We were living in a rusted out fifth wheel trailer with no running water when I was seven years old,

but I didn’t get that we were poor until the morning my mother woke me up shortly after midnight, handed me a bottle of amphetamines and a garbage bag and said, “take one of these…we’re gonna collect cans.”

Over the next several years, I learned to make my mother’s drinks “good and strong” and was told to keep them coming until she either knocked me into the wall for some imaginary transgression, or passed out on the couch.

I became an expert at enduring. Enduring the alcoholism and drug use I witnessed every day. Enduring the whacks with the belt. Enduring the next move because we were being evicted again. Enduring a string of foster homes after DCYF removed me from my mother’s custody, and being the new kid at school thirteen times in twelve years.

The time came when enduring wasn’t good enough anymore.

I had a choice, and rather than settle for the cards I was dealt, I decided to play a different game altogether.

I became the first in my family to finish high school (although, just barely.) I moved to New York, put myself through college, and became an honors student. After college, I had the storybook wedding to my high school sweetheart, and had two amazing kids who will never know what it’s like to go to school with bruises, or not know where they’ll be sleeping that night, or be hungry.

But accomplishing all of this wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough. At least, that’s how I felt. I could never slow down. I was too busy comparing myself and doubting myself. I was trying so hard to be everything that my mother wasn’t, but

I never felt like I belonged in this new life I created because of where I came from. I felt lost, alone, and completely out of touch with who I was because I was trying to mold myself into the person I thought I should be in order to be worthy.

The constant “pushing through” took its toll, and one day my body had just had enough. I couldn’t ignore the signs anymore. I was so exhausted every day that my body hurt, yet I wasn’t able to sleep at night; I was irritable, moody, and everything I used to enjoy seemed like too much effort. I had constant brain fog, wasn’t able to focus on any task for any length of time, and despite all my efforts to get healthy, I just kept gaining weight.

It took a diagnosis of Adrenal Failure, Estrogen Dominance, and Leaky Gut Syndrome to force me to pay attention.

I had to reevaluate my relationship to ME–how I’d been treating and speaking to myself, and the stress I’d been subjecting myself to. I had to develop tools to reconnect with who I was as a woman and learn to love her.

I had to figure out how to reclaim my life and find what I was meant to do in the world.

Doing that work has been anything but easy.

I had to figure things out as I went…like, how to forgive and find the gifts in everything that happened to me And how to give myself permission to have the life I want, and feel worthy of it.

Now I’m blessed to live in a beautiful home in a lakeside community with my husband Steve, and our two girls, Karissa and Kaelin. I’m a writer, a searcher, a traveler, a lover of Thai food, 80’s British pop, and Saint Bernards.

I’m thankful every day that I get to do work that I love, and help other women gain clarity and confidence, and create amazing lives.