It’s Been a While Since I’ve Had One of These Moments #GriefConfessions #LoveHugsAndSunshine

There are some things that make absolutely no sense at all. How I can miss Chris and be happy in my current life? How can I be sad and at the same time full of joy? It is possible. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t felt it myself but I’m telling you it’s legit.

There are so many new happy things happening in my life—in my professional world, in my spiritual journey, and even in my personal life (although those things are not as definitive and easy to explain.)

I went to the cemetery this week. If you’ve read Shine then you know the cemetery has not always been a good place for me. As with my growth, I do see it as a different place than I once did. I don’t necessarily believe Chris “lives” there but if I want to make sure he hears what I have to say I go there.

It was a perfect summer day–sunshine, low humidity, and in the seventies. Those were the kind of days Chris loved. “Perfect riding weather,” he’d say. I found myself in front of his headstone, my butt parked on the ground. I always giggle to myself how the grass on his grave doesn’t grow like the rest. He wouldn’t want to inconvenience people by needing to mow too often.

And so I started telling him about all the great things happening and then the happy tears quickly turned into sad ones. When I start to realize how happy I am in my “new life” it makes me sad because Chris doesn’t have a new life—at least not on this plane of existence. It’s not that I don’t believe Chris has a new life of his own because I do. And I truly believe he is in a place of peace and is free from the strife of this world. But when I start moving forward it’s a reality check. His death really happened. The good things in life are as equally real as the bad things.

As the tears were streaming down my face behind my sunglasses I said, “Chris, I can’t wait until the day I can come here and tell you I’ve got my family.” Those words made me wonder if when that joyful day comes if the sadness will lose its volume. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. But I realized how badly I want that not only for me, but for us.

I went on rambling about missing his friendship, mentioned a few grievances, and made a few other requests. I looked up from my seat on the ground to the view of the hill with three crosses and a large stone bible a few steps away. I could almost hear him chiding me that it was time to leave.

I stood up and walked towards the large granite bible with a little bird beckoning me over. There’s always a bird. Always a bird. LOL! Written on it was the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want…” When I hit the line that says, “he restoreth my soul” the confirmation hit me of Chris’s peace in his new life. I needed that to help me combat the guilt that was starting to rise up.

Then the more I read the more I realized inside those words were messages for me about my situations, my fears, and my concerns. I climbed into the truck and had one last bout of tears before gathering myself to return my world.

What is this grief confession post about? A lot of things but most importantly it’s a reminder that we’re allowed to feel more than one thing at a time, but it can be overwhelming. Sometimes the things we think make sense are false truths we’ve conditioned ourselves to believe. I don’t want to go back in time, I want to be here in this moment. And being in this moment means I can miss the friendship of my late husband and carry a longing desire for the friendship of my next spouse. I can miss Chris and be happy that he’s at peace, all in the same moment. And as weird as it may sound I can be anxious and longing for the day I come to the cemetery and say, “My family found me, Chris. My family found me!”

This Monday would be our anniversary. I wasn’t even consciously thinking about that while at the cemetery. I would’ve never been able to imagine the place I’m at today, nor the woman I’ve become. I would’ve never expected how short our marriage would be nor how much I learned from our years together.

I’m so grateful for every heartache and every victory.

My eyes have been opened as to how my life is not my own. How beautiful it is to recognize my value and my purpose, and that is to share my life with you through my words, my day to day, and in every way I live my life. The miracles that God has worked in my life and continues to work on a daily basis—they are as much for me as they are for you. I hope your eyes are opened to the plans and ways He’s working in your life as well. He loves you, too. Never forget we are all connected. We are all loved.

It’s part of my personal growth to become more vulnerable. Boy is that difficult, especially for the “girl who has it all together.” Looks can be deceiving, dear friends. I don’t have it all together not even close but I’m constantly seeking the guidance and answers so that I can grow. When I’m knocking on heaven’s door I want to know I lived a life of purpose. I lived a life of love.

And loving people means lots of messes and nothing will ever be “all together” but that’s not an excuse to withhold your heart.

Live fully. Love boldy.

#LoveHugsAndSunshine #NeverGiveUpOnYourAlwaysAndForever




Confessions and a Sneak Peek #OneWeekToGo #SpecialNote #MyConfessions #WeAreHuman #Excerpt

If you’ve ever heard an author talk about a book release they usually say it’s a roller coaster of emotion. It is and intense doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Everything about this book release has been different from my first for so many reasons–some obvious and others not so much.  In writing this book I’ve cried lots of sad tears and lots of happy tears. Throughout the finishing process of cover design, interior design, and all the little pieces that go into a book release I’ve had incredible highs and deep lows. There’s a level of shock, validation, and a harsh reminder that this is real. This happened and it’s a part of Michelle’s story. Sometimes seeing my life in black and white is crippling and it re-breaks my heart, because not only is this my reality but the reality of those I love.

I can’t deny how the empty spot in my bed still affects me. Sometimes I can lie there and say, “I know I won’t always sleep here alone, Lord” and some nights I still cry for the man who slept beside me while other nights I wonder when it will happen–when I’ll have another husband to share my life with.

One of my greatest struggles and greatest victories (over grief and my life in general) has been realizing there’s nothing wrong with feeling whatever emotion it is that I’m feeling. Granting myself the freedom to feel allows me to move past the dark stuff and back into the happy stuff. It’s how I keep my shine. (That’s right, folks! Allowing myself to feel sad is how I can be joyful 98% of the time.)

While seeing my life in black and white has been tough, it’s also been amazing. It has allowed me to see my journey and be able to connect some of the dots to witness and reflect on the ways God has moved in my life. In remembering that God is always moving for me and with me even when I can’t see it or feel it, helps me to keep my faith and my hope up for the unexpected blessings that await. Don’t forget He’s doing that for you, too.

Now that you have my confession here’s an excerpt from How I Learned to Shine Again.

A Special Note – The Struggle of Putting my Soul on the Page

I asked myself when I set out to write this book why there aren’t more books out there about people’s personal accounts of grieving. And if they exist, why couldn’t I find them? Why don’t people talk about this more openly? As I briefly mentioned, I know why. It’s incredibly emotional and almost feels masochistic to undertake such a task, to willingly and consciously make the effort to return to the darkest days of my life was frightening and debilitating. Revisiting the trauma, returning to the dread, and reliving the nightmare all for the sake of putting into words the tragic turmoil I endured was crippling and yet incredibly cathartic. Those emotions resurfaced and assaulted me consistently. I found myself struggling with those feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, and feeling unloved.

Revisiting those days and emotions caused me to question my healing, my growth, and my sanity. I had breakdowns in the bathtub again. I prayed, texted friends, and leaned on my support system. In doing that I realized I’d learned to cope. I’d learned how to stand outside myself, to stand outside of my grief, and attack it from a different angle. During a grief-fueled breakdown I texted a friend. “I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I know I have to finish this book, but it’s tearing me apart. I hate not being over this. I should be better than this. See, I’m not perfect. I don’t always have it together.” My friend’s response is one we all need to remember. He said, “Michelle, you’re not a robot. You’re human.” I am human and no matter how much I grow, perfection is something I’ll never obtain. I hope you remember this in your life.

Emotions and feelings are tough. They can send us into the depths of depression or fly us to the mountaintops of joy. Having emotions, feeling them deeply, and being stuck in limbo between the head and the heart—those internal battles are all a part of our human condition. We can’t always control how things make us feel, but we can control how we work through and cope with those feelings. In those moments of becoming tangled in those deep grief episodes, panic gripped me. I thought I was through this. I thought I had healed. I thought I would never feel those things again. How could I be writing a book about getting through loss and being “better” if those emotions still attacked me? What makes me qualified to write a book about how I dealt with grief if I was still feeling its affects? And there I found my answer. I found my answer in two simple sentences from my wonderful friend. You’re not a robot. You’re human.

The right words delivered at the right time can set you free and open your eyes. I’m not healed because I suddenly don’t feel anymore. I’m not better because things don’t affect me anymore. No, I’m still affected by my loss, but I no longer live in my loss. I still feel sadness and I still have off days. But I’ve learned to see those feelings as strength instead of weakness. I’ve changed my thinking from poor me to lucky me. Lucky I have found the tools to cope with loss, that I’ve found a constant source of love and compassion through God. Lucky He continues to move in my life. Lucky I have the opportunity to share my life with you, dear reader. Lucky I have the chance to remind you it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to be imperfect.

In writing this book, I wanted to quit more times than I can count. Lucky me that I was able to finish this. And if this helps you, somehow, in some way big or small, then all the tears and days where my heart was ripped open again were worth it. At the end of the day we’ve all got our sights set on the same destination: one of love, peace, and happiness. And if my words can remind you to keep fighting, to never give up, then all those evenings crying in the bathtub were worth it.

Remember, we’re human. We’re not perfect. We have feelings. We have hearts that have been beaten and bruised. But the only failure in life is when we give up. When we stop trying because of fear. Don’t get upset with yourself when you don’t hit the mark. Get up and try again. Always find a way to get back up.

I love you, dear reader. I mean this from the bottom of my heart. I want to see you succeed. I want to hear the stories of your victories. No matter how lonely you might feel, you’re never alone in this battle. Never give up on your always and forever—no matter what that might be. Never ever give up.

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Releasing Tuesday, October 25, 2016

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