“5…4…3…2…1…” (Thank you, Mel Robbins. #5secondrule) Dear Fear, goodbye. You are going to have stay behind in 2017. You don’t even deserve a capital G in goodbye. There is no room for you in 2018.
A great debate with my favorite person in the world, my husband, over the intent (or personal take away (aka- personal opinion of)) behind Tom Bilyeu’s (#impacttheory) recommendation over one’s capacity to receive criticism… had us both handling the aftermath of a passionate discussion that ironically took place over brunch in front of two of our four children, the oldest & youngest (symbolic, yes), differently… he dove head-first into goofy-happy, and I needed to let off some steam… naturally, I chose to run. As with most of my decisions in life, I find myself needing to have a purpose in what I am doing. This run had to mean something for God’s sake. It is (yes, I am moving from past to present voice; deal with it) the last day of 2017… We are about to embrace a New freaking Year. I needed an intention behind this run. This run that is closing out 2017, and all the runs I missed, not just with my feet on the pavement, but with opportunities I have shied away from due to innate fear (damn you). I needed to dissect why I am still letting fear take the reigns. Enter… the “Reflective 2017 Run”.
Four miles. I had to choose four miles. I had to tackle the most miles ran in 2017 for an avalanche of reasons; a few are: I am about to be forty. I dove into my “Four-TY Days of Thanks” (To my Four Daughters, Thank You) in the Spring, which was supposed to be the segue into this blog. I have my forty before forty list. I am raising four daughters. I am training (trying to train) for a half marathon to celebrate the first (and only) half I have ever run five years ago by running the same half (yes, to symbolically catapult me into running a full marathon (see a trend here)) on the anniversary of the first (and only) half I have ever run. I am about to be forty. My husband and I will reach our four year anniversary (of being together) in 2018 (to which several still refuse to accept). I preach and preach and preach to our four daughters to take action and stop talking, so I must model the way. My youngest child is 8 months old… a divisible of four (ohhh the symbolism (lol)). 2018 starts tomorrow; it ends in 8… yep, a divisible of four… but the entire number itself is not a clean divisible of four (there’s the rub (nothing is – or was – clean cut in 2017)). Did I mention I am about to be forty?
FOURth paragraph and I will take a sidestep to bluntly state that I am breaking grammatical rules… yes, on purpose, some on accident, and I will play with punctuation to be sarcastic of the four – combined – years I spent in the classroom teaching students to find their voice as I regurgitated what our team had chosen for us to teach… why? Because it is fun. Especially as I type to the beat of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 26 in D Major… just as I did while wrapping up my Bachelor’s Degree at the late stage of 33 years. You see… I have shied away from starting this blog for lacking credentials, professional esteem, and the like… I do, however, have three degrees… No, not the PhD, Md, or Masters kind, but the Bachelors of Arts and two Associates (General of Arts and General Studies (yeah… that translates to lots of extra hours from multiple degree changes)). Those last two were simply from the nudge of my Pops encouraging me to see if I could acquire the Associates Degree for which I walked for on the promise I would complete the incomplete in (yes, more irony) the Sophomore English class that was lacking one paper… Yes, there is a staggering trend about my life: I am notoriously tardy (knowingly and unknowingly). Yeah, by transferring credits, I nabbed not just one, but two AA’s. Those three papers are the best damn papers I have ever received simply because no one can take them away or water them down (unless they are pompous and arrogant). They are earned.
As I ran to reflect – or reflected as I ran – I had to grab a hold of some much needed personal accountability and acceptance of others’ perceptions (fact and/or opinion) of me. I had to state my motivation to allow for such a catalyst to ignite this state of self evolution (goodbye aged-old self-prophecy). In cliché- I had to decide to be what I have decided to become: I am a writer motivated by my four daughters to expand my knowledge (in a vast array of avenues that truly reach one destination in the end) by writing as I learn all the while hearing the challenging critiques from my loving husband to allow for acceptance in the opportunity for enlightenment. In short, chasing your dreams is scary shit. People are watching. You want your children to be proud to call you their mom and bonus mom. You want your husband to be just as inspired by you as you are of him. And… equally if not more scary is all the criticism awaiting me out there from people that know me (which will hurt the worst), people who do not really know me (and probably never will), and people that have never met me. What I must remind myself is this- I have dealt with and continue to deal with this on a much smaller scale… therefore, that is a weak excuse. Besides – and props to Winston Churchill – “you have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life”.
As my miles began to grow in my reflective run, I gained excitement to say to hell with it. I’m starting my blog. 2017 is not over… yet. There is still time to complete my biggest personal goal of 2017. There is still time to not close another year a cowardice writer. There is still time to become ME in the potentially cruel open rather than writing in safe secret. This could be considered late… 364 days late… but it is still the 365th day of the 2017 year. I bounced from brainstorming to prewriting to thinkitation to reflection to releasing resentment to praying to giving thanks. All was in a mental state as I ran. In a nutshell, I flipped the bird to 2017. It had to be done. It was part of the acceptance dance, part of being accountable.
My tangible take away from my run- I am in desperate need of a pedicure, a new pair of running shoes, new leggings, new sports bras, an old injury is not gonna win in preventing this half by rearing it’s ugly head (yeah, stretching and yoga are going to have to join my repertoire), and my hair is the longest it has ever been.
Mental, emotional, physiological, spiritual take aways… Cheers to the list of mindsets I am openly saying goodbye to-
Vanity: I flipped the bird to the body that stares back at me from the mirror. The body I no longer recognize. The first two miles required me to pull my running leggings up every 20 foot slaps to the ground. Aggravating. Somehow I have found myself one pound away from the weight I was when my hubster and I started dating, but the body is absolutely, positively not the same. A month and a half after he proposed – a year into US – I had to have a lumpectomy from my left breast (a month and a half before our wedding), which has a faint squiggly scar circling my nipple. The birth of our baby – almost three years into US – required an emergency c-section that has my “bikini scar” looking like a lil lump of dough. My ass is referred to as “thick” by my two teenagers who swear that is a compliment (not in my 90’s life of lingo). I see faint stretch mark scars from the oompa loompa I became in just a few hours as a result of that emergency c-section, which took almost two weeks to subside (I came home from the hospital heavier than when I entered it… minus the 6 lb 11 oz baby I birthed). Two different sets of doctors have recommended plastic surgery for reconstruction. GASP! That goes against every fiber of my natural, almost 40 year old self. My loving friends encourage me to accept it as a medical need… Not sure about that final step. None the less… my body is a body of scars that represent the facets of womanhood and motherhood. Until the reconstruction decision is made… I am proud of the scars and lump. And, I know… once I start sweating… two miles in… my leggings stop falling.
Resignation: My prince charming came to me in my late 30’s. I had already attempted marriage – quite poorly – and had sworn to never date again. I was a single-mom of two beautiful girls, and after a few dabbles of dates or what-have-you, it was apparent, being single was better. Then, he came. He asked my family permission to date me. He courted me for three months. He took me on dates, opened doors, loved my girls, loved me, was patient, accepted my divorce decree, and asked me to marry him. We married. We wanted a child together. We tried immediately. And, for eleven months, we tried for eleven months. It was a bit of a laugh when you think how easily we both had our three children prior. It took a delayed honeymoon, a small medical assist or bathing in the limestome river in the depths of Jamaica almost a year from our wedding date to conceive our daughter. The complications came. More than my first two pregnancies. Complications from life were relentless during my pregnancy as well. In the delivery, we almost lost her; we almost lost me. Separation anxiety was at an all-time high for me as a mother. The thought of being away from her was the most atrocious idea to consider. Godwinked upon our lives and brought a business venture towards us. I was running out of time to resign from my classroom. We spent a month crunching numbers, seeking wise advisors, weighing our odds, and going for it. Hiding behind my husband’s opportunity, I resigned. Late. My Pops always told me to read the fine print… all 78 pages of it. With that decision I also chose to not be able to teach in the beloved district of mine… and to the school where I’m a third generation alumni… where I no longer will allow my daughter to attend to avoid backlash on her… Hard pill to swallow. I knew I always wanted to write professionally, and I knew this would catapult me into giving it a shot. I am not one to sit at home and not contribute to the financial well being of our household. The fear has been griping where the criticism lies within the walls of that treasured school. They gave four of the best years of my life as a child and three of the best years of my life as an adult. The purpose is obvious now- it was closure to my childhood. I chose my family. Reflection- I’d do it again, and much sooner. I forewent first days of kindergarten and first grade, time off before and after my wedding, drug out the need to go on maternity leave for two months, and played a stepping stone for aspiring professionals. The take away- time spent with some of the most intelligent people to cross my path, insider research and development as a parent for my daughters (unknown at the time), and the push to write brave from now on (thank you table mates).
Blending: It. Is. Not. Easy. I don’t care though. I love my children. All of them. They are all mine whether they grew inside my womb or in my heart. I know my place. I refuse to love one any less than the other for the sake of someone else’s ego. They each deserve all of me. They will each receive the best of me. They each make me a better mom, woman, and human being. I am a Momma Bear for all of them. They give growth to the love I have for my husband. I was taught how to properly blend a family by my five parents, ALL of my five parents. #blendstrong
Fear: Five words- Fuck you and thank you.
Passion: Stop trying to “find it”. You know what it is. Do it.
Criticism: Bring it.
Divorce: Total separation; disunion. To separate; cut off. A judicial declaration dissolving a marriage in whole or in part, especially one that releases the marriage partners from all matrimonial obligations. These definitions are hard to accept for narcissistic people simply because they have a hard time separating themselves from the amoeba state (which is false) they have associated themselves with regards to their previous marriages. This is really quite simple to handle- boundaries. Ex-spouses can actually become cordial (maybe light friends even) and celebrate everyone’s successes if they want to.
Friends: My treasured gems. We are all busy. I do not get mad at any of my friends for having fun without me, time transpiring since we’ve last chatted, being all up in my life, meeting up on an occasion, being there for a reason, season, or lifetime (cliché), and/or being honest with me. True friends love, unconditionally.
Holidays: I celebrate them… when all my children are present. A huge shout out to my five parents; they taught me the art of owning my holiday celebration. I refuse to cram it all in to a day. Spread it out. I am sure my neighbors thought we decorated late when our decorations appeared the second weekend of December. With Thanksgiving not being my year, we chose to wait (happens on odd years). What I learned (or realized) this year, is I love, love, love Christmas décor, and when the next odd year rolls around, we will decorate before Thanksgiving… even if that means we are celebrating birthdays while decorating.
Outer Family: They are exceptionally important. Without our born into families we are not US, I, Me, We, You. They deserve our time and our love. My back will not turn on them. I accept them for them. They do not, however, deserve to tell us how or where to spend that time and love. Boundaries are necessary. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh,” (Genesis 2:24 KJV). Your marriage deserves this.
Family: This is your home. You, your spouse, your children. Everyone else is outside. They are a bonus. #familyfirst
Children: They are meant to grow, to have, and to be better than you. Do not hold them back. Do not live vicariously through them. Listen to them. If their aspirations are 1 in a million… who gives a F! Teach them what they will have to do to accomplish it. Do not scare them away from it. Empower them. Provide them the tools to be successful. It is burdensome to do. It is more than worth the burden. Let your schedule get murky to benefit them. Their success is the most fun celebration you will ever experience. You are a good parent if your children outshine you. Let them. #raisingstrongdaughters
Wifing: My favorite role in life. There is something about my husband’s smile that gives me fuel. We raise our children together (best job in the world is being a parent). We know our children will grow up and move on. They will need us less. We want to look at each other 30 years from now and enjoy the face staring back at us. Be the best friend. Be the cheerleader. Give respect. Listen. Grow. Build. Love. TOGETHER. #chooselove
Me: No more talking. It’s time to do. It’s time to listen to the lectures I preach to my children. I am not too old for goals. I am not stagnant, nor do I refuse to evolve. If I live to be as old as my NanNan, I have 56 more years to go… my cheekbones scream I have her genes. Looks like I am just getting geared up then.
There ya have it… 2017 was emotional, challenging, and rewarding. Every fiber of my being is aware 2018 will not deny the same. I just have faith 2018 promises more rewards. It starts with me though. I can be cliché and list my New Year’s Resolution, or I can be realistic and know I have daily, weekly, and monthly goals to attend to. 2018 offers promise simply because I will enable it to. It starts with me.
I’d love to say when I returned from my run, I ran straight to the laptop and built my blog. But, honestly, the heat of the house, the two loads of laundry in the hallway awaiting their turn at the washer and dryer, which were both full, followed by the bedroom and bathroom of an eight year old who fought a stomach bug needing the final scrubbing distracted me. Our lab greeted me excitedly as though I had returned just for him. As I approached the living room, my oldest snuggled in a blanket introducing her Daddy to “Stranger Things”… he was rocking and humming to a sleepy and fussy baby fighting her first ear infection… they both broke into a unison smile… be still my heart. Instantly I am aware my other two babies are not home. They are chasing adventures with their Dad. This reminds me why I need to blog about blending strong. I find countless items to tend to by way of writing about them… I cannot deny the hunger to write. My husband senses something is up. I lean to him and whisper “baaaaabe”; an olive branch for our passionate discussion that does not require a circle back, just an acknowledgment (Thank you Lisa Bilyeu #impacttheory #relationshiptheory). Thus, the blog began. Here we are five hours post run, lots of “cuddles”, kisses, hugs, and reassurance… and I am about to post.
In the words of my husband, which ignited my four mile run, which birthed this first blog post, which brought the light in his eyes I saw staring at me from across the table on our first date… if my words brought an offense to you… you are lacking a growth mindset. This blog is not about you. This blog is about US… This blog is a platform to provide an awareness, to allow you to open your mind to other perceptions, to allow you to grow and evolve.
Since a mexican cornbread and a night with family awaits me, it seems I have provided a quirky introduction for my blog space. Nonetheless, it has provided ample insight as to where this blog will go, what topics it will touch on, and the personal & collegiate experience to back it.
Join me. Embrace 2018. It starts with YOU.
#blendstrong #raisingstrongdaughters #familyfirst #chooselove
Thank you for choosing to read my blog. Please, like and/or comment on this post below. Sign-up to receive email notifications when I post to keep you reading. Share this post on social media. When you share on social media, please, tag me, so I can see the activity and personally thank you. Tagging handles are listed below. To truly fulfill my purpose with this blog, I need you, the reader, to spread visibility. My family & I appreciate your support, likes, comments, and shares.