A decade in the making

I used to dread being asked the question “where do you see yourself in 5 (or 10) years?”

As a teenager, that question was easy. I always wanted to be a wife and mother. I envisioned that would come easily. I was a young wife, the mother part took a few more years than anticipated.

This week, I’ve often thought a lot about my childhood friends. I’ve wondered what’s become of them. I can only remember first names for the ones I’ve recalled this week. The ones I’m curious about. The ones that I don’t have answers for questions that are plaguing me. I heard songs this week that reminded me of stories of my youth. Stories that made me realize I made choices that forever altered my timeline.

I wouldn’t change those choices. But I realize now that I’m older that those choices not only impacted me, but others as well. I wonder if I owe apologies to others for how I handled things years ago. For hearts that were broken along the way.

I never knew all those years ago that there were never right answers to that question, where I’d be in 5 or 10 years. The answer was always a dream imagined. My timeline was ever changing, based on every day decisions.

It’s true still today. I don’t know where I’ll be in 5 or 10 years. I know the answer I would give now is vastly different than what I would have said 5 or 10 years ago.

Today I’m definitely leaving out a dream. Working a job that allows me to have the freedom once a week to do what I what when I want. I spent half the day working, half the day at the spa, then the evening walking with a friend. Every Wednesday I work half a day, the other half a day volunteering, exercising, tending to housework, going to appointments, or seeing friends. I have time in my schedule to exercise every day, I’ve been going to the CryoSpa 2-3 times a week which is helping my chronic health issues, and I’ve started volunteering regularly in several ways. My boys rarely need me for much, other than meals, money, and occasional family nights out.

Dean and I regularly date but have also after 22 years discovered separate interests and don’t always spend all our time together. This is something new for us. We used to do everything together. We’re rediscovering our individual identities. When you marry young, you lose the years you would have spent discovering who you are as an individual. We both lost those years and instead became a “we”. In the last 2 years or so we have worked on becoming individuals who are a couple, which is hard to undo when you’ve been together for 22 years. It’s been a process but I finally feel like I have a voice again.

I’ve been on a transformation journey since 2013. Next year will be 10 years on this journey of discovering who I am and who I want to be. I set out in 2013 to stay healthy enough to hold down a full time job, be a better mother, wife, volunteer and friend. In the process I’ve lost a lot of weight, completely changed how I eat, become more confident, found my voice again, changed many of my core beliefs, and let go of a lot of pain and trauma. I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years.

I know what I want most is to say in another 10 years that I’ve stayed consistent with my current habits, but also that I’ve gotten stronger. I want to say that I’ve been more invested in relationships with others. I want to spend more time volunteering than I am now, which should be easy to fulfill, given our current pandemic status.

In 5 years, my kids will all be grown and independent. I will still be a mom, but to 3 grown men. I will still be working, but for my own money, not to raise three hungry boys. I look forward to investing in non profits more and traveling. I look forward to 5Ks and weekend hiking trips.

I look forward to aging gracefully.

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First Impressions

Every new person you meet is an opportunity to reinvent yourself. I’ve heard it said that you only get one chance for a first impression with someone. That being said, with social media, we get lots of chances to leave an impression on others each time we reach out into the world with a social media post. I often forget how much I share on social media. I forget that I have people hundreds of miles away following me, keeping tabs. I forget I have people 5 miles away keeping tabs on me. It’s easy to forget when people don’t interact on social media, when there’s no likes or comments to correlate that my posts are hitting home.

Until, you are sitting in a coffee shop and someone makes a comment about something you’ve posted. Or you run into someone at Kroger and they know all about what you’ve been up to and you haven’t seen them in months. It’s kind of bizarre. How people can seem connected, yet you are so disconnected.

In the last few months I’ve started a new job, and not long before that started attending a new church. Entering new environments like this leaves the door open for me to begin anew. If I didn’t like something about my story, I could rewrite it moving forward. I can change habits or behaviors that were not serving me anymore. I can change beliefs that were no longer fitting who I have become.

But there’s a trail I’ve left behind. People, places, social media posts. Abandoned, but not forgotten. I’ve moved on, but not completely. My story is always changing. Being rewritten every day, with each decision I make. Every action I make. Every post I make.

I want it to be the best portrayal of who I am, who I want to be, and I want it to align with my beliefs. For a long time my actions didn’t always match my words. I am no longer afraid to use my voice to stand up for important issues, to walk away from people or things that are causing me more harm than good, and always be supportive of those I love (no matter what).

May this year be about writing the best story of my life. One day at a time….

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Love wins

How you raise your kid doesn’t just impact you and your kids but also everyone they interact with. As our kids begin dating it’s so interesting to watch how Dean and my relationship and how we raised our kids has impacted how they interact with other people. We know our family isn’t perfect. We are a geeky collection of misfits with a weird sense of sarcastic humor, but we love wholeheartedly and give without hesitation.

It took me a while to get used to Dean’s family. As I watch these two young girls at my house, I remember being that young girl. Far from home, being welcomed to a new family so far different from her own. I remember the love. I remember questioning it. Not feeling worthy of it. I want to say the right things, do the right things today. To put these girls at ease. To know they are loved and worthy of kindness. I want to be a good example of what a loving wife and mother is. I know it’s not something everyone has. I want them to know in my home, women are valued. That they are valuable.

We joke a lot. We laugh a lot. But at the core, we love a lot. I hope others can see through the sarcasm and see the love.

If I taught these boys anything, they know loving others come first. Today I watched my boys love others well. From the gifts they intentionally chose for others, to the way they lit up around those they care about. I may not be mom of the year, but as the boys grow and their circles grow, I enjoy watching them love others well. I am grateful for opportunities to show love to them, their friends and their loved ones.

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Jingle all the way

It’s hard sometimes to find the motivation to get up and get moving. It helps to have a goal to stay focused on. For the last few months I’ve had some 5k races lined up to keep me motivated. With winter coming, I knew it wouldn’t always be easy for me to lace up my shoes and get out there to do my miles. This week I walked when it was 29 degrees outside. It was freezing, but I got it done because I knew I had a race coming up and I wanted to be prepared.

Today was the Jingle Bell 5k. Ironically, it was a balmy 60 degrees! The day started out gloomy, but we were hopeful that the rain would hold out. We started the race with a light drizzle, but nothing to worry about. Things took a turn and before we knew it, rain was pounding down and there were giant puddles everywhere. I have never been caught on foot in such a downpour.

We were only halfway through the race so had to keep going to get back to the start. It felt like the longest 5k ever! But we did it! It helps having a friend along to commiserate with. I highly recommend finding someone with similar goals as yours to keep you accountable and motivated. Plus it makes it more fun! It wasn’t our fastest race, but also not our slowest. It will definitely be one of the memorable ones!

For some reason there’s no 5ks available in January in our area so we are aiming to do our next 5k in February and again in March. Until then I hope to still get in weekly mileage, weather permitting. If anything I can do walks inside at the rec center, though I prefer to be outdoors.

Planning to finish the year strong and begin a new workout program so I can stay focused on my health and wellness journey.

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Dream a little dream

I always told myself once the kids were “grown up” I’d get my dream job. Here we are with a 15 year old, 17 year old, and a 20 year. All of the boys are bigger than me. Two of the boys have jobs and a car. One has an apartment. Instead of chauffeur and maid, I have relinquished those titles in search of ones in the business world. I don’t cook dinner, except on the weekends. I leave that up to the boys or Dean.

We’ve all grown up. I used to do all the chores and complain if someone helped and didn’t do it my way. Now I’m the first to ask a kid to help because my new life doesn’t revolve around having a clean house. I’ve let it go.

This week I got the job title I thought was never going to happen. The one I had convinced myself I was not worthy of, not qualified for and not well enough for. When I went back to college years ago, I also got fit and lost weight because I knew a degree was useless if I wasn’t healthy enough to work full time. I found jobs that were part time because I didn’t think I could manage a home, my health, and a career.

After a few jobs that helped me learn new skills and get more experience, I found myself where I am today. Finally managing an office. Surprisingly on a 36 hour week schedule, so it also helps me balance a healthy lifestyle while being able to still work full time. It’s the perfect fit for me.

I am feeling incredibly blessed today. My new job is going well, I love my coworkers. I get up earlier and get to leave the office earlier, because of this I have seen my kids more this week than I usually do. I have room in my schedule to volunteer which is something I can’t wait to get back to doing regularly. Today has felt like a dream come true, getting to do all the things I enjoy in one day. All the while knowing I am still going to make more money actually working less. I have worked hard to get to this point, no doubt about it. There were lots of challenges along the way.

But today it feels like I have arrived right where I need to be. I am going to savor days like today. It’s been a long time since I have been this happy and everything’s felt right in my world. Today was a good day.

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Work Through It

Today as I walked into the office, yes I actually went into work, I sighed. Weeks ago I thought I would be one of the first struck with COVID-19. I have a weak immune system and am vulnerable to illness of any kind. Every time I leave the house I know it’s a risk.

Every day I stay home I know I’m also risking my mental health. It’s a balancing act, a fine line I walk. I’ll be working from home for the next few days. I’ll return to the office on Friday. Working gives me a purpose during this crazy time. It keeps me focused on something other than fear and sickness.

I know so many who are out of work. The last few days multiple offices in our building have laid off key staff members. I have friends that are now out of work because of COVID-19.

I know I’m in a unique position right now. Managing multiple roles at once, trying to get it all done. I’m essential and needed. We’re getting busier due to the demand being placed on hospitals and the fact patients are afraid to go to hospitals now and are looking for other alternatives. I go to work and feel guilty that I’m out of the house while others are feeling bored and would love to be at work. I feel guilty that others are struggling to get by. I hate that my family doesn’t feel safe after I’ve left the house and then come home, possibly exposing them to germs.

It’s such a strange time and hard place to be in. But I’m also grateful for so much right now. I was relieved this morning that it’s been a few weeks and I’m still healthy. I’m grateful that I not only have a job, but a thriving one. I’m grateful my family is all safe at home while I’m at work. I currently don’t have to worry about what time I need to be home to pick up the boys from school or take them to or from sports or other activities. It’s been freeing.

Whatever side of this you find yourself in right now, try to find the positives. If you are not working, what can you gain from this time off? Can you invest in learning something new? Maybe take some free online lynda.com classes to help advance into a new field or change careers when this is over. Check out what resources the library has online as well.

If you are working, make sure to document all you are doing so when things settle down you can ask your boss for a raise, stating what you did to help with disaster relief, recovery or preparedness to help the company during this time that was vital to their success.

If you are stuck at home with family, make time to enjoy them! We don’t know how long this season will last. But, kids are only kids for so long. Invest in them. Build forts. Make shadow puppets. Color. Paint pictures or do a puzzle together. Have fun.

If you are finding yourself not feeling so great, mentally or physically, reach out to your provider and get help! Don’t ignore symptoms. If someone you love seems to be struggling, try to get them to get help. Let them know you love them and are there for them.

This too shall pass. No matter what, be grateful for what you do have. There’s always something worth smiling for, even rainy days have rainbows.

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Pandemic Shopping

As I do a normal Kroger run for a last minute dinner need, rolls to accompany our pulled chicken BBQ that’s been slow cooking all day, I realized I am still shopping normally. The store shelves are empty and here we are just acting like regular every day Kroger shoppers. We are prepared for a crisis, just not always prepared for the little details.

A few weeks ago I had restocked the pantry and our deep freezer is generally well prepared for a rainy day. There are frozen rolls in the freezer, but I don’t have time to thaw them for dinner. Poor planning on my part. Nothing a trip to the store cant fix. We make regular trips to Kroger for things like last minute additions to dinner, like rolls or an ingredient we forgot. But it’s not so easy now, the shelves are bare and the lines too long. The guy in front of me is trying to get away with buying 4 loaves of bread, but the cashier told him he couldn’t.

Today I am grateful for my well stocked pantry, deep freezer and the ability not to have to worry about what’s for dinner. I pray I can get better at pre-planning so I can avoid these last minute trips to a chaotic, fear ridden store. I know there are others who have less than us. I pray they find access to the resources they need to feed themselves and their families. I realize you might not care about these long posts, but I know this season is a once in a lifetime adventure. I want to document it the best I can because I know one day my memory will fade and I don’t want to forget. For my sake, my kids and theirs as well.

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