Posts in Health
The power of placing positive words where you can see them

When bad days and difficult emotions present themselves, it’s easy to feel like giving up. I am on my on journey to overcome these bad days and embrace these emotions, but have been learning some awesome things along the way and practicing something so simple that has started to rework the way I approach life daily.

I was listening to a podcast focused on recovery for a specific type of anxiety disorder, OCD, and the therapist being interviewed talked about one of the best analogies I’ve heard for facing your fears and working to overcome the type of anxiety that couples itself with OCD.

I feel like this analogy is super relevant in everyone’s life even if you don’t suffer from anxiety or OCD. All of us have specific fears, reservations in life and absolutely everyone comes face to face with bad days and difficult emotions.

The therapist started to talk about the difference between cows and buffalo when a thunderstorm is coming their way. She said, cows being scared of the storm, start to run from it hoping they can ultimately avoid it altogether. The ironic thing is, that no matter how fast they run, the storm catches up and they still get stuck in it, but are now exhausted from running. Oppositely, buffalo decide to run towards the storm, knowing that if they run through it they will get out of it faster and will be able to rest sooner. How funny? I thought this analogy was so perfect for embracing fear, those bad days, and difficult emotions we can push down and bottle up. It is also so counterintuitive to how we are wired as humans, to run, to take flight and most of the time avoid what scares us.

I’ve been trying to fully embrace this idea in my life of running towards the storm. Another therapist puts it this way, “It’s a great day to do hard things.”

I decided to write down short mantras/ideas like the ones above I can read and absorb each day. I took some sticky notes and placed them all over my bathroom mirror. This way I read them and let them sink in more and more. At the top of the sticky notes I have the word Perseverance written. It’s the word I chose for this season of my life and it has been so life giving as I am reminded by it daily.

There is something so powerful about placing words that empower you to keep going where you can see them. It is a retraining of the brain, to run towards the storm, to read positive words even when you don’t feel like it, and to keep going, to keep persisting even through the worst of days and the most difficult emotions.

Some of the mantras I have placed on my mirror are:

  • Run towards the storm

  • It’s  a great day to do hard things

  • Trust in God

  • Even when you feel like you can’t, press on

  • Press through the pain

  • Practice Mindfulness

  • Practice Self-love & Compassion

  • You got this

What will your mantras be?

xo Joni

We are not our circumstances

We are not our circumstances. For me, that’s a really hard concept to grasp and let sink in. My perspective over the past few months has been jaded honestly by transition and divorce. And life after divorce, it can be summed up in two words — it sucks, okay three words, it really sucks. I don’t mean those words to be negative, but real and raw. I’m mindful of the joy that has existed within the overwhelming feelings, but I’m trying to stay true to the actual feelings divorce has caused. Feelings I haven’t been able to separate myself from and I have put myself right in the middle of my circumstances, not knowing I was defining my identity by them this whole time.

I was married my entire adult life up until this past year of my life. Seven years of marriage, of doing life with another person, making plans for the future, being able to rest in the fact that you don’t have to face life’s chaos alone. And it all ended. See previous post for more on this story.

Feelings of grief, devastation, questioning my identity and choices and analyzing every single mistake. Evaluating my responsibility in everything and ultimately feeling like a failure. ON REPEAT, day after day. These feelings fully encompassed me and made me start believing that I was those feelings. That I was my present circumstance. I still find myself believing that some days.

Going through divorce sent my anxiety and my lifelong struggle with OCD into a downward spiral. The biggest issue was, I didn’t know I was experiencing such deep grief and feelings of loss until almost a year after the initial separation occurred, this past January. It caught up with me and it can be completely overwhelming some days.

I write this as I’m in the process of healing and definitely do not have life figured out right now. Quite the opposite, but I write these words as a sort of catharsis.

I ended up quitting my job which I worked really hard to move up at for almost three years and where I could support others and was promised growth. It was a hard decision and made me feel like I failed even more, but I felt like it was time to fully take care of myself, to focus on myself without the busy weeks I encountered at my company. It has been a rough past couple of months to say the least, but incredibly necessary to my humanity.

I have felt like I’ve lost pieces of myself for the past eight years, and like I’ve been trying to pick up those pieces this past year, except I keep dropping the pieces and losing them to circumstances, anxiety, and feelings of loss. It can be a vicious cycle. And yet again, the thought likes to present itself that I am my circumstances. But how untrue that is.

I recently came to this realization, that I may just need to let go of a lot of those pieces. Those pieces of self-doubt, blame, feelings of failure, of wanting so desperately for life to feel good and happy. Ones I thought I needed to be a part of me or my life, that actually never fit or made sense. Kind of like they were never supposed to be a part my life in the first place, but I picked them up thinking they could fit somehow, that they should be things I felt or thought.

Slowly I’ve started to realize that God has given me brand new pieces, but that they are all still mixed up and I’ve wanted to avoid even looking at them or trying to put them together, and have wanted to instead skip ahead to see how my life will turn out (which creates a lot of what ifs and increased anxiety btw).

The best analogy I can give for this thought was when I was visiting my family recently and my mom decided we should put together a puzzle, a 1,000 piece puzzle — okay mom, I see you. She laid out all the pieces and started to group them by color and outside edge pieces. As she was doing this, I of course reached for the box with the picture on it to see what it was. And boom, the thought occurred. Looking at the picture is not going to help me put together the puzzle any faster and it kind of takes the fun out of it. Looking at the picture actually overwhelmed me and reminded me of how many pieces were laying there in front of me.

I then started to compare it to my life, like I do with everything, that God had given me all the pieces and even started to put them into different sections for me, but doesn’t want me to look at the end picture yet. Because he knows it would probably overwhelm me and that I would probably not want to have some of those pieces essential for my growth and learning. That I would have to trust that the end result is something beautiful, and just focus on putting one piece together at a time. WHOA, I thought, I’m so bad at that. Like extremely bad at that, but I’m working on self compassion so here we are. I want to see everything ahead of time, analyze it and be perfect at putting it all together. Life absolutely does not work that way, and it has been a defeating yet relieving feeling to know I’m not going to have it figured out all at one time. Still the perfectionist mindset that has been engrained and programmed into my brain (working on that too) wants to have it all figured out and wants so desperately to keep it all together and to make others think I have it all together. It’s a daily fight, but I’m learning how to let go of that perfectionist mentality, giving myself grace through mistakes and working just to learn. Learning just to put piece by piece together.

And then, another thought occurred just as my mom was continuing to put the pieces in sections...I don’t have to put this together by myself, another whoa moment. If you’re reading this and experienced a divorce or any kind of loss, it can feel like you’re in it alone. I have definitely thought that and have had to be reminded that I’m not alone. Support is out there, whether it’s family, friends, support groups, therapy, etc. — Find your people and they will love you through your life and help you put the pieces together. They will help you to slow down and not judge yourself for everything you feel or don’t feel. They’ll let you be you whatever circumstance you find yourself in.

Ultimately I’m choosing to embrace the thought that I can’t see the end result, the end picture. I have to focus on one piece of my life at a time. I have to feel one day at a time, even if it feels sucky or even if I don’t feel anything at all. That I don’t have to hurry up and get over grief, feelings of loss, and definitely shouldn’t be defining myself by it all. Rather, I should be taking care of myself, finding out what I like and enjoy in life, and giving myself a high five at the end of each day, just for making it through another day. The biggest lesson — I am not my circumstances.

Yes, life after divorce and hardship sucks, but it doesn’t mean life is over and that beautiful things can’t simultaneously exist. I think puzzles kind of suck, but I always love putting them together with others and the satisfaction they bring once complete.

You may want to see the end result right away like me, but instead try to take a different approach and free yourself from trying to have it all figured out at one time. Don’t define yourself by your circumstances. It’ll open up more space for being loving and compassionate toward yourself and others, and will give you the freedom to really explore aspects about your own personality that you might not of even known about.

We are lovely & brave, and most importantly we are not are circumstances.

xo Joni

Fresh start, new beginnings, and being on my own for the first time in my adult life

I want to preface this by saying that my goal from this is to be myself for really the first time. I’ve always looked to others to get validation, affirmation and confirmation that I’m who and where I’m supposed to be. Right now, life is messy and I’m not put together and I’m learning how to be okay with that. I’m learning the value of self love and self compassion in order to grow, to help and to give.

Eight years ago today I got married. I started 2019 divorced, almost 28 and completely devastated. I never knew on that day that my life would look so drastically different today, eight years later. I really didn’t think I would be divorced. I remember running through the halls of the courthouse full of joy, ready to vow my life to someone else, it was the best feeling. I felt so loved and overwhelmed with possibilities. A feeling I haven’t felt since that day. We didn’t have a wedding, but it didn’t matter, we went for it and stood in front of the judge smiling ear to ear ready to take on life together. Marriage felt like a fresh start for me after going through painful family experiences and living with anxiety in my teenage years. It was brand new, it was with someone I loved so deeply.

There was so much ahead of us, I was 19, I still lived with my parents and was now about to start my adult life with someone else. We grew together in college, with friends who loved us dearly and we were happy.

Life hit us full force — the pain a marriage can bring, but the joy it also brought for so many years. We got through it all. We got jobs, we learned how to pay bills together, we were creative together, we wrote each other the most beautiful love notes, we finished college together. We lived in a city by the beach and I never knew it would all come crashing in like a wave dragging us both out to sea.

We moved together to a new city, and everything started to change. I don’t think either one of us recognized what happened or how it happened. But still we got through the most damaging of times, trying to love one another, trying to fix all we could through therapy and prayer and the support of our family and friends.

We both started working at the same company shortly after, and we felt deepest separation a short time after that. The summer of 2016 was one of the worst times of my life, and I can sometimes still feel the sting from it. That was the summer, I got to know myself better and realized how much I feel emotionally. By the middle of it, God brought us back together — it wasn’t perfect but we wanted to work through it.

For the next year, we got through it — we argued and cried, but we also laughed and found a new love for one another. And then we lost people, and trauma was unleashed. We had different views and perspectives and hurts and pain that neither one of us knew how to get through. Mental health and addiction, and we both lost part of ourselves to it all.

Over the next year, into 2018 and now into 2019 — it really all ended. I sit here sad, looking back at the past year knowing I am no longer a wife, knowing I’m no longer living my life with someone else. Knowing my adult life is so different than what I thought it would be when I was 19. Knowing I won’t start a family right now and that everything else is still unknown.

It’s a devastating loss, and I’m learning how to get through it. It’s difficult and I don’t understand the grief my heart feels. I know I had to write this, because I’m exhausted from pretending I have it all together, and I feel like others need to hear that as well for themselves. I have lived my life only to please others, to care about what they think, and to take care of them. I still desire to take care of others and always want to give, but I hear the words being spoken over my heart to start fresh. This time, as an adult — trying to figure out who I am apart from others. My social media is now clean, my site now clean and refreshed. I am working to understand myself more, what I actually like, because honestly I really don’t know.

I have taken time for the first time this past month away from work, away from the things I’ve always known and it is terrifying, but felt so necessary to help me move forward.

I know I want to be healthy, whole, and loved. I want to love others and pursue helping again, but I’m learning and healing. I’m currently in the process for healing from anxiety and OCD. It is a difficult and exhausting battle, but I’m truly fighting it for the first time in my life.

If you are reading this and don’t want to follow my journey on social media or on this site, that’s okay and understandable. I really want to be surrounded by those who want to walk together and learn from one another’s trials and celebrate with each other’s victories.

This is a true vulnerable post and the start of something new for me. Writing has always been something I’ve wanted to pursue, but I haven’t known how. Moving forward, I’ll be documenting my daily/weekly life and experiences. I hope I can spread some encouragement with all the chaos that’s out there and really be true to myself.

I’ll also be sharing a collection of poems I haven’t really been devoted to sharing in the past, but I’ve found that it is one of the only parts of myself that I can see and understand that is real and true to who I am. Poetry is something that has helped me process my emotions and my experiences. I’ll be sharing new poems as well.

Whoever has taken the time to read this, and feels overcome by life, divorce, loss or anything else — you’re not alone. You may feel broken, but God and the universe have a way of turning brokenness and even emptiness into light and colors and beauty. I’m choosing to believe that today.

I don’t want to be a poser or act like I have my life together anymore, I don’t and I’m learning how to live in this world step by step.

Leaving this post with a poem I wrote called “The Beginning”

I begin

and end

in the same place

comforted by

the story of

my birth

the knowledge

of my experience

the hope of my


and the promise

of love

xo Joni