Grateful

As I have had a chaotic stress filled week attempting to thrust me back into a place I refuse to sink into I have received several of these reminders to be grateful. So I started today making a mental list of all I have to be grateful for. Have you ever done that? Really just tuned everything else out and listed all the GOOD in your life? I started at the obvious places and as the list came it just kept coming. Despite being tested from a place I never ever expected it I am so blessed it is humbling.

I have a loving God who has never left me. Despite my best efforts to push Him away. Even on days my brain tries to convince me I can’t hear him He is still here. I seek to hear His voice and it is there with the very message I need. He drives the bus that is my life even when I don’t want to give Him the wheel.

I have a job that I love. That fulfills me and challenges me. Exhausts me too but that is something to grateful for too some days. A boss that builds me up and pushes me to be the leader that he sees inside me.

I have a family. So many people don’t. Even on the most challenging of days I wouldn’t trade any of them for any reason. There isn’t anything or anyone that will ever break that love. Because the bond a mother has for her family is unbreakable.

My tribe. 😢 Where would I be without my tribe? They have flanked me this year and reminded me who I am, how strong I am, and how to dance in the rain. ❤️ Listened to me when I cried, when I wanted to punch things, when I said the same things over and over again. Steadied my boat and pushed it forward.

This list just goes on. My dogs, my home, my hobbies, my travel, my counselor, having had my one true love…my blessings abound.

Be grateful. Be humbled by your blessings. Life is short. Waste not a moment on those who want to hurt you. Lift it all up to God and let Him handle it. Focus on the blessings and all will be well.

❤️ Amy

Happiness is a state of mind?!?

Wikipedia says, “Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being characterized by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.”

Y’all…legit it’s taken me 42 years to realize this. I have had moments, some longer than others, where people or things have made me THINK I was happy. But none of it compares to what I am feeling right now. This euphoric feeling I wake up with almost every single day should be bottled up as a drug to be sold. The unbelievable FEAR I have lived in for most of my life that has held me back and suffocated me has been put on a shelf and can’t compete with the joy I feel.

Dr. Steve Maraboli | Happy quotes, Determination quotes inspiration,  Meaningful quotes
YES!

Don’t get me wrong. There are still bad days. I think that’s called being human. There are days where the depression or the anxiety creep in and I wonder if I dreamed it. Or I get angry about some of what is going on. But finally – FINALLY – more of my days are joyful than those days and it’s because it’s a choice. I love(d) my husband and will until the day I die. But I understand now that he couldn’t make me happy in this deep in my core sense. I love my children. But they can’t make me happy in that way either. Happiness doesn’t come from other people. If it does it’s not the real thing. Or it’s temporary because it’s dependent on someone else and their emotional health. In my opinion.

The counseling it has taken for me to understand that only I hold the keys to this has been tough. I feel like a preschooler that was left behind and is just now learning to read some days. My value, my happiness, and my self worth has ALWAYS come with my service to others (and their need of me). I probably will always have a bit of a servant’s heart but understanding that what makes me truly happy comes from within and centers on taking care of me? Mind-blowing.

Part of the reason I cratered so bad last year was being kept from feeding my joy through traveling that at the time I didn’t truly understand was such a deep part of me. I feed on meeting new people and new places. I have always thought of myself as shy. My girlfriends laugh at that. But as 2021 has begun to unfold I’ve realized it’s true. I find joy in meeting new people and new friendships. It makes me feel alive. This self realization was shocking to me. Literally. It brings a smile to my face and makes me itch to go again. I’m counting the days to my next trip out of town.

My point in all this rambling? A) if you are my age and you haven’t found your true joy yet don’t wait another day. B) if you know what makes you happy and you aren’t doing it why the hell not? C) We get ONE life. ONE. And it’s damn precious. Do not let ANYONE suck that life out of you. Own it, steer it your way, and milk this life for all it’s got. God has an unbelievable plan for every one of us and He didn’t put a single one of us here to be miserable. Have faith and jump into your joy with both feet. It’s AWESOME!

“This is the day the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

-Amy

I’m Me…and I’m Done Apologizing

Selfies are rough 🙂

I used to brag to my co-workers on how I could get out the door in the morning in 15 minutes or less. Roll out of bed, throw the hair in a ponytail, and roll. What I am realizing now is that being able to do that was a sign of not really investing in myself. I literally was saying “I don’t care enough about myself to spend twenty minutes washing my face, brushing my hair, or feeding myself”. THAT was a rough realization.

In ALL the realizations that have continued to pile on over the last few months, perhaps the most important one (I think) is that I am worth my own time. I am worth at least as much time, love, and attention as that that I shower on those that I love and dote on. At LEAST as much. And that I am not defined by my role as a wife, mother, or employee. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with that one. On my best days I can flex my arm and go “yah that’s right” on my worst I spend them crying because one or more of my kids is too busy to call.

My morning routine has grown to include a lengthy routine with the animals which they get quite upset if it’s altered. TBH I alter it sometimes just to mess with them. 🙂 It consists of making the bed so I get that fresh sheet feeling at the end of the day. Washing my face. Occasionally including makeup. I have cut my hair so a ponytail is not an option. Man is that a paradigm shift. The pic is from this morning. I was just about to dunk my head and go dang it it’s too fluffy when I made myself look at it through the camera lens. I had been practicing the “beach waves” my stylist spent 30 minutes teaching me Saturday to do. Did I master it? Nope. Am I presentable for public? Yep. Did I run 30 minutes late getting to work? Yep. Did the world melt down? Nope.

I have spent 42 years trying to be “perfect”. Not Stepford wives perfect but guided by some suffocating sense of not wanting to let people down and feeling like I would be judged if I didn’t execute by some invisible set of rules. Allowing myself to be manipulated emotionally by those closest to me who know all the right buttons to push (that one was eye opening). Our sermon this week was on labels and how we assign ourselves the enneagram number or the personality labels that are out there and then we just…stop. We stop trying to be anything past those. If you asked me as recently as a month ago I would have told you I am a “2”. Meaning I will give you the shirt off my back even if it means I’m cold and people liking me is the most important thing to me. Yah. That’s not working for me anymore. Especially since it’s been used to pull one child out of my life and to emotionally beat the crap out of me like MOST of my life. My counselor said “what other people think of me is none of my business”. That may not come naturally yet but I am damn sure gonna get there. Because with that will come a freeing sense of it only matters of if I am proud of who I am and what I put in the world when I look in the mirror.

I am a fighter. I’ve had 55+ surgeries in 42 years of life. I’ve been physically and emotionally abused by my mother’s poor choices in husband’s. I lost the grandfather that was the only father figure I’ve known. I’ve lost the love of my life. I’ve raised three amazing human beings but that doesn’t mean I’m responsible for their choices. THAT one is freeing. I am strong. I am capable. I am a hell of an employee. I am and always will be a DAMN good mother. I have a heart like no other. I’ll love someone I care about until the end of my days. But I won’t be a victim anymore. I won’t be put down. I won’t be part of anyone’s rewritten warped lens history that makes them feel better about hurting me and justifying their hurtful choices. Being proud of who I am and the changes I am making doesn’t make me full of myself. It just means I’m me….and I’m done apologizing for it. Because I am exactly the person God intended me to be.

His Time

If you know me you know I struggle with the “I can fix it” syndrome. I don’t need any help from anyone to fix a situation just get out of my way and I’ll handle it. It’s worked remarkably well for 42 years. Or at least that’s what the illusion to myself has been.

The past year has taught me many things. It has taught me that my grief has not even begun to dissipate as I convinced myself it had. It taught me my children are, in fact, not babies anymore despite how I will always see them. It has taught me what real true pain is. Deeper than I could have ever imagined feeling and so bad it physically affected my health. Those are the bad things it has taught me.

On the flip side of that coin it has taught me I have a community I had no idea I had. Girlfriends that listen to me when I am not sure I would listen to myself anymore. It has taught me that somewhere deep inside there is a strong woman capable of pulling herself out of the lowest place she has ever been. Ever. It has taught me how to say “I’m sorry”, “I was wrong”, “I’ve never thought of it that way”, and “Dear God I didn’t mean it that way”.

Most importantly it has taught me to pray. To fall on my knees and pray with every fiber of my being. It has taught me that my Creator wants me near. That despite the fire and brimstone I grew up with on the rare occasions I was taken to church and my anger at the church for the Sunday sinners such as my deplorable mother – God wants ME. Despite my mistakes. Despite my sailor mouth. Despite my anger for taking my husband away. Despite EVERYTHING. How is that even possible?

And yet…I’ve gotten plugged into a church that I swear on my life the pastor writes that sermon week after week like he is looking into my soul. I just can’t even describe the way it makes me feel when a message like that is delivered straight to all the parts that hurt in my being.

I keep a box on my desk that the front side says “Give it to God” and the backside says “Write your prayer down and give it to God by folding it into the box. Take a breath, relax and stop worrying. Have faith, let go, and let God take over.” When I feel the most anxious during the day I stop, I write down what I am worrying about and I slip it into the box. Does it always help? No. Probably because I can’t always let it go. Does it help a lot of the time? Yep.

One of the things I struggle most with is still the “I can fix it”. Even my prayers sometimes are directing God on how I think it should be fixed (and I am SURE he is laughing at me). One of the reminders I got today, after a day of angst and tears yesterday, is that it is and always will be on HIS time. My plan is not his plan. My desires don’t fit his. I think I miss those signs sometimes but the BAAAMMMM reminder I got this morning? Tears. Just tears.

Not sure I really had a point of this post today other than to say – Trust Him. Let it be on His time. And I say that as a reminder to myself as much as I do to you. Blessings.

Be True

I have spent my life adapting who I am to serve others. Make no mistake in 90% of the circumstances I have no regrets. In others, I wish I had been true to myself. Trusted my instincts and stuck to me. Not allowed people in who in the end hurt me when I already knew they would and ignored my gut.

Wise Advise

When I came across this image on my motivation app it struck a deep chord. How many of us change, even if we don’t think we do, to adapt to someone new in our life? To be what they want us to be so they will fit in our life? How many of us expect a new person in our life to do the changing so that they become what we want them to be in order to fit where we want them to fit?

As I enter a new season in my life and contemplate the idea of new people entering my life these ideas overwhelm me. I’m just now figuring out who I am. Not a wife. Not a mother. ME. I kind of like me. Turns out I do know how to relax and have fun. How to leave the bed unmade and dishes in the sink. I don’t want to bring someone new into my life that is going to alter this path of self discovery. So how do I do that?

The idea of only bringing people into my life that are exactly like me is boring. Some of my best friends push me into uncomfortable places in my head. I also don’t want people who are polar opposite as I recognize this will require me to do the aforementioned changing to a radical degree for them to fit. So where is the happy medium?

For now I’m just trusting God on this one. He’s grabbed on to me in this time of change and shown me who I am and who He is. I think if I stay true to that the rest will work itself out. I guess that’s my message today – be true to yourself and trust your instincts.

  • Amy

Vaccine or Not?

I’ll start this with this is NOT a political post. It’s a thought process I’ve been struggling with for weeks and where I finally ended up on the issue.

I believe in vaccinating my children. Wasn’t one of those that fought the school system on it or anything like that. Willingly took my flu shot the years I needed to to protect Fred at his sickest. So I’m not off the rails about there are benefits.

HOWEVER.

In years that it’s my own choice I don’t get a flu shot. I’ve seen too many times people who get one and still get the flu. I myself had the flu the year I took a flu shot for Fred. I don’t think they work. When I first heard the rumblings that a vaccine was becoming available for COVID I was “no way, no how, not happening”. Loudly. You aren’t putting something in my body you haven’t fully researched. Haven’t had ten years to see what the long term side effects are. Don’t want it being given to my girls who haven’t had a chance to start a family yet if they want. I still have all those feelings running through my mind.

BUT THEN….

Then they hit me where it hurts. Have to vaccinate to travel or mess around with having COVID tests going and coming. I resent the hell out of that BTW. Being grounded this last year, combined with a hell fire amount of personal issues, brought me to my knees and had me begging for mercy. If you know me you know my wanderlust runs deep.

So. If my options are offering myself up as a guinea pig or being confined to Dallas? Here’s my arm. Literally. Getting mine today. Let’s get this s#*t done and open up the world. I have places to go, people to visit, and a whole big world calling my name.

As is my position on most things, I respect everyone’s personal choice. In my case, the benefit outweighs whatever the potential consequence is.

Peace and Blessings!

Power of Motivation

Man, I never thought when I downloaded a motivational app that it would change my mind as much as it has. Every single day I get hit at least once, but usually multiple times a day, by powerful statements I NEED to hear right between the eyes. Sometimes I get freaked out that it appears to read my mind, or my heart, and say exactly what will lift me up at any given moment.

I’ve struggled with this one. Allowing myself to recognize the poison of negativity that has flooded my life in the last 14 months and the devastating effect it has had on me, my health, and my family. Given that I grew up around that kind of poison you would think I would have clued in sooner but it took being completely distanced from it to understand I did not need, or want, it in my life. That sometimes no matter how devastating it looked at the time it happens you had to let bad things happen to those you care about so that YOU can be ok. That that isn’t selfish. It’s just how the rest of the planet lives that doesn’t give everything of themselves to other people forgetting they are important too. #guiltyascharged

God lets those bad things happen because He has a plan greater than you and greater than the negativity in mind for you. I’ve turned away from Him time and time again angry for the things I felt He has senselessly put me through in my life. Born with a life altering birth defect, born to an abusive mother who married abusive men, losing my grandfather who was the only father I knew, losing my husband….

Yet He continues to call me towards Him and bring me peace when I am in pain when I choose to let Him. The key there is when I choose to let Him. I’m getting better at that and I am feeling the peace that comes with that.

Never did I ever…think this statement would apply to me. I’ve had so much loss in my life I tend to keep people around who aren’t good for/to me. Form relationships out of fear of being not liked, not loved, fear of being rejected by people I care about because they care about bad people…the list goes on. Ever so slowly I feel growth taking place that is giving me strength to say HELL NO.

You aren’t abusing me anymore.

You aren’t taking advantage of me and my generous spirit anymore.

I matter.

I am enough.

I am meant for great things and if you are hurting me they probably don’t include you.

#motivationgivesyoustrength

Circle of Life

Have you ever given much thought to the life cycle of living things? How we came to be, what life looks like in the middle, and when our time on this earth is done? Not being morbid – follow me on this.

As parents we are overjoyed (in most cases) at the news that our life is about to change with the addition of a tiny human. We are completely oblivious to how it is going to change as we go through the gestation period amid morning sickness, baby showers, and just plain grouchiness when we can’t see our feet anymore. Then, amazingly, the tiny human is born and we are in awe that our bodies can create such a thing. And, admit it – TERRIFIED that this person is our responsibility.

Life progresses. Sometimes we add other tiny humans to our responsibility list and sometimes not. Life is a maze of soccer games, recitals, endless errands, and “what’s for dinner?” Time passes faster than we realize and we forget to pack away the smell of their hair as babies, the pride bursting out of our chest when they first display that they really WERE listening to our teachings, or the hugs that we don’t even realize are going to end. We look up and they are adults. When the hell did that happen?

Suddenly you have these not tiny humans. That no longer think you have any brains in your head at all. That want to barrel headlong into places and situations you know – from experience – are going to cause them pain and your protection is no longer welcome. In fact, it’s labeled as a myriad of bad things. Your intentions are questioned and you shrink from the rejection. WTH?

Why does life not prepare us, the parents, for the next stage of life? Why did these tiny humans become the sole focus of our life if they were going to push us away as surely as the sun comes up? The “empty nest” thing has tons of material written on it and not one bit of it is helpful. You crave the laundry, the shoes on the floor, and the NOISE that used to drive you mad.

But despite everything, time moves on. You age. You find your way into being an adult that gets to put yourself first (?!?) and with God’s grace your presence is welcome in the not so tiny human’s life and that of their tiny humans. Then the day comes when you become the tiny human again. You can’t take care of yourself, or illness comes, and you have to rely on your tiny humans to take care of you. Did you prepare them for that? Did you tell them what you wanted or needed when this time came? Or are they as blindsided by the new responsibility as you were when you brought them home from the hospital? Did you teach them how to grieve and how that would affect their life permanently? The absence that would always be there that is you? Why hasn’t someone written a manual on these things???

Mufasa said it best when he said “Everything you see exists in a delicate balance… We are all connected in the great Circle of Life.” God created us because he wanted us, as we create families of our own because we want them, and so the circle goes. But being flawed humans means we forget our elders have gone before us and have wisdom to share. Or the balance is disrupted by an absentee parent or a life altering event. We feel knocked out of that circle and being human means we struggle to know how to step back into it. But regardless of what knocks us off balance the truth remains.

We are all connected and need each other in the Circle of Life.

No News Yet

September 2020

Ummm. Yah. What??? Who is that girl? Can anyone see all the feelings she was carrying that added so much weight to her 5’ 2” frame?

March 2021

While I realize that 90% of women would be thrilled to see 70 lbs and untold inches disappear virtually overnight from their body it has not happened in a healthy way for me. Originally I believed stress was the main culprit but after a visit with the doctor yesterday they want to go looking for more. It would appear that even stress “probably” can’t remove this much this fast. Ever seen a doctor look freaked out? I don’t recommend it as a life goal. And yes, he used the “c” word. They want to do tests to see if there is cancer in the small intestines or colon that they can’t see from the previous tests they have done.

My initial reaction was sheer terror. I mean, I think that’s normal, right?

God has been working in my life HARD for the last month. And honestly that’s about the only explanation I have for being able to go through that doctor’s visit, know that I have to wait a week for the test and who knows how long after that for results, and still be calm. Whatever it is I’ll get through it with God’s grace and the amazing friends and family I have close by. How could I not? If you look at my life and what I have survived and still found a way to thrive there isn’t another option. God gave me strength and resilience for a reason.

Lol. Do not take any of that to mean I don’t feel afraid. I am thinking about all I still want to do and see – I’ve been working on my bucket list the last few weeks – and I have no more time in my life to devote to illness. Between my childhood, Fred’s fight with illness, and my intermittent struggles I’ve given all of the time I want to give to doctors and hospitals.

Test is scheduled for Friday 3/12. With God’s grace we’ll have answers soon after that. So prayers please. 🙏🏻

The Power of A Place

View from The Rooftop Bar in Hot Springs, AR

Is there a place on this earth that no matter how many times you go there it still renders excitement at the mere thought? The trip planning, the countdown, and the setting off towards that place just sets your heart aflutter? A place where you want to take everyone you know and hope they feel the same joy and peace you do there? Where the friends you have there make you feel like it was just yesterday since they saw you instead of months (or in the case of 2020 years)? Uh-huh. That place for me is Hot Springs, Arkansas. If I can’t be on a beach or an ocean somewhere this little town is where I want to be.

My first visit was spring of 2001. I remember this clearly because it was about two weeks before I found out I was pregnant with my Em. An old boss turned good friend lived there and I went to visit her in Hot Springs Village. I don’t remember much about the part of the town that I now cherish but there must have been something that pulled me about the natural waters that flow there because I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been back in the 20 years since.

I couldn’t tell you what year the next visit was but it was with my Fred. That was also the year I found my sweet little bathhouse shop that is so dear to my heart today. But back to Fred. The irony about Fred and Hot Springs is he was good going once every couple of years…he loved the people we met there same as I did but he wanted to go to new places when we made travel plans. He freely encouraged me to plan girls’ trips, take the kid’s there (I can’t tell you how many of the kid’s friends have been there), and go as often as I could swing it but he was just as content to keep his bottom in his recliner. That was the beautiful thing about our relationship. He never clipped my wings and was the one that showed me I even had any wings!

My love affair with this town as evolved. In the beginning I wanted to see all the things and do all the things. I could spend an entire Saturday poking in and out of all the shops on Bathhouse Row. My favorite, of course, is Bathhouse Soapery. Fred and I found this little gem on one of our early trips together when I was really into checking out bath shops in all the little towns we traveled. Needless to say, once I found Bathhouse that wasn’t a needed travel activity anymore. I had what I needed and I haven’t looked back. I could spend hours hanging out in the store visiting with friends that have turned into family and smelling all the goodness. People who have been to the store with me will tell you my house smells like the store. I take that as a compliment always.

When I take visitors for the first time I take them to all my favorite spots. When I go for a repeat visit I’ve gotten to where it’s more a *me* thing. Usually a soak in the mineral water, a massage, a visit to the bath store every day, and as was the case on this last trip a sit and chill at a local watering hole making new friends. When Fred and I first started traveling a weekend away was exhausting. Traveling was so new I was under the impression I had to see everything and do everything because I would never get to place xyz again. Maturity and wisdom has taught me the best trips are those that nothing is planned other than the destination and where I am putting my head down at night. This especially holds true in Hot Springs.

I don’t know if it’s the old town charm, something in the water, the people (ok I know it’s mostly the people), or the combo of all of the above but this is where I go when I need to recharge my soul in ways the ocean sometimes can’t do. Lovingly referred to as “my favorite place on land” the power of this place to love me through some tough times in my life is remarkable. I was in Hot Springs 10 days before Fred died – preparing for what we knew was coming. I ran here just a month ago when faced with a change in the trajectory of my life brought about by an outsider that was unimaginable to me. I left feeling loved and like I had the proverbial army on my side.

Me & The Girls Cutting Up

Wherever the place is for you – hold it close and visit often. We all need more peace and love and if you have found a haven for your soul first share where it is with me and then plan a trip!!! 🙂