I didn’t have a rough life. We didn’t have much but my mom did her very best to provide us with the things we needed, and much of what we wanted. I had a good childhood. Because of her many sacrifices, my brother and I have earned master’s degrees and live good lives. We are thankful beyond measure.

But, despite having a good life, I have faced my share of dark moments. I have had times where circumstances felt unfair and the pressure to move through life with my head held high almost felt impossible.

I’ve experienced the loss of loved ones, personal failures, a miscarriage, and even supporting someone I love after a suicide attempt. And I can’t leave out all the times I’ve gone to bed in tears because, despite my best efforts, I felt like I was f*cking up because I wasn’t getting things right as a wife, mother, or daughter.

With a strong family history of depression and a clear sense of how hard life can be when depression takes hold, I have done my best to make mental health management a priority. Sure, genetics can make you more susceptible to depression, but it also has a lot to do with how you live your life, your access to support and help, and whether or not you have the necessary skills to cope when sh*t hits the fan.

Without the ability to manage what life throws at us, depression takes hold. It’s the type of illness that creeps up on you if you aren’t mindful, and by the time you notice what’s going on, you feel stuck, hurt, and asking for help can just be too difficult.

Early 2015

When 2015 started, I had high hopes. I thought this was going to be the year I made serious moves with my health, my business, and every other area of my life that matters. I allowed myself to get a little caught up in the “New Year” hype. And don’t get me wrong, some of that hype is good stuff and my excitement was genuine. But if you aren’t careful, the hype of a New Year can leave you feeling defeated and discouraged if you think you are coming up short.

Just a few days into the year, my motivation began to dwindle, but I still kept pushing, trying to inspire others. It’s what I do well, and even if I am suffering, making other people feel good brings me joy–it keeps me going. My days of lost motivation turned into weeks. I felt confused about my business, frustrated about decisions I needed to make, and deeply saddened by my mother’s recent cancer diagnosis. 2015 was starting to feel like some serious bullsh*t. Something needed to change.

I wanted to curl up and sleep in a lot during those early months. I hoped a long winter’s nap would make things better. I would wake up refreshed, my motivation would be back in full force, and all would be good with the world. That what I hoped for–a lot.

But thanks to my sanity being in tact, I knew a long winter’s nap wouldn’t change things, and rolling over and giving up would just make things worse. I needed to make a plan and put it into action. But that is so hard to do when you feel drained and discouraged. Making a plan sounded like so much work.

But even in my dark moments, I thought about what would happen if I didn’t fight the discouragement I was feeling. I realized that a lifetime of regret was sure to follow if I let fear and depression win. I couldn’t let that happen. Deep in my soul, I knew that giving up and staying sad would ruin me and slowly damage my marriage and my kids, poisoning the parts of my life I love most.

Time to spring into action

With prayer and a ton of determination, my fog began to lift. I started to feel like I could make this happen. One day I was sitting in my bed eating a bowl of ice cream (yes, I can be an emotional eater) feeling all kinds of disappointed when I realized that you don’t have to start strong to finish strong. In that moment, I decided that I would HAVE TO finish this year strong.

In April I hosted a webinar. The feedback was great and I really enjoyed hosting it, despite being anxious about the whole thing. But after that webinar, I just wasn’t clear on what I should do next. How can I best serve my audience while being true to myself? How can I give these women in my tribe what they need while also nurturing my spirit. I knew figuring all of this out would take some time, but I was okay with that. Good things don’t need to be rushed–ever. Sometimes you have to slow down just so you can listen to the whispers in your life (God’s voice).

So I went from being excited about the new year, to drifting in and out of a fog, to becoming ready to take action. But this process taught me something really important. Although I was ready to take action, I had to gain more clarity on why I wanted to take action, what this action would look like, what it wold lead to, and how it would change lives.

Gaining Clarity

This summer was my season of clarity. Through participation in a mastermind group, connecting often with a dear friend who is also a blogger (love you, Jamie), connecting with my BFF and other close friends whenever we could step away from our busy lives, and praying often, I finally started to feel like things were making sense.

I thought about all  the things I did in 2015 to avoid depression, gain confidence, eliminate the things that don’t matter, make my health a priority, and shift my mindset about so many things. And when I looked at where I was in that moment, compared to where I could have ended up this year, I felt compelled to help other women figure things out.

Commit to the Lord

My road to SHIFT

My journey during the first part of 2015 is how the idea to create my new workbook, SHIFT, was born. The concept came to me during the spring and I started to plan. I spent my summer figuring out how my experiences in 2015, as well as what I learned and experienced in previous years, have placed me where I am today. I wanted to share what helped me with anyone who could benefit from the information.

When you get, you give. When you learn, you teach. I’m sure you’ve all heard that before. I try to live by those words.

Am I perfect? Heck no! Do I always have it together? Not by a long shot! Do I mess up a lot? More often than I care to admit.

But here is the thing, though–not only am I still standing, but I am standing tall on a bunch of experience and knowledge that has made me better in every possible way.

I’m human, so like you, I fall short sometimes. It stings depending on how far the fall is, but I get back up. I have to. Staying down will never be an option.

I’ve learned how to look at problems as opportunities. I have learned that even when every fiber of my being wants to complain and feel discouraged, choosing light and positivity is a far better option. I’ve learned that God’s love always sees me through if I’m wise enough to turn to it. And, what has meant more than I ever thought it would, is learning how the way I feel about myself makes all the difference in what I have the courage to pursue in life.

From my heart to yours

So this post is for all of you, my beautiful readers and virtual friends, who have experienced tough times and felt like it was all too much. This is for those of you who are still standing and just haven’t figured out what your next step should be. This is for the ones who have fallen and need some help getting back up. This is for every woman who knows there’s more out there and is ready to get it. And, without question, this is for all of you who feel like your confidence needs a boost and want to learn how to fall in love with who you are so you can ultimately fall in love with the life you are creating.

I don’t think life is easy, so I hope my positive outlook never gives anyone that impression. I know life can be hard. I know bad things happen to good people. I know heartache and pain are REAL. I know really good people make really BIG mistakes. I know hurt, pain, and anger can take over if we let them. I know we take on the issues of the people we love without realizing it. I know we pass our issues on to the people we love without realizing it. And more than anything, I know that if we cannot fully embrace our personal truths and learn to love ourselves, life never gets much easier. Maybe on the surface it does, but at our core we still suffer.

But, even with all of these thing I know, I also know that the world is an incredible place. I know that we can find beauty in most things if we train our eyes to see it. I know that forgiveness (of self and others) can save your sprit. I know that change is possible. I know that despite how dark things may seem, the sun will always rise. I know that every woman has the power to shift her mindset and change how she lives her life. I know that we have more control over how happy we are than we think.

I’m grateful for every dark moment I’ve faced. I know more dark days will come. None of us can stop them. But I also know with each passing day, I become prepared for darkness when it comes. It’s less painful to manage when you look for the lessons and await the light that will undoubtedly arrive.

This thing called life is pretty amazing. You are pretty amazing.

It’s all just a matter of training your eyes to see it.

What can you do today to take the lessons from your dark seasons and create a life you love?

For more information about the SHIFT workbook, click here