Girls Trip- Nashville, USA

May is Mental Health Awareness month, a time to reflect on various conditions that we encounter, either in ourselves, or among those that we know. It is also a time to reflect on coping skills that help to ease the psychological burdens that we encounter in this life. Because we all have skeletons in our closets, traumas in our past, and psychological ghosts that come to haunt us on our journeys. No one is immune, but none of us is without help and relief.

I learned this past weekend a remarkable tool for coping with tough times. You see, I live in a household of all males. Even the pets are male (well, maybe not the goldfish). I get so lost in the day to day tasks of being a wife, mother, employee, etc., that I sometimes neglect to take time to be with my sisters in humanity. My experience this past weekend reminded me of just how important it is for my health and sanity.

Last weekend, I took a girls trip to Nashville with some of my middle and high school friends, and a new friend as well. Some of us had not seen one another in thirty years. We had a marvelous time, it was as if it was just yesterday that we saw one another, we picked up right where we left off. Only better…

Lots of things happen in thirty years. As I gazed into the beautiful eyes and faces of the lovely women that accompanied me on the trip, we really didn’t look that much different. In fact, if I may say so myself, we looked darn good. We all still had the twinkle in our eye, the strut in our walk, the mojo in our spirits. We danced as if no one was watching, without self-consciousness or insecurities. We owned our femininity, we wore our experience with wisdom and pride, and we bonded.

The truth is, though, that we wore that pride and wisdom, because we earned it, having been through so much. We wore the scars of  relationships, unrealized dreams, forks in the road.  We talked about our joys and disappointments in life. We talked about our challenges. The inevitable things.  Yet we reminded each other, time and time again, that in reality, we are all blessed. And we laughed, and we cried, and we giggled, and we sighed. But through it all, we held our heads up high….

We visited George Jones’ grave. We walked up and down Broadway. We danced in every spot we could find, to the honkey tonk bands. We posed for pictures. We shopped for boots and souvenirs and such. All the usual things one does on a girls trip.

Only we were doing more than that. We were healing.

Healing from the traumas of childhood and the teenage years, that all women encounter. Healing from the insecurities of the “Wonder Years”. Healing from the pressures of childhood, teenage years, and yes, the present.

So, if you want to heal, look to the Spirit of Woman. Her touch is a Healing Balm, her gaze is a reflection of Reassurance, her words are like Honey, sweet to the Soul. Never forget your bond, and utilize your connections when the world is trying to tear you down. In the company of Women, there is much Love, flowing like a River, in the Dessert Sands of Time.

I love you my friends….stay courageous, graceful, and strong.








In My Closet

In my closet

You will find

Belly dancing attire

The vibrant kind

With scarves that jingle

And fabric of silken fiber

Purples, golds, and oranges

Beautiful colors to admire

Pink, blue, and purple

Pastels I love the best

Yes in my closet

You will find

A wardrobe unlike the rest

If clothes tell a story

Then my wardrobe has one to tell

My clothes they are symbolic

And yours they are as well

What is important to consider

Is also what is not there

Why are there things that you cherish

And then items with which  you despair?

My entire life I have hated one thing

And never known just why

The item that you wear around your waist

Has been something that I have always despised

I hesitate to say the word

It is something that’s hard to bear

The thing that you buckle

Around your waist

In my closet, you cannot find it there

I always seemed to lose them

Could never stand to use them

I always hated to wear them

Always wanted to spare them


Symbolically constricting

Symbolically disturbing

Symbolically confusing



Oh how prophetic

My obsession turned out to be

What some consider

to be mundane

Is highly dangerous to me

The note you sent

Home with my child

“If it has a loop,

Please add a belt with a smile”

To you I’m an unfit mother

To me I am just cautious

To you it is mundane

To me it makes me nauseous

Among the teens and tweens

The pants they sag and droop

They often do not wear those things

That go within the loops

We shake our heads and wonder

Whatever could be wrong

“Why don’t they just wear those things?”

But I say, leave them alone

Yes, leave them alone

Those loops you have

Around your delicate waist

Stay free, stay wild, stay wonderful

Those things are a disgrace

So in my closet

Yes you will find

Every type of clothing that’s dealt

But in my closet

In this lifetime

You will never find a belt.

Perhaps I am neurotic

Perhaps a bit naive

I say we take them one by one

And throw them into the sea

A world without constriction

And the hand that I’ve been dealt

Is the world where I want to live

A world without a belt.

So what shall it be?

What say you?

Will you join me in my feat?

Let’s take all the belts

In the world

And burn them in the streets

We’ll jump on them

And stomp on them

Until my heart just melts…

Until that day

In my closet you still

Shall never find a belt.






It is said that clinical depression is the “common cold” of mental illness. If this is true, I think that it is highly likely that anxiety is just as common, kind of like the flu. Every time I write a post about depression, mental illness, etc., it is just as common for me to hear from others who say they suffer from anxiety as from depression. Unfortunately, it is something that is often brushed aside by others, as in, “yeah, yeah, who doesn’t have it?”.

I think that this is because people confuse anxiety with stress. This is understandable, because stress usually accompanies anxiety, and vice versa. Anxiety, however, can truly be crippling. It can make an otherwise outgoing person paralyzed by social anxiety. A normally laid back person can become overwhelmed by fears. A decidedly care-free person can have thoughts that will not escape them (perseverative thoughts), no matter how hard they try.

I am someone who is very familiar with the effects of OCD. I know what it is like to be consumed by thoughts that you just can’t shake. Or to have routines that if not enacted, cause you to feel a sense of gloom and doom. I must say that as someone who has experienced both OCD and Mood Disorder, I think the OCD is just as emotionally debilitating.

It’s no joke.

Sometimes, the OCD or anxiety condition fuels the depression, and vice versa, compounding and augmenting one another. The synergistic effect is not pretty. I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

It is kind of ironic that our society views OCD as “cute”. People love to make jokes about it and say “I’m OCD like that” or “I’m so OCD”.

They obviously are not. Anyone who has ever suffered from the condition, and I do mean suffer, knows that there is nothing cute about it. I think that this notion that it is “cute”  needs to change. It’s great that there is not as much stigma attached to it, don’t get me wrong. I just think people who have experienced it deserve more credit and respect. It is a war within your mind. When you go through it, it is truly emotionally and physically exhausting.

So, what can you do about clinical anxiety? The kind that is affecting your health, well-being, career, and relationships? There are some basic tips, like staying away from caffiene, increasing exercise, meditating, using essential oils, therapy, etc. I think, however, from my experience, that it is important to get to your doctor. There are medical conditions like thyroid disorder, hormonal imbalances, etc. that could be contributing, and that can be easily corrected. There are also psychiatric medications that can help. I am not saying that they are the answer for everything or for everyone, or that they are a solitary solution. Often treatment should combine a number of techniques and interventions that work as a team to fight the anxiety. I am, however, saying that your doctor should be consulted, without hesitation, if the anxiety is affecting your quality of life in any way.

If you are someone who has suffered from clinical anxiety (social anxiety, OCD, PTSD, etc.), look at yourself in the mirror. Gaze into your own eyes and say “thank you”. Beam with pride, because you are an emotional warrior. The admirably decorated kind.

You are a hero.

It’s Going to be Alright- In Memory of JBH 3/4/88-3/20/13

It is the four year anniversary of the death of my brother by suicide. If there is anything that I would like to say to survivors of suicide loss on this day and always, it’s that it is going to be alright. Yes, it is true, your world has turned upside down. Your perception that nothing will ever be the same is correct. Your notion that you are now a permanently changed, new person,  is 100% accurate. The feeling that there is a part of you that has died and that is never coming back is correct as well. But there is something that you must keep repeating to yourself: It is going to be okay.

I have experienced a lot of loss in life, yet there is something unique about the grief of suicide loss. It is a slower path. In four years of grieving, I have still only progressed to the point that I was at after about a year or so of other types of loss. I am just now getting to the point that my sense of guilt, though still there, is not quite as potent and overwhelming. I am just getting to the point that the feelings of absolute horror are now less frequent. I am coming to a place where I can focus on the good things and joyful times rather than on the loss. Yes, my friend, it is going to be alright.

Your faith may be shaken. Your sense of security and safety may be off-kilter. Your perception of God may be tested. But again, it is going to be alright. It is my true feeling that God is not going anywhere, talk to Him, be honest, be straight up. He will listen patiently, and He will not abandon you. Talk to your loved one who is now departed as well. Let them know how you feel. They can take it. Relationships don’t truly “end” because of death. The mental and spiritual relationship is still there. Plus, if you confront the issues, your faith and positive memories can come out even stronger than you ever thought possible. It is going to be alright.

I’m not going to lie, there will be friends and loved ones who will let you down. Maybe they will say the wrong thing, or even worse, nothing. Maybe they will abruptly change the subject, out of discomfort, when you mention your loved one. Maybe they will say something stigmatizing or judgemental about your loved one, mistakenly thinking that it will comfort you. Maybe they will stereotype your loved one. Maybe they will avoid you. Maybe they will act like nothing happened. It’s okay, because someone, somewhere, will cross your path just when you least expect it, and will offer you a kind ear and a beacon of hope. God will give you support, in the form of other survivors, sometimes even perfect strangers, who sense the common link that you have to suicide, and they will say the right thing just when you need to hear it. Help will come by way of the most unlikely people and in the least expected ways. It is going to be alright.

Maybe, as in my case, you will be completely abandoned or verbally abused by people whom you love because they blame you for the tragedy. I hope with all my heart that this does not happen to you. I wish it had not happened to me. That being said, however, in the words of Elton John: “I’m still standing, better than I’ve ever been, looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid. I’m still standing, after all this time, picking up the pieces of my life without you on my mind….”. Only they are on your mind. But it’s okay, because you forgive them, and you’re still standing. The door that is open to reconciliation stands as well.

We have a choice to make as survivors. We can wallow in self-pity, turn inward, and get caught up in our own world. And doing so is alright. Sometimes that is what we need to do, at least temporarily. We can make unhealthy choices like lashing  out at others and laying blame, God forbid. Or  we can make the choice to positively turn that energy outward, in order to help other survivors, promote suicide prevention, and help save lives. We can choose whether or not to share our story, and with whom, when and wherever we want. We don’t have to shout it out to the world in a loud way if we don’t want to, or we can. Whatever you choose, it is going to be okay. You will do the right thing. Be patient with yourself. It is going to be alright.

If there is one thing that I would say to those contemplating suicide, it’s to hold on to life, because  it’s going to be alright. The average depressive episode, even untreated, lasts no more than six months, if that. I know that this can seem like an eternity when you are going through it. I get that. I’ve been there. I’ve had so much depressive pain that I literally howled. A blood-coiling, shrill howl, in a dorm room, that was overheard by the whole floor. But I got through it, and you can also. And things are alright for me. Maybe even better than alright. God heals. The pain is temporary. You can do it!  Though it is hard sometimes, and I have experienced many tragedies, I love life. If you need someone to talk to, call the suicide hotline at the end of this article. Don’t think, just call. Hold on for a brighter day….

If I could go back in time, if there is one thing I wish I could have said to my brother, it is that “it’s going to be alright”. I would have liked to have told him to hold on, that better days were coming. But it is what it is, and it was what it was. So to him I still say, it is going to be alright. I do not hope that he has regrets or remorse or shame. I hope, and know in my heart, that he has a new life now. I know that he is always with me. I know that he is watching over my family. I know that he is waiting to greet us on the other side.

To the girl who tries so hard to be positive, who cried herself to sleep last night, listening to “Let It Be” and “The Long and Winding Road” from her phone, holding it to her heart: If there is one thing that I will say to myself, it is that it is going to be alright. There are new chances and new beginnings in this life, and on the other side. Whatever questions remain will eventually be answered. Whatever tears remain will be wiped away, and replaced with joy one day. All mysteries will be solved, and it will all make sense.

Until then, in my mind’s eye, I see my brother’s arms opened wide. He is dressed in white, with a smile on his face. When he gazes into my eyes,  I see a twinkle in his blue eyes. He hugs me and tells me that he loves me. He tells me to look out for his daughter, and I agree. I tell him that I will keep his memory alive for her. After we embrace, and before ascending back to Heaven, he reminds me….

“Hey Sis, it is going to be alright”.

Praise God, finally, I believe it….


National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255


A True Story of Hope and Healing


So very happy to share this story from a fellow blogger, Gabe. His artwork is phenomenal, and included in his posts. He shares a touching true story of how he made it out of a severe depression, that was ripe with a potent sense of suicidal ideation. He reveals how he bravely escaped coming dangerously close to suicide by pursuing an outdoor adventure with inspiring friends. He leads us through his journey toward hope. I am so very glad to meet him. Please read his story and share with others who may be in need of encouragement.