|  Blog Post   |  Penned Musing: Rude Awakening 

Penned Musing: Rude Awakening 

Sitting across from my new friend at her kitchen table she says,

My friend follows you on Instagram. She said she sometimes feels guilty that she got kids and you didn’t.

I smile with loving appreciation and reply,

I wasn’t always this person. God gave me those three babies, I have no doubt, to make me fight for the person I am today. No guilt needed.

Do we really have to suffer and lose to gain?

Only with the hindsight of time and the work of recovery do we actually walk into the gain.

Would I trade it all for my babies?

No doubt.

Do I consider this all a gift and trust it is exactly as it is supposed to be?


I was different before. My demons much more powerful, keeping me shackled in the darkness of mild depression, anxiety, and most of all, perfectionism and scarcity.

I struggled daily. What I did not know then is that a huge part of my struggle was not fully embracing all the parts of my story and of myself. Accepting that happiness is a perspective, a choice and work.

And most of all finding my voice, my light and living it out loud without apology.

It is a rude awakening.

Because when you awaken, you awaken to the dark parts of you and your weaknesses.

But in the fully awakened in color life you also realize that within this darkness is also your light.

That in this complicated gray of the dark and the light of ourselves lies our truest self.


Justine is a Licensed Professional Counselor with more than 25 years of experience in traditional mental health and personal and professional development. Justine has been certified in the work of Dr. Brené Brown for ten years. Justine is the author of eleven books, including five Amazon bestsellers covering subjects such as infertility, faith, and grief. She has been honored to do two TEDx Talks, The Permission of the And and The Donut Effect. She travels nationally and presents virtually to global audiences delivering keynotes, workshops, retreats, and trainings on topics such as leadership, courage, resilience, mental health, preventing and coping with burnout, and courageous and curious conversation, especially in creating cultures of belonging and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Justine lives in St. Louis with her husband Chad, their three dogs, and for four months of the year hundreds of monarch and swallowtail butterflies.

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