I used walk into work and stroll to my desk every day wearing my steamed slacks and a cardigan, my hair tousled with curls. From the outside it looked like everything was great — I had an amazing husband, sweet son and wonderful job. That image though wasn’t my reality at all. My heart was so heavy some days I could hardly breathe. My husband and I were struggling with conceiving a second child. And those fertility struggles — let’s be honest — they were awful. As I sat through work meetings with mostly women, I would look around the room and think, “Everything is great in their life.” I was Judgy Mc Judgerson. I judged my insides with their outsides. I would see that they had a nicer car than me and think, “They aren’t struggling financially. She must be so happy.” I would see a beautiful, sparkling ring on a woman’s finger and think, “Her marriage must be perfect.” I would look at a house that was larger than mine and think, “They must be so happy in their big, beautiful home.” The part that was the most disheartening was that one of my main goals at that point in my life was to empower and support woman but what I was really doing with the exact opposite. I felt gross. It was eating my lunch. I was projecting all of my fears, insecurities and anger on to other women. But I knew in my heart that all of this was bogus, and I just needed to prove it to myself. I needed to know that everyone... read more
I had triplets in September of 2013. Yes, triplets; three babies at one time were in my belly. With triplets came a world of change, including my body. And with that was body issues I’d never faced before. I had this pooch in my lower belly that I’d never seen before. I still had what most would consider a “nice body.” Most days I teetered between “I like my body” and “my body is ruined.” I saw a muffin top that sprouted out of my pants when I sat down. My breasts were sagging looking like someone put a tennis ball in a sock — OK, it wasn’t that bad, but that is how it felt to me, what I saw. When I looked in the mirror I tried so hard to love what I saw. I kept telling myself, “Love your body. You had THREE babies in there! You pumped milk from your breasts like a machine in order to nourish them. This is normal!” I started with positive affirmations in the mirror to myself. It wasn’t always easy but it helped a lot. Three months after giving birth I contacted a local magazine I had worked with in the past. I told them I wanted to do a photo shoot with the triplets wearing only a sports bra and shorts illustrating a woman embracing her body, even a body that had just birthed triplets! I wanted to talk about my struggles and determination to love my body no matter the size. My goal was that in being vulnerable I would encourage women to start the same journey... read more
Throw yourself a parade! I do! A couple of times a week I throw myself a parade in own head, seriously. It’s not that I don’t get praise from my husband or other friends and family, but life is so challenging that sometimes I feel like I’ve earned it — that little brain parade. Being a working mom is not easy. I’m blessed beyond measure that I have a supportive husband who will pick up nearly any of the traditional “mom” pieces that are dropped in the wake of my insane overscheduled life. But even with that, it can be rough. So when I’m able to work a nine-hour day, come home, nurse my son and get a meal — from scratch mind you — on the table for my family of four before 6:30 p.m., I think I’ve earned a parade! I know, I know — it’s not very realistic for me to expect the marching band to be on standby for when I pull one of those stellar, magical, all the pieces fell into place nights off. Instead of expecting tractors, waving fair queens and a steady drum beat in my living room, I envision them in my head. I see the flags spinning in the air, the tinsel hanging from the float dragging on the concrete and the candy flying through the air. “Momma, what’s wrong?” Miles asks as we are sitting at the dinner table, and I’m zoned out for my brief parade bliss. “Oh, nothing honey,” I say while helping Owen grasp another handful of the avocado he’s eating, or more realistically smearing all... read more
“I got to the point where I didn’t know if I should act like ‘black Melinda’ or ‘white Melinda,” Melinda Ude knows who she is; she loves who she is; she accepts who she is. It hasn’t always been this way. Melinda is biracial. She was born to a white woman and had a black father but was adopted at just four days old by a white couple living in a small, sheltered southern Illinois community. Her adoption, even just 24 years ago, was seen as taboo, even considered “special needs” just because of her biracial status. “My parents couldn’t have children of their own and decided to adopt,” Melinda said. “They were about ready to give up on adoption though when a social worker contacted them about a woman who was pregnant and was giving her child up for adoption.” Melinda’s parents waited six months. When she was born they discovered that she was biracial. “The social worker asked them if they still wanted me,” she said. “They came from two different backgrounds – West Virginia and Chicago, and had some family members who had different thoughts about it. But they didn’t care. They wanted to love a child, have a child of their own. They didn’t care about skin color.” Although her parents didn’t care about her skin color, it was something that she spent a good part of her life struggling with. Growing up it wasn’t too much of a factor. Her community was so small that everyone knew her from day one and accepted her. But there was no one else that looked like her.... read more
I wasn’t 100 percent convinced I was ready for a baby when I got pregnant with Jennifer. So when I learned my baby would be born an angel the day before she was scheduled to join our once happy family; the pain was overwhelming. I wondered, “What if I’d wanted her more? Could I have done something different to have kept her here?” While I spent years struggling with that guilt and those questions my precious son had some questions of his own. “Did Jennifer give up her life for me?” That was the innocent question he asked after hearing the story of me losing his sister a few years before. I don’t know the answer to that question. There probably would have been no Matt though if his sister had lived. I have always felt that she did give up her life for him. But it gives me comfort to know Matt has a special angel looking down from Heaven; we all do. I was married at 20, divorced at 23 with a baby and a toddler. For five complicated years I was a single mom. Then came Tom. I knew right away that this man would be a wonderful husband and soul mate but more importantly an amazing father to my two kids. We discussed having more children before we married; I promised him we would have a child together. Tom adopted the children in our first year of marriage and talked about having a child together to complete our family. I had doubts and worries of course. My oldest was already 5 and I was nearing... read more
Expectations – we all have them. They can be great creating anticipation and excitement but they can also steal your joy and even make you doubt yourself and others. Or worse yet, they can lead to an epic meltdown on Christmas Day changing everything. But let’s start at the beginning. When I first started out on my path to adulthood, I knew God wanted me to be a mother. I loved children, worked in early childhood development and came from a huge family. I expected to have a husband and be blessed with many biological children. When I met my husband 12 years ago, he already had a five year-old daughter. Expecting to have many children of our own, we started trying to get pregnant right away. After all, we wanted our children to be close in age to his daughter. I got pregnant about three months after getting married but lost that child, a girl, at 16 weeks due to miscarriage. Wow, that was completely unexpected, but surely it was just a bump in the road, right? My husband and I kept trying to have a baby, and after another five miscarriages, we realized biological children were maybe not in the cards for us. Not ones to give up, we looked into adoption, both international and domestic. Although we both had good jobs, we simply did not have the resources to finance those types of adoptions. So, we looked into being foster parents. This program seemed too good to be true. Not only could we have children placed in our home almost immediately after approval, but we... read more
I was 28, had a one-and-a-half-year-old son and an amazing husband. My whole life was in front of me. But then I received the news – a terminal diagnosis. Doctors told me I would be on an IV for the rest of my life and would need a lung transplant but that I was going to be taken care of. I vividly remember saying, “I don’t think I can do this. I can’t go through this.” The doctor said, “Yes you can. You can with God’s guidance, my help and your family standing behind you; you can do it. You can get through anything.” He was right. But it hasn’t been easy. The diagnosis was Pulmonary Hypertension after months and months of doctors telling me it was asthma or even a congenital heart defect. My mistake was I didn’t listen to what my body was telling me. It was telling me it wasn’t working. It told me that it wasn’t asthma, that the medication my doctor gave me wasn’t working. My body was continuously breaking down, and I didn’t listen. It was by the glory of God that my gall bladder started acting up. If that hadn’t happened I would be a statistic that dies in three years from not being treated or diagnosed. It was critical that I eventually trusted my gut and stood up for myself saying, “Something is really wrong here.” Just a year after the diagnosis I went through more medical trials. I was in a hospital bed at 29 with a two year old at home who needed me, and I was undergoing a work up for a... read more
Challenge: Sex with your partner EVERY day for two weeks. We asked 60 women to take this on – not one single person came forward. That made us wonder – Why not? Did it seem like an impossible task? Is it something people need to do and are scared to? Or was it just a bad idea for a project? Sex and intimacy feel good and bring us closer to our partner. We are happier when it’s over. So why aren’t we all doing more of it? Since no one stepped up for our challenge, Project Reveal’s board of directors decided to take on the challenge themselves to see what we could find out. In the midst of our “scientific research” we reached out to a local mental health expert on the topic – Leigh Baldwin, a family and mental health nurse practitioner who is with Wellness & Counseling Services at The Women’s Hospital. Here are her thoughts on the topic and our experiment: If sex is the harmony to the song of our relationship, then why are we not singing?” Baldwin asked. “This is the question that surfaces all too often in my practice. The most common answer is, “My life is so busy – it’s not been made a priority.” On further examination of this question, I often ask my patients, “Did you enjoy your sex life when you were dating? Was it a priority then? Did you run home and put on your makeup before that special date night? Was there anticipation of the evening to come?” This is when the smile returns to their faces.... read more
My name is Sarah, and I’m married to my high school sweetheart. We’ve been blessed with four children – two boys and two girls. I love my house. I love my awesome family.
It’s a dream come true.
But it certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park having four kids in just under four years. I’ve had to shake my idealist self and replace her with a more realistic one. Now I am learning to deal with reality, one crazy family moment at a time.
Even with the craziness traditions and making sure things are special is very important to me, but I’m pretty sure about 90 percent of my awesome family plans either end up in tears, parent fails or fighting. I want to shout, “Can’t we all just get along so we can make some happy family memories?!?!” In my head I have the perfect idea of how things are supposed to go, and then when they do not go that way, I become disappointed.
Our Christmas card picture is a great example. It looks so serene and ideals; what it fails to show though is the chaos that led to tha one, brief snapshot of smiles.
We eventually got the picture, but the journey sure was stressful! One of these days I will learn my lesson that you just can’t expect “Christmas Card” memories when you have “The Family Circus” as your reality.
But what I’m discovering is that it isn’t always about having the perfect family moments when it comes to valuable memories. Some of our craziest moments end up being our favorite family... read more
As I write this letter, you are young girls. Your beautiful faces are like angels, and I love you more than anything. When I look at you sometimes though I worry you will be like me — an alcoholic. As I grew up, I felt “less than,” insecure and as if I didn’t get the the manual to life. I traded my insecurities for entitlement, and with everything I did, I lived with an ”all or nothing” mentality.
When I see that look on your face when you don’t know how to act with your friends, I worry. I was like that. When you are acting entitled, when you lie or want more, more, more of something, I worry. I did that. I know it might be that you are just being a child, but I still worry. I remember walking into a room and feeling like I was either the worst or best person there. I’ve heard it called an “egomaniac with an inferiority complex.” That was me; and sometimes I see that in you. And that scares me. By the grace of God, I got sober as a young women. But when I was in my active addiction, I did many things I am not proud of and let so many people down. I turned into a person I never thought I’d be. Quite frankly I am lucky to be alive. You see dear daughters, I am one of the lucky ones.
I have been able to live two lives in my lifetime. One I am not proud of but have done a lot of work to... read more
I hope that in reading my story, you are inspired to do the things you’ve always wanted to do, take your life back and be a champion! A little more than two years ago I was a completely different person — I was the most selfish, negative and pessimistic person you’d ever met. I had zero interest in building relationships. I was a chronic quitter; I had no energy or patience for my family. I was a legit hot mess, desperate for balance — mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I’m not sure why I was that person. I had everything in the world to be grateful for — a loving husband even despite my bad attitude, two healthy sons and countless other things. I was able to start staying home with my kids and thankful to do so but, let me tell you what, it is no joke. I learned real quickly — this was not like any Real Housewives I’d ever seen. The combination of the stresses of being a new stay-at-home-mom and now living off one income, I put on about 30 pounds over the course of 6 months. I was exhausted, frustrated and mad at myself for letting things get out of control. I didn’t like the person I’d become — a wife with no energy for her husband and a mom with no patience for her kids. Everyone around me was suffering because of my issues. I felt both trapped inside of my own head and body and out of control at the same time. All of this started taking a toll on my marriage... read more
Relieving yourself of resentment — it’s important. Here’s why: “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies,” Nelson Mandela. Resentment is like me drinking poison and waiting for you to die. It is literally poison in our heart and soul. Anger and grudges are ugly — they are negative energy in our souls. Why wouldn’t we work hard to rid ourselves of this poison? Several years ago I had a resentment that was haunting me. It didn’t feel good, and it was blocking me from being the person I wanted to be. Someone told me to pray for the happiness, health and wealth of the person I resented; pray for them to have everything I wanted for myself. This concept is easy and simple, and it comes directly from the Bible. You can even do it without meaning it at first. Continue to pray for your resentment and in time God will soften and transform your heart. We need to assume everyone is doing the best they can. This can be so hard to accept but is a critical part of this process. And remember, people’s motives, reasons or actions are not for us to judge or figure out. Our job is only to take care of our own stuff (situation and feelings) and not concern ourselves with what someone else is doing. Resentments and anger toward someone only hurt us. These are some steps to help work through that resentment and rid it from your life.
1. Pray for the happiness, health, and wealth of the person you resent. 2. Let your God... read more
The charge: 16 Class A Felonies The personal expense: Incalculable The memories: It was the summer after seventh grade; he picked me up from middle school. He took me to Bluegrass Stripper pits. He watched me play in the church lot behind his home. He told me I was “different,” “more mature than my age,” “the prettiest girl he had ever seen.” These statements were followed by him saying, “you know I could go to jail for what I am doing.” He also threatened suicide if I spoke of what was happening. “No one will understand our relationship,” he would say. In hindsight, he groomed me meticulously with gifts of words, jewelry and attention. But these gifts were exacted at a severe price — my virginity, my sanity and my self-worth. Little did I know that my sense of safety and love would also be shattered. We met most weekdays after 4 p.m. That was the time he left work from the National Guard Armory – OMS #6, to be specific. We met in the basement of his girlfriend’s home; we met in the bedroom he shared with her; we met in his Dodge Ram truck at Sunset Memorial Cemetery; the parking lot at Oak Hill Middle School; off of Ward Road near the woods and more. In those places is where it would begin. That “it” would change my life in ways I couldn’t understand until a few years ago. “It” was child molestation, starting at 13 and continuing for the next four years turning into a sexually abusive relationship. Fast forward: I am 15 and “it” is... read more
It was a Thursday when I walked up to the doors of Ark Crisis Child Care Center (Ark) in a suit. This time though I wasn’t there for a board meeting. I serve on the board of directors of Ark Crisis Center and thought I understood the mission in the work of the organization but I really didn’t. I don’t think you can until are in a situation where you need the help they are providing. I thought the people who utilize the services were unemployed, low income mothers- maybe who were trying to get clean and sober. I am none of those things, but there I was at the doorstep of the center at 9:15 a.m. with tears in my eyes. I had triplets Sept. 1, 2013. Several months after they were born, I was hit out of the blue with post-traumatic stress disorder from my tumultuous pregnancy that left me emotionally paralyzed. One night I started crying uncontrollably because of the trauma I had experienced. After my husband came home from work I got under the covers and cried all night and didn’t know how I was going to care for my babies and 4 -year-old the next day. During this time I had a few people helping here and there with the babies who I probably could have called to come over. But I didn’t need help with the babies; I needed help with me. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I needed the babies out of the house so I could cope with what was going on with me. I didn’t want... read more
As soon as I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I knew I wouldn’t give myself any other option than to breastfeed. I had the frame of mind that the more I knew, the better
off I’d. I got a little bit of information from my birthing class,
completed an entire breastfeeding class and went to another class at Babies ‘R’ Us. I bought
a new top of the line pump and laid out my birth plan to include immediate skin
to skin contact and to nurse my daughter before any visitors. I was ready for
anything, or so I thought. As soon as she was born,
my journey was starting out just as I had imagined. Just to make sure I
was doing everything I should, I asked for a lactation consultant to help get
me started. My daughter was born 15 days early, and she was really sleepy
and hard to keep awake. But with persistence, my first attempt seemed pretty
successful. Continuing on, I made sure I stayed on track and fed her
every three hours. Once discharged from the hospital, I was a little
worried to be all on my own, but I was so positive about it and had the full
support of my husband, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong. The days that followed
became more difficult. I started running into issues – pain and soreness
and my daughter continued to be sleepy. She would tend to fall asleep when I
would nurse her so it was taking nearly an hour every time I fed her. By
the time I was... read more
I didn’t decide that this was the way it was going to be, it just worked out this way. My husband, let’s call him James (OK, that’s his real name), and I have a very loving and committed relationship. I will share what it is like for me; take what you want and leave the rest. My life structure – God, marriage, children. I don’t know if our “life structure” is the way it is because we have been to the bottom and made it out stronger or because we are lucky to have found each other and are crazy in love. Or maybe it is simply because of our personalities. No matter the reason, this is the way it is. God I have to have God above all else. Here is why: My relationship with my higher power keeps me spiritually fit. If I am not fit, then I can’t be a good partner in my marriage. This relationship with God helps me work on my character defects that can be at times glaring in my marriage. Resentments and communication are the biggest offenders if I don’t continue to work on my spiritual fitness. Most of all, God being first keeps me out of the driver’s seat of my life. It’s best that I sit in the passenger seat and let my higher power drive. I mean, have you seen me drive? It isn’t pretty! Marriage Let me just start by saying that I am one lucky woman. My husband is crazy hot, supports me in every way, does the dishes and loves me to pieces. Oh, and... read more
There are two things I wish I could say weren’t a part of my life — judgment and guilt. But let’s get real; that’s just not how life works. Judgment is real. Guilt is real. And you know what, I feel guilty for judging people. When I first met Stacey Godbold the judgment was definitely there. I didn’t want to; she seemed nice enough. But I judged; I couldn’t help myself. Actually, that snap judgment of one of my now close friends was that I kind of hated her. She was gorgeous, well she still is. And what is worse is that I met her just a few months after she gave birth to triplets. Gah! Beautiful hair, wonderful smile, tiny waist and oh so fashionable. I still call her my “fancy friend.” And it wasn’t just her looks that made me want to hate her — it seemed like she had the perfect life. An adorable son, precious triplets, a handsome husband and a gorgeous house. Seriously, she had it all together. I guess that judgment was partially about jealousy. While I was happy in my marriage and adored my wonderful son, my husband and I had been trying for several months to conceive a second child with no luck, and I was starting to lose hope. We were living in a teeny-tiny dump of an apartment saving up to buy our very first house after relocating to Evansville. And I felt far from “fancy” or gorgeous. Instead I felt dumpy and plain. As much as I wanted to hate her (OK, hate is a strong word, but... read more
It was the worst and hardest thing I ever went through. And telling this story in some ways is a torturous reliving of it all, but I want and need something good to come out of it. I am a survivor of domestic violence. But for a year and eight months I was a victim of it. Now I have the opportunity to tell my story and to share my experiences. I’ve gained a new perspective on life and a better understanding of the warning signs of an abuser. Through this experience, I’ve developed a better sense of compassion for people because I understand now that sometimes things happen to people that they aren’t proud of and have little control over. Let me start at the beginning. I was raised with a great example of what a loving relationship looked like with my parents. My mom was strong and independent; my dad had been in the Army which meant he was stern, but he was also kind and loving. I never expected to find myself in an abusive relationship. I was too strong and intelligent to allow myself to fall victim, or so I thought. What I have learned and what I hope you take away from this is that abuse can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are, what kind of upbringing you had, your social status, race, income, education. None of that matters, and none of it has anything to do with whether or not you will become a victim of domestic violence. It can happen to anyone! For me, I was in a... read more
Jessica said her marriage doesn’t look anything like she ever expected. They’ve been through a lot and at had some dark, tough times. But neither were going to give up. When they encountered a hurdle, they didn’t “mess around.” They went into crisis mode and sought counseling. There are still seasons; things ebb and flow. But that’s what marriage looks like, for them. “Our marriage is a daily work in progress, and I’m hard at it. I love my boys, but most of all I love my husband.” Marriage is the hardest thing I do every day. Taking care of two kids, working part-time, running schedules, keeping up with the house, being active at church and the million other things I do don’t compare to the struggles I have with marriage. And I love my husband dearly, way more today than I ever did when I walked down the wedding aisle. As a new bride, I was apprehensive. I envisioned my life as a 20-something living it up in California, following my dreams of being a personal trainer and spending my money on lavish vacations and designer purses. At some point in my early 30s I would settle down and begin to look for that special someone. Kids, forget it! Instead of that picture, I found myself at 24, in Indiana, walking down the aisle to a law student from Wisconsin who was dead set on moving back. I might have had a Coach purse or two and enjoyed a tropical vacation but nothing like I dreamed of during my college years. There’s a Kelly Clarkston song, “Miss Independent”... read more
Shelly had struggled with anxiety and depression much of her life. She’d tried therapy, medicine and just managing her life but nothing ever went as she thought it was supposed to. Then one night the darkness became too much; she swallowed dozens of pills and thought that everything would be over soon and better for those around her. But Shelly’s story didn’t end there. She tells us about her journey from dark to light and how she finally learned to accept herself. That bright cheery attitude I showed everyone was an act; I never felt good enough, skinny enough, smart enough. I never knew what it would take to make me truly happy. I struggled every morning to get out of bed. The days were always the same. Sure I had good days, but I never felt like I deserved them. While others seemed to be skipping and jumping through life, I felt like there was a 100 lb. ball and chain around my leg, and it took everything inside me to just walk through life. I concentrated on the material things. If I had better clothes, shoes or jewelry then I would get my prince charming who would buy me the perfect house with the white picket fence and the perfect children that would make my life whole. It never occurred to me that I had to find happiness inside of myself. Depression is draining and exhausting. I would lay in bed under the covers for days; that’s all I wanted to do. I was consumed by the anxiety attacks, always being tired, crying, mood swings, loneliness,... read more