Shifting Perspectives through Word Choice

A lot of times all we need to see the world differently is a shift in how we see the world.  Sometimes that’s about the words we speak and internalize. Sometimes it’s a shift in what we are physically doing.

When I look straight into a mirror I see my face.  I see my nose.  I was once told by a classmate that it was like peanut butter and spreads across my face. I can’t remember the kid.  At all. This child was such an insignificant part of my childhood that I can’t remember if it was a boy or girl.  But I remember those words. I see the tiny little blackheads harbored in the safety of my pores. I see the memory of every sadness I’ve lived because I know what my face looks like when my smile isn’t one that is in my heart or shining through my eyes. I can see my reflection when it’s not the mask I present to the world.

I have a couple of mirrors in my bathroom on opposite facing doors. I can adjust them to see the back of my head or body.  The other night I was watching myself without seeing my face.  I was looking at the reflected image of the side of my face. It was an odd feeling to watch myself, watching myself, knowing I wasn’t seeing a side of me I’m used to. It was what you might see if you were watching me and I didn’t notice you. I saw the harsh angled line of my jaw.  I noticed the way my hair fell softly to frame my face and I noticed that I’m beautiful when I’m smiling at myself. Imagine that!

It was a shifted perspective.

A few years ago I would often hear, “it is what it is.”  That phrase would make me so angry because I felt powerless in it.  It meant my husband of 15 years was leaving me for another woman and I had no choice in the matter. I had to shift my perspective and once I did, I felt like I was able to gain control through an altered word choice. “It is what we have made it and we can choose to accept it or change it.”  I tried to change it.  Then accepting it meant it was a choice I was making too.  After a year of standing and waiting for my marriage, I realized I was happier embracing life as a single woman.

I had a moment this week of being coached by a co-worker. I’m so blessed to have her in my life as a friend and mentor, and surprise, yet another life coach in my life.  She’s pretty amazing.  I was having a moment of feeling out of control and not knowing how to react or respond.  It was a deer in the headlights moment for me and I was so out of my depth.  I was lost and the anxiety had me.  She could see and sense it because my emotions were so palpable.  She reminded me to be still and not puff up or shrink back. She gave me a word: Allow.

So much of life is given as moments we are told to accept. You accept what has happened and move on, but what if you don’t have to? What happens when you allow it to happen? What happens when you embrace your ability to empower the situation with your ability to offer grace through allowance.  We allow things to happen and they are no longer things which have been forced . . . Things we must accept. They become things we are in control of as we offer permission.

I think of my tiara.  I blogged about it a while ago.  It’s not the idea of being a princess.  I bought it last summer to wear when I pay my bills.  It helps me feel more like the Queen that takes care of my Empire.  I am no longer being victimized by my choice to shop for junk I really don’t need at a discount.  It’s a moment to reinforce the spending I did by deciding that I made a choice, and I continue to make that choice in making payments and balancing my checkbook.  I have choice and control over my finances in a way I never have before.  Even before I met my ex, I was at the mercy of my debtors.  I wanted a night of fun, so I used a credit card to pay for that night over the next year with the interest involved. In my marriage I was often told what I could and couldn’t do, and any rebellion on my part was rebellion.  I was never an equal.  But with my tiara, and my checkbook, I feel control and empowerment.  It’s about a shifted perspective and the choice to be empowered by words.  “I am making a payment” is so different than feeling “I have to make a payment.”

What do you get to do?

My job is 20 miles from home and the commute is at least an hour to and from. I get to go to work and I get to sit in traffic. Working for a company that treats you like they want to keep you is easy when you know what it’s like to not be able to work, or what it feels like to work where you feel disposable. Traffic is a real treat when I get to sit alone and sing to myself to start and end my day. I get to go to work and drive through traffic!

I get to pay my bills because not everyone can.

I get to make dinner for my family because sometimes I also get to be alone.

I get to do more than was asked of me, knowing that being asked at all is an honor.

Today my shift wasn’t just in word choice. I had a rough start to my day with a moment when an email made me feel defensive and insulted.  It cast a shadow over my morning and by the afternoon I had felt the weight of it physically.  I was sitting in my seat, doing my job, working on remembering to snack less, and eat an actual meal.  It was slouching and leaning forward with the weight of my head on my hand in a position that said I was uncomfortable in my skin. And then there was music.

It wasn’t the lyrics.  I don’t understand most of them. It was in the way I was able to step outside of the space I was in, and just feel.  The sound of Madilyn Bailey’s voice hit me in a way that I started tearing up and needed to share it.  From that song, I was able to shift into the sound and feel of the other songs on my playlist.  By the end of the day, I was dancing in my seat, working and doing overtime but entirely pleased about it.  I jumped into traffic this way and got home feeling happy still.  It was a shift that came with song, and movement.

You get to shift.  And when life settles uncomfortably, shift again.  Shift several times.  It’s like forgiveness.  It’s for you, not the person you’re forgiving.  You keep giving it, you keep shifting it, until you feel better and can move forward.  It can be a gift you give yourself.  Repeatedly.




Self Care and Who is Taking Care of You if You Aren’t?

One of the best perks of working through a temp agency is you get placed in really amazing companies.  I’m offered opportunities I would never have on my own because my placement means I’m disposable.  They can bang out a project and send me on my way without the work involved in a typical onboarding process.

Company hopping means I have had cubicles but I’ve also worked in open floor plans with sparse desks that lack personality.  I’ve had standing desks that lift with the touch of a button. (I miss that desk. We were friends.) Right now I have a laptop computer that opens up with recognition from my fingerprint.  I’ve had touchscreen laptops, dual monitors, touchscreen phone systems and noise cancelling headsets.  I’ve been to kitchens that were stocked with healthy free foods and insane amounts of junk to gnosh on.  Some companies regularly cater lunch on some days and others offer free products that they work really hard to sell to the public. They stock half and half next to the almond or coconut milk. There are touchscreen coffee makers that use Starbuck’s coffee or machines that will brew a triple shot espresso and in the next cup you can have a mocha latte or vanilla coffee.  On the way to my desk I’ve walked next to ping pong and foosball tournaments, full indoor basketball courts and dogs that go to work everyday.  I’ve been offered margaritas on the work patio or kombucha and beer on tap.  I’ve avoided monthly emergencies with a bathroom fully stocked with feminine products for free and unlimited Bath and Body Works soaps and lotions.  I’ve been next to co-workers on balance ball chairs that bounce and move as they type or handle calls. I’ve seen showers and a lactation lounge and heard about Summer flex days where 3 day weekends are expected and paid.

These companies treat their employees like they want them to stay.  They remind them to take breaks and stand and snack or relax.  Consistently, I have been in conversations with people at all of these companies where I wonder, if you’re not going to take care of yourself, who will?

I see (usually younger people) working through their lunch and forgetting to eat.  On a great day, I do it too.  There’s a zone where purpose meets drive and productivity babies don’t even need to be burped or changed. But I also make it a point to take care of myself.  I still treat myself like I love myself.  I act like I need to care for the toddler in me.

In my first week with this new company, I kept hearing complaints about the snacks.  The company was moving toward healthier snacks without bothering to focus on internalizing the ideals of healthy foods.  The masses revolted and complained.  I was on the elevator one day, and laughing at the outrage.  I mean, I used to love rolling out of bed for a cold Tommy’s chili burger for breakfast after several hours of too many drinks, too little water, and feet that were tortured in pumps on a dance floor all night.  A few years ago wheat sensitivities changed my ability to eat anything crusty, flaky or relatively cheap.  Earlier this year my gall bladder was taken out, changing my ability to handle fat.  My age has made changes necessary, and they were complaining about food I can no longer eat, while sitting in the same spot at their desks all day.  It was almost funny.  They were abusing their bodies, not knowing that age will take care of the rest one day.  I mean, if you refuse to take care of yourself, who will take care of you?

Self care is so important.

Rest when you need to.  Eat when you need to.  (I only put in my mouth what will make me insanely happy. Good food is a necessity.) Eat foods that will make you feel good.  Play.  Enjoy sunlight and laughter.  Cry when you need to.  Scream when you need to.  Say, “no,” when you need to. Commit to what will make you happy.  Take care of your body and your heart.

Seriously . . . If you refuse to take care of yourself, who do you think will do it?


What Helps Me Through Miscarriage Grief and Clarity Through the Pain

The shock of loss is one of the most profound perspective shifting traumas I have ever endured.  I’m learning there’s a gift through loss if you are open to it.

The gift of vulnerability.

I admit to being one of those hardened single moms.  I know I’m not the only one and that’s the sad reality of families that transition.  I felt strong and independent.  I was making ends meet with family support.  I was making my own choices and doing my own thing.  Letting someone in was the hard part.  With the boyfriend that was consistently choosing me, no matter how hard I pushed him away, I was constantly on guard, and looking for him to fail me.

When we lost our children, I was completely vulnerable. I was lost and directionless.  In the past week and a half, I wasn’t looking for anything as grief worked through us, but I found every time I started crying, strong arms wrapped around me and cradled me.  He took care of me, making sure I ate, and seeing to all of my needs.  I stopped looking for failure and discovered he’s a better man than I deserve for the way I’ve treated him.

Problems that seemed to be insurmountable are now insignificant after going through our loss while holding hands.

Finding strength through adverse reactions.

I am a strong woman with an intense personality.  This is who I am and I am content with defying what is expected of me.  I’ve learned that my strength can inspire and offset others.  I’ve had people tell me they needed me to help them through my loss in the past week.

Finding your voice sometimes means saying nothing.

I’ve had people push their needs on me, and I’ve decided it’s not my job to make others feel better about how I feel or what I am going through.  Sometimes that means ignoring calls.  I’m the only one that can decide how I grieve and what will comfort me.

Connection is healing.

I was lucky to find Natural Grace Funerals.  They have picked our babies up from the hospital and will cremate them for us.  Aside from the crematory fee, they work pro bono for miscarried children.  When I spoke with the director, she told me that she is also a mother to twins. We shared a moment of knowing that no matter how small they were, this was something I need to do and as a mother, she felt the same way. We’ll release them into the ocean.

Earlier this week, I went to Armstrong Garden Center to look for the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bushes we will plant in their memory.  My boyfriend likes purple and I do too.  I saw the plants in my neighborhood growing up and the idea of seeing them and thinking of our children (we named them Sunny and Rain) was comforting. I was asking questions of one of their staff and told her about the miscarriage.  As I was leaving, she handed me a couple of crystal angels with purple wings as a gift to keep my angels near me. Other than the plant, I never discussed purple or that I have a lavender scrapbook for them. She told me about a friend that had just lost a 15 year old child and we shared a hug and tears.


Connecting with someone else is healing for me, but being open to the words she offered and the hug that came with it was healing for her as well.  Connection is what binds us through our community and with our humanity.

Letting go can feel natural.

I’ve been purging junk all week.  It started with heavy weeding in the garden.  Then I started clearing out things in the storage shed, and laundry room.  I started cleaning out things in the house.  For so long I held onto junk.

When I worked at a mini storage, a woman once told me that she had to go through her mother’s things because she was tired of making monthly installments on delayed grief.

I was doing that too.

I finally went through that plastic bin full of pictures and sorted out what was mine and my ex’s, and each of the kids.  I set aside family pictures and wedding things for the kids because who we were as a couple is part of their identity.  They’ll want that one day.  As I was cleaning out the bathroom, I realized I still had a bottle of the ex’s shampoo and I realized it didn’t hurt to let go.  It felt liberating.

For the twins, I had started a scrapbook and today I will complete it and put it on the shelf.  I won’t wait to process it all.  It’s painful.  There is so much longing and I miss the feeling of life inside of me, but I can’t be the mother my sons need if I’m intentionally waiting to live again.  I’ll celebrate the process and really enjoy the memory of the time I had with them, but then I will give myself permission to let go and to cry, as I have been.  Sometimes several times an hour.

Grief and loss are natural, but not normal.

As I know this pain will ease up and pass as life cycles with change, transition and rebirth, I also know that I’m where I need to be.  I need to feel the loss.  I need to accept I will not always have a smile on my face.  At the same time, there has been laughter.  It’s not that I can forget my babies or compartmentalize my feelings.  Life is full of variance and joy comes with the pain.  I’m experiencing each moment as it comes, specifically staying away from alcohol or anything that would numb my feelings.

Sometimes there’s laughter.  Sometimes there’s tears.  Sometimes I cling to my boyfriend with intense desperation because I can’t handle the surprise gut punches that remind me I’ve lost something wonderful and incredible. What I’m feeling is completely natural, but life only offers moments of grief every so often.  We are built to get through it to appreciate the lows as well as the highs, but it’s not constant.  This pain is natural, but living in it constantly would make it normal and that would take away from what we are given to grow through. And I’m growing through it.

When You Have No Control of Your Life, You Can Always Take Choice and Decide Your Reactions

I was talking to a dietician the other day about my eating habits.  The conversation then touched on my pregnancies.  When I was pregnant I always lost a lot of weight in the beginning and delivered at my pre-pregnancy weight, or just above it.  Pregnancy is a time when I eat healthy foods because not doing so means puke would be an improvement.  Then we talked about the pregnancies themselves.  People ask how many kids I have and I have 3, but I’ve give birth to seven.  The first three, mine, were easy enough.  My firstborn was early and underweight and had a hard time regulating his blood sugars.  The other two were easy and even boring.  The two after mine were surrogate boys born in 2008 and 2010.  Other than trying to go into labor a little early and needing bed rest, they were slightly more difficult because they gave me back labor.  The last one was a surrogate pregnancy with twin girls.  It was rough.  I was hospitalized at 25 weeks and spent a week in the Trendelenburg position – upside down at a 45 degree angle to try to keep them in.  They were born at 29 weeks by c-section.  I told her about pulmonary embolisms in 2014 and the gallbladder removal I just had and how the pain meds sucked, so I stopped taking them less than a week out of surgery (because I can’t handle feeling high). Through this I was smiling and happy and she was floored and encouraged by my outlook.

I didn’t realise I had an outlook.  I had life happen.  We all do.

There has been both good and bad in my life.  I can acknowledge both, but they do not make me who I am any more than I would allow them to. I am not what has happened to my body.  I can’t control that for the most part.  I am who I choose to be in spite of what comes my way. You don’t wear your strength, you embody it.

Control of self:

I’m sure I’ve shared the poop analogy before but I can’t remember everything I write, so I won’t expect you to.  I heard from an amazing teacher, Jorge in a leadership training  I LOVED in the summer of last year:

When you have raging diarrhea, you can’t control it.  You hope you can make it to the bathroom on time, but accidents happen.  You’ve seen poopy painting artistry in unkempt public restrooms.  We all have. And when you’re constipated, you can sit and try, but you can’t make it happen until your body is ready.  In this way, you can’t even control the shit in your body.  You can’t control shit in life.

Another example:

When you binge drink, you intentionally drink alcohol.  At a certain point your body takes your choice away and you black out or vomit.  You can’t even control your own inebriation if your body thinks you want it dead.  It will fight your silly dehydrated brain and you can’t control what it does.

Control of others:

When I was younger, (like most women) I had this idea that I could make a man change behaviors for me.  If he was a smoker, I could make him stop.  If he was stinky, I could affect his hygiene.  If he was grouchy I could make him be patient.  I only learned how not to trigger rage, or how to coax it out if I was in that mood.  I couldn’t control it.

I’ve learned that the only one that can make a person change is the person that chooses to make a change in their life. I can’t make a person gain or lose weight.  I tried with my family.  I can’t force feed a person, or withhold something, or make them exercise.  I don’t have that kind of power over anyone but myself.

You can exert control over your kids, parents do it all the time. Unless they internalise your ideals, there will be a backlash lived out in every unsupervised opportunity.  Their behaviors will say what your control won’t allow them to.  The first time a parent learns this lesson is during potty training. If poop is all they can control, they’ll make the most of that. When my sons started spending most of their waking hours at school, I knew policing their words would only incite rebellion and cursing for the sake of taboo as opposed to creatively expressing how they feel. It took a while to learn to cooperate with the teachers that are co-parenting and influencing my kids.  Teachers teach what the school board tells them to, but they nurture social skills and empathy.  They guide our children in ways parents can’t, but at the end of the day, our kids take what they are given and make a choice.

Control of our reactions:

We can control our reactions to what life gives us.

Being a victim to someone else’s greed or violence doesn’t mean you have to live there.  You are not what someone else wants you to be unless you choose to be that person.   You can control what you do with the life you are given and how you react and respond to what is given to you.

Yesterday I was attacked by text.  It still happens.  Kid2 threw me under the bus for a wardrobe choice he made. I could have attacked back.  I started to. I chose to end the conversation with “Have a nice day,” when it stopped being about the kids we share and other parts of my life that are my choices.  I reminded myself that my son lied because he knows I have thicker skin than he does, and I can take more than he can.  I tell them this.  I simply put my phone on “do not disturb” and continued finessing my way through creating pivot tables.

This week Kid3 asked to get his ear pierced.  I could have done it.  I knew his Dad would have been angry and I told him we’d have to ask.  Of course his Dad said no.  This same man freaked out over toddler boys playing in mom’s nail polish and heels and currently has a problem with our boys wanting their long hair (it’s great hair). Kid3 begged me to do it anyway and I reminded him that I could take his Dad’s yelling but he shouldn’t have to. Past situations have thickened my skin and made me the badass powerhouse I am, but that’s because of the lesson I chose to walk away with, and not the victimhood I once felt forced into.

It’s not what we are given, but how we choose to react to it.

I have burned myself with countless curling irons that I still can’t figure out how to use properly.  I’ve stopped trying, but I don’t whine and lament my burned forehead every time I look at someone’s curls or the curling iron I still haven’t parted with.  This isn’t the same as true trauma and posttraumatic stress, but living with it instead of seeking help to get through it are choices we make.  These are choices in your own hands that we are often so eager to surrender to others who won’t always have our best interests in mind.

Perspective shifting:

When you wake up in the morning, intentionally or not, you are in control of the kind of day you will have. If you wake up in a foul mood, every horrible thing that happens will be sought after and amplified by your perspective.  If you wake up in a great mood, all things that happen will have meaning and you’ll seek out serendipity.  Choose the perspective you want, and you’ll see things fall into place in the ways you anticipate, good or bad.  And always remember you made that choice.

How will you react to the next big wave that life tries to drown you with?


Love and Money as Addictions

I had a conversation once where a man compared love and money as addictions.  He seemed to love and hate both and wanted to know my perspective.

I actually see this a lot when dating.  It’s when I really tease out what is important to a person.  Having gotten through not having anything when my husband abandoned me, I’ve learned to appreciate simple things like sunsets.  I’ve also learned to take care of my own material wants.  I treat myself very well. When dating, I can sense when a person’s self valuation only relies on material things.  This doesn’t usually lead to a second date.

I am more than what I possess and without owning who I am, I would own nothing.

Money can be an addiction.  He said this.  I can see it, but I have a hard time feeling it. I can always explore the concept though. My Target and Sears wardrobe sensibilities can use the stretch and imagine more, right? I love my Mom style even if my niece thinks I dress like an old woman.  (Yes, it’s okay to laugh with me.) It really is a stretch though.  My wedding, rings and honeymoon were all under $500 and I was happy with it.  I don’t buy designer clothes, but I love those days when my sisters clean out their closets.  I’m just not that person.  I love beach days and museum trips.  Dreaming big has always been a budget to hire someone else to clean up after my family and maybe weekend trips here and there.  Otherwise, I’m happy to find serenity in my surroundings and wonder in a sunset. I don’t see myself as materialistic.

If I were to give into my every whim, I’m sure Pandora would see me more often and I’ve have several charm bracelets and so would Victoria’s Secret.  Fresh flowers would probably be a weekly thing instead of moments when I walk past a bouquet that sings to me.

I imagined a life of immense wealth.  I imagined the responsibility to my family and extended family.  I saw questioning every relationship for the motives behind it.  I didn’t want that.  There’s a cost to that life and I’m not sure I would want that responsibility.

Even before I had to figure out survival and starting a career, I decided I didn’t want to live to make money.  I wanted my work to be something that flowed but never controlled my choices.  But I get it.

There are more things to do and experience and it often requires cash.  It can mean status and opportunity.  No matter how hard you work or how carefully you save, you can always be content in having more.  Okay.  I lied.  I can’t imagine being that person that works hard all day every day without the space to enjoy a bit of respite in the warmth of the fading sun on bare skin.

Love is an intense emotion.  I’m a firm believer that we make a choice to love or not love, and the feelings follow.  We make a choice to let someone in and to find the ways we are similar and how we can relate to them.  We look at who they are and how their paths fit with the ones we’ve walked in life.

There’s a free fall.  There’s a moment when the emotion is too strong to fight and we fall freely, hoping that there is someone rising to meet us.  We love the feeling and can’t get enough.  We want to be surrounded by love and covered in it’s warmth, seduced by it’s smell.

It’s an addiction.  He said it.  I agree.  We will do what it takes to have the love we need.  We sacrifice our time and dreams and alter our goals.  We give and shift what we don’t have to make it work.  We make love into our god and when this deity removes her favor, we are lost in the abyss of all we expected, showing us how far from the earth we’ve floated and the crash that is coming can be delayed but is inevitable.

Is it really an addiction, or is it just part of living and being human.  Human touch is necessary for survival.  Horrible science experiments have been done on infants regarding touch.  Money is needed to secure food and shelter.  Is it an addiction if it’s a basic need? Then again, maybe I’m spoiled to have lived and loved, and been provided for and sheltered in ways I didn’t expect.

Then again, what is an addiction but something we need so much that we would choose it over our wellbeing, survival and lesser relationships?  I’ve done silly things for love.  I can own up to being addicted to it, but in growth I’m learning that I am not deserving but worthy of love that is stronger than I am.  And I’m damn strong.

At the end of the day, are your things taking care of you, or are you working hard to have more things that dissatisfy you?

How We Compare Past Pain To Gauge Present Pain But It’s All Relative

My writing feels broken.

Life still moves at the speed of “slow down, WTF!”

That hasn’t kept the words at bay.

My love life has been moving in a positive direction.  It has made change for me and my boys and we’re riding the waves as a family.  For the most part we’re okay but in one very specific way, we’re not.

My firstborn is having a hard time with the changes and not having my home whole has made writing a challenge.  How do I write about doing what feels good, when so much of what I feel is tied into how my son feels and the ways we’re not blending our lives into ways where I can proclaim we’re all doing epic shit.

Friday I drove myself to an ER after pushing through a job interview and saying I had a little indigestion.  The chest pain was bad enough that I was crying.  Not sobbing or asking for attention as much as silent tears and gritting my teeth through the nurse’s questions.  It was bad.  I found my sense of humor.  She was hiding out but given free reign, she’s a bit snarky and had no patience for the whiny bitch next to me.  (If a nurse or doctor is trying to help you after you go see them for help, don’t bother trying to justify kicking them.) I was sent home after being given really good drugs and felt better through the weekend.

Monday morning I called an ambulance after a night of chest pain, vomiting and being unable to sleep.  I know, pretty bone headed of me.  I kept thinking, it hurts, but it’s not as bad as the pulmonary embolisms.  And then it was.  It went from kinda uncomfortable to more painful than full on labor pains pretty quickly too.  I think at some point I may have begged for death while running to the bathroom to vomit and it was only after getting through the night that I called an ambulance and had the paramedic act pretty bored as he realized I wasn’t actually having a heart attack.  They hung out with me and waited for another ambulance to take me to a hospital where I was taken in and tested and poked and prodded and drugged.  The 7 am call included a transfer to my plan hospital and a discharge after 33 hours, with lotsa fun follow up appointments in my near future.  Gallbladders are like lungs.  They’re supposed to function without using pain to grab your attention.  If you feel pain, play it safe and see a doctor.

I kept thinking of my worst possible experiences and I held them up to what I was going through.  I held up the past with the present in a way that let me see that I was not actually dying.  I matched up battle scars to see that I’ve been through bad situations and it doesn’t make the current better or worse.  It reminds me there’s no point in whining about it.  I will get through it.  There are no other options.

That moment helped me find the funny and crack some jokes.  That comparison gave me the clarity to see that I haven’t been able to write, but it’s about me.  It’s not the boyfriend.  It’s not wondering what I can write or if I should. It’s my relationship with my firstborn that makes me feel so shattered that the words stopped.

It’s new territory.  I get to learn and we get to stretch, and in time, this will be one of those battle scars in our relationship I will hold up.  I’ll remember how hurt I am that I have hurt him.  I will remember how torn I feel by the directions my heart is pulling me in.  I’ll remember that in this moment and every moment around it, I’ve been trying to go by my gut and do what is best for me and my family, without sacrificing myself for my family.  It’s a marker.

I will see the parts that were broken.  I’ll compare them to the next terrible thing.  I’ll remember how we managed and the ways that made us stronger.  It’ll be okay.  The words will flow again.


How I Use My Birthday to Plan Life and Death

It’s my birthday month. I know a few people that make it a month long celebration but I’m not that person. I might be too intense for those shenanigans.

I spend a couple of weeks looking for my perfect birthday gift. I don’t plan what I’ll do. It doesn’t usually work out the way I want it to when I do. It didn’t work out with my ex, and now my kids are set in what they will and will not do.

February is the month when I celebrate my next lap around the sun, rather than the last one I just completed. It’s an opportunity to jump into this next year with a sense of direction and excitement.

I spend a few days dreaming big. It’s a time to think of the ways the year felt amazing and the ways I wanted more than I experienced. The thing about a dream is it hasn’t happened yet. No matter how big or small you dream, you get to create what you imagine. Why not dream big? It’s the difference between dreaming of a slice of cheesecake and owning the shop that makes them all day. You don’t have either in front of you and you get to create the steps to get the goal you’re after. It sounds silly until you imagine the ways you stop yourself from dreaming big. I didn’t dream big as a child. My only life goal was to make enough money to hire someone to clean up after me. It’s a gift I’ve handed onto my kids. At Christmas I saw how I have been living in scarcity to the point where my kids asked for permission to dream of a wish list. I get to dream big so they can see we limit ourselves and we don’t have to.

My first big goal is a trip to Canada. Kid1 wants to go to Canada and I would love to take my boys. That means getting passports and there are steps and documents I need for that. I need to figure out where he wants to go which is hard right now. He’s not talking to me. He hates the idea I have a boyfriend that I want him to get to know. I’m giving him space for a few days, but Canada is about him so we have to find space to make amends. I get to figure out the finances when the single parent rodeo is a difficult and expensive ride and I’m a temp that hops from agency to agency when opportunities present themselves. And permission. I get to see if their Dad will allow me to travel out of the state, let alone the country. There are goals and steps and I get to figure them out and step into each task.

I work out the kinks in my planner. My planner is really just a 3 ring binder with months broken up. Rather than a budget, I set up what is due and when it’s due because bills are my reality. I have goals set to tackle certain things as a priority. I have things listed I want to experience, and I have steps broken down. It outlines my goals, but also my 18-month plan. I have sections for my kids, and finances, goals, what I need to do, field trips and reading lists. The hard part for me is deciding what I can do each day to work toward those goals. It’s easy to procrastinate.

Normally my Christmas task is to write letters but I didn’t get to it at Christmas, so I’m doing that this month as well. I write letters to my loved ones so they have my final words if I unexpectedly die. I keep track of things I would add to my obituary, so it’s easier for whoever gets to arrange that, but I also write letters to my siblings and nieces. Unlike the times when I’ve been depressed and suicidal, writing this out (in it’s morbid glory) is the one way I’m thinking of others.  When suicidal, I was incapable of thinking about others or beyond the next hour.

What is amazing is how the thought of dying really makes you appreciate what you have in living and it often makes me have conversations I would normally put off. It’s a way to force myself to clear the air and be present in my relationships. It’s a way to show my family how much I love them, even when I don’t make time for them in my selfishness.

February is my month to shoot forward into the next year and it looks like a month of planning.