Monday, July 28, 2014

Being Home: a Candid Look at Reintegration After BMT

Reintegration to Civilian Life After Air Force Basic Military Training

I've been home from Basic Military Training now for a month and a half. I can't believe how fast time is going. It's crazy that it's already the middle of summer and I'll be heading off to my second round of training at tech school in just a little over two months. Part of me is excited for that next adventure. Part of me is nervous. And this post will explain why. I'm about to give you a candid look into my thoughts about re-joining the real world after my time spent at BMT. Everyone handles the successes and stresses of BMT differently... this is a look into how I'm handling life at the moment.

Coming home—reintegration as the military calls it—has actually been a lot harder than I ever thought possible. Chalk it up to the BMT version of "Stockholm Syndrome" (where the hostage begins to identify and/or bond with their captor... in BMT it's like our bond with our MTI's, ha!)—but some days I just want to go back. Man, life there was so... simple. There was always a routine. There was always a certain way to do things. There was always something to do, somewhere to go, some rule to follow. Structure. And sure, there was drama... but it was drama that I sat back and had no part of, and I knew that I would be away from it within a matter of weeks.

After coming home, it's been mentally challenging for me to get back to life-as-I-know-it. To become a civilian again. My civilian job—working in the fundraising office of our local non-profit hospital—is great. I'm adjusting back there just fine, and if not better and more on-task than before. It's at home where I'm realizing my struggles. No longer are there 46 other trainees who I live/sleep/shower with—now it's only my poor husband who is feeling the brunt of my post-BMT stress management. Stress management... I think that's the key word there. I haven't found a good outlet for my stress (and in fact, I don't even know why I'm feeling any at all... life is truly easy these days). I've been working out 7-days a week, trying to channel my anxiety into beads of sweat that I can wipe off my forehead without a care—but it just hasn't been that easy.

In fact, I'm actually embarrassed to admit it, but I've just been so sad lately. Maybe it's a slight version of the "post BMT blues"—I was so excited for it to come, and now that it's gone, I feel an empty void there. I think I just picked up a bit of emotional baggage while at BMT and I'm having a hard time letting it go. It's turning me into a "little ball of stress," and I want nothing more than to be that carefree, low-maintenance person again. I know I can get back to that... it's just going to take some time.

I've finally arrived at the point where I want to hang out with people again, where I have started doing my nails and having fun with my makeup, and where I'm beginning to feel like a civilian... finally. While at BMT and even shortly after returning home, I didn't think I had changed at all. Now that a bit of time has elapsed and I can look back over the last several weeks, I can see just how much I changed, and how much more changing I'd like to do.

BMT was an amazing experience. I gained so much and learned so much about myself. I have big, big dreams ahead in my Air National Guard career and can't wait to move forward. I am looking forward to finishing this soul-searching and re-integration, though. Sometimes I wonder how different my mental process had been if I'd have gone straight through to tech school instead of coming home for a 4-month break. I just sort of feel like I'm in a state of limbo, and my mental thought process seems to be reflecting that. I'm promising myself now that I won't let myself experience a second round of this after returning from tech school (hence why I've felt nervous about leaving for it). In fact, I've found so much of a comfort from writing out my struggles in the past, so I'm hoping this journaling of my thoughts will help me move past what's been holding me down—me, myself and I.

In so many letters home, I swore up and down that I would never take my husband, my home or my civilian life for granted again. It's amazing to see how easy it is to forget those promises when you get back in the swing of things. This is my vow to move forward. Right now. To get back up on my feet, brush off the past, and move forward—as a civilian and Airman—ready to conquer whatever challenges lie ahead. After all, wasn't it Dorothy who said, "There's no place like home?" She's right. There's no place like home. It's time to get myself back to it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

For Closure... The Post about Alcohol

Why I don't drink alcohol, Trichotillmania and Alcohol

I've been putting this post off for a while—not because I don't think it's important—but because I was hesitant to put my personal beliefs on this topic out in the open for fear of rejection, fear of judgement against me, and most of all—fear of failing. I'll explain more in a bit, but I wanted to begin this post with a disclaimer that the following content is my own personal opinion & perspective, and in no way do I judge or disagree with you if you don't make the same choices I do.

I think I've always had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I won't get into the details, but let's just say that I've seen it tear apart relationships & destroy the health and lives of several people who have been very close to me. Growing up, I told myself I would never drink, because I didn't want to see my life head in the same direction that I had seen so many go in before me.

You can probably guess where this is going. I had my first drink at age 18 and began going out with friends when I was 21. While I never enjoyed the "downtown" scene—when I went out, I tended to order at least one drink with dinner. And the way I did it, one drink turned into two, which turned into three, which turned into... well, you get it. I wasn't able to just stop at one. Now, I wasn't having drinks all the time, as you may presume. I'm talking once or twice, maybe three times a month. Nothing too extravagant.

But as the years turned and I found myself in troublesome times, alcohol was where I sought my refuge. Never a fan of strong-tasting drinks, beer or red wine, I would sip off the stresses with a margarita, a Malibu & Diet, a glass of Moscato, or a pretty & über-sweet cocktail. And like I said before—it was never simply just one.

The additional drinking led to weight gain (roughly 30 pounds more than I am now) and insecurity, and of course—more drinking—lots and lots more drinking. I suppose I should also include the fact that while I drank I was such a different person, and that was the kind of person that truly no one wanted to be around. I was a destructive person when I drank. I destroyed relationships, I destroyed people's feelings, I destroyed my own self-confidence. In addition—though I never realized it at the time—the more I drank, the more I pulled out my eyelashes and eyebrows. It was a downward spiral and though I knew how to get out of it, I didn't want to. I thought it was too enjoyable... too fun... not worth it to give it up.

Fast forward a few years to 2013, where drinking wasn't so much of a priority but I still had one here and there—one margarita while out on the lake, one glass of wine at a fancy dinner, one hot toddy while up at our favorite mountain resort. Ever since I became a Christian in 2012, I had begun developing a conviction that I shouldn't drink at all—but I could never justify giving it up completely. I didn't think I needed to.

Then, last fall after my trichotillomania & pulling had gotten so much better, I realized one distinct correlation. I wasn't drinking like I had been... at all. It had been months since my last drink and I had hardly pulled out any eyelashes or eyebrow hairs, whereas before, I pulled and pulled each time I drank. I knew that my decline in drinking had helped lead to my decline in pulling. So I gave it up. Right then and there, I decided I was done with alcohol. For good.

However (here's where we get into what I mentioned above about being hesitant to post this)—I gave it up quietly. I made this decision after praying about it and talking it over with Daniel, and essentially only told my parents. And I did it so quietly out of purely selfish and misguided reasons. I was leaving the door open to the possibility that if I did have a drink in the future, that I wouldn't be held accountable for my actions because I hadn't told anyone that I'd stopped drinking. Wait, what? Yes. I'll say it again, I was leaving the door open to being able to still drink in the future. I'm telling you, I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. I wasn't able to just let it go. It was as though I thought I needed it or might need it in the future. I was afraid of failing—so I didn't tell anyone about it.

So this post, right here, is my public declaration. Despite whatever opinions, thoughts or judgments about me & my beliefs may be cast because of it. I haven't had a drink since last fall, and I won't drink ever again. I'm doing this for myself, for my husband, for my family (and future family!), for my trichotillomania, and mostly—because of my faith in God, the convictions He has given me, and the path he has placed me on.

This is one of those long-winded, wordy posts that will surely drive people to click that "X" at the top of their screen. But this is one of those posts that is so important for me to share. I've always said—I love to share my story and put myself out there—and this is just one more page of my story that I don't want to forget, and don't want to go on without sharing. Please remember, I don't judge anyone based on if they do/don't drink or what their stance is on the topic. I hope I didn't come off as judgmental by publishing this post. This is a very, very personal post and it took me a long time to gather the courage to write it. But I knew I needed to... for myself—and for closure. Here's to holding myself accountable, once and for all.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Power in His Delay

God's Perfect Timing

I've been journaling and reflecting on life lately each night before going to bed. It's become a bit of a routine—and it is so calming & relaxing. I write down a few sentences about something good that happened in my day or something that I'm grateful for (I don't ever write the bad stuff—who wants to remember that?). It's simple, it's quick, and it's so amazing to look back over all the good that's been happening in my life lately.

The other day, I had been particularly frustrated while waiting and waiting for Tech School dates for the Air Guard. I felt as though I'd been waiting forever—though it's only actually been a couple months—and began writing to help release that frustration. What I wrote wasn't a complaint, or even negative for that matter. I essentially wrote a prayer. A prayer for peace & trust in God's perfect timing. Sure, I may have wanted to know those dates right that moment, but my wants were selfish and mistimed. I journaled about how thankful I was for all I've been given and how I knew that God will reveal those dates to me in His time.

And what do you know? Two days later I received those dates. It was as though I had finally put it out of my hands and given my trust to God when he took that burden right from me and answered that prayer. Now granted—they were not the exact dates I had hoped for—but see? God's working within me to trust that those are the right dates! I didn't even realize that my prayer had been answered—and so quickly, too!—until I was reading over my journal last night. What a beautiful thing it is.

While we may have that now now NOW mentality, sometimes all it takes is letting it and the worry and the concern and the control go for it to happen. I heard this incredible phrase a few months ago and wrote it down in all caps in the back of my Bible so I could always remember it. It said:
"There is power in My delay."
To me, that is so powerful. Realizing we are not in charge of what happens around us—we are only in charge of ourselves, our thoughts & our actions—is so freeing. Is it not? There is power in His delay. That's so beautiful & makes me ever so hopeful for all that lies ahead.

Monday, December 30, 2013



Gratitude. That word has been sitting so heavily on me lately... not like a heavy weigh-me-down load, but a burden that is burning within me to express more often.

For Christmas this year, one of the gifts I received was a Gratitude Journal from my mom. I thought this gift was so thoughtful. Mom knows how much I love to write, and some things are best to be written just for yourself—so this little journal is the perfect spot to do it. And maybe it's just me, but every time I've ever kept a journal or diary, I've always written when I've felt down in the dumps and they end up filled with negative things & complaint after complaint. The Gratitude Journal is different... it's meant to be filled simply with things you're grateful for, little beautiful things you find in your day, and moments you want to jot down and remember—it's all meant to be positive and uplifting. I love it so far—I've written small entries each day since Christmas, and already I know that this will be the place where I flip through and read when I'm having a hard day or need a little pick-me-up.

This small journal has made me look at things a little bit differently lately. I'm appreciating the smallest things. I'm noticing things I hadn't noticed before and really taking the time to enjoy it all. I know that the words grateful, blessed & thankful are said around here all too often... but I don't think that being too grateful is ever something I'll feel bad about. As 2014 approaches, I know there are going to be some big, big changes coming my way. And through it all, I'll hold the blessings close to my heart and truly be grateful for each day.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Life Doesn't Look Like Pinterest.

Life Doesn't Look Like Pinterest, floral wedding display

Sometimes, I just get fed up with it all. "It" being the competition, the desire for perfection, the living in—or faking—a completely disjointed reality. Real life is so much better than that.

I read a great post yesterday by a friend who said she occasionally takes complete breaks from social networking because of feelings of jealousy. Her post made me think. It made me look at the things I spend my some of my free time doing—reading blogs, scanning Instagram, checking in on Facebook and Twitter. And sometimes, just like she does, I take significant breaks from checking in or reading any of that—because it just gets overwhelming.

These days, it seems like everyone has a house that is decorated as fit for Pinterest. I feel like when I see home tours that I'm looking at some intricate model home that doesn't even look cozy to me. It looks so... void of warmth. Maybe I'm different because I want over-sized blankets that don't always have to be in the right spot, or I want a giant comfy couch that might not be so pretty in pictures. I don't care about the pictures. I just want a cozy house.

These days, it seems like everyone is a fashion blogger. Sure, I have my fair share of "style" posts... but I don't pretend like I'm a model... I'm just me and you get to see what I wear occasionally. In a way, it seems like blogging has turned into a way for girls to be that model that they always wanted to be. And that's pretty neat... someone who may not have been signed by Wilhelmina sure may turn heads in the blogging world. But honestly, it's just a little much sometimes.

These days, it seems like everything is about perfection. About being Pinterest-perfect. About what looks good. About what will become the most viral, most viewed, or most cried over (all the YouTube/flash mob wedding proposals, anyone?). But it's not real. I suppose this rant is to say that if you do find yourself comparing yourself to something you see in photos or writing, stop it right this minute. I promise you—after the photos are taken—that the cat hair and dust begins to accumulate, that the clothes get piled up on the floor in the closet, and that the perfect outfit is usually taken right off and replaced by jeans and flats. Life is different for each single person, so please—please—give yourself credit and know that your life is beautiful even if it hasn't gone viral. And I promise you, the real lives don't look like Pinterest.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Insecurities about infidelity in marriage, Sapphire Wedding Ring

I am a liar and creator of evil thoughts. It's true. And the only person I hurt is myself.

For completely unfounded reasons, I create thoughts and ideas in my head about infidelity, distrust, suspicion, doubt. Nothing has ever been done to me that would substantiate a reason for these thoughts—though my own actions and hurt I've caused others is what I believe to be the primary reason for it.

It's sad. These thoughts—and often terrifying nightmares that wake me up in tears and cold sweats—are debilitating. They come on at a moment's notice, ruining my kind and carefree spirit. They send me into panic mode, creating the desire to snoop and see if there's anything underneath the surface that could be going on without my knowledge. It's so sad. I have distrust and it's so incredibly unfounded.

I get emotional as I write this. It's something that as I write, I want to hit "delete" and push under the rug—it's there but I don't want anyone else to see it. It's embarrassing. As a woman of faith, I shouldn't struggle with these things, I shouldn't let myself be so vulnerable. My mind—a filthy place—is so cluttered with these horrible thoughts, and there's no reason for it. I know these thoughts don't come from a good place. They're insecurities that I struggle with often—even today as I type this.

As often as I've debated putting this insecurity out there and broadcasting it to the entire internet, I suppose I have a hopeful intention with it. So often, I've blogged about my troubles in the past. My trichotillomania... that only got better after I wrote it all down and put myself out there—so I'm crossing my fingers and saying my prayers that bringing this insecurity out from it's hiding spot will help me in the long run. I'm not weak. I'm not helpless. And I'm tired of letting these destructive thoughts control me and make me feel weak and helpless.

I've made so many decisions lately, like joining the Air National Guard, where I know I'll put myself in an emotionally vulnerable spot and won't be able to see Daniel for several months while I'm away at training—and the hope is that it will make a stronger person. He is an amazing man, and I'm not giving him the credit, respect or honor he deserves.

So there it is. The lies I tell myself. The fear of it happening to me. The biggest insecurities that get me down and crush my spirit day after day.

Not anymore.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Thought Process

Little Bird

You know the feeling when every day is new? Every day is exciting? Every day brings decisions and actions that may be a little scary at the moment but completely fill you with the biggest feeling of strength and determination? Where every day is getting you one day closer to what you've been waiting for? That's every day for me right now.

Talk about the vaguest of the vague... this is going to be less about me saying what's going on and more about just writing out my thoughts about this very moment right now.

Have you ever done something when you know that half the people you know will totally back you because they trust you to make the best decision, and the other half will think you've lost your mind? Have you ever taken a giant leap of faith into one open door because you just ran into a closed one? Have you ever said "I don't know how this is going to be in the future, but right now I know it's the right thing to do?"

I can't be alone in this. I can't be the only one who's feeling like I'm entering into an unknown where I'm going to receive countless questions and leave many people shaking their heads in confusion. And that's OK. I know what I'm doing... and that's what matters, right? It's like being a little bird who has decided not to follow the flock, but instead to set out on a flight of her own...

See, told you. It's the vaguest of the vague. But it's the lead in for what's next. Maybe I shouldn't have even brought it up... but it's the thought process behind some big decisions going on right now. It's me and it's real and it's a little bit scary. But I'm ready for it.

More details soon.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fall at the Rowe House

Fall trees in Idaho
Pumpkin table decor

Fall is in full swing here in Boise. The top photo is the view from our backyard—so many colors and so many kinds of trees!—and the bottom photo is our kitchen table decor of the moment. We don't have much else up in the house that screams "fall," but the little pumpkins are enough for us. The coasters were a wedding gift from my dad's fiancè—she made them for us!

It seems like this time of year—along with the turning leaves—brings change after change. Sometimes it's work related (last year at this time Daniel was just starting a new job), some times it's emotional (don't even get me started with all my ups and downs lately), and sometimes it's changes that you never even saw coming. Either way, year after year as the leaves change, so do I... and this year I just hope my "colors" are as pretty as those bright leaves. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Trich is Your Gift


A couple months ago, I met a woman and her daughter for lunch and spoke to her daughter about my trichotillomania. The daughter, a beautiful 16-year-old girl who also has trich, was looking for someone to talk to, since she had recently come out to her parents about her disorder. Despite emailing back and forth with people all over the world about trich, I had never met face-to-face with anyone else who has trichotillomania. It was a wonderful meeting, and we ended up talking for over 2 hours. We departed with a giant hug and an exchange of phone numbers, and this girl and I still text back and forth to check on each other.

About a month ago, I got an email from her mother (who writes a blog about her daughter's pulling here). In the email, the mom said something that resonated deep within me. She said:
"Thanks for all your help thus far. I hope you know how much God has used you. Which means……TRICH IS YOUR GIFT. ;-)"
I had never thought about it like that before. My gift? I think she's absolutely right. We are all made a certain way for a reason, right? When I began blogging about my trich in 2010, I was putting my story out there since (at the time) there wasn't another blog about trich that I could find. I never knew the impact that my one small blog could have on so many people all over the world. But now? It's a way to offer support, guidance and inspiration to many who struggle with this on a daily basis. It's a form of ministry to me, and I'm using it to share my faith and how powerful I believe prayer truly is.

I have mentioned before that my trich has been less of a problem recently, but it's not gone. In fact, since May 1st, I had been pull-free. Notice I said HAD. Last night, I pulled an eyebrow hair. Just one, from my left eyebrow while watching TV, but still... I did it. I broke my 14-week pull-free streak. However, I didn't let myself get overly down or upset about it, I just told myself that it was OK, and tomorrow was a new day. And guess what? It is. Today IS a new day, and I'm going to continue to use this gift that God has given me to help and inspire others. I may have pulled one eyebrow hair, my first in over 14-weeks, but you know what? My eyelashes and eyebrows are THERE. They are full, they are long... and just because I pulled one doesn't mean I'm going to pull any more.

If you're struggling with trich (or anything, really) think of today as your starting point. Today is a new day. It's your time to shine.


And now a question for you, no matter where you're from or what you do/don't struggle with or whether we have the same beliefs or not... this applies to everyone... What is your gift?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

His Plan.

Boise Blog

You know, sometimes life just happens, and I have to force myself to remember that God has a plan.

This past Sunday, there was a big accident on Highway 55 by Smiths Ferry (the route we take to go to McCall), and it ended in a tragic fatality—a young woman's van hit a cattle transport semi as she was coming around a corner and she was killed instantly. I was surprised to hear about the accident... I mean, we travel that road all the time... it could happen to anyone. But I was even more surprised to hear who the woman was who was killed... I knew her. She attended our church, and she and I went through last September's Encounter together. I always said hello when I would see her... she was such a sweetheart. She was also a wife and mother to some adorable daughters, including two one-year-old twins. This woman attended our church Sunday. And then Sunday evening, it was her time to go meet God.

The news reports had published her full name, so I hadn't put two and two together until someone mentioned her nickname, and then it hit me. This woman—this sweet, friendly, Godly woman—she is gone.

So many people look at things like this and ask why. "Why, God?"... I'm asking how. "How are You going to use this for us? How can we give back and help lift up that family? How can we show others Your purpose?"

And then I remember, God has a plan. He gathered this amazing woman up in His arms and He delivered her to eternal safety this weekend. It was her time.

If anything, this is a huge reminder to me—don't take life for granted. Don't leave without giving your husband and/or kids a hug and telling them you love them. Don't go to bed angry. Don't miss one chance to tell others you love them... because you just never know. We may think that we are in control, but when you remember that we don't run on "our time," but instead His time, there is a comfort knowing that there is a plan just for us.

You know, yesterday I thought a couple things in my life were a big deal. Big things going on that I thought were big things to get stressed over. Then I heard about all of this and it just opened my eyes to be thankful for everything that I have. Because you just never know what's around that next corner. Please keep that family in your prayers.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Scare.

natural wavy brunette hair

To preface this post, I hadn't planned on talking about this, or telling anyone about it... but as I was out for a run this morning, it was put on my heart that I needed to write about it... if only just for me.

This past Friday, I had my first ever visit to the Emergency Department (yes, you read that right, I'm 26-years-old and I've never, ever been to the ED—no broken bones, no stitches, no crazy illnesses or really anything—and now let's all knock on wood together for that last little statement). Friday afternoon as I was driving home from work, I had a horrible, chest-grabbing pain over my heart, and it didn't go away for a couple of minutes. Shortly thereafter, I began feeling a dull ache in my left shoulder that lasted a good few minutes. I didn't think much about it, except for that it was very uncomfortable and unlike anything I'd ever felt before. It didn't occur to me to tell anyone about it—because it was there and gone in no time—until I got searing pains in the base of my neck later that evening while we were at an event for my work. Intermittently with the neck pain came the heart pain, and then my left thumb and half of my hand went numb. It was all really odd. I wasn't worried, but I told Daniel about it anyway. After looking it up, the symptoms were not typical for someone my age... they were all the classic symptoms of something bigger and... well, daunting.

After speaking to an on-call nurse after the pain kept getting worse, Daniel drove me to the ED around 10:00 pm. I was wheeled back to a bed (right away, I might add—they don't mess around with chest pain) and had a number of tests taken. I was shaking so badly... not because of the pain, but because I was in a new and frightening situation. After a few hours of waiting and no red-flag results being revealed, I was released home and told just to rest. Rest, rest, rest. It seems, though they didn't know for sure, that my chest pain was a result of stress. Lots and lots of stress. I know I'm pretty open on this little blog... but I sure don't write about everything on here. There is a lot going on at home that I've kept to myself... and almost all of it is great... but it's just a lot. I'll be talking more about it in the upcoming months... but sometimes I don't realize how much my "to-do" stack has piled up until it all tumbles down on top of me.

Since Friday, my heart has gone back to normal. And you know, it's not like I'm not fit... I mean, come on. I'm training for a marathon, I've got a huge race this weekend... it's not like my heart can't handle it. I think that's why it was so scary. Sometimes we forget the little, perfectly functioning things in life (like our hearts) and take them for granted. While laying in that hospital with cords coming off my body, tubes up my nose, an IV coming out of my arm... I just thanked God that I'm not in this situation all the time. It made me hurt for the people who have to make regular visits to the hospital—who go there all the time for treatments, and procedures, and who are used to being within those sterile walls. If you are one of those people... I feel for you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Listening to the pain that the woman in the room next to me was in... it was awful. I got to walk out of that hospital Friday night... some people don't get to do that. I'm just very thankful for all the good care I received (I went to the hospital I work for) and the fact that my heart is OK. I think it's time for me to remember and re-evaluate what's important... because you just never know when life may throw you a curve ball.

Now, if you remember the first sentence of this post about me being out for a run this morning... I want to let you know that yes, I was cleared for exercise yesterday, and my training has resumed as normal. I'm just going to listen to my heart a little better this time, and if I need to take it easy, I'm going to take it easy. In addition, if you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed or all pent up... take a second and write down 10 things you're thankful for, take a deep breath, and get rid of all those things that aren't truly important. You never know how much that one big, deep breath may help.

Now, if that's not an "on my heart" post, I don't know what is. Sheesh.

Friday, May 3, 2013

You're Going To Save Someone's Life


It's funny how you can meet someone for the first time and begin talking about one thing, and 20-minutes later you find yourselves almost in tears and hugging like forever-friends.

This happened to me recently when I was helping Apricot Lane celebrate their one-year anniversary. I ended up chatting with a customer's mother, and when I mentioned that I was there because I was the special guest and a blogger, her first question was, "How do you even make money from that?" That question always makes me laugh a little because people always assume that if you're a "blogger," then you don't do anything else. I was quick to tell her that blogging is my hobby, but I work full time for a hospital. We hit it off well and began talking all about medical-talk (she has a Master's in Pharmacy), diabetes education (I used to work for a diabetes center), and eventually wrapped back around to blogging. She asked me why I started blogging.

This is always the question that makes me cringe a little because it's the point where I say, "I love to write!" or when I tell them the real answer, which is:
I began blogging to have a place to write about my trichotillomania (which I still suffer from). In 2010 I didn't have any eyelashes or eyebrows and I needed help. I couldn't find any other blogs or information online about people's first-person stories of trich. I started my blog LastLash to keep myself accountable with progress photos, to write down my struggles, and to have a place to go when I needed to vent (you can read my very first post here).
This is usually the point where people get really nervous because they don't know how to deal with the fact that I just told them I have a disorder, or they become intrigued and want to know more about trich. This kind woman was the latter. We started talking all about my trich and what a struggle it's been. She, the pharmacy expert, asked me if I was on medication for it. I told her no, and she was rather surprised, because most disorders like this require medication to get through the day-to-day. I then told her (again, another topic that sometimes turns people away) about how I pray to help me reduce my pulling. I told her that while I'm not cured, praying has seriously been a blessing to me and has truly answered so many of my cries for help when I'm having a hard time and wanting to pull. Even for people who aren't spiritual, if you can take that "need to pull" and replace it with a focus on something else, you can resist pulling.

While she was at the checkout counter, we started speaking about other people who have trich. She mentioned that she'd seen it on TV shows, but had never met anyone who had it. I told her that I meet new people through email daily who have it. I get emails so often, from 9-year-olds to 60-year-olds, from North America to Australia to Africa to Asia, from men to women, from people who just started pulling and people who have been pulling for almost all of their lives.

I don't know what breaks my heart more, reading an email from someone who has been a puller for 27-years and hasn't told anyone ever about their disorder, or reading an email from a 12-year-old who is embarrassed and afraid to go to school because the kids make fun of her. None of it is right. I have such a burden to help these people who struggle day in and day out like I do with something that is so small, yet affects us all so much. The one thing that I want every person with trich to know is, you are beautiful. You are wonderful. And you can do it.

After I told this woman a few of the stories of the emails, I found her in tears. I was almost in tears. She looked at me, gave me a huge hug and as she left the store she said, "You're going to save someone's life. You know that, right? You're going to save someone's life."

Up until that moment, I had never thought about it like that. Me? Save someone's life? But what if it's true? What if putting this disorder out to the world could really help someone that much? But I know it can. When I started LastLash, I was depressed, I was insecure, I was on a downward, scary spiral. To be honest, LastLash (and the journey it's taken me on) has saved my life. If I can help, inspire, or even be the shoulder to one person who has this disorder—I couldn't ask for anything more. I know that trichotillomania can be embarrassing, frustrating, and scary. And no one should have to do it alone. So that... THAT is why I started blogging. That's why I'll continue blogging. And that is a burden that will never be heavy on my back. It's a burden of love and support for others—and the fuel behind all this blogging fire.

Thank you so much to the wonderful lady who talked and cried with me this past weekend. You have told me something that I will never, ever forget, and continued to inspire me—along with the emails I get from the people around the world with trich—to never, ever give up. Thank you.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Ideal Body

the ideal body

I read a lot of blogs. I watch TV. I browse magazines. I see pinned images on Pinterest... and MANY of the images I see in these media outlets feature the same idea of "the ideal body."

In fact, there's no shortage of people out there wanting the perfect body, going on diets, searching for the miracle pill (or more desperate options) and ogling pictures of "thigh gaps," hoping to someday have their own.

What do I see? I see an idolization of tiny, rail-thin bodies, a lack of muscle, protruding bones, plates "filled with food" that don't even top 100 calories, photoshopped photos, and an obsession with the thigh gap and desiring to be perfect.

But what is "perfect?" What is "ideal?" 

It's so hard to not be influenced by all this media and to not feel like you need to "make a change"—despite how good you may look or feel. I know I've been caught several times thinking that my body is less than ideal. And I tell you what—that's not right. It's one thing to eat well, live an active lifestyle and seek a healthy body. It's another to obsess about restricting my diet, spend grueling hours in the gym each day, and take drastic measures to achieve that desired body—so I refuse to do any of that. The unrealistic picture that so many girls and women set for themselves needs to stop.

No, I'm not perfect. No, I'm not ideal. But I'm healthy. I go to the gym almost every single day. I don't kill myself there, though. I usually spend 30 minutes doing cardio and then lift weights or do high-intensity exercises for another 15-30 minutes. My total time at the gym every time is less than an hour. And it feels good to work out and sweat a little.

Now ask me again, "What is ideal?" IDEAL is a body you feel comfortable in. Ideal is healthy, active, glowing, beautiful. For me? That's currently 137 pounds... one-hundred and thirty-seven normal, healthy pounds. But to me, that's just a number, because more importantly—my clothes fit (many that I've had since college), I can churn out a 6-minute mile, and if you asked me to go out for pizza—you'd better bet I'm going to join you and have 2-3 slices.

No matter your number or your size, if you are comfortable being you—it may not be perfect—but it sounds pretty ideal to me.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Beauty Behind The Scenes

comparing yourself to others

A couple weeks ago, one of my readers shared a beautiful quote with me that her dad used to tell her when she was growing up:

"Sometimes we feel inadequate because we compare everyone else's highlight reel with our behind-the-scenes."

It really made me think, and to be honest, has really helped me out since she shared it with me. I'm not the only one who compares myself to others, am I? I have a little story to go along with this, and I'm hoping you see it as me being candid & opening up—not as me fishing for compliments. This has been on my heart and I feel like it's something I need to share and get off my chest.

I was at the gym the other day and saw a lady with the most perfect body. I mean, it was ideal. But that was just one little aspect that I saw of her—I have no idea what her background is, if she has a super-strict diet, how much time she spends in the gym, or if she's a happy person (though she did give me a super-big & friendly smile). Daniel saw me get a little frustrated as I looked at myself in the mirror. If I'm being honest—while I have things I'm still working on things and I've made so much improvement, I did find myself having negative thoughts about my own body. I'm sorry to admit that, but it happened. He gave me a reassuring hug and reminded me of how hard I've been working, and that just because I'm seeing something at face value doesn't mean that it's "perfect" or that I need to be envious of that. He was absolutely right.

So, why do I do that? Why are we so quick to want what others have? Through a lot of prayer, I've been asking for grace and uplifting thoughts when thinking about myself—because I've always been one to struggle with self esteem—though I don't like to admit it. I've also prayed for peace over things I can't control, and the strength to change the things I can.

When looking at my reflection, sure, I may not be perfect, but I have so much going for me. If you're feeling down or inadequate or just having a "why me" day—maybe try making a little list of all the things you appreciate about yourself. I think you'll find that there is so much beauty in your behind-the-scenes that you'll forget about the highlight reels of everyone else.

There is beauty behind-the-scenes. Behind my scenes, behind your scenes, and behind everyone's scenes—there is beauty to be found. I would love to hear—what do you love about yourself?

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Break Down

christian blog

Sometimes you don't realize how thin your rope has worn until it breaks.
Yesterday, my rope broke—and I fell hard.

We were at church.
I had been having a hard time lately (depression—I have a history of it, bad and destructive thoughts, nightmares) and one of my friends suggested the previous week that I tried opening up more, really getting into worship and just letting go.
So yesterday—I let go.
I raised my hands to worship.
As I did, one of the wise women in church went on stage to say a little of what was on her heart.
She spoke about feeling hopeless, being in a situation you can't control, feeling like your prayers aren't being answered, and that if this is you—remember, you're not in charge. God is. And he's there with you no matter what, even when times are hard. She reminded us not to doubt him, that this was part of the plan—a beautiful plan—that God has laid out for our life.

Those simple words—words that I desperately needed—hit me like a ton of bricks... and I lost it. Just like that.
Sobbing, shaking, hyperventilating, totally breaking down—I let it all out.
And it didn't stop.
I cried through the rest of worship, through service, and even for about an hour after service.
I had broken.

It's amazing how we don't realize how deep we've fallen until we hit the ground and realize what we're doing to ourselves.
I was being bitter, fearful, suspicious, and holding offenses that were like chains binding my soul,
bringing negativity with me everywhere I went.
All for nothing. I had nothing to be bitter about, fearful of... I'd been having the craziest, unwarranted nightmares.
It was all a bad, bad spirit that had infiltrated me and wasn't going away.

Yesterday, I let it go.
I gave God those chains that had bound me,
and let him be in charge once more.

Though I broke down in front of everyone,
I wasn't embarrassed. It was cleansing.
I broke the hard shell of myself that had developed on the outside—like a mask—that I was cowering behind.
That mask had been my safety net. My hiding place. The place where I was destroying myself.
I needed to break down. I needed to let it out. To free myself of those burdens.

And let me tell you, today I am refreshed.
I am happy.
I am new.

I feel like I'm seeing the world through open eyes again.
And it's clearer and more beautiful than ever before.

PS / / Thank you to all the friends who have prayed for me lately, and a big thank you to those of you who gave me a little back rub, prayer, or comforting touch yesterday while I was breaking down. You really helped soothe the pain and your prayers truly helped. Thank you.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

On Comparison.

Purse: Fossil

Do you ever get that, "Man, I'm just not good/pretty/talented/smart/amazing enough" feeling?

Lately, it seems like it's creeping up on me more often than I'd like.
Usually right after I finish perusing through my Google Reader... which is embarrassing, because that means that feeling is being caused by me comparing myself to other bloggers.
It's not something I want to admit to, but if I'm being honest, it's true.

Why do we compare ourselves to others?
Seriously, why? All it does is bring us down.

Sure, I'm never going to be the most-pinned,
the best writer,
the skinniest,
the most stylish,
or any of those materialistic, frivolous, comparable things... and that's OK, because you know what I am?

I am me. 
And that's just the way I like it.

Comparing myself to someone else is literally like comparing apples to oranges.
No one else will ever be just like me.

No one else can make Daniel smile like I can.
No one else laughs just the way I do,
or dresses exactly the same as me,
or knows how I think.

Part of what makes us special is that we are all individuals.
Sure, I fit into that category of a "lifestyle" blogger... but no one else has exactly my same tags, my same voice, or the same feeling that my blog has.
I choose the blogs I read on a daily basis because each brings me something special that is so different than what I have to offer... it is refreshing to see the different styles, habits, writing, and photos.
But I need to stop comparing.

Because the thing is—I am good.
I am smart.
And I am pretty darn amazing.
I don't have to be the best to be just the way I am—just me.

So today, as you read this or the other blogs you read... throw any negative thoughts out the window.
Thanks for being you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Saying Goodbye

The past three days have been difficult. Sometimes finding the words to say is harder than it seems... so here we go.

First—I'm not going to go into details—but for reasons that I won't explain, we don't have Twiggy anymore. It's heartbreaking. I hesitated even putting it out there at all, but I just wanted to let you know that you won't be seeing her big blue eyes around this space anymore. I hope you can understand that I don't want to go into it, out of respect for our family and for the breed. We miss her so much.

Second, this morning I held our family beagle, Tally Ho, as she passed away. My mom and I stroked her fuzzy head through our tears while she took her last breath. She was 16 years old and she was a faithful and loving family dog to us. The bottom right photo of her is sitting in a frame on my desk—a gift I received this morning from my mom—and I smile each time I look at it.

Tally Ho was "that doggy" in the window of the pet shop that we pleaded for day after day. Tally Ho was the dog who sprinted out the door any chance she could just to go smell the neighborhood and live it up. Tally Ho was the dog who escaped into the fields behind our house in Oklahoma and came home covered in ticks, happy as can be. Tally Ho was the dog who curled up in the bend of my legs each night to sleep. Tally Ho was our dog, our little beagle, our furry friend.

This week I said "goodbye" to Tally Ho and Twiggy, both members of our family. Saying goodbye to Tally, though, was also knowing that her suffering was over. I said goodbye to her frail body, but in exchange now have 16-years of wonderful, cuddly, warm memories to hold tight to when I miss her.

Tally Ho, rest in peace little lady. Now you get to be with your buddy Scooter (brown schnauzer in the top left photo), and play and wrestle forever. We love you & miss you.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A New Day

Ring: c/o The Vintage Pearl // Glasses: c/o Firmoo

love faith hope laughter family sauce

The most beautiful part of life is that every day you are given the chance to start over. To try again. To be the person who you were meant to be. Today, I hold strong to these values & important things in my life. Today, I hold nothing back. Today, I'm free.

That feeling when your husband holds you so tight after a rare disagreement and you know that nothing will ever, ever tear you apart. Through all the tears and the struggles, you remember how incredibly special what you two have together really is. 

Knowing that you are not in charge. Believing in something bigger than yourself is so powerful. It gets me through many of the hard times to know that He is there with me, He protects me, He saved me.

Through the prayers, actions, and progress every day, I know I'm making a difference in the changes I'm trying to make. Hope is what keeps me going.

The best medicine, in addition to hugs and cuddles.

Coming together as one and starting fresh and anew. Nothing is more important to me than family.

Today's "sauce" is that my amazing brother-in-law, Andy (who did our wedding photos), has started a blog called Good Man Friday. It's about all of his favorite things: inspiration, photography, life's little pleasures, and he's even starting a blogging consultation business (he's a genius). He was so sweet to write about me today... and he's even doing a giveaway for a $25 Visa gift card! Go say hello to him & give him a follow ♥

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Update.

The last time I posted about my trichotillomania, I mentioned that it had gotten a lot better.
I wasn't pulling as often, and my urges weren't as crazy.
I got a lot of comments and emails congratulating me on being cured, on making it through, on beating it.

But here's the thing... I didn't do any of that.
My trich isn't gone. I'm not convinced it will ever be 100% gone.
Even at the time I wrote that post, I mentioned that it was something I still struggled with.
It's just not as bad as it used to be.

My pulling is heightened and seems to be triggered around times of high-stress and change.
Lately, as you can imagine, there's been lots of stress (good and bad), and a lot of change.
To tell you I made it through the wedding without pulling a single eyebrow would be a lie.
But I was able to control the pulling, and didn't do anything that created any noticeable changes.

Until this last weekend.

Without getting into everything (or anything, for that matter), that's stressing me out...
it can just be said that I was having a hard day and that evening I found myself in front of the television.
That's always when I pull the most.
I ended up pulling out a good chunk of eyebrow hairs, creating a big, ugly gap in my left eyebrow.
It's not anything that you'd walk right up to me and scoff at—I've had years of practice of covering these things up—but it's something that I notice.
I went to the bathroom to see the damage I had done, and immediately began crying. Sobbing.
I was really upset.

I had just gotten an email the day before from a mother who said I was someone her 9-year-old daughter looked up to.
They were encouraged by the progress I had made. 
And then the very next day, I did that.
I was incredibly frustrated, embarrassed, and discouraged.
How am I supposed to be a "role model" when I mess up so badly?

After a couple of moments of desperation on the floor of the bathroom,
I went and found Daniel.
He knew I was upset.
He cuddled and rocked me in bed until I fell asleep.

Daniel helps to cease my pulling more than he could ever know.
By holding my hands, keeping me distracted, and tapping my hands away when I reach for my eyebrows, he is preventing these pulling meltdowns.
I'm so thankful for him and his support.
I wouldn't be able to do it without him.
Or the prayer that I mentioned before.
Prayer has truly made a huge difference. It helps the healing.

Since that last pulling episode this past weekend,
I've realized how conscious I need to be about my pulling.
While I don't struggle with it like I used to, I'm still vulnerable.
I'm still fragile.
But I won't let trich break me.

I am bigger than it.
I am better than it.
I am stronger than it.

And I'm telling you all this not to look for a shower of sympathy.
I'm telling you because some of you have asked for an update.
And I wanted to be as honest as possible: trichotillomania is still something that I deal with.
I'm also telling you because I know that some of you also have trich, or something that you struggle with day after day.
And even though it may get you down once in a while, you are strong, beautiful, and you are a fighter.
If—for even one moment—you feel yourself falter, let it remind you that you are human—you make mistakes—but you won't be defined by those mistakes.

If you're struggling with something—anything—reach out for help.
A hand to hold, an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a friend—because it can make all the difference.

--Thank you, Daniel. YOU are my best friend, my shoulder, and the one I couldn't do any of this without. I love you.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Lately, my spirit feels broken.
Despite all the love and all our recent happenings in my own life, I can't tell you how alone I feel sometimes.
So, I'm going to write.

This is the kind of post that can be applied to Sandy Hook, a personal situation, a mental battle, or just something that's getting you down.
And today, it applies to me.

I'm the kind of person who dwells.
I don't like to admit it.
I always think back to
what could I have done differently?
could I have reacted better?
why did I do that?

I know I can't change the past,
but I can change how I act in the future.
And I know I can't change what others say, do and feel,
but I can change how I respond to their actions.
Pray, love, give & pray.

Pray for hope, pray for change, pray for healing.
Love others, even more than you would love yourself.
Give—whether it's hugs, donations, or a helping hand.
And then pray for it all again.

I've had so many thoughts and realizations lately, about things that I need to change.
Things that others need to change.
Things to make this world a better place...

Never ever leave your loved one without saying goodbye. You never know if that's the last time you may see them.
Always be respectful.
Never go to bed angry—with anyone.
When praying, always give thanks for what you have before asking for more.
Never take for granted the little things.
Always say, "I love you."

No, those 6-things aren't going to change the world.
But if we—if I—do my best to follow those simple things, who knows how many others I can affect, and how wide that little ripple effect can reach.
I need to stop dwelling and start living.

When you feel alone,
when you feel broken,
when you are desperate, longing, scared, sad,
and when you feel like the rope is unraveling faster than you can climb it,
pray, love, give and pray.

The change starts now,
before this little rope of mine unravels any further.