Work in Progress

I dreamed of becoming a famous author when I was in elementary school. That dream never diminished until I got to college and realized how rare it was for someone to actually make a living as an author—and especially for one to become famous. I altered my expectations of the future, but still hoped that one day I’d become a published author.

While I have had several poems published, I’ve still yet to publish a book. The last few years most of my writing has been for my blog, in my journal or the occasional poem. Sometimes I think I’m at peace not writing anymore, and other times I wonder if I should go back to all my works in progress and keep the dream alive. It does feel a bit daunting as I have A LOT of works in progress and ideas floating around for even more novels.

As I was thinking about it again the other day, I realized that life is a work in progress. The novel isn’t finished until we die. There’s always another sentence, another paragraph, another chapter to write and work on. Sadly, we can’t go back and change, alter or even delete any of those chapters in life like I could with my would-be novels. That’s what makes life a work in progress, and I think that’s part of what’s encouraging about it. We can make mistakes, or we might not develop our character like we wish we would have. Maybe the plot needs a turn. We can make those things happen! The next paragraph can be about change, growth and redemption. The next chapter can be about the obstacles overcome getting back to the path we want to be on. C.S. Lewis said, “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Never think it’s too late. Just because you can’t go back and change something, doesn’t mean you can’t learn and grow from it. We are all works in progress, and as daunting as that seems sometimes it is also what makes life beautiful.


Messy Yard, Messy Life

A couple of nights ago a large group of neighbors/members of my church congregation came to help with my yard. For multiple reasons, it’s an absolute mess. A lot of the grass died and weeds galore took over. I’ve been extremely stressed and overwhelmed about how to handle it and what to do about it.

I sort of feel like my yard is a metaphor for my life. The last four months my life has been a mess of weeds and scorched grass that has felt overwhelming and beyond repair at times. From a distance it looks semi-okay, but upon closer inspection I can see all the things that aren’t how they should be.

I was talking to one neighbor about the intended purpose for a certain part of the yard and how I didn’t know what to do about it now. He gave some sage wisdom by telling me that I didn’t need to try to get it all done at once. He said he’d been working on his yard for twenty years and it still wasn’t done.

Isn’t that life? We can work on it for years and years and years and still have more to do, learn from, grow into. There have been times when my yard has looked great. The grass has been green, the flowers have bloomed beautifully, the trees have been full and provided shade in the heat of the summer. And now it’s a mess. Sometimes our lives are full, blooming and beautiful, but that doesn’t mean the work is done or that it will stay that way forever. Life happens. Just like windstorms, droughts and construction beat up my yard that once looked so nice, unexpected difficulties in life also beat me up, have stressed me out and, at times, overwhelmed me. But with work and help I know I can get back to a place where I feel good again.

The amazing people who helped with my yard made the biggest difference! They weeded, prepped and helped with new landscaping. It already looks a million times better. They helped me see that just because something is a mess now, doesn’t mean it will stay a mess forever. We just have to keep working on it and allowing others to help us as we go.

A Tale of Two Marriages

Quite some time ago I asked my husband if he’d write something for my blog. He asked if he could write about the difference between someone who takes steps to help with their mental health and someone who doesn’t. I thought it was a great idea. It took him a long time to finally write it and give it to me, in part, he said, because he felt like a hypocrite writing it because he had left his own depression and trauma unchecked and unhealed. He had purposefully ignored his own mental health, which has caused many difficulties, especially in the past few months—including losing his job and not being able to be in our home currently. He does see it now, and said he hopes he can take his own advice from here on out. I see him already taking his advice and taking many steps toward dealing with his mental health and trying to learn from and heal from immense trauma he’s gone through during childhood and adulthood. I appreciate him following through with writing this, as I appreciate the effort he is making right now.

“Do or do not, there is no try.” Many of us recognize those words spoken by the weird little Muppet, Yoda, in the popular Star Wars movies. The sentence expresses a concrete black-and-white view of an action; you either succeed or fail. Trying isn’t noteworthy, nor does trying, in itself, guarantee success. One is either able to do something or they aren’t, and that’s all that matters. The outcome of the success or failure yields entirely different results. Only the Do (success) or Do Not (failure) matters.

While I normally try not to give much validity to thinking in terms of black and white, there’s one area of my life where I wholeheartedly agree with the creepy little dude: marriage involving mental illness. In my experience, the Do or Do Not of seeking professional help and improvement in our mental health are all that matters and is the crux of a successful or failed marriage. Feel free to read the rest of this in the voice of Yoda if it helps.

In a study I read and verified by professional therapists, more than 70% of marriages include one or both spouses exhibiting one of the varied mental health concerns available in the “Life is Hard Supermarket” checkout lanes. Many include anxiety, depression or trauma while others include more destructive forms of mental illness such as Borderline, Narcissistic or Bipolar Personality Disorders. Not one to be left out of the fun (yes, I veil my emotions in sarcasm), my first marriage was to a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with me exhibiting Depression, Battered Spouse Syndrome and Addiction. I am now married to a woman who has been diagnosed with Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and also PTSD, while still maintaining my own perpetual subscriptions of Depression and Addiction. While I could write a whole other post (or novel) on just how my own mental illnesses affected my marriages, I would like to evaluate here how the outcomes of my two marriages were affected by spouses who chose differently when faced with the Do or Do Not options of seeking help and improvement in their mental health.

In 2009, after almost a decade of increasing strain in my first marriage, I reached a point of despair. I didn’t understand why I felt so badly about my marriage, and I struggled to understand what we were doing so wrong. My then wife, we’ll call her Cathy, often tried enlightening me of what she thought I was doing wrong, and I felt our conversations and arguments only ever ended in more confusion and increased strain. For the first time in my life I felt we needed professional help in the form of marriage counseling. It took months of convincing and desperate exasperation, followed by an eventual ultimatum, before Cathy begrudgingly agreed to attend counseling with me. The first few sessions with the therapist were spent getting to know us and working through diagnoses and multiple lengthy assessments. The 25-year veteran of mental health diagnosed Cathy with “off the charts” trauma, Borderline Personality Disorder and “the worse case of PTSD” he had ever seen. He also diagnosed me with Depression and Battered Spouse Syndrome while planning to address my addiction through individual counseling.

In light of the diagnosis, Cathy declared the therapist incompetent and useless, vowing never to go back. She made her choice of “Do Not” and carried through on her promise to never seek help, despite my pleadings over the ensuing months and years. Her behaviors of ignoring her mental health and disbelieving her mental illnesses only grew stronger and more determined. She refused to believe anything could be “wrong” with her. I sought help and therapy, but Cathy refused to. Our marriage continued to decline. We both suffered. Our children suffered. We both died slowly as our connection was destroyed. The rift between us grew too wide and the painful marriage came to an end in 2016 when I filed for divorce after nearly committing suicide.

I don’t believe, nor will ever say, that our failed marriage was solely Cathy’s fault. I certainly contributed. Yet I often wonder how different our marriage could have been had we both successfully embraced the idea of healing and improving our mental health. I know my own shortcomings and mental illness added to the demise of our marriage, though to what extent I do not know. While it’s impossible to ascertain that, I do have a pretty amazing comparative case study that gives some incredible insight into what can be if the “Do” instead of the “Do Not” option is chosen.

I met Tacy in 2018, and from the start, she was open with me about her mental health struggles. Diagnosed with mental illness as a teenager, she has spent much of her life trying to reduce the stigma around mental illnesses while advocating for mental health. This blog, just one of her many efforts to encourage us all to better our mental health, shows Tacy’s willingness and desire to improve. Throughout our dating years and into our marriage the topic of mental health was discussed frequently. At the time we met, Tacy was not participating in professional therapy or counseling. She worked for years to find ways to manage and improve her mental health and spent time in those activities often. She felt her mental state improving over time and became more confident in her ability to manage her mental illness without professional counseling or medication. All of that changed, however, when we married and I brought a slew of new challenges with me that strained our marriage from the start and aggravated the triggers of her depression, anxiety and OCD, as well as my own mental illnesses.

The first year of our marriage was riddled with extreme difficulty, enough to thoroughly destroy both our mental health. As we each struggled, our difficulties became more profound as our anxieties, fear and baggage were triggered and fed by both our poor communication habits. Our mental health rapidly declined as we felt the other just seemed to want to beat on a droid with a stick rather than help. (Another Star Wars reference . . . feel free to roll your eyes.) After months of trying to force our way through it all (not a Star Wars pun), our marriage was on the brink of collapse.

I decided we needed to try professional help and/or medication. I knew I loved Tacy enough that I couldn’t give up until we had exhausted every effort. When I first broached the subject of seeking help with her, she informed me of her history with prescribed mental health medication. In short, it sucks tremendously for her. Her body rejects it faster than Luke rejects Leia after learning she’s his sister (ugh, I can’t help myself). Restless legs, sleepless nights and nausea are all just the base symptoms, not including the upgrades. And yet, despite already know this, Tacy loved me enough to try again. For months, she suffered through those difficulties, trying various medications with little or no positive effect on her mental health. Her act of trying meant so much to me. I started therapy to work on my own issues, and Tacy exercised her love for me by continuing to look for ways to improve her mental health, too. Her choices bolstered our marriage enough to keep us going.

After recognizing the suffering she endured on medication, I encouraged Tacy to stop taking it and look into professional therapy instead. Her previous experiences in counseling, both in her youth and in her previous marriage, left her wary of it’s efficacy. I became distraught at the thought of another spouse not taking steps to improve her mental health, terrified that I would, once again, be alone in my battle against the effects of mental illness on our marriage. I think Tacy sensed my despair, and she once again exercised love for me and agreed to seek professional therapy with me in the form of marriage counseling.

Holy crap, it did not go well. Much like Luke’s failed attempt to raise his ship from the swamp (I swear I’ve watched other movies!), our attempt at marriage counseling actually made things worse. It would have been easy for Tacy to point out that failure, to use it as proof she tried or that we were beyond hope or to simply stopped trying. She could have easily pointed out my own mental illnesses, put the burden on me alone, or deny her part in our difficulties. But she didn’t. She accepted she had things that needed to be addressed. She accepted that she had areas she could improve in, and she continued to show her love for me.

Tacy found another therapist for herself and we both started making progress in our individual therapy. Through trial and, I believe, divine intervention, she discovered EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and ART (Accelerated Resolution Therapy), both of which have far surpassed expectations in their ability to help her. Both of us working on our mental health compounded the healing effect as we asked each other about our sessions, encouraging each other and holding one another accountable. This compounded effect is more potent than we can achieve in our individual journeys. It takes finding the right tools and treatments, built on the acknowledgment and loving desire to improve, both for our spouse/significant other and ourselves. The simple, yet not at all simple, difference between my marriages came down to the Do or Do Not choice and my spouse’s response to it. Despite additional, extremely severe difficulties recently thrust upon us by my mental illnesses, our marriage has steadily improved and I find myself eager for the marriage I’ve always dreamed of.

We, as a society, need to get over the idea that struggling with mental health means there’s something “wrong” with us or that we’re “bad.” Those thoughts hinder healing. If your car starts sputtering do you immediately think it’s bad and give up on it? Or do you even hesitate to take it to the mechanic? What about if you have severe abdominal pain? Do you hide it away in shame or immediately seek professional help? Why does our mental health deserve any less care or concern? We don’t even need to feel broken to seek a tune-up.

Addressing mental health is often very difficult. Simply agreeing to work on our mental health does not mean it won’t take work, patience, trial and error or be pain free. Every marriage/relationship has problems, differences and difficulties that must be worked through. And addressing our mental health successfully is not a magic button or fix for all our problems. We must recognize those things and dedicate ourselves to whatever “Do” is needed.

I could continue to make Star Wars-themed analogies and anecdotes, but they’re beginning to feel forced (pun intended). I do not dismiss my role in my marriages, I only wish to extend an invitation to reflect upon how our mental health and our willingness to improve it can affect our marriage and other relationships. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “We cannot go back and change the beginning, but we can start where we are and change how it ends.” If we find ourselves struggling, let’s not hesitate to seek what we can do to improve rather than simply sit back and let the outcome determine itself. Don’t wait. Do or Do Not, there is no try.

One-legged Avocet

Last week I went birding on Antelope Island. Besides the dark clouds that made lighting terrible, it was a good day with a variety of birds spotted, and even a coyote I got some good pictures of. As I was driving on the causeway off of the island, I spotted hundreds of American avocets. I stopped to take pictures when I noticed an avocet that only had one leg. I observed for awhile as this single bird with one leg hopped about, using its wings as help, to get from one place to another. It seemed to stand/balance on it’s one leg just fine and was integrated with the other avocets. Integrated, a part of, yet still different and dealing with a disability.

I thought about how lately I’ve felt like a one-legged avocet, still living life among everyone else, doing my best to get along—and surviving, yes—yet also struggling as I do things differently. On the outside it might seem like I’m like everyone else, but I often feel so alone, dealing with things that no one around me has gone through. I have no one to turn to for help or guidance, no one who understands. I’m among the other avocets, but with one leg, hopping from place to place, standing, balancing, and most of the time I really am okay, but sometimes the boulder on top of me weighs me down, threatening to crush me. I don’t let it. God doesn’t let it. He helps me. He’s there. So is the boulder.

The thing is, I bet a lot of people around me who look like normal, two-legged avocets—or normal two-legged people—feel like the one-legged avocet, too. They are among everyone else, seemingly getting along fine, when really they are going through something too. They may have a boulder on top of them. They may be living in the rubble of bombs that keep going off. They may feel alone. They may not have anyone else around who understands. Yet, somehow, remembering this, helps me to feel less alone. It reminds me that there can be connection even when we aren’t going through the same things. Empathy isn’t about understanding or knowing what it’s like. It’s simply about loving and being there for someone no matter what. Maybe—just maybe—we are all like the one-legged avocet. And more alike than we think.

Real Life Experiences

I love when real life experiences can teach us valuable lessons. It’s one of the best ways I learn. I had such an example earlier this week.

My kids and I were on a long drive to a destination for spring break. The drive was going great and we were making good time. Despite a slight detour that only added maybe 10-15 minutes to our drive it looked like we were going to arrive even earlier than I’d expected. Then things went sideways real fast—or maybe I should say real slow.

Traffic on the freeway came to a sudden stop. For the next 2 ½ hours we barely crawled along the freeway (only went about 6 miles in this time) because of a crash that had shut down a part of the road. Eventually, we got to a point where the freeway was still closed and we were detoured back the way we had come! We had to get off and head in the opposite direction on a tiny two-lane highway in the middle of nowhere. Because so many other people were doing the same thing the highway was clogged and also went very slowly. It took us another two hours to finally get back onto the freeway, only about 5 miles south of where we had gotten off.

Much of this journey was very stressful and frustrating. We needed to go to the bathroom. We were hungry. We were tired and needed to sleep. We should have gotten to our destination around 6:00 PM, but ended up not getting there until around 11:00 PM. It wasn’t all bad, though. Some of the journey was fun, too. We rocked out to music. We told jokes. We laughed. We had interesting conversations. At one point I did almost break down and cry from the stress and anxiety of it all, but decided I wanted to be a good example to my kids that even when things go wrong you keep going. And we did keep going. We did make it to our destination.

I thought about how this parallels my own life recently. I was on this path in life that was going great. I knew where I was headed and knew how to get there. Then things went sideways real fast. I had to take a detour that has taken me on a new path that looks very, very different than the one I was on. Sometimes it has been stressful and frustrating. It has definitely been a difficult journey. But there have also been good things. I have learned and grown so much because of this new path I’m on. I’ve still had joy and happiness. I’ve laughed. I’ve loved. And I know I will make it to my destination. It may be in a different way. It may take longer than I thought it would. But I know I will make it, just like we made it to our destination for spring break. Since then, we’ve done so many fun things and have made some great memories! I have hope and faith that my new destination in life will also, eventually, be full of fun and produce amazing memories.

What have your real-life experiences teach you? I’m so incredibly grateful for mine.

Faith in Humanity Restored

Sometimes we need our faith in humanity restored. At least I do. The past couple of months it has been hard not to focus on people who judge, condemn and selfishly choose to hurt others. I have seen a lot of that lately. Luckily, I’ve also seen the good, so I’m trying harder to focus on that and find ways to be that good myself.

Last weekend I went on a solo birding trip to the Uintah Basin in Eastern Utah. Long story shorter, forty-five minutes out from my hotel, in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere, I stopped at this amazing steakhouse. I’ve been a couple other times and loved it, so I decided to stop again. Unfortunately, I locked my keys in my car. I realized as soon as I shut the door and was so upset with myself. I walked into the restaurant and told them what had happened, and several people who worked there immediately jumped in to help me.

First, they gave me the number for dispatch. I called and found out the police didn’t have the equipment to help. I was given the number to a locksmith, that didn’t work. The people in the restaurant helped me try to find one, but there wasn’t one anywhere within a reasonable distance. Next, I was told to call an auto body shop, but it was closed as was the only other one remotely nearby.

I had no idea what I was going to do until one lady said she had broken into her car before and could try to help me. We went outside in the cold and snow armed with a knife and fly swatter. Go ahead, laugh. I’m laughing right now thinking about it. No, the knife and fly swatter didn’t work. But these people, these complete strangers, rallied behind me and said they were going to make sure I got my keys.

They told me to sit down and order, which I did. Half way through eating my meal one of the servers said a crew of people were out trying to get into my car. I asked if I should go help and she told me no, that they would take care of it.

Just after finishing my meal, someone came and handed me my keys! A mom had been called, as had a neighbor and a boyfriend. Between them all they were able to get my keys out. I was so amazed by the kindness of these strangers and the lengths they went through to make sure I had my keys back and could continue on my way. It reminded me that even though there are selfish, uncaring people in the world, there are also good people.

I got another reminder the day I got home from my trip. Life has been so incredibly difficult the past couple of months. Part of the difficulty has been a huge financial burden. One of my neighbors selflessly brought by some fresh eggs from her chickens. It was so thoughtful. And then again, I went to get my haircut yesterday from a wonderful neighbor. After she had finished and I went to pay her she told me she wanted to do something nice for me and wouldn’t take my money. I got emotional at the incredibly kind gesture that meant so much and really is a great help. I started thinking of all the people who have been there for me and helped in various ways the past few months—family, friends, neighbors, members of my church congregation. I truly feel like these people have been angels on earth to me. I have needed them, and they have blessed me. They have also inspired me to try to be like them. I, too, want to be part of the group who sees beyond their own struggles and reaches out to love and help others. My faith in humanity has been restored.

A Different Take on Daylight Savings Time

It’s 7:30 PM, and it’s still light outside. Heaven.

I know people tend to struggle with the hour jump ahead and most years I see a slew of complaining posts or memes about it losing an hour of sleep. Even though it happens every year, so it’s no surprise, people still complain. Sometimes it’s hard to see as it goes on and on and on, long past the actual day because I LOVE when Daylight Savings Time starts. Numerous studies have shown how beneficial it is for mental health to have more daylight in the evening. I know it is for me.

For most people it takes one day to one week for their bodies to adjust to the time change. Yet my body and mind never adjust to the move back to Standard Time in the fall, when the sun sets early and there is little light in the evening. Part of my struggle has to do with winter and less light in general, but a lot of it has to do with when the light is out. So from the moment we set our clocks back and supposedly get that extra hour of sleep to months later—not a day or a week, but months—my depression, anxiety and OCD rage. And when the day comes that we set the clocks ahead and some people lose an hour of sleep (it’s never really affected me much) my depression, anxiety and OCD lighten substantially.

So while a lot of people are out there complaining and sharing memes about how horrible DST is, I am here rejoicing—so happily rejoicing—that it’s now 7:42 PM and there’s still a little light out!

Music and Mental Health

Last weekend I went to a University band concert that was dedicated to mental health awareness. What an amazing concept—to have a concert dedicated to mental health. They played a piece called Unbroken by Randall Standridge. The program notes told the story of his mother who suffered from depression in a time when it was completely taboo to talk about mental illness. Eventually she had a complete mental breakdown and spent over a year in the hospital. During that time his dad kept the family together. After his mom got out of the hospital mental illness and mental health issues were spoken of openly and freely in their home. Standridge himself suffers from depression. He talked about how his mom didn’t break, the bond between his parents didn’t break and his family didn’t break.

The piece was absolutely amazing. There was a lot of dissonance, which accurately represents mental illness. But there were also moments of harmony and beauty. Even in the midst of mental illness there can be good times, there can be moments of beauty. And just because we have mental illness doesn’t mean we’re broken. We are still human. We are still whole. And we are beautiful.

The piece ended in dissonance, which I didn’t take as defeat or pessimism. I think part of it was to show that mental illness is real, and it needs to be discussed. More needs to be done about it. And for me, personally, I thought about how sometimes mental illness is situational. Sometimes people get the help they need and they overcome it, or it goes away. But for some of us, mental illness is lifelong. It never leaves. We may get help, we may learn to manage it, but it is always here, always a part of our lives, lurking in shadows, in the corners and crevices—when it’s not right out in the open doing everything to pull us down. That was what the ending dissonance meant to me. It was powerful. So powerful.

Something I loved was that the director gave his students the opportunity to share their own experiences with mental health. There were probably at least a dozen paragraphs in the program notes about personal struggles with mental illness. That was also powerful. I am so grateful this director (who I play under in a community band) gave these students a voice. Sometimes just being able to put it into words and share—even anonymously—helps.

A lot of the students wrote about how music had helped them and made a difference in their lives and their mental health journey. I, too, connect with that. Music has had an incredible impact on me my whole life, but especially lately, as I’ve struggled with all the boulders that have been dropped and bombs that have gone off—as I live in the rubble. I already wrote about a piece by Two Steps From Hell called Resilience. I have listened to that piece over and over and over again. The band Shinedown has also meant a lot to me. I’ve always loved them and considered them one of my favorite bands, but they have meant more to me than ever lately. Some songs I’ve known for years have taken on new meaning. Others that have always meant something mean even more. I listen to them over and over and over again as well. I have found strength, courage, hope, determination and peace in their songs. I’m so grateful for the difference music has made, and continues to make, in my life—and the lives of others. It may sound simplistic, but music truly can make a difference in our mental health—in small moments, long days and over the span of a lifetime.

My Path

Recently, I’ve been thinking about Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. It’s been over twenty years since I read it in sophomore honors English. We had to memorize Mark Antony’s speech after Caesar was murdered, and for some reason the beginning of the speech has stayed with me all these years. The part that’s been on my mind are the lines:

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.

How often is that true in real life? How often does the good get completely forgotten or tossed aside when a mistake is made? As if a mistake or wrong-doing can just erase the good. I don’t believe that. But I have seen a lot of it lately. I have seen how quickly people can forget, ignore and erase the good someone has done as soon as they make a mistake. They seem to forget that they are human, too, and have also made mistakes. It’s easy to play God when you’re not the one being judged.

It is impossible to know or understand what someone is going through. Notice how I didn’t add when you’re not in their shoes? Even when we’re in the same or similar shoes, nothing is completely duplicated. Every situation and every person is different. The last month has been the greatest struggle of my life. I have had difficult decisions to make. I know others who have been in very similar circumstances and have made the same choices I have, and years down the road, now, for them, they are living happy, fulfilling lives. I also know others who have made different decisions who are also now living happy, fulfilling lives.

Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken also comes to mind. Some people think it’s a poem about non-conformity, but it is, at it’s simplest and purest, about just making a decision. Frost wrote it as joke for a friend who he’d go walking with. The friend could never decide which path to take and often wished they’d taken a different one. In the poem Frost describes both paths as being “fair” and pretty much the same. Even in similar circumstances, the path we choose may be different—but that doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong. Both paths can be right, and whatever path we take is what makes the difference.

If I could go back and change the things that led to the incredibly difficult situation I’m in right now, I would. But I can’t. I could obsess about it. I could judge. I could condemn. I could allow myself to be led by anger. But none of that does anyone any good. I repeat—none of that does anyone any good. I have seen so many blessings, and, I would say, even miracles in the last month. I have felt a peace and strength I never knew existed. My understanding and testimony of Christ’s atonement has grown significantly, and that means more to me than I could even begin to describe. I have felt, more than I ever have before, the Holy Ghost guiding me on the right path. I will hold people accountable for the wrong choices they have made, and I will also remember the good choices they’ve made. I will hold onto forgiveness, compassion and understanding because that is what brings me the peace I need in my life. I will happily leave the burden of judgment to an all-knowing, all-wise and completely all-loving Father in Heaven. This is my path. From where I’m standing it is the one less traveled, and it is what is making all the difference.


Hans Christian Andersen said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” I love words. I’ve loved and treasured them since I was young. But sometimes they simply cannot speak or convey true depth of emotion the way music can and does. A song that has spoken to me, that I’ve been listening to over and over again, is Resilience by Audiomachine, on their album Rise. Resilience.

There’s this trendy thing that’s been around for years now where you pick out a word, and that’s your word for the year. I’ve never done it because—well, because it’s trendy, and I hate trends. Ask my kids and they’ll tell you one of my favorite things to say is, “I’m not a sheep.” Meaning, I’m not going to follow all the other sheep walking off the cliff. But this word is powerful to me right now—just like the song. Resilience. “The capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Life is hard. I’m trying to withstand and recover, to be resilient.

But I don’t think it’s just about surviving. It’s about thriving through the trials and difficulties. There are times in my life I have merely survived. This time, despite being the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through, I want to do more than survive. I want to find joy. I already have. I want to continue being grateful for the blessings, even when another bomb explodes. I can find gems even in the rubble. I am resilient. I will have resilience. The song by Audiomachine conveys so perfectly what I have felt about this word and everything it means. The music speaks when the words fail. Resilience. Not just my word for this year, but for my life. Resilience.