My story matters

Have you ever attended an event that completely changed your outlook on life? Read a book that made you really think about yourself? Heard a song that resonated with you? Last night I attended an event called Becoming Me which was hosted by one of my friends from college. It was for women and the purpose is to lift women up and they did this by having a few share their stories.

The first story was from Katie Gilligan who I’ve seen on Instagram, etc and only knew as a gorgeous woman who owns an adorable boutique. It was easy for me to assume from her Instagram posts that she is “perfect”. She always looks put together, even with two kids. Last night she shared her story and it was honestly so eye opening. It was raw, honest and messy. She shared things you wouldn’t expect to hear from someone who seems so “perfect”. We all know there is no such thing as a perfect person but it’s easy to compare yourself to others and wonder what they’re doing right that you’re not. Her story really touched me and inspired me to share my story.

I learned from the event and the speakers that even when you don’t feel important, you are. Your story matters. MY story matters. I’ve been abused. I’ve been raped. I’ve felt unloved and looked for it in the wrong places. I’ve done drugs and drank alcohol trying to numb the pain. I’ve had an eating disorder for over 12 years. I’ve hated myself, blamed myself and wished I were someone else. After my miscarriage I have changed. I’ve grown. I don’t want to be the person I’ve been, I want to be better. Sharing my story is the first step in my journey and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.



I am just so sad. Today I had my D&E and Dr. Delcharco removed my baby from me. I am in so much pain, I woke up from the anesthesia crying and asking for chapstick. I threw up at the surgery center when I got out of bed. Zack got me a sandwich, fruit and a cookie from McAlister’s on the way home. I felt ok when I got out of the car but once I started walking down the hall I passed out and woke up on the floor. I only remember having my hand on the wall to steady myself and then waking up to zack asking if I’m ok. He caught me when I fell. I got to bed and threw up again.

I was able to keep down my food and am watching Pitch Perfect and planning my tattoo for my unborn baby. I am just so sad. I can’t even begin to believe I’m not pregnant anymore and that all the things I’ve been planning… names, finding a double stroller, getting a maternity bathing suit for the keys… it’s all just gone now.

I know time will ease the pain and I know my next pregnancy should go perfectly fine. But I just can’t believe this has happened. I went to my appt so confident and excited and I left feeling like someone ripped my heart out of my chest. I’m so sad for my baby and I’m so sad for my husband. I’m so sad for me. I wanted that baby and loved it so much and I never got to even tell it. I just don’t understand why this had to happen to my sweet baby.


Pregnancy… Such a wonderful word. It truly is a miracle for two people to be able to create one tiny human. We all know that the pregnant woman’s belly gets big,  then bigger, and then otherworldly enormous. We know that the baby starts as a dot on a screen and then grows into a Jackfruit (whatever that is). Babies in utero are compared to food, animals and household objects. You can literally change what you want yours to be compared to on different pregnancy apps. There are many things people know about pregnancy, but there are also many, many things people don’t know.

What people don’t tell you about could be written in a 500 page book. But I’ll just write the top 9  things that I can remember (which may not be much because of pregnancy brain). But I’ll get to that later on. 

  1. Gas. Hole e crap. Did I eat a horse that had been rotting on the side of the road for a month or what? During the 9.5 months of my pregnancy I think I had more flatulance than the entire 24 years of my life. The stench, frequency and power of those pregnancy farts, for lack of a better term, were one for the books. One time, I was walking down the stairs at work, during my first trimester, and let one go. Not long after my boss walked up the stairs. I thought for sure he would faint or die… But nah. Sorry Matt!
  2. Frequent urination. Okay, we’ve all heard that pregnant women pee a lot. What they don’t tell you is that a lot means possibly up to 10 times in 30 minutes. I am not exaggerating. Towards the end of my pregnancy, I would go pee, go sit on the couch and stand right back up to pee again. No lie. I needed a freakin’ catheter. I peed when I puked. I peed when I sneezed. I peed when I coughed and I peed when I laughed. Oh wait, I still do!
  3. Appetite. Better ask for a pay raise or sell a kidney to afford the food you want and/or need to eat. I gained an insane 60lbs during my pregnancy. Most likely due to my multiple times a week trips to Zaxby’s. Or the fact that McDonald’s was the one thing I could eat and not puke. Naturally, I ate the 10 piece nugget meal AND a hamburger (no pickle) with sweet n sour sauce on everything. I would eat my meal at a restaurant and then finish my husbands. How did my baby NOT come out a full grown 150lb man? He was 6lb10oz. Guess who gets to lose the remaining weight? Ha. 
  4. The boobs. The first thing I noticed was off in the beginning of my pregnancy was my boobs. They HURT. The boob soreness was ridiculous. It felt like someone had used them as punching bags instead of fun bags over and over and over again. I couldn’t even gently touch them without wincing. Then, after the sore period, they got heavy. Pretty sure they each totaled 20lbs. I’d lift one up then let it fall and almost topple over with it. No, not really, because they still hurt. My boobs have always been big, but good lord those things were huge towards the end. “Hey Pamela, I mean Olivia, it’s me your old bras. Sorry you’ll never wear me again.”
  5. Physical inabilities. Right around month 6 (?) I became incapable of seeing anything past my belly button. People always laugh about not being able to see their feet, but in reality you can’t see anything down there. Your legs, vajayjay… Feet. Goodbye clean-shaven legs! It was nice knowing you! My razors felt neglected, besides my arms and arm pits (and of course my “happy trail” bc lord know you get lots of hair in unusual places!) My poor husband mistook me for Chewbaca on more than one occasion. And I’m pretty sure Thatcher, my weenie dog, got caught in the leg hair a few times. Anyways, when you really start to get rotund, the pretty stuff goes out the window. It’s a task to do your hair and makeup, and eventually find cute clothes that fit. You start to feel like a walking Boulder with arms and legs. 
  6. Morning sickness. Now, with all things pregnancy related, morning sickness is different for everyone. For me, it was Hell. I started puking anything and everything around 6 weeks. People’s advice came as regularly as your feelings of nausea. “Eat this, try that”. Well, sorry but if I see another cracker I’m going to blow a gasket. After 2 ER visits, I was diagnosed with HG, hyperimisis gravardium or something to that nature. I was prescribed the morning sickness medication that Kim Kardashian instagrammed and made cool, Diclegis. It. Was. A. Lifesaver. 
  7. Swelling. Before I got preggo, I was pretty tiny. Though, I am a female and thought I was fat, looking back I realize I was the opposite. During my pregnancy, my husband and I went to the mall. I wore a pair of Gap sandals that I loved and had worn before. While walking around, I began to get super uncomfortable. Looking at my feet I realized that they were about twice their normal size and the straps were digging into my skin and making my pinky toes bleed. Uhh ok? The worse part of the swelling hit me at 37 weeks. My face was the size of a bale of hay (it mirrored my huge belly!) and my ankles were cankles! Pretty sure my thigh just ran straight down to my enormous feet. I looked like an extremely pale version of Veronica blown up like a blueberry in Willy Wonka. 
  8. Clumsiness. I have about a 2.5 inch scar on my left ankle from shaving back when I could actually see my calves. It looks like a surgery scar. I tripped over my dog on numerous occasions. One time, I was walking across the driveway to get into Zack’s car and I stepped off and cut open the side of my foot on the edge of the driveway. Pregnancy clumsiness is real. And it’s a real pain in the ass. 
  9. Pregnancy brain. Probably towards the end of my second trimester I began forgetting things. Everything. I was once at breakfast (imagine that) and asked what kind of toast I wanted. I could not remember the name of it so I said “it’s white toast but it isn’t called white toast.” Oh… sourdough. Like, really? I have never been scatterbrained, have always been on top of things, but this was a whole new world. I started a note in my phone of things I needed to remember because I would literally forget 5 minutes after the initial thought. Did I put deodorant on this morning? How many weeks am I? What is my wedding anniversary? The questions were never ending and I was a pregnant idiot! Oh, and I hate to spoil it for you, but it DOESN’T GO AWAY!

I know 9 is kind of a random number of things to write but I just kept thinking of more. I could go on, but I’ll leave you with these. Pregnancy really is an absolutely beautiful thing. Going through all the bad stuff only leads you to the best part, your baby! All the farts, memory loss, hairy legs/vajay and money spent on food is worth it. Now, I will leave you with a beginning of pregnancy photo and an end photo. Enjoy. 


      My little apple seed

      A baby is growing inside of me. When I look down at my belly, I cry. I have never felt more blessed, excited or happy for anything in my life.

      I’ve really been struggling with my fears these past few days since I found out that I was pregnant. What if something I did before I knew I was pregnant hurt the baby? What if I have a miscarriage? I know it’s common for a lot of first pregnancies. But then I remember that God is in control. He gave me this baby for a reason. He answered my prayers and blessed me with this little angel because he knew I was ready for it. Gods plan is so much bigger than I can even comprehend. If he believes that I am strong enough to grow a tiny human inside of me, then I know that I am. I cannot live my life in fear and I know the importance of being happy and excited for what is to come.

      I have had nothing but pregnancy on the mind since I found out. I’ve focused on the baby inside of me every time I go to eat something, every time I feel like I’m about to throw up, and every time I smile. In 9 months, I will be holding my baby in my arms smiling at their little face and wondering how I got to be so lucky. As far as symptoms go, I haven’t really felt too much. Nausea, gas, bloating a fatigue mainly. I slept for ten hours last night, then came to work and have slept another five hours or so, on and off.

      Thinking back on these last five weeks or so, I laugh at how God planned this pregnancy. I had been to Florida 3 times total. Once for a wedding, and twice because of my Neene passing away. Little did I know that I was pregnant every time I went. I felt bloated, ugly and gross each time I was there, but just blamed it on the heat of Florida and my love for food. I’d been peeing SO OFTEN but just figured I’d grown a weaker bladder. I have had NO energy, one day I slept until 4:30 pm just because I had nothing to do and I was so tired. Just this past Monday I had run some errands with my mother in law and told her how bloated I was feeling.

      My period was ten days late but I figured it was the stress of work and of my Neene dying, little did I know, there was a little babe inside of me. My sister in law urged me to take a test, so I went to the store on Wednesday and purchased two boxes of two different tests and two different brands. I took the first one when I got back to work, expecting it to be negative because it was the middle of the day and I had already consumed a ton of water and sweet tea. I walked out of the bathroom and left the test on the counter, did some chores around the house and then went back. I did about thirty takes of the test.

      “Is that really a positive sign?” “Am I blind or what?” No, my eyes were not deceiving me. I WAS PREGNANT!!! I called my MIL immediately, shaking uncontrollably and bawling my eyes out with happiness. I then called my mom, grandma and husband and shared the news. Everyone was thrilled! Zack was in shock at first but is now excited too. I then called my doctor and made an appointment, and to my surprise they scheduled me for an ultrasound on April 9th!

      I have all four tests saved at home, and I look at them every day to relive how excited I was when I first found out. Only knowing for a few days and being this happy and excited only has me wondering what the rest of the pregnancy will be like. No amount of sickness could keep me away from being happy and excited to welcome this baby into such a beautiful family. I am already so in love with my little *five week* apple seed, and I cannot wait to see it on the monitor in a little less than two weeks! No fear.

      Family First

      We have all heard that God places people in your life for a reason. One of my favorite quotes is actually, “people come into your life for a reason, season or a lifetime”. I’ve really been reflecting on the people in my life lately. From birth, I have been insanely blessed with the people I’ve been surrounded by. Grandparents and great-grandparents, mom, dad, step-parents, sisters, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles ETC. I have a huge, AMAZING family. 

      I had never really put too much thought into the family I would marry into. I seemed to be the permanently single friend, third wheel extraordinaire and the “she’s super weird but cool but do I really want to date her?” I lucked out when I moved to Charlotte and met a handsome 24 year old who was sweeter than Hummingbird Cake on May 24 (my birthday). 

      On our first date we talked a lot about our families. We both come from a large family whom treasure time together, which immediately thrilled me. After a few dates I got to meet his parents briefly and then started going over there more and more. In October of 2012 he came to Florida with me to meet mine. The first thing my Grandmomny said after she met him was “Olivia, he is perfect.” Duh. Neene called him “Jack” but was thrilled that I was so happy. 

      It didn’t take long for his family and I to connect. As Vickie (his mom) said once in a card to me, I just fit right in to their crazy, fun family. And I do! I love them like they’re my own. I have never felt more comfortable around such a large group of people whom I’ve only known for a few years. 

      Vickie is truly a gift. She takes mother in law to a whole new height. She is sweet, selfless and funny. I can tell her anything, honestly, and she will not only cast no judgement, but will provide a solution. She is quick to love and give, whether it’s a pair of socks because my feet are cold or a personalized notepad because she knows I constantly write notes to myself. Wedding planning was SO fun with her as my sidekick. She knew what I wanted and stopped at absolutely nothing to make my dreams a reality. 

      Billy (FIL) is one weird man. And I love it. He and I are sarcastic, funny and stupid together. We make fun of each other and don’t get upset because we have such a bond that I am so thankful for. His country accent and big bear hugs are the best. For being in a state where I have no immediate family, I’m thankful to have the best second family imaginable. 

      As far as siblings go, besides having my own badass sibs, the Cecil/Baldwin/Whitleys are too awesome. Micah and I share a common interest in tattoos and music and I consider her one of my best friends. Melanie and I bonded from the start when she offered to kick someone’s ass because they were harassing me. Melissa is beyond fun to go out with and have serious conversations with. I enjoy time with each of them in different ways and I’m so glad they’re my new sisters! William, the only other boy besides Z is a mini Billy who can sometimes be a pain but I love nonetheless. Our banter and laughs are one of a kind and I’m thankful for our relationship. 

      When it comes to family, I believe I have been thoroughly blessed with mine. From my real parents to my in-laws, I have had and will continue to have an amazing support system. Yay, family!

      These hands 

      Where do I begin? We all know death is inevitable. Whether you’re expecting someone to die or it comes out of the blue, it is going to happen to each person regardless. It is also well known that everyone handles death differently. Some people hold all their emotions inside while others cry and babble Til the cows come home. I am a little bit of both, mainly the latter. 

      To the world, Ella Kate Willingham is a 102 year old woman. She was born in 1913 and raised four of her own children, followed by numerous grand children and great grand children. Can you imagine? Living one hundred and two years. All the things she has seen and experienced? It completely blows my mind. 

      To me, Ella Kate Willingham is my Neene, my great grandma. She helped raise me, took me to church, drove me to school and cooked for me. She is the strongest, most beautiful woman in the world, to me. 

      I remember staying at her house on Lake Weir Avenue eating tuna sandwiches and watching Madeline. I remember one time when she drove Jordan and I to Osceola Middle School and totally ignored our yells that a speed bump was coming up so she proceeded to catch some air in her champagne colored Corolla. 

      When my friend Morgan and I would hag out at her house, she would let us use whatever sewing supplies we wanted so we could make our own “fashion” pieces. She always had Reese’s cups in the fridge for snacks and oatmeal on the stove for breakfast.

      Because of her, I have a high standard of food. Her recipes are out of this world. Whether it be her gooey butter cake, pound cake with fudge frosting or her crescent cookies, I could literally lick the plate clean. Her fried chicken, candied carrots and peas were phenomenal too. Oh, and we always mixed bacon into our oatmeal at her house, too.

      What I admire most about Neene, is her selflessness. She lived to make others happy. She would always ask me what I wanted to eat, if I needed any money, what I wanted to do. She always put me first. There was a point in my life when I lived with her for a while and that woman never missed cooking a meal for me and making sure I was up and ready for school. She has always only wanted the best for me. 

      Neene is my favorite person in this world. If you didn’t know that, then you don’t know me that well. I plan to name our first daughter after her: Kennedy Ella. When I look down at my wedding band, I am always brought back to a flood of memories of Neene because it was her wedding band originally. 

      I’m crying as I type this because of how hard today has been. My mom texted me this morning and let me know that Neene wasn’t doing well. She was unresponsive and mom said it’d be best if I came home. I wasted no time packing my bags (not sure what clothes I brought with me… It was all a blur), loading the car and grabbing a dog to bring with me. I rushed through goodbye with my husband and hit the road. Through the 8 hour drive I was just a mix of emotions. One minute I’d be singing along with the radio and the next I would be bawling my eyes out. 

      Every mile a memory.  

      Seeing my Neene laying in that bed was absolutely heartbreaking. The strongest woman I have ever known, someone who’s lived 102 years, is lying in a bed with her eyes closed on the brink of going home to be with the Lord. My heart aches, my eyes are sore and my head is throbbing. I want what’s best for her, but I can’t help but be selfish. She’s my Neene, My great grandma and my hero. Why can’t she be that for my kids, too? Why does she have to leave me? Every time I come home she is the first person I visit. Even though the past few times she hasn’t been all there, she has always known who I am and asked me how I liked the Carolinas. 

      Death is inevitable but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Being here in the same city as my Neene is definitely better than being in Charlotte, 8 hours away. I just hope my memories of her will help me through this difficult time. 


      Invest in people who invest in you. 

      I saw this quote on Instagram @thealisonshow and immediately fell in love. It seems that things are always delivered to you when you need them and I needed this quote. 

      I have always been a million people in one body. Does that make sense? Probably not so I’ll try to explain. I can be a people pleaser and a me pleaser, independent but shy, an extrovert yet introvert… The list goes on and on. When I took the Myers Briggs personality test in college, I wasn’t surprised to find that I am not just one of the personality types. I have a little bit of everything thrown into one person.

      One thing I pride myself on being is a good person. I have been a bitch, dishonest, legally wrong, sinful and hateful. I have done things I am so ashamed of and I’ve lost little pieces of myself along the way. But I have grown so unbelievably much. I look back on the things I’ve done and can only be thankful for them. They got me to where I am now, physically, mentally and emotionally. When I compare who I am now to who I was five years ago, it’s apples and oranges! Then, I was outwardly happy but inwardly depressed. I bundled all my emotions up until I couldn’t hold on to them anymore. I was boy crazy, unconfident and always trying to buy my happiness.  

      I have also lost friends and disconnected with people I thought I’d be attached to my whole life. I’ve healed relationships and started fresh with others. When you look at your life in a five year span, it’s a little nerve wracking to see how much can change in what seems like a small amount of time. 

      Back to the quote, it seems lately I have been in a funk about being the one to reach out to others. I get down on myself when I realize that instead of a mutual friendship where you’re both investing time in trying to plan something to do together, I have been the sole planner. This is in no way in regards to every relationship, just some. And it sucks. Why would you waste your time with people who don’t seem to care whether you’re in their lives or not? 

      It ties in to all of my friendships as well, though. I have some friends whom I go days and sometimes weeks without speaking to, but I know that if I ever needed them, they’d answer in a heartbeat. We don’t need to communicate daily because we are that close. I don’t get upset if they don’t text me back right away and I don’t call them until they answer. There are friendships that mean the world to me, where we understand and respect each other unconditionally. 

      If I have something I’ve been beating myself up about, I reach out to Aida. If I feel sad and miss home, I call Aly. When I need to laugh and reminisce on high school times or remember an old song, Ashley is my girl. I have some of the best friends in the world. They get me and never let me down, no matter what we’ve been through. Realizing this makes the quote a little more real. 

      Invest in people who invest in you.

      You shouldn’t have to work at a friendship. It shouldn’t feel like a tiresome job. Instead, it should benefit you and make you feel great. Time is so precious, why would you want to waste it on someone who doesn’t care to use their time on you?

      Just some food for thought on this snowy Tuesday. 



      I was randomly thinking about my relationships with people in the past and present. How they got to where they are and why some ended. Something I’ve always known, but maybe never really started doing accurately until maybe the past two years, is that communication is the most important thing in any relationship.
      I used to hold my emotions in until I just couldn’t anymore. I wouldn’t tell my mom when something upset me, instead I would keep building up more and more frustrations until we had a huge fight. Mom and I fought like sisters because I couldn’t ever figure out how to communicate with her. To this day I hate that I acted so bratty towards her in the past but I can’t take it back. I can only move forward knowing what I know and attempt to react differently in the future.
      Every person has a different communication style. Some people tell you how they feel with just a look. Others will tell you flat out that they’re mad at you while some will change their exclamation point to a period in a text if they’re pissed off. Subtle things that you either notice or don’t, can really affect the way a conversation is going to go.
      One of the biggest things I’ve been trying to glue into my brain is the people cannot read your mind. If you’re upset, SAY SOMETHING. Don’t expect your boyfriend to get that you’re not really “just tired” but upset about something he said or did. It will get your relationship nowhere. When Zack and I started dating, his ex girlfriend started a lot of drama in our relationship. Calling, texting, cyber-bullying me, etc. Sometimes I would tell him how I felt, but others I would just mope silently and expect him to know what I was upset about. I expected him to make me feel amazing without realizing that I had to first make myself realize that I am already amazing.
      Openly communicating doesn’t necessarily mean complaining about every tiny, inconsequential thing that irks you. It just means being honest when you should (well, you should always be honest obviously… But do it tastefully) and taking a step back to really think about whether or not it’s something that should be brought up.
      I’ve come so far from the type of person I used to be. I no longer get my panties in a bunch over stupid things that shouldn’t bother me. I try to keep an open mind and see both sides of every situation. When I’m upset or feeling depressed, I talk about it. Nobody can read my mind but me, I can’t expect everyone to know when I need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen (or an eye to read because I rarely call anyone). I’ve realized the importance of reaching out to friends and loved ones when you’re in need.
      Think about your friends and family and what you know about each of them. You’ll be able to pick out their communication style and what they need as an individual. It really is quite beautiful when you think about it.


      Obsessed dog mom

      As most everyone who knows me knows, I am obsessed with my dogs… Since this is my second post about them, it should be a little obvious. Scout, Thatcher and Irving are more than just small-medium-large balls of fur, they are my kids, models, snuggle buddies, kissers, best friends and biggest fans. When I walk in the front door, whether I’ve been gone a day or for five minutes, they act like I’ve been gone a year.
      You never know the true meaning of unconditional love until you have a dog. One minute you’re yelling at them to stop chewing your shoes and the next they’re smothering you with kisses. Watching them experience different things for the first time is relatable to experiencing them yourselves. Today, Charlotte got some “snow”. I say “snow” because it was mainly just ice. Thatcher and Irving have never seen snow and watching them this morning was just as fun for me as it was for them! I made sure to take a lot of photos.
      I can’t imagine life without a dog. “Man’s best friend” my ass. They’re MY best friends. I talk to them, rely on them and take care of them, just like they do for me. When I come home from a long day at work, I look forward to their numerous kisses and cries for my attention.
      Zack thinks I’m a weirdo, which I very well may be. He laughs when I ask him to take a photo of me with the babies and when I take selfies with them. People think it’s hysterical that I have an Instagram for Thatcher but love it nonetheless. Life without four-legged furry friends would be one without unconditional love, licks and happiness.
      Hug your furry friends close!


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      Think ink.

      I have always loved tattoos. I never expected to have 13 by the time I was 23, but things happen, ya know? Some of my tattoos are just for looks. They’re pretty and perfect to me. While others have an insanely deep meaning that I deemed necessary to mark permanently on my body. Almost everyone has suffered loss at some point in their lives. This post is about the two tattoos that I have that hold the most emotional meaning.

      “Smile and the world smiles with you.” My grandpa Forrester used to say this all the time. When he passed away, I had a difficult time coping. I tried to write out my memories with him, the way he looked, smelled and sang. I remembered he always had a pipe in his mouth, a golf hat on and socks pulled halfway up his calves. He called cars “jalopy’s”, called Jordan and I “gal” and would wake up super early to go to Perkins for breakfast on the weekends (my cousin Elliot and I [the chubby ones] always wanted to tag along).
      He was a strong man with incredible talents including but not limited to, creating amazing stained glass lamps and pictures and playing countless instruments. He was a WWII vet who established a full life with a doting wife and 8 kids (Kurt, Kent, Cliff, Tim, Elton, Lisa, Dennie and Celeste). He lived in a hand built cabin on a 10 acre piece of land across from Lake Weir Middle School and allowed us to tear it up on our 4wheelers, dirt bikes and golf carts. He liked homemade oatmeal cookies, chicken noodle soup and cranberry juice. His only concern, besides our safety, was that we were learning something and having fun. When I look at my tattoo, I picture his smiling eyes reminding me that smiles are contagious. I miss that man. Continue reading