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.

A George Bailey Moment

Crazy to think it is already November..the hands of time tick at light speed these days.. before we even notice the day has almost ended and we are focused on prepping for what the next shall bring. The clock ticks a little slower in the morning when I enjoy my pre-chaotic cup of coffee.. okay who am I kidding multiple cups of coffee and stumble upon my fb feed that is filled with daily testimonies of thankfulness. I enjoy reading what my friends and family are daily celebrating and giving thanks for.. as well as taking a trip down memory lane and reading my past November daily posts of what I am most thankful for.

Much really hasn’t changed for me.. I’m am thankful for every tomorrow.. for every smile I get to see on my daughter’s face and for every big and little moment shared with those I love. I am thankful for forgiveness and second chances.. the ability to not only practice those but accept those as well.. and I am thankful for every moment I feel peace and inner acceptance. I realize November is the month we focus a little more on what we are thankful for…but just maybe if we carried November’s mentality over into the next month and year.. our thankfulness and gratefulness will produce even more to cherish and praise!

Yes.. I’m having another George Bailey moment.. smiling and mentally saying in my head.. that a boy Clarence… but just maybe if we focused on every day as a gift.. and lived if it were our last.. how many magnificent occurrences that we may look over or pass by.. would we consider miracles or moments that take our breath away.

So I’m thankful for another day.. a day as Rory’s Mom.. I’m thankful for every moment that made this day what it was.. every conversation.. laugh and smile shared with others.. I’m thankful just to be here and to know every moment.. every second is a gift and to be cherished! Also thankful I have a 56 pack of K-cups in my kitchen.. just saying! I also am very thankful for you!

Photo credit: https://images.app.goo.gl/suFZA1JocpKvG1dY6

Shopping with a Brain Injury

To shop with a brain injury is a lot like playing basketball with a tennis ball..it’s frustrating..overwhelming..and just plain tiring..but this time of year one can’t let the stresses or stimulation keep them down! So sure enough my mom and I embarked on our mission..on our third stop we popped in and out of target at the speed of light..mom and I had both had enough of the holiday hustle and bustle..as we were driving off..I spotted a woman wandering through the parking lot..she appeared lost..confused and so overwhelmed..without thinking I got out of the moving car..in fact scared my mom so bad she reached to grab me and I sadly slammed the door on her hand (sorry mom..love you) I walked up to this soul..here she was one arm..switching her other arm between her cane and pulling her cart..I said can I help you..she smiled and said yes..we walked all over the parking lot..and then she stopped and said to me while she started to cry..you must think I am so dumb..I lose my car every single day..I was in a bad accident..have a brain injury..had a stroke and some things just never came back..and without thinking I said I get that..she looked at me and said..you too..and then I said yeah me too..then she said but you look so good..in a split second she corrected herself and said but then again you can look good and be sick..can’t see your brain..we shared our stories..had some laughs about us two tbi gals living in this world..we found her car and I loaded it for her..as I was about to say good bye and walk away she said can I ask you a question..I said yes..she said are you an angel..I said no..I’m a mom who happens to just love people..then she asked if she could hug me..and I said of course..while she held me close she whispered into my ear and said don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad for being you and don’t ever let anyone including your momma tell you..you can’t do something..I started to cry ..we said our final good byes..she apologized for my sister having to wait for me( which made mom smile) and then with a tear running down my cool cheek..I realized in fact I was the one who met the angel!!! Life is so amazing..amazing how our paths can cross with some of the world’s most amazing people..crazy two people struggling with one issue can meet in a random parking lot on a Thursday!! Life is good..and once again found what I needed at Target..just not in the physical sense!!!! Peace and love!!! Smile…I am!

This is a look back from my journal, December 21, 2013.

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! 💚

The Places You Will Go

Having a brain injury is much like living in a Dr. Seuss book..there are ups and downs and all the way arounds.. forwards and backwards and twist and turns on your colorful and very animated journey. Just like the flip of a page in one of his classic tales..you never know what to expect as the days of life turn.

He once said, “You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes.. you can steer yourself whichever way that you choose.”.. remarkable and profound words.. such a brilliant reminder that we can control our destiny. Of course we cannot control outside influences or things that will happen from page to page.. but we certainly are equip to use our mental and physical strengths to overcome any fork in the road or path we are uncertain about traveling.

We may have speed bumps that slow us down or road blocks that stand in the way of our destinations in life.. but we are capable and strong enough to work around these both. Bad things will happen on our journey.. but that does not mean the story is over.. we have the brain power to overcome and approach anything that is thrown at us and rise! We have all heard the quote 10 percent is what happens to you and 90 percent is how we react.. it’s very true.. if we can remind ourselves to slow down.. breathe and regroup.. we can change our thinking and turn any negative experience into a positive learning platform. Of course we always have to remember we can only control ourselves and our reactions.. the fight is letting go the need to control others or expect others to feel and react as you do!

Dr. S said, “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive that is you-er than you!” So my friends on this beautiful day celebrate you and all you have overcome in this life.. celebrate that you know your strengths and you are capable of overcoming any zany twist or turn that pops up along the way! Happy Monday.. and always remember.. the more you read the more you know.. the more you learn the more places you will go! Safe travels!

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