So after many years of boycotting short story contests due to constant perceived rejection, I submitted!! This is exciting because I truly was scarred from the past. While I look at my work from back then and can now see beyond my ego that the quality was not deserving of anything but rejection, and I know I have grown as a person and a writer, I still have butterflies 🙂 Wish me luck!!
Anyone else have this experience and have you submitted to any contests lately??
In contemplating my next post, I realized that through this journey so far of discussing honoring your story, love, forgiveness and finding your Truth, I never properly introduced myself. I find that to be a gigantic oversight, because how can you relate to someone who talks about having a story but never told it. While each of my posts give you a glimpse of who I am as a mom, a writer and that my path has not always been smooth sailing, I feel it’s time to give you a summary of me and how I got here.
While I could write a book about my life to this point (unpublished, but I actually have, which is how I found my love of writing), I feel a good summary of significant points in my journey would be enough to give you an idea of just who I am, and why my path has lead me to this blog and to the desire to write a book.
There is beauty and humility in imperfection. ~ Guillermo del Toro
As a Child –
As a younger version of me I grew up as the oldest of two. I’d like to think of myself as a good big sister, but I was far from it. The moment my brother came home, there was something really special about him, and I knew it, and was jealous enough to make his life miserable for a while. Eventually, we were able to heal our relationship, and presently, we are closer than we have been most of our lives.
However, this particular personality trait is what drove me a good portion of my life -jealous, angry and easily triggered. I felt I was constantly trying to prove something. I was the only girl on my mom’s side of five cousins and my brother, so needless to say, I was a tomboy always looking for my place. I was also an introvert who loved reading, quotes, poetry and art, and dabbled in a little of it all, but never felt I excelled at any, which led to much self-doubt.
Most of my life, I never understood what it meant to be empathic or highly sensitive. (This is a post I plan to cover later on). I never equated this trait to my anxiety. In a nutshell I could actually feel when someone was sad or disappointed, which made me very susceptible to worry, fear, anxiety and depression. I suffered from much of these growing up, never understanding where it came from and how to name it, let alone control it. I learned to hide it well, like I did many things. I felt if I was able to hide my true feelings, I could go through life just like everyone else. Not until later did I realize that facing these truths allowed me to understand them, and embrace them, which allowed me to truly live as me.
My stubborn ways stayed with me as I grew up, and if I set my mind to something or believed I was right, there was no convincing me otherwise. This is where my universal lessons came into play, specifically in my relationships. I chose partners that reflected who I wanted to be, not who I felt I was. I wanted to be confident, strong and know my place in this life, and chose people who I felt exhibited those traits. Unfortunately, these tended to be strong personalities that eventually did not mix well with my own, specifically when I was attempting to find my unique voice.
I was married and divorced twice with two kids before I was thirty years old. After these divorces, and still trying to find my place, feeling that maybe I had it all wrong, my next relationship was with my best friend, who was female and lasted eight years, but also ended due to my need to find out who I truly was in this world. While I now share my life with a wonderful man who is the reflection of my soul, and who walks with me down my true path (this is a story in itself I may write about one day), I have learned through this journey that I am forever grateful to those I’ve shared my life with, as they have shaped me and guided me to where I am today.
My kids are my heart, and I feel I learned a lot as a mom as we grew up together, but it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Due to my failed relationships, my daughter moved 10 times before she was 10, and my son suffered from night terrors, which I have carried guilt about for so very long. They are now 18 and 13 and we have wonderful relationships, but the stories in between could have lead us down much different paths. The biggest lessons I have learned about life have been through my kids, and I am blessed to be in the place I am with them today.
Growing up I never knew what I wanted to do with myself, and was guided in different directions, but ended up within the legal field where I spent most of my adult life. I earned my paralegal degree and worked within several different law firms over a 20 year period. I struggled with this for some time, especially because within that span I learned what writing truly meant to me. Needing a change, I am currently in school as a psychology major, and I found a place within real estate for a utility company. While my passion lies elsewhere, I love that I can support my family surrounded by wonderful people.
I grew up Catholic and for many years I resented the religion and much of what it stood for, never understanding that there is much more to faith than religion. I have found through the many lessons of life, including death, that there is much we can’t see, and much we don’t know, but something much greater exists. In my journey, I have found my faith again, and this has taken me to a new level of understanding and love.
In Life andDeath-
My turning point came when I experienced death in a way I never thought I would experience it. While I had lost family growing up, never did I experience the depth of loss until I had to say goodbye to those who were younger than me or close to my age and heart. In a short period, I lost an 18 year old family member to a fire, a young cousin to addiction, my grandmother who I was very close to, way too soon, my three year old step-nephew to illness, almost lost my dad, and my daughter was gravely struggling in her world. These events rocked me to the core and changed my course.
Once I was able to comprehend what had happened in my life, I was determined to walk the path I was here for and live how I was supposed to live, in happiness and truth, instead of sadness, regret and anger, which took me to my WHY.
There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or influence. Those who lead inspire us. ~ Simon Sinek
I have so much to say about this, but will summarize because I plan to post about each stepping stone to my true Why as I continue to blog. My passion for writing started as a kid when I learned just how much quotes inspired me, and still do. I began writing my own from the heart, and at one time even submitted some for copyright. I also loved to draw and read, however, I never thought of myself as creative because my definition of creative was skewed, and felt I didn’t qualify since I wasn’t good at just making up stories on the fly, or a designer or painter.
As I dabbled in the written word through poetry and quotes, I didn’t find my true voice in writing until my second marriage. I was home with my son and struggling with being a mom again, figuring out who I was in the world, and my relationship as a whole. I decided one day to sit down at my old computer and start to type. As soon as I opened that door, the words began to pour out like they had been waiting all that time to be heard, and from then on I knew deep down this was what I was meant to do, it was the matter of figuring out in what capacity.
As I found my voice in writing, life got in the way and I began to work again, and while I temporarily buried this part of me to just do the day by day thing, other passions showed themselves, reminding me that I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I volunteered at the dog shelter, feeling I needed to give back, and I ended up writing about the orphaned dogs. I found I loved to coach, started with volleyball and now coach beginner runners, which is where I found that inspiring those to live their best life is my calling, which I began to write about. I then started and stopped blogging over the years and finally I started this blog and just keep going. Feeling as if there was a hole in my heart, I was searching to fill it, and I ended up right back behind a keyboard.
While my WHY is to inspire through my own stories and lessons, my HOW is through this blog and eventually my many books 😉 I believe every one of us has a WHY and a HOW and it is up to us to find out what they are in order to live the very best versions of ourselves in this incredible life we have been given.
Our purpose is our reason, and living in that purpose is when you become who you are meant to be. I cannot thank each of you enough who take the time to read this blog and to follow my story, and my hope for you is that you find your purpose, and you share it with the world so you can live as the very best you.
Ever since my daughter could hold a crayon, she loved to color and draw. Not only did she love it, she was pretty dang good at it. Out of both my children, I consider her my artistic, creative child (my mini-me). When she got older, the coloring had turned into writing and illustrating, and she continues to inspire me.
As early as two and three years old, my daughter started to find her creative side and I never wanted to limit this creativity. I always wanted her to feel she could express herself in that way so I never put a ton of boundaries on her imagination when it came to her “projects”. If she didn’t stay in the lines, or wanted to paint the sky pink I celebrated the uniqueness instead of correcting or boxing in her ideas. I did, however, have rules as to what she could draw on, and she always abided by that rule. (Except maybe one time at my parents’ when she had a little party with a black marker. In my opinion, she was protesting the wallpaper, and I couldn’t argue with her on that point). Besides that one instance, I never worried about my walls being covered in crayon rainbow murals or wood table sketched with pencil stick figures. I did find out however, that being specific regarding the details of this rule is quite necessary to a three year old.
It was a quiet even, nothing out of the ordinary, and I had tucked my daughter into bed, sang her favorite song and kissed her goodnight. Later, before I called it an evening, I went to check in on her. I could see from the doorway how adorable she was, breathing softly, curled up on her side, looking like an angel. I walked closer to make sure she was covered up and noticed something on her hand. Curious, I flipped on the hallway light to not wake her, and went back to reexamine things more thoroughly. To my surprise her hand was colored completely blue. I immediately check the walls and they were untouched, but as I looked closer at my sweet blonde princess, I realized that by allowing my three year old to express herself with no boundaries had backfired. Not only were both her hand graced with her artistic skills, but her arms, legs, cheeks, nose and forehead were an ocean blue. She looked like one of the Smurfs. I was in awe and wanted to be upset, but she so looked so ridiculous I couldn’t help but laugh and went to get the camera.
My three year old obeyed my rule of what not to draw on, so how could I be upset, I just never imagined that I would need to be much more specific on the proper use of a marker. I was taught another valuable lesson that night, and could do nothing but shake my head and chalk it up as one of those three year old moments.
As we walk through the journey of life we will experience the presence of many different people who will touch our hearts in numerous ways. Some are with us from birth and some enter our story in different chapters, however each of them can bring a kaleidoscope of inspiration, disappointment, joy, heartache, happiness and pain. Those who bring us joy, those who show us happiness, are those that allow this journey toward purpose and peace simple and effortless. However, realistically, there will be disappointment and we will feel pain, and the source may be from those we love.
The pain that they may bring, the heartache they may cause and the disappointment you may feel can bring you to your knees, question your faith and, at times, destroy your hope. It is our most human trait to believe in the purity of love. We are wired to believe that if one loves another, they will not cause the other harm. When that trust is shattered, to believe again seems like a pointless endeavor. I know this, I’ve felt this, and I’ve wanted to pretend that the pain was a figment of my imagination. In response, my heart hardened, and my world may have been darker, but the path was smoother, risk-free with no cliffs, no valleys and no chance of falling again. The loneliness and the pain that came when the center of my being shut down was something I never expected.
The pain of shutting off and closing my heart to just walk this earth without really living was a pain I didn’t realize I was feeling, but when I did, I knew it was not a path I wanted to travel. For so long I didn’t want to believe that those who happened to enter my life were imperfectly human, yet they are human. They are breathing, feeling, heart-pumping humans with battles within themselves that we are unaware, and we are not to judge. It was difficult for me to accept that each one of us is an imperfect soul that strives to piece together this puzzle of life, and that while the choice of crossing paths may not be ours, the choice to love them anyway, whether we choose to stay, or to walk away is ours to make.
I recently heard an interview where the author spoke of a conversation she had had with her priest. She asked him if he felt people do the best that they can in this life. His response led me to reassess my entire outlook on those who cross our paths. He asked, if God were to come down and tell you that these people that have hurt us, disappointed us or caused us heartache were truly doing the best they could, they were living their life the best they were capable, would your perspective change? It was a powerful concept that has been difficult for me to shake, and I have used in my process of understanding and forgiving. What if they are doing the best that they can, and while understanding may be difficult to ask, love them anyway, even if it must be from afar.
When your parents shatter the perfect image, you have carried in your mind since you were a child, love them anyway;
When your children don’t act like the perfect angels you wish them to be, love them anyway;
When your spouse/friend/partner disappoints, betrays or hurts you, love them anyway;
When family doesn’t treat you like family, love them anyway;
When the random stranger shows you nothing but angst, love them anyway;
When you cross paths with someone who emits hate, hurt and sadness, love them anyway; and
When you feel like you are not worth the effort or feel alone, love you anyway;
…because honestly, we need more love in this world.
The more love we emit, the more love we will receive. We don’t have to agree with the actions or surround ourselves with those who are blind to the beauty of this life, but we can wish them love in their hearts, and love them anyway.
The light, the gift, the true nature of our individual being is within each of us, and I believe it is our responsibility and our mission in this life to share these truths with the world. To find these gifts within ourselves may take many attempts that can lead to success, and to failure, but in these successes and in these failures, we learn lessons that teach us understanding, love, forgiveness and how fear can send us astray. If we are blessed with these lessons and have the strength and the ability to see inward and recognize our path, we must move to the direction of this truth.
While I truly believe sharing these blessings is our purpose in this life, there are many times that walking this path is exhausting and our minds tells us to stop. I have had many moments in my life where I just couldn’t or just didn’t want to anymore. My mind would tell me it wasn’t worth it, the time and energy were just too much. I would sink into the comfortable, drown in easy and sit back and wait, hoping what I desired would come to me with little or no effort, and curse when it didn’t. I would think to myself “if this is what I’m am meant to do, why is it so hard, why do I feel pain, or heartache, or disappointment”. These are the moments that I needed to dig deep, to shut out the games my mind would play and to move forward no matter the weight of what was holding me back.
I sat at the volunteer table at Mile 22 of the Chicago Marathon last week and these thoughts of my own life journey cluttered my head. As I cheered the thousands of tired, drenched and physically and mentally drained unique individuals on to the finish line, I didn’t make the connection to my own struggles until now. I had watched the agony on the faces of those who passed and the smiles of those who understood they were almost there. I could relate, maybe not physically in the moment, but mentally on my journey.
To push through, to stay strong, to keep going no matter what mental games you are playing will get you to your true path and purpose of this life. Even when we don’t feel like it, even when the effort seems to outweigh the reward, we must push forward. We must continue to share our gifts and our light for we may not see the rewards in the moment, they will be revealed in the end.
Believe in your truth, and even when it’s difficult to keep going, keep going. Let your heart be your guide and remember how it beats when you shine the light from within.
Isn’t it so very entertaining how there is no one who can turn such a proud moment into such an embarrassing one quite like your three-year-old? Going out in public was like playing Russian roulette, it could go smooth and easy, or you could be shooting yourself in the foot. You just never knew, which made for a rollercoaster of emotion that could lead to walking out of a restaurant with your head held high or slinking out the emergency exit praying nobody saw your face.
One morning while on vacation, we decided to eat breakfast at the hotel buffet. As the waitress seated us, we all were drooling over the spread filled with eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, fruit, pie and donuts. It was a breakfast lover’s dream, and being drawn in by the smells, it never occurred to me that being seated directly next to the food may constitute some worry. Fortunately, my three-year-old snapped me out of my trance and I would never make that mistake twice.
As we were sitting in our booth discussing how it is inappropriate to play with the ice in your water glass, and after the third or fourth time I requested that my son sit in his seat, and stop sliding under the table, he jumped up into a standing position, his eyes wide as saucers, his arms out and stiff as statues and without moving an inch due to what I can only explain as panic, announced to the entire restaurant, including the people in line at the buffet….
I HAVE TO POOP!!
It was like the whole restaurant went silent and all eyes were fix on the four of us. I was horrified and felt the sudden urge to get in line and pretend this was not my family. However, my son made it quite clear he knew who I was as he jumped up and down on bench, suddenly not so paralyzed and directing his focus in my direction, as he continued to repeat himself over and over again until I had no choice but to snatch him up and carry him to the nearest restroom, shushing him and praising him under my breath for telling me, as he laughed all the way there.