Posted in Life is too short, Living Life As I See Fit, long over due

My Struggle with Pleasing Others and What I Have Learned

Pleasing others brings a lot of anxiety to person’s life and impacts a person’s life significantly.  I know because I have been there – sometimes, I am still there.  Trying to please others forces one to sacrifice their own happiness.

I am not sure when I started basing my life’s choices around what I perceived others wanted from me but it is safe to say; I did it for too long.  As a result, people took advantage of me and I let them. I let them think it was okay to place heavy burdens on me, to take care of everyone but not myself, to consider their happiness over mine or to worry about how my choices affected them.  I made choices based on what others (especially family) would approve of and in the end, I suffered more than anyone else.

I let people take advantage of me because they always did.  I let them treat me badly because they always did. I let them place heavy responsibilities on me because they always did.  I made decisions in my life based on how it affected them because I always did.

I apologized for every thing; even when I knew it damn well wasn’t my fault. I did it to avoid disagreement or to make others happy. Or maybe, I thought my disagreement wasn’t important.  I swallowed my pride for too many reasons and let others be right even if they were hurting me.  Sometimes, I let people hurt me and then blame me even it clearly wasn’t my fault.  I never said “no,” because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.

I held on to my own mistakes and I analyzed them over and over thinking about what I could have done differently or what other options there were.  I allowed myself to get hurt so others wouldn’t.   I was made to feel selfish when I tried to do or think about what was best for me.  I held on to relationships that weren’t fulfilling my life – again, in the name of pleasing others.  I needed approval and I didn’t always feel like I was enough – for others, for God, and even myself.

While I was always there for everyone, I was bearing my burdens alone. The people whose feelings I was concerned with or who I continually was there for were not there for me.  I stood alone and I continue to.  Mostly because I didn’t trust them because of how often/much they hurt me and how they took full advantage of me. Anytime they hurt me, they placed the blame on me so hence, you can see how I became a people pleaser – for so long and to my detriment.

You see a pattern here?

The one person in my life who I knew I could rely on no matter what is gone. I miss my mom in a way that words cannot express.  But I put up with so much from so many people because of my love for her. But she is gone and I can’t be the person I used to be or the person I thought she expected me to be. I can’t. I refuse. But for her, I forgive, but I am not forgetting or allowing myself to get hurt ever again.

It has taken a lot of soul searching and a whole lot of tears over the past year, and counseling over the past few years.  But I am learning it is okay to make myself happy, that I matter too, and it is okay to not care what others think of me or my choices, and that I can think of myself and not base my decisions on how it affect other people.

I used to think that getting away from people pleasing meant simply doing my own thing.  And I have done that – whatever I feel like doing, whenever I feel like doing it, and with no regard for how it affects others (except the people that actually matter).  But there is more to it than that.

The people pleasing habit doesn’t just disappear.  It nags at you. But you have learn to fight the feelings.  And trying to fight it makes you angry – at the world, at loved ones, at the very people who you tried to please and at yourself for allowing this and putting your needs on hold.

It has taken a lot of work and a lot of distance from people who don’t understand the burden they placed on me for so long to be okay with not making everyone happy and seek out my own happiness.  And they have hurt me. They just don’t get it or even see that. They blame me and I accept that because I cannot control how anyone feels. But I can’t continue to sacrifice myself in the name of acceptance.

I am learning to trust in myself, my faith, and in the Almighty as I learn to face my life on my own terms and that involves keeping my distance from certain people – people who for someone reason are yet to figure out, I need to lead a present and perhaps long journey on my own.  And I don’t know for how long. It is for however long it takes.

I am taking responsibility for what is mine, what I deserve and what makes me truly happy.  And for the first time in a long time, I am happy and I won’t apologize for that.  It takes a lot of courage to stop thinking we have to fix everyone else’s issues and prioritize ourselves.  And that is not selfishness.  It is strength.

I am learning to love myself – something I have was not able to do in the past.  I am learning to feel enough – for myself, for God and the people that truly matter – my kids.

Once upon a time, I didn’t have the ability to make my own choices, but I do now. I can and I will.  And I get that upsets people, leaves them behind and makes them worry about how it affects them. But it is not about them.  It is about me. For once – it is about me.  It never was before. But now it is.  I got too old to worry about how my choices affected everyone else. I am making my choices based on how they affect me.

Taking back control of my life is motivating. It has allowed me to genuinely love and care for the people that truly matter.  Healing is not 100% here, but I am getting there. And for now, it is enough.  But I am not looking back. I can’t and I am not sorry.   I am living my life as I see fit and holding true to the title of this blog.

Posted in Life in general, Life is too short, Living Life As I See Fit

Realize Your Worth and Potential and Don’t Look Back

I am always amazed at the strength of women who walk away from situations that aren’t good for them or make them unhappy.  Like so many, I have been there.

But there are women who stay. We cannot force them to leave.  We can only hope and pray they can see the infinite potential they have to find their own happiness.

I don’t stay. I walk away because I know my potential and self-worth.

The moment you realize your self-worth, it is amazing and priceless.

Anytime I have questioned my circumstances, I knew something had to change. Whether it is a job, a city, or people, even if it’s family.  I can’t stay in situations that hold me back or that are unfulfilling.

I have tried to wait for situations to get better. I have pretended to be happy. I have questioned whether I could leave.  But all these things were indicators that I should leave certain situations and relationships.

I was tired and defeated and resentful.  I had given my power to others and I was unhappy.   I sought help from professionals and friends on dealing with specific situations that caused me anxiety and the reasons and people for them.

I was tired of giving more than I had to give in to many of my relationships and feeling like I didn’t get enough back.

I wanted to smile and laugh again. I was tired of being sad all the time. The stress was overwhelming and the hurt was too much.

One day, the universe forced my hand.  It was time to move on and I found my strength.  I was the only one holding me back. I had to believe I was enough.  And yes, I was afraid of the aftermath. I still am, but I refuse to give control of my life and happiness to others.

I am no longer angry or resentful. I picked myself and found the courage to believe in myself.  I am strong and I will survive on my own terms and with the people I want in my life.

The person I was before was weak. She let others determine her happiness and self-worth.  She didn’t feel enough for herself, for God, for love and at most relationships in her life.

I wanted to live my life without fear and without the expectations of others. I wanted to feel joy and passion and for the first in my life, I am feeling just that. And it took leaving people behind that were holding me back.

Happiness found me because I choose be unconditionally happy and not allow people back in my life who expected me to live my life on their terms.

For all the amazing ladies out there, I hope you find the strength and the courage to live your life joyfully. I hope you can feel worthy and breathe freely and I hope you never look back. I hope you feel enough and loved.

Because happiness and freedom from others’ expectations is the best feeling the world and I have no intention of ever feeling differently again.

Posted in Life is too short, Living Life As I See Fit, Motherhood, single mom

Letter to the Single Mom on Keeping It Together…You Don’t Have To

Dear Single Mom:

Most of us didn’t choose to be single moms but it happened.  Either because someone walked away, broke vows, and/or physically harmed us.  No matter how we got here, we never dreamed of being single moms when we were little girls.

I didn’t choose this.  I envisioned marrying the right person and staying happily married forever. But I ended up doing it alone and often muddling along trying to figure it out.

Like so many of you, I have found myself at my breaking point at times so I am not going to tell you have to enjoy every minute of this chaos. You don’t have to and it is not for me to tell you it could get easier, but sometimes, it does, and sometimes, it doesn’t.  I am not even going to tell you to hold it together because I already know you can.  I also know there are times when you can’t.

You put on a happy face even when feels like you have nothing left to give.  Guess what! You are allowed to crumble. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to curse.  And you are even allowed to scream.  Not all the time, but sometimes, and just for a little while.

You are allowed to be stressed about making the rent on time, especially after that unexpected car repair bill or the month when the daycare bill is higher because school is out of session.  You are allowed to feel sad when all you want is a break from the world.  You are allowed to feel like you need a break from your kids – the very kids you love more than your own life.

The truth is moms – whether we are single moms or not –all fall apart sometimes.  Even when we try our best not to.   There are times when no matter how much we are trying to hold it together, it seems we are falling harder.  So, we have to let go.  We have to feel pain and fear and let go of expectations.

When your teenager is driving you insane for no reason at all. When your seven year old is throwing a fit because his father didn’t show.  When your family or friends are mad because you can’t spend time with them due to working two jobs. When your job needs you and you don’t have childcare for your sick child.  It is okay to fall apart.

Stop telling yourself you will push through, that you have to be stronger, that you shouldn’t cry, that you are not trying hard enough, or that you somehow are required to make it work.   Stop demanding such high expectations of yourself.  You are only human.  Sometimes, everything is a mess and you are trapped in a place you can’t escape and there is not a damn thing you can do about it.

Sometimes, you handle stress by smoking or drinking an extra glass of wine.   Other times, you handle stress in ways that don’t make sense to anyone but you.  It is okay.

I have been there and I get it.  Sometimes, I can’t seem to get a minute, an hour, a day, or even a week that is going right. Everything seems so impossible.  Today is one of those days for me. My mind is full and my heart is empty.

Ladies, motherhood is not for the weak and all the things that go with it, come in waves and sometimes, those waves crash harder than you ever expected.  And single motherhood – that is a whole new level of intensity.  You are alone to bear the burden of the battered shore.   So, go ahead, crumble, fall apart and feel your pain.  You will still be there in tact when the storm is over – I promise you that.

You don’t have to hold on to that pain or hide it.  Allow yourself to fall as far as you can even if it is the bottom of a f*cking bottomless pit.  Sometimes, we get so tied down doing everything for everyone and considering everyone’s feelings that we forget we are human.  We forget we are allowed to feel things and fall apart because we are trying to hold everyone else up. Meanwhile, no one is holding us up.

The thing about single mothers is that we have learned to stand successfully on our own two feet but so often, we stand alone.  But having to be Mom and Dad to our kids doesn’t mean we have to be perfect.  We are allowed to cry, break, crumble or wish we were anywhere but here.  It is okay to fall and fail and learn from our mistakes.  Because if we don’t do just that, we can’t move forward.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and the longer you do this, it gets easier to deal with the stress and frustration.  And there are still good moments even while you are struggling to find your footing.

My living room floor is often impossible to find because of all the toys that often inhabit it.  I have stepped on Legos and I found myself uttering four letter words. I have been awoken from deep sleep by a crying child and I have been thrown up on and pooped on.  And I have been told by a teenager that I know nothing or that he hates me.  But I keep going and when I can’t keep going, I break down.

There is clothes in my closet that I’d like to fit me again but that probably won’t happen because my hips are proof I gave life to my children.  And I can’t let that worry consume me when I am trying to raise my boys right and while I am trying to make ends meet.  In my home, there is yelling, fighting, crying and losing it all before 8 am.  I have cleaned up drawings off the walls of my modest home and I have done it hyped up one at least on pot of coffee – and with creamer that isn’t even fat-free.

My bed is soft and comfortable but it isn’t mine alone. I often wake up to a foot in my face – or in my back or my neck.  There is curiosity the minute we walk in the front door and rebellion more often than I want to believe. Exhaustion is my normal but it is also a reminder of all the gifts in of my life.

There are often smudged windows and stray socks and shoes no one can find. New clothes and shoes, haircuts, and loose teeth are a reminder they are healthy and continue to grow.  It is disbelief and pride all in one.

I am overwhelmed and unhinged especially between the dandelions I receive and the mud on my kitchen floor.  My life is tiring and complex but it is where it is supposed to be.  And the meltdowns are plenty and allowed.

I know it is okay to let the rain fall and allow the storm to pass.  Sometimes, you just have to crash and burn so you can rise from the flames.  You will come out better, stronger and more appreciative of your loved ones.

To every single mother trying to keep it together, you don’t always have to.


Another single mom just trying

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

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

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 in general, Life is too short, Motherhood

I know what is next – at least what I want next to be

WhatsNext_logoI have been away from this blog – not too long but long enough. I have been busy working on several projects including my full-time legal job, my freelance articles, and my book and just life in general. And life is going well and I have been handling and managing life pretty well. At my last appointment with my therapist, we again talked about what was next in my life and I decided that were four things in my life that were important right now and that I was putting my attention to.

My Book

The first of the four items on my “what’s next” list is finishing my book and it is something I am excited about. My plan was to have a draft by the end of September but it did not happen and it has not happened yet. There are a lot of fillers that still need to go into it and I am not rushing it. I did finally decide on a working title. I am thinking of calling it “The Devil You Know.” Of course, I have left you now intrigued about my book and what it is about so I will give you some idea.

A womanizer is killed and after his murder, things start to come out about his past. Things start to come out about his killer too, but we don’t find out who the killer is until the very end.  The difference between the womanizer and the killer is that the womanizer is who he is.  There are two sides to him, the hardworking and generous side and the womanizing side and he has never hidden that. The killer, on the other hand, is someone he knows very well, and no one knows what person’s agenda was or is. No one knows this person’s background, this person’s intentions or actions. And while many suspect this person, they cannot place this person as the killer.  There is more to the story but that it is the main focus and my theme throughout the book is “Trust the devil you know, not the one you don’t know.”

I am really excited about it but it is still a project in the making. I have set up a new deadline for the end of the year for finding a publisher but I understand my timeline is subject to change. I am perfectionist. If I am going to write a book, it is going to be a great book. Plus, I am starting to think about my next book, a humorous book about single parenting.

A House

Item two is purchasing a home. This is one I have been thinking about lately. I am a homebody and I like stability in my life and in order to feel secure about my residence, I want it to be mine. Granted, I am a single mom and buying a home might be difficult but it is on my to-do list of things that I need to do to create stability in my life and my children’s lives.  I am hoping to have this goal completed before the next school year starts but I am open-minded, flexible and above-all realistic.  It is a goal that I hope to achieve sooner than later but I also like to plan and I know that everything happens in due time.

My Writing Career versus My Legal Career

My writing career and my legal career are aspects of my life that I think about often. I am a good writer and a good legal assistant.

Currently, I am vying for a promotion and I am hopeful that I will get it.  I also have thought up scenarios in my head about the possibility of them not picking me. I know that I will be upset because I am the most qualified candidate but I have also told myself that if it isn’t me, there will be a next time. I could be angry but the worst thing that could come out of this scenario is that I would be right back where I started.  While I would like more, it is still better than the alternative.

As far as my writing career, I write freelance articles for Alliance Health and I will write freelance articles for others who ask. I also maintain this blog, a chronic illness blog, a review blog, and a single mom blog. I am a busy lady and I jump at every opportunity to write.  Don’t worry; I am not as swamped as you think I am. I love writing and it is therapeutic.  When I am not writing, I am reading. It is just who I am and I am constantly trying to improve myself.

As you can see, I am a very hard working and I have a very good work ethic – oh wait, this isn’t an interview but I am so ready for the interview. But you get the point. I am happy with where I stand on my legal career and my writing career. I have come a long ways and I have grown both professionally and academically.

Where I Stand on Love

Relationships have been a struggle for me and I have had my share of failed ones.  I just know that I am better for the choices I have had to make. I tried to stay in my marriage and I tried my damned hardest but at the end of the day, my hardest just wasn’t enough. I have developed a new attitude about my experiences. I have changed and I am not the person I used to be. I have learned from my mistakes and I am better for this. I no longer have regrets and the past is where it should be – long behind me. I have lived, I have loved and I have moved on.

My perspective on who I should be and who I should be with has changed. The hardest lesson I have learned is that I should not be with anyone simply to get approval or to fulfill someone else’s agenda. I am human and I deserve to be with someone who loves me for who I am and doesn’t want to change me. I have been with men and I have had friends who wanted to change me because what I was wasn’t enough for them.

I have learned that I have to be enough for me first and if someone wants to love me, what I have to offer should be enough. I refuse to change for anyone even if that person says they love me. Right now, I am happy with it just being my kids and me. It does not, however, mean that I am not open to finding love. I am just okay with being alone right now and this is an important revelation for me. I am glad that I am content with who I am, who I have become and mostly, how much I have grown as a person, as a mother, and as a professional.  And I need someone to love me for who I am and what I have to offer, not for who they can change me into. I am done changing and I am finally accepting me.

Where I Stand Period

The truth is, and I am no longer embarrassed to say this, it took a lot of therapy to get to a place of contention.  Yes, I know I have flaws and either I change them or I accept them but I am not going to let them consume my life or make me dislike myself. Moreover, I am not going to let anyone make me feel bad about who I am or the choices I have made – not anymore.  Good riddance to those people because they are no longer in my life.

Posted in Life is too short, Living Life As I See Fit

Life Happens to You While You Are Busy Making Other Plans

The title of this post is a John Lennon quote and it has described my life for a quite sometime.  I am always making plans and my plans always change.  I manage to swerve when life throws me curves and I dodge curveballs but it does mean that I don’t get hit once in awhile.  I just know that even my best laid plans can fail and I have to learn to accept that and deal with the cards I have been dealt with.

That was Then

A little over four years ago, I had been planning on taking my law school entrance exam so that I could go to law school.  I had also just started a new job after moving back to my hometown and getting married.   After making arrangements to take the preparation course, I found out I was pregnant so I decided that law school would be put on hold until the baby was at least two years old.  I also decided that after the baby was about six months, I could take my law school entrance exam and then look into law schools that I would be able to start in a year or so.  I had it all planned out.

A few days after the birth of my son, I awoke up to the inability to walk.  My entire body felt swelled and at the time, I assumed it was some kind of post-postpartum infection that antibiotics would cure.  The day that my doctor uttered the words, “rheumatoid arthritis,” I knew that my plans changed and this time the change wasn’t good.  My diagnosis left me to wonder who I was now that RA had invaded my life, a life that involved running many different directions. That was three years ago.   A few months later, fibromyalgia came into my life and I wondered at that point how much worse it would get.

I don’t know when my awakening came but at some point, I realized that I had to accept these new changes in my life and start making lifestyle changes to deal with many new challenges.  To me, this was a loss and I recognized that regardless of how stressed and depressed I was feeling, I had to move forward.  RA and fibro – they brought shock and anger to my busy life and they sent me to a screeching halt.   Once I accepted that they were here to stay, I found away to live with them.  I had to accept them, I had to be positive and I had to make new plans.

My new plans involved making more time myself and my kids, changing my educational pursuits, and taking on a different type of advocacy work to help me to feel like I was making a difference.  I stopped worrying about all the time I used to make for others and learning to prioritize my home and my kids.  I decided law school was out of the question and instead focused on my master’s in legal studies.  I also, rather than doing volunteer work that required my physical attendance, started advocating online for arthritis and fibromyalgia.  What I learned as my life changed was that my plans didn’t have to change, the timing and the path did.

This is Now

This past November, my entire family was thrown a big nasty curveball and it was something we could have never anticipated.  A month later we lost my 31 year old brother to a rare form of stomach cancer caused by asbestos exposure.  We had no answers, just questions and many that remain unanswered months later.  My brother’s illness and death is something that I have not really come to terms with yet in particular because of the cancer that killed him.  I have had many people contacting me to talk about my family’s story or to guest blog about asbestos related cancers and I am not there yet.  I have also thought about advocating for families dealing with what my family went through and I am not there yet either.  I am not sure if I will ever be.  Grieving is a process that takes many months and even years to deal with.  It took me nearly 15 years to stop missing my dad and only to lose my brother when I finally stopped grieving for Dad.  Sometimes, I look at my brother’s picture and I see his sweet smile and it makes me feel safe when I feel most insecure.  I was his big sis and when we were growing up, I protected him, and I wanted to protect him when he was sick and dying, and I hated that I couldn’t.  All I can do now is to hold on to his memory and live my life as he would want me to.   He was the kind of person who was content with what life handed him and in his memory, I can learn to be content with life hands me.

Shortly after my brother’s passing, I was thrown another curveball that I had to deal with it regardless of how weak I was feeling.  This curveball was one that was long overdue and it sent me to a screeching halt while my brother’s death was still new.  I also moved to a new place and was offered a new job.  All this change in my life all at once and I don’t know how to respond.  I asked a couple important people in my life for advice and they both told to take it has a blessing.   Both told me that while I may not realize it now, everything is falling into place and that is going to get better for me.  I hope so especially since I gave my notice to my current job today.  This new job is more in line with my career goals and objectives and it is a very welcome change. I am not complaining but I am being a party pooper while everyone is congratulating me.  I think I am mostly worried about RA and fibro being a damper.  Otherwise, I am very happy for this opportunity and if I did not have a nasty sinus headache, I would be much happier.

I am scared.  I am nervous and I am worried about this change but I am leaning to God to help me get through all these things so that I can just look at them as stepping stones on this journey I call my life.  I know change involves a lot of control over my responses rather than control over those situations since I can’t really have that.  I worry about how much has been thrust into my life all at once but I have also noticed that change is generally thrown at me in this fashion.  I think it is God’s way of saying, “You get to take it all in at once because I know that you are capable.”   I consider that a compliment.

I assume that the two most recent events in my life are positive and if not, I must choose a positive attitude.  Embracing change forces us to get to work on whatever has come our way and resisting it only creates further problems.  The irony of making a choose to embrace change, whether good or bad, means that we are changed as a result, and all these other little things after my brother’s death, they are hills compared to the change that his loss brought to my life.  His loss and dealing with it is like climbing Mount Everest.

All of this change is challenging my inner security in particular because I am making this change alone and I am not ready to talk about why.  I do have others in my life that I can lean on through this including my mother, my older sister, and my friends.   I am not alone and I know that because I recently found that out.  For a long time, and even with RA and fibro, I let others lean on me, and until I needed my friends and family to lean on, I didn’t realize how much support I had all along.  So, thanks John Lennon for the reminder, “Life Happens to You While You Are Busy Making Other Plans,” and it certainly has.  I also changed the header of my blog to reflect my life and the changes that I have recently come across.  It is my way of saying, “bring it on.”

I am preparing a book review for Karen Ager’s book, Enemy Within.  It should be up Friday.  It is Karen’s autobiography about life with rheumatoid arthritis and it is a rather extraordinary story. You will like it, I promise.

Posted in Life in general, Life is too short, Living Life As I See Fit

Personal Growth and Happiness

Personal growth is the most important thing for any individual to do before they can move forward with their lives.  It comes when we realize that our goals and our priorities have changed and when they have an adverse effect on inner selves and attitudes.  As humans, we are fortunate to have natural strengths and, while not always fortunate, we have natural weaknesses as well.  It is part of our inherent personal make-up and it determines how we succeed and why we fail.

In recent months, I have seen a different side of me and what has important to me to has changed because of recent events in my life.  I have learned that I am the only person that can determine my successes and my failures.  Some of that is inherent in my personality and some in my actions.  For a long time, I was hung up on what success meant to others in my life without being fully aware of what was important to me.  While it is normal to feel that way for any of us, my recent losses have forced me to see what is truly important versus what I has learned to believe is important.

We have influences (whether they are people, events, or other influencing factors) in our lives that determine basic values even when our values are different to start with.  I have spent way too much time and effort trying to meet somebody else’s (this someday else is something metaphorical rather than a real person) idea of success all while ignoring the little messages from own psyche, I have become exhausted and unhappy.   However, I have also had plenty of time to think and reflect upon my life in recent weeks and I realize that there is a lot I need to do to find personal success, to put my mind at ease and to actually be happy.

I am not sure when I realized that I was unhappy but my brother’s death was a rude awakening.  I have learned the hard way that happiness is choice that only I can make.   It is also something I have to create for myself and in order to do that, I have to look within myself to find that. Finding happiness is a personal responsibility and it has taken me a really long time to realize that.

And this is what I have realized:

  • No one hurts us; we hurt ourselves.  Moreover, we have to be hurt by others to realize our own mistakes and faults and to see that those things are just life’s lessons.
  • We all face challenges and difficulties that we have to work though or around but our courage, patience and our strength are the sources of our happiness and not the circumstance.
  • Sorrow and pain are part of life and neither is anything new because it is something that people deal with at various points of their lives.  Regardless of the trial we have been handed, we need to be adult enough to move forward and take responsibility for our lives to get through whatever it is we need to get through in order to move on.
  • It is important never to give up and acknowledge that sometimes, our best laid plans have to change in order to be happy.   If something is not working out the way we need it to, then we need to change the course we are on to make it happen rather than make the choice to be unhappy.
  • Pretending to be happy is a mistake as is forcing yourself to be happy.  We all need to find some emotional balance in our lives and that involves taking a look at our lives and our circumstances.  We should also look inside ourselves to ask why we are not happy, what things are hindering our happiness, and what it is we can do to actually be happy.
  • Often, one of the most common reasons we are not happy is because we refuse to leave the past behind.  I think that I have spent too much looking in the past that I have forgotten about the present.  I need to do what makes me happy today rather than what made me unhappy yesterday or what I think I will make me happy tomorrow.
  • It is important to trust God and trust yourself. I have put my trust in God and I have learned that through him I can trust myself.
  • Happiness can only come if I am willing to believe in it. I am making it a goal to be happy and to appreciate all the blessings in my life.    I am starting to see how I need to be aware of myself and my inner self, my motives, my values, my decisions and even my responses and reactions.

My personal growth journey is about making a choice to be happy.  I am willing to be the best that I can be at any and every given moment.  I am choosing to be happy.  I still have along way on the journey I am currently on but I am getting there and a month from now, you will see a different side of me.  I also will discuss what choices I have made to get there.

Posted in blessings, Life is too short, Living Life As I See Fit, Tough Choices

Personal Self Maintenance is Part of Change

What if you could go back in time and change things you did or did not do? Would you undo things or decisions or even relationships? Do you think that you would have been happier, satisfied, and at peace if you had made different choices?   These are questions I have pondered upon in the recent weeks.  I think human nature is always to never really be satisfied and we constantly ask “what if?”  Mistakes we make have a tendency to lead us down different routes in our lives.  Sometimes, there is a downfall to those mistakes and sometimes there is an upside.  When it comes to the downfalls, all we can is make the best out of a current situation or work to somehow change it.

I am not the same person I was before my brother’s illness and death.  Actually, none of my siblings are nor is my mother.  I have looked at two important aspects of my life that I need to change that I am working towards: my relationship with my family and my relationship with God.  I did not have a relationship with my brother prior to his getting sick and that eats away at my soul.  I have learned that life is too short and that we need to hold the ones we love close because we never know when they can be taken away from us.  We should make memories with those we love and remind them often how much they mean to us.

My siblings and my mom have a better relationship with God than I do and that relationship helps help get through everyday now that my brother is gone.  For me, my relationship God is still a work in progress.  I am getting there and lately, I have been handed obstacle over obstacle and I have sought guidance and patience from God daily.  God’s guidance and support isn’t always easy to figure out but it is always there with us every step of the way with us as we venture.

I am strong but unfortunately, I made the choice to be strong while everyone around me was falling apart.  For some reason, I believed that someone had to hold everyone together through my brother’s illness and when and after he passed.  I should have fallen apart like everyone else and I didn’t.  In recent weeks, I have found out the effect that not going through the emotions has had on me.   It has been hard and I am pulling though like I always do.  I am just trying to figure who I am now and it is hard when I am being handed one obstacle after the next.  Is this that who I am?  A person who handles and endures regardless of the obstacle?  Is that the lesson – I don’t even know?

The time that I am currently taking is my personal maintenance time.   I am taking this time to overcome a variety of things and I am trying to move on without bitter feelings.   I know that no matter what I do I always wish that I handled things differently just like I am beating myself up about my brother’s illness, his death and the relationship I didn’t have with him until he became ill.  I visit his grave often and I tell him about these feelings and because I knew the kind of person he was, I know he understood that I was busy living my hectic life.  He would never fault me for that if he were still alive.

It is not just that I am grieving – it’s more.  When it comes to my feelings, I am an open book and not many people know how to express themselves like I do but when it comes to my past, I have a lot of secrets that no one in my life knows.  However, in recent weeks, I am getting reminders of a past that I have tried to suppress and forget for so long. Basically, bits and pieces of my past are coming out. I have been through a lot and I have tried for so long to hide what I have been through.  However, I figure the truth can only set me free and the past has more to do with what I have been through rather than what I have done. The actions of others who are throwing obstacles in front of me are reminders of a past I have tried to keep hidden.   I don’t want to play the blame game as to how to things came out because I know that I am better than that.  All I know is I have to overcome these obstacles regardless of how weak I am feeling right now.  Besides, they are just obstacles and obstacles are made for overcoming.

My past is in the past and I have control of today.  I have control of my happiness and my own destiny.  I can’t go back to yesterday and I can’t let yesterday hold me hostage. I know that I can’t go back and change the past and I wouldn’t even if I could.  My past made me strong but it also taught me not to trust.   Life is hard but the past is part of the past.  The future will be worse if I don’t let go of certain obstacles current and past in my life.  I have to learn from my mistakes and move on.

I am working on my personal maintenance in terms of the overall person I want to be.   Let’s look at it this way.  If your car is not running, you stop driving it and take it in for service.  If you air conditioner is not working well, you turn it off and clean the filters.  Nothing in life works without maintenance, repair and update.  We have to do these things to improve something and to extend its life.  Life is like that too and we need to look at ourselves and figure out where we are, where we want to be, what we can do to change about ourselves, and recommit to our values and morals.  Without personal self maintenance, we can get overwhelmed, burned and off track.

Everyday I am striving to be better and right now, I am dealing with many obstacles including some remaining aspects of my brother’s estate, my career, helping my mom and my younger brother (while they also helping me, of course), and my own personal responsibilities.   While all of this is overwhelming, I am looking at myself in a different light.  I am a different person than I was a few months ago and I am trying to find out who I am while I am going through these things.  With RA and Fibro came in my life nearly three years ago, I changed and now, I am changing again, and it never gets easier.  Change is always scary, isn’t it?

It may be a week or two before you see another post but it will come.  I have a lot happening right now and I am taking things one step at a time.  In addition to all these things, I am focusing on my personal self maintenance because I know it is just part of the change that is now apart of my life now and the change that about to come.  I am evolving and growing because life’s lessons will do that to you.


Posted in Life in general, Life is too short, Tough Choices

Dodging those curveballs

For the past few months, it feels like I have been either dodging curveballs or getting hit with them.  For whatever reason, it seems like there is no end in sight.  I keep waiting another ball to drop or, rather, hit me.  Contrary to popular belief, I don’t really have it all together – I just pretty good at pretending I do.   When it comes to curveballs, the only warning I get is when they are about to hit me.

That is what my life has been for the last few months – curveball after curveball.  One day, it seemed like things were going along smoothly and all of a sudden, my family and I got hit by one heck of a curveball – my 31 year old brother’s cancer diagnosis.  It is the most unexpected thing that I could have anticipated.  I think, however, that my reactions from day one to now have really benefited me when it came to pulling through.  It really hasn’t been easy but years of dealing with smaller and sometimes big curveballs prepared me for this.

What I have learned is how we react makes all the difference and this when our true strengths make a difference.  We are entitled to embrace our feelings, have pity parties, turn to others for support and even move on but it is not something that happens overnight and it is not something we don’t have a hard time with.  I have tried really hard not to ask “why,” because, for one, God does not like us to ask, and two, I don’t really think it matters.  Of course, what happened to my family was unexpected.  I never anticipated that we would lose my brother; if anything, I worried about my mother.  Right now, we are still upset, angry, confused and even feel betrayed.

I recorded my major aspects at my blog that happened from the time I found out about the diagnosis until the present time so that I could actually remember it.  For the first two weeks after we lost my brother, it seemed like what had happened hadn’t really happened.   My first entry about my brother’s diagnosis was November 12 and I had just found a few days prior that my brother had stomach cancer. However, no one knew what kind it was and something told me it was a death sentence.  I am the most hopeful person in my family and I wanted to “abandon all hope” right away.  That should have told me something because I am a person who doesn’t easy give up.  I wanted to abandon all hope even though I knew better.  It wasn’t until his diagnosis finally hit me that I started to look for answers.

Two days before Thanksgiving, my brother’s diagnosis changed to peritoneal mesothelioma and that is when everything changed.  The day before Thanksgiving, he had a nearly nine hour surgery to remove the cancer.  He said only a few words with an hour after the surgery.  He said that he could not cough but he needed to and that he was in a lot of pain and those were the last words I heard him say.  The following day he was on a ventilator.  After the ventilator was removed, he was unable to speak and would write everything down so that we could communicate.  He said he was hungry and I insisted that he be able to eat and drink – at least liquids – even though the doctors disagreed but eventually I won.  But a couple days later, he back on the ventilator and we were told that he was not breathing on his own, and that a trache was necessary.  The trache was put in and he started to progress.  The plan was for him to go a rehab facility, get stronger, and then to either have a second surgery or get chemo.  It was after that that everything went downhill, he had infections that were not responding to antibiotics, his kidneys starting failing, his blood pressure fell, and then, on December 20, the cancer won.   It like a movie I play over in my head sometimes and the irony is how fast it all happened. You hear stories about people who get a year or two with their families but we never had an opportunity to rest from one curveball before the other hit.  We were at the hospital every evening and my sisters and I barely saw our kids for the majority of the time.  My mom spent every minute by his side praying for a miracle and watching the last 31 years of her life slip away.  Our lives were turned upside down and in the end, we had nothing to show for it. The hardest part is that we are forever changed and, if anything, it feels like we woke up older.

In less than two months, my brother was gone. The death certificate says that the immediate cause of death is “multiple organ failure,” as a consequence of the cancer.  It is so surreal even as we get close to a month since we lost him.  We always say that once someone dies, they are forever gone.  The truth is that they are not really gone.  They leave evidence behind that they were here – pictures, items that they owned and our memories so they in a way – they still exist or at least existed.  Everyday, as I deal with the aspects of my brother’s life – mostly financial affairs but some personal affairs – I find out things about him that I didn’t know and I also find out how loved he was and how many lives he touched.  He is one of those people whose loss is really unfortunate but God called him home and while hard, we accept that.

Life is definitely a challenge for all of us as we grieve but we can hold on to our memories of him.  This is one of those curveballs that we can’t easily get past. Generally, we get better at dealing with curveballs but this one was probably the hardest we have been hit and in a long time.  It has been fifteen and a half years since we lost Dad and we had a lot of time to grieve and grieving is like curveball after curveball.  You can’t easily get past the blow you have been given but with time, you learn to move on.  What have learned about curveballs is that, it is not really about winning.  It is about how you play the game regardless of the defeat.  Sometimes, the game is easier and other times, it is downright hard.  Lately, it seems like the game has been downright hard.

Posted in 2011, Life in general, Life is too short

A New Year


There is no question that I am still grieving but I am hoping that 2011 is a better year for all of us.  I have made so many new friends through blogging, Arthritis Connect, Fibromyalgia Connect, connections with my career, and even got in contact with old friends in 2010 and in that respect, it was a great year.  In 2011, I want to celebrate life and nothing more. Because I am a type A person, I have spent a lot of my life being competitive and I need to stop because I have learned how short life is.  In addition, finding my way back to my faith has shown me that the only things we take with us when our time comes are our good deeds and as a result, I want to be a better person. I thought that I was a good person but I am not so sure anymore.  

Being a better person means that I allow others to be better by helping them.  My successes have already come and it is time for others in my life to be successful.  I still have things on the “to-do list” but they are not immediate and many of those things can wait until my kids are older.  Right now, my priorities are with my mother and my children because they need me now and in 2011, my priorities will be about them and until they no longer need me, my priorities will continue to be about them.  

A lot has happened in the last couple months to my family and I am completely numb.  Once in a while, the tears will fall when I think of my brother but I spend my days in a trance wondering if everything that has happened is real.   For example, my brother worked as a security guard and sometimes, his assignments were in really bad neighborhoods.  I always worried that while I was listening to the morning news on the radio during my drive to work, I would hear something horrible, like he got shoot or he shoot someone. This morning, I almost started to think that, and then it occurred to me, he was already gone and the tears came.  I know eventually we will get used to a life without him but it never really gets easy.  In September, I realized that I stopped missing my dad and something I told me that I would end up missing someone else as a result. It is funny how life works like that.  

When it comes to being fragile or weak, I am not that.  The person that I am in stands strong like a small ship in a storm – broken, damaged, but still hanging on.  Sometimes, I hate that I am that way.  My older sister grieves by hiding from the world.  My mom falls apart when she is alone and my two younger sisters cry and show that they are hurting.    Me, I stand like that small ship in the storm holding on despite the pain and the hurt.  I keep going because I know that my life and the lives of many in my life depend on that and they need me to hold on so that they can hold on. I have a picture of my brother at my desk and sometimes, I feel him telling me that it is going to okay and that we will all get through and that helps too. I don’t have any regrets right now expect that I wish I had had a better relationship with him but as a friend told me, “you will be closer to him now than you ever were,” and I do believe that.  

Thank you for all the comments and kind words in recent weeks.  I have read your comments and they have helped me a lot.  I have not commented because I don’t always have the words.   Your words have really helped me be that small, yet strong, ship in the storm and I thank you for that.   

I am coming into 2011 forever changed.  At the end of 2010, I repaired a lot of bridges that I had burned in the past.  I made up with all the people in my life that I was angry with and the sad part was that it took my brother’s funeral to come to that impasse.  I know that tragedies like this change people but I wish that I had been a better person before so that I didn’t have all those bridges to repair. That is all behind me and now, I can focus on the future a changed person.  

Posted in 2011, Life is too short

What’s in Store for 2011: Let’s Celebrate Life

I generally do not set New Years Resolutions.  I think that we always have an opportunity to be better so the idea of planning to be better once a year makes very little sense to me.  For 2011, however, I am going to actually set some resolutions – realistic of course. I have no plans to announce to that I am going to lose weight, get more education, or run off to a mission in Africa.  While I would like to do all these things, they are not for announcement or for being realistic.  I would do these things without a resolution.

2010 is a Memory

When 2010 started, I was in a different place in my life, 2009 was a year of emotional growth for me and I changed because RA and FMS forced me to.  In 2009, I learned that I had to be honest and realistic with myself before I could be honest and realistic with anyone else in my life. In addition, I learned that life was too short and not everything was about me.  In 2010, my goal to focus on my health and my relationships and I did that. I chose to be optimistic and I choose to be better person.  In 2010, also started to do advocacy work and that changed me in more ways than I thought it would.  Moreover, I got my family’s financial situation under control and focused on getting my marriage back on track.  2010 made me a better person and I am grateful for lessons that I received throughout the past year.

How Things Quickly Change

As 2010 neared to an end and holidays approached, our lives quickly changed.  My brother’s cancer diagnosis came so fast that we didn’t have time to blink.   Less than two months later, he was gone and all of sudden, our lives were empty.  The last two months of my life are like a blur and while I documented my feelings and my experiences in my blog, what has happened hasn’t really registered.  I know that in time I will be able to open up and really remember but right now, I am still grieving and I am just trying to get through the sadness and the pain.

Sometimes, I watch my mother and I want to know what she is feeling.  I know she is hurting because the loss of a child is worst thing imaginable for a parent.  I want to reach out to her and help her grieve but I know she is grieving differently and in her own way, and she will talk when she is ready.  There is so much that we all have bottled up and in time, we will be able to open up.  Right now, my siblings and I have decided that the best thing we can do for Mom is to be there for her even if it is just a physical presence.

My brother was someone who was kind and considerate.  He put so many people’s needs ahead of his own including Mom and our younger brother, Kam who is now 19.  He was content with what life handed him and never dwelled on the circumstances.  The day before his surgery, he took Kam aside and told him that the only thing he wants from him is for him to live an honest life just like he had.   Even when he told he was terminal, he never once said that he didn’t want to die; he said that he accepted it and his only concern was Mom and Kam.  He wanted us to make sure that they were a priority in our lives and that they will be just as he asked us to do.  My brother lived his life with dignity and humility and because of that, he was loved by so many.  He also touched so many lives in his 31 years on this Earth and there are so many people whose lives are better because he was alive.  He was an example of what many of us should strive to be and his death has taught me that I can still strive to be better.

My Relationship With God

I grew up with God and religion as a part of my childhood.  My parents were religious and they taught us about God and our faith from the moment we were able to understand what they were saying.  God was a part of everything we did; we thanked God at every meal, we were taught now to pray, and we were taught to acknowledge God with everything we did. We were encouraged to seek God’s guidance when we found ourselves confused or struggling with something.  Despite that, I never really had a relationship with God.  I believed in God but I never really understood what kind of relationship I should have.  After my diagnoses with RA and FMS, I found so much power in prayer and seeking God’s guidance.  Even if I couldn’t find solutions, talking to God gave me a sense of security and it also eased the burden that I felt.

What I have learned in the past couple months is how strong God’s power is and what kind of relationship I should strive to have with God.  God wants the best for us but he also wants us to reach for the best.  He planted greatness in us and he wants us to fulfill that greatness.  God tells us that everything is possible if we believe in him but he wants us to take action. God doesn’t want us to look at job and financial success as important but rather to find goodness in ourselves.  These days, we are so busy with our lives and commitments that become distracted but God never gives up on us – we cannot say that about people or materialistic things.  God wants us to worship him in truth and in spirit and nothing makes him happier than his children trying to be closer to him.

I have gotten closer to God in 2010 and everyday I get closer to him.  Having a relationship in the past didn’t seem possible but I learned so many things in the past year and God has been there with throughout it all.  What I know about God is four things: (1) Gods loves us all and he has wonderful plans for us.  (2) All of us sin and our sins separate us from God.  That is a choice we make and not one that God wants for us.  He wants us to seek his forgiveness and learn the error of our ways.  (3) God allows us to repent and seek forgiveness and no one else offers us that.   In addition, seeking his guidance keeps us from erring in the future.  (4) We must accept God all on our own.  It is not something that anyone else can offer us.  It is a choice we make when we are ready.

God knows how long it has taken me to come to this crossroad but he also knows that I have learned so much through the tests he has handed me in the last couple years.  It is my time to embrace God and I am happy that I have God as a friend because his love is better than anything I could ask for.

In 2011, I am going to celebrate life

The hardest thing I did this year was say goodbye to my brother and it is probably the hardest thing I will have to do for a long time.  A family friend at the funeral told me that instead of mourning his death, we should celebrate his life.  For 2011, I want to celebrate life.  That means I have to stop trying to be the best at everything because competition is overrated.  I want to celebrate my life and the lives of those I love.  I want to be an all around better person and allow others to be better.

I plan on appreciating those I love so much more because I understand how short life is.  I want to be a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend.  I am also going to live life as I see fit and that means laughing more and crying less.  I am going to try to stop being so tough all time and let the tears fall if they may.  I have learned there is so much more to me than what I try to show to others because the real me isn’t just this strong and capable person, the real me is human.   She laughs and she cries.  She gets angry and she gets scared.  She falls apart when no one is watching and acts strong when everyone else is falling apart.

For 2011, I ask that each of you look at what matters most and love the people in your life that treat you right; forget about the ones that don’t.  Make wise choices, don’t have regrets and don’t take life and the people you love for granted.  Life isn’t easy  but it does not mean we can’t express love and enjoy life because we never know when it ends or when someone we love can be taken from us.

As I closed last year, “Happy New Year to all of my friends, family, and all of you that read my blog. God Bless each of you and your loved ones and may the New Year give us so much more to celebrate.”