Happy New Year! It’s already the 5th of January (the 6th by the time you’re reading this), and I feel like this year is off to a quick start. I took some time before the end of the year to reflect on 2021 and set some intentions for 2022. If you read my last post, then you know 2021 was a rough year. I spent a lot of time stressed and struggling, up until the last couple of months. As much as I hated the struggle at the time, I’m grateful for it now because it did what struggle always does – gave me perspective and taught me some things to take forward.Continue reading “Out of Your Head, Into Your Body”
Tag: New Years
New Name, New Web Address, Same (Sort of) Blog!
Ch-ch-ch-changes! You might’ve noticed things look just a bit different here on the blog. That’s because I’ve undergone a name and domain change! When I started this blog, two years ago almost to the day, my focus was on writing. I built a blog site to coincide with my journalism degree. Well friends, in exactly one year, after only four more classes, my degree will be complete!
Over the last two years on the blog I’ve found both my voice, and my passion. I began this blog as a basic lifestyle blog, but it has definitely taken a hard right turn to health and wellness. Because…that is my passion! For the last decade (and counting), I’ve spent countless hours researching diet and its impact on overall health, diet and disease, and a holistic — meaning seeing the body as a whole rather than in pieces — lifestyle. So it only makes sense that is what I would end up writing about most.
For that reason, I’ve decided to move from a “catch-all” lifestyle blog, to a health and wellness website, focusing specifically on plant based nutrition. I have so many plans for the coming year, and I hope you will stick around for the expansion!
You might’ve noticed I said website instead of blog. That is because I want to move beyond “just” blogging and share more resources. One of the items on my “wish list”, so-to-speak, is to give my recipes their own menu (already implemented into the design), and also work on getting the plugin to truly format them as recipes — meaning to be printable, shareable, and contain a “jump to recipe” button.
This requires upgrading from a premium plan to a business plan, which is more than double the annual price, just to have access to that plugin. So while this is a wish list item, and something I likely will do in the not-too-distant future, for right now it is more of a want than a goal.
What is a goal right now, is to get certified. I’ve spent years self-teaching on nutrition. I’ve read books, articles and studies. I’ve watched interviews and documentaries. I’ve even taken a couple of elective courses in college that were centered around diet and nutrition. What I know now that I am nearing the end of my journalism degree, is that I want to write about diet and nutrition, specifically the link between diet and disease. While it may be too late to declare a minor in nutrition, it isn’t too late to get some formal education.
My intention is to enroll in a certificate program on nutrition, which would be the equivalent of having minored in that subject area, and then I will be, first and foremost, more credible as a diet and lifestyle writer, but also be certified to coach people on nutrition and lifestyle choices. This will allow me to provide real, one-on-one help for people who are trying to adopt or maintain a healthy way of life.
I haven’t made my final decision just yet — but my top pick for certification is on holistic nutrition. I’ve found a program with an impressive course list that I’m really excited about, and will very likely be enrolling soon! It is pricey, but there is so much in the courses that I very much want to learn and I think it will be money well spent.
With that said, my more long-term plans are to move into coaching and counseling. I also have several ideas in mind to coincide with this, such as meal plans, meal prepping, cooking videos (hello YouTube channel??), writing more about yoga, meditation, sleep, movement, posture…all of the things that come together to make up “holistic” health…newsletters, recipes, etc.
I do hope those of you who have been following the blog will come along for this new ride! And if this is your first time on this site — welcome, and I hope you will join the journey!
Setting Goals for 2020 + A Review of My Goals for 2019
It is so hard to believe that we are here; recounting the end of another year and setting goals for the next. It still feels in so many ways like 2019 just began, and in three more weeks it will be behind us.
I began 2019 with some goals that I set for myself in my post My 2018 Farewell and Anticipation for All 2019 Will Bring. So what were these goals and how have I done?
#1 – Sleep
My insomnia made a comeback in 2018, and I entered 2019 still battling it. The work it took in my daily and bedtime routine to combat this was tedious, but it worked. About halfway through 2019 I was finally back to sleeping normally…or as normally as sleep can ever be for me. I wake easily, and my internal clock is so strict that sleeping in is an impossibility for me. But, I now fall asleep easily and the early waking happens very intermittently. So I consider this goal conquered!
#2 – Yoga
On this I feel I haven’t done so well. I did great at the start of the year, but then life changed. I met a man, entered a relationship, and my focus shifted in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I suddenly found myself busy with making time for him, and the time I was giving to myself slipped a lot. About six months into our relationship, when the new was wearing off and we were settling into a place of familiarity and comfort, we had a talk about our individual lives and what we needed to take care of ourselves separately, as well as our relationship.
Each of us began once again making time for the things we needed for self-care, and for me that meant resuming my yoga routine. I have been doing much better recently with this, but I did fail at any type of consistency throughout the entire middle of the year and am far behind where I saw myself being my the end of 2019. Another reminder of why it is so important not to lose sight of your own needs when you enter a relationship — something I am very grateful that Michael both understands, and agrees with me about.
#3 – Explorative Cooking
On this, I have done extraordinarily well. I’ve tried and developed numerous recipes throughout the year, and continued my education on health and nutrition. In fact, I am wrapping up the year trying another thing that is new for me — making plant based cheeses using ingredients I have never worked with before, like nutritional yeast, tapioca starch and agar powder. I’m learning that these cheese substitutes are so good that I, a self-proclaimed cheese addict, can be completely content and satisfied using them in place of cheese in my cooking. I am ending the year much more plant centered than I was at the beginning.
#4 – Fun & Discovery
Specifically I said that I wanted to “try new things, go new places, meet more people, learn all that I can, and have at least one fun experience every week”. I began the year making sure I got out of the house at least once a week, and frequently by myself rather than with a group, so that I was open to the new experiences and meeting new people. This goal turned out to be the biggest life-changer for me, because it allowed me to meet Michael, which has changed everything about my future.
The day that I met him, I wasn’t feeling it. My insomnia had not yet been conquered and my sleepless days were many. I was having one of those days when I met him. My friend Zach invited me to join him, his girlfriend and her sister at the monthly Beer:30 event hosted at his workplace. I was tired and miserable and just wanted to go home and go to bed, but I remembered the promise I’d made to myself for this year. And so I sucked it up and I went anyway. After all, I had kids at home so it’s not like I could just go home and go to bed. I only had to make it at the event for an hour, then I could go home. So I went, and Michael went with his uncle, who is also a friend of Zach’s. The rest, as they say, is history.
#5 – Passion
The goal was to focus more on my writing, specifically through blogging (which I have done well with), writing a book (which I basically haven’t touched since I met Michael), and freelance writing (I did do an article for a magazine this year). So much of my time and focus has been spent on both Michael, and on continuing my education on nutrition and blogging, that the book has definitely suffered. However, as much as I don’t like falling behind on it, I do not consider this a failure since the places my energies have been focused are very important. An important lesson I’ve learned this year is that there just isn’t enough time to do it all.
#6 – Stop People Pleasing
I’ve probably done better at this than anything else. It’s like a switch was flipped somewhere inside, and I no longer allow myself to feel obligated to things that I don’t want to do. Sometimes I do still feel guilty about not participating in things, especially in work events or special events in the lives of people I care about. But going back to the last sentence on the previous paragraph — there truly is not enough time to do it all, and one of the most important things to me is not feeling stressed or anxious. What creates feelings of stress and anxiety? Trying to take on more than I can handle. My life is plenty busy without adding to it obligations to things that I don’t have time for.
This concludes the review of my goals for 2019, which means it’s time to start setting goals for 2020.
What are some big changes for me? First, obviously, is my relationship status. No longer am I thinking of myself individually, but also of myself as part of a couple. This definitely has an influence on the goals I will set for myself. Other changes are in the health of those I love, which have pushed me even farther into my focus on nutrition, diet, and cancer and chronic diseases. Two people close to me have been diagnosed with some type of lymphoma in 2019, and an uncle passed away very suddenly at the age of 57, on the day after Thanksgiving.
In talking to my stepmom, I learned that my dad hasn’t had a checkup in all the years that she’s known him, and my mom also admitted that she has not had a health screen in about five years. Here I am, laser-focused on health and nutrition, and some of the people closest to me are deficient in this area. I talked to my grandparents the other day and landed on the topic of nutrition and cancer, and explained some things that I’ve learned over the years. My grandpa said, “you should’ve studied some sort of nutrition or been in the medical field.” You better believe this has an impact on what I want to do in 2020, and the decade that will follow.
With that, here are my goals for 2020
#1 – Get More Plant-based.
The more I learn about the link between diet and disease, the more I want to eat plant-based. Since it isn’t just me that I have to cook for, I can’t make the unilateral decision to make everyone plant-based. I can, however, make some adjustments so that we are eating more plants and less animals. A compromise of sorts, between their desires and my own. To do this, I’m setting some bullet points for myself:
- Reduce dairy to only once per week
- Which means making more cheese alternatives in meals
- Reduce meat to three servings per week
- Eat fully plant-based four days per week
- Which means portioning out parts of some meals for me that I can make with beans or nuts instead of meat
- Start pushing kids more on making healthy choices
- Reduce dairy to only once per week
#2 – Speak Up About Health
Because people only really like to hear things that confirm their beliefs, which is called confirmation-bias, they tend to be resistant to information that disagrees with them. For that reason, I’ve adopted an “if they ask, I’ll share” policy around health. I don’t want people to feel like I’m telling them they’re wrong or like I’m pressuring them to be different.
What I want to do is find some common ground on this. Find opportunities to share information when and where I can. And lead by example — share more about what I’m eating day-to-day. Prepare plant-based dishes for gatherings. Just talking about it more will expose people to it more, which in turn will pique curiosity and encourage more openness. I also will make a point to talk to those closest to me more about their health and encourage them to be proactive. The less the people I care about get sick, the happier all of us will be.
#3 – Physical Fitness
I want to make sure I’m doing yoga five times per week. I’ve recently begun doing some morning yoga a couple of times per week and I’ve really liked that. Working in this routine sometimes means putting my hair in a bun and going to work sans-makeup, but so be it! I’m in an office and only see a handful of people throughout the day anyway.
I also want to start walking more. I used to do this a lot, but have definitely fallen away from it. I’ve moved so much of my focus to yoga that I’ve let this slip. I believe there is room and time for both, if I only make it a priority. This could also be something I can get Michael to do with me…wink, wink since I know you’re reading this 😉
#4 – Go Out with Friends
This is something that, a year ago, I never would’ve imaged I’d need to add to my goals. Since Michael and I have been together, he’s received a huge chunk of my time…as it should be, in all honesty. But I also realize that I’ve spent less time with my friends. I used to be the “group planner”, and over the last few months I’ve definitely not been so great at coordinating outings and inviting people out.
I used to go out for drinks with friends every week, and now it is more sporadic. I want to start making it a point to get together with friends like I used to at least every other week. I have to make adjustments for my relationship, but I definitely want my friendships to be a priority as well. I love my tribe!
#5 – Stick to my Budget
This is something that I’ve had a hard time doing recently. In the last six months, only one month did I stay under budget. Mind you I’m not blowing it completely out of the water. But I would prefer to not go over it at all, and that will be my goal for next year. Which means no spontaneous spending without factoring it into my monthly budget. And I also need to work a “going out” category into my budget as well.
#6 – Grow my Relationship
Since I am in a relationship going into this new year, it certainly makes the list. Michael has been wonderful, and I honestly wouldn’t change a single thing about us. With that said, we’ve been together for eight months and that means we still have so many things to discover about each other and so many milestones ahead of us. I want to focus this year on doing things that will continue building the foundation for a future, and maybe start discussing that future more by the end of 2020.
#7 – My Reading List
This is something I do every year, but my decision to increase my number of books in 2019 failed. Again, my new relationship took up a good chunk of my time and I’ve read less as a result. So for 2020 I’m decreasing my goal from 36 books, back to 24 books, which is what it’s always been prior to 2019.
These are my goals for the upcoming year, so all that is left is my theme. For 2019, my word of the year was Adventure. The corresponding color for adventure was orange. I was in a place of discovery when I began 2019, and discover I did — in so many ways!
Going into 2020 I am in a very different place. While I will always have an adventurous spirit, I have fallen into a place of satisfaction in my life. What I want for 2020 is a season of peace while growing into the future.
Word of the year:
Color of the year:
I’ve already purchased a new bullet journal and began setting it up with this new theme. I’m ready to tackle a brand new year, and all that it may bring.
What are your hopes and dreams for the upcoming year? I hope you achieve them all ❤
In Closing — Recounting Another Year and the Ending of a Decade
Somehow we find ourselves here, propelled to the end of a year that still feels in so many ways to be just beginning. It is December; a month of celebration, gratitude, and reflection. It is a little special this year because not only is it the ending of a year, but the ending of another decade — a decade in which so many things have changed.
How do I cover so much in such a short span? 10 years ago was December of 2009. I was newly single, divorced in February of 2009 (divorce finalized in April). In November I began a new job in banking, at which I just celebrated my 10-year anniversary on November 16th of this year. 2009 was a major life-shifting year for me, and I began the new decade on January 1, 2010 with nothing but the unknown ahead of me.
Over these last 10 years I have done so much that I never dreamed I would do. When I was growing up I always thought that I would get married, have kids, live the traditional life with the bread-winning husband and fill a role as mother, wife and care-taker. I never really knew there was another option for me as a woman. It was not until this last decade that I navigated the realities of life and shifted my perspective. I am a mom, but I learned that “mom” is not my identity. It is something I do; the most important thing that I do. But it is only one piece of who I am. My identity does not come from being a mom, or from being a wife/girlfriend, etc. It comes from being true to who I am and living for myself just as much as for those I love.
I learned that I should have stuck to my original dream of becoming a writer, as I am now, finally, nearing the end of my degree in journalism. I have become a freelance writer and had pieces published in a local newspaper and local magazine, I’ve built this blog to both fulfill my longing to write and share my passion for diet and health, and even started writing a book. But the journey to get here was long.
I got an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education because I got pregnant right as I was starting college and was completely lost on the direction I wanted my life to go. So I chose Early Childhood Education because I thought it would help me become a better mother, and because I greatly value education and literacy. But a teacher I am not; after teaching at the preschool level for a couple of years I knew that it was not the career for me. As a single mother, spending all of my days surrounded always by small children left me feeling stressed rather than fulfilled.
So I left teaching and went into banking. It was supposed to be a temporary move until I figured out what I wanted to do. And it turned out — I really liked my new job! I enjoy (nerd alert) economics, especially macro economics, and my new job related very much to that. So I decided to seek a business degree for my bachelor’s. What I learned in the process is that the only part of business I actually like is economics! The rest of my classes I hated, and as soon as I started business stats, I knew it wasn’t for me. I am not a mathematical person, I am a linguistic and artistic person. It was like trying to force my right foot into a left shoe; it just didn’t fit.
In my job, I work processing SBA (Small Business Administration) loans, which means I get to help small business owners make their dreams come true — without having to spread financials. A lender has to do that, and I get to do the work of preparing documents for closing, booking and maintenancing loans, submitting reports to SBA, and constantly keeping up-to-date on new and changing SBA mandates and government regulations. And I love it!
I also worked my way into this position, which requires either a 4-year-degree or the equivalent experience in banking, with my only completed degree being in Early Childhood Education. I am here, in a job that requires a bachelor’s degree in some sort of business or finance, without the degree in business or finance. Which means I am free to get my degree in whatever I want. And a couple of years ago that is exactly what I decided to do. Right before I started this blog I was accepted at UMass Amherst University Without Walls, and have been studying there part-time ever since. As of the end of this semester, I have four classes left to complete my degree!
It took about eight years to get from being lost about my future, to knowing exactly what I wanted for myself and taking the steps to make it happen. And I didn’t get there by accident.
What I mean by that is, in order to reach the point of focusing on my writing and studying journalism, I first had to find myself. Yeah, I know, “find myself”. What a cliché. But oh, how real that is. I married my high school sweetheart and had my first child at 19, and my second at 21. I grew up in a family where not one single person in my immediate family, on either my dad’s or mom’s side, had been college educated. Plenty of them were smart enough to — my dad and my maternal grandfather both are incredibly intelligent and talented in so many ways, they could have moved mountains had they lived through different times, grown up in a different family, or lived in a different place.
In fact, my father never even finished high school. And yet he is himself now a small business owner and has done very well for himself in life, and I am proud of him for that. I am also extraordinarily proud of my grandfather for managing to build a future for himself and his family on a high school diploma and a career in a coal mine, where he dedicated countless hours and worked his way through to a financial security that I hope and pray to repeat after him in my own life endeavors.
Now here I am, the first on either side of the family to have a college degree, and soon to be the first to have a bachelor’s degree. This journey has taught me so much more than I ever knew possible, and has given me deep respect for education. It is about so much more than just learning math, science and literature. It is about exposure to the unknown, and embracing the unexpected. It is about gaining knowledge in areas that are not our expertise, and allowing that knowledge and that experience to shape and change us.
I have discovered countless things that I never received from my upbringing, diet and a healthy lifestyle being only a part of it. All of those things have changed my views and perspectives, and have allowed me to learn on a much deeper level, who I really am. Not all of that discovery, however, came from education. A great deal of it came from facing my demons.
My parents separated when I was 11 and divorced when I was 12; right as I was hitting adolescence and learning the skills that would carry me into adulthood. Neither of my parents knew the “right” way to handle things, and for that I most definitely forgive them. But it took a very long time to reach that point. I spent the remainder of my childhood essentially raising myself. My mom moved away, and I was left with my dad who was never much of a touchy-feely type and became focused on new girlfriends and finding his way in a new life he hadn’t expected to be living.
I had my maternal grandparents, who I had always been close to but had quickly become my rock and still hold that role to this day. They will always be my guideposts for everything that I do, and as I round out this decade they remain one of the things for which I will always be most grateful.
Due to a disagreement with my father’s relationship choices, I left my hometown to live with my mom when I was a sophomore in high school. I was back with my mom, stepdad, and brand new sister who had just turned a year old. I had fallen off the educational wagon during junior high, but by the time I made the move to my mom’s, I had gotten myself back to being an honor student and remained there for the rest of high school. It is something that I can proudly take credit for myself, and also give credit to my grandparents for since they drilled the value of education into my head constantly from the moment I was old enough to speak.
In spite of improving my grades and giving myself a chance for a future, I still carried a great deal of anger, hurt, and animosity toward my parents and the way they handled things with me following their divorce. I felt that after they divorced, they forgot about me. They each turned to their new lives and left me to fend for myself. I carried that with me for many years, until 2015.
In 2015, I finally faced those demons. I had been very lost, and also had become very good at hiding what was going on inside, for a long time. I always thought “I know what is wrong with me, I can fix this by myself”. But I was wrong. I finally reached a point where I was tired of feeling lost, broken, insecure, undeserving of love, and like I wasn’t enough. I was exhausted from trying to win the battle on my own, and I finally sought out someone to help me navigate it all. Her name is Brenda, and she is a licensed counselor in my hometown. It might have been my choice to seek her out, but it is she who deserves the credit for where I am today.
Working with her changed me. Just 10 minutes into my first session she pinpointed the reason for everything that I felt, everything I had done in my life up until that point, even the reason I ended up repeatedly in the same type of unhealthy romantic relationships. We spent the remaining few sessions working through that reason, which was a combination of my parents divorce and my relationship with my mom.
I am happy to report that my mom and I have a good relationship. I have no more anger or resentment towards her or my dad, and all of us are now in places in our lives where we are happy and thriving. The three of us made missteps in the aftermath of their divorce that we have healed from. And my healing came solely because I chose to cast aside the stigma of “needing therapy”, and I got that damn therapy! I needed it, and I am a die-hard believer in it because I’ve seen the power behind it. So if you are still reading this far in — please, I urge you to remove any stigma you might see in this. If you are struggling, please reach out for help. It will be the best thing you ever do for yourself.
As a quick side-note before moving on, I made another transformation in 2015, about a week after my first counseling session at the end of October. My whole life I always wanted to be a redhead, but I was afraid to make the change because it would be hard to undo if it didn’t turn out right. But I took the plunge and have never regretted it!
2016 was a new year, and a new start, for me. I had reached a place where I finally felt like I could stop dreaming of who I wanted to be, and start actually being that person. I stopped looking ahead to the future, hoping and waiting for things to be better sometime down the road, and started really living. I began a journey of self-discovery, trying new things, travelling to new places, taking on every new experience I could find. In the process I learned who I am, I learned what I love, I gained confidence and lost my depression and uncertainty. I finally knew that I was enough, and for the first time in my life, I loved myself.
Since that time my life has blossomed so much. I took the boys on a trip to a favorite place of mine, Wilmington NC, in October 2016 and came home ready for a change. I had the opportunity to relocate to a larger town 30 miles south and work with the rest of my SBA team from the Southeast Market, and it was a welcome move. I had always wanted to get out of my small hometown and get somewhere that had more to offer. I thought this would be on hold until my boys graduated from high school, but the chance came sooner than expected.
Much to my surprise, both boys were excited for the change as well. I was thrilled to know I was raising children who are not afraid of change, but actually embrace it and look forward to it…because like it or not change is a guarantee in life and it’s so much easier when we flow with it rather than resisting it. With the three of us all on board, I listed my house and started shopping for homes in Cape Girardeau. It took just a couple of short months to get my house under contract, and get an offer in on our new home in Cape.
During the few weeks between going under contract and closing on the new home, a fluke winter tornado struck my hometown on February 28, 2017. It ripped right through the heart of my grandparents neighborhood and what I had come to know as my childhood home since I spent as much time there as my own house growing up, and left my grandparents homeless, but alive. The place of our family’s roots and foundation was gone, taken away in a mere 20 seconds and left scattered for miles across field, forest and river.
Two weeks later I closed on the sale of my Perryville home and then on the purchase of my new house in Cape. It was the second home I had bought all on my own in my adult life (the first was in 2014), and it was the home that I knew was more than just a starter home. It was a home I could stay in for a lifetime. It’s the home I knew could become for my boys what my grandparents’ home had been for me.
We moved in, painted, redid the kitchen cabinets and counter tops, and made the place our own. The boys left St. Vincent, the private Catholic school where they’d spent their elementary years after I was confirmed into the Catholic church and joined the choir in 2012, and started school at Cape Central. They loved their new school, we loved our new home, and I loved my new working location. As time went on I developed and strengthened friendships, so even though I was 30+ miles from my nearest family I still had a tribe. I had a new family all of my own making, and I am still so incredibly blessed to be a part of that circle.
Perhaps my biggest struggle in the last decade has been dating. So much of this was due to my unwillingness to really deal with the underlying things that kept me from finding a healthy relationship. Once I reached out for help and tackled my demons in 2015, things changed dramatically in that arena as well. I finally knew my worth, and I knew to stop settling. When I saw red flags, I stopped ignoring them. When I knew that something wasn’t going to work, or knew that my needs from a romantic partner were not going to be met, regardless of how interested I may be or how I may have felt about that person, I cut it off. Time had become valuable to me and I didn’t want to waste anymore.
In fact, when I made the decision to move to Cape, I was a couple of months off the end of a brief dating experience, and I made the decision to stop dating altogether. I had so many changes going on in my life that dating was not a priority. I was also admittedly fed up — very fed up — with the disappointments and feeling that no single men out there shared my same values: commitment, closeness, connection, family; something deeper than just a fling. I was tired of the disappointment and the back-and-forth, so I stopped dating. And I didn’t start again until the summer of 2018.
What I got out of that dating experience was more disappointment, more aggravation, and the realization that no matter how kind and sincere someone seems, they can most definitely be dishonest and deceitful. He and I were never meant to be, because his heart was elsewhere. My only wish is that he had been honest with me about it and not pursued me, rather than pursuing me anyway while secretly carrying on with his ex behind my back. Finding out that truth was a bitter pill to swallow.
As much as I can fault him for his dishonesty, I must also credit him with this: he pulled me out of my place of hiding and contentment, and pushed me forward. He opened my eyes to the one thing I did not yet have, that I hoped I would someday find — a partner. A real partner that I could trust and depend on, who would be there for me through everything and not always have one foot out the door (as most men I’d come across always seemed to). A partner who shared my faith, my values, and my idea of a relationship.
Being lied to sucks. Having someone choose someone else over you sucks even more. But in the aftermath I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let that discourage me, and I would not go back into hiding. I was officially back in the dating world, and that’s where I was going to stay. I may not have been actively searching, but I was open. I knew what I wanted, I knew what I wouldn’t accept, and armed with that knowledge I let myself be present to whatever should come.
And that brings me to 2019; the final chapter of the decade. I entered 2019 with a full life and a happy heart, open to possibility. I didn’t expect to find that partnership I dreamed of anytime soon, and maybe not even at all, but I was equally open to it and satisfied without it. As fate would have it, what I was hoping for came so much sooner and more suddenly than I ever could have guessed. It came on April 4th, 2019, when a tall man with a short beard and a red pullover sat down beside me on a couch at an event at my friends’ workplace. I said, “well hi there,” and a conversation began that would never have an end.
Now, eight months later to the day, that man is my partner. We have the same values, we have the same faith, we have the same idea of what commitment means, and we have the same dedication to the relationship and the future that we are building. We communicate, we share, we compromise, and are kind to each other. It is the type of relationship neither of us has ever had. One thing that he and I agree on is that neither of us, both divorced single parents, knew what we were missing before we found each other. We didn’t even know that a relationship could be like this, and now that we know we never stop being grateful for each other.
While I am blessed to have Michael, and for my grandparents to still be here after a tornado, there has also been loss and hardship over the last 10 years. A cousin was killed in a motorcycle accident. My grandmother was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (which is responsible for my road to discovery in diet and health). My uncle passed away from kidney cancer. My boyfriend was diagnosed with Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (incurable, but with treatment and monitoring he is expected to have normal life expectancy). And another uncle, brother to the uncle with kidney cancer and father to the cousin who died in a motorcycle accident, just passed away suddenly this past Friday and was laid to rest yesterday.
If you ask people what they want in life, the most common answer is “to be happy”. Reality is, happiness isn’t permanent. Life is filled with ebbs and flows; ups and downs. They say that happiness is a state of mind, and I sincerely believe that is true. It isn’t possible to stop hard things from coming. Everyone will experience tough times; that much is inescapable. I think the greatest mindset I’ve developed over this decade is that it isn’t what happens to us that determines our happiness; it’s how we respond. There will always be a silver lining. There will always be something to be grateful for. In order to achieve the blissful days, we must also endure the difficult moments. Life is a blend of both.
With that, what I’ve learned in this last decade is this:
Time is an illusion. We think we have plenty of it to waste; we don’t.
When we hide from our problems, we only prolong the ability to resolve them and find inner peace.
There is more strength in reaching out for help, than in dealing with things on our own. Most people refuse counseling because of the fear of how they’ll be perceived by others, and this fear unnecessarily prolongs the struggle.
The key to happiness is to disregard the opinions of others, and instead be honest with ourselves about who we are and what brings us joy. Try as we might we can never please everyone. But we always have the ability to please ourselves if we are true to ourselves first.
Being healthy is about so much more than what we put into our mouths. Diet is only the start of health. The rest is a state of mind, and that can be much harder to get in tune with than changing what we eat.
We should never stop learning. No matter how much we know, there is always a lot more that we don’t know, and the opportunities to learn something new are endless.
Open-mindedness is everything.
My original intent for this post was to do both a year and decade recap, and talk about my goals for the next year and decade. But 3500 words later I realize that there was so much to talk about (and to be honest I’ve only hit the bullet points) regarding these last 10 years, that my goals for the next year and decade need their own post. I will have that coming up later this month, including an assessment of how I faired with the goals I set for myself at the end of last year.
I hope this finds you well, and I wish you and yours a very blessed holiday season and year-end. I will see you back here again soon ❤
My 2018 Farewell and Anticipation for All 2019 Will Bring
I’m writing to you from my living room, softly lit by a Christmas tree that has nothing left under it but cat hair and a trailing piece of ribbon or two. My boys are away at their dad’s until after the first of the year, so I have the next few days all to myself. I took a couple of days off from work so I could unwind after all of the excitement of the last month, which gave me time to reflect on the year that is now all but behind me.
While these last couple of months have actually been happy and progressive, the rest of 2018 was chalk-full of bad luck and mishaps; an endless string of one complication after another. This year my will was tested and my patience was pushed to the brink, from the second week of January all the way through to November.
Let’s recap, shall we?
It began with the boys having their bikes stolen right out of our carport on an unseasonably warm day in January. Then they both got rotavirus, followed by the flu two weeks after that, eating up my PTO. My car battery died in the bitter cold, forcing me to spend money on a new one and call Dad to come install it on extra-short notice. There were a couple of surprise bills and expenses that weren’t exactly in my 2018 budget, to the tune of about $1,500.00. And let’s not forget the now-infamous bed bug fiasco…responsible for about a third of that $1,500.00, all before Spring.
What followed were countless little mishaps, all spread out just right so that I could never really feel like things were settling down. A tree broken in a storm. Sudden repairs inside and outside the house. Storms and power outages the entire week of my vacation from work. By mid-Summer I was constantly on high alert wondering what was going to happen next.
Well friends, what happened next was a man. I hadn’t dated in nearly two years, but I unexpectedly met someone who made me want to open up that part of myself again. Since 2018 seemed to be the year of the curse for me I probably should’ve thought better of it. I think deep down, part of me knew to be cautious because I never shared that information with anyone outside of my regular friend group. I didn’t blog about it, take photos with him to share on Snapchat or Instagram, share anything about him on Facebook, or in any other way publicize our dating. I all but kept it to myself, until now.
Which turned out to be a smart move…fast forward a few months and it all fell apart. His ex girlfriend interfered, and he allowed her to do so. He let her back into his life again, and he kept it hidden from me. His behavior suddenly changed, and I had no idea why. When I found out I was heartbroken. Blindsided. Honestly in complete disbelief since I fully trusted him and never suspected a thing. And I was mad as hell.
I would love to say that I handled it with grace, but I’ve been pretty unforgiving following the chain of events as I worked out my anger and re-centered my life after those few months of upheaval. I’m not sure if it’s a flaw or a positive attribute, but I tend to trust and believe the best in people. When you give people the chance to prove themselves, they usually do. In what way, however, is entirely up to them.
The one final big thing that happened in 2018 was the loss of one of my best friends. It’s something I’ve made peace with and don’t want to dig deeply into since I already shared the full story in a previous blog post. The gyst of it is this: I went to Chicago to visit him and his wife one weekend in July. They were evidently having problems in their marriage, but they said nothing to me about it and kept their plans for me to visit. While I was there, his wife flipped on a dime and I was caught in the middle of whatever drama they had going on, ultimately finding myself stranded five hours from home with no place to stay because she decided at 8pm on Saturday that she wanted me to leave so they could have it out in private. I drove three hours south and stayed the night at my mom’s house, and that was the last time I spoke to either of them.
It’s no wonder that by October I had my first anxiety attack in three years. I try hard to maintain stability and peace in my life, but this year more than challenged that. Despite the constant feeling of being unsettled and the stress that grew along with it, I kept my outlook positive. I knew the rotten luck couldn’t last forever and the storm would eventually pass. Through it all I kept reminding myself–it’s just a bad year, not a bad life. This too shall pass.
And so it has. Somehow in early November, the dust of 2018 settled. I entered the holiday season feeling strong, at peace, and ready to jump back on the train of forward momentum. Despite the run of bad luck that dominated the first 10 months of this year, some pretty great things have happened as of late. As for my feelings toward the rest of 2018…well, I bid it adieu Geller style.
With that being said, here is how 2018 ended on a high note:
I lost weight! Granted it was 100% due to stress, so it wasn’t exactly the healthiest weight loss regimen. But at any rate I made it through the year, even the holidays, ranging three-to-five pounds below my original goal weight. Despite losing money to unplanned expenses, things made a good turn-around as of late and I’m ending the year feeling much more financially secure heading into 2019. My friendships have strengthened a lot this year. My whole friend group has bonded and I have some amazing people in my life that I can count on and trust with all I have.
Lastly, despite feeling resentful towards this year’s dating experience, I have to admit that it did me some good. How did being screwed over by someone who claimed to think the world of me do me good? Well first of all, the aftermath left me with a renewed focus on my personal life and my goals, and lit a spark under my writing and creativity. I’ve poured myself into my blog in a way I never have before, and even managed to find direction on a book idea. And despite the way it ended, being told constantly that I’m amazing, inspiring, and that he “isn’t worthy of me” was definitely a confidence booster. As odd as it may seem and as shitty as it turned out, I was forced to recognize my self-worth and stop taking it for granted.
“In agony, learn wisdom” –from Prometheus Bound
Now then, here is what I hope for 2019:
Sleep! Along with the stress of 2018, my insomnia returned. I spent a couple of months fighting it, and am finally back on a downward slope. Just one night of insufficient sleep is always enough to put me at half-capacity for a couple of days. I love feeling energetic so I can go and do and explore with nothing to stop me. That requires sleeping well. At least one night per week it seems that I have a crappy night of sleep, and there is nothing worse than feeling tired! In 2019 I’m going to work on getting that cut back to one night per month.
Yoga. This is something that I started about three years ago and didn’t stick with. But now more than ever I want to work at building a strong core. Perhaps the best thing about the stress of 2018 is that I lost weight. I’m below my target weight and am happy to stay there! But there is much more to loving your body than just being happy with your weight. I also want to be strong and in good shape for hiking and running around with my kids. There is nothing better for core strength than yoga, and it has the added bonus of helping ease stress and keep a healthy mindset.
Explorative Cooking. Along with picking yoga back up to keep my body strong, I’m focused on my eating too. I’ve been saying it forever–I’m a sugar addict! And Lord knows there is nothing worse for a waistline than too many sweets. But this goes beyond just eating for health. I’ve subscribed to a couple of cooking blogs, the Taste of Home Magazine, and some foodie Instagram pages. I’ve been finding a lot of inspiration to try new food combinations and put things together in recipes I never would’ve thought about before. So in 2019, not only do I want to be healthy, I also want to explore with my cooking and develop more recipes to keep in my repertoire and share on my blog.
Fun & Discovery. This is something I’ve come to realize over these last couple of months that I want to do more of. And document more of now that I have a fancy new camera! Trying new things, going new places, meeting more people, learning all that I can. I’m going to make it my mission to have at least one fun experience every week. My people skills have always been a little flat–I was the shy kid growing up and I’ve never been good at just striking up a conversation with a stranger. I tend to keep to myself and can be a little slow to warm up with people in person, and that’s a trait I would like to kick to the curb this year!
Passion. For me, that passion is writing. Obviously I use blogging as my primary outlet for that, but there are other things I would really love to explore: poetry, essays, short stories, and supporting my writing through photography. Most importantly though, is starting a book. I’ve always wanted to write a book. As a child I would sit under a tree with a book next to the playground at recess. The world around me would fade away as I was absorbed into a world on those pages, and I would imagine myself as the author of those books, etching the words onto those pages. I always knew that I would be a writer, and my very first vision of myself as a writer, was of me writing a book. I finally have a book idea, and have even developed the two lead characters. So this year it is time to start researching and writing.
Stop people pleasing. Last but not least…I’m moving into the new year with a valuable lesson that life has spent 33 years trying to teach me, and I finally am starting to absorb. If people pleasing was a high crime, I’d be doing life without parole! I’m always more concerned with how the other person feels than I am with how they might be treating me, and as a result I always let people get by with more than I should, give more chances than I should, and make excuses for them when I shouldn’t. This year I will be drawing lines in the sand, sooner rather than later. I will keep close to me the words of my beloved Maya Angelou – “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
My word of the year: Explore. That seems to be the best word to describe my goals for 2019.
My color of the year: Orange. This is the color for adventure, and even though orange pairs horribly with my red hair, it seems to fit the theme of my 2019.
My emotion of the year: Hope. Hope for my future. Hope for my dreams. Hope for good fortune. Hope that my friends and loved ones will have the same.
With that, I say farewell to 2018, and look forward to the year to come with renewed hope and peace. In all that you do this coming year, I wish you the very best!