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The First Time I Met Grief

The first time I met grief, I was 21 years old. Sitting in my college apartment - using dial-up to search for jobs now that the real world was headed my way. After hours of searching, I got off my computer, and my phone was ringing.

Did you hear? Are you okay?

I hadn’t heard til that moment. And being okay was suddenly a thing of the past. With frantic cries and calls to loved ones and friends, I needed someone with me since I was alone when I received the news. My friend rushed over as we waited for my dad to make his way into town.

My first action was to have my friend turn his pictures around that were on my bulletin board. The guilt came rushing in so much that I couldn’t bear to see his face knowing we had left things undone at the time of his death. My dad arrives, and he just lets me cry - comforts me as only a dad can. 

We wait for answers and plans and check on others. He then drives me home so I can be close to loved ones and his family if they need me. All I remember as I get to my childhood home is hugging my mom on the garage floor. I vividly remember retreating to a dark bedroom where I lay for hours trying to make sense of this loss - this guilt that is so powerful I can hardly breathe.

The funeral comes, and there a few things I remember - his mom, her asking me to sit with the family, praying the Serenity prayer huddled with his aunts, and my dad not leaving my side despite the heat. I didn't know where I fit in at this time as our history together was left without any closure. I retreated back to that dark room and just needed to be left alone.

My parents thought otherwise as they sought out a counselor for me. His parents reached out and wanted me to visit them when life returned to its new normal. Still, I felt guilt. It was physically heavy, and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. For someone who likes order and plans, I couldn't handle that I did not have control. I couldn't deal with the fact that so much was left unsaid and undone. No one was mad at me, but none of that mattered. 

This August, we approach his 40th birthday. The hard part is his birthday is also the day we lost him. I won't be alone in grieving him - his beautiful mom needs prayers. His fun-loving dad does too. He has nieces and nephews and cousins who adored him, and I adore each of them. This day cannot be about me though it's extremely painful to revisit. 

The first time I met grief, the wind was knocked from me. The second and third time I met it, the same. My breath was gone, and my stages with each rotate in different directions - never in the same pattern as the other losses. I often think this why I am tired and anxious - actually, I know it is. With all the thoughts and trying to keep up with grief stages, you can get just plain exhausted. I will be tired thinking of the loss, but his family will be more so. And for that, I ask for prayers.

I've never written about this loss. There is still much I'd like to keep to myself because of the situation, but I want prayers for him and his family. And I don't want that first time I met grief to be the only thing we think of when we think of him. He LOVED his family. He LOVED classic country music; he was the best two-stepper in Texas and beyond. He was a die-hard Aggie and wore his white Aggie cap daily. He was simple. He was fun. He was an amazing artist. 

The first time I met grief is very hard to recall. I picture my dad with me each step of the way, physically and now as my heavenly protector. Grief never, ever ends. With anniversaries, birthdays, or the days you just feel their absence, it's always there. I hope he's okay with me sharing more about him. I think he would be okay with it, but it's one of the questions I won't get to ask. 

When I think of this time of loss, I know God had plans for me, for him, and for his family and friends. We have all done well in our lives though we wish we could see how well he would've done, too. None of us will wake up one day and not grieve - especially not this month. We grieve for him and with each other. 


Surviving Summer In Texas

Hey, friends! It's been a hot minute since I've blogged - like a legit HOT minute because we are melting here in Texas. Honestly, I have LOVED this summer with my peeps. The hubs was off, we traveled our great state, we VBS'ed and camped our way through some fun, and then the hubs started his new jobby job, and more...

I mentioned recently on Instagram that I was feeling lost in the blogging world, and I would write when I FELT the words coming. Well, this weekend a funk found me, and I knew getting back to my creative corner would pull me out of the muck. Thus, you are here reading some of the ways we (and I mean mainly ME) are surviving summer in the Lone Star State.


Luckily, we have some camping professionals in our tribe, so we hooked up with them and four other families to hang out in Lake Travis. Lake Travis will always be a favorite because we got married there, but it's also SO DARN PRETTY. We still have quite a bit of camping knowledge to acquire, but we are learning with each trip. In fact, you can see some simple camping tips HERE.

Stay tuned, too! I plan to write a post on some of our favorite places to travel in Texas. You don't want to miss the hidden gems we've discovered.


I've got my Orangetheory Fitness routine down, and thanks to my friend and fellow OTF lover, Jamie, I've been getting in my workouts throughout the summer months. OTF does not have childcare, but Jamie and I piggy-back classes while one watches the kids. We think we are pretty genius - more should try this approach and this workout! My gym family has become my real life fam, and we've spent some time saying good-bye to a genuinely beautiful trainer/friend who is moving. I love this place and these people!


I got after my summer reading list and finished some fab books, and I just added one more that you HAVE to read. ALL. THE. FEELS. Grab The Great Alone and get lost in Kristin Hannah's heart-wrenching story. Then let's chat because I could talk about this one for days.

And, since my regular shows are on hiatus, we've picked The Staircase on Netflix to grab our attention. I love me a crime/court drama, and this one is freakishly addicting. The hubs and I differ on our own verdict - go watch and let's discuss this, too!


Once again, my summer wardrobe is provided by Chicks Picks Boutique. How cute is this fun romper? It's cozy and comfy! If you need a little treat for surviving summer, go check out her latest goodies.


I don't want to take too many more blogging breaks. Writing this simple post and just sharing some fun has boosted my mood for sure. I love sharing because it's the connections with other writers/bloggers/readers that make this hobby so special.

And now I'm wondering...what would you like see next on Always A New Day? Feel free to comment or find me on social media. From sharing my anxious heart to helping anyone get through the rough days of adulting/parenting, I'm all in.

Thanks, y'all! Happy summer to you!


Why We Need To Talk About Mental Health - What Kate Spade's Death is Teaching Me

The loss of Kate Spade has triggered more than I could ever imagine. When the news broke, I immediately texted it to my sister – not as informative thing – but almost as a warning. We would feel this one just like we felt it with recent suicides of other famous people.

I don’t want to discredit anyone’s loss of someone they love, but I do feel – for me, personally – grief after suicide has been completely different than any other. The questions, the constant wondering, the whys and how could theys. After two years of losing my brother to his depression, our minds swirl at an almost petrifying pace. We have been left exhausted, frustrated, scared, and confused.
And for those who have been knee-deep in it with me, they know I have sat in anger more than anything.

Yes, I have been angry at him. That’s hard to say and hard to admit. I have been angry that my mom hurts; I have been angry that our family has lost again. I have been angry we don’t have more answers. I have been angry that God “let” this happen. I have been angry that we often get embarrassed to say what happened. I have even been angry at myself for BEING angry.

According to the “rules” of grief, anger is normal. But, for this long? I have use my counseling background to figure out maybe I use the anger as a shield against the real feelings – the extreme pain that he’s gone – that he’s gone along with my dad. That I have to really sit and FEEL what my mom does – what my nephews do. I don’t know the emotional facts behind it, but I definitely think I am on to something with this theory.

Then, Kate Spade dies, and the headlines are all over the place. You mistakenly read the comments that she had it all, why did she leave it behind? Her husband, her creativity, and most of all, her young daughter. You read that she had choices; she had the money to get the best help. Why didn’t she just ask? And, you’re angry again.

These people do not seem to understand mental illness, but maybe I don’t either. I’ve been angry for the same reasons these commenters are – why is it okay for me to feel that but strangers can’t? I sat awake in bed last night letting that sink in. Maybe it’s time for my anger to subside. Maybe it’s time to really feel the pain of loss. Though scary – so damn scary – it just might be time.

Kate Spade may have it all including the bank account to get the best help possible, but that’s the thing with anxiety and depression. It doesn’t hand-select the lesser known nor does it discriminate with age, race, etc. When that demon comes in and comes in strong, some people know nothing else – they no longer want to be that burden to others or to themselves. They don’t trust themselves to get better or make it better. It could be years of hurt or just a moment, but when depression comes, we often struggle because it’s SO big.

So, if you read those comments about strangers being angry about her choice, you have to remember that some just don’t have a choice. They either can’t see the future that is good or they honestly feel this is the best answer. These commenters are giving me the chance to work so hard at digging my way out of my anger and into all the other stages of losing my brother.


And the biggest thing for me since he has died will also be speaking out – hoping mental health care improves, hoping more open up so others know there is a community out there who get it, and hoping people can wait for the good to come.

With Kate Spade's passing, I hope this can be my chance to just miss my brother without the anger. I can’t bring him back; Kate Spade’s family has to do the same. It’s ugly and physically painful, but if we want others to wait for that bit of good, I have to do the same myself.


What Always A New Day Means To Me

I don't think I've ever shared the reason behind Always A New Day - the blog name, that is. I have touched on it in my About Me page, but with this month being Mental Health Awareness Month, it feels like the right time to dig deeper. The name began with an idea from a friend then progressed into what's become pretty special to me.

For me, my why is HEALTH. The physical, the emotional, and the mental. When I began brainstorming the name for my space, I sought out advice from friends. My sweet friend, Lori, recommended There's Always Wine At The End Of The Day. Girl knows me well. She knows my anxiety and my worries, but she also gets my sense of humor, my parenting, and my hardships. I wanted to encompass it all with Always A New Day - shortened and sweet, though wine does happen some days :)

I worry every day. I stress everyday. I get sad some days. I panic on others.

I also love being a mom. I love writing. I have a passion about sharing what is good and what is not. I love things that make my life easier. I love sharing what makes up my everyday.

At the end of that day, whether it's the best day ever or one I can't figure out, I remind myself God has plans for a new day. And wherever that day takes place, I have a chance to go again.

When my days are the gross ones, I remember I've gotten through so much. My friends and my family save me even when they don't know they are doing so. They are with me and pushing me to start that new day - even when the new start seem so far away.

For all of us, there's always a new day or a new horizon coming. Trust me, even when that just doesn't seem possible, I know it most definitely is. And most importantly, I know you are not alone. You are not alone because I'm waiting for that new day right along with you.

So, welcome, new and old friends. Join me in my ramblings. Join me in my joy. Join me in my fears, worries, sadness, grief, grit, and strength. Always A New Day is my hope that no one feels alone. I hope that you can find things to make your new days easier, more fun, and a tribe that reminds you how far you've come.

That's my WHY. My mental health and yours. Sharing this little voice I have with even one person who gets it is worth it all.

Thanks for joining me in the quest for all things new. Rejoicing, hoping, and believing.


The Best Books To Read This Summer

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are used in this post. Thanks for supporting Always A New Day!

Ready for some FUN summer reading? I've got a good list for you - all tested and approved :) During the school year, I turn off the anxiety by turning on the TV (Hey, Real Housewives) and trying my luck at another level of Candy Crush. Needless to say, I didn't have much to keep me engaged.

I found myself missing a really good book - the one that makes you want to hide until you finish. The characters are so real, and you need to know their fate. Thanks to some blogger buddies/avid readers, I've read some AMAZING books in the last few months. And they are PERFECT for your summer reading - grab one for those pool days or for when those summer nights keep you up.

There isn't one book on the list below that I didn't like. With each book, I was lost in the story and found ways to sneak around to read a page or two. When a book makes you want to forgo all adult responsibilities, you know it's a good one!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

It Ends With Us

Anatomy of a Scandal

The Light We Lost

The Woman in Cabin 10

A Man Called Ove

I also added what's up next for me - all recommended by friends so I know they will be just as good as the ones above.


Girl, Wash Your Face

Little Fires Everywhere

What's on your list? Send me your suggestions!

And, check out last year's list, too. I still have a few to go on that one, but this year's list is just TOO good.

Go get your read on!


How To Help A Friend Who Has Anxiety

When it comes to anxiety, we anxious folks know it is complex. We could research it forever, but most of the time, there are so many triggers (or really none at all) that make it differ from day to day. Those who are anxious do not all act the same nor do they have the same coping mechanisms. For me, my anxiety has come in different forms as of late which is why I keep going back to change my course of action.

If you have a friend who has anxiety or, if you have a friend who has a DIFFERENT "anxiety" than you, friendships can endure bumps and bruises. It's hard to navigate when one doesn't understand the other or has anxiety for other reasons than their own.

I am a friend who struggles. And I am a friend OF many who struggle. I hesitate to share but at the same time, I want to scream it from the rooftops - we cannot help our anxiety so we NEED help to navigate it. As much as I fear the sharing, I also have a passion for it. When we share, when we help - others know they are never ever alone.

So - what do you do when your friend is struggling? Or what do you do when your friend is anxious about something you're not? I hope these tips can help you both.

Understand when they say NO

You keep inviting them to come to lunch. They keep turning you down. You invite them over. They tell you they can't. Now, you're frustrated and maybe a bit hurt. But, they may be having a rough day and for whatever reason, just can't do it. It's not that they don't want to be around you or don't like you, it's the fear. It's the worry. Their home is their comfort, and they feel best in that spot. 

I say no often. I also get sad often when others say no. Crazy, right? As we get older, and we just need a damn break, no just sounds so good. It's part of being anxious and understanding the anxious. 

Check on them 

Send a text. Or my favorite - send a meme or gif that made YOU think of THEM. Your checking in doesn't have to be long-winded or the perfect advice, it's simply that you thought of them. I often get memes from friends, and I love that they send them to me. Makes my heart happy that they are still in my world laughing from however far away.

If you get frustrated, tell them so. 

This one isn't my favorite tip because who likes being told they are wrong? Not this anxious girl. This will get my already crazy brain going off the tracks. But, as of late, I've learned that it's part of working through my anxiety and/or depression. We can get so deep in ours that we forget others have battles, too. A friend and I recently talked about this very issue, and while it was a tough conversation, I am SO thankful we shared our frustrations. And we are stronger now because of it. 

Understand their outlets

I love my anxious friends because they teach me every single day. One has taken up yoga; another meditates daily. Some volunteer often, and others have found new avenues for their careers. I am IN AWE of them. You know exercise is my jam, and I share about it often. Some may not understand my sweaty outlet, but they still push me and give me encouragement. Celebrate what all those bad ass friends are doing - cheer them on every step of the way. 

Recognize their triggers

You don't have to be a professional to do this - you know what can upset a friend. Just because it's not what triggers you, it still is a big deal to them. Oh, I am so guilty of this one. I hate that I have dismissed others when it's not what makes me worry. Anxiety is not one in the same. Carry them through that trigger - just words of encouragement or help remove them from what makes them anxious. It's not always easy, but it helps.
I'm a friend of those who are anxious, and I am big work in progress. I don't check, I get selfish and frustrated. But, in the last two weeks, I've had amazing conversations with friends who make me want to better. We can all be better. 

If you have a friend who is anxious or you are anxious like me, I'd love to hear your tips for others understanding you. Share here or you can always email me or catch up on social media.

Thanks for reading, friends.


The Ultimate Houston Summer Bucket List

I'm feeling SO much better these days - mama is getting her groove back! Time to make some plans - fun plans and not let life's stress dictate our days. My son has declared it's time to prepare our summer bucket list, and I agree! Each year, we try to come up with places to go and people to see. Some fancy because we have to drive into big H-town, and some local - and each place we've listed in today's post is a place we've visited once or twenty times.

Go grab your kiddos, that pen and paper, and get to creating your list. Houston peeps, we've got an ULTIMATE summer list of fun for you. And we extend that invitation to anyone who wants to come visit, too. Add our fun city to your travel plans this summer. We will excitedly be your tour guides!

Levy Park

Y'all! This park was the biggest hit of our spring break. Dog park, foosball, green fields for play, playgrounds, food trucks, giant Connect Four - you name it! You will find us here often.

Boardwalk at Towne Lake

I couldn't make a list without a place we visit weekly - check their events for kids' fun and even live music! You can shop, workout, eat, and grab the best coffee in town!

Goforth Park

Another park local to us on the Northwest side - a huge park, walking trail, and dog park, too. Pack a lunch and you have the best summer picnic.

Cy Fair Library

On Wednesdays, we read. We love story time on these days, and I love grabbing my latest book (My Summer Reading List is coming soon). Computers, puzzles, coloring, and more!

Hugs N Donuts

We ventured out to this little gem in the Heights over spring break, and there are no words for the Nutella Donut or the Thin Mints Donut. Worth a drive for these unique treats!

Biscuit Wall

While you're in town, snap a pic by this wall - a perfect shot for your kiddos or maybe even a little photo shoot just for you!

Zube Park

My local mom friends can attest to this park for the hot summer days. Two words - FREE SPLASH PAD. Hours of fun and makes for easy bedtimes. Winner winner!

Woodlands Children's Museum

Thanks to the Grand Parkway opening, getting to the Woodlands area is easy for us now. This small, but cool museum is perfect for all ages. I love its size so I can always keep my eye on my busy (and fast) little one!

Sweet Box Candy

Another small little gem we love! Remember all the fun candy you loved as a child? Think Gobstoppers, flavored jelly beans, and Gatorade gum. It's all here and then some. I usually take the kids as a reward and let them pick out 2-3 treats each. They can grab a little basket and fill it up. So much fun.

LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch

Again, thanks Grand Parkway for making it easy to see our Katy friends and frequent another fun family place. Shop til you drop, grab your coffee, and let the kids run around the green. Bonus if there's live music on the weekends!

Rosehill Beer Garden

Off Cypress Rosehill and 290, you will find the coolest joint that has livened up the NW side. Get there early and grab a crafted beer for happy hour. Then, let the kids swing, play horseshoes, washers, and get your grub on from the multiple food trucks. See you there!

Sugar Land Skeeters

We haven't been here in a while, but we are making a return trip this summer. Purchase a lawn seat and pack the bathing suits. Watch the game while the kids swim, play on the playground or splash pad, and make some fun summer memories.

Astros Game at Minute Maid Park

You can't come to Houston without seeing our World Champions! Get there early to play in Squeeze Play and watch our champs warm up. If you go on Tuesday, you can grab a $1 hot dog. And Friday fireworks over downtown are sure to liven up those summer nights.

City Centre

From Bellagreen to Sweet, you will cover all your cravings! Sit on Bellagreen's patio and bring the soccer balls while the kids play. The shopping is fab, too!

Star Cinema Grill

As I write this post, my boys are watching a movie at our new favorite cinema. The food is the best I've had in a movie theater. And the recliners?! YES, girl. Get cozy and enjoy the show!

Noah's Ark at the Quillian Center

We've been adding this awesome pool to our summer bucket list for years - since before my youngest joined the party. Pay a small admission and either pack a lunch or hit up their snack bar. There's a great small pool with slides for the youngsters as well as a bigger pool for the older ones. You can grab a season pass, too, if you frequent it as much as we do!


Houston friends, what else should I put on the list? And the invitation is open for you to join us as we get into summer. We can't wait for sleeping in and hitting our favorite spots.

If you need more summer boredom busters, check out these posts, too!
Summer Bucket List - Part I
Summer Bucket List - Part II

The countdown is on!
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