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Allie Marie Smith

A Song of Surrender

Hi Friends!

It’s been a while since I’ve written in this space. I hope this finds you enjoying the last bits of summer. I personally can’t wait for fall!

I stumbled across this song by Will Reagan and United Pursuits the other day and fell in love with it. It’s a bit more repetitive than I typically prefer songs to be, but I can be hard-headed and sometimes a little repetition can help truths sink in. I think of this song as a song of surrender. No matter what mountains we have to climb, I hope we can climb them with open hands and a heart of surrender.

I hope you are touched by this song as I was!

Much love dear ones,

Allie

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Lies Depression Told Me

Today, I want to share some of the lies depression told me. I believe that clinical depression is a complex medical issue. It is like an onion with many layers and each needs to be tended to. It can be physiological, spiritual, emotional, relational, hormonal, and environmental,  circumstantial or all over the above. For me it was all of these things, making it a deadly storm. So here are five of the lies depression has told me:

The world was better off without me.
At my worst, I believed this to the core. It’s hard to imagine, but I really did believe my friends and family would be better off without me. Today, I believe the world is more beautiful with me in it.

I didn’t have depression – I was just a horrible person who deserved to suffer.
The self-blame that comes with severe depression is debilitating. You become the world’s ugliest and most evil person and you believe you are no longer deserving of good and lovely things.

That there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
Throughout my hospitalizations, my mom and other people would repeatedly say, “There is light at the end of the tunnel.” The idea that there was even an ounce of hope was unimaginable. But the reality is there was right and I have seen many a sunny days since.

That I was irredeemably flawed.
Like the devil, depression is a merciless liar. Depression made me believe I was flawed beyond repair and that I was a lost cause.

That my depression was my fault.
Every time I’ve been severely depressed I placed 100% of the blame on myself. I just couldn’t accept that it was a chemical imbalance and that it was out of my of control. I found it hard to accept that it was a chaos of chemical imbalances or a medical issue which I didn’t have control over.

Have you ever struggled with clinical depression? What are the lies your depression told you?

Photo by Chelsea Steller

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Being Brave With Our Stories

I have a messy story, maybe like you. Sometimes i don’t know what do with it. I can spend my life running from it, pretending my most shameful things never happened or I can embrace it and own up to even the most darkest of chapters. What does it look like to embrace the dark sides of our stories? I think for everyone it’s different. For some, it means taking that brave step to see a counselor and talk about the things you’re most ashamed of. For others, it looks like telling a friend or a loved one. Others might be called to be public shame-breakers and share their stories for small or large crowds of people.

Being vulnerable can be terrifying, but being unknown is isolating. In his recent book, Mike Foster wrote, “People may be drawn to confidence, but they connect with weakness.” I so love this quote, because I’ve found my “hard chapters” to be superpowers in the way they allow me to deeply connect with other people, specifically teenage girls and women.

The past three months have been some of the hardest, but most transformative months in my life. It’s been rough, but as of January 1, 2017 I’ve turned a corner and I’m not going back. I am committed to being brave with my story whether I land my dream publisher or not. I’m wondering, what does it look like for you to be brave with yours? I’ll leave you with this quote by one of my favorite authors:

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”
― Brennan Manning

PS: This photo of me was taken at Pepperdine University, the school I loved but had to withdraw from after my sophomore year due to severe depression in 2004. The amazing thing is nine years later I was asked to speak there for the second time at our Wonderfully Made spring seminar and share my story. Isn’t it cool how when we think one chapter closes God can open it again?

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And Still She Laughs Book Trailer

Hi Loves,

One of my dear friends, Kate, just wrote a book and it’s available for pre-order wherever books are sold online such as here.

I thought I would share the book trailer with you! Tell your friends and pre-order today.

XO

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5 Benefits of a Breakdown

“Adversity is like a fire that, rather than destroying you, can refine, strengthen, and beautify you.” – Tim Keller

If you’re like me and have had a breakdown or two, you know they’re not fun. It’s terrifying to be out of sorts — your mind fills with lies, anxiety paralyzes you and at in your darkest hour you believe the world is better off without you. For how common breakdowns are, there is still little talk of them. No one wants to admit they’ve come undone, but so many of us have. With all the mental setbacks I’ve had in my life, I can genuinely say there is still good that can come from falling apart. I’m just about a month out of my most recent blow and the wonderful things is I can only go up from here.

Here are five ways breakdowns can make you better, not bitter:

Breakdowns bring clarity.
My setback has given me great clarity. Once the fog of my depression and confusion lifted, I was able to do a lot of personal reflection while also identifying habits and addictions that were not serving me well.

Breakdowns give you a natural “reset”
My breakdown provided me with a total reset. A reset I desperately needed to help heal me. It gives you the freedom to throw destructive habits out the window while giving you the opportunity to cultivate new, healthier ones. Whether it’s waking up before sunrise or putting down your phone for hours, breakdowns give you a clean slate to make more beneficial choices.

Breakdowns show you how much you need other people.
We are not islands and coming apart forces you to accept help. While not everyone has a stellar support system, breakdowns have a way of showing you who your true friends and loved ones are.

Breakdowns Help You Identify “Your People”
Whenever you go through a hard time mentally or emotionally, it can often put relationships to the test. Some people will see you differently for your setback and put up walls. As hard as it can be, this helps you “weed out” your fair-weather friends. While this is never fun, it does show you who will stay and love you the same when life gets hard.

Breakdowns can make you humble.
Nothing gives you a slice of humble pie like a breakdown. God can use them to mold you and remind you how fragile you really are. Genuine humility attracts others to you, and makes you a better version of yourself.

What benefit would you add to this list?

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Here’s to the Breakdowns

I want to be honest in this little space. So here it goes. I recently came undone. Again. For the countless time. I hit a rough patch to say the least while I was on Kauai for a retreat for young women. Details spared. It was brutal, excruciatingly painful and scary. It’s terrifying to be out of sorts. Thankfully I am on the mend.

This time though, I believe I’m coming back stronger and even more resilient than I was before this dramatic little episode. Sure, it’s only been a few weeks and I don’t want to jinx my progress, but I see God’s love and His fingerprints all over my yucky mess. Like the time a dear friend stopped by unexpectedly to sit and pray with me as I wrestled awful thoughts and was on the verge of going to the hospital. Or when after finishing a spin class, an acquaintance opened up to me about her own struggles, shattering the facade I was trying so hard to keep up and reminding me that it’s okay to not be okay. Or like when a friend’s mom sought me out and reminded me that medication is a gift to be received without shame.

I’ve witnessed the real, strong love of family – my brother booking an emergency flight so he could be with me and the healing balm of mother-in-law’s homemade turkey soup. My mom and dad dropping everything to give me company and fight for me when I was unable to fight for myself. The love of a husband who meant his words when he said “for better or worse.”

The last four years have been decorated by struggle and disappointment ever since I returned from an international trip that threw me into a tailspin. I’m learning how wildly sensitive I am in mind, spirit and body and how sacred my sleep is. I’m wired a little more fragile than most, and I’m trying to accept this. The past four years as I reeled from my prior breakdown (Brene Brown would call it a spiritual awakening- I like that better), I lived in a constant fog of comparison, envy, gluttony, insecurity and insidious addictions. I was lost in a sea of Instagram posts and overwhelmed by my own self-imposed shortcomings. But this time, I want to emerge from the fire changed and transformed.

The beautiful things is, my most recent breakdown spiritual awakening has given me a fresh restart. I’m relearning simple, basic things like how to get a good night’s sleep and I’m learning to live whole, to be “made well.” I’m forming new habits – like rising before the sun, putting my phone down for hours at a time, moving my body because it feels good, drinking calm tea, and being honest with my husband in the little and big things. I’m living a less hurried life. I’m preaching to myself the things I preach to others. Grace. Imperfection. Worthiness. So here’s to our spiritual awakenings — may they refine us, remake us and renew us.

Have you ever had a breakdown spiritual awakening? What was your experience like?

Love,

Allie

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My Feature Article in Thryve Magazine

Earlier this year I was asked to write a feature article for Thryve Magazine. Founded by Rachel Homcy, Thryve Magazine’s mission is to inspire and empower women to not merely exist, but to live fully alive. I connected with Rachel and she asked me to write an article. You can read my piece titled “Death of the Ideal Self” by downloading the entire issue for free HERE.

My friend Chelsea Steller took photos of me at my favorite piece of the California coastline. Here are a few images from our shoot:

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Sacred Spaces

So we’ve only lived in our tall and tiny condo for nearly seven years and I’m just now getting to decorating it the way it makes my heart happy. This has become one of my favorite little nooks of our home. I’m enjoying adding elements that connect us to our favorite places and spaces such as this sign I scored from one of our favorite secret spots on the coast. I’m also learning how to keep my first official house plant alive so that Paul will someday let me graduate to a dog. This has become the space I seclude to for my time of solitude, rest and creativity.

I spotted this Rohini Daybed on Pinterest and was able to track it down to Urban Outfitters (psst…it’s now on SALE!). It’s pretty fragile (at least the arms are), so I don’t know how many years it will hold up, but I love it for now! I spruced it up with a few macrame pillows.

What is your sacred space? How do you enjoy decorating it?

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A New Measure of Success on My HEAL Journey

Almost four years ago, a health crisis happened in my life and with it came a health detour. As I write this I am significantly overweight…for me. Having once been a competitive athlete, this has been a tough pill to swallow. For so much of my life I placed a huge part of my worth and identity in my athleticism and physical appearance. If I’m honest, I still place stock in it, but it has been a slow unraveling as I discover the steadfast truth that I am loved by the people who matter the most regardless of my size. While I am still loved, I am not free. I am not free at this weight and the pain of staying here is too much for me, so I must make a change. I have been trying the last few years, but have not made much progress….I still feel imprisoned.

The 30th of this month marks a new journey for me. I am beginning a new approach to my health and have invited a health coach to help me in my process. The last week has been decorated by a lot of chaotic eating as I pressure myself to finally get it right once I start this new approach to my health. I’ve visited fast food chains and eaten more food than my stomach has room for. The great thing about my new approach is it is rooted in grace and requires I be kind to myself.

Today, I came up with a series of questions I want to ask myself throughout each day as a new measure of success (step away scale!). Here they are:

1) Is my heart still beating
I’m writing this so the answer is yes. God still has breath in my lungs for a good and beautiful reason. I am present. I am here and that is a win.

2) Did I move my body and enjoy it?
I’m reminding myself to view moving my body as an act of celebration, not as a form of punishment. Enjoying my form of physical activity is of utmost importance.

3) Did I listen to and obey my hunger/satisfaction?
Am I in-tune with my natural, God-given signals of hunger and fullness? Am I eating foods I enjoy? Am I trusting my body and listening to what it is saying?

4) Did I have a time of solitude and relaxation?
This is key. Did I set aside intentional time to be still before God to reach his word and talk to Him?

5) Am I speaking kindly to myself?
Am I being a friend or foe to myself? To avoid self-sabotage it is vital that I season the words I use with myself with  kindness and gentleness.

6) Am I celebrating my wins?
Am I consciously celebrating and throwing a mini party every time I have a victory? Building upon small successes creates momentum and stamina for the journey ahead.

Where are you on your health journey? Are you encouraged by this new way of measuring success?

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My Favorite Podcasts

I thought I would share my favorite and most listened-to podcasts. What I love most about podcasts is how convenient they are. You can listen while you clean, do laundry, take a bath, go for a jog or take drive. I’m a sucker for learning and personal development and with a plethora of information out there and a variety of podcasts at your fingertips, there’s no excuse for not gleaning new information whatever your interests may be.

  1. Wonderfully Made {COMING SOON!}
    So I’m a little biased but my favorite podcast is the one I get to co-produce with my friend Rachel Brown for Wonderfully Made. We have three awesome interviews under our belt and are currently in the post-production phase but I love it because we get to interview phenomenal, inspiring women who are fueled by their faith to make this world a little more lovely. It’s still kind of on the down-low, but I couldn’t resist spilling the beans for this post! So stay tuned!
  2. Heroes For Her {By Bible Belles}
    Produced by my friends Erin and Brent Weidemann, Heroes For Her is a podcast to designed to help parents raise confident, capable daughters who are excited to live out their God-given purpose. While I don’t have a little girl, I work with a lot of them and am always fascinated by the interviews which have featured friends such as Katherine Wolf and Lauren Scruggs Kennedy.
  3. Reality Carpinteria
    This is my go-t0 sermon podcast. I’m always challenged and encouraged by Britt and the Reality pastors’ teaching.
  4. The Miami Hustle Series {By My Big Bro Tim Berthold!}
    I’m such a proud little sister. My brother Tim (okay, I only call him Timmy) is the producer and host of this awesome podcast designed to showcase some of Miami’s “hustleprenuers.” Hear stories from Miami locals who’ve hustled their way out of the 9-to-5 and are creating businesses that are transforming Miami into a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation. Learn how they found a profitable business idea, branded themselves for success, achieved financing from VCs and angels, and are creating business that are “building a new Miami.”
  5. This Is Your Life {Michael Hyatt}
    This podcast is designed to “help you win work and succeed at life.” Topics range from productivity to relationships and leadership topics. The goal is to help you live with more passion, work with greater focus, and lead with extraordinary influence.
  6. Building a Story Brand {Donald Miller}
    As the director of a non-profit I appreciate the lessons taught through conversations with leading visionaries and entrepreneurs. The goal of this podcast is to help brands clarify their message to create better websites, email blasts and marketing material. Every episode is designed to help you think and communicate clearly so you can have a greater impact. This is a great podcast if you are a business owner, non-profit leader or creative.

Tell me some of your favorite podcasts. I’d love to give them a listen!