I Found My Inner Strength with Chicken Soup . . .For the Soul

Longtime readers of Kissing the Frog know that I have been through my fair share of hard things. Icky stuff like cancer and autism and infertility and miscarriage and bed rest and birth defects.

Each of these things has sucked in it's own way; but I can't say any have broken me. No, not even losing my sweet Joey to cancer has broken me. It can't. None of it can. Some days I feel like I don't have a choice but to go on and forge ahead. For my spouse, for my children, for me. 

As someone who grew up living a simple life with an extremely loving and supportive family, I've had it pretty good compared to some other people. Many people have faced challenges that I'll never begin to understand. Since Joey's cancer battle and death, I've begun to say to people that just because I've experienced something worse than you have, it doesn't make your hard thing any less difficult for you. It's all in what we know. It's all in what we know as our personal experience.

I am so honored to be sharing my personal experience in the newest Chicken Soup for the Soul book, Find Your Inner Strength, which is officially on sale today. In my essay, "Bit by Bit," I share how I, along with my family, am healing a bit every day since Joey's loss.


Find Your Inner Strength includes 101 stories of resilience, positive thinking, and overcoming challenges. Included are sections on overcoming self-destructive behavior, fighting health challenges, powering through loss (in which my story is included), moving past disabilities, accepting the new normal, accepting what makes you different, learning to reach out, rising to the challenge, pursuing your dreams, and taking back your life. I cannot wait to read the other stories in this anthology!

Chicken Soup for the Soul has been around for over 20 years. It's tag line - "Changing lives one story at a time" - alludes to their powerful purpose. They allow writers to share their stories in the hopes that they just might change someone's life. You can follow Chicken Soup for the Soul on Facebook and Twitter. You can get your copy of
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength: 101 Empowering Stories of Resilience, Positive Thinking, and Overcoming Challenges from Amazon (this is an affiliate link), from the Chicken Soup for the Soul website , or anywhere books are sold.

OR you can get one from me. I have a copy to give away to a reader who can tell me:

What is the greatest challenge you have overcome and how did you do it? 

The rules are simple:
1. Go to my Facebook page and find the pinned post at the top.
2. Answer the question honestly. Speak from your heart.
3. You will get an automatic "like" from me.
4. The post with the most likes by 10:00 p.m. Central Time Wednesday night 10/29 will win the book. In the event of a tie, I will ask my fellow BlogU planning team bloggers to help decide the winner.
5. I'm only sending the book to residents of the US. Sorry, if I were a famous author I could afford to ship anywhere. Maybe someday. :)

That's it. Good luck finding your inner strength!


It's not perfect until it's about to change

There is an off-Broadway musical called "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change." Even though I've never seen it and I suspect it's about marriage and relationships, I've been thinking about that phrase a lot lately.

It's no huge secret that I hate change. Well, maybe I don't hate it, but I'm definitely scared of it. Sometimes it's kind of a thrilling scary feeling, but mostly it's just a dread filled scary feeling.

We're moving, you know. We've been building a house for almost a year. No, it's not some huge mansion that has to take that long. Rather, it's just Karma's cruel joke of stretching out the dread and the fear and the unknown for as long as It can.

Yes, I'm excited for a new house - our house. It will be brand new, never lived in, everything picked out by us new. All ours. But, it's a new neighborhood and a new routine and a new grocery store and new drugstore and different Target. If Hubby had his way, it would mean a new school for the boys; but I refused. That's too much change for them. Okay, me. Too much change for me.

I wasn't thrilled when we bought our current house. Although it wasn't exactly sight unseen, it was sort of. You see, we were living on Long Island with three babies under the age of two, and Hubby really did not want to fly back to Nebraska to look for houses. His sister was moving out of her house, so he decided that we would buy it. Though it was the perfect house for us - four bedrooms, three car garage, and a fenced back yard - it wasn't what I had pictured as perfect when I was thinking of our first family home.

We spent years and a lot of money making it perfect for us. We have a huge master suite, a beautiful kitchen, and a cozy family room. And the icing on the cake is this:

We love our outdoor fireplace.

Who wouldn't want it, right?

It was never our plan to live here permanently. We always wanted to build our dream home. But time and the destructive nature of four little boys changed our plans. We are building another modest home about the same size as our current one. We're adding another bedroom so all the boys can have their own, and of course an open concept living and eating area. For me, the best part about our new home isn't the huge, walk-in pantry or laundry that is separate from the entrance to the house; but it is the flat private street we will be on. I can truly say to the boys, "Go play in the street," and I know they will be fine.

For more than 10 minutes, Slim helped a caterpillar cross
our new street, and not one car drove by. 8 cars probably
would have driven by on our current street.

We currently live on a busy through street which is a hill and a curve. I hate it. It wasn't something I realized before we bought this house. We also had virtually no young kids in the neighborhood for our boys to play with.

But now, they are older and more careful on their bikes and friends from school have been found within blocks of our house. Every evening after homework, there are boys here or our boys are there. The other moms and I joke about how it's a shame that they are all playing now that we will be moving. They will have to find new neighborhood friends, and I will have to get to know those moms and those kids.

Just when it became perfect, it's changing; and that's giving me anxiety.

Potential buyers have looked at our house; and while the feedback has been mostly positive, it's some of their negative comments that are getting to me:

"We're concerned about all the oak wood."
"The basement was a disappointment."
"The carpet needs to be replaced."
"It's too close to the neighbors."
"The trees in the backyard look sick."

I polished all of those cabinets myself, thankyouverymuch, and I know the basement isn't totally cool and the wood is oak, but the house was built in 1988. The carpet is beautiful and is only dirty in one high traffic spot and the trees have been lovingly trimmed every year and our neighbors are soooo quiet and nice. Oh, how I will miss our across the street, very nice neighbors.

Our house is perfect.

Only we want a change. We want a change. That's good, right? Change can be good. When the Earth changes from this:

to this:

it's good.

When babies grow and learn to walk and talk and use the potty it's good, right?

When little boys become big boys and help their brothers and get good grades and develop interests and friends, that's good, isn't it?

And when life moves forward, even though it's a little scary and a little uncertain and even if it means you have to change some things you don't really want to change, that's okay, right?


I often make the mistake of complaining to the sticking point. I mean, me. Stuck. Stuck in a rut and a routine that, while it is comfortable, it really doesn't make sense anymore. While easy, it's not the best for me. Change is not always easy. Sometimes it's really hard. Sometimes we gnash our teeth and dig in our heels and whine and cry and complain about it.

Then it comes anyway. And it's just fine. In fact, it can be pretty perfect sometimes if we would only give it a chance.

I try not to get too excited about change. I don't want to set myself up for a disappointment. I guess that's my own personal defense strategy. Don't plan, don't get excited. Just let it happen. Change happens, whether we  I like it or not.

I was talking to someone the other day saying that just about the time that things become perfect and easy, that's the time they need to change. Without change, after all, how can we grow?

Even if something is not perfect, it doesn't mean we can't make it that way. We've done it before. I think we might be able to do it again.