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It's a NEW Year! { 2018!!! }

Welcome to my first blog post! If you’ve made it this far, you have probably figured out a secret of mine - I love pink! People, this is not a joke. Well, some might consider it a joke, but I choose to view it as a part of who I am. As this is my first blog post, I have to admit - it’s a LITTLE daunting stepping outside of my comfort zone and giving others a glimpse of my personal life, off the stage. But, I am ready and excited to start this new adventure, so let's get started!

Before I formally start this first post, I want to get a few things out into the open. First of all, I just turned the dreaded 30, but I am actually quite excited about what the Lord is doing in my life. Also, if you didn’t already know, I have struggled with anxiety and fear for the majority of my life. Some may not know this about me because I am able to perform onstage and therefore appear to be normal - and I am! I plan on sharing more of my story in future posts, but I wanted to share this little bit about me at the onset to help give context to this (and future) blog posts.

It is a New Year (2018!), and I can think of no better way to start than by praising the Lord for all of the wonderful things He is doing in my life! So, here are 30 things that I am THANKFUL for and things I have OVERCOME in my journey so far: 1. My Salvation - Jesus saved me, but it wasn’t until several years ago that I realized I wasn’t walking the walk or talking the talk. I wasn’t living it out loud. I am not perfect, but I am so thankful for a good and gracious Father who has seen me at my worst and still loves me despite all my flaws and mistakes. 2. Overcoming Bullying - it has changed my thinking, and I try to choose kindness in every aspect of my life. 3. Going to Doctors - I used to not be able to walk into a doctor's office, a struggle stemming from some childhood fears. I now regularly go to various doctors and count each visit as exciting progress. 4. Overcoming Agoraphobia - the fear of leaving your home. I used to HATE leaving my house. Fear was controlling my life. Thankfully, I have been saved from that and am able to go out whenever I please! 5. Graduating from TCU – I graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre… and with honors! WHAT? 6. The Porch at Watermark - this is where I recommitted my life to Christ and met one of my dearest friends, Nicole! 7. Family - we may not always agree on everything, but in the end, we are always there for each other! 8. Florida Road Trip 2010 – this trip was the turning point in my battle with anxiety. For the first time, I traveled out of state and without my family – a HUGE step for someone struggling with agoraphobia. Thank you to my friend Elena for being there for me. 9. Living Away from my Parents - most people would want this before high school! At the start, it was very difficult for me, but now I am more independent than ever before. 10. Driving on Highways - this may seem trivial, but my struggle with agoraphobia made this very difficult. 11. Transparency – I am not afraid to talk about my struggles openly. Of course it can be scary but I have learned that being truthful and real with myself and others is so important. 12. A Significant Reduction in Panic Attacks. 13. Competing in the Miss Texarkana 2011 Pageant - I won! :) 14. Performing Professionally in Plays and Musicals all over Dallas/Fort Worth - I have played many wonderful roles, including my dream role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical! 15. Running a Half-Marathon! I did not pass out = success. 16. Growing in Acceptance and Self-Worth - in process! 17. Regular Quiet Times with the Lord - these have given me a better outlook on life, and He has given me an amazing sense of peace. 18. Friends - I wouldn’t say that I have very many, but the close ones I do have are ones I wouldn’t trade for anything. 19. My Dogs (AKA My Children) - Doralee (King Charles Cavalier) and Ellie (Chihuahua) bring so much love and joy to my life. 20. Being an Adult (or "Adulting") - yes, it’s hard and not always easy, but I’m doing it and counting that as a success! 21. Seeing Shows on Broadway - what an inspiration! Every single performer on the stage makes me want to be better and work harder! My favorite ones that have inspired me the most are The Color Purple & Dear Evan Hanson. 22. Mentors - learning from a few ladies I know has shown me by example what it's like to live a life FOR Jesus, how to be a better wife, and how to love and serve others. 23. Amazing Parents - it’s true! My parents have been married 42 years and raised four children. I do believe we all turned out okay - but I am biased!

24. My Husband, Max - respectful, kind, loving, humble... the list goes on! 25. Going Out of the Country for my Honeymoon - Playa del Carmen, Mexico totally counts! Just waiting to go back… Max? 26. Traveling - I used to not want to leave my bedroom, and now, all I want to do is see the world! 27. Flying - I used to have a crippling fear of flying. I have now successfully flown on an airplane without my mom or husband! 28. Understanding Vasevagel Syncope - this has been a large source of my anxiety. I will explain more in future posts, but for now, I will simply say that I am thankful for God's wisdom in further understanding this condition I have. 29. Getting Blood Drawn - this was another huge fear of mine. I have now done it without passing out - a huge victory for me! 30. My New Blog - I’ve wanted to do this for years, and now it’s finally happened! I am so excited to see where it goes!

So, if you know me or have seen me on stage, it may seem like I have it all together, right? Not at all. Everyone has a story and their own personal struggles. I am taking a leap of faith in sharing my story, and I am SO excited to take this journey with all of you!

Oh, and by the way - there really is no secret. I love pink and it brightens my day! I think the world needs more pink and love in it! Can I get an AMEN? Instead of making New Year's resolutions, I am going to use a word that I want to embody for the entire year of 2018 - brave. What’s your word? Here's to year 30 and to being brave!!

The Photos featured in this Blog post are by Stephanie Strobl Photography – She’s my BFF & she’s amazing! Follow her!

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