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In architecture, an egg is often considered to have the perfect shape. If one holds it in their hands end-to-end, it can absorb enormous amounts of pressure without breaking; if held in any other orientation the fragile shell can break easily and cause egg to splash in your face. Girl with the Crooked Smile – Stuck in a Moment provides one with the tools needed to move their proverbial eggs to the perfect orientation to allow surprising strength to come from what was previously thought of as tenuous circumstances.
The chapters in her book describe her life experiences and chronicle her program of tough training and discipline that turned an untried civilian into the Warrior Mom she is today. Each chapter ends with Darah’s takeaway pearls of wisdom that we can all utilize in our daily life. She seamlessly employs all of the skills in her repertoire: her psychological degree, her graduate level degree in international relations in studies of relationships between countries and systems, and her life-coaching and personal training expertise are all utilized to keep her sane in times of madness.
Darah has always provided me with a shining example of one who despite a seemingly relentless string of bad luck, has always had a beaming (now crooked) smile with the unmistakable aura of positive energy (and a wicked sense of humor) that belies the pain beneath her wings. People in these situations often pray for a change in their bad luck, ever searching for a transformational moment. But what is truly needed is the strength to persevere when they think they can’t go on, and understand that without pain, there is indeed no real pleasure; one needs sustenance of the soul that we medical physicians cannot always provide.
That is why this book is so crucial; it is truly a game-changer. This book will be prescribed reading material for all of my patients, and will continue to be used personally in my life. It will be on my list of items needed if one were stranded on a desert island, and should be utilized by all mental health practitioners in their practice.
If you ever have the occasion to hear the Warrior Mom speak, I contend that you will be forever changed in spirit, and you will come out soaring with a newfound strength with Darah’s ability to pass on to all those that listen the pearls of how to harness the warrior spirit in all of us that may transiently leave our consciousness in the face of adversity.
Girl with the Crooked Smile teaches us that we must constantly fight from our core and have continued faith and resilience; the courage of the Warrior Mom is available to all of us if we take a moment to allow ourselves to stop, take a deep breath, nourish our spirit with the yolk from within, and realign our eggs to the perfect alignment using the pearls of wisdom from her life story so that we can prevent the cracking of our thin-shelled exteriors forevermore.
— Darryl Appleton

excerpt-300x50Edition #34 – April 28, 2013

Girl with the Crooked Smile

By Darah Zeledon

Sunday Evening Blues
The last thing I remember is taking a photo of the soft contrast between the dark blue tones of the ocean waters and pastels of the clear late-afternoon sky. Breathtaking. The sea, calm. The breeze, crisp and gentle. Uploading a magnificent photo on Facebook and Twitter, it’s appropriately titled: Sunday Evening Blues.
South Florida weather in April is a dream. And I’m on my mountain bike. Doesn’t get any better than this, I thought, smiling to myself. Yet, unbeknownst to me, this euphoric sensation is about to end. And the ubiquitous melancholy associated with the word “blues,” is about to take on a whole new meaning.
Hubby is home alone with the five kids and dinner is the next activity scheduled on the family agenda. Inhaling the fresh ocean air one last time, I gaze out dreamily onto the endless sea, bid the water farewell and hop back on my bike. I head west. Twilight is fast approaching and I have no reflectors. I know the kids are starved and getting antsy. I’m attuned to them and can feel it. The Sunday evening back-to-school transition is a challenge for all of us, especially after a fun-filled, relaxing weekend.
Heart pounding, the back of my shirt instantly soaks with perspiration. I love it. I feel so damn alive. I lap up the salt from the beads of sweat as they drip off my nose and slide into my mouth. And dare not wipe them away.
Vehicles maneuvered by distracted drivers thread carelessly through the many narrow beachside streets. Coursing my way through, my gloved hands maintain a tight-grip on the knobby, rubber handles. Finally, I snake my way out and attempt to bolt across A1A without dismounting or slowing down. The sidewalk narrows and a jutting, cement bench seizes more than half my riding space. But I’m unfazed. I’ve done it countless times since my high school glory days.
However, balancing inside this tight passageway is tricky, a real crapshoot. And truthfully, I’m not nearly as agile and steady-on-my-feet as I was before 2006, before brain surgery.
In an instant, all five physical senses switch on to high-alert and become acutely aware of the close proximity to the bordering busy street. Code red.
Suddenly, my cock-eyed confidence collapses into breath-holding fear.
I lose total control.
Instantly, I go flying off the bike and am rocketed into the busy intersection. Crash-landing face-first, my chin takes the entire brunt of the fall and smashes into the burning asphalt. My head then ricochets off the road and comes hurtling back down onto the left side of the face.
I lay there motionless.
Time crawls in slow motion. I hear the eerie sound of bones cracking and feel the internal shrill of my skull vibrating. Sprawled out flat on the road, my eyes open tentatively to the devastating aftermath. Tiny fragments of what appear to be teeth float in a large puddle of blood.
Oh shit. Are those my teeth?
I run my tongue over the jagged ridges of what used to be my trademark overbite trying to ascertain how many teeth are gone.
Should I edge over there and pick them up?
The thought crosses my mind and quickly disappears. My listless brain suddenly rouses out of its stupor to assess the damage. Am I alive? How did I get here?
I hear a voice.
Fuelled by adrenaline and raw instinct, I slither out of the road and drag my body to the sidewalk. Tiny cuts open up and down my limbs as I slink across the rugged asphalt. I don’t feel it, though. Arriving to my destination, the sidewalk, I collapse onto my back exhausted and surrender to fate—to whatever comes next.

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A self-proclaimed dynamo, local author Darah Zeledon is the the devoted mom of five and wife of one.

When she’s not mothering or “wife‐ing,” she’s many other things: an accomplished author, inspiring speaker, motivational coach and humanitarian.

Known throughout social media as the Warrior Mom, Darah’s completely fluent in Spanish, holds a B.S. in psychology, M.A. in international relations, and is a Certified Life & Success Coach (CLC, CPSC).

A powerful speaker, Darah shares her riveting story of faith and tragedy to triumph authentically and with passion.

She adeptly weaves her Pearls of Wisdom into her compelling new book, Girl with the Crooked Smile – Stuck in a Moment and through her signature story-telling style, demonstrates how these coping tools can help you can emerge stronger, more confident, and more resilient after overcoming hardship.

Depending on her mood de jour, you’ll usually find Darah swinging wildly between the frivolous and the philosophical.

From the Author
I have poured my heart and soul into this book–oftentimes to the blatant disregard of all else–and have exposed my darkest, most discombobulated thoughts because I wholeheartedly believe the higher purpose is that important.

If you take anything away from reading this book, I hope it is this: In this life there is no choice but to confront adversity head-on with courage, confident that eventually, time will march you out of it.


“With her hard-earned pearls of wisdom, Darah teaches you how to swap out self-pity and the woe-is-me mentality for a sexy combo of self-confidence, unbounded passion and fearless living. She’s sassy, feisty, and relentless in her drive to inspire others!”
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