Last month I had a scary couple of weeks. It started one day when my breathing felt a little more difficult than usual and progressed into me laboring for every breath. It would come and go throughout the day, but at it worst, I honestly felt like I was suffocating. I used my inhaler and essential oils to no avail. One night, after having a Mommy/Daughter date with my 10-year-old, I drove home for an hour gasping for air. I was getting ready to head to the emergency room when I asked my husband for a priesthood blessing. He immediately agreed and placed his hands on my head. I quickly fell asleep and awoke the next morning with no symptoms. It was truly a miracle and I’ve never been so grateful for the priesthood.

Then, about a week ago, it all started again. Not as bad as before, but there were definitely times when I found myself desperate for more oxygen, physically positioning myself to take in more air as I strived to take in a deep breath. After only a few days, I asked for another blessing and the same miracle occurred. It’s obviously time to make a doctor’s appointment to see what it’s all about. This isn’t normal nor sustainable.

The thing is, I’m pretty sure this is all stressed-induced. The past year has been the hardest of my life. Two of my children struggled and the whole family felt it. I’ve dealt with depression since I was 16 and I’m sure, though I don’t have anxiety as a formal diagnosis, I experience highter levels of it than most people. Quite honestly, I’m a bit of a mess. Things that are easy for most people feel suffocating to me. Most of the time I feel like I’m drowing, gasping for emotional air. I fight to keep my head above water as I feel pulled under by the stress of my children’s special needs and the day-to-day of running my violin studio, writing, speaking, and taking care of my family.

As I think about how it all feels so overwhelming, I think of so many of you who are fighting battles of your own. You might feel lonely, forgotten or overwhelmed. Maybe your child or spouse has lost their faith and your heart is broken. Perhaps you’re dealing with divorce or death or illness or just so darn tired of having to be the strong one all the time. Just know that I hear you and I’m reaching out. It’s time to breathe.

Right now, for just 60 seconds, breathe. Allow yourself to take a moment for self care and slow down. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, and let your muscles relax. It’s not going to remove your trials or cure your heartache, but it will slow your heart and mind to a pace more accessible by the Spirit.

The Lord can’t reach you if you move too fast. His pace isn’t swift or hasty. He works carefully, placing each piece exactly where it needs to be— if we let Him. So, for just one minute, settle into the tempo of eternity. Remember that He’s got you— if only you’ll slow down enough to breathe it in.

THE MOM CONFERENCE October 17, 18, 19

Life is absolutely BONKERS right now. No, seriously. It’s insane. Here’s the current rundown:  teach 10 violin students, work on new book, promote book that just released with speaking engagements, help kids with homework, drive to activities, pick up from activities, help 8-year-old sell Girl Scout cookies, be a good wife, deal with serious family medical issues, testify in a murder trial regarding my neighbors (don’t ask), and continue to keep house, grocery shop, make meals, pack lunches, fulfill church commitments, and so forth.


Those are just the basics and I’m sure you can relate. I bet a lot of you feel like I do. Run down. Tired. Overwhelmed. And, as always: Inadequate. Super inadequate. I feel like I’m constantly dropping one ball or another or disappointing one child or another or falling below some standard that was set by who knows who. You can look at my professional headshot and my family pictures and think that we have it all together since for that one moment our outfits were coordinated and we were smiling. But you would be dead wrong. We are flying by the seat of our pants trying to make it all work and create joy and love while balancing discipline and responsibility. We are hoping that we can give our kids our best and that our efforts will produce happy, productive, contributing members of society. We are striving and struggling to make time for things that bring us joy as individuals and as a married couple so that we keep our cups full for our kids and those around us. We are imperfect works-in-progress with a desire to do and be our best.  


I’ll be honest, there are days when my kids are at school and I am focused and good things come by the dozens. Yes, there are days like that. But most of my days require a lot of grit and muscle and putting on a smile when things don’t feel great. (I’ll write in the future about my battle with depression.)


So, where am I going with this cheery post? The point is that it’s time for us— you and me— to make time for October’s Mom Conference. Not because we are inadequate but because we are more capable than we realize. It’s time to be reminded of how hard mothering is and how amazing it is that we get through the days and weeks with our families still going. It’s also a chance to learn new ways to combat our negative feelings and step into a new place. It’s a reminder of all the good we do and a classroom for learning to be even better.


You might not think you need The Mom Conference. You may think you’ll remember on October 17th. We both know other tasks will press for your time so put it on your calendar right now. Make it a priority. Women who work in business, the arts, science, government, and other professional fields go to conferences to enhance or supplement their skills and up their game in the workplace. It’s how they get ahead. And, though most companies pay for these trainings, some workers use their own money to travel and attend these meetings because they know it will yield a greater return when they come back and apply those skills and that energy to their work.


Mothering is your job. Make this investment. Value yourself enough to realize that you will do your job better if you are at the top of your game, learning new skills, upping your game, and getting ahead. A company can only progress if its employees are focused on personal improvement. Your family relationships and the teamwork in your home will only progress if you— the Chief EVERYTHING Officer— are making the time for personal improvement. You are worth every bit of investment you make in your well-being. It’s true: “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” so it’s time to start at the top and fill your cup.


The Mom Conference is three short days, watched at your leisure, when you get to hone your mad mothering skills and take it to the next level. Stream it while you drive, nurse a baby, make dinner, pack lunches, fold laundry, scrub the toilets, or exercise. And remember, if you don’t get to all of the talks in one day, you have the encore day and the option of purchasing access to the conference all year long.


Recently, I saw an advertisement for an online productivity conference that looked like just the thing I would love. It was structured just like The Mom Conference— free for a few days then available to access for a fee. I listened to as many talks/interviews as I could and felt so good that I wanted more. I purchased the access package and I can’t tell you how amazing it has been to watch and rewatch those interviews. Tim and I have even watched them while folding laundry or for an at-home date night. We have learned so much together and it helps us encourage each other to live those principles.


If you love what you hear at The Mom Conference, consider purchasing access for yourself and for your spouse. It might not make for the most romantic date night but it is good to be on the same page as parents and sharing these ideas will help you do just that.


Whether you purchase the conference or just tune in, remember that YOU are the greatest investment your family has. Your influence has a greater effect on your home than almost any other source so take care of YOU. I look forward to this year’s conference and hope to see you there!

Click HERE to register.

Captain Sunshine Visits The Zoo

Do you have a redhead in your family? Our second daughter has the most beautiful hair. Strangers stop her on the street to comment on her color. It’s just the right shade of red. Couple that with her blue eyes and you understand one thing that makes her so unique. In fact, less than 2% of the world’s population has red hair and very few have blue eyes.

This gorgeous young lady is very mind-tempered. I know, the rumor is that redheads have fiery tempers. (I’m getting there.) But most of the time she is pretty chill. Definitely the mildest of our four children.

However, there are times when she can’t contain her frustration any longer be it with sisters, parents, friends, etc. Almost every time it is because she’s tired. That girls can do Tired like no one else. When she was in preschool she used to LOSE. . . HER.  . .MIND every night about 7pm. I took us a few weeks to realize that she was exhausted and needed an earlier bedtime. We started putting her to bed at 7pm and she was out in sixty seconds. Her personality keeps us on our toes but also makes us laugh, including her. She just can’t stay mad no matter how much she wants to. This dichotomy of personality has earned her the name, “Captain Sunshine.”

I only need to look at her when she’s yelling and upset and she starts to giggle. She hates this, by the way, but we love it. We’ll say, “I’m sorry, D, you just aren’t capable of staying angry. You can try and try to be mad but it isn’t in your nature.”

What IS in her nature? Animals. Animals are this child’s life. So, when we decided to take the kids to the Maryland Zoo this morning we thought she would be ecstatic, which she was. Until her sister tried to vacuum their room at the same time D wanted to get dressed.

Crisis. Meltdown. Crying. Yelling.

The issue was resolved and her sister cleaned another room first. However, she had been rebuked for her temper and was upset with me. (Someone is always mad at me these days.) We continued to encourage everyone to quickly finish their chores and get to the car. She asserted that she WAS NOT GOING. There may have been some tears but the alternative was to stay home and clean her guinea pig cage so, within minutes, she was at the car. She didn’t speak to me at the house or in the car. But, wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we stepped onto the zoo grounds and those little penguins came waddling over, our girl was back. Smiling. Cooing at the animals. Having fun.

Sometimes I get so into my upset that I can’t convince myself to DO what I should to bring myself out of it. I want to wallow. I want to suffer a little. Sometimes sulking just feels good. But it doesn’t help. And so, like Captain Sunshine, sometimes I need a push to do something I know I’ll enjoy. . . .once I get there.   


Two weeks ago I woke up pretty depressed. I knew what it was because I’ve battled depression for 20 years. Of course, for many years now, it hasn’t played its part like it used to. It has been a good 7 years since I’ve just laid in bed crying or had absolutely no motivation to do anything. I’ve struggled. I’ve grown. I’ve learned. And the most important thing I’ve learned is that when I start to feel depressed, I have a choice. I can let those feelings drag me down into a pretty nasty spiral or I can fight. I can win my way out of the darkness if I recognize it early and take action. So that is what I did.

As soon as I realized what was happening I thought, “Kiersten, you can let this take control of you or you can take control of it. What do you need to do today to take care of yourself and heal?” You see, if I had broken my arm that morning, I would have rushed to urgent care to see a doctor and spent time and energy to have it heal quickly. But we don’t always do that with mental illness. We just keep thinking that we can ignore it and it will go away. It’s not so. I need to give the pain immediate attention so that which is broken does not break me.

So, I called a friend and asked if her son could come play that afternoon. I know. This doesn’t sound right. But I needed her son to keep my son busy that afternoon so I could get a few things done and feel better. In the end, she offered to let my son go to her house. Just knowing that I would have a few minutes to tackle a few action items on the “Kiersten” list was enough to lift my spirit that day. I spent the morning excitedly getting things done for my family and home because I knew my time was coming. And it did. I spent the afternoon working on things for myself. Filling my cup. Taking care of Kiersten. She needed it. I felt more energetic and my anxious nerves calmed.

It wasn’t a big thing. I didn’t make any miraculous progress that day but it was just enough of what I needed to heal. It was enough of a boost to create some momentum for the following days and keep me from heading the opposite direction. Broken bodies need rest, exercise, and repair. How can we believe that broken minds don’t require the same care? So find something to heal you. What would bring a smile to your face? What time, energy, and resources do you need to heal? Find them. Make them. Whatever it takes. Just heal. Rest if you need to. Forget about the to-do list because, quite honestly, it isn’t going to get done anyway if you’re depressed.

Visit a friend. Go for a walk. Read a book. Take a nap. Meditate. Exercise. Work on a project. Practice a skill. Enjoy a hobby. Indulge in some chocolate. Garden. Dance. Listen to music. Play with your dog.

Just don’t ignore it! Don’t pretend it’s going to go away without rest, exercise, and repair. Take care of your Self and heal. I promise that today- and every day- you will be stronger.   


My oldest daughter turns 13 in three months. The next one is only twenty months behind. Pray for me.  

The first is a typical Type A oldest child with a drive for independence and assertiveness that qualifies her to run for public office. I admire her tenacity, work ethic, and drive for excellence. I also fear her wrath. She’s moody and fiercely defensive. Anyone relate?

For a long time, I’ve felt that it’s my place to keep her temper and backtalk in line. I reprimand and chastise in an effort to teach her manners and respect. But this year is all about LOVE. Showing my children love definitely doesn’t mean letting them be disrespectful or obnoxious but it does mean teaching them how to hold their tongue and that is often best done by example.

Two weeks ago I dropped my daughter off at a new barn for her third riding lesson there. She is still learning where everything is and trying to please. I wanted to stay but she asked if she could “do this on [her] own” so I said goodbye and started my drive home. Halfway there, she called to tell me that lessons were canceled that day. She was embarrassed and upset. When I retrieved her, she was not happy. “This is why I asked you if you confirmed with them...You didn’t read the email well enough…They already hate me and this just makes it worse…This is so embarrassing.” No, I hadn’t confirmed. Yes, I had misread the email. No, they don’t hate her. To me it was no big deal. She got there and no one was there to teach so I just picked her up. So what? To her it felt much bigger.

I made the choice to hold my tongue. She went on for a few minutes then fell silent. We sat there with nothing but the sound of the car and her brother chattering in the background. I kept wondering if there was something I could say to make things better but knew there was no help I could offer. I had already apologized for not confirming. I felt any words I would try to offer would only be to talk her out of her feelings instead of validating them. Then, out of the silence, she said, “I’m sorry I talked to you like that. I was just really embarrassed and had asked you to confirm before we went.”

Just like that, it was over. She needed to get it out. When her frustration was given a voice her mind was able to settle. She is a good girl. She knows what is right and wants to make good choices. Sometimes I just need to let her vent and then let the silence work its magic.

I have repeated this approach since then. Sometimes it doesn’t work and tension lingers longer than I’d like, but she always finds herself again. I know there is a place for discipline and correction, but at some point my children have to be allowed to fall. And when that happens, I will hold on with always comes back.


So... my friend, Ramona Zabriskie, invited me to attend this year's Mom Conference and I am so excited that I want to pass along the invitation to all of the moms out there. Starting tomorrow October 11, for three days, The Mom Conference will send you a link to 7- yes, SEVEN- talks on amazing subjects by amazing people FOR FREE! Yes, FREE. There is no charge for the conference and you have 24 hours to listen to the talks once they are sent. After the conference you can purchase a recording package if you want to hear what you missed or if you just want to have it available all year long. Follow this link to find out more.  I hope you will join me for this fun and inspirational event. 

Excuse me, but do you know where July went?

I can’t believe we are halfway through the summer this week. Every spring I dread the end of the school year as I fill with anxiety over how I am going to keep my four children entertained for 10 weeks. Fortunately, Snowmageddan 2016 took off one week of our summer vacation so I only have 9 weeks to fill this year. As the weeks have passed with camps, the pool, swimming lessons, day trips, the Maryland Ice Cream Tour (if you live here, check it out here), horseback riding lessons, my violin teaching, playdates, and other activities, I am wondering where the time has gone and how I am going to fit in everything I had planned.

As my children grow and my life changes year to year, each summer brings new challenges and new opportunities. The older we all get, the more fun we have because the possibilities of activities expand. It has only been this last year, with my oldest child in middle school, that I have begun to realize how quickly my time with them is passing.  Everyone has told me that one day I will miss the noise and the activity. I still struggle with that but I have definitely begun to understand how fast time moves.

I used to wish that time would pass more quickly and my kids would grow up so they were more independent and I could have more fun with them. Well, guess what? They are fun now and I need time to slow down so I can fit in all the fun that is in my head. Don’t get me wrong, they drive me batty some days. Seriously. Batty. I do wish on a regular basis that I had more violin students and speaking gigs to give me a break.

But, just for this summer, I am letting that all go and trying to make memories that won’t be at my fingertips much longer. When fall comes and they are back in school, I will have hours to work on presentations and practice charts but, for now, I am working on my kids while they still want to spend time with me. We will squeeze in another Adventure Day, another Pinterest Day, another Party with Friends Day. We will have a blast at the beach next week, be inspired by Olympians, each chips by the pool (the only time they get such things), and savor our delicious homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers.

Then, when they are back at school and the house is quiet each morning, I will sit down at the kitchen table to work, knowing we made memories none of us will ever forget. Summer will pass- it is just one season of the year. Young motherhood will pass- it is just one season of my life. Both go too quickly these days. I want to make them something to remember. How will you remember the summer of 2016?