Step up and give this hell. Just like training a marathon. One step you have to take and just keep pushing forward. One foot other foot,”     -Darrah

It is really hard to even think about Multiple Scelrosis while talking to Darrah. She just might be the most energetic, bubbly, and optimistic person I’ve ever met. From the moment I met her I was instantly in awe of her enthusiasm for life. Her story is so remarkable and inspiring. Read it for yourself and you’ll get an instant dose of optimism. Raw Stories Series - Pennsylvania National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness - Darrah Mugrauer

“When thinking of when my story really starts, I think of 2013. In June 2013, 8 months after running a full marathon, I woke up one morning and half my body was numb- in that cold, tingly, asleep kind of way. It was bothersome enough that I was worried about it. Since I had been running distances, I was particularly concerned that I may have done some damage that needed treatment. Doctors thought it was a pinched nerve from a new exercise routine, put me on a steroid and sent me for more tests. About a week later, after X-rays and MRIs looked normal, my eyes started wiggling back and forth in a way that was uncontrolled and unpredictable, and which affected my vision. Then, still, we thought maybe this new symptom was a reaction to the medication. Off I went to another doctor for more tests, and more scans. I had been persistent up until this point that there was something more serious going on with the numbness in my leg. The movement in my eyes didn’t seemed connected to me, but validated room for concerns with physicians and those in my circle.

Pennsylvania Multiple Sclerosis Awareness - Darrah Mugrauer
2013 was the year that, at 29 years old, on Halloween- I sat in a neurologists office and was told that I have Multiple Sclerosis- a potentially debilitating autoimmune disease that seems to come from nowhere- and that I’d better choose a medication fast, because, the sooner we treated things, the better; and we “don’t want you to end up in a wheelchair.” I left that appointment and immediately broke down into sobs. I wailed over and over again to my parents that I wanted to die, because I truly thought my life was over.
From that day when I woke up in June, through the conclusion of that year, I was in a constant battle of feeling like I woke up in the twilight zone, wondering where my life went. I was unable to work due to my vision. There were a lot of tears. A lot of wondering “why”, and telling myself this was unfair, and expecting that at any moment, something else would happen. Initially, I refused medication. I was resigned to allow my body to attack itself, certain that no matter what I did, life as I knew it was over.
I had myself in a wheelchair before I even walked out the door of the doctor’s office.
Life as I knew it was over. There is no doubt in my mind now about that…it just wasn’t in the way that I expected. At some point, I realized the negativity I was feeling and perpetuating was doing so much more harm to me than good. And so much of the MS community can seem filled with negativity. When we are faced with challenges, it has become so easy to get stuck. To see other’s challenges through a computer screen and determine they will absolutely be your own. I beg of you: Please do not put yourself in places where you are not. Don’t let google tell you what your fate is, and don’t let the scary stuff let you lock out the world. MS is a nasty disease, there is no doubt about that. I have actively made the choice to approach every day of my life with optimism and treat myself with compassion. This summer, on a beautiful day, I stood at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and thought “Man, I am so lucky that I can walk.” That thought almost brought me to tears- it has provided me with a level of gratitude for so many things I may have otherwise overlooked.
I am lucky that I trusted my body enough to fight because I knew there was more going on than the doctors initially thought. I am responding well to medication, and I just had my second set of stable MRIs in December. Some of the lesions on my brain have even SHRUNK. That isn’t “supposed” to happen. But if I believed what any internet search told me? I’d still be crying in a corner- and my life really would have ended.Raw Stories Series - Pennsylvania National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness - Darrah Mugrauer
It took time, and asking for help, and accepting support. Some days, it was really hard to decide that I was going to be happy despite the unfair cards I was dealt and what could potentially go wrong. I lost sight of myself being too focused on “not caring”, and struggling, on top of learning what my new limits might be.

MS Raw Stories Series - National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness - Darrah MugrauerRaw Stories Series - Pennsylvania National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness - Darrah Mugrauer
My limits now? I’m pretty sure I don’t have them, and if I do, I rarely consider them. Last year, I started working with a trainer, and I’m lifting heavier than a lot of her clients. I try to talk about my MS whenever I can, because I think it’s a gift that I was given to bring positivity and light to something that affects so many people, but is so scary when all you see about it is negativity. If I could go back and change my diagnosis, I’m not sure I would. It changed me. But I’m a better person because of it. I love my WHOLE life, and MS is a part of that. In some ways, I think it gave me a better life.
I’m gonna fight like hell to stay out of that damn wheelchair, but if I ever need one? You’d better believe it will be so pink and sparkly you will see me shining from a mile away.”

Darrah Mugrauer is an Experiential Learning Advisor at Delaware Valley University, as well as a RYT-200 Yoga instructor. She lives in Bucks County, PA.

Raw Stories Series - Pennsylvania National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness - Darrah MugrauerRaw Stories Series - Pennsylvania National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness - Darrah MugrauerRaw Stories Series - Pennsylvania National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness - Darrah MugrauerRaw Stories Series - Pennsylvania National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness - Darrah MugrauerRaw Stories Series - Pennsylvania National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness - Darrah MugrauerRaw Stories Series - Pennsylvania National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness - Darrah Mugrauer

  • April 3, 2016 - 6:06 pm

    Caryn Mears - Have you looked into a website called, “Health is in Your DNA”? You can google it. A friend of mine has done extensive research and has discovered miraculous ways to treat her MS with vitamins that her body wasn’t processing. I think she has a Facebook site, and her name is Diane Borders. She does local seminars here to help people with other afflictions as well, analyzing their DNA. Good luck! You are definitely on the right track!ReplyCancel

  • April 3, 2016 - 8:13 pm

    Donna Carlson - God bless, Darrah. Stay strong and beautiful. You are a woman of courage and grace.ReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2016 - 2:51 am

    Donna Duffy-Bell - Thanks, Darrah, for sharing your story of hope and gratitude; an inspiration to us all on so many levels!ReplyCancel

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We’re so glad you are here to check out our new site.  In the coming weeks, we look forward to sharing raw stories, authentic weddings and much more.  We can’t think of a better way to celebrate our launch than giving away some awesome products.  Who doesn’t love a giveaway?!

Here’s what the winner will receive:

To enter the drawing

1. Follow Liberty & Heart on Facebook and Instagram

2. Follow Clara’s Groovy Deliciousness on Facebook and Instagram

3. Follow Liberty Drones on Facebook and Instagram

4. Follow Crooked Calligraphy on Facebook and Instagram

5. Follow KRM Jewel on Facebook

6. LAST but not least…Comment on this post and be sure to include your name & email address.

Follow ALL contributing businesses and you might be the lucky winner!!

The winner will be announced on Friday, April 29th at 12:00PM.  Good luck and thanks for celebrating our launch day with us!

Launch Day Giveway - Liberty and Heart Lifestyle Blog

 

  • April 1, 2016 - 4:42 pm

    Caitlin Pavon - Yay!!!!ReplyCancel

  • April 1, 2016 - 5:07 pm

    Laurie B. - Such a beautiful idea!ReplyCancel

  • April 1, 2016 - 10:47 pm

    Jen - Amazing prizes. Best wishes ladies!!ReplyCancel

    • April 5, 2016 - 7:57 pm

      Liberty & Heart - Thanks Jen!! Right?! Please be sure to enter the giveaway and leave your email before Friday!ReplyCancel

  • April 1, 2016 - 11:21 pm

    Yelena - Awww this is so beautiful and wonderful! – Yelena yelenashine@gmail.comReplyCancel

  • April 2, 2016 - 3:17 am

    deb fisher - Love your site!ReplyCancel

  • April 2, 2016 - 3:19 am

    cathy turner - love it!ReplyCancel

  • April 2, 2016 - 8:20 pm

    Laura W - Congratulations on the launch! I can’t wait to see more!ReplyCancel

  • April 3, 2016 - 2:44 pm

    B. Proud - Great idea!! Wishing you all the best!! Love comes First.ReplyCancel

  • April 3, 2016 - 10:28 pm

    Laura W. - Congrats on the launch!! I’m excited to see more!ReplyCancel

    • April 5, 2016 - 7:57 pm

      Liberty & Heart - Thanks Laura!! We look forward to sharing more, and hearing a story from you. Please be sure to enter the giveaway and leave your email before Friday!ReplyCancel

  • April 4, 2016 - 2:09 pm

    Amanda Swiger - You guys are awesome!!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • April 4, 2016 - 7:39 pm

    Sophie G - Congratulations on your launch!ReplyCancel

  • April 4, 2016 - 11:13 pm

    Crystal - Commented on your IG..not sure if I had to do it again on here! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2016 - 2:53 am

    Jaime G - So excited for your launch! Beautiful site & stories!!ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2016 - 12:58 pm

    Sidney Gardner - yay! This is so exciting!ReplyCancel

    • April 5, 2016 - 7:55 pm

      Liberty & Heart - Sidney, if you’d like to enter please leave us your email and like all the businesses 🙂 Winner announced Friday!ReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2016 - 4:21 pm

    Sophie G - Congrats on the launch!

    – Sophie, San FranciscoReplyCancel

  • April 5, 2016 - 8:17 pm

    Alecia - Liked all and shared! Congrats. So excited for this!ReplyCancel

  • April 6, 2016 - 12:53 am

    Lauren Blair - Done! This is so exciting. Congrats again on the launch! This is a great promo, and I love your site and the different stuff you post on Instagram and Facebook so far. Im excited to see more!ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2016 - 12:28 pm

    Meg Saunders - This is one heck of a giveaway! 🙂 However, I wasn’t able to get on to KRM.

    Congratulations on launching 💃ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2016 - 5:05 pm

    Noreen Turner - All liked! This is an awesome giveaway with fabulous vendors! And the new site looks incredible 🙂ReplyCancel

  • April 20, 2016 - 2:50 pm

    Jessica Watson - Good luck ladies! Love the site already!ReplyCancel

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Liberty & Heart is officially launched!  We are ecstatic to share more about ourselves and our fierce why behind the mission of this blog.  A huge thanks to Jen Woodruff from JW Studios for the photographs below!

 

Editor Kathryn Croskey Philadelphia Designer- Authentic Lifestyle & Wedding Blog - Jen Woodruff PhotographyKat’s story… Several years ago, I started to feel depleted from my work.  Actually I found myself drowned in a tub of comparison to staged and styled images.  I needed fresh air of heartwarming stories and truth.  This deficit of emotion and authenticity only seemed to expand in an industry whose focus is about capturing an emotion-filled day.  It’s safe to say there is a lack of authenticity in all aspects of social media.

I had a few big ideas but nothing seemed to be quite the right fit.  Then something big came to me last year.  Huge in fact.  Unfortunately it happened to come to me right before a devastating time for my family.  I put the idea aside for the time being and focused on my family.  About six months later, I met Carly in person for the first time.  A few weeks later we talked about what the market was still lacking.  She had been thinking the same things.

 

Editor Carly Fuller Philadelphia Photographer- Authentic Lifestyle & Wedding Blog - Jen Woodruff Photography

 

 

 

 

 

Carly’s storyAfter many years of not being able to relate with the social media “norm” focused so much on the “pretty”, composed, details, and over exaggerated styled shoots that affect people’s “real wedding” visions.  I realized our source has to change, the constant sharing of this unattainable perfect visions skewed priorities and reality from enjoying the journey of our real life to always looking for the destination and composed perfection.  We need an outlet of inspiration truly focused on sharing REAL life!  Philadelphia & the North East lack this authentic voice beyond the wedding planning: of life, dating, relationships, love stories, wedding planning, marriage, and family.  

Fast forward two years of dreaming, Kathryn and I met when she signed up for one of my anniversary photo sessions.  We knew there was a reason we were introduced.  Our energy clicked and felt like we’d known each other for years!  

 

 

Liberty & Heart - Authentic Lifestyle & Wedding Blog - Independence Hall Philadelphia Jen Woodruff Photography

Liberty & Heart was bornWe wanted to create a place for wedding inspiration and real life.  A place to find valuable resources when planning your wedding and for beyond the big day.  A place that told the raw and honest stories of everyday life, not just the big day.

We came up with the name Liberty and Heart.  Liberty to reflect Philadelphia and the tri-state area, it’s history and it’s unsung venues and vendors.  We want to focus on the independence from industry standards.  We value our freedom to share something very different.  We chose the word heart for obvious reasons: sharing stories and images straight from the heart.  We want to focus more on emotion filled imagery.  We plan to show tears dried with an embroidered handkerchief rather than the latest wedding color trends.

Over the last few months, we’ve worked hard to create a brand that reflects just what’s in our hearts.  We hand-selected vendors and images that spoke to our hearts.  We spent two days interviewing people and capturing their emotions so that we can share their raw, honest and uplifting stories.  We believe that a good, old-fashioned heart-to-heart chat creates an invisible string… an invisible string that establishes a connection between two people.  It is our hope that this blog will create a connection like that with you- our readers.  We want you to curl up with your favorite treat, fill your heart with these stories and inspire your mind with fresh ideas.

Join us for a celebration while embracing life’s ups & downs.

 

Liberty & Heart - Authentic Lifestyle & Wedding Blog - Independence Hall Philadelphia Jen Woodruff PhotographyAuthentic Lifestyle & Wedding Blog - Jen Woodruff PhotographyLiberty & Heart Editors - Authentic Lifestyle & Wedding Blog - Jen Woodruff PhotographyWe can be a bit goofy, but why hide it?!Liberty & Heart - Authentic Lifestyle & Wedding Blog - Independence Hall Philadelphia Jen Woodruff PhotographyAuthentic Lifestyle & Wedding Blog - Jen Woodruff Photography

Keep it Real with us and share your thoughts!

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This classic downtown Philadelphia wedding at the IATSE Ballroom was full of surprises, including an epic view of Philadelphia’s skyline from a secret rooftop. Thanks to Kamila Harris Photography for sharing her images.  Michelle and Pat’s Philadelphia wedding is full of energy and so much fun!  From the super sweet “Bridesmaids”-style sing-along at Michelle’s parents house, to the 90s hip-hop dance party on the limo bus, to running in and out of their limo all over Philadelphia together, they certainly conquered their day like rock stars.  One of Kamila’s favorite stops was at Broad Street, right in front of City Hall, where the whole wedding party got into it, forgot about the traffic! Now those are good friends.  Her last favorite spot on Michelle & Pat’s wedding day was the secret rooftop location that blew us away with an killer view of the Philadelphia skyline.  I am definitely on the hunt for that secret spot now.  Who wants to share their favorite skyline view?!

Cheers to Michelle & Pat, to many more years of rocking out to 90s hip-hop together. <3

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The IATSE Ballroom Philadelphia Wedding - Kamila Harris Photography

Vendor Info: Philadelphia Wedding Vendors: Photographer: Kamila Harris Photography | Flowers: Farrell’s Florist | Cake: Cupcakeology | Invitations: Michelle Mazza | DJ: Vampro Productions | Caterer: Anthony’s | Hair: Jenni Carroll | Makeup: Lindsay Dawicki | Venue: IATSE Ballroom

  • April 1, 2016 - 4:46 pm

    Kathryn - Love this wedding! It seems like they had such a fun and happy day!!ReplyCancel

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