Broken Mirror

Not all who wonder are lost.. but maybe when lost we wander to the places and people we need most to help us remember we are not in fact lost or wandering alone. When we wander it is to gather pieces of us that make us feel whole and unbroken.

I broke a mirror the other day.. shreds of glass scattered all over my floor. So many different pieces that once made it whole misplaced.. forever separated from the unity that once existed. So much symbolism in a ordinary life occurrence that happens to most of us. When cleaning up the mess..I found beauty in each intricately severed fragment.. the light from my room hit each piece and reflected off each piece in a different way. Accidents happen daily..unplanned life much like a broken mirror can leave us in pieces that cannot form what once was. The pieces of us and our lives land with no plan.. there is no rhyme or reason to where they fall and scatter. We find ourselves in a frenzy to clean up the mess..get frazzled with making sure we get each and every piece.. hoping with the cleanup we don’t make the situation worse or even hurt ourselves more.

We all have endured countless broken mirrors in life.. pieces of ourselves scattered in places we have yet even to find. But many pieces we are able to find in people and places that make us whole again. When lost we wander..we set out to find what makes us feel whole. We embark on a quest to gather what remains to make us feel as we once did before the breaks. Like tiny fragments of light our pieces shine in those we find our way too. And those we seek out help to reflect light back to the pieces of ourselves that still remain..when broken I find myself in the same people and places I wander too when lost.

That same day I broke the mirror.. I found myself at the gym..I have to push hard to get there every time.. but I know what piece of me I will find while there.. and I know when feeling a little lost and off the path.. I have to wander to this point. It is no secret I hurt.. that is a feeling that I have come to accept about life now..I am exhausted from the moment I wake until I try to go to bed…but right around mile 2 something happens…my body shoots off every message to my brain to say.. okay enough.. time to stop… my brain even starts to agree.. and for a split second I almost call it quits. But then a piece of me resurfaces..and I push through the pain and the fatigue and keep going.. it is almost a high to realize you still have that control over your body and of your mind..I instantly in this moment remember I am stronger then the notion to quit and give up.. I will hit my mark and even raise it higher.. not bc I have too..but bc I need too..I need this piece of me.. this piece to fuel other moments just like these.. I need this reminder.. this light reflecting fragment to see who I am and just what I am capable of. That is one piece of me I have always loved..and that is one place I can always find it..even if it only lasts for the rest of my workout..it is comforting to realize that piece of me still exists..it is healing to remember that part of me.. even if I can only find it there in those moments of triumph.

When a mirror is whole it is easier to see yourself.. it is easier to see the image in front of you in a more desirable light..when broken the image gets distorted and skewed..and that is when you need to find the broken pieces of you in others.. they don’t see the cracks in the glass or the harsh sharp edges and dislodged fragments.. they still see the whole reflection and even if they see the breaks they also see the light that shines through them. So when lost.. when frazzled with trying to pick up the pieces of life.. don’t lose yourself in the mess.. wander to the places and people who already see you and who hold those pieces you so desperately are trying to mend back together. The pieces are there..when you feel as if you have lost them.. find your way to you. Whether broken or whole.. what was still exists..it may not be perfectly put together anymore..it may not reflect what you once saw..but there is beauty in each tiny fragment of you..and there is beauty in the places and people who help you remember you are not lost and never will be as long as they hold those pieces of you.

Reminders that Everything We Do Costs Us a Spoon

Reminders are a double edged sword..on one hand they keep us on task and able to stay focused on what needs carried out on the day to day basis. On the other hand they are a slap in the face of what was and what now is. I have a about a million reminders on my phone and in my calendar and planner..I can’t exist without them..I however think I could exist without the reminders of where life is now at. It’s a odd and funny thing to remember and always reflect on what once was. To walk around daily with a checklist of things I just can’t carry out that I once did and never took a second thought to appreciate. I use to have full days..days that began in the early morning and ended in the late night.. filled with activities and outings that I could master. Lately my days have been filled with the reminders I can’t exist with full days or even full weeks. With remembering who I was.. these reminders are crushing to my psyche. The spoon theory has become a way of life.. starting each day with a handful of spoons and delegating my spoons and energy to specific outings or things that need to get done.. lately I have been passing out my spoons too frequently and by the end of the day or week it reeks havoc on my health. I have to remember my gas tank is never going to be full and I have to gage my travel on what has to be done and what destinations have to be traveled to maximize my energy. The reminders of who I was and how I was able to pass out a million spoons a day..is a slap in the face for I always try to live up to that person with that stamina. I have come to realize I have a certain amount of energy for one or two things a week and those things being in a controlled quiet and sensory calm environment. Doing too much back to back takes days away and once again is a reminder I can’t keep up with the old me. I always hit this point.. always come to this realization I am no longer carefree and can pick up and make the most of my days. I now have to be calculated with my time and energy to make sure I get to the things I can’t miss. Simple things like choir concerts or trick or treating back to back wear me out and make me physically ill.. those are things I can’t miss nor do I want too.. and things that I once could do along with a million other things and not even think twice about or lose days in bed as a result of being present for three big life events in a row. Going to dinner with friends lately has been too much.. the lights the background noise and the over stimulation of trying to keep up in conversations just take a toll on me and make me hate the way my brain and body processes this once normal and fun experience. Once again these reminders these changes make me feel like I am falling apart and dropping the ball for those around me. Everyone should have a friend that can make it out to see them and keep plans.. and I once again am reminded I am not that friend. I let people down constantly and it eats away at me.. for this is not who I am or want to be. I have found myself lately getting lost in conversations.. saying the same phrase over and over again even if it doesn’t fit into that conversation. My brain can’t process what is being said to me and can’t put together a organized answer back to what is being said.. word finding issues and process time now has made me develop a defense tactic of saying awesome or amazing all the time and sadly sometimes those phrases don’t fit what is being said to me.. when this happens it makes me revert inside myself and not seek out conversations with others or makes me just stay quiet and not want to be apart of what’s going on. So I shut down and stay away.. the fear of not being able too keep up.. the fear of not getting what someone is saying.. makes my head spin and hurt.. but even more makes my heart and spirit feel crushed. Some days I wish my disabilities were visible.. so others could see exactly what is going on inside of me.. so I could never get questioned for being a baby or lazy or just a drama queen. I am actually none of those things and on my worst days.. no one even knows.. I deal in silence.. for I hate having this on my plate and never would want to put or force it on another’s plate. No one wakes up each day and wants to be a burden or dark cloud.. no one wants to continuously say no I can’t do this and then have to explain why you can’t do this.. no one would chose this and I’m realizing no one will prob ever fully accept this is the way it will be now. Going to the grocery store is an event I have to coax myself into doing.. it without a doubt is one of the most draining and over stimulating activities that has to be done. I have to give myself a pep talk to get out of the car to go in..and usually I can’t go there alone. I know on grocery day.. that is the only event that will take place that day.. I also know I have two stores I can only go too for things..two stores where I know where everything is and know the people who work there.. so I can find some peace while there. I’m 40.. a mom.. a grocery store should not be this big of a deal to go too.. but for me and my brain.. it’s a very scary place and weekly event. Cosmic bowling is a big no for me as are indoor jump places.. sadly tried recently to do both and ended up in the car most of the time and throwing up. I hate walking out of a place that is supposed to be fun and exciting.. I hate walking away from my child and memories to be made.. bc I am sick and can’t handle what is going on around me. I hate I can’t make it through a dinner at Applebee’s with my mom and daughter bc there are a million conversations going on.. as well as music and the noise from the televisions.. I hate that when I walk into a store or any public place with yellow lights.. I instantly start to feel a shift in my mood and my brain starts to gear up into overdrive. I hate that it’s a big deal for me to make it up to the dance studio to see my two best friends and get a hug from them..two woman on the bad days that pick up my child and give her experiences I just can’t. I hate writing this and complaining but the reminders at moments get to be too much. Do I have good days where I can pull things off.. absolutely.. but these days are a result of making sure the days before are as calm and as managed as they can be not to miss out on what’s ahead. And life as we know can throw us a hundred different curveballs a day and often we can’t micromanage those to make it to what has to be done. I hate making plans and getting myself excited for things I want to make happen. Recently had a trip planned to see a very important friend.. I should have been there today.. but because of the days that lead here I am at home..missing out on my friend and the time that we should have gotten to spend together. I hate the anxiety and depression attached to all of this.. the guilt and shame of not being the person I want so badly to be. I hate getting anxious when I know I have to be somewhere and the worry attached too what will happen or how I will handle the environment I must go into. I hate the days my hands won’t work and I drop everything and can’t even get the key in the door or get my money out to pay for things. Recently got my new car tags and for three weeks tried to put them on my car myself.. I dropped about a million swear words and lost my cool because I couldn’t get the sticker off the sheet and onto my car.. and eventually realized I had to ask for help. I hate the fact I can sit here and write all of this.. but can’t verbally say this or express myself that way anymore.. my thoughts get scattered and my words get juggled and mid sentence I forget what I was saying. I hate meeting new people.. for I don’t really have much to talk about and I freeze up and feel out of place.. I hate being asked what I do for a living and then have to explain what living is like this way. Believe me I hate more then anything not working anymore.. I love being a social worker and love helping others to empower themselves and not feel alone. And I especially hate most days I feel alone and cannot grab the inner strength to empower myself. I have made it to the gym four days this week and that is a huge victory for me.. but I pass out several spoons to get there and workout. I once ran six miles a day and played volleyball one night a week.. and now after the gym can’t do much more that day. This past weekend I had a very important birthday party to go too for a very special little boy in my life..it was loud and crowded..a hundred different people.. neon lights.. loud music and conversations going on around me..I spent most of that party outside.. had to keep leaving to calm myself down.. and my head hasn’t stopped pounding and my eyes haven’t stopped twitching since that day. Such an important day and life event and another reminder I just don’t live in the world I once did. Not all reminders are bad tho..I daily am reminded that I am Rory’s mother.. mother to a 14 year old girl that lives in this world with me and always has a smile on her face and a understanding in her heart for these moments..a wise insightful girl.. who no matter what loses hope or faith in me.. she never gets upset or mad for things we can’t do.. she never gets frustrated for moments where we have to leave or we just can’t be there. She is the queen of silver linings..she is the fuel for most days and the reason I push when all I want to do is retreat. I remind myself that all the bad this has brought to her life will one day produce good from her experiences.. I believe Rory will have a significant impact on others like me in the brain injury community and their families.. she has a way about her.. a knowledge and healing power that I remind myself will bring peace to others. I am reminded that my mother is there.. even when sick and dealing with her overwhelming and scary health struggles..she is the master of passing out spoons and never keeps one for herself. I am reminded daily she is present and will continue to be for the good and bad.. she celebrates the victories I think are foolish and ridiculous to celebrate. I am reminded that I have friends that are family and daily check on us and help us to carry out daily life.. and when I can’t be there.. they make it possible for Rory to never miss out on anything. I have this family of friends that understands and makes me feel accepted and loved even when I have to cancel and let them down..they never make me feel weak and never make me feel lacking..and every once in awhile they make me see me just as they do. I am reminded I have the most amazing doctors and therapist.. they always listen and never rush me when together.. they analyze everything that pops up and help me to regain my health and best quality of life. And I am reminded daily I am here and always have the choice to see the gifts around me.. to embrace the good days and moments even if they cost me other days and moments. I also remember how to climb and fight..I always remember my heart is the strongest part of myself and no matter what never fails me..as dark as it gets at times.. as hard as it gets.. my heart always kicks in and makes me get up. I also have a Daniel..through all of this is calm and peaceful.. never lets me for a second feel bad about what I can and can’t do.. never would let me feel guilt for things he misses out on or has to compromise on. He continues to choose this life and me..he continues to be my biggest fan and tries so hard to make me a fan. He daily tells me we will get through this..we always do.. better days are ahead and will always let me pick what sappy Netflix movie we will watch on my couch. He never complains about the restrictions or changes my health has had in his life.. instead talks about what gifts this life has brought to his. I am reminded daily I have a Kari..a Deena..a Amy.. a Jnell.. a Toni..a Heidi..everyday they make it there job to remind me they are there and won’t be leaving anytime soon… they never waiver or give up.. they make me feel better about unloading on them.. they show me grace and understanding that I don’t often think I am worthy of. Rory has a Belle..a Lilly.. a Irelynn..a Sydney… true friends that just like their mothers make it a point to bring her sunshine on the cloudiest days.. that bring laughter and a lightness to her and make her feel like a carefree kid. I am reminded we have a forever home at IlluminaTe..a place Rory and I find refuge in and always are greeted with a million hugs and smiles when we walk through the door… a constant in our lives.. that heals us both and brings forth indescribable love and support. So as in life..bad always comes with good..and with the hurtful reminders come the reminders of healing. I may remember the life I once had and the person I was..but the reminders of this life and who I am now and who I am surrounded with make me realize and remind myself this is where I am suppose to be.. this is who i am.. and instead of focusing on the cant’s I focus on the I will someday and I will with those around me that remind me I am never alone and I am never less then what I once was. At the end of the day.. I am reminded I had another day.. and that reminder is the best reminder of all.

Masterpiece

One can find themselves in producing and appreciating art..or more like one can find themselves with who they are producing and appreciating this art with. There is something so calming and healing when painting or sketching.. the outside world stops and you get lost in your masterpiece.

Last night I got lost in my masterpiece..it wasn’t the American girl armoire that Rory and I set out to transform into a jewelry box that would house her shell necklaces and VSCO girl trinkets.. it wasn’t the intricate paintings we whimsically brushed onto our project.. the masterpiece I got lost in was Rory.. my greatest creation. I treasure nights like last night..moments where it’s just us and we are working together to create something beautiful. Moments where our phones are forgotten and Christmas music plays in the background.. moments where Rory once again heals and in her way helps me to see the world through her eyes.

Rory is a very gifted artist..the kind of art she does leaves a lasting impression on ones soul..Rory has a way of taking in every moment..seeing past what most don’t see.. finding beauty in things most wouldn’t consider beautiful or appealing… and embracing and celebrating this unconventional beauty. Rory takes every empty canvas..and fills it with the beauty she interprets..she transforms the dark and dissolute into the most remarkable pieces of art..Last night I was Rory’s empty canvas..Last night I was her project. Last night..she worked her artistry on me and made me take a second look at how I see things.

I have been asked a lot of questions over the years about my health struggles and fights.. I have been asked what is the hardest thing about this life and will it ever get better…do you remember and miss the old you..Rory has never asked me anything like this.. well..until last night. As I found myself getting lost in our DIY Pinterest project.. Rory caught me off guard and asked..Mom if you could take it all back and not have had the accidents happen..would you choose this you or the old you? I was speechless..couldn’t get out the right words..a little panicked for how do I answer this and especially considering who asked the question. In my head the answer rapidly fired off.. I would want to be the mom you had before all of this.. the mom that had it all together.. the mom that was never late and never missed a thing. The mom that for years didn’t have to cart you around to appointments.. testings and therapies. The mom that had a ton of energy and never needed to rest or say I can’t do that today. The mom you deserve and were robbed of. Before those words could hit my lips..Rory said.. I know my answer mom..I would choose this you..I’m glad the accidents happened.. I’m not glad they hurt you and made you sick.. but I am glad for how strong they made you..No one is stronger then you mom..I am glad because your heart is even bigger then it was before..and mom I love when you write.. that never happened until the accidents. I started to tear up and cry.. and then she said something I have never even thought about.. Rory said.. I have had this mom more of my life then the other mom..and this is the mom I will always want…this is the mom I will always choose..Just like that.. Rory took a empty canvas and filled it with the beauty she sees.. her interpretation of dark and dissolute.. is strong..big hearted and perfect just as it is.

Rory made me interpret the artwork of our lives differently. It is no secret Rory is my favorite artist and human on this planet..I have said it countless times before and will until my last breathe..she saves me every single day…she is the reason for every comeback and the fuel for every fight..the strength she speaks of is not mine..it in fact comes from her.. the heart she thinks is bigger.. well that is because I get to be her mom and was blessed enough to be given the chance to have this honor twice. Two people can look at the same piece of art… two people can tell you exactly what they see..sometimes it’s the others interpretation that we need to hear and learn from.. we all don’t see or view things the same..sometimes we choose to focus on one aspect and that focus takes away from a hidden or abstract piece of that artwork..It is always helpful to have another artist point out the things we couldn’t see… things that we may not have have appreciated at our first glance..things we may have misinterpreted in this masterpiece. Thankful for the girl that paints my world and always helps me to see the things at times I can’t. Thankful for my artist.. my Rory! You are the most beautiful piece of art.. you are my masterpiece! There isn’t a picture worth painting.. unless it is painted with you!

Two people can look at the same piece of art… two people can tell you exactly what they see..sometimes it’s the others interpretation that we need to hear and learn from.

Laura Lea

Invisible Disabilities Week

It’s invisible disabilities week.. a week focused on making those who feel invisible.. visible. A week to highlight and spread awareness on battles most never face or see. I am a proud member of the invisible disability club..I personally have been diagnosed with multiple invisible disorders or medically deemed disabilities…most of these I didn’t even know existed until they resided inside of my body and brain..most I can’t even pronounce. To be apart of this club.. you have to develop some pretty tough skin..you have to let the phrase..you look fine.. just roll off your back. You have to look past when others question.. are your struggles and health fights truly there or do you just need attention?? Sadly in life.. seeing is believing.. and for our club this makes the fight a little harder. You deal with some backlash.. when one day you can do things and then the next you can’t get out of bed.. you cancel a lot and at times lose friends and family because in their opinion you can’t just let it go and move on..they question why you are stuck on this and can’t move forward.. but the thing is this.. this is our life.. there is no moving past what is dwelling inside.. as much as we would love to not be stuck here..it isn’t our choice..as much as we hate to have our health dictate our lives.. it does..we have to listen to our bodies and accept a life and road we never wanted to travel on. Sometimes when you are stuck in the fog.. you get focused on your personal fights and forget to look around and realize there are others out there living this life just as you are. You may not have the same diagnosis or your club membership card doesn’t look the same.. but none the less.. they are traveling a journey they never thought they would have too.. they are grieving the old them.. they are stuck in between the world that existed and now exists.. trying too navigate just how to make it minute to minute and salvage the old to combine with the new. My dear friend Kara belongs to this club..her life has been forever changed and most will never even realize to what magnitude. Kara has multiple chemical sensitivity.. the world she lived in was turned upside down.. it turned into a world that she couldn’t exist in for that world could lead to numerous setbacks.. hospitalizations and as scary as it sounds take her out of our world. Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is her bodies reaction to all chemicals.. perfumes..products and lotions used on a daily basis by us all. It’s a disability that leads to overwhelming reactions to these products as well as smoke.. exhaust from cars and cleaning products. Being exposed to these items and environmental exposure to them..can compromise her health and immune system on multiple levels. Every outing.. every interaction with any human..any environment..impacts her health and triggers multiple symptoms. I can’t imagine the fear and anxiety attached to this struggle..giving your friend a hug can lead to a hospitalization and long road back to her baseline. Kara has always been the life of the party or any occasion.. her laugh alone sparks a chain reaction of endless smiles and laughter. Kara has always been one friend that is there for you in every single way..always present.. always excited to celebrate her family and friends. Kara has always been the most amazing and influential teacher.. loved by her students and colleagues..always involved and compassionate about those she felt honored to teach and work with .. she has won countless awards and been praised for her amazing role in her students lives. Kara is a hardcore athlete..not many want to face her on the golf course. These things that have defined her and enriched her life.. now have taken a toll on her health and forced her to walk away from a huge part of her heart and being. Kara is still that amazing teacher.. she teaches me daily how to get up and deal with a shitty hand.. how to make the most of each day and to always look on the bright side. Kara is still that hardcore athlete.. she battles.. braves snd beats this disability every single day! At times on my own journey I have felt alone.. misunderstood.. isolated.. but I could always meet up with a friend and work through it. Kara however does not have this luxury..a freshly showered friend or the detergent on their clothes could wipe her out and force her to lose days. Going to the grocery store for Kara is like stepping into a war zone.. I can’t imagine needing a gallon of milk and the fear and anxiety that is attached to something most of us don’t even think twice about. The grocery store.. the gas station.. school events could literally make it unable for her to breathe. I may never understand all she faces or feels.. but I see her..we all are very capable of seeing Kara and seeing others who look great but internally fight a war we never will. For a long time I just saw life through the eyes of my disability.. I couldn’t see past the fog to get another’s walk. So today..this week.. the week to promote invisible disability awareness and education..I find myself looking outside of the fog to try harder to understand and support those that feel alone.. invisible and exhausted from this life long battle. We may not have joined this club for the same reason..but everyone deserves to be supported and encouraged with all they face. Kara is still the beautiful.. strong.. hilarious friend she has always been.. it is my responsibility to take the precautions to bring the party to her. It takes a second to educate ourselves to give those we love a sense of security and stability. It takes a second to see another.. to see the road laid out before them and to make that road a easier road to travel! I will never forget the friend that found her way to my hospital bed.. who filled the room with laughter and light when I didn’t even feel like laughing or opening my eyes. I know we both didn’t choose this.. I know we both wish life didn’t lead us here.. but my friend..I am happy to be in this club with you.. I am happy to get the chance to watch you climb and conquer..and I feel blessed every time you give me a hug.. for I know what that could do to you..true friendship.. one sacrificing themselves just to make sure you know you are loved and not alone. Let’s look past ourselves and our battles to reach out to all those that are trying to just get through the day as best as they can! Invisible… visible.. disabled..not disabled.. recovered.. remission.. actively fighting..we all can take the time and steps to acknowledge.. empathize..include and support those that are trying to accept changes and regain independence and better days! Hey Kara.. you got this..thank you for once again teaching me about your journey and thank you even more for letting me be apart of your beautiful story! And for the record seeing is not believing..believing is seeing! 💚

Unbreakable

I never really understood the phrase the end all or be all until now. I have survived countless disasters.. some I couldn’t control and was simply dealt a rough hand. Others were by my poor decision making and choices. Regardless of what struggles I have faced and how they began..I beat them.. I fought past what tried to break me and I survived. I now am not afraid of anything or anyone.. for nothing can break me or be the end all of things for me or the be all for me! One thing can break me and that is the loss of Rory.. that is my end all be all. Anything other then that I can take on and destroy.. nothing will end me or hold me back. I get it now.. in the big picture.. things pass.. loss is felt as well as pain. Time ticks and you heal and learn to grow and adapt.. you have the choice to move past things and let them be and also have the choice to recreate yourself and your life..time and time again.. nothing can keep you in place or stuck.. but yourself. I get it now.. and I remain unbreakable.

Create the Life You Deserve and Love

My brain is running a mile a minute.. if only those runs burned calories. I guess in many ways my brain runs are shedding dead weight and processing through what needs to be dropped..let go..reformed and configured. Today was a day.. but it was the day.. I realized for too long I gave control to things and people who never even deserved the right to consume my thoughts.. my way of life.. and rob me of my identity. Too often we lose who we are.. whether through trauma.. loss..pain.. hardships or others words or actions. We stop believing that we are without limitations.. for this is our life and we have the choice and power to steer our own ship and sail to wherever our heart desires. We are capable of becoming who we want to be and we are capable of loving who we are on that destination. No one should determine or rob you of this right or power. We deserve to know and recognize our strengths and we alone get to recognize our faults and work on them as we choose. We feed into other’s darkness.. we internalize their hurt and we let them break us down for self gain and control.. but with that being said.. we alone have the power to recognize we have the strength to overcome and fight every evil act put upon us.. every haunting action and soul shattering word that crushed our souls and lead us to believe who and what we are. We alone have the tenacity to dig the deepest we ever have before and make the stance you will not control me with the manipulative seeds you planted that fester in my brain and body.. you don’t have the right to kill who I am.. take away all that makes me.. me! Eleanor Roosevelt said.. no one can make you inferior without your consent… those words.. that ideal is true for us all. When you find yourself lost and broken realize.. you are your hero.. you can break any chain that binds you to any soul and body breaking pain. You no longer have to accept limitations bc others have placed them on you. We must always find freedom in the choice of choosing who we are and what we are capable of.. we find freedom in knowing no one can break you but yourself… we find peace in knowing we don’t have to accept a life we never wanted.. we can rise each day and decide and recreate who we are.. a person strong and unbreakable for they know and always know.. they have themselves for any battle and they are unstoppable bc they said so and believe so. Never let anyone mold..form or compromise who you are..never give into the norm or what is expected of you..make a decision every single day to become who you are proud of. Figure out what you like..fall as many times as possible trying to achieve this.. climb every single day..not for anyone else but for you. Realize your child is watching your example and forming who they are.. realize your journey impacts theirs and the best gift you can give them is you…a strong.. confident.. badass.. who is unwilling to sacrifice themselves or compromise themselves for others expectations and social norms. Be you.. and take any steps required to reach this personal Utopia. Cut out all that hurts you and puts standards and defines you! You get to decide who you are and what you want..so wake every day with eyes that see the best in the world and others.. but also eyes that see the best in you and celebrate and embrace this daily! Love deeply and give out as much love as you can.. but remember to love yourself first.. for that love will grow deeper and be more powerful if it comes from a pure and strong source. And above all.. remember every day.. every minute.. every second is another chance to create the life you deserve and love.

The Journey Begins

I lately have found myself taking steps back..not going in the wrong direction or heading backwards on my journey. Not being pushed back on a road I have already traveled. The step back.. is a step away from myself.. to see things outside of my narrow self focused view..my own world I too often get stuck in and consumed with.

When you take a step back and see the world with different eyes you start to realize others are taking steps..scary steps..exhausting steps..steps alone. Their steps are the steps that push them away from where they want to be.. the steps that push them down and make them feel like they are being left behind. A step can change ones own life.. a step forward or a step towards another.. can be all that makes the difference in the walk of life. To think without a step back from ourselves.. we wouldn’t be able to make sure another holds their ground or makes that next step forward.

We all are wearing our watches..or have our daily step counters on our phones..out of all of those figures and calculations.. how many of those movements are towards others..how many steps a day are we making with the effort to help another meet a goal or just make it through the day? I have stood still countless days..focused on how to make my own steps forward..idle with self consumption…focused on not taking backward steps on my journey.. being concerned with my destination. Unaware of what others are trying to step past or move forward from.. unaware of where they want to go. That’s the thing about life.. it’s easy to get lost in your own daily mileage.. it’s easy to feel the weight that holds you back from moving forward and running your ideal race.. that very race is a lonely race against yourself..structured and consumed with you.. you forget to make sure everyone crosses the finish line with you on that kind of a race. When you are so focused on your race.. the time it takes you to get to the end..you forget there are others out there that can’t even make it to the race.. there are others out there that need you to race towards them or for them. We all have countless races life signs us up for..all important and challenging races.. but for one to realize their race isn’t the only race out there.. for one to look past what they are trying to move away from..that is the key to moving forward. It’s no secret.. we only heal when we look past ourselves and learn to consume our thoughts and actions with others. Why race solo when you can be apart of a pretty amazing relay team.. a team that hands off and hands over a baton..a baton that symbolizes what another goes through..it seems small at the hand off.. but when another takes on that weight and helps to lift it away from one of their running buddies.. it’s freeing.. and it’s comforting to let go a little.. for someone is running with you and for you.

I will continue to take steps back from me.. so I can take steps forward with others.. I’m will continue to look around and realize everyone is just trying to make it to the finish line. Crossing the line alone.. seems uneventful..empty.. and lonely.. no one to celebrate with.. void of all things that made you want so badly to step forward too.. crossing the line with others.. well that is a celebration I can get down with! It’s funny when you are taking steps with others on their journey..you forget where you were going..you forget your destination and the need to be there..your focus turns to another’s destination and your need to make sure they get there.. their steps become your steps..their destination becomes yours..it’s a lonely walk alone..so remember to take a step back it will always be a step in the right direction.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

40 & Grateful

Been stuck on a day lately.. a day that hasn’t even arrived..in true over thinking fashion I have been consumed with my up coming 40th birthday. I know.. it’s a funny thing to be consumed with..there are so many other pressing issues in the world and in other’s worlds around me. I have been realizing lately my focus on this day has been surrounded by the last eight years. The pending doom of this momentous life event has been encompassed by injuries..illness and overall lost time.

I think in years past before all of the chaos and change I had projected or saw my life at this point in a different place..I had value or had placed value on all of the wrong things. Recently at a specialist appointment.. my doctor who has been with me these past 8 years.. brought up my birthday and the excitement he had for this day. In a pessimistic snarky fashion I of course offered him a sarcastic explanation of where I was exactly at emotionally with the day’s arrival. I of course got into a highly dramatic Debbie downer type monologue about how I hadn’t really accomplished much during the last almost decade..I hadn’t shined professionally or had an outstanding career full of accomplishments or merit.. I hadn’t traveled the world or really hit much on my bucket list. I sat there and just reamed myself for where I was and who I wasn’t at this time and by this day. My doctor of course reamed me back and snapped me back into reality..he said I don’t see the past road that got you here in that way at all.. you have accomplished more then most and have done it even with a smile on your face..never gave into the possibility of not making impossible things possible. He said you have overcame all that has been thrown at you and continue too..he said you were never suppose to make it this far and every ideal that we had for where you should be..you hit that and kept going..He said instead of focusing on the reasons life got off track.. why not be grateful for the track..the route.. the journey that most don’t get.. the journey where I had the chance to find out who I was truly suppose to be..the journey where I learned what I was made of and was blessed to see the world as I do.

At that appointment it went in one ear and out the other and I know in my head at that time.. I was thinking like you know, whatever dude. But that day turned into the next and then a week or so went by.. and I started to over think again and started to take a self inventory of the last eight years and what accomplishments were bestowed upon me. I say bestowed for they are gifts..not gifts of monetary increments… not gifts of material possessions or photos or souvenirs to have proof of all the places I have been. For all the things that I don’t have.. I have a movie reel of the best material.. Oscar worthy footage of life that plays over and over again with the best cast and supporting cast.. literally and figuratively! I have had years.. days and moments that have truly taken my breath away.. that have made me realize there is more good in the world then most will even know.. I have witnessed miracles.. I have even been apart of them…I have had countless real conversations with those I value most.. I have been welcomed into their worlds at their worst times.. have gotten to stand with them when they fall and then with them as they climb and conquer. I have had new hellos.. picked up new travel partners along my journey.. I have had goodbyes and the heartbreak that goes hand and hand with we shall see each other again one day. I have welcomed four new nieces and nephews these past eight years.. and most importantly I have had 5,110 days of Rory..dance recitals.. home work and years filled with laughter..inside jokes and secret handshakes.. I have watched her grow into my hero..a girl who truly teaches me how to approach and react to every life situation with grace and understanding. I have learned everything that has happened to me has been to shape and mold her for bigger things.. she may just be the one who changes the TBI world for so many.. I have had both of my parents here with me..Spent day after day with my mother’s love and watched her never waiver in anything that life has thrown at us…sadly..so many cannot say the same. Have watched my brothers grow and blossom into amazing husbands..dads ..and men. Have experienced larger then life occurrences that have made me walk away knowing there is a plan and def a higher power.

Life has had the same reoccurring plot line.. and with age you start to see the pattern and flow of the messages we are given. For starters..tomorrow is never guaranteed.. hell the next hour actually isn’t.. so embrace every second of the day.. be thankful for when those seconds turn into minutes and so on. Stop stressing about the future..why get yourself all worked up on a day that isn’t even here yet( hence this writing).. worrying about tomorrow or the tomorrows of life will not only produce an anxiety driven colossal shit storm.. but will take away the focus of today.. the NOW! Embrace the suck.. when life hands you lemons.. add some sugar possibly some vodka and choke it down..take on each moment as it occurs in your life and try with every ounce in your body to control your reaction to it. Realize gifts can be packaged in the most unappealing wrapping..but once you get through that unattractive covering.. it’s not only one gift inside but countless gifts of life lessons and opportunities to learn and grow. Walk away from each conversation feeling as if that were your last convo with someone you both know in your hearts..there is love and things are right in your soul with those you get the honor of being here with. Take on the brave moments or dig deep for that 20 seconds of insane courage to let others know how you feel about them or even about you.. don’t ever let a word or an opportunity to build another up pass you by. Be a fan to others who are struggling but also to others that are shining.. appreciate their gifts and the moments they have brought to your life. Sit back and take it all in.. inhale each second.. embrace each second until you are forced to exhale. Live by the five year rule.. will this really matter or hold weight in five years..most things that consume me from time to time.. won’t.. and the things that will.. try your best to just dig deeper.. climb harder and get through them with the realization that this is one of those gifts masked in shit.. but on the other side of it is pure beauty. Realize life is full of crazy.. crazy occurrences and yes crazy people.. realize you cannot control either and it’s okay to throw your hands up and walk away. Yes ..you will lose.. lose time.. lose people and at some points lose your mind..but remember with every loss there is a chance to learn and reinvent yourself and gain in ways you never knew possible. It takes far less energy to be a fan to others and a fan of yourself…then to sit back and criticize and judge..so celebrate your wins and your losses..for they are all tied up in this crazy journey that we get to live. Life for me has been all about connections..roots that extend towards others and intertwine.. growth together and also growth at times away from another..be happy for the seasons of life where you grew with another and the future growth that will take place with those around you. As my friend Donna said.. be happy for when your journeys intersect..cherish these crossings. Emerson my favorite writer encompassed the notion to never leave or walk away from another without knowing bc of you their life was a little better in that moment or brighter in that day..that the victory is realizing your impact has had a positive effect on their life. Let go of your past.. of course always remember it.. but stop being trapped and encaged by things that have already happened.. you are the only one who possess the keys to unlock the past and break the chains that hold you back..let these things mold you into a scholar of life but don’t let these things determine or dissolve your future days. Realize your success in life is based on moments..your years are filled with memories and leave a legacy that will live on with others when you leave this world. Realize this is the pregame and your working towards the final destination. Life has never been about what you have..it has been about who you have and what you share with them. It has taken me almost 40 years to learn this and the last 8 years has made it possible for me to see clearly through the daily fog of overwhelming circumstances. So I may not have made it to Greece yet..or have a million dollars in my bank account waiting for me to burn through..I may not have developed anything revolutionary or wrote a best selling novel.. but I have wrote a best selling life..filled with the most heroic and extraordinary chapters about ordinary occurrences. I have found my way to others hearts and have allowed others into mine and that has made my soul account more full of things that money could never buy. Time is a gift.. each birthday and day is to be celebrated. I hope I get another 40.. I hope I get to learn more from the upcoming years.. and I just pray I get one more day or moment to kiss Rory before bed and do our night time ritual or competition of who loves the other more..I have accomplished a lot these past years..I have been successful and well accomplished in matters of the heart…the awards are those in my life.. their smiles.. their hearts and their openness to let me grow with them. I know the next 40 years will be filled with loss.. change and reinvention..god willing I get those years and days. The best things in life are free..they are people..animals too..moments..memories and love.. without those we haven’t accomplished much. So I guess I owe my doctor a big thank you.. for opening my eyes and setting me on the right path..he was just implementing what I just wrote about.. I walked away from him and he planted a seed..we all are capable of planting seeds in others gardens and watering those seeds and standing back and admiring their growth into strong beautiful vessels… who in fact will pay forward to the garden of life..That is an accomplishment..waking up each day as the best version of you is the biggest accomplishment.. what a esteemed award and privilege to see your mark on the world.. your impact and light welcomed and embraced. I may feel the wear and tear of 40..but the key point is.. I’m feeling it. So the day doesn’t seem so dissolute or dark anymore..I got through the first layer of the unattractive covering.. to realize the gift..embrace it and celebrate it! I’m taking it in and realizing that my self inventory is full of countless success stories and awards..but more importantly.. it’s full of people and my love for them and their love for me..that love has kept me going when I didn’t think I could..funny thing about life and here is one last reoccurring lesson..you never are alone..when knocked down and clothed in darkness you always have to look up..look up towards the hands that are extended to you and up to the ones that makes this all possible.

So I’m thinking 40 will be fabulous..how could it not be…I’m surrounded by all of you and surrounded by love and grace! Looking forward to more of those moments..the moments where you sit with a friend and you talk about how you got here and how you couldn’t have made it without them. Those moments that take your breath away and fill your soul with the hope for tomorrow! Just to be clear I have 3 weeks left until 40.. embracing 39 a little longer! Hope the day is a day of countless celebrations..happy Monday my friends.. you have made me the most accomplished and grateful soon to be 40 year old! 💗

Artwork by RoryMad