I have been trying to get this bio written for what seems like months.  After about 84 revisions [I’m exaggerating, of course], I decided to just start over.  I keep asking myself, “What do I want people to know about me?  How do I define me?”  It’s a little difficult to trying to articulate or find important terms to describe my “personal” credentials since I don’t have a long list of degrees, licenses or certifications. I haven’t traveled to other countries, or studied alongside of any important figures. I haven’t spent years in a specific field or industry developing and mastering professional skill sets.  I have, however, spent years living life and doing what’s hard!

I am a believer, daughter, sister, wife (my groom prefers Bride or Queen), daughter-in-love, mother, aunt, friend, student, encourager, supporter, entrepreneur, writer, author, dancer, cheerleader, advisor… but most importantly, I am a unique individual that believes in self respect and modesty – less is more; romance and intimacy; following my heart while listening to my head, not following the crowd; doing what feels right not what feels good; keeping fear out of the decision process – especially parenting decisions; and challenging myself to do what’s hard because it’s what’s right and comes with the greatest rewards. I’m currently training for my first half marathon and my gosh is it hard. I always hated running but love the little accomplishments I’m making while I stick with my routine!

joy, happiness, gratitude, pride, contentment
All smiles

I grew up in a small town not far from St. Louis where my family and I still live today.  I am the first born of three daughters and the first granddaughter.  Being part of a big family was awesome during my childhood years – Dad was one of eight boys and Mom was one of ten.   We all lived close by and were always together celebrating holidays, throwing parties, spending summers in the pool or boating on the river, and much more.  Outside of family however, I was terribly shy; but somehow I found comfort in the company of myself and my thoughts.

Being shy kept me from doing things like taking dance lessons.  To my mom’s displeasure, I announced after class one night, “No way, I quit! I am not getting up on stage for a recital.”   Attending daycare was a nightmare (and for my mother) too.  The noise and overstimulation of all the other kids having fun throwing rocks from the play yard at each other and fighting over the swings was just too overwhelming for me.  More than anything, I was too shy to let anyone in to make a friend.  I had a trust issue and shyness was how I protected myself.

As a young, petite and modest girl attending a small private grade school (and mass 6x/week), I was certain of two things:  I wanted to help people, dreaming of being a nurse someday and that man hanging on the cross was my best friend, He was always there for me when I needed him.  These two things would always be tucked away for their safety as I longed for my own unique identity in a world of uniforms, repeat lectures and common teachings.  Struggling with being misunderstood and unheard, my shyness would eventually turn in to stubbornness and anger.  “Don’t expect me to say I’m sorry when I’m not.”  I still had trust issues.

It was during high school where so many turn of events came about in my life.  Still in the private school environment, I gained a boldness and entirely let go of my cloak of shyness.  My close group of friends made that really easy to do.  They allowed me to be just what I needed, myself.  I was the funny, always joking, laughing and dancing, party-loving, cheerleader.  But I made some mistakes and had my heart broken as most teenage girls do.  My biggest regret was listening to others instead of my own heart and head.

Right before my junior year in a completely random moment I met a boy and he changed my life from that night on.  My family had endured some heartbreak around this time as well.  This is when I turned to journaling. I secretly wished that someone would read it someday and finally understand who I was.  Maybe they could let me in on their findings.

After high school I didn’t go to college.  I moved into my own apartment and worked, hard.  That boy I met before my junior year of high school came back into my life and we quickly got engaged and, well more on that to come later…

To this day, I hate that there is a part of me that is shy. I’m a thousand times more confident than I’ve ever been but it’s still difficult to walk into a crowded room and strike up conversation or introduce myself.  I’ve struggled all my life with the feeling of being alone or misunderstood, as if I didn’t have a voice to some degree or another.  [I used to have a reoccurring dream where I would be screaming to someone in danger or as a means of protection but no sound would leave my mouth.   I don’t have those dreams anymore.]  This weakness has become my wonderful strength.  I have an extremely keen intuition – it wigs me out more than I care to admit.  I am able to fully listen and hear my own voice allowing me to have stronger relationships with deeper intimacy and communication.   The loneliness has turned into an ability to be comfortable being with just me.  I can be by myself at a crowded restaurant or run in the park by myself.

Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing that she has wings.
-Victor Hugo

Today, when I look back on my secret wish regarding journaling, I think it was supposed to be me figuring out who I was, who I am.  But more so recognizing my voice and what it, I mean what I have to say to the world.

And, now here I am…  On this path, longing to inspire hope to people by sharing my story and longing to help people by going back to school so I can one day counsel professionally.  All through that voice that was so misunderstood not by everyone around me, but myself.  I pray for each of you and whatever you’re struggling with that you may find deep understanding and hear exactly what it is your heart and voice is saying so loudly to you!!

Amy Jo

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