Listen And Silent Are Spelled With The Same Letters

Have you ever looked at someone and just thought, “Will you PLEASE shut the fuck up?!” Chances are good that at some point in your life you’ve dealt with someone who consistently frustrated you. Maybe you start avoiding them. And if that’s not possible, you try to keep any conversation or interaction with them to a minimum. You resign yourself to the thought that this person is never going to change their behavior. But it’s not about changing or fixing them. They are not broken machines in need of repair. They are human beings-your family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers.

I have always been a problem solver. Throughout the years I have offered advice and suggestions that I thought would help people. Unfortunately, it’s an approach that has backfired at times. People can get very defensive and lash out when given unsolicited advice. Myself included. After umpteen thirty-leven unpleasant interactions, I decided I had to take a step back in order to preserve my own sanity and well-being. I avoided getting into anything but the most mundane conversations with many people. I refused to talk about politics, religion, or other sensitive topics. Just ask G. I was adamant that politics was a topic that I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

I realized that a lot of the issue came down to the way I had been listening to others. Or, more accurately, the fact I that I wasn’t truly listening. I needed to learn that sound listening skills can give someone the room to change the behaviors that negatively impact their lives and those around them.

Do you think of yourself as a good listener? I thought I was. Odds are that most people overestimate how much listening they actually do during a conversation. When someone is speaking, are you really paying attention? Or are you formulating your response before they’ve even finished their sentence?

I would often be preoccupied with thinking of solutions for other people’s problems while they’re speaking. Sometimes I’d even interrupt them in order to not forget my own train of thought. It’s natural to want to share our experiences and suggestions that we believe will help others when they’re upset. We want our loved ones to be happy and to feel better soon, but soon is a relative term and is different for everyone. We all want and need to feel supported and accepted, regardless of our mood. Unfortunately, the way we express our concern to others isn’t always well received. I failed to understand that people weren’t asking for my advice. They simply wanted me to listen. Sometimes they just want to vent. And they ABSOLUTELY do not want to be told how they should feel.

I’ve learned to remind myself that in many cases, the less said, the better. Listening is about being present and being mindful. Sometimes a simple nod of the head or eye contact can be a powerful acknowledgement and validating signal of support for others. These seemingly small acts show that you’re focusing on what they are saying. They also indicate that you are prioritizing their feelings over your own. And they are subtle enough expressions to avoid interrupting their train of thought. I’ve found it helpful to remember that validation does not equal approval. You don’t have to agree with others or approve of their behavior to effectively acknowledge their feelings.

Sometimes the best advice is none at all. It’s not easy to resist the temptation to dispense advice to someone who we think needs help. But the danger of offering unsolicited advice to someone is that it can show a lack of faith in them. My well intended but untimely suggestions came across as condescending and judgmental. People interpreted them as challenges to their competency and doubts in their ability to manage their own life. I was indirectly telling them that I didn’t believe in their ability to change.

The next time someone is about to drive you nuts, give them some space to speak and express their emotions freely. Being around people who are unhappy can be unsettling, but we should try to understand that people don’t need us to fix them or even cheer them up. They just want someone to hold their hand now and then. Trust them to do the best they can at that moment. Listen and silent are spelled with the same letters. Think about it.

We Have To Feel It To Heal It

Why do we feel the need to hide our struggles and present ourselves as having our shit together? Why do any of us feel the need to appear more put together than we really are?

We are emotional creatures, and we were born to express emotions freely and openly. But somewhere along the way, many of us learned to repress our emotions in order to fit in, earn love, or to be accepted. We hide our struggles because we learned throughout childhood and adulthood that showing signs of struggle is a bad or uncomfortable thing.

As infants and toddlers, we didn’t hesitate to show signs of struggle. When we were tired, hungry, upset, or blew out our diapers 💩, we cried or threw tantrums to communicate that we needed help. As young children in school, we raised our hands and asked for help from our teachers if we didn’t understand something.

But at some point while growing up, we become conditioned to stop asking for help and we start to hide our struggles. We stop raising our hands in class because we’re told we ask too many questions. We stop asking our parents for help because they told us to figure it out for ourselves. Increased expectations from our family, friends, employers, and even ourselves feels like mounting pressure. We’re so afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing that we paralyze ourselves and do nothing. We fear that negative response of not receiving help when we need it or our feelings being dismissed.

I grew up in a home where the motto was “Children are to be seen, not heard.” There was little emotional expression tolerated, let alone accepted. No one validated or helped me process difficult emotions in a healthy way. Anger was met with anger, fear went unacknowledged, and there was plenty of shame to go around. My parents didn’t model how to deal with difficult emotions, as they seemed to struggle with that themselves. When those emotions surfaced, I felt ashamed of my failure to be a “good girl.” Trying to hide the pain from others and myself, I built walls, put on masks, and soldiered on.

The truth is, we all hide our emotions occasionally. We pretend, avoid, and deny uncomfortable emotions as a defense mechanism. We do this most often with difficult emotions like guilt, shame, fear, or anger. When we experience events that emotionally overwhelm us and we’re unable to process what is happening, we hide them deep inside us where others can’t see them. And we end up hiding them from ourselves too. Yet, they’re still there. These unresolved emotions get trapped in our body where they build and fester. They drain our energy, which leads to burnout, and we become emotionally imbalanced. They undermine our overall wellbeing.

No matter what our struggles are, there are people who can and want to help. When we share our struggles with those around us, we give them permission to voice their struggles too. We may never know just how life changing that permission may be to someone. They may be feeling alone, overwhelmed, or even at the end of their rope, and we can help by giving them an opportunity to receive our understanding and support. The moment we make ourselves vulnerable, we give others permission to do the same.

The bottom line is, we’re human. We’re all imperfect and we all struggle. No one has their shit together all the time. No one has a perfect life and no one feels happy, confident, and positive all the time. Struggling is a normal part of life. We have to feel it to heal it.

Expectations Aren’t Guarantees

I’ve always had high expectations for myself. I expected to go to college. I expected to graduate at the top of my class. I expected to have a career in healthcare. I expected to have a job lined up before I graduated from college. I expected to get married, buy a house, and for us to have children. I expected to travel the world before and after retirement.

I had a very linear view of life. I believed that by working hard and “doing what I’m supposed to do,” I would go from point A to B to C. News flash: Life is NOT that simple.

In July 2018 I had my first anaphylactic reaction after labeling bottles of breast milk for babies in the NICU at a local hospital. I knew of my allergy to the chemical mercaptobenzothiazole, but only associated it with gloves at the time. I wasn’t aware of how extensive the chemical was until the allergist told me. It’s found in rubber and adhesive products, as well as gloves and latex. Common items such as rubber bands, ear phones, erasers, rubber soles on shoes and boots, band-aids, elastic in underwear and swimsuits, tape, and glue would now spark life threatening allergic reactions if I came in contact with them. Even the residue of a rubber band that used to be on a pen was enough to cause an anaphylactic reaction. That’s how sensitive my body is to this chemical.

For months I kept trying to go back to work. I expected to return to work. But my health continued to decline and I was hospitalized every few weeks to every few months for allergic reactions, severe asthma, or hereditary angioedema flares. I spent days in the ICU on the ventilator each admission. Ultimately It was determined by a judge that there was not a single job that I could do based on my medical conditions.

Out of left field, the life I expected was gone. I never considered the possibility of becoming disabled at the age of thirty seven. I was thrown into a new reality of gnarled, tangled grief. I had to accept the painful realization that the life I knew, the one that I expected to live, was gone. It felt like everything in my life that I worked so hard to accomplish was being ripped out from under me. You aren’t prepared for the complete life shift that happens when you get diagnosed with an illness that can ultimately be your demise.

My expectations were nothing more than thoughts in my mind. Assumptions based on what I wanted at the time, or “that’s the normal thing to do,” or “that’s what so and so wants me to do.” We all want to live a happy and fulfilling life, but our expectations aren’t guarantees.

We tend to think the bad stuff we hear about only happens to other people. We’re aware that it exists. But we feel like it’s just some abstract thing happening somewhere else. Until it happens to us.

I had to accept and learn to live with the limitations of my new life. At first, disappointment pooled inside of me like poison. Nothing I could do was good enough in my eyes. I wanted to do more. I expected myself to do more. I found myself floundering in a new reality where I felt like I was constantly failing. But I had to gain a new perspective when setbacks occurred and stop feeling like individual moments were the be-all, end-all. I needed to become less attached to a prescribed way of living.

I had to let my old self go. I had to mourn the person who was staring back at me in the mirror every day and essentially bury her. I kept comparing myself to who I used to be and that’s not who I am anymore.

I still grieve the old me. I miss the badass I used to be. I miss being accountable to my career and work ethic. I grieve my old self whenever I am feeling defeated, especially when I am reminded that a simple task requires a lot of modification to do. Basic things that people take for granted. Like climbing stairs. Tying shoes. Standing long enough to take a shower. Opening the mail. Buying produce at a market. Licking an envelope to seal it.

There will be days when life feels awful. You will feel pain, loneliness, and fear that can be heartbreaking. Maybe you cry to yourself, “This isn’t the life I chose.” Perhaps you feel like “I don’t deserve this” or “This is so unfair.” You aren’t broken for thinking this way. These feelings are not reflections of who you are, nor are they any indication of what your future looks like. Our feelings are not permanent residents, but merely temporary visitors who come and go.

The tediousness of my new life wears me down to the core sometimes. Some days I still grieve the loss of the life that I expected to live. When these feelings visit me, I acknowledge the pain. I lower my expectations of productivity. I give myself permission to rest while I process my thoughts and feelings. I tell myself it’s ok to fall down. Then I get back up, dust myself off, and move on.

Acceptance Is The Key To Be Truly Free

Acceptance is imperfect. It’s difficult and messy, but ultimately leads to a sense of freedom. I’ve had a lot of painful experiences in my life that I needed to accept. Choosing acceptance has been crucial in helping me move past my feelings of fear and frustration when life throws me a curve ball.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with a life threatening allergy, a mast cell disorder, hereditary angioedema, and my asthma rapidly worsened. I was in and out of the hospital every few weeks, on and off the ventilator most of those hospitalizations, and unable to completely care for myself. My husband became my caretaker and our home became filled with adaptations. From grabbers and shower chairs, to hand rails, canes, and a basket filled with medications that would put Mommom’s pill basket to shame. Everyday there’s 31 pills to take, plus 3 nebulizer meds every 4-6 hours, 2 different types of insulin, 2 inhalers, 1 injection for osteoporosis, and a partridge in a pear tree.

My career as a medical techologist in the blood bank came to a screeching halt. My life threatening allergy alone made me a liability that no employer wanted to take on. Hearing a judge declare that there is no job I am eligible for was like getting punched with a forearm shiver. My illnesses initially caused so much loss and disappointment. I was dealing with the fear of exposure to my allergy, the shame of unemployment, and the guilt of not being the active wife, granddaughter, and friend I wanted to be. I didn’t want to accept that this would be my life. A life without a career. A life revolving around my medical care. A life where I was no longer independent. A body I no longer recognized. I wanted to go back to the way things were and patch the life that I knew back together again. I felt like accepting my illness was accepting defeat.

So how did I move from a position of resistance to one of acceptance? How can we find some wiggle room in situations that may feel utterly suffocating? Chocolate and chicken nuggets help, but what really grabbed me by the short hairs was realizing that if you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer.

All human life is fragile and sickness doesn’t discriminate. Pain is inevitable for all of us, but life is constantly in a state of flux. We hurt, we heal. We struggle, we grow. Things get hard, then things get easier. If I were Jerry Seinfeld and my friend had just thrown $20 out the window, I would end up finding $20 in my coat pocket. I would be Even Steven.

My daily life is a well choreographed ballet of organized chaos. Every meal, medication, breathing treatment, finger stick, and insulin injection has to be perfectly timed. Even mundane tasks like washing laundry, cleaning dishes, taking a shower, and watering the plants have to be balanced with my medical care. Any deviation can cause a setback in my health. Then the dance pivots and it’s a race against the clock to see if we can manage my illness at home, or the ballet stops and we have to go to the hospital.

I have learned that acceptance is not defeat, resignation, or giving up. It is an acknowledgment of the truth. By making peace with our reality, we remove the sting of our emotional suffering. This gives us an opportunity to become unstuck and make the best of the hand we are dealt. Once we accept our situation, we can move forward with greater courage, determination, and strength.

There is so much beauty in the world to balance the pain. When we accept what is and enjoy what we can, peace becomes possible, and then we are truly free.

Rebuild Relationships with Fresh Experiences Instead of Sour Expectations

People won’t always be who you want them to be. Some will let you down. Some will show up when you least expect it. Some will drift away. Some will grow with you. Some will see things the same as you. Some will see things differently. Some will test you. Some will teach you. Some will use you. Some will bring out the best in you.

It’s a tough pill to swallow realizing that the people who are supposed to protect you and love you are sometimes going to hurt you. I was estranged from my parents for eight years. Growing up I was a very independent child and didn’t require much attention or assistance with things. I believed that parents should help their children in the ways each child needed. I felt that my siblings received that help from our parents but I did not. You know me, I can’t keep my mouth shut. So I vocalized my disappointment to my parents. Over. And over. And over again. But the result was always the same. A trifling ass argument between me and my father while my mother just cried.

When my siblings needed financial assistance with a car, our parents provided it. For me, nada. When I needed my parents to cosign student loans so I could attend college, the answer was a firm no. When I was scheduled for multiple surgeries, my mom offered to come help me. Then she canceled at the last minute every time. But when my sister was ill and needed surgery, mom and dad were there to help her. Eventually I was no longer receptive to any help from my parents because I expected them to bail on me. And I got sick and tired of explaining how I felt to them, only for the conversation to turn into an argument. Every. Fucking. Time. I was fed up with them invalidating my feelings. I made one last ditch effort to talk through our problems, but that went tits up as usual, and my parents and I parted ways.

Mommom’s funeral was the first time I had seen or spoken to my parents in eight years. They seemed shocked and scared by how sick I looked. Less than a week later, I was in the hospital on a ventilator due to an anaphylactic reaction. They started contacting me regularly after that, asking questions about my medical conditions. There seems to be a genuine interest in wanting to understand how I manage my daily life with a life threatening allergy, mast cell disorder, severe asthma, and hereditary angioedema. Their interest in trying to understand my medical conditions and taking precautions to keep me safe is the kind of help I would want and expect from a parent.

Sometimes what we see in other people can be a projection of our own attitudes or beliefs toward them, and not necessarily a reflection of their actual behavior. I had to learn to let go of that projection before I could learn to forgive my parents. And I had to learn to forgive them before I could rebuild a relationship with them.

There were moments I had trouble letting go of my expectations of who my parents should be and what they should do. Eventually I realized that I had to accept things the way they were, NOT the way I wished for them to be. Sometimes letting go of someone means releasing your grip on the idea of who they should be.

I learned to forgive my parents when I stopped seeing them as the idea of what I thought parents should be. This wasn’t an easy process because I had to face shortcomings in my parents as well as myself. For me, it was my determination to prove my point. With my parents, it was their lack of help when I needed it.

Life is a series of turning points. We get to choose whether we stay in the same place, move forward, or decide it’s time to turn around and start again. My parents and I didn’t agree to disagree. There were no apologies or hashing out of old shit. We just agreed that we wanted peace and to move forward. Since then, I have been able to start rebuilding a relationship with my family based on fresh experiences instead of sour expectations.

Things I Never Thought I’d Say To My Cats

Sometimes I think we adopted 3 wild beasts instead of 3 cats. Other times they’re like sour patch kids. Sweet one moment then ornery like hell the next. I love my girls and they definitely bring joy, comfort, and entertainment to my life. So in honor of National Cat Day on October 29th, here’s a list of things I never thought I would say to my cats.

  • Don’t put your paw in the green bean juice
  • Get out of the dishwasher
  • Stop giving me stink eye
  • Who’s messing with the toilet lid?
  • Stop knocking the hand sanitizer off the table
Tilly giving me the stink eye
  • Don’t lick the dirty bath water
  • Don’t lay on top of the cookies
  • Stop thumping Daddy’s shoes
  • Don’t eat the vomit
  • The chair leg is not a toy
Poovey perched on the chair she just knocked over
  • Stop smacking your mother’s ass
  • Hashbrowns are not for kitties
  • Stop hissing at the neighbor’s cat while he’s taking a shit
  • Why are you rabbit kicking my foot?
  • Get out of the trash
My golden girl Savina
  • Are you in your hidey hole?
  • My insulin cap is not a toy
  • Stop head butting my medicine box off the table
  • Get your paw off my peaches
  • Are you jersey turnpiking? (Head down ass up in the air)
Savina loves to zoom!
  • Stop attacking me when I’m picking a wedgie
  • Why are you weighing yourself on the bathroom scale?
  • Get your nose out of the cinnamon sugar
  • Don’t smack Daddy’s dingle
  • Do you want toilet time?
Tilly loves to play in laundry baskets
Savina AKA Veenie Beanie
No room for me even in a king size bed
Poovey is a wild child!
Tilly getting her birthday sardine toy
Savina loves to hunt from her cube

Rolling With The Punches

Chronic illness paients are a unique kind of creature that many people don’t talk about or understand.

We condition ourselves to roll with the punches. No matter how brutal things get, we keep rolling. Our life depends on it.

Our eyes see the unfathomable, sights that would keep a healthy person awake at night. And yet we roll.

We try to not take things in life too seriously. We know how delicate and brief it truly is. We are reminded of this every day, so we keep rolling.

We face frequent doctor visits, medical tests, treatments, and hospital stays. We hold out our arms, knowing pain is coming, but also subconsciously knowing it’s necessary in order to help us. And yet, we keep getting back up and continue rolling.

We are resilient, but at the same time, it’s a heavy burden. Our hearts feel things differently from those who are protected from this type of consistent and repeated adversity. We cope, perhaps too well. We don’t crumble under life’s pressures. We embrace them and keep rolling with the punches. 

Sometimes we appear cold and emotionally unavailable. We can be seen as unapproachable. We come off as bossy because we have to advocate for our own health and safety.

You will never see the world through our eyes. If we love you, we wouldn’t want you to. We do our damndest to protect you from it. We tend to downplay our situation. Sometimes you won’t even know we’re in the midst of a Category 5 medical hurricane. We walk from hell to healing knowing we still have a long way to go. But we keep rolling without batting an eye.

Please be patient and kind with us. You never know what battlefield we’re walking through. But what you will see is us rolling with the punches. Always.

40 Things I’ve Learned In My 40 Years of Life

They say “Another year older, another year wiser.” But are we really wiser? Wisdom comes from life experience. Life experience comes from learning from our mistakes and having the courage to take corrective action. Have I made mistakes in life? Boy howdy! But I’d like to think that I have gained some life experience and wisdom over the years. So without further adieu, here’s 40 things I have learned during my 40 years on this planet. Shout out to my blogging friend Brittany from mindbeautysimplicity for inspiring me with this post!

1. Not everything or every statement needs a response or reply.

2. Halloween and Spring Oreos taste better than regular Oreos.

3. It is very empowering to go into a restaurant, say “Table for 1,” and eat by yourself. I have done this several times, both locally and while traveling solo to Cancun, Mexico. I feel it makes you stronger and more confident.

4. It’s OK to ask for and to accept help.

5. Communication and comprehension go hand in hand. You can communicate to someone all you want but if they don’t understand you, it won’t reach them the way you need it to.

6. Nothing in life is permanent.

7. You don’t always receive in return what you give to others.

8. You’re never too old to eat chicken nuggets or to lick the spoon from cake batter, brownie batter, and cookie dough.

9. Expect the unexpected. I never expected to become disabled and unable to work at age 37, mais c’est la vie.

10. The best way to not touch my shit is to not touch my shit. Here’s a video tutorial on how to not touch my shit.

11. People aren’t paying attention to you as much as you think they are. We think that people care about what brand of clothes we wear, what car we drive, what job we have, or how we look in a bathing suit. But they don’t. We think everyone focuses on our awkwardness, insecurities, flaws, or nervous habits. But they don’t. We go through life as if our every move is being watched, judged, and evaluated by those around us. Here’s a reality check: you’re not that important. People couldn’t care less about what you do or how you look.

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

12. Fart and poop jokes don’t ever stop being funny! 💨💩

13. Everyone is replaceable. People tend to think “no one can do this like me” or “I can’t take off work because no one can do what I do.” But guess what? Employers don’t care. They WILL find another warm body to fill in or replace you in a hot second.

14. My taste buds change as I get older. I have started to like foods that I used to hate and on the flip side, some foods are too sweet for me to eat now.

15. It’s OK to make mistakes! Making mistakes is part of life and accepting responsibility for them helps us become a little more humble.

16. Quality is better than quantity.

17. Experiences mean more than material items. I used to place a lot of value on material items like designer purses, clothing, or home decor when I was younger. As I have gotten older, I value traveling, tending to my orchids and plants, learning new languages, and laughing my ass off with loved ones and friends. My favorite memories are from traveling to Norway and Costa Rica, $2 bowling nights with friends, and playing yahtzee with “dirty dirty” at Mommom’s house.

18. Time is money.

19. You are never too old to learn something new.

20. You can’t make everyone happy.

21. Antiperspirant clogs your armpit pores so now I only use deodorant.

22. Know when to pick your battles. Some arguments just aren’t worth your sanity, energy, and time. Being right isn’t nearly as important as knowing when to shut up and/or walk away.

23. Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs, who accept you for who you are, and who love you no matter what.

24. People don’t always get what they deserve and some people don’t deserve what they get.

25. Drinking hot chocolate out of my cupcake poot mug tastes better than out of a regular mug 😄

26. Comparing yourself or your life to others only leads to hurtful feelings.

27. There is no right way or time frame for grieving. We falsely assume that grief passes in chronological order. But it’s a tangled up mess that reawakens the shock we experienced on the day we lost our loved one. Our mind wants a quick fix to move on, but our heart never forgets.

28. You can’t help those who don’t want to help themselves and you can’t force anyone to change. No one changes unless they want to. Not if you beg them, shame them, use reason, or tough love. Someone changes only when they realize that they need to do it and when they decide they’re ready.

29. Screaming your guts out on a roller coaster ride is good for the soul.

30. You will end up doing things in life you thought or swore you’d never do.

31. A picture is worth 1000 words. It captures moments of pure joy, love, sadness, pain, and raw emotion.

32. Practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes improvement.

33. Some people who are dying have a “last hurrah” shortly before they pass away. They are laughing, telling jokes, talking lucidly when previously incoherent, eating meals when they haven’t been eating for days, or even walking around when previously laying in bed sleeping most of the day. This “last hurrah” occurred with my grandfather, both of my grandmothers, and two different coworkers before they died.

34. There are many different ways people can do things and still end up with the same result. It doesn’t have to be your way.

35. The best way to conquer your fear is to just face it head on. Often times you will see it’s not as bad as you built it up in your mind.

36. Change is not a bad thing. It’s necessary for growth to occur. People have often said or written in yearbooks, “Don’t ever change.” But if no one changed, there would never be progress in life, education, or healthcare.

37. There are oodles of different types of peaches just like there’s different types of apples. I thought there were simply yellow and white peaches. I’ve discovered that I love Loring, Early Loring, Sentry, and Encore peaches. Nothin’ like slurping a ripe, juicy buttcrack peach! #badonkadonk

38. Things don’t always work out as you plan.

39. Life is a marathon not a sprint.

40. Music and food always bring people together.

There you have it folks! What are some things you have learned? Feel free to share some of your favorite life experiences 🙂

Do You Give Until It Hurts?

“I give and give and give, and what do I get? Nothing.” If you have ever muttered or thought these words, you probably gave until it hurt, bending over backwards trying to make others happy.

Growing up I believed that my virtue and worth lied in my ability to take care of those around me. If I did a good job then everyone around me would be happy. I saw my grandmother meet this standard to a T. She put everyone else before herself and never wanted to be a bother to anyone.

As a kid, I was taught how to care for others. I got a lot of practice caring for my younger sister, especially when she was an infant because we shared a bedroom together. I would feed her, change her, and give her a pacifier when she cried in the middle of the night. As a teenager, I would pull weeds from neighbor’s gardens and driveways, or babysit the children at church during potluck dinners and events. I was determined to never leave anyone high and dry. Family, friends, and coworkers knew that I was dependable and could be counted on when they needed me.

One thing about giving to others is that it makes us feels good… until it doesn’t. When helping people starts to feel more exhausting than joyful, you might be inclined to keep giving more. Some people believe that the more you give to others, the more you will receive in return from them. But this is often not the case. You may end up feeling isolated and disappointed because you aren’t getting as much in return as you are giving to others. You end up putting yourself on the back burner and giving to everyone but yourself.

If you always say yes to everyone who needs your help, then saying no can be extremely difficult; especially if you have been conditioned to wrap your self worth up in pleasing others. We often sacrifice ourselves in order to help others and we tend to feel guilty if we put ourselves first.

Your self-worth is determined by how much love and care you direct toward yourself, not others. It is unrealistic to expect anyone to anticipate your needs and take care of you. This leads to assumptions and you know what happens when you assume. You make an ass out of u and me. 😁

Part of taking care of yourself is being nice to yourself. Stop talking down to yourself. If you wouldn’t do it or say it to someone else, vow to never do it or say it to yourself. There is no glory in disparaging yourself. Sacrificing your wellbeing because you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings is not an act of humility. Your feelings and needs matter as much as anyone else’s, but you can only honor them if you recognize and prioritize them.

Life Is a Gift And One Day You Have To Give It Back

It’s been a little over 3 months since Mommom passed away and I still don’t feel like I’ve grieved her yet. Perhaps it’s because my own health monopolizes so much of my time that it distracts me. It breaks my heart that I couldn’t visit her as much as I wanted to over the last couple of years. I felt like I was failing her. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. I know it wasn’t my fault I couldn’t visit her due to my medical conditions and the COVID pandemic, but it still breaks my heart.

My grandmother’s unconditional love has given me wisdom. Her love has made me realize that I am special, cherished, and strong. I don’t have to try to become someone because I already am someone. I was “punkin” to her, Poppop, and Uncle Miles. Now I am a badass warrior queen 😁 I was loved by her, and it’s the type of love that changes you. I treasure those moments we shared and her spirit continues to stay with me.

My brother, Mommom, Poppop, & me
Mommom & me at my high school graduation

Mommom showed me that life is a gift, and one day you have to give it back. Life goes by fast. It makes you think you should hold on tighter, fight harder, and become better. You learn to surrender to the fact that you can’t make everything last. But some things do. The most important things last.

Love is what stays when everything else has dissipated. Love is what we know even when we lose our memories of the past. That feeling remains in our soul even when the knowledge of it is lost. I knew Mommom felt my love even when we didn’t get to see and hug each other. I couldn’t control Mommom’s declining health or my own, but I made each moment with her count. That’s all I could do.

Mommom taught me to simply be myself and that I am enough. Society can make us feel like we have to climb the corporate ladder in order to be important. It pressures us to be thinner, richer, and look younger. We show only our best moments on social media to appear successful. This is all superficial crap! Where is authenticity in all of this?

If you feel like you’re not enough, be yourself anyway. Love anyway. Show kindness anyway. Fart in public anyway. Drop the f bomb anyway. Lick the cake or brownie batter out of the bowl anyway. Life is not about being popular or admired by everyone. It’s about being authentic in a world that tries to make us think we are not enough.

Mommom’s love for her family, friends, and the community was undeniable. Her life was filled with little joys. Whether it was baking sweet potato biscuits, playing yahtzee and seeing who got “dirty dirty” (the old quarter that got passed around like hot potato when someone got a yahtzee) sewing clothes, admiring G pick a bird clean, or just sitting at the kitchen table shootin’ the shit. Life is filled with little joys we share with the people who take up the biggest spots in our hearts. I may not remember everything throughout life, but I will remember Mommom’s life as a gift and that I was loved.