Happiness: It’s Not Just for Skinny People

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I have a confession to make. This isn’t easy, but I need to say it. Even with all the wonderful things that have been happening in my life this year — and there are a lot of them — I still struggle with feelings of failure. And I know exactly why. As much as I actively fight against it for other people, as much as I give lip service to body positivity, I am still chained to the lie that being overweight means I am not as good as people who are thin. When I look at the picture of me above, the first things I see are my doughy arms and my double chin, and I feel a deep sense of shame. Continue reading “Happiness: It’s Not Just for Skinny People”

Where I Come From and Where I’m Going

In just a few days, I’ll be leaving home and heading home. It might sound confusing.  Charleston, South Carolina is the place I have lived for more than seven years now — longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my adult life. I love it here. I have a job and a church family and a house and a dog and neighbors and friends, and I love them all. This is home. And this weekend, I’ll drive back to the place I called home for the first half of my life – Harlan, Kentucky.   

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Harlan is a special place. There are numerous Bluegrass songs about my hometown (like You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive), a National Geographic Channel reality show, an Oscar-winning documentary, and the recent FX series Justified (which definitely offered a more drama-filled version of the town than real life). But for me none of that matters as much as the history I have there. Continue reading “Where I Come From and Where I’m Going”

37 in Pictures

June 5th is my birthday. A lot has happened since the last time I celebrated another year of life. There have been some challenging moments, to be sure. I continue learning how to navigate through episodes of depression and anxiety attacks. I’ve experienced disappointments both personal and professional. But as I look back on the last year, the positives far outnumber the negatives. I think it’s safe to say that 37 really has been one of my best years yet! Continue reading “37 in Pictures”

May the Stigma End

There’s not much of May left, so I’m getting this in just under the wire! May is Mental Health Awareness month, signed into recognition by President Obama in 2013. I’ve written quite a bit about my own struggle with mental health here, and in my recently-released book, I touched on how growing up in a family affected by major depression eventually contributed to my calling as a hospital chaplain. Continue reading “May the Stigma End”

I Picked the Wrong Week to Quit (or “A Perfect Example of Eucatastrophe”)

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Things have been great lately. Really, really great. It’s not an overstatement to say that 2015 has so far been one of the best years of my life. I’m watching my dreams come true, literally. You can almost see it on my face in this picture from my first author event. Since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to be an author, and now I am one. I’ve written a book that I can hold in my hands, and it feels wonderful. People are buying this book and reading it and telling me in social media comments, emails, and old-fashioned handwritten letters how much it means to them.

We had a fantastic party this month at The Charleston Museum to celebrate the print release of the book, and it was everything I had dreamed it would be. Continue reading “I Picked the Wrong Week to Quit (or “A Perfect Example of Eucatastrophe”)”

L is for . . .

(This post is part of my continuing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

I’ve gone back and forth about which L word fits best with my experience as a chaplain. Most of the other letters were pretty straightforward; one word jumped quickly to mind. But with L, there were two. Part of me thought, it has to be Loss. That’s something I certainly see plenty of in the hospital. In one shift, I may see people lose a spouse, a child, a limb, the ability to walk or talk, the hopes and dreams they had for the future they were certain was theirs, the will to continue living. It isn’t easy to witness those things, and they do come. Continue reading “L is for . . .”

How We Brake Ourselves

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It was a beautiful day for a bike ride on Seabrook Island. Our church women’s retreat, which I’ve attended for several years now, always includes several optional activities on Saturday afternoon. One of them is usually a group bike ride along the trails of Seabrook and Kiawah Islands. We were a small group this year, just four of us, and almost as soon as we started the ride, I could tell something was wrong. Continue reading “How We Brake Ourselves”

J is for Journaling

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(This post is part of my ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

I have stacks and stacks of old journals at home. The earliest one goes back to when I was eight years old. I was never one of those people who writes every day, unless something really special was happening – a trip overseas I wanted to remember in detail, a new medication the doctor asked me to monitor my response to over the first few weeks. Most of the time, I wrote when I needed to write, no more, no less. There were times when it was a fire in the bones, when I could agree with the quote from Charlotte Brontë on the cover of my journal above: “I’m just going to write; I cannot help it.” Continue reading “J is for Journaling”

Advent Conspiracy Week 4: Love All

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It’s hard to believe, but we’re coming to the end of Advent already. And that brings us to the hardest part of Advent Conspiracy. Man, I thought Spend Less was tough. But here we are at the final theme, Love All. Really, all?? “Love some” I can handle. Even “love most” would probably be doable. But “all,” everybody – surely that’s going too far! Some people just make it so hard to love them. I met one of them a few weeks ago in the parking lot of a Lowe’s home improvement store. Continue reading “Advent Conspiracy Week 4: Love All”

Advent Conspiracy Week 3: Give More

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It sounds like a trick. Last week’s theme in Advent Conspiracy was Spend Less. Now we’re supposed to Give More? Wouldn’t that involve spending more?? True, the way we usually do it, with fancy things wrapped up in pretty boxes, it would mean shelling out more money, spending more time in the store or online. But the idea here is not to give more stuff; it’s to give more of ourselves. Where is your passion? What do you care most about? Continue reading “Advent Conspiracy Week 3: Give More”