A Promise to Me in 2019

Early in life, i set my eyes on goals that others had for me.

Achieving success on a path not mine caused great struggle and deep grief.

Days of trying to find my way when I felt so out of place.

Not seeing that what was missing was the beauty of God’s grace.

Too much time spent striving for approval when I needed my own love.

I realize now that what I sought could only be felt from the Lord above.

My heart completely shattered when others left me feeling abandoned.

Not realizing then what a precious gift lied in the freedom I’d been handed.

As time passed by, I started making choices that were my own.

And a path I could’ve never fathomed, God’s plan for me was shown.

The gifts I’d held so deep within were finally being exposed.

And when I felt most afraid, it was then that my inner strength arose.

I do not hold resentments for pain nor shame for past regrets.

For now I can see that all of my past was preparing me for a great test.

To be a loving, patient Mom who gives it all she has.

And share my vulnerabilities with the true love I’ve found, at last.

No matter what life throws our way, we all hold each other’s hearts.

And find a way to make it through even the toughest parts.

This kind of joy and peace cannot be sought or forced to appear.

It took the detours in our journeys to ultimately lead us here.

Enormous gratitude abounds, I thank God every day.

For giving me the pieces of my soul that were missing along the way.

If I could tell my younger self a secret to finding peace,

I’d tell her to be cautious with her catch and free with her release.

Those who belong in your circle somehow always find a way.

And being unconditionally loved beats an artificial circle any day.

In this new year, I vow to remain focused on hope and to have faith.

Remembering the gifts that I’ve received when patiently I’d wait.

The greatest challenge we often face is honoring the truth of our hearts.

While sharing our gifts with others, and giving our all, doing our part.

I’m learning that to guard my spirit is a necessary part of being alive,

Doing so doesn’t make me selfish…it’s something for which we should all strive.

Forgive me if my goals sound harsh, I’ve learned so much from pain.

I realize now it’s up to me to focus, and peace I must regain.

Giving is a blessing, a help to those who are in need.

But we must make sure first that our soul’s hunger we daily feed.

Moving forward, I will strive to love me more and preserve my energy.

Because at the end of the day, it’s my loved ones who deserve the best of me.

Facing My Fear of Joy

Fear is a common challenge many of us face throughout life…fear of pain, fear of heights, fear of loss. However, there’s a fear that I’ve only recently uncovered that seems so, well…taboo.

I’m afraid of experiencing too much joy. There, I said it. Yes, you read that right…I have a fear of feeling JOY, of all things there are to be afraid of in this world.

Six years ago, my world was turning beautifully. I had a precious daughter who was my everything. I was feeling the warmth of a new and very real love like I’d never experience before. My career as a teacher had hit a comfortable phase, and I was finding new ways to challenge myself professionally. I was even quite happy with how I looked, able to see my own true beauty for the first time in many years.

Then, it felt as though the ground I was standing firmly on started to crumble as breast cancer threatened to take away all of the blessings in my life. The many surgeries, chemo, radiation, medications, and hormonal therapies seemed to slowly rip out each page of my life’s plan book and tear them to shreds before my eyes.

I found myself lacking many qualities that I’d once been able to take for granted. My brain didn’t operate the same way it once did. My nerves were so raw that the basic daily routines of life caused me to become overwhelmed, and many times, paralyzed. The exhaustion I felt by just going through the motions of life hindered my ability to keep up relationships that I’d once cherished. Life became a daily dance that started when my eyes opened each morning and discovered which intro music would be playing. Some days, it was the kind you’d hear at the end of a tear-jerking movie; others, I’d wake to hear the soundtrack that accompanies a fantastic fight scene. Never knowing how long the energy for that day would last, I was reluctant to get too comfortable in an energetic place, fearing that I would be too disappointed when it would inevitably pass.

Now, I’m past all of the treatments, surgeries, and physical healing for the most part, and I actually feel good on most days. (Minus the end of the week as a high school teacher kind of tired that my colleagues are quick to remind me is NORMAL). But this year, I found myself feeling anxious as the holidays approached. I was unable to put my finger on exactly why until now.

The anxiety I’ve felt can only be attributed to a fear of truly feeling joy. You know, the kind that can only be felt through loving connections with others…friends, family, loved ones. It seems I’ve been subconsciously avoiding that type of interaction due to the fear of losing it. There is no heart-break like the one experienced when life deals you a hand that takes you out of the game. When life goes on for those all around you, but you lack the strength and energy to be a part of it, a hole is created that can only be filled by clinging to the daily promise of God’s never ending grace.

My instinctive response to this isolation was to separate myself even further, preventing any additional suffering. However, I know now that it is my deepest responsibility to acknowledge this fear, so that it might release some of its impact on my life.

I will begin again, exposing my vulnerabilities, pursuing peace, and allowing myself to feel the joy that I’ve missed for so long. Fear will not win, and whatever the cost or the pain of future loss, the blessings of allowing life’s beauty to unfold will be the greatest gift of all.

What is a Dad?

Throughout my life, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to have two men who have played the role of Dad. My precious daughter has shared this same experience. This has allowed me to re-evaluate what it means to be a Dad, and what makes someone worthy of this title.

To young girls, a Dad is usually a larger-than-life hero. They are strong, supportive, and adoring of their little ones. They sometimes tend to be over-protective, only wanting the very best for their baby girls. The pride in their eyes shines brighter than the sun.

As we grow up, and begin to recognize the humanness of our Dads as they witness our evolution into young ladies, this relationship can become strained. Their need to protect is challenged by our need for independence. How difficult that must be for them to release the grip, knowing that the world is filled with others who do not value their most prized connections.

Sometimes, because our Dads carry wounds from their childhood, they are unable to carry the weight of the burden of Fatherhood as easily as before. Relationships become strained, leaving both parties feeling a little lost and misunderstood. Many years are spent searching for what was lost. This was my experience with my Daddy, whom I was only able to reconnect with during his final days on earth. The forgiveness and acceptance we shared during that time remains one of my life’s greatest blessings.

However, I was extremely lucky to have a Bonus Dad who was a constant, and still is. He didn’t quite know what to do with a little girl when he married my Mom; I was 10. He’s never been an overly affectionate individual, but his love has always been apparent through his support, actions, and conversations. He also grew up lacking a Father figure. But, somehow, has been able to make a life that was more than comfortable, consistent, and accepting of me throughout every stage, including Motherhood. The love he has for my daughter is beyond anything I could ask for her, replicating the adoration I felt from my own Papa. His role of unwavering dedication to my Momma and me has had a tremendous impact on the trajectory of my life, and I am eternally grateful that she chose him for us over 30 years ago.

My daughter’s father has sacrificed so much in his life to live nearby and be available to her. He left his career in the military early to give them 5 years they would not have otherwise shared. The bond they have is precious, and their brilliant minds understand one another deeply, even as she goes through her teen years. I am beyond grateful for the selflessness and hard work he has displayed for the benefit of our daughter.

The man I’m now married to is an awesome Father to his own children, and loves Maggie just the same. He listens to her, empowers and supports her, and I know she is blessed to have another strong man as her Bonus Dad. When she found out at nine years old that we were getting married, she squealed with delight and jumped, flinging her arms in the air. I was certain then, and I still am that he was a blessing to her as much as he is to me.

Fathers come in a variety of forms. But, to their little girls, their love means the world. The decision to show up and be available is really the only thing that matters. There is no such thing as the perfect Dad, only boys who become men, doing the best they can every day to make life a little better for our girls.

Thankful on this Father’s Day for all of the Dads in my life. Wishing every man a memorable Father’s Day, and the blessing of gratitude from those you love and support. 💙

True Beauty Radiates From Within!

Everyone is beautiful in their own way, and how we see others reflects exactly how we see ourselves.

You can ask me about what those around me were wearing on a given day (including myself), and I won’t be able to recall. For many years, I wondered what was wrong with me that kept me from remembering details that seemed to come so easy to others. I’ve always been an empath, but didn’t realize to what extent that dominated my outlook until recently. Now, I recognize that this quality has always allowed me to see people’s souls rather than their appearance. It also allows me to recognize those who’s complete energy is dedicated to basing their judgments of self and others solely on the exterior, and every time I recognize that, my heart hurts for those individuals.

We are all so much more than the looks of our “petals”. We are strong, courageous, determined, and resilient stalks, long before our petals emerge. Today, I feel compelled to urge those of you who struggle with insecurity and feelings of inferiority based on achievements, looks, and belongings (because that is where your energy is focused) to spend a little time nourishing your soul, and looking for the beauty in those around you. You will be amazed at how forgiving you can become, and how your outlook changes when you stop focusing on the “stuff” that disappears when we leave this earth.

In this life, I truly believe that for the most part:

  • People are good
  • We are all doing the best we can with what we have to do it
  • Acceptance is the key to relationships
  • A little forgiveness can heal our most complex issues
  • Trying and failing is better than giving up…always
  • God wants us to all to experience connection, unconditional love, deep joy, and peace of mind.

No amount of focus on our exterior will ever replace the beauty that radiates when our souls are properly nourished. Do one thing for yourself today to increase the beauty and kindness you radiate to those around you. Those efforts will multiply infinitely, and last many years after your life on earth is over.

Blessings to all, and wishes for a life that’s peaceful ahead.