Your Story is Worth Sharing

Everyone has a story. We could all benefit from sharing our stories with each other.

Sharing your story

SHARING YOUR STORY

A few years ago, I stood up to tell a group of women about the depression I went through during the worst of my Lyme disease. Through my story I shared how worship made a difference in changing my focus and became a stepping stone toward healing. I received applause and words of encouragement, yet felt embarrassed and withdrawn afterward.

I imagined words that hadn’t been expressed and worried about other people’s opinions. In trying to encourage, how was it that I felt obnoxious and egotistical?

When a friend reached out to thank me for what I shared, I admitted I felt foolish and had been fighting off panic attacks all afternoon.

She called out the lies in my head and redirected my thoughts to the truth: If I have something good to say about Jesus, God’s voice is not the one telling me to stop.

Her reminder directed me towards the words in the Bible that spoke of how God interacts with his children. If you are struggling with discerning between God’s push toward spiritual growth and Satan’s discouragement, ask yourself: How are the words in my head sounding?

Are they gentle or harsh? Do they come in a whisper or a shout? Do they cause you to act or to retreat? Is the focus on glorifying God or yourself? Do you find yourself looking for more opportunities for growth in life or simply going through the motions?

Sharing your story

WHAT’S KEEPING YOU FROM TELLING YOUR STORY?

Everyone has a story. I didn’t realize how true this was until I started sharing mine. And in sharing, I continue to get affirmation and healing for the parts of me that are still wounded.

Sharing encourages those around you to open up and let you in on their lives as well. In becoming more vulnerable, I have learned of friends who have overcome infertility, abortion, abusive relationships, addictions, disease, betrayals, death, loss of faith, depression, and infidelity.

It sounds like a cry fest–it’s not. It’s a support system. It’s a way of spreading hope and encouragement to others. Sharing your story helps people know they’re not alone in their struggles. It teaches them how to deal with hard situations and live with focus and direction. Sharing inspires. And in my case, sharing has given me new friendships, more meaningful relationships and a stronger marriage.

Your story matters. Don’t think that it doesn’t.

How can you share your story with someone who needs it? Don’t be discouraged, friend! Be bold, be joyful and be encouraging! Great things await you!

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Why You Need to Discover Your Hobby

Learn why finding a hobby is not only good for passing the time, but is good for your mental well-being.

STUCK IN SURVIVAL MODE

I called my husband once again, this time laying down in the middle of the hallway. “I need you to come home.”

He raced home and tucked me into bed with some Advil and a heating pad. Sitting down and looking straight into my tear-filled eyes, he said, “I know you think you can, but you can’t do this anymore. We have to get some help.” I knew he was right. I just was having a hard time admitting I was no longer in control.

Getting a nanny/care-taker was the best decision we made up to that point with my illness. The more I pushed through the disease and ignored it instead of taking care of my body, the worse I became. Over the course of the next two years we hired two 19 year old girls excited for the possibilities ahead of them, and each head over heels in love with their boyfriends.

They reminded me of my younger self: full of joy and life and creativity. One girl was ahead on her college credits and working on big life goals, living out her future exactly as she planned it. The other was more of a fly-by-the-seat of her pants adventure type, jumping from one creative endeavor to the next.

I was inspired both by the girl who knew exactly what she wanted out of life and the spontaneity of the other. They didn’t just let life happen to them, they lived it. If they wanted to travel, they traveled. If they wanted to double major, or do hair for a living or get a tattoo, they went for it.

I hadn’t done much besides obsess about pill schedules and plan doctor appointments for the past four years, so I had no plan–my plan was to survive.

hobby supplies

REMEMBERING THE PAST

One day my nanny was working on a school project and asked if I had some glue. “What kind do you need?” I asked, and opened the guest room door. I pulled out a big box filled with tacky glue, glue guns, Elmer’s glue, glue dots, fabric glue and glue strips. Her eyes lit up as she peered into the closet, bulging with rows of fabric, paintbrushes, ribbon, glass jars, wooden signs, buttons and sewing machines.

“I didn’t know you had all this in here!” she said. I pointed to the other side of the room, where stacks of bins were labeled with more arts and crafts supplies. There were stacks of books on how to knit, sew and start your own craft business. Another shelf had embroidery thread, rings, yarn balls, hooks and looms.

“Do you know how to do all this?” she asked. I hadn’t thought about these hobbies and treasures since I’d been sick. Over the next few days, I showed her how to create her own custom embroidery by hand and gave her a few paint tubes and instructions on how to make her own coffee table tray.

Later when she was taking the kids to their swim and gymnastics lessons, she said to me, “Hey you are doing so much better, why don’t you go out and take some of your own classes?”

These words lit a fire under me. I hadn’t considered doing something fun for myself in a long time. I was just trying to make sure the kids were living a normal-ish life while I got better.

It had been over 12 years since I switched majors, leaving behind my dreams of becoming an art teacher after one of my college professors discouraged me during his figure drawing class.

EMBRACING A NEW FUTURE

Having survived the misery of the past few years, I was blessed with a new outlook on life and signed up for a weekly adult art class. I stocked up on fresh paints and new brushes and a cloth roll to store them in. Over the next few weeks, I explored different drawing materials and papers and tested out new techniques.

Later, I discovered online art courses I worked on with my son. After dinner, both of us got ready to go with paper on clipboards, a set of drawing pencils and erasers.

I was working on art every night.

Eventually, I had trouble keeping up with my assignments because there were so many projects I wanted to do! Each night, I would lay everything out on the dining room table, start the videos, and do my best not to rinse my paintbrush in my coffee cup.

And suddenly, I realized I was no longer “sick Amy”, I was once again “Amy the artist”. I learned how much I missed drawing and creating on a daily basis.

In that moment, I didn’t need a professor telling me I was terrible at figure drawing. What I needed was the encouragement of a young girl reminding me how to find my joy and in turn, my life again.

hobby painting

LOCAL PLACES TO TRY A NEW HOBBY

Prefer an in-person experience? Try these venues in your city to discover your hobby:

  • Local Art Classes
  • Recreation Centers
  • YMCA
  • Library Classes
  • Arts & Craft Stores
  • Craft Fairs
  • Writer’s Conferences
  • Group Painting Venues
  • Community College Courses
  • Church Classes

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If you prioritize time for the those hobbies that make you come alive, I promise you will discover joy in your day to day. Feeling lost in the monotony of your day to day? I’ve created a NEW Goal Setting Workbook to help you out of survival mode. You can grab yours in my shop:

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You’ve got this!

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Using Music as Therapy To Cope In Hard Times

Music has an impact on our moods because listening to it causes the brain to release dopamine, which increases happiness—aka music therapy.

*This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure for details.

MY CHILDHOOD SOUNDTRACK

Listening to music is proven to have an impact on our moods because it causes the brain to release dopamine, which increases happiness and decreases stress. Music therapy is used worldwide to help patients dealing with pain, anxiety, and depression. It can transport us to another time and place, fire us up to do something daring, or show us how to be calm in the storm.

My childhood soundtrack was 98.7 WMZQ – 90’s country. I lived in a suburb of DC, but my soundtrack told me I was a country girl bound to marry a high school sweetheart. As a teenager, my soundtrack changed as I rebelled from country girl to Gwen Stefani to rap artist.

MY ADULT SOUNDTRACK

In college, friends introduced me to punk rock and the underground music scene. They helped me explore my creativity and desire to be unique. It didn’t, however, produce much maturity on my end…Not exactly underground, I listened to The White Stripes and fell in love with the simplicity of a two man band. They led me to their inspirations: the rock and roll of Led Zeppelin and the blues of Son House.

I married young at 21 and my music became more of a tapestry of genres rather than one specific type. I had discovered Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers and listened to their movie soundtracks. They introduced me to old bands like The Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, The Kinks, Ramones, and Bob Dylan.

MY FAITH SOUNDTRACK

After having kids, I had to monitor what came through the speakers for these new tiny ears to hear. I began to really listen to the words of these songs. It’s amazing how different the world looks once you have children.

When I got sick with Lyme Disease and my mental state deteriorated, I began to cling to another genre of music, also from my childhood: Contemporary Christian. I spent a year of my life listening to Lauren Daigle, Amanda Cook, NEEDTOBREATHE, Rend Collective and Hillsong UNITED during the quiet hours of the night. God was letting me go through this–and for what?! I had no desire to open up my Bible. But these songs spoke to me in the dead of the night. While my family was sleeping, I would listen to these songs on repeat. I would fall asleep to them, and wake up to them.

I bought a Bluetooth speaker and belted them out in the shower. Sunday mornings, tremors and all, I would get ready to go to church where there was a possibility I could hear a live version of “So Will I” or “Reckless Love“. These songs poured life into my spirit like no other songs could at the time. They taught me it’s ok to be confused and angry, but it’s hope that holds us together after we fall apart. This music became my therapy.

MY LIFE’S SOUNDTRACK

The day I was back on my feet and allowed to drive my car completely alone, I plugged in my iPhone and pushed play on the only song I felt fit my mood. I spent a year of my life being watched and taken care of by someone else, living in fear of death and mental instability. I cranked up the volume as Aerosmith sang “I’m BACK! I’m Back in the Saddle Again!”, my husband laughing at me as I drove off, a huge grin on my face.

My soundtrack today is a mix of every song I’ve ever loved, from Jack White and Imagine Dragons and The Lumineers and all of those amazing bands I discovered years ago. Sometimes I even go back and laugh at old rap songs. But when I listen to the songs from those lonely nights, I’m not holding onto hope by a thread anymore. I’m standing on the mountain shouting it out that I’m back. No longer paralyzed by what-ifs but instead choosing to live in the moment.

Eventually, I sorted through my playlists, organizing them by my needs. Songs for anxiety, celebration, productivity, hyper kids… you name it. I’m investing the time in finding what songs bring me joy so that I can be living days that are meaningful and not mindless.

So what is your soundtrack telling you?

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You’ve got this!

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