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By Leia Baez
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After holding it all together for weeks, I finally laid down on the bed, threw my head against a pillow and cried. I wondered, is this really happening? Am I really back at my parents’ house, sleeping in my childhood bedroom when I’m in my thirties?

My life had spiraled out of control and fast.

In a few days, I would have to make my first court appearance. With the help of my divorce attorney, I would have to prove that I was worthy enough to care for my only child. …


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By Amelia Saint
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One morning, I went into my settings and changed Siri’s voice to female. Then I asked: “Hey Siri, do I have to go to the doctor when I’m having a miscarriage?”

“What causes a miscarriage?”

“How big is a six-week-old fetus?”

Usually, I have my Siri set to the British male voice because I like the way he says “boulevard,” but there are some questions that only your mother or Female Siri can answer.

Two weeks earlier I thought I had a stomach bug. I spent the afternoon in bed watching Hellraiser. That…


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By Maddy Boehme
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On my 19th birthday, I had an appointment with my doctor. I was a freshman in college, taking three classes a semester. That was all I could handle.

Every waking day was spent in the clutches of my bully. It weighed me down with constant fatigue and pain like nothing before. It was like my brain had been tossed in a frying pan and seared to a crisp.

I tried to ignore it, push through the pain, pretend as if my body had the capabilities of a normal person, but I’d always crash…


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By Carolina Guzman
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Six days before my high school graduation, I found out I was pregnant.

This was not a part of my plan or the one my parents had for me. I grew up in a traditional Mexican household. I was expected to go to college, do something with my life, and most importantly, “Marry the right way.” Whatever that means. All I heard was that marriage is forever, and the only way out is in a casket.

I had a scholarship for beauty school in Fremont, Nebraska. How was I supposed to tell my…


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By Kirby Kaufman
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For a long time, I defined so much of myself by music, TV shows and random quotes like “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” That’s D-E-N-I-A-L. Denial. The inability to accept what’s happening right in front of you. Mark Twain said it first. I’ve repeated it often, but I can’t really tell you what I mean by it.

From clichés to catch phrases, they just stick with me like the way you probably remember Hy-Vee’s early-90s jingle: “Hy-Veeeee. Where there’s a helpful smile in every aisle.” Does that define who I am…


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By Steve Lundberg
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My first piano was an old upright, given to me by my Aunt Jo. She thought I might enjoy it.

At the time, my parents were putting on an addition on the house. That included a den, the last room to be completed… and to be heated, but that’s where the piano fit. It stayed in that room, unheated, for three years. Mom wanted it out of sight.

But Aunt Jo was right — I loved making “music” on it so much that my folks decided to let me have lessons from Mrs…


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By Abby Bliss
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My younger sister was the first family member I came out to. Her incredibly anticlimactic response to this was, “Huh. That’s cool. Got a girlfriend?” I told her first because I knew that, one, she could keep a secret, and two, she wouldn’t care.

She’s only 18 months younger than me. Growing up, we got along, for the most part. But as we got older, we turned into opposites. I’m touchy-feely and observant to others’ feelings, and because of her Asperger’s, well, she’s not. …


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By Ryan Meyers

I grew up loving record shops — the thick scent of stick incense, musty magazines and record jackets, the bad lighting and me flipping through one bin after another, hoping to find that one perfect record that I needed to take home.

I spent countless hours at Uncle John Records, getting to know the staff and listening to their recommendations. I started to really admire the owner, Mike Duncan. He had this unique ability to meet everyone who walked in the place on their level. That even included me, an angry, punk rock kid.

Instead of talking…


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By Mike Goll
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Fighting a lifetime of anxiety and depression started with buying a ring.

Dry-mouthed and speechless, I found myself in the men’s section of Gunderson’s Jewelers. Did I know my boyfriend’s ring size? No, not really, but I did have an old ring that Dave tried on and said it was “a little big.”

I settled on a handsome wide-band, white gold ring with a look of whittled wood. It reminded me of a picture Dave took of a tree trunk with a big ole chop taken out of it, but the texture of…


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By Jackie Foster
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The day my daughter started school, I dropped her off and headed to the nearest gym. I worked out for hours, twice a day in my powder blue sweats and matching shoes. After years as a wife and mother, I was finally doing something for myself.

A year later, in a move that was so unlike me, I decided I wanted to be that leotard-clad instructor in pink leg-warmers. That meant being front and center — a place that was so out of my comfort zone. …

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Creating more courageous, compassionate and connected communities through the healing art of storytelling.

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