Goodbye 2021…

Can you believe that 2021 is almost over? Throughout my adulthood there have been some years that were challenging and some that almost took me out completely mentally, physically, & emotionally. The year 2018 was the last year I felt challenged the entire year and often asked myself …how am I going to make it through this year? I know that trials and tribulations in life teaches lessons and builds character. In the year of 2018, I learned some gut wrenching and heartbreaking lessons that changed my life and viewpoint on life forever. The year of 2021 has been a mirror image of the year 2018, accept the trials and lessons were different. In 2018 I learned 3 important lessons.

  1. Life is precious and short, so live it to the fullest. 
  2. There is no one I can trust or depend on more than myself. 
  3. If I want to make something happen, then I must do the work. There are no short cuts!

The year 2021 hit me like a ton of bricks. I planned on 2021 being a year dedicated to my mental health and conquering trauma by facing my problems and finding solutions. I also wanted to work on my physical fitness and being more mindful because I was neglecting self-care in 2020 and I wanted to make some major changes in 2021. I do not like making changes, because I can admit too much change scares me and makes me feel uncomfortable.  I can attest that the times that I have tried and was consist with making changes in my life, it always led to something so great. Instead of making changes this year I felt stagnant, mentally suppressed, physically wore down, spiritually under attack, and just not myself. This year I was creating life, while internally dying inside. During a time when I should have been on cloud nine about life, I was regretting it. If you have been following me awhile then you are aware of my mental health journey. One of the major things that keeps me mentally aligned is physical activity. In 2018 when my father passed, my husband and I was separated awhile, my sister was fighting cancer, and my family was crumbling. While my life was falling apart, I fell in love with fitness. It started with at home workouts, prayer & meditation, running, & being consist with self-care. In 2018 I recreated a better version of myself while going through grief and heartbreak. The grief and heartbreak transformed me into this strong and emotionally mature woman that I loved. I learned to love myself no matter what I was going through. Fitness gives me confidence, keeps me grounded, and gives me this high that I just enjoy! Since my pregnancy was high risk and I had physical limitations there was a lot I could not do, and the lack of psychical activity is what started the perinatal depression and sent me into this dark place. 

The darkness I have experienced this year has taught me some major lessons. Although this was a challenging year, just like 2018 I felt like it had to happen so I could transform. I am a firm believer that things happen in our lives to transform and prepare us for our purpose. The last few months I have struggled deeply with letting go of my past, accepting that I am enough for myself & my children, realizing I need help and that is okay, and knowing that fucked up situations and circumstances happens to good people. Just because you are a “good person” does not make you exempt for challenges in life. The challenges that I experienced this year has taught me some lessons that are going to help me transform and do better in 2022. My number one goal for 2022 is CONSISTENCY and EFFORT. The year 2021 I felt like I had no control of my life, and I was constantly in this victim role or feeling victimized. There was a lot of complaining and self-sabotage in 2021. Yes, my life has been hard, but did I have to soak in it and have that same energy all year? NO! The Martyr Complex is basically how I can sum up my 2021. Martyr complex is related closely to “the victim complex”. At its core, the victim complex involves someone viewing themselves as a victim of their life events. They often express that bad things always happen to them, claim that they have no control over their life, and don’t take responsibility for things they do. The motives for a victim mentality are often unconscious (WebMD, 2020). It was not until recently after taking a break from all social media and evaluating this entire year that I realized most of 2021 I was unconsciously making myself a victim. I sacrificed a lot of  happy times, because I focused too much on all the bad that was happening. This year taught me to always find something good in all situations or circumstances in life. I understand now that my year could have played out differently if I only shifted my way of thinking. Mindset is major when you are trying to remain grounded in your life. My mindset was off all 2021 and I allowed my circumstances to keep me stagnant. Although I am so ready for 2022 to start, I am thankful for the lessons of 2021. I have some new lessons to take in 2022, and I am ready to shift my mindset. Because of 2021, my 2022 goals are focused more on mindfulness. In 2022 my top 4 areas I want to focus on are: 

  1. Finding something positive in all situations that I am going through. 
  2. Do not be a victim, find a solution for your problems. 
  3. Shift my mindset and be still more often.
  4. Remember hard times do not last forever. 

I do not expect 2022 to be perfect, but I can guarantee that it will not be a year full of self-sabotage. In 2022 I am stepping back from worry, stress, depression, uncertainty, insecurities, resentment, stagnation, being stuck in the past, or having scattered energy without being mindful. I am a mental health advocate and I know what I should have been doing this year, but even I slipped through the cracks and got lost. What I experienced this year is the exact reason why I started the @healingandgrowing_ Instagram and The Pearl Blog. It is my passion and mission to spread the word on mental health awareness, trauma, therapy, motherhood, marriage, divorce, domestic violence, and so much more I have experienced. These experiences happened to me for a reason, and I believe the reason is to share my story so just maybe one person finds solitude in my story or decides today is the day to make a change. My mission remains the same. I want to encourage, educate, and transform the lives of people who are looking to heal and grow through life challenges. In 2022 I am working on something special for all the people who has been supporting me. The comments, the likes, the follows, and purchases are appreciated. I have received more support from strangers since I started The Pearl Blog & I just want to say thank you. It is my hope & prayer that your 2022 is all you hoped for! Please comment below 4 things you are manifesting for 2022 or 4 lessons you have learned in 2021. I can’t wait to see what you all have to say! 


Sources: “Martyr Complex: Causes, Signs, and More.” WebMD, WebMD, 

Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset

So much has transpired in the last year and since vulnerability is my forte, I must admit that I have been on an emotional rollercoaster this entire month leading up to October 28th, 2021. The featured photo is of me on October 28, 2020. Last year at this time I was in a dark place mentally. Before COVID I struggled mentally, but COVID made my mental illnesses challenging and harder to maintain than usual. Advocating therapy has been my passion for the last six years, and although therapy is great it was not helping me climb out the mental black hole, I was in. The only activity that made me feel better was journaling, fitness, or being creative in some way. The pain I felt at this time last year was something I kept private, and I suffered alone for a long time until I started “The Pearl Blog”.

The Pearl Blog is where I started sharing my life with the world. I believed sharing would be a release. I decided once I released the pain and shared it here then I would not dwell on it any longer. Releasing emotions with pen and paper (blogging) makes my soul feel good. Believe it or not there are so many people scared to speak on their mental health issues, personal life struggles, traumas, or anything that requires vulnerability. This platform was the first place I spoke on my nasty divorce from my first husband, sexual assault trauma, PTSD, domestic violence, motherhood, love, & just my life struggles that I never spoke about unless I was in a therapy session. 

It was imperative that I share because I knew I was not the only one suffering while trying to heal and grow through life. Blogging aka releasing has been healing for me. Healing is not an easy journey and I have started over so many times. What I have learned through the healing process is that it requires a growth mindset. A growth mindset is being optimistic and always knowing that no matter how low you feel or where you are in life there is opportunity for growth if you remain resilient and trust your abilities to progress. Carol Dweck, a lead researcher on the topic of “growth mindset”, states that as humans, we operate in both a fixed and growth mindset. Dweck goes on to provide a definition for both: Fixed Mindset: “In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.” (Dweck, 2015)

Growth Mindset: “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” (Dweck, 2015)

Growth mindset is how I am here today, instead of where I was last year.  Have I reached my full potential? No. But, have I grown tremendously because I now know and understand that I possess the ability to heal and a resilience that has helped me every time I had to start over. The growth mindset has helped ensure that I do not fall back in the “black hole”. I have grown tremendously and although I am still struggling today, I am not stuck because I am constantly growing. I can admit I was stagnating in a lot of areas in my life and inside there was resentment, anger, bitterness, and pain from the past hindering me. How could I grow into a better version of me if I did not decide to grow? I had no choice but to grow into a better version of myself. The person I am today would not recognize the person I was last year. Take a moment and read some of my first blog post and you can see how I progressed. The purpose of sharing my experiences here is to help someone else that may be feeling like I was last year. Helping someone else who may be suffering alone makes me feel like I am doing my part and putting positivity back into the universe.

 I am one of the most introverted/ private people in this world, but after sharing here and only getting positive feedback I realized my potential. The Pearl Blog gave me a freedom and feeling I never had. If you would like to see more of my growth, check out my Instagram page which is linked on my homepage. Also, feel free to use the contact me tab and let me know if there are certain topics you would like me to share more. Additionally, if you are a woman that struggles with mental health, body positivity, shyness, relationship issues, motherhood, or just need to be encouraged and heard then my Facebook Group would be perfect for you (links on “Meet Toni”). I mentioned on my last post I will be posting about different topics every other Thursday to receive alerts you must be subscribed to The Pearl Blog. To all of my subscribers Thank You! I have received nothing but great feedback. The support is appreciated. I hope that you all are healing and remember that in order to heal we must “grow”! No matter where you are in life there is always room for growth & healing. 

  • -Toni 

Life is all about Growth.. Happy Almost Birthday to ME!


It is almost my birthday! Another year around the sun, and I am so grateful. I have come far from where I started. To think just ten years ago I was a new mom, unhappy in a toxic marriage, in school, serving in the Army, and not happy at all. Ten years ago, I would just wake up and get through my day the best I could. There were so many days I just wanted to give up. This was before I committed to therapy and before the start of my healing journey. I was a twenty-two-year-old young woman with so much more hurt and trauma ahead of me. I remember my mom always saying, “one day you will look back and laugh at this period of your life”. My mom was right! Today I can look back and laugh at some things because I thought my life was over after infidelity, divorce, trauma, abuse, & mental health struggles. All the trials I experienced in the last ten years were nothing but lessons that I needed to heal and grow into the woman I am today.

I appreciate the hard times I experienced more today than ever before. In the beginning, I did not accept the lessons instead, I harbored hurt and anger because “how dare someone mistreat me”! I was not aware ten years ago, or even five years ago how much anger towards another person consumes your life. Anger consumed my life to a point all I did was get angry! The smallest problems made me upset. I lashed out in so many ways because I wanted revenge. Revenge for me was my transgressors feeling as hurt, miserable, and traumatized as I was. What I realized through therapy and maturity is that I may never receive an apology, my transgressors may never acknowledge their actions, & the experience of my trauma may not even bother them. I had to accept that it was my trauma to accept and heal from. I could not hold anyone accountable for how I was feeling except for myself. It took years for me to realize the trauma I have experienced was out of my control, but the way I decided to move forward after the trauma is in my control.

Acknowledging that I was in control of how I let others affect my life is what helped me to move forward and start my healing and growing journey. I started acknowledging the good things in my life that I had to be thankful for. Although my first marriage was a failure, I acknowledge today that it needed to end, or I would not have experienced love as I have with my husband. All the trauma I have experienced in the last ten years led to something better in the end. Domestic violence, infidelity, divorce, mental health struggles, & trauma gave me strength. I grew a strength after I became a single mother. I am thankful that my two sons were in my life after my divorce because they were my daily motivation. The fact that I had two little humans watching my every move motivated me to get into therapy so that I could heal myself, and not cause them any more trauma.

The goal has always been to break the cycles. My parents were never married or together long enough for me to know or understand what a man and woman healthy relationship should look like. I had no idea what a healthy marriage was, which is why I allowed red flags in my first marriage. The mistakes and red flags in the first marriage prepared me for my current marriage. If I were being completely honest, I would say the divorce of my first husband is when my life completely changed for the better. I believe in closing chapters and starting anew. Just because something does not work out does not mean you failed. Sometimes your life must fall completely apart for you to get it together.

Right now, I am at a point of acceptance! I am still getting my life together one day at a time, but I am happier and healthier than I was ten or five years ago. I still have my struggles, but I am no longer angry, revengeful, petty, or just miserable. The healing and growing have been a process. It has been a hard process and I have put in plenty of work to get this far. I had to let go of things I could not control, remove my ego, & not let the small things get me down. There was a point in my life when I would be depressed about situations for weeks at a time. I have a new rule now that has helped me tremendously! It is okay to not be okay, and it is okay to have a bad day or two. But I refuse to allow myself to drown in self-pity and let my emotions control my intelligence for longer than a day or so. During this healing journey, I have learned that you must know how to pick yourself up, do not always expect others to save you because you will never be healed.

Thirty-two is right around the corner and I am prouder of myself for this upcoming birthday than any other birthday. I am still in disbelief that I have been going after my dreams without caring about the judgment of others. The motivation I have had this year along is absolutely amazing. Life is all about lessons! We all will have different lessons, but the goal is to learn and grow from life lessons. Never stop growing in life. Look at yourself as a flower. A flower needs to be properly nourished to grow. Commit to nourishing yourself and watch how your life change. You deserve to heal from all the trauma you have experienced. In honor of my birthday month, I will be having a sale on all The Pearl Blog PostiveMindset Merch. Support me by purchasing something from the site, and make sure you use the code HEAL to get a discount on all purchases. Also, follow me on Instagram @healingandgrowing_ and like my page on Facebook!


Thanks, Toni