6
Jun

Isn't it strange?

Is this not enough
This blessed sip of life, is it not enough?

It's certainly not just you, but it's so obvious in you. You seem to shout it from the rooftops, how you feel like it's all not enough and not worth it. How you keep begging, bargaining for more. And because of this, I feel like you take advantage of the time we have here, worrying about things that don't matter. I feel like your priorities aren't straight. I feel like you make things, life, this life, our life, harder.

You can't get out of your own way. But like with all things with you, I try and accept and move on. I try. And I also learn. I learn from you when you are not even realizing it. And you are teaching me, even if you are not trying.

Because the truth is, this blessed sip of life, it is enough. There are so many reasons I have been thinking about this very thought these days. This life we are given, there is a lot of heartache and things to worry about in this life. But there is also so much to be thankful and grateful for.

Isn't it strange...how we move our lives for another day?

Since always, since before always, I have lived for another day. I finally stopped to look at myself. There is something really special about finally doing that. Stopping, taking stock of what you have, what you love. REALLY looking around, there is something moving and special when you can.

I will always have goals and dreams. I will always be planning ahead. Always. But for the last year and a half, I have also slowed down and planted my feet. And that's why I do feel I've had a really good and loving life. I'm not waiting for the best to come, I'm living the best years, each year.

Wash out this tired notion
Oh, that the best is yet to come

And I stopped burning the day.

...this love will open our world
From the dark side we can see the glow of something bright

Isn't it strange...

how it takes a pandemic

or the world to stop spinning

or your life to be ripped away from you

or your real priorities screaming at you

or when you have space,

to finally realize who you are, what you have, what you want?

Isn't is strange?

I'm able to inhale and exhale a little more each and every day. I'm having some really difficult conversations, but I'm also able to realize, love lived here. And I want to thank whoever or whatever gave me this blessed sip of life.

The person I get to spend my life with makes me happy. It's hard but he makes me happy.

My children are loving and kind and able. Parenting is really really hard, but it makes me happy.

My first puppy raised me. She loved me until she said goodnight and she lived her purpose. Losing her was a heartache I didn't realize I could feel, but if losing a puppy is my worse heartache, that's a really good and happy life.

The puppy I currently get to love is full of love and light. She wiggles her bum when she sees me. She hugs me, she smiles. She walks and runs with me. She snuggles into naps with me. She loves my babies. Her dad is her favorite but she makes me so so happy.

I left an agency that taught me so much more than leadership and running a business. They taught me about the importance of childhood and little. They taught me to believe in me and how capable I was. It was hard and exhausting and at times, painful and the stress was debilitating, but I am so happy I found them.

I have a disease. One that is unknown when and what it will take from me. But, for 19 years, I have kept on. Not out of luck, but out of a fight in me. I didn't ask for you, but I'm not going to let you quiet who I am. So yes, I don't know what it will look like in another 19 years, but I am happy with how I dealt with it. I'm proud of the marathon I ran, and the half marathons I ran and ran and ran. I'm proud of the solo races I did and the ones surrounded by hundreds of people. I'm proud of the tris I did and the hard work I put into learning how to swim. I'm proud and happy that it happened to me.

My home is filled with love and memories and every corner has a special moment. It is too big and too messy, and too much, but it makes me so happy to come home.

'Cause we need the light of love in here
Don't beat your head, dry your eyes
Let the love in there
There's bad times but that's OK
Just look for love in it
And don't burn the day away

And I stopped burning the day.

31
May

What it is like to be nine.

He came into this world on his own terms. Determined to be different from his sister. He was a scheduled birth, not an emergency. He was always fighting "something"...a tied tongue, a low birth weight, gross motor skills, milestones, and ER visit turned hospital trip. This one had us, well me, always a little on my toes.

He was also special...always. He lights up a room, his heart is so pure, his words so kind, his hugs so real, his smooches so sweet, his love of love...so natural.

So, what is nine like with you monkey?

It's a tornado with plenty of sunshine.

It's a little boy that cannot and will not sit still.

Playing, watching anything, sleeping, it does not matter, you do not sit still.

It's a little boy that still thinks we are his whole world.

It's a little boy that still has bad dreams that only crawling into bed with mom and dad can make right.

It's a little boy that crawls into bed at 3am but doesn't forget to whisper an "I love you" and grab your hand to hold it all night.

It's a little boy that plays Legos for hours and hour by himself...but still asks "will you play with me?"

It's a little boy that wants nothing more than your time. He will do anything you want as long as you get to do it together. He will always tag along and wants to help because all he wants is to be with you, always.

It's a little boy that thinks he will never get married because he doesn't ever want to leave his home.

It's a little boy that loves loves loves food. Favorite place to be, a grocery store, where all the food lives. His favorite food...anything that isn't tofu and rice. Truly anything.

It's a little boy that pushes back tears that make your heart ache. It is how he will get away with murder.

It's a little boy that asks so many questions, has so many what ifs, so many different scenarios to lay out.

It's a little boy that loves to be outside. And a little boy that will really be with you.

A little boy that cries when you've been gone all day and didn't get to spend any time together.

It's a little boy that loves praise. He loves to know when he has done a good job and definitely shuts way down when he is being criticized.

Nine is a lot of emotions, a lot of fun, a lot.

Nine is still believing in magic, and Santa, and fairies that take your teeth and leave money.

Nine is still believing that your family is your whole world. They are everything you have. They protect you, they are always there.

Nine full of love and heart. It's loud and messy. It's tornadoes and sunshine. But that heart, that is a heart of a boy right there.

Welcome to nine, your last single digit age. You picked the right circus to join monkey. We needed you to shake things up, keep us moving and on our toes. We needed you specifically.

24
May

Play ball

He's so little out there and for the first many many many games, he was afraid to even swing. He only got on base when he was walked, but that swing wouldn't come. So his dad worked with him, getting him out of his head and swinging at that ball, and it's starting to work. He's swinging again, he's not making great contact, but he's out of his head.

And the best part, he never gets frustrated or embarrassed. He just tries and is okay with it. He's so resilient that way. And resilience is not his strong suit. Walking back to the dugout, he's still him. Kind-hearted, smile on his face, ready to cheer on his team...just him.

I love to watch him play, not because he's great, or isn't great. But I love to watch his heart. I love to hear him cheer on the other kids. I love to see how excited he gets when someone does something out on the field. I love to watch him run out and tackle a teammate that got a cool run. I love to watch his heart.

I never was a sports fan, I wasn't a jock. I wasn't athletic and I'm still not. But I married a coach and fell in love with games. I fell in love with the team work involved, I fell in love with the thrill, and I fell in love with the slowness of it all. Even with that, I'm still in love with this season of our lives for something very different. I am just in love with who you are as a person and how clearly that comes out on the ball field.

I love watching you try, how much you exaggerate your whole body. I love hearing others cheer for you because they want you to do well. I love seeing your coaches light up around you, even if they have to remind you to talk a little less. I love seeing the smiles of those that get to be around your heart.

There is very little I love more than watching both of your childhoods. I adore this front row seat that I have. I love watching you navigate this world and I love watching you become who you are, especially because I happen to think you're two of the best people I've met. I love watching your dad coach you. I love the uniforms with your names on the back. I love seeing your identical blue eyes really stand out with your blue jerseys. I love hearing him coach each kid, be so positive and helpful. I love when he picks you up from being hit how you cling to him and cry and I love you knowing that's ok. I love you monkey.

Play ball sweet and low.

9
May

To mother

To mother means sharing your whole body, regardless of if you carried a baby or not.

To mother means to sharing every part of your being, every ounce of energy you have.

To mother means you carry your baby, always and forever, regardless of how old they get.

To mother means you lose yourself, even for a minute, and then find yourself again and they reemerge someone, something different.

To mother means you find strength and then you find rest and then you find a way.

To mother means you say no a million different times but yes to so much more.

To mother means you mange...relationships, feelings, emotions, arguments, fights, brawls.

To mother means you mange...schedules, appointments, lives.

To mother means you manage...your feelings, your emotions, your relationships, your past that you thought you could keep in the shadows but to mother means they bring them out into the light.

To mother means you love differently. Yourself, your person, your littles, your life.

To mother means you are loved differently. By yourself, your person, your littles.

To mother means to give a lot up but to also gain so so much.

To mother means to be used and at times tossed aside.

To mother means you find yourself crying over a familiar smell, or an old article of clothing.

To mother means you look at pictures with aches in your bones.

To mother means you stare at the phone, you worry, you lose sleep.

To mother means to be the protector, the smoocher, the light, the happy they see when they wake up and go to sleep.

To mother means to be the one that keeps all of their moments, every single one.

To mother means to love them in your sleep.

To mother means they are with you, even when they are not.

To mother means to be strong.

To mother means something.

3
May

Something special

"There's something special about that kid, I don't know what it is, but it's there"

It's something we have heard since the moment you were born. People fought to be near you monkey. They fought to take care of you and hold you and change you and give you a bath and feed you. There has always been "something there".

It's not like it all comes with rainbows and sunshine. This special came with a little boy that started crying at 1 years old and didn't stop until he was almost 4. It came with "there's something wrong and we need to do more tests to figure out what". It continues to come with a lot of emotions, a lot of energy, a lot of doing things your way and a lot of feelings. It comes with a lot.

It comes with a lot of love. It comes with a lot of joy and so many smiles. It comes with big eyes that look at you like they really see you. It comes with a good heart, a good friend, a good student, a good teammate, a good and positive attitude.

It comes with a little boy that turns into a pumpkin at 8pm and needs to sleep. It comes with some talk back because dammit, you will be heard. It comes with a lot of "I won't do that". It comes with a lot of battles...so so many battles.

It comes with a little one that only wants to spend time with you, and especially time with your dad. A little one that wants to help, really be with you. A little one that loves loves loves family time. It comes with so many little guy smooches and a little boy that has no embarrassing feeling, he will scream I love you from anywhere at anytime.

It comes with so much movement, even in your sleep. It comes with bad dreams that call you to our bed. It comes with snuggles and hand holding. It comes with scared crying tears when something scary is on TV or someone is getting hurt. It comes with so much noise and screaming and the best kind of make believe play.

There is something there. It's the love and hugs and chubby hands. It's the curly hair and the big eyes made bigger by eye glasses. It's the love for dad, it's the best buddies. It's the cheering on of your friends. It's the way you feel for your sister and can't see her upset or struggling. It's the love you hold and it's the way it bursts out of you.

It's the way that people flock to you, even when you are in the wrong. It's the way you try to hold back tears, but you just can't. It's the way that you are so excited to see anyone anytime. It's the way you hug, it's the amount of enthusiasm you have for life. It's always been your voice, it's just so full of words that you can't make it all come out fast enough. It's the amount of movement you need. It's the stubborn streak you have. It's your loving heart.

"They're all beautiful, but there is just something about that Cole. There's something really special about that kid, I don't know what it is, but it's there."

18
Apr

Bricks

I read a story written by a black mother that talked about the bricks she has to pack in her children's bags.

Don't wear this sweatshirt.

Don't go out in a group with other black people, but don't go out alone either.

Don't drive in this neighborhood, I know your friends live there but don't.

Don't be in a car with too many other black kids.

Don't run away, don't walk away, don't walk towards.

Don't make eye contact, but don't look away from.

Don't be too seen, don't call for attention.

Just come home to me. Just come back home, please.

Can you imagine how heavy that bag is, how many bricks are in there? Just come home to me baby.

I don't know how to read this and not ache, but I also have no idea what any of this feels like.

I have read and listened to so many in the black community talk about how exhausted they are. It's a never-ending war. I have read that each and every time, it is a reminder that they are less than. They are not as valued, they are not humanized. I don't know what that is like either. I don't know what it is like to not feel like you are part of society, you are not part of the human race. That I need to humanize myself to let you see me, I don't know what that is like.

All mothers worry. All mothers carry their babies long after pregnancy. All mothers want their babies to come home. But, this, it's different. It's a different feeling, it's a different worry. It's a life I cannot relate to and I am so sorry.

But, I am not tired. I haven't had to endure this always and forever, so I'm not tired. My kids are not tired, we are just getting started. I have not carried bricks, I have not placed bricks in their backpacks, so we are not tired. We can still move, I'm so sorry you have felt so differently for so long. I'm sorry for all I have done to contribute to it. I am sorry I thought not being racist was enough, and how much I did not do. I'm sorry it took the world seeing it on video to prove you right, and I'm sorry there are still some that do not believe.

I'm sorry that you are seen as a threat, that you are seen as scary, that you are seen as less than. I'm sorry that as white men continue to shoot up people, and churches, and even that Capital, they are not seen as a threat. I'm sorry it's always so different. I'm sorry that your communities are seen as less than. I'm sorry that protecting you is not an obligation, I'm sorry.

I'm sorry you have to show us pictures and videos of black pain, black joy, black families, in order to us to see you as a person, a member of a family. I'm sorry that we become the judge, jury, and executionist. I'm sorry.

I'm sorry that you are told how to protest, I'm sorry that we who have made you need to protest, also tell you the right and wrong way to show your pain. I'm so sorry that it's always so different. I'm sorry that we are not moving fast enough because for people, you move faster than this.

I'm so sorry but I promise I won't stop at I'm sorry. The job is done when you no longer have bricks to carry, bricks to pack, and when we disassemble the building.

I see you, I believe you, I stand and kneel with you, and we will figure out a way to throw the bricks away and create something so strong and beautiful.

13
Apr

Five Minute Friday - pressure

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on pressure.

Go.

It's not Friday, it's actually late Monday night and the first time I've had a chance to do this. Not because I've been under too much pressure, but because I took the whole weekend off. You know how sometimes that can recharge you and other times you feel the pressure build? I had both happen. I had so much fun this weekend, but also kept a running list in my head of what I needed to still do.

I also had a lot of responsibilities unexpectedly fall into my lab this weekend and instead of the pressure building there, I took it in stride. There is no rhyme or reason to it. Sometimes the pressure is so much and sometimes it all just happens to fall into place. But, as you are too well aware of little faces of mine, there was a time when any little thing pushed this mama of yours over the edge. The pressure was built to boiling and I could not keep the lid on the pot. I was always exploding. There is a reason I need to remember those days and who I was then. I need to remind myself I cannot let it get to that point again. Busy, sure. Lots to do, okay. Too much to do sometimes, we can handle that. Lots of lists, I love a list.

But the pressure that made my head hurt for years. The one that made it so I couldn't chew because my jaw hurt. The kind that made me feel like someone was always standing on my chest. The pressure that made me shake and have nightmares. The one that made me cry so much and stole my joy, I allowed all of that to happen. I asked for it and I did more and more to welcome it into my life, our lives. That pressure I cannot tolerate anymore and have to know when I am getting close to the fire and walk away.

Life can be hard, it can be filled with things we feel are "have tos". Life is also pretty gorgeous and can be filled with a lot of laughter. So tonight, I had a meeting at 8, it was pretty important to me and the community that I want around me. But my brand new 12 year old daughter asked me with her big eyes if we could have a reading date and I blew it off. I sat in bed with her, we read and then I put her to bed and wrote to you. I picked well.

Stop.

21
Mar

Hello again

New York is starting to wake up again. The days are much longer, there is still light at 7pm, the sun is a little brighter. Even on the really cold cold days, we know that spring is trying to make her way back.

Today, I watched you both play outside like little little kids. I heard the laughter and shouts. God, monkey, you could spend forever outside no matter the weather but when you get to be outside with your big sister, you are in heaven.

Today, you asked and begged for play time with both of us outside. You and dad played hockey and basketball and you could not get enough.

Today, I took the puppy for our first really long run. We ran by the track, and I saw our little town wake up. I saw people walking, hand in hand. I saw dogs smiling and pulling owners. I saw cars with their windows down and people grinning from ear to ear, we all woke up again.

Today, I cleaned out my car and threw away all of gunk that comes with winter. All the salt, rocks, the garbage that is too cold to throw away when it's winter, isn't that weird, that winter makes it all feel a little too hard. But, not today. Today, it felt invigorating to throw things away and gather up all the old and start again.

Today, I drank really cold water, and it felt refreshing. I didn't turn my fireplace on and that felt like a good start. It hit 61 degrees in our little part of NY and that's warm enough for kids in short sleeves playing by a pile of old ice and snow.

Today, my daughter wore flip flops, my son a tank top. My dog was panting during our run, got tired even. During my run, I started to sweat a little.

Hello and good morning to us all as we wake up from the long winter slumber. This winter was a little colder, a little harder. The snow hit us hard, we lost some trees, but nature is really trying to heal now...sound familiar?

Next week, I get my second shot of the vaccine. I never in my life thought that I would be living through a movie like scenario in which a country has to figure out how to roll out a vaccine after we have lost half a million people. But, we are healing. Last week, hate struck again as 8 people were gunned down by a white hateful 21 year-old. Their families are living a nightmare, our country is trying to figure this out, and no one has any answer that will make the pain ever end. But somehow, faith carries us through to the other side and we heal.

Faith in each other. Faith in good over evil. Faith in love over hate. Faith in tomorrow being another day as we open our eyes and stretch. Faith in starting over. Faith in science. Faith in healing.

Hello again spring.

14
Mar

Partners

There was a long stretch of time in which our house was a lot more yelling than it was love. There was a long stretch of time I felt I was reliving my childhood in the worst way and I could see in your eyes the worry and concern and worst of all, I felt like you were both responding so poorly. You could feel the pressure and we were teaching you the opposite of a supportive team. Bella, we almost lost you during this time. You were full of rage and anger yourself and we could not just talk to you. Monkey, your emotions could not handle it. You were too young to say anything but you made sure we knew how uncomfortable this was for you.

And then I remembered why and how we work. How and why we need each other and the one thing we never let go of, and that is being partners.

Lovies, this...life, doing, being, adulting, it is all really really hard. And, neither I nor dad could do any of the things that we do unless we had each other to lean on and lean on hard. We don't only need each other, we rely on one another in a really special way. I hope you see and recognize that.

I do hope that you remember for the first ten years of parenting, Dad was your morning jam because mom was already at work. And for so many years, mom started her day at 4am so she can be with you starting at 4 or 5 pm. Whenever I dropped a ball, dad picked it up.

I hope you remember that Dad's coaching schedule kept him away at night for 6 months out of the year. Where ever you needed to be, whatever classes you were in, dinner, homework, activities, that was all me. Whenever he dropped a ball, I picked it up.

But, it took me a very long time to get here. See, for the first few years of our marriage, I was so determined to not be "the housewife". The only one that knew where things existed in our home, the only one that cleaned or cleaned up. Because of my fear of recreating where I came from, it took me WAY longer than dad to realize what our partnership looks like. It took me way longer to realize that it's okay that we each have our place and our groove and if I do something better or if it means more to me, I should just do it. It took me years to realize that I needed to put my resentment of my past away and not put that on him. And then, there's the concept of 50/50.

There is no such thing loves and never has that defined a partnership. The reason this works is because I drop and he picks up and vise versa. And most times, that means we are looking more like 90/10. Even though we each have our "areas" that does not mean we let them fall down when the other just can't pick them up.

Partnership means having really hard conversations. I don't like how we are parenting here, I need this part of our life to change, this part isn't working. Really listening to each other and knowing we each are carrying baggage to our trip as a family. Some bags are way heavier than others but even the light ones need to be unpacked.

Partnership means arguments, anger, sticking it out, coming back, realizing what's important, moving forward, taking steps back, being uncomfortable and comfortable and safe. Being a good person to each other.

Partnership means sticking by the other when they are diagnosed forever sick. Partnership means not judging each other when you are trying to figure something out and it's taking too long. Partnership means doing what needs to be done for your team...your family.

Okay, it took mom longer. I was terrified of the fog years. I was so worried about all of us. But I got there. Because a true partner doesn't run when things are tough, they show up.

21
Feb

Chapters

Maybe she looks at chapter one too harshly, maybe she looks at chapter three with rose-colored glasses. Maybe her memory plays tricks on her as she builds her chapters and remembers them the way she wants to. Maybe there is a different version of the story out there. Regardless, this is her story, the one she remembers, the one that shaped her, made her. This story is her why...why are you like this? It's because of this story.

Chapter 1: she is too young to be this old.

She spent this time really worried, scared, and surrounded by a lot of anger, yelling, and slamming. There was a lot of crying and although she was and still can be so immature with her feelings and reactions, she always knew she was too young to be so old.

She likes to really focus on all of the hard during this time. She lingers in it sometimes and is brought back to it too quickly. To this day, they still act similarly, and therefore, it's easy for her to remember the hard. So, she pushes herself to remember that there were also moments of gentle and sweet moments of family too.

Moments like walking with her mother and sister, because the family had only one car, so they walked everywhere. Her mother in the middle, each child by her side. She would hold their hands and to keep her little girls warm, she would place them in her pockets.

Moments like Christmas Eve when it was so loud and they were surrounded by so much of her father's family. They had cousins and family, and midnight mass, and opening presents at 1am and too much food.

Moments like really late nights with her mother's side of the family. The men all playing cards. The cousins scheming for ways to have a sleepover. The woman drinking espresso and talking the whole night away. Falling asleep in the car bc it was always too late when we left.

But, there was a lot of hard too. And she knew, she had to find a way to move on. She was too young to be this old.

Chapter two: where she wanted to be.

Having spent high school really creating strong and loving friendships, the kind she knew saved her and would carry her, she left. Some call it running away, they are not wrong. Some call it moving away, they are not wrong. Some call it leaving, they are not wrong. Some call it selfish, they are not wrong. Some call it strong, they are not wrong. Some call it scary, they are not wrong. Some call it liberating, they are not wrong. Some call it necessary, they are not wrong. Most call it going to college, they, are not wrong.

College was as warm as a heavy blanket. Surrounded by trees and fall leaves and snow and wind and cold. College was an incredible four years. The start of framily. Forever relationships that would never leave her heart. College was everything she worked so so hard for. College was the end of the road. College was all her goals and her final destination. College was fun and loving. It was hard and a ton of work. It was late nights, early mornings, little sleep, lots of sleep. College was figuring a lot out for her. It was also knowing a lot about herself. College was everything she wanted, exactly where she wanted to be. But still, there was this little dark, heavy, and angry cloud that did not allow her to fully let go.

Chapter three: it's so easy.

From the moment she met him and saw that smile, it was just so easy. Being in his tight hug, seeing him across a room, hearing his laugh, it was all so easy. It was just the two of them and their little reason of a puppy, the one that made sure they were together. Even when things were harder or stressful, chapter three was just so incredibly easy.

She got sick in chapter three, really sick, forever sick. But since life was easier, she also knew what she needed to do to get better. And, there was nothing that was complicating that. She was terrified, she thought she needed to walk away from him, but he just pulled her in tighter.

He was family, she didn't realize how much she needed him until she found him. She needed his easy. She needed one thing to feel this easy. She didn't realize he was missing.

Taking walks together, staying up all night talking, going to grab a coffee, city living, holding hands, watching TV, it was all so easy. He blended right in to her family, the one she had now created for herself. He was the last and incredibly important piece to the puzzle. They were so different, but in a good way, they were each other's balance. They had so much in common, but in important ways. They had a really solid foundation. They liked to be together, they liked to be with other people, they really liked each other and it was all so easy.

Chapter four: the family grows.

With a move and marriage and the puppy, they added and added again. He always knew children needed to be a part of his story, she needed to be talked into it more. But, once they were here, she fell in love with being a mama and protecting their little. She looks at them, all of the time. While they are eating, or sleeping, or playing, she cannot take her eyes off of them. They look so much like him and it makes her fall for him even harder, they are the two of them combined becoming their own little person. They are so different, one a book nerd, the other a Lego master. One a sitter, the other anything but.

Although the first three years of parenting were incredible, really incredible. So incredible it felt like this was what they were made to do. They fell in love with falling in love with their girl. There was an incredible dance during those first few years.

But, right around year three, the fog finally set in and settled all around them. It was no longer easy to find each other. It was so hard to see one another and the foundation didn't seem as strong. She was filled with so much worry during this time but he knew it was all just a blip and kept pulling her close. She made a lot of threats during these years, and he kept trying to remind her that the fog would lift. There were so many emotions but they rounded one important corner after another until it was clear again.

Their first puppy had her final days, and they said one very difficult goodbye. Without her, it felt really lifeless and dark. So, a new puppy brought life and love, and light back into their home. She was the lover of love that every single member of the family needed and clung to.

Chapter four was hard and wonderful. It was the definition of life, couplehood and parenthood.

Chapter five: the job that was always too much.

She spent 20 years being raised by an agency. She fell so hard for the mission and the hope they created. She loved the way they too protected childhood and understood how important that was to communities. It was never ever a job for her, it was always a way of life, something she needed to breathe. Until the day came when she truly loved it to death, not only was it no longer her breath, it was choking her and it all became too much. Only because she made it too much, because that is who she is and what she does, she is an all in girl and loves things too much.

For the longest time, she relished in the hours and hard hard work. For the longest time, she felt like she was home an in a groove. Until she realized that she was no longer riding a wave, she was getting soaked and the water was starting to take her under. She was drowning. And even more heartbreaking, she lost her hum.

There was a constant headache brewing, a tightness around her chest, an anger that was rising. She was the only one that could stop it but she didn't know how. It was then that she realized her time there was up, they all needed something different. And it wasn't just her or her family that needed her to walk away, it was the agency. They too needed something different and she had to go now.

So she spent three years planning and building and figuring out...what next? This had been such a deep and rooted part of her for so so long, where to next? When the answer came she knew it would be a hard three years, but she also didn't see any other way to make it work. So, she got to work and poured hours on top of hours and worked harder and longer. And it broke her. It broke her brain, her heart, her spirit, her...it broke her.

It was always too much but only because she made it so.

Chapter six: all is calm, all is bright.

She struggled in the beginning. It took time for her to sleep well. It took time for her to stop crying, shaking. It took time before the nightmares stopped and it took time before she didn't feel like someone was standing on her chest. It took time to figure out her days. It took time for her mind to come back and her memory, it took time for her memory to improve.

But slowly, it started to happen. She found and caught her breath. She no longer felt like every decision was the wrong one. She started to really enjoy her days again. Slowly, she started finding herself.

Chapter seven: peace and joy.

She had forgotten pure joy. Not just a glimpse of funny here or there, but moments of actual pure joy. She found them in the smallest of places. Walks with her dog, watching TV at night, reading with her girl, all of the naps. She found joy.

And she loves her job and loves to work. She no longer sits down heavy, but really has the ability to find solutions and think through the best way to handle something new. She still panics here and there, has to be pulled back down, and talk through some trouble spots, but she once again loves her work.

She also realizes she, and only she, can keep finding the balance, or she can keep up her old ways and love it to death, again. She has a chance here to love what she does but not only do work. She has a chance to keep herself open to new possibilities, but only if she is open. She has the chance to problem-solve, but only if she is not overwhelmed. It's up to her what direction this all goes in.

She has found time with her kiddos, games and reading dates, and so many walks and walks. Walks with her new puppy. Walks with her kiddos. So many talks with the kiddos. Making sure she is the mama she needs them to be, a mama that is there for them. She loves being their mama and she needs them to see how much.

She found her laugh again, she can't give that up again. She found her way but it is up to her to make sure this is how she keeps going. She can't go back to her old ways, she needs this peace.

Chapter eight: the one that isn't written yet.

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