Where I’ve Been Series

February 6, 2020




Part II of V

My dad, sometime during the 80’s

As I mentioned in Part I… We’re in a brand new decade, and although I know a these days are just days on the calendar, something feels a bit more meaningful this time.

I truly believe the beginning of a brand new decade is an opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been. And so I’m starting a series to invite you into my life in hopes you’ll find inspiration and deeper meaning to yours.

  • I’ll introduce you to my mom and dad(s) in Parts I & II.
  • Part III will peek into my childhood.
  • Part IV will be all about how this all shaped me into who I am today.
  • Part V will be a personal message from me to you.

In case you missed it here’s a link to Part I, where I introduce you to my mom.

My mom and dad, perhaps before I was born.

And onto part two…

This blog will be so hard to write. The first issue was wondering if I should open up about this… Especially in my business… Being vulnerable really isn’t super difficult for me (well, sometimes it is) but wondering if something will negatively impact my life, my family’s life, or my business is a huge block.

But I feel this strong push to write. I feel like my life has been what it’s been, and maybe (just maybe) me writing about it will help people. I imagine my story can inspire other people.

Above all, if I could talk to you personally for a second… I’d like to encourage YOU. I’d like to promise you that no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve been through, you’re YOU. And no one can take that from you. 

No one can take you from you.

You’re strong. You’re capable. You have an inner voice. Slow down and listen to that voice. And use it to better the world.

My mom and dad, perhaps before I was born.

Anyway… The next difficulty in getting this started was when I kept sitting in my own thoughts about it… Basically just, ‘What will I possibly say?! How real can I be without making public some serious criminal offenses or offending people or hurting feelings…? Some of these blogs will reveal pretty crazy stuff…

(Once I finally mustered up the courage, I opened up my box of pictures and couldn’t find a TON of them! I’m missing very specific pictures that I have vivid memories of, and it’s driving me nuts!!)

But, I’m pushing forward. It’s stirring in my soul. The photos will be a little different than originally planned, but I have to trust in there being a reason I suddenly cannot find these pictures… So here we go.

My mom and dad (and I), 1986

Meet my dad…s.

My mom and dad got married and then divorced pretty much before my memory started keeping track of things. I do have vague memories of being in the same house as my mom and dad… The feelings I feel when I try to think back to those are tremendous fear and an overwhelming sense of being alone.

And I have other vague memories.

Our dog and I ~1986
Me ~1986

Memories of my dad and I out in the world. And a super fuzzy memory of my mom and dad on either side of me, each of them holding my hand. I was in a swim suit and we were walking to the pool— I remember them counting, “One. Two. THREEEEE!” and pulling me way up into the air— clearing the step into the club house. I remember them laughing.

Left to right: me in the background, my dad, mom, and my mom’s mom ~1988

My life has changed a lot over the years.

Left to right: My cousin Keyra, her stepdad Chip, My Aunt Stacie, My dad, and I- circa 1988

(See Keyra today!)

Mom, dad, and I- circa 1988
My mom and dad, perhaps around 1985

When I was younger, I lived mostly with my mom. But because of her drug addiction, things were pretty unstable and sometimes I would live with my dad. Living with my dad was awesome at times. He lived in a nice house with nice blinds on the windows. There was a play set in the backyard, and I distinctly remember spending a TON of time out there. My brother Zack and I would play for hours. I remember them not allowing us in the house until dinner time, and so we would just crouch around the back yard looking for four leaf clovers. 

When we found one, it was so awesome that we forgot all about not being allowed to go inside. 🙂

I’m thankful for those days.

My dad and I around 1989

I also remember a lot of drinking and screaming and fighting. I remember phones getting ripped off the walls and feeling scared someone was going to be hurt. Or killed. I remember everyone but me being hit and seeing the left over bruises on my stepmom’s skin and the holes in the walls. Perhaps scariest of all were the being trapped in the back of a car during terrifyingly full-throttled drunk driving. I try not to think about those moments too long, but I drive on these same road today and I really wonder how we never wrecked. I’m so thankful we didn’t.

My mom, dad, and I- circa 1986

When I lived with my dad, I mostly felt safe. I remember also feeling really guilty. I wondered why he always hit my brothers and beat on my stepmoms, but never once touched me.

I always felt safe around him. I recognized him as my dad. And I remember thinking he was the smartest and strongest man in the world. I think I mostly felt safe because there was a routine at his house and I was MADE to do things. Like go to school, do homework, and cook simple meals. There were clean clothes in my drawers, I had shoes that fit, and we ALWAYS had food in our cabinets.

My dad and I around 1989

It was worlds different than my mom’s house.

Despite the chaos when I was growing up, I always felt tremendous love from both my parents. I’m so thankful for that because I think that, coupled with the situations in which I felt like I had to fight to survive, has made me into the self-reliant, brave, and loving person I am today.

I think I know how to love so hard because my mom and my dad always made it clear that they loved me. If I took a moment to be really honest here, I can say it’s taken me time… taking me time… to iron out the wrinkles from what I learned love was, so that I can learn what love really is and how to love people without hurting them.

My dad and I, circa 1992?

And my other dad.

Until about 1994. I would have been 8 years old. My mom and I were living in a trailer park in Snellville, and I was outside with my duck. (we rescued him from the side of a river… He had holes pecked into his little feet and he was near death. He grew into a HUGE white duck, and he was my best best best friend. His name was Fred, and he followed me everywhere!)

My mom and Philbutt

Anyway… I remember my mom introducing me to this guy named Philip. And he was different.

He looked into my eyes. And his eyes were friendly.

He smiled a lot, and he was happy.

A few days after I met him, I remember asking him where he lived. When we went to his house I was MORTIFIED. And I instantly hated him. There were animals. ALL OVER HIS HOUSE. Mounted. On his walls, on his tables, on his TV… EVERYWHERE!! I remember seeing a little bird in a cage and wondering when he was going to kill it too. I remember asking him if I could have the bird.

My mom started dating this Philip guy, and he slowly became the kindest person I’d ever met. Philip introduced me to his life. His friends. The people HE knew were friendly. His parents were friendly. They were safe. His sister was kind.

Philbutt and I at Medieval Times, 2006

(Unfortunately I have zero photos of Philbutt (my nickname for him) and I when I was younger…)

We spent so much time together. Our favorite activity was going to the Yellow River Game Ranch. We went ALL the TIME. They used to have this Fred Flinstone Egg Machine that we would always hit on our way out the door. He used to take me camping and shooting, and sometimes we would go fishing. We spent so much time together, and I am so so so honored to have had the privilege of being apart of his and his family’s life.

These people changed my view of… people. And at the time I didn’t realize it.

Philbutt with Kellen (my son) 2009
Philbutt and Kellen, 2008
Philbutt on his scooter ~2010

He was truly the greatest man I’ve ever met. I’m so blessed to have been able to call him one of my dads. Thank God for Philbutt.

My dad and Kellen, 2007
My dad, Kellen, and I at the Yellow River Game Ranch, ~2007
Me, Kellen, and my dad in 2007. (He lost one of his eyes in a paintball accident around 2005)
My dad and Kellen, 2007
My dad and Kellen, 2007

One time in my therapist’s office, she said something profound that has stuck with me.

“All a kid needs is one consistent person in their life who they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, loves them unconditionally and will always be there for them.”

Be there for someone.




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