Spring Protection


“Spring cleaning”, “juice cleanse”
these “phrases” have been churning around my brain–
if/when to actually sort the accumulation of junk
if/when I actually want to start a juice cleanse.
“Ugh. Why would you ever want to do another cleanse?,” the Red Knight asks
It’s not the actual cleanse I want to do-its the idea of ridding myself of all that is stagnant.
I just know that I want to feel a little lighter, less weighed down
like I can actually view the gleaming light at the end of my tunnel
instead of being bogged down by clutter.
So I start to sort through everything, place things into bags, make lists so that I know what needs to be done-but the feeling of lightness is fleeting. . . .
And the one area that I know truly needs to be cleaned out is the area that I am most reluctant to examine . .the area that often causes the most heartache in life-
Not every relationship needs to be cleaned out, some need to be repaired, patched, reinforced.
Others though-others need to be let go-completely done away with.
Just the realization is difficult-hard to swallow-causes indigestion.
I’ve never been good at letting go of relationships.
I’ve held onto some that cause more harm than joy.
Spring cleaning is seizing me and I know that I must act-set limits and boundaries- say “no” when I truly cannot accommodate, eliminate noise-
add positivity to my world—
actively strive to protect my heart.
Spring cleaning is about protection
ridding ourselves of physical clutter and the emotional suitcases that we have lugged around for far too long.
Ultimately you cannot protect what you cannot even reach-be it the closet with your favorite dress-the organs that continually sustain you
your heart.
Spring cleaning is exhausting, tiring, at times painful but at the end lighter hearts prevail and we can pack our suitcases with positivity and optimism as bright as the newness of a Spring day.
With this perspective I eye my lists as I begin my spring cleaning reminding myself that at the end of this journey
the feeling of lightness will ultimately be achieved through protection because this spring I choose to protect my heart.
What are you protecting this spring?


View More: http://fairbanksphotography.pass.us/kendra2I’m Stroked to Life aka Kendra.  After suffering a cerebral venous thrombosis at 25 I have found myself trying to drink in life, knowing that life is a gift and truly but a moment.  (For my entire stroke story you can click here and here) I’m a mother, a writer, an art lover, a design appreciator, and in my spare time I love to curl up with a book.  I want people to know that even after the worst of experiences there is life after the ickiness and it can filled with as much beauty as you choose.


How Having A Stroke Saved My Life

It’s been four and a half years since I woke up in an ICU room.  Four and a half years since my last miscarriage and four and a half years since the world as I knew it changed forever. There are still days when the emotional weight is heavy or when the physical aspects hit me like a ton of bricks yet there are many ways in which nearly dying actually saved me.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned and some of the ways in which I’ve been saved.

      1. “Familia es mas que sangre.”  Family is more than blood.
        Since my stroke this has become the motto of the Red Knight and I as we have been surrounded by people who love and support us unconditionally. Not just in huge sweeping gestures but in small and simple ways- like several Aunts arguing about which one can watch Patrice when the Red Knight and I want to have a date night. As time has gone on we are striving to return just an ounce of the love and kindness that has been returned to us though the debt we have incurred will take a lifetime to repay.
      2. I can feel better.
        The last time I updated y’all on my health I told you that I was going to have to be on medication for the rest of my life, which still is the case, yet even with the medication I was still having issues.  The absolute last thing that I wanted was to get on yet another medication.  So I decided on my own to try out some diet changes, that while a little rough at first, have been absolute lifesavers.  The number of headaches I have has decreased whilst my energy has increased.  After feeling so bad for so long I cannot tell you what a relief this has been to both my husband and I.  Now when I have a bad day it is much easier to pinpoint what it is exactly that is making me feel less than ideal.  I might not ever get my old self back but I can still improve the quality of my life and the life of my family.
      3. Creativity breeds happiness.
        Prior to my stroke I had decreased my creativity and increased my negative self talk.  You know when you think you have a good idea and then you see what someone else has done and then you think, “Maybe not. . .”–there was a lot of that going on.  Since my stroke though, creativity has become my go to when I can not make sense of my world.  My projects do not always turn out like I imagined but it feels amazing to actively get my hands on something.  Creativity is not about perfection, creativity is about expression.
      4. Don’t let stress take up long-term residence.
        This is easier said than done, I know.  My five-year stroke-aversary is in July and in nearly five years I have yet to master stress management.  Here’s what I can tell you about stress though-stress will destroy you if you let it.  Find a way to keep stress from becoming the house guest who doesn’t know when to leave.  Some of my favorite stress relievers are a good book, writing, a cup of tea or when I’m able to, yoga.  Whatever sweeps the stress away for you do more of it.
      5. Everyone is on a journey.
        Each one of us is on a journey and our journeys all look different.  Don’t compare where you are on your journey to where someone else is on their journey, comparison doesn’t build us up but rather tear us down.

Though my life looks much different than I ever imagined and though I would never sign up to have a stroke again, I would never trade the lessons I’ve listed here and countless others for anything.  I wouldn’t trade the blessings of adoption, the gift of perspective, or the blessing of being able to share my story for all the money in the world.

View More: http://fairbanksphotography.pass.us/kendra2

I’m Stroked to Life aka Kendra.  After suffering a cerebral venous thrombosis at 25 I have found myself trying to drink in life, knowing that life is a gift and truly but a moment.  (For my entire stroke story you can click here and here) I’m a mother, a writer, an art lover, a design appreciator, and in my spare time I love to curl up with a book.  I want people to know that even after the worst of experiences there is life after the ickiness and it can filled with as much beauty as you choose.  If you can’t find me here you can reach me at strokedtolife@gmail.com on Instagram @strokedtolife, or on my other blog: www.heartssplitopen.wordpress.com

Following Intuition

The thought first awakened me in the middle of the night, 4:20 am to be exact.  I was annoyed because if there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I love and cherish my sleep.  The thought was annoying not only because it was disturbing my sleep but because the thought itself was going to take me a bit outside of my comfort zone.  I like my comfort zone.  Don’t we all like our comfort zones though?  Comfortable usually equals safe and like comfort, I like to be safe.  With a loud sigh I rolled over and went back to sleep, while the thought played in the back of mind like an annoying song on repeat.  It plagued me for two weeks until I at last I sat down and promised that I would listen.
Listening was the easy part but what it was asking of me was terrifying, frighteningly so.  I had made a promise to myself that I would honor my inner voice but I sat there petrified questioning the voice–what if it was wrong?  Yet I knew that if I let the thought linger any longer without acting on it, I would regret not acting upon it.  I would have to do this, I have to try this.
So I’m taking a leap of faith, I’m following my intuition.  Today, with a lot of excitement (and trepidation) I announce my new blog Hearts Split Open.  A nitty-gritty inspiration blog, where people can submit their stories and show whatever inspires them.
I’m scared that it might fail, that people won’t be interested, that my intuition might have gotten this one wrong; but I’m trusting that for whatever reason, be it even one person, I’m doing the right thing.
Stroked to Life will still have the occasional post, from myself or one of the fabulous contributors, but the majority of my time will now be spent over at Hearts Split Open.  Please check it out and if so compelled feel free to submit a story.
Always follow your heart.


8 Things 2014 Taught Me

I’m not one who has a long list of New Year’s resolutions or goals because, for me, they add a lot of pressure to an already hectic life.  Yet at the end of this year I’ve found myself thinking about some of the lessons I’ve learned, some of which are lessons that I have to remind myself on a near constant basis.

1 and 2) It’s okay to make a mistake and The idea that we all have to be perfect is a lie:  When I make a mistake I beat myself over the head with said mistake and when my head can’t take it anymore I start in on my heart.  Making a mistake doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, it doesn’t mean that you’re less of a person, all it means is that you’re a person.  Welcome to the human experience-we all make mistakes, we all do things that we wish we could have done a little better or differently.  There’s an idea out there that we have to be “perfect” or that things have to be done a certain way-it’s a lie.  Every person has their own idea of perfection.  Your way isn’t the only way and that is one of the most beautiful things about life.

3) It’s okay to say “no”, in fact, sometimes it’s recommended:  Know your limits.  I have a tendency to just say, “Oh yeah, no problem” A LOT.  Ignoring the signs that my body is sending me is a big no-no, it’s not just bad for my physical health but for my emotional health as well.  There are all things that we all need to say “no” to because the truth is we can’t do everything.

4)  Let go:  Let go of fear, anger, friends, etc. whatever it is that’s holding you back from being your best self- LET GO.  Like a balloon, just take your hand away from the string and let go of whatever it is.
I’ve wanted to be a full-fledged writer but despite my declarations of being a writer something has held me back:  FEAR.  After realizing that fear could no longer rule my life I’ve embraced writing, made a writing room, started a book nook, and now I’m wearing the title of writer like a proud gold medal.

5)  You’re stronger than you think you are:  This year I’ve watched people I love go through hard, soul crushing situations.  We’ve shed tears in our separate habitats somehow able to talk on the phone or send a text message days later.  All of us watch people go through things and we think, “I could never handle that,” but the truth of the matter is that you could.  You absolutely could.  Because you have the strength.  Somehow we all the strength to get through the situations that are given to us.  At the end of this year the strength of my loved ones amidst their difficulties serves as my daily inspiration.

6)  There is still good in the world:  Some days it seems like there is nothing but negativity encompassing the world.  You wonder where all the good people are but they’re still here; dropping surprises off at the door, smiling at you when you need it most, shoveling driveways.  Goodness is all around us and its here to stay.

7)  People will hurt you but you should still keep your heart open:  I’ve known this for a long time but it’s something that I’ve tried to actually carry out in my life.  I have a tendency to shut myself away and when I say shut myself away I mean encapsulate myself in a layer of emotional granite.  I’ve lived this way for years, much to my detriment.
Mark Nepo explains it best, “Each time I tried to close up what had been opened.  It was a reflex, natural enough.  But the lesson was, of course, the other way.  The lesson was in never closing again.”

8)  Listen and trust the voice within:  The last half of 2014 I decided it was time to start listening to my inner voice and to actually trust it for a change.  At first it didn’t seem like my life was any different but it was because I was only occasionally listening and shutting it down the rest of the time.  It took a lot of meditation and prayer but I finally promised myself that I would completely listen and trust and my life changed.
I thought my inner voice was going to tell me some crazy stuff, hence the trust issues, but really what my inner voice told me was how to make the world a better place.  It told me when I needed to slow it down, it told me when I needed to listen to God’s voice and send someone flowers, it told me what my talents are.  Through experience I’m learning that often the answers we’re searching for are already inside of us.

These are but 8 of the lessons that I’ve learned in 2014 and I’m reminding myself to keep my heart open so I can learn the lessons that 2015 has to teach me.  Maybe 2015 will just remind me of the lessons already learned and for the first time I’m okay with that.


View More: http://fairbanksphotography.pass.us/kendra2I’m Stroked to Life aka Kendra.  After suffering a cerebral venous thrombosis at 25 I have found myself trying to drink in life, knowing that life is a gift and truly but a moment.  (For my entire stroke story you can click here and here) I’m a mother, a writer, an art lover, a design appreciator, and in my spare time I love to curl up with a book.  I want people to know that even after the worst of experiences there is life after the ickiness and it can filled with as much beauty as you choose.  If you can’t find me here you can reach me at strokedtolife@gmail.com or on Instagram @strokedtolife.

Little Did You Know

Last night you had an SUV full of kids, waiting in line at the drive-thru. I really didn’t pay you any attention at first but the line was long and you had some interesting logos on the back window. Your Mia Love sticker caught my eye because I think she is pretty great. My son was impressed when the manager came out and started chatting with you as his employee loaded a car with boxes of waffles. You seemed like a very nice person as you shook the manager’s hand through the window and made him smile. With nothing else to do and bored from waiting, you might have caught me staring.

Finally we made our way around to the pick up window. I had come for only one peppermint shake and the wait had me regretting my decision. The employee smiled as I tried to hand her my money and she said, “The car in front of you has paid for your order.” I smiled at her and then smiled at you as you were driving away. I hope all those kids were looking back when I lifted my shake in appreciation.

The small gesture make me chuckle through my damp eyes. I love the tradition of paying for the person behind you in a drive-thru. I’ve done it myself a few times. It’s such a fun little surprise to receive something for free that you fully expected to pay for.

I didn’t expect you to pay for my shake. I didn’t expect those words to come out of the employee’s mouth. And I certainly didn’t expect my heart to crack open over three dollars and fifty-four cents.

Sir, little did you know that after staying up with my teenagers and friends until 2am that morning, my son and I had a really difficult conversation before finally going to bed. Little did you know that I only had three hours of sleep. Little did you know that my youngest was home sick with a terrible fever. Little did you know that a dear friend of our son’s was really struggling and we had spent our afternoon creating the perfect gift for her to let her know he cared. Little did you know that I had NO intention of shopping on the last Saturday before Christmas, but feeling a little blue, my mom wanted to get out of the house and asked me to take her to a few stores. Little did you know how much the crowds were driving me nuts. Little did you know that I would be consoling my devastated ten year that evening when we drove past a neighbor’s home and he identified the family cars of his three best friends at a party to which we had not been invited. Little did you know that the fever would get worse and I would be up again that night worrying over a sick little boy that couldn’t breathe. Little did you know how the last few months have worn me down. Little did you know that I was losing my faith in the benevolence of others.

To me that’s the beauty of kindness from a stranger. You just don’t know. You don’t know a thing about the unfamiliar person you are serving when you share a smile, or allow them to skip ahead of you in a line, or give up your parking spot, or any other random act of kindness. Little do you know the huge impact of such a simple action.

Kind sir, you will never know what you did for me yesterday. Just like the Grinch, my tired heart started to swell in my chest. I was reminded that there is goodness in the world. I never would have guessed at the power of three dollars and fifty-four cents on the Saturday before Christmas. Thank you dear stranger. Little did you know that you gave me my most cherished gift of all this Christmas season.


Hi, I’m Jen. I’m a mother to four amazing sons and wife to the perfect man for me. I am so blessed to have some pretty awesome responsibilities in my life that give me fulfillment and allow me to connect with people who inspire me to be better. I’m passionate about family, education, organization, photography and people. I believe that when we do what is right, we will be happy.


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