I am a wife to a husband created just for me, a family member of a somewhat crazy, totally fun, overly open, completely selfless family who loves me so much, a daughter of two loving parents, a social worker who loves people, a friend of some of the best people in the world, a Christian who loves God and is so thankful for what He has done for me, a photographer, an overcomer of trauma and illness, and an advocate for those who need it!
I was born in Cincinnati to two parents who loved me very much. Unfortunately, they were divorced when I was very young and I didn’t have much of a relationship with my dad again until my late teen years. I had a rare illness when I was younger which led to lots of fear, lots of medical treatments and ultimately a diagnosis and use of MEGA steroids (resulting in returning to 5th grade at 200+ pounds.) My family loved me very much and we were very rich in some ways, but not financially. I went to a private school where most everyone else was rich financially and I think I was the only one from a “broken home.” My uniforms looked different, my shoes were the K-mart brand, I was chunky and I didn’t have friends. What I did have was an amazing mother who loved me, protected me and advocated for me. I also had opportunities at this school to grow academically and be challenged and I remember loving academics. I also had a loving extended family who made sure I had a village to help raise me.
In 1992, we moved from Ohio to Arizona and I started public school for the first time. It was an adjustment, but overall it was a great change. There were more kids like me. Not everyone had money or a “perfect life” I had to find my way and figure out what friends I would migrate towards and I finally HAD friends. I went through some tough times like most kids do in high school. I was trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted. I hung out with the kids that were little on the fringe at times, but was always torn because school was so important to me. I loved putting energy into school work and I was on my way for an academic scholarship. See, I am a planner. I had a 6-year plan and it included getting a scholarship to Arizona State University. Well, unfortunately in my Junior year of high school, while taking honors classes and wanting to graduate as soon as possible, I had another health scare. Another RARE illness.
More doctors, more hospital stays and more guesses at a diagnosis. Until, finally, they diagnosed me and treated me correctly. I was told it was a chronic illness and would have to undergo more spinal taps and maybe have a shunt put in. They didn’t know what caused it, but they were sure it wasn’t curable. I missed a lot of school and when I tried to go back to school, I was so behind. In school, math and science really build on concepts week to week and after missing months, I felt like I had to start over. So, I consulted my guidance counselor, considered my options and talked to my mom. We decided I would take the GED test and see if I got a high enough score to go right to ASU. It wasn’t my plan. I wanted to graduate in the top of my class, but I also didn’t want to graduate late. This would give me a chance to graduate early. So I did. I received my score, “dropped out” of high school and enrolled in community college. My health was improving and my symptoms never returned. I never had to have another spinal tap or any more procedures.
College was a journey in and of itself. I didn’t know what I wanted to be and to make a long story short, I ended up studying Social Work and LOVING it! I graduated from ASU in 2002 with my Bachelors Degree. Then, I spent a semester in Mexico learning Spanish at the University there. Around that time, I entered into an abusive relationship. I don’t talk much about this, especially publicly because until now I was so ashamed that me, a social worker, an educated woman with a loving family, would stay in a relationship for 3 LONG years of HELL. Thankfully, I got out of this relationship and got into counseling.
In late 2005, I met the man of my dreams and fell in love. We were engaged shortly after and married in in 2006. I can’t believe that we just celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary. I wish I could say that it has been all amazing since then, but as we began our relationship, I had another health scare. This time it shook me to my core. I knew something was off for almost 2 years before it got really bad. During that time, I tried medication, different doctors, even therapy. I thought I was losing it! By 2007, as a newlywed, I was falling apart.
And that is where my journey to find health and wellness really began. Stay tuned to hear more about my journey, what I learned, what was hard, what I wish I would have known and all the fun things life entailed over the last 10+ years.
Thank you so much for reading.