What Are You Thankful For This Holiday Season?

Happy Thanksgiving

This marks the sixth year without my brother around for Thanksgiving.  Six years ago, on Thanksgiving, he was in a hospital after being diagnosed with cancer.  Less than a month later, we lost him.  I obviously don’t want you to start out your Thanksgiving with a grim story about my brother but be patient, I am about to share just how thankful I am for the last few years.

While I am miss my brother and I hate that this is the sixth Thanksgiving without him, I am grateful for everything that has happened since his death.

I am thankful because I knew someone so kind and wonderful.

I am thankful that I ended a bad marriage and learned to stand on my own two feet.

I am thankful for two very happy and healthy children.

I am thankful for my health, even though it is not as great as I would like it be. It is better than I expected after almost 8 years living with RA and fibromyalgia.

I am thankful to be employed at a job I love and to work for two great people.

I am thankful for the people that supported my emotional health after my brother died.

I am thankful for the wisdom I have gained over the past several years.

I am thankful to be turning 40 next month.

I am thankful that my mother is still around.

I am thankful for my belief in the Almighty.

I am thankful that there is still good in this world despite all the bad.

Mostly, I am thankful because my brother didn’t care for Thanksgiving and hated turkey, because it makes me smile at his memory.  Tomorrow, I am going to make a roast in his honor because that is what he would have eaten for Thanksgiving if he were alive.

I am also thankful for all of you! Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Please share all the things you are thankful for this holiday season.

Posted in Acceptance, Thankful Thursday, Thanksgiving | 1 Comment

As Real As I Can Be


My 40th birthday is coming up here real soon, about a month and a half away. The older I get, the more I see my life is something to be celebrated.  I triumphed through some of the most difficult circumstances and looking back, I am choosing not to have regrets.  I have tried to be a good mother, daughter, sibling and friend.  I have tried to be someone’s wife twice.  I have tried my best, and sometimes, my best wasn’t enough. And I accept that.

I am thankful that I am an imperfect woman.  I am not trying to be someone I am not. Not anymore. I am learning that I have to be real and I do that by being as real as I can be. I am who I am and I can’t change my experiences.  I can only look to the future and continue to do the best I can.

I am in an imperfect woman and I embrace that. I used to think that my imperfections were a bad thing, but the older I get the more I realize that it is okay to imperfect.  Being imperfect means I try harder every single day to be a better version of myself.  And I continue to be a work in progress.

I am a mother, legal assistant, patient advocate, freelance writer and frustrated novelist. I am other things to other people but these are the things I am to myself.  I am a mother first and my kids are my world.  I wish I could have more kids or that my life had turned out different but it didn’t and I am learning to be okay with that.

There is no Prince Charming in my life because I don’t believe in princes and fairy tales. If there is a weird prince out there for me, he’s probably as confused as I am.  He is probably not going to ride in on his white horse because he’s probably stuck in a tree somewhere and I’ll have to rescue him when I least expect it. But that is fine because I am perfectly imperfect and he is in the same predicament.

Often I say I am tired of being in the business of saving people but I do it time and time again and there will always be someone to rescue.   Because that is how I am hardwired.  I am a sucker for people who need help.   And chances are, I will save Prince Imperfect from that tree without fire department assistance.

I don’t feel like I need rescuing but I wish someone would save me from spilling my coffee all over the living room carpet.  I do it more than once a week and I am constantly cleaning up my own mess.  Although, secretly I wish a shirtless Channing Tatum would clean the carpet for me while I put my feet up or take a nap.  Actually, he might as well wear a shirt.

I love to laugh and be silly and I have one heck of a wicked and crazy sense of humor.  I am straightforward person who has to bite her tongue because if I don’t, I piss a lot of people off. I don’t always trust and with good reason, and it takes a lot to trust for me.  So, if I ever trust you, please know how hard that is.  I am faithful and loyal and I continue to be even when I have been hurt, and I definitely keep secrets even for people who haven’t kept mine.

I am the person who leaves money in the parking meter for the next person, or puts money when I see someone’s parking meter is going low.  I am the person who stops to help when no one else does.  I try to be a good person in every aspect of my life but it isn’t always easy, considering life has forced me to wary.  But this me, as real as can be.

People think I hold grudges but I don’t. I walk away to protect myself from getting hurt again.  I burn bridges so I don’t cross them again.  I don’t look back.  When I have looked back, it has only cost me to get hurt again.  The older I get the less I choose to wear my heart on my sleeve.  I used to but it forced me to let people in who I wanted to believe wouldn’t hurt me.  I am learning that if people can only fool you twice; after that, you are a willing participant.

I see myself as nerdy.  I don’t wear glasses anymore.  It’s been contacts for the last two years but I am still a big ol’ geek.  I love reading and writing and visiting museums and places of history.  I love nature and all nature has to offer.  Fall is my favorite season and I keep telling people I am going to move some place warm but I know I will never leave Ohio.

I am not a morning person and I am usually grouchy until I have had my coffee.  I am grouchy when I am tired and when I am hungry.  I am driven and I work hard, but sometimes, I forget to stop and smell the roses, and I really wish someone would remind me to. I pride myself on how strong I am, but secretly, I wish someone else would take the lead.  I worry a lot and sometimes for no reason at all. But that is who I am, and I am as real as can be.

I have faith and I believe in God. God reminds me every day that everything is possible even when it seems impossible. I struggle with my faith and I worry that I am not enough for God and my faith.  I am learning that this one has a lot more to do with my experiences than anything else, and I am trying to be better and to let go of the past, and focus on the present and future.

I cry at the drop of a hat, even watching commercials on TV.  I stay away from the news, but when I don’t, there better be a full box of Kleenex nearby.   And because I am geeky, I watch science fiction shows and no matter how gruesome the Walking Dead is, I don’t miss an episode.  I love anything to do with the supernatural, zombies, werewolves, and especially vampires.  Sometimes, I wonder if some people are actually real life vampires.  Specific people, actually.  Yea, I have a wild imagination.

After a long, tiring day, sometimes, I just want to sit down and do nothing.  I think I am an awful cook and sometimes, I burn dinner, but sometimes I don’t.  Secretly, I am great cook, but I don’t have a lot of time on my hands so I tell people I can’t cook. Don’t tell anyone but I dream about being Rachel Ray. Sometimes, I am too tired to load the dishwasher but then I wake up in the middle of the night, and remember there is a sink full of dishes, and then, I get up to load the dishwasher.

I am notorious for second guessing myself and I wish there was someone to help me to stop.   But this is me, real and imperfect at the same time.  I will never be able to balance my check and I think that the banking industry has some conspiracy against those of us who lack basic accounting capabilities. I know it is not true but it makes me feel better to think it is.

I don’t always feel good enough for or that give enough in my relationships.  Mostly, I just want to be reminded that I am enough.  I am not perfect but I am as real as they come.  And here I am, embarking on the big 4-0.  Let’s see what 40 has in store for me.

Posted in Life is too short, Living Life As I See Fit, Motherhood | 10 Comments

Fibromyalgia Information: Nutritionist Resource

Nutritionist Resource is a UK based website that offers a vast amount of information and resources about nutrition. Despite its location, it is a valuable resource for everyone about all things nutrition without all the medical jargon.

I was contacted to share the site’s Fibromyalgia section with my readers.  Having written my own fibromyalgia lifestyle guide, I appreciate the vast amount of information available at Nutritionist Resource on fibromyalgia.  Of relevance is the sections on diet and how a nutritionist can help you.  Also, please take a look at the Share your story link, and take the time to share your experiences if you have worked with a nutritionist in the past or currently do. Check out the stories others have shared.

Other great topics on Nutritionist Resource include nutrition related to cancer, anemia, chronic fatigue, stress and women’s nutrition, to name a few.  Take a look at the recent news section for information on variety of nutrition topics, including food cravings, portion sizes, shopping lists, and so much more.   Last, don’t forget to check out the expert section of this site. It turned out to be one of my favorite sections, as I love hearing from people who either are living with health conditions and making healthy choices or those that work with others to help them create and manage a healthy lifestyle.

Overall, great resource for fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions.   And if you don’t know what nutritionists do, there is a FAQs page to here you out.

Posted in Website Review | Leave a comment

That was 21 years ago, and 2 husbands ago…

As I sit here on this rainy, cold, fall Saturday morning, I am thinking about where my life is now. And I realize something very important.  I am not the scared girl I was 21 years ago. I always had a rebellious side. I always wanted to be someone that I was told I couldn’t be but when it came down to it all, I did what was expected.  Do I regret doing what my family wanted? For a long time, I thought I did but for all the wrong turns my life, I am still right where I need to be.  See, if not for those obstacles, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today – strong, successful, determined, capable, and flexible but as stubborn as ever.

I have spent a lot of my life struggling to do what is expected of me especially when that is not what I wanted for my life. In hindsight, I never expected the lessons that came with life.  August would have been 21 years since I married my first husband. I sometimes I feel like the men I married took away 21 years of my life I can’t get back because neither marriage was good for me – especially for my emotional health. But then I remember what I got out of those marriages. I got my kids, and then, I realize that all my regrets don’t really matter.

At the time I was thinking about leaving my second husband, I was struggling with my chronic illness diagnoses, my brother’s illness, and then his death. Shortly after, my mother had a stroke and I was taking care of her. Then one day, I woke up and I realized how severely depressed I was. Depression was far worse than anything I had ever endured. It was lonely and scary, but somehow, though the grace of God, I made my way out of the darkest hole I had ever found myself in.  With therapy and medication, I find a part of me that for so long missing. The strong me – the “me” that hated defeat, that didn’t need acceptance, and the one that felt enough for herself and for God, and didn’t need to be for anyone else.

Sometimes, I would love to go back to a time when it was just me, young and not stuck in my life but seriously, that was 21 years ago and 2 husbands ago. I will never be that girl again and while looking back is bittersweet, I wouldn’t trade that girl for the woman am I today (although I wish I had her health).  I recently spoke to a former teacher of mine who was not the least bit surprised how much I have overcome.  He said that he always knew that I had it in me to rise above and make the best of difficult situations.  He reminded me that in the end I am still me, just all grown up and upgraded.

The truth is, I just took the long road to get to where I am today. I have struggled to get here and I have questioned myself, God, and my faith many times.  I still struggle, have setbacks where I second guess myself, and I still struggle with my God and my faith.  The only difference is I don’t struggle for as long. I don’t second guess myself as often, and I don’t let people get into my head. And while sometimes, I wonder where God is I still lean towards Him especially during hard times.  The reason that I have changed is because I have learned to know who I am, what I stand for, and mostly that I am enough.  I will never be the girl I was 21 years ago and 2 husbands ago and I accept that.

And for all the times I have wondered where God was when I struggled and fell, he was right there by my side lifting me up. How else would I have gotten up?  I don’t know what God sees in me but He sees something, and He has made me believe that everything is possible, especially when I believe in Him and myself.

I spent a lot of my life trying to be accepted by others. I have taken blame for things I didn’t do by simply not responding or defending myself.  I have forgiven even when I have been hurt so badly. I have learned that I have to forgive if I expect to be forgiven.  I have given people help that turned around and stabbed me in the back, or that forgot my constant kindness no matter how many times they hurt me.  In those moments, I question my choices and then I remember that the reason that I bounce back from setbacks is because of the person I am, and that is what God sees.  He sees me hurting, struggling, stumbling but trying even when I have nothing left to give.  But He also sees something in me that I don’t see. I don’t know what that is, but who am I to question the Almighty?

I am not the girl I was 21 years ago, or the woman I was 5 years ago.  Both were weak, self-sacrificing in the name of acceptance and thought that people cared about their tears. But I was sadly mistaken. The girl I once was grew up and while she is still willing to help others, she is cautious and no longer lets anyone in. She kept secrets for others, even though they didn’t keep hers.  The people she thought she could trust with her secrets reminded her that no one can be trusted, and that her secrets should be kept to herself.  She now bares little no resemblance to the girl from 21 years ago and 2 husbands ago.  She is gone and you know what, the woman she became, she is done looking behind her, and she is focusing on looking forward.  The past is the past for a reason, right?

Posted in Acceptance, Life in general, Motherhood, Tough Choices

A Little Update

I have not blogged here in a while. A few of you have emailed and asked if everything is okay.  I have been quite busy.  Things are going great and sometimes, I think when things are well, we have a tendency not to the sure the good stuff.

I did have a bad flare recently and I am still dealing with a recent sinus infection.  That is because my immune system really sucks.  This last one was a fibromyalgia muscle flare.  It was pure torture but like always, I bounce back stronger than ever.  But otherwise, everything is going well.

Career-wise, everything has been going well.  I have had well over 100 articles published and 4 treatment guides.  I am still working on my book but it is kind of half way there.  It would nice to land a publisher next year.  My job is going well and I really love it. I have a couple great bosses who respect my need for independence and it has worked out pretty well for all of us.

The boys are doing well.  My little one turned 7 today and is in 2nd grade now.  My teenager is a sophomore now and he is doing well in school.  He will getting his driver’s license soon.   The rough patches from last year are behind us.  Now, I can say he is a typical teenager.  My girls are doing well too and I talk to them often and I am grateful that they are back in my life. Hopefully, they will live close soon.

I am finally out of the hurdles that I dealt with towards the end of last year. For a while, it felt like I was drowning because of the choices I made, then I was barely staying above water, but I can finally say I am past that all.  I did what I always do – get up, dust myself off, and get down to business.  It was my mess and my choices, and I took responsibility to clean it up.

I have come to a point in my life where I am content with who I am and I am moving forward.  I still have some things I’d like to change but they are out of my control.  I have chosen to keep the toxicity out of my life and it has been good for me.  I choose to be kind even when I shouldn’t.  Mostly, it is because I am tired of conflict and also, because the stress is not good for me.

I look back at my life and my struggles, and they always circled around what I thought was expected of me.  I no longer care about what anyone thinks about me or my choices.  At the end of the day, I answer to the Highest Power, and I am choosing to make the best of this life He has given me. Every day, the Almighty shows me what a fighter and survivor I am.  I trust the Almighty because without Him, I wouldn’t be able to raise these two boys alone.  One day, they will be men and it won’t be because of everyone who thinks they are well meaning, it will be because God was by my side through it all.

Sometimes, I wonder why this world won’t leave me alone, and then I look at my kids, and nothing matters but them.  We all have anger but I wouldn’t be a good health advocate if I didn’t try to see past my own hurt and anger.  My late brother was always so happy.  He was always full of life, always smiling, laughing and singing. There wasn’t anything special about his life.  It was just the perspective he took.  I try to remember that when life gets me down.

And the only thing missing in my life will come soon enough.  I know what I want and need, and I know what is best for my kids and me.  I have had my entire adult life to figure it out.  And for once, I am choosing not to let anyone dictate my choices.

Thank you for those who have checked in.  You are in my thoughts and prayers as well.  You all are!

Posted in Life is too short

Who are any of us any way?

In grand scheme of life, who are any of us? We can only be the people that God intended us to be.  Even if that person is constantly trying to do right only to feel that that right is in vain.  People could stoop to the level of others or they can just walk away and sometimes, it is best to walk way. Because no matter what you have done right doesn’t compare to what is expected of you or what others perceive you as doing wrong.

I have always tried to compensate for not feeling adequate.  I have always tried to help others to the point of self-sacrifice only to my own detriment. I only can give what I can and then, when I have nothing left to give, I don’t know what people expect from me. I have risen to the challenge when others needed help and when no one else stepped up but somehow, those same people haven’t been there for me.  I have been wronged just like the next person. Unfortunately, how we view things or perceive them is our own downfall.  To be human is to expect so much more of others but it costs us.

I have gone through every possible scenario and in end, I realize that I don’t have to keep self-sacrificing if the result is always the same. No one else in my life has given as much as I have. They know this and I know this. I can only move forward and rely on God for the direction he takes me.

Who is anyone to judge someone else when they have not walked a mile in their shoes? I tried to understand another’s perspective and somehow, I fell short. In the end, all I can do is head in the direction that the Almighty intended me to.

I have learned that relationships are a two way street and that just because I am willing to forgive doesn’t mean others are as willing.  Just because I am trying not to burn bridges doesn’t mean anyone cares. I try so hard to just mind my business but ultimately, people every one of us has a choice.  We can accept people as they are or we can judge them harshly without realizing there is an even bigger judge out there.

On several occasions in my life, I have helped others and I have never asked for anything in return.  But at some point, I feel like I am deserving of the same support and good will.  I am not saying that I don’t make mistakes.  Who doesn’t? But I feel like every time I have made a mistake, I have been alienated for it but I don’t do the same. I quickly move forward from what has happened. And even I am honest and pure hearted, the same people don’t recognize that.  And what I have come to realize is that if you are different from others, standing by them when they desperately need support, is the only time they will recognize your worth.  The rest of the time you are not good enough.

There was a lady I worked with years ago.  Her name is Cheri, wonderful, sweet and kind lady who was terribly hurt by her family.  I didn’t understand why she allowed herself to be distant from them.  But what I understand now is that when the people who are closest to you continually let you down, you just give up expecting a different result.  I don’t expect a different result any more.  I expect more of the same.

I don’t expect anyone to be there for me, simply because I’d be there for them or because out of some kind of obligation.  I don’t any more. I just find peace knowing that no matter what I do acceptance will never happen and I am tired of trying.  Actually, I am okay with it.  The only person I can change is me. And if that doesn’t work for others, there is not a lot I can do.  I can only lean on the ones who accept me as I truly am, who don’t want to change me, or who don’t think they are better than me.   I just don’t care anymore and that is who I am, who I have become, and who I will continue to be. I can’t apologize for that and I can’t apologize for things I didn’t do in the name of acceptance.

Who are any of us any way? Let us not judge others when we have not walked in their shoes.  And as for me, in the words of Shakespeare:  “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”

Posted in Life in general | Tagged

Stop Being Selfless and Self-Sacrificing

Months ago, I was told I needed to be selfish and less selfless and self-sacrificing.  I took that advice to heart (although I was criticized by the same person for finally taking that perspective).  It took me a while but one day, I realized that it felt good to be selfish and put myself first once in a while.  I stopped caring about who my actions or feelings upset because I was not causing hurt to anyone.  I became happier because I wasn’t sacrificing myself in the process.  At first, putting myself first felt weird and it carried some guilt with it but with time, I realized that if I didn’t do it, people would continue to step all over me.

Now, my stress levels are down and well, people are unhappy.  But the fact is that they were unhappy before.  I thought that my catering to others, I was making them happy but all I got was hurt.  I catered to the point of my own unhappiness.

I thought by self-sacrificing meant being a good person and someone who helped others.  I sought acceptance of others, rather than self-acceptance, and that was hurting me more than anything.  I was tolerant of others and their faults, was afraid to be harsh because I hated that for myself and I stuck with others even when they weren’t there for me.  Moreover, I always suffered alone and shouldered my own burdens alone.  I never asked for help and I hated being fussed over.  I endured. I was patient.  I tolerated.  I was considerate, ethical, and honest. I was generous and was willing to give the shirt of my back and never waited to be asked. All for what reason? For acceptance? I self-sacrificed for acceptance?  Does that make any sense? Why did I do that? I don’t know anymore.

All of our lives, we have been told to give.  We are told to share since childhood. Our religions tell us to give others and we are told God loves us the more we give.  Every charity makes us feel so bad we feel we have to give.  Some of us have taken one message out of this – give until hurts and then some. Of course, giving isn’t wrong but if you are always giving and never receiving, then you are giving others permission to expect permanent things from you.  If you are always the one who continually forgives and always bending over backwards for others, you are sacrificing your own happiness in the process. After all, you are entitled to receive and put yourself first sometimes.

I am not saying to stop giving or helping or apologizing. I am saying stop being taken advantage of.  Stop being so selfless and self-sacrificing.  Step letting others step all over you until you have nothing left to give.  I am talking from experience – a whole lot of it!

We train people to take advantage of us and it has taken me most of my adult life and a whole lot of therapy to understand that.  If you are over-giving and people are not grateful, appreciative happy and caring towards you and expect more, then you have done all you can do and then some.  I have learned to the secret to knowing when you should and shouldn’t give is by listening to your heart, your body, your mind and your soul. If you are giving to manipulate, then that is not healthy and if you are giving for acceptance or second chances, that is just as bad. Your heart, mind, body and soul will speak for you when something doesn’t feel right so listen carefully.

When you feel overwhelmed about giving or you feel you have done all you can do, take a step back and observe the imbalance.  If you don’t like what you are seeing or feeling, get your courage on and change the situation.  You are responsible for your own life. Every adult is responsible for their own life and it is not your job to be selfless and self-sacrificing to fix or accommodate other adults.  For me, that understanding is a major breakthrough that actually feels really good.

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Posted in Acceptance, Experince, Life in general