Where Does the Dark Live?

TL;DR
LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A FREE COPY
OF MY NEW POETRY BOOK WHERE DOES THE DARK LIVE

I never planned to write a book. I never plan for anything, let’s be honest. I just go about and do things and see how they begin to unfold. If they start to seem like a bad decision, I toss them to the side, but if I get enough encouragement and steam going behind an idea, I see it through. I am not sure when this became part of my reality, but here we are. I wrote a book.

Where Does the Dark Live was inspired by my life, my struggles, my wins, and my losses. I cultivated this small collection of poems for over 5 years. For five years, they sat, burning a hole in my mind. I wanted to use them, but for what? Publish them? But how?

I managed to figure it out and now I want to give you the chance to win a copy.
If you leave a comment on our blog post and follow our blog, you will be automatically entered to win a free copy of Where Does the Dark Live!

This book is my little baby, it is a soft pink cover and has a lot of feelings inside, just like me. 🙂 I do hope you’ll enter, I put some of the poems here so you can see what you are in store for.

Which one is your favorite?

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MY BODY STORY

I was always a small girl. I weighed 98 lbs up until my freshman year of college when I gained the “freshman fifteen.” My god, I felt enormous. My whole life I had had nicknames like tiny, adorable, little girl, skinny mini, string bean, etc. The list goes on. My tiny frame felt like it held my identity and when the pounds began to pile on, I lost it. Then I had babies and I have to say, while being pregnant and a literal house for another human was magical…it was also awful. The number on the scale climbed higher than I had ever seen, but I was young and I had always been small, so I figured after I got these babies out, I would just shrink back down like I always had after eating big meals.

This was not the case. I had to WORK to get small. THE AUDACITY. I never in my life had to work for that. I had to work for money, friendships, relationships, and my mental health…but my body? Oh no no no, not happening. I was bitter about it.

My weight went up and down throughout the next few years.  At one of my heavier times, people started to comment about my weight. A family member even TOUCHED MY STOMACH and asked if I had any news to share. Another person made comments about how earlier in the year (when I was in a skinny period) I was the skinniest I had ever been and he loved that. I was 120 lbs. but I was only thin because I was too sad to eat. Too stressed to move. Too depressed to care. I was a bad mother, a bad friend and a sad person at this time in my life. I had nothing going on, nothing I was working toward, nothing to be proud of and I wasn’t taking care of myself…

BUT I WAS THIN.

Until those moments, I had never been called fat before. I had never had an outside source make comments on my body except to tell me how small I was. This was new territory and my head did not do well with it.

But then, I started to think about what caused this most recent weight gain. I stood and looked back at the time I was in and realized that I was chubby because was because I was happy…

The Club had just launched, the fundraising, the pins coming in, the women pouring out their hearts to me, telling me that my art helped them and made them feel brave and strong. I started working my ass off for those women. For you. FOR ME. What I did for you, you did for me times 10. For the first time in a long time I felt valued and worthy, like I was doing important work and most of all, I felt like I was swimming in love. I had love coming in from every side and I felt solid in it. This is when the weight started to pile on. I was busy, I was working hard at my craft, I was being a mom, I was being social, I was participating in events, I was taking my meds, I was celebrating success with dinner and drinks with friends, I felt like a person again…

BUT I WAS FAT.

HOW DARE I BE FAT? 

So, I wanted to change it. Duh right? Why wouldn’t I? All these months I was just fluffy and happy and how dare I, so I took these pictures to show a “before.” They didn’t have the desired effect though. 

LET ME EXPLAIN. 

A before photo is intended to stand as a snapshot of all the work you have to do, the problem areas of your body. You are expected to see them and feel gross and flawed and think to yourself, “Damn, how did I get so disgusting? I have got to do something.” Not me, bro. These photos motivated me to love myself.

I looked at these pics and thought “I look really cute and sweet and sexy in these” and a few years ago, I wouldn’t have said the same. I didn’t see these pics and instantly become appalled at my own body. I didn’t see them and feel ashamed. I saw them, and then I came here, and decided to share them with you.I have had people say they wish they were my size, at my smallest and at my biggest, and I always tell them “no, I like your size” because I do and so should you.

The first pic is me sucking in and posed.
The second one is all my squish leftover from having kids AND 2 C SECTIONS in 1 year. Literally guys November 3, 2009 I had one C-Section, November 15, 2010 I had another. Of course my flipping body was going to change.

All I am trying to convey here is that you are beautiful, exactly as you are because you are more than a body. Your body is of course beautiful in all is squishy, curvy greatness too, but you’re more than that. You are a beautiful brain with ideas and thoughts, a beautiful heart filled with love and feelings, a beautiful person with hope and perseverance and tenacity and moxie running through you. You are more than a number on a scale or another person’s opinion on your body.

Your body is allowed to be different than what society thinks and tells you is “beautiful.” It is still beautiful and freaking powerful too.

Take a step back like I did and look at all you have, all you’ve done, all you’ve still to do and you will see all of the things that make you an incredibly badass human. That makes the weight of your skin, organs, muscles and god forbid fat seem so small doesn’t it?

Write On | 1

I wanted to start putting some writing prompts here in case you..like me… get stumped sometimes and WANT SO BADLY TO WRITE but you just can’t figure out what.



I decided to use some of the prompts from my bud Kaitlyn’s 365 Days of Writing Prompts PDF. You can purchase that for yourself here. Support small business and give her a follow and look through her store.




  1. Write about holding someone’s hand.
  2. Write about dragons.
  3. Include this line, “I Can’t See”
  4. Describe the emotions of someone being buried alive.
  5. Do you believe in life after death? Explain.

I love Kaitlyn and if you have been here since CB’s beginning, you will remember her from being one of the first members and the CB Blog Editor back in the day. We still hold her in our hearts here and we are so proud of her and all she has done since stepping down from the blog. She is still a friend, still helps when she can, and she recently got married and she and her partner started their own businesses! GO Kaitlyn! I guess I chose to write about you today, huh?

If you write a piece based on these prompts, please share them below! And please check out Kaitlyn’s shop and blog. ❤

Mom Feels | Adjusting to Motherhood

“How did you manage not to lose yourself when you had your babies? How did you do it?”

My answer is complicated and multi faceted, but the TL;DR answer is… you do. You do lose yourself to a certain extent, but it is less of a loss and more of an exchange, really. 

Of course, I can say this now because I am not neck deep in diapers, burping cloths, nipple cream and sleepless nights. I have the gift of perspective now that I am nearly 8 years out. However, my journey into motherhood was so jarring and abrupt that it left an impression, and it only takes a moment of seriously thinking of those early days to conjure all of it up again along with every feeling attached to that season of life. 

My body was a squishy mess that I didn’t recognize when I looked in the mirror, my boobs constantly hurt and no longer belonged to me, I never slept, I hardly showered, post partum depression piled on top of my ever present regular depression, there was immense pressure – both external and internal- to be the perfect mother and wife and it was crushing me.

Let’s stop and talk about the depression thing for a minute. First of all, I cried constantly, so there’s that. One night, in a panic, I realized deep in my soul that I just could not do this. I. Could. Not. Do. It. So, I did super a rational thing…I called my friends and family and with the utmost sincerity, I tearfully asked them to adopt my children. I cried when they said no. Then, when I realized how insane that was, how much I loved my babies, how I would never let Courtney and Ashley adopt them…cried because of how horrible of a mother I was. Post partum was rough guys, not to mention, my friends dropped like flies once they realized that holding a crying baby wasn’t fun, let alone hanging out with the crying mom holding the crying baby. Yikes. So on top of everything else, I was extremely lonely. Like, cry-in-the-shower-clutching-your-knees-to-your-chest and asking-yourself-out-loud “why doesn’t anyone like me” -lonely.  As if i needed any more help finding reasons to cry at this point in my life. 

I remember these days like they were yesterday. Did I lose myself? Absolutely. Did I lose myself? Absolutely not. I was afraid that I would though, so you aren’t alone there. I was so afraid that I would never have friends again, that the place that I was at that moment was going to be the place I always was. I would never paint again, I would never go to school and get my degree, I would never get the time to fall in love with being a wife to my new husband, I would never get to put myself first ever again, and I would always smell like diaper cream. These were legitimate fears that circled in my head during the first years, if not longer. 

My kids are 8 and 9 now and if I could go back in time and sit next to the blubbering blob I once thought myself to be, I would be so kind to her. This is what I would tell her: 

Hey there sweet mama, I know your pain and I know it well. This phase ends and you come out the other side. Different than you were before, yes, but better in my opinion. You will paint again, you will fall in love and figure things out with being married, you will make a lot of mistakes but none of them make you a bad person or a bad mom. You will find times that you can put yourself first and restructure your priorities, find new hobbies and gain new, fantastic friendships that make all of this pain worth bearing. All of these sleepless nights end, their tiny feet grow big and smelly, your waist shrinks again, but even if it didn’t you are still gorgeous. You are, even if you don’t feel like it, gorgeous and powerful. You are way cooler of a person now. You learned and grew, you found humor in the heartaches, you found lessons in the loneliness. You know your worth now more than you ever have before, you know what you are capable of, you know what you bring to the table, and it is a feast. AND now you know how to swaddle a baby in less than 15 seconds. You became a stronger woman as most women do when they are faced with challenges. They did not defeat you, you found your way. Did you lose who you were? Yes, pieces of yourself stay behind, but you bring more forward with you as you continue to stay alive every day. It all evens out. The days are so long, but the years are short, and those babies won’t be in your arms forever. Try your best to enjoy where you are and do not worry about losing yourself, you will and you won’t. You will be amazing no matter what. 

I read somewhere once that you should prepare to be married to 6 different people in the span of a marriage. So, how many people will we all be and become in a lifetime? My advice there? Prepare for change. It is coming, it is always coming. It is not always pleasant, but you will see it through. I personally, cannot wait to meet the rest of the people I will become. Good or bad, I am excited to embrace her each time with a fresh excitement and a heart full of memories and pieces I may leave behind. Moving forward is a gift I am happy to receive. 

Also, in case you are wondering, I now smell like rose water.

Last but not least, my mama friend Autumn is selling a collaborative design (by me) in her shop Matriarch Handmade and if you’d like to buy one and help support two working mamas, DM her on Instagram or email me and let me know and I will get it going for you. See shirt below 🙂

BTS | Why I Chose to Start a Patreon

So, let’s talk Patreon.

Last fall, I was laid off from my day job, which I consider a blessing in disguise and I began doing Crybaby full time. In doing so, it not only became my main focus and job, but it became how I pay my bills.

Running a small business seems fun and it definitely is, but it is also hard, hard work. Aside from what you see, there are a million things you don’t see me doing. As far as Crybaby is concerned, I am the sole face and human behind CB. I design nearly everything you see in the shop, I create all the content you see on social media, I manage and maintain the website and blog, I fulfill the orders, I print out the shipping labels, I package each order with care and special touches (ex. confetti, extra goodies, special packaging materials such as the pretty pink bubble mailers they come in, etc.), and then, I take them to the post office so they can get to you. I test out new products, I pay to produce those new products, I draft blogs, I work on the My Anxious Nights project, I keep up with inventory and restock as needed, I offer wholesale nationally and have 10+ stockists right now that I keep up and correspond with, I am the voice behind every email, I connect with local and non local venues to set up pop ups and collaborations, I photograph everything, I edit everything, I literally do everything.

Aside from Crybaby, I freelance my design skills to other businesses, I sell some of my gently used clothes online, AND I have two tiny humans I am in charge of raising and loving.

So why did I choose to start a Patreon? Well, quite frankly, because of everything I just mentioned. Because I work really hard and if I had more people investing in what I do and make, I could do better and make more. Because I love that this is my job and would like for it to always be. And finally, because I believe that my work has value and meaning. I offer perks to people who donate certain amounts, they’re pretty great and I think you will love them too. Even if you donated $1 a month that means the world to me. Again, I believe in what I am doing and for the goals I have as a company and as a person, if you do too, please check out my Patreon and consider donating. I appreciate it with a full heart.

Sensitive + Y’all | Free Wallpapers

Hi there my loves, it has been a while.
I keep trying to make this blog one of the top priorities,
but I have been drawing so much that it has taken up most of my time!
However, “why not combine them” I thought to myself earlier today!
So here are some free wallpapers for your phones!
Make sure to TAG US on instagram @thecrybabyclub_
so I can see them in action!

These are two of my latest designs and also two of my (maybe all time) favorites!

Which one is your favorite?
Tell us below in the comments!

February Pop Up Schedule âť¤ď¸Ź

I hope to see your lovely faces at some (or all) of these events! There will be cookie decorating at City & State. Memphis Made will have some other amazing local makers there too. Crazy Beautiful will feature me, my art, champagne and other fun stuff in honor of Galentine’s Day! I am so excited for February! 💖

Be My Valentine | 2019

Hello Crybabies, gather ’round.

It is time for the hearts and the love and the pinks and reds and the mushiest, gushiest holiday of them all…Valentine’s Day! While some folks love this holiday (I personally love it, but only because the stores are stocked with SO. MANY. PINK. THINGS!) I know that this holiday can bring up some not so great feelings for a lot of people.

I started this mail exchange 3 years ago based on that exact sentiment. I don’t want anyone to feel sad or alone on Valentine’s Day, so whether you are single, taken, recently dumped, grieving, lonely or whatever…I want to be your Valentine, I would like to send you a Valentine.

Also, I have done this several ways in the past. I have had help in sending these out several times, but some people did not get Valentine’s and that was sad so this year I have decided to send out all of the Valentines on my own, so spoiler alert…I am your Valentine!

That being said, I have charged for this little service in the past, I don’t want to do that this year, HOWEVER, if you would like to donate a few dollars (if you are able to) you can Paypal me and it will be VERY much appreciated. I am anticipating over 50 folks to sign up for this and those stamps start to add up!

ANYWAY let’s get to the goodies!

Please fill out this short form
It will help me get to know you a little better plus it gives me the information I need to send you some Love Day happiness.

Be My Valentine sign ups will be open
all week long January 22- January 29.
XOXO, Natalie

When the Storm Hits

So as we all know, I have depression.
Hello, my name is Natalie, and I have depression.
tenor

Over the past 20 or so years, I have done serious work on myself and my depression.
From accepting it, understanding it, unlearning/relearning coping skills
to countless medication combinations, therapy, THE WORKS.
Along the way,
I discovered a few of my own ways to make my depression calm the heck down.

So without further ado,
here are my tips for when the depression hits:

  • Acknowledgement
    Despite the fact that “It’s fine” is my unofficial catch phrase, I have never gotten anywhere acting like I was fine when I was SO not fine. So own it, face it, say it out loud, talk to yourself in the mirror about it, write it down…something. Depression is there whether you want it to be or not, so acknowledging it is a very obvious but very important first step.
  • Redirect the Sadness
    Watching Grey’s is huge for me and my depression. Instead of wallowing in my own sad life, I wallow in theirs, and dear lord, theirs is horrific. That’s what you gotta do sometimes ok, you gotta take the sadness and throw it at something else. You take it and you throw it and you cry about it, because sometimes, you need to cry about SOMETHING that you can feel, experience and then turn off and walk away from. I cannot walk away from my depression, that jerk follows me everywhere, but I CAN walk away from season 8, episode 24. ::cue Snow Patrol:: If Grey’s doesn’t do it for you, try Beaches, Eternal Sunshine, My Girl, P.S. I Love You, Mona Lisa Smile, This is Us or just text me because I can hook you up with secondhand sadness ALL DAY LONG.
  • Take Your Meds (if applicable)
    In some of my more depressive states, the hopelessness can sometimes win and I will skip my meds. Because nothing matters right? Everything is shit, everything is doomed, and why even bother, right? WRONG take your meds. I am saying this to you, yes, but I am also screaming it to myself. TAKE YOUR MEDS.
  • Confide in Your Friends
    It is such a huge deal in your mental health journey to have support in place. Solid ground in the form of a friend. It can help so much to talk to a friend who gets it and if they get it, they can help support, motivate and love you through it. I recently had a talk with Kate about how difficult it has been for me to shower or straighten up my house, how the small things feel so huge these days, and instead of thinking I am gross or lazy, she pushed me. Lovingly, of course. She got me out of my house, she told me it was ok that I wasn’t bright and shiny, and that I was still worth a damn. After my weekend with her, I feel refreshed, loved, and deeply understood. I even showered AND cleaned my house. (see photo for proof) Friends are invaluable. (If you do not have a friend like this, email me. I will be that friend for you. We are in this together.)
  • Dance It Out
    This one may seem silly or pointless, but it can help, even if just momentarily. Everyone has that one song that when you hear it, you just have to move. Getting up and jumping around to some fun tunes can really lift the fog. It does not matter if you look silly, it does not matter if you dance badly. You gotta do it. Check out the hashtag #takefiveanddance on Instagram for some inspiration and click here for a playlist to inspire you to get your booty in motion!
  • Have a Cry
    It comes as no surprise I am sure that I advocate for crying. I am nothing if not on brand. Crying is an emotional palate cleanser. A reset button. It can be cathartic and a way to just purge your system of all the negative crap clogging it up. It isn’t always that simple, but sometimes it is and there is no shame in crying. Let it out.
  • Nuts
    NOT THAT KIND YALL GOOD GRIEF! Ok but for real, according to many sources I found on google… almonds, pecans and walnuts can really help. “Just an ounce a day can help improve both your physical and mental health. These nuts contain calcium, which can help offset hormonal imbalances in women as well as alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability and impaired memory.” AW NUTS
  • Make Lists
    I find that it helps me to have a plan, even if the plan is small, even if I don’t completely stick to it, even if it is scattered …writing things down helps put things into perspective and makes it easier for my depressed brain to manage. Keep your expectations low, cut yourself some slack, and praise yourself for the things you manage to complete. Small steps forward are still steps forward.
  • Lean Into It
    Hear me out ok? I am not promoting wallowing. Maybe I am? I don’t know but I wear glasses, so I know everything. It is ok to feel sad. Depression is not your fault, it comes out of nowhere, and sometimes, the only way out is through. Lean into the feelings, allow yourself to feel them, give them names “I feel sad, I feel hopeless, I feel unworthy.” When I do this, it can help me to realize how irrational my thoughts are. When I say my negative thoughts out loud, I can immediately counter them with logical thoughts. Sometimes saying some of the thoughts out loud can make them seem so silly. I have done this exercise before and actually ended up laughing about it, calling my brain a jerk, and just moving on. I also like to yell, “I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS NONSENSE.” Come for the cute art, stay for the incredible advice.
  • Create
    Not everyone is Picasso or Mozart or Ansel Adams or Frida Kahlo, but that does not mean you shouldn’t try! It can really help to just get the bad feelings out in some creative way, and you may even end up with something great! Journaling, doodling, painting, DIYing are all great ways to get your mind off the sadness. Check out my Pinterest board for some craft ideas.
  • Brush Your Teeth, Drink Water, Paint your Nails, Take a Nap
    Sometimes the small things seem like big things, and consequently, that can make big things seem insurmountable. Let’s take 5 minutes to do something small, something for ourselves, something that is leading us in a more positive direction and then, let’s…
  • Celebrate Small Wins
    The fact that you are trying is something to be celebrated. Existing is hard, especially when it feels like the weight of the world and all its pressures are crushing you and your mind is a minefield out for blood and no one gets it and you are sinking. Anything you do to help yourself along – big or small – should go without praise. You are doing good, you are doing something, and that is everything.

But enough about me and my antics,
how do you combat your depression?
Tell us below in the comments!