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Love truly CAN conquer all: Meet Katilynn & Matt Wetherbee
 

I first met Katilynn Wetherbee at my favorite safe space/keep-your-butt-in-shape workout spot barre3frankfortavenue & we became fast friends. I was blown away by her energy and spirit, but if wasn’t until I ultimately learned about the complexities of her life and her love story with her now-husband Matt that I was able to imagine and live a life of love such as theirs, which so many might miss out on.

 

Together for nine years, five of which were back then seemingly normal for Kaitlynn and Matt, they lived their lives in Boston in bliss; then in an instant everything changed. Five years ago, three days before his 29th birthday, Matt suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury while playing basketball, his favorite sport. Then came two months at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by three months of recovery at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital before he could return home.


Matt ultimately launched the MW Fund when he realized how important it was for those living with spinal cord injuries (SCI) to have access to daily exercise and therapy. Once leaving a rehab hospital and being discharged from outpatient therapy, insurance often does not cover the cost of exercise facilities specializing in SCI, typically costing a

minimum of $100 per hour. This is difficult for most to afford given the extra costs associated with SCI, which is why the sole mission of the MW Fund is to award scholarships to deserving individuals in order to offset these financial burdens.

 

Kaitlynn and Matt are now residents of Louisville, Kentucky, where he is participating in epidural stimulation research at the @UofL. This research has resulted in many positive changes to daily life for Matt, and other participants, including the ability to stand, regulate blood pressure, move voluntarily, improvements in bowel and bladder function, and overall mental and physical health.

 

Although he remains paralyzed below his shoulders, Matt has made huge progress since his injury and guess what? This beautiful couple recently got married! I knew I had to share their story with everyone I possibly could via my Not So Darlin podcast and luckily for everyone, they both agreed to come on board. Please listen in on our conversation here, check out Matt’s amazing website at mwfund.org, and please follow Kaitlynn and Matt on Instagram at @kkiely14 and @mwetherbee.

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Meet Renee Sinning

 

From hair sprouting on every surface of a teenage boy's body, to navigating the waters - literally - of a daughter's period, being a teenager is hard. But being the parent of a teenager is even harder.

 

Which is why I have Life Coach expert Renee Sinning, my guest on this week's 'Not So Darlin' podcast, to share her expertise on how to survive raising teenagers & keep one's sanity! I’ve been listening to her podcast "The Empowered Parent Podcast" for some time now and it's been a terrific help for me to educate and inform myself on how to be a better parent to my 14 yo son.

 

I have discovered all she shares to be super helpful & insightful, and I know you will too, whether you're a parent, grandparent, or friend of a friend to teen. And believe me, anything I can do to help my son Brax in any way as he navigates the next few years, I'm gonna do whatever it takes. And I know you will too.

Please check out my latest 'Not So Darlin' blogpost with this amazing, awesome, teenage 'whisperer' here, and follow her online at

reneesinning.com.

Hugs,

Tonya

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Couples #Goals - Meet Stephen & Erin Mitchell, Founders of createyourcouplestory.com

 

I discovered Stephen and Erin through a shared post on their Instagram account @couples.counseling.for.parents and was immediately hooked. They offer up some awesome marriage and parenting advice for everyone of all ages, genders and sexual identities.

 

They’ve been happily married for 12 years and are raising three kids, they work together – which probably wouldn’t be ideal for a lot of us! - and as they say, “we genuinely like one another (most of the time)!” Both are extremely accomplished and have advanced degrees: Stephen has a PhD in Medical Family Therapy, and Erin has a master’s in counseling psychology. 

 

He is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Professor, while she works as a writer and Relationship Educator. Together they have taken their experience and knowledge to create couples courses, and by working together they provide relationship education to make couple relationships stronger.

Stephen and Erin specifically focus on couples because they are passionate about others having access to experience the sense of healing, belonging, and love that comes with an intimate couple relationship. And like all couples, they have struggled, continue to struggle, and no doubt will struggle again, yet they are committed to a healthy, loving relationship which they share on their website and social media channels.

I asked them to join me on my Not So Darlin podcast so I could pick their brains and learn more, as I have found their posts to be super informative and speak to me in so many ways as a wife and boy mom. Please check out our conversation here, be sure to visit their website and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO ME!

The modern-day gift for a one-year anniversary is a clock, which commemorates the passage of time over the first year of a major event. That stated, I can’t think of a better analogy as I celebrate the first anniversary of my Not So Darlin podcast.

 

Why? Because while many would say time practically stood still during 2020, for me the past 12 months seem as if they flew by. It proved to be one of the most enlightening years of my life, a journey of self-discovery that opened up new horizons and experiences I never imagined. It was also one of the biggest learning experiences of my 43 years around the sun, with lots of bumps, curves, and woulda/shoulda/couldas. But at the end of the day – make that 365 days – the rewards have been enormous.

As we all shut down for quarantine last spring, I decided it was the perfect time for me to embark on a personal and professional reboot. I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of others who truly want to make an impact on our world, whether in baby steps or a big-time way. And what better way than to share these stories than to host an online forum that shines the brightest spotlight as possible on these very special people? Of course as is the case with most new endeavors in life, it really does take a village to make things happen, and I want to acknowledge my gratitude to the following:

First and foremost, Level Up Louisville whose mission is to connect, educate, and inspire women through a series of classes and events, and the invaluable counsel of my amazing instructor there,.Allie Hembree Martin. Were it not for her expertise and guidance, there would be no Not So Darlin podcast

Huge hugs to my hubby Brian for gifting me my podcast equipment for Christmas 2019; it’s definitely the gift that keeps on giving.

 

Podcast editor and producer extraordinaire Jacobi who helps make my broadcasts technically flawless so they flow beautifully

 

An enormous thanks to all of my guests for the compelling content you help me create each week. You’re all rock stars and such an incredible inspiration to me. You’ve opened my eyes and my mind and have given me the drive to keep going with your stories.

 

And last but certainly not least, a big shout out to my listeners who have encouraged and supported me. It means so much that you take time out of your day to listen in. I’m overwhelmed by the response from all of you here at home in the good ol’ USA, as well as my global followers (G’day Australia and thanks U.K. mates!).

And speaking of shout outs, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the top 3, most listened-to broadcasts of the past year:


1)    My Mother’s Day 2020 series featuring Jessica, a widowed mom of three making it on her own, on her own terms;
2)    Audrey May of Mizuguchi Plastic Surgery;
3)    My good friend Melanie of melanie-jean.com;

 

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And I want to give a very honorable mention to Spiritual Medium & Psychic Jenny Shanks who was this close to third place. And these four guests will be back as special guests in the coming weeks, so be on the lookout!

 

I’ll close with a small bit of info about the origin of the name of my podcast. As a little girl growing up in Kentucky my very sweet, very southern grandmother used the term of endearment ‘darlin’ as both an adjective and a noun for so many different things: “Isn’t that darlin?”, “She’s so darlin”, “That outfit is darlin.” And while it’s a wonderful word, I’ve learned throughout the years that not everything is always ‘darlin’, pretty or perfect…and that’s OK. No one or anything is perfect and ‘darlin’ doesn’t always apply, because perfect is lame and it’s more than fine to be ‘not so darlin’.

Hugs, Tonya

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Meet Self-Starter Entrepreneur Erin Craft of 3 Willows Boutique

 

When Erin Craft and her husband Kevin were first married, they enjoyed shopping together. As they started a family, however, the chances for a day out to ‘hit the mall’ became slimmer and slimmer. Sweatpants and scrunchies became the norm for this physical therapist who was simultaneously raising three daughters plus showing up daily for a demanding job; eventually low self-esteem ensued. “I loved raising a family and really wanted to be able to spend more time with the children and Kevin. But I hated the idea that so many other women were stuck in the same rut,” she says. Then it hit her: she decided a simple, fashionable and affordable online boutique was exactly what was needed for women like herself and decided to go into business for herself to supplement the family's income and have quality time with Kevin and the kids.

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Founded on Christian principles, 3willowsboutique.com opened online in November 2017, accompanied by a Facebook page, to provide women everywhere with the style confidence they deserve. Erin believes in helping women of all sizes feel beautiful from the inside out, and that’s why 3 Willows carries sizes from small to 3X. 

After much planning and hard work, she opened a 3 Willows bricks and mortar store in Louisville in February 2020, but after less than a month open the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly shut down the boutique. However, not one to be deterred, Erin made the boutique’s online efforts even more engaging and user-friendly with a host of Facebook Live events, along with the debut of the free 3 Willows shopping app available for download on the Apple App Store on Android Play Store. (Note, every Thursday a sale is held either on Facebook Live or on the app; how cool is that?!). The boutique, located at 12003 Shelbyville Road in Middletown, is now reopen with social distancing and masking in place, Tuesday-Thursday 11am-6pm, Fridays 11am-7pm, and Saturdays 10-4pm (closed Sundays and Mondays).


After meeting Erin and shopping in 3 Willows I knew instantly that I wanted to share her story. She has a warm personality that is palpable the 

moment you enter the boutique, and she’s an absolute pro at making women feel good about shopping, no matter what you’re looking for. The boutique carries not only clothing & accessories but also bath, body and hair products, along with unique and whimsical gifts for every occasion. Erin’s passion for connecting women with quality, affordable fashion is very meaningful to her and as she says, “Seeing the smiles of happy customers is something I hold very close to my heart.”

For more about Erin and 3 Willows Boutique, please listen to our conversation from my latest Not So Darlin podcast episode here, and as a special treat receive 15% off your next 3 Willows Boutique purchase with promo code NOTSODARLIN at 3willowboutique.com.

Mocktail Mamas Unite! Meet Samantha Perkins

I’m always reaching out to new people on my Instagram account and when Samantha Perkins, @samanthaperkins_aliveaf, and I connected it was as if the planets had aligned. This self-described “anxious mom” is living a sober lifestyle while also juggling the demands of motherhood and everyday family life and her website is a must-read in my humble opinion.

I was immediately drawn to her posts about being a non-drinking mom, because I too know how awkward this can be socially, especially growing up Catholic (no offense to Catholicism)! Samantha’s reasons for living her best life alcohol-free are a bit different from my own, however, we have so many similarities and the more we communicated, the more we discovered those similarities even with our different life situations.

Like me Samantha is a mom and a blogger who struggles with anxiety issues, and after getting to know her I didn’t feel like the only non-drinker at the party (so to speak). Because here’s the deal: In a world full of mom tees and tanks that proclaim “I wine because my kids whine” & “Mamacita needs a margarita” makes women think drinking can possibly make motherhood a bit easier on them. And for some, maybe it does. But for many others – like Samantha and me - it’s likely contributing to their anxiety, which is one of the reasons why she decided to write her book Alive AF: One Mom’s Journey to Becoming Alcohol Free.

As this week’s special guest on my Not So Darlin podcast, Samantha explains the many ways alcohol actually increases your anxiety, and how you can be a productive, loving parent without imbibing. Listen in on our awesome conversation from my latest podcast episode here and while you’re at it whip up one of Samantha’s favorite mocktail recipes from the amazing website, The Mocktail Project. Cheers!

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