim up to my door, not being liked ranked at the top of the list. I tried with all my might to be whatever it was that a person wanted at that moment, often to my own detriment. Then I went to college and no matter how hard I tried my worst fear came true. It was painful but I survived and I learned a really important lesson. Not everyone will like you and that’s okay. It really is. Try to be a kind-hearted, good person. Love those that love you and put the others out of your mind. Make the mistakes you must, apologize for them, then forgive yourself. With that lesson learned I of course had to find a new fear… and that fear was always being afraid of what people thought of me.

I married Marc knowing that our life would be on the PGA TOUR. This terrified me to no end. There are people who spend their precious God-given time writing about the wives and girlfriends. Rating and ranking them. Did I measure up? Was I pretty enough? Did I dress well enough? I certainly was not thin enough. These were my fears when I first started traveling and I spent the first six months of our marriage depressed because of it. I would sit in family dining quietly, stewing on my insecurities. Comparing myself, never feeling like I belonged. And then some time passed and I realized something: the players are just men and their wives are simply the women that they love. They are just people. No better or worse than you or me. Shocking, right? I think back to those early days and laugh at myself. Within any group of people you will meet some that you have an amazing connection with and there will be some you never get to know at all. But these women that I was so afraid of are some of the most incredible people I will ever have the honor of knowing. They are strong, independent, charitable wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. Another lesson learned.

Then I became a mother and oh em gee those mommy wars are no joke! If you breastfeed, cloth diaper, co-sleep, and puree your own baby food then you must be a judgemental hippie who cares more about the environment than the risk of rolling over your baby at night. If you formula feed, use disposable diapers, and let your baby cry it out then obviously you don’t love your kid or Mother Earth and you should just go ahead and stop having babies because you are not fit to be a mother. There are “experts” who are going to confirm whatever thing you decide to believe so how do you ever know what to do? How do we make it through every single day thinking that we are screwing up the thing that is most important to all of us? I don’t have a clue. What I do have are mommy friends on a closed group on Facebook. We are all so different. There are some who exclusively breastfeed and do so for an extended period of time. There are some like me who cannot even imagine using cloth diapers. I’m sure I could make it work, but the thought of trying to launder them in hotel rooms is just not a battle I’m willing to fight. There are about 30 of us in the group with ranging ages of kids, incomes, and experiences. Some of us work, some of us don’t. Some want to work but can’t and some want to stay home and can’t. We are all different and we all love each other. It’s the same with my “in real life” friends. When we support each other we become a village that we can lean on. I cannot imagine giving up these women who I lean on everyday for the sake of feeling like I am “better.” I am not. You are not. We are all imperfect, beautiful people.

So, again, I have to ask, why do we do this to each other? If you don’t think leggings are pants then don’t wear them! If you see a mama with ink all over, maybe strike up a conversation with her and ask her what some of them mean to her. You could be missing out on meeting your new best friend because you are judging that skull on her arm. If a woman wants to dye her hair purple that does not make her any less of a serious, intelligent, and accomplished person. A woman does not exist for anyone other than herself. The same is true for men, but I don’t see any men making viral videos about what other men are wearing, so it doesn’t feel like we need to have that conversation. Maybe we do. I don’t know. What I do know is that the people who are different from us are the ones we can learn from the most. Can we stop wasting that opportunity? It feels like such a shame to me.

“Holy Ground” JJ Heller

I see a war zone when I walk in a room
I have my armor and something to prove
I’m scared of you
You’re scared of me
That’s not the way it has to be

When we lay our weapons down
When we speak the truth out loud
When we’re slow to judge
And quick to love
We’ll be standing on holy ground

There’s no denying
I need to change
Give me a new heart so I can say
What can I learn?
What can I give?
This is the way I want to live

When we lay our weapons down
When we speak the truth out loud
When we’re slow to judge
And quick to love
We’ll be standing on holy ground

You’re not the enemy
No better or worse than me
No more comparison
Love is the medicine




Calling all Mothers!

Imagine if your child developed a 102 fever, wouldn’t eat, was sick to his stomach, and wouldn’t get out of bed. How many days would you let him suffer? 1, 2, 3? My guess is one at the most, but probably none. You would probably call her doctor that day and make an appointment. Your protective instinct would not allow you to wait it out, put it off, and say, “it’s nothing.” So why did I let myself deteriote for almost three days before I had to be dragged to the doctor?

By default, when you become a mother you are often the last person you take care of. You will reluctantly gladly give your tiny humans the last bite of your lunch because they have decided that yours is better than theirs. You will put the umbrella over them while you are drenched. You will skip a shower to get them to their Little Gym class on time. So on and so forth. Day in and day out. You will survive on coffee, bites of their snacks, and 5 hours of interrupted sleep and most of the time you will be happy to do so. Their smiles and giggles will make it worth it for you. You will muster up the energy to play princess or monster trucks when you have the flu. You will put their every need before your own. And our society will praise you for it. They won’t even treat you like the superhuman you are because it has just become expectation that mothers give 150% even when they feel like they are running on -50%. And if a mother decides to put herself first she will often be criticized.

I would love to climb a mountain and shout “NO MORE! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” Instead I will sit here curled up in my blanket and type my most heartfelt request that you just stop it. Right now. It is your responsiblity and your duty to take care of yourself. If you cannot put yourself first, then you must, at the very least, rank yourself as equal. You cannot be a good mother if you are not alive. It’s actually a really simple concept. And I know what happened to me is a rarity. I know that most illnesses are not life and death. I know that carving out time to go to the gym, or a date night, or to get your hair done will not ever be your number one priority. I’m not saying it should be. I am fumbling through these words to simply try to express to you that you are important and you must treat yourself like you are. Your family needs you happy and healthy. Not one or the other. They need both. You cannot take care of another person if you do not care for yourself. You cannot pour from an empty cup. So fill it up with coffee, tea…or even wine…cuddle your people and love yourself as much as you love them.




The Days You Don’t Want To

I sat on the stairs this morning trying to be a calm adult and keep my patience as my three-year old was crying because he wanted to wear pants and a sweater when it was going to be 80 degrees today. And then I thought…I don’t want to. Today, I want to stomp my feet and throw myself on the ground and cry right beside him. Today, I don’t want to push through the fatigue. I don’t want to be a survivor of anything. I don’t want to be strong. Or an inspiration. Or a voice against tampons. Today, I want to be the girl I was prior to falling ill. I don’t want to be in the search for another nanny because the one I hired left. The one I trusted into my home and with the people I love the most decided that she would just stop responding to me. Would not even give me the courtesy of an “I’m quitting” text. I don’t want to be in the hunt for a new one because I still don’t trust myself enough to not have help. I don’t want to go to therapy and talk about the sad and the frustration and guilt. Today, I want to run instead of walk but I don’t. Because I can’t. I don’t want to look in the mirror and wonder if this scar will really ever fade away. I don’t want to wonder what God has planned for my future. I don’t want to think about the whys and what ifs. I don’t want to look for the positive or silver lining. I. Just. Don’t. Want. To.

But I will. There is no other option. One of my friends once said to me, “I don’t know how you do it.” I told her you just do because you do not have a choice. You can kick and punch against the walls of your limitations all day long if you want to. You really can. But to what end? You can fall into despair and scream “WHY ME?” to the heavens. Who is going to stop you? What will you gain, though? Will it make it better? If you become hard and angry, will it make it easier? If you just quit trying, will the world stop and wait for you? You don’t actually ever have to ask these questions because you know the answers in your heart. You may have moments, days, or even weeks where you slip and start to slide into the darkness. This is precisely when you reach your hand out and grab whatever your lifesaver is. It does not matter if it’s a book or a song, a pill or a prayer, your cat or dog, or another hand that’s reaching down for you just waiting for you to grab hold. You find it and you do not let go. You climb that ladder inch by inch or mile by mile until you find your way into the light again. You WILL find your way there. You are too good, and too bright, and too loved not to. You will because you deserve to. And if you ever doubt your ability or your worth; you call me right then and I will lay on the ground with you. I will crawl right beside you until you are ready to stand up and when you are standing I will help you jump. I will love you through it. Okay, self? Are you listening, heart? I will love you through it.




The Things You Do Not See

I have a wonderful life. My husband is one of the kindest men you will meet and he happens to be very successful in his career. I have two kids with more charm in their pinkies than I could ever possess. Friends and family that love me and over the past few months I have received support from strangers around the world. I’m aware that my life is good. I’m also aware that my life looks even shinier from the outside.

I’ve never been afraid of being honest and real with the people around me. I will tell you about the days that parenting is so hard I want to leave my child on the side of the road. I will talk about the baby blues, postpartum depression, and just how hard breastfeeding can be. It doesn’t bother me to tell you that my weight and BMI are “too high” and I am considered overweight in the medical community. I often leave the house with a naked face and in my workout clothes. I’ve even talked about shitting in a bed pan. I’m not one to shy away from the things that are not so pretty. I don’t believe that we should only post the happy. I also don’t believe in harping on the bad. It’s a balance that I try to live my life by. And yet…

There are things the hide beneath the surface. Things that you would not guess when I post a smiling photo to Instagram or share a funny story about my kids on a Facebook status. Things like I lost my hair for about two months after I got out of the hospital. Mom friends, think postpartum hair loss but worse. Symptoms like night sweats and switching from hot to cold in an instant. If I was not only 32 years old I would think I was in menopause. Issues like the days I am so tired that I get dizzy and light-headed and it’s almost unsafe for me to drive. Stuff like the fact that I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Surprised? Yeah, me too.

The thing is, it’s not really surprising at all. Psychologists have found a correlation between ARDS and PTSD, especially when mechanical ventilation is necessary. I am very lucky that mine is quite mild. I have had only a handful of nightmares. Mine mainly presents itself in an all-encompassing fear of getting sick again. I never used to be the person to run to the doctor. In fact, this the reason I got so sick. I kept telling myself it was just the flu, it would go away. I was also not the parent to run my kids to the doctors all the time. I believed in letting fevers do their work. Now every time I get a stomach ache I wonder if my colitis is going to come back. If I cough I worry that my lungs are filling with fluid. When you have experienced the feeling of suffocating from within it leaves you scarred. I’m terrified of this winter with the cold and flu season. I may just quarantine myself. The problem is, when the worst happens to you, it shatters your idea that you are safe. And friends, please don’t ever try to put a mask on my face because I might instinctively punch you. I just can’t with masks right now. I got a card in the mail that it was time for my yearly gynaecology appointment. I called my former practice and while I was on hold I nearly had a panic attack. It was then I decided that my wounds run too deep to return to them.

I write this post not to ask for sympathy. I write it to remind you that everyone is carrying a load. One of my most beautiful friends is 32 years old and on daily dialysis, waiting for a kidney transplant. My mom and brother live with chronic pain. Another gorgeous young mother I know has lupus and has days where she fights with all her might to function normally. You do not know if that grouchy cashier has just found out her mother was diagnosed with cancer. We do not know if that terrible driver is a doctor who just lost a patient on their table. Or the mom with tantruming toddler just found out her husband lost his job, or is cheating on her, or has been deployed for the past 6 months. We just never know what hard things a person is doing or dealing with each and every day. So let us try to treat each other with compassion and kindness. Let us try to give each other the benefit of the doubt more often than not. We all deserve to live in a world like that.





perspective (pəˈspɛktɪv   



  1. a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance
  2. the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it; objectivity   ⇒  ■ try to get some perspective on your troubles
  3. the theory or art of suggesting three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface, in order to recreate the appearance and spatial relationships that objects or a scene in recession present to the eye
  4. the appearance of objects, buildings, etc, relative to each other, as determined by their distance from the viewer, or the effects of this distance on their appearance
  5. a view over some distance in space or time; vista; prospect
  6. a picture showing perspective

Over the past few months perspective is one of the things I have spent the most time reflecting upon and talking about. It has been amazing gift, this new perspective from which I view life. It has also been a ball and chain attached to my ankle. I am a mess of contradictions. The good and bad are tangled in a knot so tight that some days it feels impossible to distinguish the two. On one hand I am so grateful for every day that I wake up with my health and my family. On the other I am so tired of being exhausted by everything that life entails. I treasure every kiss and cuddle that I receive from my boys. I also feel like a terrible person and mother when I fall short on patience for the fighting and tantrums. I know how lucky I am to be alive so why am I having such trouble living?

How dare I feel sad when there is Syrian baby being born with shrapnel in her forehead. How can I speak of the fact that I feel unwell when there are children dying everyday from cancer? I should be ashamed that I am worried about a small scar on my chin when a 13-year-old girl died from toxic shock syndrome. On one hand it has only been six months, on the other it has been six months. Am I making any sense or am I as crazy as I feel? The guilt is a vast, deep ocean that I am drowning in.

Some days I am okay with it. I feel grateful that life has returned to some semblance of normal so that I can be annoyed by little things. My problems are no longer a matter of life and death which gives me the space to feel normal emotions. Rationally I know this is a good thing. But it feels wrong to worry about a messy house when I almost died. Everything seems to go back to that statement. I almost died. That 5% chance of survival weighs heavily on me. Shouldn’t I be savoring every moment of this life because I was lucky enough to survive? That 13-year-old little girl was denied the rest of her life and I have the audacity to complain about being tired. Perspective. Sigh.

I studied psychology in college and when I graduated I worked in the psych field. I worked at an acute inpatient hospital, with developmentally disabled adults, and with mentally ill adults. Before I met Marc my goal was to go to graduate school to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and eventually become a counselor. I am pretty good at giving advice to others. I tend to know how to talk to people in a gentle, caring way while still being honest. This is one thing I am proud of but I cannot do this for myself. I know that by trying so hard to always remain positive and by berating myself for sometimes giving into the sad I am not doing myself any favors. I know that I need to allow myself the grace and time to process what happened. Practice what you preach, right? I understand that everyone is allowed to have their feelings. People sometimes say things to me like, “I know this is nothing like what you went through.” I say to them, “Let’s not compare hard. Just because what I went through was hard does not mean what you are going through isn’t hard as well.” When I apply that same logic to myself I understand that it is okay to be struggle even though others are hurting worse. The problem is that when you are depressed logic can seem just out of reach. There is a difference between knowing things and believing them.

I believe that with time, therapy, and hard work I will gain a balanced perspective that will be healthy for me. In a way I am lucky that this happened to me while I am young enough to apply the lessons to the rest of my life. This time youth will not be wasted on the young. Who am I kidding? I’m nearly 32. I’m not exactly a child but I’m not exactly old either. What I do know is that I have time to figure it all out. I am alive to feel all the feels. For that, I will be forever grateful. Perspective. 



Guest Post- ARDS

One of the things that has helped me tremendously has been finding other survivors of both TSS and ARDS. It can be an incredibly lonely when you feel like you are the only person who understands what you have been through and continue to deal with in your recovery. When people tell me that they are experiencing the same things I can at least strike crazy off my list of issues. Because you all have been so supportive of me I encouraged my friend Christina to write as well. I hope this helps her heal.

Without further adieu here is her story. 




What is ARDS? ARDS is an illness with a high mortality rate, that effects more than two million people annually, yet very few people know what ARDS is. ARDS is a life changer. ARDS is terrifying. ARDS stands for acute respiratory distress syndrome. The name implies respiratory failure, but it is so much more.

We all believe that nothing bad will happen to us. Well, aside from possibly loosing a job, a loved one, having a fender bender, etc. Most of us probably expect to experience one of these issues at some point in our lives, but none of us expect to be struck with a life threatening illness. I am here to say, that it absolutely can happen. There are so many things that I never expected to happen to me, that did, all because of ARDS.

When I got sick, I was a young mother of a 9 month old little boy who had been planned, and four and a half months pregnant with a little one who had not been planned. We were loving life with our precious little boy, and, though a little scared, we were so excited about expecting another. We were counting down the days until we would learn if we were having a little girl, or another little boy. However, I fell ill before that could happen.

For me, ARDS began as pneumonia. I feel that people tend to think that pneumonia really isn’t a big deal as long as you seek treatment, but that’s just not true. I found that you really have to stand your ground and demand a second opinion when you feel things just aren’t right. I had a hard battle with ARDS. I survived, but it has not been without it’s difficulties. After ARDS, I had to learn how to eat again, and how to walk again. For the first couple of months into my recovery, I had to watch my mother, father, and husband take care of my son, because I physically could not do so by myself. I had, and still have, issues with speech and memory. I have extreme anxiety anytime I get sick or feel even slightly short of breath. At five months pregnant, I had to listen to a doctor tell me that my baby’s heart was no longer beating. I had to carry my baby for another three weeks before my body miscarried. I never got to find out if my baby was a girl or a boy.

Now, two years later, I have another son who is a year old and my oldest is now three. I love them more than life itself, but I feel like they deserve so much more, than I can offer them. I cannot take them out to play often, because I just cannot keep up. My lungs simply won’t allow it. Many nights, they get a happy meal, pizza rolls, lunchables or something else that is easy for dinner, because I am just to exhausted, and literally collapsing at times, to be able to cook a nice meal. They deserve better than that….they deserve better than me.

Because of ARDS, my whole family has suffered. We never thought something like this would happen to us, but it did. Nobody who goes through this, thinks that it could happen to them, but it does. Please don’t think it can’t happen to you, because it can. I urge you to always seek medical attention anytime you are sick, because it could save your life. ARDS develops very quickly, and it needs immediate treatment.

ARDS can be caused by many different issues. For me it was pneumonia, for Audrey it was toxic shock syndrome, for some others it was an issue with a surgery they had. Just be aware, and talk to your doctor if you feel something is wrong. Stand your ground when it comes to your health, and demand proper examination and treatment. You are the best advocate you have when it comes to your health. If you feel something still isn’t right, demand a second opinion immediately or go straight to the ER.

If you would like to read more about my battle with ARDS, please visit my blog at

The Angels aka Nurses

I’m sure that by now you have heard about Miss Colorado’s monologue during the Miss America pageant about her career as a nurse. And if you have heard about that then you have probably heard about the ignorant comments made by Joy Behar and Michelle Collins on The View. I have read many responses from nurses who are rightfully angry but thus far I have not read any from the patients they have cared for.

Up until I got sick my main experiences with nurses were in my OBGYN practice and for my children. When I would schedule my OB appointments I would more often than not request the Nurse Practitioner. I found them to be more caring and heartfelt than the doctors. When I was taken in for my first c-section and I was shaking and scared my nurse told me to hug her while they did the spinal block. When I take my sick children to the doctors it is most often the nurses who are joking with them and trying to make them smile. It is the nurse who is giving one an enema after several days of not using the bathroom so that I do not have to be the bad guy. It is the nurse who is giving them their shots, knowing that they will be causing them pain. It is hard for me to hear one child cry, can you imagine hearing babies cry all day, every day? But they march on because they know they are providing an invaluable service.

Then I got sick and spent ten days in the hospital. I want to be very, very clear on this. Your nurses are everything when you are sick. Yes, my doctors were the people who diagnosed me and ultimately saved my life. However, the nurses were the ones making sure that I received my medications on time. The nurse held my mother while she cried when the prognosis was dire. The nurses translated for my family when the doctors were having a conference in front of them without explaining anything to them. It was the nurses that bathed me when I could not bathe myself. When I woke up I was full of questions but too groggy to understand the answers. My nurse wrote down all my questions for me so that I could ask them again when I was alert. My nurses found a plug for my phone close enough to the bed so that I would have it always when I was alone. They helped me brush my teeth and comb my hair. They made me laugh and held my hand when I cried. They told me it was okay to be scared to go home. They literally gave me the words that I could not formulate so that I could explain what I was feeling to Marc. It was my nurse that printed out a list of every medication that I was given so that I may understand what side effects I could have. My nurse reported my two negative experiences to my doctor without even telling me. She knew I was afraid that the repercussions could be worse care. And when she told me she had reported them she cried because she did not want me to believe that all nurses were that way. In that moment, she really did look like an Angel. My nurses cared for me and about me. I tried to show them my appreciation by getting Marc to bring chik-fil-a and by ordering pizza for the two floors the cared for me. The truth is it would have been impossible for me to appropriately show them because there is no end to it.

And then there is my mother in law who nurses patients in a high dementia care unit. She has left work with a black eye and a broken heart. She loves her patients and makes sure they receive the best. She puts blankets under their sheets to make sure they are warm enough and always makes sure they receive the basic care that others may neglect. When it was me who she cared for she woke up at 5am to help me put in my antibiotic. We were all a little afraid that I might kill myself if I tried to do it alone. She did not let me do too much too soon and ensured that everything around me was taken care of so that I could recover without worry. I could not have managed those first few weeks without her nursing me.

I know that there are imperfect nurses. I promise you that there are many, many more imperfect patients that do not treat them with the respect that they deserve. There are also imperfect humans that go on television and make ridiculous comments about our Angels. I am only one person but I can say with whole heart that I love nurses and I believe that people in general really need to remember to think before they speak.