2 Years of Middle Age Nightmares PART ONE…my journey of chronic hives, adrenal exhaustion and weight gain

I have been sick for a long time. But I am getting better. I can feel it. Everything has shifted. I haven’t told very many people how bad things have been…I always want to wait until things are better before I tell how bad they were.

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If you have been dealing with any of these same symptoms….I hope I can offer some information to help you. I have been researching for years trying to get this all figured out….and trying one thing after another. I haven’t wanted to write about it until I felt “stabilized” for at least a few months…..and that’s where I’m at, a steady incline for a few months now. Things have only gotten better and better, right after they got really really really bad. I didn’t know some days if I would make it through the summer.

There is a lot I want to tell you. It’s just going to take a long time….because there is just so much. I have been on SUCH a long journey with all of this, and it has not been fun….but I learned so much and also learned that so many other women are going through a lot of the same health problems and I really just want to help. It was so hard to find a way out of this…..and if this can help just ONE of you…it will be worth it to write it all out.

So….I am going to write it out over the next few weeks in a few different posts…this first one I am just going to tell you the timeline of my health decline.

Here are the basic facts.

-I was in the best “shape” of my life when I turned 40. I was wearing a size 6 and I had worked really hard for that. That was 3 years ago. I was also addicted to caffeine, did lots of crazy diets and I worked my fingers to the bone. But I generally felt pretty good…as good as you can feel when you live on caffeine and adrenaline and deadlines. I also felt SO WONDERFUL because I felt confident that my husband was finally on the other side of his brain injury, and so close to a full recovery and our life was starting to be put back together. It had been a long 7 years of taking care of him and watching our life fall apart and trying to hold everything together by myself in our family and business.

-I started getting chronic hives right before I turned 41, no doctors or healers could figure out why, or how to make them go away….they lasted for 2 years…and now I pretty much have them under control. I just turned 43 and I feel like I’ve been in a 2 year battle…a warzone with my own body.

-My adrenal system was completely drained. I was so exhausted, and that got worse and worse. I could not tolerate exercise. I was more tired than there are words to explain but I could not sleep. When I would finally START to go to sleep, I would have a huge panic attack and a surge of massive adrenaline that would make my heart beat for hours, if I did finally go to sleep, the same kind of feeling would wake me up in the middle of the night. Night time was hell.

-I had incredible anxiety…so bad that most days I couldn’t tolerate being with or talking to people outside of my own family…or dealing with life in general. Everything felt overwhelming, and even scary. I cried a lot.

-My hormones were wacked out….mostly depleted. This left me feeling crazy…grouchy and irrational. This is not so fantastic when dealing with relationships. I cried a lot.

-No matter what I did, I kept gaining weight. Currently I think I am about 40 pounds over my weight on my 40th birthday….the weight that I feel comfortable and most like me. I don’t know for sure the exact amount because right now I refuse to weigh myself…but I can feel my body balancing and starting to shed extra weight and I’m going to start exercising again and then I will maybe weigh mysef. I have a fairly public career and it has been a real exercise in self love to allow myself to show up to my job of facilitating women’s retreats and doing online videos with my body ballooning up and hives that were sometimes frightenly disfiguring. Seeing my body change from this illness has made me cry…a lot. But one thing I will tell you before I write a whole post about this subject in general is that learning to sit with myself, to love myself and to accept myself exactly as I am has been absolutely critical in my healing. Even though I am 30-40 pounds heavier than I have ever been, I have learned to love myself, protect myself and take care of myself. This has been the most incredible miracle and one that made it all worth it. I don’t know how I ever would have become who I am meant to be otherwise.

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…so, those are the facts…I will get started on the whole story….

A little more than two years ago, it started with a big uneasiness….anxiety, but deeper than that. I felt a sort of soul deep urgency and a feeling that felt like an out of tune guitar. Like my whole self was sharp, or flat…..just not in tune. I just felt uneasy…..

Then the hives started one August night. I woke up with them. My eyes were swollen shut.  These were no ordinary hives….big welts all over my scalp….that moved to my ears, my neck, my throat……then all over my face. I also had them all over my wrists and arms….and then they moved down my body. Big, itchy swollen welts that felt like bruises when they were touched.

I went to the emergency room when it felt like my throat was swelling. They put me on an IV of Benedryl. The doctor then told me that about 90% of hives cases are never solved. I figured it was something that I ate and I felt certain that they would go away and never come back. The Benedryl didn’t even touch my hives. They wanted to give me steroids and I refused. I just decided they would go away on their own….and I went home. The next morning I had to go on a very important trip…I almost didn’t go. THAT TRIP, however, sent me into the exact relationships that would sustain me through this illness. You can read about that HERE. When I wrote this post, I had no idea that I would still be sick long after it. I was sure the hives were very temporary.

Well…they stayed for a very long time….on and off for more than 2 years. (I still get them if I am not very careful about what I put in my body)  I will write a whole blog post just about the hives. The hives have been one of my greatest teachers, one of my most painful teachers….the hives taught me things I don’t think I could have learned without having lived a few years being disfigured and unrecognizable and even scary some days….having to see myself like that and dig deep for who I am on the inside. Having to show up to the public like that and hope they would see me on the inside too. I still cry when I think about the hives.

Around the same time 2 years ago, I started to get tired….and I acquired anxiety, especially in social situations. This is not a wonderful symptom for a retreat facilitator, but somehow I was able to rally enough to do Brave Girl Camps, mostly because it was in my own home, and I felt safe. Over the last few years, both the exhaustion and the anxiety about talking to others got worse and worse….until I have mostly been staying at home and not really going anywhere except when I have to travel. I have become a hermit.

I guess I just thought that my personality had changed. I know that I am an introvert, but I have always been a very outgoing and social introvert. During this time….the thought of having to talk to anyone except my very closest family and friends brought on so much fear and anxiety that it made me even sicker. I went deeper into the hole.

Then the weight….it just started creeping up. I guess staying in bed didn’t help matters much. No matter what cleanse I tried, what diet I did….even working with a trainer for a while, my weight just kept creeping up and up and up. None of my clothing fits. It’s all stretchy stuff for me. Stretchy and comfy. Lots of old self-loathing during that time. I couldn’t bear seeing myself. SO MUCH of my healing work has been around this. I finally stopped trying to fight the weight and it is just now starting to release…..but I am going to be gentle and easy and kind about it this time around…and who knows if I will ever have my old body back? I have finally let go of that requirement…the requirement I used to have to acheive before I would allow myself to love and accept myself. I have EVERY intention of getting more healthy than I have EVER been, but I have no requirement for what that weight will be, or what that size will be. It will be whatever ends up being very best for my body. No more forcing.

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Ok…THE HORMONES. Ugh. I got a lot of blood tests and saliva tests last Spring…about 6 months ago. I had gotten a lot of blood tests over those few years, but had never done a full panel of hormones and everything else. When I got my tests back…everything was SUPER LOW. Even my cholesterol was severely low! My body was completely drained. One of the things that was making me feel so terrible was how low my progesterone was, especially in comparison to my estrogen. Sticking with a regimen of progesterone cream made a HUGE difference for me on every level….and that’s when my hives started getting under control. That’s when I started to calm down, too. But that was only a small part of the battle.

I also found out from those blood and saliva tests that I was almost in complete adrenal failure. Your adrenals are the tiny little things that give you your energy and do all sorts of other things. I was stage 3 adrenal fatigue…..which means I have depleted just about every last drop of anything that my body has to give. This makes sense as it was just about the 10 year anniversary of my husband’s accident….and I had been running on adrenaline, fear, desperation and big dreams and deadlines for all of those 10 years. When I ran out of my own energy, I just drank more caffeine. I was in energy debt…I’d used up all of mine and more…….and the only way to recover from severe adrenal fatigue is to build it back up. My doctor told me it would take at least a year before I was back at a good level. A year of diligent sleeping, clean nutrition, supplements…..and ugh……emotional healing.

So…then there’s that…emotional healing…and at least one whole post is needed to write about that. I had not been to therapy, or counseling or any kind of consistent support for those 10 years. I was waiting for my husband to get better so we could heal together. In the greatest knock-the-wind-out-of-me moment of all of my life, I found out in what was supposed to be our first healing conversation together, that my husband has no memory of the most horrific things that occured while he was in full-throttle frontal lobe brain injury mode. I had saved all of it, grieved or dealt with none of it, never talked about ANY of it, and kept it all in a cooler…fresh and ready for he and I to heal over it together. Finding out that I was the only one holding those very heavy, horrific memories pretty much sent me into the darkest time of my life.

melody youre not alone sick

So…I spent the Spring and Summer in deep therapy. I have never done that. It sucked. I  felt like I was bleeding to death. My weight kept creeping up. I felt angry, resentful……FURIOUS. I have never ever let myself feel angry in all of my life. I just thought I didn’t know how to do that, or my anger organ was broken or missing. Fact is…I just got really good at repressing it. 42 years of stored up anger came out over a few months.

…AND THEN…I started to heal.

So….you see how it wasn’t just one thing? It has been nutrition, sleep, supplements…..it as been the right doctors and healers. BUT MOST OF ALL….it has been ME finally being COMPLETELY honest with myself about how I feel and what I have been through. It is me OWNING MY PART IN IT. Because I certainly am the one who made all of the decisions I made to get me to where I am now. And just like all of life, the consequences of other’s decisions are thrown in there along with things that are completely out of EVERYONE’s control……things that are just hard about life….

But I did not start to heal until I dug deep and claimed my anger…claimed my mistakes and claimed my awesomeness too. I did not start to heal until I got really really really honest.

Everything has changed for me since then. EVERYTHING. I feel like a new person. Now that I love and accept myself…all of me….even when I look like a monster from hives, or when my bum is extra wide and chubby….I love and accept myself. And when you love and accept yourself….you stop tolerating abuse. You stop tolerating abuse from yourself in the form of overworking and crappy eating and not sleeping………and you stop tolerating abuse from others.  EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED.

Ok….that’s it for now.

melody ross today

I will write in detail what I have done to get healthy again….the green juicing…the supplements, the doctors. The 100% refrain from caffeine. (I NEVER thought I could EVER live without caffeine!) The therapies, the doctors…the books…the stuff that has helped.

BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO FEEL AS GOOD AS I DO. And I really really really truly thought I would never feel good again, I was certain that I was ruined. But I stayed with me. I stayed with me no matter what…….and that made all the difference.

more soon!

xoxo

melody

Just keep moving forward…you will get there

Dear Determined Girl,

What’s the best way to get closer to where you want to be? to the life you want to live? to the things your soul-heart longs for?

MOVE FORWARD, my friend, one step at a time…one day at a time. Look forward so you know where you are going, so you can keep an eye on your goal, so you can stay focused.

Do not look forward in fear. Do not look forward to compare yourself to the girls who are in front of you or to imagine the things that you might be afraid of. LOOK FORWARD with excitement, with gratitude.

Brave Girls Club - Keep Moving

Look to the left and look to the right as you are moving forward, but only to see the flowers and the smiling people and the beauty and truth and creativity and inspiration all around you. Do not look left to see that your neighbor is doing something more interesting or better or easier. Do not look to the right to see that she has firmer thighs and a bigger house and better behaved children or whatever things you imagine that might take you off course. Keep your focus forward on YOUR PATH. See the sunrise on the right and the birds flying on the left, but KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

Look back to be thankful, look back to see how far you have come, but do not look back to see what was left behind, what you regret, what you wish had not happened. Look back to see everything that brought you to now and KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

You are just right. You are on track. You are so very very very loved.

xoxo

You make your own rules for your own beautiful life

Dear Beloved Girl,

You don’t have to have special permission to take a break, you know.

You have done enough. When you are tired and weary and feeling worn out, it’s okay to be kind to yourself, to shift gears and take gentle care of your body and your spirit.

Brave Girls Club - You make the rules for your own beautiful life

Please be good to yourself, beautiful friend. The world is not the same without the best of you. The people that you love the most have better lives because of you, and there are people you have not even met yet who will have enriched lives because of you. But not if you are depleted and wrung out or numb from overwork.

Your life will be better, happier, more effective, more efficient and more meaningful if you stop to take care of yourself. No more putting guilt trips on yourself or letting anyone else do it. No more working yourself so hard that you can’t even feel anymore. It’s time to REALLY nurture and take care of yourself. You are a gift to the world, so please take care of YOU.

Today’s a great day to start.

You can do it. You are beloved.
xoxo

Take a Peek into October 2014 Brave Girl Camp

One week ago was the last day of another ABSOLUTELY magical Brave Girl Camp. We already miss our new sisters so much!! 25 beautiful souls gathered together with us at Brave River Ranch to experience a truly incredible week. There was immense healing… there were countless miracles… there were lifelong friendships and sisterhoods made… lots of tears and lots of laughter… amazing food… gorgeous, soulful, healing art… and so much more. Enjoy this little look into the wonderful and sacred October 2014 Brave Girl Camp! (Thank you to some of the Oct. 2014 Brave Girls for providing these pictures!)

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What if your dreams really are possible?

Dear Amazing Girl,

You may have forgotten some things along the way, but that doesn’t mean it’s all over. There is so much time left and today is a brand new day to begin your brand new life.

You may have forgotten that you had dreams once, and even though they didn’t come true right when you thought they would, it doesn’t mean that those dreams weren’t real or that they didn’t matter. Sometimes we just don’t have the timing quite right, and sometimes our dreams come true in ways that are different than what we imagined they would be.

Brave Girls Club - what if it really is possible?

You are still in there, dear girl. You are worth rescuing yourself and remembering all that you are, all that you always were, and all that you are meant to become.

The first thing you have to do is decide, though. It might be a long road ahead and it might be shorter than you thought it would be too.

Today would be a great day to decide that no matter how long the road is, you are going to come home to yourself and live the happy life that is meant for you. No one else can decide this for you.

Please please please do it, sweet friend. Today is a great day to decide.

You are so very loved.
xoxo

What is so scary about that first step?

Dear Brave Girl,

It starts with that first scary step…that step that we sometimes spend years avoiding and putting off…that step we often tell ourselves we will finally take ‘tomorrow’.

What is so scary about that first step?

Let’s put it into perspective and look at what it really is. It’s just a step, lovely. Just a step. And you don’t even have to decide right now if you will take the next step after the first one.

Just commit to that first scary step. It doesn’t matter if your first step is clumsy or looks ridiculous or if it doesn’t get you as far as you thought it would. It doesn’t matter what others think. It doesn’t matter if you fall that first time. It doesn’t matter.

You know you want to take that step or it wouldn’t be burning in your heart the way it is now…the way it has been for so long.

Brave Girls Club - Daily Truth - TAKE THE LEAP

One thing is for sure. You can stop after you take that first step, or you can take another one, and then another. You get to choose.

Remember that without taking that first step, you will NEVER get to where you truly want to be because you will still be where you are NOW.

You are so brave. You can do it.

You are so loved.

xoxo

 

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What’s holding you back? Maybe it’s time to let it go…

Dear Extraordinary Girl,

Is there something that is heavy on your heart?

Is something holding you back or keeping you in a state of worry or exhaustion or confusion or hurt?

Ask yourself an important question, dear friend. Will this matter a year from now? How much will it matter? When I look back in a year, will I wish I had handled anything differently? Will I regret how I am letting this hold me back?

Don’t let your worries steal your day. If this WILL in fact affect your life a year from now, break it down into little chunks and take action. Taking action is a sure-fire way to begin to disintegrate worries and frustrations.

Brave Girls Club - Let It Go, Let It Fall, Let It Be

Let it go…let it be October 2014 Soul School Come join us!

Get to work to make it better.

If it’s something that really won’t matter…then it’s time to let it go.

There is too much that IS important to think about, to focus your energies and your thoughts on.

It’s time to move forward. Go out and be your phenomenal self, and enjoy every second of it!

You are beloved.
xoxo

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When letting go is the hardest and best thing to do

Sometimes we have to let go of things that we love very much…things we may have thought we needed to be able to become the person we were meant to become. Then when that thing is gone…we are left wondering how we will ever become what we were meant to become without it.

Letting go of something that you love always hurts. That is ok. It doesn’t have to hurt forever, though.

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I once had a dream about the pink blossoms that were covering a tree right outside my window as I slept…blossoms I had been waiting all winter for. I had gotten used to those blossoms and after many long and cold months…they were like a reward for enduring that season in my life. Things were very very difficult and there was tremendous uncertainty, pain and confusion in just about every direction. Everything in my life felt like Winter…cold and lifeless, leafless.  I fell deeply in love with those thousands of pink petals…so it was no surprise that they showed up in a dream.

The dream started out beautiful and serene…then quickly became traumatic. In the dream, as I was sitting and enjoying the blossoms (which remember, were my reward for making it through) a breeze came up and started blowing the blossoms right off of the tree, sprinkling the grass with pink petals.

I was horrified and angered. So……I did what I often do….and I ran inside to find something to fix it. I got a bottle of super glue…and I frantically ran around the yard picking up every single blossom I could find and climbed a ladder and raced to glue them back on to the tree. Of course…as I was gluing…..the wind was blowing off more blossoms. And….the buds underneath were pushing off the petals I glued on. So…I just sat in a heap in the lawn and sobbed……because it all felt so devastating and unfair…I mean, those blossoms were only there for a few days and now they are gone already????

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I held on tight to the control glue.

Then I woke up. And I was still crying because everything in my life felt that way. I was trying desperately to hold on to everything in my life and fix everything that was falling apart, and it all felt so personal and futile. All I wanted was for the blossoms to stay forever….was that so much to ask?

let it go

It is too much to ask…. because life is constantly asking us to let go so that we can all become exactly what and who we are meant to become next.

Sometimes it hurts beyond belief. Very rarely does it feel fair, or easy or right. We resist letting go, we make deals…..we cry and beg. We build fantasies around things being the way we want them to be and sometimes we just keep pretending that things are alive that died long ago. We glue dead things back on instead of letting them go on to be what they are meant to be next.

Those blossoms that fall off of that tree every year disintegrate into the ground to feed the tree for it’s next stage. They have a purpose all the way along……they are becoming what they are meant to become next.

When we have to let go of stages of our life…or relationships….or dreams that have run past their due date or are just outdated in general…..we have to let go of things that are meant to become something else, which means they are not in our life the way they always have been….it hurts.

And why does it hurt? It hurts because we want it to be what WE want it to be. We want it to be different than it is. It hurts because we make plans and we want everything to live up to the potential that WE had in mind. It hurts because it feels like we must have done something wrong to have things not turn out the way we wanted them to….when the only thing we did wrong was have an expectation that was so rigid that it is impossible to see things any other way and still be happy. Sometimes when we just let go of an expectation, our eyes are open to see that things are actually already better than the way we planned….and it was right in front of our eyes all along.

Everything good and natural is always on it’s way to somewhere else. Everything is always becoming what it is meant to become next. When we resist this…we suffer so much. When we accept it…we find peace. We may not have happiness when we have to let go of something we love very much, but we can always find peace in it when we let things be what they are instead of what we want them to be…when we let things become what they are meant to become instead of what we want them to become.

And sometimes for things to become what they are supposed to become next, we have to accept that we will not be a part of that in the way we want to be a part of that. Sometimes for OURSELVES to become what WE are supposed to become next….we have to let go of things that we thought would be part of that becoming, but are not meant to be. We have to let go of things we love very much.

It hurts to let go of things that we love…things that were part of our big plan. It just does.

let life be

It hurts to say goodbye to relationships, marriages, children, jobs, dreams….it hurts to let go of crazy beliefs even….because they have been a part of us for so long. It hurts to let go of ANYTHING that seems like it is part of our identity…or part of our joy….or part of our place in the world. It is scary, confusing and difficult.

….but it has to happen, dear friends. It just does. Everything is always becoming something else….all the time. Sometimes we get to do that together, and sometimes we have to do that apart. Sometimes we get to take all of the stuff we love with it, and sometimes we have to let all of it go. Sometimes it turns out the way we planned…and sometimes it doesn’t. We have to let it go.

Over the last 6 months, as my health declined…I had many more lessons from trees. My favorite grandmother trees sit in a row of 3, and one night early this summer…one of them split in half and fell to the ground…right on top of the chicken coop. It is a majestic huge tree and it is a big part of our life…..so much happens in our family under the shade of those trees. She was just done holding up so much weight one day….and she let it go. I sobbed for the better part of a day, and shed lots of tears after.

fallen grandmother tree

I decided to plant a bunch of daisies that day to honor her life and also to comfort my own self with adding more life in place of such a big death.

It was such a message about things going when it’s time to go. She became firewood…..my next favorite thing is a campfire. I wish she was still a tree….but now she’s a campfire. Her ashes will go out into the garden where the daisies are planted…and soon that majestic tree will nourish a daisy plant. Isn’t that a miracle?

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After that majestic tree fell, believe it or not….4 more trees on our ranch did the same thing. This has never happened before. 2 of them were covered with fruit and I was so sad that they didn’t even get the chance for their fruit to ripen. Another big tree in the field split and fell over…and then a brand newly planted tree snapped right in half in a windstorm.

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Every one of those 5 trees this year still kept the half that didn’t fall off. AND….that is where I am at now too. I have had to let go of SO MANY THINGS THAT WERE PART OF ME just so that the rest of me could stay alive. Now, I have a big scar where all of that fell off…..but also, I am getting stronger because all of my energy and nourishment is now going to what is left of me….and soon you won’t even be able to tell that anything snapped off. Just like the trees

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So….sometimes the things we have to let go of are things that we thought were so much a part of us that if they snapped off, we would surely die. But sometimes those things just get too heavy, and we can’t survive unless we let them go.

So…..this is a whole lot of letting go.

And….of course I turned the whole thing into an online course…so if this is where you are in your life, I hope you will check it out….it’s not a long course, but it’s an important course and I would sure love to have you…..either way, I hope that you will let yourself let go when it is time to let go. CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT or just go here.. http://my.bravegirlsclub.com/soul-school-registration/

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Because you matter….and carrying around dead things is no way to live.
You are beloved. SO am I…we all are. That is why I know it is going to be okay…no matter what we have to let go of.

xoxox

melody

Choose to see what is right…it really is a choice

Dear Brave Girl,

We always have at least 2 choices in each moment…and these are 2 of the most important choices we will ever make, even if 2 is a tiny number.

We can always choose to LOOK FOR WHAT IS RIGHT…or we can choose to look for WHAT IS WRONG. Can you see what a marvelous and compelling difference there is in these 2 perspectives? One of them builds up relationships, brings hope and creates new ideas and joy. The other tears down confidence, feeds fear, keeps us stuck and makes us feel miserable.

Brave Girls Club - Feed what is true and good

Try it, dear friend. Just try it, especially if you feel stuck in a situation or relationship that feels all wrong. Just look for something that is right inside of it. There are ALWAYS gifts to be found in everything, even if those gifts are simply the lessons that we learn from difficult situations and people.

And one of the most beautiful and light-filled things you can do when you are faced with a difficult human being, is to go to the ends of the earth to find something beautiful and true and right about that person, and then do everything you can to SHOW that person what is right about them, instead of reminding them of what is “wrong”. This experience will change both of your lives.

Miracles truly can happen when we focus on what is right and do our best to just learn from what is wrong.

You can do it. You are so amazing. And you are so loved.

xoxo

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Missing pieces from unlikely places….

Dear persistent girl,

The missing pieces of your life , the magic solutions and the save-the-day-heroes come from the most unlikely places….

It’s important to be open to the surprise endings and beginnings that show up just when we think we have it all figured out.
Sometimes things that look like mistakes end up being great discoveries.
Often a person who seemed lackluster at first sight turns out to be our greatest teacher or friend.
Sometimes a disaster is just the final event that’s meant to get something out of our life once and for all.

Be open…try to really really see what is really happening and what is possible. Life is full of beautiful and custom designed surprises!

You are loved.

xoxo
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