Friday, March 29, 2013


WRITER: Tiffany Hester

Forget the shining armor. Forget the knives, swords, and arrows. My weapons of war were chemotherapy, radiation, feeding tubes, and emergency hospital visits. Forget about prince charming coming to save me in the end and asking me to marry him and live happily ever after. My prince charming was disguised as an old man with a white jacket and a MD. He was there to save me, or rather my life, but reminding me that my life may not yet be a happy ever after.
In the cancer world it is dark, grim, and even a little depressing. With cancer I was battling the unseen villain in my body. The villain knew my weaknesses and invaded with his army. He knew my joys and dreams and has his own goals of crushing them secretly. He wanted me to suffer and slowly die. To never experience moving out on my own, getting a real education, finding a career, falling in love, getting married, having kids, or dying old.
What he didn’t know was that when I found him sneaking into my boundaries I was willing to fight. I wasn’t going to let him take my kingdom away without a fight. With little time to waste I turned into a warrior overnight and began my war cry. Though I knew I would make it out alive, I wasn’t scared of the battle scars I would collect along the way.
I was a victim to the hated and villainous illness by the name of cancer. When I noticed a large lump on the left side of my neck I didn’t think much of it since I wasn’t a doctor and didn’t know all there was to know about the human body. When it didn’t fade I got very nervous and went in to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist. After taking antibiotics for two weeks, taking a CT scan, and a needle biopsy, the doctor confirmed one of my worst fears. I had cancer. Not just any cancer a rare cancer called neuroendocrine carcinoma that started in my sinus cavity and moved into my lymph nodes.
I was then referred to my next doctor who performed surgery on me and gave me the heartbreaking news of my future. Before my surgery he was almost positive that I wouldn’t have to go through chemotherapy, but I would still have to have radiation. When he got the lab results back from surgery he informed me I would now have to receive chemotherapy, but I wouldn’t have to lose my hair. Every day I was getting bad news from my doctors, because when I had my consultation with my oncologist he told me that with the chemotherapy I would receive I would lose my hair and it would possibly make me infertile.
I struggled having chemotherapy and radiation at the same time. Through it I was stuck with a feeding tube, unable to swallow, and saliva so thick that if I tried to swallow I would end up vomiting. I had lost my hair, strength, and motivation. I had been in and out of the hospital all summer long with fevers and low blood counts.
I had a problem sleeping when I was going through my chemotherapy, I was in so much pain, I had a hard time breathing, I was so weak, and my daily thoughts bothered me. Before I was diagnosed with cancer I dreamed of getting a degree in history and traveling the world to meet and help people less fortunate than I. I was working full time as a supervisor and going to school full time, I hardly had any time for myself let alone eat and sleep. I was so anxious to hurry and attain my associate’s degree that breaks were not a part of my plan. I was even going to go to school during the summer to get ahead. After dreaming of an eventful summer my plans were shattered and I was told by my doctors that it would be best if I take a break from school and work. What? I never believed in breaks then I was forced into one. All my ideas of a bright future were over; I had to give up school, my social life and my good job. Even though I thought my career goals were over, cancer was giving me a chance to reevaluate my life and truly think of what I wanted to do and how to share my talents.
I read a lot of fiction on my own time and I have always made up stories that stuck in my head, but when I dream I have always considered them nightmares because of how vivid and real they seem to me. A couple years back I had dreamed a nightmare that still scares me to this day. Every time I had to calm myself through a scan, treatment, or getting to sleep I would imagine this dream in my head and I started creating the story to this dream with characters and fears of their own. This story I made up was the only thing that motivated me to keep moving forward, it was my sanctuary. Though I may not be grateful for having to put my life on hold and going through all the pain, I am grateful for the challenge it gave me to turn my life around and steer me in a new path. I’m no longer the same girl with the beautiful long hair that was insecure about what other people thought of her, now I’m a confident woman who values others before herself and yearns to continue to experience the life I was spared. In most fairytale stories the hero survives in the end having defeated his/her foes and dragons. I am that modern day hero in not just the public eye, but mine eyes as well. I still have many battles to face but I have won a war.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

ART SUBMISSION- Melissa Jade Photography


The worth of a woman!
Self worth and self esteem
The world I live in today is far from the one I was raised up in....

Society view women as part of a trophy cabinet. Young women worldwide are influenced by what they see, hear and read. They're misguided to a false perception of what real " Self Esteem & Self Worth " mean. They mistaken revealing tops and low cut skirts as pure beauty, they mistaken inappropriate language as acceptable, and disrespect as modesty. Without understanding the value of individual worth, Women lose the battle to be everything they're meant to be... A WOMAN

My images portray what women want without selling themselves to achieve. I tried to capture that power is gained through the beauty of self esteem. My photography allows me the ability to freeze in time self worth in action. Beauty is natural and all that comes with it are natural appendages. Beauty can't be sold or mistaken rather it stands for everything and everyone who cannot stand up for themselves.


THANK YOU MELISSA JADE PHOTOGRAPHY FOR YOUR ART SUBMISSION. We appreciate people sending in their interpretations of self worth! Thanks for sharing your talent with our organization.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


WRITER: Rachael Ely

I am an over-analyzer. It’s bad, you guys. Give me a room to myself and plenty of time to think and I can find something to worry about. I worry about myself, my family; I can even worry for you if you want. This is where any insecurity of mine comes from: the deep, dark, murky corners of my conscious that tell me that I am unlovable, or not good enough to succeed in life, or heaven-forbid…fat. Anxiety runs in my family and I am not immune to it. And I don’t like how it makes me think.

I think we, as women, over-analyze a lot. And have you ever felt happier about yourself or your life afterwards? No. Never. I strongly believe that those over-analytical, worrisome, insecure thoughts stem from Satan, who knows that they will make us feel small, weak; not the confident, beautiful women that we are. I also strongly believe in a God who gives us feelings of peace, never anxiety. We create that for ourselves, with the help of Satan.

I don’t want to be fragile and insecure. I want to be a woman of strength and confidence. I want to take criticism with stride and squish that voice in my head and remind it that I know who I am and don’t care what others think. That kind of woman is truly beautiful. I know I am not alone in this struggle. I also know it’s something I have to constantly work on.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how we can battle low self-esteem. There are plenty of suggested remedies out there. But in looking back on my life, I can think of one piece of advice that has the most instantaneous and powerful effect on my self-worth and confidence: get out and do something good for someone else. We all hear it and we all know from personal experience that it’s true, but it’s easy to forget when you are caught up in your own problems. But I cannot stress enough what a positive effect good deeds have on your soul. When you are actively engaged in helping ease someone’s burden or doing something constructive for them, you are not thinking about yourself. And when you do something that you consider of high esteem, even something as small as taking out the trash for your mom, you hold yourself in higher esteem. I can’t fully explain why doing good makes us feel so good, but I know it does.

Here’s a small example:
A couple weeks ago, there was a massive snowstorm in Salt Lake. I was heading out to a party in a nearby city that I was so excited for. I realized before I got onto the freeway that my car wouldn’t be able to make it, so I huffed and I puffed and I turned around. I was BUMMED. On my way up the hill by my house, my car got stuck and I was left in the car with the smell of burnt rubber and some choice words on the tip of my tongue. I noticed there was another car ahead of me that was in my same position—fruitlessly pounding on the gas, trying to get up the hill. I sat there for a minute watching them, thinking, “Man, this sucks for us” and then I remembered something I had heard earlier that day about serving others. I decided there was no point in both of us being stuck, so I got out of my car and helped push the other car up the hill. After they drove away, I got in my car and realized that instantly my mood had changed. Even though it was the tiniest act of charity, it made me feel so awesome the rest of the night when I could have been wallowing my self-pity.

When I think about my life, I know that the happiest I have ever been is when I was actively involved in helping someone who needed it. I am not insecure during those times; I do not over-analyze or worry. I feel good about myself. I feel beautiful.

Lately I have been caught up in myself. I have been selfish, thinking about my problems and worries and insecurities. It has not been a charitable time for me. But ever since that little reality check a couple weeks ago, I am remembering what I can do to dig myself out of this hole and to feel like the awesome, kick-butt girl that I am. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013



Everyone, I repeat everyone, goes through an awkward stage in his or her life. Mine though, lasted a little longer than most.

In fourth grade I hit puberty, fast.  I started to gain weight, and didn’t know how to react to my new developing self. It didn’t help that I was the most independent person in the world, and instead of letting my mother do my hair for me, like most little girls, I wanted to do it myself. My choice of hairstyle was a slicked back ponytail that accentuated my chubby cheeks. Talk about awkward.

I was friends with the “popular” girls but really didn’t fit in because I was not one who fit the “perfect” mold, or what I thought at the time was perfect. I was a size large, and started to look at myself with judging eyes because of the size of tee shirt I wore. 

Although others picked on me and occasionally called me names, I was my own worst critic. My fourth grade self wanted to lose weight, so my loving mother brought her nine year old daughter to Weight Watchers and for support promised to lose weight with me. Time passed and eventually grew out of my awkward stage of life. But I was left with those judging eyes and would pick out every imperfection when looking in the mirror.

It was not until after high school that I began to realize that there is more to life than looks and even the people who seem to fit in the “perfect” mold felt the same as I did.

I am not a shy or timid person, I have a booming personality and could make just about anyone laugh. In this aspect I am extremely confident. I have been left with major body issues though because I have compared myself to those who seem to fit the “perfect” mold. What I have realized is that there is no “perfect” mold when it comes to our bodies. We are all perfect, just in our own special ways.

As women, I believe we are our own worst critics. And it is because of the idea of a “perfect” that we put ourselves down. Today I can look in the mirror and pick our every pound that I need to lose or I can look and see what my Savior sees, a beautiful healthy, young woman that has so much to offer. I chose to try to see what He sees, and although sometimes it is hard, I know that as I do my judging eyes slowly start to fade.



I think it's safe to say that we've all had that one major heartbreak that crushed us so bad that we did anything to seek revenge. Am I right? Well, that happened to me once. It was the summer after my senior year. Ultimately, I was friend-zoned by one of the sweetest, most charismatic yet biggest tools in the shed. Don't get me wrong, he's a great friend of mine... but I hated him for a solid three months. During those three months, I starved myself. And by "starved" myself, I mean I ate 500 calories or less everyday for three months straight just to show him how nice I looked in a size 6 pair of Express jeans at my "going away" party before I left for college. Did it feel good to go from a size 10 to a 6 for the first time since 7th grade? Absolutely. But has it sabotaged and affected the rest of my life? Yes. Because now I will forever think back to and obsess over how nice 130lb. felt. And, truth be told, I'll probably never be that tiny again unless I result to anorexia, bulimia, or liposuction. (Which, I can't say hasn't been tempting to do.)

As fascinating as that little story was, it's not why I'm sitting here writing this post.

It all started when a friend of mine emailed me about this CROWN Project blog. She's a frequent blog follower of mine, and I was flattered when she suggested that I write a post to submit. After "liking" the page on Facebook, I was personally invited to submit an article, essay or simply my thoughts about how the trials I've gone through have affected my self-esteem and my own perception of my self-worth. So, here I am!

Going back to heartbreak, I think it's the ultimate blow to a girl's self-esteem.

In high school and in my first couple years of college, I was pretty confident in myself. I wasn't necessarily narcissistic, but I was comfortable with who I was and generally the way I looked. Sure, I had my moments of thinking I was "fat" -- but what girl doesn't? My freshman-junior year of college, I dated. I dated a lot. In fact, I had roommates who harassed me for going out with a different guy every weekend. Flattered, that I was. However... it wasn't until I met my most recent... well, ex-boyfriend that I realized what it really meant to be loved for who I was rather than flirted with because of what I looked like. His name was Tyler. And I thought I'd never love anyone else for the rest of my life.

After three short months, we were engaged. It was March 2012, and we planned to be married on September 1, 2012. It was a great, loving relationship built on the strongest friendship I've ever had with anyone in my entire life. He was my rock and I was his. We were convinced we could take on the world. We loved each other. And everyone else loved us, too. To say the least, I had never been happier.

To make a long, sad, sob-story short... I called off our engagement exactly ten days before the wedding. I felt strongly that it wasn't the right thing to do, and, ultimately after coming to grips with the whole situation, I realized that it wasn't something that I wanted to do. I chose not to marry him. And, now... I have to live with that decision.

After breaking up with Tyler, I wanted to crawl in a hole and stay there for the rest of my life. The funniest part is -- I didn't even realize my self-esteem had been tainted in the least bit. I was simply heartbroken. I was convinced that I would never, ever find anyone like him ever again. He was my best friend; who would ever love me the way he did? How could I find another one just like him? Truth is, I wouldn't. This lasted for a solid three months: September-November.

During this solid three months, I started a new blog. I had blogged in the past, but I hardly posted links to it publicly for people to read. In fact, I was ashamed and embarrassed of people knowing my true self and how I felt about my social and love life... or, lack thereof.

This new blog, however, was created as a "venting place" for anyone and everyone who voluntarily wanted to crawl inside my crazy, heartbroken, hot-messy head. It was titled "A New Day...with a slight chance of thunderstorms." On this blog, I wrote about happy things... funny stories and silly embarrassing moments. But, during the "thunderstorms" I mostly expressed my very frank and blunt opinion about life and how hard it really was. Sure, I could pretend it was fine and dandy... but, we all know it really wasn't.

Over the span of those few months, I got emails and messages from people all over Facebook -- people from high school to middle-aged women from church! I'd get messages ranging from "I know we don't really talk that much, but I LOVE your blog!" to "This may seem really creepy, but I read your blog and I just love how frank and honest you are!" In fact, I still get those emails and I LOVE THEM! I'm not only flattered, but their love and support has kept me writing and given me the confidence to be who I am without being ashamed of it. And the best part -- it's no longer a "thunderstorm" blog. As the healing process has progressed, I've changed the title to "Pretty and Witty."

Also, this may seem silly... But as I've gained this confidence to be who I am via blogging, I've also had the courage to get back on my feet and tackle life again. Sure, it's not easy. But I've found the courage to go out again. Like... date again. Granted, it took me six months, but I'm finally here. Not only that, but I'm finally confident enough in myself to realize that I don't have to settle for the first guy that comes my way. I am no longer desperate enough to think that I need to marry the first guy that asks me... Unlike most in the Mormon culture sometimes think, it's OKAY to "feel 22" and single! After all, isn't life all about feeling "miserable, magical and lonely at the same time" anyway?!

Being engaged and doing all the "engaged" stuff has taught me that it's not all roses and that life is not a fairy tale... even with a ring on your finger. I learned that I am a beautiful daughter of a loving God who isn't going to make me settle for anything less than someone that's perfect for me. Ladies, you don't have to settle. Even if you're engaged... it's never too late to find your very own Prince Charming. Will he be the first guy that takes you out this weekend? Will he be the first one who calls you beautiful or even the first to tell you that he loves you? Probably not. But you don't have to settle for less while waiting for him.

You're going to get heartbroken. Unfortunately... it's what dating is all about. Like I always say, it's breaking hearts until you find someone who doesn't crush your own. But, please... don't learn it the hard way like I had to --

Don't be afraid to stand alone while you're waiting for him.


Friday, December 21, 2012


Paola Cooper

            Growing up I always knew I wanted to do something good for the world. I didn’t know what it would end up being but I knew it would make a difference. I am the first child in a small family of two. Being a good example was what my parents always taught me. Sometimes it was tough setting the path for my sister and I, but at other times it was rewarding to see the good qualities she learned from me.
            As the years went by and I grew older, and like most other adults had my goals set in stone and was determined to accomplish them. Going back to what I said before about wanting to make a difference, well during college was when I finally decided what that role would be. I wanted to pursue my career in the medical field. I wanted to help out people in times of distress and wanted to make them feel better. I became a paramedic and loved every second of it. The adrenaline of saving a person’s life at 70 miles an hour was exhilarating. The sound of a dead-silent heart in a room filled with grief automatically change in a few minutes by my interventions to a strong beating heart could never be forgotten in my heart and mind. Giving people a second chance to live was what I wanted to do in life and it seemed like I had everything all in place. I had discovered my purpose in life and felt like I made a difference. But, life has a way of leading you a different path.
            I pursued my goal of being a paramedic for a short period of time and eventually life hit me. I settled down, got married, stopped being a paramedic and my husband and I became expectant parents.  To some this may sound like I gave up all my dreams and became a step-ford wife but to me it was different. I would like to describe it like a poem from one of my favorite authors, Robert Frost in the “Road Less Traveled.” In this poem he describes two roads, one, which clearly has been used quite often, and the other, which hasn’t. To me its seems like in the end I chose the road less traveled, “and it has made all the difference.” 
            Yeah, yeah being a mother and a wife is no road less traveled but do you recall that I am the first of two children??? I have no clue how to be a good mother and wife. Being a paramedic was so easy. I had a system and it was easy to follow. If a person had this then you would treat them with this….if a person had that, then you would treat them with that. It was all planned out for me; all I had to do was follow the directions. Well there is no pamphlet on being a wife, a mother, or a daughter it is a path less traveled for each and every one of us on this earth.
            I have discovered as time goes by that we are extraordinary humans with great mental capabilities of learning and progressing in this life. My lost purpose of contributing to this world was re-born and this time around stronger than ever. There is no greater calling in this life than being a great mother and wife. Being a paramedic is debatable but life comes and goes each day, no matter how hard we try we can’t control it.  However, creating a little human creature out of love between two people and guiding it in this life has got to be the most special and self-rewarding thing that has happened to me.
             I have learned that one of the keys of being a great mother, wife and daughter is by living through example. My mother set a great example of what a good mother and wife should be. I set a good example to my sister of how to be a good daughter. Now it is my turn to do the same for my children. Set the example I want them to follow when they grow up. I have to be a C.R.O.W.N girl! I have to create a radiant outgoing woman in me RIGHT NOW! My mom was a successful woman because she was confident in who she was and never doubted herself. Her words are powerful and full of wisdom. I plan on following these great attributes and incorporating them in my teaching style with my children. I want them to see a mother who is kind, strong, powerful, loving and nurturing. I have to live by my words so that one day they can follow in my footsteps.
            Being a paramedic is about giving second chances, I plan on giving my children as many chances as they can get every second of their lives. I didn’t give up my career. I found my true purpose of making a difference in this world and that is by creating the best chances of a successful life for my children in this world. “And that has made it all the better.”

Friday, November 30, 2012


                      WRITER: KRYSTAL NIELSON

Throughout my life, I was bullied wherever I was. I was picked on at home by my family, at church by my guy friends, at school with my friends, and even at work with my co-workers and boss. It seemed normal to me, so I didn't think of it much a bullying, but rather a lifestyle. I have come to realize that I have no confidence in myself at all and probably due to the fact that I was picked on a lot. 

             From the moment I was born (literally!) I was picked on. My mom told me that when I was born, the first words that came out of my Dad's mouth was "Look at that honker!!" My mom didn't see me yet, and so she was scared that I really did have a huge nose. Turns out it wasn't really THAT big, but from that story and having it being told as a little girl, I became very aware of my nose. I always wanted to have a smaller nose than I do now. I felt ugly and worried often that I would never date anyone due to my Italian nose. I always dreamed that I could get my nose surgically fixed so I could finally be "normal". I remember as I kid looking in the mirror with scotch tape in my hand, "fixing" my nose and seeing how pretty I would look with the new nose. Around age 6, I noticed I looked a little different from the rest of the family. I had darker skin, brown eyes, dark brown hair, I walk on my toes, and the only one with this big nose. My mom told me that I was switched at birth, and that somewhere her cute little blue eyed, light brown haired, button nose baby girl. Even though it wasn’t true, I didn’t realize it till now how much that hurt me. How much it cut off my self-esteem and that being different was negative.
 As time went by, I found more things that I didn't like about myself. My curves, my hair/ eye color, my eyebrows, the way I dressed, etc. It seemed like no matter what I did, I would never live up to the potential of everyone else and having boys at school call me “freaking ugly” and my brother making up a song saying that I was so fat I would never get a date in my life did not help. Yes, there were some people in my life that told me I was pretty or cute, but it was usually women at church or my gal pals. Never have I been told up front by a guy that I was beautiful. Not even my PROM date. So, I assumed that the girls that were saying that were just trying to be nice. 
My love life has been non-existence. I never have had a boyfriend, first kiss, first hand-holding. Nothing. With this happening, it really made me feel worthless, ugly, and unattractive to any guy that crosses my path. I was always surrounded by couples, and even it may seem that I would hate that but I loved it. I loved watching love. I loved setting up my friends, helping out with relationships, giving advice to my friends about what they need to do next. As long as I could see someone be happy with another, I was happy. I would always have that “almost relationship”, but for some reason, the guy would bail at last moment. It hurt me. I soon learned to not get too attached and get over the current crush fast. I have never felt that week-long sadness of him not liking me, I just say “Oh well.” and just think that this would happen for the rest of my life, so might as well get used to it now.
I have learned to love myself by one video, The Butterfly Circus. This movie was played in my religion class and it moved me. I learned that we all are really beautiful in our own special ways, and even though you may think that you are worthless, you are special to someone in this world. Someone who thinks you are beautiful. You may not have met them yet, but they are out there, and they will soon come in your life and completely change the way you think about yourself. We all have our imperfections, but it is our imperfection that makes us unique. Be your own kind of beautiful. Stand out from all the others. Never bend your head. Hold your head high. Look the world straight in the eye.