Stand up and sing for your life

I choose joy

I choose joy.




I choose joy has become my daily mantra. Do I wake up every day feeling joyful? No. That is a hard and fast no. However, I get up, get dressed, pour my coffee and make the choice to live joyfully each day.

I have a lot of things to be sad about right now – don’t we all? But what happens when you focus on all the sad? All those negative emotions spiral you into a black hole that is very difficult to escape. I’m not saying it’s not okay to be sad – it absolutely is; however, don’t unpack there. Cry for a minute. Grieve your losses. And, then choose joy. Because when we choose joy, when we choose to look at how blessed we are, it changes our outlook and allows us to be more content with our situation.

I have five days “off” from work. This wasn’t ideally how I wanted to use my PTO; however, I’ve decided to use it to further my dreams and goals. I’m choosing to refocus my energy these few days into projects that light my heart on fire. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I can’t think of anything more important to focus on right now than that. It has always been extremely important to educate about mental health; however, these days it has become even more important. People all around us are struggling with one thing or another and how they are able to handle those things will determine much in their lives.

I made it my mission the day Nikolai took his own life to do whatever I could to help educate our community on mental health and suicide. I decided that day to make sure that as many people as I can affect know that they are enough – they are strong and courageous and we need them and the impact they are going to make on this world. Nikolai’s death transformed me in a million different ways. I grieve the loss of my child, yet I have found my purpose at the same time.

Nikolai lived joyfully. I believe he struggled with mental health all his life; however, he always chose joy. The last few years of his life, he desperately fought for that joy. The week before he died I asked him ‘where his joy was’. He said he didn’t know. He couldn’t find it. That was hard to hear. This is when I knew things were bad, really bad. For someone who lived for joy, saying those words was his last ditch effort at this mental health battle. He lost the war.

So when I say I CHOOSE JOY. I choose it for me and for him and for all of you who are battling finding your joy every single day.

Use this time to find your joy – whatever that may look like to you.

It’s time to stand up and sing for your life.


Have Faith

Have faith in God

Friday was March 20. This date marks 9 months since Nikolai left this physical world. Every month when the 20th rolls around I brace myself for an emotionally draining day. You would think I could better prepare myself for it. I know it’s coming. The 20th happens every single month. For me it marks another month gone without our Beans. It’s the countdown to that dreaded year marker.

This month though everything was different. The past week has been the most mentally exhausting for me since the week of Nikolai’s funeral. I found myself bouncing between desperately trying to find moments of joy amid all the worry, anger, sadness and tears. Oh the tears this week.

My job is communications for a hospital. While I am able to work from home and not be on the frontline, it was a whole different level of Hell. I was scared for my family – would we have enough food, would our power stay on, would my oldest son and his pregnant girlfriend still have jobs, my parents who are two hours away (but thankfully near my sister), my friends, my co-workers who literally are on the front line every single minute trying to save others while trying to calm their own worries about their families.

Imagine all of this and then on top of that having to be the calm and comfort for not only your immediate work family but for the thousands of people in our communities who need information and comfort from the hospital.

When I was at my most vulnerable is when I had to step up the biggest for others. A friend told me that God put me in this exact place because He trusts that I could and would say just the right thing. Joe told me to simply write from my heart. Write what I need to hear. So, I did. I took a deep breathe and wrote exactly what I needed to hear. I can only hope that it was enough for others.

Before the 20th came, I was destroyed. Every night last week I spent falling asleep in Joe’s arms crying – no, sobbing.

This weekend, I have finally been able to decompress. Joe made sure that our house was filled with food as well as my oldest son’s refrigerator. We cleaned, did laundry, did a puzzle, read, took a 5-mile hike in the woods with our youngest and one of our dog’s. I have been able to really take a good hard look at this past week. Now that I am in a better place mentally, I can honestly say, the things I put into place in my life last week literally saved me from a total breakdown.

I kept to a pretty strict schedule every single day. I didn’t dare fall into any “traps” that didn’t seem part of my “normal”. So, every single day I got dressed first thing. And after I closed my laptop at the end of the day, I did what I always normally do – I worked out, made dinner, watched a little TV or read and went to bed at 9:30, my normal bedtime. These are all things within my control. I needed to keep things consistent to help me through my day.

It’s the little extra things I added into my day, that when it comes right down to it, really saved me. All of these were God things, or at least that’s what I like to call it. My friend Greg started a 7am prayer service every day. It was less than 15 minutes long and I never missed it. Not a single day. That afternoon walk I took with Daisy at lunchtime, was my time to cry and pray out loud about anything and everything. My sister sent me a playlist of comforting Christian music and I put it on loop in my headphones while I worked. God saved me this week. When I fell into the darkest of places, is when He lifted me up.

By the time I got to Friday, the 20th of the month, I actually was in the best place I’ve ever been on the 20th of any month. I woke up that morning and felt as if something very heavy was being lifted off of my chest. I could breathe a little bit better. And I don’t have to ask why, I know why – God was lifting some of that burden I was carrying. He had my back.

I don’t know if any of you have watched the Amazon Prime show “Hunters”. If you haven’t, it is a really good series (only one season out right now). Last night we binge watched the last four episodes. The second to last episode included a scene between two parents and their son who had died as a young child 30 years earlier. It was the absolute most beautiful creation of heaven. In this scene the son assures his parents that he is happy and doing well. This was absolutely what I needed to see. After a heartbreaking week and a 20th, this was the reassurance I needed for all things. I faithfully believe this scene we watched was God sending us a message.

Have faith, rise up, go hard and believe with all your being – God will not abandon us. God will save us. Do not be fearful. Let go and let God. He is talking to you. He is talking to me. Every single day He is speaking to us in so many different ways. Be still and listen.

I know this past week was one of the most trying for all of us. We each had our own struggles with moments of joy and heartache all mixed in. We have no idea what this next week will bring. We have no idea how long this quarantine will last. However, I do know one thing – my God, your God, He loves us and will help us through it. You just have to let Him in.

I wish all of you a blessed, joy-filled week. Spend it doing all the things that light your heart on fire and let God carry your fears.